Thursday, 16 January 2020

What does Bhagavan mean by the term ‘mind’?

In a comment on my previous article, Self-investigation is the only means by which we can surrender ourself entirely and thereby eradicate ego, a friend called Rajat referred to two sentences in the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன’ (maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu. idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa), ‘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’, and asked, ‘I am unable to understand this. Isn’t the “thought ‘I’” same as the mind, or ego? If yes, then how does the I-thought appear or arise in the mind, because they are the same thing? Should this be understood to mean that the first thing the I-thought sees is itself?’, and in a subsequent comment he referred to this and asked ‘Since “the thought I” is nothing but “our mind”, how to understand Bhagavan’s statement that the thought ‘I’ alone is the first thought that appears in our mind? If I-thought were to arise in the mind, then mind must exist prior to the arising of I thought’.

This article is written primarily in reply to these two comments, but also in reply both to a later comment in which Rajat asked some other questions related to the nature of the mind, and to another related subject that was discussed in other comments on the same article.
  1. In many contexts Bhagavan uses ‘mind’ as a synonym for ego, but in other contexts he uses it in a broader sense to refer to the totality of all thoughts
  2. In other contexts ‘mind’ (manas) refers to the functions of the mind that are distinct from intellect (buddhi), will (cittam) and ego (ahaṁkāra)
  3. Mind (in the sense of ego) is the extraordinary power called māyā, which is a distorted reflection of the original power of awareness (cit-śakti), so it is what causes all phenomena to appear
  4. Āṉma-Viddai verse 5: mind (in the sense of ego) is both the space in which all phenomena appear and the eye in whose view alone they appear
  5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 4: only when we rise as ego and consequently grasp the form of a body as ourself are we able to perceive other forms
  6. Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 5: the mind is essentially just ego, the first thought, which is what rises as ‘I’, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, without which nothing else exists
    1. First sentence: Whatever it is that rises in this body as ‘I’, that alone is the mind
    2. Second sentence: If one investigates in what place the thought called ‘I’ first appears in the body, one will come to know that it is in the heart
    3. Third sentence: That [the heart] alone is the birthplace of the mind
    4. Fourth sentence: Even if one continues thinking I, I, it will take and leave in that place [the heart]
    5. Fifth sentence: Of all the thoughts that appear in the mind, the thought called I alone is the first thought
    6. Sixth sentence: Only after this [the thought called I] arises do other thoughts arise
    7. Seventh sentence: Only after the first person appears do second and third persons appear
    8. Eighth sentence: Without the first person second and third persons do not exist
  7. Whatever world we perceive is nothing but thoughts, so since no thoughts can exist without ego, when ego ceases to exist all worlds will cease to exist along with it
1. In many contexts Bhagavan uses ‘mind’ as a synonym for ego, but in other contexts he uses it in a broader sense to refer to the totality of all thoughts

Rajat, like many other words, the term ‘mind’ is used in various different senses, so in each case we need to understand the sense in which it is being used from the context. In many contexts Bhagavan uses ‘mind’ as a synonym for ego, which is what he sometimes calls ‘the thought called I’, but in other contexts he uses it in a broader sense. In verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār, for example, he says:
எண்ணங்க ளேமனம் யாவினு நானெனு
மெண்ணமே மூலமா முந்தீபற
      யானா மனமென லுந்தீபற.

eṇṇaṅga ḷēmaṉam yāviṉu nāṉeṉu
meṇṇamē mūlamā mundīpaṟa
      yāṉā maṉameṉa lundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: Thoughts alone are mind [or the mind is only thoughts]. Of all [thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the mūla [the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause]. [Therefore] what is called mind is [essentially just] ‘I’ [ego, the root-thought called ‘I’].
In the first sentence of this verse he says ‘எண்ணங்களே மனம்’ (eṇṇaṅgaḷ-ē maṉam), which means ‘Thoughts alone are mind’, thereby implying that the mind consists of nothing but thoughts, so in this context he is using the term ‘mind’ in its broadest sense to mean the totality of all thoughts. However in the second sentence he points out that the root of all thoughts is only the thought called ‘I’ (ego), so in the third sentence he implies that what the mind essentially is is just ‘I’, meaning ego or the thought called ‘I’. Thus in this verse he starts by using the term ‘mind’ in its broadest sense and then narrows it down to its essence, which is ego.

Therefore when he says in the fifth sentence of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு’ (maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu), ‘Of all the thoughts that appear in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought [the primal, basic, original or causal thought]’, what he implies is that of all the thoughts that constitute the mind in its broadest sense, the thought called ‘I’ is the first.

Though he says that thoughts appear in the mind, we should not take this literally to mean that the mind is a container in which thoughts appear, because as he points out in the first sentence of verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār, the mind consists of nothing but thoughts. Therefore saying ‘of all the thoughts that appear in the mind’ is like saying ‘of all the people standing in the crowd’. Just as there is no crowd other than the people gathered in it, there is no mind other than the thoughts that appear in it.

Therefore two senses in which the term ‘mind’ is used are firstly the crowd of all thoughts, and secondly the one essential member of that crowd, namely ego, the thought called ‘I’. Like a celebrity around whom a crowd will gather whenever he or she appears in public, ego gathers a crowd of thoughts around it whenever it appears. However, unlike a crowd of people, which can gather anywhere, whether a celebrity is present or not, a crowd of thoughts cannot gather except in the presence of ego, because all other thoughts seem to exist only in the view of ego, and hence in the absence of ego there can be no other thoughts. This is why Bhagavan says that what the mind essentially is is just ego. All other thoughts change, but the one constant thought in the mind is ego, so there is no mind independent of ego, and hence ego is the root and essence of the mind.

2. In other contexts ‘mind’ (manas) refers to the functions of the mind that are distinct from intellect (buddhi), will (cittam) and ego (ahaṁkāra)

However, these are not the only two senses in which the term ‘mind’ is used. For example, mind in its broadest sense is sometimes described as antaḥkaraṇa, the internal organ or instrument, which is described as consisting of mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), will (cittam) and ego (ahaṁkāra). In this context ‘mind’ refers to the grossest functions of the mind, such as perceptions, memories, thoughts (in sense of verbalised thoughts and other such grosser forms of thought), feelings and emotions, which are distinct from the intellect, which consists of subtler functions such as distinguishing, discriminating, judging and reasoning, the will, which consists of vāsanās (inclinations or urges) in the form of likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, hopes, fears and so on (which are the seeds from which all other thoughts sprout), and ego, which is the core of the mind, being that which is aware of the functioning of mind, intellect and will.

Mind, intellect and will are not three separate entities but just three functions of the one ego, as Bhagavan illustrated by comparing them to the different roles that a person may play in life. For example, the same person may be a son, husband, father, school teacher and cricket player. Though these roles are different, the person who plays them is one. However, though these are just roles, we tend to identify a person with the roles they play, so we may say that someone is a school teacher, even though that is not what they essentially are. Likewise, what functions in the roles of will, intellect and mind is only ego, even though none of these are what ego essentially is.

Mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), will (cittam) are three of the five sheaths, namely manōmaya kōśa, vijñānamaya kōśa and ānandamaya kōśa respectively. However ego (ahaṁkāra) is not any of the five sheaths but that which is mistakenly aware of itself as all five collectively.

3. Mind (in the sense of ego) is the extraordinary power called māyā, which is a distorted reflection of the original power of awareness (cit-śakti), so it is what causes all phenomena to appear

In the first sentence of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? Bhagavan says, ‘மன மென்பது ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தி லுள்ள ஓர் அதிசய சக்தி’ (maṉam eṉbadu ātma-sorūpattil uḷḷa ōr atiśaya śakti), ‘What is called mind is an atiśaya śakti [an extraordinary power] that exists in ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]’. In this context what he refers to as ‘mind’ is ego, because in the next sentence he says, ‘அது சகல நினைவுகளையும் தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது’ (adu sakala niṉaivugaḷaiyum tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu), ‘It makes all thoughts appear’, meaning that it is the cause for the appearance of all thoughts. What projects or causes all other thoughts to appears is only ego, which is the first thought and therefore the root of all other thoughts.

When Bhagavan says that mind (in the sense of ego) is an ‘அதிசய சக்தி’ (atiśaya śakti) or ‘extraordinary power’, he implies that it is the power of māyā, and this is why he often referred to it as ‘மனமாயை’ (maṉa-māyai), ‘mind-māyā’ or ‘māyā, the mind’ (as recorded, for example, in verses 22, 55, 118, 296, 560, 597 and 1090 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai). What is called ‘māyā’ is nothing other than ego. Ego is both of the two basic powers of māyā, namely āvaraṇa śakti and vikṣēpa śakti. It is āvaraṇa śakti, the power of covering, veiling, concealing or hiding, because as ego we are always aware of ourself as if we were a body, so in effect ego conceals our real nature, which is pure awareness. And it is vikṣēpa śakti, the power of scattering, dispersion, dissipation, projection or distraction, because it is what causes the appearance of all phenomena, which are nothing but thoughts or mental fabrications.

Since ego is māyā and since it is what causes all phenomena to appear, whatever power any phenomena may seem to have is power that they derive only from ourself as ego. For example, spiritual aspirants often complain about the power of their viṣaya-vāsanās (inclinations or urges to attend to phenomena), but whatever power they seem to have is derived from the attention we give to phenomena. The more we attend to particular phenomena, the stronger our vāsanās to attend to them will grow, whereas the more we attend to ourself, the weaker all our viṣaya-vāsanās will grow.

Understanding clearly that all vāsanās and other phenomena, of which they are the seeds, derive their power only from ourself is necessary if we are to succeed in overcoming them. So long as we believe that anything has a power over us, we make ourself subservient to its power, but to the extent that we clearly recognise that all things derive their power only from us, we will cultivate the ability and strength to avoid being swayed by them.

Since vāsanās are our own likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, hopes, fears and so on in seed form, their strength lies in our willingness to be swayed by them, so if we are truly unwilling to be swayed by them, they will not be able to sway us. Therefore we can overcome them only by refusing to be swayed by them. However, we will be able to refuse to be swayed by them only to the extent that we are willing to do so, and that willingness can be cultivated only by patient and persistent practice of being self-attentive.

All vāsanās and other phenomena derive their power only from ego, and ego derives its power from its being a form of awareness, albeit only a seeming form of awareness (cidābhāsa). Since awareness (cit) alone is what actually exists (sat), it is the original source of all power, and hence it is often described as cit-śakti, the power of awareness, or cit-para-śakti, the supreme power of awareness. Since ego is not pure awareness but just an adjunct-mixed form of awareness, it is not cit-śakti as such but a limited form of it, so it derives all its power from the original cit-śakti, which is always shining within it as ‘I am’. Therefore, since all phenomena and their seeds, namely viṣaya-vāsanās, seem to exist only within the limited awareness called ego, they derive their seeming power from its limited cit-śakti.

This is why vāsanās and all other phenomena, which sprout from them, become strong in our view to the extent that we attend to them, and why they lose their strength to the extent that we attend to ourself. Therefore our attention is an extremely powerful weapon, so we should use it wisely, and the wisest way to use it is to attend to ourself alone.

Attention is a limited and distorted reflection of the original cit-śakti, but it is nevertheless the power by which we as ego create, sustain and destroy all phenomena. By rising as ego, the very nature of which is to turn its attention away from itself, we create the appearance of phenomena in our awareness, by attending to phenomena we sustain them, and by withdrawing our attention from them we dissolve them back into ourself, as Bhagavan describes in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
மன மென்பது ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தி லுள்ள ஓர் அதிசய சக்தி. அது சகல நினைவுகளையும் தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது. நினைவுகளை யெல்லாம் நீக்கிப் பார்க்கின்றபோது, தனியாய் மனமென் றோர் பொருளில்லை; ஆகையால் நினைவே மனதின் சொரூபம். நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது.

maṉam eṉbadu ātma-sorūpattil uḷḷa ōr atiśaya śakti. adu sakala niṉaivugaḷaiyum tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu. niṉaivugaḷai y-ellām nīkki-p pārkkiṉḏṟa-pōdu, taṉi-y-āy maṉam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ illai; āhaiyāl niṉaivē maṉadiṉ sorūpam. niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagamum illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagamum uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉ-ṉ-iḍam-irundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉamum taṉ-ṉ-iḍattil-irundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu.

What is called mind is an atiśaya śakti [an extraordinary power] that exists in ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. It makes all thoughts appear. When one looks, excluding [removing or putting aside] all thoughts, solitarily there is not any such thing as mind; therefore thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or very nature] of the mind. Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.
In waking and dream, by the power of our outward-facing attention we create and sustain the appearance of phenomena, which are all just our own mental fabrications or thoughts, and whenever we fall asleep, we dissolve all phenomena by withdrawing our attention from them. However, we do not bring about the annihilation of ego (manōnāśa) merely by withdrawing our attention from phenomena, so sleep is just a state of temporary dissolution of ego (manōlaya), and hence after regaining its strength by resting for a while as pure awareness, the source of all power, ego rises again, thereby recreating the appearance of phenomena.

In order to be annihilated and thereby never rise again, we as ego must not only withdraw our attention from all phenomena but must do so by focusing our entire attention on ourself alone. When we do so, we will be aware of ourself as pure awareness, which is what we always actually are, and thereby ego will be eradicated forever, and what will remain is only pure awareness, as Bhagavan implies in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: Leaving aside external viṣayas [phenomena], the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].
What he refers to here as the mind’s own ‘ஒளி உரு’ (oḷi-uru) or ‘form of light’ is our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), which is always shining in the mind as ‘I am’, thereby lending it the limited light of awareness by which it knows both itself and all phenomena. Therefore when we as ego focus our entire attention on our ‘form of light’, thereby withdrawing it from all phenomena, what remains is only our ‘form of light’, which is what he calls here ‘உண்மை உணர்ச்சி’ (uṇmai uṇarcci), which means ‘real awareness’, ‘true knowledge’ and ‘awareness of reality’.

This ‘உண்மை உணர்ச்சி’ (uṇmai uṇarcci) or ‘real awareness’, which is what we actually are, is pure awareness, because it is completely devoid of ego and its awareness of phenomena, but so long as we turn our attention to face away from ourself, we seem to be ego and consequently to be aware of phenomena. This is why the entire appearance of ego and phenomena is sometimes described metaphorically as a ‘līla’ or ‘play’ of cit-śakti, but what this actually means is not that cit-śakti is literally playing, because it is pure and infinite awareness and therefore ever immutable, but that this masquerade of ego could not occur except by the light and power that it borrows from cit-śakti.

Cit-śakti as such never does anything, because it is not only the power of awareness but also the power of being, since awareness (cit) and being (sat) are one and indivisible, so what is metaphorically called the play of cit-śakti is actually just the play of ego, which derives its seeming power from the real power that is cit-śakti. Instead of facing away from ourself and thereby playing this game of creation, sustenance and dissolution with ourself, if we as ego turn back to face ourself alone, we will see that we have always been nothing other than real awareness (uṇmai uṇarcci or sat-cit), which alone is cit-śakti and which never does anything whatsoever, but rests eternally and immutably as sat-cit-ānanda, the pure joy of just being aware of itself as just being.

4. Āṉma-Viddai verse 5: mind (in the sense of ego) is both the space in which all phenomena appear and the eye in whose view alone they appear

Though mind in its broadest sense (which consists of mind, intellect, will and ego) is nothing but thoughts, it also functions as the space in which all thoughts appear, so it is sometimes referred to as the mind-space (manākāśa or cittākāśa). Since whatever world we perceive is just a mental fabrication (kalpanā) and therefore a set of thoughts (as Bhagavan says in the portion of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? that I cited in the previous section), the entire physical space (bhūtākāśa) is contained within the mind-space (manākāśa), and since the mind could not seem to exist independent of pure awareness, which alone is what actually exists, the entire mind-space (manākāśa) is contained within the space of pure awareness (cidākāśa), as Bhagavan implies in verse 5 of Āṉma-Viddai:
விண்ணா தியவிளக்குங் கண்ணா தியபொறிக்குங்
கண்ணா மனக்கணுக்குங் கண்ணாய் மனவிணுக்கும்
விண்ணா யொருபொருள்வே றெண்ணா திருந்தபடி
யுண்ணா டுளத்தொளிரு மண்ணா மலையெனான்மா —
   காணுமே; அருளும் வேணுமே; அன்பு பூணுமே;
      இன்பு தோணுமே.      (ஐயே)

viṇṇā diyaviḷakkuṅ kaṇṇā diyapoṟikkuṅ
kaṇṇā maṉakkaṇukkuṅ kaṇṇāy maṉaviṇukkum
viṇṇā yoruporuḷvē ṟeṇṇā dirundapaḍi
yuṇṇā ḍuḷattoḷiru maṇṇā malaiyeṉāṉmā —
   kāṇumē; aruḷum vēṇumē; aṉbu pūṇumē;
      iṉbu tōṇumē
.      (aiyē)

பதச்சேதம்: விண் ஆதிய விளக்கும் கண் ஆதிய பொறிக்கும் கண் ஆம் மன கணுக்கும் கண்ணாய், மன விணுக்கும் விண்ணாய் ஒரு பொருள் வேறு எண்ணாது இருந்தபடி உள் நாடு உளத்து ஒளிரும் அண்ணாமலை என் ஆன்மா காணுமே. அருளும் வேணுமே. அன்பு பூணுமே. இன்பு தோணுமே. (ஐயே, அதி சுலபம், ...)

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viṇ ādiya viḷakkum kaṇ ātiya poṟikkum kaṇ ām maṉa kaṇukkum kaṇṇāy, maṉa viṇukkum viṇṇāy oru poruḷ vēṟu eṇṇādu irundapaḍi uḷ nāḍu uḷattu oḷirum aṇṇāmalai eṉ āṉmā kāṇumē. aruḷum vēṇumē. aṉbu pūṇumē. iṉbu tōṇumē. (aiyē, ati sulabham, ...)

அன்வயம்: வேறு எண்ணாது இருந்தபடி உள் நாடு உளத்து, விண் ஆதிய விளக்கும் கண் ஆதிய பொறிக்கும் கண் ஆம் மன கணுக்கும் கண்ணாய், மன விணுக்கும் விண்ணாய் ஒளிரும் ஒரு பொருள் அண்ணாமலை என் ஆன்மா காணுமே. அருளும் வேணுமே. அன்பு பூணுமே. இன்பு தோணுமே. (ஐயே, அதி சுலபம், ...)

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): vēṟu eṇṇādu irundapaḍi uḷ nāḍu uḷattu, viṇ ādiya viḷakkum kaṇ ātiya poṟikkum kaṇ ām maṉa kaṇukkum kaṇṇāy, maṉa viṇukkum viṇṇāy oru poruḷ oḷirum aṇṇāmalai eṉ āṉmā kāṇumē. aruḷum vēṇumē. aṉbu pūṇumē. iṉbu tōṇumē. (aiyē, ati sulabham, ...)

English translation: In the heart that investigates within, as it is without thinking of anything other, oneself, which is called Annamalai, the one substance, which shines as the eye to the mind-eye, which is the eye to the senses beginning with eyes, which illumine what begins with space, and as the space to the mind-space, will indeed be seen. Grace is also necessary. Be adorned with love. Happiness will appear.

Explanatory paraphrase: In the uḷḷam [heart or mind] that investigates within, [just being] as it is without thinking of anything other [than itself], ātmā [oneself], which is called Annamalai, the one poruḷ [real substance], which shines as the eye to the mind-eye, which is the eye to the [five] senses beginning with eyes, which illumine [the five elements] beginning with space, and as the space to the mind-space, will indeed be seen. Grace is also necessary. Be adorned with [or bound by] love. Happiness will [then] appear. ([Therefore] ah, extremely easy, ātma-vidyā, ah, extremely easy!)
In this context ஆன்மா (āṉmā), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word आत्मा (ātmā), the nominative singular of आत्मन् (ātman), and which therefore means ‘oneself’, refers to the real nature of oneself (ātma-svarūpa), which is the one real substance (poruḷ or vastu) and therefore what is called Annamalai (a Tamil name of Arunachala). Since our real nature is just pure awareness, he says that it shines as ‘விண் ஆதிய விளக்கும் கண் ஆதிய பொறிக்கும் கண் ஆம் மன கணுக்கும் கண்’ (viṇ ādiya viḷakkum kaṇ ātiya poṟikkum kaṇ ām maṉa kaṇukkum kaṇ), ‘the eye to the mind-eye, which is the eye to the [five] senses beginning with eyes, which illumine [the five elements] beginning with space’, thereby implying that it is the original light of awareness, which illumines the mind, enabling it to be aware of the five senses and all that it perceives through them.

He also says that it shines as ‘மன விணுக்கும் விண்’ (maṉa viṇukkum viṇ), ‘the space to the mind-space’, thereby implying that it is the infinite space of pure awareness, in which the mind-space is contained. This does not mean that pure awareness is aware of the mind or its contents, but only that it is the space in which they seem to exist. The mind and its contents, which includes whatever world we perceive, seem to exist only in the limited and hence distorted view of the mind and not in the unlimited and hence perfectly clear view of pure awareness, which is what we actually are.

What he refers to as ‘மன விண்’ (maṉa viṇ), the ‘mind-space’, could superficially be interpreted as being the mind in its broadest sense, namely the totality of all thoughts, but if we consider it more deeply, it is actually just ego, because ego is not only the core and essence of the mind, being the root of all other thoughts, but also the awareness in which all other thoughts appear and disappear, and as such it is the space that contains all thoughts.

What he refers to as ‘மன கண்’ (maṉa kaṇ), the ‘mind-eye’, is likewise ego, because ego alone is the aware and hence perceiving element of the mind. All the other thoughts that constitute the mind are non-aware (jaḍa), so they are objects perceived by ego, whereas ego is the subject, the ‘eye’ that perceives them. Therefore when he says that our real nature shines as ‘மன கணுக்கும் கண்’ (maṉa kaṇukkum kaṇ), ‘the eye to the mind-eye’, he is using the term ‘eye’ as a metaphor for awareness.

However, though he refers to both our real nature and ego as ‘கண்’ (kaṇ), ‘eye’, because they are both forms of awareness, there is a fundamental difference between them, because our real nature is pure awareness, which means that it is aware of nothing other than itself, whereas the nature of ego is to be always aware of itself as a body in addition to being aware of other things. In other words, what is aware of anything other than itself is ego, whereas what is aware of itself alone is our real nature.

Since nothing other than our real nature actually exists, it alone is real awareness, because it is aware only of what actually exists, whereas ego is a false awareness, because though whatever it is aware of seems to exist, no such things actually exist. Being aware of what does not exist is not real awareness but only ignorance, which is why Bhagavan says in verse 11 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அறிவு உறும் தன்னை அறியாது அயலை அறிவது அறியாமை; அன்றி அறிவோ?’ (aṟivu-uṟum taṉṉai aṟiyādu ayalai aṟivadu aṟiyāmai; aṉḏṟi aṟivō?), ‘Instead of knowing [the reality of] oneself [ego], who knows [everything else], knowing other things is ignorance; except [that], is it [real] awareness?’, and in verse 13, ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய். நானா ஆம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey. nāṉā ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘Oneself, who is jñāna [awareness], alone is real. Awareness that is manifold [namely the mind, whose root, the ego, is the awareness that sees the one as many] is ajñāna [ignorance]’.

5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 4: only when we rise as ego and consequently grasp the form of a body as ourself are we able to perceive other forms

While discussing this distinction between these two ‘eyes’ or forms of awareness, namely the false awareness called ego and real awareness, which is what we actually are, this is a suitable context in which to answer another comment you wrote recently, in which you referred to a sentence in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which Bhagavan asked rhetorically, ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can what is seen be otherwise [or of a different nature] than the eye [the awareness that sees or perceives it]?’, and then you asked: ‘But doesn’t the ego which is formless still see forms/phenomena? The physical eye is a form, but still it doesn’t see any forms, so what form is seeing the forms of this world?’

In verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan describes ego as ‘உருவற்ற பேய் அகந்தை’ (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy ahandai), ‘formless phantom-ego’. What he means by saying it is formless (uru-v-aṯṟa) is that it has no form of its own, and what he means by saying it is a phantom (pēy) is that it has no substance of its own.

That is, as he pointed out in the previous verse, verse 24, ego is neither the form of a body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), nor sat-cit (existence-awareness or real awareness), which does not rise, but something that rises in between them as ‘I am this body’. In this context he uses the term ‘இடையில்’ (iḍaiyil), ‘in between’, in a metaphorical sense to mean that though ego is neither sat-cit nor the body, it borrows properties from both of them. From sat-cit it borrows the property of being aware of itself as ‘I am’, and it borrows the properties of the body by mistaking itself to be a form composed of five sheaths (which is what he means by the term ‘body’ in this context, as he explains in verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), namely the physical form, life, mind, intellect and will, which are all jaḍa (as he points out in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār).

Therefore ego is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of awareness (cit) with what is non-aware (jaḍa), binding them together as if they were one. Hence, though ego has neither any substance nor any form of its own, it borrows its seeming substance from sat-cit, which is the only real substance (poruḷ or vastu), and it borrows its seeming form from whatever body it is currently aware of as itself.

Therefore though ego has no form of its own, it is always aware of itself as if it were the form of a body. This is why in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan not only describes ego as a formless phantom (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy) but also says: ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum), ‘Grasping form it comes into existence; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly’.

Since ego itself is formless, ‘உரு பற்றி’ (uru paṯṟi), ‘grasping form’, means grasping things other than itself. Everything other than ego is a form (uru) in the broad sense in which he uses this term here, so in this context ‘form’ means phenomena. Every form is a phenomenon, and every phenomenon is a form. So how does the formless phantom-ego (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy ahandai) grasp form? Only by perceiving and thereby being aware of them.

When Bhagavan says in verse 24 that ego rises in between the body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), and sat-cit, which does not rise, and when he says in verse 25 that it comes into existence grasping form, some people may interpret this to mean that he is implying that the body and other forms exist prior to the rising of ego, but that is not actually how he intended us to interpret these verses, as he made clear in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying: ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandaiyē yāvum ām), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist. Ego alone is everything’.

This gives us a further clue to help us understand exactly what he meant by ‘உரு பற்றி’ (uru paṯṟi), ‘grasping form’. Since all forms come into existence only when ego comes into existence, and since none of them exist when it does not exist, ego grasps form not only by perceiving them but by projecting and perceiving them. Since it projects them only into its own field of awareness (which is the ‘மன விண்’ (maṉa viṇ) or ‘mind-space’ that he refers to in verse 5 of Āṉma-Viddai), its projection and perception of them are one and the same thing. This is why he taught us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention (vāda) that perception (dṛṣṭi) itself is creation (sṛṣṭi). Just as everything we perceive in a dream is created by our mere perception of it, because we perceive dream phenomena by projecting them in our mind-space, everything we perceive in our current state is created by our mere perception of it, because as he taught us, any state in which we perceive phenomena is just a dream, so all phenomena are just mental fabrications.

Therefore as ego we grasp forms by projecting and perceiving them. However, since the nature of ego is to be always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’, the first form that we as ego project and perceive is whatever body we currently perceive as if it were ourself. Therefore when he says in the first sentence of verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām), ‘grasping form it comes into existence’, the form he is referring to is the form of five sheaths that constitute whatever body we currently perceive as ourself. Likewise in the second sentence, ‘உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்’ (uru paṯṟi niṟkum), ‘grasping form it stands’, the form he is primarily referring to is the form of whatever body we currently perceive as ourself, because ego cannot rise or stand without grasping a body as ‘I’, but when standing ego perceives not only this body but also numerous other forms, so in this sentence ‘form’ can be taken to mean both this body and other forms. In the third sentence, ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum), ‘grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly’, what he means by ‘form’ is phenomena of any kind whatsoever, because it is by constantly attending to phenomena that we as ego feed ourself and flourish.

What Bhagavan teaches us in this verse is arguably the most important principle of his teachings, because in it he clearly explains the nature of ego and indicates why he taught us that self-investigation is the only means by which we can eradicate it forever. That is, the nature of ego is to always grasp form, and by grasping form it feeds itself and flourishes. Therefore so long as we attend to anything other than ourself, we are thereby nourishing and sustaining our seeming existence as ego, so we cannot annihilate ego without ceasing to attend to anything other than ourself.

However, merely ceasing to project and perceive anything other than ourself is not sufficient to annihilate ego, because we cease doing so whenever we fall sleep, but after resting for a while in sleep and thereby recuperating our energy, we rise again and continue to project and perceive phenomena. Therefore in order to eradicate ego in such a way that it can never rise again, we not only need to cease attending to anything other than ourself, but need to attend to ourself so keenly that we thereby cease to be aware of anything else.

That is, we seem to exist as ego only so long as we attend to anything other than ourself, because ego is not what we actually are but is merely what we seem to be so long as we do not attend to ourself keenly enough. No such thing as ego actually exists at all, but in order to see that it does not exist we need to look at ourself so keenly that we see what we actually are. Therefore in this 25th verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, after saying ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum), ‘Grasping form it comes into existence; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form’, Bhagavan concluded ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), ‘If sought, it will take flight’, thereby implying that if we as ego investigate ourself keenly enough, we will subside and disappear, and what while then remain alone is what we actually are.

I have discussed the meaning of verse 25 in detail here because it is necessary for us to have a complete and comprehensive understanding of it in order to understand Bhagavan’s description of ego as a formless phantom in context and to relate it correctly to what he teaches us in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, which is what you had asked about. In particular it is necessary to understand that what he teaches us in verse 25 is that though ego is a phantom without any form of its own, it seems to exist only when it grasps the form of a body as itself. Therefore when he says in the first sentence of verse 4, ‘உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்’ (uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām), ‘If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise’, what he implies is that if we rise as ego and consequently perceive ourself mistakenly as if we were the form of a body, the world and God will likewise be perceived (or conceived) by us as forms.

What he says in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is:
உருவந்தா னாயி னுலகுபர மற்றா
முருவந்தா னன்றே லுவற்றி — னுருவத்தைக்
கண்ணுறுதல் யாவனெவன் கண்ணலாற் காட்சியுண்டோ
கண்ணதுதா னந்தமிலாக் கண்.

uruvandā ṉāyi ṉulahupara maṯṟā
muruvandā ṉaṉḏṟē luvaṯṟi — ṉuruvattaik
kaṇṇuṟudal yāvaṉevaṉ kaṇṇalāṯ kāṭciyuṇḍō
kaṇṇadutā ṉantamilāk kaṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

அன்வயம்: தான் உருவம் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; தான் உருவம் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை யாவன் கண் உறுதல்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ uruvam āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; tāṉ uruvam aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai yāvaṉ kaṇ uṟudal? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

English translation: If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? How? Can the seen be otherwise than the eye? The eye is oneself, the infinite eye.

Explanatory paraphrase: If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms, and how [to do so]? Can what is seen be otherwise [or of a different nature] than the eye [the awareness that sees or perceives it]? [Therefore forms can be perceived only by an ‘eye’ or awareness that perceives itself as a form, namely ego or mind, which always perceives itself as the form of a body.] The [real] eye is oneself [one’s real nature, which is pure self-awareness], the infinite [and hence formless] eye [so it can never see any forms or phenomena, which are all finite].
In the second and third sentences, ‘உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்?’ (uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ?), ‘If oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? How?’, what he implies is that if we do not rise as ego and consequently do not perceive ourself as a body, the forms that constitute the world and God cannot be perceived because there will be no one to perceive them. That is, forms or phenomena seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of ourself as ego, because only as ego do we perceive ourself as a form, and without perceiving ourself as a form we cannot perceive any other forms.

This is what Bhagavan implies in the fourth sentence: ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can what is seen be otherwise than the eye?’ As he himself explained (to Lakshmana Sarma and others), in this context he uses ‘அலால்’ (alāl), which is a poetic contraction of ‘அல்லால்’ (allāl), in a special sense to mean ‘otherwise’ or ‘of a different nature’, and he uses ‘கண்’ (kaṇ), ‘eye’, in a metaphorical sense to mean whatever perceives what is perceived. If the perceiver is ego, whatever it perceives will be forms, because it perceives itself as a form, whereas if the perceiver is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure awareness (and hence formless), what it perceives is only pure awareness, namely itself. In other words, what perceives forms or phenomena is only ego, because as Bhagavan implied in the first three sentences of verse 25, the very nature of ego is to grasp form, which (as I explained earlier) means to project and perceive them.

Then in the final sentence of verse 4 he says ‘கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ), which means ‘The eye is oneself, the infinite eye’, and which therefore implies that the real ‘eye’ or awareness is only ourself, and that what we actually are is only infinite and hence formless awareness. Though as ego we are aware, we are aware of ourself as if we were the form of a body, which is finite (as all forms are), so as such we are what seems to be a finite awareness. However, real awareness is formless and hence infinite, so that is our real nature.

Since the nature of what is seen cannot be other than the nature of the eye that sees it, only a finite eye can see finite things, and the infinite eye can see only what is infinite, namely itself. Therefore when Bhagavan says that the infinite eye is oneself, he implies that the infinite awareness that we actually are is never aware of any forms. Only when we rise as ego and consequently grasp the form of a body as ourself are we able to perceive other forms.

Now that Bhagavan has pointed this out to us, we can recognise that what he says is actually in perfect accord with our own experience. In waking and dream we rise and stand as ego, and consequently we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’ and are also aware of numerous other forms, both subtle (such as likes, dislikes, desires, fears, feelings, moods, emotions, memories and concepts) and gross (such as physical objects and events), whereas in sleep we do not rise as ego, and consequently we are not aware of ourself as a body or of any other forms.

6. Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 5: the mind is essentially just ego, the first thought, which is what rises as ‘I’, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, without which nothing else exists

Since your original questions were about two sentences in the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, I will now discuss the whole of this paragraph, in which Bhagavan says:
இந்தத் தேகத்தில் நான் என்று கிளம்புவது எதுவோ அஃதே மனமாம். நானென்கிற நினைவு தேகத்தில் முதலில் எந்தவிடத்திற் றோன்றுகின்ற தென்று விசாரித்தால், ஹ்ருதயத்தி லென்று தெரிய வரும். அதுவே மனதின் பிறப்பிடம். நான், நான் என்று கருதிக்கொண்டிருந்தாலுங்கூட அவ்விடத்திற் கொண்டுபோய் விட்டுவிடும். 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.

inda-t dēhattil nāṉ eṉḏṟu kiḷambuvadu edu-v-ō aḵdē maṉam-ām. nāṉ-eṉgiṟa niṉaivu dēhattil mudalil enda-v-iḍattil tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟadu eṉḏṟu vicārittāl, hrudayattil eṉḏṟu teriya varum. adu-v-ē maṉadiṉ piṟappiḍam. nāṉ, nāṉ eṉḏṟu karudi-k-koṇḍirundāluṅ-gūḍa a-vv-iḍattil koṇḍu-pōy viṭṭu-viḍum. 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.

Whatever it is that rises in this body as ‘I’, that alone is the mind. If one investigates in what place the thought called ‘I’ first appears in the body, one will come to know that it is in the heart [the innermost core of oneself]. That alone is the birthplace of the mind. Even if one continues thinking ‘I, I’, it will take and leave [one] in that place. 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.
    6a. First sentence: Whatever it is that rises in this body as ‘I’, that alone is the mind
In the first sentence Bhagavan explains what the mind essentially is: ‘இந்தத் தேகத்தில் நான் என்று கிளம்புவது எதுவோ அஃதே மனமாம்’ (inda-t dēhattil nāṉ eṉḏṟu kiḷambuvadu edu-v-ō aḵdē maṉam-ām), ‘Whatever it is that rises in this body as ‘I’, that alone is the mind’. Since ego is what rises in this body as ‘I’, what he implies here is that ego alone is what the mind essentially is. Therefore when he uses the term ‘mind’ he is generally (but by no means always) referring to ego rather than to the totality of all thoughts, which he sometimes referred to as ‘mind’.

The fundamental difference between ego and all other thoughts is that ego is aware whereas no other thoughts are aware, so ego is the subject or perceiver whereas all other thoughts are objects or things perceived by it. Since other thoughts seem to exist only because they are perceived by ego, no other thought could exist without ego, so ego is the only essential thought among the entire collection of thoughts, which are what constitutes the mind in its broadest sense. This is why he often said that ego, which is what he also referred to as ‘the thought called I’, is the root of all other thoughts, thereby implying that it is the essence and foundation of the mind.

When he says that mind is ‘இந்தத் தேகத்தில் நான் என்று கிளம்புவது’ (inda-t dēhattil nāṉ eṉḏṟu kiḷambuvadu), ‘what rises in this body as I’, that may seem to imply that this body somehow exists prior to our rising as ego, but that is not what he intended to imply, as he made clear elsewhere, including in the final four sentences of this paragraph. The body, like all other phenomena, is just a thought or mental fabrication (kalpanā), as he implies in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? when he says ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai), ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as world’, in the fourteenth paragraph when he says ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), ‘What is called the world is only thought’, and in the seventh paragraph when he says ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே. ஜக ஜீவ ஈச்வரர்கள், சிப்பியில் வெள்ளிபோல் அதிற் கற்பனைகள்’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē. jaga-jīva-īśvarargaḷ, śippiyil veḷḷi pōl adil kaṟpaṉaigaḷ), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. The world, soul and God are kalpanās [fabrications, imaginations, mental creations, illusions or illusory superimpositions] in it, like the [illusory] silver in a shell’. Therefore, being just a thought or kalpanā, the body exists only in the view of ego and therefore cannot exist prior to its rising.

Why then does he say that the mind is what rises in this body as ‘I’ or ego? How can it rise in the body when the body does not exist prior to its rising? Obviously he is talking metaphorically when he says that it rises in the body, so what exactly does he mean by saying this? As he says in the first sentence of verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām), ‘grasping form it comes into existence’, meaning that ego rises or comes into existence by projecting and perceiving the form of a body as itself, so what he implies in this first sentence of this fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? when he says that the mind is what rises in this body as ‘I’ is that it is what rises grasping (projecting and perceiving) this body as ‘I’. In other words, it is what rises as the false adjunct-mixed awareness ‘I am this body’.
    6b. Second sentence: If one investigates in what place the thought called ‘I’ first appears in the body, one will come to know that it is in the heart
In the second sentence he continues to talk somewhat metaphorically by saying: ‘நானென்கிற நினைவு தேகத்தில் முதலில் எந்தவிடத்திற் றோன்றுகின்ற தென்று விசாரித்தால், ஹ்ருதயத்தி லென்று தெரிய வரும்’ (nāṉ-eṉgiṟa niṉaivu dēhattil mudalil enda-v-iḍattil tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟadu eṉḏṟu vicārittāl, hrudayattil eṉḏṟu teriya varum), ‘If one investigates in what place the thought called ‘I’ first appears in the body, one will come to know that it is in the heart’. Many people who do not have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles of his teachings and who are not sufficiently familiar with the sense in which he uses certain words tend to interpret this sentence too literally, taking it to mean that if one searches for a place in the body from which ego first appears, that place in the body is what he calls ‘heart’. This is a misinterpretation for two reasons.

Firstly, he often uses the term ‘இடம்’ (iḍam), which literally means ‘place’, as a metaphor for our real nature (ātma-svarūpa). This is clearly illustrated by two sentences in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? in which he says, ‘நான் என்னும் நினைவு கிஞ்சித்து மில்லா விடமே சொரூபமாகும். அதுவே ‘மௌன’ மெனப்படும்’ (nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu kiñcittum illā v-iḍam-ē sorūpam āhum. adu-v-ē ‘mauṉam’ eṉa-p-paḍum), ‘Only the place where the thought called I [ego] does not exist at all [or even a little] is svarūpa [one’s ‘own form’ or real nature]. That alone is called ‘mauna’ [silence]’. In this context he is obviously not referring to any physical place but to what alone remains when ego does not exist, because that alone is our real nature (svarūpa) and absolute silence (mauna). One reason why he thus refers to our real nature metaphorically as a ‘place’ is that it is the ‘place’ or source from which we rise as ego and into which we must eventually subside, and hence he often refers to it as our ‘birthplace’ (piṟappiḍam), as he does in the next sentence of this fifth paragraph, in two sentences in the sixth paragraph and in one sentence in the eighth paragraph, or ‘rising place’, as he does for example in verse 10 of Upadēśa Undiyār, ‘உதித்த இடத்தில் ஒடுங்கி இருத்தல்’ (uditta iḍattil oḍuṅgi iruttal), ‘being, subsiding in the rising place [or place from which one rose]’, verse 19 of Upadēśa Undiyār, ‘நான் என்று எழும் இடம் ஏது என நாட உள்’ (nāṉ eṉḏṟu eṙum iḍam ēdu eṉa nāḍa uḷ), ‘when one investigates within [or inwardly investigates] what the place is from which one rises as I’, and verse 28 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘எழும்பும் அகந்தை எழும் இடத்தை’ (eṙumbum ahandai eṙum iḍattai), ‘the place where the rising ego rises’.

Secondly, in this context what he means by the term ‘ஹ்ருதயம்’ (hrudayam), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit term ‘हृदय’ (hṛdaya) and therefore means ‘heart’ in the sense of the core or centre of anything, is not any organ or place in this body but only our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which shines within us as our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), ‘I am’, and which is therefore the heart or core of ego and its progeny (namely all the phenomena perceived by it). Though he did sometimes say that the location of the heart in relation to the body is ‘two digits to the right from the centre of the chest’, he said so only to satisfy the curiosity of those who were unwilling to give up thinking in terms of themself being a body and of yogic concepts such as the various cakras or mystic centres in the body. However, to these who were willing to understand the true import of his teachings, he made it very clear that what he generally meant by the term ‘heart’, unless the context indicated otherwise, is our own real nature, as he explained, for example, in his answer to question 9 in the second chapter of Upadēśa Mañjari:
ஹ்ருதயத்தைப் பற்றி வர்ணிக்கும் சுருதிகள்,
“இருமுலை நடுமார் படிவயி றிதன்மே
லிருமுப் பொருளுள நிறம்பல விவற்று
ளொருபொரு ளாம்ப லரும்பென வுள்ளே
யிருவிரல் வலத்தே யிருப்பது மிதயம்.

அதன்முக மிகலுள தகமுள சிறுதுளை
யதனிலா சாதியொ டமர்ந்துள திருந்தம
மதனையா சிரித்துள வகிலமா நாடிக
ளதுவளி மனதொளி யவற்றின திருப்பிடம்.”
            (உள்ளது நாற்பது, அனுபந்தம்)
எனக்கூறினும் பரமார்த்தத்தில் ஹ்ருதயமென்ற சொற்குப் பொருள் ஆன்மாவே. அது சத்து சித்து ஆனந்தம் நித்தியம் பூரணம் என்னு மிலக்கணங்களால் வ்யவஹரிக்கப்படுவதால், அதற்கு உள்வெளி, கீழ்மேல் என்பவாதிய பேதங்கள் கிடையா. சர்வ நினைவுகளும் எவ்விடத்தொடுங்குகின்றனவோ அந் நிச்சலமான இடமே ஆன்ம நிலை யெனப்படும். அதன் ஸ்வரூபத்தை உள்ளவாறு உணர்ந்துநிற்குங்கால் அது தேகத்திற்குள்ளிலோ பறம்பிலோ என்பதாதிய ஆராய்ச்சிகளுக்கு அங்கு இடமில்லை.

hrudayattai-p paṯṟi varṇikkum śurutigaḷ,
“irumulai naḍumār baḍivayi ṟidaṉmē
lirumup poruḷuḷa niṟambala vivaṯṟu
ḷoruporu ḷāmbala rumbeṉa vuḷḷē
yiruviral valattē yiruppadu midayam.

adaṉmuka mihaluḷa dahamuḷa siṟuduḷai
yadaṉilā śādiyo ḍamarnduḷa dirundama
madaṉaiyā śirittuḷa vakhilamā nāḍiga
ḷaduvaḷi maṉadoḷi yavaṯṟiṉa diruppiḍam.”
            (uḷḷadu nāṟpadu, aṉubandham)
eṉa-k-kūṟiṉum paramārtthattil hrudayam-eṉḏṟa soṯku-p poruḷ āṉmāvē. adu sattu cittu āṉandam nittiyam pūraṇam eṉṉum ilakkaṇaṅgaḷāl vyavaharikka-p-paḍuvadāl, adaṟku uḷ-veḷi, kīṙ-mēl eṉbavādiya bhēdaṅgaḷ kiḍaiyā. sarva niṉaivugaḷum e-vv-iḍattoḍuṅgugiṉḏṟaṉavō a-n-niścalam-āṉa iḍamē āṉma nilai y-eṉa-p-paḍum. adaṉ svarūpattai uḷḷavāṟu uṇarndu-niṟkuṅ-kāl adu dēhattiṟkuḷḷilō paṟambilō eṉbadādiya ārāyccigaḷukku aṅgu iḍam-illai
.

Though texts that describe about hṛdaya [the heart] say,
Between the two breasts, below the chest and above the stomach there are six things; [their] colours are various. Among these, one thing resembling a lotus bud and existing inside, two digits to the right, is hṛdaya.

Its mouth is closed; inside is a small hole; in it dense darkness resides along with desire and so on; all the major nāḍis are connected to it; it is the abode of breath, mind and light.
            (Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham [verses 18-19])
in paramārtha [reality or ultimate truth] the meaning of the term hṛdaya is only ātman [oneself]. Since it is distinguished by the lakṣaṇas [marks, characteristics or attributes] called sat [existence], cit [awareness], ānanda [happiness], nitya [eternality] and pūrṇa [fullness, wholeness, entirety or infinity], differences such as inside or outside and below or above do not belong to it. In what place all thoughts cease, that motionless place alone is called the state of ātman [oneself]. When one abides experiencing its svarūpa [its ‘own form’ or real nature] as it is, there is no place there for investigations such as whether it is either inside or outside the body.
Therefore what he means in this second sentence of the fifth paragraph, ‘நானென்கிற நினைவு தேகத்தில் முதலில் எந்தவிடத்திற் றோன்றுகின்ற தென்று விசாரித்தால், ஹ்ருதயத்தி லென்று தெரிய வரும்’ (nāṉ-eṉgiṟa niṉaivu dēhattil mudalil enda-v-iḍattil tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟadu eṉḏṟu vicārittāl, hrudayattil eṉḏṟu teriya varum), ‘If one investigates in what place the thought called ‘I’ first appears in the body, one will come to know that it is in the heart’, is that if we investigate the source from which we first appear or rise as ego grasping a body as ‘I’, we will come to know that it is from ourself, the fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which is the heart.
    6c. Third sentence: That [the heart] alone is the birthplace of the mind
In the third sentence of this fifth paragraph he says, ‘அதுவே மனதின் பிறப்பிடம்’ (adu-v-ē maṉadiṉ piṟappiḍam), ‘That alone is the birthplace of the mind’, meaning that the heart alone is the source of the mind. As I explained above, ‘பிறப்பிடம்’ (piṟappiḍam), which literally means ‘birthplace’, is a term that he often uses to refer to the source from which we rise as ego or mind, so it refers to our real nature, which is pure awareness, because that alone is the source from which we have originated.
    6d. Fourth sentence: Even if one continues thinking I, I, it will take and leave in that place [the heart]
In the fourth sentence he says, ‘நான், நான் என்று கருதிக்கொண்டிருந்தாலுங்கூட அவ்விடத்திற் கொண்டுபோய் விட்டுவிடும்’ (nāṉ, nāṉ eṉḏṟu karudi-k-koṇḍirundāluṅ-gūḍa a-vv-iḍattil koṇḍu-pōy viṭṭu-viḍum), ‘Even if one continues thinking I, I, it will take and leave [one] in that place’. This is a clue that he often gave for people who struggled to hold on to self-attentiveness, or who had difficulty understanding how to be self-attentive, because mentally repeating the word ‘I’ (in any language one is familiar with) can help us to draw our attention back to ourself. Just as if we think of any noun, such as ‘apple’, it brings to our mind whatever object is denoted by that noun, if we contemplatively think ‘I’, it brings to our mind ourself, the awareness denoted by this first person singular pronoun. Therefore what he means by saying ‘அவ்விடத்திற் கொண்டுபோய் விட்டுவிடும்’ (a-vv-iḍattil koṇḍu-pōy viṭṭu-viḍum), ‘it will take and leave in that place’, is that if we deeply think ‘I, I’ it will take our attention back to ourself, the heart, and leave us quietly in the state of calm self-attentiveness.
    6e. Fifth sentence: Of all the thoughts that appear in the mind, the thought called I alone is the first thought
In the fifth sentence he says, ‘மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு’ (maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu), ‘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]’, in which he highlighted the clause ‘நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu), ‘the thought called I alone is the first thought’, in bold type. Whenever he uses this term ‘நானென்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivu), ‘the thought called I’ (or any other term that means the same, such as ‘நான் எனும் எண்ணம்’ (nāṉ eṉum eṇṇam) in verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār), he is referring to ego, which is the first thought and the root of all other thoughts, as he makes clear in eighth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? when he says: ‘நினைவே மனத்தின் சொரூபம். நானென்னும் நினைவே மனத்தின் முதல் நினைவு; அதுவே யகங்காரம்’ (niṉaivē maṉattiṉ sorūpam. nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē maṉattiṉ mudal niṉaivu; adu-v-ē y-ahaṅkāram), ‘Thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or actual nature] of the mind. The thought called I alone is the first thought of the mind; it alone is ego’.

In both this fifth sentence of the fifth paragraph and in that portion of the eighth paragraph he says that the thought called ‘I’ alone is ‘முதல் நினைவு’ (mudal niṉaivu), ‘the first thought’, in which the term முதல் (mudal) means first, primal, basic, original or causal, and in verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār he says it is மூலம் (mūlam), which means it is the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause, so what he teaches us is that ego is not only the first thought but also the root, base, foundation, origin, source and cause of all other thoughts.

Whereas all other thoughts are just objects perceived by ego and hence devoid of awareness, ego is the perceiving subject and hence what is aware both of itself and other thoughts. Ego is therefore fundamentally different to all other thoughts, so why does he say it is a thought? He uses the term ‘thought’ in a very broad sense to mean all kinds of mental phenomena, which according to him includes all phenomena, because no phenomena exist independent of ego’s perception of them, and hence all of them are just mental fabrications. However, since ego is what fabricates all other thoughts, can it itself be said to be a mental fabrication? Does it fabricate itself?

Yes, it does, because it cannot come into existence without projecting and perceiving a body as itself, so in the very process of fabricating a body it fabricates itself. That is, ego is always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’, so it is an adjunct-mixed form of awareness, in which the adjunct portion is the body consisting of five sheaths. Though in its essence ego is just the fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which alone is what is real, it does not exist as ego without conflating this fundamental awareness with a body, so since the body is just a thought, the compound awareness ‘I am this body’ is also a thought. This is why Bhagavan often said that ego is nothing other than the thought ‘I am this body’. In the absence of whatever body it currently takes to be itself there is no such thing as ego.
    6f. Sixth sentence: Only after this [the thought called I] arises do other thoughts arise
After saying in the fifth sentence, ‘மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு’ (maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu), ‘Of all the thoughts that appear in the mind, the thought called I alone is the first thought’, in the sixth sentence he says: ‘இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன’ (idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa), ‘Only after this arises do other thoughts arise’. Though he says that other thoughts rise only after ego rises, he is not referring to a chronological sequence here but to a causal sequence, because ego cannot rise or stand without grasping (projecting and perceiving) a body as itself, so that body, which is another thought, rises simultaneously with ego. Therefore when he says that other thoughts rise only after ego rises, he does not mean that the rising of other thoughts begins chronologically after the rising of ego, but that causally the rising of ego must occur first before any other thought can rise.

This is therefore a case of simultaneous causation, which can be illustrated by a simple example. If a moving billiard ball collides with a stationary one, the collision will cause the stationary one to begin moving, so the cause, namely the collision, and the effect, namely the movement of the formerly stationary ball, occur simultaneously. However, though they occur simultaneously, we can say that stationary ball begins to move only after the collision occurs. This does not mean that there is any time lapse between the cause and its effect, but that in terms of the causal sequence, the cause must precede its effect. Likewise, though ego and other thoughts arise simultaneously, the rising of ego is the cause and the rising of other thoughts is its effect, so in terms of the causal sequence, the rising of ego must precede the rising of other thoughts.
    6g. Seventh sentence: Only after the first person appears do second and third persons appear
In the seventh sentence of this fifth paragraph he says: ‘தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன’ (taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa), ‘Only after the first person appears do second and third persons appear’, which is a reiteration of what he pointed out in the previous sentence, namely ‘இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன’ (idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa), ‘Only after this [the thought called I] arises do other thoughts arise’, but in this reiteration, instead of referring to ego as ‘நானென்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivu), ‘the thought called I’, he refers to it as ‘தன்மை’ (taṉmai), ‘the first person’, and instead of referring to all phenomena as ‘ஏனைய நினைவுகள்’ (ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ), ‘other thoughts’, he refers to them as ‘முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள்’ (muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ), ‘second and third persons’. By thus reiterating the meaning of the previous sentence he emphasises it, and by using alternative terminology he clarifies that what he means by ‘other thoughts’ is everything other than ego, thereby reminding us indirectly that all phenomena are just thoughts or mental fabrications.
    6h. Eighth sentence: Without the first person second and third persons do not exist
Finally in the eighth sentence he concludes this fifth paragraph by stating unequivocally one of the fundamental principles of his teachings, which logically follows from what he said in the previous three sentences, namely: ‘தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா’ (taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā), ‘without the first person second and third persons do not exist’.

This is a principle that he stated explicitly or referred to implicitly in many other places in his original writings. For instance, in the first sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam he says, ‘இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu), ‘If the thought called ‘I’ [ego] does not exist, even one other [thought or thing] will not exist’, and in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says, ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’.

Though somewhat less explicitly, he implies the same in verse 14 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
தன்மையுண்டேன் முன்னிலைப டர்க்கைக டாமுளவாந்
தன்மையி னுண்மையைத் தானாய்ந்து — தன்மையறின்
முன்னிலைப டர்க்கை முடிவுற்றொன் றாயொளிருந்
தன்மையே தன்னிலைமை தான்.

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: If the first person [ego] exists, second and third persons [everything else] will exist. If the first person ceases to exist [by] oneself investigating the reality of the first person, second and third persons will come to an end, and [what then remains alone, namely] the nature [selfness, essence or reality] that shines as one [undivided by the appearance of these three persons or ‘places’] alone is oneself, the [real] state [or nature] of oneself.
When he says in this verse that second and third persons will come to an end when the first person ceases to exist as a result of its investigating the reality of itself, he clearly implies that when ego ceases to exist by investigating itself, nothing else can exist in its absence, as he stated explicitly in this final sentence of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: ‘தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா’ (taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā), ‘without the first person second and third persons do not exist’. The reason for this is very simple: Second and third persons (which means all phenomena, objects or things perceived) are just thoughts or mental fabrications, so they seem to exist only in the view of the first person (which is ego, the subject or perceiver of them), and hence without the first person they cannot exist.

Since we seem to be ego, the first person, only so long as we do not attend to ourself keenly enough, if instead of attending to anything else we keenly attend to ourself alone, ego will cease to exist, and hence everything else will cease to exist along with it. What will remain is only our own real nature, which always shines as one indivisible whole, as Bhagavan implies in the final clause of this fourteenth verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘ஒன்றாய் ஒளிரும் தன்மையே தன் நிலைமை தான்’ (oṉḏṟāy oḷirum taṉmaiyē taṉ nilaimai tāṉ), ‘the nature that shines as one alone is oneself, the [real] state [or nature] of oneself’.

In this verse he uses the word தன்மை (taṉmai) four times, the first three times in the sense of ‘the first person’, namely ego, but the fourth time in the sense of ‘nature’, implying the real nature of oneself (ātma-svarūpa). Etymologically ‘தன்மை’ (taṉmai) means ‘selfness’, so in a general sense it means the nature, essence or reality of anything, but in grammar it is used to refer specifically to the first person, ‘I’, whereas ‘முன்னிலை’ (muṉṉilai), which etymologically means ‘what stands in front’, is used to refer to the second person, and ‘படர்க்கை’ (paḍarkkai), which etymologically means ‘what spreads out’, is used to refer to the third person. Though in this sense ‘தன்மை’ (taṉmai), ‘முன்னிலை’ (muṉṉilai) and ‘படர்க்கை’ (paḍarkkai) are primarily grammatical terms, Bhagavan uses them in a philosophical sense, in which ‘தன்மை’ (taṉmai), ‘the first person’, means ego, the subject or perceiver, and ‘முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள்’ (muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ), ‘second and third persons’, means everything else, namely forms, phenomena, objects or things perceived.

7. Whatever world we perceive is nothing but thoughts, so since no thoughts can exist without ego, when ego ceases to exist all worlds will cease to exist along with it

As has often happened before, in the comments on my previous article, Self-investigation is the only means by which we can surrender ourself entirely and thereby eradicate ego, there has been a discussion about whether or not Bhagavan or the jñāni perceives the world. He himself answered this question unequivocally in the previous two paragraphs of Nāṉ Ār?, the third and the fourth, in which he explained very clearly why we cannot see our real nature while seeing the world, and accordingly cannot see the world while seeing our real nature.

In the last four sentences of the fifth paragraph, which I have been discussing above, he gives another reason why no world could be perceived after the annihilation of ego, the same reason that he gives emphatically in the first sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam and in the first two sentences of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, as well as in verse 14 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, namely that phenomena come into existence only when we rise as ego, so they do not exist when we do not rise as ego. How then could any phenomena be seen by us when we see what we actually are and thereby eradicate ego, the mistaken awareness ‘I am this body’?

When we are aware of ourself as we actually are, nothing else will exist for us to perceive, as Bhagavan clearly implies in the second sentence of verse 3 of Āṉma-Viddai by asking rhetorically, ‘தன்னை அறிந்திடில், பின் என்னை உளது அறிய?’ (taṉṉai aṟindiḍil, piṉ eṉṉai uḷadu aṟiya?), ‘If one has known oneself, then what [else] exists to know?’, and as he states more explicitly in the final sentence of verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār, ‘அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை’ (aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai), ‘there is not anything for knowing’, and in the third sentence of verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால், தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (aṟiyum adu uṇmai aṟivu āhādu. aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl, tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘Since [one’s real nature] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know, oneself is [real] awareness’.

So when we know ourself as we actually are, why does nothing else exist for us to know? Because everything other than our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) is just a thought, as he implies in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? when he says, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagamum illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagamum uṇḍu), ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world’, and because thoughts exist only in the view of ego, which is the first thought, the thought called ‘I’, so no other thought (and hence no phenomenon) can exist when ego does not exist, as he implies in the final four sentences of the fifth paragraph:
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 in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first 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 thoughts or things] appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist.
If our present state is just a dream, as Bhagavan says it is, how could this world exist when we do not perceive it, and how could it exist in any view other than our own? When we wake up from a dream, we do not suppose that the world we perceived in that dream existed anywhere except in our own mind, or that it could have been perceived by anyone other than ourself. Why then should we suppose that the world we perceive now is in any way different to whatever world we perceive in any other dream? In a dream there is only one perceiver, namely the dreamer, who is ego, so if our present state is just a dream, it is being dreamt by us as ego, so we are the dreamer, and hence when we know ourself as we actually are and thereby wake up from the sleep of self-ignorance, in which all dreams occur, this world and every other world will cease to exist. This is what Bhagavan clearly implies 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.
When someone has woken up from a dream, we do not suppose that they continue to perceive that dream world in this waking state. Why then should we suppose that the jñāni, who has woken up from the sleep of self-ignorance and who has therefore ceased to be a dreamer, continues to perceive this dream world?

Whose dream is this? It is our own, so it seems to exist only so long as we are dreaming it. When we know ourself as we actually are, we will thereby cease to be ego, and since ego alone is the dreamer of all dreams, all dreams will forever cease to exist, and their respective worlds will cease to exist along with them. This is why Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist. Ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.
In this context ‘அனைத்தும்’ (aṉaittum) and ‘யாவும்’ (yāvum), which both mean ‘all’ or ‘everything’, imply all phenomena (everything that appears and disappears), so ‘everything’ here includes whatever world we may see in this or any other dream. So why does Bhagavan say that if ego comes into existence, all phenomena come into existence, and that if ego does not exist, no phenomena exist? For the simple reason that all phenomena are just mental fabrications, like everything we perceive in a dream, so they seem to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, and hence when we do not rise as ego, as in sleep or ātma-jñāna (pure self-awareness), they do not exist at all.

Therefore, since we seem to be ego only so long as we do not attend to ourself keenly enough, if we do attend to ourself keenly enough, ego will cease to exist, and hence everything else will cease to exist along with it. This is why he says in the final sentence of this verse: ‘ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்’ (ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr), ‘Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything’.

In many verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, such as verses 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 23, 26 and 31, Bhagavan clearly implies that the forms or phenomena that constitute the world does not exist except in the view of ourself as ego, and hence that in the absence of ego no world or anything else exists for us to know. Therefore if we have correctly understood the fundamental principles of his teachings as clearly expressed by him in his own original writings such as Nāṉ Ār?, Upadēśa Undiyār and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, there is absolutely no room for any question to arise about whether or not any world or other phenomena exist in the clear view of the jñāni.

This question arises only for those who have not yet clearly understood the fundamental principles of his teachings and who consequently mistake him to be the person whom he seemed to be in the self-ignorant view of ourself as ego. If he were the person whom he seemed to be in our view, then yes, he seemed to perceive this world just as all other people seem to perceive it, but he is not what he seemed to be. As he often said, ‘ஞானமே ஞானி’ (ñāṉamē ñāṉi), ‘jñāna alone is the jñāni’, meaning that pure awareness (jñāna) alone is what knows pure awareness. Therefore the jñāni is not the person he seems to be in our view.

As he said in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, referring to the jñāni using an honorific plural form, even though the jñāni is the one infinite whole, other than which no other thing can exist:
தன்னை யழித்தெழுந்த தன்மயா னந்தருக்
கென்னை யுளதொன் றியற்றுதற்குத் — தன்னையலா
தன்னிய மொன்று மறியா ரவர்நிலைமை
யின்னதென் றுன்ன லெவன்.

taṉṉai yaṙitteṙunda taṉmayā ṉandaruk
keṉṉai yuḷadoṉ ḏṟiyaṯṟudaṟkut — taṉṉaiyalā
taṉṉiya moṉḏṟu maṟiyā ravarnilaimai
yiṉṉadeṉ ḏṟuṉṉa levaṉ
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை அழித்து எழுந்த தன்மயானந்தருக்கு என்னை உளது ஒன்று இயற்றுதற்கு? தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai aṙittu eṙunda taṉmaya-āṉandarukku eṉṉai uḷadu oṉḏṟu iyaṯṟudaṟku? taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?

அன்வயம்: தன்னை அழித்து எழுந்த தன்மயானந்தருக்கு இயற்றுதற்கு என்னை ஒன்று உளது? தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): taṉṉai aṙittu eṙunda taṉmaya-āṉandarukku iyaṯṟudaṟku eṉṉai oṉḏṟu uḷadu? taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?

English translation: For those who are happiness composed of that, which rose destroying themself, what one exists for doing? They do not know anything other than themself; who can conceive their state as ‘like this’?

Explanatory paraphrase: For those who are [blissfully immersed in and as] tanmayānanda [happiness composed of that, namely brahman, one’s real nature], which rose [as ‘I am I’] destroying themself [ego], what one [action] exists for doing? They do not know [or are not aware of] anything other than themself; [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘[it is] like this’?
The person whom we mistake the jñāni to be does actions by mind, speech and body and consequently seems to us to be aware of other things, just as we are, but according to Bhagavan the jñāni is just pure awareness, which never does anything or knows anything other than itself, because in its clear view nothing other than itself exists or even seems to exist. Therefore, until we surrender ourself entirely, thereby eradicating ego (and consequently all thoughts, forms or phenomena) and merging forever in and as pure awareness, which is the infinite happiness that he refers to here as ‘தன்மயானந்த’ (tanmayānanda), ‘happiness composed of that’, we cannot understand or conceive what the state of the jñāni actually is, or even what it is like.

Therefore, rather than trying to understand what cannot and need not be understood, namely the state of the jñāni, we should try to focus all our interest, attention and effort only on investigating and thereby surrendering ourself, this ego, whose nature is to seek to know and understand everything other than itself.

19 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

Let us continue taking our small baby steps, and slowly we will become steadier on our legs

Bhagavan has given us the path of happiness, the path of pure love, so what more do we want? We may not be ready to surrender ourself completely, but let us try to surrender ourself to the extent possible. In order to surrender ourself, we need to surrender all our desires, and we inevitably surrender our fears along with our desires. If we desire nothing we have nothing to fear, so let us yield ourself completely to Bhagavan. The more we try to surrender, the more we will be able to surrender, so we cannot fail on this path.

We may be taking small baby steps at present, but even the greatest Olympic runner started off as a small toddler taking small baby steps. Likewise, the great jnanis started off in the same position as we in now - taking small baby steps. So let us continue taking our small baby steps, and slowly we will become steadier on our legs. Eventually, we will start running and will certainly reach our goal.

As we travel along the path, we are picking up speed, the more speed we pick up, the more resistance we face. So even though we are picking up speed, it seems to us that we are going very slowly. So on this path, courage is needed from the beginning till the end. The ultimate courage we need is to yield ourself completely to Bhagavan. That requires the greatest courage. We don’t have that courage yet, but if we follow this path, slowly slowly we will get that courage. We will eventually trust in Bhagavan enough to give ourself completely to him.

• Based on the video: 2019-09-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to overcome fear of an existential void (47:00 & 57:00)

My reflection: The more we travel on Bhagavan’s path, the more fearless we become.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan path is the path of practical renunciation

A friend: I love going to the cinema. Will I lose interest in all such pastimes if I follow Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation?

Michael: The more we follow this path, the weaker our desires and attachments will become. Suppose in the past we liked going to the cinema, but when we follow this path, we will find that going to the cinema becomes less important to us. We still enjoy the film when we go to the cinema, so we have not renounced going to the cinema, but our desire for cinema has reduced. So this is practical renunciation because we cannot renounce everything at once. In fact, we don’t need to renounce the things we desire. We need to renounce our desire for those things. Going to the cinema is not a problem, but our desire for that is a problem.

So slowly slowly our desires will drop off. Of course, sometimes we may go to the cinema, but it is no longer that important to us. Cinema is just an example. This applies to all our desires. So Bhagavan has given a very very practical path. Generally in the past, in most religions, there was an idea of renunciation. Like in Christianity, you can become a nun or a monk. In Hinduism or Buddhism, you can become a sannyasi.

Bhagavan wasn’t opposed to external renunciation, but he said it is unnecessary. According to destiny, one may be married or live a life of outward renunciation. What is given to us according to destiny is most favourable to us. But Bhagavan said that a person who lives a family life without thinking ‘I am a family man’ is a better renunciate than a person who has taken outward renunciation but thinks ‘I am a great renunciate’. What we need to renounce is our ego and its desires.

• Based on the video: 2019-09-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to overcome fear of an existential void (1:18)

My reflection: So renunciation is in our mind. Renunciation is in our inner attitude. Why should I think ‘I am a family man’? Am I really a person in the first place? Who is this ‘I’ who takes this Sanjay to be ‘I’? This is what I need to investigate, always.

Asun said...

Michael,

If I have not misunderstood, sat-chit is ourself and in sat-chit there is a power, chit-sakti , which is the source of ego as avarana sakti, self-forgetfuness or self-ignorance, and viksep sakti or projecting and perceiving multiplicity by identifying itself with a body.
In your book “Happiness and the art of being” you say that self-forgetfulness is our choice to misuse this power lying in ourself. I searched in google chit-sakti and I came across with this: “chit-shakti or awareness has the will to know its own power and strength. It is for this reason that the universe is manifest: because chit-sakti has the will to know itself and its power” which seems to fit with what you say in your book so, it is rather this will to arise as ego, which is only possible through self-forgetfulness, than ego itself which is just an imagination, what has to be surrendered, isn´t it? And it is surrendered because it is realized that to deploy this power only brings about misery or dissatisfaction. When this will or power is surrendered, it is swallowed by ourself hence, ego not to arise anymore.

Question is: isn´t it necessary chit-sakti to deploy its power in order to know its capacity, i.e., to become active, for it to subside? If it remains in a latent state, there is always the possibility that it to arise as ego being, in turn, the mere existence of this possibility the reason for it to arise, isn´t it?

Michael James said...

Asun, regarding what you wrote in your comment of 17 January 2020 at 14:58, it is much simpler than that. Awareness (cit) and its power (śakti) are one and indivisible, so sat-cit itself is cit-śakti. They are not two separate things, or even one thing in another. In its pristine state it is not a power of doing but only a power of being, because awareness (cit) is being (sat), so it never does anything or chooses anything. It is infinite, eternal and immutable, and since it alone is what actually exists, it is not touched or affected by anything else.

All choosing and doing is done only by ego, which borrows its seeming power from cit-śakti, but without affecting cit-śakti in any way, because cit-śakti alone is real, whereas ego is just an illusory appearance, and it appears only in its own view and not in the clear view of cit-śakti.

Who is self-forgetful? Who has a will to rise as ego? Our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) has never and can never forget itself, and consequently it never has a will to do anything other than just be, because it is sat-cit-ānanda, so it is immutable and eternally satisfied as it is. It is only as ego that we forget ourself and consequently desire to rise, stand and flourish as such.

I do not remember what I wrote in Happiness and the Art of Being, but if I wrote that ‘self-forgetfulness is our choice to misuse this power lying in ourself’, as you say, or something to that effect, what I meant is that it is ego’s choice, not the choice of our real nature. The reason it is necessary to say this is that we as ego must accept responsibility for our own self-ignorance and for consequently creating all phenomena. We are self-ignorant (or self-forgetful) and all phenomena appear in our view only because we do not attend to ourself keenly enough, and we do not attend to ourself keenly enough only because we have chosen to project and attend to other things instead.

We cannot blame God or cit-śakti or anything else for the mess we are in. This is all entirely our own making. We as ego are the dreamer, so we are responsible for all that we are dreaming. We may seem to be helpless, because we now mistake ourself to be a person in our dream, but we are always free to attend only to ourself and thereby stop dreaming. If we attend to ourself keenly enough, we will see that we are just pure awareness, so we have never risen as ego or consequently dreamt anything.

As I said above, cit-śakti is nothing other than sat-cit, which is our real nature, so it always knows itself as it is, and hence it is absurd to say that it ‘has the will to know its own power and strength. It is for this reason that the universe is manifest: because chit-sakti has the will to know itself and its power’, as you read somewhere on the internet. This is no doubt what some people believe, but it is quite contrary to what Bhagavan taught us.

Whatever we may learn about cit-śakti by googling the word is only what people believe about it, and there are of course many different beliefs that people have about it. However, most of the things that we formerly believed or were taught to believe will be demolished if we carefully consider and are willing to accept all that Bhagavan taught us. According to him the root cause of everything is only ego, so there is absolutely no cause antecedent to ego. Therefore all we need to surrender is ourself as ego, because when ego is surrendered its will and everything else will be surrendered along with it. And to surrender ourself, all we need do is attend to ourself keenly enough.

It is so simple. What is lacking at present is only our willingness to attend to ourself keenly enough and thereby surrender ourself entirely. However, if we patiently persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible, we will gain the required willingness (bhakti) and will thereby eventually succeed in surrendering ourself entirely.

Asun said...

Michael, in chapter “The nature of our mind” of your book (pg. 290), you wrote:

"How then does this illusory self-forgetfulness arise? How do we appear to
have forgotten our real self? Since we are in reality only our fundamental
self-consciousness ‘I am’, which can never forget its own true nature, how can we even seemingly forget ourself?
Since we are in truth the unlimited consciousness ‘I am’, which alone is
real, we alone truly exist. Since nothing exists other than ourself, there is
nothing that can limit our freedom or our power in any way. Being the one
and only absolute reality, therefore, we are perfectly free, and hence all
powerful. Or to be more precise, we ourself are perfect freedom and
absolute power, because freedom and power cannot be other than the only
existing non-dual reality, which is our real self.

Therefore, other than ourself, there is no power that could make us forget
our real self, or even seemingly forget it. Hence it must be only by our own
freedom of choice that we have seemingly forgotten our real self.
Because we ourself are perfect freedom, we are free to be whatever we
choose to be, and to do whatever we choose to do. We are free either to be
our real self – that is, to remain just as we ever really are, as mere being,
which is our own infinite non-dual self-consciousness ‘I am’ – or to imagine
ourself to be a finite body-bound consciousness that experiences an
imaginary world of duality.
In order to imagine ourself to be a limited body-bound consciousness, we
must first choose to overlook or ignore our real nature as the unlimited
adjunct-free consciousness ‘I am’, or at least to imagine that we have
overlooked it. This imaginary overlooking or ignoring of our real self is
what we call ‘self-forgetfulness’, and it occurs only by our own choice – by our own misuse of our unlimited freedom and power."

Asun said...

And in chapter "The nature of our mind", pg. 283, you wrote:

"This power of māyā or self-deception functions in two forms, as the
power of veiling or obscuring called āvaraṇa śakti, and the power of
scattering, dispersion, diffusion or dissipation called vikṣēpa śakti. The
former, āvaraṇa śakti, which is our power of ‘self-forgetfulness’, ‘selfignorance’
or lack of clarity of self-knowledge, is the root and primal form
of māyā, because it is the original cause that always underlies the latter,
vikṣēpa śakti, which is our power of imagination that enables us to project
from within ourself a seemingly external world of multiplicity. Whereas
vikṣēpa śakti functions only in waking and in dream, the underlying āvaraṇa
śakti functions not only in waking and dream but also in deep sleep."

Jay Matthews said...

Thank you, Michael!

Sanjay Lohia said...

Thank God, Bhagavan didn’t see this world!

The last two paragraphs of this article are as follows:

The person whom we mistake the jñāni to be does actions by mind, speech and body and consequently seems to us to be aware of other things, just as we are, but according to Bhagavan the jñāni is just pure awareness, which never does anything or knows anything other than itself, because in its clear view nothing other than itself exists or even seems to exist. Therefore, until we surrender ourself entirely, thereby eradicating ego (and consequently all thoughts, forms or phenomena) and merging forever in and as pure awareness, which is the infinite happiness that he refers to here as ‘தன்மயானந்த’ (tanmayānanda), ‘happiness composed of that’, we cannot understand or conceive what the state of the jñāni actually is, or even what it is like.

Therefore, rather than trying to understand what cannot and need not be understood, namely the state of the jñāni, we should try to focus all our interest, attention and effort only on investigating and thereby surrendering ourself, this ego, whose nature is to seek to know and understand everything other than itself.

My reflections: Thank God, Bhagavan didn’t see this world. If he saw the world, that would have given reality to us and this world. So this world has no real existence – in fact, it doesn’t even have a seeming existence when we are not aware of it. So Sanjay and Sanjay’s beautiful or ugly world exists only in Sanjay’s own self-ignorant view. Therefore, all this is merely my dream, so I need not worry about anything. Such an understanding will help us to leave our concern for all other things and will help us to go within deeper and deeper.

If Bhagavan can exist without perceiving this world, so can we. So we shouldn’t worry by thinking that we will cease to exist once we experience ourself as we actually are. Now I think that ‘I am Sanjay’, but in this ‘Sanjay’ is just an unreal and non-existent adjunct. When I am able to turn a full 180 degrees towards myself alone, what will then remain is only ‘I am’. So I can never lose myself. In fact, metaphorically speaking I will ‘gain’ myself once I remain as I really am.

So what is our real task? Michael answers this: ‘we should try to focus all our interest, attention and effort only on investigating and thereby surrendering ourself, this ego, whose nature is to seek to know and understand everything other than itself’. I have so much interest in so many things, and therefore I give so much of my attention to those other things. I make so much effort to achieve this or that, but all such diversions are a waste of time. All our loka-vichara (world-investigation) keeps us away from atma-vichara (self-investigation). So Bhagavan was insistent that we stick to atma-vichara because loka-vichara will lead us nowhere.

I am interested in matters of diet and such things but again these are diversions beyond a point. Bhagavan has asked us to consume sattvik food in moderate quantity. According to Bhagavan, sattvik food in moderate quantity is the best aid to our practice of atma-vichara. We should eat as sattvik as possible and as much in moderate quantity as possible, so Bhagavan does want us to be careful in our dietary choices. However, we shouldn't be obsessed with such things.


Asun said...

Sorry, this is the paragraph I wanted to copy, previous to the first one I posted with your explanation that ‘self-forgetfulness’ "occurs only by our own choice – by our own misuse of our unlimited freedom and power.", where you cleary claim that self-forgetfulness is the necessary premise for us to arise as ego or to "be able to imagine ourself to be one body":

"if we had not forgotten the true nature of our real self, which
always exists as our adjunct-free consciousness ‘I am’, we would not be able
to imagine ourself to be anything other than that. That is, we would not be
able to imagine ourself to be one body in the waking state, to be another
body in dream, and to be ‘unconscious’ in sleep. Thus the fundamental sleep
that underlies all our dreams, including the present dream that we now
mistake to be our waking state, is our sleep of self-forgetfulness – the sleep
in which we have forgotten our real self, the true nature of our essential
consciousness ‘I am’."

When I asked you, before reading your book, if you still agreed with what you wrote in it, you told me that mostly yes, that perhaps now you would say a few things in a different way, but regarding this issue, what you say now is not what you wrote said in a different way, it is something completely different, isn´t it?



Sanjay Lohia said...

Know your enemy-in-chief, which is ego

In Indian banks, we need to give the banks all our personal or company details under the scheme called KYC (Know Your Customer or Client). This way the banks can keep track of us. So I thought we also need a similar scheme - ‘know your enemy-in-chief’, which obviously in ego or ‘I am this body’ idea. My following reflection is based partly on section six of Michael’s above article and partly on a few verses from Ulladu Narpadu. The idea is to look closely at the nature of our enemy-in-chief. In any war, we need to be aware of all the strengths and weaknesses of our enemy. Likewise, in our inner warfare, we need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of our foe, ego. Bhagavan teaches us in paragraph five of Nan Ar?:

Whatever it is that rises in this body as ‘I’, that alone is the mind. […] 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.

What rises in the body is ego, so ego and mind are synonyms in this context. So mind essentially is just this ego, which is chit-jada-granthi. When we think of ‘I’, we think that this ‘I’ is located within the body or this ‘I’ is the body itself. So this body-bound ‘I’ is ego. The ‘I’ which seems to be caged within the confines of a body is ego. How can the ego or mind rise in the body when the body does not exist prior to its rising? Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Ulladu Narpadu that ego comes into existence only by grasping form. This implies that ego comes into existence by projecting and perceiving the form of a body as itself. Bhagavan also talks about the nature of ego in paragraph eight of Nan Ar?:

The first thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought of the mind; it alone is ego.

Bhagavan gives us all the necessary information we need about our enemy-in-chief, ego, also in verses 23, 24, 25 and 26 of Ulladu Narpadu. In verses 23 and 24, he tells that ego is neither this body nor what we actually are, but it is something in between. Ego poses as both this body and sat-chit, but it is neither. Bhagavan tells us in verse 25, ego is a formless phantom which comes into existence by grasping form. In verse 26, Bhagavan tells us that nothing can exist if ego does not exist. All phenomena seem to exist only because we rise as ego. Ego’s very rising creates phenomena in ego's awareness, so creation happens simultaneously with perception. How to get rid of this ego? If ego seeks or investigates itself, it will take flight. Bhagavan reveals this absolutely priceless clue in verse 25.

This way Bhagavan has thoroughly exposed all the strengths and weaknesses of our enemy-in-chief, and by doing this he has made our inner battle with ego so much simpler and easier. Let us turn within and look at ourself with our entire attention, and we will cease to be ego. What will remain is pure and infinite sat-chit-ananda. So simple!




Michael James said...

Asun, regarding the passage from the sixth chapter of Happiness and the Art of Being, True Knowledge and False Knowledge, that you refer to in your comment of 18 January 2020 at 13:13, the way I explained things in those days is not quite the same as I would now, but I do not think that what I wrote in that passage is ‘something completely different’ (in the sense of contradictory) to what I wrote in my reply to you yesterday, particularly if you read that passage in the context of what else I wrote about self-forgetfulness in that chapter. For example, in the later passage from the same chapter that you quoted in your comment of 17 January 2020 at 21:00 I wrote that “we are in reality only our fundamental self-consciousness ‘I am’, which can never forget its own true nature”, and in the paragraph before that I wrote, ‘Such is the inexplicable and illusory nature of māyā that though our self-forgetfulness is the original cause that created the spurious and unreal consciousness we call our mind, it nevertheless does not exist except in the view of this unreal consciousness that it has created’, thereby implying that what has forgotten our real nature is not our real nature but only the unreal consciousness called ego or mind.

What I wrote about self-forgetfulness in that chapter may seem to contradict what I replied to you yesterday only if we mistake self-forgetfulness to be anything other than ego, which it is not. Self-forgetfulness is the very nature of ego, because without being self-forgetful ego could not come into existence or endure, so in effect ‘self-forgetfulness’ is another name for ego.

In advaita prior to Bhagavan it was generally said that avidyā (meaning ignorance in the sense of self-ignorance) is the root cause of all our problems, so as I explained in There is not just one but many different and often conflicting traditional interpretations of advaita and the writings of Sankara, after Sankara there was a major dispute among his followers about whether the āśraya of avidyā (the thing in which avidyā inheres) is brahman or jīva. The vivaraṇa school argued that brahman must be the āśraya of avidyā, because jīvas appear as a result of avidyā, whereas the bhāmatī school argued that the jīva must be the āśraya of avidyā, because brahman cannot be affected by ignorance. When Bhagavan was asked about this he pointed out that the dispute arose because they mistook avidyā to be something other than jīva, whereas in fact avidyā is the very nature of jīva (which is another way of saying that self-forgetfulness is the very nature of ego), so without jīva (ego) there could be no such thing as avidyā (self-forgetfulness).

Asun said...

Michael,

What you say now that ourself :

“its pristine state it is not a power of doing but only a power of being, because awareness (cit) is being (sat), so it never does anything or chooses anything. It is infinite, eternal and immutable, and since it alone is what actually exists, it is not touched or affected by anything else.”

And what you wrote in your book that:

“other than ourself there is no power that could make us forget our real self or even seemingly forget it. Hence it must be only by our own freedom of choice that we have seemingly forgotten our real self. Because we ourself are perfect freedom, we are free to be whatever we choose to be, and to do whatever we choose to do.”
As well as all what follows and I posted already, is completely contradictory. Not to talk about the term “self-forgetfulness” you use many times in the book and now discard by asking “who is self-forgetful?” implying that there is not such a thing as self-forgetfulness since it implies, obviously, that it is ourself what chooses to forget itself, the primal form of maya as you define it, which would give rise to the secondary form of maya or what we call ego “I am this body”, as you clearly say and explain in the book, unless I´ve gone definitely mad.

In your latest response now you also say that self-forgetfulness “ is the very nature of ego, because without being self-forgetful ego could not come into existence or endure, so in effect ‘self-forgetfulness’ is another name for ego.” But if self-forgetfulness is not the choice of ourself and the ego´s rising its consequence or manifestation, so to speak,it is me who ask now what you asked before “who is self-forgetful?”

I find the whole thing quite confusing and contradictory, to be frank.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 5.,
"Since it projects them only into its own field of awareness (which is the ‘மன விண்’ (maṉa viṇ) or ‘mind-space’ [...], its projection and perception of them are one and the same thing. This is why he taught us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention (vāda) that perception (dṛṣṭi) itself is creation (sṛṣṭi)."
"Just as everything we perceive in a dream is created by our mere perception of it, because we perceive dream phenomena by projecting them in our mind-space, everything we perceive in our current state is created by our mere perception of it, because as he taught us, any state in which we perceive phenomena is just a dream, so all phenomena are just mental fabrications."
If possible can you please give an explanation in more detail and any hint how one could empirically have that experience and thereby examine the truth of the above fundamental statements that

a.) perception (dṛṣṭi) itself is creation (sṛṣṭi),

b.) everything we perceive in a dream is created by our mere perception of it and

c.) everything we perceive in our current state is created by our mere perception of it ?

In the given context I understand the term 'perception' as (the ability of) becoming aware/the recognition of something through the senses/ by the use of one of the senses.
The term 'creation' I consider as the process of bringing something into existence or at least into seeming existence.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Asun, in section three of this article, Michael wrote:

When Bhagavan says that mind (in the sense of ego) is an ‘அதிசய சக்தி’ (atiśaya śakti) or ‘extraordinary power’, he implies that it is the power of māyā, and this is why he often referred to it as ‘மனமாயை’ (maṉa-māyai), ‘mind-māyā’ or ‘māyā, the mind’ (as recorded, for example, in verses 22, 55, 118, 296, 560, 597 and 1090 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai). What is called ‘māyā’ is nothing other than ego. Ego is both of the two basic powers of māyā, namely āvaraṇa śakti and vikṣēpa śakti. It is āvaraṇa śakti, the power of covering, veiling, concealing or hiding, because as ego we are always aware of ourself as if we were a body, so in effect ego conceals our real nature, which is pure awareness. And it is vikṣēpa śakti, the power of scattering, dispersion, dissipation, projection or distraction, because it is what causes the appearance of all phenomena, which are nothing but thoughts or mental fabrications.

So self-forgetfulness occurs only when we experience ourself as a body. I also felt at one time that our self-forgetfulness precedes our experiencing ourself as this ego. However, this cannot be the case because when we look at our own experience we will know this is not true. We are pure-awareness in sleep, but in waking we experience ourself as Asun or Sanjay or whatever. We do not experience any in-between state, do we? That is, we are never aware of ourself as being in a state which is neither that of pure-awareness nor that of Asun or Sanjay.

So we become self-forgetful only when experience ourself as a body or person. As Michael explains, we (ego) are under the sway of avarana sakti when we mistake ourself to be a body, and we (ego) are under the sway of viksepa sakti when we are aware of all phenomena, which are nothing but thoughts or mental fabrications. And ego is both these basic powers of maya.

Therefore, whenever we have doubts about the correct interpretation of Bhagavan’s teachings, we should closely examine our own experience. Bhagavan’s teachings are directly based on our own direct experience, so we will never go wrong if we keep our own direct experience in mind.

Asun said...

Yes, Sanjay, I get that. I understand both theories and their implications that´s why I´m saying that they contradict each other because either only ourself exists and it is “all powerful” therefore, “other than ourself, there is no power that could make us forget
our real self, or even seemingly forget it. Hence it must be only by our own
freedom of choice that we have seemingly forgotten our real self.
Because we ourself are perfect freedom, we are free to be whatever we
choose to be, and to do whatever we choose to do.” as Michael wrote in his book, or ourself is only the power of being and has nothing to do with the rising of ego which is the power of mind and what chooses either identifying itself with a body or to turn towards itself and find out that it never arose nor existed and that it is nothing but ourself.

I´m not defending any of the two points of view either, I´m just saying that they are contradictory and that, in case the second one to be the right one, the first one is misleading. Had I read the book before the articles, I also would believe now that “our self-forgetfulness precedes our experiencing ourself as this ego” as you say that happened to you, because that´s what Michael´s explanation in his book implies.

My first comment in this article was just an attempt to attend simultaneously to both theories.



anadi-ananta said...

In section 5.,is stated that our real nature is real awareness which is formless and hence infinite.

Hope that even I can find a practicable/feasible method or passable/accessible/walkable path to know my real nature.:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

That’s all Bhagavan asks us to do – cop out

Michael: That’s all Bhagavan asks us to do – cop out. Let us cop out of this world. If you surrender to Bhagavan, that’s the ultimate cop-out. It’s handing over all our responsibilities to Bhagavan. And Bhagavan says however many responsibilities we put on him, he will bear it all.

A friend: My worry is who will pay my bills if I cop out?

Michael: This worry shows your unwillingness to cop out. If you were really willing to cop out, let the bills be paid or not, what is it to you? But the bills are paid according to prarabdha. Those bills which are to be paid will be paid; those bills which are to be defaulted will be defaulted. You can’t change that because that’s already determined. Bhagavan says the train is carrying the entire burden. Why should we who are travelling on it suffer by carrying our own luggage on our head? Our bills, our duties and responsibilities which we think we have to do, all this is our luggage which we are carrying on our head. When Bhagavan is the train taking care of all our duties and responsibilities, let us leave everything to him and be peaceful and happy.

If we surrender completely, the bills may still be paid, but the one who pays the bills is not us. What the body and mind are destined to do, they will be made to do. If the body and mind are to pay the bills, they will do so, but what is that to us? The problem is that we take that body and mind to be ‘I’ and feel that ‘I have to pay the bills’.

However, so long as we experience the body and mind to be ourself, we are the doer. Doership is the very nature of ego. In order to give doership, we need to give up ego. That is, we have to surrender completely.

• Based on the video: 2019-08-10 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Āṉma-Viddai verse 1(1:09)

My note: ‘Cop-out’ means to avoid doing something that ought to be done (example: He would not cop out of difficult tax decisions). To cop out of this world seems difficult. We may even feel that we are being cowards because we are trying to shirk our duties and responsibilities. However, we are not being cowards but being extremely brave. Holding on to things doesn’t require much courage because that’s what ego is here for. Ego's very existence depends on grasping things. What requires courage is to cop out – give up our hold on everything.

Yes, we are weak now. However, the more we practise self-investigation and thereby surrender ourself, the easier it will become to cop out, the easier it will become to say the final goodbye. And if nothing works, we should pray to Bhagavan - ‘Bhagavan, I want to leave everything and surrender to you, but I am too weak to do so. I have had enough of carrying all this burden like a donkey. So please, please help!’. If we can add a few tears to our prayers, Bhagavan will be forced to respond. We should not underestimate the power of our tears for Bhagavan. Everything else can fail but not our tears of longing for Bhagavan!

Michael James said...

Asun, I have replied to your comment of 18 January 2020 at 17:55 in a separate article: Why or how we have risen as ego is inexplicable, but Bhagavan does explain why and how we can cease rising

Rajat said...

Thank you Michael for taking the time for writing this very detailed and useful article. I think this needs to be read multiple times to fully understand all the connections you have made between different passages/verses from Bhagavan's works.