Monday, 7 October 2019

Is it possible for us to attend to ourself, the subject, rather than to any object?

A friend wrote to me recently:
Can you tell from your experience if practicing Self investigation is something that is started in a “wrong” manner and evolves into the correct practice over the years?

I think I have the correct intellectual understanding of how to perform Self investigation but in practice I get trapped again and again: I try to be aware of myself alone but as I cannot be objectified my attention is always landing on subtle objects. It takes a while to realize this, then I try to redirect my attention to myself again which results in dwelling on another subtle object and so on. I feel that directing my attention happens only in the realm of the mind and I seem to be unable to investigate into the one who is directing his attention/ attend to myself because I am not skilled enough to attend to anything other than objects. Has this search with my attention landing on objects to go on until I gain the skill to transcend it and attend to myself?

And isn’t the attitude of “Now I will try to direct my attention to myself” in itself wrong because the I in this sentence can only attend to objects? Don’t I have to investigate instead into from where this intention arose? Because that I am unable to do right now.
This article is adapted from the reply I wrote to him.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Is any external help required for us to succeed in the practice of self-investigation?

In a comment on my previous article, The role of grace in all that ego creates, a friend called Asun wrote: ‘I’ve been watching these days David Godman’s youtube channel. He, as well as yourself, enjoys talking about Ramana’s teachings and telling tales about him, the ashram and devotees. They are beautiful tales illustrated with very good documentaries. His understanding and interpretation of the teachings is very similar to your understanding and explanations yet, regarding to the practice he claims that there are some results only at first and that from then on it is as if one got stuck so that the only way to really reach somewhere is to sit in front of some realized being able of transmitting and making you to experience the state this being is in. Is this your experience too, Michael? Or do you completely disagree with him?’

Monday, 5 August 2019

The role of grace in all that ego creates

In a comment on one of my recent articles, Is there any such thing as ‘biological awareness’?, an anonymous friend suggested that it is not correct to say that ego has projected or created anything, because though the world appears when ego emerges, it ‘appears by the power of higher power and is also the higher power’, and ‘The higher power enables everything and manifests as everything’. Therefore this article is written in reply to that comment.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Why does ego rise again from manōlaya and not from manōnāśa?

In a comment on my previous article, Is there any such thing as ‘biological awareness’?, a friend called Abhilash wrote: ‘Could you clarify this confusion on deep sleep. We understand that in deep sleep ego is subdued, given this is the case when we wake up, how the memory that I slept well and did not know anything is obtained. If only awareness and ignorance were present during deep-sleep who reports this experience of absence back to ego in the waking state. As awareness transcends time/space/causality how can we say “awareness” possesses memory? Kindly clarify’.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Is there any such thing as ‘biological awareness’?

A friend recently wrote to me: ‘People seem to have a hard time grasping Bhagavan’s teachings. Would it not be easier just to tell them thoughts are an illusion, so pure biological awareness is the true self, especially because biologically changes will happen in the brain that will solidify this learner behavior over time, and once they reach this state, the ugly term of biological awareness will get burned along with the ego in the pyre?’ The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to this:

Friday, 28 June 2019

How can there be any experience without something that is experiencing it?

In four comments on one of my recent articles, In what sense and to what extent do we remember what we were aware of in sleep?, a friend called Lewis asked several questions about awareness, experience, ego and appearance that can be adequately answered only by carefully considering some of the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, so in this article I will try to answer his questions in the clear light of those principles.

Monday, 24 June 2019

How can we be sure that we can wake up from this dream of our present life?

Yesterday in a comment on one of my videos, 2019-01-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 14, a friend called Saroj wrote:
Thank you for this video, Michael. We can think of the dream state only with respect to (what seems to be) the waking state. So when Bhagavan says that waking state also is only a dream, how to understand this statement? Since we know the dream state only with respect to this waking state, if the waking state too is a dream, then there is no longer any standard left against which to place dream and thus to make sense of it. Typing this question, it seems like the standard must be the state of deep sleep. So basically, there is no state that can be called the waking state? Only dream and sleep? Also, it seems like no rational person will deny that this world is quite possibly only a dream or mental imagination. But how can we be sure that we can ‘wake’ up from this dream, and how? Bhagavan has taught that this is possible, should we take this on faith? And try to experience it ourselves through our practice? I ask because previously, I have followed several different people, some whose teachings were very superficial although at that time I may have felt otherwise, but with Bhagavan’s teachings I feel sure that I don’t have to search any further, I don’t have to dig any more wells, as Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said in an analogy. But this feeling is not sufficiently empowered by a clarity of understanding Bhagavan’s teachings or doing deep self-investigation, but largely just a feeling in my heart, if [I] may put it like that. So I am still very immature and lacking in both bhakti and vairagya.
The following is my reply to this:

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

In what sense and to what extent do we remember what we were aware of in sleep?

In a comment on one of my recent articles, How to practise self-enquiry (ātma-vicāra)?, a friend called Rajat Sancheti wrote:
If I give it some thought, and try to recall last night’s dream, it becomes quite clear that in dream I am aware of myself without being aware of this body. But if I try to see the same thing (that I am aware of myself without being aware of this body) regarding dreamless sleep, it is not very clear. Why is it that the memory of having existed in dream is much clearer than the memory of having existed in dreamless sleep? Or is it that in the case of dream, what is clearer to me is only the memory of having existed as some body, and not the memory of simply existing?

Thursday, 30 May 2019

How can we refine and sharpen our power of attention so that we can discern what we actually are?

In a comment on my previous article, How to practise self-enquiry (ātma-vicāra)?, a friend called Rajat Sancheti wrote:
Desires, fears, etc belong to the ego or to the person? The person is insentient and cannot desire or fear anything, so they must belong to ego, I suppose. But then why do these desires and fears have such a personal nature? For example, the desire for money, lust, status, etc, they are only the body’s desires. Is it that when ego identifies this body as ‘I’, it takes this body’s desires and fears to be its own? Or are desires and fears only the ego’s desires and fears?

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

How to practise self-enquiry (ātma-vicāra)?

A friend recently wrote to me, ‘Please forgive me, as I suppose this question has been asked thousands of times, but can you describe in basic everyday language how YOU practice self-enquiry? Perhaps you have addressed this somewhere else. If so, please be kind enough to direct me to the source’, and in reply I wrote:

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The ultimate truth is ajāta, but because we seem to have risen as ego and consequently perceive a world, Bhagavan, Gaudapada and Sankara teach us primarily from the perspective of vivarta vāda

In several comments on one of my recent articles, Whatever jñāna we believe we see in anyone else is false, there was a discussion about ajāta vāda, so in this article I will reply to some ideas that a friend called Venkat expressed in the course of that discussion, and in particular I will highlight the distinction between ajāta vāda (the contention that nothing has ever arisen, appeared or come into existence) and vivarta vāda (the contention that whatever has arisen, appeared or come into existence is just an illusion or false appearance), because in some of his comments he seemed to confuse the former with the latter, of which it is actually a denial.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Can there be any viable substitute for patient and persistent practice of self-investigation and self-surrender?

As I wrote in the introduction to my previous but one article, Is it possible to have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’ or to watch the disappearance of the I-thought?, in which I adapted a reply that I had written to a friend who had asked about a portion from 13.31 to 18.04 of a video that David Godman made about ‘Papaji’ (H W L Poonja), there was another issue raised in that portion that I did not specifically discuss in that article but that I said I would discuss in a later one. That issue is the idea that Poonja could somehow give people an experience that bypassed the need for ‘a rather intense, vigilant practice that took place over a long period of time’, which David acknowledged (at 13.53) was what Bhagavan used to recommend, so this is the issue that I will discuss in this article.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Whatever jñāna we believe we see in anyone else is false

In the introduction to my previous article, Is it possible to have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’ or to watch the disappearance of the I-thought?, I had written that in my next article I would discuss the idea that Poonja could somehow give people an experience that bypassed the need for ‘a rather intense, vigilant practice that took place over a long period of time’, but I have not yet finished writing that article, and in the meanwhile I have written this article in response to one of the comments on my previous article, so I am posting this one now and and will post the other one later.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Is it possible to have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’ or to watch the disappearance of the I-thought?

Last year a friend wrote to me saying that it seems distortions and misinterpretations of Bhagavan’s teachings are inevitable, and that nowadays the internet is sadly inundated with misinformation and confused ideas about them, and concluding, ‘I suppose this is the nature of mind’, to which I replied:
Yes, the mind is māyā, so its nature is to distort and confuse, making what is simple seem complicated, what is clear seem clouded, what is plain seem obscure, what is obvious into something mysterious and what is subtle into something gross. The only way for us to overcome this natural tendency of the mind is to persistently turn within to see what we actually are, which is not this mind but just the clear light of pure and infinite self-awareness.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

What is the relationship between the ‘I-thought’ and awareness?

Recently a friend wrote asking me to ‘clarify the relationship between the I-Thought and Awareness’, and after I replied to him he wrote asking some further questions on the same subject, so this article is adapted from the two replies I wrote to him.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Thoughts and dreams appear only in the self-ignorant view of ourself as ego, not in the clear view of ourself as we actually are

A few months ago a friend wrote to me asking about a passage attributed to Annamalai Swami, but which I later found was a misquoted version of a passage from the book Annamalai Swami: Final Talks (perhaps because it had been translated from English into some other language and then back into English again), so I first replied regarding the wording of the misquoted version, and after finding the original passage I wrote another reply more appropriate to that wording. This article is adapted from these two replies.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

What is the correct meaning of ‘Be in the now’?

A friend recently wrote to me asking whether Bhagavan’s teachings can be compared to those of Zen masters such as ‘Be in the now’, ‘Mindfulness’ and so on, which he said seem to have ‘similar meaning and understanding, because when we’re in the now and here we don’t have thoughts flowing and hence remain in the self’, and he added that he thinks Bhagavan addressed this in verse 15 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

In a dream there is only one dreamer, and if the one dreamer wakes up the entire dream will come to an end

A friend recently wrote to me:
I understand that there is one ego, which creates the illusion of many people and a world. If one person in this illusion, i.e. you or I, becomes realized, how is that going to destroy the ego as a whole? When Ramana became realized, this didn’t stop the world appearing for me. I know Ramana when asked about others said there are no others and if all is a dream of course he is correct, but others myself including continue to dream we exist despite Ramana becoming enlightened. Is realization a gradual breaking down of the ego individual by individual?

My second question: What is Shakti? I have looked it up and it seems to say it is energy which creates and that it is part of who we naturally are. This seems contradictory to how I now see realization as being. I now see realization as a kind of nothingness, not dissimilar to deep sleep. Can you remind me is this correct? Is shakti the same as ego and the cause of illusion?
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to her:

Thursday, 31 January 2019

To understand consciousness can we rely upon the observations and theories of neuroscience?

Recently a friend wrote to me saying that he was caring for his mother, who was in the final stages of dying because of a brain tumour, and that for a year he had been watching the effect it had on her: ‘I followed every moment of her conscious disappearance and with all her reports about that till three days ago when she fell into a terminal coma, just breathing. [...] Layer by layer I observed her fading away: abstract reasoning, language, sight, taste, calculation, self-perception, memory, emotions, equilibrium, movement, then faces recognition, space time comprehension, till the sleeping mode during the day, sudden change of mood, personality, then fear, sorrow, and now coma, tomorrow death’.

He also wrote about the connection between the changes that had been taking place in his mother’s perception, behaviour, understanding, character, response to stimuli and so on and the parts of her brain that were progressively affected by cancer cells, and what neuroscience says about such things, including the idea that ‘consciousness is only an emergent property of the brain’. He wrote that therefore ‘I have to surrender to the hard fact of the causal relation between brain and consciousness’, and asked what Bhagavan’s teachings have to say about such matters. The first section of this article is adapted from my reply to this, and the second section is adapted from my reply to what he wrote in response to my first reply.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

What is deluded is not our real nature but only ego

In my previous article, How to be self-attentive even while we are engaged in other activities?, I adapted a reply that I had written to a friend. In another email the same friend asked ‘How did the ego come about?’ and wrote:
Am I correct to say the following? At the beginning, there was only true self. Then, somehow or other, it deluded itself and believed it to be the ego — which is the root of everything. Then, the ego got reborn over and over. What we are trying to do now is to turn what seems to be the ego within and in so doing, the ego dissolves, revealing true self that it always has been — and thus, ending all our sufferings.

My question is: If our true self is always only aware of itself, how did it delude itself at the very beginning? The “I thought” arises only if one looks outside, correct? So, if our true self is only aware of itself, how does it delude itself to begin with?

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

How to be self-attentive even while we are engaged in other activities?

A friend recently wrote to me asking how one can practise self-attentiveness while doing other things, so this article is adapted from the reply that I wrote to her.

The Tamil and Sanskrit terms that Bhagavan used to describe the practice mean or imply not only self-attentiveness but also self-investigation. In any investigation the primary tool is observation, but in self-investigation it is the only tool, so self-investigation and self-attentiveness mean the same and are therefore interchangeable terms. We investigate ourself by observing or attending to ourself.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Which is a more reasonable and useful explanation: dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda or sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda?

In a series of two comments on one of my recent articles, Everything depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of ourself as ego, a friend called ‘Unknown’ referred to the twelfth section of it, Ego projects and simultaneously perceives itself as all forms or phenomena, and quoted the following two paragraphs from it:
The philosophy of advaita is interpreted by people in various ways according to the purity of their minds, so there are many people who consider themselves to be advaitins yet who do not accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda [the contention (vāda) that perception (dṛṣṭi) is causally antecedent to creation (sṛṣṭi), or in other words that we create phenomena only by perceiving them, just as we do in dream], because for them it seems to be too radical an interpretation of advaita, so they interpret the ancient texts of advaita according to sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention that creation is causally antecedent to perception, and that the world therefore exists prior to and independent of our perception of it. Those who interpret advaita in this way do not accept ēka-jīva-vāda, the contention that there is only one jīva, ego or perceiver (which is one of the basic implications of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda), and since they believe that phenomena exist independent of ego’s perception of them, they do not accept that ego alone is what projects all phenomena, and hence they interpret ancient texts to mean that what projects everything is not ego or mind but only brahman (or brahman as īśvara, God, rather than brahman as ego).

Saturday, 29 December 2018

We should ignore all thoughts or mental activity and attend only to ourself, the fundamental awareness ‘I am’

In the third section of my previous article, Why is self-investigation the only means to eradicate ego but not the only means to achieve citta-śuddhi?, I wrote:
If we mistake a rope to be a dangerous snake, we cannot kill that snake by beating it but only by looking at it very carefully, because if we look at it carefully enough we will see that it is only a harmless rope and was therefore never the snake that it seemed to be. Likewise, since we now mistake ourself to be ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, we cannot kill this ego by any means other than by looking at it very carefully, because if we look at it carefully enough we will see that it is only pure and infinite awareness and was therefore never the body-mixed and hence limited awareness that it seemed to be.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Why is self-investigation the only means to eradicate ego but not the only means to achieve citta-śuddhi?

In a recent comment on my previous article I wrote:
Today a friend wrote to me:
I noticed today in GVK verse 622, Bhagavan is recorded as saying: “When rightly considered, nothing will be more wonderful and laughable than one’s toiling very much through some sadhana to attain Self in the same manner as one toils to attain other objects, even though one really ever remains as the non-dual Self.”

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Everything depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of ourself as ego

In the comments on one of my recent articles, Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will, there was a discussion about the nature of ego and whether or not it is antecedent to the appearance of all phenomena, so this article is written in an attempt to clarify what Bhagavan taught us in this regard.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

When Bhagavan says that we must look within, what does he mean by ‘within’?

Last month a friend wrote me an email in which he asked me to clarify certain aspects of Bhagavan’s teachings, including what he means by ‘within’ when he says that we must look within, and whether the source of the individual self can be within that same individual self, so this article is adapted from the reply I wrote to him.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will

In the comments on my previous three articles there was an ongoing discussion about the role of free will and the law of karma in general, and various friends have expressed differing views about this matter, so this article was originally intended to be a reply to some of those views but it has developed into a broad and detailed discussion about the key role of our will and the paramount need for us to rectify or purify it.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

The ego is the sole cause, creator, source, substance and foundation of all other things

In a comment on one of my recent articles, The ego does not actually exist, but it seems to exist, and only so long as it seems to exist do all other things seem to exist, a friend called Salazar wrote, ‘Did anybody on this blog wonder who is perceiving the thoughts which come into awareness? That what is aware of thoughts cannot be the creator of these thoughts, because a thought is an object apart from that “observer”’. This article is written in reply to this comment and another one written by him.

Monday, 30 April 2018

The ego seems to exist only because we have not looked at it carefully enough to see that there is no such thing

For a few days last week I was in a place where I did not have any internet connection except on my phone, but on and off during that time I had a conversation via WhatsApp with a friend called Frank about Bhagavan’s teachings, philosophy, ego and other related matters. The first fifteen sections of this article are compiled from edited extracts of our conversation, and the final section is a reply that I subsequently wrote to him by email (as also are the five paragraphs in earlier sections that I have enclosed in square brackets).

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The ego does not actually exist, but it seems to exist, and only so long as it seems to exist do all other things seem to exist

A friend recently wrote a series of emails expressing his views and asking questions about the ego and other related matters, so this article is adapted from the replies I wrote to him.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

If we investigate the ego closely enough we will see that it is only brahman, but however closely we investigate the world we can never thereby see that it is brahman

After telling me that he is now reading Ramana Maharshi: The Crown Jewel of Advaita by John Grimes, a friend sent me two WhatsApp messages saying:
I am ‘excited’. For the first time I read about or understood the distinction between the illusory nature of the world and that of the individual — John Grimes’ book p. 147 and 148. Seeing the rope as snake and seeing the white conch shell as yellow conch shell due to the unseen or unrecognized yellow glass. Wonderful explanation that struck me.

Brahman manifesting as world, but seeing only the world as real is illusion like seeing the rope as snake. The individual though only brahman, and also felt as I, but due to ego (yellow glass), mistaking I as me or mine.

Thus while both are illusions, the second one is that in aspect or nature of ‘I’, although I is seen or experienced. When the ignorance is removed, it will be known that it is brahman that was being all the while experienced hitherto also as ‘I’ — that is there are not two ‘I’s.
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Our existence is self-evident, because we shine by our own light of pure self-awareness

In a comment on one of my recent articles, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: Tamil text, transliteration and translation, a friend called Sanjay wrote:
Michael once wrote to me (in reply to one of my emails):

The mind knows that the chair is a chair, an object of wood, etc., but this is not what the chair actually is. If we analyse a little deeper, both the chair and the wood are ideas in our mind, and we have no way of proving to ourself that any chair or wood actually exists independent of our ideas of them. Hence Bhagavan says that the whole world is nothing but ideas or thoughts, as for example in the fourth and fourteenth paragraphs of Nan Yar?:
Except thoughts [or ideas], there is separately no such thing as ‘world’.

What is called the world is only thought.
Referring to this, another friend using the pseudonym ‘ādhāra’ wrote a comment saying:
However, Bhagavan did not say that we as an ego are excluded from the “world”. On the contrary it is said that we are part of the world in waking and dreaming. So we can conclude that we too are only an idea or a thought or a projection.

We definitely do not even have proof/evidence that we exist independent of our idea of that. Therefore we cannot reasonable/well-founded have to presume that we are more than an idea. There is no evidence to support this thesis.

Nevertheless we can put our trust in Bhagavan Ramana because he inspires confidence and looks trustworthy. To follow Bhagavan’s teaching is even urgently necessary.
The following is my reply to this:

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Why do viṣaya-vāsanās sprout as thoughts, and how to eradicate them?

A friend wrote to me recently:
Through self-inquiry every vasana comes up to the surface. Sometimes I am really lost, sometimes I am cool.

I try to practise self-inquiry with every thought that comes up in my mind, but they are getting more and more.

Is it true that vasanas want to go, when they are on the surface?

The best thing is, I will not give up to practise, but I want to do it in the best way.
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

Thursday, 4 January 2018

In what sense does Bhagavan generally use the terms பொருள் (poruḷ) and வஸ்து (vastu)?

In my previous article, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu first maṅgalam verse: what exists is only thought-free awareness, which is called ‘heart’, so being as it is is alone meditating on it, I translated the term ‘உள்ளபொருள்’ (uḷḷa-poruḷ), which Bhagavan uses in the first and third lines of the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, as ‘the existing substance’, ‘actual substance’ or ‘real substance’, and I explained that உள்ள (uḷḷa) is a relative or adjectival participle that means ‘existing’, ‘actual’ or ‘real’, and பொருள் (poruḷ) is a noun that has a range of meanings, including thing (any thing, but particularly a thing that really exists or a thing of value), meaning, subject-matter, substance, essence, reality or wealth, but in this context means ‘substance’ or ‘reality’.

In a comment on that article a friend called Mouna asked me why I chose to translate பொருள் (poruḷ) as ‘substance’ rather than ‘reality’:

Monday, 1 January 2018

Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu first maṅgalam verse: what exists is only thought-free awareness, which is called ‘heart’, so being as it is is alone meditating on it

As I explained in my previous article, Upadēśa Kaliveṇbā: the extended version of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, over the coming months (or perhaps years, if other work gets in my way) I hope to be able to publish a series of forty-two articles each of which will be a detailed explanation of one of the verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu along with its kaliveṇbā extension or extensions, so this article is the first in this series.

No commentary on the verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu can be considered complete or entirely comprehensive, because however much one may explain and discuss them there will always be room for further explanations and discussions from different perspectives, so the explanations I will be giving in this series of articles will be far from complete. However my aim is to give at least a basic explanation of each verse, enough to make its profound and rich meaning clear and to enable each reader to do their own reflection (manana) on it.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Upadēśa Kaliveṇbā: the extended version of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu

Sri Muruganar had collected twenty-one verses that Bhagavan had composed on various occasions, and in July 1928 he asked Bhagavan to compose some more verses in order to form a work of forty verses (like four ancient Tamil poems each of which consisted of forty verses, namely Iṉṉā Nāṟpadu, Iṉiyavai Nāṟpadu, Kār Nāṟpadu and Kaḷavaṙi Nāṟpadu) elucidating the nature of reality and the means to attain it. Accordingly on the 21st July 1928 Bhagavan began to compose more verses on this subject, and in order to arrange them into a logical order and to form them into coherent text, he and Muruganar would discuss in detail the progress of the work, where gaps needed to be filled, and which of the original twenty-one verses should be retained and which discarded.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: Tamil text, transliteration and translation

As I explained at the beginning of my previous article, Upadēśa Undiyār: Tamil text, transliteration and translation, Nāṉ Yār?, Upadēśa Undiyār and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu are the three texts in which Bhagavan expressed the fundamental principles of his teachings in the most clear, coherent, comprehensive and systematic manner, which is why these are the three texts that I cite most frequently on this blog, and therefore friends often ask me for my complete translation of each of them. My translation of Nāṉ Yār? has been available on my website for many years, and for a long time I have been meaning to post my complete translations of Upadēśa Undiyār and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu there also, but somehow I did not get round to doing so till recently, when I finally decided that I should put it off no longer. Therefore having posted my translation of Upadēśa Undiyār in my previous article, in this one I give a fresh translation of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, which is a carefully revised and refined version of all my earlier translations of it.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Upadēśa Undiyār: Tamil text, transliteration and translation

The three main sources that I cite in articles on this blog are Nāṉ Yār?, Upadēśa Undiyār and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, because these are the three texts in which Bhagavan expressed the fundamental principles of his teachings in the most comprehensive, systematic, clear and coherent manner, but though there is a complete translation of Nāṉ Yār? on my website, I have not till now given a complete translation of all the verses of either Upadēśa Undiyār or Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu in one place, so since friends often write to me asking for such a translation of these texts, I have decided to give a complete translation of each of them here. Therefore in this article I give a translation of all the verses of Upadēśa Undiyār (which Bhagavan composed first in Tamil and later translated into Sanskrit, Telugu and Malayalam under the title Upadēśa Sāram, ‘The Essence of Spiritual Teachings’), and in a subsequent article I will likewise give a translation of all the verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

We should not be concerned with anything happening outside but only with what is happening inside

A friend recently wrote to me asking several questions about practising self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) in the midst of family and work life, the role of physical solitude, attachment and detachment, feelings of utter desperation and disillusionment, and about how to live in the world when one feels no connection with or concern for anything other than the practice taught by Bhagavan. The following is what I replied to her:

Monday, 18 September 2017

What creates all thoughts is only the ego, which is the root and essence of the mind

In a comment on one of my recent articles, If we choose to do any harmful actions, should we consider them to be done according to destiny (prārabdha)?, a friend called Salazar wrote, ‘Robert Adams, a Jnani, said that the mind cannot create thoughts. Frankly, I believe rather him than any ajnani’, so since Bhagavan taught us that all thoughts are created only by the ego, which is the root and essence of the mind, I am writing this in an attempt to clear up this and certain other related confusions.

Monday, 11 September 2017

How to find the source of ‘I’, the ego?

A friend recently wrote to me, ‘I am a Ramana devotee. Bhagavaan asked to watch the “I” and find the source of this. I am watching the “I” whenever my mind is not needed for my work. I am so happy with watching the “I” all the times. [...] How to find the source of this? Should I try to keep my mind in right side of the heart?’, and the following is what I replied to him:

Thursday, 7 September 2017

To be aware of ourself as we actually are, what we need to investigate is only ourself and not anything else

A friend recently wrote three emails to me asking various questions about the practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), so in this article I will reproduce his questions and the two replies I wrote to him.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

If we choose to do any harmful actions, should we consider them to be done according to destiny (prārabdha)?

In the comments on my previous article, The ego is a spurious entity, but an entity nonetheless, until we investigate it keenly enough to see that it does not actually exist, several friends have been passionately engaged in a discussion about whether we should consider that all our actions, including our making ethical choices such as whether or not to eat meat, are determined solely by prārabdha (fate or destiny) or whether free will plays any role in the choices we make and actions we do.

The discussion began with two comments in which Sanjay Lohia paraphrased something I had said about jñāna, karma, prārabdha and free will in the video 2017-07-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on the power of silence, to which Salazar wrote a reply in which he said: ‘Prarabdha goes on in every second of our lives, every scratch, every little thing is prarabhda, and no outward action is determined by the ego. If we are vegetarian or eat meat, that’s prarabhda too. So if anybody of Bhagavan’s devotees still eats meat, don’t beat yourself up, that’s as much destiny as if a Hindu eats beef what may create inner turmoil unless one does atma-vichara. So we seem to be a puppet, at least what happens to the body, however we are not victims of prarabhda because we can transcend prarabdha with atma-vichara. The actions of the body will go on as destined, but the inward identification loses its hold’. This triggered a series of other comments in which various friends expressed their understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings in this regard, and during the early stages of this discussion Sanjay wrote an email to me asking me to clarify whether the type of food we eat is decided by our destiny, so this article is written in response to this.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The ego is a spurious entity, but an entity nonetheless, until we investigate it keenly enough to see that it does not actually exist

A friend wrote to me yesterday:
You prefer using ‘ourself’ or ‘oneself’ or ‘I’ instead of ‘the Self’. It is because by using ‘the Self’ we tend to objectify ourself. So this point is clear. But then why do we use ‘the ego’? Are we likewise not objectifying ourself by using ‘the ego’?
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Any experience that is temporary is not manōnāśa and hence not ‘self-realisation’

A recent post on the Facebook page of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK was a partial quotation of a paragraph in A Sadhu’s Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi (3rd edn, 1976, pp. 52-3), in which Alan Chadwick wrote:
Before I came to India I had read of such people as Edward Carpenter, Tennyson and many more who had had flashes of what they called “Cosmic Consciousness.” I asked Bhagavan about this. Was it possible that once having gained Self-realization to lose it again? Certainly it was. To support this view Bhagavan took up a copy of Kaivalya Navanita and told the interpreter to read a page of it to me. In the early stages of Sadhana this was quite possible and even probable. So long as the least desire or tie was left, a person would be pulled back again into the phenomenal world, he explained. After all it is only our Vasanas that prevent us from always being in our natural state, and Vasanas were not got rid of all of a sudden or by a flash of Cosmic Consciousness. One may have worked them out in a previous existence leaving a little to be done in the present life, but in any case they must first be destroyed.
Referring to this, a friend wrote to me: ‘Having once attained is there a chance of unattaining again? This question has confused me for many weeks. I was under the impression that once the ego had been completed annihilated it will never rise again. Yet discussions with fellow devotees on the Ramana Maharshi Foundation page seem to indicate that even once attained it is possible to be lost again if all vasanas [are] not destroyed. What was Bhagavan’s view on this? It disturbs me immensely that having attained one can fall again into the illusion, it also seems to render our practise quite meaningless if that is the case’. The following is my reply to her.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

What is aware of the absence of the ego and mind in sleep?

A friend wrote to me today asking:
If pure awareness simply is and is not aware of anything else because only it exists, and the ego is not there during deep sleep, what knows the absence of the ego and mind during deep sleep?

After waking up, I know for a fact that the ego-mind wasn’t there (in deep sleep). I also know that (due to not having investigated keenly enough) it appears to be here now (in waking).

So my question is, what is aware of both the presence of the ego-mind in waking/dream and its absence in deep sleep? It can’t be pure awareness nor the ego-mind itself.
The following is what I replied to him:

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Pure self-awareness is not nothingness but the only thing that actually exists

A friend recently wrote to me asking, ‘What is the difference between nothingness and complete self-awareness? I understand the destruction of the mind is the ultimate goal of the practice, but does that mean we aim to just be nothing at all?’, but then added, ‘Obviously this question arises from an ego that is afraid to not be, but I am curious’. The following is adapted from my reply to him:

Friday, 7 July 2017

The non-existence of the ego, body and world in manōlaya is only temporary, whereas in manōnāśa it is permanent

In a comment on one of my recent articles, There is absolutely no difference between sleep and pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna), a friend called Roger asked me why, if there is no difference between sleep and self-awareness, Gaudapada says in Māṇḍukya Kārikā 3.44 that (in Roger’s words) ‘when during meditation the mind becomes inactive in oblivion (susupti / sleep) the mind should be awakened again, just the same as if the mind is distracted’. From this verse and Sankara’s commentary on it Roger inferred that ‘It seems you teach that sleep is the highest state, your whole teaching is oriented toward this, but Shankara explicitly warns against it’. Therefore this article is written in reply to this and a subsequent comment by Roger.