Sunday 31 December 2006

Consciousness and time

With reference to the coming new year, someone remarked that like consciousness time has no divisions to mark its passage, meaning that all divisions of time, such as weeks, months, years and centuries, are entirely arbitrary and mind-made. However, though the implied meaning of this remark is true in general, the specific comparison of time with consciousness is not so apt.

The one crucial division or dividing point in time is the present moment, which is experienced by us as present due to the presence of our own consciousness. We always experience consciousness as being here and now, so our consciousness is what defines both the present place and the present moment.

So long as we experience ourself as being the object-knowing consciousness that we call 'mind', our consciousness does appear to be divided or interrupted by sleep and by the separation between waking and dream. However, underlying this transitory object-knowing consciousness, which appears in waking and dream and disappears in sleep, we also experience a more subtle form of consciousness, namely our consciousness of our own being, 'I am', which is permanent, undivided and non-dual.

Saturday 30 December 2006

Who has attained 'self-realisation'?

At the end of the same message that I referred to in my previous post, 'Putting it all together', the person who wrote it added the following question:

You will probably not answer me, but I'll ask anyway... have you attained Self-Realization, Enlightenment through your contact and knowledge?
In my reply I wrote as follows:

Regarding your question about whether I have attained 'self-realisation' or 'enlightenment', the simple answer is that as an individual person I have certainly not attained anything. However, as spiritual aspirants our aim is not to attain 'self-realisation' as a person, but is to discover that we are not the person that we now imagine ourself to be, but are only the eternal and infinite real self, which is absolute being-consciousness, and which always knows nothing other than itself.

'Putting it all together'

Yesterday I received the following message that someone sent through the form on the Contact Me page of my website:

I'm very new to this teaching of advaita vedanta. I have some books of Nisargatta and Ramana and waiting for Sadhu Om's books to arrive. Haven't started to read them yet. I have almost completely read Robert Adams' The Silence of The Heart and I am deeply touched by it. I'm still leaning on how to put everything together, so as to awaken to my Self. Self-Realization is what I want! I am very pleased that your interest aren't in the direction of money, as I read on your site (your E-book). I have found the web site '...' [name of this other website omitted] and was surprised to see that everything has a price. I don't know how to understand this! I would apreciate your help in 'putting it all together' and help my understanding.
In reply I wrote as follows:

Regarding your request for help in "putting it altogether", I believe that the first and most important need for anyone coming newly to Sri Ramana is to acquire a clear understanding of both the philosophy and the practice that he taught.

Thursday 28 December 2006

What is advaita?

As a conclusion to my previous post, Is there really any difference between the advaita taught by Sri Ramana and that taught by Sri Adi Sankara?, I would like to add the following simple definition of advaita.

In brief, we can define advaita simply as self-attention — the state in which we are attentive to or conscious of only our own self, our true and essential being, 'I am', and not any other thing. Atention to anything other than ourself is duality or dvaita, and cannot be the real state of absolute non-duality or advaita.

In other words, as I wrote in the comment that I added to the previous post, true advaita or non-duality can in fact be experienced only in the state of perfect self-attention or self-consciousness.

Wednesday 27 December 2006

Is there really any difference between the advaita taught by Sri Ramana and that taught by Sri Adi Sankara?

In a comment on the post Your comments and questions are welcome (1), Ganesan wrote:

I see certain differences between the traditional advaita of Sankara and that taught by Bhagavan, especially the self-enquiry, which does not subscribe to the idea of meditation on the mahavaykas. Further, Bhagavan's teachings are extremely subjective, directing one's attention to the self.
Is there really any essential difference between the advaita taught by Sri Ramana and that taught by Sri Adi Sankara? I do not believe that there can be, because differences can appear only in duality, and are impossible in the fundamental non-dual reality, which underlies the appearance of all duality. Non-duality or advaita is the true state of absolute oneness, in which no division, distinction or difference can even appear to exist.

Any differences that we might imagine to exist between the advaita taught by Sri Ramana and that taught by Sri Adi Sankara exist only in our understanding of their teachings, and not in the non-dual truth that they actually taught. One of the principal causes of our failure to recognise the essential oneness of the non-dual truth taught by all true sages or jnanis lies not in their teachings but only in the so-called "traditional" interpretation of their teachings.

Your questions and comments are welcome

If you have any questions or comments about the philosophy and practice of the teachings of Sri Ramana, or about any of my writings, whether those contained in my book, Happiness and the Art of Being, in my website, Happiness of Being, in this forum or elsewhere, please append them as a comment to this post. Alternatively, if your comment or question relates specifically to any other post in this forum, please append it to that post.

In order to add a question or comment to this or any other post, if you are not on its own page please go to there by clicking on its title, and then click on the link 'Post a Comment', which you will find after the last comment on that page.

I will try to answer any questions that you may post in this forum as soon as I can, and since this is intended to be a forum for open discussion, I also welcome any answers that any other participant may like to offer.

Tuesday 26 December 2006

A new website and e-book about Bhagavan Sri Ramana's teachings

I have recently set up a new website,, which is dedicated to exploring in depth the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana.

At present the main content of this site is a PDF version of my new book, Happiness and the Art of Being, which is intended to serve both as a layman's introduction to the philosophy and practice of Sri Ramana's teachings and as a very detailed and in-depth exploration of the core elements of his teachings.

If it is the will of Sri Ramana, I hope to continue adding more content to this site in the form of more e-books, articles, and translations and explanations of all his original writings.

If you know anyone whom you think might interested to know about this new website, please inform them about it.

Michael James