Wednesday, 27 December 2006

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.


Sankarraman said...

I see certain differences between the traditional advaita of sankara and that taught by Bhaghavan, especially the self-enquiry, which does not subscribe to the idea of meditation on the Mahavaykas. Further, Bhaghavan's teachings are extremely subjective, directing one's attention to the self.

Michael James said...

Ganesan, thank you for your comment.

I believe that you have highlighted here a serious but unfortunately very common misperception about so-called "traditional advaita", and that it deserves to be answered adequately. Therefore I have anwered it separately in a new posting at Is there really any difference between the advaita taught by Sri Ramana and that taught by Sri Adi Sankara?

Anonymous said...

Lakshmana swamy says that one should have a human guru, which seems to be suicidal to the teachings of Bhaghavan. Why does a senior swamy like him subscribe to this idea? It looks as though Ramana were not existing as the eternal being.

Anonymous said...

Bhagavan sri Ramana and Shankara ae one and the same.both agree and gave us simple advaita philosophy.Infact swami vivekananda says that Shankara was the latest exponent of Advaita and it was existing even prior to Shankara.Further Lord Ramana said that everything told in our vedanta/upanishads tallied with His experience and He always endorsed Shankara(he elaborated vivekachoodamani of shankara in Tamil in a simple language)Hence Ramana never differed with Shankara and Ramana is Lod Dakshinamurthy incarnate....TGRanganathan

Sankarraman said...

Are you connected,sir, with the above site,carrying the caption mentioned on the subject,"Awareness watching awareness," with your name or namesake as the promoter, containing excerpts on the writings of Bhaghavan, Muruganar and Sadu om, as well as containing the views of the promoter, purporting to explain the technique of self-enquiry? From the way the writings appear, I am inclined to believe that it is not so. Please clarify.
With regards

Sankarraman said...

Bhaghavan Ramana while explaining self-enquiry in his very first explanation to the earliest devotee, in his work Nanyar, says as follows.

"That which rises as 'I' in this body is the mind.

If one inquires as to where in the body the thought 'I' rises first,

one would discover that it rises in the heart.

That is the place of the mind's origin.

Even if one thinks constantly 'I' 'I',

one will be led to that place.

Of all the thoughts that arise in the mind,

the 'I' thought is the first.

It is only after the rise of this that the other thoughts arise.

It is after the appearance of the first personal pronoun

that the second and third personal pronouns appear;

without the first personal pronoun there will not be the second and third.

By the inquiry 'Who am I?'.

The thought 'who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts,

and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre,

it will itself in the end get destroyed."
In this connection, may I ask the learned members what they understand by the term the first person or the I thought, and the idea that that which arises as the I in the body is the mind. If we seriously meditate on this truth, we can know that all our traffickings in the world involve the I thought. If we did not have the I thought, we could not do anything; we could only be. Since all thoughts arise only after the I thought, does what Bhaghavan demand in his advise that one should hold on to the I, presuppose the idea of an "I" not admitting of an attachment to objects as against its timeless lapse into the form of thoughts, the I being identified with the object. Even in our tenacious attempts to locate the unassociated, 'I' we are tantalized and tormented by our confronting it only as an object. From what Bhaghavan says can we not infer that anything other than abiding as our true self through self-attention, or being aware of only awareness and not objects, constitutes the involvement in the non-self? Since we are so trenchant and obstinate in our self-identification-and not self-attention- where and how do we miss cognition of our true self? Strictly, we cannot since there is no non-cognition of the Self at any point, since that is also cognised only by the Self. Is the I thought referred to by Bhaghavan a pointer towards a natural pause of thought available as an interval between two thoughts, a sushupti existing even in the jagrat, which we are not aware of? Is it an interval between two thoughts, talked about very much in Tripura Rahasya, Pancadasi, Yogavasishta, all these things being very much referred to by Bhaghavan, very much highlighted by J.Krishnamurthy in his notebooks and the journal, this being referred to by the term, 'Bardo,' in Tibetan Buddhism? Since we cannot be aware of the Self as an act since it involves a duality, a swerving from the natural state of poise of our being, but since this is demanded of us in view of our being a sad mixture of the true and the false, does not self-enquiry presuppose the idea of always falling back upon our natural state as one of Being-Awareness through this natural pause in thought as an interval, being available to us? I request the meditatve people to answer this question without being very scholarly. I feel that to understand our natural state no intellectual scholarship is required.
yours ever in Bhaghavan

Michael James said...

I have answered the comment by Anonymous (dated 31 December 2006 15:02) today in my new post, Is a 'human guru' really necessary?

Sankarraman said...

In the technique of self-enquiry is it not a sine qua non that the drisya should be completely elimintated for the drig to mainfest? Is it not that this definitely presupposes the onset of Nirvikalpa Samadhi in the first instance, the direct intuition of the Self being had only in that state, and not in the stages of thought process, which casts a veil on the Self? It has become fashionable for the many traditional scholars and swamis to pooh-pooh this by saying that Nirvikalpa only suppresses thoughts? No doubt, Nirvikalpa is not the goal, but it is definitely a precursor to the natural state of Sahaja. Those scholars-I don't want to quote their names-say that what is essential is being able to interpret what Advaita is from a study of the Bashyas, and that there is no question of realization of the self. I think they are taking it granted from the mere theoretical standpoint of the transcendental nature of the Self, ignoring the fact that one is implicated in the non-self, and anything other than self-attention in the form of intellectual conclusions is only the perpetuation of the bondage.

with regards

Michael James said...

I have answered the comment by Ganesan (dated 04 January 2007 12:58) today in my new post, 'Awareness watching awareness'.

Sankarraman said...

I have heard it said that the natural state of the Self is not inimical to ignorance, which is to say that the Self exists as the Witness of even the ignorance admitting of the three states. Am I correct? Though the natural state of the Self does not need understanding, since in that Being and Awareness are at once the same, yet the spurious individualized entity has to know this through the akhandahara-vritti of the I thought generated in the, 'Who am I,' enquiry. The consummation of this , I believe, is not the acquisition of some result, which is the case in all our empirical underatkings, there being a vritti, as well as its fulfillment in the form of perception of some object or understanding some concept. But the consummation of self-enquiry is not knowing some object, or understanding something, as is the case in our daily undertakings, presupposing the three states. It should be only that there is not anything to be generated by the akhandahara-vritti except that this vritti also collapses into the one Awareness, where Being and Awareness are one and the same. This seems to be the meaning of the benedictory verse of Ulladu Narpathu. If you find time and don't consider this as too much an intrusion in your privacy, please comment on this aspect which is very crucial in understanding self-enquiry, distinguishing it from an object-oriented meditation?

With regards

Sankarraman said...

Some people say that Bhaghavan's having given liberation to his mother and the cow Lakshmi, cannot be admitted from his essential viewpoints on the nature of the self and freedom. The question arises as to whether a jnani can confer freedom on an individual without effort on the part of the latter. Further, Bhaghavan says that in the case of Palaniswamy this did not work out, and he had to be more watchful in the case of his mother. This makes a difficult reading. Has sadu om or anybody else explained this seeming contradiction? Or could you explain it? What is your view? This is only for the sake of understanding the mystic side of a jnani, and does not suggest the idea of any presumptuous attempt to question his wisdom.

Sankarraman said...

In one place Bhaghavan disowns the idea of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa that the body of a jnani withers away after 21 days of stay in the Nirviakalpa Samadhi. Bhaghavan's views on Samadhi seem to be different from that of Paramahamsa, Bhagahavn not having given any weightage to the body, its reality. Am I correct?

Sankarraman said...

What is the distinction between the enquiry, 'Who am I,' and the other one, 'Whence am I.' I think the former is to find out the reality of oneself, tracing the thoughts to their source, instead of indulging in an objective analysis. The latter, while appearing to be somewhat objective, is not so. It does not suggest the idea of finding out the source of oneself somewhere in time and space, but presupposes the fact of knowing oneself as something free from time and space. It is like abiding in the present, which is the only reality in and behind the past and future, as against the former tracing the reality behind the first person, on the rising of which the others arise. The present is not within the field of time, that is not a fragment being the immediate thought of the moment. So also, the first person should not confound us into the idea of the personal ego, but the source of it, which is free from the duality of observer and the observed.

Anonymous said...

What do I Know?
What do you want?
If you want yourself, then 'investigate' yourself.
There might not be 'one' - there's not any, at all.

Stop moving.

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael
I'm very interested in prayers by Sri Sadhu Om in which he is praying to Bhagavan Sri Ramana,like Sri Ramana Varukai.Do you know where I can get some english translations of these wonderful prayers.
I've got also another question:
As I read,that Sri Bhagavan said that all Gurus are one,how should we look to "other" Gurus?Are they manifestations of Sri Bhagavan?
I do apologize for my bad english.

Yours in Bhagavan

Anonymous said...

For Michael

Thank you for your book and blog

Could you describe atma-vichara, not through words, but with a picture or diagram?

Michael James said...

'Could you describe atma-vichara, not through words, but with a picture or diagram?'

The simple answer is 'No, sorry, I do not think that would be possible'.

How to picture self or 'I', that which we really are, since it is nirguna, devoid of qualities, form, etc.?

We each know 'I am', our being, the fact that we are, our consciousness or awareness that we exist. That being, consciousness, 'I'-ness or 'am'-ness is what we must attend to and try to know as it is, devoid of all adjuncts such as this body or thinking mind.

However, though the target of our attention in atma-vicara cannot be pictured or described diagramatically, the process of atma-vicara can perhaps be crudely described in a diagramatic or figurative manner by picturing it as turning back 180 degrees, away from all thoughts or objects of knowledge, towards that which knows them all.

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,
some time ago you wrote that you have plans to write a book about the practice of atma-vichara. Do you still have plans to do this?


Michael James said...

Stefan, I have many plans to translate and write other books, but at the moment I have no spare time to do such work, because it appears to be Bhagavan's will that my time should be taken up at present with other more mundane commitments.

Anonymous said...

Probably the first thing that
anybody discovers when they try to meditate, or be mindful,
is that their mind is constantly full of thoughts.
Typically these are not wise and wonderful thoughts, or
even useful and productive thoughts, but just endless
chatter. From the truly trivial to the emotionally
entangling, they go on and on. And what's more they nearly
all involve "me". It is a short step to wondering who this
suffering self is, and why "I" can't stop the thoughts.

Anonymous said...

The sun gives off light because of the thermonuclear reactions inside, they
produce so much heat that they also make light, and we see.

Spiritual light:

This is the real light, physical light is nice, but some of us cannot see
it and seem to be none the worse off for our ignorance.

Spiritual light happens when something inside of us gets excited, like the
electrons, but far more diffuse and impossible to pin down in an experiment.

Anonymous said...

For those great ones that see in their hearts the lotus-feet of God, arises the Light of Consciousness of the One Real Self, through the extinction of their mental taints. (Guru Ramana Vachana Mala, 106)

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the practice: Lately I have been practicing very frequently and my mind has become much clearer. However when I try to sleep at night, my mind is so clear that I do not dream as I used to; rather I see my mind trying to dream and am not carried away in it, and the dream vanishes, and I return to my awareness. This is good in some ways but also difficult because I am not sleeping and am very tired! Do you have any suggestions for me? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Do realize that it is not you who moves from dream to dream, but the dreams
flow before you, and you are the immutable witness. No happening affects your
real being - that is the absolute truth.
Nisargadatta Maharaj

Anonymous said...

Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go of everything. The giving up is the final step. But the real giving up is in realising that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own. It is like deep sleep - you do not give up your bed when you fall asleep - you just forget it.

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Anonymous said...

Where have all the sadhus gone? New dress code at the Arunacheleswar temple. No lungis allowed! You know when the authentic is fossilised, the moment it is referred to as 1.culture 2.custom 3.traditions thats when various do's and donts are deviced by the profiteer, commodifiying that which originally was strictly non commercial. imposing dress code is only 1 way to exercise control over a massive revenue generating enterprise with fee scale for every imaginable puja under the sun that not long ago the only condition required was to be alive,never mind the dress

Anonymous said...

The core of every fruit is better than its rind:
consider the body to be the rind,
and its friend the spirit to be the core.
After all, the Human Being has a goodly core;
seek it for one moment
if you are of those inspired by the Divine Breath.

Anonymous said...

"As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color and fragrance

of the flower; so do the wise move through the world."

From the Dhammapada: Flowers, verse 49

Anonymous said...

I seem to be one of those people with a deep and thorough "intellectual" understanding of "Oneness" but, when faced with real, or manifest, life, my old fears, anxieties, and worries seem to persist, although to a somewhat lesser degree.

I feel, in the parlance of AA, that I'm "talking the talk" but failing to "walk the walk". Perhaps you could suggest something that would help resolve the situation?