Thursday 25 January 2007

Repeating 'who am I?' is not self-enquiry

One confusion about self-enquiry that exists in the minds of many spiritual aspirants is that the practice of self-enquiry involves asking ourself or repeating to ourself the question 'who am I?' Therefore I often receive questions from aspirants that reflect this common misunderstanding.

For example, a new friend recently wrote to me as follows:

I am still trying to obtain a copy of The Path of Sri Ramana (Part One) translated by you. According to product description from product page of this book [at]:
... Sri Sadhu Om makes it clear that the point of Self-inquiry is not repeating "Who am I?" and the point of Self inquiry is not repeating "To whom do these thoughts arise?". The purpose of Self-inquiry is Self-Awareness or Self-attention ...
Is this correct observation? But from what I read from Sri Ramana Maharshi's books, basically Maharshi was saying "repeating 'Who am I?' or 'To whom do these thoughts arise?'" when doing self-inquiry? Is this conflicting? Actually, I feel "repeating 'Who am I?' or 'To whom do these thoughts arise?'" is quite awkward.
In my reply I wrote as follows:

Tuesday 23 January 2007

Self-enquiry and body-awareness

A new friend wrote to me recently saying that he was chronically ill, and he asked:

The body continuously distracts me with pain, breathing problems, foggy-headedness, etc. I was wondering if you had any advice that might be helpful for someone trying to practice self-enquiry with physical issues going on?
In my reply I wrote as follows:

I know from experience how the condition of our physical body can affect our mind and can (at least to some extent) impede our ability to concentrate and be focussed. However, such impediments caused by our physical condition are only relative, and it is possible for us to rise above them, if we have a true and sincere love to do so.

Sunday 21 January 2007

The aim of self-enquiry is to experience a perfect clarity of self-consciousness

A friend wrote to me recently asking:

Every time that I bring my awareness to I AM, to BEING. Every time, I have this relaxing sensation in my body and a slight drowsiness. I just feel like closing my eyes, not talk, and feel an inner peace. I presume that with time I will be able to abide in this continuously ... Is that also your experience? Are there other "symptoms" that will appear? If I understood, in persevering, ultimately this will destroy the mind, and I will realize Self.
The following is adapted from my reply:

There are no objective 'symptoms' or indicators of self-enquiry. In fact, any objective indicators only indicate that our self-scrutiny, self-attentiveness or self-consciousness is lacking in clarity and precision, because the state of true non-dual self-attentiveness, which is the correct practice of self-enquiry, is an absolutely non-objective experience.

Monday 15 January 2007

The truth that underlies cognition

With reference to my recent post The cognition of duality, the friend whose e-mail prompted me to write it replied as follows:

Thank you for your clarification. It is very nice. What I wanted to share is if one tries to understand how cognition takes place, it almost reveals the Truth. We generally take it for granted.
In my reply I wrote as follows:

You are right. If we understand correctly how cognition takes place, our understanding will lead us back to the only reality in this whole process of cognition, which is our own consciousness. And when we carefully consider our own consciousness, we will understand that the cognising (object-knowing) aspect of it is transient and therefore not absolutely real. The only aspect of it that is permanent and therefore absolutely real is our fundamental consciousness of our own being, 'I am'.

Sunday 14 January 2007

Let us not be distracted from following the real teachings of Sri Ramana

The question of whether we really need the physical presence of a jnani, someone who has attained true self-knowledge, in order for us to attain the experience of such true self-knowledge ourself, appears to trouble the minds of many spiritual aspirants. Since last weekend when I wrote the post Is a 'human guru' really necessary?, I have received e-mails from many people asking for further clarification on this subject. In one such e-mail a friend wrote:

Concerning the example of Lakshmana Swami and Saradamma: they maintain that the final surrender of the ego needs the help of the physical presence of a jnani. To mature to that threshold the personal sadhana is very necessary, they say. If this is so or not we have to await, haven't we? I could give many examples of very mature seekers in many traditions that can underline this; Bhagavan himself is an exception; he is unique in every regard.
In my reply I wrote as follows:

Personally I feel dubious about the idea that the final surrender of the ego needs the help of the physical presence of a jnani. I have never heard that Sri Ramana or any other true sage has said so. It appears to me that this idea is based upon the wrong belief that a jnani is really the physical body that he or she appears to us to be. Please read what I have written in this regard in my recent posts, Where can we find the clarity of true self-knowledge? and 'Giving satsanga'.

Saturday 13 January 2007

'Giving satsanga'

A friend recently wrote to me asking, "Do you give satsang?" In my reply I wrote as follows:

No, I do not "give satsang", because my understanding of this term is quite different to the sense in which it is commonly used nowadays. The word sat means 'being' or 'reality', and sanga means 'association', so the compound word satsanga means 'association with being'. Therefore, as Sri Ramana often explained, true satsanga is only the practice of self-attentiveness, which is the state in which we associate with our own real being.

By extension the word satsanga is also used to mean association with a jnani, someone who has attained true self-knowledge and who therefore abides just as being or sat. However true association with a jnani does not merely mean being in his or her physical presence, but means studying, reflecting upon and practising his or her teachings, since those teachings are what direct us towards the state of true being or sat.

Exposing the unreality of our ego

With reference to my earlier post 'Awareness watching awareness', a friend wrote to me an e-mail which he concluded with the statement:

If the tricks of the ego are not dealt with and exposed in detail, all spiritual teachings end up serving the ego.
The following is adapted from my reply to that e-mail:

I believe that this statement is very true. Our mind or ego is our only real enemy, and it plays so many tricks to continue its illusory existence. The sole purpose of all spiritual teachings is to expose the unreality of this impostor and all its progeny, our thoughts and this entire world of duality, all of which depend upon its dubious reality for their seeming existence.

Sri Ramana has taught us that the only way to expose the unreality of our mind or ego is to know our true self by scrutinising ourself. As he says in verse 17 of Upadesa Undiyar:
When [we] scrutinise the form of [our] mind without forgetfulness [interruption caused either by sleep or by thinking], [we will discover that] there is no such thing as 'mind' [separate from or other than our real self]. For everyone, this is the direct path [to true self-knowledge].

The cognition of duality

With reference to my article 'The Nature of Our Mind', which appeared in the latest issue of The Mountain Path and which is an extract from the third chapter of my book, Happiness and the Art of Being, a friend wrote expressing his difficulty in understanding how 'seeing' actually takes place in our mind, since 'seeing' depends upon our eyes, which are a part of our body, which is itself a part of the world that we see. In my reply I wrote as follows:

The simple truth is that everything other than our own real self, our non-dual consciousness of our own being, 'I am', is merely a product of our own imagination. Other than our real self, nothing truly exists. However, by our power of maya or self-delusion we imagine that we do not know our non-dual reality, and as a result of this seeming self-forgetfulness or self-ignorance we imagine this entire world of duality, multiplicity and relativity.

Our body, our eyes, the world that we see through our eyes, our act of seeing, and everything else — all these are imagined by us. That is, they are images or thoughts that we form in our mind by our power of imagination. When our mind subsides in sleep, they cease to appear, because they exist and are known only in our own mind. There is truly nothing outside our mind. Everything that we know, or ever can know, is a thought or mental image that we have formed in our own mind.

Friday 12 January 2007

Can sexual energy really be liberated?

A friend wrote to me about an account of a certain person and his "inner unfoldment", saying that it was "concerning sexual energy and its liberation". In my reply I wrote as follows:

Regarding the liberation of sexual energy, I am not sure what is meant by 'liberation' in this context. Sexual energy will appear to be real so long as we mistake ourself to be this physical body, for which the sexual urge is natural. However, though it is natural for our body, the sexual urge is not natural for our real self, our true non-dual consciousness of being, 'I am', because in our natural state of non-dual consciousness there can be no other thing towards which we could be attracted.

Sexual energy can never be truly liberated, because by its very nature it is always bound to our false sense of identification with our physical body. When we cease to imagine that we are this or any other body, as in sleep, we do not experience any sexual urge or energy. Therefore what can be liberated is not sexual energy, but only ourself.

Where can we find the clarity of true self-knowledge?

In answer to the question at the end of the comment that Erwin appended to my earlier post, Is a 'human guru' really necessary?, I would say that whatever external help we may need will be provided to us by Sri Ramana, so if the physical presence of a true sage or jnani may help us, he will arrange our outward life accordingly. If, on the other had, such help is not necessary for us, he will arrange our outward life otherwise.

Either way, we need not actively seek any such outward help, because that may not be necessary and would anyway distract us from our real aim, which is to seek the truth within ourself. If we truly wish to know what we really are, there is only one way to do so, and that is to turn our entire attention inwards, focussing it wholly and exclusively upon our natural consciousness of our own essential being, 'I am'.

It is true that our mind is weakened and impeded by the strength of its desires, which constantly impel it to turn outwards, towards things that it imagines to be other than itself, so it is natural for us to feel that we need help in our efforts to turn inwards. If we think that we need help from outside, the best external help is available to us in the form of the teachings of Sri Ramana. By reading and reflecting upon his teachings, which constantly emphasise the need for us to turn within, we will keep this need fresh in our mind, and our love to turn inwards will be sustained and increased.

Wednesday 10 January 2007

Self-consciousness alone is true knowledge

With reference to my recent post, The true import of 'I am', a friend asked:

Is the self aware of itself without manifestation?
I replied as follows:

The simple answer is yes, it is, as is clearly illustrated by our experience in sleep.

Who knows any manifestation? To whom does it manifest? It is known only by us, because it manifests only in our own mind. Nothing that is known by us is known outside our mind, except our fundamental consciousness of our own essential being, which we always experience as 'I am', whether our mind and its contents are manifest, as in waking and dream, or remain unmanifest, as in sleep.

Tuesday 9 January 2007

Reading, reflection and practice

In reply to a new friend who wrote:

I deeply appreciate the offering you have given online... I realize the experience of realization is ever present, and the practice needs to be done rather than just read about. However, the readings are like immersing oneself in another Way.
I wrote as follows:

As you say, the practice needs to be done rather than just read about, but reading also has its value as an aid and support to our practice. If we could remain permanently absorbed in unwavering self-attentiveness, nothing else would be needed. But unfortunately, due to the density of our self-ignorance and the strength of our resulting desires, our mind keeps slipping down from the state of firm self-abidance. Therefore, so long as our desires impel us to attend to anything other than our mere consciousness of our own being, 'I am', keeping our mind dwelling upon the teachings of Sri Ramana by reading and reflecting upon them is certainly beneficial, because it can help to deepen and clarify our understanding, and thereby to strengthen our love to know and to be the absolute reality, which is our own true self.

The true import of 'I am'

In reply to a friend who wrote, "The 'I am' is the beginning of the dream", I wrote as follows:

The 'I am' just is. It is the permanent abiding reality, our true and essential self-conscious being. The beginning of this dream of our three states, waking, dream and sleep, is our primal imagination, 'I am this body, I am a person, I am so-and-so', which arises when we seemingly ignore our natural clarity of perfect self-consciousness.

Because we wrongly imagine ourself to be this body and mind, we mistake the words 'I am' to denote this body-mind complex. But Sri Ramana taught us that that which is truly denoted by the term 'I am' is only our true being, which is non-dual self-consciousness. This is clearly stated by him in verse 21 of Upadesa Undiyar:

That [one infinite whole that shines thus as 'I am I'] is at all times [in the past, present and future, and in all eternity] the import of the word 'I', because of the absence of our non-existence even in sleep, which is devoid of [any separate or finite sense of] 'I'.

Sunday 7 January 2007

Which spiritual teachings are truly credible?

In a comment on the post Who has attained 'self-realisation'?, Innerself quoted the last two paragraphs of that post, and then commented:

Although I can understand your point of view and the arguments in the above quote, the reason why this knowledge would be helpful is in the credibility one can put into the teachings.

Nisargadatta and Ramana were Self-Realized, Jnani. I don't think that anyone [would] contest this. Thus one can trustfully read their books and/or written answers published.

There are so many out there saying they are Enlightened...
It is true that, as Innerself observes, there are many people who claim to be 'enlightened', but sadly many of them are probably either self-deluded or are deliberately trying to deceive people. One of the easiest ways to gain the respect and adulation of other people is to make them believe that one has attained jnana, the experience of true knowledge, since this is widely recognised to be the ultimate spiritual attainment. It is therefore very tempting for the human ego to pose as if it had attained such jnana, 'enlightenment' or 'self-realisation', so it is not surprising that there are people who fall a prey to this temptation. And since it is impossible for those of us who have not attained jnana to know whether or not another person has attained it, it is very easy for a person who wishes to be considered as 'enlightened' or 'self-realised' to deceive other people, making them believe this to be so.

'Awareness watching awareness'

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

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 Bhagavan, Muruganar and Sadhu 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.
I am not in fact connected in any way with this site to which Ganesan refers,, but after reading his question about it, I had a look at it and found that it is a mirror of various pages from two or three other sites, some of which I have seen before. All these pages are written or compiled by Michael Langford, who also writes under the pseudonym 'uarelove'.

Saturday 6 January 2007

Is a 'human guru' really necessary?

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

Lakshmana Swamy says that one should have a human guru, which seems to be suicidal to the teachings of Bhagavan. Why does a senior Swamy like him subscribe to this idea? It looks as though Ramana were not existing as the eternal being.
If Lakshmana Swami has said that we need a 'human guru', I do not know what he means by this term. If he means a manifestation of the one eternal guru in human form, then yes, for most of us such a 'human guru' is necessary, but that 'human guru' need not now be living in his human form.

Sri Ramana is such a 'human guru', and the fact that he cast off his human guise more than 56 years ago makes absolutely no difference to his ability to help us in our struggle to return to our original source, which is our consciousness of our own essential being, 'I am', and which is the true form of the guru. His grace and guidance are as real and as powerful now as they were when he appeared in his human guise, and they will always be so.