Friday 27 June 2008

Cultivating uninterrupted self-attentiveness

In a comment on one of my recent articles, Self-enquiry, personal experiences and daily routine, an anonymous friend wrote:

“...uninterrupted self-attentiveness...”

This is not quite possible in my daily work life. I work as a software developer where I have to constantly think to write programs. I try to do be self-attentive while using elevators, walking the corridors... sometimes even while smoking, and also try to be self-attentive while driving.

So please tell me how to hold on to the “I” while working.
Here the words “... uninterrupted self-attentiveness ...” refer to a sentence that Sri Ramana wrote in the eleventh paragraph of Nan Yar? (Who am I?), which I quoted in that article, namely:
… If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarupa-smarana [self-remembrance] until one attains svarupa [one’s own essential self], that alone [will be] sufficient. …
As I explained in a subsequent article, Where to find and how to reach the real presence of our guru?, the adjective that Sri Ramana actually used in this sentence to qualify svarupa-smarana or ‘self-remembrance’ is nirantara, which means ‘uninterrupted’ in the sense of ‘having no interval’, ‘incessant’, ‘constant’, ‘continuous’ or ‘perpetual’. When we read this sentence, many of us wonder like our anonymous friend how it could be possible for us to hold on to self-remembrance or self-attentiveness continuously in the midst of all our usual daily activities, some of which appear to require our undivided attention.

Sunday 22 June 2008

Experiencing our natural state of true immortality

In a comment on my recent article Self-enquiry: the underlying philosophy can be clearly understood only by putting it into practice, Kirk Crist asked, “in death of the body what are the differences in the experiencing or knowing in the janni and the ajanni”. Though the answer to this question is quite simple, when I started to write it one idea led to another, as a result of which I ended up writing the following:

The death of the physical body makes absolutely no difference to a jnani, because jnana or true self-knowledge is the absolutely non-dual, undivided and therefore difference-free experience in which only ‘I am’ — our real self or essential adjunct-free self-conscious being — exists and is known by itself alone.

In other words, in the experience of a jnani, who is jnana itself, there is no such thing as a body or world, and therefore no such thing as birth or death. As Sri Ramana says in verse 21 of Upadesa Tanippakkal (verse B-24 of Guru Vachaka Kovai):

The body is impermanent [and therefore unreal]. Just as a person blinded with the intoxication of toddy [a drink of fermented palm sap] [is not aware whether] the fine cloth with which he was adorned [is still on his body or has fallen off], the siddha [that is, the jnani] who has known self does not know the body, whether [due to prarabdha karma or destiny] it rests or is active, and whether due to [that same prarabdha] karma it is joined or has separated [that is, whether it lives or has died].

Friday 20 June 2008

The true nature of consciousness can be known only by self-enquiry

The anonymous friend whose comment I replied to in my previous article, Self-enquiry: the underlying philosophy can be clearly understood only by putting it into practice, has replied to that article in another comment on the earlier article I think because I am, but I am even when I do not think. In this latest comment Anonymous writes:

First of all, your reply in the form of a separate article is greatly appreciated. It makes me imagine the level of clarity you have on the subject. I confess that I was not very serious when I wrote my earlier comments, though I believe whatever I wrote was true/correct to me. I’m not sure whether I should be writing this reply now or perhaps after thoroughly reading and thinking about it... but I’m writing this as I keep reading your article and getting questions/doubts in between:

‘... sleep is not absolute unconsciousness …’. It would be good if you further clarify what is meant by ‘relative unconsciousness’. Does it mean some part of consciousness still remains?

This question from your reply: “... if we really did not know anything in sleep...would we not just have to say ‘... I do not know whether or not I knew anything in sleep’?” is a good one. It made me for a moment think how could we ascertain that we do not know anything in sleep. (I explained whatever I think as the answer towards the end of this reply — last but one paragraph.)

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Self-enquiry: the underlying philosophy can be clearly understood only by putting it into practice

In his written and spoken teachings, Sri Ramana has given us a clear, subtle, profound and complete philosophy, which prompts us to think about our experience of ourself and everything else more deeply than we would ever do without such prompting, and which provides us with a truly satisfactory answer to all the most essential philosophical questions that we could ever ask. However, he did not give us his philosophical teachings merely to satisfy our intellectual curiosity, but only for a single purpose, namely to urge and guide us to practise self-enquiry and self-surrender and thereby to know ourself as we really are.

All the philosophy or theory that he has taught us has only this one aim or purpose, so until and unless we actually practise this one path of self-enquiry and self-surrender, we will not gain the real benefit that we should gain from studying his teachings. What he has taught us is not merely a theoretical philosophy but also a practical science, so if we try to restrict ourself to the philosophical aspect of his teachings and ignore their practical aspect, our understanding of them will be incomplete, one-sided and distorted.

We can truly understand his entire teachings and be benefited by them only if we put them into practice by earnestly attempting to scrutinise our essential self-conscious being, ‘I am’, and thereby subside into the innermost depth of ourself. If we do not thus attempt to practise self-enquiry and self-surrender, we will never be able to understand his teachings clearly or deeply.

Sunday 15 June 2008

Where to find and how to reach the real presence of our guru?

In reply to my recent article, Which sat-sanga will free us from our ego?, Anonymous wrote a comment in which he or she said:

Thanks for your reply to my (anonymous) concerns. “Merely being in the physical presence of a true guru is not the most efficacious form of sat-sanga” — yes I accept that, but I’ve heard so many stories of people experiencing the Self effortlessly in the presence of a true guru after many years of failure through their own attempts to experience the Self and that’s why I was tempted to ask that question. ...
If we truly have faith in the grace and guidance of our sadguru, Sri Ramana, we will have no doubt about the simple truth that he can and does provide us with all the help — both inward and outward — that we need to enable us to scrutinise and know our real self.

If we would really be helped by being in the physical presence of a true guru, would he not place us in such a presence? And if he has not placed us in such a presence, should we not understand that we do not actually need such help now?

Thursday 12 June 2008

Self-enquiry, personal experiences and daily routine

In another comment on an earlier article, Happiness and the Art of Being is now available on Amazon and other sites, Anonymous wrote:

How do you find hope when you’ve made earnest attempts at Self-enquiry, not made any tangible progress (because there is no glimpse of the ‘I-I’ state), don’t have the Self in a human garb to say a few kind/harsh words to help you in your enquiry and have to remain in the mundane madness of the everyday world and deal with many egos including your own? I was also wondering if you could kindly post your personal (if there is one left;) experiences of attempting to go beyond the surface thoughts and deep into ‘I am’. What kind of daily routine proved to be the most effective for you?
The first of these questions is answered at least partially by some of the points that I explained in my previous post, Which sat-sanga will free us from our ego?. In this present context, the most important of those points is that tenacious perseverance is absolutely essential in order for us to make real progress in our practice of self-enquiry or self-attentiveness.

However, we should not despair because of our seeming lack of progress, because as Sri Ramana said, perseverance is itself the only true sign of progress. The importance of such tenacious perseverance is strongly emphasised by him in paragraphs six, ten and eleven of Nan Yar? (Who am I?):

Monday 9 June 2008

Which sat-sanga will free us from our ego?

In a comment on an earlier article, Happiness and the Art of Being is now available on Amazon and other sites, Anonymous wrote:

I’ve been reading your book. I think most people would find it difficult to sink into the Self transcending body consciousness because they have to do some work everyday and hence their identification with the body remains and so do the vasanas. Holding onto a tenuous current of the Self doesn’t really help because it’s often lost when the mind is deeply immersed in work. My question is: What does it take to transcend body consciousness and ahamkara? Is it wanting or desiring self-realization to the exclusion of everything else until the goal is achieved (which would mean leading a meditative life)? Is it being in the presence of a guru who can be seen with the eye? I guess you had the fortune of spending time with Sadhu Om. Are you or do you know a guru who is established in the natural state?
The following is a reply to these questions:

The key to transcending our ahamkara or false ego and the body-consciousness that always accompanies it is, as Anonymous says, “desiring self-realization to the exclusion of everything else until the goal is achieved”.

However, rather than describing such whole-hearted self-love or svatma-bhakti as a ‘desire’, it would be more appropriate to describe it as true ‘love’, because the state of ‘self-realization’ or true non-dual self-knowledge is not a state that our mind or ego can achieve for itself, but is the state in which it itself will be wholly consumed and lost forever. In other words, self-knowledge is not something that our mind can add to itself, thereby enhancing itself and helping it to satisfy its desire for self-preservation, which is its most basic desire. On the contrary, self-knowledge is the state in which our mind will lose itself entirely.

Thursday 5 June 2008

Experiencing God as he really is

In continuation of my previous post, God as both nirguna brahman and saguna brahman, the following is the second extract from the second chapter, ‘God’, of The Truth of Otherness:

In order to experience the nirguna form of God — that is, God as he really is — we must experience ourself as we really are. In our essential nature we are just the one absolutely non-dual self-conscious being, ‘I am’, which is devoid of all gunas. Therefore only when we remain steadfastly as our infinitely clear self-conscious being, ‘I am’, thereby refraining from rising as this imaginary object-knowing consciousness that we call our ‘mind’, will we be able to experience God as he really is — as our own true self, which is the one infinite nirguna reality.

This truth is clearly expressed by Sri Ramana in verses 24, 25 and 26 of Upadesa Undiyar:

By [their] irukkum iyarkai [their ‘nature which is’ or ‘being nature’] God and souls are only one porul [substance, essence or reality]. Only [the soul’s] upadhi-unarvu [adjunct-consciousness] is [what makes them appear to be] different.

Knowing [our real] self, having relinquished [all our own] upadhis [adjuncts or gunas], itself is knowing God, because [he] shines as [our real] self.

Being [our real] self is indeed knowing [our real] self, because [our real] self is devoid of two. This is tanmaya-nishtha [the state of being firmly established as tat or ‘it’, the one absolute nirguna reality called ‘God’ or brahman].