Tuesday 25 January 2011

Experiencing the pure ‘I’ here and now

In a comment on my previous article, How to avoid creating fresh karma (āgāmya)?, an anonymous friend quoted the following passage from Lucy Cornelssen’s book Hunting the ‘I’ (5th edition, 2003, pp. 20-21):

There are other opportunities, when we could experience this pure ‘I’ consciously. One such is during the tiny gap between two thoughts, when the attention has given up its hold on one thought and not yet caught the next one. But since we never tried our attention is not trained this way, and we will hardly succeed in the attempt.

There is a better chance to catch it between sleeping and awaking. It is very important to try it, if you are serious in your hunting the ‘I’. Take care of a few conditions: Try at night just before you fall asleep to keep as the last thought your intention to catch as the first thing of all on waking in the morning the experience of your true ‘I’.
What Lucy describes here as the pure ‘I’ or true ‘I’ is simply the one and only ‘I’ as it really is — in other words, ourself as we really are. Therefore the pure ‘I’ is not something distant (in either time or space) or other than ourself, but is simply what we always actually are. It appears to be something unknown to us only because we have obscured it by confusing it with adjuncts such as a physical body and a thinking mind.

However, though it now appears to us to be obscured, it is actually the essence of what we always experience as ‘I’ — our pristine and non-dual consciousness of our own being. Therefore self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is not really a matter of ‘hunting’ the pure ‘I’ (as if it were something distant or not now experienced) but is simply the practice of attending to and thereby being what we always truly are — our own essential self, ‘I am’.

Since this pure ‘I’ is ever-present — never removed from or distant to us in either time or space — we can experience it as it really is only here and now. Therefore we should not think of it as something that we do not experience now but will experience in future, because as soon as we anticipate experiencing it in future, we have in our imagination created a distance between it and us, as if it were something objective or other than ourself.

Therefore Lucy’s suggestion in this passage that we should try at night just before falling asleep to keep as our last thought the intention to catch as the first thing of all on waking in the morning the experience of our true ‘I’ is potentially counter-productive, because the experience of ‘I’ that we would then be anticipating catching on waking is in the future and is therefore removed from what we actually are here and now.

Therefore, rather than intending to catch some future experience, we should try to experience ourself as we actually are here and now. The intention or anticipation to experience anything in future is a thought that we are thinking now, so it is a distraction of our attention from experiencing our true ‘I’ as it is at present (which is as it always has been and always will be, if at all there is really any such thing as the past or future).

If we are to experience our true ‘I’ in the present moment — which is the only moment in which we ever can actually experience it — we should not intend to experience it at any moment other than now, at this precise present moment, because every other moment is only a thought, and every thought is a distraction from pure self-attentiveness, which is the state that we should be aiming to experience.

If our pure ‘I’ can be experienced at the moment between sleeping and awaking, as Lucy suggests, it can equally well be experienced at the moment between being awake and falling asleep. Therefore, rather than wasting that precious moment just before falling asleep trying ‘to keep as the last thought your intention to catch’ the experience of ‘I’ on waking the next morning, we should utilise it to fix our attention only on ‘I’ to the exclusion of all other thoughts.

If we fall asleep being self-attentive, we stand a better chance of waking up in a self-attentive state than if we fall asleep with the thought that we should be self-attentive when we wake up. If we fall asleep with the latter thought, we will probably wake up with the same thought, and this thought that we should be self-attentive at some time in the future is not the same as actually being self-attentive in the present moment, here and now.

Our pure ‘I’ is ever-present, so in order to experience it as it is we do not have to wait for any gap such as between two thoughts or between two states. All thoughts (including thoughts of the past or future, or of gaps between thoughts or states) and all states (such as waking, dream and sleep) appear to exist only because we attend to them, so if we ignore them by attending only to ‘I’ they will cease to exist, being mere illusions created by māyā, our own self-deceptive power of imagination.

Though Sri Ramana taught us that we experience ‘I’ in its pure state in the tiny gap between any two consecutive thoughts or between any two consecutive states, he did not expect us to wait in anticipation for such a gap at any time in future, but only urged us to attend to ‘I’ now (and at every other moment — as and when we experience it as ‘now’), because so long as we are deeply self-attentive and thereby ignoring all thoughts, states and passing times, we are truly experiencing the gap to which he was referring.

Unless we are deeply self-attentive (and thereby completely devoid of all thoughts) at this present moment, we cannot actually experience the pure ‘I’ that shines in the gap between each two consecutive thoughts or states. Therefore, without thinking of anything else whatsoever, we should here and now attend wholly and exclusively to ‘I’ alone, as Sri Ramana instructs us emphatically in the last two lines of verse 27 of Bhagavad Gītā Sāram (which is his Tamil rendering of Bhagavad Gītā 6.25):
சித்தத்தை யான்மாவிற் சேர்த்திடுக மற்றெதுவு
மித்தனையு மெண்ணிடா தே.

cittattai y-āṉmāviṯ sērttiḍuka maṯṟeduvu
m-ittaṉaiyu m-eṇṇiḍā dē.

Fix the mind [your power of attention] in ātman [your essential self]; do not think even in the least of anything else whatsoever.
What we need to experience is only one moment of absolutely thought-free and therefore perfectly clear self-attentiveness, because that alone will be sufficient to destroy forever the illusion that we are this mind or anything else other than what we really are (the pure and true ‘I’), and until we experience such a moment of pure self-attentiveness we will remain tightly bound in the grips of this illusion — and of all the troubles that it brings in its wake.


Anonymous said...

Let me share with you an age-old child's play:
You see the great dark sky above you, blinking with thousands of stars.
Once in a while you realize a strange flashing up there and your grandma explains:
Look up there is a shooting star.
Once you catch it right in the beginning a wish deep in your heart will be fulfilled.
Some time later you would try it seriously.
But in staring out into the sky your mind begins to wander and, deflected
when it occurs you will just catch the tail of the star.
You might give up again and again.
But the spell of the nightly sky has gotten you.
Trying repeatedly there comes the moment you just give up.
Wide open the sky, you forget about all else.
Just the sky.
And then it happens: Light quells up flashing across the dark blue.
Happiness with the flaring of light, happiness with the dying.
As you recollect your body you sense some faint bitterness:
Never can you share this outside the sky.


Anonymous said...

From The Urgency of Change by J Krishnamurti "The Religious Life"

Questioner: What do you mean by freedom from the past?
Krishnamurti: The past is all our accumulated memories. These memories act in the present and create our hopes and fears of the future. These hopes and fears are the psychological future: without them there is no future. So the present is the action of the past, and the mind is this movement of the past. The past acting in the present creates what we call the future. This response of the past is involuntary, it is not summoned or invited, it is upon us before we know it.
Questioner: In that case, how are we going to be free of it?
Krishnamurti: To be aware of this movement without choice - because choice again is more of this same movement of the past - is to observe the past in action: such observation is not a movement of the past. To observe without the image of thought is action in which the past has ended. To observe the tree without thought is action without the past. To observe the action of the past is again action without the past. The state of seeing is more important than what is seen. To be aware of the past in that choiceless observation is not only to act differently, but to be different. In this awareness memory acts without impediment, and efficiently. To be religious is to be so choicelessly aware that there is freedom from the known even whilst the known acts wherever it has to.
Questioner: But the known, the past, still sometimes acts even when it should not; it still acts to cause conflict.
Krishnamurti: To be aware of this is also to be in a state of inaction with regard to the past which is acting. So freedom from the known is truly the religious life. That doesn't mean to wipe out the known but to enter a different dimension altogether from which the known is observed. This action of seeing choicelessly is the action of love. The religious life is this action, and all living is this action, and the religious mind is this action. So religion, and the mind, and life, and love, are one.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that true saints
don't advertise their prowess, parade their tenderness, or exhibit
their compassion to be seen by all. There is something I admire about
the near-obsolete virtues of shyness and modesty. It is not seemly to
speak too much about sacred things in public. Words of endearment,
like prayer, are best spoken in a whisper.

Anonymous said...

Stop making use of your mind and see what happens. Do
this one thing thoroughly. That is all.

"You are like the point of the pencil - by mere contact with
you the mind draws its picture of the world. You are single
and simple - the picture is complex and extensive. Don't be
misled by the picture - remain aware of the tiny point - which
is everywhere in the picture."

Anonymous said...

All the activities that the body is to go through are determined when it first comes into existence. It does not rest with you to accept or reject them. The only freedom you have is to turn your mind inward and renounces activities there.

This comment of Sri Ramana seems to be saying the same thing as J Krishnamurti in comment 2) above.

There is no freedom from the response of the past except subjectively.

Anonymous said...

The book "I am that" by Nisargadatta Maharaj is a new Upanishad!


cumin said...

Thank you for the post, Michael. Can you explain a little more about how a momentary experience, a sort of mini samadhi, can have the effect you describe near the end of your article. This seems like patanjali yoga.

"What we need to experience is only one moment of absolutely thought-free and therefore perfectly clear self-attentiveness, because that alone will be sufficient to destroy forever the illusion that we are this mind or anything else other than what we really are (the pure and true ‘I’),"

Thank you again.

Michael James said...

Cumin, what is important is not the duration of our experience of self, but the quality of it.

We experience self all the time as ‘I am’, but the clarity of our self-experience is clouded by the adjuncts that we superimpose upon ‘I am’, such as ‘I am this body, a person called so-and-so’, ‘I am thinking’, ‘I am reading’, ‘I am sitting here’ and ‘I am looking at this computer screen’. In order to destroy the illusion that we are all these things that we confuse with ‘I am’, we need to experience ‘I am’ as it really is — that is, without even the slightest trace of any adjunct.

If we thus experience ourself (‘I am’) as we really are for even a brief moment, the illusion that we are anything else will be destgroyed forever.

In order to destroy the illusion that what we see lying on the ground in the dim light of dusk is a snake, we only need to look at it carefully and recognise for one moment that it is not a snake but only a rope. Having once recognised it as the rope that it really is, we will never again mistake it to be a snake.

Likewise, in order to destroy the illusion that we are a body, a mind and a person, we only need to look at ourself carefully and recognise for one moment that we are not any such thing but only pure, adjunct-free, infinite and eternal self-conscious being. Having once recognised ourself as such, we will never again mistake ourself to be anything else.

Therefore one moment of absolutely adjunct-free (thought-free) and hence perfectly clear self-experience is not a ‘mini samādhi’, as you call it, but a mega-big samādhi — a powerful atom bomb that will split the original atom, our ego, the illusory idea that ‘I am this body’ (which is cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot that binds consciousness with the non-conscious), and thereby release so much power (power of clear self-consciousness, cit-śakti) that it will destroy the appearance of this entire universe and anything else that seems to be other than ‘I am’.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael, I was feeling pretty flat this morning. Reading your helpful comments about staying with the 'I am' without any adjucts brought me back to 'just be' and I immediately felt encouraged.
Thank you....

Anonymous said...

Choiceless Awareness

Question: "It is said that the Self is beyond the mind and yet the realization is with the mind. The mind cannot think it. It cannot be thought of by the mind and the mind alone can realize it. How are these contradictions to be reconciled?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "Atman (Self) is realised with mrita manas (dead mind), that is, mind devoid of thoughts and turned inward. Then the mind sees its own source and becomes that (the Self). It is not as the subject perceiving an object.

When the room is dark, a lamp is necessary to illumine, and eyes are necessary to recognise objects. But when the sun has risen there is no need of a lamp to see objects. To see the sun no lamp is necessary, it is enough that you turn your eyes towards the self-luminous sun.

Similarly with the mind. To see objects the reflected light of the mind is necessary. To see the Heart it is enough that the mind is turned towards it. Then mind loses itself and Heart shines forth.

The essence of mind is only awareness or consciousness.
When the ego, however, dominates it, it functions as the reasoning, thinking or sensing faculty. The cosmic mind, being not limited by the ego, has nothing separate from itself and is therefore only aware.

Again people often ask how the mind is controlled. I say to them, 'Show me the mind and then you will know what to do'. The fact is that the mind is only a bundle of thoughts. How can you extinguish it by the thought of doing so or by a desire? Your thoughts and desires are part and parcel of the mind. The mind is simply fattened by new thoughts rising up. Therefore it is foolish to attempt to kill the mind by means of the mind. The only way of doing it to find its source and hold on to it. The mind will then fade away of its own accord.

Yoga teaches CHITTA VRITTI NIRODHA (control of the activities of the mind). But I say ATMA VICHARA (self-investigation). This is the practical way. Chitta Vritti Nirodha is brought about in sleep, swoon, or by starvation. As soon as the cause is withdrawn there is a recrudescence of thoughts. Of what use is it then? In the state of stupor there is peace and no misery.But misery recurs when the stupor is removed. So Nirodha (control) is useless and cannot be of lasting benefit.

How then can the benefit be made lasting? It is by finding the cause of misery. Misery is due to the perception of objects. If they are not there, there will be no contingent thoughts and so misery is wiped off.

'How will objects cease to be'? is the next question. The sruti (scriptures) and the sages say that the objects are only mental creations. They have no substantive being. Investigate the matter and ascertain the truth of the statement. The result will be the conclusion that the objective world is in the subjective consciousness.The Self is thus the only reality which permeates and also envelopes the world. Since there is no duality, no thoughts will arise to disturb your peace. This is realisation of the Self. The Self is eternal and so also is realisation.

Abhyasa (spiritual practice) consists in withdrawal within the Self every time you are disturbed by thought. It is not concentration or destruction of the mind but withdrawal into the Self."

Anonymous said...

D.: What is the relation between my free-will and the overwhelming might of the Omnipotent?

(a) Is omniscience of God consistent with ego's freewill? (b) Is omnipotence of God consistent with ego's freewill? (c) Are the natural laws consistent with God's free-will?

M.: Yes. Free-will is the present appearing to a limited faculty of sight and will. The same ego sees its past activity as falling into a course of `law' or rules - its own free-will being one of the links in that course of law. Omnipotence and omniscience of God are then seen by the ego to have acted through the appearance of his own free-will. So he comes to the conclusion that the ego must go by appearances. Natural laws are manifestations of God's will and they have been laid down.

Anonymous said...

Michael, Does your answer correspond with Ramana Maharshi's great statement? " The ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their prarabhdakarma. What ever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent"

Anonymous said...

Forego everything that you have thought up to now meaningful, significant. Sacrifice everything for this ultimate because this is the only thing that will make you contented, that will make you fulfilled, that will bring spring to your being... and you will blossom into a thousand and one flowers.


Anonymous said...

Einstein "My Credo"

I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer's words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.

Anonymous said...

Oslo, Norway; 5th September, 1933

Question: You say that truth is simple. To us, what you say seems very abstract. What is the practical relation, according to you, between truth and actual life?

Krishnamurti: What is it that we call actual life? Earning money, exploiting others and being exploited ourselves, marriage, children, seeking friends, experiencing jealousies, quarrels, fear of death, the inquiry into the hereafter, laying up money for old age - all these we call daily life. Now to me, truth or the eternal becoming of life cannot be found apart from these. In the transient lies the eternal - not apart from the transient. Please, why do we exploit, either in physical things or in spiritual things? Why are we exploited by religions that we have set up? Why are we exploited by priests to whom we look for comfort? Because we have thought of life as a series of achievements, not as a complete action. When we look to life as a means to acquisition, whether of things or of ideas, when we look to life as a school in which to learn, in which to grow, then we are dependent upon that self-consciousness, upon that limitation: we create the exploiter, and we become the exploited. But if we become utterly individual, completely self-sufficient, alone in our understanding, then we do not differentiate between actual living and truth, or God. You know, because we find life difficult, because we do not understand all the intricacies of daily action. because we want to escape from that confusion, we turn to the idea of an objective principle; and so we differentiate, we distinguish truth as being impractical, as having nothing to do with daily life. Thus truth, or God, becomes an escape to which we turn in days of conflict and trouble. But if, in our daily life, we would find out why we act, if we would meet the incidents, the experiences, the sufferings of life wholly, then we would not differentiate practical life from impractical truth. Because we do not meet experiences with our whole being, mentally and emotionally, because we are not capable of doing that, we separate daily life and practical action from the idea of truth.

Anonymous said...

Last Night

Last night as I was sleeping I dreamt a marvelous illusion
that there was a spring breaking out in my heart.
I said, "Along what secret aqueduct are you coming to me
Oh water, water of a new life that I have never drunk."

Last night as I was sleeping I dreamt a marvelous illusion
that there was a beehive here in my heart.
And the golden bees were making white combs
and sweet honey from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping I dreamt a marvelous illusion
that there was a fiery sun here in my heart.
It was fiery because it gave warmth as if from a hearth
And it was sun because it gave light and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I was sleeping I dreamt a marvelous illusion
that there was God here in my heart.
God, is my soul asleep?
Have those beehives who labor by night stopped, and
the water wheel of thought, is it dry?
The cup's empty, wheeling out carrying only shadows?
No! My soul is not asleep! My soul is not asleep!
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches, its clear eyes open,
far off things, and listens, and listens
at the shores of the great silence.
It listens at the shores of the great silence.

~ Antonio Machado ~

Anonymous said...

more Ikkyu

From Crow With No Mouth, translated by Stephen Berg.

only one koan matters

oh yes things exist like the echo when you yell at the foot of a
huge mountain

hear the cruel no-answer until blood drips down
beat your head against the wall of it

the mind is exactly this tree that grass
without thought or feeling both disappear

not two not one either
and the unpainted breeze in the ink painting feels cool

go down on your silly knees pray
for what? tomorrow is yesterday

I found my sparrow Sonrin dead one morning
and buried him just as gently as I would my own daughter

I hate it I know it's nothing but I
suck out the world's sweet juicy plum

why is it all so beautiful this fake dream
this craziness why?

it's logical: if you are not going anywhere
any road is the right one

know nothing I know nothing nobody does can you face me
and know nothing know.

Anonymous said...

The Buddha wandered for many years, and as he encountered others, they recognized a spiritual greatness in him. He eventually gathered many followers (disciples) who wished to learn from Buddha. One day, his followers were debating the nature of Buddha. They came to him with a question.

"Buddha, are you a GOD?"

The Buddha answered simply. "No."

The disciples went off to consider this response, and debate the issue further. Soon they returned with another question.

"Buddha, are you a saint?"

The Buddha answered simply. "No."

The disciples again went off to consider this response, and debate the issue further. Again, they returned with another question.

"Buddha, what ARE you?"

The Buddha answered simply. "I am AWAKE."

Anonymous said...

A different note, if it will pass muster.


A stirring song of bhakti...

Anonymous said...

I am an old man with an ugly lined face. I have seen many things, but what do I know? Maybe I know nothing. Maybe I know why the rain falls from the clouds. When the grasses are wet with morning dew, I can hear their soft voices. I can hear the wind and the leaves rustling.
I can hear the soft steps of a mother deer and her fawn quietly
approaching. I can remember hearing these things when I was very young. I can remember these things before I was born onto this earth. I can see many lifetimes ahead of me and am not afraid. I may be very old yet I do not fear leaving this existence. I only need to look at my hand; lined and wrinkled, to smile.

I was sitting yesterday at the bank of the river. As I was sitting, a fish flopped out of the water and lay gasping at my side. The eyes of the fish were bulging and staring, and the body frantically flipped and twisted. At last it managed to flop back into the water and swam quickly away. My friend, how many times do we find ourselves gasping for air? How many times do we feel as though we are suffocating under the heavy blanket of society's pressures? Watching the fish today reminded me of the life outside Cold Mountain. The hectic pace, the crowded streets, people hurrying this way and that. I want to shout at them, Wake up!

Han Shan

Anonymous said...

From childhood one should be tuned up to the
habit of prayer well enough so that at adult age one is ready to
comprehend the inevitable message that unhappiness and suffering
are necessary for the unfolding of the soul within and to stand
that unhappiness and suffering, prayer is the needed nutrition.

Anonymous said...

Building a thousand temples is nothing,
make a single human being happy.
Releasing a thousand prisoners from
captivity is nothing,
let true Love
captivate a single human being.

Anonymous said...

A true story that happened in Japan.

In order to renovate his house, a man in Japan tore open the wall.

Japanese houses normally have a hollow space between the wooden walls. When
tearing down the walls, he found that there was a lizard stuck there
because a nail from outside got stuck into one of its feet.

The man sees this, feels pity and at the same time curious, as when he
checks the nail, it was nailed 10 years ago when the house was first built.

What happened?

The lizard has survived in such position for 10 years! In a dark wall
partition for 10 years without moving, it is not an easy task. Then he
remembered, how this lizard survived for 10
years without moving a single step - where the foot was nailed!

So he stopped work and observed the lizard, what is it eating?

Later, he doesn't know from where, there appeared another lizard with food
in its mouth...

AHHH! He is stunned. What kind of love is this?

Another lizard has been feeding the lizard trapped by the nail for the past
10 years ...

I was touched when I heard this story. And wondered about the relationship
between them: were they a couple, family or friends?
These are Reptiles (cold blooded) yet this seems truly altruistic.

Anonymous said...

"God is My Adventure" by Rom Landau, 1936


'Indeed, it is only our free choice which creates conflicts in our lives; and conflicts are responsible for deterioration. By free choice we begin to build up handicaps and complications which we are forced to drive out one by one if we are to make our way towards truth.'


'Then we should despair, according to you, just because we have been given the faculty of free choice? Would it be better if we were as the animals, which simply follow their dark fate and do not know what free will means?'


'Not at all. Only the unintelligent mind exercises choice in life. When I talk of intelligence I mean it in its widest sense, I mean that deep inner intelligence of mind, emotion and will. A truly intelligent man can have no choice, because his mind can only be aware of what is true and can thus only choose the path of truth. An intelligent mind acts and reacts naturally and to its fullest capacity. It identifies itself spontaneously with the right thing. It simply cannot have any choice. Only the unintelligent mind has free will.'


Maharshi Ramana:

"Free will exists together with the individuality. As long as the individuality lasts, so long is
there free will. All the scriptures are based on this fact and advise directing the free will in the right channel. Find out who it is who has free will or pre-determination and abide in that state. Then both are transcended. That is the only purpose in discussing these questions. To whom do such questions present themselves? Discover that and be at peace."

Anonymous said...


"Of what use are disputes about the world,
saying that it is real,
that it is an illusory appearance,
that it is conscious,
that it is insentient,
that it is happy,
that it is miserable ?

All men alike love the Egoless State,
which is won by turning
away from the world and
knowing the untainted real Self which
transcends the assertions that
It is one and that
It is manifold.

It is due to illusion born of ignorance
that men fail to recognize that which is
always and for everybody
the inherent Reality
dwelling in its natural heart-centre and
to abide in it, and that instead
they argue that it exists or
does not exist, that
it has form or
has not form, or
is non-dual or
is dual.

Can anything appear
apart from that which is
eternal and perfect?

This kind of dispute is endless.
Do not engage in it.

Instead turn your mind inward and
put an end to all this.

There is no finality in disputation."

~ Ramana

Anonymous said...

Joseph Riley ~ Panhala 6.

Rumi the poet was a scholar also.

But Shams, his friend, was an angel.

By which I don't mean anything patient or sweet.

When I read how he took Rumi's books and threw them

into the duck pond,

I shouted for joy. Time to live now,

Shams meant.

I see him, turning away

casually toward the road, Rumi following, the books

floating and sinking among the screeching ducks,

oh, beautiful book-eating pond!

Anonymous said...

Rom Landau's 1936 book "God is my Adventure" can be read here.


Anonymous said...

If you try Tantra and find that living in the expression of our drives is just as empty as living in detachment from them.
Every attempt to control our lives leaves us flattened. Life just does not care about our ideas.
What's next, what are we going to do? How to quieten the mind?
We just have to accept things as they are. It's tough but that's whats needed. Yes, let go.
Just be!

Anonymous said...

Found this interesting...

A sense of self in the absence of free will.


"We should view ourselves as a stage play that is unfolding. The stage setting and the actors are like the conscious brain, the things that we see and are aware of, but the performance also requires the participation behind the scenes of many unseen groups like the lighting crew, the sound crew, and the stage hands, all obeying the instructions of the director and the playwright, the last two items in this metaphor representing the laws of science. In a successful production of a play, each component system behaves in concert with all the other systems of the production to create an integrated experience. It does not detract from our enjoyment that the actors are not truly 'free' to say and do what they wish, because the play is all of one piece and for them to act independently in that way would result in incoherence and confusion. During a good performance we forget that the actors are playing predetermined roles and view them as responding spontaneously to their surroundings, even though we know deep down that this is not the case.

We should enjoy our lives and ourselves in the same way."

Anonymous said...

Enlightenment is not a cup of something that's going to give us a reward. I guess we have to give up the whole attempt to control life. It's not the promised result of our asanas,neurotic activity, our endless attempts at doing nothing. Reading all those books, discussing advaita and so on.
Ramana assures us it is not a blank.
So I surrender to the unlimited mystery now.
I must accept everything as it is.

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting...


The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India.

Group Discussion 29th April, 1948

Anonymous said...


Although I'm aging,
my retinas still see
in living color
a few electromagnetic waves,
but just those
from .4 to .7 millimicrons -
that is, from what we call red
to what we call blue.
And, I'm happy to say,
my tympanic membranes
still hear a few waves
amidst the acoustical ocean.
Some we call Bach.
I can't explain how I taste
certain molecular structures,
but I do,
and so it is with touch and smell.
Thus I keep in contact
with what we call reality,
and I have a lot of opinions about it.
My problem is
I know I'm missing out
on most of the waves.
Why should bees see more,
dogs smell more,
bats hear more?
And even they are missing
most of the show.
Why plunk down
such a small receiver
in the midst of this symphony?
When I die
do I get to hear it all?


Anonymous said...

Ramana Maharshi replies to Ranganathan: As I was taking leave of him I remarked, ‘You have attained a great stage’.

Ramana's reply was, ‘Distance lends enchantment to the view’.

I learned later from the many teachings that he gave to me directly, and from advice given to other people that I overheard, that he was implying ‘A householder’s life was as good as that of an ascetic, and could equally lead one to jnana’

Anonymous said...

The solitary hermit does not yearn for tea.
A pure heart and clear water
are enough to entertain
Emptiness and beauty.
In these dusty, windy outskirts, there are no crowds.
But though people are few,
I share my dreams - with dusk.....
Thich Tue Sy

Anonymous said...

Just look away from all that happens in your mind and bring it to the feeling
"I am". The "I am" is not a direction. It is the negation of all direction.
Ultimately even the "I am" will have to go, for you need not keep on asserting
what is obvious. Bringing the mind to the feeling "I am" merely helps in
turning the mind away from everything else. When the mind is kept away from its
preoccupations, it becomes quiet. If you do not disturb this quiet and stay in
it, you find that it is permeated with a light and a love you have never known;
and yet you recognize it at once as your own nature. Once you have passed
through this experience, you will never be the same man again; the unruly mind
may break its peace and obliterate its vision; but it is bound to return,
provided the effort is sustained; until the day when all bonds are broken,
delusions and attachments end, and life becomes supremely concentrated in the

- Nisargadatta

Anonymous said...

Though we see Bhagavan and marvel at him, though we adore him, though we profess faith in his words that his state is ours also, we are not attracted by it. We offer many, many excuses, voiced and unvoiced. We do not want a state that transcends desire, for we firmly believe that only in the fulfillment of desire lies joy. We do not want to love the world, for that seems to us too vast, too abstract, too indefinite. We are afraid....
Dr Sarada

Anonymous said...

Krishnamurti's Notebook
Nov 21, 1961

All existence is choice; only in aloneness there is no choice. Choice, in every form, is conflict. Contradiction is inevitable in choice; this contradiction, inner and outer breeds confusion and misery. To escape from this misery, gods, beliefs, nationalism, commitment to various patterns of activities become compulsive necessities. Having escaped, they become all important and escape is the way of illusion; then fear and anxiety set in. Despair and sorrow is the way of choice and there is no end to pain. Choice, selection, must always exist as long as there is the chooser, the accumulated memory of pain and pleasure, and every experience of choice only strengthens memory whose response becomes thought and feeling.

Memory has only a partial significance, to respond mechanically; this response is choice. There is no freedom in choice. You choose according to the background you have been brought up in, according to your social, economic, religious conditioning. Choice invariably strengthens this conditioning; there is no escape from this conditioning, it only breeds more suffering.

Anonymous said...

Do not say, “I understand! I have attained mastery!” If you have attained mastery, then why are you going around asking other people questions? As soon as you say you understand Zen, people watch whatever you do and whatever you say, wondering why you said this or that. If you claim to understand Zen, moreover, this is actually a contention of ignorance. What about the saying that one should “silently shine, hiding one’s enlightenment?” What about “the path is not different from the human mind?”

Anonymous said...

The great mystery that is Ramana Maharshi. Panchaiamman Koil was where Kavyakanta Ganapati muni saw a throbbing light come down from the sky and touch Ramana’s head six times. Which made the Muni realize and proclaim that Sri Ramana was an avatara of Subrahmanya.

Anonymous said...

Did the following dialogue really take place? Or was it invented?

I'd be grateful for any clarification.


The last words exchanged between Bhagavan and Sri Annamalai Swamy form a very moving account of how a guru attempts to break the disciple's attachment to his form. Some excerpts:

"If one has no faith in God one will commit a lot of sins and be miserable. But you, you are a mature devotee. When the mind has attained maturity, in that mature state, if one thinks that one is separate from God, one will fall into the same state as an atheist who has no belief in God."

I left the ashram and never went back again, Although my room is only about 200 yards from the ashram gate, I have not visited the ashram once since that fateful day in the 1940's.

Though Bhagavan has asked me not to come to the ashram any more, I still thought that I had the freedom to talk to Him when He visited Palakottu. Bhagavan disabused me of this notion shortly afterwards, when I went to see Him while He was walking on the hill.

He turned to me and said, "You are happier than I. What you had to give, you have given. What I had to give I have given. Why are you still coming to me?"

These were His last words to me. I obeyed his instructions and never approached Him again.

Bhagavan had once told me: "Do not cling to the form of the Guru for this will perish; do not cling to His feet for His attendants will stop you. The true Bhagavan resides in your Heart as your true Self. This is who I truly am."

Anonymous said...

With reference to the previous post regarding Annamalai Swami, here is the transcription from the 1989 interview.



Do Not Move Out
One day He told me very clearly and sternly. "Don't move out anywhere. Stay put here and don't move to the next house or even the next room."
After moving to Palakottu I used to come to Bhagavan every day at around eight at night, after dinner, which was served at 7:30, and stay till about 9:00 o'clock.
One night I saw Bhagavan completely enclosed in a piece of cloth, except for the nose. I used to converse freely with Bhagavan, like a son with his father. I asked him, "Does this mean that you do not like to meet me here, or is it that you don't want me to come to the Ashram at all?" Bhagavan remained silent. At about 9 o'clock I left the Hall. I was nearing the garden thinking about Bhagavan's directive to me to stay put at Palakottu when I heard Him call me. He beckoned me to him and said in a very strong and stern voice, "He who, despite the right spiritual maturity, thinks that he is different from the Lord will reach the same lower state as does a non-believer."
I felt that Bhagavan was telling me not to move out of Palakottu, not even to visit the Ashram. I have never left Palakottu since.
Shadow Bhagavan
Once, there were films being shown at the Ashram, including one on Bhagavan. I wanted to see the film. When I arrived and prostrated before Bhagavan, He said in a stern voice. "So you have come to see the shadow of Bhagavan. This means that you no longer have the real Bhagavan in you and have hence come to see this shadow-Bhagavan." This touched me very deeply.
One day, after this incident, I went up the hill wanting to meet Bhagavan when he returned from his walk. He again looked at me sternly and said, "Why have you come to see me? You have happiness, you have happiness." I couldn't understand his words then, but after a lot of reflection I realized that when one is away from society, one has peace, and that Bhagavan wanted me to avoid the entire society. This is how I interpreted His words.
Bhagavan also said, "Ananda is not what you get from somewhere else. If you follow somebody else's path, it will only lead you to destruction. You have to follow your own self. Go within. That alone will lead you to Ananda." So I interpreted it to mean that I should be alone.

Michael James said...

In reply to the two anonymous comments above, I cannot say whether or not this dialogue really took place, because I was not there at the time, but I agree that it is not unreasonable to doubt whether Bhagavan would actually have said all that he is reported to have said in the passages you quote, because such sayings do not appear to be in character with him, since he was not in the habit of giving ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ to anyone.

In fact, in verse 271 of Guru Vachaka Kovai he strong criticises the false gurus who give ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ to their disciples, saying:

He who gives orders [‘do’s’ or ‘don’ts’] to those who have come [to him] for refuge, [telling them to do or not to do] anything again, is the severely cruel Yama [the god of death] and Brahma [the god of creation]. Know that only he who settles those who have come [to him] for refuge, [making each of them experience themself] as one who has finished [with all actions], having done what is to be done, is the divine and gracious [true] guru.

Anonymous said...


Thank you very much for responding to my two posts on Sri Ramana and Annamalai Swami.

The verse from GVK was especially helpful.

Your website is, and will remain, my primary reference on Maharshi Ramana and the inward quest.

Anonymous said...

It's true that Ramana Maharshi was not in the habit of giving do's and don'ts but sometimes....."The early 1930s Lakshmana Sarma used the knowledge he had gained from these lessons with Bhagavan to write a Tamil commentary on Ulladu Narpadu. This commentary was serialised in a Tamil magazine. Bhagavan cut them all out of the magazine and pasted them in a scrapbook that was kept near his sofa. If people approached him and asked him for the meaning of any particular verse, he would often hand over the scrapbook and ask them to read the relevant entry. Chinnaswami, the manager of Ramanasramam, refused to publish this work as an ashram book because he had had some other dispute with Lakshmana Sarma, so Lakshmana Sarma published it himself. Bhagavan was not happy with this arrangement. Usually, he never interfered with the administration of the ashram, but in this case he decided to make an exception. He went to the ashram office and told Chinnaswami, ‘Everyone is saying that this is the best book on Ulladu Narpadu. Why don’t you print it?"

Anonymous said...

Here is a scientific take on the illusion of identity:


Anonymous said...

The word 'Heart', which appears twice in this passage, was often used by Bhagavan as a synonym for the Self. In Tamil the identity between the terms 'Heart' and 'I am' is clearly evident since the single word ullam can mean either 'am' or 'the Heart'. In Arunachala Pancharatnam, for example, Bhagavan wrote, 'Since you shine as ''I'' in the Heart, your name itself is Heart'. This can be expanded to mean, 'Since you shine as ''I'' in the ''I am'', which is the Heart, your name itself [I am] is the Heart'


Anonymous said...

Neuroscientist; Chairman, Project Reason; Author, The Moral Landscape

Our relationship to our own thinking is strange to the point of paradox, in fact. When we see a person walking down the street talking to himself, we generally assume that he is mentally ill. But we all talk to ourselves continuously — we just have the good sense to keep our mouths shut. Our lives in the present can scarcely be glimpsed through the veil of our discursivity: We tell ourselves what just happened, what almost happened, what should have happened, and what might yet happen. We ceaselessly reiterate our hopes and fears about the future. Rather than simply exist as ourselves, we seem to presume a relationship with ourselves. It's as though we are having a conversation with an imaginary friend possessed of infinite patience. Who are we talking to?

While most of us go through life feeling that we are the thinker of our thoughts and the experiencer of our experience, from the perspective of science we know that this is a distorted view. There is no discrete self or ego lurking like a minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. There is no region of cortex or pathway of neural processing that occupies a privileged position with respect to our personhood. There is no unchanging "center of narrative gravity" (to use Daniel Dennett's phrase). In subjective terms, however, there seems to be one — to most of us, most of the time.

Our contemplative traditions (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc.) also suggest, to varying degrees and with greater or lesser precision, that we live in the grip of a cognitive illusion. But the alternative to our captivity is almost always viewed through the lens of religious dogma. A Christian will recite the Lord's Prayer continuously over a weekend, experience a profound sense of clarity and peace, and judge this mental state to be fully corroborative of the doctrine of Christianity; A Hindu will spend an evening singing devotional songs to Krishna, feel suddenly free of his conventional sense of self, and conclude that his chosen deity has showered him with grace; a Sufi will spend hours whirling in circles, pierce the veil of thought for a time, and believe that he has established a direct connection to Allah.

The universality of these phenomena refutes the sectarian claims of any one religion. And, given that contemplatives generally present their experiences of self-transcendence as inseparable from their associated theology, mythology, and metaphysics, it is no surprise that scientists and nonbelievers tend to view their reports as the product of disordered minds, or as exaggerated accounts of far more common mental states — like scientific awe, aesthetic enjoyment, artistic inspiration, etc. Bolding added..

Our religions are clearly false, even if certain classically religious experiences are worth having. If we want to actually understand the mind, and overcome some of the most dangerous and enduring sources of conflict in our world, we must begin thinking about the full spectrum of human experience in the context of science.

But we must first realize that we are lost in thought.

malti said...

After you start feeling the " I " throbbing, you want to be with nothing else.Every minute you spend away seems like eternity.

what a captivating, addictive,all consuming beautiful being this Is!

Anonymous said...

"Of course there are dozens of meditation techniques but it all comes down to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it's cool, out of the battle. Why not give it a try?"

"Remember, you don't meditate to "get" anything but to get "rid" of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you "want" anything, you won't find it."
- No Ajahn Chah (Heart & Mind

Anonymous said...

Hyakujo's Fox

Once when Hyakujo delivered some Zen lectures an old man attended them, unseen by the monks. At the end of each talk when the monks left so did he. But one day he remained after the had gone, and Hyakujo asked him: `Who are you?'

The old man replied: `I am not a human being, but I was a human being when the Kashapa Buddha preached in this world. I was a Zen master and lived on this mountain. At that time one of my students asked me whether the enlightened man is subject to the law of causation. I answered him: "The enlightened man is not subject to the law of causation." For this answer evidencing a clinging to absoluteness I became a fox for five hundred rebirths, and I am still a fox. Will you save me from this condition with your Zen words and let me get out of a fox's body? Now may I ask you: Is the enlightened man subject to the law of causation?'

Hyakujo said: `The enlightened man is one with the law of causation.'

At the words of Hyakujo the old man was enlightened. `I am emancipated,' he said, paying homage with a deep bow. `I am no more a fox, but I have to leave my body in my dwelling place behind this mountain. Please perform my funeral as a monk.' The he disappeared.

The next day Hyakujo gave an order through the chief monk to prepare to attend the funeral of a monk. `No one was sick in the infirmary,' wondered the monks. `What does our teacher mean?'

After dinner Hyakujo led the monks out and around the mountain. In a cave, with his staff he poked out the corpse of an old fox and then performed the ceremony of cremation.

That evening Hyakujo gave a talk to the monks and told this story about the law of causation.

Obaku, upon hearing this story, asked Hyakujo: `I understand that a long time ago because a certain person gave a wrong Zen answer he became a fox for five hundred rebirths. Now I was to ask: If some modern master is asked many questions, and he always gives the right answer, what will become of him?'

Hyakujo said: `You come here near me and I will tell you.'

Obaku went near Hyakujo and slapped the teacher's face with this hand, for he knew this was the answer his teacher intended to give him.

Hyakujo clapped his hands and laughed at the discernment. `I thought a Persian had a red beard,' he said, `and now I know a Persian who has a red beard.'

Mumon's comment: `The enlightened man is not subject.' How can this answer make the monk a fox?

`The enlightened man is at one with the law of causation.' How can this answer make the fox emancipated?

To understand clearly one has to have just one eye.

Controlled or not controlled?
The same dice shows two faces.
Not controlled or controlled,
Both are a grievous error.

Anonymous said...


pours light
into every cup,
quenching darkness.

The proudly pious
stuff their cups with parchment
and critique the taste of ink

while God pours light

and the trees lift their limbs
without worry of redemption,
every blossom a chalice.

Hafiz, seduce those withered souls
with words that wet their parched lips

as light
pours like rain
into every empty cup
set adrift on the Infinite Ocean.


Anonymous said...

The Ancient Recluse

Somehow I ended up beneath pines
sleeping in comfort on boulders
there aren't any calendars in the mountains
winter ends but who counts the years

• • •

Nothing is known of the author of this poem, other than he lived in the Chungnan Mountains south of Ch'ang-an and called himself T'ai-shang ying-che (The Ancient Recluse). Here, he replies to someone who has asked him why and how long he had been living there. He dismisses the first question with ou-lai (somehow/by chance) and the second question with wu-li-jih (no calendar) and then laughs at the idea of time-constrained concerns. ...

Anonymous said...

This affair is like the bright sun in the blue sky, shining clearly, changeless and
motionless, without diminishing or increasing. It shines everywhere in the daily
activities of everyone, appearing in everything. Though you try to grasp it, you
cannot get it; though you try to abandon it, it always remains. It is vast and
unobstructed, utterly empty. Like a gourd floating on water, it cannot be reined in
or held down. Since ancient times, when good people of the Path have attained
this, they’ve appeared and disappeared in the sea of birth and death, able to use
it fully. There is no deficit or surplus: like cutting up sandalwood, each piece is it.

Ta Hui

Anonymous said...

Hello Michael,

In your translation of Guru Vachaka Kovai you note in the seventy-second verse on "Nirvana" that its meaning corresponds to "unveiling".

I had hitherto not come across this particular definition for the term.

As i understand it "Nirvana" has a mundane meaning: for the heat to go out of something e.g. in Buddha's time, say if a dish of warm rice pudding had been left overnight, 'nirvana' would denote this state.

Similarly in its supramundane meaning: extinguishment(of the flame of individuated samsaric existence).

But the esoteric meaning of unveiling is new to me and would correspond to "Apocalypse"(greek term used in the instance of the unveiling of a bride on her wedding night).

In the last case there is the correspondence with Sadhu Om's mystical understanding of the word.

If you could expand further on the matter - my amateurish search on the etymology of the word Nirvana has not corroborated what you have written - i would greatly enjoy reading what you have to say.


Anonymous said...

At Brandeis University 18th October 1968

Questioner: You are trying to communicate with words something which you say it is impossible to do with words.

Krishnamurti: There is verbal communication because you and I, both of us, understand English. To communicate with each other properly you and I must both be urgent and have the capacity, the quality of intensity, at the same time - otherwise we do not communicate. If you are looking out of the window and I am talking, or if you are serious and I am not serious, then communication ceases. Now, to communicate something which you or I have not gone into is extremely difficult. But there is a communication which is not verbal, which comes about when you and I are both serious, both intense and immediate, at the same time, at the same level; then there is "communion" which is non-verbal. Then we can dispense with words. Then you and I can sit in silence; but it must be not my silence or your silence, but that of both of us; then perhaps there can be communion. But that is asking too much.

Anonymous said...

Once one needed a thorn
to remove a thorn buried in skin.
Now one needs a doctor,
an assistant, an office, a needle,
a bandage, a bill, payment,
debt, divorce from the land
where the thorns still grow,
but will be annihilated in
the course of "development," leaving
the once admired crimson roses
to decay unnoticed to soil.
Desire, roses, suffering, fear gone.

jan haag
Inspired by Nisargadatta

Anonymous said...


I found the bolded portion of this letter (Nagamma) very confusing. What do you think Sri Ramana meant?

DEATH OF MADHAVASWAMI (51)22nd July, 1946
About four days ago, i.e., in the morning of the 8th or
9th, I went to Bhagavan’s presence at 7-30. As I got up
after prostrating before him, Bhagavan said, “Madhava is
gone.” “Where to?” I asked, as he was in the habit of going
away from the Ashram on pilgrimage now and then.
Smilingly Bhagavan said, “Where to? To that place, leaving
Letters from Sri Ramanasramam 86
the body here.” I was shocked and asked, “When?” “The
day before yesterday at 6 p.m.,” replied Bhagavan, and
looking at Krishnaswami, said, “Acharyaswami who was
there came here and died, and the one who was here went
there and died. Everything happens according to fate. For
a long time Madhava had a desire that he should be
independent and without anyone in authority over him.
His desire has at last been fulfilled. Anyway he was a good
man. Merely for fun, when Acharyaswami who was in
Kumbakonam passed away, I asked Madhava whether he
would go, as there was no one there in the Math. He took
up the idea, went there and thus fulfilled his desire. See
how things happen! When I wrote Telugu Dvipada and other
verses in Malayalam script in a notebook, he used to read
them well just like Telugu people. He had some Telugu
samskara (knowledge). He took away that notebook saying
that he would be looking into it now and then. If it is there,
tell them to bring it here. It was the same with Ayyaswami.
He took away a note book, saying that he would bring it
back after reading it. He himself never came back. The
same thing has happened with this man also.” So saying he
changed the topic...(I've left some paragraphs out)....
After he left, Bhagavan said, looking at Krishnaswami,
“Madhava was a good man. That is why we all feel sorry
that he is dead. But instead of feeling sorry that he is dead,
we should all be thinking as to when we will pass away. A
Jnani always looks forward to the time when he will be free
from the bondage of the body and be able to throw it away.
A person who carried a load for a wage always longs for the
time when he could reach the destination. When the owner
tells him on reaching the destination to put the load down,
he feels greatly relieved and puts it down. In the same way,
this body is a burden to a man of discrimination. He always
feels that the other man is gone, and eagerly looks forward
to his own exit from the body.
If that little thing called life
is gone, four people are required to bear the burden of the
body. When that life is in the body, there is no burden, but
when that is gone, there is nothing so burdensome as the
body. For a body like this, kayakalpa vratas (rejuvenation
processes) are undertaken with a desire to attain moksha
(deliverance) with the body. With all that, such people too
pass away sooner or later. There is no one who can remain
in this body forever. Once a person knows the true state,
who wants this temporary body? One should wish for the
time when he will be able to throw away this burden and
go free.”

Anonymous said...

Mukti or liberation is our nature. It is another
name for us. Our wanting mukti is a very funny
thing. It is like a man who is in the shade,
voluntarily leaving the shade, going into the sun,
feeling the severity of the heat there, making
great efforts to get back to the shade and then
rejoicing, "How sweet is the shade! I have reached
the shade at last!" We are all doing exactly the
same. We are not different from the reality. We
imagine we are different, that is we create the
bheda bhava [the feeling of difference] and then
undergo great sadhana [spiritual practices] to get
rid of the bheda bhava and realise the oneness. Why
imagine or create bheda bhava and then destroy it?

- Sri Ramana Maharshi


Anonymous said...


Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.

It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again.

I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It's the one about the one-ton
temple bell
with the moth sleeping on its surface,

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.

When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.

When I say it at the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.....
B. Collins

Anonymous said...

Very difficult to understand the condemnation of the body...especially in the light of this from GVK:

97. The body exists only in the view of the mind, which is deluded and drawn outwards by the power of Maya. In the clear view of Self, which is a single vast Space of Consciousness, there is no body at all and it is therefore wrong to call Self ‘Dehi’ or Kshetrajna’ [the owner or knower of the body].


Why condemn it so severely then?

David Alan Ramsdale said...

Based on my own experience, the suggestion to be aware at falling asleep or waking up is a good one. There is a greater degree of transparency as these are in-between states, not ego stations.

Individuals are drawn to different sadhanas due to their past works and karma. What works for one may not work for another and vice versa. For some, work with dreams or twilight states is effective. For others, this is not useful.

Since the Self or true-pure unbounded unconditioned "I" is always present, and in every circumstance, any time is a good time for Self-enquiry. :-) Namaste.

Anonymous said...

Michael James -

I am 40 years old, I have had non dual experiences and did not know of Lucy until last month when I chanced upon her book. What she has said here and what you are contesting is something that has happened to me many many times. I remembered on reading her book that when I had the greatest drive and focus on this while falling asleep, is when I would notice it on waking up. Her advice or direction, if you will, is simply brilliant and a rare and easy practical approach on this pathless path.

It is extremely easy for me to contest even Ramana. The Heart is on the right side? really? Is it not completely beyond this physical relam? Does not the heart, right left wherever, appear in my awareness and therefore is not ramam wrong/

This kind of intellectual posturing is idiotic and pointless. I am indian, grew up in india, and despite David G and A Osbourne and everyone else, Lucy was the first 'Aha!" moment for me even AFTER having had the experience multiple times. I apologise if I seem irate but I hold Lucy in the highest, highest regard because everything she as said is a REAL and PRACTICAL mean to approach the unapproachable and your pedantic dissent is doing her book an enormous disservice.