Tuesday, 17 May 2016

We can separate ourself permanently from whatever is not ourself only by attending to ourself alone

In a recent comment on one of my old articles, Ātma-vicāra and the ‘practice’ of nēti nēti, a friend called Roger tried to explain why he considers that ātma-vicāra (self-investigation) and nēti nēti (which literally means ‘not thus, not thus’, ‘not so, not so’ or ‘not like this, not like this’, and which is generally considered to be the practice of meditating on the idea that the body, mind and other adjuncts that we mistake to be ourself are not ourself) are both ‘entirely valid and have the same potential’, and that nēti nēti is ‘one method of keeping attention fixed on “I”’, one among ‘multiple other such methods’, so this article is my reply to him.
  1. The only means to see what we actually are is to attend to ourself
  2. What we actually are is just pure intransitive awareness
  3. We are transitively aware because we allow our attention to be diverted away from ourself
  4. Having understood what we are not, we should attend only to what we actually are
  5. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: we must attend only to ourself and thereby leave aside all phenomena
  6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 8: we cannot annihilate our ego by any means other than ātma-vicāra
  7. We can ignore all thoughts only by attending to ourself alone
  8. What Bhagavan meant by the term ‘thought’ is mental phenomena of any kind
  9. We cannot terminate thought or the thinking process by attending to it, but only by attending to ourself
  10. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: this ego will cease to exist only if we attend to it alone
  11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 36: thinking ‘I am not this body but only brahman’ is just a preliminary aid
  12. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 29: thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’ is an aid but not vicāra
  13. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 32: clinging to such aids is due to ‘deficiency of strength’
  14. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 2: the awareness that stands isolated from everything else alone is ‘I’
1. The only means to see what we actually are is to attend to ourself

Roger, as you imply, we should be trying to keep our attention fixed on ‘I’, but you seem to believe that ātma-vicāra and nēti nēti are both ‘methods’ to do so, which raises the question whether we need any ‘method’ to look at, observe or attend to ourself, or what the term ‘method’ would mean in this context. If we want to see the sun directly, we just have to turn and look at it, but we would not normally describe turning to look at something as the ‘method’ to see it, because the term ‘method’ usually implies something more complex than simply turning to look at something.

Since ‘keeping attention fixed on “I”’ means simply looking at, observing or attending to ourself steadily, and since we can attend to ourself only directly and not indirectly, there cannot be more than one means or ‘method’ to attend to ourself or to keep our attention fixed on ourself. Just as the only means to see the sun directly is to look at it, the only means to see what we actually are is to attend to ourself.

There are many clues that have been given to us by Bhagavan and in some older texts to help us turn our attention inwards to fix it on ourself alone, and understanding that we are not the body, mind or any other phenomenon that we now seem to be is also a necessary preliminary aid to help us fix our attention on nothing other than what we actually are, which is just pure self-awareness, but all such clues and the means to gain a clear and firm intellectual conviction that we are not anything other than pure self-awareness are just aids and not the actual self-investigation or self-attentiveness by which alone we can experience ourself as we actually are.

What you describe as multiple ‘methods’ to keep our attention fixed on ‘I’ are perhaps just the various explanations and clues that we have been given to help us fix our attention on ourself alone, but these explanations and clues are just aids, and as I will explain in more detail later in this article (particularly in sections eleven, twelve and thirteen) no aid can be the actual practice of self-attentiveness or self-investigation, which is the only means by which we can separate ourself entirely from everything that we now seem to be but that is not what we actually are.

2. What we actually are is just pure intransitive awareness

Though you seem to take ātma-vicāra and nēti nēti to be two different methods to keep our attention fixed on ourself, from what you write it is not entirely clear what exactly you consider either of these ‘methods’ to be, or in what way you consider them to be different (particularly if you believe, as you seem to imply, that they both entail just keeping our attention fixed on ourself), so I think the most useful way for me to begin answering your comment may be to take a step back from these terms and consider what we are trying to achieve and how we can achieve it.

Now we experience ourself as a person consisting of a body and mind, which are finite and transitory phenomena that appear in waking or dream and disappear in sleep, but we are aware of ourself in all of these three states, so we cannot be these or any other phenomena, because all phenomena seem to exist only in waking and dream and do not exist in sleep. We are therefore just the fundamental awareness that remains whether any phenomena appear or not.

However, whenever phenomena appear, we experience them as objects and ourself as the subject, and as such we seem to be limited. The subject who is aware of any objects (that is, any anything other than itself) is our ego, which appears along with phenomena in waking and dream and disappears with them in sleep, so this ego (the transitive or object-knowing awareness) is not what we actually are. The awareness that we actually are is just pure intransitive awareness — that is, awareness that is just aware and not aware of any object or phenomenon (anything other than itself) — which is the awareness that we experience in the absence of our ego in sleep.

3. We are transitively aware because we allow our attention to be diverted away from ourself

Therefore to know ourself as we actually are, we need to be just intransitively aware — that is, aware of ourself without being aware of any phenomena. However, we are just intransitively aware whenever we are asleep, but being asleep does not annihilate our ego, as we know from the fact that this ego rises again from sleep in either waking or dream. The reason why our ego is not annihilated in sleep is that in sleep we remain just intransitively aware as a result of the complete subsidence of this ego, and it subsided then only due to tiredness, whereas for it to be annihilated it must subside as a result of our being just intransitively aware. In other words, being just intransitively aware will annihilate our ego only if it is what actually causes its subsidence, and not if it is merely what results from its subsidence, as it is in sleep. Therefore to annihilate our ego and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are, we need to be just intransitively aware in waking or dream, as we were in sleep.

The reason why we are not just intransitively aware now is that we have chosen and constantly continue to choose to attend to and thereby be aware of phenomena, so in order to be just intransitively aware in waking or dream, as we are in sleep, we need to try to attend only to ourself. In other words, we need to try to be attentively self-aware. We are always self-aware, but in waking and dream we are negligently self-aware, because we choose to attend to other things instead of to ourself alone, so in order to be aware of ourself alone we need to direct our entire attention back towards ourself.

Being self-aware does not entail being transitively aware, because we ourself are not an object, and because being aware entails being self-aware, since we could not be aware without being aware that we are aware, and being aware that we are aware entails being aware of ourself, the one who is aware. Therefore being self-aware is the very nature of being aware, so even when we are just intransitively aware — that is, aware without being aware of any phenomena — we are self-aware.

To be aware of anything other than ourself we need to attend to it at least partially (that is, even if it is not the central focus of our attention, at least a part of our attention must be directed towards it), but to be aware of ourself we do not need to attend to ourself, because we are always aware of ourself whether we attend to ourself or not. In waking and dream we generally attend only to things other than ourself, but however much our attention is directed towards other things, we always remain self-aware, so self-awareness is the screen or background on which awareness of other things appear and disappear.

Though we do not attend to and are therefore not aware of anything other than ourself in sleep, we do not attend even to ourself then, yet we remains self-aware. The reason why we do not attend even to ourself in sleep is that attention is a function of our ego, and our ego does not exist then.

Attention is a focusing of our awareness on something, and it can also be described as a directing of our awareness towards something, or as bringing something within the sphere of our awareness, so it is a selective use of our awareness. Therefore, since what is aware of many things and can therefore select to be more aware of some things than of other things is only our ego, and since our actual self, which is just pure intransitive awareness, is not aware of anything other than itself, attention is a function only of our ego and not of our actual self. In sleep our ego does not exist and therefore we are not aware of anything other than ourself, so we do not attend to ourself in sleep because we cannot do so and do not need to do so, since there is then nothing else that we could select to be aware of.

In waking and dream we are transitively aware — that is, aware of thing other than ourself — because we choose to allow our attention to be diverted away from ourself towards other things. However, even when we are transitively aware, we are still intransitively aware, because we could not be aware of anything if we were not aware. Intransitive awareness is therefore the permanent ground or foundation on which transitive awareness appears and disappears. In order to be just intransitively aware, therefore, we simply need to cease being transitively aware, and the only way to avoid being transitively aware in waking or dream is to attend to ourself alone.

4. Having understood what we are not, we should attend only to what we actually are

The aim of nēti nēti is to reject, eliminate or set aside everything that is not ourself, but we can achieve this only by clinging fast to ourself alone — that is, by trying to be attentively aware of ourself alone, which is the correct practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra). If we direct our entire attention back towards ourself (that is, if we focus our awareness solely on ourself, the one who is aware), our attention will thereby automatically be withdrawn from everything else.

However, because nēti nēti literally means ‘not thus, not thus’ and implies ‘I am not this phenomenon, nor that one’, it entails thinking about whatever we are not rather than about what we actually are. Therefore it is not intended to be a spiritual practice or a direct means to know what we actually are, but is simply an intellectual analysis that is intended to clear the ground, so to speak, for the practice of self-investigation. That is, in order to focus our entire attention on ourself alone, we first need to clearly understand that though we now seem to be phenomena such as this body and mind, no phenomenon can be what we actually are, so we can investigate ourself only by attending to ourself (our fundamental self-awareness) and not to phenomena of any kind whatsoever. Having clearly understood this, therefore, we should try to attend only to ourself and thereby ignore or avoid attending to any phenomena, including whatever body, mind and other extraneous adjuncts now seem to be ourself.

5. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: we must attend only to ourself and thereby leave aside all phenomena

The fact that in order to know what we actually are we need to attend only to ourself and thereby cease attending to any phenomena is clearly indicated by Bhagavan in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

அன்வயம்: மனம் வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maṉam veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

English translation: Leaving aside external phenomena, the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real knowledge [or knowledge of reality].
In this context the term ‘ஒளியுரு’ (oḷi-y-uru) or ‘form of light’ refers to pure intransitive awareness, which is our own ‘form’ or real nature, so ‘மனம் தன் ஒளியுரு ஓர்தலே’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-y-uru ōrdalē), ‘the mind knowing its own form of light’, implies turning our attention inwards to be aware only of the pure awareness that we actually are. When we turn our attention back within to be aware of ourself alone we automatically withdraw it from all external phenomena (viṣayas), so ஓர்தலே (ōrdalē), which is a verbal noun that means ‘knowing’ or ‘being aware of’, is the subject of this sentence, whereas விட்டு (viṭṭu), which means ‘leaving’ or ‘leaving aside’, is a verbal participle, and hence ‘மனம் தன் ஒளியுரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-y-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām), ‘the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real knowledge’, is the main clause of this sentence, whereas ‘வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு’ (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu), ‘leaving aside external phenomena’, is just an adverbial clause, indicating that it is just a side-effect or by-product of focusing our entire attention on ourself alone.

‘Leaving aside external phenomena’ means ceasing to attend to them, but though we cease attending to them whenever we fall asleep we do not thereby destroy our ego, so merely ‘leaving aside external phenomena’ is not sufficient. In order to annihilate our ego, the ‘I’ that rises to attach itself to external phenomena, we must not only cease attending to external phenomena but must also attend keenly to ourself.

By attending only to ourself, we automatically cease attending to anything else, but by ceasing to attend to anything else, we do not automatically attend to ourself, because we cease attending to anything else when we fall asleep, but we do not thereby attend to ourself. Therefore since we can destroy our ego only being attentively aware of ourself alone, we should not try merely to cease attending to anything else but should try only to attend to ourself.

If we were to try just to leave aside external phenomena without trying to attend keenly to ourself, we would be setting ourself an impossible task, because by trying not to attend to phenomena we would be attending to them and thereby defeating what we are try to achieve. However, it is not necessary for us to make any such futile effort, because if we simply try to attend to ourself alone, we will thereby automatically leave aside external phenomena to the extent that we manage to focus our entire attention on ourself alone.

Since all the adjuncts that seem to be ourself, such as this body and mind, are just external phenomena, we cannot effectively separate ourself from them merely by thinking that they are not ‘I’, but only by attending keenly to ourself alone. Trying to separate ourself from them merely by thinking that they are not ‘I’ is as futile as trying to do so by deliberately not thinking of them, because in either case we would be thinking of them and thereby perpetuating our hold on them. Therefore to save us from such futile efforts, Bhagavan taught us that all we need do is just try to attend to ourself alone.

6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 8: we cannot annihilate our ego by any means other than ātma-vicāra

Though there are certain yōgic techniques such as prāṇāyāma (breath-restraint) that can serve as indirect means for one to withdraw one’s attention from all external phenomena, if we manage to leave aside all external phenomena by such means, the result would be that our mind would subside in manōlaya, which is just a temporary state of abeyance of mind, like sleep. This is why Bhagavan says in the eighth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
மனம் அடங்குவதற்கு விசாரணையைத் தவிர வேறு தகுந்த உபாயங்களில்லை. மற்ற உபாயங்களினால் அடக்கினால் மனம் அடங்கினாற்போ லிருந்து, மறுபடியும் கிளம்பிவிடும். பிராணாயாமத்தாலும் மன மடங்கும்; ஆனால் பிராண னடங்கியிருக்கும் வரையில் மனமு மடங்கியிருந்து, பிராணன் வெளிப்படும்போது தானும் வெளிப்பட்டு வாசனை வயத்தா யலையும். [...] ஆகையால் பிராணாயாமம் மனத்தை யடக்க சகாயமாகுமே யன்றி மனோநாசஞ் செய்யாது.

maṉam aḍaṅguvadaṟku vicāraṇaiyai-t tavira vēṟu tahunda upāyaṅgaḷ-illai. maṯṟa upāyaṅgaḷiṉāl aḍakkiṉāl maṉam aḍaṅgiṉāl-pōl irundu, maṟupaḍiyum kiḷambi-viḍum. pirāṇāyāmattāl-um maṉam aḍaṅgum; āṉāl pirāṇaṉ aḍaṅgi-y-irukkum varaiyil maṉam-um aḍaṅgi-y-irundu, pirāṇaṉ veḷi-p-paḍum-bōdu tāṉum veḷi-p-paṭṭu vāsaṉai vayattāy alaiyum. […] āhaiyāl pirāṇāyāmam maṉattai y-aḍakka sahāyam-āhum-ē y-aṉḏṟi maṉōnāśam seyyādu.

For the mind to subside [in the sense of ceasing to exist], except vicāraṇā [self-investigation] there are no other adequate means. If made to subside by other means, the mind will remain as if subsided, [but] will emerge again. Even by prāṇāyāma the mind will subside; however, [though] the mind remains subsided so long as the breath remains subsided, when the breath emerges [or becomes manifest] it will also emerge and wander under the sway of [its] vāsanās [propensities, inclinations, impulses or desires]. […] Therefore prāṇāyāma is just an aid to restrain the mind [or to make it subside temporarily], but will not bring about manōnāśa [annihilation of the mind].
The body, mind and other adjuncts that we now experience as if they were ourself are all external phenomena, so we separate ourself from them entirely whenever we fall asleep or subside in any other such state of manōlaya, but as soon as our ego rises again in either waking or dream it projects such adjuncts and grasps them as itself. Therefore in order to separate ourself permanently from all such adjuncts we must annihilate this ego, which we can do only by turning our entire attention back within and thereby being aware of ourself alone.

Our ego is what is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of ourself, who are awareness (cit), with adjuncts such as this physical body, which are insentient (jaḍa), so as long as this ego survives it will bind us to whatever adjuncts seem to be ourself, even though they are not ourself. Therefore we cannot unfasten or detach ourself from these adjuncts merely by thinking that they are not ‘I’, because what thinks they are not ‘I’ is our ego, and this ego is what binds us to them. In order to untie this knot that binds us to adjuncts (namely our ego) we need to separate our awareness entirely from all phenomena, which are jaḍa, and the only way to separate it is to attend only to ourself and not to anything else whatsoever.

If instead of trying to attend to ourself alone we just meditate on the idea that the body, mind and other adjuncts that seem to be ourself are not ‘I’, we will thereby be thinking of the very things from which we should be separating ourself, and thus we will be nourishing and sustaining our ego and its attachment to these adjuncts. Therefore though we can understand by means of the conceptual analysis called nēti nēti that we cannot be any of the phenomena that we seem to be, such as this body or outward-turned mind, in order to experience ourself as we actually are and thereby free ourself from the deep-rooted illusion that we are such phenomena we must turn our mind or attention inwards and thereby be aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from all adjuncts and other phenomena.

7. We can ignore all thoughts only by attending to ourself alone

Regarding your remark, ‘you used the words “simply ignore thinking” and “exclude all thoughts” and “overlook thoughts” which might imply force’, being attentively aware of ourself alone and thereby not being aware of anything else is an extremely subtle and abstract state, so no words can adequately describe it, and whatever words may be used to describe it are liable to be misinterpreted, but if you had carefully read what I had written in that article you should have understood that I did not mean that we should forcibly try to ignore or exclude all thoughts. If we deliberately or directly try to ignore something or to exclude it from our attention, that would obviously be a futile effort, because trying directly to ignore anything would entail thinking about it, which would defeat our very purpose. For example, if we directly try to ignore any thought of a monkey, every time we try to ignore that thought we will thereby be thinking about it, so the only way to ignore it would be to think of something else instead and thereby forget that we even want to ignore any such thought.

The context in which I wrote ‘simply ignore’ in that article was when explaining why we cannot separate ourself from our body, mind and other adjuncts by thinking that they are not ‘I’, because by thinking about them we would be sustaining our ego and its attachment to them, so I wrote: ‘In order to separate ourself from them, we must simply ignore them, which we can effectively do only by attending exclusively to that which is really ‘I’, namely our own self-conscious being’. Likewise what I wrote about excluding all thoughts was: ‘We can exclude all thoughts only by attending to nothing other than our own essential being, which is the source from which they all rise and in which they must all subside. Since thoughts can rise only when we attend to them, they will all subside naturally when we keep our attention fixed exclusively in our own essential self-conscious being, ‘I am’’.

Therefore what I was advocating was not that we should make any effort directly to ignore or exclude all thoughts but only that we should try to attend to ourself alone, because when we succeed in attending only to ourself we will thereby automatically have ceased attending to anything else. Therefore in order to ignore thinking we do not need to use any force but just need to have deep and wholehearted love to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

8. What Bhagavan meant by the term ‘thought’ is mental phenomena of any kind

From what you write about thought, such as when you refer to it as ‘the whining child mind’, you seem to take the term ‘thought’ to mean just the idle mental chatter that is usually going in our mind whenever we are not engaged in attending to anything else, but when Bhagavan used any terms in Tamil that mean ‘thought’ or ‘idea’, what he meant by such terms is mental phenomena of any kind whatsoever, and since according to him all phenomena that seem to be physical are actually only mental, just like all the seemingly physical phenomena that we see in a dream, all phenomena are just thoughts. This is why he said in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai), which means ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as the world’, and in the fourteenth paragraph, ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), which means ‘What is called the world is only thought’.

It is important for us to understand this, because many people believe that if they can stop all mental chatter when meditating they are thereby stopping all thoughts, which is not the case, because whatever phenomena we may be aware of are just thoughts, and even our ego, which is what is aware of them, is also a thought — our primal thought called ‘I’, which is the root and foundation of all other thoughts. Therefore if we try to stop all thoughts, that would be a case of one thought (this ego) trying to stop other thoughts, and even its desire and effort to stop other thoughts would themselves be thoughts, so we cannot actually stop all thoughts unless we avoid rising as this ego, the one who want to stop them.

So long as we seem to be this ego, we will be aware of thoughts of one kind or another, because this ego seems to exist only when is it aware of things other than itself, and everything other than itself is just a thought. Therefore all thoughts can cease only when this ego ceases to exist, as it does temporarily in sleep or in any other state of manōlaya, and as it will do permanently only in the state of manōnāśa (annihilation of the mind along with its root, this ego).

Therefore the only effective way to free ourself permanently from all thoughts is to annihilate our ego, which we can do only by being attentively aware of ourself alone and thereby experiencing ourself as we actually are. If we manage to free ourself from thoughts by any other means, what will result will only be a temporary state of manōlaya, from which our ego and its thoughts will sooner or later rise again.

9. We cannot terminate thought or the thinking process by attending to it, but only by attending to ourself

You suggest that in order to understand how we can be free from thoughts we should pay heed to J Krishnamurti, whom you imply taught that ‘if force is used to terminate thought, then freedom remains elusive’, and you add, ‘It seems that until the thinking process is truly listened to, truly understood, then thinking persists. […] It seems that while we listen attentively to whatever may arise, eventually arising ceases’.

Before considering these claims, it is worth pointing out that we have good reasons to be very sceptical about whatever Krishnamurti may have said about thoughts or the thinking process, because some of his claims about them are patently absurd and do not stand up to critical scrutiny. For example, in Commentaries on Living, Series 3, chapter 12, ‘There Is No Thinker, Only Conditioned Thinking’, he wrote: ‘Thought creates the thinker; it is the thinking process that brings the thinker into being. Thought comes first, and later the thinker; it is not the other way round’.

How can this be correct? Any thought is a product of thinking, and thinking could not happen if there were no one who is thinking. Thinking is an action, and no action can occur unless there is something doing it, so the result of an action (namely thought in this case) cannot possibly exist before whatever did that action (namely the thinker whose thinking produced that thought), and hence thought cannot be what creates the thinker.

Not only can Krishnamurti’s claim that ‘Thought comes first, and later the thinker’ be proved false by simple logic, but it is also quite contrary to what Bhagavan taught us about thoughts, such as what he said in the final sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன. தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா.

maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu. idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa. taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā.

Of all the thoughts that appear in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. Only after the first person appears do the second and third persons appear; without the first person the second and third persons do not exist.
What Bhagavan describes here as ‘நானென்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivu), which literally means ‘the thought called I’, is our ego, which is the thinker of all other thoughts, and what alone is aware of their seeming existence. Since other thoughts seem to exist only in the view of this ego, none of them could exist independent of it, so it is logically the first thought and the root and foundation of every other thought. Therefore Bhagavan says it is ‘முதல் நினைவு’ (mudal niṉaivu), which means the first, primal, original, basic or causal thought.

Since this ego or first thought called ‘I’ is what is aware of both itself and all its other thoughts, it is the subject or first person, whereas all other thoughts are objects known by it, so they are second and third persons. Therefore in the final two sentences of this paragraph Bhagavan says: ‘Only after the first person [the ego] appears do the second and third persons [all other thoughts] appear; without the first person the second and third persons do not exist’.

He also implies this in the first sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam: ‘இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu), which means ‘If the thought called ‘I’ does not exist, even one other will not exist’. ‘பிற ஒன்றும்’ (piṟa oṉḏṟum) means ‘even one other’, and in this context it can imply either ‘even one other thing’ or ‘even one other thought’, but both these implied meanings amount to the same, because everything other than ourself is just a thought.

What Bhagavan says in this sentence and in the above passage of Nāṉ Yār? is in accordance with our own experience and is consistent with logic, because whenever we rise as this first thought called ‘I’ or ‘ego’, as in waking and in dream, other things (thoughts or phenomena) seem to exist, and whenever we do not rise as this ‘I’, as in sleep, nothing else seems to exist. Therefore we do not have any adequate grounds for believing that any thought or other thing exists when we do not rise as this ego, which alone is what is aware of all such things.

When Krishnamurti says, ‘Thought comes first, and later the thinker; it is not the other way round’, this is neither in accordance with our own experience nor is it consistent with logic, so why should we believe him? If we believe him in spite of the complete lack of any supporting evidence from our own experience and in spite of the fact that his claim is contrary to all logic, such belief would be an extreme case of blind faith, so since Krishnamurti himself was a staunch critic of blind faith, according to his own teachings we should not believe him in these circumstances.

Later on in the same passage Krishnamurti wrote: ‘Perceiving itself to be impermanent, insecure, and desiring permanency, security, thought brings into being the thinker’. This implies that thought is sentient, because if it were not it could not perceive or desire anything, but is any thought actually sentient? The only sentient thought is our ego, because it alone is what is aware of both itself and all other thoughts. No other thought is sentient, because no other thought is aware either of itself or of anything else, so it cannot perceive itself to be impermanent or insecure, nor can it desire permanency or security.

What perceives and desires anything is only our ego, and since it is what projects and is aware of all other thoughts, it alone is the thinker. Therefore other thoughts cannot exist independent of this ego, nor can they come into existence before it. This is why Bhagavan repeatedly pointed out that this ego is the first thought and the root and foundation of every other thought.

In this same passage Krishnamurti repeatedly equates the ‘thinker’ with the ‘watcher’ and ‘his thought’ with ‘the watched’, which implies (quite correctly) that the thinker is what is aware of thoughts, but since this is the case, how can he justify his claim that ‘Thought comes first, and later the thinker; it is not the other way round’? How can any thought arise before there is anyone aware of it? Does any thought exist independent of our awareness of it? Claiming that any thought existed before the ego, the ‘I’ who is now aware of it, is like claiming that the world we saw in a dream existed before we started dreaming it. How could we know that anything existed prior to our awareness of it? Thoughts exist only because we think them, and thinking them entails both forming them in our mind and simultaneously being aware of them, because we could not form any thought without being aware of it. How therefore could any thought have existed prior to ourself, the ‘I’ who thinks and is aware of it?

Just as he claimed that ‘Thought creates the thinker’, he also claimed that ‘the watcher is still the product of thought’, which implies that the watcher is the product of what it watches or is aware of, or in other words that the subject is the product of the object. It is true that the watcher is a watcher only in relation to whatever it is watching, so if nothing were watched there would be no watcher as such, but this does not justify his claim that ‘Thought comes first, and later the thinker’, because a thought is a thought only because it is thought and watched by the thinker, the one who is thinking and watching it.

Paradoxically Krishnamurti used to criticise blind belief and say that we should not blindly believe whatever we may be told by any religion, guru or other supposed authority, yet everyone who believes him to be an authority does so blindly, because if they thought critically and independently for themselves, they would be able to see through the numerous logical absurdities and contradictions in what he wrote and said. Therefore if we wish to follow his advice not to blindly believe whatever we are told by any putative ‘authority’, we should critically consider whatever he claimed and judge for ourself whether or not it could be true.

What you wrote about the lesson we should learn from Krishnamurti seems to imply that he said something to the effect that ‘if force is used to terminate thought, then freedom remains elusive’, that ‘until the thinking process is truly listened to, truly understood, then thinking persists’ and that ‘while we listen attentively to whatever may arise, eventually arising ceases’, so let us consider these claims. It is true that we cannot free ourself from thoughts by forcibly trying to terminate them, because our effort to terminate them would be just another thought, and even the ‘I’ who makes such an effort is also a thought. But can we free ourself from thinking merely by truly listening to the thinking process?

It is not clear in this context what exactly ‘truly listening to’ means, but it must entail attending to the thinking process, which is what we are doing whenever we are thinking. So long as we are attending in any way to our thinking or our thoughts, they will not cease, because as we all know from our own experience they are sustained by our attending to them. Suppose, for example, that we think of an apple: so long as we continue attending to that thought it will persist, and it will cease only when our attention is diverted to something else or when we fall asleep. Therefore attending to thought or to the thinking process cannot be a means to terminate it.

Regarding the claim that ‘while we listen attentively to whatever may arise, eventually arising ceases’, this cannot be true for the same reason. Whatever may arise is a thought, and thoughts arise and are sustained only by our attention, so as long as we attend to anything that arises its arising will not cease.

How then can we terminate all thoughts? Obviously the only way is to cease attending to them, as we do every day when we fall asleep. However, though in sleep we remain without any thoughts for a while, we sooner or later rise again as this ego, and as soon as we do so we project and become aware of other thoughts, so merely ceasing to attend to thoughts is not a permanent solution.

Therefore is there any way in which we can permanently terminate all thought? According to Bhagavan the only way is not merely to cease attending to them, but is to attend only to ourself, this ego, which is what is aware of them all. Though this ego is itself just a thought, it is quite unlike all other thoughts, because it is the subject and they are its objects, so whereas all other thoughts are just insentient phenomena, this ego is the sentient experiencer of all phenomena. Moreover, though other thoughts arise and are sustained only because this ego attends to them, this ego does not arise and is not sustained by attending to itself but only by attending to other thoughts.

In fact this ego seems to exist only so long as it attends to and is therefore aware of other thoughts, so as soon as it stops attending to other thoughts it falls asleep. Generally during waking and dream this ego attends only to other thoughts, and because it takes its own existence for granted, it does not usually attempt to attend to itself. Even when it falls asleep it does so without attending to itself, and this is why it is not thereby annihilated.

Since it seems to exist only so long as it attends to things other than itself, if it tries to attend to itself it will begin to subside, and when it eventually manages to attend to itself alone, it will dissolve and disappear forever, because it does not really exist but merely seems to exist, and it seems to exist only because it attends to things other than itself. Therefore the only means by which we can annihilate this ego and thereby terminate all thought forever is by trying to attend only to ourself, who now seem to be this ego.

10. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: this ego will cease to exist only if we attend to it alone

This is the great secret revealed to us by Bhagavan, because it is the essential key to freeing ourself from the tyranny of this ego and all its thoughts: This ego seems to exist whenever it attends to anything other than itself, but it will cease to exist if it attends only to itself. This secret is expressed by him succinctly in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருப்பற்றி யுண்டா முருப்பற்றி நிற்கு
முருப்பற்றி யுண்டுமிக வோங்கு — முருவிட்
டுருப்பற்றுந் தேடினா லோட்டம் பிடிக்கு
முருவற்ற பேயகந்தை யோர்.

uruppaṯṟi yuṇḍā muruppaṯṟi niṟku
muruppaṯṟi yuṇḍumiha vōṅgu — muruviṭ
ṭuruppaṯṟun tēḍiṉā lōṭṭam piḍikku
muruvaṯṟa pēyahandai yōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும், உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை. ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum, uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai. ōr.

அன்வயம்: உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும். ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum. ōr.

English translation: Grasping form, the formless phantom-ego rises into being; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows [spreads, expands, increases, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form. If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight. Investigate [or know thus].
Since this ego is a formless phantom, whatever forms it grasps are things other than itself, and the only means by which it can grasp such things is by attending to them and thereby being aware of them. Therefore the phrase ‘உருப்பற்றி’ (uru-p-paṯṟi), which literally means ‘grasping form’, implies attending to anything other than itself, so what Bhagavan explains in the first three sentences of this verse is that this ego comes into existence, endures, and is nourished and flourishes by attending to things other than itself.

Since this ego is just a formless phantom, it seems to be a person (a form consisting of a living body and a thinking mind) only by grasping the form of that person as itself. That is, since it is formless, it does not actually exist as a separate entity, but it seems to do so by grasping the form of a person as if that person were itself. Therefore if it ceases grasping one person as ‘I’, it will then grasp another person as ‘I’, as Bhagavan implies by saying, ‘உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்’ (uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum), which means ‘leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form’.

Since it does not actually exist but only seems to exist, and since it seems to exist only so long as it is grasping things other than itself, if it tries to grasp only itself it will lose its hold on other things and will therefore begin to subside and disappear. This is what Bhagavan implies when he says, ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), which means ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight’.

Since all thoughts are forms — things other than ourself — so long as we attend to them or grasp them in our awareness, we are thereby nourishing and sustaining our ego, and this ego is in turn nourishing and sustaining its thoughts and its tendency to continue thinking. Therefore contrary to what J Krishnamurti and some others claim, we can never free ourself from thoughts by watching, observing, witnessing or attending to them. The only way to free ourself from all thoughts, including their root, this ego, is to try to watch, observe, witness or attend only to ourself, who are what now seems to be this ego.

Since everything that is not ‘I’, including all the adjuncts such as the body and mind that constitute whatever person we now seem to be, is just a thought, meditating or thinking that such things are not ‘I’ cannot be a means to separate ourself from them, because what thinks this is only our ego, and by thinking anything it is nourishing and sustaining itself. That is, since this ego seems to exist only by grasping the form of a person as itself, and since it nourishes and sustains itself by thinking or grasping other thoughts, if it thinks ‘I am not this person or any of the constituents of this person’ it will thereby simply be sustaining itself and its attachment to this person, so it can never thereby separate itself from all these things that are not ‘I’.

What has attached itself to these adjuncts is our ego, and if it lets go of one set of adjuncts it will grasp another one, so the only way to separate ourself permanently from all adjuncts is to destroy this ego, which we can do only by trying to attend to ourself alone.

11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 36: thinking ‘I am not this body but only brahman’ is just a preliminary aid

We are aware of ourself now as if we were this physical body and other associated adjuncts, and whenever we rise as this ego we are aware of ourself as a similar set of adjuncts, as we are, for example, whenever we dream, and as we would have been before we became aware of ourself as this particular body. Therefore the very nature of ourself as this ego is to be aware of ourself as if we were a set of adjuncts consisting of a body and whatever other adjuncts constitute the person associated with it.

However, we seem to be a person only in waking and dream, but in each of these states we are aware of ourself as a different body, and in sleep we are aware of ourself without being aware of ourself as a body or person, and consequently without being aware of anything else at all. Therefore, since we are always aware of ourself whether or not we are aware of ourself as a body or person, we cannot be any of the adjuncts that we seem to be in waking or dream but do not seem to be in sleep, so in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we need to separate ourself from all adjuncts by trying to be aware of ourself alone.

In order for us to understand this and therefore try to attend to ourself alone, it is necessary for us to be firmly convinced that we cannot be any of the adjuncts that we seem to be, so reflecting over these matters in order to establish and strengthen our conviction that we are not whatever we seem to be in waking or dream is a requisite aid to start us on the path of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra). However, thinking that we are just pure self-awareness and not this body or any other transitory adjunct that we may seem to be cannot by itself enable us to experience what we actually are, because so long as we think anything, we are thereby nourishing and sustaining our ego and hence preventing ourself being aware of ourself as we actually are. Therefore in verse 36 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says that though thinking that we are not this body but only that pure self-awareness is an aid, we should not continue thinking this always:
நாமுடலென் றெண்ணினல நாமதுவென் றெண்ணுமது
நாமதுவா நிற்பதற்கு நற்றுணையே — யாமென்று
நாமதுவென் றெண்ணுவதே னான்மனித னென்றெணுமோ
நாமதுவா நிற்குமத னால்.

nāmuḍaleṉ ḏṟeṇṇiṉala nāmaduveṉ ḏṟeṇṇumadu
nāmaduvā niṟpadaṟku naṯṟuṇaiyē — yāmeṉḏṟu
nāmaduveṉ ḏṟeṇṇuvadē ṉāṉmaṉida ṉeṉḏṟeṇumō
nāmaduvā niṟkumada ṉāl
.

பதச்சேதம்: நாம் உடல் என்று எண்ணின், ‘அலம், நாம் அது’ என்று எண்ணும் அது நாம் அதுவா நிற்பதற்கு நல் துணையே ஆம். என்றும் ‘நாம் அது’ என்று எண்ணுவது ஏன்? ‘நான் மனிதன்’ என்று எணுமோ? நாம் அதுவா நிற்கும் அதனால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): nām uḍal eṉḏṟu eṇṇiṉ, ‘alam, nām adu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇum adu nām adu-v-ā niṟpadaṟku nal tuṇai-y-ē ām. eṉḏṟum ‘nām adu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇuvadu ēṉ? ‘nāṉ maṉidaṉ’ eṉḏṟu eṇumō? nām adu-v-ā niṟkum adaṉāl.

அன்வயம்: நாம் உடல் என்று எண்ணின், ‘அலம், நாம் அது’ என்று எண்ணும் அது நாம் அதுவா நிற்பதற்கு நல் துணையே ஆம். நாம் அதுவா நிற்கும் அதனால், என்றும் ‘நாம் அது’ என்று எண்ணுவது ஏன்? ‘நான் மனிதன்’ என்று எணுமோ?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): nām uḍal eṉḏṟu eṇṇiṉ, ‘alam, nām adu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇum adu nām adu-v-ā niṟpadaṟku nal tuṇai-y-ē ām. nām adu-v-ā niṟkum adaṉāl, eṉḏṟum ‘nām adu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇuvadu ēṉ? ‘nāṉ maṉidaṉ’ eṉḏṟu eṇumō?

English translation: If we think that we are a body, thinking ‘No, we are that’, will be just a good aid for us to abide as that. [However] since we abide [or constantly exist] as that, why [should we be] always thinking ‘we are that’? Does one think ‘I am a man’ [that is, does one need to always think ‘I am a man’ in order to experience oneself as a man]?
In this verse அலம் (alam), which means ‘no’, implies ‘no, we are not this body’, and அது (adu), which means ‘that’, refers to brahman, the fundamental reality or what actually is, which is our own real self, whose nature is just prajñāna or pure self-awareness. ‘நாம் அதுவா நிற்பதற்கு நல் துணையே’ (nām aduvā niṟpadaṟku nal tuṇaiyē) means ‘just a good aid for us to abide as that’ and implies ‘just a good aid for reminding and encouraging us to abide as that’.

However meditating ‘No, I am not this body, I am brahman’ is only a preliminary aid and should not be continued forever, because once we are firmly convinced that we are not this body but only pure self-awareness, we should just try to remain steadily as we are without rising to think or meditate anything. Since what we actually are is just pure self-awareness — that is, intransitive awareness, awareness that is not aware of anything other than itself — we can abide or remain as we actually are only by attending to ourself and nothing else whatsoever.

12. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 29: thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’ is an aid but not vicāra

As Bhagavan explains in verse 29 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, the path of jñāna (the means to experience ātma-jñāna or true self-knowledge) is only ātma-vicāra, which entails investigating oneself, the source from which this ego rises as ‘I’:
நானென்று வாயா னவிலாதுள் ளாழ்மனத்தா
னானென்றெங் குந்துமென நாடுதலே — ஞானநெறி
யாமன்றி யன்றிதுநா னாமதுவென் றுன்னறுணை
யாமதுவி சாரமா மா.

nāṉeṉḏṟu vāyā ṉavilāduḷ ḷāṙmaṉattā
ṉāṉeṉḏṟeṅ gundumeṉa nāḍudalē — ñāṉaneṟi
yāmaṉḏṟi yaṉḏṟidunā ṉāmaduveṉ ḏṟuṉṉaṟuṇai
yāmaduvi cāramā mā
.

பதச்சேதம்: ‘நான்’ என்று வாயால் நவிலாது, உள் ஆழ் மனத்தால் ‘நான்’ என்று எங்கு உந்தும் என நாடுதலே ஞான நெறி ஆம். அன்றி, ‘அன்று இது, நான் ஆம் அது’ என்று உன்னல் துணை ஆம்; அது விசாரம் ஆமா?

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘nāṉ’ eṉḏṟu vāyāl navilādu, uḷ āṙ maṉattāl ‘nāṉ’ eṉḏṟu eṅgu undum eṉa nāḍudal-ē ñāṉa-neṟi ām. aṉḏṟi, ‘aṉḏṟu idu, nāṉ ām adu’ eṉḏṟu uṉṉal tuṇai ām; adu vicāram āmā?

அன்வயம்: .‘நான்’ என்று வாயால் நவிலாது, உள் ஆழ் மனத்தால் ‘நான்’ என்று எங்கு உந்தும் என நாடுதலே ஞான நெறி ஆம்; அன்றி, ‘நான் இது அன்று, [நான்] அது ஆம்’ என்று உன்னல் துணை ஆம்; அது விசாரம் ஆமா?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘nāṉ’ eṉḏṟu vāyāl navilādu, uḷ āṙ maṉattāl ‘nāṉ’ eṉḏṟu eṅgu undum eṉa nāḍudal-ē ñāṉa neṟi ām; aṉḏṟi, ‘nāṉ idu aṉḏṟu, [nāṉ] adu ām’ eṉḏṟu uṉṉal tuṇai ām; adu vicāram āmā?

English translation: Without saying ‘I’ by mouth, investigating by an inward sinking mind where one rises as ‘I’ alone is the path of jñāna. Instead, thinking ‘[I am] not this, I am that’ is an aid, [but] is it vicāra [self-investigation]?
The phrase ‘நான் என்று எங்கு உந்தும்’ (nāṉ eṉḏṟu eṅgu undum) means ‘where one rises as I’ or ‘where it [this ego] rises as I’ and therefore refers to our actual self, which is the source from which we rose as this ego. மனத்தால் (maṉattāl) is an instrumental case form of மனம் (maṉam), which means ‘mind’, so ‘உள் ஆழ் மனத்தால்’ (uḷ āṙ maṉattāl) means ‘by an inward sinking [plunging, diving or piercing] mind’ and describes the instrument by which we must investigate ourself. That is, in order to investigate what we actually are our mind or attention must pierce and sink deep within ourself. So long as we allow it to go out even to the slightest extent towards anything other than ourself we cannot experience what we actually are, so to investigate and thereby experience ourself as we actually are we must turn our entire mind back within to penetrate deep into ourself. Investigating ourself thus, says Bhagavan, is alone ‘ஞான நெறி’ (ñāṉa neṟi), the ‘path of jñāna’ or means by which we can experience ātma-jñāna (clear knowledge or awareness of ourself as we actually are).

Instead investigating ourself thus with our entire mind or attention focused solely on ourself, if we just float on the surface thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’, that would not be self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), but would just be a preliminary aid to such investigation. In the double clause ‘அன்று இது, நான் ஆம் அது’ (aṉḏṟu idu, nāṉ ām adu), which literally means ‘not this, I am that’ and which therefore implies ‘I am not this, I am that’, இது (idu) or ‘this’ refers to this person consisting of a body and mind that we now seem to be, whereas அது (adu) or ‘that’ refers to what we actually are, which is just pure self-awareness, which is what is called brahman, that which alone is real.

The final sentence of this verse, ‘அது விசாரம் ஆமா?’ (adu vicāram āmā?), is a rhetorical question that means ‘is it vicāra?’, which implies that thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’ is not ātma-vicāra or self-investigation and is therefore not ஞான நெறி (ñāṉa neṟi), the path of jñāna or means by which we can experience clear awareness of ourself as we actually are.

13. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 32: clinging to such aids is due to ‘deficiency of strength’

Though thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’ is an aid, if we continue thinking thus repeatedly even after understanding why we cannot be anything other than pure self-awareness, that would be due to insufficient strength of clear conviction that we are just that and not these adjuncts, and consequent lack of sufficient strength of love and determination to investigate ourself and thereby experience ourself as we actually are, as Bhagavan explains in verse 32 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அதுநீயென் றம்மறைக ளார்த்திடவுந் தன்னை
யெதுவென்று தான்றேர்ந் திராஅ — ததுநா
னிதுவன்றென் றெண்ணலுர னின்மையினா லென்று
மதுவேதா னாயமர்வ தால்.

adunīyeṉ ḏṟammaṟaiga ḷārttiḍavun taṉṉai
yeduveṉḏṟu tāṉḏṟērn dirāa — dadunā
ṉiduvaṉḏṟeṉ ḏṟeṇṇalura ṉiṉmaiyiṉā leṉḏṟu
maduvētā ṉāyamarva dāl
.

பதச்சேதம்: ‘அது நீ’ என்று அம் மறைகள் ஆர்த்திடவும், தன்னை எது என்று தான் தேர்ந்து இராது, ‘அது நான், இது அன்று’ என்று எண்ணல் உரன் இன்மையினால், என்றும் அதுவே தான் ஆய் அமர்வதால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘adu nī’ eṉḏṟu a-m-maṟaigaḷ ārttiḍavum, taṉṉai edu eṉḏṟu tāṉ tērndu irādu, ‘adu nāṉ, idu aṉḏṟu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇal uraṉ iṉmaiyiṉāl, eṉḏṟum aduvē tāṉ-āy amarvadāl.

அன்வயம்: ‘அது நீ’ என்று அம் மறைகள் ஆர்த்திடவும், அதுவே தான் ஆய் என்றும் அமர்வதால், தன்னை எது என்று தான் தேர்ந்து இராது, ‘அது நான், இது அன்று’ என்று எண்ணல் உரன் இன்மையினால்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘adu nī’ eṉḏṟu a-m-maṟaigaḷ ārttiḍavum, adu-v-ē tāṉ-āy eṉḏṟum amarvadāl, taṉṉai edu eṉḏṟu tāṉ tērndu irādu, ‘adu nāṉ, idu aṉḏṟu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇal uraṉ iṉmaiyiṉāl.

English translation: When the Vēdas declare ‘that is you’, instead of oneself knowing and being oneself [by investigating] what [am I], thinking ‘I am that, not this’ is due to deficiency of strength, because that itself always exists as oneself.
As in the previous two verses that we considered, in this verse அது (adu) or ‘that’ refers to brahman, the one fundamental reality, which is just pure self-awareness and which is what we actually are, whereas இது (idu) or ‘this’ refers to whatever body, mind and other associated adjuncts we now seem to be. When the Vēdas tell us ‘tat tvam asi’, which means ‘that is you’ and which implies that we are brahman, our immediate reaction should be to investigate ‘what am I?’

That is, when we first hear about God or brahman, we naturally assume that these terms refer to something other than ourself, so if we want to know more about whatever thing they refer to, we seek knowledge about it outside ourself. However what these terms actually refer to is only ourself as we really are, so we cannot find that outside ourself but only by investigating ourself alone in order to be aware of ourself as we really are. Therefore the reason why the Vēdas tell us ‘that is you’ is in order to turn our attention back towards ourself, away from all other things, so when we hear that we ourself are that, we should reflect within ourself: ‘If I am that, then I can know what that actually is only by investigating what I myself actually am’. In other words, we should understand that we can know that only by investigating ourself and thereby being aware of ourself as we actually are.

Since we are that, why do we seem to be not aware ourself as that? Now we seem to be this person consisting of a body and mind, so how did this false awareness of ourself arise? In sleep we were not aware of ourself as a body or mind, but in waking and dream we are aware of ourself as such. One of the fundamental differences between waking and dream on one hand and sleep on the other is that in waking and dream we are aware of things other than ourself, whereas in sleep we are aware of nothing other than ourself, so we are aware of ourself as a body and mind whenever we are aware of anything other than ourself. Therefore we can infer that so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are, so in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we must try to attend only to ourself and thereby cease being aware of anything else.

If we discriminate thus, we will be able to understand that though it is necessary for us to be firmly convinced that we are only pure self-awareness and not any phenomena (because all phenomena, including whatever body and mind we may temporarily seem to be, are just transitory appearances, whereas we endure whether they appear or not), we cannot experience ourself as we actually are so long as we continue thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’, because by thinking about what we are not, or even by thinking ideas about what we are, we are allowing our attention to move away from ourself towards something else. That is, any thought or idea is just another transitory appearance, so thinking anything at all is diverting our attention away from ourself, and so long as our attention is diverted even to the slightest extent away from ourself we cannot experience ourself as the pure self-awareness that we actually are.

When the Vēdas tell us ‘that is you’, their aim is not to encourage us to think about ‘that’ but is only to turn our attention back towards ourself alone. That is, any thought or idea about ‘that’ or brahman is not what we actually are, because thoughts appear and disappear, whereas we are the fundamental and ever-enduring self-awareness from which they appear and into which they disappear. Therefore thinking any thought whatsoever, even a thought about God or brahman or what we actually are, cannot be a means by which we can be aware of ourself as we actually are.

Therefore in this verse Bhagavan says that since that (brahman or God) always exists as oneself, instead of investigating what am I and thereby knowing and being what one actually is, thinking ‘I am that, not this’ is due to ‘உரன் இன்மை’ (uraṉ iṉmai), which means ‘non-existence of strength’ or ‘deficiency of strength’. The strength he refers to here is the strength of clear understanding and firm conviction that we are that and not this, and the consequent strength of determination and love to try to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

As I mentioned in the first section of this article, Bhagavan and certain older texts have given various explanations and clues to help us turn our attention inwards to fix it on ourself alone, but we should understand that all such explanations and clues are intended only to be aids, and no aid can be the actual practice of self-investigation. Therefore we should use these aids wisely to help us in our persistent effort to be steadily self-attentive, but since any aid is something other than ourself, we should understand that these aids can lead us only up to the door of our heart, so to speak, and cannot accompany us any further, so in order to be actually self-attentive we must leave all aids behind at the door. Instead of doing so, if we cling to the aids we will never be able to proceed beyond the door, so Bhagavan says that clinging to any such aid is due to ‘deficiency of strength’ or lack of real love to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

14. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 2: the awareness that stands isolated from everything else alone is ‘I’

Regarding your second comment, in which you ask about the portion of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?) in which various adjuncts are listed and declared to be ‘not I’, please read my introduction to this text, in which I explain how this portion came to be included in it. As I explain there, this portion was not actually what Bhagavan said, but was added by Sivaprakasam Pillai, because it was what he had learnt when studying philosophy, and it helped him to understand the very succinct answer that Bhagavan gave to his first question, ‘Who am I?’.

The text you refer to is an English translation of the version containing twenty-eight questions and answers, which is a later adaptation of one of the earlier versions, which contained thirty questions and answers and eleven miscellaneous paragraphs, and which Bhagavan had rewritten as an essay consisting of twenty paragraphs. Because he had made significant changes and improvements to the earlier text when he rewrote it, and because some devotees believed that a question-and-answer version would nevertheless be more popular than the essay written by him, they decided to edit the earlier question-and-answer version and incorporate in it many of the changes made by him, and thus they formed the version containing twenty-eight questions and answers, which was first published in 1932, about five years after Bhagavan had written the essay.

In 1922 or 23, when he was first shown the draft of a compilation of some the questions and answers that Sivaprakasam Pillai had recorded in 1901 or soon after, which he was planning to include as an appendix to a biographical poem he had written about him, Bhagavan pointed out that the portion you refer to was not what he had said but was added by Sivaprakasam Pillai for his own clarification, but later when he wrote the essay version he decided to retain this portion in the second paragraph, and he highlighted in bold the answers that he had actually given to the first two questions asked by Sivaprakasam Pillai. The first question that he asked was ‘நானார்?’ (nāṉ-ār?), which means ‘I am who?’ or ‘Who am I?’, to which Bhagavan replied ‘அறிவே நான்’ (aṟivē nāṉ), which means ‘Awareness alone is I’, and his second question was ‘அறிவின் சொரூப மென்ன?’ (aṟiviṉ sorūpam eṉṉa?), which means ‘What is the nature of awareness?’, to which Bhagavan replied ‘சச்சிதானந்தம்’ (saccidāṉandam), which means ‘being-consciousness-happiness’ (sat-cit-ānanda).

From the portion that Sivaprakasam Pillai added, namely the series of statements to the effect that the physical body, the five sense organs, the five organs of action, the five ‘winds’ or vital energies, the mind and the ‘ignorance’ or absence of phenomena and actions that is experienced in sleep are each not ‘I’, and the relative clause that he adjoined to the word அறிவே (aṟivē) or ‘awareness’ in Bhagavan’s first answer, namely ‘மேற்சொல்லிய யாவும் நானல்ல, நானல்ல வென்று நேதிசெய்து தனித்து நிற்கும்’ (mēṟ-colliya yāvum nāṉ-alla, nāṉ-alla v-eṉḏṟu nēti-seydu taṉittu niṟkum), which means ‘which stands isolated [after] eliminating everything mentioned above as not I, not I’, you infer that ‘the document praises “neti-neti”’, which you say ‘presents an apparent contradiction’, because later in the first sentence of his answer to question 12, which is the eighth paragraph in his essay (part of which I cited above in section 6), he says that there is no adequate means other than vicāra.

There is actually no contradiction here, because contrary to what you seem to have inferred, in the second paragraph the portion added by Sivaprakasam Pillai and retained by Bhagavan does not actually say that ‘nēti nēti’ or thinking that this body and other associated adjuncts are not I is an adequate means to eliminate them or separate ourself from them. All that is said in the penultimate sentence of that paragraph is ‘மேற்சொல்லிய யாவும் நானல்ல, நானல்ல வென்று நேதிசெய்து தனித்து நிற்கும் அறிவே நான்’ (mēṟ-colliya yāvum nāṉ-alla, nāṉ-alla v-eṉḏṟu nēti-seydu taṉittu niṟkum aṟivē nāṉ), which means ‘Eliminating everything mentioned above as not I, not I, the awareness that stands isolated alone is I’. The means by which we can isolate ourself from all the adjuncts mentioned in the previous sentences of that paragraph and thereby eliminate them as not ‘I’ is not specified here, but elsewhere in this text (such as in the first sentence of the eighth paragraph, which you refer to) he repeatedly explains that the only adequate means to separate ourself from everything else and thereby experience ourself as we actually are is by investigating ourself alone.

What we actually are is only pure awareness, as he says here, and we can experience this awareness as it actually only when it stands isolated from everything else, so since we cannot isolate our awareness from all the adjuncts that seem to be ourself so long as we are thinking about them, thinking that they are not ‘I’ is not the means to eliminate them as not ‘I’. To eliminate them as not ‘I’ we need to isolate ourself completely from them, and to isolate ourself we need to attend to ourself alone.

Therefore what Bhagavan teaches us in Nāṉ Yār? and other texts in which he expresses the basic principles of his teachings in a systematic manner, such as Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār, is not at all inconsistent and does not contain any contradictions, because if we understand these texts correctly we will recognise that the principles he teaches in them together form a single and logically coherent whole. One of the most fundamental and crucial principles that he teaches us in these texts and elsewhere is that we seem to be this ego or mind only when we attend to anything other than ourself, and that attending to other things therefore nourishes and sustains this ego, so we can eliminate it and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are only by being attentively aware of ourself alone.

Since the nature of this ego is to project and experience itself as a body and mind, we cannot eliminate such adjuncts permanently from our awareness without eliminating this ego, and since this ego is just a false awareness of ourself, the only way to eliminate it is to be aware of ourself as we actually are, which we can be only when we are aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else. Therefore, since self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) entails just being attentively aware of ourself alone, thereby refraining from attending to anything else whatsoever, it is the only means by which we can isolate ourself completely, eliminating or excluding everything else from our awareness, and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are.

295 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 295 of 295
Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...



If we do not set the "standard" so to speak as to what we mean by Self Realization as taught by Bhagavan both by practice supplemented by reasoning how can there be agreement?!

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...



If we do not set the "standard" so to speak as to what we mean by Self Realization as taught by Bhagavan both by practice supplemented by reasoning how can there be agreement?!

Anonymous said...

Dragos,

Here is my humble feedback.

"[...] the body will undergo a death experience."

Well, [this] body (or any body) does not undergo any experience, anyway. It is the ego that experiences the body.

I like your posts, didn't I tell you?

Out of the blue said...

Dragos,
I just remember the Neil Young's song:
"My,My..............Hey, Hey
rock and roll can never die."

Kind regards

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Chinmay,

That is fascinating the "thumb meditation", thanks! I've never heard of it but it makes total sense. My teacher taught that the different classical yogas (karma, bhakti etc...) all favor transcending through a particular sense (for me the subtle sense of touch). I have tried a similar exercise: while walking, fix the gaze on some distant point and hold it. It's not my thing, but clearly, just holding the sense of sight immobile, the mind stops, you are in awareness. But... the thumb may be superior because it's always there on the end of your arm! Ha!

But, there is one "vision" method that I really like:
Look at yourself in a mirror, then turn your attention inward. There is a very peculiar feeling when the gaze is directed inward and your image in the mirror (which is usually primary) becomes secondary. This is the "double arrow" method: one arrow pointed outward as normal, but another arrow pointed inward. And this stops thought! Can we do it for 1 minute? 10 minutes? Legend is that one Jain Omniscient attained perfection (enlightenment) by gazing in to a mirror.

>> you see everything & if one doesn't focus on any object in the room then there will not be any thinking, just awareness

This is very similar to what I've heard in Japanese martial arts: in the Zen traditions and so forth, there is the concept of mushin or "no mind". If the samurai warrior on the battlefield is in thought... he will not be able to respond as needed. So he should be in the senses and seeing everything but not focused on any particular object, then thinking stops. Then he will be able to react spontaneously and effectively. Barry Long when asked what enlightenment was like described "I am just in the senses", ie, no mind, just totally aware of sensory input.

you say: LET IT BE...
I've always liked the Beatles song "let it be": there is a double meaning:
1) leave it alone, drop it
2) spontaneously let it happen.

these two definitions point to one truth: disengage the ego and then it will spontaneously happen effortlessly!

you say Teean Jittasubho
I googled and didn't find him yet but I found this from another Buddhist:
Those who want peace ought to follow the Buddha’s path; those who want chaos can walk away from the Buddha’s path. Other paths won’t bring us to know, see, and understand ourselves, or to look into the mind, but instead lead us to look outside of ourselves.

So this buddhist is committing (in my opinion) the same error I have been yelling about here:
He is saying that other paths are ineffective. So rather than being focused like a razor inwardly towards spirit, he is watering it down and adding confusion by getting involved in outward competition !!
He is committing the error of projecting ego outwards (my path is the best).

Anonymous said...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu,

"I am no "master" in any other path,.."

The one true phrase.

"or try to look like one..."

The one false phrase because everything else you have said contradicts this phrase. You are right in saying Atma Vichara is the way to go because you need to do it more than anyone else. Now, hold on. Before this makes you angry and you want to respond, "ask who wants to respond" and you would be more faithful to Bhagavan than all the million words you have written.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, I am in agreement with your comment dated 25 May 2016, at 15:34.

You wrote, 'If Bhagavan's logic is of no use, why should he give something which is useless?' Very true. If we take him to be our sadguru (which I believe, he is for most of us), it would be wise to accept, at least tentatively, his teachings and the logic behind those teachings, and if he not our sadguru then we should follow some other guru's teachings. Simple logic!

You also wrote, 'To remain as we are, we practice remaining as we are. To remain as we are, we don't chant. If we do, we don't want to remain as we are. Suppose we remained as we are at the end of chanting, even then it would not mean our initial aim was to remain as we are'.

Yes, as you say, to remain as we are we don't chant, and if we chant we don't remain as we are. Our sadguru, Bhagavan Ramana, has repeatedly emphasised this, in addition to this simple logic also confirms it. If we chant, our attention in on thoughts (thought of God or mantra, and so on); therefore, at that time how can we remain in the state of just being? Again simple logic!

Ann Onymous said...

Dragos - feel free to express the truth you have come to see in Sri Ramana's words, by putting those words into practice. It is a wonderful feeling, indeed!

Sanjay Lohia said...

nourish and flourish, the following is my reflection on your comment dated 24 may 2016 2016 at 19:01. Though the question was addressed to Michael, I somehow felt like sharing my thoughts on your comment. Michael may also respond in due course. You quoted Michael in your comment:

However meditating 'No, I am not this body, I am brahman' is only a preliminary aid and should not be continued forever, because once we are firmely convinced that we are not this body but only pure self-awareness, we should just try to remain steadily as we are without rising to think or meditate anything.

Based on this quotation, you had the following question (rephrased by me): Even before we experience our essential nature, can mere repetition of such a meditation - 'No, I am not this body, I am brahman' - provide a firm conviction that we are not this body, we are brahman? In your opinion this appeared unlikely.

On the surface of it your doubt appeared valid, and I also thought that perhaps your were correct. Somehow, I thought that how can be we be firmly convinced that we are not this body but only pure self-awareness, even before we experience this pure self-awareness? However, on deeper reflection I am now convinced that Michael's above statement is true.

For example, are we not firmly convinced that this earth goes around the sun? Have we seen it going around the sun? Obviously not. Scientific information and other factors have convinced us of this fact. Another example, I have never been to the USA, but I am firmly convinced that the city of Washington is in the USA. Hence, we do not necessarily have to experience an object, or a situation, or a condition to become convinced about its truth.

Similarly, if we repeat the meditation of neti-neti, and our sadguru and sastras> also confirm that We are That (pure-awareness), we start getting convinced that we could be this pure-awareness. Furthermore, based on our sadguru's teaching, our manana on the three states of our existence, waking, dream and sleep, also adds to our conviction. We come to understand that we experience this body and mind only in our waking and dream, but not in our deep sleep. In sleep we experience only awareness, bereft of our body and mind. Hence, we cannot be either body or mind.

All these factors makes us firmly convinced that we are not this body but only pure-awareness. Of course, we usually tend to forget this, especially when our mind is attending to objects or other worldly experiences, but the undercurrent of this conviction is never lost. In fact, it is only this conviction that motives us to experience ourself as we really are, by trying to ignore our body and mind and all other phenomena.

problem solver said...

Ann Onymous,
what is the use of a wonderful feeling ?
To whom occurs/arises that wonderful feeling ?
Does it solve any problem ?

Ann Onymous said...



"To whom occurs/arises that wonderful feeling ?"

To whom arises any problem?

Anonymous said...

“Now, I found that if you do it VERY VERY VERY VERY KEENLY with a GENTLE attitude, the outer world starts to fade and look somehow like a dream (including your body) and you feel the emmanations from the Self, you start to subside in your source... It all becomes hollow and more "ethereal" and you see for yourself the truth in that this world is nothing but a dream and does not really exist”.

What does ‘outer world starts to fade and look somehow like a dream’ mean? Does the dream world start to fade and look like a dream while we are dreaming? Somehow the idea that dream is something shaky and fuzzy is built into our thinking. The fact is, dream appears real and does not ‘look like a dream’ when we are dreaming. Therefore, there is no substantial difference between dream and waking. Since there is no substantial difference between dream and waking, the phrase ‘looks like a dream’ as found in ‘world is a dream’ is meaningless, as many aneka jiva vadis normally (and very hurriedly) interpret eka jiva vada.

As there is no substantial difference between dreaming and waking, if atma vichara is practised in any of the states, it is true that all phenomena take back seat and there is an increased clarity of self-awareness, which, more precisely, shows in both the states self-awareness endures, but not normally noticed. Further, as the phenomena recede into background, the state is akin to sleep (not exactly sleep), further strengthening our belief in the teaching that self-awareness endures even in the absence of phenomena. When what recedes (the ego) suddenly (yes, suddenly) dissolves, only self-awareness remains and the ego will not be left to make the statement that self-awareness endures even in the absence of phenomena, according to Bhagavan. Even when it recedes, our identity is still with the body (but rather weak) and hence a statement like ‘the ego does not really exist’ cannot be made, which would become contradictory. At best it can be clearly experienced and stated that ego is an appearance, which aneka jiva vadis have a hard time understanding. The statement ‘the ego (and hence the world) does not really exist’ is ajata and cannot be ‘seen’ now, however far it may recede into the background. Till its last trace is seen, it does appear. Till then, in holding onto the idea ‘I am the body’, eka jiva vadi and aneka jiva vadi are same.

problem solver said...

Ann Onymous,
you are right. I am not aware of any problem in deep sleep.
But in waking and dreaming this ego may catch sight of any problem. Nevertheless let us avoid being distracted by any thoughts about our own inability to keep our screen undefiled from still lingering visaya-vasanas. May we cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness (svarupa-dhyana).
Kind regards

Ann Onymous said...

"May we cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness (svarupa-dhyana)."

The real problem solver.

nourish and flourish said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for your reflection.
To become convinced that the earth goes round the sun and that the city of Washington is in the USA is comparatively easy. But to use that kind of conviction by way of comparison with the conviction referred in my comment seems to be not very persuasively and rather to miss the target. To put oneself as it were under hypnosis can hardly create any reliable conviction.

problem solver said...

Ann Onymous,
so at the end the problem solver did not be a disappointment to you.
Smile.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...




~"It is the ego that experiences the body."

The mind/the ego/the "I" creates the body (projects it instantly like in a dream

together with all its memories, features and so on. All this could have been created

10 seconds ago...) But we should not dwell on such speculations because once we become

convinced beyond any doubt that this is a dream (which can be done only by practice)

we should not analyze it anymore but constantly keenly try to turn to the "I", the

ego, the subject to whom it occurs.

If we do it keenly enough (the practice) we will come to this conclusion that this

body will cease to exist as soon as the practice is successful (together with

everything else)

~ "I am no "master" in any other path,.."

When I said that I did not mean I am a "master" in atma-vichara by any means. Perhaps

I should have written "I am no master in any path". If I were a master like Bhagavan,

how can I claim that? (as I experience myself now with a body living in a world?) If

you read the description you'll see that what I describe is just a partial keenes of

self attention (turning towards the "I") and what I claim to experience, which I was

very very reluctant to write anyway.

The only reason I wrote so much is to stress the fact that only practice can make us

understand the basics of Bhagavan's path beyond any doubt. All those experiences I

wrote are personal, and should not be trusted by anyone, and they are basically

meaningless to you or anyone reading now. If we really follow Bhagavan's path who

cares what other people experience? Who cares what anyone claims?! They are just words

who occur to us when we read them. But I stressed in those long posts this fact, that

they are shared for a reason.

--> to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

<-- continued
I too had this kind of idea before... "Michael writes so much and repeats himself so

often".. but to my honest surprise I found it very good for clarifiying for myself

certain things.

I welcome any criticism, because that's why I comment here, only to further clarify my

understanding.

" all the million words" I have written are indeed meaningless and any experience I

describe is meaningless. To whom it occurs?!

If we do the practice very keenly, sooner or later we cannot escape the conclusion

(based on Bhagavan's practice) that this is just another dream. The description was

just an answer to a question by Roger. It is not relevant! That's not the reason I

wrote that and everything else. If you can't get the meaning as a whole and what I

intended to stress, I cannot help it then.

What I wanted to stress was that:

IF we do the practice, sooner or later we will come to some unquestionable conclusions

or convictions (we will have first hand experience of this)

1. What we call "waking state" is just another dream
2. In the state we want to achieve (let's call it Self Realization) we cannot possibly

experience ourselves as having some kind of body, we cannot experience time and space

like we do now, other people, or any kind of external world.
3. We exist unchanging no matter what experience happens to us, as a result of other

practices or experiences.
4. Other practices, no matter of what type, will not enable us to experience what

Bhagavan taught us we can experience. We will experience something else if we follow

them.
5. It is not important what anyone claims to have experienced. And we will not be

deluded by anyone, no matter what they claim. (Skip those descriptions if they annoy

you or they give the impression I am showing off or claim something else..)
6. It is not necessary to have the full experience (to achieve the goal) to come to

the above conclusions.

We will not come to these conclusions in a logical discursive manner, just like when

you eat an apple you know the taste and you don't need books anymore to read and make

conclusions about the taste. (IF we do the practice)

--> to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

<-- continued

So IF we do the practice we cannot escape these conclusions and many others.
Thinking about them, analizing them, derving logic from them, is helpful only to a

certain extent. Unsakable conviction, I believe, can be established only with

practice.

~ "As there is no substantial difference between dreaming and waking"
There is no substantial difference between dreaming and waking. There is a dream time

and waking time. Our time now seems very long, we think we are this person, born

decades ago etc, but we all had dreams in which we tought we had happenings that

occured a long time ago (in that dream time). If we do the practice we will see for

ourselves that this is just another dream, and is not worth analyzing features about

the dream, its time, when it started etc...

So if I claim that "If we do the practice we will see for ourselves that this is just

another dream" this does not imply that I am a master at atma-vichara, because if you

""become a master" at it so to speak you would not experience yourself as a body,

living in a world with other people or happenings. It's like trying to claim I am a

master or "elightened being" to the dream figures of last night's dream. They don't

exist anymore and I don't experience that body to claim that to them.

Also, it is not necessary to wake up from this dream to realize it's a dream and does

not really exist. A partial, keenly enough, attention to "I" will help you see this

directly. This and many other conclusions will become evident IF we practice what

Bhagavan taught us.

If we understand the basic principles without any possible doubt (which in my opinion

can happen only by vigurous practice) we cannot be distracted no matter what we read

or who says them, or if we write pages of words. It is helpful to write once you

understand the teaching based on practice.

And if the tone sounds like I'm showing off or something well... to whom it occurs,

right?! :)

As I said, I not offended by personal opinions, anyone is entitled to say something,

even if we perceive it as "rude".

Thanks,
Dragos

all feedback welcome....

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...



~"
"To whom occurs/arises that wonderful feeling ?"

To whom arises any problem?"
"

Yes Ann Onymous, and Bhagavan said we should try to do that as keenly as possible, with all the attentiveness we can muster... We will all catch ourselves from time to time doing it rather in a luke-warm fashion... we should try to do it very very attentively/keenly..

Roger Isaacs said...

One of the fabulous 112 tantric techniques given by Lord Shiva:

The purity of other teachings is an impurity to us. in reality, know nothing as pure or impure.
http://www.meditationiseasy.com/meditation-techniques/meditation-technique-no-65/

Index to all techniques:
http://www.meditationiseasy.com/meditation-techniques/vigyan-bhairav-tantra-index-of-112-meditation-techniques

The beginning of Osho's commentary:

This is one of the basic messages of tantra. It is very difficult to conceive of it because it is absolutely non-ethical, non-moral. I will not say immoral because tantra is not concerned with morality or immorality. Tantra says it is irrelevant.
This message is to help you to grow beyond purity and impurity, beyond division really, beyond dichotomy, duality. Tantra says, existence is non-dual, it is one, and all distinctions are man-created — all distinctions, remember. Distinctions as such are man-created. Good-bad, pure-impure, moral-immoral, virtue-sin: all these concepts are man-created. They are attitudes of man; they are not real. What is impure and what is pure? It depends on your interpretation. What is immoral and what is moral? It depends on your interpretation.

Sivanarul said...

Thank you all, with whom I have corresponded the past year. It has been very helpful. Following and commenting on this blog has started interfering with actual sadhana. Morever, I am not as ambitious as you folks are who want to realize what you actually are. A little peace, joy and happiness, is all I need which is easily provided by pratyahara and meditation. It is also getting tiring to constantly read and respond to “It is Vichara only way or the highway!”.

I have been practicing Pratyahara in many areas of my life. Due to that practice, what I found is that, things that were 800 pound gorillas before, have become a really tiny invisible microbe, once pratyahara commenced. Following this blog and commenting on it has become an 800 pound gorilla that I need to turn it into a tiny invisible microbe. Pratyahara from this blog is going to be difficult for a little while. But as the Buddha taught, Anicca (Impermanence) is a fundamental part of existence. Everything has to end at some point, including following and commenting on this blog.

Wish you the very best in your Sadhana.

Farewell folks and Goodbye!

Anonymous said...

When I said "It is the ego that experiences the body”, the reply was, “we should not dwell on such speculations because once we become convinced beyond any doubt that this is a dream (which can be done only by practice)”.

1. We [as ego] experiencing the body is not a speculation. We are experiencing it right now, without any speculations. If speculation, what is the basis of such speculation?
2. What I wrote was in the context when a claim that body (jada) experiences something was made, which is not true.

Things must be understood in proper context and sense. To say ‘feedback is welcome’ and when feedback is given, switching over to ‘practice’ is not a good attitude. Well, go and continue with your practice. Why come here and write? I repeat, body being jada does not experience anything. The ego is the experiencer. The body is the experienced. Kids can understand this, even without claiming any ‘practice’. To understand that is not speculation.

When I say "there is no substantial difference between dreaming and waking", the answer was, “There is a dream time and waking time”. This is not any substantial difference. Each time, as long as it appears, it appears real, in its own state. Dream time looks different only now, not when dreaming. We can’t tell it is dream time while we are dreaming and hence there is no substantial difference between dreaming and waking. One does not even need practice to claim this!

Lord said, "Let there be monolog" and there was monolog! Let the monolog continue! Of course, it entertains! Didn't I say I enjoy it?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Venkat,

>> "Your experience is just theoretical . . . my experience is practical . . my tradition of jnana yoga against your atma vichara".

I am not saying Jnana Yoga against atma vichara obviously. In fact, it seems to me that atma vichara can be part of jnana yoga (I have been told this), and atma vichara could stand on it's own separately. And your proposal that atma vichara is part of nididhyasana (an advanced stage of meditation on the truth "that art thou") sounds very good to me.

I am curious about your tradition. You have formal education in Jnana Yoga and Advaita Vendanta?

What is neti-neti to you? How do you practice it? You apply it to philosophical contemplation? Do you introduce an idea "I am not this..." repeatedly in meditation or contemplation? You use neti-neti in a philosophic contemplation of the great truths?

And apparently you consider my example of applying "neti-neti" to attachments in the world (anger arising in a traffic jam) to be more of a mindfulness practice? That seems to be what you are saying. I am just trying to understand.

Does your school provide any consideration for how to apply your understanding of Jnana Yoga in everyday life? Since Sankara represents a monastic tradition, perhaps there are few if any suggestions to householder life.

Regarding sravana, manana... I have a large pile of books: shankara, osho, pantangali, barry long, paul brunton, Nisargadatta, Ramana, suzuki, Krishnamurti etc..
I rarely read a whole book. I go hunting for inspiration and research particular themes.
For example, by being on this group I sense a connection between Sri Ramana's "Who am I?" and Barry Longs "there is only one 'I' in the universe and it is behind the eyes reading these words" and I look for it in my experience and support from others.

My teacher claimed to be Jnana Yoga... is it OK if I identify myself as "Jnana Yoga, the ad hoc - informal school?"
:-)

You say:
PS. Bhagavan would say that once you understand the pointer, then you can go directly to atma vichara, without studying all the scriptures. This is the main point of contention with some modern 'traditional' Vedanta teachers.

Very interesting, maybe I am trying to understand the pointer. My teacher gave me only minimal pointing and I have been left to use my own research, meditation, inner guide etc...

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Dragos,
You say: This is exactly what we are doing on this path :) Ego-cide. Because if you keenly hold on 100% to that "I", the subject, you will actually die.

It is only true if it is true in your experience. I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer, perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance.

Great "maha yoga" quote!! But is it true for you now?

Sri Ramana says that both temporary nirvikalpa samadhi and savikalpa samadhi lead to sahaja. (Godman) The question is: are you experiencing these daily in your practice? And if not.... why not?

If you experience these temporary states over an extended period the tendency is gradually for them to move towards becoming permanent: sahaja.

Bhagavan said we should go straight to Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi

exactly! IF POSSIBLE. Bhagavan may have been the only one ( or very damned few) in the last century to pop straight in. And if it is not possible to go directly to Sahaja, why aren't you practicing the temporary forms???

Nisargadatta Maharaj was very advanced and it took him 3 years of being in "I AM" (beyond meditation) to pop in. Think of all the great sages in the past, for a large number of them it took years. I mean, do you think you are superior to Buddha or others who invested a huge amount of time in meditation practice of temporary nirvikalpa and savikalpa?

Seems to me that if you had a practice which was growing in inner stillness, and you were really passionate about results, then you'd be doing that practice rather than beating the keyboard here.

Sorry to be so direct, but, I want the best for you, and I'm just trying to tell the truth as I see it. You want the goal of sahaja, so I am writing to that part of you.

If you can that you are sitting in kevala nirvikalpa samadhi daily.... then I will shut up.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


~"I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer,

perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being

reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation

or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance."

On the path Bahgavan showed us, IF you do the practice and if, in conjunction with

this practice you extract some logical resoning which invariably will follow, you

cannot "grow in inner stillness" in the way you probably mean. This is not a path in

which everthing goes progressivelly (say from a very agitated mind, in the way we

think of mind, to a very calm one and when it gets very very calm... booom.. we have

"elightenment"). It's more like a rollercoaster, because here what you need is one

moment (or perhaps and atempt would be the more correct word) where you keenly focus

on the "I", where you isolate it completely, where you hold on to it until it goes

back to its source etc etc... and you will experience what I quoted from Maha Yoga

invariably and you'll see the truth in that even if you can't hold on to the "I" 100%.

But, if we are really commited, on this path, we should not dwell on any desciptions

whatsover other than the practice itself, and we should have no expectations of "what

might happen" because once we undestand the basics and the practice it entails it does

not make sense to get preconcieved ideas.

I did not want to write what I wrote, but after so many words, I think I expressed the

best as I could certain ideas and what I experienced ONLY to stress the main necessary

points on this path and the practice. My main language is Romanian not English, whose

grammar structure and word composition is entirely different from English so if it

creates confusion in some sense of another, I cannot express myself differently.

Also I cannot really reply to all ideas in all comments, so no one should get upset

that I select one sentence to express my ideas about it.

I assumed that since this is a blog about spirituality many people here practice some

thing or another for years, probably some for decades. It is impossible to practice

something one pointedly and not have some type of experience. I never implied I am an

"expert" at any type of experience and don't want to give this impression.

I have found this path, practiced (and still practice! as asidoulsy as I can) and I

belive certain logical and helpful idea became more clear. That's all...

I cannot deal (and nobody can) with all ideas expressed and the way people "take it"

so to speak.
<---- to continue

<--- continued

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


<--- continued

I believe that if we clearly remember just one thing (that whatever happens, whether

it is a thought(in our usual sense of the word), image, feeling, sensation etc...

happens to/occurs to and "I", a subject/seer/knower/thinker that sees/perceives/is

aware of it and we should look at/attend/inspect only that ) then we cannot go wrong

in this path, even if we don't make the best use of words and the way we express them.

They can become more clear and coherent and correct once the practice becomes more

determined, or asidous...

I am not "sitting in kevala nirvikalpa samadhi daily" because I have not chosen such a

path. I ignore (or try my best) everything and return to the "I" in the way Bhagavan

showed us. In this way we can achieve Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi (jsut a term) and we

are not interested in any other type of samadhi.

Roger, this can go on forever... I have made my choice. I am following Bhagavan's path

to the end. I am not interested in anything else. Everyone is free to choose what he

wishes. I don't intend anyone to get upset, I never expected this actually, I believed

we all try the practice to some extent even if we are interested in something else..

But I would like you, and anyone else who comments to tell us what is the "standard"

for what we may call Enlightmenent, Pure Awareness, Consciousness, NoN-Duality,

reaching Self Awareness, being what we are etc... etc.. and all such terms.

So, what is the "standard" according to Bhagavan? (although of course he never set

standards or tried to compete, because "his standard" if we may call it so is that

nothing than himself (as Pure Awareness or Pure Consciousness) exists, so who to

"compete" against who)

But we are in ignorance, and we think we are a body and a mind, so sooner or later we

must set some standards (guiding posts) if we want to achieve our goal. Unless we do

that we would be just babbling around with no clear picture of what to do or believe.
<---- to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

<--- continued
So, I invite people to say in their own words what exactly is Bhagavan's path all

about... For a moment let's ignore the impressions about other comment or experiences.

They are not really relevant... let's just hear it...

If you and all the others cannot answer this in a logical manner (and I don't assume I

am the most coherent or logical or "nice" person ever), then I have to assume certain

things like you don't understand, you don't practice, or you just don't want to

practice what Bhagavan taught us, you are following other path with different result.

The only reason I wrote those descriptions is to explain (as logically as my mind can

at this moment) that there are possible other paths and we can follow them if we want,

not implying I have somehow "mastered" them and now as a "master" of them I left them

as usless and return to the one and only, the only true and correct path, Vichara (in

this sense of expressing things)...

We can choose what we want to believe... I cannot choose to belive something just

because someone is considered a guru and people gather around them, or someone writes

books about him.


If this path entails (by logical and actual practice, actual experience) not paying

attention to anything and someone claim that he is still aware of anything I have to

assume they teach something else. This does not mean they are "false teachers", it

just means, based on this path and what we are trying to achieve on this path, that

they teach something else.

Moreover, if I really follow this path, and understand the basic principles based on

practice, I DO NOT NEED any kind of external guru figure, even if it appears as

Bhagavan. Bhagavan himself stressed that we should not blidnly believe what He teaches

us, but to put it into practice, and become convinced ourselves.

EVEN if we become convinced (by both practice and logical reasoning) for many this

path will seem very very hard and austere, and we may consciously quit it even if we

understand it and practiced it to a certain extent...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

(NOTE: There is an issue with the comments some don't appear. I am posting again all 3 of them but numbered). I ask Michael to delete the previous two.

(1)

~"I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer,

perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being

reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation

or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance."

On the path Bahgavan showed us, IF you do the practice and if, in conjunction with

this practice you extract some logical resoning which invariably will follow, you

cannot "grow in inner stillness" in the way you probably mean. This is not a path in

which everthing goes progressivelly (say from a very agitated mind, in the way we

think of mind, to a very calm one and when it gets very very calm... booom.. we have

"elightenment"). It's more like a rollercoaster, because here what you need is one

moment (or perhaps and atempt would be the more correct word) where you keenly focus

on the "I", where you isolate it completely, where you hold on to it until it goes

back to its source etc etc... and you will experience what I quoted from Maha Yoga

invariably and you'll see the truth in that even if you can't hold on to the "I" 100%.

But, if we are really commited, on this path, we should not dwell on any desciptions

whatsover other than the practice itself, and we should have no expectations of "what

might happen" because once we undestand the basics and the practice it entails it does

not make sense to get preconcieved ideas.

I did not want to write what I wrote, but after so many words, I think I expressed the

best as I could certain ideas and what I experienced ONLY to stress the main necessary

points on this path and the practice. My main language is Romanian not English, whose

grammar structure and word composition is entirely different from English so if it

creates confusion in some sense of another, I cannot express myself differently.

Also I cannot really reply to all ideas in all comments, so no one should get upset

that I select one sentence to express my ideas about it.

I assumed that since this is a blog about spirituality many people here practice some

thing or another for years, probably some for decades. It is impossible to practice

something one pointedly and not have some type of experience. I never implied I am an

"expert" at any type of experience and don't want to give this impression.

I have found this path, practiced (and still practice! as asidoulsy as I can) and I

belive certain logical and helpful idea became more clear. That's all...

I cannot deal (and nobody can) with all ideas expressed and the way people "take it"

so to speak.
<---- to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


(2)
<--- continued

I believe that if we clearly remember just one thing (that whatever happens, whether

it is a thought(in our usual sense of the word), image, feeling, sensation etc...

happens to/occurs to and "I", a subject/seer/knower/thinker that sees/perceives/is

aware of it and we should look at/attend/inspect only that ) then we cannot go wrong

in this path, even if we don't make the best use of words and the way we express them.

They can become more clear and coherent and correct once the practice becomes more

determined, or asidous...

I am not "sitting in kevala nirvikalpa samadhi daily" because I have not chosen such a

path. I ignore (or try my best) everything and return to the "I" in the way Bhagavan

showed us. In this way we can achieve Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi (jsut a term) and we

are not interested in any other type of samadhi.

Roger, this can go on forever... I have made my choice. I am following Bhagavan's path

to the end. I am not interested in anything else. Everyone is free to choose what he

wishes. I don't intend anyone to get upset, I never expected this actually, I believed

we all try the practice to some extent even if we are interested in something else..

But I would like you, and anyone else who comments to tell us what is the "standard"

for what we may call Enlightmenent, Pure Awareness, Consciousness, NoN-Duality,

reaching Self Awareness, being what we are etc... etc.. and all such terms.

So, what is the "standard" according to Bhagavan? (although of course he never set

standards or tried to compete, because "his standard" if we may call it so is that

nothing than himself (as Pure Awareness or Pure Consciousness) exists, so who to

"compete" against who)

But we are in ignorance, and we think we are a body and a mind, so sooner or later we

must set some standards (guiding posts) if we want to achieve our goal. Unless we do

that we would be just babbling around with no clear picture of what to do or believe.
<---- to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

(3)
<--- continued
So, I invite people to say in their own words what exactly is Bhagavan's path all

about... For a moment let's ignore the impressions about other comment or experiences.

They are not really relevant... let's just hear it...

If you and all the others cannot answer this in a logical manner (and I don't assume I

am the most coherent or logical or "nice" person ever), then I have to assume certain

things like you don't understand, you don't practice, or you just don't want to

practice what Bhagavan taught us, you are following other path with different result.

The only reason I wrote those descriptions is to explain (as logically as my mind can

at this moment) that there are possible other paths and we can follow them if we want,

not implying I have somehow "mastered" them and now as a "master" of them I left them

as usless and return to the one and only, the only true and correct path, Vichara (in

this sense of expressing things)...

We can choose what we want to believe... I cannot choose to belive something just

because someone is considered a guru and people gather around them, or someone writes

books about him.


If this path entails (by logical and actual practice, actual experience) not paying

attention to anything and someone claim that he is still aware of anything I have to

assume they teach something else. This does not mean they are "false teachers", it

just means, based on this path and what we are trying to achieve on this path, that

they teach something else.

Moreover, if I really follow this path, and understand the basic principles based on

practice, I DO NOT NEED any kind of external guru figure, even if it appears as

Bhagavan. Bhagavan himself stressed that we should not blidnly believe what He teaches

us, but to put it into practice, and become convinced ourselves.

EVEN if we become convinced (by both practice and logical reasoning) for many this

path will seem very very hard and austere, and we may consciously quit it even if we

understand it and practiced it to a certain extent...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


(1)

~"I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer,

perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being

reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation

or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance."

On the path Bahgavan showed us, IF you do the practice and if, in conjunction with

this practice you extract some logical resoning which invariably will follow, you

cannot "grow in inner stillness" in the way you probably mean. This is not a path in

which everthing goes progressivelly (say from a very agitated mind, in the way we

think of mind, to a very calm one and when it gets very very calm... booom.. we have

"elightenment"). It's more like a rollercoaster, because here what you need is one

moment (or perhaps and atempt would be the more correct word) where you keenly focus

on the "I", where you isolate it completely, where you hold on to it until it goes

back to its source etc etc... and you will experience what I quoted from Maha Yoga

invariably and you'll see the truth in that even if you can't hold on to the "I" 100%.

But, if we are really commited, on this path, we should not dwell on any desciptions

whatsover other than the practice itself, and we should have no expectations of "what

might happen" because once we undestand the basics and the practice it entails it does

not make sense to get preconcieved ideas.

I did not want to write what I wrote, but after so many words, I think I expressed the

best as I could certain ideas and what I experienced ONLY to stress the main necessary

points on this path and the practice. My main language is Romanian not English, whose

grammar structure and word composition is entirely different from English so if it

creates confusion in some sense of another, I cannot express myself differently.

Also I cannot really reply to all ideas in all comments, so no one should get upset

that I select one sentence to express my ideas about it.

I assumed that since this is a blog about spirituality many people here practice some

thing or another for years, probably some for decades. It is impossible to practice

something one pointedly and not have some type of experience. I never implied I am an

"expert" at any type of experience and don't want to give this impression.

I have found this path, practiced (and still practice! as asidoulsy as I can) and I

belive certain logical and helpful idea became more clear. That's all...

I cannot deal (and nobody can) with all ideas expressed and the way people "take it"

so to speak.
<---- to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

NOTE: I ask Michael to delete the other posts but the one numered (1), (2), (3). I don't know why some posts don't appear when they should...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

NOTE: I believe I understand now why some posts don't appear. I write them in a word editor and paste them here.... so it probably interprets them as spam and some don't get published...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

(1)

~"I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer,

perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being

reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation

or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance."

On the path Bahgavan showed us, IF you do the practice and if, in conjunction with

this practice you extract some logical resoning which invariably will follow, you

cannot "grow in inner stillness" in the way you probably mean. This is not a path in

which everthing goes progressivelly (say from a very agitated mind, in the way we

think of mind, to a very calm one and when it gets very very calm... booom.. we have

"elightenment"). It's more like a rollercoaster, because here what you need is one

moment (or perhaps and atempt would be the more correct word) where you keenly focus

on the "I", where you isolate it completely, where you hold on to it until it goes

back to its source etc etc... and you will experience what I quoted from Maha Yoga

invariably and you'll see the truth in that even if you can't hold on to the "I" 100%.

But, if we are really commited, on this path, we should not dwell on any desciptions

whatsover other than the practice itself, and we should have no expectations of "what

might happen" because once we undestand the basics and the practice it entails it does

not make sense to get preconcieved ideas.

I did not want to write what I wrote, but after so many words, I think I expressed the

best as I could certain ideas and what I experienced ONLY to stress the main necessary

points on this path and the practice. My main language is Romanian not English, so if it

creates confusion in some sense of another, I cannot express myself differently.

Also I cannot really reply to all ideas in all comments, so no one should get upset

that I select one sentence to express my ideas about it.

I assumed that since this is a blog about spirituality many people here practice some

thing or another for years, probably some for decades. It is impossible to practice

something one pointedly and not have some type of experience. I never implied I am an

"expert" at any type of experience and don't want to give this impression.

I have found this path, practiced (and still practice! as asidoulsy as I can) and I

belive certain logical and helpful idea became more clear. That's all...

I cannot deal (and nobody can) with all ideas expressed and the way people "take it"

so to speak.
<---- to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


(1)

~"I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer, perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance."

On the path Bahgavan showed us, IF you do the practice and if, in conjunction with this practice you extract some logical resoning which invariably will follow, you cannot "grow in inner stillness" in the way you probably mean. This is not a path in which everthing goes progressivelly (say from a very agitated mind, in the way we think of mind, to a very calm one and when it gets very very calm... booom.. we have "elightenment"). It's more like a rollercoaster, because here what you need is one moment (or perhaps and atempt would be the more correct word) where you keenly focus on the "I", where you isolate it completely, where you hold on to it until it goes back to its source etc etc... and you will experience what I quoted from Maha Yoga invariably and you'll see the truth in that even if you can't hold on to the "I" 100%.

But, if we are really commited, on this path, we should not dwell on any desciptions whatsover other than the practice itself, and we should have no expectations of "what might happen" because once we undestand the basics and the practice it entails it does not make sense to get preconcieved ideas.

I did not want to write what I wrote, but after so many words, I think I expressed the best as I could certain ideas and what I experienced ONLY to stress the main necessary points on this path and the practice. My main language is Romanian not English, so if it creates confusion in some sense of another, I cannot express myself differently.

Also I cannot really reply to all ideas in all comments, so no one should get upset that I select one sentence to express my ideas about it.

I assumed that since this is a blog about spirituality many people here practice some thing or another for years, probably some for decades. It is impossible to practice something one pointedly and not have some type of experience. I never implied I am an "expert" at any type of experience and don't want to give this impression.

I have found this path, practiced (and still practice! as asidoulsy as I can) and I belive certain logical and helpful idea became more clear. That's all...

I cannot deal (and nobody can) with all ideas expressed and the way people "take it" so to speak.
<---- to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


(1)
~"I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer, perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance."

On the path Bahgavan showed us, IF you do the practice and if, in conjunction with this practice you extract some logical resoning which invariably will follow, you cannot "grow in inner stillness" in the way you probably mean. This is not a path in which everthing goes progressivelly (say from a very agitated mind, in the way we think of mind, to a very calm one and when it gets very very calm... booom.. we have "elightenment"). It's more like a rollercoaster, because here what you need is one moment (or perhaps and atempt would be the more correct word) where you keenly focus on the "I", where you isolate it completely, where you hold on to it until it goes back to its source etc etc... and you will experience what I quoted from Maha Yoga invariably and you'll see the truth in that even if you can't hold on to the "I" 100%.

But, if we are really commited, on this path, we should not dwell on any desciptions whatsover other than the practice itself, and we should have no expectations of "what might happen" because once we undestand the basics and the practice it entails it does not make sense to get preconcieved ideas.

I did not want to write what I wrote, but after so many words, I think I expressed the best as I could certain ideas and what I experienced ONLY to stress the main necessary points on this path and the practice. My main language is Romanian not English, so if it creates confusion in some sense of another, I cannot express myself differently.

Also I cannot really reply to all ideas in all comments, so no one should get upset that I select one sentence to express my ideas about it.

I assumed that since this is a blog about spirituality many people here practice some thing or another for years, probably some for decades. It is impossible to practice something one pointedly and not have some type of experience. I never implied I am an "expert" at any type of experience and don't want to give this impression.

I have found this path, practiced (and still practice! as asidoulsy as I can) and I belive certain logical and helpful idea became more clear. That's all...

I cannot deal (and nobody can) with all ideas expressed and the way people "take it" so to speak.
<---- to continue

Sanjay Lohia said...

nourish and flourish, on our thread we have discussing the following comment of Michael:

However meditating 'No, I am not this body, I am brahman' is only a preliminary aid and should not be continued forever, because once we are firmely convinced that we are not this body but only pure self-awareness, we should just try to remain steadily as we are without rising to think or meditate anything.

In your latest comment you write, 'To put oneself as it were under hypnosis can hardly create any reliable conviction'. If I am not wrong, you suggest here that if we become firmly convinced that we are not this body but are only pure self-awareness, this conviction will be more a result of our self-hypnosis, and, therefore, totally misplaced and inappropriate. I recall an incident in the life of Swami Vivekananda in this regard:

Vivekananda gave a series of lectures in America, and captured the hearts and minds of countless people by his inspiring and revolutionary talks on Vedanta (this was probably in 1890s). His message of the divinity of the soul, the oneness of existence, the non-duality of the Godhead, and the harmony of religions was totally new for the Americans, and overnight he became a hero in America.

Some of the Americans, owing allegiance to other religions, felt threatened by his speeches. They devised a plan to interrupt one of his speeches and to put him some tough questions, to show in poor light. As soon as he started his message of Vedanta, a few got up from the audience and said something to the effect, 'Swami, are you not hypnotising our people here by giving such baseless and unsubstantial talks? What will this hypnosis and black magic give you - may be some name and fame. Why don't you stop all this nonsense'.

Vivekananda replied to the effect, 'My child, you are all already hypnotised because you have taken your body and mind to be your yourself. I am just trying to de-hypnotise you by showing you your true nature'.

Therefore, this message of Vedanta, that 'you are not this body, you are brahman' - which was also Bhagavan's main message to us - was not to hypnotise us but to de-hypnotise us. Yes, as you imply, as long as we experience ourself as this ego this message lacks experiential conviction but still we can be theoretically convinced of it, to a larger or smaller extent.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


(1)

~"I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer, perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance."

On the path Bahgavan showed us, IF you do the practice and if, in conjunction with this practice you extract some logical resoning which invariably will follow, you cannot "grow in inner stillness" in the way you probably mean. This is not a path in which everthing goes progressivelly (say from a very agitated mind, in the way we think of mind, to a very calm one and when it gets very very calm... booom.. we have "elightenment"). It's more like a rollercoaster, because here what you need is one moment (or perhaps and atempt would be the more correct word) where you keenly focus on the "I", where you isolate it completely, where you hold on to it until it goes back to its source etc etc... and you will experience what I quoted from Maha Yoga invariably and you'll see the truth in that even if you can't hold on to the "I" 100%.

But, if we are really commited, on this path, we should not dwell on any desciptions whatsover other than the practice itself, and we should have no expectations of "what might happen" because once we undestand the basics and the practice it entails it does not make sense to get preconcieved ideas.

I did not want to write what I wrote, but after so many words, I think I expressed the best as I could certain ideas and what I experienced ONLY to stress the main necessary points on this path and the practice. My main language is Romanian not English, so if it creates confusion in some sense of another, I cannot express myself differently.

Also I cannot really reply to all ideas in all comments, so no one should get upset that I select one sentence to express my ideas about it.

I assumed that since this is a blog about spirituality many people here practice some thing or another for years, probably some for decades. It is impossible to practice something one pointedly and not have some type of experience. I never implied I am an "expert" at any type of experience and don't want to give this impression.

I have found this path, try to practice (and still practice! as asidoulsy as I can) and I belive certain logical and helpful idea became more clear. That's all...

I cannot deal (and nobody can) with all ideas expressed and the way people "take it" so to speak.

<---- to continue


PS: excuse the mess of comment order

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


(1)

~"I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer, perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance."

On the path Bahgavan showed us, IF you do the practice and if, in conjunction with this practice you extract some logical resoning which invariably will follow, you cannot "grow in inner stillness" in the way you probably mean. This is not a path in which everthing goes progressivelly (say from a very agitated mind, in the way we think of mind, to a very calm one and when it gets very very calm... booom.. we have "elightenment"). It's more like a rollercoaster, because here what you need is one moment (or perhaps and atempt would be the more correct word) where you keenly focus on the "I", where you isolate it completely, where you hold on to it until it goes back to its source etc etc... and you will experience what I quoted from Maha Yoga invariably and you'll see the truth in that even if you can't hold on to the "I" 100%.

But, if we are really commited, on this path, we should not dwell on any desciptions whatsover other than the practice itself, and we should have no expectations of "what might happen" because once we undestand the basics and the practice it entails it does not make sense to get preconcieved ideas.

I did not want to write what I wrote, but after so many words, I think I expressed the best as I could certain ideas and what I experienced ONLY to stress the main necessary points on this path and the practice. My main language is Romanian not English, so if it creates confusion in some sense of another, I cannot express myself differently.

Also I cannot really reply to all ideas in all comments, so no one should get upset that I select one sentence to express my ideas about it.

I assumed that since this is a blog about spirituality many people here practice some thing or another for years, probably some for decades. It is impossible to practice something one pointedly and not have some type of experience. I never implied I am an "expert" at any type of experience and don't want to give this impression.

I have found this path, try to practice (and still practice! as asidoulsy as I can) and I belive certain logical and helpful idea became more clear. That's all...

I cannot deal (and nobody can) with all ideas expressed and the way people "take it" so to speak.

<---- to continue


PS: excuse the mess of comment order

Dragos Nicolae said...


NOTE: I am the same Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu. I am using the google account because I tried to post this post multiple times and it does not appear on the blog.

(1)

~"I asked you if you were growing in inner stillness. Since you did not answer, perhaps not. Growth of inner stillness is a very good indicator that the ego being reduced. Just be honest: if you aren't growing in inner stillness (through meditation or whatever) then this is all just talk without substance."

On the path Bahgavan showed us, IF you do the practice and if, in conjunction with this practice you extract some logical resoning which invariably will follow, you cannot "grow in inner stillness" in the way you probably mean. This is not a path in which everthing goes progressivelly (say from a very agitated mind, in the way we think of mind, to a very calm one and when it gets very very calm... booom.. we have "elightenment"). It's more like a rollercoaster, because here what you need is one moment (or perhaps and atempt would be the more correct word) where you keenly focus on the "I", where you isolate it completely, where you hold on to it until it goes back to its source etc etc... and you will experience what I quoted from Maha Yoga invariably and you'll see the truth in that even if you can't hold on to the "I" 100%.

But, if we are really commited, on this path, we should not dwell on any desciptions whatsover other than the practice itself, and we should have no expectations of "what might happen" because once we undestand the basics and the practice it entails it does not make sense to get preconcieved ideas.

I did not want to write what I wrote, but after so many words, I think I expressed the best as I could certain ideas and what I experienced ONLY to stress the main necessary points on this path and the practice. My main language is Romanian not English, so if it creates confusion in some sense of another, I cannot express myself differently.

Also I cannot really reply to all ideas in all comments, so no one should get upset that I select one sentence to express my ideas about it.

I assumed that since this is a blog about spirituality many people here practice some thing or another for years, probably some for decades. It is impossible to practice something one pointedly and not have some type of experience. I never implied I am an "expert" at any type of experience and don't want to give this impression.

I have found this path, try to practice (and still practice! as asidoulsy as I can) and I belive certain logical and helpful idea became more clear. That's all...

I cannot deal (and nobody can) with all ideas expressed and the way people "take it" so to speak.

<---- to continue


PS: excuse the mess of comment order

nourish and flourish said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for replying again.
But as I have already said the mere mental or theoretical trust/faith/belief that we are brahman alone does not and cannot substitute the required total and firm conviction.
Regards to Bangalore

Roger Isaacs said...

Regarding Sanjay's comments on Vivekananda etc. PART 1

Vedanta is the highest. Actually, apparently what Michael is teaching is the highest in a way. But there is a major catch.

The thing that has happened is that Sri Ramana jumped directly into enlightenment, permanent all the time natural sahaja samadhi at an early age without any effort of the various adjuncts of stilling the mind (meditation, the 8 different paths of Yoga and tantra). And his teaching reflects this perspective that we can jump directly in.

The catch is: for most of us, until there has been considerable subtle effort at stilling the mind... there is no possibility of Advaita Vedanta actually working, of jumping straight in.

You could consider this from looking at the lives of other great realized masters. Read Yogananda's wonderful biography. Did he jump straight in, no, he practiced meditation for a long time and he also taught it. Virtually everyone of these great realized masters spent considerable time (generally many years) in some sort of meditation practice.

You speak of Vivekananda so please examine Vivekananda's teaching: he has written many books are the various different paths of Yoga, raja yoga etc. To summarize Vivekananda by pointing to his talks on Vedanta is not giving an accurate portrayal. He spent years in meditation, only to be enlightened around the time that his master Ramakrishna died, perhaps Ramakrishna did this for him.

In various teachings, there are 3 stages: 2 of which I will use to try and make my point:

stage 2: The stage of the yoga's, subtle effort at stilling the mind.

stage 3: The stage beyond yoga, yoga has been successful, the mind is still, we sit in profound stillness: vedanta.


Because Sri Ramana jumped straight in, the many various and popular teachers claiming him as inspiration emphasis stage 3, jumping directly in. But... the vast majority of these modern day Advaita teachers are not enlightened themselves. And because they skip stage 2, Advaita Vendanta becomes a religion: that is: talk about the highest but without a way in.

Roger Isaacs said...

Sanjay - Vivekananda PART 2

Nothing in the relative is absolute, but... this is a very good guideline:

If you are growing in inward stillness, then the ego is diminishing. Generally this is enhanced by some sort of meditation practice.

Michael (and many other Advaita teachers) have hit on what appears to be a profound argument: the "adjuncts" (the various yogas and tantra) are not the highest.... therefore so they can be skipped.

Yes, possibly they can be skipped, at least in the case of Sri Ramana, but if you study the lives of great masters, I'm not aware of a single other person who jumped straight in. Buddha did not, do you think yourself higher than Buddha?

It is convincing to the ego to hear that "oh, this is only a preliminary aid" and we can skip it. But, please realize that the preliminary aids (integral yoga, bhakti, kundalini yoga, jnana yoga, karma yoga, raja yoga, hatha yoga, tantra) have an extremely important purpose: stilling the mind.

If you can rest without thought for 1-10 minutes, not a single thought arising in 1-10 minutes (or you see any thoughts as if from a great distance uninvolved).... well then perhaps you can skip the adjuncts.

There is a new book (a new compilation of Paul Brunton's work done by others):

"The Short Path to Enlightenment, instructions for immediate awakening" by Paul Brunton.

With recommendations by Adyashanti and Gangaji.

Paul Brunton has done a great service here. He talks extensively about the "short path", advaita vendanta which is Michael's exposition and what Sri Ramana emphasised.

But he is one of the very few teachers to point out some of the pit falls, that without adequate preparations (aids, adjuncts) the short path is a dead end:

Paul Brunton:

The advocates of the Short Path (Michael's work) teach that with its entry, all necessity for the toils processes and disciplines of the Long one (adjuncts, aids, yogas, tantra) ceases. They are right. But they are rarely right when it comes to applying this statement to individual cases. For then it is nearly always applied prematurely. The results are then disastrous at most, disappointing at least.

Most beginners are not usually ready for the entire Short Path....

There are certain other dangers to which enthusiasts for the various Short Paths are exposed. They read books devoted to descriptions of the attainments and goals and become captivated by what they read and charmed by what they are taught. Then they begin to imitate what they can and to imagine what they cannot. In the end they fall into ego-centered fantasies and ego-fostered deceptions. They think they are more exalted in attainment than they really are. but so subtle is this disguised spiritual egoism that they are quite unaware of their peril until disaster deflates it.


So... in my humble opinion, after decades spent in meditation: it is useful to seek out a living person who is actually fully enlightened for instruction. Generally when trying to reach a goal, it is useful to talk with someone who is there. Michael speaks with great passion and is convincing... but is he enlightened? Certainly not. He is trying to lead you to a destination that he himself has not yet arrived at.




Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger Isaacs, I thank you for your two comments addressed to me, in which you wrote, 'it is useful to seek out a living person who is actually fully enlightened for instruction. Generally when trying to reach a goal, it is useful to talk with someone who is there. Michael speaks with great passion and is convincing... but is he enlightened? Certainly not. He is trying to lead you to a destination that he himself has not yet arrived at'.

If I may paraphrase Sri Sadhu Om's words, our living guru is within us as our pure-consciousness, because if we take the body of our sagduru to be a 'living guru', he will surely become a 'dead guru' when his body dies.

Bhagavan had said, the silent instructions of our inner sadguru is being continuously given to us, but most of us are incapable of understanding it or attuning ourself to this guidance. Therefore, he has to appear in a body outside to give us written and verbal instructions. Thus, his teachings can safely be considered as a 'living guru'. For example, his works like Nan Yar, Upadesa Undiyar, Ulladu Narpadu, Guru Vachaka Kovai . . . are as potent as his living presence.

You imply that since Michael is not 'enlightened', he cannot lead us to our destination. How do you know if he is enlightened or not? You may say 'he had said so'. Suppose I say tomorrow that I am enlightened, will you believe me? Most likely you will not, because as a matter of fact I am truly far from this ultimate goal of ours. Therefore, we cannot judge the inner state of another person. Bhagavan had also said that only a jnani can recognise another jnani.

Actually, we should not be concerned about whether or not somebody is a jnani, but should try to comprehend whether or not we have reached our goal, and if not, how can we reach it? According to Bhagavan, only our persistent and tenacious effort to be self-attentive can enable us to experience ourself as we really are.

Dragomirescu Dragos Nicolae said...

I would like to paste a previous comment as a very good and useful conclusion for all that actually needs to be said ...
.......................................

Anonymous25 May 2016 at 13:11
Sivanarul,

Like law of gravitation, there are laws of thermodynamics. There are many laws in Physics. All laws can be tested. They were hypotheses to begin with and by repeated checks, they were always found to be true (inductively) and elevated to the level of a 'law'.

If ego observes itself, it fades and eventually disappears. This can be tested by anyone. Of course this is the hypothesis Sri Ramana leaves with us in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu to check. Unlike other hypotheses (which may go true or false), he tells, it (the existence of ego) would go false eventually. It is up to us to test this, like how we might test any hypothesis.

Roger Isaacs said...

Sanjay,
My message does not resonant with you guys. Yes, my perspective is only one of many, and I do not want to impose on you. So I will leave you now.

thanks,
R

Sivanarul said...

Anonymous25,

Not sure whether you read my previous comment on slowly withdrawing from the blog and commenting. I have gotten tired of reading and responding to “It is Vichara only way or the highway!”.

As Roger explained very well via Paul Brunton’s new book, the short path is not for me. I am on the very long path and let it take what it takes.

http://www.davidgodman.org/tamilt/mkv.shtml

“The Tiruvachakam is, and has been for more than a thousand years, one of the most well-known and best-loved works of Tamil devotional literature. It is so highly regarded that parts of it are chanted every day in many South Indian temples. Parts of Tiruvachakam were chanted regularly during the early days of Sri Ramanasramam, and on the evening that his mother died, Ramana Maharshi asked all the assembled devotees to spend the night chanting the whole work. Manikkavachagar’s justly deserved fame and reputation rest almost exclusively on the eminence of this one devotional work. “

The above is the Bhagavan I know of and want to emulate. That Bhagavan did not ask all the assembled devotees to spend the night doing Vichara to find out that, there were really no mother or death. Instead he asked to chant Tiruvaachakam the whole night.

I wish you the very best in your Sadhana on the short path.

Farewell, Take care and Goodbye!

R Viswanathan said...

Sri Sivanarul, please send me your persona email address if you won't mind to mine: rvis1953@gmail.com

Residing in Arunachala and deeply involved in listening to Thiruvachakam, I would like to continue interaction with you through email since you stated your intention to stop airing your comments here. I benefit a lot by reading your responses.

Viswanathan

Bob - P said...

Dear Sivanarul

I am very sorry to hear you won't be following or commenting on Michael's blog anymore.
I don't always agree with what you say and I am sure you can say the same about me!
But at the end of the day what does it matter (lol)! We must laugh at ourselves because we
are walking a path of death, a suicide route and the one who agrees or disagrees has to go.

Sivanarul I sincerely hope what ever practise you do goes very well and you reach your goal whatever that goal may be.

It has been an absolute pleasure reading your comments and listening to your perspective on things as it has helped me with my own practise. So thank you.

By the way I fully appreciate what I write below is not correct because once we reach our goal there is no duality just the no dual self aware happy being. But it's a nice way to end my message to you.

Sivanarul I am sure we will meet at the same destination please just make sure to hang around for me to catch up (lol)!!!

Take care Sivanarul and thank you.
Bob

P.s - I do hope this message becomes obsolete when you return !! I hope so.

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji, Vannakkam

You might not read this message because you might have disconnected completely but I'll try it anyway. (one of the thing about these kind of blogs is that we can't know the email address of the writers, which may or may not be an advantage, in order to communicate "offline" like in other advaitin groups)

I completely respect your decision of leaving the blog, you certainly manage well your sadhana and know what is better for you.
As a fellow traveler and friend, I am a bit sad to see you go, specially that I don't know how to connect "offline" with you. (What Am I going to do if one day I visit New Jersey, should I ask any passerby about your whereabouts? :-)?)

You are (were?) an important part of this sangha, stretching our manana by completing it and by challenging it through time, sometimes with apropriate humor, some other with inspiring ancient texts, but mostly by standing for what you believe is true to yourself.

As a friend in the quest, I'll miss your presence here.

From a higher perspective, we have, are and will always be together and the same...

Be well amigo.
M

(if you ever want to connect, my email is maunna@gmail.com)

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, I too am very sorry to know that you have decided to leave us. I wish you all the best, and hope that perhaps at some later date you may decide to rejoin us.

A few weeks ago I had begun to write an article in reply to some of your recent comments, but I have not yet completed it because of later comments that I have in the meanwhile replied to. Since I have already written perhaps half of it, I will anyway try to complete it sooner or later, because it may be of interest to others even if you do not get to read it, but if you are at all interested to know what I will write, you may check back from time to time to see if I have completed it.

Thank you for all that you have contributed to our discussions here, and I am sure I speak on behalf of all of us when wishing you all the best.

Sivanarul said...

Sri (Viswanathan, Bob P, Mouna, Michael):

Thank you all for your really kind words. It brought tears to my eyes. Spiritual brotherhood is certainly a very strong bond, since it is based on the Spirit and not on matter. I don’t have another Satsang group that is as motivated, sincere and helpful as this one. I don’t know how long it will take me to find one or whether I will even be able to find one. There was a wonderful interaction with a friend named HillTop, which really helped me see my deep reluctance to let go of the control, even a little to Ishvara. I have realized the immense power of satsang during the last year. Many of your and other’s writings have been very helpful. So I will be around until I find a new home, just will be interacting less. Who knows when I will be able to find another one?

One of the Sadhanas I do, is to frequently picture myself standing before Lord Yama and having to answer for my life (equivalent to judgement day in Christianity). If he asks me, why did you throw away your time constantly defending other practices, instead of practicing those practices even more, what can I tell? As you all know, we have only 2 assets in this life: Time and Power of Attention and we will be judged by how well we used them. Improper usage means back again to Samsara, with very less chance of another human life.

BTW, Mounaji, if the election circus of back and forth insults gets to you, Pratyahara works wonders (Thank you Sri Patanjali) I was following the primaries and debates up until 5 weeks ago and it had ballooned to an 800 pound gorilla. For the past 5 weeks, I have completely switched off TV and web news. That 800 pound gorilla has become a microbe now. I have no idea what is going on. Ignorance is indeed bliss and God bless Spirituality :-) I will not be turning on the TV and web news until Election Day. At that time, if I have the grace of Sri Patanjali, may be never turn it on.

Viswanathanji, Thiruvachakam is among the holiest of Saivite scripture and was very close to Bhagavan’s heart. What a wonderful way to start the morning by listening to Thirupalliyezuchi.

Bob-P, Your dream character says Hi. Thank you for your kind words, my friend.

Michael, Thank you very much for the article you are working on now. Look forward to reading it. Hopefully you will have some TLC in that, to those of us on the Long path :-) If I ever come to UK, I would love to attend one of your Ramana Satsangs. You are one of my sources of inspiration on how to lead a path of renunciation and how to keep the focus on the path. Wish you would been a Nayanmar on the Saivite path. It is not too late to convert :-)

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Sinavarul,

I hope you can still comment from time to time... even if there is a lot of disagreement here. Disagreement is good, it will enable each of us to clear our ideas and decide what we really want..

Wishing you all the best,

Dragos :)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sivanarul, many of our friends, including Michael, have written to you expressing their good wishes. As you are aware, we have fought some epic 'battles'; therefore, how could I leave myself out? Hence, I also thought to share some of my reflections.

I was thinking, why do people have disagreements? Obviously, most of the time it is due to differences in their opinion but we also increase our differences because of inappropriate use of language. For example, we could either say, 'What you have written is all rubbish', or we could instead say, 'I think you should examine what you have written’. As we can see, the latter sentence in more polite and indirect, and former rude and impolite.

I think some of us make the mistake of communicating in such an impolite way, and this aggravates the problem or sometimes even creates new problems for us. I suppose, I might have also used such impolite tone in some of my comments. Therefore, some of my comments, knowingly or unknowingly, could have carried the impression, 'my way of the highway'. I regret this.

As we know, if people were not interested to listen to his core teachings, Bhagavan never forced his views on others. Furthermore, Michael also never imposes his views on others. For example, he doesn’t say or imply that if we are not interested in the practice of self-investigation, we have no place on this blog. Therefore, I believe, stray comments which imply 'my way or the highway' should not bother us much.

According to me, Michael has written a few of his better articles based on your comments, like his article on 'bhakti'.

On a lighter note, you write, 'You [Michael] are one of my sources of inspiration on how to lead a path of renunciation and how to keep the focus on the path. Wish you would been a Nayanmar on the Saivite path. It is not too late to convert'. Please don't take him away to your Saivite path, because many of us will be orphaned if you do so!

As a matter of fact, Michael sleeps, walks, writes, talks, eats, Bhagavan; and there is a good possibility that by now Bhagavan’s works like Nan Yar?, Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar are in his blood. Therefore, to ask him to leave the ‘Ramana way’ for some ‘other way’ will be like asking the sun to rise in the west.

I also wish you all the best.

Roger Isaacs said...

Dear Michael, Dragos, Sanjay,
I had given up our argument that we've been having which started when I suggested that Jnana Yoga and Inquiry were potentially on equal footing, equally beneficial, equally honorable and useful. (noting of course that I believe different styles work for different people and Jnana is not for everyone)

Dragos, you say "Disagreement is good..."
Sanjay, you say "Why do people have disagreements?"

But then, last night I was reading Sri Ramana and came across something very interesting. It turns out that this disagreement is not really between us. It is between different texts of Sri Ramana. See Godman "Be as you are" page 158. I did not find this earlier because it is not in the index.

Below, Sri Ramana states that in Jnana Yoga the [final] state is sahaja nishtha, the same term that he uses to describe his own exalted state.

Therefore, by Sri Ramana's words, Jnana Yoga leads to the highest state, directly, no mention of Inquiry.

I rest my case regarding the high & equal value of Jnana Yoga. Michael, I imagine that you will be modifying your teaching and publications? :-)
Certainly I am not claiming any superiority over Inquiry, only the possibility of respect and equality.

Sanjay, if it is true "that Michael sleeps, walks, writes, talks, and eats Bhagavan" perhaps we could hope that he studies Godman as well?!

So now I suppose that rather than being an outsider, I can be welcomed as one of the group, my style has been given the official stamp of approval?


Q: If this sahaja samadhi is the most desirable condition, is there no need for nirvikalpa samadhi?

Sri Ramana: The nirvikalpa samadhi of raja yoga may have its use. But in JNANA YOGA this sahaja sthiti [natural state] or sahaja nishtha [abidance in the natural state] itself is the nirvikalpa state. In the natural state the mind is free from doubts. It has no need to swing between alternative of possibilities and probabilities. It sees no vikalpas [differences] of any kind. It is sure of the truth because it feels the presence of the real. Even when it is active, it knows it is active in the reality, the Self, the supreme being.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, you write, 'So now I suppose that rather than being an outsider, I can be welcomed as one of the group', I can say, with Michael’s permission, surely! As long as you write on this blog, you are already the part of our group. Bhagavan never turned away anybody from his presence, nor does Michael ask anyone to leave his blog, as long as we discuss things in a civilised way and stick to the general topic of spirituality. Of course, Michael prefers discussing Bhagavan's teachings with special emphasis on the practice of self-investigation, but this does not mean that other views are abhorred here.

You claim, 'Therefore, by Sri Ramana's words, Jnana Yoga leads to the highest state, directly, no mention of Inquiry'. I guess, you still believe that the paths of jnana and the path of vichara (self-investigation) are different. From whatever we have understood, these two, Jnana marga and vichara marga are just two ways of describing the same practice, as far as Bhagavan’s teachings are concerned.

After interacting and reading the works of both, Michael James and David Godman, my view is that Michael’s interpretation of Bhagavan’s teachings are clearer than David’s. I do not say this because this is Michael’s blog, but I genuinely believe so. Therefore, I trust Michael's interpretation of Bhagavan's teachings more that I trust David's. Nevertheless, David is a sincere devotee, and has done good work by writing and compiling Bhagavan's teachings in various ways. In fact, I still have his book 'Be as you are' handy with me.

Bhagavan says, as you have quoted, 'But in JNANA YOGA this sahaja sthiti [natural state] or sahaja nishtha [abidance in the natural state] itself is the nirvikalpa state'. How can we experience 'sahaja sthiti [natural state] or sahaja nishtha [abidance in the natural state]? These words (sahaja sthiti and sahaja nishtha) mean the states where we experience ourself as we really are. According to Bhagavan, we can only experience ourself as really are by practising atma-vichara.

Therefore, jnana yoga can be considered a synonym of atma vichara (according to Bhagavan). At least, this is how I have understood it.

Mouna said...

Dear Roger Issacs,

You recently wrote in Harsha Satsangh's blog, in relation to coming to this blog (Michael's) and posting your ideas and questions: "I met an immensely thick immovable concrete wall. Next time, I will put a helmet on before entering."

In who's view there is an immovable wall?
It is very unfortunate that you write about other people's opinions in different blogs without quoting them or presenting a different points of view than your own. I do not think it is in the spirit of what we are trying to do in Harsha's sangha neither Michael James' blog that is "manana."

I have been part of Michael James blog for some years now and I can assure you that Mr James is one of the most humble persons I've known when it comes to explain Bhagavan's teachings. He knows very well what he is talking about, not many of us have that commitment through decades of study of Bhagavan's teachings and practice. Plus he accommodates every serious query, there are no "difficult" subject when it comes to Bhagavan's techings.

Incidentally, Jnana Yoga can be interpreted in so many ways in the hindu tradition, a little bit the same as a term like Advaita. And let us remember that what is recorded from Bhagavan passed through the scribe's filters in many occasions plus the fact that Bhagavan adapted his responses, quite often, to the level of knowledge/understanding or the tradition of the inquirer.

I am not posting this as a complaint, simply as a fellow traveller in the path, and I understand that "manana" involves challenging ideas that we understand to be false or that we don't understand yet. But we can't get very far when we build those walls ourselves.

Yours in Bhagavan,
Mouna

(I shall post this commentary also in Harsha Satsangh's blog.)

venkat said...

Roger, as I have said previously, you do not understand jnana yoga if you believe it is different from atma vichara.

V.S.Iyer who was a renowned Indian philosopher in the first half on the 20th Century, who had learnt from a Sankaracharya of Sringeri, and became the teacher of the early Ramakrishna monks, and of Paul Brunton, wrote:

"The real secret of jnana yoga is that it is the continuous practice of enquiry whereby you try to eliminate all those ideas and objects which constitute the field of awareness, from awareness itself. That element of awareness which is contained in all ideas is what you should seek. It is the unlimited element, not that which is limited to a particular thought or thing."

As is clearly evident, jnana yoga is no different from the self-enquiry that Michael has been talking of. And I specifically selected a quote from someone who was not a devotee of Bhagavan. He strictly believed in a philosophical approach to Advaita Vedanta.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Venkat,

> Roger, as I have said previously, you do not understand jnana yoga if you believe it is different from atma vichara.

Venkat, You do not understand jnana yoga (including neti-neti ) if you believe it is identical with atma vichara. Certainly Sri Ramana has attacked this position!

Yes, V.S.Iyer is an intelligent man. I will dig out some of his material. From the wonderful statement you posted:
"The real secret of jnana yoga is that it is the continuous practice of enquiry whereby you try to eliminate all those ideas and objects which constitute the field of awareness, ..."

In my opinion this statement is focused on "neti-neti" due to the clear emphasis on "eliminate". The word "inquiry" is used, but I do not believe it is intended in the sense of "who am I?" I agree that inquiry can a key component of Jnana Yoga. So I am in sympathy with your position.

The claim that "neti-neti" is different and subordinate to atma-vicara is Michael's and that is what I am taking exception to. Shall we address our questions to Michael? And part of the problem that I have with Michael's claim is that his definition of "neti-neti" is insufficient and moreover he will not entertain changes to his viewpoint.

Michael claims Jnana Yoga / neti-neti is entirely subordinate to atma vichara. Venkat, do you believe this?

Please read Michael's post below and see if you agree with him, and if not, address questions to him. Clearly Michaels limited understanding of "neti-neti" does not rise to the high level of V.S. Iyer above. Clearly Michael is critical of "neti-neti" and Jnana Yoga. Now that Sri Ramana can be shown to support Jnana Yoga, perhaps Michael's attitude will soften.
http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2008/11/atma-vichara-and-practice-of-neti-neti.html

R Viswanathan said...

Sri Parthasarathi who is well known for his discourses on Bhagawat Gita has said this once: yoga means union with God or the self. Sri Swami Ram Sukh Das whose Bhagawat Gita commentary Sadhaka Sanjivani is highly recommended by Sri Nichur Venkataraman also conveys the same meaning - that one can reach Union with the self through Jnana (path of knowledge), Bakthi (path of devotion) and Karma (path of action with desirelessness or the attitude of renunciation of the result to the self).

I feel that the self enquiry requires effort for conducting self investigation with love and thus seems to me as one that has the ingredients of all three yoga. In any case, the objective is to know the self and thus be the self.

venkat said...

Self-enquiry, as Michael writes, is to be wholly attentive to the 'I'-thought, to the exclusion of all else. Neti-neti is the intellectual process by which everything that is perceived is discarded as not-I, so that awareness of 'I' is the residue (i.e. to the exclusion of all else) Once you have done this intellectual discarding, then you see that the intellect can have no more use, and self-abidance can be all that remains. Sometimes you may forget, and get attached to 'events' and so you remind yourself that you are not this, and return to self-awareness.

There is no difference. Michael is simply pointing out that neti neti must culminate in self-abidance; as long as an intellectual process of neti neti continues, you have not yet sublated the mind.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:
"By means of an extremely courageous intellect (power of discrimination), make the mind motionless little by little; fix the mind firmly in Self (atman) and never think of any other thing.
Towards whatever thing the unsteady mind wanders, from each thing pull it back, fix it always in the Self and make it firmly abide there."


Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Venkat, Michael,

Quoting Michael on http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2008/11/atma-vichara-and-practice-of-neti-neti.html

In order to ‘practise’ neti neti, we must think of the body, mind and other adjuncts that we wish to reject as ‘not I, not I’, but by this very act of thinking that they are not ‘I’ we are continuing to give them reality and to attach ourself to them. In order to separate ourself from them, we must simply ignore them, which we can effectively do only by attending exclusively to that which is really ‘I’, namely our own self-conscious being. .... Any practice other than atma-vichara — which is the non-dual practice of thought-free self-conscious being — is merely a mental activity

And Venkat says:
Neti-neti is the intellectual process by which everything that is perceived is discarded as not-I, so that awareness of 'I' is the residue (i.e. to the exclusion of all else) Once you have done this intellectual discarding, then you see that the intellect can have no more use, and self-abidance can be all that remains. Sometimes you may forget, and get attached to 'events' and so you remind yourself that you are not this, and return to self-awareness.


You guys are saying different things. I agree with Venkat's excellent statement. Michael says that neti-neti is just more mental activity, that neti-neti can not break free of thought because it is the projection of thought. Michael says that "neti-neti" results in continued attachment due to continued mental projection of "not this, not this".

And Michael concludes with the implication that neti-neti is ineffective (because it is mere mental activity) and atma-vichara is the only viable practice.

Michael's statement probably comes from Sri Ramana. And it has a basis in fact: even on this blog someone posted that they had been taught "not this..." as a repetitive mental projection.

Michael, your statement is divisive, it suggests that "neti-neti" is ineffective (because it is mental activity)... but in fact you don't understand neti-neti. Properly practiced, as Venkat says, neti-neti leads directly to self-abidance. It is NOT merely mental activity.

We can make a distinction between different levels of mind. There is the process of repetitive discursive thinking or emotionalizing which is the attachment or identification of "I-I" with something material. And if "I am not this..." is done on this level it is ineffective.

But there is another facility of mind called discrimination, that which makes a distinction. This level is not discursive thinking and in fact it breaks us free from identification with thought and emotion.

Michael, is it possible to break out of the inflexible mould of "Any practice other than atma-vichara... is merely mental activity" and openly acknowledge that the practice of discrimination also leads directly to self-abidance?

Thanks,
Roger

venkat said...

Roger, I think that you are missing the point.

neti-neti is mental / intellectual activity; it is important, but it is not the end game. neti-neti helps one to discriminate what one is not (body, mind, thoughts, feelings . . . ). Ultimately, you need to move beyond this to practicing self-abidance. After all, once you have clearly understood what you are not, do you have to keep on repeating it (I am not a woman, I am not a woman . . .)?

Neti, neti is the manana stage; self-abidance is nididhyasana. Bhagavan advised us to practice self-enquiry whenever a thought arises: this directly turns attention away from the thought towards the 'I'; and thus you move directly to self-abidance, with the minimum intellectual activity.

venkat said...

PS One can move between sravana, manana and nididhyasana; so reading scriptures, doing intellectual discrimination/rationalisation and practising self-enquiry can go on interchangeably. Though I think as you progress, the intellectual conviction no longer needs reinforcing, and the peace you taste from simple self-abidance draws you in. Bhagavan and Michael are simply pointing you to that end-practice directly.

Talk 620, Bhagavan:
"You are told 'You are not this body, nor the mind, nor the intellect, nor the ego, nor anything you can think of; find out what you truly are'. Silence denotes that the questioner is himself the Self that is to be found."

venkat said...

One final point Roger, when you ask Michael to "openly acknowledge that the practice of discrimination also leads directly to self-abidance", why do you do so?

Why do you need acknowledgement from Michael, if you have confidence and are secure in your understanding and practice? The whole point of all the teachings is to get rid of the ego. We can surmise from Michael's writings that he sincerely believes that his articulation of Bhagavan's self-enquiry is correct, and that he is trying to help others (and himself) by continuously dwelling on it and explicating it. If you are equally confident of your practice of neti neti, then explain it, and if others don't buy it, what concern is it of yours? Why do you demand acknowledgement?

Or, more to the point, who is it that demands acknowledgement? ;-)

Roger Isaacs said...


>> Roger, I think that you are missing the point.

Hi Venkat,
So you are saying that neti-neti is not the end game, it is mental / intellectual activity, the end game is moving beyond into self-abidance. When thought arises... you have been told to inquire "who am I?" causing the attention to turn away from the thought towards "I" with minimum intellectual activity.

Did I get it? Is there more you wish to emphasize?

If I have understood you.... then I may ask... have you understood me?

I just saw your 3rd post and will respond later when you respond to this.

venkat said...

Roger,

Your question "have you understood me" can only be rhetorical. I obviously think I have - and you obviously think I haven't.

My main point in previous posts has been that neti neti and self-enquiry are complementary, two sides of the same coin - one negative and the other positive. And that you are mistaken in your original assertion that 'your school of jnana yoga' is somehow different from self-enquiry - this is patently absurd if you have read Shankara or Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishads.

Your next point seems to be that neti neti and self-enquiry are both equally valid paths to lead you to realisation in their own right. Michael has pointed out that Bhagavan recommended self-enquiry / self-abidance as the final path; and as my quote from the Bhagavad Gita pointed out, this is what Krishna says to Arjuna.

Michael is communicating to the best of his ability his understanding of what Bhagavan wrote and said. You found a quote in "Be as you are" in which Bhagavan extolled jnana yoga - but as I have pointed out above jnana yoga is not different from atma vichara, and if you have read Bhagavan, you will see that they are the same for him.

So you either believe that Bhagavan is wrong, or that Michael is wrong in his interpretation of Bhagavan's teachings. But at this point it becomes trivial doesn't it - given that we are all saying that neti neti is important step in the understanding process.
Does it then really matter if Bhagavan, Michael or I or anyone else believes that neti neti will culminate in self-enquiry, or whether as you state, neti neti can deliver realisation on its own?

In this context, your need for acknowledgement from Michael that 'discrimination leads to self-abidance' is rather odd, given that Michael is a Bhagavan devotee and trying to explicate his teaching, and this was not Bhagavan's teaching of the 'final' path.

If you believe Bhagavan taught something else, then please provide the references from his writing (preferable) or talks, and that would be a worthy discussion to have. If you believe Bhagavan was wrong, then it would be interesting to see references from advaita - Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads or Brahma Sutras.

venkat said...

You might find the following of use, from Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Mahaswamiji, the renowned Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, who was a contemporary of Bhagavan's. Note when he refers to "Acharya" he means Sankara.

“MumukshhutvaM — the yearning for moksha – is the end of the second stage. The first stage is that of eradicating the mind’s dirt and vacillation by karma and bhakti. SAdhanA-chatushTayaM is the second stage. The SAdhanAs remove mostly all the defective vAsanAs and perturbations adhering in the mind; if at all there are any that may be only five or ten percent.
It is in such a circumstance that the moksha-seeker (mumukshhu) feels he has only one work to do, namely to get the Release. So he renounces his home and possessions, takes Sannyasa and goes to the third stage. In other words, the Acharya’s conclusion is, in that last stage, it is the Sannyasi that has the right qualifications for Atma-SAdhanA. Having renounced all attachments, bondage and worldly obligations, ATMA-VICHARA (Enquiry into the Atman) becomes his whole-time job. It is only for such a seeker that the most blissful gift of Realisation of Brahman happens. That is the maxim of the Acharya, as also confirmed by the Upanishads.
Thus, in that third stage, he takes Sannyasa under a proper Guru, gets his upadesha of the mantra which tells him about the identity of JIva and Brahman, constantly rolls it in his mind, and in due time even that thought process stops and he comes to be in union with his own aim, namely the Great Experience of Brahma-anubhava. This is the prescription of the Acharya.”

"The mind that is running in all directions should be made to stay at one place in one thought. It does not mean the mind has disappeared then. No, the mind is still there. Only instead of dwelling on various things it is now full of one and only one thought. This is the prerequisite to what I call the ‘disposal’ of the mind. After this the mind has to be vanquished totally. That is when Realisation takes place — Realisation of the Atman. In other words the being as a JIva goes and the being as Brahman sprouts. This process of stopping the mind at one single thought and then vanquishing even that thought in order to dispose off the mind along with its roots is a Himalayan achievement.”

This dwelling on one thought is Bhagavan's 'I'-thought.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, you have written quite a few comments recently on the subject of neti-neti practice. Though I agree with these comments; however, your following remark made in your comment dated 29 May at 20:14 may need some more careful thinking. You wrote: 'I think as you progress, the intellectual conviction no longer needs reinforcing, and the peace you taste from simple self-abidance draws you in'.

Apparently what you say here seems to be logically correct: because why should we go on reinforcing our intellectual conviction by reading, writing or thinking, when we are convinced that we are not this body and mind, but are pure-awareness? But in our sadhana this usually does not work - that is, we generally need to do our sravara and manana so long as our ego lasts. Michael has also been belabouring (to use your expression) this point in his various writings.

Until we are capable to make even the slightest effort by our mind to think about any object, we do need sravara and manana, but when our ego has subsided to a considerable extent and when we are almost incapable of attending to any object, we will be also forced to drop our sravara and manana.

And why, much after we acquire our intellectual conviction, is our sravara and manana necessary? It is because, to annihilate our ego, we need to do nididhyasana until the very last second of our ego's existence, and the most potent fuel for this nididhyasana is - sravara and manana of our sadguru's teachings.

This trinity of sravara, manana and nididhyasana will increasingly help us to keep our attention on ourself alone, and, to that extent, enable us to keep away from attending to worldly objects. Because if we do not practice atma-vichara, Bhagavan says, loka-vichara will creep in.

keen onlooker said...

Sanjay Lohia,
please explain the term 'sravara'. I never heard about it - in contrast to 'sravana'.

venkat said...

Sanjay, I would not disagree with that. Each of us must figure this out for themselves.

venkat said...

Sorry, "ourselves".

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Venkat, PART 1 VENKAT

There is a nice technique I learned called the "couples dialogue" from relationship therapy. It may come from the wonderful Jain Philosophy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anekantavada

Especially when we are dealing with such subtle topics as this, words mean different things in different schools it may be useful (although clumsy) to emulate something like this technique:
Partner 1 says: "I feel [xyz]"
Partner 2 says: "OK, let me see if I understood. I think you said [yxw]. Did I get it? Do you have more to say?
Partner 1 says: "you almost got it but... here are some refinements..."
And repeat until partner 1 is satisfied that understanding is complete.

So, please understand, I am trying to understand your practice, I want to know.
So when you said that I was "missing the point". I went into the mode of telling you what I thought you said in order to give you the opportunity to provide clarity.

And... on the reverse... I don't necessarily believe that I am being heard either.

There is one thing I would like to ask: when Sri Ramana advised you to use "who am I?" in response to an arising thought.... was there any more refinement in the instructions on how to use "who am I?" ?


Venkat says:
>> My main point in previous posts has been that neti neti and self-enquiry are complementary, two sides of the same coin - one negative and the other positive. And that you are mistaken in your original assertion that 'your school of jnana yoga' is somehow different from self-enquiry - this is patently absurd if you have read Shankara or Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishads.


I accept that your point "neti-neti are complementary" & "jnana yoga and self-enquiry" are not different (in your school). I believe I understand your practice now from your earlier post (it took a while to get this all out). So it sounds great to me. I have no problems with it. Although, while accepting it and even delighting in your explanation & practice of it, I am not letting go of my own perspective. I believe in "multiplicity", there are often multiple valid viewpoints. If I appeared to resist your position earlier, it is because I did not understand it.


Venkat says:
>> And that you are mistaken in your original assertion that 'your school of jnana yoga' is somehow different from self-enquiry - this is patently absurd if you have read Shankara or Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishads.


If I understand your quote above, I think you are saying that your school has the only valid interpretation of Jnana Yoga. And that any different position that I might have is "patently absurd" ? In this case I think we should end our discussion because... what good is further discussion when Venkat has the only right answer?
Ending the discussion is entirely reasonable: you are "inside" a particular school. The effort is to focus strictly on Sri Ramana's words... and certainly I am on the "outside" and it is probably better to ignore me and avoid confusion.

BTW: you quoted the BG earlier: What chapter and verse is this and which translator? This verse is interesting, but I do not see in any way how it supports your version of Jnana over mine, in fact, it could easily be taken to support mine. And PLEASE NOTE: this is not a contest: as far as I am concerned both of us can be right regarding our respective Jnana Yoga practices etc... I'm simply investigating. Now that you have explained it, I believe your practice is RIGHT, but mine is different.

Roger Isaacs said...

VENKAT PART 2

Venkat wrote: In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:
"By means of an extremely courageous intellect (power of discrimination), make the mind motionless little by little; fix the mind firmly in Self (atman) and never think of any other thing.
Towards whatever thing the unsteady mind wanders, from each thing pull it back, fix it always in the Self and make it firmly abide there."
>> Your next point seems to be that neti neti and self-enquiry are both equally valid paths to lead you to realisation in their own right. Michael has pointed out that Bhagavan recommended self-enquiry / self-abidance as the final path; and as my quote from the Bhagavad Gita pointed out, this is what Krishna says to Arjuna.


Re "BG": what verse? what translator?
When I made a statement earlier quoted above, I did not realize that your definition of neti-neti and Jnana Yoga are a bit different than mine.


>> Michael is communicating to the best of his ability his understanding of what Bhagavan wrote and said. You found a quote in "Be as you are" in which Bhagavan extolled jnana yoga - but as I have pointed out above jnana yoga is not different from atma vichara, and if you have read Bhagavan, you will see that they are the same for him.
>> So you either believe that Bhagavan is wrong, or that Michael is wrong in his interpretation of Bhagavan's teachings. But at this point it becomes trivial doesn't it - given that we are all saying that neti neti is important step in the understanding process.
Does it then really matter if Bhagavan, Michael or I or anyone else believes that neti neti will culminate in self-enquiry, or whether as you state, neti neti can deliver realisation on its own?


Again: "if I have read Bhagavan...": author, book, page. please. There are at least 20 pages of "ramana maharshi" books on amazon and 500K+ hits on google, am I required to read them all? :-) what are the best books from Sri Ramana regarding Jnana Yoga?

"does it really matter": well I guess it depends on the level of "intellectual curiosity". I certainly want to know what you think.
Furthermore, there is a mis-understanding. I am not saying "wrong", I am arguing for intellectual curisosity. But... nobody here has to be interested in that.

Roger Isaacs said...


VENKAT PART 3
>> In this context, your need for acknowledgement from Michael that 'discrimination leads to self-abidance' is rather odd, given that Michael is a Bhagavan devotee and trying to explicate his teaching, and this was not Bhagavan's teaching of the 'final' path.

I never said that neti-neti delivers realization. In my practice, not-this is used effortlessly when attachment to a thought or emotion is noticed, there is no effort at thinking because it just this simple noticing that attachment existed, and after this noticing... abiding in stillness. My current personal theory (for me) is that extensive "abiding in stillness beyond thought" or "I AM" may result in realization. Where you use "Who am I?" I use "not this (no literal thinking of it): or while being vigilently aware, just noticing that an attachment has starting to arise."

I have found this whole situation to be very strange. I find a some of Michael's writing to be interesting. But... I am surprised (although not in retrospect) that Michael is a one way pipe regarding issues outside the school. I was surprised that I could not get any two way discussion considering my different viewpoints, but now I understand: it's all about Bhagavan's words without considering any alternatives, that makes sense from a perspective. There have been times where I thought that some common understanding might happen and I found this tantalizing... but now I see it's impossible. At one point after reading your quote from Iyer, I thought you and I had the same position with Michael on the outside! Ha!

>> If you believe Bhagavan taught something else, then please provide the references from his writing (preferable) or talks, and that would be a worthy discussion to have. If you believe Bhagavan was wrong, then it would be interesting to see references from advaita - Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads or Brahma Sutras.

When you say "if you believe bhagavan taught something else": so this confirms that this whole site and you personally are only interested in the apparent perspective taught by Sri Ramana. Any viewpoints from my particular practice are not open for discussion, and that is entirely fine. You have a different definition for "intellectual curiosity": your's in "inside" the school, and mine has no limitations other than my interest or my "inner guide". Furthermore, I have been taught in Jnana Yoga that there can be NO AUTHORITY at all other than what is discovered internally. And you have a different perspective: Ramana is the Authority. And that is fine: two different but valid viewpoints. You are using scripture as an authority, I love scripture but just as input, not as an authority.

Ya know... I see that by being here and trying to suggest different perspectives other than Sri Ramana that I am automatically considered hostile. And that makes sense to focus on Sri Ramana. I just didn't understand, partly because I have not been in a guru structured organization for decades: I forgot!

So it is time to end this conversation?

But I would like your comment on various questions above: special instruction regarding "Who am I?" when a thought arises, BG detailed references etc...

thanks, I learned a lot,
Roger





Sanjay Lohia said...

keen onlooker, yes, I mistyped sravana once but thanks to the 'copy-paste' facility, the mistake appeared at six places. You indeed have, just like your pseudonym, very keen eyes. Thanks for pointing out this mistake.

venkat said...

Thanks Roger for your detailed response - and yes I do understood your points better.

I too have been around the block - Krishnamurti, tao, dzogchen, ch'an, Nisargadatta, Atmananda and Sankara. I came to the conclusion that Bhagavan's teachings are the epitome, the Occam's razor, of non-duality; but also that Sankara, and the advaita vedanta scriptures are perhaps the most eloquent elaborators of this.

Whilst I don't always agree with Michael regarding his interpretation of say Nisargadatta or JK, it is an interesting perspective / lens with which to reflect on their words. But, I am afraid that I am selfish - my main concern is deepening my understanding of what all these fingers are pointing at, as opposed to requiring that others acknowledge that the finger I might be following is valid. What others think of what sadhana I do is not my concern; only what I can learn from them.

I do think you are mistaken in talking about different schools - different teachers may emphasise different practices, but that doesn't mean that there are different schools. There can only be one truth - 'not two' - the initial techniques may be different, but they all point to non-separation, 'no-mind', summa iru.

Jnana yoga is a technical term in advaita - which is a school of philosophy that was systematised by Sankara. All advaita teachers, including Bhagavan, acknowledge this debt to Sankara. Therefore to talk about the path of knowledge, jnana yoga, and how it is different from atma vichara, without having an understanding of Sankara and scriptures and their exposition of jnana, is a non-sequitur. I am not advocating that you cannot be realised without knowing the scriptures; I am simply pointing out that jnana yoga is a technical term, which does imply knowledge of the scriptural position on and Sankara's exposition of jnana.

venkat said...

PS Advaita, jnana yoga, is all about the fundamental phiosophical question "who am I", and its subsidiaries, why am I here, whence have I come, what is the purpose of this all? Neti neti, the three states analysis, drk-drysam viveka, etc are all attempting to help the student address this fundamental question. So 'who am I?' in its broadest sense, can be seen as encompassing the entire gamut of metaphysical speculation - from the intellectual understanding through to the direct experiencing of non-duality.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Recently, I wrote a comment dated 30 May 2016 at 11:35. In the comment I had quoted Venkat, who written in one of his comments, 'I think as you progress, the intellectual conviction no longer needs reinforcing, and the peace you taste from simple self-abidance draws you in'. Subsequently, some more thoughts, on this topic, have come to my mind; therefore, I share these below:

If we merely talk from the perspective of the practice of neti-neti, then Venkat is right. He rightly says, 'I think as you progress, the intellectual conviction no longer needs reinforcing' - that is, once we have done enough practice of neti-neti, we need to stop this mental repletion of 'I am not this body, I am brahman...', and, henceforth, we should devote all our efforts to directly experience brahman.

However, if we talk from the perspective of doing sravana and manana of our sadguru's teachings, then this reinforcement has to go on until the very end of our sadhana. There are certain similarities, but many differences between these two practice:

1. Intellectual clarity can be achieved by practising neti-neti, but this clarity is also brought about by our sravana, manana and nididhyasana (of our sadguru's teachings), and that too at a much faster rate.

2. This practice of 'sravana, manana and nididhyasana (of our sadguru's teachings) is much more purifying than the practice of neti-neti. This neti-neti is some sort of a mental japa, and if it is done with niskamya-bhava, it is sure to purify our mind. And this purified mind is more likely to understand the path of self-investigation.

3. Though even our sravana, manana and nididhyasana is some sort of neti-neti, because the sadguru's main teaching is that we are not this body, but the ever pure and ever perfect atman. However, the scope and role of sravana, manana and nididhyasana (which is nothing but our sadguru's grace) is much wider. For example, if we study our guru's teachings, we will understand that how this illusory worldly comes into existence; understand about the karma theory; and so on.

4. The scope of neti-neti is limited, because, though, it can make us understand our true nature (at least to some extent), but it can never enable us to experience ourself as we really are. Whereas, this sravana, manana and nididhyasana of our sadguru's teachings can and will take us to our goal, sooner rather than later.

venkat said...

Sanjay, I don't want to be pedantic, but sravana, manana and nididhyasana are vedantic terms with clear meanings: sravana is listening / reading scriptures as elucidated by your guru, manana is the reflecting intellectual rationalisation of these teachings (which therefore can include neti neti, and should not be lightly dismissed), and nididhyasana is constantly contemplating on this truth.

It is incorrect to believe that neti neti is an either/or with respect to S, M and N. It is definitely part of S and M.

keen onlooker said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thank you for clearing that you have not replaced the term 'sravana' with a new term.
Besides keenly onlooking is like to attend keenly.
Regards

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, yes, I know little about the exact Vedantic practice of sravana, manana and nididhyasana; therefore, whatever I wrote was based on my limited understanding. However, I did write as follows:

Though even our sravana, manana and nididhyasana is some sort of neti-neti, because the sadguru's main teaching is that we are not this body, but the ever pure and ever perfect atman.

As you can see, I did try to include neti-neti as part of our sravana and manana (though I qualified the similarity by saying 'some sort'). In fact, while he was in his body, Bhagavan was constantly teaching us the essence of neti-neti. He was always teaching us - directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly - that he was not the body which we took him to be. It was a vital clue to us: If he was not the body, how can we be this body? Because the essential nature of all the bodies cannot be different from each other.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Venkat (and Sanjay), PART 1

Regarding our general discussion, there is a quote I like from Franklin Merrell Wolff. He was a 20th century master who studied Math and Philosophy at Harvard and Stanford and taught at Stanford. He says regarding "there is one spiritual practice that is ideal for everyone":
In general, such attitudes are simply not sound, for even a considerable degree of enlightenment is compatible with a failure to transcend one’s own individual psychology... and if the individual has not become cognizant of the relativity of his own psychology, he can very easily fall into the error of projecting his own attitude as an objective universal.


My reason for pointing this out is: discussion might be more effective it were comparative rather then competitive. I can see situations where Venkat, Sanjay ( and perhaps even Roger) have different positions, and yet each position deserves elaboration and might stand on it's own. Something may work differently for Venkat than me.... but I learn from him.


venkat said... But, I am afraid that I am selfish...


Well I think you should be selfish, BL says, after all 'you are the only "I" in the universe'.
You are making my point: generally we can't evaluate others sadhana, but we might learn something. So we can switch from "competition" to being more "comparative".


venkat said: I do think you are mistaken in talking about different schools - different teachers may emphasise different practices, but that doesn't mean that there are different schools. There can only be one truth - 'not two'

Roger Isaacs said...

PART 2
As usually happens, I may agree, but requiring further elaboration.
IMO the situation is like a wagon wheel with spokes leading into the center. You personally are concerned with the situation happening near the center of the wheel, the hub, where all the various schools / paths converge. And... Sri Ramana is most articulate at this level too. He says something like "bhakti and Jnana are the same." But when an in-experienced person is just beginning a path/school, (say bhakti or jnana) they are at a point where the characteristics appear to be much different (close to the outside of the wheel). I am most interested in the hub for my own practice, but I am also interested in discussing the entire range. I can't start talking advaita to new friends, may have to start with a suitable style of meditation first. I'm afraid if only the "hub" is discussed (as sometimes happens with advaita teachers) without the experience of meditation, the student will never reach the hub, because descriptions of advaita become just more mental concepts without direct experience.


venkat said: Jnana yoga is a technical term in advaita...


My teacher was very intelligent (Tarabilda) and totally into Sankara. He said Sankara came to him in dreams, but Tarabilda's exposition is creative. I have "drg, drsya viveka", commentary on the yoga sutras by sankara, mandukyopanisad with krika and Sankara's commentary, A thousand teachings translated by Mayeda, "the method of early advaita vedanta" etc... so I am not entirely illiterate. But, I may not understand or have read everything.

IMO Jnana Yoga is different depending on if it's next to the outside of the wheel, or the hub. And, next to the hub, the other paths take on the flavor of Jnana.

>> So 'who am I?' in its broadest sense, can be seen as encompassing the entire gamut of metaphysical speculation - from the intellectual understanding through to the direct experiencing of non-duality.

I agree, I saw in Paul Brunton rather than "who am i?" he said "what am I?".
All of creation could be seen as the play of "who am I?" or "what am I?": spirit first moving into matter, then matter coming back to spirit. But, at different stages... it might manifest in vastly different ways. Creation is extremely diverse. So my practice is a little different than yours, but very similar.

Michael James said...

Nourish and Flourish, regarding your first comment, the conviction I was referring to in section 11 of this article, from which you cited a passage, is an intellectual conviction that we cannot be whatever body or other adjuncts we seem to be, because we are aware of ourself in waking, dream and sleep, whereas we are aware of any particular body and associated set of adjuncts only in one of these three states, either waking or dream. Being firmly convinced of this intellectually is a necessary starting point, because only when we are convinced that we cannot be what we now seem to be will we be motivated to investigate ourself to see what we actually are, but any intellectual conviction is relatively superficial, so it is insufficient by itself to eradicate our deep-rooted illusion that we are whatever body we currently seem to be.

In order to destroy this ‘I am this body’ illusion we must be aware of ourself as we actually are, and in order to be aware of ourself thus we must be aware of ourself alone, because so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself — any thought or phenomenon of any kind whatsoever — we are aware of ourself as this ego, which is the finite mode of awareness that experiences the illusory distinction between subject (itself) and object (whatever else it is aware of). Therefore no meditation of any sort — other than meditation on ourself alone — can be sufficient to enable us to experience what we actually.

When you question whether we can be firmly convinced that we are not this body but only pure self-awareness by meditating ‘I am not this body, I am brahman’, the firm conviction you seem to be referring to is not mere intellectual conviction but only absolute certainly, which we obviously cannot achieve merely by such meditation. Conviction in the sense of absolute certainly is synonymous with ātma-jñāna — clear awareness of ourself as we actually are — so it can only be achieved by ātma-vicāra and not by any other means.

What Bhagavan refers to in verses 29, 32 and 36 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu as thinking or meditating ‘I am not this, I am that’ can be understood in two different ways. A crude but nevertheless popular understanding of such meditation is that it merely entails mentally repeating to oneself ‘I am not this body, I am brahman’, as if it were a form of japa, but a more refined and beneficial understanding of it is that it is a form of manana and as such entails critically analysing one’s own experience of oneself in each of the three alternating states of waking, dream and sleep and reflecting deeply on the various arguments given to us by ātma-jñānis and in sacred texts to convince us that we cannot be this body, mind or any other transitory adjuncts, and that we are therefore only pure self-awareness.

Therefore when Bhagavan said in these verses that thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’ is a good aid, the interpretation of it that he was referring to was primarily the latter, because doing such manana is far more beneficial than merely repeating ‘I am not this, I am that’ like a mantra. However, though it is necessary for us to do such manana, it is not sufficient by itself, because so long as we are thinking of anything other ourself we cannot separate ourself entirely from all such things. In order to separate ourself from everything that is not ourself (including the idea ‘I am brahman’), we must focus our entire attention on ourself alone, because so long as we are attending even to the slightest extent to anything else we are thereby clinging to it or grasping it in our awareness, thereby preventing ourself from separating from it entirely.

Michael James said...

Chinna Vyasa, regarding the question you ask me in your first comment, namely ‘Did you experience the mentioned clear knowledge or awareness of ourself as we actually are or do you merely write about the subject as an interested aspirant?’, to whom exactly are you addressing this question?

Are you asking this person called ‘Michael’? If so, the answer is that this person has not and never can experience clear awareness of what he actually is, nor can any other person, because a person is just a body and an associated set of adjuncts, all of which are jaḍa (non-aware or insentient) and therefore not actually aware of anything at all.

Or are you asking the ego who experiences this person as ‘I’? If so, the answer is similar, namely that this ego has not and never can experience clear awareness of what it actually is, because as an ego its very nature is to be ignorant of what it actually is. That is, this ego rises and stands only by grasping a body as ‘I’, and when it does not grasp any body in this way, as in sleep, it does not exist at all.

Unlike whatever person it currently seems to be, this ego is not only jaḍa but a confused mixture of cit (awareness) and jaḍa, and hence it is described as cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the seeming entanglement of awareness with a non-aware body. When awareness is separated from this body and all other phenomena, every one of which is jaḍa, the cit-jaḍa-granthi ceases to exist, and hence there is no ego at all.

We can understand this from our experience in sleep. As soon as we fall asleep, our self-awareness is thereby separated from this body and all other forms or phenomena, and hence in sleep we do not experience ourself as this form-grasping ego but only as pure self-awareness. Hence this ego is not real but just an illusory appearance, and therefore as this illusory ego we can never be aware of ourself as we actually are.

Therefore it is only when this ego is permanently eradicated that we will be aware of ourself as we actually are. As this ego we may imagine that we are ‘self-realised’ or ‘enlightened’, but if we do so we would be deluding ourself. What can and always does know our actual self is only our actual self and nothing else, so all this ego can do it to bow its proud head and surrender itself entirely by ‘ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்று மிடங்கொடாமல்’ (āṉma-cintaṉaiyai-t tavira vēṟu cintaṉai kiḷambuvadaṟku-c caṯṟum iḍam-koḍāmal), ‘not giving even the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than thought of oneself (ātma-cintana)’ (as Bhagavan teaches us in the first sentence of the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?), or in other words, by not clinging to anything other than ourself. If we do so, our ego will dissolve forever in the all-consuming light of pure self-awareness, and nothing other than that will then remain.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Chinna Vyasa:

Since no ego or person will remain then to say ‘I am self-realised’ or ‘I am aware of myself as I actually am’, in verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says:

என்னை யறியேனா னென்னை யறிந்தேனா
னென்ன னகைப்புக் கிடனாகு — மென்னை
தனைவிடய மாக்கவிரு தானுண்டோ வொன்றா
யனைவரனு பூதியுண்மை யால்.

eṉṉai yaṟiyēṉā ṉeṉṉai yaṟindēṉā
ṉeṉṉa ṉahaippuk kiḍaṉāhu — meṉṉai
taṉaiviḍaya mākkaviru tāṉuṇḍō voṉḏṟā
yaṉaivaraṉu bhūtiyuṇmai yāl
.

பதச்சேதம்: ‘என்னை அறியேன் நான்’, ‘என்னை அறிந்தேன் நான்’ என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும். என்னை? தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? ஒன்று ஆய் அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஆல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ nāṉ’, ‘eṉṉai aṟindēṉ nāṉ’ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum. eṉṉai? taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? oṉḏṟu āy aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai āl.

அன்வயம்: ‘நான் என்னை அறியேன்’, ‘நான் என்னை அறிந்தேன்’ என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும். என்னை? தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஒன்றாய்; ஆல்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘nāṉ eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ’, ‘nāṉ eṉṉai aṟindēṉ’ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum. eṉṉai? taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai oṉḏṟu āy; āl.

English translation: Saying ‘I do not know myself’ [or] ‘I have known myself’ is ground for ridicule. Why? To make oneself an object known, are there two selves? Because being one is the truth of everyone’s experience.

Therefore if anyone claims ‘I know myself’ or ‘I am an ātma-jñāni’ they are just displaying their self-ignorance and inviting ridicule from the wise. Only those who do not clearly understand that in ātma-jñāna no separate ‘I’ can survive to think or say ‘I know myself’ will believe such a self-deluded charlatan.

Since there are not two selves for one to know the other, our actual self can be known only by our actual self, as it always is, and not by this ego. Since as we actually are we always know ourself as we actually are, to say ‘I do not know myself’ is as ridiculous as saying ‘I know myself’, but so long as we mistake ourself to be a finite person, it is better for us to be honest with ourself and others by admitting ‘I still seem to not know myself’ than to delude ourself still further by claiming ‘I know myself’, as if any ego or person could ever know what it actually is.

Therefore in answer to your question I am happy to admit that what I still seem to be is just an ordinary self-ignorant person who has nevertheless been powerfully attracted by the teachings of Bhagavan and who is therefore trying his best to follow the path he has shown us in order to surrender himself entirely and thereby merge back forever into the infinite source from which he arose.

Bob - P said...

Dear Michael

With regards you above comment.

If anyone ever asked Bhagavan was he self realised or if he was a jnani what did Bhagavan say to them?
Did he just say "Who sees me as a jnani" or something like that to turn the questioner's attention back on to themselves the questioner?
Or did he ever give a different kind of answer? From what you are saying he would not state I am a jnani or I am self realised.

I know you once said the only question Bhagavan could not answer was:

"Why does the ego rise?"

He would say something like "See if it has risen"

I am just interested to know how Bhagavan would answer a question by a ajnani asking him if he is God or he is a jnani etc etc.

In appreciation
Bob

Michael James said...

Bob, whatever Bhagavan answered was always appropriate not only to the question but also to the particular needs, beliefs, aspirations, understanding and spiritual maturity of the questioner, so I cannot predict what he would answer to any specific question. However whatever he did answer would generally be intended to make the questioner view whatever he or she was asking about in a fresh light.

For example, once when he was looking out of the window towards Arunachala someone asked him whether he was seeing God, and he replied something to the effect: ‘Is anyone ever seeing anything other than God?’ One another occasion someone praised him saying, ‘Your realisation is unique in the spiritual history of the world’, to which he replied: ‘What is real in me is real in you and in everyone else. Where then is the room for any uniqueness or difference?’

Bob - P said...

Thank you very much Michael for your reply.
The two examples you gave were very helpful.
In appreciation.
Bob

chinna Vyasa said...

Michael James,
many thanks for your honest reply which has the ring of sincerity.
My question was not put as a catch question but only asked (by me as mistaking myself to be a finite person) straight to you as a the person 'Michael James'.
Obviously you try to follow the path of Sri Ramana Maharshi in the right comprehension. You convincingly did avoid holding yourself up to ridicule in the sense of the quoted verse 33 of Ulladu Narpadu. That you are powerfully attracted by the teachings of Bhagavan is distinctly perceptible. Therefore I am pleased to study your articles with a clear conscience.
However, bowing the ego’s proud head by atma-cintana and not clinging to anything other than ourself seems to me still highly demanding. Nevertheless thereby dissolving the ego forever in the all consuming light of pure self-awareness is our noble aim and purpose in life.

nourish and flourish said...

Michael,
thank you for your detailed riposte and explaining thereby exhaustively the meaning of 'firm conviction' which is (only) intellectual. As you say : To be sufficiently motivated to investigate ourself to see what we actually are an intellectual conviction that we cannot be what we now seem to be is a necessary starting point.
'To be aware of ourself alone' is easy to read but because of the deep –rooted illusion that I am whatever body I currently seem to be is not (always) a simple matter to do it. Therefore even the meditation on myself alone I do not find no trouble. As you state absolute certainty can surely be achieved only by atma-vicara.
To focus my entire attention on myself alone by separating myself entirely from all things other than myself in order to prevent me/myself from 'rising to think or meditate anything' is something I first have to learn.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, regarding your comment in which you question David Godman about his statement ‘the Self can only destroy the mind when the mind no longer has any tendency to move outwards. While those outward-moving tendencies are still present, even in a latent form, the mind will always be too strong for the Self to dissolve it completely’, I have replied to this on his behalf in a separate article: Can our mind be too strong for our actual self to dissolve it completely?

Ken said...

Just for the record (i.e. future readers of this thread):

"Adi Da" was a fake, charlatan and an abuser who only wanted to be a Guru for the power and sex.

Like Rajneesh (aka "Osho"), he gathered followers by copying and pasting spritual truths from others, and then spouting various anti-establishment diatribes that resonated with his listeners.

All fakes can succeed only by being persuasive and charismatic, in which case it does not matter if you know anything. The technique always involved peppering your speech with statements that you know your audience will like and agree with. Then they will tend to accept whatever else you say.

«Oldest ‹Older   201 – 295 of 295   Newer› Newest»