Wednesday 22 June 2016

When can there be total recognition that the world is unreal?

A friend recently wrote to me, ‘Could you tell me whether realisation would be like deep sleep with no world present or would there still be a world but with total recognition that it is unreal. I feel driven to understand but seem to be going round in circles’, to which I replied:

As Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

ahandaiyuṇ ḍāyi ṉaṉaittumuṇ ḍāhu
mahandaiyiṉ ḏṟēliṉ ḏṟaṉaittu — mahandaiyē
yāvumā mādalāl yādideṉḏṟu nādalē
yōvudal yāvumeṉa vōr

பதச்சேதம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr.

அன்வயம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், அனைத்தும் இன்று. யாவும் அகந்தையே ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே யாவும் ஓவுதல் என ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, aṉaittum iṉḏṟu. yāvum ahandai-y-ē ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē yāvum ōvudal eṉa ōr.

English translation: If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.
We can understand this from our own experience. Whenever our ego subsides in sleep, everything else disappears, and whenever it rises again in either waking or dream, a body, world and other phenomena appear along with it. What experiences all these phenomena is only ourself as this ego, so our ego is their root and foundation, and hence without it they do not seem to exist.

We seem to be this ego (the perceiving subject) only when we are aware of other things (perceived objects), as in waking and dream, so if we could focus our entire attention only on ourself, other things would disappear from our awareness and hence we would no longer seem to be this ego. Instead we would be aware of ourself as we actually are, and thus the illusion that we are this ego would dissolve and disappear forever.

When our ego is permanently eradicated in this way, all the phenomena experienced by it will disappear like a dream, and what will then remain is only the eternal, infinite, immutable, ever-peaceful and perfectly happy self-awareness that we actually are. Therefore investigating who am I, this ego, is the means to surrender or give it up entirely, and when it is given up everything else is given up along with it, so as Bhagavan says in the above verse, ‘யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும்’ (yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādalē ōvudal yāvum), which means ‘investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything’.

So long as we are experiencing a dream, it seems to be real, because we seem to be a body in that dream, so since we are real that body seems to be real, and hence since that body is part of the dream world, the whole dream world seems to be real. Only when we wake up and thereby cease experiencing the dream body as ourself are we able to recognise that the entire dream was unreal. We may think it is unreal while experiencing it, but if a tiger suddenly appeared in front of us, we would be afraid, so our thought that it is unreal is only superficial, because at a deeper level it seems real as long as we are experiencing it.

Therefore total recognition that a dream is unreal can occur only after the dream has ceased. Likewise total recognition that this world is unreal can occur only after it has dissolved along with our ego in the infinite light of pure self-awareness.


Michael James said...

In the response to the reply that I reproduced in this article, the same friend wrote that she had written to another friend asking, ‘Would total realisation be like being in deep sleep and there would be no world?’, but that he replied ‘On the contrary Self-Realisation leaves the Jnani wide awake. He sees the world more as a dream and acts appropriately in it’, so she asked me whether what I wrote is the same or whether she is misunderstanding. She also asked, ‘Also if there is only one ego but many characters in the dream including ourselves, how does the realisation of one character for example Ramana have any impact on the continuation of the dream?’ In reply to this I wrote:

In a dream there is only one dreamer, but the dreamer experiences itself as a person in that dream and it sees many other people, who seem to be perceiving the same dream. However none of these people (neither the one the dreamer experiences as ‘I’ nor any of the other ones) are real, because they are all just illusory phenomena that appear and disappear in the awareness of the dreamer.

Since you are the dreamer of this dream, it will continue until you wake up. Even if you dream that other people in your dream have woken up, their waking up is just a part of your dream, so it will not bring your dream to an end. To permanently stop dreaming, you must wake up by experiencing yourself as you really are.

When Bhagavan explained that this world is just a dream projected by our ego, so it will cease to exist when we eradicate this ego, some people used to respond by asking him how, if that is so, he is able to see the world and respond to our questions, to which he replied explaining that it is only in the view of an ajñāni that the jñāni seems to be seeing and acting in this world, because the ajñāni sees the jñāni as a person (a body and mind), whereas the jñāni is actually just pure self-awareness, in whose view no mind, body or world exist at all.

Therefore what your friend replied to you seems to be true only in the view of those of us who mistake Bhagavan to be a body or mind. Though Bhagavan explained this so clearly and unequivocally, many devotees are not able to understand that his body and mind seem to exist only in the view of our dreaming ego, and that in his view there is no ego, no mind, no dream, no body and no world, but only pure, infinite and indivisible self-awareness.

removal of misery said...

"..., whereas the jnani is actually just pure self-awareness, in whose view no mind, body or world exist at all."

How do you know this ?

Michael James said...

Removal of Misery, that ‘the jñāni is actually just pure self-awareness, in whose view no mind, body or world exist at all’ is what Bhagavan taught us, and he also explained how we can understand by simple logic that this must be the case.

In this context the term ‘jñāni’ or ‘knower’ means ātma-jñāni or self-knower, which implies that which knows itself as it actually is. What knows itself as it actually is is only ourself as we actually are, so the jñāni is nothing other than ourself as we actually are. Therefore what are we? To know this we must investigate ourself, but even before we have investigated ourself sufficiently keenly to know what we actually are, we can by simple logic understand at least what we are not.

We cannot be anything that we are not always aware of, because we are always aware of ourself, so anything that we are not always aware of cannot be what we actually are. Since we are aware of an ego, mind, body, world and other phenomena only in waking and dream but not in sleep, none of these phenomena can be what we actually are, nor can awareness of them be what we actually are.

The only thing that we are always aware of is ourself, so what we actually are must be pure self-awareness — that is, awareness that is not aware of anything other than itself, as we are while asleep. Awareness of other things (which is what Bhagavan called சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu), which means transitive awareness) is an transient mode of awareness that appears in waking and dream and disappears in sleep, so it is not real, whereas the pure awareness that we actually are is intransitive awareness — awareness that is always simply aware, whether transitive awareness seems to be temporarily superimposed upon it or not.

The awareness that we experience in sleep is pure intransitive awareness, because we are then not aware of anything other than ourself, and in waking and dream this same intransitive awareness endures as the foundation or screen on which transitive awareness temporarily appears. Pure intransitive awareness is not affected in any way by the appearance of disappearance of transitive awareness, because it is by definition aware of nothing other than itself, and hence it is the eternal and immutable reality.

If awareness of an ego, mind, body, world or any other phenomena were our real nature, it would exist at all times and hence would not cease to exist in sleep, so since it does cease to exist in sleep, it cannot be real or what we actually are. Therefore when Bhagavan used to say that jñāna alone is the jñāni, what he meant by the term jñāna (which literally means knowledge or awareness) was not knowledge or awareness of any phenomena (anything other than ourself) but only pure intransitive awareness — awareness that is simply aware without being aware of anything other than itself.

Bob - P said...

Thank you Michael for the above reply to "Removal of Misery" and for the article it is related too, very helpful reminders.
In appreciation.

Unknown said...

Michael I am sure there is no contradiction and that it is my lack of understanding of Advaita, but on the one hand Bhagavan seems to say when the ego disappears in deep sleep all we are left with is pure awareness and this is our natural, true state and where we need to be. On the other hand Bhagavan seems to encourage us to accept the appearing and disappearing of the world as inevitable, an integral part of being (God dreaming if you like)a phenomena to be accepted rather than discarded. When Bhagavan tell us not to carry our luggage on our heads when travelling on a train, he seems to be suggesting that it is only our interference with the world we need to get rid of, or the idea that we are the doer, that we have control, not the world itself. That the world is pre-ordained and occurring spontaneously and will always do so within the state of awareness.

ulladu said...

Mae rik,
not to know what we really are is the epitome of the horror of our ignorance.
Let us remove first that damage and than we will know how to act beneficially in the "world".

removal of misery said...

many thanks for your reply referring me to Bhagavan‘s teachings.
Herewith you did evade my direct question "how do you know this ?".
But simple logic does not convince me sufficiently. Presumably that is rather my problem than yours because I did not even start to investigate myself.
The well-known statement that we are always aware of ourself is beyond my personal experience. "The only thing that we are always aware of is ourself, so what we actually are must be self-awareness - that is, awareness that is not aware of anything other than itself, as we are while asleep."
"Awareness of other things…is an transient mode of awareness that appears in waking and dream and disappears in sleep, so it is not real, whereas the pure awareness that we actually are is intransitive awareness – awareness that is always simply aware, whether transitive awareness seems to be temporarily superimposed upon it or not."
"The awareness that we experience in sleep is pure intransitive awareness, because we are…and in waking and dream this same intransitive awareness endures as the foundation or screen on which transitive awareness temporarily appears. Pure intransitive awareness is not affected in any way by the appearance or disappearance of transitive awareness, because it is by definition aware of nothing other than itself, and hence it is the eternal and immutable reality."
These magnificent statements I unfortunately can read merely with wonderment because in waking and dream I am not 'nothing other than myself as I am actually are' or 'simply aware without being aware of anything other than myself' but full of 'suttarivu'. Because regrettably I am now not an 'atma-jnani or self-knower', – though you would say 'seemingly' - that fundamental experiences of Bhagavan sound in my misguided knowledge only as a conceptual song.
In this my bitter situation of great pungent ignorance I throw myself at Arunachala's/Bhagavan's feet. But will that spontaneous attack of humility last for a long time ? Empirically the impertinent dragon of this ego will surely soar up dramatically in order to stay alive.
The present refusal to investigate this ego is really devil's work.
Oh Arunachala, would you not draw your sword and behead that terrible giant dinosaur of ignorance (illusion to be this ego) for ever ? I feel you are waiting that I take the first steps forwards. But do not leave it until it is too late.

Michael James said...

Mae, when you say in the final sentence of your comment that the world is ‘occurring spontaneously and will always do so within the state of awareness’, what do you mean by ‘within the state of awareness’? In whose awareness does the world appear? Only in our ego’s awareness. While asleep we are not aware of ourself as this ego, and consequently no world appears in our awareness, whereas in waking and dream we are aware of ourself as this ego, and consequently a world appears in our awareness. Therefore a world seems to exist only when we seem to be this ego, so the only awareness in which it seems to exist is our ego’s awareness, and hence it will not seem to exist when our ego is eradicated.

So long as our ego survives, the appearance of other things (mind, body, world and so on) in waking and dream and their disappearance in sleep is inevitable, but they appear only when our ego appears and they disappear when it disappears. Therefore when this ego is permanently eradicated by ātma-jñāna (clear awareness of ourself as we actually are) the appearance of other things will cease forever.

Since other things will inevitably appear whenever we rise as this ego, and since our ego will endure so long as we cling to any other things, whenever they appear we should not be concerned about them but should only try to investigate ourself, the ‘me’ to whom they appear. Being concerned in any way about anything other than ourself (that is, other than our fundamental self-awareness, which is what we actually are) is carrying our luggage on our head, so what Bhagavan advises us is that we should put all our luggage aside by focusing all our concern, interest and attention only on ourself.

As I explained in one of my recent articles, Why should we rely on Bhagavan to carry all our burdens, both material and spiritual?, this putting aside our luggage and focusing our attention only on ourself is what he described in the first sentence of the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? as ‘ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்று மிடங்கொடாமல்’ (āṉma-cintaṉaiyai-t tavira vēṟu cintaṉai kiḷambuvadaṟku-c caṯṟum iḍam-koḍāmal), which means ‘not giving even the slightest room to the rising of any thought (cintana) other than thought of oneself (ātma-cintana)’. The more we focus our attention on ourself, the more our ego will subside and hence the weaker our (this ego’s) concern with other things will become, until eventually we will be willing to let go of everything and thereby merge forever in our source.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Mae:

When you say that the appearance of the world is ‘a phenomena to be accepted rather than discarded’, what exactly do you mean by ‘accepted rather than discarded’? I assume you do not mean that we should continue to carry our luggage on our head rather than setting it aside. Accepting that whatever happens in our life is inevitable so long as we continue to rise as this ego means that we should be indifferent to it, and being indifferent to it means that we are setting aside our luggage.

So long as we experience ourself as a person, we cannot be completely indifferent to whatever happens in the life of this person, so the root of all attachments and concerns is our ego, which is what has attached itself to this person. Since this ego rises, stands and flourishes by clinging to other things, we can free ourself from all our attachments and consequent concerns only by trying to cling to ourself (our fundamental self-awareness) alone. Therefore as far as possible we should try to be indifferent to everything else and be concerned only with being self-attentive.

As I explained in my previous article, What is ‘the I-feeling’, and do we need to be ‘off the movement of thought’ to be aware of it?, this is why in verse 6 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam Bhagavan said about the appearance of thoughts and consequent appearance of the world, ‘நின்றிட சென்றிட; நினைவிட வின்றே’ (niṉḏṟiḍa seṉḏṟiḍa; niṉai-viḍa v-iṉḏṟē), which means ‘let them cease or let them go on; they do not exist at all apart from you’. That is, since the appearance of thoughts and the world is inevitable so long as this ego endures, we should not be concerned about either thoughts or the world but should be intent only on investigating this ego, the ‘me’ to whom they appear, because only by investigating it can we eradicate it, and only by eradicating it can we free ourself forever from the illusory appearance of everything else.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Place of prayers in the context of atma-vichara: video dated 24-4-2016 (afternoon): 46 minutes onwards

Prayers are the backbone of every religion, but are they really necessary in the context of our practice of atma-chintana? Recently, Michael talked about this subject in detail, and this is what he said:

Devotee: The subject of prayer is a very tricky one. Bhagavan was emphatic that there was no point in petitional prayer for various reasons, but is there still a part of our prayer in our sadhana - in the context of self-enquiry?

Michael: If you read Arunachala Stuti Panchakam there are so many prayers there. It is not that prayer is right or wrong, it is what you should pray for. What we should pray for is only the annihilation of our ego, or what is conducive to the annihilation of our ego. In Aksaramanamalai Bhagavan has prayed in so many ways, but he is praying only for the annihilation of the ego. Though he didn’t say you should pray like this, he taught us by example what we should pray for. ...

The only way to get back to what we are is by the destruction of our ego, so we can pray for the destruction of our ego in many ways. What we shouldn’t pray for is any type of change in other our (or other people’s) external circumstances, if we believe Bhagavan has ordained our prarabhda for our best good. People ask, ‘Can guru change our prarabdha?’ What a foolish question. It is guru who has ordained the prarabdha for our good, but we want him to change it. He knows what is good for us; we don’t know what is good for us. So praying for anything other than annihilation of our ego is foolishness.

Devote: Even if we see suffering of others.

Michael: These others exist in our view, so when we say. ‘O God, please relieve the suffering of these people, it’s because we can’t bear to see them suffering. So, all these prayers are prayers that will sustain the illusion that we are the ego.

Devotee: Pretty obvious…

Michael: So, if you see suffering, the proper way to pray is, ‘please save me from the self-ignorance, which causes me to see this suffering’.

Devote: That’s a valid prayer… So, all our other prayers are forms of egotism. They feed our ego…

Michael: Yes, of course. Everything we do – attending to anything other than ourself is feeding our ego. The only non-egoistical action is turning our attention back to ourself, but that is not even an action, because that is ceasing to be active.

(to be continued in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment on the subject of prayers:

Devotee: All these people filling up churches and mosques, at least they are doing good for themselves.

Michael: Kamya worship leads ultimately to niskamya [worship]. If you pray to God for this and that, for all your desires, sooner or later after many-many lives of doing this, your love for God will develop, and you will eventually feel, ‘who is greater – giver of gifts or the gifts?’ So if we pray to God for kamyata, we are praying for gifts and giving more importance to the gifts than the giver.

But after many births or many dreams of praying to God for this or that and receiving it, and being grateful to him and asking him for more, we come to the realisation, ‘if he is so kind to me to give me all these things I want, is he not much greater than all these things he is giving to me? So, isn’t it mean and petty of me to want all these things from him? Should I not want him alone?’ So that’s how the kamya worship develops into niskamya worship.

And from that point onward purification of the mind is speeded up, and eventually the niskamya worship by body, speech and mind ultimately leads to the point when we understand, ‘Can I be anything other than God? If he is the infinite, the whole, who am I who rises as if someone separate from him’. Our attention turns back to ourself, and then the purification is completed by atma-vichara.

Devotee: So prayer plays a part in the purification of our mind.

Michael: Everything does! Every pleasure and pain in our life is all given by God for our purification, but it’s a very-very-very-very slow process. If we want to speed up the process, first we should ditch all kamya-bhakti. We should worship God only for the love of God, not for the love of anything that we want from him.

If we want to speed up the purification even more, we should stop considering him to be something other than ourself, because if he the whole we can’t be other than him. So, he must exist within us, and if we can’t see him in ourself, how can we see him in anything else? So, we should first see ourself, and then the purification is completed by trying to see God within ourself – in other words, by turning our attention within to see what we actually are.

Conclusion: Michael had said in another video of his that the rising of the ego is the root of non-devotion; therefore, however much this ego may pray to a God outside, its devotion can never be perfect.

If only our atma-svarupa exists, and nothing exists, even seemingly, outside or other than our atma-svarupa; whom should we pray, for what and how? Therefore, as Bhagavan advises his mother, ‘Simply being silent is best [form of prayer]’.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hi Michael - Could you give me your thoughts on this when you have a moment. It was a comment made by a friend on FB. Thank you "When the I center disappears, the world disappears. The I thought and I feeling (which is deeper) create the apparent duality of an I as an object, and the world as another apparent object.

Inner and outer become one. The entire manifestation of your consciousness becomes one with no separation of distinction.

But if you hold onto Ramana's description of the world disappears from your present POV of identification with your body/mind, it just is not like that at all.

The world and you become one.

Nisargadatta goes further and added the Absolute, the subject that perceives that one manifest consciousness.

Of course, as Apte and I have said, the Witness/Consciousness duality itself is really a unity, for the consciousness flows out of nothingness and creates everything every morning.

unreal world said...

in my view from the 'total recognition that the world is unreal' we would benefit mainly/only inwardly/spiritually.
Our social commitments in our every day life for instance as a householder would not at all be discontinued.

Sanjay Lohia said...

What is grace?: video dated 13-09-2014 (1:21 onward)

What is grace? Is it some sort of a possession of our sadguru or God, which he dispenses as per his likes or dislikes? Or is it a constant thing, ever available to everybody at all times? Michael spoke on this subject in one his meetings with the devotees:

Devotee: What role does grace play? We can’t attain the self without grace, is it correct?
Michael: If God wants to be really kind to us, the kindest thing he can do to us is to be always with us, to be always inside us, to be always shining in us as ‘I’. That is the greatest of all grace, isn’t it? Grace is constant and is always available, but we are like a person standing in a river complaining we are thirsty. Grace is always abundantly available but we obstruct the flow of grace by rising as an ego, so to speak. We can never completely obstruct it, but we seem to be obstructing it by turning our attention towards the world. By taking interest in the world we are resisting the grace which is trying to draw us back within.

Devotee: So how do you define grace?
Michael: Grace is pure ‘I’ shining in the heart of each one of us. We all ignore that ‘I’ because we are so interested in everything else. When we take interest in anything, we are ignoring grace. When we take interest in ‘I’ alone, then only we are opening our heart to grace […] did I answer your question about grace satisfactorily?

Devotee: Yes and no…
Michael: We can approach it from a different way. Grace is the love that God has us, isn’t it? Do you think grace is something other than God’s love? Do you think God’s love and his grace are two separate things?

Devotee: Grace is God batting for you. That’s how I see grace.
Michael: OK, isn’t he always batting for us…

Devotee: You don’t have grace all the time…
Michael: Well, when we turn our attention outside or outward, we are, so to speak, obstructing the flow of grace. We are in the river, but instead of drinking the water, we are putting our head above the water. It is only we who can choose to put our head above the water rather than to drink it, so, it’s of own volition, our own will, opposing the will of god. The will of God is that we (our ego) should subside. So we have to surrender our will to the will of God, then we will experience his grace in all its fullness.
The problem with us is that we all thank God for all good that happens to us. We forget to thank him for the bad things, because bad things are as much grace as good.

Conclusion: Bhagavan used to often remind us that God, guru, self and grace are synonymous terms, and we often can interchange these terms. Bhagavan also said that grace is the beginning, the middle and the end of our sadhana. Grace or self-love of God attracts to us to our practice of self-investigation; the same self-love makes us persevere in our practice and the same self-love will eventually dissolve us in itself. Therefore, we can safely say that grace is the be-all and end-all of our sadhana, though our own efforts also plays a major role.

venkat said...


When you say:
"Pure intransitive awareness is not affected in any way by the appearance of disappearance of transitive awareness, because IT IS BY DEFINITION AWARE OF NOTHING OTHER THAN ITSELF, and hence it is the eternal and immutable reality", cannot logically be correct? Pure intransitive aware must be aware of, or 'dream', the 'I' thought / ego for it to arise in the first place. How / where else can the ego and transitive awareness be posited to arise?

Therefore surely our task is to see that what we are in deep sleep, is what we truly are - the changeless, objectless substratum on which the dream mind / body / world appears. And to abide in / as that, rather than believing we are the separate body/mind that is in reality just another projection on the substratum which we truly are.

You wrote:
"Bhagavan explained . . . it is only in the view of an ajñāni that the jñāni seems to be seeing and acting in this world, because the ajñāni sees the jñāni as a person (a body and mind), whereas the jñāni is actually just pure self-awareness, in whose view no mind, body or world exist at all."
This could be interpreted as saying that because the jnani does not identify with any particular body-mind, that he is nothing or everything, therefore the body-mind, because it has been eradicated of its usual egoic thoughts, just functions in the world without regard for gain or loss. So whilst we think there is a separate person there in the jnani, the jnani has no such thought.

This is certainly the import of much of what Sankara, Bhagavad Gita, Ashtavakra, Ellam Ondre (all of which Bhagavan quoted / recommended) and Sadhu Natanananda have written. I'm not sure why this interpretation is incorrect?

Of course, ultimately such disputes don't matter - as Bhagavan said, first find out 'who am I?', and then see what is left.

best wishes

something within me said...

Section 8. Nan Yar ? paragraph 6: if we keenly investigate ourself, our mind will subside along with all its thoughts

I do not why but I do not have the ability for keen investigation of myself.
The keenness of my attention is regrettably equals a blunt knife.
The vigilance of my investigation does not deserve this name, because it is such of a drunkard.
Oh Arunachala, have I got this punishment deservedly ? Do you not feel very embarassed about it ? Would you not like to wipe out that unbearable shame ?

Viveka Vairagya said...

Ramana Maharshi on Fate and Freedom
(from Day by Day With Bhagavan, 3-1-46 Afternoon, 2002 edition, p. 90)

It is true that the work meant to be done by us will be done by us. But it is open to us to be free from the joys or pains, pleasant or unpleasant consequences of the work, by not identifying ourselves with the body or that which does the work. If you realise your true nature and know that it is not you that does any work, you will be
unaffected by the consequences of whatever work the body may be engaged in according to destiny or past karma or divine plan, however you may call it. You are always free
and there is no limitation of that freedom.

Sanjay Lohia said...

When should we practise atma-vichara?: Video dated 12-9-2015 (1:04 onward)

Different sorts of advise are given to us regarding when we should practise atma-vichara. Some advise us that we should practise it whenever we are fresh, or totally free from outside commitments; some advise us that we should practice it as soon as we wake up from sleep, or are about to sleep in the night; some advise us that as soon as any thought arises we should question ourself ‘to whom is this thought; who am I’; and some of the devotees prefer group atma-vichara and so on.

But what was Bhagavan’s recommendation in this regard? I believe, his most frequent suggestions were: one, that we should do nirantana svarupa smarana (continuous self-remembrance); two, that we should practise it here and now. Both these recommendations mean the same thing, as ‘here and now’ exists at all times and at all places; therefore, as per Bhagavan’s suggestion we should try, as far as possible, to always remain attentively self-aware. How about sleep? Can we also practise in our sleep? Michael elaborated on these points in his video mentioned above:

Devotee: We talked about manolaya and manonasa. In deep sleep there is manolaya […] what is actually happening there? The body is still functioning, the heart is still functioning, but something has gone to sleep; something is still awake…
Michael: That’s very interesting. You’re aware of your body, heart and everything in sleep…

Devotee: No, I am not aware. If we say that the ego has gone, and I am not experiencing the heart beat or whatever; then, what is happening…
Michael: Nothing is happening in sleep. There is no body, no world, nothing.

Devotee: Our heart has also stopped!
Michael: Well, the heart doesn’t exist at all in sleep; there is nothing in sleep.

Devotee: But then the seed [karana-sharira] exists?
Michael: Seeds, yes, but even this is the idea we have in our waking state to explain how we come back [to our waking state]. We say we remain in a seed form in sleep, but this is just to satisfy our intellectual curiosity. Sometimes it is useful to reflect on our experience in sleep to understand that we are not the body, but beyond that we can forget about our experience in sleep. What are we now? The problem is the ego, which has risen now. Tackle that ego and…

Devotee: I am tackling the ego in one of the three states – that is, only in the waking state.
Michael: Yes, but that’s sufficient. The ego is no problem in sleep, isn’t it? Is doesn’t trouble you in sleep.

Devotee: But the seeds are around, and they come back again…
Michael: Yes, but now you have a problem. Ego is here and now, so it is only here and now that you can tackle this ego. We can’t tackle the ego when we are asleep. I can’t tackle it five minutes ago; I can’t tackle it five minutes hence. I can only tackle it now. So moment to moment we are faced with a choice: Do we want to be aware of ourself alone, or do we want to be aware of ourself (as we always are) plus other things?

We are constantly choosing to be aware of ourself plus other things. Bhagavan said try to be aware of yourself and see what happens. So, it is at this precise moment that we can tackle it, because the future moment and the past moment are just ideas in our mind, in our present….

So investigate here and now. [Transcript ends]

Conclusion: Our practice of self-investigation should not be like any other type of meditation, which we practise at fixed times in the day, or for fixed duration. We know that we always exist as being-awareness; therefore, we should try and attend to this being-awareness at all times. The intensity of our practice will differ during different times of the day, but this is natural, and we will also completely forget about it quite frequently. However, we should resume our practice as soon remember it. This should be our ideal.

Mouna said...

Very useful transcription and posting Sanjay, thanks

dani said...

When one keeps quiet, and stops thinking about it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, thanks. Whether these transcripts help anybody else or not, they are helping me immensely. I understand many subtle points better when I write it down.

great charioteer said...

yes, thinking about just keeping quiet or having just kept quiet would be an act of monumental dim-wittedness.

Bob - P said...

Thanks Sanjay for posting the helpful transcript.
I think to try and practise self investigation as much as possible and have select times like just upon waking or before bed were we try to increase the intensity of our investigation is very helpful.
In appreciation.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bob-P, I think Michael also spends some time attending to himself alone upon waking. I usually spend some time trying attending to myself alone before my breakfast, and around 7 pm in the evenings. However, Bhagavan advised all of us to practise niranta svarupa smarana - that means, uninterrupted self-attentiveness during our waking and dream states.

Someone may ask, is this uninterrupted self-attentiveness is possible, especially in our today's busy world? It may seem difficult, but it cannot be impossible, because if it were than Bhagavan would not have advised us to do so. We can and should try to maintain an undercurrent of self-attentiveness, even while we attend to our worldly duties. Our self-attentiveness will not be that intense or deep at such moments, but that should not matter.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bob-P, sorry, I misspelled nirantara svarupa smarana. Nirantara means unceasing, incessant, uninterrupted and continuous, and svarupa smarana means self-remembrance. We should try to increase both, the duration of our practice so as to reach uninterrupted self-remembrance, and also the intensity of our practice whenever we are able to attend to ourself alone.

great charioteer said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you are right. Developing an undercurrent of self-rememberance is excellently suited for us.

Bob - P said...

Thank you Sanjay what you say makes sense.
No problem about the misspell, you are a lot better than me.
I am always making typos!!
All the best.

oru porul said...

As a beginner on the path of self-investigation I want to understand what an 'unreal world' is with the help of the following example:
I imagine that I am on board of an aircraft flying high above the clouds –maybe from the UK to Chennai, the pilot and some passengers fall asleep, but the co-pilot, the crew and most of the passengers are in a state of wakefulness. Perhaps a child is born or one person dies during the flight. Finally the aircraft reaches its destination and has landed in Chennai. From a general viewpoint or conventionally we speak of an unreal world or not existing world only in case of the consciousness of the sleeping persons (pilot and some passengers), because their mind was not active then.
The above described flight I may have „really“ experienced some time ago.
Seen from the viewpoint of a jnani or Bhagavan all that imagination and experience is illusionary and unreal because they took place only in the mind and sense perceptions of my illusory ego: the flight along the aircraft, the air, the clouds,the earth, the airport and all the persons inclusive birth and death together with (the imagination and memory of) my imagining person.
I would be glad if you would find time for a short reply about my reflection.

whirl of destiny said...

that our desire to attend to other things than to the deep contemplative thought of the self is greater than our love to be aware of our self alone is not surprising. Mankind is acting mainly out of experience. Because we all want to be always happy we approach naturally to things who make us happy at least to a certain degree. For instance to live in tune with nature or pursuing/cultivating fine arts like music, painting, sculpture, carving or any craft. Meditation or investigation of this ego is in my experience not so satisfying, rather it seems to be a worry to us as we can see by the disharmony/inner turmoil of the comments on this blog .

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan & Arunachala…: video dated 11-4-2015 (1:44 onward)

Arunachala means different things to different people. Some of the devotees are attracted only to the physical form of the hill; consequently, Bhagavan’s teachings in Arunachala Stuti Panchakam (especially whatever Bhagavan sang in Arunachala Aksaramanamalai) is more important to them; whereas for others Bhagavan’s core texts like Nan Yar?, Upadesa Undiyar and Ulladu Narpadu are much-much more important. There was an intriguing discussion on the topic of Arunachala between Michael and a devotee:

Devotee: Why did Bhagavan make such a big deal about Arunachala? There is something special about the hill; it completely dominates the town… or is it just a myth.
Michael: It can be explained at various levels. On the most basic level, Bhagavan says, Arunachala is ourself. So, on the most basic level whatever he says about Arunachala, he says about ourself; what we really are. So, in other words, we could say all that he said about Arunachala is a poetic description of ourself; it’s a metaphor. We can take it in that sense.

But that is not the limit of it, because many people find strength and solace in following a path of dualistic devotion, and that is not necessarily in conflict with this path of self-enquiry. So long as we are ready to worship God as another, but at the same time have the understanding that what we are worshipping is actually only ourself, it’s a bridge you can say - a bridge from duality to non-duality.

So, possibly the best way to understand all that Bhagavan has said and written, and exemplified about his love for Arunachala… he is providing a bridge for all types of people. I think, there are some people who come to Bhagavan for whom whatever Bhagavan has said about Arunachala as a hill doesn’t resonate, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s non-essential to his teachings for everyone, but for many it is essential.

Devotee: […] is Arunachala the symbol of Shiva?
Michael: Well, according to Bhagavan it is Shiva himself. A linga is not meant to represent Shiva, a linga is Shiva himself. To understand this [pointing towards a picture of Bhagavan], does this represent Bhagavan, or is this Bhagavan? In one sense the person in this picture represents Bhagavan, because Bhagavan is something far-far greater than the human form that lived for 70 years. But at the same time it’s not quite adequate to say it's only a representation of Bhagavan, because [again pointing towards the picture of Bhagavan] it is Bhagavan. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible.

(to be continued in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

in continuation of my previous comment

Bhagavan very explicitly in many places indicated that Arunachala is ourself, but simply saying that all that he said about Arunachala is only about ourself, and it is not at all about the hill, that wouldn’t be doing justice to it. For some devotees of Bhagavan, the role that Arunachala plays in their devotion to Bhagavan is much greater than for others. There’s no right or wrong about it.

But even if we worship Arunachala as an external form, Bhagavan constantly made clear that that external form is an external manifestation of ourself; it is ourself we are seeing externally in that form. Bhagavan never allowed us to get away from the central importance of what we ourself actually are? Who am I? * [Transcript ends]

In conclusion: When somebody asked Bhagavan about Arunachala, and the reason why he attached so much importance to the hill, he said something to the effect, ‘How were you attracted to this place? It was because of me [Bhagavan], and how was I attracted to this place? It was because of Arunachala, so the power of Arunachala cannot be denied’.

Devotees derive immense benefit by doing giri-pradaksina around the hill, and they again and again go to Tiruvannamalai for this. According to many of the devotees, repeatedly going around the hill purifies one’s mind, and thereby shows us the way to liberation, and the way to liberation being atma-vichara. The yearly deepam festival, when a huge flame is lit atop the hill, is also a great attraction. Thus, to a greater or lesser extent, Arunachala, in whatever way we interpret it, is important to most of the devotees of Bhagavan.

And since Arunachala and Bhagavan are the same, Bhagavan’s form is eternally standing before us as the form of Arunachala. Isn't it another manifestation of Bhagavan's grace?

Anonymous said...

Eventhough we say dream and waking state are essentially not different, I see one main difference between the two. In dreams, we don't remember our waking state. The only experience we have is that of the dream. However in the waking state, we do remember parts of dreams we had and we are able to compare current state (waking state) and dream.

Looks like this is the reason people argue that dream is a mental creation and waking state is not. If both were similar mental creations, what prevents us from thinking about waking state while dreaming, and compare the two states? Why does that never happen?

In other words, why during waking state we can compare waking state and dreams we had, but we can't do the same while dreaming? How can we say both are similar states when this difference exists?

careful observer said...

thanks for pointing out the mentioned difference between waking and dream.
You are just a careful observer.

thought of Arunachala said...

Sanjay Lohia,
all to those who are not trained to understand quickly spoken English thank you for transcribing the words spoken in some Michael-James-videos.
But the special pecularity of Arunachala - may we call it a secret or mystery - each one of us must discover/unravel by oneself/on one's own/for us self.
So may Arunachala itself initiate us into its/his secret according our capacity of understanding.
Surely Arunachala's influence on us is shrouded in mystery and its/his sphere/mode of action/activity happens in a mysterious way beyond the power of our imagination.
Nevertheless we should not be at the mercy of secretive mystery-mongering.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Thought of Arunachala, yes, Bhagavan had also said, ‘The mystery of Arunachala is beyond human understanding. . . . Arunachala is the spiritual centre of the world’.

The power and attraction of Arunachala cannot be denied, as countless saints and sages – the most famous among them being Bhagavan Ramana - have been attracted to its presence since time immemorial. Arunachala is the gateway to liberation, as it is constantly imploring us (perhaps in some mysterious way) to look within, and only our intent on self-attentiveness will finally liberate us.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Quotes of Nisargadatta Maharaj

You become what you believe.

Have the firm conviction that you are pure consciousness (existence). This should be done spontaneously; it is the only way.

Catch hold of the knower of the mind. If you believe your thoughts, you will be disappointed.

Be the witness of thoughts. Remain as the seer (the subject).

The world's existence is like the dream world of a dreamer.

We sense the world to be real because we feel our body to be real, and vice versa (even though neither are real).

Just as the dream state is unreal, the waking state is also an appearance (unreal). Both arise spontaneously. Our talk is also taking place in a dream.

When you try to be one with consciousness, the mind stands in the way. Keep trying. Pay attention to the source from which the 'I am' feeling has appeared.

To hold on to the word of the guru is the greatest service. For this purpose you have to give your full attention to your true nature (existence, awareness) all the time.

You will be free when you realize that the pure consciousness that is listening now is your true nature.

Attention should be on oneself (existence, consciousness, feeling of 'I am') rather than on the affairs of others.

Desires can only be pacified through the knowledge of the Self. If you leave all desires, passions, fears, you will clearly see yourself (as existence, consciousness, the feeling 'I am').

Hopes and desires are the oils that keep the lamp of life going. One whose hopes and desires are finished has died, but (being consciousness) is not dead.

One who reaches the thought free state will not have to do anything for food or shelter. Everything will happen spontaneously without a sense of doership.

Thinking creates destiny. Concepts of yourself create your circumstances accordingly.

The feeling 'I am' (I exist) is called consciousness. Hold on to that.

Greater than the greatest good in life is to know who we are.

Meditation should be on one's own nature. Slowly the mind will become pure, and the formless consciousness (existence) will be uncovered. In this way your true nature will be understood.

Do not just meditate. Live in meditation. Realize that you are pure consciousness (existence), the Absolute.

Spiritual effort is as easy as it is difficult. One who holds on to the Master's worlds I am the self-luminous reality (existence) will find it easy.

I give you the knowledge of my true nature (as consciousness); listen to it as if it is your own (for you are in truth consciousness alone).

Cow Lakshmi said...

Viveka Vairagya,
regarding the last quote:
How can one give the knowledge of one's true nature to somebody ?

Viveka Vairagya said...

Cow Lakshmi, I think what he means is "I am telling you about my true nature".

infinite purna said...

Sanjay Lohia,
how can we call Arunachala as the spiritual centre of the world when it is said that the world seems to exist only in the view of the illusory mind or ego ?

Cow Lakshmi said...

Viveka Vairagya,
your explanation is plausible.

Aseem Srivastava said...

Anonymous, a response to your comment addressed to Michael.

Firstly, the premise on which you base your argument stating that there is a difference between waking state and dream state, namely the premise that "in dreams, we don't remember our waking state. The only experience we have is that of the dream", is not necessarily true. For instance, based upon our experience in this waking state, some dreams tend to be ethereal, while some others are vivid, yet it is not necessarily the case that we remember all that we experienced in them upon waking up. Therefore, it is not impossible that, say, one of we may have been continuing this interaction which we are now having in this waking state using the medium of this blog, in one of our dreams, and yet upon waking up not remember that interaction, and thus erroneously conclude that we do not remember anything from this waking state while dreaming.

Moreover, even if we assume that premise to be necessarily true, the conclusion from that premise, namely that "during waking state we can compare waking state and dreams we had, but we can't do the same while dreaming", is still not a substantial difference between waking and dream, but at best a happenstance. This is because we define dream as a state in which we seem to be waking, but are not waking. However, even now we seem to be waking, yet there is no proof as to the fact that we are not now dreaming, other than the circuitous argument that we are now awake - an argument which is no argument as it seeks to prove what it assumes as one of its premise.

Aseem Srivastava said...

Apologies for a typo in my previous comment. I meant 'circular argument' instead of 'circuitous argument'.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Infinite purna, yes, as you say, in the absolute sense the world seems to exist only in the view of the illusory mind or ego, and it will become non-existent when we experience ourself as we really are; therefore, how can there be a spiritual centre in the non-existent world? Agreed!

For example, in relation to our body, our spiritual heart-place is said to be two digits to the right of our chest, but our real heart is only ourself as we really are; therefore, no place can be assigned to it. Likewise, Arunachala is the spiritual centre of this world so long as this world seems to exist. And once we experience ourself as we really are all forms will disappear, including the forms of Bhagavan, Arunachala and our own form.

However, to understand why I said ‘Arunachala is the spiritual centre of the world’, it will be useful to read a few extracts from an article which Michael wrote for the Mountain Path vol. 19, no 2, April 1982:

# And from his [Bhagavan’s] own personal experience he knew the unique power of the form of Arunachala, a power that cannot be found in such abundance in any other form of God, namely the power to turn the mind towards Self and thereby to root out the ego.

# Sri Bhagavan said, ‘[…] Therefore, Arunachala shines as the foremost and most powerful kshetra, because here Sakti, who has seemingly created all this manifold appearance, herself merges into the Lord. So for those mature aspirants who seek to put an end to the false appearance of duality, the most powerful help is to be found only in Arunachala-kshetra’.

# in one verse often pointed out by Sri Bhagavan, Jnanasambandhar described this hill as being jnana-tiral, a dense mass of jnana.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to infinite purna:

# In verse nineteen of Aksharamanamalai he [Bhagavan] explicitly states that Arunachala shines as the form of his Guru; and in the same verse he reveals the function of the real Guru, namely to destroy all our defects, including the root-defect, the ego, to bestow all good qualities upon us and to rule over us. […] In many of his other verses Sri Bhagavan has clearly indicated that the role of Arunachala is the role of the Sadguru.

# He [Bhagavan] also reveals that Arunachala instructs through silence (verse 36) and that it teaches the path of self-enquiry (verse 44); and he shows us the way of praying to Arunachala to bestow jnana (verse 40) [verses from aksaramanamalai]

# Sri Bhagavan once said, ‘The whole hill is sacred. It is Siva himself. Just as we identify ourselves with a body, so Siva has chosen to identify himself with his hill. Arunachala is pure wisdom (jnana) in the form of a hill. It is out of compassion to those who seek him that he has chosen to reveal himself in the form of a hill visible to the eye. The seeker will obtain guidance and solace by staying near this hill’.

# Because Arunachala is the 'fire of knowledge' (jnanagni) in the form of a hill, the outgoing tendencies (vasanas) of the mind are automatically scorched when one goes round it.

# That is why Sri Bhagavan said to Kunju Swami, 'This hill is the storehouse of all spiritual power. Going round It benefits you in all ways'. (The Mountain Path, April 1979, p. 75)

# Though Bhagavan Ramana has left his human form, he will always remain shining here in the form of Arunachala, giving guidance and solace to his devotees. Therefore, the power of Arunachala is the power of Ramana - the power of the Sadguru's grace.

[Extracts from the article ends]

When Bhagavan has repeatedly confirmed this in so many words, how can we deny the unique power of Arunachala?

boy of sixteen in1896 said...

Who ?,
is not our ignorance about the true facts miserably ?
The mournefulness and wretchedness of our lacking knowledge is outstanding and almost superb. Hopefully we are soon beginning to understand the truth of our being.

infinite purna said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for your reply.
However, I did not deny Arunachala's unique power in any way but I only asked you why we call Arunachala the spiritual centre of the whole world and even universe.

careful observer said...

Who ?,
that we in dream generally have no simultaneous memory of the immediately preceding waking state cannot be called 'at best a happenstance' but is surely at least a remarkable feature if not a serious difference between waking and dream.
Why do you try to disregard that characteristic ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

infinite purna, when I wrote ‘When Bhagavan has repeatedly confirmed this in so many words, how can we deny the unique power of Arunachala?’, I did not imply that you were denying Arunachala’s unique power. The ‘we’ I used was for all the devotees of Bhagavan, including me.

Like, I personally have not felt any extraordinary attraction for the hill; therefore, if Bhagavan had not spoken so highly about the hill, I would not have understood the greatness of the hill. Therefore, when Bhagavan says that Arunachala is his guru, we also have to reverentially consider it as our guru. I was just trying to do manana on these lines.

Thenimalai said...

infinite purna,
your question can/could answered only by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi himself who lived on and around the Hill of Grace for 54 years. Only he can give an adequate justification for that statement. Even he has said that the whole world or universe turn on Arunachala's axis whereupon some devotees had a look on a map which mountain would be on the opposite side of the earth in South America(possibly under the water level/surface outside of the Pacific coast of Peru.

Noob said...

To careful observer:
Remebering (forgeting) something is a function of ego and ego itself is a fleeting phenomen. But there is one thing that cannot be either remembered of forgotten , is always here and that is ourself, the ever present subject.

careful observer said...

thank you for bringing to the mind our actual self, our fundamental pure self-awareness.
But regrettably even our omnipresent self-awareness is forgotten regularly and recurrently.
That profoundly human error is called self-forgetfulness and is our very quintessential problem. Therefore lets hope that our ego will take flight for a long time or even better for ever and ever.

Sanjay Lohia said...

careful observer, I was reflecting on your recent comment addressed to Noob. I would like to share the same here:

You say, ‘But regrettably even our omnipresent self-awareness is forgotten regularly and recurrently’. I do not think that our self-awareness is ever forgotten. In fact, our self-awareness is the only thing that we experience in all our three states – waking, dream and sleep. Yes, our pure self-awareness is clouded over in the states of waking and dream, but that is because in these two states our self-awareness in mixed with our awareness of body and mind. However, our self-awareness (either pure or impure) can never be forgotten, because this is what we are. We may experience this self-awareness either perfectly or imperfectly, but we can never be without this basic awareness.

Yes, as you say, self-forgetfulness is our quintessential and root of all problems, and this self-forgetfulness is nothing but our ego.

It’s not very clear what exactly do you mean when you say, ‘Therefore lets hope that our ego will take flight for a long time’. Either the ego seemingly exists, or is destroyed for ever. It does temporarily takes flight in sleep, or sleep like states called laya. However, the state of sleep or laya has no spiritual benefit. Our ego just rests or recuperates in sleep. Our vishaya-vasanas are not in the least destroyed, in fact, on the contrary, these vishya-vasanas and their parent, our ego, is well guarded, and again pops up on waking.

Yes, we should see that ego vanishes ‘for ever and ever’, and which we can do only if we are intent upon experiencing only ourself, by withdrawing our interest in other things.

careful observer said...

Sanjay Lohia,
when you say "However, ourself-awareness (...) can never be forgotten, because ..."
you deny our (mankind's) temporary self-forgetfulness. That our pure self-awareness is immortal, eternally indestructible and immutable is beyond doubt. Nevertheless and as you know we ajnanis like to experience or attend to other things than our intransitive awareness.
My remark "Therefore lets hope that our ego will take flight..." was said only as my spontaneous reply to Noob's statement "...and ego itself is a fleeting phenomen(on)".
Now here in Central Europe it is time to let the ego disappear in sleep.
Good night, no for you in Karnataka :good morning.

Sanjay Lohia said...

careful observer, yes, as the participants of this blog are from various countries and continents, we are not sure how to wish if we want to greet each other. We do not exactly know whether it is morning, night, evening or afternoon in other countries.

In my place, Bhagavan's devotees usually greet other by saying 'Namo Ramana!' Namo means reverential salutations, a bow, obeisance, paying honour or adoration; therefore, we can say Namo Ramana or something similar to greet each other. This is not a suggestion that every time we write a comment we should wish each other this way, or in some other way, but I am just suggesting we can use this greeting if we want to wish each other. Namo Ramana!

Sanjay Lohia said...

What happens on death? – video dated 10-5-2014 (1:31 onward)

Death is an enigma. We fear death because when we die we will lose all that is dear to us. However, we also look forward to the death of our ego, because we have come to understand that only its death, or annihilation can liberate us. Thus death remains a paradox. In answer to a question, Michael extensively spoke on this subject, and I found his explanations quite useful:

Devotee: Michael, what happens to the self when we die?

Michael: I can’t answer that question, because you are the only one who can answer it. Because you cannot know what will happen to you after death if you do know what you are now. If you are this body, when this body dies, finished! That’s what many people believe; they believe that’s the end. But if you analyse a bit more, though we experience this body as ‘I’ now, when we are dreaming we are not experiencing this body; we experience some other body.

So, since we are able to experience ourself without experiencing this body, this body cannot be ‘I’. It’s only on a temporary basis that we experience that as ‘I’. So I think we have enough evidence from our own experience to make us suspect that we are something other than this physical body. And also because we experience dream, there is nothing we can point to in this waking state to actually prove to ourself that this is anything but a dream. We know that our mind has an ability to project a body, experience that body as ‘I’, and through the five senses of that body experience a world, as it does in dream. Why should we think that this [waking] is any different from that [dream]?

Well, we can’t solve that problem now; however, if we believe Bhagavan’s words, he said it is nothing but dream, but we can’t solve it, because until we know what we actually are, we are in a bit of confusion. Though in waking we experience ourself as a body, in dream we experience ourself as another body. What is common in these two states is the mind, as it’s the same mind that experiences dream and also waking. So, does that mean we are the mind? No, there is another state, sleep, in which we experience ourself without experiencing even this mind.

If this life is a dream, when this dream comes to an end, just like when another dream comes to an end, we fall asleep or we begin to dream another dream, another dream . . . In that sense, yes, rebirth or whatever we call it is real. It’s just another dream - another dream - another dream - another dream. That’s all true if we are this mind. In sleep when we don’t experience ourself as this mind, but we still experience sleep. We say, ‘Oh, I didn’t experience anything in sleep’, but even that nothing we experience in sleep is an experience. So we are aware not only of having two states – waking and dream; we are also aware of the third state in which we don’t experience anything. We are aware of that state, because we actually experience it. We experience it because we are there. So we are able to experience ourself in sleep without either body or mind. That calls into question even the theory of rebirth.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

What happens on death? – video dated 10-5-2014 (1:31 onward)PART-TWO

Michael: So long as it is true that we are dreaming, there will be one dream after another. When a dream comes to an end, either we fall asleep, or we fall into another dream (some state that we take to be waking). Any dream while we are experiencing it, we take to be waking. [...]

Actually we never experience the death of the body. It’s in the view of the others that the body dies. When we wake up from a dream do we think, ‘O, what happened to my body in dream? Have they cremated it, or have they buried it?’ We don’t think like that, because it just comes to an end. So also when this life comes to an end, it will come to an end just like a dream. We won’t be aware of it. We may experience the pain of dying, but once we actually are dead; then, the dream has come to an end. We’ll either be in a sleep like state, or go straight to another dream.

Devotee: So it is like going to sleep…

Michael: Yes, exactly, but all that is true if we are the mind. But sleep gives us reason to doubt whether we are this mind, because in sleep we experience ourself without this mind. So if ‘I’ is neither this mind nor this body, what is it that continues after the death of the body? That is the same thing that we are now, the same ‘I’. There is a basic ‘I’ (the essence of what we experience as ‘I’) is experienced in all the three states – waking, dream and sleep. That will continue even after death of the body, but because we now don’t experience what this ‘I’ is, we are in a type of a sleep of self-forgetfulness, and in this sleep of self-forgetfulness we experience so many dreams, in which we experience ourself as a body, and experience a world, and everything.

Only if we find out what this ‘I’ is here and now, we will really know what will happen to us after death. In fact, nothing will happen to us, because nothing is happening to us even now. What is happening to the cinema screen when there is a flood on it, or fire on it? It doesn’t get wet; it doesn’t get burnt! So also the ‘I’ is the background on which all this appears. So if we come to experience what that ‘I’ is, everything else gets dissolved. In that there will be no birth or death, there will be nothing. There is just ‘I am’.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

What happens on death? – video dated 10-5-2014 (1:31 onward) PART-THREE

Michael: The thing is we have so many beliefs: ‘there is life after death’; ‘no, there is no life after death’; ‘we go to heaven’ . . . Until we experience what this ‘I’ is, we cannot answer any of these questions reliably; we cannot be sure of anything. Everything we experience now could be an illusion; the only thing which cannot be an illusion is ‘I’. ‘I’ must exist to experience anything, even an illusion. So ‘I’ is the only certainty now, but though it is certain ‘that I am’, it is not clear ‘what I am’.

We are confused. We take ourself to be this body now, but some other body in dream. Sometimes we say, ‘I am thinking’ - it’s mind that’s thinking; sometimes we say, ‘I am sitting’ - it’s the body that is sitting. So, we need a clear experience of what is this ‘I’, by trying to experience this ‘I’ in isolation. That’s the only way to get a clear answer to all these questions. * [transcript ends]

In conclusion: I will quote a few passages from Day by Day with Bhagavan (Third Reprint 1989). These all relate to the topic of death. Bhagavan says:

• Devotee: I lost my son in the war. What is the way for his salvation?
Bhagavan: The true remedy is to enquire into your true nature. It is because you feel that your son does not exist that you feel grief. If you knew he existed [as your true self] you would not feel grief. (page 2018, 31-5-46)

• If you understand waking and sleep properly you will understand life and death. Only waking and dream happen daily, so people don’t notice the wonder of it but only want to know about birth and death. (page 221, 19-6-46)

• If you ask who has birth and whether birth and death are for you or for somebody distinct from you then you realize the truth and the truth burns up all karma and frees you from all births. (page 221, 19-6-46)

• It is our constant concern to bear the burden of this body and look after its needs. Day in, day out, this is our occupation – bathing, eating, massaging our legs, and so on – no end to it . . . without even stopping to think why we are doing so? (page 235, 12-7-46)

• Deathlessness is our real nature, and we falsely ascribe it to the body, imagining that it will live forever, and losing sight of what is really immortal, simply because we identify ourselves with the body. (page 235, 12-7-46)

dani said...

great charioteer,
"All that is required to realize the Self is to be still.
What can be easier than that?"
(Maharshi's Gospel)

great charioteer said...

did you follow Bhagavan's advice and did you try out whether to be silent is extremely easy ?
Many gratulations if your efforts to keep the mind quiet were already crowned with success.
To silence our ego truly/eternally - not only temporary - most of us try it our whole life long. Do not overlook that the Maharhi's instruction is such one from the viewpoint of a jnani.

dani said...

great charioteer,

thank you

Michael James said...

Oru Porul, the key to understanding what Bhagavan means when he says that the world is unreal is his teaching that though our current state seems to us to be waking, it is actually just another dream, because any state in which we experience any phenomena (anything other than ourself) is a dream projected and experienced only by our own ego. Therefore the scenario you describe in your comment is a dream, and for each dream there is only one dreamer, namely ourself, this ego.

When you say, ‘I imagine that I am on board of an aircraft flying high above the clouds’, the ‘I’ who imagines this is this one ego, the dreamer of this dream. The pilot, co-pilot and passengers — including the one whom you refer to as ‘I’ — all exist only in the view of your dreaming mind. You may dream that some of those people other than yourself are asleep or awake, but they are still part of your dream, so rather than concerning yourself with any such scenario, you should concern yourself with waking up from the sleep of self-ignorance in which this and every other dream appears.

Regarding your statement, ‘Seen from the viewpoint of a jnani or Bhagavan all that imagination and experience is illusionary and unreal’, though Bhagavan taught us that everything that we experience in this or any other dream is illusory, this is not the ultimate truth, because a dream or illusion can appear only the view of our ego, and if we investigate this ego we will find that there is actually no such thing at all. Therefore since there is no ego, there is no illusion or dream.

However, though this is the ultimate truth, it does not help us now, because we currently seem to be this ego and to be experiencing this dream, so we need to extricate ourself from this illusion. Therefore, though in his own view there is absolutely no ego or dream but only eternal, infinite, indivisible and immutable self-awareness, Bhagavan conceded that in our view this ego and dream do seem to exist, and hence he taught us that the root of all this illusion is only our ego, which is a false experience of ourself, so in order to free ourself from this illusion we must investigate ourself and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are.

oru porul said...

Michael, many thanks for having occupied yourself with the trivial description of a beginner’s dream. I do not even recognize what is still part of my dream.
Till now I did not grasp or verify in daily life that 'everything that we experience in this or any other dream is illusory' as Bhagavan taught us.
Therefore waking up from the sleep of my self-ignorance is most necessary.
How to investigate this ego I must learn in practice first. I am only just beginning the art of self-investigation. To find 'that there is actually no such thing at all' sounds very exiting. I can hardly wait for that discover. Never to get beyond the stages of human ignorance that means a false experience of ourself is a terrible nightmare to me. To free myself from the root of all this illusion is presumably not a children's game. But to be aware of ourself as we actually are cannot be inaccessible or so distant as to be beyond my reach. Freedom from the bondage of the self-ignorance of an actually not existing ego cannot remain only the privilege of recluses/monks or hermits. Arunachala, may I ask you to support my understanding and patronize my attempts and endeavours to persever in trying to be (aware) what I really am. Arunachala, may you destroy my state of confusion in the bright light of (y)our pure self-awareness.