Sunday 27 November 2016

When the ego seems to exist, other things seem to exist, and when it does not seem to exist, nothing else seems to exist

In several comments on one of my recent articles, The difference between vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda is not just semantic but substantive, a friend called Ken argued that the ego does not exist even in a relative sense, but that vāsanās and other phenomena do exist in a relative sense, though not in an absolute sense. However one of the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teaching is that since all phenomena seem to exist only in the view of this ego, they seem to exist only when it seems to exist (as in waking and dream), and when it does not seem to exist (as in sleep) nothing else seems to exist. Therefore in this article I will reply to some of Ken’s comments and try to explain this fundamental principle to him in more detail.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Why does Bhagavan sometimes say that the ātma-jñāni is aware of the body and world?

In the comments on several of my recent articles there has been an ongoing discussion regarding the question of whether or not the ātma-jñāni is aware of the world, because many friends are convinced by Bhagavan’s teachings that all phenomena (second and third persons) seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of the ego (the first person), and that therefore when the ego is dissolved forever in the clear light of ātma-jñāna (pure self-awareness) no phenomena will seem to exist, whereas other friends seem to believe that even though the ātma-jñāni is nothing but brahman itself, it is still somehow operating through a body and mind and is therefore aware of that body and of the surrounding world. The latter group of friends often cite passages from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi and other records of his oral teachings that seem to support their point of view, and they have even found verses in Guru Vācaka Kōvai and passages in Sadhu Om’s writings that likewise seem to support it.

During the course of this discussion, a friend called Bob wrote a comment on one of my recent articles, The difference between vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda is not just semantic but substantive, in which he cited a passage from The Path of Sri Ramana that had been referred to several times by other friends and remarked ‘Hopefully Michael can shed some light on the deep meaning of this passage for us’, because he conceded that it seems to support the belief that ‘the jnani still experiences the world / multiplicity but experiences everything as itself’, even though his own belief is that ‘the jnani / myself as I really am does not experience the world / body or duality of any kind’, in support of which he cited a translation by Sadhu Om and me of the kaliveṇbā version of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and a note regarding it from pages 58-9 of Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai. Therefore the following is my reply to this comment.

Monday 21 November 2016

What is the correct meaning of ajāta vāda?

In a comment on my previous article, The difference between vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda is not just semantic but substantive, a friend called Venkat questioned my understanding of the meaning of ajāta vāda, citing something that I wrote in the sixth section of that article, What is unborn (ajāta) is only pure self-awareness, and since it is the infinite whole, nothing else actually exists, namely ‘ajāta vāda is the contention that no creation has ever occurred even as an illusory appearance’, and then arguing:
Michael I think that you might be incorrect in your understanding of the advaitic meaning of ajata vada. I cannot argue with you on what Bhagavan Ramana meant by it.

Gaudapada’s famous ajata verse occurs in the second chapter of his karika. If this verse is taken in context of the verses that precede and follow it, it is clear that Gaudapada does indeed mean that there is no real creation of the world or the jiva, and that both are illusions.

30: This Atman, though non-separate from all these, appears as it were separate. One who knows this truly interprets the meaning of the Vedas without hesitation
31: As are dreams and illusions or a castle in the air seen in the sky, so is the universe viewed by the wise in the Vedanta
32: There is no dissolution, no birth, none in bondage, none aspiring for wisdom, no seeker of liberation and none liberated. This is the absolute truth.
33: This (the Atman) is imagined both as unreal objects that are perceived as the non-duality. The objects are imagined in the non-duality itself. Therefore non-duality alone is the highest bliss.

Sankara’s commentary on v32 is also worth reading, though quite long. Relevant extracts:

“This verse sums up the meaning of the chapter. When duality is perceived to be illusory and Atman alone is known as the sole Reality, then it is clearly established that all our experiences, ordinary or religious, verily pertain to the domain of ignorance.”

“Thus duality being non-different from mental imagination cannot have a beginning or an end . . . Therefore it is established that duality is a mere illusion of the mind. Hence it is well-said that the Ultimate Reality is the absence of destruction, etc, on account of the non-existence of duality (which exists only in the imagination of the mind”.

My understanding is that srsti-drsti vada says first the world is created and then jivas evolve from it thereafter. Then, vivartha vada takes a step back to say that actually the jiva’s perceiving creates the world. And ajata vada then takes a further step back to point out that the jiva itself is an illusion, a superimposition on the atman.
In this article, therefore, I will try to explain more clearly why the correct meaning of ajāta vāda is the contention that no vivarta (illusion or false appearance) has ever been born or come into existence at all.