Monday 6 February 2017

How can we see inaction in action?

A friend recently wrote asking me to explain Bhagavad Gītā 4.18, in which Krishna says that whoever sees inaction (akarma) in action (karma) and action in inaction is wise (buddhimān), and how to apply this in practice in the context of Bhagavan’s teachings, so the following is an elaboration of my reply to him:

Constant doing or action (at least by mind, and often by speech and body also) is the nature of the ego, whereas actionless being is the nature of ourself as we really are. Therefore we can only see inaction if we see ourself as we really are, and when we see ourself thus, we will see that we were always actually inactive even when as the ego we seemed to be active. This is what Krishna calls seeing inaction in action.

If we see that what seems to be a snake is actually just a rope, it could be said that we are seeing the rope in the snake, and since we would thereby see that the rope is the location in which the snake was seen, it could also be said that we are seeing the snake in the rope. Likewise, if we see that what seems to be an active ego is actually just actionless awareness, it could be said that we are seeing actionless awareness in the active ego, and since we would thereby see that actionless awareness alone is the location in which the active ego seemed to exist, it could also be said that we are seeing the active ego in actionless awareness.

However, if we recognise that what seems to be a snake is actually just a rope, what we would actually be seeing then is not any snake but only a rope, so if it were said that we are then seeing the rope in the snake, or the snake in the rope, that would just be a metaphorical way of saying that what deluded people mistake to be a snake is what we recognise to be a rope. Likewise, when Krishna says that the wise see inaction in action and action in inaction, he does not mean that the ātma-jñāni actually sees any action at all, but only that what ajñānis see as action is what the jñāni sees as inaction.

Regarding your question about how to apply this in practice, we can do so only by constantly trying to see ourself as the pure actionless awareness that we actually are. So long as we attend to anything other than ourself, we seem to be active, but to the extent that we manage to attend to ourself alone, our active mind will subside along with its root, the ego, into the inactive awareness that we actually are, and thus in the midst of outward activity (which seems to exist only in the self-ignorant view of the outward-facing ego) we can see ourself as the ever-inactive centre or heart, which is like the motionless axle of a rotating cart wheel.

That is, as Bhagavan says in verse 9 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
பாவ பலத்தினாற் பாவனா தீதசற்
பாவத் திருத்தலே யுந்தீபற
     பரபத்தி தத்துவ முந்தீபற.

bhāva balattiṉāṯ bhāvaṉā tītasaṯ
bhāvat tiruttalē yundīpaṟa
     parabhatti tattuva mundīpaṟa

பதச்சேதம்: பாவ பலத்தினால் பாவனாதீத சத் பாவத்து இருத்தலே பரபத்தி தத்துவம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): bhāva balattiṉāl bhāvaṉātīta sat-bhāvattu iruttalē para-bhatti tattuvam.

English translation: By the strength of meditation, being in sat-bhāva, which transcends bhāvana, is certainly para-bhakti tattva.

Elaborated translation: By the strength [intensity, firmness or stability] of [such] meditation [ananya-bhāva or self-attentiveness], being in sat-bhāva [one’s ‘state of being’ or ‘real being’], which transcends [all] bhāvana [thinking, imagination or meditation], certainly [or alone] is para-bhakti tattva [the real essence or true state of supreme devotion].
The bhāva (meditation) that Bhagavan refers to here when he says ‘பாவ பலத்தினால்’ (bhāva balattiṉāl), ‘by the strength [intensity, firmness or stability] of meditation’, is ananya-bhāva (‘otherless meditation’ or ‘meditation on what is not other’), which he said in the previous verse is ‘அனைத்தினும் உத்தமம்’ (aṉaittiṉum uttamam), ‘best among all’, implying that it is the best among all forms of meditation, all practices of devotion (bhakti) and all other kinds of spiritual practice. Since ananya means ‘not other’ and implies in this context ‘not other than oneself’, ananya-bhāva means meditation on oneself, self-contemplation or self-attentiveness.

Meditating on or attending to anything other than oneself is an action (karma), because it entails a movement of one’s mind or attention away from oneself towards that other thing, but meditation on oneself is not an action, because it entails no movement of one’s mind or attention away from oneself towards anything else. Therefore the more intensely we attend to ourself alone, the more our mind will subside in our natural state of just being, which is what Bhagavan describes in this verse as ‘பாவனாதீத சத் பாவம்’ (bhāvaṉātīta sat-bhāvam), ‘the state of being, which transcends meditation’.

The meditation (bhāvana) that the state of being (sat-bhāvam) transcends is not ananya-bhāva (meditation on nothing other than oneself) but only anya-bhāva (meditation on anything other than oneself), because meditation on oneself entails simply being attentively self-aware, so since perfectly attentive self-awareness is our real nature, it is nothing other than our own being (sat). Therefore it is only by attending to ourself alone that we can subside and be in our natural state of actionless being.

In this verse Bhagavan says that being in our natural state of being (sat-bhāvam) by the intensity of our self-attentiveness is para-bhakti tattva, the real essence or true state of supreme devotion, and in the next verse (verse 10 of Upadēśa Undiyār) he implies that it is the culmination and goal of all kinds of spiritual practice:
உதித்த விடத்தி லொடுங்கி யிருத்த
லதுகன்மம் பத்தியு முந்தீபற
     வதுயோக ஞானமு முந்தீபற.

uditta viḍatti loḍuṅgi irutta
ladukaṉmam bhattiyu mundīpaṟa
     vaduyōga ñāṉamu mundīpaṟa

பதச்சேதம்: உதித்த இடத்தில் ஒடுங்கி இருத்தல்: அது கன்மம் பத்தியும்; அது யோகம் ஞானமும்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uditta iḍattil oḍuṅgi iruttal: adu kaṉmam bhatti-y-um; adu yōgam ñāṉam-um.

English translation: Subsiding and being in the place from which one rose: that is karma and bhakti; that is yōga and jñāna.
The ‘place from which one rose’ (uditta iḍam) is one’s natural state of being (sat-bhāvam), and since one rises from it as the ego by attending to the appearance of things other than oneself (which is what Bhagavan calls ‘grasping form’ in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), one can subside and be in it only by attending to oneself. Since attention to anything other than ourself is an action, in order to do any kind of spiritual practice other than just being self-attentive one must rise as the ego, but paradoxically the ultimate aim of all spiritual practices is to subside and be in the source from which we rose, so simply being self-attentive and thereby not rising to do anything is the culmination and fulfilment of all other spiritual practices.

The first action and the root of all other actions is the rising of ourself as the ego, so we cannot experience inaction unless we subside and abide in the state of being from which we now seem to have arisen. However, our rising as the ego is just an illusory appearance, so it is not real, and hence even when we seem to be engaged in action we are actually nothing other than eternally actionless being (sat). Therefore when we see ourself as we actually are, we will see that what actually existed in the midst of the appearance of action (karma) is only inaction (akarma), and likewise that the place in which all actions seemed to occur is only actionless self-awareness, which is our natural state of just being (sat-bhāvam).

Seeing that actionless self-awareness alone is what actually exists even in the midst of the appearance of action is what Krishna called ‘seeing inaction (akarma) in action (karma)’, and seeing that the place in which all action seems to occur is only in actionless self-awareness is what he called ‘seeing action (karma) in inaction (akarma)’.


Sivanarul said...

Not related to the topic of the current thread. For those of you interested or practioners of yoga, the below is a 10 min TEDx talk by Dr Sundar Balasubramanian on his scientific research on Yogic Breathing (specifically based on Thirumoolar's Thirumanthiram). For those of you who do not know Thirumanthiram, it is a very ancient Saivite scripture that covers all aspects of spirituality (eight yogic limbs, bhakthi Jnana, Impermanence and several other spiritual topics). Upon his mother attaining samadhi, Bhagavan instructed people around him to follow Thirumanthiram's instruction to construct the samadhi pit for his mother's body.

Dr Sundar has also recently written a very good book named "PranaScience: Decoding Yoga Breathing". Thirumanthiram consists of 3000+ songs. Out of these, Dr Sundar has taken 14 songs relevant to Pranayama and has covered those in the book. Highly recommended, if you do some form of yogic sadhana.

I am linking these in the hope that some of you may find it useful.

R Viswanathan said...

Thanks so much for this article, kindly responding to my request to explain the Bhagawat Gita verse no. 4.18. The article enables me to understand that this verse is perfect accord with Bhagavan's teaching. Very grateful I am.

Anonymous said...

I feel the difference between Bhagvan's writings and Bhagvat Geetha is : former always describes only nature of Self (not addressed to Ego, since for Bhagvan ego never existed), but latter seems to describe nature of Self to a Ego, which implies Bhagvat Geetha approved existence of Self and Ego. The term 'Wise' 'buddhiman' belongs to only Ego and not 'Self'. So the statement 'whoever sees action in inaction.... ' is addressed to a ego. Is that right? Michael if you can clarify this, it will be nice. I have not read both the writings completely.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael has posted three new videos in his YouTube channel: Sri Ramana Teachings. I will post some of the points which Michael explains in these videos, as and when I note it down:

Video dated 10/12/2016: Sri Ramana Centre, Houston: discussion with Michael on Ulladu Narpadu [Forty Verses on What Is] mangalam [auspicious introduction] verse 1

1) We have cultivated this desire to experience more and more things, so we have to reverse this. We have cultivated this liking in so many janmas (births), but we now have to begin turning in the opposite direction - by turning back towards ourself, and slowly-slowly cultivating the liking just to be what we really are. That doesn’t come easily. The strength of our desires to go outwards is inversely proportional to our strength of our liking to go inwards. So slow, patient and persistent practice is required. There is no alternative.

2) Bhagavan once said: 'everyone who comes here says they have come only for moksha. If I show a little sample of moksha, all the crows will fly off, and I will be left alone'. We have some liking for moksha. We feel that the present state we are in is not satisfactory, so we want something better, but we are not yet ready to let go. So we continue clinging to this ego and world.

3) ‘Who am I?’ is the beginning and the end of Bhagavan’s teachings. Our primary duty is to wake up from this dream, and no other practice but vigilant and patient self-attentiveness can help us achieve this aim.

4) Why do we compare ourself with others who are better off (in respect of health, wealth, knowledge, social status, physical beauty and so on) than us? It is because we are not satisfied with what we have got.

Dissatisfaction is the very nature of the ego. Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa said, ‘the fact that we are always dissatisfied, the fact that we can never be satisfied with anything, proves that we are infinite’. Because we are the infinite reality, we can never be satisfied with anything less than infinite - that is, with anything less than our real self. We are one infinite brahman. We have contracted ourself to this little person. We see so many things and want these more and more. We find so many reasons not to be satisfied, even if we have plenty…

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

Take Donald Trump. He has got everything in this world. He has all the wealth, and is the most powerful man. He can drop an atom bomb and destroy this entire world, if he wants. But do you think he is a happy man? If he is a happy man, he wouldn’t have hated so many people. He will be kind and compassionate. He is actually a very unhappy man. That is why he hates everyone.

Because we are paripurna brahman (full, whole, complete, infinite reality), we cannot be satisfied with anything less than what we actually are.

5) If you say ‘the Self’, it appears that you are talking about something other than ourself. There is no ‘Self’ other than ourself. In Tamil and Sanskrit there is no word equivalent to ‘the Self’, because there is no definite article in these languages.

Bhagavan usually used tan for self. Tan is simply ‘oneself’. So also is the Sanskrit word atman. It means ‘oneself’. It doesn’t mean ‘the Self’. But somehow in English books ‘oneself’ or ‘ourself’ is usually translated as ‘the Self’. That makes it abstract and distant from us. Therefore it is not ‘the Self’, but ‘ourself’ or ‘oneself’.

6) If God is all knowing he knows only himself, because there is nothing other than himself. If we know ourself we know everything, because we are everything. There is no everything other than ourself. In Bhagavan’s experience there are not many things; there is only one thing and that is himself. Bhagavan used to say, ‘there is only jnana, and you are that’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Video dated 11th December 2016, Sri Ramana Satsang Group, New Jersey: Discussion with Michael James on the second mangalam verse of Ulladu Narpadu

1) If we attain liberation, we can bestow it upon the whole world. So it is just this one ‘I’; this one ‘I’ is the culprit. If we surrender ourself to Bhagavan, we will solve all the problems of the world. Because if our surrender is perfect, it will completely destroy this world, along with all its small and big problems.

2) Bhagavan used to often say, ‘According to the purity of the antarkarana (mind), the same teaching reflects in different ways in different individuals’. Therefore, everybody will not understand his teachings in exactly the same manner.

3) Bhagavan was very confident of the power of silence. By his silence he would eventually enlighten everyone. So his words are there, but we cannot understand his words correctly except by his grace. It is the clarity shining in our heart that gives us the power to understand his teachings. He is the source of all clarity.

4) One thing which was very characteristic of Bhagavan was simplicity and clarity. Whatever Bhagavan says it will be very-very clear. But there are passages in Talks whose meaning is not very clear. But fortunately for us, Bhagavan has written down his teachings in his own words. All the original writings of Bhagavan are very important, but there are three texts in which he has expounded his teachings in a very systematic way.

Firstly Nan Yar?, recorded by Sivaprakasham Pillai. He asked the right question to Bhagavan. His first question was, ‘who am I?’ Bhagavan had come to this world for exactly this very question. Bhagavan later rewrote Nan Yar? sometime in 1925-26 in the essay form. He rearranged the ideas, and even modified some of the sentences in order to make it into a systematic exposition. In 1927 he wrote Upadesa Undiyar, and in 1928 he wrote Ulladu Narpadu, his ultimate text.

We may take any verse from Ulladu Narpadu, or any sentence from Nan Yar?, so deep-deep meaning is there. But it becomes clear to us only when we read it repeatedly, think about it carefully and above all put it into practice. If we are thoroughly conversant with what Bhagavan said in these three texts, we can understand many things, and we can then read Talks and other such books.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

5) So long as we take ourself to be a body, we do feel we have all these needs. Bodies do have needs; we have no need. When we attach ourself to a body, we feel the needs of the body to be our needs.

6) Question: Presumably we should balance our spiritual and material life . . .

Michael: So long as the ego rises, we are in a state of imbalance. We are attaching more importance to things which seem to exist, and less importance to what actually exists. So there is no state of balance for the ego . . .

Once the jiva (ego) rises, there is no rest for him. There is no balance, no equilibrium and no harmony. It’s a constant struggle. If we want harmony and equilibrium, we have to go the way we came.

7) Without light we cannot get rid of the darkness. The guru is the light, and the ego is the darkness. If we want to get rid of the ego, we need the guru. Bhagavan is always shining in our heart as ‘I’, and guiding us unceasingly.

Guru is the beginning, the middle and the end. We wouldn’t even have started on this path, if he wouldn’t have attracted us to him. It is because of this power of attraction that we are drawn to this path again and again, even though we may not be following it so perfectly. We are not able to leave it now.

Bhagavan has caught us, and we can’t leave him. We are prey in the jaws of a tiger, but the tiger isn’t going to swallow the prey so long as the prey is struggling. So we have to keep quiet. But we are not yet ready to keep quiet. But we know we can’t escape; we can’t completely leave Bhagavan. So the sooner we surrender ourself completely to him the better.

Robert P said...

Wonderful work Michael & Sanjay, thank you so much for your great efforts.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Robert, all thanks to our beloved Bhagavan. He is like a huge magnet, and devotees like me are like iron filings. As I started understanding his teachings (thanks to Michael’s writings, videos etc.), I cannot help but be attracted to his (life changing) teachings, like helpless iron filings placed near a huge mountain-magnet. We can call this magnet Arunachala or Bhagavan or atma-svarupa. All mean one and the same.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Video dated 7/1/2017: Sri Ramana Centre, Houston: Michael James discussing Ulladu Narpadu mangalam verse 2

My following manana contains Michael’s ideas and is largely in his own words, but it is not verbatim:

1) Our actions are guided by both free will (mati) and destiny (vidi). If we take our actions to be a pen, this pen is handled by two clerks: ‘free will’ and ‘destiny’. The ‘destiny’ clerk always has the upper hand in using the pen, but when he is off duty he allows the ‘free will’ clerk to use it. Likewise, our destiny will always have an upper hand in influencing our actions, but our free can act if it does not clash with our destiny.

2) When we rise as this ego we are limiting ourself as this small person, but because we are infinite whole we cannot be satisfied with anything less than infinite. But because we seem to be finite, we cannot conceive what infinite is, so we are constantly seeking more and more finite things. But however many finite things we manage to accumulate, it is far-far from being infinite. So dissatisfaction is the nature of the ego.

A monarch having half the world as his kingdom will still be dissatisfied, because he just owns a large number of finite things. Whereas an atma-jnani may have no material possession and may roam about like a beggar, but he will have no reason to be dissatisfied, because he is infinite existence, infinite awareness and infinite bliss.

3) The supreme power called God or grace (which exists in our heart as our heart) is the love that our real self has for itself. It is this power that selects the fruits of our ego’s actions. Since God is infinite self-love, it experiences us as himself, and therefore whatever fruit it decides is always for our ultimate spiritual good. Of course, the primary aim of this power is to constantly draw us within to our source.

4) Actually we rise as this ego only because we choose to rise. There is nobody other than ourself who forces us to rise as an ego.

5) Bhagavan's teachings are the greatest treasure he has given us. Like a gardener protecting a very rare seed and nurturing it into a beautiful plant, we should nurture his teachings and treasure it more than anything else.

(I will continue this manana in my next comment)

I'm not a robot. what am I? said...

Sanjay, you say
"4) Actually we rise as this ego only because we choose to rise."

can you elaborate on that? when exactly are we presented with the choice? It must be before our rising, but in that case "we" are not there to choose, are we? the ego can make a choice to subside, let go, and return, once it has risen, but how can it make the choice "not to rise"?
the ego is the rising, not someone who chooses to rise. unless you mean something else.

Sanjay Lohia said...

I’m not a robot. what am I?, Bhagavan says in the seventh paragraph of Nan Yar?: ‘What actually exists is only atma-svarupa’. Michael says, ‘Actually we rise as this ego only because we choose to rise. There is nobody other than ourself who forces us to rise as an ego’. Because what exists is only atma-svarupa, there is no entity other than us which can force our ego to rise, or not to rise. Therefore if it has really arisen, it has to be because of its own volition.

Your questions can never have a clear and satisfactory answer because they are dealing with the power of maya or mind. As Bhagavan says in the fourth paragraph of Nan Yar?: ‘What is called ‘mind’ is an atisaya sakti [an extraordinary or wonderful power] that exists is atma-svarupa [our actual self]. It projects [or causes the appearance of] all thoughts’. This atisaya sakti is beyond all conception, and therefore beyond our understanding.

Our ego (or mind) seems to rise due to pramada (self-negligence) by grasping form or attending to things other than itself. But who is self-negligent? It is ourself as this ego, and not ourself as we actually are. Yes, how can this ego make a choice to rise when it does not even exist in the first place, is a mystery which we cannot solve. A non-existent phantom, ego, comes into seeming existence, creates a body and all this phenomena, and thus plays all this mischief.

As you say, it seems that that our ego has a choice to turn back towards itself, and thereby subside, but it doesn’t seem to have a choice to rise. But since it seems to exist, it must have a seeming cause for its rising, and the seeming cause, according to Bhagavan is pramada (self-negligence). It is this pramada which makes the ego rise by grasping a body.

Whose pramada? How can the ego have pramada when it did not even exist before it arose? We can go on analyzing this endlessly, but we will not find a satisfactory answer to this puzzle.

Therefore, the only real solution to this mystery, according to Bhagavan, is to investigate: have I actually arisen as this ego? Who am I? If we do this, we will find that there is no ego, and hence it never actually arose. If we seemingly arose by grasping form, we can subside only by leaving all the forms by trying to grasp ourself alone.

I'm not a robot. what am I? said...

thank you Sanjay for your insights

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment (manana) of 11 February 2017 at 07:16

6) Question: Can my intense and prolonged practice of atma-vichara affect my mind in some adverse way, or cause any psychological problems?

Michael: It is impossible to turn our attention towards ourself without great love. It’s the purest form of love – the love to return to our source from which we came. It is this source which we are now seeing as this manifold existence. So it is the greatest love of all to turn within. And it cannot cause any psychological problems.

Bhagavan once said, ‘saying that someone who followed the path of self-investigation, and became mad because of this practice, is like saying someone drank the nectar of immortality and died. He got too much of nectar, so he died – it’s impossible’. One drop of nectar, and we are sure to live forever.

Bhagavan also said that all confusion arises from the mind. When we turn our mind within, we are turning back to the original light. So we are uncovering the light; we are clarifying our mind. If we follow this path we will not become insane; the danger is we will become sane. And none of us are ready to become sane. The true sanity is to abide as we really are. This sanity we are all afraid of – we may become too sane!

We have no need to fear becoming insane. We may follow certain yogic or spiritual practices, and find that we lose the balance of mind. These practices are done with tremendous will – that is, done with the will of the ego, and not with the heart-melting love. It is only by heart-melting love that we can truly practice this path of self-investigation. This is love for our source, love for the original light, the light which illumines this whole world.

My note: In my understanding, our practice of atma-vichara cannot cause any psychological problems. On the other hand it can cure psychological problems, or at least keep it under control. Persistent self-attentiveness will gradually remove the perverted ways of our mind, and will eventually remove the mind itself. In our absolutely pure light of svarupa, how can any psychological problem persist?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sanjay . Very nice reading your posts. My question is : is destiny also formed by ego? So, Bhagvan (i think) said that ego's various lives are like different movies/pictures in the screen of Self and Bhagvan(Self) decides which movie to play during each birth (fruit of karma) or in other words Self choses the life/body/environment that is appropriate for the ego and that can help ego progress. Is this what Bhagvan said? Then my question becomes: who really creates the appropriate movie? Is that our subconscious mind? Or is it the Self? If it is the mind, then is the mind capable of creating the right movie ? Since mind is only ignorant and driven by desire all the time. Hope i am clear.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sandhya, I am glad you liked my posts; however, I merely convey Michael’s thoughts or ideas, either directly or indirectly. Therefore, we should just thank him.

Let us carefully consider what Bhagavan wrote in the note for his mother in December 1898. He said:

According to their-their prārabdha, he who is for that being there-there will cause to act [that is, according to the destiny (prārabdha) of each person, he who is for that (namely God or guru, who ordains their destiny) being in the heart of each of them will make them act]. What is never to happen will not happen whatever effort one makes [to make it happen]; what is to happen will not stop whatever obstruction [or resistance] one does [to prevent it happening]. This indeed is certain. Therefore silently being [or being silent] is good.

God or guru ordains our destiny (prarabdha) – that is, he decides what we (the ego) are to experience in any given life time based on our past, good or bad or neutral, actions. God or guru merely gives us the wages of our past karmas. Therefore whatever movie we see on the screen of our awareness is scripted and directed by God, but it is purely based on our past karmas done by our free will (agamya). God merely choose what we are to experience keeping our spiritual progress in mind.

We are not free to change the contents of the movie (that is, we are not free to change our experiences), but we are free to try to change its script. However we will fail in our efforts to do so, as Bhagavan’s states in his note for his mother.

The best and the only wise option we have, is to walk out of the theater and not watch the movie. That means, the best and the only wise option we have is to remain in-drawn and mentally silent. This way we will not experience our prarabdha, nor will we create any agamya. As Bhagavan says, ‘Therefore silently being [or being silent] is good’.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sanjay. To God ego doesnt exist, so how can he make movies?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sandhya, yes, the ego does not exist in the view of God, but God still decides our prarabhda karma (our predestined experiences in any given life time) by the power (chit-shakti) of its mere presence in our heart. Let us read and reflect on the fifteenth paragraph of Nan Yar?, to understand this point better:

Just as in the mere presence of the sun, which rose without icchā [wish, desire or liking], saṁkalpa [volition or intention] or yatna [effort or exertion], a crystal stone [or magnifying lens] will emit fire, a lotus will blossom, water will evaporate, and people of the world will engage in [or begin] their respective activities, do [those activities] and subside [or cease being active], and [just as] in front of a magnet a needle will move, [so] jīvas [living beings], . . . move [busy themselves, perform activities, make effort or strive] and subside [cease being active, become still or sleep] in accordance with their respective karmas [that is, in accordance not only with their prārabdha karma or destiny, which impels them to do whatever actions are necessary in order for them to experience all the pleasant and unpleasant things that they are destined to experience, but also with their karma-vāsanās, their inclinations or impulses to desire, think, speak and act in particular ways, which impel them to make effort to experience pleasant things and to avoid experiencing unpleasant things]. Nevertheless, he [God] is not saṁkalpa sahitar [one who is connected with or possesses any volition or intention]; even one karma does not adhere to him [that is, he is not bound or affected by any karma or action whatsoever]. That is like world-actions [the actions happening here on earth] not adhering to [or affecting] the sun, and [like] the qualities and defects of the other four elements [earth, water, air and fire] not adhering to the all-pervading space.

Anonymous said...


Sanjay Lohia said...

Sandhya, you had raised a few questions, namely, ‘who really creates the appropriate movie? Is that our subconscious mind? Or is it the Self? If it is the mind, then is the mind capable of creating the right movie? Since mind is only ignorant and driven by desire all the time’.

We can look at this from another perspective. I was reading verse 669 of Guru Vachaka Kovai, and Sri Sadhu Om’s explanation of this verse. Bhagavan says in verse 669:

God’s creation does not bind: only the jiva’s creation, which is a mental conception, binds. . . .

Sri Sadhu Om explains this verse by saying that jiva’s (ego’s) creation is ‘the wrong mental conception, that one is the body. Therefore, the conception ‘I am the body’, which is only creation of the mind or jiva, is the sole cause of bondage’. The ego makes this initial blunder or stupidity of rising, and catching hold of a body by imagining it to be itself. Once in the body it starts using its free will, by engaging in all sorts of stupid actions.

As a consequence, God has to step in to do the damage control. This damage control measure is his ‘allotted prarabdha - the selected and arranged fruits of good and bad karmas – for our own uplift’, explains Sri Sadhu Om. He further explains, ‘the very purpose of the appearance or creation of the world which we see, is to teach us vairagya by making us experience pains and pleasures and thereby to turn our mind towards Self’. Therefore, this movie, our prarabdha, is God’s creation, and it is only for our ultimate liberation.

In short, we can say that we as this ego create ourself (this ego), but once we come into seeming existence, God creates our prarabdha in order to slowly but steadily push us towards liberation.

venkat said...

Dear Michael and R Viswanathan

The gist of Sankara's bhasya on BG4.18 is straightforward:

"Inaction in action" : for the jnani, even though he acts, it is desireless, egoless action. The jnani identifies himself as motionless awareness, rather than the superimposed body-mind.

"Action in inaction": for those who try to be still, inactive, because there is an ego that is trying to be still, there is still an actor and therefore action underlying the perceived inaction.

venkat said...

Just saw GVK v476, in which Bhagavan says, consistent with Shankara:

"Whether or not one is performing actions, if the delusion of individuality - the ego, 'I am the doer of actions' - is completely annihilated, that is the attainment of actionlessness."

Sadhu Om: "People generally think that the attainment of actionlessness is a state in which one should remain still, giving up all activities. But this is wrong. Sri Bhagavan Ramana proclaims that the loss of doership alone is the right kind of actionlessness, and this alone is nishkamya karma - action done without any desire for result"

R Viswanathan said...

Thanks Venkat, very helpful the quotes are. Can you please let me know the link which gives Sankara Bhashyam for Bhagawat Gita in Tamil or English? or can you please send me the file as pdf if you have one?

Sanjay Lohia said...

venkat, you wrote: ‘The jnani identifies himself as motionless awareness, rather than the superimposed body-mind’. I once wrote something similar to Michael in one of my emails, and he corrected me by saying that I had used a tautology. That is, when you write ‘The jnani identifies himself as motionless awareness’, you have inadvertently used a tautology.

As Michael explained me, the jnani does not identify himself with motionless awareness, but he is motionless awareness. We can identify ourself with something other than ourself – like with our country, caste, religion, bank balance and so on, but we cannot identify ourself with ourself. We are ourself.

What you wrote in effect means: ‘the jnani identifies himself with himself', which obviously is not what you wanted to convey. I hope you do not mind my sharing this with you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sanjay

Sanjay Lohia said...

Video of 14/1/2017 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael discussing the root cause diagnosed by Bhagavan:

1) How do we come to know about our parents? Only when we rise as an ego, everything comes into existence. So parents are born of the child. Only when the ego (child) rises, it sees the parents, it sees the world, it learns all history ... We (the ego) are the cause of the appearance of the world, and not big bang, genesis ...

2) Accepting that this world is just a dream is the first step. So long we take it to be real our mind will always be after it. We should investigate ‘who is the one to whom all these appears real?’ Only by investigating ourself, we will find out the truth about ourself. This way we will find about the truth about everything else. Because everything is known by me.

3) ‘I am this’ (nan idu) - ‘I am this body; I am this person’ – has to be false, because ‘I’ cannot be other than myself. We cannot be other than ourself. So since ‘this’ (idu) always refers to something other than ourself, ‘I am this’ has to be false. We cannot be any phenomena which we seem to be. All these things – they come and go.
Bhagavan says that only true statement that we can make about our identity is nan nan (‘I am I’), that is the experience of true self-knowledge. All these other things seem to exist, only because we seem to exist, only because we rise as an ego.

4) How are we able to know all these other things, isn’t it a great wonder? We are able to know all these things, but we are not able to know who we ourself are. Isn’t it illogical; isn’t it absurd? Obviously it must be easier to know ourself. But why we don’t know ourself? Because we are not ready to let go of other things. So long as other things seem to exist, we cannot know ourself, because what we actually are is the only thing that actually exists. As long as we aware of other things, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

venkat said...

Hi Viswanathan

I normally refer to Swami Gambhirananda's translation of Bhagavad Gita Bhasya.

However I did find this online translation - refer to page 146:

It is a bit of a long comment to follow, but the GVK quote and Sadhu Om's comment summarises it well.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Video of 14/1/2017, Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael discussing the root cause diagnosed by Bhagavan: manana ~ part 2

5) By turning within, we are connecting to Bhagavan’s silent teaching. The silence is what gives clarity to our mind to understand Bhagavan’s verbal teachings.

6) The ultimate refuge can only be what is real, and what is real is only ourself. Our real self has manifested outwardly as Bhagavan and Arunachala. But what is the purpose of these external forms: only to make us turn back within.

7) From the perspective of our ego, sleep is the state of self-forgetfulness – that is, ego forgets itself in sleep. Only when I forget Michael I am asleep. So long as I remember Michael, I am awake or dreaming. Waking and dream is a state of remembering many things.

8) Bhagavan said outrageous things. He said if the ego comes into existence everything comes into existence; when the ego doesn’t exist nothing exists. He actually means what he says. If we are ready to accept that, then his other teachings fall into place, and we will understand the whole picture. If we reject one of his teachings, because it seems unpalatable, the whole jigsaw puzzle will fall apart.

9) How ridiculous is our present struggle! What are we struggling with? We are struggling with ourself. Who is preventing us from experiencing ourself as we really are, here and now? We are, nobody else is.

10) If we read Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai, which is Bhagavan’s outpouring of devotion to Arunachala, there is very subtle play between outward devotion, and what is actually an inward devotion. Sometimes he expresses the inward devotion in terms of outward devotion.

When our mind is outward turned, having the support of an outward form, such as Bhagavan or Arunachala, can be a very useful focus. Outward form of God, or guru may be a support to us, but ultimately that support will support us by turning us back within. That is the magic of the form of Bhagavan, or the form of Arunachala. Their outward forms turn our attention back within.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Video of 14/1/2017, Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael discussing the root cause diagnosed by Bhagavan: manana ~ part 3

Bhagavan often spoke in metaphors. He used to often say, for example: ‘you should dive deep within to obtain the pearl of self’; ‘you should turn within, and penetrate deep within into the core of our being’; ‘heart means self’ and so on. These all are metaphors.

Who is to dive? The ego is a formless phantom; how can a formless phantom dive within? Again ‘heart’ means the centre. What is the centre of our being? It is what we actually are. For the real self, there is no centre. But what is the centre of the ego? It is ‘I am’. The ego is ‘I am this body’, and the body is something extraneous, it’s the adjunct. Its centre is ‘I am’, the pure awareness. That is the heart.

So we shouldn’t take the words Bhagavan says always too literally, but try to understand what the words are alluding to. There is something we have to take literally: when he says, ‘when the ego comes into existence everything comes into existence; when the ego doesn’t exist everything does not exist’. That we should take literally. But a lot of terminology he used, like ‘plunge’, ‘dive’, 'penetrate' and ‘heart’ are metaphors.

David E. said...

I really appreciate your comments Sanjay.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Thanks David.

sat - bhava said...

Sanjay Lohia,
many thanks for rendering Michael's explanations given in London on 14 January 2017.
Regarding manana~part 2, statement nr.10):
My love to Arunachala as an outward form of God one could describe as deep.
To you remark: "Outward form of God, or guru may be a support to us, but ultimately that support will support us by turning us back within. That is the magic of the form of Bhagavan, or the form of Arunachala. Their outward forms turn our attention back within." I can add from my own lively and vivid experience: While roaming about Arunachala's slopes and gorges and sitting on various charming and lovely spots/places my attention was pulled more and more inwards. However, my mind was not able then to remain in the required deep composure to trace it back to the source. So I have to persistently try to deepen my self-attention/attentiveness - day by day.

Jeremy Lennon said...

Thanks to Michael and Sanjay and everyone else for the comments here. This is truly a wonderful resource!