Wednesday 28 June 2017

There is absolutely no difference between sleep and pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna)

After I wrote the reply that I reproduced in the article I posted here yesterday, namely Māyā is nothing but our own mind, so it seems to exist only when we seem to be this mind, the friend to whom I wrote it replied, ‘Thank you, Michael, but I assume ‘realisation’ is not quite the same as deep sleep?’, to which I replied:

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Māyā is nothing but our own mind, so it seems to exist only when we seem to be this mind

A friend wrote to me today:
Someone wrote this on FB yesterday and I am getting confused again because I thought the idea of becoming realised is to put an end to Maya:

“According to Adi Shankara (7th century father of modern non-dual philosophy), Maya is eternal. At no point does “form” cease to exist. It (maya/form) never had a beginning because it is eternal. It will also never have an end. The difference between enlightened and unenlightened is in the mind only. The universe doesn’t disappear. The mind ceases to be confused about the nature of one’s own Self. Bodies may come and go but the enlightened mind is not attached to them or identified with them. Yet they come and go like clouds in the sky.”

Why do people have different ideas on self-realisation?
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to her:

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Concern about fate and free will arises only when our mind is turned away from ourself

What I wrote in one of my recent articles, Do we need to do anything at all?, triggered a discussion about the roles of destiny (prārabdha) and the ego’s own volition or free will (though free will was referred to only implicitly, not explicitly) and how we can determine whether any particular thought arises due to destiny or due to free will. This discussion started from the first comment, in which a friend called Samarender Reddy wrote:
There seems to a problem with what you say. If whatever is to happen is decided by my prarabdha, then whatever motions the body is to go through and whatever the mind has to “think” to get the body to do actions as per prarabdha are also predetermined and “I, the ego” have no say in it. But you also say, “therefore we need not think”. And yet the mind will necessarily think some thoughts as per prarabdha. How do I distinguish thinking or thoughts associated with prarabdha and the other non-prarabdha associated thinking I seem to indulge in? Whenever any thought occurs, how do I know if it is prarabdha or the ego thinking? If I say, ok, whatever thoughts have to occur will occur to make the body do whatever it has to do, then it would seem that one has to be totally silent and not thinking and whenever any thought arises involuntarily I have to consider that as prarabdha thought and act accordingly? Is that what you are saying? Also, in that case will only such prarabdha thoughts then occur which require the body to do something or will such thoughts also occur which do not require the body to do something? I would really appreciate if you can clarify these doubts of mine.
This article is my reply to this comment, and also less directly to some of the ideas expressed in subsequent comments on the same subject.

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Why should we believe that dream is anything other than a fabrication of our dreaming mind?

A friend wrote to me last night saying that his father and brother believe that when one dreams ‘the dream is really you leaving the physical body and going to some other realm and interacting with other souls’, and that he always had trouble believing this idea, but asked me: ‘What is the best argument philosophically to counter such an assertion?’ The following is what I replied to him:

Thursday 1 June 2017

What is the purpose of questions such as ‘To whom have these thoughts arisen?’?

A friend wrote to me today saying that he is practicing a Buddhist tradition of investigating ‘Who is reciting the Buddha?’, which he considers to be ‘no different from Ramana Maharshi’s teaching of self-enquiry’, and he asked whether there is spiritually any difference between investigating ‘to whom have these thoughts arisen?’ and ‘who is giving rise to these thoughts?’. The following is what I replied to him: