Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The ego does not actually exist, but it seems to exist, and only so long as it seems to exist do all other things seem to exist

A friend recently wrote a series of emails expressing his views and asking questions about the ego and other related matters, so this article is adapted from the replies I wrote to him.
  1. There can be no suffering without someone who suffers, and no deed without a doer
  2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: everything else depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of the ego
  3. Doership is the very nature of the ego, because it always experiences the instruments of action as itself
  4. The idea that actions or suffering can happen without the ego is ‘a reply said to the questions of others’
  5. The five sheaths are all insentient objects of perception, whereas the ego is the perceiving subject
  6. The ego is not real awareness (sat-cit), but just a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa)
  7. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 18: though the term ‘mind’ can refer to all thoughts collectively, what the mind essentially is is just the ego
  8. What needs to investigate itself is not pure self-awareness (sat-cit) but only the ego (cidābhāsa)
  9. The intellectual self-analysis that enables us to understand that we cannot be anything that we perceive but are only the awareness that perceives them is a prerequisite for self-investigation but not the actual practice of self-investigation
  10. What we actually are is not transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu) but only pure intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), so we need to distinguish the latter from the former
  11. A deep, clear and subtle understanding is necessary for us to be able investigate what we actually are, but understanding appears and disappears with the ego, so it is not the goal we are seeking
  12. Understanding is possible only for the ego, so what is the use of understanding that there is no ego if one does not make use of that understanding by turning back within to investigate what one actually is?
  13. The knowledge that will eradicate self-ignorance cannot be obtained just by śravaṇa or from any source outside ourself, but only by turning within and dissolving in the light of pure awareness
  14. The sole purpose of whatever the guru teaches us is to prompt us to turn back within to see what we actually are
1. There can be no suffering without someone who suffers, and no deed without a doer

The discussion began with an email in which my friend quoted a saying that is often attributed to Buddha, namely ‘Suffering exists, but none who suffer. The deed there is, but no doer thereof’, to which I replied:

The claim that ‘Suffering exists, but none who suffer. The deed there is, but no doer thereof’ is obviously gibberish, because how can there be suffering if there is no one suffering? Suffering is an experience, and there can be no experience without an experiencer. An experience experienced by no one is no experience at all. Likewise there can be no action without someone or something that is doing it.

Fortunately, however, like many other popular ‘Buddha’ quotes that float around nowadays, this was not actually said by Buddha, but is based on a particular interpretation of his teachings, in this case Buddhaghosa’s interpretation, as pointed out on this page from Fake Buddha Quotes.

A similar thing is happening with ‘Bhagavan quotes’ also. Statements that are quoted as having been said by him are in many cases not anything that he ever said or would have said, but are instead based on a misunderstanding of his teachings, and as they are quoted and requoted they steadily become more unlike anything that he actually might have said.

2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: everything else depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of the ego

My friend replied to this saying that though Buddha may not have said that, there is a grain of truth in it, and he argued that since Bhagavan said that the ego is non-existent, ‘how can an illusion, a non-existent thing “do” anything or “decide” anything or make a choice. It appears to be happening through the agency of ego, but it is not so. The so-called thinker is just another thought. The mind is thinking just as the heart is beating, spontaneously. There is no “I” or ego that is causing the heart to beat or the mind to think’, to which I replied:

Yes, the ego is not real, but is suffering any more real than the ego?

To whom do all phenomena (including suffering and deeds) appear? In whose view do they seem to exist? Only in the view of ourself as this ego, is it not? Since they do not seem to exist except in the view of the ego, they do not and cannot exist independent of it, and hence they appear with it in waking and dream, and disappear with it in sleep. This is why Bhagavan says very simply, clearly and emphatically 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. The ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this is alone is giving up everything.

Explanatory paraphrase: If the ego comes into existence, everything [all phenomena, everything that appears and disappears, everything other than our pure, fundamental, unchanging and immutable self-awareness] comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist [because nothing other than pure self-awareness actually exists, so everything else seems to exist only in the view of the ego, and hence it cannot seem to exist unless the ego seems to exist]. [Therefore] the ego itself is everything [because it is the original seed or embryo, which alone is what expands as everything else]. Therefore, know that investigating what this [the ego] is alone is giving up everything [because the ego will cease to exist if it investigates itself keenly enough, and when it ceases to exist everything else will cease to exist along with it].
In the kaliveṇbā version of this verse Bhagavan extended it by adding before it the relative clause ‘கருவாம்’ (karu-v-ām), which means ‘which is the embryo [womb, efficient cause, inner substance or foundation]’ and which refers to the ego, so by adding this he stated explicitly what he had already implied in the verse, namely that the ego is the seed that expands as everything else, the efficient and material cause of everything else, and the foundation that supports the appearance of everything else.

This verse expresses one of the core principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, namely that everything else depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of the ego, and that the ego alone is therefore the first cause — the cause for the appearance of everything else. Hence, so long as anything else seems to exist, it seems to exist only because we have risen as this ego and are consequently aware of it.

3. Doership is the very nature of the ego, because it always experiences the instruments of action as itself

In the same email my friend wrote, ‘The ego has no role to play in it [action or karma] except as the thought-feeling that “it” is the one doing the action, which obviously is just an illusion’, and he claimed that Bhagavan insisted ‘that even without the sense of doership, karma will go on automatically’, so I replied:

The ego cannot rise or stand without grasping the form of a body as ‘I’, as Bhagavan implies in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருப்பற்றி யுண்டா முருப்பற்றி நிற்கு
முருப்பற்றி யுண்டுமிக வோங்கு — முருவிட்
டுருப்பற்றுந் தேடினா லோட்டம் பிடிக்கு
முருவற்ற பேயகந்தை யோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: Grasping form the formless phantom-ego comes into existence; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly; leaving form, it grasps form. If it seeks, it will take flight. Investigate.

Explanatory paraphrase: [By] grasping form [that is, by projecting and perceiving the form of a body (composed of five sheaths) as itself] the formless phantom-ego comes into existence [rises into being or is formed]; [by] grasping form [that is, by holding on to that body as itself] it stands [endures, continues or persists]; [by] grasping and feeding on form [that is, by projecting and perceiving other forms or phenomena] it grows [spreads, expands, increases, ascends, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form [a body that it had projected and perceived as itself in one state], it grasps [another] form [another body that it projects and perceives as itself in its next state]. If it seeks [examines or investigates] [itself], it will take flight [because it has no form of its own, and hence it cannot seem to exist without grasping the forms of other things as itself and as its food or sustenance]. Investigate [this ego] [or know thus].
The first form that the ego grasps is whatever body it takes to be itself, and since such a body is always a living body that seems to be awake, it consists not only of a physical form but also the life that animates that form and the mind and intellect that shine within it, and since it seems to us to be ‘I’ only because of our inner darkness of self-ignorance, it is a form composed of five sheaths or coverings (namely the physical form, life, mind, intellect and darkness of self-ignorance), as Bhagavan says in verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உடல்பஞ்ச கோச வுருவதனா லைந்து
முடலென்னுஞ் சொல்லி லொடுங்கு — முடலன்றி
யுண்டோ வுலக முடல்விட் டுலகத்தைக்
கண்டா ருளரோ கழறு.

uḍalpañca kōśa vuruvadaṉā laindu
muḍaleṉṉuñ colli loḍuṅgu — muḍalaṉḏṟi
yuṇḍō vulaha muḍalviṭ ṭulahattaik
kaṇḍā ruḷarō kaṙaṟu
.

பதச்சேதம்: உடல் பஞ்ச கோச உரு. அதனால், ஐந்தும் ‘உடல்’ என்னும் சொல்லில் ஒடுங்கும். உடல் அன்றி உண்டோ உலகம்? உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ? கழறு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḍal pañca kōśa uru. adaṉāl, aindum ‘uḍal’ eṉṉum sollil oḍuṅgum. uḍal aṉḏṟi uṇḍō ulaham? uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō? kaṙaṟu.

அன்வயம்: உடல் பஞ்ச கோச உரு. அதனால், ‘உடல்’ என்னும் சொல்லில் ஐந்தும் ஒடுங்கும். உடல் அன்றி உலகம் உண்டோ? உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ? கழறு.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḍal pañca kōśa uru. adaṉāl, ‘uḍal’ eṉṉum sollil aindum oḍuṅgum. uḍal aṉḏṟi ulaham uṇḍō? uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō? kaṙaṟu.

English translation: The body is a form of five sheaths. Therefore all five are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body, is there a world? Say, leaving the body, is there anyone who has seen a world?

Explanatory paraphrase: The body is pañca-kōśa-uru [a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical structure, life, mind, intellect and what is described both as the darkness of self-ignorance and as the will, the totality of the ego’s vāsanās (propensities, inclinations or urges), which are the seeds that sprout as its likes, dislikes, desires, fears and so on]. Therefore all five [sheaths] are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body [composed of these five sheaths], is there a world? Say, without [experiencing oneself as such] a body, is there anyone who has seen a world?
Since the ego therefore mistakes itself to be a compound form consisting of these five sheaths, it cannot but experience any actions done by any of these sheaths as ‘I am doing this’. For example, it feels I am walking and talking (acts of the physical body or sthūla sarīra), I am breathing and living (acts of the life or prāṇa), I am thinking and feeling (acts of the mind or manas), I am reasoning and discriminating (acts of the intellect or buddhi) and I am desiring, hoping and fearing (acts of the will or cittam, which is a function of the ānandamaya kōśa or darkness of self-ignorance, because will arises directly from self-ignorance, and hence the ānandamaya kōśa or kāraṇa śarīra is said to be the abode of all vāsanās or propensities, which are elements that constitute the will).

(Note, however, that though I have given these few examples of the actions of each sheath, we cannot neatly classify each action as being the action of just one particular sheath, because these five sheaths are intimately interwoven and function in unison as a single whole, so in many actions, particularly the actions of the grosser sheaths, two or more sheaths are involved. For example, though talking is a physical action, what we talk is determined by the mind, intellect and will, and the same applies to many other actions done by our physical body. Likewise, though breathing and living are actions of the prāṇa, the urge to breathe and live is a function of the will. Therefore, since the will is also the driving force that determines to a large extent what we think, feel, reason and judge, it is involved in the actions of all the other four sheaths.)

Since we as the ego experience all these five sheaths together as ourself, whatever actions are done by any or all of them are experienced by us as ‘I am doing this’, so doership is the very nature of the ego, and hence whenever Bhagavan talked or wrote about doership he was referring to the ego. Therefore so long as we rise or stand as this form-grasping ego, we cannot avoid being bound to action by a sense of doership, so doership will not cease until the ego is eradicated.

4. The idea that actions or suffering can happen without the ego is ‘a reply said to the questions of others’

Likewise experiencership is also the nature of the ego, because suffering, joy and all other experiences of anything other than ourself can occur only to ourself as this ego and not to ourself as we actually are. This is why Bhagavan wrote in verse 38 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
வினைமுதனா மாயின் விளைபயன் றுய்ப்போம்
வினைமுதலா ரென்று வினவித் — தனையறியக்
கர்த்தத் துவம்போய்க் கருமமூன் றுங்கழலு
நித்தமா முத்தி நிலை.

viṉaimudaṉā māyiṉ viḷaipayaṉ ḏṟuyppōm
viṉaimudalā reṉḏṟu viṉavit — taṉaiyaṟiyak
karttat tuvampōyk karumamūṉ ḏṟuṅkaṙalu
nittamā mutti nilai
.

பதச்சேதம்: வினைமுதல் நாம் ஆயின், விளை பயன் துய்ப்போம். வினைமுதல் ஆர் என்று வினவி தனை அறிய, கர்த்தத்துவம் போய், கருமம் மூன்றும் கழலும். நித்தமாம் முத்தி நிலை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viṉaimudal nām āyiṉ, viḷai payaṉ tuyppōm. viṉaimudal ār eṉḏṟu viṉavi taṉai aṟiya, karttattuvam pōy, karumam mūṉḏṟum kaṙalum. nittam-ām mutti nilai.

English translation: If we are the doer of action, we will experience the resulting fruit. When one knows oneself by investigating who is the doer of action, doership will depart and all the three actions will slip off. The state of liberation, which is eternal.

Explanatory paraphrase: If we are the doer of action, we will experience the resulting fruit. [However] when one knows oneself [as one actually is] by investigating who is the doer of action, [the ego, which is what seemed to do actions and to experience their fruit, will thereby be eradicated, and along with it its] kartṛtva [doership] [and its bhōktṛtva, experiencership] will depart and [hence] all [its] three karmas [its āgāmya (actions that it does by its own free will), sañcita (the heap of the fruits of such actions that it is yet to experience) and prārabdha (destiny or fate, which is the fruits that have been allotted for it to experience in its current life] will slip off. [This is] the state of mukti [liberation], which is eternal [being what actually exists even when we seem to be this ego].
This clearly repudiates your contention that Bhagavan insisted ‘that even without the sense of doership, karma will go on automatically’. When the sense of doership departs, karma (all three karmas) will depart along with it. He may sometimes have said that karma will go on even without the sense of doership (the ego), but as he explained in verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham, that is said only as a reply ‘to the questions of others’ (implying those who are not willing to accept the core principles of his teachings):
சஞ்சிதவா காமியங்கள் சாராவா ஞானிக்கூழ்
விஞ்சுமெனல் வேற்றார்கேள் விக்குவிளம் — புஞ்சொல்லாம்
பர்த்தாபோய்க் கைம்மையுறாப் பத்தினியெஞ் சாததுபோற்
கர்த்தாபோ மூவினையுங் காண்.

sañcitavā gāmiyaṅgaḷ sārāvā ñāṉikkūṙ
viñcumeṉal vēṯṟārkēḷ vikkuviḷam — buñcollām
parttāpōyk kaimmaiyuṟāp pattiṉiyeñ jādadupōṟ
karttāpō mūviṉaiyuṅ gāṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: ‘சஞ்சித ஆகாமியங்கள் சாராவாம் ஞானிக்கு; ஊழ் விஞ்சும்’ எனல் வேற்றார் கேள்விக்கு விளம்பும் சொல் ஆம். பர்த்தா போய் கைம்மை உறா பத்தினி எஞ்சாதது போல், கர்த்தா [போய்] போம் மூ வினையும். காண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘sañcita āgāmiyaṅgaḷ sārāvām ñāṉikku; ūṙ viñcum’ eṉal vēṯṟār kēḷvikku viḷambum sol ām. parttā pōy kaimmai uṟā pattiṉi eñjādadu pōl, karttā [pōy] pōm mū viṉaiyum. kāṇ.

அன்வயம்: ‘ஞானிக்கு சஞ்சித ஆகாமியங்கள் சாராவாம்; ஊழ் விஞ்சும்’ எனல் வேற்றார் கேள்விக்கு விளம்பும் சொல் ஆம். பர்த்தா போய் கைம்மை உறா பத்தினி எஞ்சாதது போல், கர்த்தா [போய்] மூ வினையும் போம். காண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘ñāṉikku sañcita āgāmiyaṅgaḷ sārāvām; ūṙ viñcum’ eṉal vēṯṟār kēḷvikku viḷambum sol ām. parttā pōy kaimmai uṟā pattiṉi eñjādadu pōl, karttā [pōy] mū viṉaiyum pōm. kāṇ.

English translation: Saying that saṁcita and āgāmya do not adhere to the jñāni [but] prārabdha does remain is a reply said to the questions of others. Just as [any of] the wives do not remain unwidowed when the husband has died, know that [when] the doer [has died] all the three karmas cease.
So we each have to decide for ourself whether we want to be one of those வேற்றார் (vēṯṟār), ‘others’ or ‘strangers’, who have only a partial, incomplete and consequently incoherent understanding of his teachings, or whether we are instead willing to accept all the core principles of his teachings, which are very simple and together form a single and logically coherent whole, and which are therefore extremely easy to understand (yet very difficult for most of us to accept in all their raw and powerful simplicity).

If we understand all the core principles of his teachings clearly and coherently and are willing to accept them wholeheartedly and without any reservation in their entirety, we will understand that doership (kartṛtva) and experiencership (bhōktṛtva) are both the very nature of the ego (so neither of them can ever exist without the other), and that without doership and experiencership there can be no karma, actions, deeds or experiences. What experiences itself as ‘I am doing’ or ‘I am experiencing’ is only the ego, and without the ego nothing else exists, so there is nothing either to do or to experience, as Bhagavan says in verse 15 of Upadēśa Undiyār and verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
மனவுரு மாயமெய்ம் மன்னுமா யோகி
தனக்கோர் செயலிலை யுந்தீபற
     தன்னியல் சார்ந்தன னுந்தீபற.

maṉavuru māyameym maṉṉumā yōgi
taṉakkōr seyalilai yundīpaṟa
     taṉṉiyal sārndaṉa ṉundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: மன உரு மாய மெய் மன்னும் மா யோகி தனக்கு ஓர் செயல் இலை. தன் இயல் சார்ந்தனன்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): maṉa uru māya mey maṉṉum mā yōgi taṉakku ōr seyal ilai. taṉ iyal sārndaṉaṉ.

English translation: When the form of the mind [the ego] is annihilated, for the great yōgi who is [thereby] established as the reality, there is not a single doing [or action], [because] he has attained his [true] nature [which is actionless being].

தன்னை யழித்தெழுந்த தன்மயா னந்தருக்
கென்னை யுளதொன் றியற்றுதற்குத் — தன்னையலா
தன்னிய மொன்று மறியா ரவர்நிலைமை
யின்னதென் றுன்ன லெவன்.

taṉṉai yaṙitteṙunda taṉmayā ṉandaruk
keṉṉai yuḷadoṉ ḏṟiyaṯṟudaṟkut — taṉṉaiyalā
taṉṉiya moṉḏṟu maṟiyā ravarnilaimai
yiṉṉadeṉ ḏṟuṉṉa levaṉ
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை அழித்து எழுந்த தன்மயானந்தருக்கு என்னை உளது ஒன்று இயற்றுதற்கு? தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai aṙittu eṙunda taṉmaya-āṉandarukku eṉṉai uḷadu oṉḏṟu iyaṯṟudaṟku? taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?

அன்வயம்: தன்னை அழித்து எழுந்த தன்மயானந்தருக்கு இயற்றுதற்கு என்னை ஒன்று உளது? தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): taṉṉai aṙittu eṙunda taṉmaya-āṉandarukku iyaṯṟudaṟku eṉṉai oṉḏṟu uḷadu? taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?

English translation: For those who are happiness composed of that, which rose destroying themself, what one exists for doing? They do not know anything other than themself; who can conceive their state as ‘like this’?

Explanatory paraphrase: For those who are [blissfully immersed in and as] tanmayānanda [happiness composed of that, namely brahman, one’s real nature], which rose [as ‘I am I’] destroying themself [the ego], what one [action] exists for doing? They do not know [or are not aware of] anything other than themself; [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘[it is] like this’?
5. The five sheaths are all insentient objects of perception, whereas the ego is the perceiving subject

In reply to this my friend asked, ‘Pray, what exactly is this ego that you are referring to if it is merely mistaking itself to be the five sheaths, whereby you are indicating that it cannot be the five sheaths, so what exactly is this ego if it is not the five sheaths? What is it made of, what is its substance? If it is merely a thought or a feeling, can a thought or feeling exist apart from the mind, so that it can identify with the mind? If it is consciousness, then is it the Chidabhasa, the reflected consciousness?’, to which I replied:

Regarding your question, ‘what exactly is this ego that you are referring to?’, the simplest answer is that I am (or you are) this ego. That is, the ‘I’ who is aware of itself as ‘I am asking this question’ or ‘I am answering it’, ‘I am Samarender’ or ‘I am Michael’, is the ego.

Is this ‘I’ a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical body, the life animating it, the mind and intellect functioning in it, and the darkness of self-ignorance underlying the appearance of the other four sheaths? Superficially it may seem to be so, because the one asking the question is Samarender while the one answering it is Michael, and ‘Samarender’ and ‘Michael’ are each a name given to a person, who is a form composed of these five sheaths. However if we analyse deeper it becomes clear that I cannot be any these five sheaths, because they are all objects of perception, and objects of perception are not aware, because they are distinct from the subject that perceives them, so none of the five sheaths is aware of anything, as Bhagavan says in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
உடல்பொறி யுள்ள முயிரிரு ளெல்லாஞ்
சடமசத் தானதா லுந்தீபற
     சத்தான நானல்ல வுந்தீபற.

uḍalpoṟi yuḷḷa muyiriru ḷellāñ
jaḍamasat tāṉadā lundīpaṟa
     sattāṉa nāṉalla vundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: உடல் பொறி உள்ளம் உயிர் இருள் எல்லாம் சடம் அசத்து ஆனதால், சத்து ஆன நான் அல்ல.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḍal poṟi uḷḷam uyir iruḷ ellām jaḍam asattu āṉadāl, sattu āṉa nāṉ alla.

English translation: Since body, mind, intellect, life and darkness [consisting of self-ignorance and consequently viṣaya-vāsanās, inclinations or desires to be aware of things other than oneself] are all jaḍa [non-aware] and asat [unreal or non-existent], [they are] not ‘I’, which is [cit, what is aware, and] sat [what actually exists].
That is, none of the five sheaths is aware either of itself or of anything else. For example, the material body is composed of physical matter, which is insentient. Likewise, as a sheath the mind is just a collection of ever-changing thoughts, which are insentient objects. These five sheaths seem to be sentient only because the ego experiences them as if they were itself. The ego is aware of them, but they are not aware of anything. They are perceived objects, whereas the ego is the subject that perceives them.

Distinguishing the perceiver from what is perceived is what is called dṛg-dṛśya-vivēka, and it is an essential skill required for practising self-investigation (ātma-vicāra). It begins with distinguishing them by conceptual analysis such as this, but must then be applied in practice by trying to attend only to the perceiver (the ego, the ‘I’ who is aware of itself and everything else), thereby isolating the perceiver from everything that is perceived, so that I (the perceiver) am aware only of myself and not of anything else whatsoever. This is the actual practice of ātma-vicāra.

Therefore the ego is not the person called ‘Samarender’ or ‘Michael’, but is the ‘I’ that is aware of itself as ‘I am Samarender’ or ‘I am Michael’, and that as ‘Samarender’ or ‘Michael’ is consequently aware of all other things. Unless we rise and stand as ‘I am this body, a person called so-and-so’, we are not aware of anything other than ourself, so since the awareness ‘I am this body’ is the ego, the ego alone is what is aware of all other things.

6. The ego is not real awareness (sat-cit), but just a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa)

But is the ego real awareness? No, it is not, firstly because it appears in waking and dream and disappears in sleep, whereas real awareness exists and shines in all these three states, and secondly because it (the ego) cannot exist without experiencing itself as a form composed of five sheaths. Therefore the ego is neither the body composed of five sheaths nor our real nature, which is being-awareness (sat-cit), but is just a formless phantom that rises by usurping properties both of the body and of being-awareness as if they were its own, as Bhagavan points out in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘சட உடல் ‘நான்’ என்னாது; சத்சித் உதியாது; உடல் அளவா ‘நான்’ ஒன்று உதிக்கும் இடையில்’ (jaḍa uḍal ‘nāṉ’ eṉṉādu; sat-cit udiyādu; uḍal aḷavā ‘nāṉ’ oṉḏṟu udikkum iḍaiyil), ‘The insentient body does not say ‘I’; sat-cit [being-awareness] does not rise; in between one thing, ‘I’, rises as the extent of the body’. As he says in the next sentence of this verse, this ‘I’ that rises as the extent of the body is the ego.

Since it is not real awareness (sat-cit), the ego is a mere semblance of awareness, and hence it is called cidābhāsa, which means a likeness, semblance or false appearance (ābhāsa) of awareness (cit). Though cidābhāsa is often translated as a ‘reflection of awareness’ or ‘reflected awareness’, as you interpreted it, reflection is not the primary meaning of ābhāsa but a secondary meaning derived from the fact that a reflection is the likeness or semblance of something.

What is the difference between real awareness (sat-cit) and this semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa) called ‘ego’? As Bhagavan often explained, such as in verses 10, 11, 12 and 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār, the nature of real awareness is to be aware of nothing other than itself, whereas the nature of the ego is to be aware of other things. Therefore so long as we are aware of anything other than the pure self-awareness that we actually are, we are experiencing ourself as ego, the perceiver or subject, the one who is aware of all objects.

Therefore the answer to your question, ‘What is it [the ego] made of, what is its substance?’, is that its essential substance is just awareness, but since it comes into existence and stands only by grasping a body (a form composed of five sheaths) as itself (as Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), it is not real awareness but just cidābhāsa, a semblance of awareness, or (as he described it in the second sentence of verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) cit-jaḍa-granthi, a knot formed as a tightly entangled mixture of awareness and insentient adjuncts.

7. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 18: though the term ‘mind’ can refer to all thoughts collectively, what the mind essentially is is just the ego

You ask, ‘If it [the ego] is merely a thought or a feeling, can a thought or feeling exist apart from the mind, so that it can identify with the mind?’ To answer this, we need to be clear about what is meant by the term ‘mind’. This term is used in two senses, because sometimes it is used to refer to the totality of all thoughts or mental phenomena, which are objects of perception, and sometimes it is used to refer to the ego, which is the first thought, the root of all other thoughts, being the subject, the one who perceives or is aware of them all. Since all other thoughts are constantly changing and depend on the ego for their seeming existence, what the mind essentially is is only the ego, the thought called ‘I’, as Bhagavan explains in verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
எண்ணங்க ளேமனம் யாவினு நானெனு
மெண்ணமே மூலமா முந்தீபற
      யானா மனமென லுந்தீபற.

eṇṇaṅga ḷēmaṉam yāviṉu nāṉeṉu
meṇṇamē mūlamā mundīpaṟa
      yāṉā maṉameṉa lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: எண்ணங்களே மனம். யாவினும் நான் எனும் எண்ணமே மூலம் ஆம். யான் ஆம் மனம் எனல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): eṇṇaṅgaḷ-ē maṉam. yāviṉ-um nāṉ eṉum eṇṇam-ē mūlam ām. yāṉ ām maṉam eṉal.

அன்வயம்: எண்ணங்களே மனம். யாவினும் நான் எனும் எண்ணமே மூலம் ஆம். மனம் எனல் யான் ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): eṇṇaṅgaḷ-ē maṉam. yāviṉ-um nāṉ eṉum eṇṇam-ē mūlam ām. maṉam eṉal yāṉ ām.

English translation: Thoughts alone are mind. Of all, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the root. What is called mind is ‘I’.

Explanatory paraphrase: Thoughts alone are mind [or the mind is only thoughts]. Of all [thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the mūla [the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause]. [Therefore] what is called mind is [essentially just] ‘I’ [the ego or root-thought called ‘I’].
Therefore whenever Bhagavan uses the term ‘mind’, we need to understand from the context whether he is referring to the totality of all thoughts (all mental phenomena), which are objects of perception, or to the ego, the thought called ‘I’, which is the subject, the one who perceives all other thoughts. In most cases he uses the term ‘mind’ to refer only to the ego, but in some contexts he uses the same term to refer to all thoughts collectively.

The manōmaya kōśa or ‘sheath composed of mind’ is not the ego, which is the subject, the perceiving element of the mind, but is only the totality of all other thoughts, which are objects, the perceived element of the mind. These two elements of the mind are mutually dependent, because the ego cannot stand without perceiving objects, and objects seem to exist only because they are perceived by the subject. However, though objects (all other thoughts) are constantly changing, the subject (the ego), the one who perceives them, remains the same, so the ego is the only constant and essential element of the mind, and hence Bhagavan says that it is the root of the mind.

This is also explained by him in the last four sentences of fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன. தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா.

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

Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought [the primal, basic, original or causal thought]. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. Only after the first person [the ego, the primal thought called ‘I’] appears do second and third persons [all other things] appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist.
8. What needs to investigate itself is not pure self-awareness (sat-cit) but only the ego (cidābhāsa)

In the same email my friend also asked, ‘And, who does the self-enquiry? Presumably the ego or chidabhasa. How then can it be found that it does not exist, because as long as the mind is present, and since there always is Consciousness, reflection of Consciousness, that is, the chidabhasa will exist?’, to which I replied:

Yes, it is only as this ego, the semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa) that perceives all other things, that we need to investigate what we actually are. Our real nature is pure self-awareness, so it is never aware of anything other than itself, and hence as such we are always aware of ourself as we actually are, and we (our real nature) therefore never need to investigate what we actually are. What is not aware of ourself as we actually are is only the ego, so only as this ego do we need to investigate ourself to see what we actually are.

The ego is cidābhāsa, and it is the root and essence of the mind, because it is the essential perceiving element of the mind (as opposed to all the other thoughts or mental phenomena, which are its perceived element), so you are correct in saying that ‘as long as the mind is present [...] the chidabhasa will exist’, but when cidābhāsa (the ego) turns its attention back on itself, it dissolves back into its source, which is pure self-awareness (also known as being-awareness: sat-cit), because we seem to be this ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, only so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself. This is why Bhagavan often used to say that the same awareness when turned outwards (that is, towards anything other than itself) becomes cidābhāsa, ego or mind, and when turned back within (that is, towards itself alone) remains as the pure self-awareness that it always actually is (as recorded, for example, in the two passages from Day by Day with Bhagavan, 8-11-45 and 11-1-46, that I quoted in the final paragraph of my previous article, If we investigate the ego closely enough we will see that it is only brahman, but however closely we investigate the world we can never thereby see that it is brahman).

To explain this with a simple analogy, pure self-awareness (sat-cit) is like a rope, whereas the ego (cidābhāsa) is like the snake that the rope seems to be when not observed carefully enough. If we observe the snake carefully enough, we will see that it is actually just a rope and was never a snake. Likewise, if we look at the ego keenly enough, we will see that it is actually just pure self-awareness and was never the ego, the semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa) that is aware of itself as ‘I am this body’ and that consequently perceives all other things.

9. The intellectual self-analysis that enables us to understand that we cannot be anything that we perceive but are only the awareness that perceives them is a prerequisite for self-investigation but not the actual practice of self-investigation

In another email (written before I wrote the reply that I reproduced in the previous four sections) my friend explained his understanding of ātma-vicāra (self-investigation or self-enquiry) as follow:
Right now, “I”, whatever that “I” is, am thinking or feeling, leaving aside the question for the moment of how that “I” can think or feel if it is not the mind, that I am the body-mind complex. Along comes a self-realized man and tells me, “Hey, investigate how the I cannot be the body-mind complex, and realize thereby that you are then only Consciousness”. That leads me to enquire as to why “I” cannot be the body or the mind — and there are the standard arguments for those. I will try and advance one such argument. I cannot be the body because it is composed of cells, so which of the cells can I be? Obviously, I cannot be a multitude of cells. Investigating the mind, I find that I cannot be the mind because the mind is a series of changing thoughts, and the “I” I feel myself to be is something I feel is unchanging, and so I cannot be any of the thoughts comprising the mind, so I am not the mind. Thus, the “I” cannot be the mind. What is left over? Only Consciousness, which is revealing the body and mind. So, I must be the Consciousness. Now, that is self-enquiry, by which you find that you are Consciousness. Now, this kind of investigation, which proceeds more at the intellectual level may not sever the identification with the body-mind, though it can cast serious doubts on such identity, and so you try to stabilize experientially in that understanding, and such attempts to stabilize or abide in the intellectual understanding can go by various names like self-enquiry or self-attention (as advocated by Bhagavan), nididhyasana (as advocated in Classical Vedanta), paying exclusive attention to the “I am” and dwelling on it (Nisargadatta Maharaj’s advocacy) etc. etc.
In reply to this I wrote:

Intellectual analysis that leads to the conclusion that we cannot be anything that we perceive but are only the awareness that perceives them is a prerequisite for self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), but it is not the actual practice of self-investigation (as Bhagavan emphasises in verses 29, 32 and 36 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu). The practice is just trying to attend only to ourself, the perceiver, because only when we do so can we isolate ourself from all objects of perception and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are, which is just pure self-awareness, uncontaminated by even the slightest awareness of anything else.

10. What we actually are is not transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu) but only pure intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), so we need to distinguish the latter from the former

However, though the required intellectual analysis as you have described it is necessary, it does not go deep enough, because the awareness or consciousness that perceives all phenomena is only the ego and not what we actually are. First we need to distinguish the ego, who is the perceiver, from all the phenomena that it perceives, and then we need to investigate what this ego actually is by trying to be so keenly self-attentive that we exclude everything else from our awareness. However, in order to go deep into this practice of self-investigation, our intellectual analysis also needs to go deeper.

Though we need to distinguish the perceiver (which is what is sometimes also called the sākṣi or ‘witness’) from everything that is perceived, and though we need to understand that nothing that is perceived (that is, no phenomenon or object of perception) can be what we actually are, we also need to understand that even the perceiver is not our real nature. The perceiver (that is, the awareness that is aware of anything other than itself) is the ego, which appears is waking and dream but disappears in sleep, whereas our real nature is the fundamental awareness that endures and shines in all these three states.

The nature of this fundamental awareness can be understood most clearly from our experience in sleep, because in sleep it shines on its own. Since it shines all alone in sleep, in the absence of any awareness of anything else, its nature is not to be aware of other things. As I have explained in more detail elsewhere (such as here and here), awareness of anything other than oneself is what Bhagavan calls சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu), which literally means ‘pointing’ or ‘showing’ awareness and therefore implies transitive awareness (that is, awareness of objects or phenomena), whereas the real, permanent and fundamental awareness, which is the source and foundation for the appearance of transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu), is what he calls சுட்டற்ற அறிவு (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), which means awareness devoid of or free from ‘pointing’ or ‘showing’ and therefore implies intransitive awareness (that is, awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself).

Transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu) is the nature of the ego, and since it seems to exist only in waking and dream and disappears in sleep, it is not real, and hence it is called cidābhāsa, a semblance of awareness. This is why Bhagavan emphasises in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu that real awareness is completely devoid of awareness or ignorance of anything else, that that which knows anything other than itself (namely the ego, which is transitive awareness) is not real awareness, and that real awareness shines without any other thing to know or to make known (as he also implies in verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār).

Understanding this distinction between transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu) and intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu) is crucial, firstly because it is the key to understanding the deep, subtle and radical teachings that Bhagavan gives us in verses 10, 11, 12 and 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and in verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār, and more importantly because without this understanding it is not possible for us to understand his entire teachings deeply or clearly enough, nor is it possible for us to go sufficiently deep in the practice of self-investigation. The reason for this is that though we can understand this practice superficially in terms of being self-attentive in order to isolate the perceiver from all objects of perception, in order to go deeper into the practice we need to understand it more clearly and subtly in terms of being self-attentive in order to isolate intransitive awareness from transitive awareness.

Why is this? The perceiver is the ego, whose very nature is to be transitively aware, so we seem to be this ego only so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself (any phenomena or objects of perception). Therefore we can never actually isolate the perceiver from all objects of perception, because if we isolate ourself from all objects of perception we will cease to be the perceiver (the one who is transitively aware) and will instead remain as pure intransitive awareness, which is our real nature. Therefore the deeper we go into this practice the more clearly we will understand and recognise the distinction between intransitive awareness (which we experience in its pristine purity in sleep) and transitive awareness (which appears only in waking and dream), and hence we will understand the practice less in terms of trying to distinguish and isolate the perceiver or to see only the seer (the ego) and more in terms trying to distinguish, isolate and be the underlying pure intransitive awareness that we actually are.

11. A deep, clear and subtle understanding is necessary for us to be able investigate what we actually are, but understanding appears and disappears with the ego, so it is not the goal we are seeking

A deepening understanding comes as a result of going deep into the practice of self-investigation, and the more our understanding becomes deep, subtle and clear the deeper we will be able to go in this practice. However no amount of understanding is sufficient in itself, because it is just a means (or rather an essential requisite for the actual means, which is just self-investigation) and not the end we are seeking, which is beyond all understanding. Understanding is a condition of the intellect, which is a tool used by the ego, so it will dissolve along with the ego and everything else when we investigate ourself keenly enough to be aware of ourself as we actually are.

Whatever we may understand, our understanding of it can seem to exist only in waking and dream, and ceases to exist in sleep, because that which understands it is only the ego. Understanding is therefore just a phenomenon, albeit a subtle and abstract one, and like all phenomena it seems to exist only in the view of the ego. Therefore though a deep, clear and correct understanding is necessary for us to follow this path of self-investigation, it must eventually dissolve along with the ego, and what will then remain is only absolute clarity of pure self-awareness, which is the light that illumines all understanding, but which itself lies beyond all understanding.

You describe self-enquiry as a process of intellectual analysis that leads to a certain understanding, but that is not actually ātma-vicāra (self-investigation or self-enquiry) but just a prerequisite for it. Actual self-investigation entails turning our attention back towards ourself in order to try to see what we actually are. A correct understanding is necessary to do so, because if we do not understand clearly and deeply that we are just awareness or consciousness we will continue to mistake phenomena to be ourself.

Nothing that appears or disappears can be what we actually are, because whether such things appear or disappear we remain and continue to be aware of ourself. Even transitive awareness cannot be what we actually are, because it appears in waking and dream and disappears in sleep. Understanding this very clearly and deeply is necessary for us to be able investigate what we actually are, because we can see what we actually are only when we isolate ourself completely from all things that appear and disappear, including the transitive awareness (the ego or perceiver) in whose view alone everything else appears and disappears.

However, understanding this is just the beginning. Having understood it we now need to apply it in practice by trying to be so keenly self-attentive that we are aware of nothing other than ourself. During the process of self-investigation our understanding will become deeper, clearer and more subtle, thereby enabling us to penetrate deeper within ourself, but no matter how deep, clear and subtle our understanding may be, it is useful only to the extent that we actually apply it by trying to clearly discern what we ourself actually are.

12. Understanding is possible only for the ego, so what is the use of understanding that there is no ego if one does not make use of that understanding by turning back within to investigate what one actually is?

You say that having achieved a certain understanding (which as you describe it falls far short of what we need to understand in order to go deep in the practice of self-investigation, because you say ‘I must be the Consciousness’ but without distinguishing between intransitive and transitive consciousness) we ‘try to stabilize experientially in that understanding, and such attempts to stabilize or abide in the intellectual understanding can go by various names like self-enquiry or self-attention (as advocated by Bhagavan), nididhyasana (as advocated in Classical Vedanta), paying exclusive attention to the “I am” and dwelling on it (Nisargadatta Maharaj’s advocacy) etc. etc.’, but this is not a correct description of self-investigation. What do you mean by ‘stabilize experientially in that understanding’, and what is the purpose of stabilising in it? Who is it that understands, and who wants to stabilise in whatever they have understood? It is only the ego, because understanding exists only for the ego and is needed only by the ego. Our real nature does not need to understand anything, because it is just pure intransitive self-awareness, in whose view nothing else exists, so there is nothing for it to understand.

You go on to say, ‘What John Wheeler and Stephen Wingate are saying is that they did not find the need to stabilize or abide in their intellectual understanding because they say they had a non-conceptual understanding of the fact that there is no separate self or ego, and what one is is only Awareness or Consciousness through mere looking into the matter’, but understanding is possible only for the ego, so what is the use of understanding that there is no ego or that what one actually is only awareness if one does not make use of that understanding by turning one’s attention back within to be aware of oneself as one actually is? Moreover, when they say that ‘what one is is only Awareness or Consciousness’, what do they mean by awareness or consciousness? Do they mean transitive awareness or intransitive awareness? I assume they mean only transitive awareness (which happens to be the ego), because understanding can exist only in the view of transitive awareness and not in the view of intransitive awareness.

13. The knowledge that will eradicate self-ignorance cannot be obtained just by śravaṇa or from any source outside ourself, but only by turning within and dissolving in the light of pure awareness

You then say, ‘it has been said by many that since the problem is ignorance of one’s true nature, the solution is “knowledge” and it is not far-fetched that “knowledge” can arise when one investigates for oneself the truth of the matter along the lines suggested by a guru. That is why, there are those who maintain that mere Sravana alone is enough. Only those not competent for just Sravana, have to do Manana, and those even less competent than that have to do Nididhyasana for the final Truth to dawn’, but anyone who says this has not understood what ‘knowledge’ means in this context. Yes, the problem is ignorance of one’s true nature, but what sort of ‘knowledge’ can eradicate this ignorance?

What is meant by ‘ignorance of one’s true nature’, and who is ignorant? Is our real nature ignorant of itself? If it were, that would be a serious problem from which there would be no reliable escape, because if our real nature were once ignorant of itself, even if it later came to know itself, it could subsequently become ignorant of itself again. However none of these are possible, because our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) is pure and immutable self-awareness, so it can never be ignorant of itself or undergo any change.

Therefore what is ignorant of its true nature is only the ego, and it is ignorant of it because it is aware of itself as a body (consisting of five sheaths), which is something other than what it actually is. Hence what is called ‘ignorance of one’s true nature’ is only the erroneous self-awareness ‘I am the body’, which is the ego, so ignorance of its true nature is the very nature of the ego. Therefore so long as the ego exists it will always be ignorant of its real nature, and hence we can eradicate ignorance of our real nature only by eradicating the ego.

Since ‘ignorance of one’s true nature’ is only the mistaken self-awareness ‘I am the body’, the ‘knowledge’ that can eradicate it is only correct self-awareness: that is, awareness of ourself as we actually are. Such knowledge cannot be obtained from books or teachers, from words or concepts, or from any amount of intellectual analysis, but only by turning within to investigate oneself. The knowledge we can obtains from books, teachers, words or analysis is only conceptual knowledge, and since all conceptual knowledge is known only by the ego, it cannot eradicate the ego.

The ego and its self-ignorance can be eradicated only when it turns back within, away from all concepts, analysis, reasoning, understanding, ‘knowledge’ and other phenomena, and thereby actually ‘sees’ (becomes aware of) its own real nature, which is pure and infinite self-awareness, because as soon as it becomes aware of its real nature it will dissolve and cease to exist, since it is nothing but the false awareness ‘I am this body’. Except by turning within to see its own real nature, the ego cannot experience the true knowledge (namely pure self-awareness) that will eradicate its self-ignorance, as Bhagavan clearly implies in verse 22 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
மதிக்கொளி தந்தம் மதிக்கு ளொளிரு
மதியினை யுள்ளே மடக்கிப் — பதியிற்
பதித்திடுத லன்றிப் பதியை மதியான்
மதித்திடுத லெங்ஙன் மதி.

matikkoḷi tandam matikku ḷoḷiru
matiyiṉai yuḷḷē maḍakkip — patiyiṯ
padittiḍuda laṉḏṟip patiyai matiyāṉ
madittiḍuda leṅṅaṉ madi
.

பதச்சேதம்: மதிக்கு ஒளி தந்து, அம் மதிக்குள் ஒளிரும் மதியினை உள்ளே மடக்கி பதியில் பதித்திடுதல் அன்றி, பதியை மதியால் மதித்திடுதல் எங்ஙன்? மதி.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): matikku oḷi tandu, am-matikkuḷ oḷirum matiyiṉai uḷḷē maḍakki patiyil padittiḍudal aṉḏṟi, patiyai matiyāl madittiḍudal eṅṅaṉ? madi.

அன்வயம்: மதிக்கு ஒளி தந்து, அம் மதிக்குள் ஒளிரும் பதியில் மதியினை உள்ளே மடக்கி பதித்திடுதல் அன்றி, பதியை மதியால் மதித்திடுதல் எங்ஙன்? மதி.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): matikku oḷi tandu, am-matikkuḷ oḷirum patiyil matiyiṉai uḷḷē maḍakki padittiḍudal aṉḏṟi, patiyai matiyāl madittiḍudal eṅṅaṉ? madi.

English translation: Consider, except by, turning the mind back within, completely immersing it in God, who shines within that mind giving light to the mind, how to fathom God by the mind?

Explanatory paraphrase: Consider, except by turning [bending or folding] mati [the mind or intellect] back within [and thereby] completely immersing [embedding or fixing] it in pati [the Lord or God], who shines [as pure awareness] within that mind giving light [of awareness] to the mind, how to fathom [or investigate and know] God by the mind?
What he refers to in this verse as பதி (pati), ‘the Lord’ or ‘God’, is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is the pure awareness (cit or aṟivu) that shines within the mind giving it the light of seeming awareness (cidābhāsa) by which it knows everything else. So long as the mind or ego is turned outwards, attending to anything other than itself, it cannot know its own real nature, so the only means by which it can know its real nature is by turning back within and drowning forever in the all-consuming light of pure awareness.

This inner light of pure self-awareness is alone the ‘knowledge’ that can eradicate the ego and its self-ignorance, so it cannot be acquired from any books or other outside sources but only by turning within to investigate oneself, as Bhagavan implies in the above verse and as he explains emphatically and unequivocally in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
எந்நூலிலும் முக்தி யடைவதற்கு மனத்தை யடக்க வேண்டுமென்று சொல்லப்பட் டுள்ளபடியால், மனோநிக்ரகமே நூல்களின் முடிவான கருத்து என் றறிந்துகொண்ட பின்பு நூல்களை யளவின்றிப் படிப்பதாற் பயனில்லை. மனத்தை யடக்குவதற்குத் தன்னை யாரென்று விசாரிக்க வேண்டுமே யல்லாமல் எப்படி நூல்களில் விசாரிப்பது? தன்னைத் தன்னுடைய ஞானக்கண்ணாற்றானே யறிய வேண்டும். ராமன் தன்னை ராமனென்றறியக் கண்ணாடி வேண்டுமா? ‘தான்’ பஞ்ச கோசங்களுக்குள் ளிருப்பது; நூல்களோ அவற்றிற்கு வெளியி லிருப்பவை. ஆகையால், பஞ்ச கோசங்களையும் நீக்கி விசாரிக்க வேண்டிய தன்னை நூல்களில் விசாரிப்பது வீணே. பந்தத்தி லிருக்கும் தான் யாரென்று விசாரித்து தன் யதார்த்த சொரூபத்தைத் தெரிந்துகொள்வதே முக்தி. சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்; தியானமோ தன்னை ஸச்சிதானந்த பிரம்மமாக பாவிப்பது. கற்றவை யனைத்தையும் ஒருகாலத்தில் மறக்க வேண்டிவரும்.

ennūlilum mukti y-aḍaivadaṟku maṉattai y-aḍakka vēṇḍum-eṉḏṟu solla-p-paṭ ṭuḷḷapaḍiyāl, maṉōnigrahamē nūlgaḷiṉ muḍivāṉa karuttu eṉ ḏṟaṟindu-goṇḍa piṉbu nūlgaḷai y-aḷaviṉḏṟi-p paḍi-p-padāl payaṉ-illai. maṉattai y-aḍakkuvadaṟku-t taṉṉai yār eṉḏṟu vicārikka vēṇḍum-ē y-allāmal eppaḍi nūlgaḷil vicārippadu? taṉṉai-t taṉṉuḍaiya ñāṉa-k-kaṇṇāl-tāṉ-ē y-aṟiya vēṇḍum. rāmaṉ taṉṉai rāmaṉ-eṉḏṟaṟiya-k kaṇṇāḍi vēṇḍum-ā? ‘tāṉ’ pañca kōśaṅgaḷukkuḷ ḷ-iruppadu; nūlgaḷ-ō avaṯṟiṟku veḷiyil iruppavai. āhaiyāl, pañca kōśaṅgaḷai-y-um nīkki vicārikka vēṇḍiya taṉṉai nūlgaḷil vicārippadu vīṇē. bandhattil irukkum tāṉ yār eṉḏṟu vicārittu taṉ yathārtha sorūpattai-t terindu-koḷvadē mukti. sadā-kālam-um maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadaṟku-t tāṉ ‘ātma-vicāram’ eṉḏṟu peyar; dhiyāṉam-ō taṉṉai saccidāṉanda birahmmamāha bhāvippadu. kaṯṟavai y-aṉaittaiyum oru-kālattil maṟakka vēṇḍi-varum.

Since in every [spiritual] text it is said that for attaining mukti [liberation] it is necessary to make the mind cease, after knowing that manōnigraha [restraint, subjugation or destruction of the mind] alone is the ultimate intention [aim or purpose] of [such] texts, there is no benefit [to be gained] by studying texts without limit. For making the mind cease it is necessary to investigate oneself [to see] who [one actually is], [but] instead [of doing so] how [can one see oneself by] investigating in texts? It is necessary to know oneself only by one’s own eye of jñāna [knowledge or awareness]. Does [a person called] Raman need a mirror to know himself as Raman? ‘Oneself’ is within the pañca-kōśas [the ‘five sheaths’ that seem to cover and obscure what one actually is, namely the physical body, life, mind, intellect and darkness of self-ignorance]; whereas texts are outside them. Therefore investigating in texts [in order to know] oneself, whom it is necessary to investigate [by turning one’s attention within and thereby] setting aside [excluding, removing, giving up or separating from] all the pañca-kōśas, is useless. [By] investigating who is oneself who is in bondage, knowing one’s yathārtha svarūpa [actual own nature] alone is mukti [liberation]. The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to [the practice of] always keeping the mind in [or on] ātmā [oneself]; whereas dhyāna [meditation] is imagining oneself to be sat-cit-ānanda brahman [the absolute reality, which is being-consciousness-bliss]. At one time it will become necessary to forget all that one has learnt.
Therefore it is clear from this that according to Bhagavan mere śravaṇa (hearing or reading) alone is not sufficient, and that in order to know what we actually are and thereby remove our self-ignorance we must turn within to investigate ourself, which is what is meant by the term nididhyāsana (contemplation, which in this context implies self-contemplation or keen self-attentiveness). Whatever one may learn from śravaṇa cannot even be understood correctly without repeated and progressively deepening manana (reflection, which entails careful analysis, questioning, critical thinking and reasoning) and nididhyāsana, so anyone who claims that śravaṇa alone without either manana or nididhyāsana is sufficient has clearly not even done sufficient manana, let alone sufficient nididhyāsana.

14. The sole purpose of whatever the guru teaches us is to prompt us to turn back within to see what we actually are

It is true that there are stories of people being awakened from the sleep of self-ignorance by hearing one word from the guru, but it is wrong to infer from such stories that mere śravaṇa alone is sufficient, because in such cases the disciple would already have done almost all the manana and nididhyāsana that was necessary, so when they hear that final word from the guru, that is sufficient to make them turn their mind within to see their real nature. Unless the words of the guru prompt us to turn within to see ourself, they will not and cannot enable us to eradicate our self-ignorance.

The sole purpose of whatever the guru teaches us is to prompt us to turn within to see what we actually are, because it is only by seeing ourself that we can eradicate our self-ignorance. If we have not understood this, whatever śravaṇa we have done is of little use to us.

As you imply, nowadays there are many would-be ‘teachers’ of advaita (including those who claim that what they teach is ‘traditional vēdānta’) who claim that merely hearing their teachings alone is sufficient for those who are ripe, but if we consider what they actually teach, it is clear that their own understanding of advaita is in most cases very superficial, or even if it is deeper than is generally the case, it is not deep enough. For example, one of the principal ideas that they teach is that we just need to understand that we are not the body or mind but only awareness or consciousness, and that beyond this there is nothing that we need do or know.

Such people therefore believe themselves to be enlightened just because they have understood that they are just awareness and not anything of which they are aware, but so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself, the awareness we take ourself to be is just transitive awareness, which is the ego. They may claim that they know there is no ego or separate ‘I’, but they are deluding themselves, because the ‘I’ who claims or believes it knows that is itself the ego whose existence it denies.

That which is aware of the existence or appearance of any phenomena is the ego, so if we are serious in seeking to be aware of ourself as we actually are and thereby to eradicate this formless phantom called ‘ego’, which is what we now seem to be, we must persevere in investigating ourself until we are aware of nothing other than ourself. Until then what we take to be awareness, namely our awareness of phenomena, is just transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu), which is not real awareness but just a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa).

212 comments:

1 – 200 of 212   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Your arrogance is breath taking, wow! Try to clearly understand what is being said before you spout off...the point being made is that suffering is NOT an experience, don't you get even that?...


“The claim that ‘Suffering exists, but none who suffer. The deed there is, but no doer thereof’ is obviously gibberish, because how can there be suffering if there is no one suffering? Suffering is an experience, and there can be no experience without an experiencer. An experience experienced by no one is no experience at all. Likewise there can be no action without someone or something that is doing it.”


And I doubt Ramana ever said that the ego is the MATERIAL cause of the universe...I don't think he would have opined on matters he did not know first hand, especially scientific matters.

al medina said...

Hi Sir,

Thanks for your lovely website. I appreciate your internal work and your expression of your own realizations, as well as the teachings of Ramana Maharshi.

Have you researched or perused Surat Shabda Yoga, the yoga of the Audible Life Stream? This yoga aims at merging the Surat (true essence) with the Sound Current (Shabda). The Sound is the original power which issued in the beginning from the Supreme Being. All comes from the Sound and, according to this yoga, it is Sound that we must unite with to travel all the layers and regions of our own cosmology, including the hundreds of layers of the insidious ego.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome, Mr. James. Thanks again and many blessings to you.

Sincerely with love,

Al Medina
Modesto CA

al medina said...

I tried your email but it did not go through. My email is: alsoulsound@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

"Experience is one thing, and experiencing is another. Experience is a barrier to the state of experiencing. However pleasant or ugly the experience, it prevents the flowering of experiencing. Experience is already in the net of time, it is already in the past, it has become a memory which comes to life only as a response to the present. Life is the present, it is not the experience. The weight and the strength of experience shadow the present, and so experiencing becomes the experience. The mind is the experience, the known, and it can never be in the state of experiencing; for what it experiences is the continuation of experience. The mind only knows continuity, and it can never receive the new as long as its continuity exists. What is continuous can never be in a state of experiencing. Experience is not the means to experiencing, which is a state without experience. Experience must cease for experiencing to be."

J Krishnamurthi
Commentaries on Living, Volume 1

Suffering in the present, without the interference of the past is not an experience. This must have been the nature of Ramana's mind.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, if suffering is not an experience, what is it then? Please elaborate.

Salazar said...

I didn't see the quote by JK before my previous comment.

So what is JK here trying to say? Beats me :)

Also, "Suffering in the present, without the interference of the past is not an experience." That doesn't make any sense.

If there is no interference of the past (in form of thoughts) then there is no suffering. So "suffering in the present" whatever that is, is an abstract idea ....

Salazar said...

Hey, is that you old pal Roger Isaacs?

Anonymous said...

You have gone to the heart of the matter, imho.

"If there is no interference of the past (in form of thoughts) then there is no suffering. So "suffering in the present" whatever that is..."

I would leave out "..is an abstract idea."

Best regards.

Salazar said...

To the point “that even without the sense of doership, karma will go on automatically” I understand and agree that in the state of liberation there is no more karma for the imagined doer or ego (since it has stopped to exist) per verse 38 of Ulladu Narpadu. However karma will go on (automatically) for the body as we’ve seen with Bhagavan. That his body got cancer or that he moved to Tiruvannamalai was due to his (or better the body’s) karma and had to play out, long after Bhagavan attained liberation when he was 16 years old.

The difference is that there was not an entity that claimed (to have moved from point A to point B) or owned or suffered from the cancer, it was just karma playing out in the phenomenal world.

Michael James said...

Yes, Salazar, but as Bhagavan often used to ask in such contexts, in whose view?

Does the body that we take to be Bhagavan (or Bhagavan’s) exist except in the view of the ego? Does the story of that body’s life exist except in the view of the ego? Do the actions done by that body exist except in the view of the ego? Do any actions exist except in the view of the ego? Do any phenomena exist except in the view of the ego? Does ‘karma playing out in the phenomenal world’ exist except in the view of the ego? Does anything except pure self-awareness exist except in the view of the ego?

Salazar said...

Michael, if you put it this way how could I disagree? Thank you Sir for the reminder what is important and what not at all. Where is karma in deep sleep?

Michael James said...

Where indeed?

ahandai said...

Michael James,
when by emphasizing "except in the view of the ego" our field of vision is clearly stated as limited and reduced do we not overlook that the ego is every single day our constant companion and as such is essentially nothing but the self ?

Michael James said...

Ahandai, our ‘constant companion’ in waking and dream, but what about in sleep?

If the ego were actually ourself, we would not be able to leave it in sleep, but since we do leave it in sleep, it is something alien to us. So what are we, who remain whether the ego appears or disappears?

gargoyle said...

After reading the opening comment I immediately thought of Roger. Welcome Roger, I have missed you. If not Roger, I welcome the newcomer.

Reading comments like these is like a boon to me. So I look forward to reading them.

I recall someone at one time commented about referring to this negative persons as a 'bee'.
I can't recall the exact comment but calling the person a bee instead of using their name...

Bee's can have a bad reputation especially when they 'sting' but all bee's perform a very valuable service. The same with someone spouting negative comments, it strengthens my love for Bhagavan. I say thank you!

I have the same love and compassion for this person as I have for everyone else on this blog; and everyone I come in contact with, as well as all sentient beings.

(I realise the body is not sentient, only the self)

I have said way too much.............


Best Regards

ahandai said...

Michael,
it is said that we remain as the substance. However, in my experience the ego is in the habit of coming back regularly every morning although pure self-awareness may constantly and permanently exist as the ego's fundamental basis.

queen bee said...

gargoyle,
bees follow the smell of pollen because they like the taste of honey/nectar.

Anonymous said...

queen bee says:

gargoyle,
bees follow the smell of pollen because they like the taste of honey/nectar.

Exactly!...never throw the baby out with the bath water.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Reflections based on the section 3 of this article:

Bhagavan says in verse 5 of Ulladu Narpadu:

The body is pañca-kōśa-uru [a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical structure, life, mind, intellect and what is described both as the darkness of self-ignorance and as the will, the totality of the ego’s vāsanās (propensities, inclinations or urges), which are the seeds that sprout as its likes, dislikes, desires, fears and so on].

As Michael explains, our subtlest sheath is described both as the darkness of self-ignorance and as the will, the totality of the ego’s vasanas. The ego cannot exist without this darkness of self-ignorance, and therefore the ego’s very nature is this darkness of self-ignorance. And since this darkness of self-ignorance is the store-house of our will (chittam), that is, is the storehouse of our vasanas (propensities, inclinations and urges), we can say that will is also the very nature of the ego. In other words, whenever we experience ourself as this ego, we cannot exist as such without having a will of our own.

Moreover, as Michael writes, even ‘the urge to breathe and live is a function of the will […] the will is also the driving force that determines to a large extent what we think, feel, reason and judge, it is involved in the actions of all the other four sheaths’.

In conclusion, many believe that we have no free-will, but as we have seen above, the very nature of the ego is to have a will of its own, and without such a will the ego cannot even exist. Therefore, whenever we rise as this ego, we will not only experience our prarabdha but will also always rise with a will of our own.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, I do not think any reasonable person would deny that we have a will (likes, dislikes, desires, fears and so on), but saying that we have a will does not necessarily imply that that will is free. When people argue that everything is predetermined (whether by fate or by the laws of physics) and that we therefore have no free will, what they are denying is not that we have a will but that our will is free, so arguments about predetermination versus free will would generally be simplified and clarified if the concept of ‘free will’ were unpacked more explicitly by distinguishing its two components, ‘will’ and ‘freedom of will’. The dispute is in most cases not a dispute about the existence of will but about the existence of freedom of will, because if everything were predetermined even our will would be predetermined and hence not free.

In verse 19 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu the two terms that Bhagavan uses are விதி (vidhi), which means ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’, and மதி (mati), which in this context means ‘will’. However in English translations of this verse மதி (mati) is generally interpreted as ‘free will’, and this interpretation can be justified by the fact that Bhagavan is talking about ‘விதி மதி வெல்லும் விவாதம்’ (vidhi mati vellum vivādam), which means ‘dispute about which prevails, fate or will’, and will obviously could not prevail over fate unless it had a certain degree of freedom. If our will were entirely bound by fate (that is, if whatever we like, dislike, desire or fear were wholly determined by our fate), we would have no freedom of will at all.

However, though in this context மதி (mati) does imply ‘free will’, translating it as ‘free will’ does slightly obscure the simplicity of what Bhagavan is actually saying in this verse, so though I used to translate it as ‘free will’, I now consider that it is preferable to translate it more literally as just ‘will’.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, there is one other point in your comment that needs clarification, namely when you write ‘the ego’s very nature is this darkness of self-ignorance’ and ‘will is also the very nature of the ego’. The darkness of self-ignorance and the resulting will are one of the five sheaths (albeit the subtlest of them, as you say), so they are distinct from the ego, even though the ego cannot rise or stand without grasping them and the other four sheaths as itself. This is important to understand, because in order to effectively investigate what we (this ego) actually are we need to distinguish and isolate ourself from all the five sheaths (as Bhagavan implies, for example, when he says in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?: ‘ஆகையால், பஞ்ச கோசங்களையும் நீக்கி விசாரிக்க வேண்டிய தன்னை நூல்களில் விசாரிப்பது வீணே’ (āhaiyāl, pañca kōśaṅgaḷai-y-um nīkki vicārikka vēṇḍiya taṉṉai nūlgaḷil vicārippadu vīṇē), ‘Therefore investigating in texts [in order to know] oneself, whom it is necessary to investigate [by turning one’s attention within and thereby] setting aside [excluding, removing, giving up or separating from] all the pañca-kōśas [five sheaths], is useless’).

ahandai said...

Michael,
could you please explain in more detail what is meant with the following statement of your recent reply to Sanjay:
"The darkness of self-ignorance and the resulting will are one of the five sheaths (albeit the subtlest of them, as you say), so they are distinct from the ego, even though the ego cannot rise or stand without grasping them and the other four sheaths as itself. This is important to understand, ...".

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, as you clarify, we all have a will (likes, dislikes, desires, fears and so on). I was trying to explore more about the meaning of the term ‘will’. According to Oxford Online Dictonary, the term ‘will’ means (in our context):

will (noun): The faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action; The thing that one desires.

will (verb) Intend, desire, or wish (something to happen)

Therefore, we all have this faculty to decide on something and initiate action to achieve whatever we have decided. We may seem to have a will, even in the context of things which are anyway destined to happen. For instance, I may be destined to become a professor of Mathematics, but I may have no desire to become one. However, because it is my destiny to become the professor, I will somehow become one, and it will seem to me as if it was my will which has made this possible. Citing such examples, people, those who say that there is no ‘freedom of will’, may come to the conclusion that even our will is predetermined.

Yes, some amount of will seems to be in control of our destiny: that is, we will be willed to do certain things even against our free-will if it in our destiny. However, according to Bhagavan, we also have ‘freedom of will’, even though this ‘freedom of will’ cannot override our destiny. This ‘freedom to will’ is embedded in us as our vishaya-vasanas. So we need to distinguish between 'will' and 'freedom of will'. Both these have their own domains, and they do not necessarily clash with each other.

Have I correctly reproduced whatever you tried to explain in your comment? If I have not, please correct me.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Michael:

In response to your second comment, as you had once explained, this ego itself is the darkness of self-ignorance. Even though this darkness of self-ignorance is considered to be a sheath, but it is the most basic or subtlest sheath. The ego is an erroneous awareness ‘I am this body’, and therefore the term ‘ego’ implies that it is self-ignorant. So in that sense, I wrote that darkness of self-ignorance is the very nature of the ego.

For example, if we have understood Bhagavan’s teachings, we will know the difference between the terms ‘the ego’ and ‘the body’ (which we now seem to be). As Bhagavan teaches us, the body consists of the five sheaths and all the five are included in the term ‘body’. However, though it is clear that we are not the gross body or prana or mind or intellect, but can we really say that this ego is not self-ignorant? For analytical purposes we say that self-ignorance is our primal sheath, but, on the other hand, we may also say that self-ignorance is just another description of for our ego.

Please correct if I am wrong. I thank you for your two comments which prompted me to think more about Bhagavan’s teachings. As we have nothing better to do, such reflections are the only useful thing we have at hand. With regards.

Salazar said...

Is there a "will" or "free will" in deep sleep?

How much of what the ego "wills" is determined by actions and desires of past lives? I'd say probably most of it if not all. Since we luckily do not remember our past lives the ego just references everything by this very life and omits the huge impact of previous lives.

I love to take Bhagavan's advice and hand him the packet of my wills and seeming obligations and leave that to him. If we insist that we shape our lives we are not ready yet to surrender to Bhagavan.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, this darkness of self-ignorance is the very nature of the ego or is the second nature of the ego in another way. This darkness of self-ignorance is called karana-sarira (causal-body), and it is supposed to contain our will or the totality of our vasanas. This karana-sarira and more or less the same set of vasanas comes with us life after life, whereas our sukshma-sarira (subtle-body) and sthula-sarira keep changing in our every life or dream.

Therefore, this karana-sarira can be taken to be the second nature of ego.
The above in the traditional vedantic view. However, according to Bhagavan, there is no karana-sarira in our sleep. What exists is sleep is just pure self-awareness. With regards

infinite freedom said...

Salazar,
is it not more sensible first to be aware of our real nature and then surrender to an unknown anything called Bhagavan ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, implicitly or explicitly we do think that we shape our lives. As long as we experience ourself as the ego, we will feel that ‘we need to this, we need to do that’. This is called kartavya-buddhi. Why do we have this kartavya-buddhi? It is because we do not trust Bhagavan or at least do not trust him fully.

Yes, we should try and hand over our packet of responsibilities to Bhagavan, because he is anyway taking care of them. By willingly handing this over to him, we will be only removing the unnecessary burden from our shoulders.

I think Bhagavan sings somewhere: ‘Oh Arunachala, I have had enough of caring this burden on my shoulders …’, or something to this effect. He sings in verse 2 of Arunachala Patikam, ‘… Your will is my will, to me it is happiness, Lord of my life’

Michael James said...

Ahandai, in answer to the comment in which you asked me to clarify what I had replied to Sanjay, namely ‘The darkness of self-ignorance and the resulting will are one of the five sheaths (albeit the subtlest of them, as you say), so they are distinct from the ego, even though the ego cannot rise or stand without grasping them and the other four sheaths as itself’, self-ignorance and will are both phenomena (things that appear and disappear), albeit very subtle and abstract phenomena, so they are objects of perception, and as such they are distinct from the ego, which is the subject, the one who perceives or is aware of them. Though the ego mistakes itself to be certain phenomena, namely the five sheaths, the subtlest of which consists of the darkness of self-ignorance and the resulting will (cittam), and though it could not rise or stand (seem to exist) without grasping these five sheaths collectively as ‘I’, it is not actually any of them, nor all of them collectively.

All the five sheaths together form what is called ‘the body’, and the ego is what is aware of itself as ‘I am the body’. It is neither ‘I am’, which is pure self-awareness, nor is it ‘the body’, but just a confused mixture of both. This is why Bhagavan says in verses 24 and 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

“The insentient body does not say ‘I’; sat-cit [being-awareness] does not rise; [but] in between [these two] one thing [called] ‘I’ rises as the extent of the body. Know that this [the spurious adjunct-mixed self-awareness that rises as ‘I am this body’] is cit-jaḍa-granthi [the knot formed by the entanglement of awareness with an insentient body, binding them together as if they were one], bondage, jīva [life or soul], the subtle body, ahandai [the ego], this saṁsāra [wandering, revolving, perpetual movement, restless activity, worldly existence or the cycle of birth and death] and manam [the mind].”

“Grasping form [the form of a body composed of five sheaths] the formless phantom-ego comes into existence; grasping form it stands [endures, continues or persists]; grasping and feeding on form [that is, by projecting and perceiving other forms or phenomena] it grows [spreads, expands, increases, ascends, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form. If it seeks [examines or investigates] [itself], it will take flight [because it has no form of its own, and hence it cannot seem to exist without grasping the forms of other things as itself and as its food or sustenance]. Investigate [this ego].”

The ego has no form of its own, because it is essentially just awareness, so it cannot come into existence except by grasping the form of a body composed of five sheaths as itself. However, as I explained in this article (particularly in section 6 and some of the later sections), it is not real awareness, which is just sat-cit (being-awareness), but only a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa).

What is aware of phenomena is only this ego, so in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we need to separate ourself entirely from awareness of any phenomena, which entails separating ourself from all the five sheaths, including the subtlest one, which consists of the darkness of self-ignorance and will.

oru porule said...

Sanjay,
please be more careful and do not continuosly write 'is' instead of 'in' or inversely.

Salazar said...

Infinite freedom, I am not sure what you are trying to say. If we are fully aware of our real nature then we are liberated and nothing has to be done anymore.
Otherwise, the “process” of getting acquainted with our real nature through self-investigation goes hand in hand with surrender to Bhagavan. Why do you call Bhagavan an “unknown anything”?

For me and for many here Bhagavan is the synonym for Self.

Salazar said...

Sanjay Lohia, you said, "implicitly or explicitly we do think that we shape our lives. As long as we experience ourself as the ego, we will feel that ‘we need to this, we need to do that".

Yes of course, however self-investigation is the means to go get rid of that false assumption that "we need to do that".

That is the whole point!!!

To keep lamenting about "as long as we experience our self as an ego" is shooting yourself in the foot! What do you think is [and what needs to be surrendered] surrendering? The false idea that we are that ego and that we are actually making decisions. How can you surrender if you keep lamenting about the actuality of the ego?

I sense that something very stubborn is clinging at that idea it could make decisions.

ahandai said...

Michael,
many thanks for your additional clarifying comment.

infinite freedom said...

Salazar,
for me the self is an unknown anything too.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, as you imply in your comment addressed to Ahandai, self-ignorance and will are both phenomena, which appear and disappear like any other phenomena, and therefore they are not the ego. Self-ignorance and will are the subtlest and the most abstract phenomena, but they are phenomena nevertheless.

As you further explain, the ego has no form of its own, and it is essentially just awareness. It comes into existence by grasping the form of the body which it takes to be itself. Though our ego is awareness, it is not pure awareness but cidabhasa (semblance of awareness).

In order to experience ourself as we really are, we need to separate ourself from our body, and body means all its five sheaths put together. Thus we need to separate ourself even from our self-ignorance and will by investigating: ‘who has this self-ignorance?’ or ‘who has this will?’ In other words, we need to become completely naked, that is, devoid of all our false coverings (panch-kosas). With regards.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Oru Porule, yes, I will try to be more careful in future, even though being careless has become a second nature to me. Thank you.

Salazar said...

infinite freedom, the Self is an unknown anything for you because it is not an object. The mind can only grasp objects, thus it cannot comprehend something what is not an object.

The funny part is that the Self is really very well known to anybody, but since it is extremely subtle and is covered up by the noise of our mind it is usually a mystery for most.

Since we are used to "operate" from the viewpoint of the mind and have actually accepted that as our [false] identity, the notion of Self must allude until we grasp the pointer of 'I am' as the doorway to Self.

Salazar said...

infinite freedom, a quote by Sadhu Om: "The mind will always feel that self-attention is difficult, because it can never attend to self. Only self can attend to self."

My manana to that: That quote by Sadhu Om is describing why a subject-object relationship (= mind is doing something to attain something) must fail since self is beyond subject and object. So we "jump" directly to the sense of 'I am' leaving the mind behind.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, the ego cannot rise or stand without grasping the five sheaths as ‘I’, so we never experience it in isolation from them, but they are all adjuncts (upādhis), whereas it is the seeming awareness (cidābhāsa) that projects and grasps them. What is called ‘the darkness of self-ignorance’ or ‘the will’ is one of the five sheaths, so as such it is not the ego but one of the phenomena that the ego grasps as if it were itself.

As Bhagavan says in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār all the five sheaths are jaḍa (insentient or non-aware), whereas the ego is neither cit (real awareness) nor jaḍa but a confused mixture of both, and hence it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi. When we investigate the ego, we try to separate it from all its adjuncts, which are jaḍa, and when we succeed in doing so the ego (the knot or granthi) will dissolve, since it cannot stand without holding on to its adjuncts, and what then remains is only cit.

This is why we need to distinguish the ego from all the sheaths or adjuncts that it seems to be.

Regarding your idea that ‘This karana-sarira and more or less the same set of vasanas comes with us life after life, whereas our sukshma-sarira (subtle-body) and sthula-sarira keep changing in our every life or dream’, this seems to be based on a rather confused understanding of the nature of these sheaths and the relationship between them. The kāraṇa śarīra consists of all the vāsanās, which are the seeds that sprout as the other four sheaths and all other phenomena, so the other four sheaths exist in seed form in the kāraṇa śarīra.

The kāraṇa śarīra is somewhat like a flower-bed in which many seeds or bulbs are planted, and each year in spring the seeds or bulbs sprout as flowers, which die away as the winter approaches, but then when spring returns the same seeds or bulbs sprout again as flowers. The flowers that appear this year are not exactly the same flowers that appeared last year, but the seed or bulbs from which they sprouted are the same. In the same way the physical body, life, mind and intellect in each life or dream are not exactly the same as in the previous lives or dreams, but the vāsanās from which they sprout are the same.

This is what Bhagavan referred to in the eighth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? when he wrote: ‘பிராணன் மனத்தின் ஸ்தூல ரூபமெனப்படும். மரணகாலம் வரையில் மனம் பிராணனை உடலில் வைத்துக்கொண்டிருந்து, உடல் மரிக்குங் காலத்தில் அதனைக் கவர்ந்துகொண்டு போகின்றது’ (pirāṇaṉ maṉattiṉ sthūla rūpam-eṉa-p-paḍum. maraṇa-kālam varaiyil maṉam pirāṇaṉai uḍalil vaittu-k-koṇḍirundu, uḍal marikkum kālattil adaṉai-k kavarndu-goṇḍu pōkiṉḏṟadu), which means ‘The prāṇa is said to be the gross form of the mind. Until the time of death the mind keeps the prāṇa in the body, and at the moment the body dies it [the mind] grabs and takes it [the prāṇa] away’.

Salazar said...

Here is again a quote by Sadhu Om and I took it especially for Sanjai Lohia who always insists that “his ego is rising, therefore …” what I find potentially misleading and Sadhu Om makes the same point with the quote below:

“All scriptures and gurus aim at drawing our attention to ourselves, but as I said in the first part of 'The Path of Sri Ramana', up till now they have all started by conceding to our ignorant outlook of taking the ego to be real, and so they start their teaching from that perspective. But why not start from the source — from what is actually real? Bhagavan was a revolutionary, so he never conceded that our viewpoint was correct, but instead always pointed directly to the one self-evident reality, 'I am'.”

Sadhu Om says, “but why not start from the source — from what is actually real?” Exactly! IMO it is much easier to start from the source = Self than from the ignorant outlook, “my ego has risen, therefore ….”, because it avoids any possible subject-object relationships with the erroneous idea that the ego is/could do actually anything to “attain” Self. It can’t. It cannot attend to Self, then what good is it for than to create mischief?

infinite freedom said...

Salazar,
thank you for your comments.
When you quote Sadhu Om saying that "The mind will always...because it can never attend to self. Only self can attend to self." I do not agree because that means that self-investigation (atma-vichara) by the mind would be from the outset pointless and impossible.

infinite freedom said...

Salazar,
here we face a crucial decision:
so long as we stuck in the ego it makes no sense to deny the seeming existence of the ego and instead to play Sadhu Om or even Ramana Maharishi.
Yes, admittedly the ego can evidently not "attain self" but it must pursue self-investigation. Besides we should not forget that the ego is essential nothing but the self.

Salazar said...

infinite freedom, I believe that Sadhu Om makes here a more subtle point. Yes, initially the mind is used as a tool to REMEMBER to do atma-vichara, but then when the "shift" from attending to second and third persons to the first person has happened the mind is not really doing that anymore [ideally]. If there is a thought "I do atma-vichara" one is of course not doing atma-vichara, after the "jump" as I called it there should be no mind involved anymore, even though it subtly may but that is the process. To get steadily more and more familiar with our self [Self] until there is no trace of mind.

Remember, the "I" turned outwards is the mind, turned inwards it is Self. Now one could say that, especially in the beginning, that the "I" is not entirely or completely turned "within" and therefore there could be a mix of consciousness' as I remember Michael has described.

Now, IMO, it is mute to talk about that "mix" because it is a diffuse topic, a mix of reality and unreality and there is no way to convey what transpires there.

After this long sermon :) one could also say that Self and mind cancel each other out. There cannot be Self AND mind, it is either the one or the other. Thus Sadhu Om's comment that the Self can only attend to Self.

Disclaimer: That is my (certainly not as refined as Michael's or even others here) understanding and I present that to answer your question. This is not attended as a "guidance" or teaching, just something from one "blind" man to another :)

Salazar said...

The last sentence should have said "intended" and not "attended".

Salazar said...

I'd like to correct something: There are no mix of consciousness', there is either undivided consciousness or consciousness fragmented with objects. A mix is a fabulation of mind.

Salazar said...

infinite freedom, I do not agree with your last comment. We definitely should play being Bhagavan. That is an absolutely yes for me!

But not in the way of inflating the ego but to emulate what he and all sages represent!

If you want to cherish and cling at your ego, feel free to do so :)

infinite freedom said...

Salazar,
thanks again. I understand what you say and illustrate quite vividly by the given example. "After the jump" into the consciousness 'I am' - that is the point, because the "jumper" itself is still the mind.

infinite freedom said...

Salazar,
if we are ripe and ready then let us not only play Bhagavan but actually be nothing than Bhagavan, yes then...

Because I like most "my ego" , of course I will enthusiastically "cherish it" till my=its end :)

Salazar said...

infinite freedom, sorry to be a nitpick here but I do not like "IF we are ripe" because that implies some future attainment. We should not inflate our ego but also not denigrate our self [Self] because with each self-belittling we are denying what we really are and with that prolong delusion. We should have the attitude that realization can happen at any moment and not follow that fake humility of lamenting, "oh, I am such a sinner, it will take forever for me". That is the ego faking humility and not true humility.

That's why I believe that we should not try to be humble because the ego/mind has many ways to pervert that maybe initially good intention.

There is a reason why the spiritual path is called the walk on a "razor's edge" because many things can be misunderstood by the mind and only grace can help us to navigate that edge without falling down.

If you say, 'I am this ego!" you already have fallen down from the edge. If you say, 'I am enlightened' you have fallen down too.

It is very important to grasp that what our mind believes (deep down) is what shapes its [false] reality. So it is better to say "I am Self" than to say "I am this petty ego". Actually, if you say with love and deep sincerity "I am Self" you can gradually reverse your current false belief to be an ego. Of course atma-vichara is superior to that technique which is only on a mind level.
Bhagavan also recommended as a mantra "Siva" or "I" for those who could not do atma vichara. The most important thing is that everything is done not mechanically but with deep love/sincerity/conviction.

infinite freedom said...

Salazar, thank you for telling your opinions and advices which are quite sensible.
I want to conclude now our conversation with the following words: therefore the best of all is to say nothing and try to be silently aware of that what really is.

sundar said...

Enlightenment is the process of getting the identity straightened. If neurologists figure out the register in the brain, where the identity is (incorrectly) stored as an individual self, we can have enlightenment by Science.

cidabhasa said...

sundar,
identity of what and whose identity ?
How is enlightenment got straightened ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, as you wrote, our karana-sarira it is like a ‘flower-bed in which many seeds or bulbs are planted’. These seeds are the vasanas which give rise to all the phenomena we experience is every life, and these phenomena include our new body, which consists of five sheaths.

So basically our karana-sarira is like a recycle bin. When our body is worn-out and it is of no more use to us, it dies (or it may die of some other reason). However, after our body's death, the essence of all our four gross sheaths gets stored in our karana-sarira as vasanas. When we are born again, these vasanas expand or develop into our new body, life, mind and intellect.

Therefore, our new body and mind will always have some of the traits and features of our old body and mind, like old wine in a new bottle. For instance, if we had really worked hard on our body in our previous lives and maintained an excellent health, our new body is likely to be relatively more healthy than an average body.

Likewise, if we had practised a lot of atma-vichara in our previous lives, we would have thereby accumulated a considerable amount of sat-vasana (liking just to be), and this sat-vasanas will surely get transferred to our new mind.

Similarly, if we were a great scientist in one of earlier lives, we will have a sharp intellect even in our next life. Instead of becoming a scientist we may become a mathematician, which also requires a brilliant intellect.

Have I understood whatever you were trying to explain well enough? If not, please let me know the errors in my understanding. I thank you. With regards.

cidabhasa said...

Sanjay Lohia,
your thoughts given on the topic are carefully considered. Good.

Sanjay Lohia said...

This world is full of injustice. People are dying of hunger, there are wars going on, there are dictators in every corner of this world – the only thing is that not all dictators are known to everybody. These dictators try to crush justice by imposing their whims and fancies on the helpless masses.

Knowingly or unknowingly, we may be also indulging in injustice to others. These injustices may not equal to war crimes, but we cannot say we are not guilty of exploiting others. However, when we indulge in such acts, we usually justify them by giving our own egoistic logic. However, when others exploit us or are unjust to us, we are not able to take it – ‘how can they do this to me?’ However, when others act in an appropriate manner towards us, we should remember the following:

One, Bhagavan is seeing or watching everything very closely, so to speak. If he was not, how could he write our destiny? Our destiny is just the fruits of our actions. Therefore Bhagavan will ‘take care’ of the wrong-doer in whatever way he will consider appropriate. As Bhagavan teaches us in the 19th paragraph of Nan Yar?:

However bad other people may seem to be, disliking them is not proper [or appropriate]. Likes and dislikes are both fit [for one] to dislike [or renounce].

Golden advice! Our strong likes and dislikes hamper our spiritual efforts.

Two, whatever happens to us - injustices, insults or whatever – these are all part of our destiny, and since this destiny has been decided by Bhagavan, it is for our own spiritual good. Our myopic eyes may not be able to see such good, but it is definitely there. How can Bhagavan, who is pure love, let anything happen to us if it is not for our good? There is oxymoron which says, ‘be cruel to be kind’. At times, Bhagavan may seem cruel to us, but we there is compassion and kindness hidden in that seeming cruelty.

In conclusion, we should try to ignore whatever good or bad we face in life, by trying to focus all our attention on that which is having these experiences. Who is this ‘I’ that is facing this injustice? This should be our only concern. We should leave the rest to Bhagavan. He is the infinite knowledge, infinite love and infinite power, and he is shaping our outer lives, so why should we be perturbed about anything. As Bhagavan would say, ‘just be’.

unswerving seeker said...

Sanjay Lohia,
as an act of cruelty one can feel that the District Forest Department of Tiruvannamalai has banned people/visitors from walking on the idyllic so-called Inner Path of Arunachala some years ago (for flimsy reasons of preventing fire or security).

A similar cruelty I felt this February even on the Arunachala Hill itself.
As I started to walk on one of my favourite paths on Arunachala Hill an official of the Forest Department prohibited me from climbing up to the top of Arunachala on the path along some stone walls (some hundred meters to the west of "Skandashram Path") and on any other path exept the sometimes overcrowded way to Skandashram. The official told me that some people made open fire a few days ago. This ban gave me in the first moment a nasty shock in which I wanted immediately break off my stay in Tiruvannamalai. I should mention that walking and sitting on secluded places of Arunachala Hill is my preferential daily sadhana since I came to Arunachala (from Europe) for the first time in the year 2000. For my attempts to practice self-investigation in a sitting position (mainly in the Old Hall of Sri Ramanasramam) made only slow progress if any at all. So by the ban I felt brusquely excluded from my beloved staying on Arunachala/Annamalai. After the first shock I sat down and waited ...
Some minutes later then - though at first with a heavy heart - I readily accepted the ban as Ramana's or Siva's own will and decision. I told to myself: "Yes, Arunachala, if it is your will to ban me from my delight of staying physically on your dense form, I have to unconditionally surrender to your advice". Believe me, I was full of despair - at my wit's end - really shaken by that ban. So in a baffled way I continued waiting ... After an half an hour the official/watchman left his guard position and I went on the preconceived ascent in direction of the summit albeit I took the beautiful path in the near river valley.
As you said "In conclusion, we should try to ignore whatever good or bad we face in life, by trying to focus all our attention on that which is having these experiences. Who is this ‘I’ that is facing this injustice? This should be our only concern. We should leave the rest to Bhagavan. He is the infinite knowledge, infinite love and infinite power, and he is shaping our outer lives, ..." I left the rest to Bhagavan.
On the following days till the end of my five weeks stay on Arunachala I did not meet any guard any more.

ashamed.ego said...

I realize that I have been living within my ego for close to 40 years. I know that I have damaged my own life by acting through my ego, and that I have hurt other people through the its insecurities and through its tendencies to regurgitate its past personal hurts into the present.

I apologize to all those people whom I have hurt. I am very sorry for the pain that I brought into your lives. I can only hope that your lives now are filled with love and peace, despite the thorns that I threw in your paths.

suttatra arivu said...

ashamed ego,
sincere repentance is good, but raise your eyes forwards i.e. inwards and you may read Sanjay's today comment in reply to a similarly lamenting anonymous:

"...Bhagavan has a solution to your guilt. He says in the paragraph 10 of Nan Yar:

However great a sinner a person may be, if instead of lamenting and weeping ‘I am a sinner! How am I going to be saved?’ he completely rejects the thought that he is a sinner and is zealous [or steadfast] in self-attentiveness, he will certainly be reformed [transformed into the true ‘form’ of thought-free self-conscious being].

The only solution to our all problems is to destroy the ego, and this can be destroyed only by steadfast self-attentiveness. Who has this guilt? It is you as this ego has it. So the ego has to go and if it goes your guilt will also go forever. Do you have this guilt in your sleep? Obviously, it cannot be there. It is because in sleep your ego temporarily subsides; however, we need to make it subside permanently. That should be our only aim."

Sanjay Lohia said...

There are three types of doctors. One, the quack or fake doctors. These doctors fool the gullible people by offering them the quack cures and quack medicines. They have no medical background, and therefore they have no reason to be in business.

Two, there are good doctors. These are qualified doctors, and they do their best to treat their patients. However they are not good enough to find out the root-cause of the disease, and therefore they end up treating only the symptoms of the disease.

Lastly, there are excellent doctors. They are the best in their field. They will try to find out the root cause of the disease and they are generally successful in finding this out. Thus they treat the very root or cause of the disease. They know if the disease is cured, its symptoms will automatically vanish.

Likewise, there are three types of gurus. One, there are the quack or fake gurus. These should not be called gurus because they are just frauds. They pose as gurus and fool people by giving them quack advice, such as offering some ‘sacred ash’ or offering some stone or some such thing. Some of these frauds even rape their followers. We have many such so-called ‘gurus’ currently in Indian jails.

Two, there are gurus who have some sastric knowledge or have done some sadhana. They feel that they have achieved something worthwhile and that therefore they are fit enough to guide others. Some of them may not have bad intentions, but since they have not themselves attained atma-jnana, these gurus are like a blind leading another blind. They may help people at some level, but such help is insignificant. They often do more harm than good in the long run.

Lastly, there is the genuine sadguru. The real sadguru is only one but can have many manifestations. Actually, he is ourself as we really are. They are fully qualified to guide others. They may not pose as gurus, but they are the real gurus. Bhagavan Ramana, Bhagavan Ramakrishna and Adi Sankara are examples of such real gurus. These gurus are not the persons that they seem to be, but are the manifestations of one divinity. They are the supreme light which is capable of leading men out of darkness.

So we are lucky to be under the shadow of the genuine guru, namely Bhagavan Ramana. However, a guru can be of real help to us only if we practise his teachings. Otherwise, we merely convert them into beautiful photographs adorning our walls. As Bhagavan teaches us the paragraph 12 of Nan Yar?:

It is necessary to walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown.

Are we walking unfailing along the path that guru has shown? My answer to this question is, ‘not nearly enough’. How about you?

gargoyle said...

Well said Sanjay

tane tan said...

Sanjay Lohia,
as the proverb goes: a leopard cannot change its spots. But I try my best to cut a passable way through the tangle of my weak spots and hope not to stray from the straight and narrow. I am good at heart but sometimes susceptible to sensual pleasures of life which occasionally insist urgently to get satisfied. May Arunachala help to drain that marshy swamps.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Tane Tan, yes, ‘a leopard cannot change its spots’ - that is, as long as we experience ourself as this ego, we will always be under the sway of our vishaya-vasanas. It is unavoidable, because without having these vasanas our ego cannot even exist. As we know, the ego comes into existence by grasping form, and what makes us grasp or attend to forms are our vasanas.

However, though a leopard cannot change its spots, it can try and cease being a leopard. That is, as long as we experience ourself as this ego, we will be under the spell of our vasanas, but we can cease being this ego by investigating the reality of this ego. This is the only way to give up all our vasanas forever.

Yes, we are all good at heart, at least to some extent; otherwise we would not have been attracted to Bhagavan’s teachings. We do need some purity of heart even to understand what Bhagavan is trying to teach us.

Furthermore, I cannot agree with you more when you say ‘I am […] sometimes susceptible to sensual pleasures of life which occasionally insist urgently to get satisfied’. In fact, our each and every thought is nothing but our trying to enjoy sensual pleasures. The more we practise self-investigation, at times the more our desire for sex and such things may arise in the mind. It is because our ego is afraid to die, so it makes a clever ploy to keep us bound to these things.

Yes, when we are under the spell of such vasanas, the only refuge we have are the two feet of Bhagavan (or Arunachala). We should cling to these feet with more and more firmness: that is, we should cling to ourself with more and more firmness. There is no other way.


Mouna said...

"How about you? “

I know it is a rethorical question.
I was and am not really an advocate of guilt induced feelings like “I am not doing enough” as a source of inspiration to continue “making efforts” in my sadhana (specially when it comes from other people proselytizing efforts under the "we should" banner).
The underlying “feeling” is that the ego would gain something (self-realization) by doing more and more (“I” shall be able to self-realize).
When those thoughts appear I’d rather transform then into actual invetigative power as to which is the source of their arising… or, just throw them in the fire of surrender to the sadguru, he is the only one able to incinerate those guilty feelings.

I know, it is a fact that we all have those moments when everything seems not possible (or less possible), and acknowledging one’s shortcomings in our sadhana is important, being aware of one’s “weak spots”.
But the “I don’t have enough love for Bhagavan”, “I am not doing enough atma-vichara”, “I am not surrendering enough” thoughts, when they induce a strange sense of “I should…” or "I should not", are like Trojan horses planted by ego in the fortress of our understanding.

The “medicine” at hand is very simple and effective, but if it is imposed with guilt, it looses some of its healing powers.

Tane, tane... slowly, slowly (but firmly), that's how love for one's sadhana grows.

Salazar said...

What a great comment Mouna! I am glad to see another comment by you, I hope you are doing well (as well as an “ego” can do ;)

Yes, yes, yes – who is doing not enough? That what thinks it should “do” ‘should’ rather stop doing anything, because that idea of “doing” must backfire. The ego cannot gain anything – when will it click for some that the ego is totally powerless??? What it needs to do is to stop believing it could do anything :)

The notion that we should do more can be easily a trap of the ego, it keeps itself busy with all of its do’s and do not’s and with that samsara. Instead of being occupied with do or do not, it should just shut up :)

Salazar said...

True surrender is just to witness the happenings of this world without any inner involvement with it. That means to go along with EVERYTHING what happens since it is ordained by Bhagavan without the slightest attempt to change anything.

That includes any ideas about "improving" sadhana or ANY ideas what "should" be done.

Mouna said...

Salazar, old friend (in wisdom, not in years!), greetings

Just a quick observation and disclaimer on your response (which I agree with) to my previous comment.

I am not against efforts or trying to get back and abide to and in Source.
What I am against, and I would say, adamantly, is the inner attitude “I am not doing enough” which in turn raises a feeling of guilt/frustration which in turn feeds ego, not a healthy desire to abide. I don’t buy the old judeo-christian axiom that we are all sinners and “loving Jesus” is the only way to salvation kind of rethoric that was sooo misunderstood. Here we all do what we can, with the tools (and understanding of those tools) that we each are provided in the dream.

I do believe that a healthy sadhana involves a clear understanding of what “I can do” and what I can’t.
Within the dream called life, atma-vichara, Bhagavan’s teachings in general and sadhana are also illusions, the thing is that they are pointing in the right direction, or in other words, we use those sticks to light a fire and then we throw them also into it.

Salazar said...

Mouna, yes I concur. Effort is needed for holding on to the first person. The tendency of the mind to get distracted by all of the adjuncts requires the effort to repeatedly go "back" to the first person or "I am".

According to Bhagavan that will become effortless at some point, however that does not mean Self-realization yet.

What I mean with "doing nothing" is being (inwardly) still instead of feeding the mind with all kinds of things what it is supposed to do.

Re. the axiom "we are all sinners", I believe that is interpreted (not by the majority of Christians of course or the Church for that matter) that we "sin" in not being "I am" and instead being occupied with all of these adjuncts or objects.

Mouna said...

"Re. the axiom "we are all sinners", I believe that is interpreted (not by the majority of Christians of course or the Church for that matter) that we "sin" in not being "I am" and instead being occupied with all of these adjuncts or objects. "

Agree completely.

tane tan said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you say "However, though a leopard cannot change its spots, it can try and cease being a leopard. That is, as long as we experience ourself as this ego, we will be under the spell of our vasanas, but we can cease being this ego by investigating the reality of this ego. This is the only way to give up all our vasanas forever."
Is it not more accurate or at least equally correct to say it inversely that 'as long as we are under the spell of our (vishaya) vasanas we will experience ourself as this ego ?
For being under the spell of such vasanas just prevents one to cling firmly to Bhagavan's feet.

tane tan said...

Mouna,
greetings, I too hope that "slowly (but firmly) will grow my love for" Bhagavan's feet - despite of being strangled at times by "weak spots".
J

pappadam said...

Salazar,
what you accurately characterize as the sin of not being aware of "I am" alone is called in Christianity the 'original sin'.

Mouna said...

Salazar

"the axiom "we are all sinners", I believe that is interpreted (not by the majority of Christians of course or the Church for that matter) that we "sin" in not being "I am" and instead being occupied with all of these adjuncts or objects.

Completely agree.

Misunderstanding in all religions about the original ideas or concepts of the original teachers are quite enormous and almost unavoidable…

You might recall the joke about this young scribe priest in the middle ages, running through corridors in search of the superior abbot. Once he found him and almost out of breath, the young lad says to the old priest: “Father father! I found a big error in our copies of the scriptures! In the original manuscripts it says “celebrate” not “celibate”!!!


Salazar said...

That’s funny Mouna and the story of two rabbis comes to mind who perform worship in a synagogue and loudly exclaim, “I am nothing, I am nothing” and while being silent the janitor came in and started also loudly exclaiming, “I am nothing, I am nothing”.

On hearing that the one rabbi looks at the other and said with an indignant undertone, “look – who believes is also nothing.”


Mouna said...

:)

:)

:)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Tane Tan, yes, as long as we are under the spell of our vishaya-vasanas, we will experience ourself as this ego. Inversely, as long as we experience ourself as this ego, we will have vishaya-vasanas. Both are true. Therefore, the relationship between our ego and its vishaya-vasanas are symbiotic. They both support each other, and because of this support both of them to stay alive.

However, the ego is the root of all its vasanas, and therefore these vasanas cannot exist if the root is uprooted. We may try controlling or attenuating our vasanas and may succeed in doing so to some extent. But we cannot annihilate all our vasanas as long as our ego is intact. Therefore, though we should try to keep our vasanas in check, our main aim should be to destroy our ego.

Our vasanas are like the leaves and branches of a tree. We may try cutting these leaves and branches, but these will grow again as long as the root of the tree (that is, our ego) is intact. In order to remove all the leaves and branches, we just have to cut the root of this tree. If we do so, we will uproot the entire tree, which includes its leaves and branches (our vasanas).

tane tan said...

Sanjay Lohia,
but the problem is:
the roots of the tree are visible and thus evident to everyone and therefore easy to cut or uproot whereas the ego is formless and apparently difficult to eradicate.

ashamed.ego said...

Thank you suttatra arivu, Sanjay.



I experience that the biggest trouble with guilt, and other vasanas is that wallowing in them, feeling them 'feels' correct.

If my vasana is not actually satisfied in the real (i.e. real to the ego) world, my mind will start day dreaming so as to derive satisfaction (or the faint, weak reflection of the true (again, true in the eyes of ego) satisfaction.)

With any vasana, there seems to be two components involved - the vasana itself and the ego's identification with it.

Since the mind and body are 'jad', the vasana, which arises in them as thoughts, movements and feelings, is also 'jad'. As such, a 'jad' element should have no influence on the 'chetan' (i.e. the Self).

But the ego, which is a reflection of the Self, identifies with the vasana and its manifestations. It itself assigns the meanings of 'hot', 'unsatisfied', 'unresolved', 'on fire' to the arising of the vasana and its movements within the mind and body. Then, caught into the design/definitions of its own making, the ego behaves like a small kid on a tantrum who wants to have the candy 'RIGHT NOW, OR ELSE'.

All of this is completely ridiculous. There's no true (true in the eyes of the Self) need for the ego to assign such definitions as 'being on fire' to the unresolved/unsatisfied vasanas, and thereby, give them importance beyond what they deserve. Vasanas are 'dead'/'jad' arisings in an equally 'dead'/'jad' mind and body.

For strong vasanas, such as those involved with physical intimacy, it feels as if the entire being is on fire, as if every cell in the body is asking for 'it'. If only I could remain present enough to allow the understanding about the vasanas sink inside me in this moment, they would not have such strong hold. If only I could tell myself in the moment that, despite its apparent strength, the vasana is 'jad'/'dead' and has no strength of its own to influence the Beingness, that the feeling of being affected by it is my own creation and I could break free from it.

suttatra arivu said...

ashamed ego,
as you say the vasanas and the ego are in mutual interdependence. Nevertheless, as you say - despite of the apparent strength of vasanas !!! - you should try to be fully and constantly aware of the fact that the ego is not real awareness but just a semblance of awareness. If you strengthen PERSISTENTLY your resolve "to break free from it", gradually the strength of vishaya vasanas will die down. That is my own painful experience with them. We certainly and fortunately are "condemned" to be victorious in that relentless struggle.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Tane Tan, you say, ‘the roots of the tree are visible and thus evident to everyone and therefore easy to cut or uproot whereas the ego is formless and apparently difficult to eradicate’. Are we not self-aware? Self-awareness is self-evident, is it not? Do you doubt that you exist? How do you recognise your self-existence even in pitch-darkness?

We indeed are formless, but we are more ‘solid’ than the visible root of the tree. We just need to attend to ourself with more and more firmness, and thereby the ego will be uprooted automatically. The ego survives because it attends to things other than itself. If it manages to attend only to itself it will cease being the ego. From there onwards it will exist only as ourself as we actually are.

You say that the ego is difficult to eradicate. Bhagavan says there is no ego, so how can something which does not even exist be difficult to eradicate? We just need to look at this ego keenly enough, and we will see through it – we will recognise that this ego is non-existent and has in fact never existed. The process seems difficult because we are too attached to things other than ourself, and detaching ourself from these things seems difficult.


tane tan said...

Sanjay Lohia,
one has to recognize first by own experience that "there is no ego".
Bhagavan's report about the actual non-existence of the ego alone does not even eradicate the seeming existence of the ego.
When you say "Bhagavan says there is no ego, so how can something which does not even exist be difficult to eradicate? We just need to look at this ego keenly enough, and we will see through it – we will recognise that this ego is non-existent and has in fact never existed." you do not move within logic: if the ego does actually not exist and has never really existed, "so how can something which does not even exist "be looked at it let alone keenly enough ?
Looking at this ego keenly enough and thus eradicate it is not a child's play to us because the ego cannot be tricked so easily like a card board figure. At least that is my experience. But in no way I want slow down your optimistic belief that "the ego will be uprooted automatically" by any method of self-attention.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mahatma Gandhi: Diet is important in the Satyagraha* movement – as everywhere else. Because I advocate complete continence for Satyagrahis, I am always trying to find out the best diet for a celibate. One must conquer the palate before he can control the procreative instinct. Semi-starvation or unbalanced diets are not the answer. After overcoming the inward greed for food, a satyagrahi must continue to follow a rational vegetarian diet with all necessary vitamins, minerals, calories, and so forth. By inward and outward wisdom in regard to eating, the satyagrahi’s sexual fluid is easily turned into vital energy for the whole body.

Satyagraha (a Sanskrit term meaning ‘holding to the truth’) is the famous non-violence movement led by Gandhi.

My note: In our context, our practice of self-investigation is satyagraha. Therefore, Bhagavan would more or less agree with Gandhi’s views. As Bhagavan says, a sattvik diet is the best aid amongst all the other aids to self-investigation. So it will be wisdom if we avoid all sorts of non-sattvik foods, and this non-sattvik foods includes food with excess sugar, excess salt, excess chillies, extra spices, extra oil and so on. We may be consuming a vegan diet, but we may make it not so sattvik by consuming such things in excess.

That is, whatever cooked or uncooked food we eat; it should be as bland as possible. Such foods will not only keep our minds in a sattvik state, thus aid our self-investigation, but will also help us in controlling our sexual instincts. And we do need to conserve our sexual energy for our spiritual efforts.

However, Bhagavan never advocated complete celibacy. He used to say ‘what is the use of not indulging in sex if it is in your mind’. However, he did advice that we should try and keep a check on our sexual activities. He said that the more we practise self-investigation, the less desire we will have for sex. However, this may not be the case always. So we should be vigilant.


pappadam said...

Sanjay Lohia,
I do not want to get on your nerves, but if we have a heart-to-heart talk about the most difficult hurdle to get over by male aspirants I must own up and admit that it is my/our sex(ual) drive/urge whether open or hidden. We may one billion times hear that we are not at all the body, but the next time we may feel a desire and the need to satisfy that pressing urge. Obviously we have to live with that phenomenon.

Salazar said...

"Such foods will KEEP our minds in a sattvic state". [Capitalization by me]

Really? I highly doubt that. I do not say that food has no impact (and I am sensitive enough to feel how i.e. certain foods make me dull or agitated) on the gunas but compared to other influences it is minimal. So that statement above is simply not true.

Also, when Bhagavan said, if your are supposed to work you will work, no matter how hard you try to not work, and when you are supposed to not work, you will not work no matter how hard you try to work ..... that can be applied to all actions including what kind of food we eat (and coming back to an old topic :)

If someone is eating very spicy food or bland food is as much determined as if somebody will be working or not. So as much as someone tries to get work and will fail (as it is not supposed to be) as much he can try to eat bland food and it may work or not, depending on karma.

When will a certain someone grasp that indulging in a list of 'do' and 'do not' is delusional and keeps samsara alive? What we do outwardly in this life is 100% determined by karma and to believe one could change ones mind (i.e. in eating certain foods) is slapping Murugunar in his face when he stated that the ego has not the power to change his mind.

We can certainly try or wish but if that will happen is ENTIRELY up to karma. The only real choice is to go within and to NOT identify with that fictitious entity which is supposedly choosing and deciding what is an illusion!

That is the essence of Bhagavan's upadesa, everything else is lesser teaching and it can confuse people without proper discrimination.



John C said...

Hi Salazar

With regards what you wrote below to Sanjay:

"If someone is eating very spicy food or bland food is as much determined as if somebody will be working or not. So as much as someone tries to get work and will fail (as it is not supposed to be) as much he can try to eat bland food and it may work or not, depending on karma."

I know we both share the belief that everything is pre ordained and the only choice we have is to turn within or outward. If we turn our attention outwards the problem is identifying with the body and its action as our body and our actions when everything is following a pre written script so to speak.

This belief if my thinking is on the right lines would violate and negate the whole karma theory completely. I personally don't mind this.

What are your thoughts on this please.

Thanks.

John

Salazar said...

Hi John, it is good to hear from you again. I like Sadhu Om’s notions about karma theory and he said it is murky at best. So it can only serve as a crutch for us blind ones who keep clinging at the erroneous belief to be an ego with a body.

I use it as an aid to surrender since “I”, acting outwardly as the ego/mind, cannot do or decide anything and therefore why not give up that notion and surrender that imagined sense of doership to Bhagavan as the originator of all actions in this universe? Even that is not completely true since there is no action really but again, it is a crutch until clarity arrives with Jnana.

I mentioned before that I do not share Michael’s notion of an ever refinement of understanding but I was thinking of the understanding of the mind while he is, of course, referring to the refinement due to atma-vichara and that is correct indeed.

Again I like Sadhu Om’s take on the “process”: We us our Will (which is not existent in an outward direction) or Ichcha Shakti with the Power to Act, Kriya Shakti, to BE STILL, this un-equalled Power, the DYNAMIC STILLNESS destroys the insignificant, false and imaginary ‘ichcha and kriya shakti’ used for the creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe. [paraphrased in part by me]

Here is the paradox, inwardly we have the will and power [to do atma-vichara], but outwardly that same power [to decide and choose] is false and imaginary! That’s why following any outward rules and ‘do’ and ‘do not’ is an illusion.




appalam said...

Salazar,
it is just plain common sense that your permanent song "all is entirely karma" is not completely true. On the contrary we have much free will which is of course limited by our prarabdha karma
Perhaps Bhagavan's teaching is a bit misunderstood.

Salazar said...

appalam, I did not say "all is entirely karma". You may want to review my previous comments in its entirety and don't get hung up by one simple statement without considering the rest of the comment(s).

Re. the misunderstanding of Bhagavan's teaching: Well, that's why we post comments on this blog to explore our understanding.

Salazar said...

appalam, since you seem to be in the know, please tell me how your "free will" is limited by your prarabhda karma? To which extend? Like you can choose what food your eat, but you cannot choose if you can work or not? Or what is it?

So what do you believe you can choose? Please give me a list of choices you believe can do (4 or 5 suffice). And then a list of things which you believe seem to be limited and how and why?

Thank you in advance.

John C said...

Hi Salazar
Thank you for your reply and for your feedback.

Thank you for your Sadhu Om quotes, very interesting. Yes as you said leaving it in Bhagavan's hands does makes sense. Surrendering everything to him is wise.

Personally I feel karma theory seems a bit overly complex and convoluted. It may of course all be true. I know Bhagavan did include it in his teachings but I think it was diluted teachings maybe for those not willing to accept we have no choice but to turn within or outward. And if we turn outward and identify with a body and actions performed by that body we take to be "I" we are along for the ride so to speak with no actual choice of what the body does. I may be wrong here admittedly.

Everything I have done in the so called past was pre ordained as it was allowed to happen and did happen, everything from simple actions like breathing and blinking to more complex actions like walking and writing a letter. There was no choice everything just happens.

As I said previously I find this belief to be helpful.

But helpful for who (lol)!

Back to vichara.

Thank you.

John.

John C said...

Hi Michael

With regards my last message to Salazar.

Do you think Bhagavan's teachings linked to karma were diluted and intended for those not willing to accept the only choice we have is to turn within or let our attention go outwards? Just like the location of the heart in the body for example. I know you often talk about how simple Bhagavan's teachings are and how they are based on simple coherent foundational principals even a child could understand. With that in mind it does seem compared to other aspects of his teachings the whole karma theory is rather complex and can lead to confusion (in my case that is).

Or am I misunderstanding in your opinion?
Is it a core and foundational part of his teachings?

Believing I have choice to do something and not to do other things and actions performed with free will in this life (dream) are stored for next lives Prarabdha does seem to lack simplicity and beyond the understanding of a child.

Thank you very much Michael for your feedback on this.
John.

Salazar said...

John, yes I agree with your comment. The ego just believes erroneously it is the deciding factor and not Ishwara as Bhagavan mentioned it or, as Michael likes to put it, Bhagavan aka Self.

I fail to understand how people can misconstrue Bhagavan's statement when Bhagavan was asked by a doubting devotee re. predestination and the devotee asked if he raises at this moment his arm if that was predetermined too and Bhagavan answered, "yes!".

So if any little movement like raising an arm is predetermined then it is COMMON SENSE and LOGICAL that any action of the arms (and anything else by the body) MUST be predetermined too. So it is no accident what you grab with your fingers and what food you eat and all the rest of the actions of the body. If we are supposed to put a big piece of meat in our mouth we'll do that and NOTHING can prevent that.

It is common sense :)

The "non-believers" should check their agenda of their egos why they refuse the fact that they really have no power whatsoever outwardly as mentioned by Sadhu Om, Bhagavan, and a number of other sages.

Actually, it seems that especially the Indians on this forum cannot accept that. I wonder why? A cultural thing? It doesn't matter.

All the best to you, I hope you get killed soon :)



Salazar said...

John, one more comment.

Here in the USA we have a problem of many people being overweight and it has become an epidemic which also has a toll of the health costs which are exploding.

Now suffice to say is that most overweight people would like to lose weight and look slim and attractive what is projected on TV. So they turn into all kinds of diets, possibly exercise, some lose weight and then gain it later, some never lose weight and a minority get really slim as desired.

Now we can imagine what is happening with the minds of these people, having thoughts of unattractiveness, feeling ugly, feeling guilty eating something they are supposed to not eat, etc. etc.

However, looking at predetermination, it is no accident if someone is overweight, that is part of the script by Bhagavan. It is also part of the script if some may lose weight or not at all and no amount of "free will" and wish/desire could change that.

What is the lesson here? Of course to not fall for that nonsense, "I" can change my [outward] circumstances, but to go within and, first ignore all of these diminishing thoughts but also to stop identifying with that fat body. THAT ALONE MATTERS!

If a woman ends up being a prostitute it is not because she is a foul and lewd creature but it was predestined by her birth. If she surrenders to her outward circumstances and turns within then she is holier than any Brahmin who is doing lip service in a temple no matter with how many men she's sleeping.

Mouna said...

John C, greetings

Interesting questions.
If I may, while we wait Michael’s response to your query (if it comes at all) I would like to give some thought on the subject as a fellow thinker/seeker trying to ventilate my own understanding to expose its weak points.

Karma theory is another tool on the tool box of Bhagavan’steachings. As you guessed, can be useful at the transactional functional level we persons live in (Vyavahara satyam: realtive “reality”), meaning that it establishes certain norms according to the axiom: actions have consequences. For example: if I have a genetic propensity (due to my family history) of heart attacks, arteriosclerosis, aneurisms, etc… eating meat might increase the risk of having those imbalances in the future if I “choose” to perform that action (eat meat). Action (eating meat) -> more chances to get the Consequence (heart disease) according to the scientific findings.

As we know, the fact we understand certain actions are “bad” for us, does not prevent the fact that we keep performing them. In the example presented, if our prarabdha determined that we were going to die from a heart attack, even with the best intentions, or doctors advising us otherwise, we will continue eating meat, because those actions had to lead to heart attack. If we we are not supposed to die from heart attack then someone (like Bhagavan or some doctor) indicating the harm of eating meat might trigger the response of not eating meat in the future thus preventing death by heart attack. (by the way, I keep thinking in Nisargadatta chain smoking and finally getting throat cancer)

I like to think of predetermination as a solid block (image taken from the Tao Te Chin) where everything is already happened and sometimes we start having thoughts in one direction or another, not as a cause in the past but as a cause in the future! Because in order that things happen a certain way, other things have to happen also in a certain way. That leads to the notion that we do have a will from a person’s point of view, but that will is not free but predetermined.

The problem is that we won’t know until it’s done… once I have a heart attack I will look back and say, “I couldn’t do otherwise, now I understand”.
So the illusion of free will helps to pursue some actions to our benefit, but the outcome is really not under our control. Example: I decide to start being vegetarian and on my way to a veggie restaurant I get run by a car! They say that we encounter our fate trying to avoid it! This phrase is one of the best definitions of the absence of free will I found.

Last but not least, you asked:
"Is it a core and foundational part of his teachings?“
If that was the case he wouldn’t have bothered writing in Ulladu Narpadu verse 19:
"The dispute as to which will triumph, fate or free will, is only for those who are without understanding as to the root of fate and free will. Those who have known the [ego] self, which is the single source of fate and free will, are free from those things. Say, will they resort to them thereafter?”

Be well,
M

Salazar said...

Needless to say, any accident, any disease, any outcome of a medical procedure, any encounter, any verbal exchange, any success, any failure, any attempts, any itch, any falling out of hair, etc., and the exact time of death of the body - is predetermined by birth.

Salazar said...

Yes Mouna, "Those who have known the [ego] self, which is the single source of fate and free will, are free from those things."

And equally they are free from any diets, non-existing gunas, do that and do not that, or any other imaginary circus going on in the [ego-induced] phenomenal world :)

appalam said...

Salazar,
I am not "in the know" because my comment was given only by instinct. What I have said was my own, purely instinctive feeling. Therefore I cannot tell you how my "free will" is limited by prarabhda karma and to which extend.
The way "the laws of karma" operate is inscrutable and immeasurable/unforeseeable.
On the other hand karma is not irrefutable, inexorable, or incontestable. Karma is neither inevitable, unbalanced nor merciless but perfectly impartial. At times karma may seem to be incomprehensible or unfounded; actually it is unwavering, unpredictable and ever incorruptible and unerring, infallible, never unpunctual, inaccurate or improper.

Salazar said...

appalam, where is karma in deep sleep? Or your "instinct"?

I do not agree with your (of course copied from somewhere) description what "is karma". That is also not in the spirit of Bhagavan's teaching. That what Bhagavan's teaching is really about considers karma as real as a Fata Morgana.

ego is karu said...

Salazar,
is it not funny that in our dream we are sometimes very fond of being a welcome visitor to a woman who should be as much as possible both holy as well as lewd.

appalam said...

Salazar,
in deep sleep there is no need "to explore our understanding". Because after deep sleep regularily comes some waking or dreaming my instinct too happens to appear usually.
That you considered my description "what karma is" at least as "of course copied somewhere" was at any rate worth the effort of compilation:).
As already Mouna pointed out the self-knower is naturally free from "those things".

love for being said...

I love (my) being.

Salazar said...

appalam, so we posted our comments and nothing has been resolved. Just two egos bickering about their particular and seeming understanding....

I am not fond of the style of some commentators here who do a "hit and run" style of commenting where they avoid to elaborate in more detail why they make a certain comment and when asked they just evade the point with excuses or answer with unrelated concepts.


What did I just read? "I love (my) being"? Whose being is that? :)

No need to answer.

Don Quichotte said...

I am hungry for eating the appalam of true self-knowledge.
Unfortunately this ego leads me to believe in a perfect world.
Damn it, am I that ego ? Not direct, so let me be what I actually am, you fools.
Who did pull the wool over my eyes ? Just now I am mad keen on being aware of what I really am. See you later !

appalam said...

Salazar,
sorry, but the stupid thing is that at the moment I cannot offer more - not even high-flown nonsense. I am only like a bleating sheap.

love for being said...

Salazar,
what I voiced was an assertion - straightforward - not a question.
See you then tomorrow !

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar says: ‘Here in the USA we have a problem of many people being overweight and it has become an epidemic which also has a toll of the health costs which are exploding.

Now suffice to say is that most overweight people would like to lose weight and look slim and attractive what is projected on TV. So they turn into all kinds of diets [...]'

My Note: As Michael wrote in one of his articles, whatever we eat is part our destiny. However, this does not mean that whatever we desire to eat will always correspond with what we eat. Therefore, we may desire to consume a particular type of food, but we may end up eating quite another type of food because this is in our destiny.

Suppose one is curently eating a non-vegetarian diet. How did he get this destiny? It is highly likely that he was attracted to such a diet in his previous births, and therefore Bhagavan made this diet a part of his current destiny. So our current destiny is a result of the past use of our ‘freedom of will’.

We may be consuming a non-vegetarian diet now, but if use our freedom of will to want to consume a vegetarian food, Bhagavan may give us a destiny of consuming a vegetarian diet in future. Therefore, it is highly likely that whatever we are eating now is the effect of the use of our free-will in the past.

Salazar tells us that people are overweight in the USA and this has become an epidemic. I heard somewhere that the restaurants in the USA serve huge portion-sizes. Is it true? I have also heard that in Europe and other places the portion-sizes are quite small in comparison. So may be the people who now live in the USA were previously living in Europe, and since they were not satisfied with the portion-sizes served there, they have now been placed in USA so that they can now enjoy bigger portions.

Likewise, if the people in USA are tired of being served with huge portions, and they would like to eat less to lose weight, they may be born in Europe in their next birth.

In conclusion: Whatever we eat now is what we wanted to eat sometime in the past. So if we are currently consuming an unhealthy diet, that should not stop us from desiring to consume a more healthy diet. Our current longing will bear fruit sooner or later.

However, though we should desire to consume a healthy diet as long as we desire this or that. But, if we are true to Bhagavan’s teachings, why should we desire anything at all? As he taught his mother, it is best to remain silent. We should let our destiny and free-will play their parts, but why should we pay attention to them? We should be only concerned with finding, ‘who am I?’ Everything else is ultimately incosequential.


Don Quichotte said...

Sanjay Lohia,
instead of "finding 'who am I?" we rather should find who we are. How can finding a question solve our or any problem ? Of course only (finding) a solution to the question will help us.
What you recommend in order to lose weight and thus consider Europe as a beneficial place of rebirth for overweight US inhabitants, you would better place them to South-Sudan where people know what it is to go hungry.

Sanjay Lohia said...

I questioned things when I was young. I was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and first I believed everything – I believed in God and all the things I was told. I was very accepting of all the things I had been taught. By the time I was 14, 15, 16, I was really beginning to question things more.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to believe these things, but I wanted to know ‘why should I believe these things?’ I was told ‘it is a matter of faith, and faith is leap in the dark’. But then I thought to myself, ‘Then you could believe anything. Why believe Roman Catholicism, rather than something else? It didn’t seem reasonable to me.

And when I questioned more, I remember one of the monks there telling me that I wouldn’t understand these things, because I was not religious. I said, ‘what do you mean I am not religious?’ he said ‘you question too much’.

Now my view is that actually seeking truth is beyond religion. I think religion has a role to play, but the spiritual path is really going beyond religion. Religions are very much about beliefs, whereas, in my view, spirituality is an investigation. Bhagavan taught us the path of atma-vichara, which means ‘self-investigation’. Investigation requires us to question everything.

• Edited extract from 2018-03-19 Conscious TV interview with Michael James: The Real Behind All Appearances

My note: Religion is like keeping a bird in a cage. When the bird is too small it is better if it is kept in a cage; otherwise, other animals may harm it. However, when this bird grows bigger and develops its wings, it should be allowed to fly out of its cage.

Likewise, we may need a religion in the beginning to give us some basic foundation, but once we have grown spiritually we should ditch the religion and roam like a free tiger. We need to find our own destination, and religion cannot help us much in this.

In brief: As Michael says, spirituality is a path of investigation, and this investigation has to done at our individual level. We need to investigate and find out what we actually are. How can any religion help us in this investigation? In religion we usually have to travel in a group, but real spirituality is a solitary pursuit.

bleating sheep said...

Is Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi to be considered as Ishvara or even as Brahman ?

Hey you said...

Is the journey worth the time ?

gargoyle said...

Hey You

Providing you have the time and are worthy enough to make the journey

Hey you said...

Won't get fooled again !

Salazar said...

Sanjay, the amount of food served in restaurants is about the same in the US and in Europe. Usually it's much more than one can eat and it seduces people to overeat.

There are some places in the US which go totally crazy, there is a place in Texas where you can order a 72 oz. steak, that's 2 kilograms of meat for one person! I cannot imagine how someone could eat that, even not as a couple.

In order to get less attached to the body one of the aids is moderate meals with minor seasonings, I understand if one has succeeded to be not attached to the body anymore one does not taste nor smell anything when one eats. According to Bhagavan, "good" results will only follow after one is not attached to the body anymore.

Salazar said...

I was raised Roman Catholic too and I too questioned the priest when I had to go to catechism class in preparation for the "Holy Communion" which happens when one becomes 9 years old. The priest became so annoyed by my inquisitive nature that he went to my parents to complain about me and threatened to deny me the "Holy Communion".

My father, who was a protestant and not fond at all of the Roman Catholic Church, flatly answered, "well, then he is not participating ....", and in a way, called the bluff of the priest. I stopped going to these classes which either bored me or I found it illogical and unapproachable. In the end I got my big candle and went through that [for me] meaningless ritual of the "Holy Communion".

When I was a teenager I studied the history of the Roman Catholic Church and was so appalled by the bigotry, violence, deception, and corruption of that Church that I looked to other religions for guidance.

Not long ago there was a huge scandal in Boston, USA, where catholic priests molested countless boys and the regional Bishop and the Vatican tried to cover that up. I understand that the Roman Catholic Church has a long and persistent history of sexual abuse, male and female, and it is still a problem.

That's what happens to "religion", it gets perverted by the ego/mind.

balthasar said...

Nevertheless, there are a number of Christian mystics who were very pleasing and dedicated to God and led a divine life. For instance I like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (French: Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux), born Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897), also known as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D.;she was a French Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun.
I too like Therese Neumann (8 or 9 April 1898 – 18 September 1962) who was a German Catholic mystic and stigmatic.

Mouna said...

A side note on the present discussion.
Some passages from Meister Eckhart (one can exchange the word “God” with “self” if one has problems with the “God” word):

“A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.”

“I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.”

“God is at home. We are in the far country.”

"The eye by which I see God is the same as the eye by which God sees me. My eye and God's eye are one and the same-one in seeing, one in knowing, and one in loving.”

“To be full of things is to be empty of God, to be empty of things is to be full of God."


Salazar said...

I, of course, cherish the Christian mystics, however they had to be careful what they said about their experiences, if that was not in alignment with the Vatican at that time their life was in danger.

In the eighties I went to Assisi, Italy, the home of St Francis and St. Clare and meditated in various Churches and places and I could feel the immense peace and a sweetness (best adjective to describe it) which I have not felt elsewhere.

Meister Eckhardt, the two above, and some others, IMO, belong to the group of sages like King Janaka, Kabir, Sai Baba of Shirdi, Ramakrishna, etc.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, the passages from Meister Eckhart that you quoted is interesting and reflects Bhagavan’s teachings quite closely. I would like to share my reflections on these passages:

Eckhart: A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.

Reflections: Yes, our heart or what we actually are is covered up with so many ‘skins’, and as Eckhart implies, we need to go into the very depths of our being to find ourself there. Vedanta describes these ‘skins’ as pancha-kosas. As Bhagavan teaches us in verse 5 of Ulladu Narpadu:

The body is a form of five sheaths. Therefore all five are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body, is there a world? Say, leaving the body, is there anyone who has seen a world?

When we practise self-investigation, our aim is to discard all these five sheaths and experience the base or core of these sheaths. This base or core is what we really are. Sometimes this process of discarding these sheaths is compared to pealing the various layers of onions. We need to go on pealing these layers until we find that there is nothing further to peal. Our practice of self-investigation is like this: we need to go on ‘pealing’ all our upadhis (our adjuncts, namely the five sheaths) until we find that there is nothing further to discard.

These five sheaths are, namely a physical structure, life, mind, intellect and what is described both as the darkness of self-ignorance and as the will, the totality of the ego’s vāsanās (propensities, inclinations or urges). As Michael wrote in one of his recent comments:

They [these five sheaths] are objects of perception, and as such they are distinct from the ego, which is the subject, the one who perceives or is aware of them. Though the ego mistakes itself to be certain phenomena, namely the five sheaths, the subtlest of which consists of the darkness of self-ignorance and the resulting will (cittam), and though it could not rise or stand (seem to exist) without grasping these five sheaths collectively as ‘I’, it is not actually any of them, nor all of them collectively.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Meister Eckhart: I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.

My reflections: Very true! God is what we really are; it is our actual self. So how can anything be nearer to us than our own ourself? Therefore in order to ‘see’ God as it really is, we need to experience ourself as we actually are. That is, we need to turn our entire attention within and ‘look’ at ourself and only at ourself. The following two verses (verses 21 and 22 respectively) from Ulladu Narpadu can be read in this context:

If one asks what is the truth of many texts that say ‘oneself seeing oneself’, ‘seeing God’: Since oneself is one, how is oneself to see oneself? If it is not possible to see, how to see God? Becoming food is seeing.

Consider, except by, turning the mind back within, completely immersing it in God, who shines within that mind giving light to the mind, how to fathom God by the mind?

As Eckhart implies, our seeming existent as this ego depends on the ever-present existence our true self. The reality of the ego is only ourself as we actually are.

Hey you said...

So we arrived on the right planet, full of sages and holy people !
Let us try to follow them, now.

balthasar said...

Salazar,
I like too the story of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Wolf of Gubbio

From The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapter XXI:


AT THE TIME when Saint Francis was living in the city of Gubbio, a large wolf appeared in the neighbourhood, so terrible and so fierce, that he not only devoured other animals, but made a prey of men also; and since he often approached the town, all the people were in great alarm, and used to go about armed, as if going to battle.

Notwithstanding these precautions, if any of the inhabitants ever met him alone, he was sure to be devoured, as all defence was useless: and, through fear of the wolf, they dared not go beyond the city walls.

Saint Francis, feeling great compassion for the people of Gubbio, resolved to go and meet the wolf, though all advised him not to do so. Making the sign of the holy cross, and putting all his confidence in God, he went forth from the city, taking his brethren with him; but these fearing to go any further, Saint Francis bent his steps alone toward the spot where the wolf was known to be, while many people followed at a distance, and witnessed the miracle.

The wolf, seeing all this multitude, ran towards Saint Francis with his jaws wide open.

As he approached, the saint, making the sign of the cross, cried out: “Come hither, brother wolf; I command thee, in the name of Christ, neither to harm me nor anybody else.”

Marvellous to tell, no sooner had Saint Francis made the sign of the cross, than the terrible wolf, closing his jaws, stopped running, and coming up to Saint Francis, lay down at his feet as meekly as a lamb.

And the saint thus addressed him: “Brother wolf, thou hast done much evil in this land, destroying and killing the creatures of God without His permission; yea, not animals only hast thou destroyed, but thou hast even dared to devour men, made after the image of God; for which thing thou art worthy of being hanged like a robber and a murderer. All men cry out against thee, the dogs pursue thee, and all the inhabitants of this city are thy enemies; but I will make peace between them and thee, O brother wolf, if so be thou no more offend them, and they shall forgive thee all thy past offences, and neither men nor dogs shall pursue thee any more.”

Having listened to these words, the wolf bowed his head, and, by the movements of his body, his tail, and his eyes, made signs that he agreed to what Saint Francis said.

On this Saint Francis added: “As thou art willing to make this peace, I promise thee that thou shalt be fed every day by the inhabitants of this land so long as thou shalt live among them; thou shalt no longer suffer hunger, as it is hunger which has made thee do so much evil; but if I obtain all this for thee, thou must promise, on thy side, never again to attack any animal or any human being; dost thou make this promise?”

(will be continued)

balthasar said...

(in continuation of the previous comment):

Then the wolf, bowing his head, made a sign that he consented.

Said Saint Francis again: “Brother wolf, wilt thou pledge thy faith that I may trust to this thy promise?” and putting out his hand he received the pledge of the wolf; for the latter lifted up his paw and placed it familiarly in the hand of Saint Francis, giving him thereby the only pledge which was in his power.

Then said Saint Francis, addressing him again: “Brother wolf, I command thee, in the name of Christ, to follow me immediately, without hesitation or doubting, that we may go together to ratify this peace which we have concluded in the name of God”; and the wolf, obeying him, walked by his side as meekly as a lamb, to the great astonishment of all the people.

Now, the news of this most wonderful miracle spreading quickly through the town, all the inhabitants, both men and women, small and great, young and old, flocked to the market-place to see Saint Francis and the wolf.

All the people being assembled, the saint got up to preach, saying, amongst other things, how for our sins God permits such calamities, and how much greater and more dangerous are the flames of hell, which last for ever, than the rage of a wolf, which can kill the body only; and how much we ought to dread the jaws of hell, if the jaws of so small an animal as a wolf can make a whole city tremble through fear.

The sermon being ended, Saint Francis added these words: “Listen my brethren: the wolf who is here before you has promised and pledged his faith that he consents to make peace with you all, and no more to offend you in aught, and you must promise to give him each day his necessary food; to which, if you consent, I promise in his name that he will most faithfully observe the compact.”

Then all the people promised with one voice to feed the wolf to the end of his days; and Saint Francis, addressing the latter, said again: “And thou, brother wolf, dost thou promise to keep the compact, and never again to offend either man or beast, or any other creature?” And the wolf knelt down, bowing his head, and, by the motions of his tail and of his ears, endeavoured to show that he was willing, so far as was in his power, to hold to the compact.

Then Saint Francis continued: “Brother wolf, as thou gavest me a pledge of this thy promise when we were outside the town, so now I will that thou renew it in the sight of all this people, and assure me that I have done well to promise in thy name”; and the wolf lifting up his paw placed it in the hand of Saint Francis.

Now this event caused great joy in all the people, and a great devotion towards Saint Francis, both because of the novelty of the miracle, and because of the peace which had been concluded with the wolf; and they lifted up their voices to heaven, praising and blessing God, who had sent them Saint Francis, through whose merits they had been delivered from such a savage beast.

The wolf lived two years at Gubbio; he went familiarly from door to door without harming anyone, and all the people received him courteously, feeding him with great pleasure, and no dog barked at him as he went about.

At last, after two years, he died of old age, and the people of Gubbio mourned his loss greatly; for when they saw him going about so gently amongst them all, he reminded them of the virtue and sanctity of Saint Francis.

John C said...

Hi Salazar,
Sorry for the delay but it is out of my hands :)
Yes I agree with you and I like your obesity and prostitute examples.
I know Robert Adams taught everything is pre ordained but I think he also said we should act in the world as if it is not the case which I found a bit confusing. Maybe he meant to identify more with the actions that support spiritual progression and less with the actions that denounce it.
I think really it all comes down to vichara. We either turn our attention outwards and identify with the body and its actions within a world. Or we turn within.
Anyway thanks for hoping I get killed soon ;)
Same to you with heartfelt best wishes.
John.

John C said...

Hi Mouna
I am still reflecting on your comment, thank you for posting it and I will get back to you about it in due course.
Thanks again Mouna.
John.

Avila said...

John C,
you are presumably a descendent of John (of the) Cross :), (Spanish: San Juan de la Cruz; 1542[1] – 14 December 1591) who was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar and a priest, who was born at Fontiveros, Old Castile.

John of the Cross is known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church.

Mouna said...

Thank you Sanjay for deepening the meaning of those Meister Eckhart quotes in relation and under the light of Bhagavan’s teachings.

Salazar, you were right about the reaction of the “religious establishment” towards sages and mystics of the past in many traditions. I was surprised to read this fact also about Meister Eckhart: “Eckhart came into prominence during the Avignon Papacy, at a time of increased tensions between monastic orders, diocesan clergy, the Franciscan Order, and Eckhart's Dominican Order of Preachers. In later life, he was accused of heresy and brought up before the local Franciscan-led Inquisition, and tried as a heretic by Pope John XXII.[c] He seems to have died before his verdict was received.”

John C said...

Avila you have blown my cover!! :)
Best wishes.
John.

Salazar said...

balthasar, yes, St. Francis, like Bhagavan, could communicate with animals. Wild animals were not shy around him and birds would sit down on his stretched out hand. I’ve heard of Therese Neuman (I believe through Yogananda’s autobiography) and talking about stigmatics, there is another 20th century stigmatic from Italy, Padre Pio.

He was an unassuming man who hid his stigmas in order to prevent any commotion or recognition. People found out anyway but he never went into any public circus. He had the ability, like Bhagavan, to give impeccable advice to people who were seeking him out. There was no need to tell him anything and people usually just sat down and prayed quietly.

I have to say, stories like that always warm my heart :)

gethsemane said...

Perhaps our interest shown in the life of holy saints comes from the dearest wish to be a saint too. In any case the saints may serve us as a model in our longing for being free from illusion. Actually I struggle against having a lot of misapprehension about the truth.

Salazar said...

John C, hello, what - you are not in control of what you do and when you post? :)

We talked a lot (or is it just me :) about predestination and I believe that Bhagavan mentioned it to point out the limitations of the ego.
For me the predestination concept is a great temporary aid for surrender. Now it denotes duality and therefore is not real. So all of these “aids” like diet, ethical behavior, and so on, are within duality and of temporary help and they all have to be dropped eventually. With dropped I do not mean, i.e., that one has to give up a good diet but that the mind has to become detached from the interest of what kind of diet one eats or what ethical behavior one “does”. There is no doer.

And of course you are right, it always comes down to vichara/surrender, do we turn outwards and identify with a “doer” or do we turn inwards and realize there is no “doer” despite all of the actions going on with that apparent body?

All the best my friend.

capernaum said...

Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth must have been a remarkable person. In the ecstasy of experiencing Christ's stigmata she is said to have spoken sometimes Aramaic the language of Jesus. She is also supposed to have not eaten anything some months or even years. Even though she allegedly was not at all over-devout.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Has Bhagavan given us a list of dos and don’ts? Has he asked us to make resolutions, like a ‘new year resolution’? Has he asked us to sit for meditation at particular times in the day? Has he asked us to meditate for a certain number of hours every day? The answer to all such questions is ‘no’. He never asked us to do this or that – in fact, he asks us not to do anything by remaining still.

However, should we not make our own resolutions? In a sense, yes, we should not, but we should definitely try to remove our bad habits and try to inculcate good habits. As long as we use our will to desire this or that, to do this or that, there is no harm in making some sankalpas as a means to accelerate our sadhana.

Sankalpa (Sanskrit: संकल्प) means an intention formed by the heart and mind. In practical terms a sankalpa means a one-pointed resolve to focus on a specific goal. A sankalpa is a tool meant to harness the will. (source: Wikipedia)

If we have started practising self-investigation, we have already made a resolution to try to experience ourself as we really are, haven’t we? However, this is the bigger goal. But in order to achieve this bigger goal, we need to focus on the smaller and immediate goals.
For example, we should convince ourselves to spend as much time as possible in self-attentiveness, even in the midst of our other works. We should impress upon our minds to give up our bad habits.

For instance, as soon I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is to look at my mobile phone for any emails and messages. I think this is a bad habit. Therefore, I will try and not look at my mobile the first thing in the mornings. After I get up I will try to sit for a few moments in silence, then visit the toilet, they go for a walk (as I do every day), then have my herbal tea, and only then look at my mobile. All this time my mobile will not be with me.

However, Bhagavan’s path is a gentle path - it’s a path propelled by love and not by strict dos and don’ts. Therefore we have to be easy on ourselves. This path is not like other yogic paths which have strict rules for its practitioners. We must try forming good habits, although these habits can be modified as we go along the path. However, we should not stop persevering. If need be, every other rule can be broken, but we cannot afford to break this rule.




Salazar said...

Sanjay, if and when you look at your mobile phone or not is not “your” decision, it never is, never was and never will be. Even though an ego has risen, that doesn’t mean it can change its outward circumstances and actions. The ego tells itself via a thought that it made the decision, but that is not true, it CANNOT EVER direct the actions of the body! The ego just erroneously believes that.

That is a fact and it is necessary to be accepted in order to progress spiritually.

The ego can DESIRE to change habits but if that is happening or not is not up to the ego. It never is, was, and will be.

ANY desire, even the desire to be a saint, has to be discarded. Because desires guarantee another birth, and that is not desired :)

So instead wasting ones time to desire to be a “better” fictitious ego, why not stopping this inane game and go directly to the root of the problem?

Bhagavan’s upadesa is clear and essentially is only one thing, atma-vichara/surrender.

Anything else was only given to those who were not mature enough to comprehend that this is enough, that nothing else is required. Out of compassion he catered to the immaturity of those who cannot even conceptually grasp that there is no body and mind and therefore added all of these concessions to his core teaching.


genezareth said...

Salazar,
nevertheless, despite of all the refreshing and heart-warming stories about the saintly lives we must come back primarily to the story of our own curative treatment (salvation-history).
When you have realized that "there is no “doer” despite all of the actions going on with that apparent body" may I ask you whether and how actions can be done without any doer ? Who is the doer of actions if not the ego ?


Mouna said...

Sanjay, greetings.

"So instead wasting ones time to desire to be a “better” fictitious ego, why not stopping this inane game and go directly to the root of the problem?”

I slightly disagree with the direction you take in your response to Sanjay. I do agree with Sanjay on this. I’ll try to explain why.

When we speak about “all is pre-determined” and “the ego has no free will whatsoever”, although ultimately true, we are talking from the absolute position.
At the level of the relational/transactional reality we live in as persons, it really doesn’t feel that way, does it? So the position “no free will” is actually just a concept which bears no relation to our daily “existence” as a person.
I am not saying that base our understanding in that concept doesn’t help surrender, accept, etc… what I am saying is that since we don’t know the outcome of our felt actions, we base our line of action in what we think is the best option that will lead to my goal. Example: if the decision of not looking at my phone in the morning was prdetermined or not it really doesn’t matter, “I”, Mouna, can always try to create a healthier habit according to my understanding of what is good for me or not, or what will put me closer to my aim of a happier and more "conscious” life.

The background understanding that that decision is predetermined doesn’t affect the illusion of having the “will” to try to change the situation. If fate is decided that I’ll have a healthier life then I’ll start putting away my phone, if on the contrary, the outcome is that I’ll have a cancer because of the phone radiation no matter how much I’ll try I won’t find the strong desire to put away my phone every morning…

All what I’m saying is that the person (Salazar, Sanjay, Mouna et al) has to perform its script to the best of its understanding, but with the underlying notion that the outcome of any desire is already written. In that sense, we liberate necessary to thin the illusory ego.

Finally, not doing something is also doing something.

Salazar said...

genezareth, we moving here on a conceptual and abstract "reality" and extended practice is needed to grasp that there is, in fact, no doer.

I actually experimented with that and, surprisingly, I found it to be true. However that is only a partial thing and a far cry from actual realization.

Who is the doer of actions if not the ego?

There is no satisfactory answer to that, it touches the same enigma why we, as being Self, somehow have forgotten that and believe to be that single, independent entity. What caused that and why? The religions offered some "answers" but these are just more concepts.

No sage had an answer for that and all these questions are there anyway to satisfy the mind which, firstly, can never be satisfied, and secondly, it cannot grasp it because it is itself a mere reflection and insubstantial. How can something like that understand anything?

There is really only one answer in the spirit of our beloved Bhagavan, "Who wants to know?" and look for that who wants to know!

Salazar said...

No Mouna, I do not agree, there is nobody who has to perform its script "to the best".

A "script" is a given, to believe that one has to perform to the best implies one could alter the script and that is a delusion.

Sorry, if we want to apply correctly Bhagavan's upadesa then we need to look from the viewpoint of the absolute as also suggested by Sadhu Om. Even if we still are attached to that ego/mind.

To believe that "one" [the ego] has to perform has the result that we keep believing in the need to "improve" and that will be forever.

Why? Because, as we all know, Self cannot be attained! But in believing that there is in fact something which moves from ignorance to Jnana will keep the delusion alive. The very fact of wanting to improve will keep us bound!

Again, the notion that we can or need to "improve" will and must keep us in samsara. Extremely important to grasp that.

Only atma vichara will and can yield Jnana because it IS Jnana, everything else will NEVER EVER yield Jnana, so why wasting our time with it?

And I already said before, for some they may want to keep the delusion of "improvement" alive. Fine, that is their necessary detour to finally arrive at the same outcome.

Mouna said...

Salazar, we do agree on various fundamental points but disagree on certain “practicalities”.
It is not about improving ego, nor “becoming” self since we already are self.
So then, what happens in the transactional reality we (you and me persons) live on at this very moment and communicate as persons? We take decisions according to our prarabdha under the illusion that we control them and in some cases we understand that that is just an illusory claim. It we still act those decisions.
In that respect, is more a question of starving ego so we have more “space and time” for atma vichara.
Let us remember that it is ego that initiates the investigation (atma vichara). In that sense, the “effort” to turn attention inwards is an action, which dissolves itself in abidance, which is not. So all actions that contribute in some minor or major ways to the action of turning one’s attention (ego’s objectified consciousness) inward are good to pursue, even if the underlying understanding is that they are illusory.
I’try tomorrow to not look at my phone when I first wake up (good advice Sanjay). Is that predetermined? Sure, but who cares! I’ll play the game as if it wasn’t. And then if I feel better during the day I’ll continue playing the game and I’ll say to myself (with a really small s): that worked, so I’ll try to do it tomorrow! Although something knows that there were never actions performed, nor no one to perform them. But as perception is still there, that means transactional reality (ergo ego) is still active.

But I agree fundamentally that from the absolute reality (paramarthika) nothing never happened neither is happening right now... although is not our “experience”, isn’t it?

Salazar said...

What I find very funny is that Sanjay said correctly that Bhagavan's teaching is very, very simple. And then he turns around, forgets the simplicity, and complicates things with how "he" wants to improve his fictitious ego.

So he starts a to do list and keeps adding on to his "to do" list more and more things under the false impression that this is a necessity.

We want to discard things, not add anything. We want to make us empty, empty of any aspirations, any goal, any hope, any desire, any thing.

There is talk about "mature" and "immature" egos, about purifying, gunas and so on. That has to be taken very lightly because that is as real as the dream we had last night. Would we argue about the reality of that dream we had last night? Of course not! So why then do we argue about the necessity to improve that dream we call wakefulness which is as unreal as the dream we have when we are sleeping?

We want to wake up from that dream, not perpetuate it in participating in it! Is that so hard to grasp?

Mouna said...

Salazar,
”We want to wake up from that dream, not perpetuate it in participating in it! Is that so hard to grasp?”

It isn’t hard to grasp, at all, but we are still here in the dream communicating to each other, right?... so the dream doesn’t seem to be over... grasping is one thing, terminating the dream is another... although I get it, there is no dream! But then why we are still here talking about it?...

Salazar said...

Mouna, again, I do not agree. That whole phone example is convoluted. You say, 'Who cares and I'll play that game"? Huh? So you [the ego] intentionally (another erroneous belief it could intentional to anything outwardly) says "what the heck", it's probably predetermined but I believe anyway I did it?

****Sound of scratching my forehead****

Sorry, I can not follow that. It is not clear and sounds confused.

Also why bringing up "something knows that there were never actions performed, nor no one to perform them"? That is just as much imagination as everything else (for an ajnani). It is as much an imagination as when you believe you can decide to avoid looking at your phone.

Why meddling in those imaginations, that the ego could decide AND that there were never actions performed? You are treading on a swamp with both statements.

That's my whole point, the ego [outwardly] is a confused entity at best with a lot of beliefs but totally lost in imagination. There is only one way for the ego, to turn inward, everything else is a fantasy.

Why is that so hard to grasp/accept?

Salazar said...

Mouna, yes, the dream is not over, and we are communicating with each other. What is your point?

I believe you do not get where I am coming from.

It's solely about INWARD and OUTWARD. ANY outward action is a fantasy and a detour at best and maybe most have to go through it, I do not know.

It's about INTENTION as Sanjay has put it, however an outward intention as in performing to the best is perpetuating the dream! Comprendre? Because the ego cannot with outward intention reach or attain Self and in fact in believing it could it will try forever. So that misunderstanding needs to be corrected. Funny, I thought Sanjay is eager to become realized :)

Salazar said...

To illustrate Bhagavan’s upadesa a little further let’s take Sanjay’s example: He said, “I’ll try to not look at my mobile phone” and, “I get up I will try to sit for a few moments in silence”.

So when the idea of to not look at his phone comes up he should ask instead “who does not want to look at his phone” and be oblivious if “he” is looking at his phone or not. It really doesn’t matter at all if he has the habit of looking at his phone or is yelling at his wife. WHAT MATTERS is if he is identifying that he is doing it!

So in trying to “improve” he simultaneously identifies with his ego that [seemingly] does the improving and he remains and stays in samsara. Any attempts to “improve” misses totally Bhagavan’s upadesa and is, in fact, a slap in his face.
When instead he asks “who wants to not look at my phone” he stops that mental delusion and hopefully abides with the sense of “I am”.

Same for wanting to sit quietly for a few moments: That idea that he needs to sit quietly for a moment is again affirming the ego, the doer, and is perpetuating samsara. Instead of wanting to sit quietly he should ask again, “who wants to sit quietly” to stop identifying with the ego.

So for the pig-headed, Bhagavan’s path is NOT about what “we” are doing, but if we are identified with it or not. Wanting and improving things is IDENTIFYING with it and is perpetuating samsara, turning within is transcending it.

That’s why trying to improve things outwardly is false and delusional.

And if Sanjay cannot do vichara at that time he is still better off to do some japa than to worry if he looks at his phone or not or if he sits quietly or not what is inconsequential spiritually. If he ends up sitting quietly, fine, if not that is equally fine.


genezareth said...

Salazar,
may I tell you my view, even at the risk that I too am completely wrong ?
It seems to me that the topic of predetermination is whirling awfully round your head.
You just cannot think straight about it. What you consider as necessary prerequisite for spiritual progress is only your preconceived and inconsistent opinion which may you have been concluded/derived from confused understanding.
In asserting that the ego GENERALLY cannot change outward circumstances and actions
you deny the ego's possibility and ability to struggle for becoming a better one as a useful way of one's spiritual improvement. Thus your understanding of the whole subject of karma and free will proves possibly to be vague and inadequate. Whether desires lead to another birth is decided by the ordainer alone - not by the ego's wish to avoid any rebirth.

Salazar said...

So if my previous comment does not ring a bell then I can only say that we have a fundamental different understanding of Bhagavan's teaching and if my previous comments cannot clear away the cob webs :) nothing will do but Bhagavan's grace.

Since Sanjay kept insisting in the importance of improving his ego I felt obligated to correct that gross misunderstanding of Bhagavan's teaching. At first I thought it was only a minor misunderstanding but since Sanjay keeps insisting it appears that he's quite convinced of that.

Since Sanjay is obviously well versed with many of Bagavan's concepts that comes as a surprise. But then Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, a celebrated scholar and ascetic, believed that he'd get enlightened and remain his individuality. And that after talking and questioning extensively Bhagavan. So many things can only be a mystery for the ego.

But one can go only so far and then give it a rest and I believe I have reached that point. So from now on I'll ignore all of Sanjay's comments where he is indulging in that particular viewpoint and look forward to his paraphrased comments of Michael's videos.

Avila said...

Salazar,
"So for the pig-headed, Bhagavan’s path is NOT about what “we” are doing, but if we are identified with it or not. Wanting and improving things is IDENTIFYING with it and is perpetuating samsara, turning within is transcending it."
My view: As long we are caught up in samsara our efforts to improve, sharpen and brighten up our understanding of Bhagavan's teachings are in no way harmful.

Salazar said...

Avila, agreed - however do not try to become a saint or develop "better" habits etc.

Mouna said...

Salazar,

Becoming a saint or not becoming a saint doesn’t really matter in the long run, I think we agree on that one.
But I, Mouna, for one, feel that my predetermined desire is to love to have a happy and peaceful life. In that sense, I like Sanjay’s advice about the phone limitations. Predetermined or not I couldn’t care less and I don’t mix it with self-investigation. One thing I noticed though is that certain attitudes and intentions put me closer to atma-vichara than others so I try to follow those trends (predetermined or not). I think what I just said is not brought up from confusion, on the contrary, because I don’t expect anything like “enlightenment or moksha”in return with those attitudes, simply a happier life... and it’s working.
BY the way, enlightenment I don’t need because “I” is already that.
If, to your eyes, I’m still confused (as Mouna) so be it my friend.

I rest my case with this comment
Be well
M

Salazar said...

Mouna, it is all good and I am backing off from the whole topic. I am glad that things are working for you, no confusion there :)

Anyway, be well my friend. My very best to you.

Sanjay Lohia said...

I wrote in my previous comment:

For instance, as soon I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is to look at my mobile phone for any emails and messages. I think this is a bad habit. Therefore, I will try and not look at my mobile the first thing in the mornings. After I get up I will try to sit for a few moments in silence, then visit the toilet, they go for a walk (as I do every day), then have my herbal tea, and only then look at my mobile. All this time my mobile will not be with me.

This sparked a discussion on this blog. Some agree with my viewpoint, whereas others have opposed it. In this regard, it may be useful to carefully read what Michael wrote in the 7th section of his article: If we choose to do any harmful actions, should we consider them to be done according to destiny (prārabdha)?:

If the only freedom we had were either to face outwards and thereby experience whatever prārabdha has been allotted to us or to face back towards ourself, all śāstras (spiritual, religious and moral texts) would instruct us only to turn back within, but this is not the only instruction they give, because the authors of those texts knew firstly that most of us are not yet willing even to try to turn within, and secondly that so long as we are facing outwards we can make other choices, such as whether or not to eat meat or do numerous other morally significant actions, and the choices we make determine the purity or impurity of our mind (which depends on the relative strength and intensity of our viṣaya-vāsanās and karma-vāsanās), so since only a relatively pure mind will be willing to try to face inwards, they advise us to choose to do actions that will tend to purify our mind and to avoid those that would tend to make it less pure.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

As Michael writes, ‘so long as we are facing outwards we can make other choices, such as whether or not to eat meat or do numerous other morally significant actions’. I think, how much time we wish to spend fiddling or doing whatever with our mobile phones is a morally significant action. In my opinion, mobile phones can be a big nuisance if we are too attached to it, which most of us unfortunately are. Of course, mobiles can be extremely useful if used judiciously. However, we have to admit that we use it in excess.

Therefore I was thinking that I should keep my mobile phone at bay for a few hours every day. I may succeed or may not succeed in my intentions, that is a separate matter. If I keep my mobile out of my reach for a few hours every day, I may try using this time practising self-investigation. This was my intention. Bhagavan says in the 19th paragraph of Nan Yar?:

It is not appropriate to let [one’s] mind [dwell] excessively on worldly matters.

To sum up: As Bhagavan implies, we have a choice, either we allow our minds to dwell excessively on worldly matters, or restrict our attention to things of this world. Since mobile phone is an important part of our world, should we not restrict its use? We need to ponder over this question.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Meister Eckhart: God is at home. We are in the far country.

My note: Yes, God is at our home, and we as this ego exist outside or apart from our real home. So in that sense, our ego lives in a far-off country. However, from another perspective, since we (our real self) are one with God, we are where God is and therefore we do not actually live in a far-off country. We live with God in absolute oneness.

Meister Eckhart: To be full of things is to be empty of God, to be empty of things is to be full of God.

My note: So very true. As Bhagavan teaches us in Nan Yar and elsewhere, either we experience ourself as this ego and thereby be full of objective phenomena (this world), or we experience ourself as we actually are and thereby experience no objective phenomena. So Eckhart is correct, God and things cannot exist together.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Meister Eckhart: The eye by which I see God is the same as the eye by which God sees me. My eye and God's eye are one and the same-one in seeing, one in knowing, and one in loving.

My note: I think, this passage echoes what Bhagavan teaches in verse 4 of Ulladu Narpadu:

If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? How? Can the seen be otherwise than the eye? The eye is oneself, the infinite eye.

We share the same ‘eye’ with God, because we are one with God. The real ‘eye’ is oneself. The ‘eye’ in this context means one’s real nature, which is pure awareness. It is infinite and hence formless awareness, so it can never see any forms or phenomena, which are all finite objects.

Therefore, as Eckhart implies, we are one with God is seeing, knowing and loving. We (our real self) see, know and love only itself. There is nothing other than or apart from ourself for us to see, know or love.

gargoyle said...

Mouna said:
One thing I noticed though is that certain attitudes and intentions put me closer to atma-vichara than others so I try to follow those trends (predetermined or not).

Without a doubt, I second your comment Mouna.

I recently made a change in what I eat in the morning and this has had a very positive change in how I feel and attitude.


Regarding mobile phones: when I retired in 2012 I promptly took a large hammer to my phone (after removing the battery for recycling).
At first I missed it and wondered if I made a mistake. After a month or so I felt free that I had broken this attachment. Since I was no longer working for the man I had no need for it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Gargoyle, great! It is extremely difficult to imagine somebody without a mobile phone in today's world. Almost everyone owns one in India.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Balthasar, this is in reference to your comment in which you narrate the story of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Wolf of Gubbio. We know that similar miracles took place around Bhagavan. His relationship with animals was one of reciprocal love. Bhagavan was one with the animals around him in every which way.

His friends and companions included the cows, dogs, birds, peacocks, squirrels, monkeys and goats. Who can forget Bhagavan’s love for the great devotee, Cow Lakshmi? Cow Lakshmi devotion to Bhagavan was extraordinary. These devotees were as dear to Bhagavan as his human devotees. Even poisonous snakes were safe in Bhagavan’s vicinity, as he did not allow any harm to be caused to them.

Once he allowed a cobra to pass over his body, while he remained perfectly calm. When people asked him how he felt when this cobra passed over him, he simply said, ‘cool’. Even the tigers listened to Bhagavan. A tiger used to come one of the lakes near the asramam to drink water. Bhagavan requested this tiger to come at a slightly different time, since people could visit the lake at the time of tiger's visit. The tiger gladly obeyed Bhagavan.

However these incidents appeared quite natural with Bhagavan. He never let people consider these as miracles or any such thing. Bhagavan’s love and compassion for all creatures – whether human or non-human - was infinite, and consequently everyone reciprocated his love in full measure.

ashamed.ego said...

Whatever choices we think we make, they are a result of the forces of causes and effects (at the relative level).

If I am asked to lift up one of my hands, after some 'thought', or spontaneously, I lift one of my hands. The motivation, or push to raise one hand (and not the other) arises out of the forces of causes and effects. There are physical, chemical, biological causes and stimuli present which are the cause of a particular action.

At the relative level, our lives are driven by these forces. The phenomena of 'thinking', 'choosing' are illusions based upon these forces. Whether I 'choose' to waste my time on my mobile, or I 'choose' to start turning inwards instead, the choice can be seen as having already been made, based upon the multitude of causes which are present with their respective strengths. The problem with the organism is that it cannot see the intricate web of the causes and their effects.

The activity of this web is the reason we speak of having performed good karmas in the past, to have such an opportunity to be free. The causes, which led one to the effect of being exposed to the opportunity, were in themselves effects of prior causes, and so on. We reap what we sow.

There is no difference in the /way/ an amoeba makes its choices and a human makes - they are all conditioned upon the web of cause and effect. The concepts of 'thoughts', 'choices', 'decisions' arising in a human mind is also a conditioning of the web.

I can try to 'fool' this web. I decide to raise my left hand, but at the very last moment I change my mind and decide to raise my right hand. The change in my decision is also conditioned by the activity of the web. Whatever it was which arose as the sphurna/motivation to change my decision, it did not exist independently of the web; it was conditioned by the web. Hence, the causes for the change were already present.

If a graph of the causes and effects is drawn, one can understand the causes (i.e. the incoming edges of the graph) coming together in various weights and giving birth to an effect (i.e. a node in the graph). A single effect may then emanate as various outgoing edges with individual weights to give rise to other effects.

balthasar said...

Sanjay Lohia,
the story you refer I think it was told to have been a leopard (or a couple of leopards) which wanted to drink from the water of the Agastya-Tirtham (also called Palakothu - Tank), westwards of the compound of the former Swami Annamalai Ashram which is now situated at the south-west corner of today Ramanasramam. Ramana was said to have been told them in Tamil "po" (meaning "go") and something similar like "come later".

Salazar said...

"[...] so long as we are facing outwards we can make other choices, such as whether or not to eat meat or do numerous other morally significant actions [...]"

I am afraid that this is not a correct interpretation, we can DESIRE to make a choice but we cannot make choices which changes a habit UNLESS it is in alignment with prarabhda karma.

As an example, my ego believes something is a bad habit and I want to stop it. Now I can try but if that happens is entirely up to karma. So we did not have to not make that choice in the first place because it was in the "script" from the very beginning. Either with the desired outcome [of the ego] or not.

So the ego is fooling itself, it thinks it can make a choice but it really can't. It can only desire to change something and that desire must manifest at some point. However that is very likely happening in a later life because prarabdha karma is allotted at the beginning of one's life.

Again, what the body will do is already scripted at birth and the apparent choices we do are an illusion, we just think we do it, and if it happens we are happy and if not the ego may feel bad or believe it has bad willpower or all kinds of nonsense.

So yes, the sages suggested to change outwards tendency BUT they can only manifest in a future life!!! So Sanjay, and everybody else who thinks he could change prarabdha karma, you are deluding yourself.

To summarize and that is only for outward directed intentions:

1. Prarabdha karma, according to Bhagavan, determines EVERY action of the body in this life.
2. Prarabdha karma cannot be changed.
3. The ego "thinks" it makes a choice but that choice can only work out if it is in alignment with prarabdha karma.
4. In addition, that action WILL happen, if we make a choice or not! Prarabdha karma does NOT need the intention of the ego to unfold, it will unfold no matter what!
5. So to make a "choice" which is a desire is not necessary at all since it will only affect a future life.
6. So back to my original point, it is delusional to believe that the ego could change the actions of the body in this life and therefore instead to fool oneself and to identify with the ego, vichara is the best choice. And Sanjay, if you cannot do that throughout the day japa is still better than identifying with the ego.

Salazar said...

Self is animating the body, NOT the ego.

manonigraha said...

Does not the ego connect the body with self ? ("Chit-jada-granthi") ?
The ego could not even seem to exist without being beared and supported by self.

Salazar said...

Or from a different angle: Yes, we are making choices all day long, what we eat, what we cloth, which road we take, where we shop etc.

But that is happening only in imagination! Because what we eat, what we are going to wear, and what road we'll take is already determined by birth. So all of these choices have been made already!

The ego is just rehearsing the action and likes to believe that it, the ego, is doing it.

Free will is to either like what the body does or not. That like or dislike are desires and will manifest in a later life.

So my question is, do I settle for desiring to change a habit which can only manifest in a later life (if it is not prarabdha karma) or do I want to stop this stupidity and try to transcend the ego with vichara?

But the explanation can be that immature people simply cannot grasp the above and they need to go though that imaginary belief of "improving the ego". For some reason I assumed that the majority of people on this blog are not falling under this category but I am very likely wrong.

Anyway.

yathartha svarupa said...

It seems to be the best to act so as nothing is predetermined.
In daily life I do not care about predetermination/predestination, therefore I act as having total free will.

Salazar said...

Another example from personal experience: It takes me about 30 minutes by car to drive from my home to work. Usually I am a calm and safe driver but there are short phases where I drive more reckless. Now the ego jumps up of course and thinks, uh, I could make an accident, what is going on, I should drive more carefully, etc.

Now I could play Sanjay and tell myself to not do that anymore or whatever or I stop that train of thought in the very beginning and do vichara. Because how I'll be driving is entirely up to prarabdha karma and the only affect my "desire" to drive even more safely is that I have to reincarnate in another life so I can be a complete safe driver with no transgressions whatsoever.

Vichara cuts through the imaginary ego crap and can end the reincarnation cycle, or, since I want to be a good driver, I have to live through that particular experience in a next life still hanging out in samsara :)

kurnda matiyal said...

Salazar,
my immature view:
Actually steady "improving the ego" is the best practice. Once the improved ego will vanish and we will be then - and not earlier - back home. Metaphorically spoken, only the refinement of the ego will give you the ticket to arrive at home again. An impure mind will never have access to pure self-awareness.

Salazar said...

Then by all means go for it!

ashamed.ego said...

Suppose that today, right now and suddenly, my ego dissolves into my Self. The life, as being lived by my mind-body complex, will not change one iota because of the enlightenment.

Outwardly, I, as seen by someone else, will continue to engage in activities which are conditioned by the forces of the causes and effects.

Thoughts will arise in the brain. One of them may urge the organism to learn a new, interesting subject, so it goes and spends time reading, understanding the subject, solving problems, moving about in the world, just like any other organism does under the control of its 'natural instincts', or cause-and-effect.

Inwardly, the Self remains nothing more (and quite possibly even less) than a witness to whatever goes on outwardly. The ego, as the doer-sufferer, does not exist any more. The doer-sufferer is the mind-body complex, or the nature itself. This fact is in real, physical experience for the jnani, so much so that even if the jnani's body is burnt alive, he'd not feel any (as we mortals so keenly feel) pain. There's no one left inside to receive and interpret the blows of pain-pleasure, success-failure, gain-loss, happiness-sadness.

Enlightenment does not depend on the nature of the ego, or on the mind-body complex, but on the absence of the ego. Papaji's relation with the Belgian woman is considered scandalous by some. But, assuming that Papaji was enlightened (and I am not casting any doubt about his enlightenment, merely using a logical construct), there was nobody 'home' to do-enjoy/do-suffer that relationship - the doer-enjoyer/doer-sufferer of that relationship was nature/cause-and-effect itself. The doer-sufferer of the outrage caused by that relation was also nature (i.e. the people), but they 'felt' their pain as deeply personal/communal.

On the other hand, it is quite easy for the mind-body complex to deceive itself into 'enlightenment' thereby giving it the 'permission' to do as it pleases. But the fact remains that nature will point fingers at itself, punish itself, correct itself, and if the individual is not really enlightened, the worldly pain and all its effects must exist for and be felt by the individual.

I think that the real nature of enlightenment has been twisted around by the ego's need for understanding it, and more importantly, by its need to force its own limitations on it. It sees a glass of water, convinces itself that water is of the shape of a glass, and is outraged when water is found elsewhere in the shape of a pot.

Mouna said...

Salazar,

”Now I could play Sanjay and tell myself to not do that...”
My friend, I do respect a lot your commments and learn a lot from our interactions, so I was a little surprised by the tone of this sentence. Let me ask you, is there a need to kind of pick on Sanjay, which is also a good contributor to this blog?. This sentence transpires “ad hominem” more than a response on a comment on what a fellow wrote.
Just wanted to bring it to your attention.
This of course is my subjective opinion and I could be way wrong on what lies behind the words. If that is the case my apologies.
(I would have sent you this comment off list but here we don’t have individual emails)

Thank you, be well
M

Salazar said...

Hello Mouna, your comment is perfectly fine. It's okay that you have the back of your fellow commentator but I believe you got the wrong impression. Alright, I may have poked some fun with my comment about Sanjay since he's so persistent about his power of choice :)

But that was not intended to be disrespectful in any way, I consider Sanjay as a very sincere devotee whose main interest is to apply Bhagavan's teaching as best as he can. And no apologies needed, actually feel free to speak up if you feel I am out of line. I respect your judgment and it is appreciated.

My best to you.

Mouna said...

All good my friend, thanks for your clarification.
M

Sanjay Lohia said...

Balthasar, as you pointed out, the animal in my story was probably a leopard. There is another story relating to the leopards. This appears to be a different story and is taken from the Letters from Sri Ramanasramam by Suri Nagamma.

The other day I learnt of one more incident in Bhagavan's life on the hill and so I am writing to you about it. When Bhagavan was living in Virupaksha Cave, the roar of a leopard was heard from the place where drinking water was available nearby. By the time the scared devotees had gathered some plates and drums in order to make a noise and drive the leopard away, it had drunk the water it required and gone away with one more roar.

Bhagavan looked at those frightened devotees and said to them in an admonishing tone, “Why do you worry so much? The leopard intimated to me by the first roar that she was coming here. After drinking water she told me by another roar that she was going. She went her own way. She never meddled with your affairs. Why are you so scared? This mountain is the home of these wild animals, and we are their guests. That being so, is it right on your part to drive them away?”

Perhaps with the intention of relieving them of their fears, Bhagavan added, "A number of siddha purushas (holy beings) live on this mountain. It is perhaps with a desire to see me that they come and go, assuming various shapes. Hence, you see it is not right for you to disturb them." From that time onwards, the leopard used to come frequently to that place to drink. Whenever the roar was heard, Bhagavan used to say, “There you are! The leopard is announcing her arrival.” Then again he used to say, “The leopard announces her departure.” In this manner he used to be quite at ease with all the wild animals.

Sanjay Lohia said...

What makes our practice of self-investigation possible? We can give various answers to this question. However, all these answers are interconnected or help each other. The things that we need to start the practice of self-investigation and keep at it are as follows:

1) Love: we need love to experience ourself as we really are.

2) Non-attachment: we need to gradually wean ourself away from our attachments to things other than ourself.

3) Pure mind: we need a relatively pure mind to embark on the journey of self-discovery.

4) Sharp-mind: we need a sharp and penetrating mind – a mind which is capable of separating the awareness from the non-aware objects.

5) Reading or listening: we need to read or listen to Bhagavan’s teachings repeatedly. This will make us understand the correct way to practice and also why we should practise self-investigation.

6) Reflection: we need to not only repeatedly read or listen to Bhagavan’s teachings but need to think about it deeply in order to make things clearer.

As I implied in the beginning, all these things act and interact with each other. However, the most important thing is practice - without practice none of the above things will be of much use to us. If we regularly practise self-investigation, we will automatically deepen or enhance the effectiveness of all the above things, which will in turn again help and deepen our self-investigation.


balthasar said...

Sanjay Lohia,
I remember to have seen some fifty meters down from Virupaksha - in direction of Guhai Namasivaya temple/cave - a small tirtham. Perhaps it was that water place mentioned by Suri Nagamma.

Salazar said...

yathartha svarupa, you said and I quote, “It seems to be the best to act so as nothing is predetermined. In daily life I do not care about predetermination/predestination, therefore I act as having total free will. “

My comment to that: I am not sure you really grasp the implication, because who is [erroneously] believing who is acting? The ego. However the actions of your body cannot be controlled by your ego nor can your ego control what kind of thoughts it thinks. That becomes clear after an extensive practice of vichara. If thoughts could be controlled nobody would be sad or suffering because the ego would not allow any thoughts which could trigger these emotions.
And per Bhagavan, if you raise your arm or not is also not in the control of your ego but controlled by the shakti of Ishwara, in fact any action of the body is controlled by Ishwara and not by your ego.

Therefore you cannot control your thoughts nor the actions of your body. Sure one can learn some yogic practices where thoughts get subdued temporary but that is not real control because eventually these thoughts have to come up again.

Consequentially your comment is, and I do not say that to put you down or anything, a product of sheer ignorance.

Salazar said...

In September 2017 I quoted Robert Adams who said that the mind cannot create thoughts. In response Michael graciously posted an article on 9-18-2017 where he stated that Bhagavan taught that thoughts are created only by the ego.

Now I am wondering, since the ego cannot control these thoughts which it is supposedly "creating" how can it be the creator of thereof? But then where is the ego coming from and with that the thoughts which are projected? They are a reflection of Self and as such the ego and thoughts appear and disappear simultaneously. To imply that one of these concepts were there before the other one is rather fishy, I believe that the question what is first, the ego or a thought falls under the category of what is first, the chicken or the egg?

Anyway, I do not think that any clarity of that topic can be found in Bhagavan's texts, I still favor Robert's comment and I believe that he is in unison with Bhagavan on this matter. The only true answer is found in Jnana.

ashamed.ego said...

Thoughts arise like any other natural process, stimulated by various conditions such as force of habit, external stimuli, etc.

Ego is the Self paying attention to at least one 'item' other than the Self.
Self exists; the phenomena such as thoughts also exist. When the ego disappears, it means that the Self is paying attention only to itself, oblivious to any phenomena, which now become orphaned of the Self's attention, but which continue to rise and subside in the mind-body as before.

yathartha svarupa said...

Salazar,
to a certain degree the actions of our body can quite very well be controlled by the ego. To the same degree the ego can controll the kind of thoughts it thinks.

To see the above obvious facts you don't even need practice any vichara.

If the ego can project the universe then it is either at least so powerful as Ishwara, or "ego" is just the same as "Ishwara" - only an other name for it.
Therefore my comment is not a product of sheer ignorance but of reach life-experience.

You seem to have simply the intention to make the things more complicate than they really are.
But in no way I want put you down.
On the other hand I never would assert to have clear knowledge about the mentioned subjects.

yathartha svarupa said...

Salazar,
when you say "To imply that one of these concepts were there before the other one is rather fishy, I believe that the question what is first, the ego or a thought falls under the category of what is first, the chicken or the egg?"
you seem to forget that the ego is simply the first thought.

yathartha svarupa said...

ashamed.ego,
the self does not "pay attention only to itself", more accurately it is just only aware of nothing else than itself. The words "paying attention" imply to do any action which in this context is certainly not correct.

Salazar said...

I don't believe you get what I am saying. Can you concede that your original comment was false or do you want to keep arguing? If you do not want to admit that any further dialog would be redundant.

Be well my friend.

Salazar said...

I just saw your other comment that the ego in fact can control.

That is of course completely false but we are at a point where any further discussion is futile.

So I have nothing else to say to you.

Be well and God bless.

yathartha svarupa said...

Salazar,
my original commentof 28 April 2018 at 23:02 was only
"1. It seems to be the best to act so as nothing is predetermined.
"2. In daily life I do not care about predetermination/predestination, therefore I act as having total free will."

Which sentence or which part of them shall I concede as being false ?

ashamed.ego said...

yathartha svarupa,

If it helps you resolve your situation, please read my statement "Self is paying attention only to itself" as "Self is only aware of nothing else but itself."

I am not sure that engaging in word-play is of benefit. The devotee needs to 'look' at the truth being pointed at by the words.

Ego (=Self+adjuncts) has no power over the nature (prakriti) except of being aware of the prakriti and of wrongly claiming things in it as 'mine'.

The actions in the nature (which includes those of the mind-body of an organism) arise due to the forces of cause and effect. The ego deludes itself, out of its innocent misunderstanding, into being the doer-enjoyer of those actions and their results.

When someone says "ego can control thoughts", that also is part of ego's delusion. If I have an urge to smoke a cigarette, and I do not give in to it, that is also the play of nature. But the ego claims that it is its 'strength' which made it possible to quell the urge.

As has been pointed out to me and others, whatever be the action or its result, the ego must stop claiming them as its own, and that can be 'achieved' through jnana/bhakti.

yathartha svarupa said...

ashamed.ego,
when I now come to the decision to answer to your comment does not this ego "control its thoughts" ? What you call the "play of nature" is nothing but the power of the ego.
Yet there is no need to emphasize (you name it "claim") that this control is "my own", it works quite naturally within its field of force/power.
Let the ego play its play. When the train (of the ego)comes in the station there is no need to get into. You only need step back/stand back from the edge of the platform and the train will continue its journey/run without involving you in its natural business.
In the context of self-investigation it is rather of considerable importance to cultivate a clear vigilance than entertaining an hysterical and hypocritical ego-phobia.

ashamed.ego said...

yathartha svarupa,

You say "when I now come to the decision to answer to your comment does not this ego "control its thoughts" ?".

The answer is no. Your statement confuses ego and thinking. Thinking is performed by nature, just like flying (for a bird) is performed by nature. Ego believes that it is thinking or flying, but that would be false. I will repeat what I said earlier: Ego has no power except to be aware and to claim things as its own. It certainly does not have any power to choose, to think, to do.


You say "In the context of self-investigation it is rather of considerable importance to cultivate a clear vigilance than entertaining an hysterical and hypocritical ego-phobia."

:) That is quite an escalation. Please exercise your power to ignore my comments.

Salazar said...

Sorry but I cannot take it anymore to read such inane comments by "yathartha svarupa". Dude, you have no clue and even not begun to grasp a tiny bit what this is all about.

Ego-phobia, LMAO - I am amazed about the extend of confusion and ignorance.

Carry on - hahahahahahahaha - sorry can't help it and laughter is the best medicine.

Salazar said...

Did anybody on this blog wonder who is perceiving the thoughts which come into awareness? That what is aware of thoughts cannot be the creator of these thoughts, because a thought is an object apart from that "observer".

Thoughts come into awareness and disappear. So really, where are they coming from? And please drop any concepts you've read and blindly, with out investigating it, have accepted them even when they are coming from Bhagavan.

Blindly believing concepts no matter from whom is ignorance. Every sage is endorsing that.

So where are thoughts coming from? If patiently investigated one will discover that they come out of nowhere and disappear into nowhere. So we actually do not know where they are coming from.

However it is absolutely clear that they cannot come from the observer of these thoughts.

Now anybody, who has not practically investigated the premise above sails in the land of ignorance and imagination.

We can only talk with authority of things we have actually experienced and investigated otherwise we just parrot blindly what we have read!

yathartha svarupa said...

I don't have a bad conscience about my ignorance because even bare ignorance is beared by awareness.
Whereas seeming knowledge of crafty customers is just the worst case of blindness.

Salazar said...

yathartha svarupa, oh please, stop these platitudes and parroting, .... "even bare ignorance is beared by awareness". Besides the poor English (what is beared?), is that supposed to sound smart?

See, you are not even a "crafty" customer, you are just plain stupid.

Salazar said...

In the spirit of "yathartha svarupa": "I, Salazar, don't have a bad conscience being a crafty customer with a worst case of blindness because even a crafty customer is *beared* by awareness."

I am sure he'll miss the many ironies and fine points of that statement. Let's just keep posting these platitudes, mixed in with some "we should's" and so on.

That is much easier than actually practically figuring out where thoughts come from (as suggested above) and to possible change a few erroneous core beliefs. But no, just declare the other side to be blind. I have done my home work with that, anybody else? Not according to those statements of control and power of the ego.

yathartha svarupa said...

This Salazar is a man to take note of. Just for your notebook: Knowing where thoughts come from is just as valuable as to know how many raindrops a cloud has.

yathartha svarupa said...

ashamed.ego,
regarding "Your statement confuses ego and thinking."
Actually there is no room to confuse them because they are rather the same.

yathartha svarupa said...

Salazar,
"So where are thoughts coming from? If patiently investigated one will discover that they come out of nowhere and disappear into nowhere. So we actually do not know where they are coming from.
However it is absolutely clear that they cannot come from the observer of these thoughts."

Investigating the origin of thoughts is not self-investigation.
Quite the contrary: Atma-vichara as keenly looking within is investigation of the 'I'-thought alone.
Regarding your discovery "after patient investigation" the result of my discovery was completely the contrary: thoughts come directly from the observer of thoughts.

ashamed.ego said...

yathartha svarupa said...
"Actually there is no room to confuse them because they are rather the same."

They are the 'same' from the point of view of ego. Once the ego dissolves, the thoughts dissolve FOR THE SELF who was attending to them before the dissolution. They do not disappear out of existence. If such were the case, Bhagavan (and every other enlightened being) would have disappeared as soon as he became self-realized, since thoughts are a phenomenon not unlike the body.

yathartha svarupa said...

ashamed.ego,
you say "...the thoughts dissolve FOR THE SELF who was attending to them before the dissolution."
The self is never attending to thoughts.

yathartha svarupa said...

ashamed.ego,
you state "Ego has no power except to be aware and to claim things as its own. It certainly does not have any power to choose, to think, to do."
On the contrary the ego even has the power to create all the worlds and universe.

yathartha svarupa said...

Salazar,
as a further remark to what you said ("See, you are not even a "crafty" customer, you are just plain stupid.") I would like to give you some biblical sayings as a good advice for your future life:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:3)

"It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." In your case "rich" stands for "wide in knowledge".

ashamed.ego said...

yathartha svarupa,

You say "The self is never attending to thoughts."

Self, which is attending to thoughts, and other phenomena (which are other than itself) /is/ the ego.


You say "On the contrary the ego even has the power to create all the worlds and universe."
Ego has no power except to be aware and to claim things in nature as its own.
If ego has the power to create worlds, you could create a perfect world for yourself and live in it. For you, there'd be no real need for enlightenment.


"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Here, 'poor in spirit' refers to people whose egos are weak/non-existent, i.e. egos which precisely know that they do not have any power.

For the second statement about the camel and the rich man, are you saying that ignorant people stand a better chance to enter the heaven?

Our conversation has deteriorated to a place where no mutual understanding can be had. Thank you for your comments.

yathartha svarupa said...

ashamed.ego,
kind regards and best wishes.

Pythia, oracle of Delphi said...

You both have rapidly arrived at the place where individual egos clash and thus clearly shown that the ego is not willing at all to accept different viewpoints. You both ought to be ashamed of yourselves for talking nonsense. Would you not show repentance ?

antarmukham said...

As Michael said being keenly self-attentive is looking within, whereas attending to anything other than ourself, including our own thoughts or feelings, is looking outwards.

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