Thursday, 8 November 2018

Everything depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of ourself as ego

In the comments on one of my recent articles, Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will, there was a discussion about the nature of ego and whether or not it is antecedent to the appearance of all phenomena, so this article is written in an attempt to clarify what Bhagavan taught us in this regard.
  1. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 24: ego is neither the body, which is jaḍa (non-aware), nor sat-cit (real awareness), but just the false awareness ‘I am this body’
  2. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 18: though all thoughts are included in mind, what mind essentially is is only ego, the root thought called ‘I’
  3. Why does Bhagavan say that ego is the subtle body, saṁsāra and bondage?
  4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: everything is ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’
  5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 4 to 7: the world is perceived only by mind or ego and does not exist without it
  6. According to Bhagavan ego or mind is what projects and perceives all phenomena, so they seem to exist only when we seem to be ego
  7. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 10 to 13: real awareness is not aware of anything other than itself, because there is nothing else for it to be aware of
  8. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: since awareness of anything other than ourself is ignorance and unreal, we can be aware of ourself as real awareness only by withdrawing our attention from everything else and turning back towards ourself to know our own ‘form of light’
  9. Bhagavan’s teachings are the pinnacle of advaita, because he has greatly simplified and clarified the essential import of all its more ancient texts
  10. What is aware of ego and all phenomena is only ourself as ego and not ourself as we actually are
  11. Since our goal is to be aware of nothing other than ourself, the means to achieve it is simply to try to be aware of nothing other than ourself
  12. Ego projects and simultaneously perceives itself as all forms or phenomena
  13. What misperceives brahman as ego and world is not brahman as such but only ego
  14. Whatever comes into existence or ceases to exist does not actually exist but merely seems to exist
  15. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 17 and 18: what the ātma-jñāni sees and what the ajñāni sees is exactly the same, but what they each see it as is different
  16. Since ‘advaita’ means non-twoness, it has to explain the seeming existence of all this multiplicity, and the simplest explanation it gives is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda
1. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 24: ego is neither the body, which is jaḍa (non-aware), nor sat-cit (real awareness), but just the false awareness ‘I am this body’

In his comment of 20 September 2018 at 04:26 a friend called Samarender Reddy wrote: ‘the question to ask is what is this “I” that wants to end the ego — that “I” is according to me the Reflected Consciousness or Chidabhasa. […] I would like to state my views on what the ego is: Ego is nothing but the belief on the part of the Chidabhasa that it is the body and mind. […] Going by my definition/viewpoint of ego, I would have to say that ego cannot want its own destruction because ego is nothing but one of the beliefs of Chidabhasa, so how can a mere belief want its own destruction. Rather, it is the Chidabhasa that wants the destruction of ego, that is, Chidabahasa wants to destroy its erroneous belief that it is the body-mind (which belief is nothing but the ego). I think Bhagavan gave different definitions of ego and mind at different places, so it can be tricky to tease out one unambiguous viewpoint. But, if we concede to Aseem that Bhagavan is meaning that ego is the “I-thought”, I am not sure what an I-thought is? Is the I-thought nothing but Chidabhasa; but, how can Chidabhasa, which is the consciousness portion of the ego, be the ego. Ego is clearly the mixed up notions on the part of the Chidabhasa that it is the body-mind. So, Bhagavan cannot be meaning that the I-thought is Chidabhasa. He must be meaning by the I-thought the chit-jada granthi […], which is nothing but the belief on the part of the Chidabhasa that it is the body-mind, which is how I defined ego, so in that interpretation of the I-thought, the I-thought cannot [want] its own destruction because it is nothing but a belief’, in reply to which I wrote the following comment on 30 September 2018 at 10:47:
Samarender, in your comment of 20 September 2018 at 04:26 you have used various terms such as ‘I’, ‘ego’, ‘I-thought’, ‘Chidabhasa’ and ‘chit-jada granthi’, all of which refer to same thing, namely yourself, the subject, perceiver or one who is aware of all this.

You say, ‘I think Bhagavan gave different definitions of ego and mind at different places, so it can be tricky to tease out one unambiguous viewpoint’, but though he used the term ‘mind’ in various different senses in different contexts (usually as a synonym for ego, but sometimes in a more general sense as the totality of all thoughts or mental phenomena), he used the terms ‘ego’ and ‘thought called I’ (or ‘I-thought’, as it is often translated in English) in just one unambiguous and clearly defined sense, which he explained in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: “The jaḍa body does not say ‘I’; sat-cit does not rise; in between one thing, ‘I’, rises as the extent of the body. Know that this is cit-jaḍa-granthi, bondage, soul, subtle body, ego, this saṁsāra and mind”.

That is, ego is neither the body (a term that he used to refer to all the five sheaths collectively) nor real awareness (sat-cit), but just the spurious ‘I’ that rises between them, so to speak, as the false adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’. Since this is a confused mixture of real awareness (cit) and a body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) that seemingly binds cit and jaḍa together as if they were one.

This is what he meant by the terms ‘ego’ and ‘thought called I’, and he never gave any definition of these terms that conflicted with this definition. Since this ego is not real awareness (sat-cit) but just a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), he clarified elsewhere that this alone is what the term ‘cidābhāsa’ refers to. That is, other than ego there is no such thing as cidābhāsa.

You say that cidābhāsa is ‘the consciousness portion of the ego’, but this is not correct. The consciousness portion of the ego (the cit portion of the cit-jaḍa-granthi) is just pure awareness, which is our real nature [ātma-svarūpa] and what he refers to in verse 24 as sat-cit (being-awareness or real awareness).

You say, ‘Ego is nothing but the belief on the part of the Chidabhasa that it is the body and mind’, but ego is not a mere belief. It is the believer, the ‘I’ that believes this or that. Moreover, it does not merely believe that it is body and mind; it is actually aware of itself as body and mind, and it itself is nothing but this false awareness ‘I am this body’.

Because ego is a kind of awareness, albeit just a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), it has likes and dislikes, desires and attachments, hopes and fears, and so on, so it can want either to perpetuate its seeming existence or to surrender itself entirely so that it subsides and dissolves back into its source, the pure and infinite self-awareness from which it appeared.

Though I referred to it in the previous sentence as ‘it’, it is what we currently experience as ‘I’, so the meaning of that sentence would be clearer if I rephrase it thus: Because I, as this ego, am a kind of awareness, albeit just a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), I have likes and dislikes, desires and attachments, hopes and fears, and so on, so I can want either to perpetuate my seeming existence as this ego or to surrender myself entirely so that I subside and dissolve back into my source, the pure and infinite self-awareness from which I appeared as this ego.
In reply to this Samarender wrote two comments, but I will first reply to the first paragraph of the second of these, namely the one of 30 September 2018 at 18:45, in which he said that what Bhagavan says in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu implies duality, because he ‘seems to be saying there are insentient things like body and sentient thing like sat-chit or being-consciousness, which is clearly a case of duality’.

Samarender, like all spiritual teachings Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is addressed to ego, in whose view duality seems to exist, so Bhagavan had to acknowledge the seeming existence of duality in the view of ego in order to teach us how to free ourself from it. The root of all duality is ego, because it is only in the view of ego that duality and multiplicity seem to exist, so in order to get rid of duality we need to get rid of ego. This is one of the principal implications of all that he wrote in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

What he says in verse 24 is:
சடவுடனா னென்னாது சச்சித் துதியா
துடலளவா நானொன் றுதிக்கு — மிடையிலிது
சிச்சடக்கி ரந்திபந்தஞ் சீவனுட்ப மெய்யகந்தை
யிச்சமு சாரமன மெண்.

jaḍavuḍaṉā ṉeṉṉādu saccit tudiyā
duḍalaḷavā nāṉoṉ ḏṟudikku — miḍaiyilitu
ciccaḍakki ranthibandhañ jīvaṉuṭpa meyyahandai
yiccamu sāramaṉa meṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: சட உடல் ‘நான்’ என்னாது; சத்சித் உதியாது; உடல் அளவா ‘நான்’ ஒன்று உதிக்கும் இடையில். இது சித்சடக்கிரந்தி, பந்தம், சீவன், நுட்ப மெய், அகந்தை, இச் சமுசாரம், மனம்; எண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): jaḍa uḍal ‘nāṉ’ eṉṉādu; sat-cit udiyādu; uḍal aḷavā ‘nāṉ’ oṉḏṟu udikkum iḍaiyil. idu cit-jaḍa-giranthi, bandham, jīvaṉ, nuṭpa mey, ahandai, i-c-samusāram, maṉam; eṇ.

அன்வயம்: சட உடல் ‘நான்’ என்னாது; சத்சித் உதியாது; இடையில் உடல் அளவா ‘நான்’ ஒன்று உதிக்கும். இது சித்சடக்கிரந்தி, பந்தம், சீவன், நுட்ப மெய், அகந்தை, இச் சமுசாரம், மனம்; எண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): jaḍa uḍal ‘nāṉ’ eṉṉādu; sat-cit udiyādu; iḍaiyil uḍal aḷavā ‘nāṉ’ oṉḏṟu udikkum. idu cit-jaḍa-giranthi, bandham, jīvaṉ, nuṭpa mey, ahandai, i-c-samusāram, maṉam; eṇ.

English translation: The insentient body does not say ‘I’; being-awareness does not rise; in between one thing, ‘I’, rises as the extent of the body. Know that this is the awareness-insentience-knot, bondage, soul, subtle body, ego, this wandering and mind.

Explanatory paraphrase: The jaḍa [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 (granthi) formed by the entanglement of awareness (cit) with an insentient (jaḍa) body, binding them together as if they were one], bandha [bondage], jīva [life or soul], nuṭpa mey [subtle body], ahandai [ego], this saṁsāra [wandering, revolving, perpetual movement, restless activity, worldly existence or the cycle of birth and death] and manam [mind].
Though he says in the first three sentences of this verse, ‘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 jaḍa body does not say I; sat-cit does not rise; in between one thing, I, rises as the extent of the body’, he does not mean to imply that the body exists prior to ego, which is what he refers to here as ‘நான் ஒன்று’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu), ‘one thing, I’, because he used exactly the same term in the previous verse (verse 23) when he wrote, ‘நான் ஒன்று எழுந்த பின், எல்லாம் எழும்’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu eṙunda piṉ, ellām eṙum), ‘After one thing, I, rises, everything rises’. That is, the body and everything else seem to exist only when ego, this one thing called ‘I’, seems to exist, because they seem to exist only in its view and not in the view of our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is what he refers in verse 24 as sat-cit.

However, though the body is not antecedent to ego, it is antecedent to Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, because it seems to exist whenever ego arises, and like all other phenomena Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu seems to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, so when we read Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu the body already seems to exist and to be ‘I’. Therefore it was taking into consideration our present perspective as ego, in which we seem to be a body, that Bhagavan wrote this and all the other verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. This is why he began the first verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying ‘நாம் உலகம் காண்டலால்’ (nām ulaham kāṇḍalāl), ‘Because we see the world’, in which the first word, ‘நாம்’ (nām), ‘we’, refers to ourself as this body-bound ego.

We can understand that the body is not antecedent to ego by considering our experience in a dream. As soon as we, this ego, begin to dream, we experience ourself as a body in that dream, so our experience of the dream is made possible only by our projecting and simultaneously experiencing ourself as that dream body. When we wake up from that dream, we know that throughout it we experienced that dream body as if it were ‘I’, but we do not suppose that that dream body (or any other part of the dream world) existed prior to our experiencing it as ‘I’. Just as ego projects and experiences itself as a body as soon as it rises in dream, it likewise projects and experiences itself as this body as soon as it rises in this current state, which we now take to be waking but which Bhagavan tells us is just another dream.

This is what is called ‘simultaneous creation’ (yugapat sṛṣṭi). Ego rises, simultaneously projects a body as itself, and through the five senses of that body it projects the appearance of a world. This is what happens in dream, and according to Bhagavan our present state and any other state in which we perceive phenomena is just a dream. Therefore the rising of ourself as ego is the sole cause for the appearance of all duality.

Therefore in order to unravel duality we need to unravel its root, the ego, and that is what Bhagavan is helping us to do in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. In the view of ourself as ego there now seems to be a body, and it seems to be ‘I’, but since it is jaḍa (non-aware or insentient), it is not actually aware of itself as ‘I’. This is what he means when he says in the first sentence of this verse: ‘சட உடல் நான் என்னாது’ (jaḍa uḍal nāṉ eṉṉādu), ‘The insentient body does not say I’, in which he uses the verb ‘என்னாது’ (eṉṉādu), ‘does not say’, in a metaphorical sense to mean ‘is not aware of itself as’.

Though we are now aware of ourself as if we were this body, we continue to be aware of ourself in both dream and sleep, in which we are not aware of this body, so there is an underlying and enduring awareness of our own existence that exists whether we are aware of this body or not. This permanent awareness of our own existence is what he refers to as ‘சச்சித்’ (saccit), which is a compound of two words, ‘சத்-சித்’ (sat-cit), which means ‘existence-awareness’, ‘being-awareness’ or ‘real awareness’, and hence in the second sentence of this verse he says: ‘சத்சித் உதியாது’ (sat-cit udiyādu), ‘being-awareness does not rise’. That is, real awareness is eternal and unchanging, so it neither rises nor subsides, or in other words, it neither appears nor disappears. It always remains as it is, immutable and indivisible, eternally and blissfully aware of itself as ‘I am’, so it is unaffected by the appearance or disappearance of any body or anything else.

However, there is something that is neither the insentient body nor the immutable real awareness (sat-cit), yet which borrows the properties of both, rising as the false awareness ‘I am this body’. This is what he refers as ‘நான் ஒன்று’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu), ‘one thing, I’, in the third sentence, in which he says: ‘உடல் அளவா நான் ஒன்று உதிக்கும் இடையில்’ (uḍal aḷavā nāṉ oṉḏṟu udikkum iḍaiyil), ‘in between one thing, I, rises as the extent of the body’.

Though he says that this one thing, I, rises in between, implying that it rises in between the insentient body and the immutable real awareness (sat-cit), in this context he is using the term ‘இடையில்’ (iḍaiyil), ‘in between’, in a metaphorical sense, because sat-cit is the one infinite whole, other than which nothing exists, so it is like the rope whereas the body and all other phenomena are like the snake that the rope seems to be. Just as nothing can exist in between the rope and the snake, nothing can arise in between sat-cit and anything else, so what exactly does he mean when he says that this one thing, I, rises in between?

If someone were to say about a story, ‘It is neither true nor false but somewhere in between’, what would we understand that to mean? It implies that the story is not entirely true and not entirely false, but has elements of both truth and fiction. Likewise when Bhagavan says that ego rises in between the body and sat-cit, this is a metaphorical way of saying that it is neither the body nor sat-cit, but has features of both. Like the body, it appears and disappears, and when it rises (appears) it is confined within the limits of time and place (both of which are its own projection), and like sat-cit it is aware of itself as ‘I’.

Because it is a confused mixture of the body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), and sat-cit, it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of what is aware (cit) with what is non-aware (jaḍa), binding them together as if they were one. Therefore in the fourth and final sentence of this verse Bhagavan says that this ‘I’ that rises in between as the extent of the body is what is referred to by various names: ‘இது சித்சடக்கிரந்தி, பந்தம், சீவன், நுட்ப மெய், அகந்தை, இச் சமுசாரம், மனம்; எண்’ (idu cit-jaḍa-giranthi, bandham, jīvaṉ, nuṭpa mey, ahandai, i-c-samusāram, maṉam; eṇ), ‘Know that this is cit-jaḍa-granthi, bandha [bondage], jīva [life or soul], nuṭpa mey [subtle body], ahandai [ego], this saṁsāra [wandering, revolving, perpetual movement, restless activity, worldly existence or the cycle of birth and death] and manam [mind]’.

2. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 18: though all thoughts are included in mind, what mind essentially is is only ego, the root thought called ‘I’

In the first paragraph of your first reply to me, namely your comment of 30 September 2018 at 12:18, you wrote: ‘You write “That is, ego is neither the body (a term that he used to refer to all the five sheaths collectively) nor real awareness (sat-cit)”. So, clearly you are implying the ego is NOT the mind because the mind is a part of the five sheaths. But does not Bhagavan equate in many places the mind with ego or I-thought, because what can have thoughts, including the I-thought, except the mind endowed with reflected consciousness. Not only that, even in the verse you quote from Ulladu Narpadu (Verse 24), does he not use the terms subtle body and ego as being synonymous, and what is the subtle body except the mind plus a few other things, so again there is a conflation of the mind and ego’.

As I wrote in reply to you in my comment on 30 September 2018 at 10:47 (which I reproduced at the beginning of the first section): “though he [Bhagavan] used the term ‘mind’ in various different senses in different contexts (usually as a synonym for ego, but sometimes in a more general sense as the totality of all thoughts or mental phenomena), he used the terms ‘ego’ and ‘thought called I’ (or ‘I-thought’, as it is often translated in English) in just one unambiguous and clearly defined sense”. Therefore whenever the term ‘mind’ is used we need to understand from the context in what sense it is being used.

To understand why this term is used in a variety of different senses we need to consider the nature of mind in its broadest sense. All mental phenomena of any kind whatsoever are part of the mind, and since perceptions are also mental phenomena, and since what we normally take to be physical phenomena are just perceptions, even physical phenomena are actually just mental phenomena, so in its broadest sense mind includes all phenomena.

Since mental phenomena of all kinds are what Bhagavan referred to as ‘thoughts’, and since all physical phenomena are actually just mental phenomena, in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he said, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai), ‘Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world’, and in the fourteenth paragraph he said, ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), ‘What is called the world is only thought’. Therefore, since all phenomena, whether obviously mental or seemingly physical, are just thoughts, and since thoughts constitute the mind, everything that we experience, including whatever world we perceive, is part of the mind.

However, mind consists not only of phenomena, which are objects of perception, second and third persons, but also of the perceiver of them, the subject or first person, ‘I’, which is what is called ego. Like all the objects perceived by it, the subject is also a thought, so Bhagavan often referred to it as the ‘thought called I’. However, though it is just a thought, the subject is quite unlike all other thoughts, because whereas all other thoughts are just objects, which are non-aware (jaḍa), it is what is aware both of itself and of all other thoughts.

You ask rhetorically, ‘what can have thoughts, including the I-thought, except the mind endowed with reflected consciousness[?]’, implying that the mind is something other than ego, the primal thought called ‘I’, and that ego is a thought that the mind has, but this is putting the cart before the horse. Ego is the essence of the mind, its primal thought or root, because it is the subject, the perceiving element of the mind, and all other thoughts are objects perceived by it. Therefore what ‘has’ thoughts (that is, what projects and perceives them) is only ego.

Therefore no other thoughts can exist or appear independent of ego, the subject or perceiver of them, whereas ego itself is not dependent on any particular other thought. That is, though ego cannot rise or stand without projecting and grasping other thoughts, the thoughts it grasps need not always be the same thoughts, so whereas all other thoughts are constantly changing, ego exists without changing so long as it seems to exist. As the witness, the subject or perceiver of all change, the only change ego itself undergoes is its rising (appearing) and subsiding (disappearing).

Therefore though mind in the broadest sense of the term includes all thoughts or phenomena, only one of its thoughts is constant, namely ego, the primal thought called ‘I’, so what mind essentially is is only this ego, the perceiver of all other thoughts, as Bhagavan points out 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’].
This is also explained by him in various places in Nāṉ Ār?. In the fourth paragraph he says:
மன மென்பது ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தி லுள்ள ஓர் அதிசய சக்தி. அது சகல நினைவுகளையும் தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது. நினைவுகளை யெல்லாம் நீக்கிப் பார்க்கின்றபோது, தனியாய் மனமென் றோர் பொருளில்லை; ஆகையால் நினைவே மனதின் சொரூபம்.

maṉam eṉbadu ātma-sorūpattil uḷḷa ōr atiśaya śakti. adu sakala niṉaivugaḷaiyum tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu. niṉaivugaḷai y-ellām nīkki-p pārkkiṉḏṟa-pōdu, taṉi-y-āy maṉam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ illai; āhaiyāl niṉaivē maṉadiṉ sorūpam.

What is called mind is an atiśaya śakti [an extraordinary power] that exists in ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. It makes all thoughts appear [or projects all thoughts]. When one looks, excluding [removing or putting aside] all thoughts, solitarily there is not any such thing as mind; therefore thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or very nature] of the mind.
In the fifth paragraph he says:
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.
And in the eighth paragraph he says:
நினைவே மனத்தின் சொரூபம். நானென்னும் நினைவே மனத்தின் முதல் நினைவு; அதுவே யகங்காரம்.

niṉaivē maṉattiṉ sorūpam. nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē maṉattiṉ mudal niṉaivu; adu-v-ē y-ahaṅkāram.

Thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or actual nature] of the mind. The thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought of the mind; it alone is ego.
Therefore though in some contexts the term ‘mind’ is used to refer to the totality of all thoughts, the only constant and indispensable thought of the mind is ego, because it is the perceiving element of the mind, whereas all other thoughts are objects perceived by it, so what the mind essentially is is only ego, and hence Bhagavan often used the term ‘mind’ to refer to ego. Therefore whenever he uses this term ‘mind’ we need to understand from the context in what sense he is using it.

Referring to the sentence in which I wrote, “That is, ego is neither the body (a term that he used to refer to all the five sheaths collectively) nor real awareness (sat-cit), but just the spurious ‘I’ that rises between them, so to speak, as the false adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’”, you inferred, ‘So, clearly you are implying the ego is NOT the mind because the mind is a part of the five sheaths’, but this is not a correct inference, because when you say ‘the mind is a part of the five sheaths’ you are referring to manōmaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of mind’, which is ‘mind’ neither in the sense of ego nor in the sense of the totality of all thoughts but in another more specialised sense, namely in the sense of that component of the mind that is distinct not only from ego but also from both its will (cittam), which is what is called ānandamaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of happiness’, and its intellect (buddhi), which is what is called vijñānamaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of intelligence or comprehension’, the distinguishing, discerning, judging, reasoning and understanding function of the mind.

That is, according to its various functions, the mind or ‘inner instrument’ (antaḥkaraṇa) is sometimes said to consist of four components, namely manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), cittam (will) and ahaṁkāram (ego). This is primarily a functional classification, because in substance these are one and the same thing, namely mind in the broadest sense of the term, but they are distinguished according to the various functions of that one thing. In this functional sense, manas (mind) includes all the grosser functions of mind such as perceiving, remembering, thinking and feeling; buddhi (intellect) is the function of distinguishing, discerning, judging, reasoning and understanding; cittam (will) is the function of liking, disliking, desiring, hoping, fearing, caring and so on; and ahaṁkāram (ego) is the ‘I’ that experiences itself as that which performs each of these three functions. Of these four, each of the first three, namely manas, buddhi and cittam, is one of the subtler three of the five sheaths, namely manōmaya kōśa, vijñānamaya kōśa and ānandamaya kōśa respectively, but the fourth, namely ahaṁkāram or ego, is not a sheath but the ‘I’ that is aware of itself as if it were all five sheaths collectively. In other words, it is the false self-awareness that appears when we cover ourself, so to speak, with these five sheaths by mistaking them to be ourself.

Therefore when I wrote, “That is, ego is neither the body (a term that he used to refer to all the five sheaths collectively) nor real awareness (sat-cit), but just the spurious ‘I’ that rises between them, so to speak, as the false adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’”, I was distinguishing ego from ‘mind’ in the more superficial sense of manōmaya kōśa, the grosser functions of mind, and I was also distinguishing it from vijñānamaya kōśa and ānandamaya kōśa, which are the subtler functions of mind, but I was not distinguishing it from ‘mind’ in its most essential sense, namely as the subject or perceiver, the root-thought called ‘I’, because in this latter sense ‘mind’ is just another name for ego.

3. Why does Bhagavan say that ego is the subtle body, saṁsāra and bondage?

You also say, ‘even in the verse you quote from Ulladu Narpadu (Verse 24), does he not use the terms subtle body and ego as being synonymous, and what is the subtle body except the mind plus a few other things, so again there is a conflation of the mind and ego’. Yes, in the fourth sentence of verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says that the ‘I’ that rises as the extent of the body (in other words, the false awareness ‘I am this body’) is ‘cit-jaḍa-granthi, bandha [bondage], jīva [life or soul], nuṭpa mey [subtle body], ahandai [ego], this saṁsāra [wandering, revolving, perpetual movement, restless activity, worldly existence or the cycle of birth and death] and manam [mind]’, but this is not the usual meaning attributed to all these terms. For example, the term ‘saṁsāra’ is generally used in a much broader sense than ego, so what he implies here is that what saṁsāra essentially is is just ego, because saṁsāra exists only in the view of ego and hence there is no saṁsāra other than ego. In other words, ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, is the seed that sprouts as the entire tree of saṁsāra.

Likewise in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says ‘அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), ‘ego itself is everything’, but this does not mean that there is no distinction between ego and everything else. Ego itself is everything in the sense that it is the seed that expands as everything else. In other words, it projects and perceives itself as all other things, so what it projects and perceives as so many phenomena is nothing but itself. Therefore it is the one substance that appears as all forms.

It is in this sense that ego is everything, and it is also in this sense that everything is consciousness, as you often say, because ego is consciousness, albeit not real consciousness but just a semblance of consciousness (cidābhāsa). Therefore ego is the immediate substance that appears as everything, and since ego is in essence just our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure consciousness (prajñāna), our real nature is the original and ultimate substance of ego, which in turn is the substance of everything else.

Ego is the subject, the perceiver, the primal thought called ‘I’, whereas everything else is just other thoughts, which are objects perceived by it, but those other thoughts are projected by it and therefore have no existence independent of it, just as a dream is just a collection of thoughts projected by the dreamer, who is ego, and therefore has no existence independent of it. The dream appears in, of and by the dreaming mind (the dreamer), so it is manōmaya (consisting only of mind), and mind is in essence only ego. Likewise all phenomena, everything perceived by ego, is manōmaya, so the substance that appears as everything is only ego, the false awareness that appears in waking and dream and disappears in sleep. It is in this sense that Bhagavan says ‘ego itself is everything’, and it is also in this sense that he says ego is saṁsāra.

Likewise he says that ego is bandha (bondage), because by experiencing ourself as a body we seem to be bound within the limitations of time, space, the duality of subject and object, and pairs of opposites such as pleasure and pain, knowledge and ignorance, life and death, and so on. To be free of all this bondage, therefore, the price to be paid is eradication of ego, so in verse 40 he concludes Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying: ‘அகந்தை உரு அழிதல் முத்தி உணர்’ (ahandai-uru aṙidal mutti uṇar), ‘know that the ego-form being destroyed is mukti [liberation]’.

Though he says in verse 24 that ego is ‘நுட்ப மெய்’ (nuṭpa mey), which is a Tamil term that means ‘subtle body’, and though he likewise says in the final sentence of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘மனமே சூக்ஷ்மசரீர மென்றும் ஜீவ னென்றும் சொல்லப்படுகிறது’ (maṉamē sūkṣma śarīram eṉḏṟum jīvaṉ eṉḏṟum sollappaḍugiṟadu), ‘Mind alone is described as sūkṣma śarīra [the subtle body] and as jīva [the soul]’ (in which what he means by ‘mind’ is only ego, because in the next sentence (the first sentence of the fifth paragraph) he says, ‘இந்தத் தேகத்தில் நான் என்று கிளம்புவது எதுவோ அஃதே மனமாம்’ (inda-t dēhattil nāṉ eṉḏṟu kiḷambuvadu edu-v-ō aḵdē maṉam-ām), ‘What rises in this body as I, that alone is mind’), in these contexts he is not using the term ‘subtle body’ in its usual technical sense, in which the subtle body is said to consist of three of the five sheaths, namely prāṇamaya kōśa, manōmaya kōśa and vijñānamaya kōśa, because ego is not any of the five sheaths, which are all jaḍa (non-aware), as he says in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār, but only the false awareness ‘I am this body’, which rises and stands by identifying itself with a body consisting of these five sheaths. Therefore why does he say that ego is nuṭpa mey or sūkṣma śarīra, the subtle body?

Like the Sanskrit term सूक्ष्म (sūkṣma), the Tamil term நுட்பம் (nuṭpam) means what is minute, fine, subtle, sharp, acute, keen, precise or exact, so they are relative terms in the sense that there are differing degrees of minuteness, subtlety or sharpness. Therefore though the term ‘sūkṣma śarīra’ is generally used to refer to a combination of prāṇamaya kōśa, manōmaya kōśa and vijñānamaya kōśa, these are relatively gross in comparison to ego, which is the subtlest of all, so when Bhagavan says that ego is the subtle body, what he means is that it is the most subtle form of the body, subtler than any of the five sheaths, because it is the subtle substance of which they are all made, the minute seed from which they all sprout.

4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: everything is ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’

In the second paragraph of your comment of 30 September 2018 at 18:45 you wrote: ‘In my opinion, everything is consciousness and only Consciousness exists, and body-mind is a mere name and form that consciousness assumes, and not an existing thing or substance, much like pot is not an existent thing except as name and form, the substance or thing being clay alone. Hence, it does not make sense to talk of body as jada or insentient because there is no such “thing or substance” called a body except in name and form to which the labels of sentient or insentient can apply. Body “exists” only in as much as a pot “exists”, that is, only in name and form, the substance which has assumed that form being Consciousness and clay, respectively, and going by the name of body and pot, respectively’.

What do you mean when you say ‘everything is consciousness’? Do you mean everything is conscious (in the sense of aware)? Is the chair I am sitting on conscious, and if so what is it conscious of? Is my desire to get up and eat something conscious? Is my memory of what I did yesterday conscious? Are my hopes for the future conscious? Is time conscious? Is space conscious? Is colour conscious? Is weight conscious? Is height conscious? If some or all of these things are not conscious, how can they be consciousness? The term ‘consciousness’ means the quality of being conscious, and by extension in some contexts it can mean what is conscious, but in either of these two senses, how can it be appropriate to say that what is not conscious is consciousness?

I am not saying that there is not any sense in which it is true to say that everything is consciousness, but if we say this, should we not be clear in our mind what we mean by saying so? Obviously there are many things that are not conscious, so how can it be appropriate to say that everything is consciousness? If it is true that everything is consciousness, there must be a deeper meaning in this statement than what it superficially implies.

If everything is consciousness, this does not mean that each thing is conscious, because many things are not conscious, so it must mean that the substance that appears as everything is conscious. Is this the case? To answer this we need to consider what it is that appears as everything.

In a dream we perceive many things, but what is the substance that appears as all those things? It is seen in our mind and by our mind, and it does not exist independent of our mind, so it is only our mind that appears as everything perceived or experienced in any dream. Or to be more precise, it is the thoughts of our mind that appear as everything, but what is the substance of those thoughts? It is only mind or mind-stuff.

But what is mind or mind-stuff? In essence it is only ego, because ego is the only constant thought of the mind. Other thoughts appear and disappear, but they appear and disappear only in the view of ourself as ego, so their substance is only ego’s view, or in other words, ego’s awareness. Since ego and its awareness are one and the same thing, the substance that appears as all thoughts is only ego.

Just as everything we perceive in a dream is just thoughts, the substance of which is ego, according to Bhagavan all phenomena, whether perceived in waking or in dream, are just thoughts, so the substance of all phenomena is only ego, as he implies when he says ‘அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), ‘ego itself is everything’, 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 ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist. Ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this is alone is giving up everything.

Explanatory paraphrase: If 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 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] 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].
Since ego is a kind of consciousness or awareness, albeit not real awareness but only a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), and since ego itself is the substance that appears as everything else, in this sense it is true to say that everything is consciousness, but the consciousness that appears as all this is not real consciousness but only ego. However, ego itself is just an appearance, albeit an appearance that appears only in its own view, so what is the substance that appears as ego?

To answer this we need to consider from where or from what ego appears, and into where or what it subsequently disappears. Obviously it appears from and disappears into whatever exists before it appears and whatever remains after it disappears, so what is that? In other words, what exists in the absence of ego? Ego is absent in sleep, so what exists and shines in sleep? Only ourself as pure awareness, that is, as awareness devoid of any adjuncts and of any phenomena or objects of awareness.

Since pure awareness alone remains in the absence of ego, it is the real nature of ourself (ātma-svarūpa), and it exists and shines whether ego appears or disappears, so it is the one eternal, infinite and immutable reality. Therefore it alone is the real substance of ego. What appears as ego is only pure awareness. It is the cit (awareness or consciousness) element of cit-jaḍa-granthi, which is ego, a confused mixture of pure awareness and non-aware (jaḍa) adjuncts.

Therefore since ego is the substance that appears as everything else, and since pure awareness is the substance that appears as ego, the ultimate substance of everything it pure awareness. That is, ego is the immediate source and substance of everything (all phenomena or objects of perception), and pure awareness is the immediate source and substance of ego, so it is the ultimate source and substance of everything else.

However, it is very important to understand the intermediate role played by ego, because pure awareness is never aware of anything other than itself, since it is infinite and immutable, so what is aware of everything else is only ego. Therefore when it is said that everything is consciousness, we should understand this to mean that everything is ego, because so long as we are aware of phenomena of any kind whatsoever, we are not aware of ourself as pure awareness but only as ego, the adjunct-mixed awareness ‘I am this body’.

Therefore when you say, ‘everything is consciousness and only Consciousness exists’, the first consciousness you refer to is ego, whereas the consciousness that alone exists is not ego but only pure awareness. In your next clause you say, ‘body-mind is a mere name and form that consciousness assumes’, but here again the consciousness you refer to is ego and not pure awareness, because only ego assumes a body and mind as itself. Pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), never assumes anything, because it is immutable and in its clear view nothing other than itself exists, so there is no body or mind and there are no names or forms.

You say, ‘it does not make sense to talk of body as jada or insentient because there is no such “thing or substance” called a body except in name and form to which the labels of sentient or insentient can apply’, but Bhagavan specifically referred to body as jaḍa (non-aware or insentient), not only in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu but also in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār, in which he says that all the five sheaths are jaḍa (non-aware) and asat (non-existence). Obviously Bhagavan knew that the body is not a real substance but just a name and form projected by ego, but all names and forms are jaḍa and asat, so he knew what he was talking about when he said that the body is jaḍa.

Do you believe that the body (or any other phenomenon) is aware, either of itself or anything else? If you agree that it is not aware, then it makes perfect sense to say that it is jaḍa, because whatever is not aware is by definition jaḍa (non-aware), but if you believe it is aware, then you are confusing yourself, the subject or perceiver, with the body, which is an object perceived by you.

5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 4 to 7: the world is perceived only by mind or ego and does not exist without it

In his comment of 1 October 2018 at 16:55 another friend called Venkat wrote that there is an ‘obvious logical problem’ in my interpretation of Bhagavan’s teachings, namely ‘how the ego can arise from a combination of consciousness and insentient matter, when the ego is required to project / imagine matter in the first place’, and this led to a discussion about which is antecedent, ego or the appearance of a body and all other phenomena.

Venkat, I agree that if I did contend that ego arises from insentient matter, that would mean that matter is antecedent to ego, in which case it would be a logical contradiction to contend that ego is required to project matter in the first place. However it seems that you have misunderstood me in this respect, because I do not contend that ego arises from insentient matter. Rather than being my contention, this seems to be yours, because in the next paragraph of the same comment you wrote: ‘The ego is a result of an erroneous thought patterns identifying consciousness with this particular body-mind, as separate and distinct from everything else that is in awareness’.

That is, if I have understood you correctly, you contend that pure awareness is aware of all phenomena, but that the trouble starts when ego arises by identifying consciousness with a particular body-mind instead of with everything else that appears in awareness. Is this what you believe?

Based on my understanding of what Bhagavan has taught us, which seems to me to be in perfect accord with our own experience, what I contend is not that ego arises from insentient matter but that it arises only from our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure awareness: that is, awareness that is uncontaminated with even the slightest awareness of anything else whatsoever, which is what we experience in sleep. Our experience does not give us any reason to suppose that insentient matter or other phenomena of any kind whatsoever exist except in the view of ourself as ego, because phenomena appear only when we rise as ego, as in waking and dream, and they disappear whenever ego disappears, as in sleep.

Generally we overlook the significance of this invariable conjunction of ego and phenomena, but Bhagavan has pointed out its significance to us. He has also pointed out to us the oneness of existence and awareness, and therefore he maintained that whatever seems to exist seems to exist only when we perceive it, so whenever we do not perceive something it does not exist or even seem to exist. Therefore in verse 6 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
உலகைம் புலன்க ளுருவேறன் றவ்வைம்
புலனைம் பொறிக்குப் புலனா — முலகைமன
மொன்றைம் பொறிவாயா லோர்ந்திடுத லான்மனத்தை
யன்றியுல குண்டோ வறை.

ulahaim pulaṉga ḷuruvēṟaṉ ḏṟavvaim
pulaṉaim poṟikkup pulaṉā — mulahaimaṉa
moṉḏṟaim poṟivāyā lōrndiḍuda lāṉmaṉattai
yaṉḏṟiyula kuṇḍō vaṟai
.

பதச்சேதம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

அன்வயம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். மனம் ஒன்று உலகை ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. maṉam oṉḏṟu ulahai aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

English translation: The world is a form of five sense-impressions, not anything else. Those five sense-impressions are impressions to the five sense organs. Since the mind alone perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there a world besides the mind?

Explanatory paraphrase: The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-impressions [sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations], not anything else. Those five [kinds of] sense-impressions are impressions [respective] to the five sense organs. Since the mind alone [or since one thing, the mind] perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there [any] world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?
‘மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ?’ (maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō?), ‘is there a world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?’, is a rhetorical question, so what Bhagavan clearly implies by asking this is that there is no world that exists independent of the mind that perceives it.

He gives two reasons for saying this, the first of which is what he says in the first two clauses of this verse: ‘உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று’ (ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu), ‘The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-impressions [sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations], not anything else’. Generally we believe that the world exists out there, independent of our perception of it, but our experience does not give us any adequate reason to suppose that this is the case, because what we experience as ‘world’ is just an appearance consisting only of sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations, which are perceptions or mental impressions. In dream we perceive a world consisting of these same five kinds of sense-impressions, and though we believe it exists independent of our perception of it so long as we are dreaming, as soon as we wake up we recognise that it was just our own mental projection and therefore seemed to exist only so long as we were perceiving it.

The second and most important reason he gives for asking this rhetorical question, in which he implies that there is no world that exists independent of the mind that perceives it, is the adverbial clause that precedes it, namely ‘உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால்’ (ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl), ‘Since the mind alone [or since one thing, the mind] perceives the world by way of the five sense organs’. Here the words ‘மனம் ஒன்று’ (maṉam oṉḏṟu) can be taken to mean either ‘the mind alone’ or ‘one thing, the mind’, but in whichever way they are interpreted this clause implies that the mind is the only thing that perceives the world, and this is the principal reason why he says there is no world besides (excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without) the mind.

According to your understanding of the upaniṣads and Sankara you say (in the same comment) that ‘pure consciousness is that which is aware of all that is’, by which you seem to imply that pure consciousness is aware of all phenomena, but though this may be one way in which some people interpret the ancient texts of advaita, this interpretation is not supported by what Bhagavan has written in texts such as Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and Upadēśa Undiyār. In so many ways he repeatedly emphasised that what is aware of phenomena is only ego or mind and not our real nature, which is pure consciousness.

For example, in verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
உலகறிவு மொன்றா யுதித்தொடுங்கு மேனு
முலகறிவு தன்னா லொளிரு — முலகறிவு
தோன்றிமறை தற்கிடனாய்த் தோன்றிமறை யாதொளிரும்
பூன்றமா மஃதே பொருள்.

ulahaṟivu moṉḏṟā yudittoḍuṅgu mēṉu
mulahaṟivu taṉṉā loḷiru — mulahaṟivu
tōṉḏṟimaṟai daṟkiḍaṉāyt tōṉḏṟimaṟai yādoḷirum
pūṉḏṟamā maḵdē poruḷ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உலகு அறிவும் ஒன்றாய் உதித்து ஒடுங்கும் ஏனும், உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும். உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் பூன்றம் ஆம் அஃதே பொருள்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ulahu aṟivum oṉḏṟāy udittu oḍuṅgum ēṉum, ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum. ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉ-āy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum pūṉḏṟam ām aḵdē poruḷ.

அன்வயம்: உலகு அறிவும் ஒன்றாய் உதித்து ஒடுங்கும் ஏனும், உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும். உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் அஃதே பூன்றம் ஆம் பொருள்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ulahu aṟivum oṉḏṟāy udittu oḍuṅgum ēṉum, ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum. ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉ-āy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum aḵdē pūṉḏṟam ām poruḷ.

English translation: Though the world and awareness arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by awareness. Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place for the appearing and disappearing of the world and awareness is the substance, which is the whole.

Explanatory paraphrase: Though the world and awareness [the awareness that perceives the world, namely ego or mind] arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by [that rising and subsiding] awareness [the mind]. Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place [space, expanse, location, site or ground] for the appearing and disappearing of the world and [that] awareness is poruḷ [the real substance or vastu], which is pūṉḏṟam [the infinite whole or pūrṇa].
When he says ‘உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும்’ (ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum), ‘the world shines by awareness’, he implies that what makes the world appear is awareness, because it is perceived by awareness, but the awareness that perceives the world is not real awareness, which is what he refers to as ‘உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் அஃதே’ (ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉ-āy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum aḵdē), ‘only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place for the appearing and disappearing of the world and awareness’, but is only ego or mind, which is the awareness that rises and subsides or appears and disappears.

Since the world shines (or is made to appear) by ego, the awareness that rises and subsides, how can it shine (appear or seem to exist) in the absence of ego? Since what actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa (as Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?), the world does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, so when he says that the world shines by the awareness that rises and subsides, what he implies is that what makes it appear is only ego, which is the awareness that perceives it, so it seems to exist only because of ego.

Since ego or mind rises and stands only by grasping a body, a form composed of five sheaths (namely a physical body, life, mind, intellect and will), as itself, in verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says:
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 will]. 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?
The two questions he asks in this verse are both rhetorical, so when he asks ‘உடல் அன்றி உண்டோ உலகம்?’ (uḍal aṉḏṟi uṇḍō ulaham?), ‘Without a body, is there a world?’, he implies that no world exists independent of the body through which it is perceived, and when he asks ‘உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ?’ (uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō?), ‘Say, leaving the body, is there anyone who has seen a world?’, he implies that no one has ever perceived a world except through the medium of a body. Though these two questions seem to be quite similar, in the first he implies that no world exists without a body and in the second he implies that no world is perceived without a body, thereby indicating that the (seeming) existence of the world and our perception of it are one, because it seems to exist only because we perceive it.

When he says that no world exists or is perceived without a body, he implies that only an awareness that is confined to a body can perceive any world. Since pure awareness does not have any body, in this verse Bhagavan implies that it does not perceive any world. He stated this even more explicitly in the previous verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, namely verse 4:
உருவந்தா னாயி னுலகுபர மற்றா
முருவந்தா னன்றே லுவற்றி — னுருவத்தைக்
கண்ணுறுதல் யாவனெவன் கண்ணலாற் காட்சியுண்டோ
கண்ணதுதா னந்தமிலாக் கண்.

uruvandā ṉāyi ṉulahupara maṯṟā
muruvandā ṉaṉḏṟē luvaṯṟi — ṉuruvattaik
kaṇṇuṟudal yāvaṉevaṉ kaṇṇalāṯ kāṭciyuṇḍō
kaṇṇadutā ṉantamilāk kaṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

அன்வயம்: தான் உருவம் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; தான் உருவம் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை யாவன் கண் உறுதல்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ uruvam āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; tāṉ uruvam aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai yāvaṉ kaṇ uṟudal? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

English translation: 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.

Explanatory paraphrase: If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms, and how [to do so]? Can what is seen be otherwise [or of a different nature] than the eye [the awareness that sees or perceives it]? [Therefore forms can be perceived only by an ‘eye’ or awareness that perceives itself as a form, namely the ego or mind, which always perceives itself as the form of a body.] The [real] eye is oneself [one’s real nature, which is pure self-awareness], the infinite [and hence formless] eye [so it can never see any forms or phenomena, which are all finite].
Oneself is a form only when one rises as ego, because ego is the false awareness that rises and stands as ‘I am this body’, so in this verse Bhagavan clearly implies that the world and God seem to be forms only because we have risen as ego and are therefore aware of ourself as if we were the form of a body. Therefore when he asks, ‘உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்?’ (uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ?), ‘If oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? How?’, he clearly implies that if we do not rise as ego we can see neither the world nor God as forms. In other words, forms seem to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, because as ego we are aware of ourself as if we were a body, a form composed of five sheaths.

In the final sentence of this verse, ‘கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘The eye is oneself, the infinite eye’, he uses the word ‘கண்’ (kaṇ), which means ‘eye’, as a metaphor for awareness, so what he implies is that real awareness is only ourself (our real nature, ātma-svarūpa), which is ‘அந்தம் இலா’ (antam-ilā), infinite or without limit. Since every form has limits of one kind or another, ‘அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘the infinite eye’, is formless, and hence it can never see forms of any kind whatsoever.

Therefore here once again Bhagavan clearly implies that pure awareness is not aware of any forms or phenomena, because it is the infinite and hence formless eye, so it cannot see anything other than itself. This is the implication of the rhetorical question ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can the seen be otherwise than the eye?’. Finite things can be seen only by a finite eye, and the infinite eye can see only what is infinite, namely itself. Being formless, it can never see any forms.

In the same comment you also say, ‘The Upanishads clearly state that Brahman is the Knower from which all this emanates’, and in other comments both recently and previously you have mentioned that they say ‘Brahman is the Knower’, but when they say this they may be implying a deeper and more subtle meaning than you suppose. In Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and elsewhere Bhagavan has taught us very clearly and unequivocally that what perceives, knows or is aware of all phenomena (all names and forms) is only ego and not our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is brahman, so what do the upaniṣads mean when they say that brahman is the knower? In what sense is it the knower?

What brahman knows is only itself, because in its clear and infinite view it alone exists, so there is nothing else for it to know. Only in the self-ignorant and hence deluded view of ego do other things seem to exist, so the knower of all things that do not actually exist but merely seem to exist is only ego. However, even ego does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, so what is it that appears as ego? It is only brahman.

However ego is not brahman as it actually is but only brahman as it seems to be, and it seems to be ego only in the view of ego itself. Therefore brahman is the knower of all that seems to exist only in the sense that what knows all appearances is not brahman as it actually is but only brahman as ego, which is itself just a false appearance.

The principal reason why some upaniṣads and other ancient texts and commentators say that brahman is the knower is that in order to know brahman we must withdraw our attention from everything else (all objects or phenomena that are known or perceived) and investigate only ourself, the knower of them, because when we do so we will cease rising as the knower (the subject or ego) and therefore subside and merge back into and as the source from which we arose, which is brahman. The knower of all phenomena (viṣayas) is only ego, but what seems to be ego is only brahman, so just as if we mistake a rope to be a snake we can see the rope as it is only by looking very carefully at the snake, we can know brahman as it is only by looking very carefully at ourself, who now seem to be this ego, the knower of all other things.

If we want to show a particular star to a child, we may first point out a distant coconut tree and then tell the child to look just above it. Our aim is not to show the child the tree, but because the star is just above the tree, we need to ask the child to look at the tree in order to draw its attention to the star. Likewise, brahman is not actually the knower of anything, but is the reality that lies behind the appearance of the knower, so in order to enable us to see brahman as it is we are asked to look at that which knows everything else.

Another reason why they say that brahman is the knower is that nothing else exists to know anything. However, brahman as brahman does not know anything other than itself, because nothing other than itself exists for it to know (as Bhagavan clearly implies in verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār and verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), so it is only as ego that brahman knows anything other than itself, but brahman as ego is not brahman as it actually is, so it is not actually brahman but only ego that knows all other things. .

This is what Bhagavan teaches us very clearly in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which what he refers to as ‘தான்’ (tāṉ), ‘oneself’, is brahman, so if we replace ‘oneself’ with ‘brahman’ in the translation of this verse it would be: ‘If brahman is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if brahman is not a form, who can see their forms? How? Can the seen be otherwise than the eye? The eye is brahman, the infinite eye’.

In this interpretation, ‘If brahman is a form, the world and God will be likewise’ would imply: ‘If brahman seems to have arisen as ego by projecting and grasping a form [a body] as itself, as that form-bound ego it will see the world and God as forms, like itself’. However, since brahman is actually not a form, as it actually is it can never see any forms, as Bhagavan implies in the rhetorical questions he asks in the second and third sentences: ‘உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்?’ (uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ?), ‘If oneself [brahman] is not a form, who can see their forms? How [to do so]?’

What brahman actually is is implied by Bhagavan in the final sentence of this verse: ‘கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘The [real] eye is oneself [brahman], the infinite eye’. Since brahman is the real nature of oneself (ātma-svarūpa), which is infinite awareness, Bhagavan says it is ‘அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘the infinite [or endless] eye’, and since it is infinite, it is devoid of form, because every form is by definition finite. Therefore, since brahman is infinite and hence formless awareness, according to the principle that Bhagavan teaches us in this verse, namely ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can the seen be otherwise than the eye?’, it can never see any forms but only infinite awareness, which is itself.

6. According to Bhagavan ego or mind is what projects and perceives all phenomena, so they seem to exist only when we seem to be ego

In your next comment, 2 October 2018 at 22:50, you rephrased the logical problem you see in my understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings by asking, ‘What non-aware phenomena can there be (to form an ego knot with awareness) that precedes the ego, when Michael’s contention is that the ego projects all phenomena?’

As I pointed out in the first section of this article, we can unravel the problem you see here by considering our experience in dream. As soon as we begin to dream, we experience a dream body as ourself, but we do not suppose that that dream body existed prior to our experiencing it as ourself. Therefore the rising of ego in dream, the appearance of that dream body and our experiencing it as ourself all occur simultaneously. This is what is called ‘simultaneous creation’ (yugapat sṛṣṭi).

Ego rises, simultaneously projects a body and experiences it as ‘I’, and through the five senses of that body it projects a world. This is what happens in every dream, and according to Bhagavan our present state and any other state in which we experience phenomena is just a dream.

Though ego and body both appear simultaneously, ego is causally antecedent to the body, because the body appears only in the view of ego, whereas the body has no view in which either ego or itself could appear, because it is jaḍa (non-aware). In other words, though the perceiver and the perceived appear simultaneously, the perceiver is causally antecedent to the perceived, and though the dreamer and the dream appear simultaneously, the dreamer is causally antecedent to the dream. This is what Bhagavan implied in the first sentence of verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உலகு அறிவும் ஒன்றாய் உதித்து ஒடுங்கும் ஏனும், உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும்’ (ulahu aṟivum oṉḏṟāy udittu oḍuṅgum ēṉum, ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum), ‘Though the world and awareness arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by awareness [that is, by the awareness that rises and subsides and perceives the world, namely ego or mind]’.

You say, ‘Michael’s contention is that the ego projects all phenomena’, as if this were only my contention and not Bhagavan’s, but if we read his works carefully we can see that it is very clearly his contention and it was emphasised by him in so many ways. For example, in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he says:
நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது.

niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagamum illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagamum uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉ-ṉ-iḍam-irundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉamum taṉ-ṉ-iḍattil-irundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu.

Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear [or projects the world] from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.
Bhagavan could hardly state his contention that mind or ego is what projects all phenomena more explicitly, clearly and unequivocally than this. If you think that this does not mean that ego projects all phenomena, what do you think it does mean?

As I mentioned earlier, in the fifth paragraph he says:
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.
What he makes clear here is that the appearance of ego, the first person or thought called ‘I’, is antecedent to the appearance of everything else, and that without it nothing else exists, so though he does not explicitly state here that ego projects everything, he implies this indirectly, particularly if we read this passage along with the passage from the fourth paragraph that I cited above.

When he says here that everything else appears only after ego appears, he does not mean that ego is chronologically antecedent to all other things, because as he stated elsewhere ego and other things appear simultaneously, so what he means here is that ego is causally antecedent to everything else, because everything else appears only in ego’s view. That is, the appearance of ego and the appearance of other things is a case is simultaneous causation. As soon as the cause arises its effect rises with it, so though they arise simultaneously, in terms of causal sequence the cause (namely ego) is antecedent to its effect (namely everything else).

The fact that the appearance of ego is causally antecedent to the appearance of everything else is clearly implied in many verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. For example, he says in verse 23, ‘நான் ஒன்று எழுந்த பின், எல்லாம் எழும்’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu eṙunda piṉ, ellām eṙum), ‘After one thing, I, rises, everything rises’, and in verse 26, ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’.

Likewise in the first sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam he says, ‘இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu), ‘If the thought called I does not exist, even one other [thought or thing] will not exist’, and in verse 14 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
தன்மையுண்டேன் முன்னிலைப டர்க்கைக டாமுளவாந்
தன்மையி னுண்மையைத் தானாய்ந்து — தன்மையறின்
முன்னிலைப டர்க்கை முடிவுற்றொன் றாயொளிருந்
தன்மையே தன்னிலைமை தான்.

taṉmaiyuṇḍēṉ muṉṉilaipa ḍarkkaiga ḍāmuḷavān
taṉmaiyi ṉuṇmaiyait tāṉāyndu — taṉmaiyaṟiṉ
muṉṉilaipa ḍarkkai muḍivuṯṟoṉ ḏṟāyoḷirun
taṉmaiyē taṉṉilaimai tāṉ
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்மை உண்டேல், முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தாம் உள ஆம். தன்மையின் உண்மையை தான் ஆய்ந்து தன்மை அறின், முன்னிலை படர்க்கை முடிவு உற்று, ஒன்றாய் ஒளிரும் தன்மையே தன் நிலைமை தான்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉmai uṇḍēl, muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tām uḷa-v-ām. taṉmaiyiṉ uṇmaiyai tāṉ āyndu taṉmai aṟiṉ, muṉṉilai paḍarkkai muḍivu uṯṟu, oṉḏṟāy oḷirum taṉmaiyē taṉ nilaimai tāṉ.

English translation: If the first person exists, second and third persons will exist. If, oneself investigating the reality of the first person, the first person ceases to exist, second and third persons coming to an end, the nature that shines as one alone is oneself, the state of oneself.

Explanatory paraphrase: If the first person [the ego] exists, second and third persons [everything else] will exist. If the first person ceases to exist [by] oneself investigating the reality of the first person, second and third persons will come to an end, and [what then remains alone, namely] the nature [selfness, essence or reality] that shines as one [undivided by the appearance of these three persons or ‘places’] alone is oneself, the [real] state [or nature] of oneself.
Though in this verse he does not explicitly say that second and third persons, which means all phenomena, exist only when the first person exists, he said so explicitly in the final two sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா’ (taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā), ‘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’, and he implies this in this verse when he says, ‘தன்மையின் உண்மையை தான் ஆய்ந்து தன்மை அறின், முன்னிலை படர்க்கை முடிவு உற்று’ (taṉmaiyiṉ uṇmaiyai tāṉ āyndu taṉmai aṟiṉ, muṉṉilai paḍarkkai muḍivu uṯṟu), ‘If, oneself investigating the reality of the first person, the first person ceases to exist, second and third persons coming to an end’. That is, the reason why second and third persons come to an end when ego ceases is that they cannot exist without it, because they seem to exist only in its view.

From all these passages it is clear that according to Bhagavan no phenomena can exist without ego, the first person or thought called ‘I’, because ego is what projects and simultaneously perceives them, just as it projects and simultaneously perceives everything that appears in a dream. These teachings of his are therefore what is called dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention (vāda) that perception (dṛṣṭi) is the sole cause of creation (sṛṣṭi), and that there is therefore no creation or appearance of phenomena independent of our perception of it.

7. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 10 to 13: real awareness is not aware of anything other than itself, because there is nothing else for it to be aware of

From what you have written in various comments, it seems that you are able to believe that phenomena exist prior to, in the absence of and therefore independent of ego because you do not accept that they all appear only in its view, and you do not accept this because you believe pure consciousness, which is brahman, perceives all phenomena. If brahman did actually perceive all phenomena, then it would logically follow that the seeming existence of phenomena is not dependent on the seeming existence of ourself as ego.

Though certain passages in the upaniṣads and other ancient texts may seem to imply that brahman or pure awareness is aware of all phenomena, such passages are perhaps meant for those who are not yet ready to go any deeper into this subject, but if we do want to understand this subject clearly, deeply and coherently, we should not be satisfied with such passages or interpretations, because Bhagavan has made it very clear that awareness of phenomena is not real awareness but only ignorance.

He made this particularly clear in verses 10 to 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār. In verse 10 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
அறியாமை விட்டறிவின் றாமறிவு விட்டவ்
வறியாமை யின்றாகு மந்த — வறிவு
மறியா மையுமார்க்கென் றம்முதலாந் தன்னை
யறியு மறிவே யறிவு.

aṟiyāmai viṭṭaṟiviṉ ḏṟāmaṟivu viṭṭav
vaṟiyāmai yiṉḏṟāhu manda — vaṟivu
maṟiyā maiyumārkkeṉ ḏṟammudalān taṉṉai
yaṟiyu maṟivē yaṟivu
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறியாமை விட்டு, அறிவு இன்று ஆம்; அறிவு விட்டு, அவ் வறியாமை இன்று ஆகும். அந்த அறிவும் அறியாமையும் ஆர்க்கு என்று அம் முதல் ஆம் தன்னை அறியும் அறிவே அறிவு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟiyāmai viṭṭu, aṟivu iṉḏṟu ām; aṟivu viṭṭu, a-vv-aṟiyāmai iṉḏṟu āhum. anda aṟivum aṟiyāmaiyum ārkku eṉḏṟu a-m-mudal ām taṉṉai aṟiyum aṟivē aṟivu.

English translation: Leaving ignorance, knowledge does not exist; leaving knowledge, that ignorance does not exist. Only the knowledge that knows oneself, who is the first, as to whom are that knowledge and ignorance, is knowledge.

Explanatory paraphrase: Without ignorance [of other things], knowledge [of them] does not exist; without knowledge [of them], that ignorance [of them] does not exist. Only the knowledge [or awareness] that knows [the reality of] oneself [the ego], who is the first [to appear], [by investigating] to whom [or for whom] are that knowledge and ignorance [of other things], is [real] knowledge [or awareness].
The noun அறிவு (aṟivu), which he uses repeatedly in this and the next two verses, means both knowledge and awareness, because it derives from the verb அறி (aṟi), which means to know, perceive, experience or be aware, so it can refer either to pure awareness or to awareness of phenomena, depending on the context. அறியாமை (aṟiyāmai) is a negative verbal noun from the same root, so it means to opposite of அறிவு (aṟivu), namely ignorance.

The aṟivu (knowledge or awareness) and aṟiyāmai (ignorance) that he refers to in the first two sentences of this verse are knowledge and ignorance of things other than oneself, and not knowledge and ignorance of oneself, firstly because knowledge or awareness of oneself is not dependent on ignorance of oneself, and second because we are never actually ignorant of ourself, since self-awareness is our real nature, so what is called self-ignorance is not an absence of self-awareness but just awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are. Knowledge and ignorance of other things are a pair of opposites, so neither one of them exists without the other.

That is, since nothing exists independent of our perception of it, it is only when we become aware of something that both our prior ignorance and prospective ignorance of it come into existence, because prior to our being aware of it it did not seem to exist, and we cannot be said to be ignorant of something that does not exist. This is why Bhagavan says in the first two sentences of this verse: ‘அறியாமை விட்டு, அறிவு இன்று ஆம்; அறிவு விட்டு, அவ் வறியாமை இன்று ஆகும்’ (aṟiyāmai viṭṭu, aṟivu iṉḏṟu ām; aṟivu viṭṭu, a-vv-aṟiyāmai iṉḏṟu āhum), ‘Without ignorance, knowledge does not exist; without knowledge, that ignorance does not exist’.

However, knowledge or awareness of things other than ourself is not real knowledge or awareness, as he implies in the main clause of the third and final sentence of this verse, ‘தன்னை அறியும் அறிவே அறிவு’ (taṉṉai aṟiyum aṟivē aṟivu), ‘only the aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] that knows oneself is [real] aṟivu’. In other words, only self-knowledge is real knowledge, and only self-awareness is real awareness. As he says in the next verse, knowing other things instead of knowing oneself is not knowledge but only ignorance.

When he says, ‘தன்னை அறியும் அறிவே அறிவு’ (taṉṉai aṟiyum aṟivē aṟivu), what he implies is ‘Only the knowledge [or awareness] that knows [the reality of] oneself [the ego] is [real] knowledge [or awareness]’, because he qualified ‘தன்னை’ (taṉṉai), ‘oneself’, with a relative clause, ‘அம் முதல் ஆம்’ (a-m-mudal ām), which means ‘who is the first’ and implies ‘who is the first [to arise]’, and prior to this relative clause he wrote an adverbial clause, ‘அந்த அறிவும் அறியாமையும் ஆர்க்கு என்று’ (anda aṟivum aṟiyāmaiyum ārkku eṉḏṟu), which means ‘as to whom are that knowledge and ignorance’ and implies ‘[by investigating] to whom [or for whom] are that knowledge and ignorance [of other things]’.

To whom or for whom are knowledge and ignorance? Obviously only for ego and not for our real nature, so what Bhagavan implies in this sentence by the word ‘தன்னை’ (taṉṉai), ‘oneself’, is ourself as ego, which is the first to arise, and what he means by knowing ego can be taken to mean either knowing its reality, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), or knowing its non-existence, but both of these interpretations amount to the same, because it is only by knowing our real nature that we can know the non-existence of ego.

In verse 11 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
அறிவுறுந் தன்னை யறியா தயலை
யறிவ தறியாமை யன்றி — யறிவோ
வறிவயற் காதாரத் தன்னை யறிய
வறிவறி யாமை யறும்.

aṟivuṟun taṉṉai yaṟiyā dayalai
yaṟiva daṟiyāmai yaṉḏṟi — yaṟivō
vaṟivayaṟ kādhārat taṉṉai yaṟiya
vaṟivaṟi yāmai yaṟum
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறிவு உறும் தன்னை அறியாது அயலை அறிவது அறியாமை; அன்றி அறிவோ? அறிவு அயற்கு ஆதார தன்னை அறிய, அறிவு அறியாமை அறும்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟivu-uṟum taṉṉai aṟiyādu ayalai aṟivadu aṟiyāmai; aṉḏṟi aṟivō? aṟivu ayaṟku ādhāra taṉṉai aṟiya, aṟivu aṟiyāmai aṟum.

English translation: Not knowing oneself, who knows, knowing other things is ignorance; besides, is it knowledge? When one knows oneself, the support for knowledge and the other, knowledge and ignorance will cease.

Explanatory paraphrase: Instead of knowing [the reality of] oneself [the ego], who knows [everything else], knowing other things is ignorance; except [that], is it knowledge? When one knows [the reality of] oneself [the ego], the ādhāra [support, foundation or container] for knowledge and the other [ignorance], knowledge and ignorance [of everything else] will cease [because the reality of the ego is just pure self-awareness, so when one knows oneself as pure self-awareness the ego will no longer seem to exist, and hence all its knowledge and ignorance will cease to exist along with it].
As he says in the first two lines of this verse, knowing or being aware of anything other than oneself is not real knowledge or awareness but only ignorance, so this is logically inconsistent with your claim that pure awareness is aware of all phenomena. The awareness that is aware of all phenomena is only ego or mind, so what Bhagavan implies here is that ego or mind is not real awareness but only ignorance. Real awareness is only self-awareness and not awareness of anything else, so since brahman is real awareness, it is not aware of any phenomena whatsoever.

As we know from our own experience, awareness of phenomena appears in waking and dream, but disappears in sleep, so it is just a transient appearance and hence not real. Therefore awareness of phenomena cannot be the nature of brahman, because brahman is immutable. If it is claimed that brahman is aware of phenomena, that would imply that it is aware of them constantly and without any change, but since changeability is the very nature of phenomena, how could it be aware of them constantly and without any change? Moreover, since change itself is a phenomenon, if brahman were aware of all phenomena, it would have to be aware of change, so it would become aware of each change only when it occurs, and hence it would not be unchanging, because its becoming aware of each change is itself a change.

In the final sentence of this verse, ‘அறிவு அயற்கு ஆதார தன்னை அறிய, அறிவு அறியாமை அறும்’ (aṟivu ayaṟku ādhāra taṉṉai aṟiya, aṟivu aṟiyāmai aṟum), ‘When one knows oneself, the support for knowledge and the other, knowledge and ignorance will cease’, what he means by ‘அறிவு அறியாமை’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmai), ‘knowledge and ignorance’, is knowledge (or awareness) and ignorance of things other than oneself, as in the previous verse, so he clearly implies here that when one knows oneself, no knowledge or awareness of any other thing will remain.

‘அறிவு அயற்கு’ (aṟivu ayaṟku) means ‘for knowledge and the other’ and implies ‘for knowledge and ignorance’, so ‘அறிவு அயற்கு ஆதார தன்னை’ (aṟivu ayaṟku ādhāra taṉṉai) means ‘oneself, the ādhāra [support, foundation or container] for knowledge and the other [ignorance]’. Since the ādhāra for knowledge and the ignorance is only ego, in this context (as in the previous verse) ‘தன்னை’ (taṉṉai), ‘oneself’, refers to ourself as ego. However, as I explained in connection with the previous verse, what Bhagavan means by knowing ego is knowing its reality, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), and thereby knowing the non-existence of ego as such.

That is, in the case of a rope that seems to be a snake, seeing the snake as it actually is means seeing that it is just a rope and thereby seeing that no snake ever existed there at all. Likewise, in the case of what now seems to be ego, the ‘I’ that experiences both knowledge and ignorance about other things, knowing ego as it actually is means knowing oneself as pure self-awareness, which is completely devoid of both knowledge and ignorance about other things, and thereby knowing that no ego has ever existed.

Since knowledge and ignorance about other things exist only for ego, when one knows the non-existence of ego by knowing oneself to be pure self-awareness, both knowledge and ignorance will cease, as Bhagavan says in this final sentence of verse 11. To make the full implication of this perfectly clear, he begins verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying that real awareness is only awareness that is completely devoid of both knowledge and ignorance:
அறிவறி யாமையு மற்றதறி வாமே
யறியும துண்மையறி வாகா — தறிதற்
கறிவித்தற் கன்னியமின் றாயவிர்வ தாற்றா
னறிவாகும் பாழன் றறி.

aṟivaṟi yāmaiyu maṯṟadaṟi vāmē
yaṟiyuma duṇmaiyaṟi vāhā — daṟitaṟ
kaṟivittaṟ kaṉṉiyamiṉ ḏṟāyavirva dāṯṟā
ṉaṟivāhum pāṙaṉ ḏṟaṟi
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே. அறியும் அது உண்மை அறிவு ஆகாது. அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால், தான் அறிவு ஆகும். பாழ் அன்று. அறி.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu aṟivu āmē. aṟiyum adu uṇmai aṟivu āhādu. aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl, tāṉ aṟivu āhum. pāṙ aṉḏṟu. aṟi.

English translation: What is devoid of knowledge and ignorance is actually knowledge. That which knows is not real knowledge. Since one shines without another for knowing or for causing to know, oneself is knowledge. One is not void. Know.

Explanatory paraphrase: What is devoid of knowledge and ignorance [about anything other than itself] is actually aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. That which knows [or is aware of anything other than itself, namely the ego] is not real aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. Since [the real nature of oneself] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known], oneself is [real] aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. One is not void [emptiness, desolation, nothingness or non-existence]. Know [or be aware].
As in the previous two verses, in the first sentence of this verse what Bhagavan means by ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும்’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um), ‘knowledge and ignorance’, is knowledge (or awareness) and ignorance of things other than oneself, so when he says in this first sentence, ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu aṟivu āmē), ‘What is devoid of aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] and aṟiyāmai [ignorance] is actually aṟivu’, he clearly implies that real awareness is completely devoid of awareness of anything other than itself, so this is the real meaning of ‘pure awareness’ or ‘pure consciousness’. It is pure in the sense that it is just awareness and not awareness of anything other than itself. In other words, it is awareness that is devoid of any contents or objects of awareness.

To emphasise that what he means by ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது’ ( aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu), ‘what is [or that which is] devoid of knowledge and ignorance’, is awareness that is completely devoid of even the slightest trace of any knowledge or ignorance of other things, in the kaliveṇbā version of this verse he extended this first sentence by adding at the beginning of it the word அறவே (aṟavē), which is an intensified form of the adverb அற (aṟa), which means entirely, completely, wholly, utterly or thoroughly. Therefore with this adverb this first sentence is extended as: ‘அறவே அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே’ (aṟavē aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu aṟivu āmē), ‘What is completely devoid of aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] and aṟiyāmai [ignorance] is actually aṟivu’.

As Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]’, and ātma-svarūpa is just awareness. Therefore the reason why real awareness is completely devoid of knowledge (or awareness) and ignorance of any other things is that it alone actually exists, so in its clear view there is absolutely nothing else for it to be aware of, or for it to know or be ignorant of, as he says unequivocally in verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
அறிவறி யாமையு மற்ற வறிவே
யறிவாகு முண்மையீ துந்தீபற
     வறிவதற் கொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற.

aṟivaṟi yāmaiyu maṯṟa vaṟivē
yaṟivāhu muṇmaiyī dundīpaṟa
     vaṟivadaṟ koṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்ற அறிவே அறிவு ஆகும். உண்மை ஈது. அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um aṯṟa aṟivē aṟivu āhum. uṇmai īdu. aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai.

அன்வயம்: அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்ற அறிவே அறிவு ஆகும். ஈது உண்மை. அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um aṯṟa aṟivē aṟivu āhum. īdu uṇmai. aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai.

English translation: Only knowledge [or awareness] that is devoid of knowledge and ignorance is [real] knowledge [or awareness]. This is real, [because] there is not anything for knowing.
The first sentence of this verse, ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்ற அறிவே அறிவு ஆகும்’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um aṯṟa aṟivē aṟivu āhum), ‘Only aṟivu that is devoid of aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] and aṟiyāmai [ignorance] is [real] aṟivu’, is almost identical to the first sentence of verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um aṯṟadu aṟivu ām-ē), ‘What is devoid of aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] and aṟiyāmai [ignorance] is actually aṟivu’, so the fact that Bhagavan devoted a verse in Upadēśa Undiyār and another verse in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu to expressing this principle shows how central it is to his teachings, and hence we should carefully consider what exactly these words mean, the implications of this principle, the reason why it is so, and the reason why it is such an important principle.

The reason why it is so is explained by him in the final sentence of this verse: ‘அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை’ (aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai), ‘there is not anything for knowing’. What exactly does he mean by saying this? In this context this sentence implies that for real awareness nothing else exists for it to know or be aware of, because it alone exists.

This fact is also expressed by him in the third sentence of verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, but before we consider that sentence in more detail let us first consider what he says and implies in the second sentence: ‘அறியும் அது உண்மை அறிவு ஆகாது’ (aṟiyum adu uṇmai aṟivu āhādu), ‘That which knows is not real aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]’. In this context ‘அறியும் அது’ (aṟiyum adu), ‘that which knows’, implies that which knows or is aware of things other than itself, namely ego or mind, so the import of the sentence is that though ego is aware of other things, it is not உண்மை அறிவு (uṇmai aṟivu), real awareness or true knowledge. In other words, being aware of anything other than oneself is not real awareness, because real awareness is completely devoid of either awareness or ignorance of any other thing, since nothing other than it actually exists for it to be aware of.

Then in the third sentence of verse 12 he says: ‘அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால், தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl, tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘Since [the real nature of oneself] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known], oneself is [real] aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]’. In the main clause, ‘தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘oneself is aṟivu’, ‘தான்’ (tāṉ), ‘oneself’, refers not to ego but to ātma-svarūpa (the real nature of oneself, which is ourself as we actually are), and ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu), ‘awareness’ or ‘knowledge’, refers to real awareness, so whereas in the previous sentence he implied that ego, which is what knows or is aware of things other than itself, is not real awareness, in this sentence he implies that ātma-svarūpa alone is real awareness.

In the first clause of this sentence he explains why ātma-svarūpa alone is real awareness, and the explanation he gives here is similar to the one he gave in the final sentence of verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār. That is, in the final sentence of that verse, ‘அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை’ (aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai), ‘there is not anything for knowing’, he explained that the reason why real awareness is devoid of both knowledge and ignorance about anything else is that nothing else actually exists for it to know, and likewise in the first clause of this third sentence of verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால்’ (aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl), ‘Since [the real nature of oneself] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known]’, he explains that the reason why real awareness is only oneself is that as our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) we shine without anya (anything other than ourelf) for us either to know or to cause to be known.

In one of my earlier articles, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 12: other than the real awareness that we actually are, there is nothing to know or make known, I discussed and explained each sentence of this verse in detail, and while discussing this third sentence I explained the meaning and implications of the word அறிவித்தற்கு (aṟivittaṟku), ‘for causing to know’ or ‘for causing to be known’, so I will not explain it again here, but will just point out that the central import of this sentence is that since there is nothing other than ātma-svarūpa, there is nothing for it to know or be aware of, so though it is completely devoid of even the slightest awareness, knowledge or ignorance of anything other than itself, it alone is real awareness.

Therefore in all these verses Bhagavan has very clearly and emphatically repudiated the idea that pure awareness or brahman is in any way aware of phenomena (names and forms), which is what you seem to believe. You are by no means alone in believing this, because it is a belief that is prevalent among scholars and others who have studied the ancient texts of advaita, and there may be many passages in those texts that seem to support this belief, particularly if they are interpreted in such a way, but in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and elsewhere Bhagavan pointed out either directly or indirectly that this and many other popular interpretations of the ancient texts are not correct.

One common misinterpretation that occurs when people are told that real awareness is completely devoid of any awareness of phenomena is that the ultimate reality is therefore just śūnya, empty, void, non-existent or nothing, and this became a major belief in certain prominent schools of Buddhist philosophy, which in turn led to many champions of advaita philosophy going too far in the opposite direction by denying that brahman is devoid of awareness of phenomena. Therefore after asserting in the first sentence that real awareness is completely devoid of any awareness of phenomena, and in the third sentence that there is nothing other than real awareness for it to know or make known, in the fourth sentence, ‘பாழ் அன்று’ (pāṙ aṉḏṟu), ‘It [oneself, who is real awareness] is not pāṙ [void, emptiness, desolation, nothingness or non-existence]’, Bhagavan repudiated the idea that this means that real awareness is śūnya, empty, void or non-existent.

Thus in this verse he repudiated two extremes and pointed out that the truth lies in between them. Though real awareness is completely devoid of awareness or ignorance of anything other than itself, it is not śūnya, because it is full of itself, the infinite fullness of pure sat-cit-ānanda, existence-awareness-happiness. It is devoid of even the slightest awareness of anything else not because it is an empty void or nothingness, but because it is so full of pure awareness, awareness of nothing other than itself, that there is no room in it for any awareness of anything else to appear.

In other words, since it (our real nature) alone exists, pure and immutable, no other thing can ever arise in it or cease to exist in it. If anything else had ever existed or could ever exist in it, when nothing else exists in it we could say it is empty, but since nothing other than itself has ever existed or could ever exist in it, to say it is empty (śūnya) is meaningless.

Therefore in this verse Bhagavan indicates that the ultimate truth (pāramārthika satya) is ajāta, because pure awareness alone exists, devoid of anything else, including time, so it is absolutely immutable, and hence nothing else could ever come into existence or cease to exist in it. It just is as it is and as it always has been, so there is neither any room nor any time in it that could allow anything else to appear in it.

Therefore it is beyond the ability of ego or mind to conceive or comprehend it as it actually is, so in order to be aware of it as it is we need to just be as it is, that is, as pure awareness devoid of any awareness of anything other than ourself, as Bhagavan says in the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே உள்ளல்’ (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē uḷḷal), ‘Being in the heart as it is [that is, as pure thought-free self-awareness] alone is thinking [of it, meditating on it, contemplating it, investigating it or revering it]’.

After thus teaching us in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu that as we actually are we alone are real awareness and that since there is nothing other than ourself to know, we are completely devoid of awareness or ignorance of any other thing, he reiterates and further clarifies this in verse 13:
ஞானமாந் தானேமெய் நானாவா ஞானமஞ்
ஞானமாம் பொய்யாமஞ் ஞானமுமே — ஞானமாந்
தன்னையன்றி யின்றணிக டாம்பலவும் பொய்மெய்யாம்
பொன்னையன்றி யுண்டோ புகல்.

ñāṉamān tāṉēmey nāṉāvā ñāṉamañ
ñāṉamām poyyāmañ ñāṉamumē — ñāṉamān
taṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟaṇiga ḍāmpalavum poymeyyām
poṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yuṇḍō puhal
.

பதச்சேதம்: ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய். நானா ஆம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம். பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று. அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ? புகல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey. nāṉā ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām. poy ām aññāṉamumē ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu. aṇigaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō? puhal.

English translation: Oneself, who is awareness, alone is real. Awareness that is manifold is ignorance. Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as oneself, who is awareness. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist except as gold, which is real?

Explanatory paraphrase: Oneself, who is jñāna [knowledge or awareness], alone is real. Awareness that is manifold [namely the mind, whose root, the ego, is the awareness that sees the one as many] is ajñāna [ignorance]. Even [that] ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as [besides, apart from or as other than] oneself, who is [real] awareness. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist except as gold, which is real? [In other words, though the ego or mind, which is the false awareness that sees itself as numerous phenomena, is ignorance and unreal, the real substance that appears as it is only oneself, who is true knowledge or pure awareness, so what actually exists is not the ego or mind but only oneself.]
In verses 10, 11 and 12 the key word that Bhagavan used was ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu), which is a Tamil noun that means ‘awareness’ or ‘knowledge’, but he used it in some cases to refer to pure awareness, which is aware of nothing other than itself, and in other cases to refer to awareness that is aware of other things, whereas in this verse the key word he uses is ‘ஞானம்’ (ñāṉam), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word ‘ज्ञान’ (jñāna), and which like ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu) is a noun that means ‘awareness’ or ‘knowledge’, but which he likewise uses in some cases to refer to pure awareness and in other cases to refer to awareness that is aware of other things.

Just as he concluded the third sentence of verse 12 by saying, ‘தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘oneself is aṟivu [awareness or knowledge]’, in the first sentence of this verse he says, ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), ‘Oneself, who is jñāna [awareness or knowledge], alone is real’, and in both cases he implies not only that we are awareness but that we are the only real awareness — indeed, the only thing that is real, because nothing other than ourself actually exists.

Since nothing other than ourself actually exists, being aware of other things is not real awareness but only ignorance, as he said in the first two lines of verse 11, ‘அறிவு உறும் தன்னை அறியாது அயலை அறிவது அறியாமை; அன்றி அறிவோ?’ (aṟivu-uṟum taṉṉai aṟiyādu ayalai aṟivadu aṟiyāmai; aṉḏṟi aṟivō?), ‘Not knowing oneself, who knows, knowing other things is ignorance; except [that], is it knowledge [or real awareness]?’, and as he says in the second sentence of this verse: ‘நானா ஆம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘Awareness that is manifold is ajñāna [ignorance]’.

What exactly does he mean by ‘நானா ஆம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā ām ñāṉam), ‘jñāna [awareness or knowledge] that is nānā [manifold, diverse, different, various or many]’? This can be explained in several different ways, but they all amount to the same thing. We can say this phrase refers to any knowledge that is not entirely single, which includes all knowledge of anything other than oneself, the knower, because even knowledge of one other thing is not single, since it entails the tripuṭi (or muppuḍi, as he calls it in verse 9 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), the set of three factors of transitive knowledge or awareness, namely the knower (the subject), the knowing and the known (the object of knowledge). We can also say this phrase refers either to mind, because it is the awareness that has branched out into numerous thoughts (or numerous phenomena, all of which are just thoughts, according to him), or to ego, the root and essence of the mind, because it is the awareness that sees the one thing that actually exists, namely ourself, as many phenomena, which do not actually exist but merely seem to exist.

This latter explanation is supported by verse 12 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ (which Bhagavan composed on 30th July 1928 but later the same day modified its first two lines to form what is now verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu):
ஞானமொன் றேயுண்மை நானாவாய்க் காண்கின்ற
ஞானமன்றி யின்றாமஞ் ஞானந்தான் — ஞானமாந்
தன்னையன்றி யின்றணிக டாம்பலவும் பொய்மெய்யாம்
பொன்னையன்றி யுண்டோ புகல்.

ñāṉamoṉ ḏṟēyuṇmai nāṉāvāyk kāṇgiṉḏṟa
ñāṉamaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟāmañ ñāṉandāṉ — ñāṉamān
taṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟaṇiga ḍāmpalavum poymeyyām
poṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yuṇḍō puhal
.

பதச்சேதம்: ஞானம் ஒன்றே உண்மை. நானாவாய் காண்கின்ற ஞானம் அன்றி இன்று ஆம் அஞ்ஞானம் தான் ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று. அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ? புகல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ñāṉam oṉḏṟē uṇmai. nāṉā-v-āy kāṇgiṉḏṟa ñāṉam aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu ām aññāṉam tāṉ ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu. aṇigaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō? puhal.

English translation: Awareness (jñāna) alone is real. Ignorance (ajñāna), which is nothing other than awareness (jñāna) that sees as many, itself does not exist apart from oneself, who is awareness (jñāna). All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist apart from the gold, which is real?
What Bhagavan refers to in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu as ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘jñāna [awareness or knowledge] that is nānā [manifold, diverse, different, various or many]’, is what he refers to in this verse as ‘நானாவாய் காண்கின்ற ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-āy kāṇgiṉḏṟa ñāṉam), ‘jñāna [awareness or knowledge] that sees as nānā’, so this confirms that what he refers to in both these phrases is ego, because it is the awareness that sees the one real awareness as both itself, the perceiver, and all the many phenomena perceived by it.

However, no matter how it may be explained, ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘jñāna [awareness or knowledge] that is manifold’, entails awareness of things other than oneself, because awareness of ourself alone does not entail any multiplicity or manyness, since in pure self-awareness what is aware, what it is aware of and its awareness of it are not three separate things but one and the same. In other words, self-awareness does not entail any tripuṭi or muppuḍi (set of three factors of transitive awareness), whereas awareness of anything else does entail it and hence is manifold. Therefore this second sentence of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘Awareness that is manifold is ajñāna [ignorance]’, clearly implies that awareness of anything other than oneself (or awareness of any phenomena) is not real awareness but only ignorance, so by saying this Bhagavan is once again clearly repudiating the belief that brahman or pure awareness is aware of all phenomena, or of any phenomenon whatsoever.

However, though awareness of anything other than oneself is not real awareness but only ignorance, it could not seem to exist without real awareness, because real awareness is the one and only substance, so it alone is what seems to be awareness of other things, as Bhagavan points out in the third sentence: ‘பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று’ (poy ām aññāṉamumē ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu), ‘Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as oneself, who is awareness’.

That is, just as gold ornaments could not exist without gold, because in substance they are nothing other than gold, so awareness of phenomena could not exist without real awareness, because in substance it is nothing other than real awareness, so in the final sentences of this verse Bhagavan says: ‘அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ? புகல்’ (aṇigaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō? puhal), ‘All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist except as gold, which is real?’

Whether we are aware of other things, as in waking and dream, or aware of no other things, as in sleep, we are always aware, so the underlying awareness that exists whether awareness of other things appears or disappears is alone real awareness. Awareness of other things is not real, because it appears and disappears, and it does not even appear and disappear in the view of real awareness, because in the view of real awareness nothing else exists for it to know (as Bhagavan says in the final sentence of verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār), so it appears and disappears only in its own view. This is why he says in the third sentence, ‘பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே’ (poy ām aññāṉamumē), ‘even ignorance, which is unreal’.

However, though awareness that is aware of other things is both ignorance and unreal, and though it seems to exist only in its own view and not in the view of real awareness, it could not seem to exist at all if it were actually anything other than real awareness, because nothing other than real awareness actually exists. Therefore what seems to be awareness that is aware of other things is nothing other than real awareness, which is never aware of anything other than itself.

8. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: since awareness of anything other than ourself is ignorance and unreal, we can be aware of ourself as real awareness only by withdrawing our attention from everything else and turning back towards ourself to know our own ‘form of light’

Since awareness that is aware of other things is what is generally called ‘ego’ or ‘mind’, in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, as in the previous three verses, Bhagavan explains to us that ego is not real awareness but only ignorance, but what seems to be ego is nothing other than real awareness, because nothing else actually exists. Therefore in order to be aware of ourself as the real awareness that we actually are, we, who now seem to be this ego or mind, need to withdraw our attention entirely from all other things by focusing it only on ourself, the light of awareness that illumines both ourself and everything else.

This is the practical inference that we should draw from these four verses, and it is what Bhagavan teaches us explicitly in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

அன்வயம்: மனம் வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maṉam veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

English translation: Leaving aside external viṣayas [phenomena], the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].
‘வெளி விடயங்கள்’ (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷ), ‘external viṣayas’ or ‘external phenomena’, means everything other than ourself, and we can leave them aside only by withdrawing our attention from them. However, we withdraw our attention from them whenever we fall asleep, so though withdrawing our attention from them is necessary, it is not by itself sufficient, because it will result only in manōlaya, temporary dissolution of mind, as in sleep, but it cannot bring about manōnāśa, permanent annihilation of mind.

In order to annihilate the mind, we must not only withdraw it from everything else but must also turn it back within to face ourself alone. This turning of our mind or attention back to face ourself is what Bhagavan refers to here as ‘மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தல்’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdal), ‘the mind knowing [or investigating] its own form of light’, and he says that this alone is ‘உண்மை உணர்ச்சி’ (uṇmai uṇarcci), ‘real awareness’, ‘true knowledge’ or ‘knowledge of reality’. In other words, what he implies here is that real awareness is not awareness of anything else but only awareness of nothing other than ourself, which is the same fundamental principle that he explains in more detail in verses 10 to 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, but here he points out more clearly how we should apply this principle in practice.

What he refers to here as ‘தன் ஒளி உரு’ (taṉ oḷi-uru), ‘its own form of light’ (or ‘one’s own form of light’), is the light of pure awareness, which is what we actually are, but when he says ‘மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தல்’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdal), ‘the mind knowing its own form of light’, does he mean that mind as mind can know pure awareness? Mind is in essence just ego, which is the adjunct-mixed awareness ‘I am this body’, so as such it can never be aware of itself as the pure adjunct-free awareness that it actually is. Therefore what he means by ‘the mind knowing its own form of light’ is that when mind turns back within to know its own form of light, leaving aside all external phenomena, it will cease to be mind and will remain just as its own form of light, which is always aware of itself as it actually is.

As Bhagavan often used to say, mind is mind only when it faces outwards to know anything other than itself, but when it turns back to face itself alone, it is no longer mind but just ātma-svarūpa, our own real nature (two examples of his saying something to this effect are recorded in Day by Day with Bhagavan: ‘The mind turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards, it becomes the ego and all the world’ (11-1-46: 2002 edition, page 106) and ‘The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self’ (8-11-45: 2002 edition, page 37)). That is, so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself, as such we are not real awareness but only mind, but though mind is not real awareness, it is nothing other than real awareness, as Bhagavan says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, so when instead of being aware of anything else we are aware of ourself alone, we cease to be mind and remain as real awareness, which is what we always actually are.

What actually exists is only real awareness, which is never aware of anything other than itself, so what is this thing called ‘mind’ or ‘ego’ that we now seem to be? In other words, what is this awareness that now seems to be aware of things other than itself? This is what we need to investigate, and if we investigate it keenly enough, we will find that no such thing actually exists at all, as Bhagavan says in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
மனத்தி னுருவை மறவா துசாவ
மனமென வொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற
      மார்க்கநே ரார்க்குமி துந்தீபற.

maṉatti ṉuruvai maṟavā dusāva
maṉameṉa voṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
      mārgganē rārkkumi dundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: மனத்தின் உருவை மறவாது உசாவ, மனம் என ஒன்று இலை. மார்க்கம் நேர் ஆர்க்கும் இது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): maṉattiṉ uruvai maṟavādu usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai. mārggam nēr ārkkum idu.

அன்வயம்: மறவாது மனத்தின் உருவை உசாவ, மனம் என ஒன்று இலை. இது ஆர்க்கும் நேர் மார்க்கம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maṟavādu maṉattiṉ uruvai usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai. idu ārkkum nēr mārggam.

English translation: When one investigates [examines or scrutinises] the form of the mind without neglecting [forgetting, abandoning, giving up or ceasing], anything called ‘mind’ will not exist. This is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone whomsoever.
Ego or mind seems to exist only when it is looking elsewhere, that is, at anything other than itself, but when it looks only at itself, there is no such thing but only pure awareness, which is never aware of anything other than itself. This is the simple but fundamental principle that Bhagavan teaches us both in verses 10 to 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and in these two verses of Upadēśa Undiyār.

Another closely related principle that we can infer by carefully considering those four verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu along with these two verses is that what is aware of phenomena is not real awareness but only ego, so if we investigate and know the reality of ego, ego as such will cease to exist and along with it awareness of phenomena will also cease (as he says in the final sentence of verse 11 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), and what will then remain is therefore only pure self-awareness.

9. Bhagavan’s teachings are the pinnacle of advaita, because he has greatly simplified and clarified the essential import of all its more ancient texts

Advaita is an extremely deep, subtle and radical philosophy, albeit a very simple one, and it challenges us to question all our most dearly cherished beliefs about ourself and everything else, so it naturally does not appeal to most people. Even among those of us to whom it does appeal to a greater or lesser extent, the majority are not yet willing to accept it in its pure and undiluted form, so each of us understands and interprets it according to the extent to which we are willing to give up all our former beliefs and accept wholeheartedly its deep and radical implications, which call on us to surrender ourself entirely, without any reservation whatsoever, and to accept that surrendering ourself entails giving up everything else, since everything else seems to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, which is the false ‘self’ we are to surrender.

This is why Bhagavan once said to Lakshmana Sarma, ‘According to the purity of the antaḥkaraṇa [the ‘inner instrument’ or mind] of each person, the same teaching is reflected in different ways. If you think you can expound the teachings more faithfully, you may write your own commentary’ (as recorded in the ‘Preface to the Eighth Edition’ of Maha Yoga: 2002 edition, pages v-vi). So what exactly is the connection between purity of mind and ability to understand the deep, subtle and radical implications of advaita philosophy?

The impurities in the mind are its viṣaya-vāsanās (propensities, inclinations or urges to experience viṣayas, phenomena), which are the seeds that sprout and manifest as likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, cares, concerns, hopes, fears and other such elements of the will, so to the extent that its viṣaya-vāsanās are strong and dense it is impure, and to the extent that its viṣaya-vāsanās are weakened and reduced in density it is pure. Therefore an impure mind will be strongly inclined to rise, go outwards and be affected by external circumstances, whereas a relatively pure mind will have less impetus to rise and go outwards and will therefore be more inclined to subside, surrender, turn back within and be unconcerned about and hence unaffected by external circumstances.

When we rise as ego and go outwards, we are turning our back (so to speak) on our real nature and attending instead to other things, so since our real nature is the original light of awareness (cit) by which the mind is illumined, and since the mind is the reflected light of awareness (cidābhāsa) by which everything else is illumined, the greater the impetus with which the mind goes outwards the more it is turning its back on the natural clarity of self-awareness that is always shining within it, and thereby the more the clarity and sharpness of its vivēka (discernment, discrimination or judgement) is clouded and blunted, whereas the more the mind turns back within to face itself (the subject, perceiver or first person) and thereby subsides, the clearer and sharper its vivēka will become. Therefore the clarity and sharpness of our vivēka is directly proportional to the purity of our mind, or in other words it is inversely proportional to the strength and density of our viṣaya-vāsanās.

What clouds and thereby blunts our natural inner clarity of vivēka is the darkness of our viṣaya-vāsanās or outward-going desires, and a mind in which vivēka is clouded is fertile ground for perpetuating the flourishing of its viṣaya-vāsanās. This is why in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār Bhagavan refers to the will (the ānandamaya kōśa), which is the totality of all vāsanās (the vast majority of which are viṣaya-vāsanās), as ‘இருள்’ (iruḷ), which means ‘darkness’. Therefore the direct and most effective means to reduce and eventually dispel this dense darkness of viṣaya-vāsanās from our heart and thereby to allow our natural inner clarity of vivēka to shine forth unhampered by them is for us to patiently and persistently turn our attention back within to face ourself, the clear light of pure self-awareness.

The more our viṣaya-vāsanās are weakened and reduced in density and intensity, the clearer and sharper our vivēka will become, and thereby the more willing we will be to accept and the more clearly we will be able to understand the extremely deep, subtle and radical yet very simple principles of advaita philosophy. Because they are so simple, the fundamental principles of advaita are not difficult to understand, but because they are so radical and their implications are so profound and extreme, they are not easy to accept for those whose mind are not sufficiently pure and are therefore still strongly attached to external phenomena.

In order to be willing to accept them wholeheartedly and thereby able to understand them clearly in all their raw simplicity, what is required is not vast learning or the kind of intellect that is brilliant in understanding complex matters concerning the (seemingly) external world, but only citta-śuddhi, purity of mind and heart. Even if a person has no learning or formal education, so long as they have the required degree of citta-śuddhi they will be able to understand the fundamental principles of advaita more clearly and correctly than even the most learned people or those who have supposedly the most brilliant intellects yet whose hearts are still clouded by strong and dense viṣaya-vāsanās.

However, neither Bhagavan nor any of the sages who wrote the ancient texts of advaita would exclude anyone just because they are not yet willing to accept all the more radical principles and implications of advaita, so they gave different levels of explanation to make it easier for more people to accept at least the most general and elementary principles of advaita. Good teachers always adapt what they teach to suit the capacity and needs of those whom they are teaching. They would not teach in a primary school all that they had learnt in university, but what they would teach at that level would be a suitable and necessary preparation to enable the children to progress towards university-level study. Likewise what sages teach people is suited to their level of spiritual development and is a necessary preparation to enable them to progress to deeper and subtler levels.

Therefore in both Bhagavan’s teachings and the ancient texts of advaita we can see many different levels of explanation, which they gave to suit the different levels of spiritual development among those they were teaching. We should not assume, therefore, that every explanation given in the upaniṣads and other ancient texts and commentaries is necessarily the ultimate explanation or the deepest and subtlest one. Many preliminary explanations that we find in some places in those texts are contradicted or overruled by more advanced explanations in other places.

Even among the devotees of Bhagavan in his bodily lifetime there were as many different levels of understanding of his teachings as there were different degrees of purity and hence clarity of mind, and the variety of these different levels is reflected both in the books that record his oral teachings and in the various commentaries and other explanations of them. Fortunately for us, however, he expressed the deepest, subtlest and most fundamental principles of his teachings in his own original writings, particularly in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and Upadēśa Undiyār, so if we study and carefully consider all the implications of what he has written in such texts, we can each find our own level of understanding, and can then deepen and clarify it by persistent practice of self-investigation and self-surrender, supported by repeated study of his writings and reflection on their import. In this way we can form our own judgement about other recordings, commentaries and explanations, and also about any related teachings we may come across, such as in more ancient texts of advaita.

Bhagavan’s teachings are the pinnacle of advaita, the amṛta (ambrosia or nectar of immortality) churned from the ocean of its more ancient texts, because he has greatly simplified and clarified their essential import. Therefore rather than trying to understand his teachings through the lens of ancient texts, it is more beneficial to understand ancient texts through the lens of the fundamental principles that he has taught us in texts such as Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Upadēśa Undiyār and Nāṉ Ār?.

To the extent that we have studied and correctly understood Bhagavan’s teachings, we will thereby and to that extent have understood the essential import of all the ancient texts of advaita, so we do not need to read any of those texts, and even if we do read them they will not enable us to understand any significant principles that we cannot understand from his own writings. On the other hand, even if we had extensively studied the ancient texts of advaita before coming across his teachings, if we were to study his teachings with a sufficiently open and enquiring mind we would be able to understand many deep and subtle principles of advaita with a fresh clarity and coherence that we would not have been able to gain from all our study of older texts.

When Bhagavan answered questions that he was asked, his answers were always adapted and appropriate to the level of understanding of whoever asked the questions, because there would be no benefit in his giving answers that they did not have the willingness or capacity to understand. In the same way the authors of ancient texts adapted what they wrote to suit the level of understanding of those they were addressing, so we should not assume that everything written in those texts is the deepest, subtlest, clearest, most accurate or most radical expression of advaita philosophy or practice.

One reason for the depth, clarity and radical nature of the teachings that Bhagavan has expressed in Nāṉ Ār?, Upadēśa Undiyār and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is that what he taught in these three texts were addressed specifically to Sivaprakasam Pillai and Muruganar, who were both wholeheartedly dedicated to achieving the goal he taught us, namely the eradication of ego, and who were therefore willing not only to give up all their former beliefs and accept all the deep, subtle and radical principles that he taught them, but also to immerse themselves deep and thereby lose themselves entirely in the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender.

Not only do ancient texts contain teachings to suit a variety of different levels of understanding, but over the ages they have been interpreted and explained by people of different levels of understanding, so since the majority of scholars and other exponents of them did not have a sufficiently deep, clear and subtle understanding of them, many superficial interpretations or misinterpretations of them became prevalent, and as a general rule translations of them in English and other languages reflect such prevalent misinterpretations and are coloured by the limited understanding of the translators. Therefore if we do not understand Sanskrit or whichever other languages those texts were written in, we will not be able to judge to what extent the translations of them that we read are correct interpretations of them.

Because so many misunderstandings and wrong interpretations of the ancient texts prevail, Bhagavan often pointed out the errors in such interpretations, or as Sadhu Om used to say it, he gave ‘correction slips’. For example, for hundreds of years before Bhagavan it was widely believed and taught that the correct practice of the teachings of advaita was to meditate on mahāvākyas (great sayings) such as ‘ahaṁ brahmāsmi’ (I am brahman) or to constantly think ‘I am not this body or mind; I am that’, but he pointed out that the correct practice of advaita is only self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) and that meditating ‘I am not this, I am that’ may be an aid but is not vicāra, as he explained in verses 27, 29, 32 and 36 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

Another popular misunderstanding that is prevalent even now is that since it is said that the root cause of all our problems is avidyā (ignorance) and that avidyā can be removed only by vidyā (knowledge), in order to remove avidyā it is sufficient to study the ancient texts under the guidance of a qualified teacher (namely one who has been through the same process) and to meditate on their meaning until one understands them clearly and correctly. This is a misinterpretation of the term ‘vidyā’, which in this context does not mean mere conceptual understanding but only clear awareness of our real nature, which is what remains when ego is completely eradicated, and ego cannot be eradicated by any amount of studying or reasoning but only by self-investigation, as Bhagavan explained in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
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 text [of advaita] 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 will]; 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.
Like these two examples, Bhagavan has corrected many other prevalent misunderstandings that arose among those who studied the ancient texts, so if we want to understand the meaning of those texts correctly, and to be able to distinguish their core principles from all the various ways in which they were expressed in a diluted manner to suit the needs of people who could not grasp them or would be unwilling to accept them if they were expressed more explicitly, the easiest way to do so is to study and understand Bhagavan’s original writings, in which the same core principles have been expressed in a manner that is much simpler, clearer and therefore more easy to understand.

In order to understand Bhagavan’s teachings correctly and clearly, we need to approach them with a fresh and open mind and willingness to discard any of our former beliefs that we find to be incompatible or inconsistent with them, as Sivaprakasam Pillai and Muruganar did. If instead we try to understand them through the lens of whatever we have understood from our previous study of other texts and books, we are liable to misunderstand them. As Sadhu Om used to say, our mind needs to be like a clean slate when we begin to study his teachings, because then only will they make a fresh and clear impression on us.

If we write Bhagavan’s beautiful name on a well-scribbled slate, it will become just one more scribbling lost among all the previous scribblings, whereas if we first wipe the slate clean and then write his name, its true beauty will stand out clearly. Likewise, if we try to understand his teachings without being willing to set aside all our previous beliefs and concepts, the fresh clarity of them will be lost among all our other confused ideas, whereas if we are willing to discard all our old ideas, his teachings will make a clear and fresh impression on our mind and heart.

In your comments, Venkat, you often cite English translations of ancient texts, but since most of us do not have a sufficiently deep understanding of Sanskrit, we cannot be sure to what extent such translations are a correct interpretation of the original texts. Moreover, just because something is written in an ancient text or by a jñāni such as Gaudapada or Adi Sankara, that does not mean that it is necessarily an undiluted expression of the deepest or subtlest principles of advaita, because just as Bhagavan often had to dilute his teachings to suit the level of understanding of whomever he was addressing, the writers of those texts likewise adapted what they wrote to suit many different levels of understanding.

Therefore as a general rule referring to ancient texts or English translations of them will not help us to understand the deepest, subtlest and most radical principles of advaita that Bhagavan has expressed so clearly and unequivocally in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār?, Upadēśa Undiyār and other such texts, and in most cases trying to understand his teachings through the lens of other texts, no matter how ancient or highly revered they may be, will only add to our confusion rather than clarifying or deepening our understanding.

10. What is aware of ego and all phenomena is only ourself as ego and not ourself as we actually are

In your comment of 17 September 2018 at 20:09 you wrote that ego ‘is a false assumption that separates subject and object’, but ego is more than just a false assumption, because it is that which makes all assumptions. It is the assumer rather than the assumed. Moreover it does more than just separate subject and object, because it alone is the subject, and by coming into existence it brings all objects into existence, so in its absence there is neither subject nor object but only our real nature, which is the one infinite and indivisible whole.

Before ego appears there is nothing to separate, because it is antecedent to all phenomena. What actually exists is only our real nature, which is pure awareness, so it alone is what seems to have been divided or separated into subject (ego) and objects (phenomena), but though it seems to have been divided, it has never actually been divided, because it is indivisible, as Bhagavan says in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தனாதியல் யாதெனத் தான்றெரி கிற்பின்
னனாதி யனந்தசத் துந்தீபற
      வகண்ட சிதானந்த முந்தீபற.

taṉādiyal yādeṉat tāṉḏṟeri hiṟpiṉ
ṉaṉādi yaṉantasat tundīpaṟa
      vakhaṇḍa cidāṉanda mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தனாது இயல் யாது என தான் தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த சத்து அகண்ட சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa tāṉ terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta sattu akhaṇḍa cit āṉandam.

அன்வயம்: தான் தனாது இயல் யாது என தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த அகண்ட சத்து சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta akhaṇḍa sattu cit āṉandam.

English translation: If one knows what the nature of oneself is, then [what will exist and shine is only] anādi [beginningless], ananta [endless, limitless or infinite] and akhaṇḍa [unbroken, undivided or unfragmented] sat-cit-ānanda [being-awareness-bliss].
Because our real nature is anādi, beginningless, there is nothing antecedent to it. Because it is ananta, endless, limitless or infinite, there is nothing other than or outside of it. And because it is akhaṇḍa, unbroken, undivided or unfragmented, it cannot be divided or become more than one thing. Therefore nothing else can exist either outside it or as a division within it.

Being beginningless and endless, it is not touched by time, and hence it is immutable, so it can never become aware of anything other than itself. It is always just as it is, and never undergoes modification or alteration of any kind whatsoever.

If, as you seem to believe, it is aware of the appearance and disappearance of ego and phenomena, it would become aware of them when they appear and cease to be aware of them when they disappear. Whatever becomes something or ceases to be something is not unchanging, and according to Bhagavan whatever changes is not real, because whenever it changes it ceases to be what it was previously and becomes something else instead.

Moreover, since phenomena are constantly changing, if our real nature were aware of them it would itself be constantly changing, becoming aware of one thing at one moment and another thing at another moment. Therefore, since it is immutable, it can never become aware of anything or cease to be aware of anything, and hence it cannot be aware of either the appearance or the disappearance of ego and phenomena.

Though it is sometimes described as the ‘witness of all’ (sarva-sākṣi), in its clear view ‘all’ is only itself, because nothing other than itself exists, since it is infinite (ananta), and no parts exist within it, since it is indivisible (akhaṇḍa), so there is no multiplicity or anything other than itself that it could ever witness or be aware of. Therefore as Bhagavan explained, whenever it is said that our real nature or brahman is ‘sākṣi’ or ‘witness’, this term is not used in the sense of what is aware of anything other than itself but only in the sense of that in whose presence everything else seems to exist.

As I explained in a series of two comments that I wrote in reply to you on 23 September 2018:
Venkat, in your comment of 17 September 2018 at 20:09 you quoted a great Sankara scholar who wrote, “Through the practice of this ‘Adhyatma Yoga’ at last one cognises that my true nature of Being is beyond the ‘I’ sense or ego. When one cognises this Truth, then he remains unto himself as of the nature of the Witness of the ego. [...] And he himself has remained as the Witness of the ego or as the Pure Self”, and this prompted Rukmani to ask, ‘How can pure self ever witness the ego?’

This led to a heated discussion, in which several friends expressed their views, but neither you nor anyone else seems to have answered the perfectly reasonable question asked by Rukmani: ‘How can pure self ever witness the ego?’ This question cannot be answered merely by asserting that the pure self does witness the ego, nor by quoting texts that seem to imply this. The question is ‘how?’ If this cannot be answered adequately, it is reasonable for us to question the correctness of any assertion that it does, or of any interpretation that arrives at such a conclusion.

As Bhagavan explained, the sense in which the term ‘witness’ is used depends upon the context, and one of the senses in which it is used traditionally is metaphorical. The sun is said to be the witness of all that happens on earth, but this is obviously a metaphorical use of this term, because the sun is not aware of anything that happens on earth, so in this context ‘witness’ is a metaphor for ‘that in the presence of which’. That is, the sun is that in the presence of which everything happens on earth.

It is in this metaphorical sense that our real nature (ātma-svarūpa or brahman) is said to be the ‘witness’ of ego and everything else. That is, it is only in and by the mere presence of our real nature that ego and everything else seem to arise, function and subside. This is what Bhagavan meant when he wrote in the fifteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? that everything happens ‘ஈசன் சன்னிதான விசேஷ மாத்திரத்தால்’ (īśaṉ saṉṉidhāṉa-viśēṣa-māttirattāl), ‘by just the special nature of the presence of God’.

Like Sankara and others, Bhagavan also sometimes used the term ‘witness’ in this metaphorical sense of presence, but he clarified that this is not intended to imply that our real nature is aware of anything other than itself. For example, in verse 98 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai he explained that since no other thing appears unless one rises as ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, no phenomenon (viṣaya) exists in the clear view of our real nature, and hence it is incorrect to say that ātman (ourself as we actually are) itself is the actual witness.

However, though the term ‘witness’ is often used in the metaphorical sense of presence, people who lack subtle understanding generally misinterpret it to mean that our real nature is actually aware of ego and other phenomena. This misinterpretation occurs because such people do not understand that our real nature is just pure awareness (prajñāna), which means awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself, because nothing other than itself actually exists. Awareness of other things, which is what Bhagavan calls சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu, which literally means ‘pointing’ or ‘showing’ awareness), is not the nature of ourself as we actually are but only of ourself as ego.

To make this clear, in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? Bhagavan defined our real nature in two sentences: ‘நான் என்னும் நினைவு கிஞ்சித்து மில்லா விடமே சொரூபமாகும். அதுவே ‘மௌன’ மெனப்படும்’ (nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu kiñcittum illā v-iḍam-ē sorūpam āhum. adu-v-ē ‘mauṉam’ eṉa-p-paḍum), which means ‘Only the place where the thought called I [the ego] does not exist at all [or even a little] is svarūpa [one’s ‘own form’ or real nature]. That alone is called ‘mauna’ [silence]’. Since not even the slightest trace of ego exists in our real nature, how can it be correct to say that our real nature is aware of ego?

Therefore when it is said that our real nature (svarūpa) is jīva-sākṣi, the witness of the jīva or ego, or sarva-sākṣi, the witness of everything, it does not mean that our real nature is aware either of ego or of anything else, but only that ego and everything else seem to exist only in and by the mere presence of our real nature. In other words, without our real nature, ego and everything else would not even seem to exist.
Though it is only in and by the presence of our real nature that everything else seems to exist, it is not in the view of our real nature that other things seem to exist but only in the view of ourself as ego. This is why he said in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’.

The fact that all phenomena (all multiplicity or things that seem to be other than ourself) seem to exist only in the view of ego and not in the view of our real nature, which is just pure awareness, was made clear by Bhagavan in so many ways, but it was not made so abundantly clear in any of the ancient texts or by any of the commentators on them such as Adi Sankara, and hence many scholars who lack depth and subtlety of understanding wrongly assume that our real nature is what is aware of ego and everything else, and they interpret the ancient texts accordingly.

If we do not understand that what is aware of the appearance of ego and phenomena is not our real nature (ourself as we actually are) but only ourself as ego, we will not be able to understand correctly and clearly either the nature of our goal or more importantly the nature of the means or path to attain it. So long as we are aware of phenomena of any kind whatsoever (that is, anything that appears or disappears and is therefore not permanent but just a transitory appearance), we are not aware of ourself as we actually are but only as ego, so both our goal and the path to it are to be aware of nothing other than ourself.

This is why Bhagavan implies in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār that in order to be aware of our own ‘form of light’ (the pure awareness that we actually are) we need to give up being aware of any phenomena, and why he concludes verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying: ‘ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்’ (ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr), ‘Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything’. We cannot have our cake and eat it. In order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we need to give up being aware of everything else. This is the simple and small price that we must pay for eternal bliss.

This will be clear to us only if we understand and are willing to accept the principle that what is aware of ego and all phenomena is only ourself as ego and not ourself as we actually are, which is one of the fundamental and most essential principles of Bhagavan’s teachings. So long as we cling to the false belief that we can be aware of ourself as we actually are and still be aware of phenomena, we are not yet willing to pay the price that we must pay in order to know and be what we always actually are.

11. Since our goal is to be aware of nothing other than ourself, the means to achieve it is simply to try to be aware of nothing other than ourself

In many of your comments both recently and in the past you have defended your belief that we will continue to be aware of the world even after the eradication of ego, and when others have challenged this belief you have written something to the effect that it does not matter what we believe about the state of ātma-jñāna, because what is important is that we follow the path of ātma-vicāra, which alone will reveal to us the nature of that state. For example, in your comment of 23 September 2018 at 17:00, in which you replied to my comments of 23 September 2018 (which I reproduced in the previous section), you ended by writing: ‘To be honest, I’m not sure this really matters — and I’m happy to agree that I may well be wrong. We both agree that we need to turn inwards and do self-investigation. There is little purpose in conceptualising and arguing over what remains thereafter’. This would be true if there were no connection between the nature of ātma-vicāra and that of ātma-jñāna, but there is a very important and significant connection between them.

The connection between them lies in the crucial distinction between ego and our real nature. Whereas ego is what Bhagavan called ‘சுட்டறிவு’ (suṭṭaṟivu), which means transitive awareness (that is, awareness that is aware of things other than itself), our real nature is what he called ‘சுட்டற்ற அறிவு’ (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), which means intransitive awareness (that is, awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself), so we rise and stand as ego only by being aware of other things (phenomena of any kind whatsoever), as he 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].
Since we rise and stand as ego only by being aware of other things, we can subside and cease forever rising or standing as ego only by being aware of nothing other than ourself. Therefore our goal is to be aware only of ourself and nothing else whatsoever, which is the state called ātma-jñāna (self-knowledge or pure self-awareness), and the means to achieve this goal is to try to be aware only of ourself and nothing else whatsoever, which is the practice called ātma-vicāra (self-investigation).

That is, since our goal is to be aware of nothing other than ourself, we cannot achieve this goal by any means other than trying to be aware of nothing other than ourself. Therefore the nature of the path is the same as the nature of the goal. Hence if we have not clearly understood that our goal is to be aware of nothing other than ourself (as we are in sleep, but permanently and not just temporarily), our understanding of the practice will not be sufficiently deep or clear.

Bhagavan’s teachings are nothing if not practical. The sole aim of all the fundamental principles that he taught us in texts such as Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and Upadēśa Undiyār is to enable us to understand clearly what the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender actually entails. Though we can practise self-investigation and self-surrender even while we are aware of other things, we can go deep into the practice only to the extent that we cease to be aware of anything else. The closer that we come to the pure awareness that we experience in sleep the closer we are to eradicating ego.

12. Ego projects and simultaneously perceives itself as all forms or phenomena

In your comment of 5 October 2018 at 20:46 you say, ‘In any event, Bhagavan would appear to be inconsistent in UN23 to UN26’, but if we are willing to accept that he knew what he was talking about and how to express it clearly and coherently, then we have to infer that what he wrote in these four verses (and also in all the other verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) was actually perfectly consistent, so if it appears in our view to be inconsistent, that indicates that we have not correctly understood what he meant.

Earlier in the same comment you explain what appears to you to be inconsistent in these verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, namely that when he says in verse 23, ‘நான் ஒன்று எழுந்த பின், எல்லாம் எழும்’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu eṙunda piṉ, ellām eṙum), ‘After one thing, I, rises, everything rises’, and in verse 26, ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, he thereby supports the contention that ego is antecedent to everything else, but when he says in verse 24, ‘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 jaḍa body does not say I; sat-cit does not rise; in between one thing, I, rises as the extent of the body’, and in verse 25, ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām), ‘Grasping form it [the formless phantom-ego] comes into existence’, you believe that he thereby implies that the body is antecedent to ego.

If verses 24 and 25 did imply that the body is antecedent to ego, then that would contradict what he says in verses 23 and 26, but is it reasonable to suppose that he would contradict himself in such an obvious manner when giving such important teachings? Is it not more reasonable to suspect that you have perhaps misinterpreted the implication of verses 24 and 25? In verses 23 and 26 he says unequivocally that everything else comes into existence only after ego comes into existence, and they do not exist when ego does not exist, so we need to interpret what he says in verses 24 and 25 accordingly.

How does ego come into existence grasping the form of a body if that form does not already exist prior to its coming into existence? The answer to this is simple: in this context ‘grasping’ implies both projecting and perceiving. In other words, ego comes into existence by simultaneously projecting and perceiving a body as ‘I’.

As I explained in the first section of this article, we can understand that the body is not antecedent to ego by considering our experience in a dream. As soon as we rise as ego in a dream (in other words, as soon as we begin to dream), we become aware of ourself as a body in that dream, and through the senses of that body we perceive a dream world, but after waking up we do not suppose that dream body or dream world existed prior to or independent of our perception of them. What we understand is that as soon as we began to dream we projected and simultaneously perceived both the dream body and the dream world.

This is how we grasp the form of a body as ‘I’ in any dream, and according to Bhagavan our present state, which now seems to us to be a state of waking (just as any dream seems to be so long as we are dreaming), and any other state in which we perceive phenomena is just a dream, so we have grasped the form of this body as ourself by projecting and perceiving it as soon as we rose as ego and began to experience this state. This teaching of his is therefore what is called dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention (vāda) that perception (dṛṣṭi) is causally antecedent to creation (sṛṣṭi), or in other words that we create phenomena only by perceiving them, just as we do in dream.

The philosophy of advaita is interpreted by people in various ways according to the purity of their minds, so there are many people who consider themselves to be advaitins yet who do not accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, because for them it seems to be too radical an interpretation of advaita, so they interpret the ancient texts of advaita according to sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention that creation is causally antecedent to perception, and that the world therefore exists prior to and independent of our perception of it. Those who interpret advaita in this way do not accept ēka-jīva-vāda, the contention that there is only one jīva, ego or perceiver (which is one of the basic implications of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda), and since they believe that phenomena exist independent of ego’s perception of them, they do not accept that ego alone is what projects all phenomena, and hence they interpret ancient texts to mean that what projects everything is not ego or mind but only brahman (or brahman as īśvara, God, rather than brahman as ego).

This is a very diluted interpretation of advaita, but it is probably the view espoused by the majority of scholars, saṁnyāsins and others who consider themselves to be advaitins, so most translations of the ancient texts of advaita and commentaries on them have interpreted them according to this view, namely sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda and its corollary, nānā-jīva-vāda (the contention that there are many jīvas, egos or perceivers). However this is not the view that Bhagavan taught us in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and other such texts, in which he very clearly and unequivocally taught dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda.

The view that you seem to espouse is sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, because for example in an earlier comment of 3 October 2018 at 20:46 you wrote, ‘Bhagavan / advaita does not teach that the ego arises and simultaneously causes the appearance of phenomena’, and in another one of 4 October 2018 at 08:33 you wrote, ‘Advaita, and Bhagavan, says to us that the world is a projection by Brahman / Self. That is the Knower’. However in saying this you are misinterpreting Bhagavan (and siding with one particular but contentious interpretation of advaita, albeit perhaps the most popular and prevalent one), because in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Nāṉ Ār? he very clearly and unequivocally taught us that though ego (the mind or perceiver) and phenomena (the world or everything perceived) appear simultaneously, it is ego alone that causes the appearance of phenomena.

For example, in verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (which I cited earlier in section 5) he says: ‘உலகு அறிவும் ஒன்றாய் உதித்து ஒடுங்கும் ஏனும், உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும்’ (ulahu aṟivum oṉḏṟāy udittu oḍuṅgum ēṉum, ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum), ‘Though the world and awareness arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by awareness’. In this context what he refers to as ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu), ‘awareness’, is not real awareness (cit), which is brahman, but only ego or mind, which is a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), because he says that it rises and subsides along with the world. Therefore when he says ‘உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும்’ (ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum), ‘the world shines by awareness’, he implies that what causes the world to appear is only ego or mind.

This is also what he states explicitly in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?. In the first two sentences he says, ‘மன மென்பது ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தி லுள்ள ஓர் அதிசய சக்தி. அது சகல நினைவுகளையும் தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது’ (maṉam eṉbadu ātma-sorūpattil uḷḷa ōr atiśaya śakti. adu sakala niṉaivugaḷaiyum tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu), ‘What is called mind is an atiśaya śakti [an extraordinary power] that exists in ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. It makes all thoughts appear’, and in fifth sentence he says, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai), ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as world’, thereby implying that mind is what causes the world to appear.

The verb that he uses in the second sentence is தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது (tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu), the third person singular neuter form of தோற்றுவி (tōṯṟuvi), which is an alternative form of தோற்று (tōṯṟu), a causative verb that means to cause to appear, produce, create or project, and he uses this same verb in later in this paragraph when he says, ‘சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும்’ (silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉ-ṉ-iḍam-irundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉamum taṉ-ṉ-iḍattil-irundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum), ‘Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears’. Therefore in this paragraph he teaches us very clearly and emphatically that what projects or causes the appearance of the world is only the mind (the ego or perceiver).

13. What misperceives brahman as ego and world is not brahman as such but only ego

According to the interpretation of advaita that you espouse, what projects or creates the world is brahman, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), but if this were the case, that would mean that brahman is a doer and therefore operates in time, whereas it is in fact the fundamental reality in which time and everything else appears and disappears. It is immutable, so it is unaffected by either the appearance or disappearance of anything, and hence it is the cause of everything only in the sense that it is the fundamental substance (mūla-vastu) that appears as everything, just as a rope is the substance that appears as a snake, but it does not itself do anything to cause their appearance, just as the rope does not do anything to appear as a snake.

This is stated explicitly by Bhagavan in verse 85 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai:
நானா விதமான நாமரூ பங்களொடு
தானே யுலகாச் சமைவதலாற் — றானோர்
நிமித்தனா யத்தை நிருமித் தளித்துச்
சமித்தல் புரிவா னலன்.

nāṉā vidamāṉa nāmarū paṅgaḷoḍu
tāṉē yulahāc camaivadalāṯ — ṟāṉōr
nimittaṉā yattai nirumit taḷittuc
camittal purivā ṉalaṉ
.

பதச்சேதம்: நானா விதமான நாம ரூபங்களோடு தானே உலகா சமைவது அலால், தான் ஓர் நிமித்தனா அத்தை நிருமித்து அளித்து சமித்தல் புரிவான் அலன்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): nāṉā vidamāṉa nāma rūpaṅgaḷōḍu tāṉē ulahā samaivadu alāl, tāṉ ōr nimittaṉā attai nirumittu aḷittu samittal purivāṉ alaṉ.

English translation: Oneself is only what is made [to appear] as the world with diverse kinds of names and forms, but oneself is not one who as a nimitta [an efficient cause] does [any actions such as] creating, sustaining and destroying that [the world].
தானே (tāṉē) is an intensified form of தான் (tāṉ), which means oneself, but in this context it refers specifically to ātma-svarūpa, the real nature of oneself, as Muruganar confirms in his explanatory paraphrase of this verse. He also explains that, as implied in this verse, ātma-svarūpa is the ‘material’ or substantial cause of the world-appearance (in the sense that it alone is what appears as all phenomena), but it is not the efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa) of it, because it plays no active role in making it appear.

A material or substantial cause is the substance of which a thing is made, which is what in Tamil is called முதற்காரணம் (mudaṟ-kāraṇam), ‘primary cause’, and in Sanskrit is called उपादानकारण (upādāna kāraṇa), ‘used cause’. For example, wood is the material cause of a table, and clay is the material cause of a pot, so in this verse Bhagavan implies that ātma-svarūpa is likewise just the material cause of the world of name and forms, but is not its efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa, निमित्तकारण or நிமித்தகாரணம்).

However, when wood is made into a table or clay is made into a pot, it undergoes a change in form, whereas ātma-svarūpa never undergoes any change at all even when it appears as the world, so in this sense it is more like a rope, which is the material cause for the appearance of a snake, but which does not undergo any change when it seems to be a snake. The efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa) of a table is a carpenter, and of a pot is a potter, but the efficient cause that makes a rope appear as a snake is just the perceiver’s misperception of it. Likewise the efficient cause for the appearance of the world is just ego’s misperception of ātma-svarūpa, its own real nature.

Since ātma-svarūpa alone is what actually exists, everything else is just an illusory appearance, and the efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa) of any illusory appearance is just misperception. Therefore if anyone claims that ātma-svarūpa (or brahman, which is just another name for ātma-svarūpa) causes the appearance of this world, they thereby imply one or other of two contentions, namely either that it actually undergoes change to become ego and all the phenomena perceived by it, or that it misperceives itself as ego and all phenomena.

The contention that brahman actually becomes the world is called pariṇāma vāda, the ‘contention of transformation (or alteration)’, but if this contention were true, that would mean that brahman is not immutable but is one thing at one time and another thing at another time. How could such a changing thing be the fundamental reality?

The contention that brahman does not actually become the world but merely appears as such is called vivarta vāda, the ‘contention of false appearance (or illusion)’, according to which the efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa) of the world is only misperception. But what is it that misperceives brahman as ego and world? If we contend that brahman misperceives itself, that would mean that it is subject to illusion and self-ignorance, which would again imply that it is mutable, being self-ignorant whenever it misperceives itself as ego and world and not being self-ignorant whenever it is aware of itself as it actually is.

Therefore according to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and Bhagavan’s teachings what misperceives brahman as ego and world is not brahman as such but only ego. Even when it is misperceived by ego as all this multiplicity, brahman itself never undergoes any change and therefore never sees itself as anything other than what it actually is, namely the one infinite, eternal, immutable, indivisible, nameless and formless whole.

14. Whatever comes into existence or ceases to exist does not actually exist but merely seems to exist

In the same comment in which you wrote that ‘Bhagavan would appear to be inconsistent in UN23 to UN26’, after quoting the first two sentences of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, you remarked, ‘here I would question what Bhagavan means by existence. Does a dream exist — we take it to exist and be real whilst dreaming, but when we awake, we not longer take it to be real, to have existed. In the same way, once we realise the ego is not real, it is a fabrication, then there is no “other” for the ego to fight against’.

According to Bhagavan what actually exists must always exist, so whatever comes into existence or ceases to exist does not actually exist even when it seems to exist. Since the only thing that always exists is pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he says, ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]’.

Therefore when he says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, what he means by ‘existence’ and ‘exist’ is not actual existence but only seeming existence. Neither ego nor anything else other than our real nature actually exists, so their existence is not actual existence but only seeming existence. When ego and everything else appears, they seem to exist, and when they disappear, they do not even seem to exist.

But even when they seem to exist, in whose view do they seem to exist? You aptly refer to the seeming existence of dream in this context. In whose view does a dream seem to exist? Only in the view of the dreamer, the ‘I’ who is projecting and perceiving it. Not only everything that is perceived in a dream, but even the ‘I’ who perceives it seems to exist only in the view of that ‘I’, the ego. Likewise even in this so-called waking state ego and everything perceived by it seem to exist only in the view of ego, because according to Bhagavan this waking state and any other state in which ego and other things seem to exist is just a dream.

In each dream the phenomena perceived are different, but in every dream the ego who perceives them is the same. You say, ‘we take it [dream] to exist and be real whilst dreaming, but when we awake, we not longer take it to be real, to have existed’, but this is not quite correct, because even after waking from one dream into another dream, such as our present state, we often remember the former dream, so we recognise that everything we perceived in it seemed to exist even though it did not actually exist. The difference that is brought about by the ending of that dream is that whereas everything we perceived in it seemed to be real (that is, actually existing) so long as we were in that state, it no longer seems to be real after we leave it, because we recognise that it was just a mental projection, a figment of our imagination.

In other words, while occurring everything perceived in a dream seems to exist independent of our perception of it, whereas after the dream has ended it becomes clear to us that whatever we perceived in it did not exist independent of our perception of it. Therefore if our present state is just a dream, as Bhagavan says it is, whatever we perceive in this state does not exist independent of our perception of it, even though it now seems to us that it exists independent of our perception of it. This teaching of his is therefore what is called dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention that whatever seems to have been created or to have come into existence does not exist independent of our perception of it.

You then say, ‘In the same way, once we realise the ego is not real, it is a fabrication, then there is no “other” for the ego to fight against’, but who or what is to realise that ego is not real? Ego is nothing but a misperception of ourself, an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are, so it seems to exist only in the view of ourself as ego and not in the view of ourself as we actually are (our real nature, ātma-svarūpa), because as we actually are we are always aware of ourself as we actually are and can therefore never be aware of ourself as anything else.

Therefore, since ego seems to exist only in its own view and not in the view of our real nature, it cannot cease to exist in the view of our real nature, nor can it cease to exist in its own view, since it would have to exist in order to see that it had ceased to exist, which is obviously an absurd proposition. Therefore we can never experience the cessation of ego, which I assume is what you mean when you say ‘once we realise the ego is not real’.

Ego seems to exist only in its own view, and so long as it seems to exist it seems to be real, that is, to be actually existing. Therefore ego can never realise that it is not real. In the view of our real nature, no ego ever seems to exist at all, so even our real nature can never realise that ego is not real. Ego will cease to exist only when it investigates itself keenly enough to see what it actually is, namely ātma-svarūpa, but as soon as it sees that it is ātma-svarūpa it is no longer ego but only ātma-svarūpa, in whose view no such thing as ego has ever existed.

As Bhagavan says in the second sentence of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, so when ego ceases to exist everything else will cease to exist along with it. This is why he says in the fourth and final sentence of this verse: ‘ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்’ (ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr), ‘Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything’.

When ego and everything else ceases to exist what remains is only ātma-svarūpa, in whose clear view neither ego nor anything else has ever existed or even seemed to exist at all. This the state of ajāta (not born, become, arisen, appeared or happened), which is the ultimate truth (pāramārthika satya).

However, though dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda is not the ultimate truth, it is closer to the ultimate truth than sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, and hence according to Bhagavan it is the most appropriate view for us to adopt so long as we seem to be ego and therefore seem to be aware of the appearance of phenomena. The difference between dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ajāta is that according to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda neither ego nor anything else other than ātma-svarūpa actually exists, even though they seem to exist, whereas according to ajāta they do not even seem to exist and have therefore never appeared, arisen or been born.

15. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 17 and 18: what the ātma-jñāni sees and what the ajñāni sees is exactly the same, but what they each see it as is different

In the same comment in which you wrote that ‘Bhagavan would appear to be inconsistent in UN23 to UN26’ you also referred to verse 17 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and said that in it ‘he seems to be saying that even for the jnani there is still a body, but he does not identify with it because everything is the Self for him. This does not imply that the body ceases to exist, because he says for both those who have known and those who haven’t known the body is I’, but as I explained while discussing verses 17 and 18 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu in the article on which you wrote this comment, what he says in these two verses is expressed by him in a carefully nuanced manner in order to prompt us to think very carefully and deeply about their import.

In verse 17 he says ‘தன் உணர்ந்தார்க்கு எல்லை அற தான் ஒளிரும் நான்’ (taṉ uṇarndārkku ellai aṟa tāṉ oḷirum nāṉ), ‘for those who have known themself, oneself, I, shines without limit’, and in verse 18 he says ‘உரு அற்று ஆரும் உணர்ந்தார் உண்மை’ (uru aṯṟu ārum uṇarndār uṇmai), ‘for those who have known, reality pervades devoid of form’. The key words in verse 17 are ‘எல்லை அற’ (ellai aṟa), ‘without limit’, and in verse 18 are ‘உரு அற்று’ (uru aṯṟu), ‘devoid of form’, because these words clearly indicate the meaning that he actually intends to convey in these verses.

The body is a form, so like any other form it is defined by limits, and hence if ‘I’ is without limit, it is without body or any other form. Likewise, the world is nothing but a collection of forms, so if reality is devoid of form, it is devoid of any world. Why then does Bhagavan say in the first sentence of verse 17 that for both the ajñāni and the ātma-jñāni ‘உடல் நானே’ (uḍal nāṉē), ‘the body is only I [or actually I]’, and in the first sentence of verse 18 that for both of them ‘உலகு உண்மை ஆகும்’ (ulahu uṇmai āhum), ‘the world is real [or reality]’?

In the clear view of the ātma-jñāni, who is nothing other than brahman, nothing else actually exists, so there is no such thing as body or world. However, in the self-ignorant view of the ajñāni body and world seem to exist, so what the ajñāni sees as body and world is what the ātma-jñāni sees as ‘I’, the one infinite and hence formless reality.

What the ātma-jñāni sees and what the ajñāni sees is exactly the same, but what they each see it as is different. Whereas the ātma-jñāni sees it as it actually is, which is just ‘I’, the one infinite, indivisible and hence formless reality, the ajñāni sees it as a multitude of forms, and sees ‘I’ as being limited to the extent of one of those forms, namely a particular body. This is the intended meaning (lakṣyārtha) of these two verses.

16. Since ‘advaita’ means non-twoness, it has to explain the seeming existence of all this multiplicity, and the simplest explanation it gives is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda

Venkat, I do not expect you to be convinced by all that I have written or to change your view completely, because we each believe what we want to believe, and we can all find evidence and arguments to support our beliefs, but among all that I have written here you may perhaps find a few ideas that you consider worthy of consideration, even if you do not entirely agree with them.

Advaita is a philosophy that appeals to only a relatively small proportion of people, and even among those to whom it does appeal in very general terms, the majority are not willing to accept its most radical teachings, such as ajāta, dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda, so to suit those who are not willing to accept such teachings both Bhagavan and the ancient texts sometimes give other explanations that will appeal to more people, such as certain forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda and nānā-jīva-vāda. An elaborate example of this kind of explanation is described in a passage on pages 27 to 31 of a transcript of some classes that Swami Paramarthananda gave on Dṛgdṛśyavivekaḥ (which can be downloaded here), from which Samarender Reddy recently quoted some extracts in a series of three comments on my previous article.

Any explanation of creation that assumes that anything perceived exists prior to or independent of ego’s perception of it is a form of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, so the account of creation given in Genesis, the Big Bang theory and almost all other religious, scientific and philosophical explanations of creation are forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, as also is the explanation described by Swami Paramarthananda in that passage. Though there are no doubt many ancient texts of advaita that give (or imply support for) explanations similar to the one he described, and though such explanations are more sophisticated and closer to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda than most other forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, they nevertheless imply that creation is independent of ego’s (or jīva’s) perception of it.

The difference between dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and even the most sophisticated forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda is fundamental, so they each offer us a radically different understanding of advaita, and hence we each have to choose which view we wish to accept. If we accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, our understanding will be very much simpler than if we accept any other explanation such as the elaborate one described by Swami Paramarthananda.

Since the term ‘advaita’ means non-twoness, it is a denial of the existence of more than one thing, so it is the ultimate in simplicity. However, since we seem to be aware of many things, not just one thing, advaita has to explain the appearance or seeming existence of all this multiplicity, and the simplest explanation it gives is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, as explained beautifully and clearly by Bhagavan in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. No explanation of the appearance of multiplicity can be simpler than this, so this is advaita in the purest form that our mind can grasp. The only purer form of advaita than this is ajāta, but ajāta is a complete denial of even the appearance or seeming existence of any multiplicity whatsoever, so it cannot be an explanation of it, and hence though it is the ultimate truth (pāramārthika satya) it is not a practical teaching to be given to us, who perceive the appearance of multiplicity and therefore want to free ourself from its clutches.

Therefore what Bhagavan taught us in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and elsewhere is only dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, because this is the most practical teaching to give to anyone who aspires to experience the ultimate truth, the state of pure and absolute non-twoness (advaita). However, the majority of people who came to him were not yet willing to accept the radical view of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, so for their sake he often gave alternative explanations that implied sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, as did the ancient sages and texts of advaita.

Therefore it is up to each one of us to choose whichever level of explanation we want to accept, whether the simpler, deeper and more radical explanation provided by dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda or some other more complex, shallower and less radical explanation such as the form of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda described by Swami Paramarthananda. If we choose not to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and all that it entails, such as vivarta vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda, our understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings will be fragmented, confused and incomplete, and what he says in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and other such texts will seem to us to be inconsistent, as you said about verses 23 to 26.

However if we are willing to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and all that it implies, it will be clear to us that all that he says in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is perfectly consistent and coherent, and that one of the fundamental principles he repeatedly emphasised in it is that everything (all phenomena or things that appear and disappear) depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of ourself as ego. If we rise as ego, phenomena of all kinds seem to exist, whereas if we do not rise as ego, nothing other than pure awareness seems to exist at all.

388 comments:

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Salazar said...

NN, I couldn't agree more with your 10 pages to 10,000 pages analogy.

For some reason I believed that people who follow Bhagavan's teachings are different from the rest of the spiritual crowd but that is not the case. They are exactly the same. Some are more real than others but the mechanics are the same. Same BS and arguments mixed with pseudo humility.

That's why I can only fully respect and trust a Jnani, anybody else can't help it but be corrupted by the ego, no matter how long on a "path".

Lohia, Srivastava, the bottom feeder, and a few others are company best to avoid.

I believe that Michael is a sincere devotee but from now on I'll not recommend his blog anymore and rather suggest to pick from the many books available from/about Bhagavan.

Also, David Godman's blog is a much better source of info than anything else I have seen so far.


You said, "Humility is a garment worn by ego." How very true. All these pseudo devotees raising their friggin finger preaching ahimsa and what not, looking down on anybody who is not sharing their lofty [and imaginary] ideals.

The only entity which is concerned about humility is the ego. So it jumps on the sages remarks about the importance of humility and can't help it but make a perversion of it. Humility and ego are mutually exclusive as is ego and Self.

Nothing is more disgusting than an ego trying to be humble. That is impossible anyway and just another diversion from freedom.

venkat said...

I was trying to figure why it was that David Godman's site had far more intelligent and articulate participation / enquiry than seems to be present here.

I agree Salazar that Michael is sincere. I think unfortunately Michael has set a tone which is not one of mutual enquiry into Bhagavan's teachings, what he could have meant by them, and how it could be understood in the broader context of Talks, other teachers, etc, etc. Instead, Michael has expressed his certain conviction in how he interprets Bhagavan's teaching, and essentially dismissing other interpretations or other teachers who may be inconsistent with the letter of Bhagavan's teaching.

This may be fine for him, for he has already done a significant amount of investigation. However, Michael's expressed conviction appeals to those whose minds want certainty, rather than the ambiguity of an uncertain investigation and unknowable outcome. To have such certainty from the outset means investigation has ceased (probably not even commenced), because the "answer" is already known by the mind. Classic ingredients for fundamentalism. But how do any of us even know that Bhagavan knew what he was talking about?

And so this blog ends up being filled with repetitive, smug parroting of Michael's words. Pity.

Josef Bruckner said...

What gives one the necessary qualifications to read somebody the Riot Act ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Intellectual certainty is a fatal limitation because the truth is beyond the intellect.

Claims that one "knows" based on mere philosophical understanding are a fatal limitation because truth is entirely beyond the thinking mind.

Michael James seems absolutely inflexible in opinion and claims to know with absolutely certainty.
The idea that as one progresses one knows less and less is more sincere and realistic.

I believe that Michael is an utter hypocrite because he preaches that the only way is total withdrawal of attention from the world and yet he spends all this effort preaching in the world.
Michael is a hypocrite because he claims to know the ONLY way and yet isn't realized.
How many vocations allow a person to be the ultimate expert without having attained the goal?

Roger Isaacs said...

Sanjay,
I appreciate your comment that overeating is violence.
BUT... perhaps the single largest source of violence in world history is from religious superiority and intolerance.
How can you talk about ahimsa while you preach religious superiority?

Josef Bruckner said...

Roger,
you evidently are not willing to stop seeing Michael's work through your "Roger-coloured" spectacles.
Therefore you unfortunately missed to notice that he does not "preach that the only way is total withdrawal of attention from the world" but tells us that keen self-investigation is the only means to bring to an end the tyranny of ego.
Would you not like to properly clean your glasses ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Josef,
Isn't it nice to be arguing with me for a break from Salazar? :-)

My statement is based on MJ's repeated preaching see section 11 above. How is MJ able to be "aware only of ourself and nothing else whatsoever" while typing on his keyboard or traveling around informing various groups that his teaching is the only way?


Since we rise and stand as ego only by being aware of other things, we can subside and cease forever rising or standing as ego only by being aware of nothing other than ourself. Therefore our goal is to be aware only of ourself and nothing else whatsoever, which is the state called ātma-jñāna (self-knowledge or pure self-awareness), and the means to achieve this goal is to try to be aware only of ourself and nothing else whatsoever, which is the practice called ātma-vicāra (self-investigation).

Josef Bruckner said...

Roger,
where in the above quoted paragraph did MJ claim "to be able to be aware only of ourself and nothing else whatsoever while typing on his keyboard or travel(l)ing around informing various groups that his teaching is the only way?"

In section 11 he writes among other things: "Though we can practise self-investigation and self-surrender even while we are aware of other things, we can go deep into the practice only to the extent that we cease to be aware of anything else."

If you would immediately clean your dirty reading spectacles you could easily read Michael's explanations without any misinterpretation.:-)
By the way, a video-session cannot be considered seriously as "travelling around".

NN said...

-------
David Godman's books and talks, the little that I have read and listened to, are to-the-point, technical, and devoid of unnecessary linguistic devices and emotional appeals.


-------
I think MJ is a sincere devotee of RM's teachings. This is a honeytrap for the ego, The statements like "If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him", or "Once you reach the shore, drop the boat" fit perfectly here. Except, in this case, nobody has reached the shore, they have already fused themselves one with the boat, and so there's no one left to sail it.


There is a conflict of interest for MJ. He cannot simplify the teachings down to their essence and still remain in business. That is, if he taught what is essentially needed to realize self, most of his website, blogs and talks will have to disappear. It is in his best interest to expand upon the teachings, not shrink them.

But the world does not want to realize the self anyways - it wants lengthy discourses, talks on the nature of this and that, and infinite refinement of the ego. And so the scholars MJSL appear on the stage to fulfill that need.

Or, MJ does not actually know, in practice, that it takes very little, in the form of knowledge, to realize the self. So he peddles around the only item he has for sale - his scholarly thoughts, of which he has plenty. The world buys them and the cycle begins, ensuring a life-time of funding for MJ, and the needless spinning around for the rest of the world which is already afflicted with unspeakable, ghastly pains.



-------
It is not out of humility that MJSL remain quiet about their own inner practice and experiences. They know what sells. What they've got with them does not - RM does. I

If this business of realization is as MJSL portray it to be, the poor, uneducated NM stood less than a snowball's chance in hell of realizing. Thankfully, it's not.

The MJSL episodes will end, as is the nature of all such worldly things.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Josef,
You say quoting MJ:
"Though we can practise self-investigation and self-surrender even while we are aware of other things, we can go deep into the practice only to the extent that we cease to be aware of anything else."


You make my point for me:
According to your quote "cease to be aware of anything else" is the only deep practice.
Therefore it would appear that MJ is a hypocrite because rather than actually doing the "only way" "deep practice" he engages in preaching or other activities (making video) which still require being aware of the world.

MJ sets a standard: the only "deep practice" is when awareness of the body and world cease.
Then he dedicates himself to preaching in the world.

The practice that MJ teaches is for monks or others who are dedicated to withdrawal from the world. On hearing this "the only deep practice is to cease to be aware of the world" then we'd never hear from anyone who takes this seriously.

Josef, please stop with the "roger's spectacles" comments because they are irrelevant. Let's just discuss the ideas.

Agnostic said...

Roger says to Josef:

"The practice that MJ teaches is for monks or others who are dedicated to withdrawal from the world. On hearing this "the only deep practice is to cease to be aware of the world" then we'd never hear from anyone who takes this seriously."

Let me fix it for Roger:

"The practice that MJ teaches is for monks or others who are dedicated to withdrawal from the world. On hearing this "the only deep practice is to cease to be aware of the world" then we'd never hear from anyone who takes HIM, ie MJ seriously.

Sanjay Lohia said...

It is grace that is working through us in the form of grace

Bhagavan is the very embodiment of grace. Grace is nothing but the love we have for ourself but not love for ourself as a person or ego, but love for our real nature. Grace is our ultimate goal. So Bhagavan has attracted us to his path by his infinite love, and even the effort we make is driven by love.

Bhagavan has a greater love for us than we have for ourself. We love ourself as a person which we are not. I experience myself as Michael so I have so much love for Michael. My love for myself is imperfect because instead of loving myself as I really am, I love myself as Michael when Michael is a mere appearance. However, Bhagavan doesn’t love Michael - he loves what I actually am. So he has more love for me than I have for myself because he loves the real ‘me’.

So when we think about Bhagavan’s love, we are left speechless. His love is so great that we cannot conceive it with our mind. As ego, it seems to us, ‘I want liberation’ or ‘I want to know myself’, but what is behind that desire is infinite love that is our real nature and that is Bhagavan.

Some people say our effort is necessary and some believe that only grace is enough, but grace is not something that descends from heaven. Grace is within our heart. So it is through that grace that our effort has to work. So even if we have a little love to follow Bhagavan’s path, that seed has been sown in our heart by grace. All the effort we make is driven by that little seed.

So what is our effort is nothing but the result of grace - grace and effort are not two different things. It is grace that is working through us in the form of our effort.

~*~ Edited extract from the video: 2018-11-25 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the traps and risks of ego (1: 30)

Josef Bruckner said...

Roger,
open your eyes; why do you not admit that one can/must live in the body/world without identifying oneself with the body and this world ?
Regarding the irrelevance of comments: Discussing your preconceived ideas and opinions is evidently not fruitful. Goodbye until we meet again next year...

Sanjay Lohia said...

Correction:

It is grace that is working through us in the form of effort

Josef Bruckner said...

So there is only grace. Bhagavan Arunachala Ramana - Eternal Ocean of Grace.
Hey ego - Why going insane and blocking eternal grace ?

Salazar said...

MJ said, "It is grace that is working through us in the form of our effort."

I do not agree with that interpretation. Because it denotes a causal relationship which is not real there and a delusion. But that cannot be known by the mind but only by direct experience. Even if it seems so but there are no causal relationships but as an imagination!

It is only grace which prompts the jiva to search for freedom and it is so because the jiva has really not the power to pull himself out of the [imaginary] swamp. That grace gives the jiva the idea to (in the case of a devotee of Bhagavan) do some form of practice, ideally atma-vichara or summa iru.

However it is only an idea, the search for freedom, as it is an idea to be bound. The prompt of the grace with the simultaneous remembrance of simply being (what some may call "effort") is a coherent manifestation, so in fact there is NOT "first grace" and THEN "the apparent effort/remembrance" but both rise and subside simultaneously.

That rising and subsiding of grace/seeming-effort-to-be is seen by the mind as a process of some sorts and judges that as purification but that is just the mind. It is not really the case and also an imagination because "the path is also the goal" what is a pointer to the timeless seeming "process" and that we are always Self.

The important part is to grasp that that phenomenon is not caused at all by the fictitious jiva. Any notion thereof are preposterous.

Sanjay Lohia said...

This world will not change, so if we want to be happy we have to change

We want to change many things in this world, but, alas, we are seldom successful. This world is in no mood to listen to us, so what should we do? Simple, if we want to peaceful, we should not try to change things but accept them as they are. Do we really have any alternative?

I want people to listen to my views, but they ignore my advice, so what do I do? I should stop having any expectations from people. They will behave as they want to behave or as they are destined to behave. How can we interfere in their destiny? If we try to change others, we are attending to things other than ourself. Bhagavan advises us that we should pay a minimum amount of attention to this world. Our duty is to attend to ourself and not worry about this or that.

So if we want to happy, we should change our attitude towards other people and towards this world. I do not like somebody and I think about all his misdeeds, but how does this help me? It merely raises my BP. So it is in my best interest that I ignore such thoughts and try turning within as frequently as possible. I say this as an example.

So, eventually, we need to give up our hold on this world, give up our hold on even our near and dear ones. We should try to be totally unconcerned about whatever seems to be happening around us. Our ego keeps itself alive only be clinging to its pet desires and attachments. So the only solution is to leave everything, renounce everything, and turn within. Even our thoughts and feelings are illusory and ephemeral appearances in our awareness. They are without any value so we need to turn away from them.

We think that we will get happiness by changing external things, but this is our delusion. Likewise, we think that we can change things, but it is again another delusion. We cannot change anything in this world, because things are happening according to the sweet will of Bhagavan, and we are powerless to change it.

So, as Michael often says, the only wise use we can make of our will is to turn within. We are absolutely free to do so. We cannot change external things, but we can remove these things from our view by experiencing ourself as we actually are. If we can do so, no worry can again touch us, no trouble can ever trouble us. We will leave all these behind forever.

Salazar said...
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Salazar said...
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Salazar said...
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Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
what is BP ?

Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
investigating the ego's source is atma-vichara. To consider it as "samsaric" subject-object relationship is a wrong assumption, an impediment. It only looks as if it were a
(contemptible) subject-object relationship.

Salazar said...

How do you know? You haven't done any atma-vichara. Keep bottom-feeding ....

Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
my olfactory organ is quite a good supplier. Sometimes I have a flair for the right decision and follow just my instincts. Just "a matter of simultaneous grace".:-)

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

MJSL have been 'turning within' for the past 30 years. Soon it will be time to 'turn within' their graves.


30-30 years of 'eventually, we must DO this', 'eventually, that'. They are betting their 'realization' on the future, but future does not exist except as thoughts.

When the 'future' does arrive as the present, the same mode of thinking pushes the realization further back into the 'new' future. They donkey never gets to eat the carrot.

But who cares - our RM businesses are profitable, lives comfortable, and egos satisfied; we can take pride in being humble about being RM scholars, and the world is as stupid as before to continue believing in us.




MJSL are trapped doing-the-being instead of just being. They sell the false notion that self-realization needs effort (as opposed to cessation of all efforts), and so they keep on putting 'sincere efforts' and have gotten nowhere after decades. They deceive not only the world, but also themselves. Do the MJSL junkies think that cessation of effort needs some kind of 'special', 'RM-grade' effort, because self-realization is "so special"?

It is a shame that the world does not really want to realize self. For most people who frequent this place, it seems that their lives are comfortably snug and smooth; they can afford to waste time "Discussing the Philosophy and Practice of the Spiritual Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana". The entire premise, upon which MJSL's websites, blogs and talks are based, is about doing-the-being and not just being.

If 10 pages from the horse's mouth does not help, we must be foolish to believe that 10,000 more pages from the worshipers of RM's teachings can be of any help.

NN said...

It is amusing at first to see large-scale, corporate-level efforts (including running actual RM-restaurants, emulating RM-humility, and paying MJ), being put into teaching the world _that_ which needs exactly 'no'/zero effort to realize.

That amusement is replaced by disgust, when one realizes that the world (the 'real' world, not the bubble which is inhabited by the MJSL junkies) is tormented by horrors beyond any imagination, and MJSL indiscriminately deceive it.

The world is burning, and these two drive around in their ice-cream truck trying to make a quick buck. And that's not even the saddest part - that we believe, that eating the ice-cream will help, is.




Why can't you limit your deceptions to your own selves, and leave us in the hands of actual jnanis?

Why can't you confess that you are not eligible to lead us, drop your pretenses, say your goodbyes to the world, and focus on your own salvation?

Are you afraid of hunger, poverty, death, or worse, anonymity?

How can you use your fears to claim humility and camaraderie on one hand ("Look at us, we are just like you...", and confidence to lead the world (".... but we KNOW better"), on the other? What is this if not deception of the filthiest kind?




MJSL, there's a reason people like NM, (whom you do like to criticize and abuse) self-realize within less than a decade while you can get nowhere after 3+3 decades of partnership. NM knew how to 'put' no effort.

We do realize that no economical or spiritual wealth can be earned in telling people to quit making effort.

"That's just one statement. Who's going to pay for my basic necessities if I go around speaking the same statement over and over again, especially since I do not have any job or pension, and I am afraid of hunger and homelessness? One statement is even less than what RM thought was necessary - only a jnani can manage that. But I am no jnani, and I still need to eat. Let me BEHAVE as a jnani, and vomit all that I have in my mind - somebody will definitely eat it and on top of that, pay me for my bile juices. Then, I am all set."



The path you are on is neither jnana-marg, nor bhakti-marg, but the same old ahankar-marg.

Your lives are no beacon of hope to anyone except your addicts. Just translate and keep quiet, will you?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Josef, BP is an abbreviation of ‘Blood Pressure’. It is a medical condition.

NN said...

Pseudo-jnanis, pretend-jnanis and jnani-wannabes like MJSL would be thrown out of a sensible world.

Imagine MJSL preaching in a mic/loudspeaker for hours and hours, in the same way that they preach on the Internet. I don't understand why the two are afraid of hunger - they would not go hungry for sure, if they like to eat rotten eggs and tomatoes, that is. :D

If RM were alive today, he would personally see to it that his name was not used for for-profit corporate enterprises, and that SL changed the name of his restaurant.

For a jnani-wannabe egos like MJSL, they sure do not understand RM's ego-realm mind, and yet preach what it is to be realized.

Unknown said...
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NN said...

So the end goal is expression of the passion and love through egoic entities such as words, talks and articles, not self-realization.

Would you not agree that being realized is the highest form of love one can express towards RM?

But we disagree. DOing that which keeps us 'bound' is more important here. That's what I have been saying all along. Thank you for the support.

NN said...

Heh, I never said MJSL are jnanis. Do you think anyone would place MJSL in the category of RM?

MJSL pretend to be jnanis to earn their ego-points and livelihood. Someone says "I am not a jnani" but then turns around the preaches AS IF they know the truth is a conman.

NN said...

I understand that MJSL junkies can't live without their daily passion and 'love' shots. They would rather drown themselves in their addiction than drop all efforts and be realized.

I think they are want to be realized exactly like RM did, and so they are betting on the next life, while doing everything they can to ease their current one. It must feel great to dream about becoming the next RM at a young age.

MJSL are the perfect example of die-hard addicts of doing-the-being, who have the audacity to criticize, actual realized beings. Some love, huh.

NN said...

I also know that Unknown, the supporter of SL, is infamous for a terribly foul mouth, which would not hesitate, as a devotee of RM, to portray innocent mothers and sisters into the most disgusting, vile and disrespecting of an imagery.

So I know the type of 'staunch' devotees that hang around here.

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NN said...

If MJSL teaches that the best one can do is DO, then run away from such 'gurus'.

They wasted a combined 60 years of their time.

MJ earns his money and a first world livelihood by preaching; SL has his own business. They both live a far more comfortable life than most people who are suffering their lives.

What have you got? Do you have anything other than this one life, which you cannot afford to waste?

About being upset, sure, you can go around projecting your insecurities upon me.

NN said...

Of course, I am a nobody - that's the path.

You do not reach self-realization by being somebody or by being huge, humble egos that are MJSL.

Unknown said...
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NN said...

Now you are turning into your 'true' self. Very soon you will bring my mother will into this 'satsang', won't you?

It is very easy for me to deal with being a nobody. I have got nothing. It is you who need to attack innocent by-standers.

Given that you have to ask me how I feel, means that you are projecting - it means that if someone ignores YOU, you do not have the ability to deal with it. If you had it, you would be projecting that same ability on me.

So yeah, we know the type of 'staunch' devotees that hang around here. Since you respect MJSL so much, I expect that you have the same 'strength' or blindness as them to ignore my posts.

Unknown said...
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NN said...

Who says one needs to be a realized-being to criticize false gurus and fake devotees?

And I can see that you do not have much respect for MJSL's blindness towards my posts. This is so funny.

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NN said...

Who says I have to be superior to MJSL in order to criticize them? Like I said, I am a nobody.

Again, you are projecting. You only know the one use of criticism - that of feeling superior. That is your habit. And so you think any and all criticisms are mounted for only one reason - for feeling superior. You are quite dumb, dare I say, but that the usual temporament of religious zealots.


If you think all criticisms were mere tools for feeling superior, the society would not have seen any growth at all because of criticisms that were mounted by democracies over their representatives.

Once again, you astonish me with your total lack of disrespect for MJSL's blindness towards my post. Why is it that you cannot emulate your beloved devotees?

Josef Bruckner said...

A taste of honey...

Rajat Sancheti said...

I don't know what all the fuss is about. How humble one is or how pretentious, or how much of a religious zealot or how much of a jnani or whatever. There is only one witness, in whose mind this whole thing unfolds, no? That is a fact. So what worth are our judgments and opinions and hate and zealotry and sincerity and passion and emotions, because they only indicate that we feel like there is somebody else out there? But if only 'I' is, why do we bother? All my feathers were quite ruffled seeing this comment section, I felt outraged to see that maybe I'm just a temperamental blind religious zealot or whatever, hung up about learning about 'doing-the-being'. But really, deep down aren't we all just trying to 'learn how to cycle'? I fall off again and again and think it is some matter of technique that I don't understand yet, or I might get distracted by other phenomena. But the lingering dissatisfaction, growing conviction that nothing out there is really making me happy, and something perhaps love towards Bhagavan, pushes me towards Bhagavan's teachings again and again. And thanks to Michael James I get inspired to continue TRYING to cycle, and there is a small germ of doubt that perhaps technique will see itself, that the world out there is not only full of problems but also just a dream. I feel like Bhagavan is my last support, there would be nothing if not for my faith in him, only extreme indescribably misery. I have followed a lot of gurus, and try to distract myself with phenomena and the world and thoughts and this voice in my head that usurps 'I', judging, commenting, liking disliking, desiring and fearing, but without the faith in Bhagavan and his teachings, I don't know how lost I would be. He goes to the very root, how could one feel like there could be anything else to understand or follow, or that our opinions matter?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Good judgment will come only with clarity, and that clarity will come only by following the path that Bhagavan has shown us

We see people with billions of dollars, but are they happy, are they satisfied? No, they want more and more and more. That is the nature of delusion. We have to feel sorry for them because they suffer from extremely poor judgment. But even our judgment is not much better because we are still looking for happiness outside ourself. If we weren’t looking for happiness outside ourself, we wouldn’t even rise as ego. So we need to attain that clarity that will enable us to judge correctly.

If we have good judgment, we will understand that what is real, what is permanent, is only ourself, so why to cling to anything which is impermanent? Surely the wise thing to do is to cling to only that which is permanent. Such clarity will come only by following the path that Bhagavan has shown us.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-11-25 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the traps and risks of ego (1:10)

NN said...

Please continue your TRYING. MJSL have, and they have not reached anywhere in 30 years. Drop all TRYING, all effort, and that will free you from misery. And you must know that dropping all effort cannot require more effort - if it does, as MJSL claim, the misery will never end.

The CYCLE metaphor is misleading, and it has misled and deceived even those who claim to have coined it.

RM, NM, Buddha, Mahavir, Jesus is the last support for many of us. What MJSL peddle here is nothing more than laughter in the face of desperation. If you want to follow RM, you do not need MJSL. If you follow MJSL, don't whine about losing faith in RM, because MJSL are not RM, or RM's representatives, or even the authority on RM's teachings.

Josef Bruckner said...

Is there any remedy or officinal herb to cure the painful suffer of NN ?

Rajat Sancheti said...

Why the rhetorical 'Please continue your trying'? I would get what you're saying quite better if you spoke plainly, with not so much effect. I don't want to reach anywhere, Sir, not in 30 years nor in 300. I clearly understand that I myself am the problem and must be left behind, but of course, by whom? I don't want to become a realized person. I drop all trying everytime I go to sleep, so it is not as simple as 'drop all trying', surely? How could i go from a state of trying to non-trying, other than through self-investigation?
I agree with you about effort.. But what is effort really? If it is taken to mean a shift in attention, then it takes effort to do self-investigation. Wouldn't you agree? And I didn't say anything about wanting to end misery.
If you find the cycle metaphor misleading you shouldn't use it. I just liked that analogy.
I personally am unable to understand your resentment against Michael, not that I much care. I don't understand Tamil or poetry or anything like that, I can't read in between the lines, or make all the connections required for a coherent unopinionated understanding of Bhagavan's original teachings. Therefore I need help with that and I find these resources very clear. I certainly wouldn't be here otherwise...

Rajat Sancheti said...

Josef, perhaps this 'painful suffer of NN' can also be a useful pointer? Speaking for myself, it showed me how severely lacking in clarity I must be, to have been affected by this comment section, and to have been taken aback at his resentment and harsh words...It shows that I am full of doubt still, otherwise I would not have cared at all.. Anyways, gotta go cycle!

Josef Bruckner said...

Rajat Sancheti,
how could seeking NN's agreement help towards your longing for truth ?

NN said...

You think that reading Tamil poetry, and reading between the lines is necessary. You think that the teachings are so complicated you cannot make all the connections yourselves.

You are the perfect devotee for MJSL, handmade by MJSL themselves.


The message about cycling was what I received from MJSL too. That was the most useless message a newbie can receive. Thankfully, MJSL's not the only source on RM, and RM's not the only teacher.

Apologies if I offended any prejudices that you might hold against other teachers, since that seems to be accepted theme with MJSL devotees. (And you ask why people speak against the attitudes and 'teachings' of MJSL).

NN said...

And Josef is correct. Seeking my agreement won't help you on the path of longing for truth, since the truth is Truth(TM), owned by MJSL.

Josef Bruckner said...

NN,
"Thankfully, MJSL's not the only source on RM, and RM's not the only teacher."

After making your farewell speech is it not high time to wave goodby to us ?

NN said...

Farewell speech? Your words not mine.

You live under the assumption that if anyone speaks about other teachers here, it must always be in a derogatory tone. Did you and SL rub against each other?

Why can't anyone speak about other teachers here favorably? Oh right, RM is the "ONLY" way.


Moreover, there are still a few people here I like to read. Once they go, I am gone too.

NN said...

Oh I get it.

Your belief: If anyone speaks favorably about other teachers here, the importance of RM 'decreases', or such speech somehow consists of a crime against RM.

You should know that speaking good about other teachers does NOT automatically mean that we are speaking bad about RM. But you are too eager to wear the victim hat, and assume the defensive position.



The RM, whose supposed importance decreases, is your own mental projection, and the decrease is executed by none other than your own mind, not by the speaker.

That projection suffers from inferiority complex (quite possibly you too), and so it needs to be defended at all costs. Repeated pattern on this forum among multiple devotees.



IRL, did RM not meet a few other contemporary jnanis, some of whose photos are hanging on the walls of the old hall in the ashram?

Would you burn down with jealousy to see someone, whom the world claimed as a jnani, standing near RM?

Josef Bruckner said...

I said already my goodbyes...

Roger Isaacs said...

A un-realized person is simply incapable of teaching how to be realized.
The un-realized person has NOT succeeded in applying their knowledge personally... so how could their advice work for others?
The devil is in the details IN-BETWEEN the words. Words only vaguely point.
To have an un-realized person proclaim that they have "the ONLY WAY" is absolutely absurd. Ego!
Note that MJ has heavily modified the work of RM by denying Talks and other works, the practical record of years of RM's teachings. MJ knows better than RM.

You can see what happens when an un-realized person teaches by looking at Catholicism. Michael James does the same by shifting towards "what we should believe" and admitting "why I BELIEVE that atma vicara is the ONLY way". He says "believe" because he does not KNOW !! The result is a religious level teaching totally ineffective for enlightenment.

The teaching here is about establishing the correct intellectual conviction and belief... but unfortunately the tighter the mind holds to ideas the less chance of success because Being is beyond the intellect.

Salazar said...

Bottom feeder said, "how could seeking NN's agreement help towards your longing for truth ?"


How could disagreeing and arguing with NN help with longing for truth?

It appears that almost nobody here has a prolonged meditation experience and I find it rather astonishing that these people still parade around here as if they even could discuss the finer points. Their arrogance is reeking to the heavens.

It is said that the quality of teacher attracts the exact same quality of students. Yikes, that is quite an indictment for MJ.

Roger Isaacs said...

>> It is said that the quality of teacher attracts the exact same quality of students. Yikes, that is quite an indictment for MJ.

Obviously this blog is argument about what is the "correct" understanding.
Determination of an intellectual "correct" way, the "only way" is still removed from actual practice.
There is no value in speculation.
Spends hour(s) a day in meditation long term and actually see what you experience.

Roger Isaacs said...

I find the examples of Nisargadatta and Annamalai Swami very inspiring.
Here we have 2 guys who got extensive personal instruction from a realized being and spent years in practice.

Now Salazar, fine if you say that "effort" is useless... but what were these guys doing? Nothing? If they were doing "nothing" then exactly how do you do "nothing"? :-)
Salazar, are you SURE that your practice qualifies and that you are qualified to comment or is your understanding primarily intellectual?

Good day!

Sanjay Lohia said...

Rajat, yes, it is extremely difficult to imagine that there is only one witness. When I look into the eyes of my wife, I find her to be just like me - if I am seeing her, she is also seeing me. It is almost impossible to believe that though I see her, she doesn’t see me. However, if Bhagavan’s teachings are true, even though I see her, she does not see me. Believe it or not!

So, as you imply, it is useless to judge others because they are, after all, our own mental creations. If we see any wrong in others, we are seeing our own reflections in their so-called wrongdoings. Bhagavan teaches us drsti-srsti-vada (the contention that the seer is responsible for whatever it sees). So we create the concepts of good or bad.

You say, ‘I feel like Bhagavan is my last support, there would be nothing if not for my faith in him, only extreme indescribably misery’. I fully agree with you. Bhagavan is our only real support because all other supports will leave us sooner or later. However, Bhagavan can never leave us, even if he wants to. He is what we really are, so how can we ever leave ourself? So we are unceasingly under the protection of his umbrella.

You further say, ‘It shows that I am full of doubt still, otherwise I would not have cared at all.. Anyways, gotta go cycle!’ Yes, as long as we experience ourself as this ego, we cannot remain without doubts. However, Bhagavan used to say, ‘doubt the doubter’ – that is, we need to examine if this doubter really exists. If we investigate this doubter (ego) it will disappear, and along with it, all our doubts will also disappear.

Yes, we need to repeatedly try to cycle. That is, we need to repeatedly turn within. This is the Ramana Way. He has appeared in our midst only to teach us this direct path to freedom.

Salazar said...
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Roger Isaacs said...

Salazar,
IMO you are seeking argument more than understanding with others.
People will see and express things differently. I don't see that you ever reach out beyond your perspective, beyond asserting your perspective over others.

IF you can articulate how to be effortlessly aware in your own words then please do so.
This would be especially useful for someone who is at a beginning stage of the practice and is unable to hold the mind and emotions still. Tell us: how?

It seems that you are pushing an intellectual advaita idea.... which is not necessarily from experience or leading to experience.

BTW, I did appreciate some of your musings earlier regarding "who am I?" having some characteristics of subject-object. Although, I can express no definite opinion and rather just contemplate and observe.

Salazar said...
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Sanjay Lohia said...

The root of all our beliefs is our current belief ‘I am this body’

The belief ‘I am this body’ is firmly rooted in us. We experience a different body in our dream, but the awareness ‘I am this body’ remains the same whether we find ourself in this body or in some other body. This awareness ‘I am this body’ is ego. Our bodies may change, but the awareness ‘I am this body’ remains constant as long as we rise as this ego.

Bhagavan asks us to question even this belief ‘I am this body’, and we have to also question all our beliefs based on this fundamental belief. This world with all its pyramids, galaxies, suns, stars and so on is our mental creation. These objects are all just thoughts.

So Bhagavan is giving us a radically different view of things. We need to think deeply about his teachings, and, above all, put them into practice. The more we practise self-surrender and self-investigation, the clearer things will become.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-11-25 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the traps and risks of ego (2: 07)

Roger Isaacs said...

Salazar you say "This is not a consensus blog, who is consenting than the ignorant ego? "

Who disagrees? The ignorant ego.

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,

I had problem using your email adress, I then use this article to get in touch with you.

Do you have an english translation of Sadhu Om's poem "Wait a little" ?
Do you also have a engish biography of Sadhu Om ?

Thank you

Regards.

Arnaud

Salazar said...
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Salazar said...
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Roger Isaacs said...

Salazar, you tell me to "just be silent". Why would you tell me to do something which you will not consider for yourself?
LMAO.

Apparently you just like to argue. I don't see any point to it. Did you learn anything from me today? LOL

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Someone of our friends seems to believe that I am one of the blog owners, which, unfortunately, I am not. Sri Michael James is the owner, and I am merely a participant. In other words, Sri Michael James is the host, metaphorically speaking, and we are his guests. We are enjoying his hospitality, so to speak. So I am grateful to him for giving me this platform to understand and deepen my understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings.

This blog is undoubtedly is a manifestation of Bhagavan’s love. So we should thank Bhagavan even before we thank Sri Michael James.

NN said...

Heh! I thought you said, and I agreed, I was a NOBODY and a NOTHING (in caps, no less). Isn't that what NN stands for?

You are now making 'me' into a somebody, hoping to hurt it. Enjoy fighting projections in your mind.

Josef Bruckner said...

Does one who is caught in a mind's trap ever notice the fact that he himself is trapped in the cave of his mind's imagination ?
Frequent references to one's past prolonged meditation and even to his reach/deep experience he made thus one may puzzle over what the content of such meditation experience could have been. In the face of his mere fragmentary understanding of Bhagavan's teaching sometimes it seems as if he perhaps have had counted only the numerous sheeps which appeared in the fleecy clouds of his mind's cave...:-)
Calling others "bottom feeders" (whatever that title means) remains at any rate insufficient and unrewarding.

Agnostic said...

4th February, 1935

From Talk 27 re-formatted, but verbatim.

IMHO, this is a complete and step by step program for the quest.

...
Maharshi: An examination of the ephemeral nature of external phenomena leads to vairagya. Hence enquiry (vichara) is the first and foremost step to be taken. When vichara continues automatically, it results in a contempt for wealth, fame, ease, pleasure, etc. The 'I' thought becomes clearer for inspection. The source of 'I' is the Heart - the final goal.

If, however, the aspirant is not temperamentally suited to Vichara Marga (to the introspective analytical method), he must develop bhakti (devotion) to an ideal - may be God, Guru, humanity in general, ethical laws, or even the idea of beauty. When one of these takes possession of the individual, other attachments grow weaker, i.e., dispassion (vairagya) develops. Attachment for the ideal simultaneously grows and finally holds the field. Thus ekagrata (concentration) grows simultaneously and imperceptibly - with or without visions and direct aids.

In the absence of enquiry and devotion, the natural sedative pranayama (breath regulation) may be tried. This is known as Yoga Marga. If life is imperilled the whole interest centers round the one point - the saving of life. If the breath is held the mind cannot afford to (and does not) jump at its pets (external objects). Thus there is rest for the mind so long as the breath is held. All attention being turned on breath or its regulation, other interests are lost. Again, passions are attended with irregular breathing, whereas calm and happiness are attended with slow and regular breathing. A paroxysm of joy is in fact as painful as one of pain, and both are accompanied by ruffled breaths. Real peace is happiness. Pleasures do not form happiness. The mind improves by practice and becomes finer just as the razor's edge is sharpened by stropping. The mind is then better able to tackle internal or external problems.

If an aspirant be unsuited temperamentally for the first two methods and circumstantially (on account of age) for the third method, he must try the Karma Marga (doing good deeds, for example, social service). His nobler instincts become more evident and he derives impersonal pleasure. His smaller self is less assertive and has a chance of expanding its good side.

The man becomes duly equipped for one of the three aforesaid paths. His intuition may also develop directly by this single method.

-----------------------------

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Sanjay Lohia said...

How can we know that things happen in accordance with Bhagavan’s will?

If we think deeply, we will come to the conclusion that an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving power is shaping our lives. We have to just look back at our lives and this will be blatantly clear. We can clearly see God’s hands in our lives at each and every step. Atheists do not think deeply about this, and therefore they believe what they believe.

So whatever has happened in our lives was for our good, whatever is happening is for our good and whatever will happen will be for our good. What is our ultimate good? We can achieve our ultimate good only when we are able to destroy our ego. Bhagavan is making us want our ego’s annihilation more and more. He is guiding us in all possible ways.

chidrasa said...

Michael,
regarding guidelines for comments:
To be on the safe side what kind of criticism you approve or not I want to know what you understand by the term "troll".

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ego is on a journey

Our ego is on a journey, and this journey is called sadhana (if ego uses its will to willingly proceed on this journey). Any journey entails going from point A to B. So what are these points A and B? I think we can describe these points as travelling from:

• Unhappiness to happiness
• Unsatisfaction to satisfaction
• Darkness to light
• Hell to heaven
• ‘I am this body idea’ to the conviction ‘I am only I’
• Outer to inner
• Rising to being
• Movement to stillness

However, Bhagavan would simply say ‘Find out who is on a journey? That will the end of all journeys'.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Nobody worships brahma, the creator, because he is the source of all trouble

How did brahma create this world? It is said that he created it by ‘thought’. So brahma is nothing but ego. It is ego which has created this world by its own thought. So the truth is expressed in different ways to suit different levels of our understanding. When it is said that brahma has created this world by ‘thought’, that is an allegorical way of saying it. All this indicates to the fact that this world is nothing but mental.

There is one thing which distinguishes Hinduism from all other theistic religions. In other religions, God is revered because he is said to have created this world. But in Hinduism, brahma, the creator, is never worshipped because he is the source of all trouble - so he unqualified for being worshipped.

Edited extract from: 2018-12-02 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 23 (1:16)

Michael James said...

Chidrasa, regarding your comment of 4 December 2018 at 12:33, in internet parlance a troll is someone who writes deliberately provocative, disruptive, abusive, aggressive, offensive or quarrelsome remarks online, often with a view to irritate people, provoke emotional reactions, disrupt serious discussion or distract attention away from whatever reasonable arguments may have been made. If you want to know more about the sense in which the term ‘troll’ is used in an online context or the variety of possible motives for trolling, you can google ‘internet troll’.

chidrasa said...

Michael,
thank you for your prompt answer which provides enough information about the dreadful intentions of an 'internet troll' for me.

Michael James said...

In my comment of 19 November 2018 at 09:52 I reproduced what I wrote in reply to a comment on one of my recent videos, 2018-11-10 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 12, in which I cited what Bhagavan explained verse 558 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai, namely “If it is asked, ‘[When the dream-body and the waking-body are thus different,] how does the semen in the waking-body drip out when one sees in dream that the dream-body has contacted a woman?’, the answer will be that it is due to the speed of attachment with which one springs from the dream-body to the waking-body”, and commented, ‘That is, the same mind that projected the dream body and dream experiences is also projecting this waking body and waking experiences, and during an intense experience like sex the mind switches from one state to another so quickly that what it was experiencing in one state is carried over to the next state. This does not in any way provide evidence that the waking body existed while we were dreaming’.

In reply to this another friend wrote, ‘Does this imply that in the dream, the dreaming body and waking body were so close as to be crossing over? The sexual experience in a dream, as in when it culminates in ejaculation, is normally followed by waking. Perhaps because I was near to waking from the dream? Or, maybe I misunderstood what you meant by “crossing over”. Thank you’, to which I replied:

According to Bhagavan our present state and any other state that seems to be waking is just another dream, so like whatever body we experience as ourself in any other dream, the body that we now experience as ourself is actually just a mental projection. However, though the body we experience as ourself in each dream is different to the one we experience as ourself in each other dream, the ego or mind that projects each of these bodies and experiences them as itself is the same, so this provides a fundamental continuity between all such states.

Therefore if we are having an intense bodily experience such as sex in one dream and if the intensity of that experience makes us leave that dream and come immediately to another dream (in this case our present state), the bodily sensations we were projecting in the first dream body (in this case ejaculation) will carry on being projected in the next dream body (this present one).

Our present state is a relatively stable dream, because we are strongly attached to our present body, but some other dreams are less stable, because we are less strongly attached to whatever body we experience as ourself in those dreams. Therefore, the experience of sex in this state will usually not result in us immediately leaving this state, whereas in a less stable dream our identification with that dream is more easily broken, so the experience of sex in such a dream will usually result in us immediately leaving that dream and coming to this dream.

Nemrut said...

Michael,
regarding dreams generally,
can we learn at all anything of importance from our experiences in dream state ?
Many people are eagerly engaged in interpretation of their dreams and with it they refer to the great importance of dream imterpretation from time immemorial in ancient cultures of India, Irak, China or other history of civilizations.
What is your opinion about this subject ?

Michael James said...

Nemrut, the contents of dream are all non-self (things that are other than ourself), so we need not concern ourself with them, or expect to gain any spiritual benefit by interpreting them.

What we can learn from dream, however, is some more abstract but extremely significant principles, such as that as ego we have the ability to project a body and simultaneously experience it as if it were ourself, and also to project a world that seems to be real so long as we seem to be part of it. This gives us very strong grounds to suspect that our present state may likewise be just our own projection, and may therefore not exist independent of our perception of it.

Nemrut said...

Michael,
thanks for your clear statement about the missing need to interpret the contents of dream.

Nemrut said...

Michael, again about interpreting dreams,
am I right in supposing that you would state the same even when people report that Bhagavan Ramana or Siva/Parvati or Arunachala or other holy places or sages appeared in a dream ?

Michael James said...

Nemrut, as a general rule, yes, but such a dream may sometimes be of great personal significance, which I would certainly respect.

Moreover, since according to Bhagavan our present state is just another dream, even the Bhagavan Ramana who appears as a person who lived from 1879 to 1950 in our present state is just as much a mental projection as any other person or phenomenon we perceive in any dream. However, what has prompted this particular projection (both Bhagavan as a person and the teachings he gave us) is grace, which is the infinite love that we as we actually are have for ourself.

As Bhagavan used to say, the form of guru and his teachings is like the lion that appears in an elephant’s, creating such intense fear that the elephant wakes up. The lion is unreal, being just a mental projection, but the waking that results is real. Likewise, the name and form of guru are unreal, but they bring about a real awakening due to the intensity of love that they evoke in us.

Nemrut said...

Michael,
thank you also for your second reply.
Certainly grace, which is the infinite love that we as we actually are have for ourself,
is expected to be not only a mental projection.
But that certainty we will have only just when our present state will be converted in a real awakening.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The essence of all sastras has been expressed more clearly in Ulladu Narpadu than we can find in all other texts put together

Bhagavan’s teachings are like the ocean of amrita that has been churned from the ocean of vedanta. The essence of vedanta is advaita, and the essence of advaita – the cream, the nectar – that has been churned out of this ocean is Bhagavan’s teachings. Bhagavan’s teachings are the purest, sutlest and deepest expression of vedanta philosophy.

So if we have studied Ulladu Narpadu, we do not need to study Upanishads, Brahmasutras or any commentaries on these things. Because the cream of it all, the essence of it all, has been expressed more clearly in Ulladu Narpadu than we can find in all the other texts put together.

So we are so-so fortunate to have Bhagavan and his teachings.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-12-02 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 23 (1: 20)

Reflections: Isn’t it reassuring? We just need to read, reflect on and assimilate the message contained in Ulladu Narpadu and we have read the essence of all sastras put together. Bhagavan has made things so-so easy for us. His teachings are surely beyond compare.


Hector said...

Michael,
I think your decision to start moderating comments is long over due and so very much welcome.

Michael James said...

Yes, Hector, I was foolish not to do so long ago, ever since it became obvious that the freedom I wished to give everyone was being unscrupulously misused by some who were not seriously intent on following Bhagavan's path or even trying to understand his teachings.

Hector said...

Michael,
I think you have been extremely patient to be honest.

At the end of the day your blog is about the teachings of Bhagavan. If I want to learn about and discuss in detail other teachers like Papaji for example then I would join a blog or forum that specifically discusses his teachings. Your blog is not a blog about spirituality in general it is highly specific and so it would seem logical that people who comment on it would have a specific interest in Bhagavan.

However some visitors it seems have no interest apart from causing friction for their own amusement and some even admit to it. They just ridicule others understanding, use foul language and even delve into other visitors personal lives.

Hopeful now with moderation your blog can return to the heart of the matter which is exploring, discussing and reflecting on Bhagavan's teaching.

I must also say even though the focus in the comment section has often swayed from Bhagavan and his teachings your article's and comments never have.

With my utmost respect.

Hector.

Nemrut said...

Michael,
when I wanted to leave an comment I obviously did not press the publishing button at midday today.
So I try to remember what I wanted to write:
Certainly grace, which is the infinite love that we as we actually are have for ourself,
is expected to be not just a mental projection.
The certainty about that we nevertheless will have only when our present state is converted in a real awakening.

Mouna said...

Dear Michael and all friends of this sanga, greetings hoping this comment finds you all well.

Michael I had an interesting/funny experience to share and see if you have some comments. It is on topic because relates to the dream mind state.

In several occasions when I wake up in the middle of the night, instead of counting sheep (!!!) to go back to sleep, I listen to podcasts or videos related to Advaita or Bhagavan's teachings (yours) and generally I fall asleep again. Last night I woke up and started listening with earphones your last video with the Houston Center. I fell asleep and started dreaming. In my dream we were three or four friends discussing with you but you were the only one speaking, clearly telling what you tell in the mentioned video, at one point you decided to give me a ride to meet other friends, and although I was telling you that I din’t need a ride (while you were already driving in the car) you kept talking the lecture!! and I couldn’t make you stop even while I was trying to interrupt you. After a little while I woke up and the lecture was going on still in my earphones.

My point is that this experience might prove that there maybe indeed a crisscross or "no man's land" between dream and waking. The seventh mantra of the Mandukya Upanishad, while speaking about Turiya mentions that besides Turiya not being waking dreaming and deep-sleeping also mentions that it is not “an intermediate state” between dream and waking…
Although not very relevant to self-investigation (after all we are still in the domain of dreams) I was wondering if you have any further comments on this topic under the light of Bhagavan’s teachings.

Love to all,
Mouna

Unknown said...

The blog owner is finally using his whip (and it his right to do) but I sincerely hope it is not at the absolute expense of all those comments and posters which/who disagree with him but who also follow the guidelines and rules but also disagree with Mr.James's own understanding of Sri Ramana's path and teachings.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We have to turn our attention within, and he will reveal everything to us

Guidance is there – Bhagavan’s words guide us as much as possible from outside, but his real guidance is always shining in our heart. We have to turn within – that is Bhagavan’s silent teaching. His silent teaching is always going on in our heart, but we are always ignoring it because we are more interested in other things.

So if we want to listen to Bhagavan’s real teachings, we have to turn our attention within and he will reveal everything to us. He will reveal everything that needs to be revealed, which is only ourself. Nothing else needs to be known.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-05-05 (morning) Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 6 (48: 00)

Reflections: We see many gurus around us giving lectures, talks and whatnot from every available platform. This is taken to be real spiritual guidance, but Bhagavan has made us see such lectures in a new light. According to Bhagavan, he is within us and therefore if we want to listen to spiritual ‘lectures, talks’ or whatever, we have to turn within. This is such a unique way of imparting and receiving spiritual teachings.

Eventually, Bhagavan will reveal whatever needs to be revealed. That is, eventually we will know that we are nothing but pure and infinite awareness. Bhagavan’s verbal teachings are useless if we do not make use of them to turn within and thereby to listen to his real silent teachings.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Trolls no doubt misuse their freedom but we are no better

Michael wrote, ‘the freedom I wished to give everyone was being unscrupulously misused by some who were not seriously intent on following Bhagavan's path or even trying to understand his teachings’. I cannot agree more. However, it is not only these trolls but even we have been unceasingly misusing the freedom given to us by Bhagavan.

We are free to turn within and merge in Bhagavan, or we can continue to choose to attend to things other than ourself and thereby to ignore Bhagavan. It should be obvious to us that we are always misusing this freedom. Instead of attending to ourself, we continue to foolishly attend to other things. So in this sense, these trolls and we are no different.

Rajat Sancheti said...

While meditating, sometimes, the stream of thoughts takes on the nature of a dream. I'm thinking those thoughts and am completely immersed in them, just like when dreaming I don't know I am dreaming, but am completely immersed in the dream. Then suddenly, abruptly, it will flash in my mind that I'm thinking, and of their own accord momentarily the thoughts will cease. Those flashes don't seem to be an action of my will; but once the thoughts momentarily cease and I become aware of the fact that I was thinking, I can choose to investigate the thinker, exercising my will to direct attention towards myself. Can you say something about the role of the will in self-attention, and any pitfalls or self-deception it might entail? What is the benchmark with which we may evaluate our self-enquiry? Is it a greater feeling of peace? I have found that I have more and more strong emotions and thoughts despite attempts at self-investigation. Or is there no such benchmark, none required?

You said that our current waking state is a more stable dream, so we keep coming back to it everyday when we wake up. Is this waking state dream really recurring, or only seems to recur? If it only seems to recur, then that would mean that when I started dreaming this waking state dream, all memories of yesterday and last year, were also simultaneously created? But then regarding the experience of deep sleep, (the one hint we have that we may not be this body or person, because in deep sleep there was neither body nor mind and yet we were), why can't we suspect that this too is part of this waking state dream and hence only fabricated?

Michael James said...

Mouna, as you know, according to Bhagavan there is no difference between waking and dream, which means that any state in which we perceive phenomena of any kind is just a dream. Therefore what the dream you describe illustrates is that the boundary between one dream and another is not always very clear, because what you were listening to in this dream you continued to hear in the other dream.

Now it seems to you that you are awake and that the experience you described was a dream, so it would be natural to assume that the voice of Michael that you were hearing in that dream was caused by the fact that his voice was playing in your earphones in this state, but both these states are dreams, so which is the cause and which is the effect? The answer is that both are effects of the same cause, namely ego and its viṣaya-vāsanās.

There is a story of a Taoist sage who after waking from a dream in which he dreamt that he was a butterfly remarked that he does not know whether he was then a man dreaming he was a butterfly or whether he is now a butterfly dreaming that he is a man. I believe he did not elaborate any further on this but left it to others to find their own answer. However, what we learn from Bhagavan’s teachings is that what is dreaming is neither a man nor a butterfly but just an ego. In one dream ego dreamt that it was that Taoist sage and in another dream it dreamt that it was a butterfly.

In the final analysis the entire life of ourself as ego is one big dream in which we dream many smaller dreams, each consisting of the lifetime of one body, in each of which we dream what seems to be a waking state and many still smaller dreams, so the two dreams you refer to (your present state and the other dream you describe) are two parts of one dream, which is itself part of a bigger dream. Therefore we have dreams within dreams within dream, but the root of all these dreams is ourself as ego, so by eradicating ego we can get rid of all dreams in one fell swoop.

Of course, an alternative interpretation of your dream would be to say that your ‘subconscious’ mind was telling you that Michael is a control freak who does not listen to what anyone else is telling him (just as he did not listen to all the friends who advised him to moderate comments on this blog) but just goes on endlessly talking!

Take your pick, whichever interpretation you prefer.

Unknown said...

Mr. James said the physical body disappears (I don't recall his exact words) in sleep and in dreams when the ego imagines itself as the subtle or causal body. But there are instances when a person has fallen asleep and walks in his/her sleep (sleep walking) and does all kinds of activities of the waking state even when asleep using his/her physical body.

Josef Bruckner said...

Calling all as a dream does not free us from dreaming.
What does really end all our greater and smaller dreams is called atma-vichara.

jeremy lennon said...

Dear Michael, I`m lost for words. I can hardly believe that the toxic cloud hanging over this comments section has at last been blown away by the gentle breeze of moderation?! This is such good news. There must be more like me who appreciate this blog so much but have been reluctant to post comments for fear of being buried under mounds of abuse and sarcasm.
Much love to you and all devotees of our Bhagavan.

Josef Bruckner said...

Mouna,
greetings back to you; hope you are well too.
You actually described a funny dream/waking experience in connection with Michael's last Houston-Sri Ramana Center-video.:-)
Regarding turiya: there is only one state which underlies all other states if there are any such ones.

morrison said...

jeremy lennon

excellent comment and yes I agree completely but I cannot express it like you did in your wording, well said;

I had given up on this blog and made an oath I would never again look at it.
Then 2 days ago I decided to break my oath, for whatever reason and found comments moderated.
And like I mentioned to Michael in an email, after seeing the blog back to what it once was I had tears in my eyes.

Mouna: I was very happy to see you posting again as I always looked forward to your comments.

My love and best wishes to one and all.

(note: I previously used the name gargoyle)


Mouna said...

Michael, your response to my question in the first interpretation and the humoristique freudian touch in the second are greatly appreciated.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
below the comment box we can read "This blog does not allow anonymous comments."
Is not a commentator named for instance "Unknown", "Hector", "NN" or "Agnostic" also anonymous ?

Mouna said...

Hello Joseph,
Thanks for your comment.

"Regarding turiya: there is only one state which underlies all other states if there are any such ones.”

I would add to this statement that not only underlies all other unreal states but also runs in and through them, being both immanent and transcendent. All this being said from ego’s point of view of course.

Josef Bruckner said...

Mouna,
I doubt if the one (state) could actually run.:-)
But as you said from ego’s point of view of course all might be possible...

D Samarender Reddy said...

Hi Everyone,

I will no longer be visiting this blog. Here is what I wrote to all people with whom I am in touch, which explains why:

Entering Seclusion

Teja Anand gave this advice to me a few days back in his email to me:

"Indeed, if you really want this freedom, not just dabbling in it, you may have to consider giving up explaining it (to yourself and others,) reading & studying about it, and posting blogs about it, until you are It. Take all the time you saved by not doing these things, and spend it just sitting in Silence, listening, listening…until you “hear” the Truth."

The above advice also has begun to resonate in my own being. So, from now on expect less communication from me, either via email and WhatsApp or in person. However, if at any time you feel you want to draw me out from my seclusion because there is something you want to communicate to me then do not hesitate to do so as I will be glad to oblige you.

Sanjay Lohia said...

All of a sudden this blog looks like a different place. We seem to be enjoying a welcome calm after a senseless storm. Bhagavan’s knows why the storm was there and why this peace now - all his will. Even a storm has a lesson: we become stronger if we are able to weather the storm. As Bhagavan used to say, ‘Nothing happens by accident in the divine scheme of things’.

Josef Bruckner said...

D Samarender Reddy,
"hearing the truth" in silence is good - without any doubt.
Then being the truth might reveal one's real identity.
Best wishes and kind regards.

Aham said...

.

Is it true that comments will now be moderated? If yes, it is wonderful news!

The comments section had become unbearably toxic, as such I mostly stayed away.

Let's hope comments henceforth reflect the spirit of the Great Sri Ramana Maharshi.


** If Mr James is moderating, perhaps it is a good idea if he shared the role with trustworthy regulars, so that he is not burdened by the task.

.

Unknown said...

Mr. Lohia,

If the master had lashed his whip freely from the beginning there would not have been a storm.

Rajat Sancheti said...

To do self-enquiry we have to withdraw attention away from everything other than ourselves. So if we have our eyes open, we can only ever be partially self-attentive? Because if I was doing self-enquiry with my eyes open, and I was really being fully self-attentive, then technically, the world should disappear from my view, no? My question is regarding trying to maintain partial self-attentiveness during the day, and how does our perception of the world and phenomena change during this. Can someone please share their insights on this. thanks.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Rajat, Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation is unique: we can practise it at any time, at any place and in any posture. We can practise it with our eyes open or closed. If our attention is turned within, it is inconsequential whether our eyes are open or closed. Bhagavan used to give an example for this. If we are not looking out of the window, it is immaterial whether the windows are open or closed. In both cases, we will not see anything outside the window.

Yes, if we are active in the world and trying to practise self-investigation, our eyes need to open because during such times our attention is divided between ourself and the objects of this world. However, the practice remains the same. The only thing is that at such times we are not able to go within deep enough, or we may get easily distracted by other things.

This world will not disappear from our view as long as we experience ourself as ego because ego’s very nature is to experience things other than ourself. So even if we are trying to attend exclusively to ourself, as long as our ego is not annihilated this world will not disappear from our view. This world is nothing but a collection of our thoughts, and as long as we experience even a single phenomenon, our ego is alive.

The more we try to attend to ourself, the more our perception of other things will recede in the background. The more we are able to be attentively self-aware, the more unconcerned we will become about other things. So, yes, our depth and intensity of self-attentiveness will make us gradually lose our hold on our thoughts. And when we are able to attend to ourself alone, we completely lose our hold on all other things. This is our final frontier.

Sanjay Lohia said...

As we know, Michael has started to moderate these comments. Some friends believe that he should have done this much earlier. However, things happen when they are meant to happen. In this context, I recall the following incident from the epic Mahabharata.

In the Mahabharata, there is this wicked character called Shishupal. He was a cousin of Krishna. Krishna was somehow persuaded to give him an assurance that he will pardon his 100 offences. So Krishna kept a count of Shishupal's sins and pardoned his first 100 sins. But as soon as he committed his 101st sin, Krishna released his Sudarshana Chakra and killed him on the spot.

This story illustrates that Bhagavan knows what should be done, when and how. It illustrates that nothing escapes his attention.

Roger Isaacs said...

Sanjay says:
This world will not disappear from our view as long as we experience ourself as ego because ego’s very nature is to experience things other than ourself.


Michael says above in section 15:
What the ātma-jñāni sees and what the ajñāni sees is exactly the same, but what they each see it as is different. Whereas the ātma-jñāni sees it as it actually is, which is just ‘I’, the one infinite, indivisible and hence formless reality, the ajñāni sees it as a multitude of forms, and sees ‘I’ as being limited to the extent of one of those forms, namely a particular body.


Sanjay's description appears to lack clarity: according to Michael: the world does not disappear (necessarily) but it is seen as it actually is. Thus the oft repeat comment about "world disappears" is misleading or imprecise.

IMO the focus is slightly wrong: the point is not to make the world disappear when performing Atma Vicara during activity... the point is to be the "infinite indivisible and hence formless reality" beyond identification with a limited individual body. This view is consistent with "be as you are" the chapter on Samadhi.

To say it in a different way: there seems to be the expectation and teaching here that the gate is "world disappears". As all language fails... "world disappears" is less precise than "duality disappears" or "multitude of forms" disappears which may happen whether the world is seen or not.

Sanjay, you seem to have an expectation that the world is going to disappear and that is your goal. This is a false expectation... it's not going to happen permanently: the atma-jnani sees the world exactly the same as the a-jnani (according to MJ).

Sanjay, you rejoice at "moderation" of the forum.
I agree regarding elimination of personal attacks.
But do you think that people are "wicked" when they challenge your belief system or propose alternative perspectives?
Is diversity of opinion "wicked"?
Please clarify.

Unknown said...

Mr. Lohia, I guess that last comment from you was meant for me, therefore I post this comment. I don't seriously believe like you do that Bhagavan has got anything to do with the comments in this blog whatever its hostile nature of contents may be.

It is too trivial a matter for Bhagavan to get involved with the comments in this blog. The only person who can really do that is the blog owner himself since it is his blog and he has done it now. Good for him that he is now interested in the affairs of his blog.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our unknown friend believes that ‘It is too trivial a matter for Bhagavan to get involved with the comments in this blog’. If this is true then why did Bhagavan teach us in the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar?:

Even though we place whatever amount of burden upon God, that entire amount he will bear. Since one paramēśvara śakti [supreme ruling power or power of God] is driving all activities [everything that happens in this world], instead of yielding to it why should we always think, ‘it is necessary to act in this way; it is necessary to act in that way’? Though we know that the train is going bearing all the burdens, why should we who go travelling in it suffer bearing our small luggage on our head instead of remaining happily leaving it placed on that [train]?

As Bhagavan explains, ‘one supreme ruling power is driving all activities’, and therefore nothing as ‘trivial’ or ‘important’ for him. He is driving all so-called ‘trivial’ and ‘important’ activities. Yes, the formless and infinite aspect of God, which is called brahman, is not concerned about anything because it is not aware of anything. However, as ishvara Bhagavan is bearing all our burdens.

Moreover, Krishna has assured us in the Bhagavad Gita that he takes care of all the material and spiritual burdens of those who are devoted to him and him alone. So I am sure Bhagavan is taking care of this blog in some special way because it is owned and operated by Sri Michael James, and no one can deny that he is an extraordinary devotee of Bhagavan.

Basically, Bhagavan responds to our love. That is, to the extent we surrender to Bhagavan, to that extent he will take care of us in some special way. This is not to say that he doesn’t take care of others. For example, when Draupadi was being disrobed by the Kauravas, she pleaded with everybody present in the court to protect her, but no one dared to oppose the evil deed of the Kauravas. However, when she prayed to Krishna as her last resort, this is where the miracle happened. The sari worn by Draupadi grew bigger and bigger, and Dushsana (one of the Kauravas) was not successful is disrobing her. This is how we are protected if we surrender all our problems to Bhagavan.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, you have asked me, ‘But do you think that people are "wicked" when they challenge your belief system or propose alternative perspectives? Is diversity of opinion "wicked"? Please clarify’. The simple answer is ‘no’, people cannot be termed as ‘wicked’ only because they possess a different set of beliefs or opinions.

However, as Michael has explained in the 'Guidelines for Comments', ‘any disagreement should be expressed in a polite, respectful and reasonable manner’. If we do not adhere to this guideline, Michael may be forced to remove our comment from the comment section. Michael has made this clear, so now the choice is ours.

Unknown said...

Mr. Lohia friend,

Sorry sir, I do not in the least believe in any religious and mythological mumbo-jumbo like you do. I do not give any credence to any of the faith based religions and its Godly interventions.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9, verse 22:

There are those who always think of me and engage in exclusive devotion to me. To them, whose minds are always absorbed in me, I provide what they lack and preserve what they already possess.

Bhagavan is pure and infinite love, and therefore his love is equal for all. However, as this verse from Bhagavad Gita indicates, Bhagavan does take care of his devotes in some special mysterious ways – that is, he bestows some extra amount of grace to those who are totally dependent on him. A mother has to protect and take care of her infant with much more attention than she would take care of her children when they grow up. As we surrender ourself more and more, we start becoming like these children and eventually become like an infant. So, obviously, Bhagavan has to provide whatever such devotees need because they become unfit to take care of themselves.

We can understand this in another way. In any hospital, all its patients are looked after by its nursing staff and doctors, but the patients in the ICU are given extra attention and care because of their critical condition. Bhagavan’s real devotees are like these critically ill patients. They need special protection. So Krishna assures that ‘I provide what they [these devotes] lack and preserve what they already possess’.

If we persevere with our practice self-surrender and self-investigation, a time comes when we become useless for this world. We start losing our love for his world or start developing a distaste for our worldly pursuits. However, the more unfit we become for this world, the fitter we become for God. So it is good if we become good-for-nothing because Bhagavan is looking out for such good-for-nothing fellows. He finds such egos very tasty to eat.

Bhagavan is taking care of all our needs so we should live a carefree life. We should just concentrate on our task at hand – which is to practice more and more surrender. He is doing everything that needs to done to take care of our material and spiritual needs. We need not doubt this.

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
"...one supreme ruling power is driving all activities...";

"...the formless and infinite aspect of God, which is called brahman, is not concerned about anything because it is not aware of anything. However, as ishvara Bhagavan is bearing all our burdens."

It seems a likely supposition that one supreme ruling power which is driving all activities, the formless and infinite (aspect of) God, which is called brahman, ishvara and Bhagavan are all one and the same - our real nature/self and innermost heart albeit in different names and aspects.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay, Michael,

Sanjay, I actually support your approach which seems to be devotional & religious in nature.
The problem I see is that your statements appear to attack me. For example: you say that your approach is the "ONLY way" (condemning my perspective) and when I express enthusiasm for Talks you tell me that Talks is "un-Bhagavan like".

So can I expect YOU to express tolerance or at least curiosity about my perspective (and Bhagavan from Talks)?
If not... then perhaps the seed of conflict is present in YOU?
In Talks Bhagavan says several times that people have different "temperaments". Acknowledging that people naturally see things differently seems to me to be ESSENTIAL toward preventing religious intolerance which evolves into violence.

And on this topic:
Michael, I continue to contemplate the differences between Atma-Vicara and Neti-Neti.
You said in the blog Atma-vicara and the practice of neti neti that:
In order to ‘practise’ neti neti, we must think of the body, mind and other adjuncts that we wish to reject as ‘not I, not I’, but by this very act of thinking that they are not ‘I’ we are continuing to give them reality and to attach ourself to them.


Can we agree that there are different depths of "Who am I?" practice?
For example a beginner might intentionally THINK "Who am I?"
Where as an advanced practitioner might reside more or less effortlessly in wordless thoughtless inward inquiry.

If Bhagavan points out as you (Michael) do that "'not this' is an act of thinking of what we must reject" then I agree in some sense.
Possibly various schools have taught us to THINK "I am not the body, the thinking mind, the emotions" etc...
This may have some value as a preliminary practice... but the process is on the level of thinking mind.

I will not condemn "atma vicara" simply because there exists a preliminary practice of THINKING "who am I?"
There are beginning level practices of both "atma vicara" AND "neti neti" which start with thinking. I agree, perhaps most people are unable to use "neti neti" to go beyond thought. But for that matter I'm not convinced that everyone can take "who am I?" beyond thought. Bhagavan seems to agree suggesting other practices such as devotion and pranayama.

Both "who am I?" and "not this - not this" may begin on the level of thought... but both have the potential of resting as thoughtless inner attention summa iru.

Atma-vicara and neti-neti are COMPLEMENTARY.
IF you are an atma-vicara practitioner then when your mind slips off of inward attention then the instantaneous realization that your attention is off into some thought or emotion you have just done "neti-neti": "not this.... thought or emotion". How can you practice atma vicara without also practicing neti-neti?

If you prefer atma-vicara then learning about neti-neti MAY have some benefit and vice versa.

How can "not this" have ultimate value as it fails to focus precisely on the subjective aspect or "I"?
"not this" is an exhaustive process of eliminating everything from attention, of sweeping the attention clear of all thought and emotion even sweeping away "not this", then what is left is the pure subjective attention. Well why not name the "subjective aspect" directly as "I"? Because the subjective aspect is beyond all name and form. As I recall both Bhagavan and Papaji tell us that you will never find "I", it disappears.

Can we exist in a supportive environment with the potential of learning from each other?
If you really have the "only way" then we're stuck in a fundamentalist religious situation where diversity of opinion is strongly discouraged and we're locked in conflict. Conflict is so predominate that even comments from Bhagavan from other works are dismissed.

Josef Bruckner said...

Roger,
regarding your penultimate sentence : "If you really have the "only way"..."
Again against your obviously deep rooted favourite "only way" - song":
Michael never claimed in his articles and comments "to have the only way". However, he clearly expounded why persistent atma-vichara is the best and most reliable method to dry out the ego's quagmires.
Please do soon and finally heed and realize that you got stuck in the pack ice of your own self-created concept of the enemy of your selective perception of Michael asserting "to have the "only way".
With well-meaning regards.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, referring to my comments, you wrote: ‘The problem I see is that your statements appear to attack me’. We are being childish if we try to attack each other because we are here to learn about and deepen our understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings and not criticise each other. However, I can assure you that I have never attacked you personally. We discuss ideas and we may differ with each other because we understand Bhagavan’s teachings at our own level.

Yes, there are a lot of useful things in Talks but a lot of it is not Bhagavan’s pure teachings. If you want to place Talks and other such books at par with his works like Ulladu Narpadu, Nan Ar? and Upadesa Undiyar, you are free to do so. However, I am convinced that these three works contain Bhagavan’s pure and undiluted teachings and we cannot place Talks in this category. I am also free to form this opinion. So I do not see any conflict between us.

Agnostic said...

Roger Isaacs:

This is with reference to your comment on 10 December 2018 at 18:00 above, especially this sentence - "...So can I expect YOU to express tolerance or at least curiosity about my perspective (and Bhagavan from Talks)? "

I think some Talks are actually "purer" teaching than anything else from Bhagavan and I would put them above everything that he wrote. His utterances must have had the quality of Revelation and I'm amused when currently ardent devotees put down or patronize those that sat at the feet of the master. (My favourites are Devaraja Mudaliar and Alan Chadwick.)

Given Sruti vs Smriti, I will take Sruti any day. What Bhagavan said in informal and unguarded moments is, to me, worth all that he laboriously wrote and edited, importuned by eager devotees. For example, similes and metaphors about chastity in prostitutes etc, would never have occurred to him, I'll just leave it at that. If anything I tend to think he would have sympathized with the unfortunate creature's plight and said something soothing.

You must choose the materials you find most enlightening (!) and not bother about some one else's strong opinions on the matter.

Also, I am absolutely sure that my thinking all this doesn't bother Michael James either.

Lastly, you will agree that MJ surely exhibited the patience of a medieval saint in enduring the somewhat unhinged rants immediately preceding his decision to moderate comments.

Best wishes,
Agnostic

Josef Bruckner said...

Agnostic,
"...those that sat at the feet of the master. (My favourites are Devaraja Mudaliar and Alan Chadwick.)"

Do we not even now sit all at the feet of the master ? How can a real master ever disappear from our heart ?
Nevertheless we in our "unfortunate creature's plight" sometimes do not have scruples to ignore even the purest teaching of Bhagavan.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Knowledge implies ignorance of what lies beyond what is known

Umadevi, a Polish lady, had travelled in Kashmir and brought some photos which were shown in the Old Hall. Bhagavan humourlessly remarked, ‘We have seen those places without the trouble of travelling’. A devotee thereby said, ‘I wish to travel to Kailas’. Sri Bhagavan said, ‘One can see these places only if destined, not otherwise. After seeing all, there will still remain more – if not in this hemisphere, may be in the other. Knowledge implies ignorance of what lies beyond what is known, Knowledge is always limited’.

• From Spiritual Stories as told by Bhagavan

Reflections: We want to visit this place or that place, but if everything is within and nothing without, why this desire to go here and there? Kailas is in our mind, so is the Himalayas and so is Switzerland. We wrongly believe that these places exist out there, whereas they exist only in our mind as mental images. These are like any other dream images.

Roger Isaacs said...

The ego grasps at form. A teaching is just more form in the intellect.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yama, the lord of death, has come to take me, but I am not prepared to go

Death is certain – life is extremely short – but we live our lives as if something like death does not even exist. We see death around us but behave as if we are immortals. I realised this when I was on my death bed and Yama had come to take me away. I was not prepared to go, but I had no option and it was only then that I realised how foolish I was in the way I lived. My (imaginary) conversation with Yama went like this:

Yama: Sanjay, your time is up. Come let’s go.

Sanjay: I am not ready yet. Why didn’t you give me an advance notice informing me that you were on your way? I cannot leave now, please give me some more time.

Yama: Come on, don’t be foolish, this is how I come. I seldom give notice. You have no option, you have to pack up and leave.

Sanjay: You are so cruel and heartless. Can’t you give me a few more days?

Yama: Why didn’t you prepare for this day?

Sanjay: Yes, I know, it’s all my foolishness. I should have known that death is inevitable. I should have prepared myself for this. I should have devoted more time remembering Bhagavan and practising his teachings. Though I tried to practise, but I know my efforts were not enough. It is too late now to rectify my error. I will leave dejected.

Yama: You are wrong. You still have a few more hours to live. If you want you can still turn within a full 180 degrees and die before your bodily death. It is possible. Just try. If you succeed, you can still defeat me and attain immortality here and now. Your lifelong practice will help you here. Have faith in Bhagavan and surrender fully.

Sanjay: Thanks for your invaluable guidance. Let me try.


Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
"Kailas is in our mind, so is the Himalayas and so is Switzerland. We wrongly believe that these places exist out there, whereas they exist only in our mind as mental images. These are like any other dream images."
As you say, if - according to Bhagavan - everything is within and nothing without, so our experience of ourself as a person is also only a dream image. Therefore even Bhagavan along with Arunachala/Annamalai, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, India, Asia together with the UK, London and the whole earth, world and universe are also only dream images or mental creations because that what really exists is only undivided and infinite consciousness, atma-svarupa.

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,

Do you have an english translation of Sadhu Om's poem "Wait a little" ?
Do you also have an english biography of Sadhu Om ?

Thank you.

Regards.

Arnaud

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Agnostic,
There are a couple of statements indicating that Bhagavan reviewed Talks.

Ideas are for manana, contemplation.
When people take their religion and insist to others that they have the "only way" then it's no longer manana. It is conquest.

Aham said...

.


If we persevere with our practice self-surrender and self-investigation, a time comes when we become useless for this world. We start losing our love for his world or start developing a distaste for our worldly pursuits. However, the more unfit we become for this world, the fitter we become for God. So it is good if we become good-for-nothing because Bhagavan is looking out for such good-for-nothing fellows."


Nicely written Mr Lohia.

Certainly, abiding in Stillness one loses interest in the world. And from an ego's perspective, such a one is useless.

As for traveling 'here, there and everywhere', it is very popular these days. But what is it? It is in fact only the mental pictures changing! Traveling becomes of little (no!) interest when abiding in Stillness.


Mr Isaacs, re Talks

On page 211 of "Ramana Periya Puranam", the author V.Ganesan asserts that Talks was verified and approved by Maharshi himself.

"I have seen the original manuscript myself (referring to Talks), in the form of note books, with Bhagavan's corrections."

And interestingly, the last half of "Maharshi's Gospel", which we know was edited by Sri Ramana, is a replication of records found in Talks.


Neti-Neti

If neti-neti ends the identification with and absorption in thoughts then it achieves the same as Vichara. But does it?


Website comments

When Sri Ramana arrived at Tiruvannamalai, He made many attempts to put distance between Himself and trouble-makers. At the ashram, attendants and managers took this role, quickly nipping rioters in the bud. It would be prudent to indefinitely apply the same approach to the comment section at this website.


"pure Teachings"

As for the "pure Teachings" referred to Mr Lohia....I am of the view that in fact the only "pure Teaching" is to abide in Stillness. All else keeps the ego spinning.

.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
it is said that the world is only "thought". Though it should be noted that Bhagavan seems to use this term to describe all what we are not as "thought".
However, we as ego (have to) live in this thought - at least seemingly. So I cannot see the practical meaning of that statement.
How can we realize the real meaning of that saying/teaching ?
What conduct shall we practise to this "thought" ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Why are we practising self-surrender and self-investigation?

Why are we practising self-surrender and self-investigation? It is only because we want to experience infinite and eternal happiness. We should have this clarity. We want to experience ourself as we really are because we are this infinite and eternal happiness. So long as we are separated from our real nature, we can never be satisfied. Only infinite and eternal happiness can satisfy us.

However, we are seeking this happiness outside ourself. It is because we have limited ourself to this finite body that we need food, clothing and shelter - we need money in our bank account. The richest person in this world is still not satisfied – they want more and more wealth. The most learned person in this world is still not satisfied because he wants to learn more and more.

Edited extract from in the video: 2018-12-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 13 (13: 00)

Reflection: We are born in misery and die in misery. A child comes into this world crying and it leaves this world again crying, metaphorically speaking. What is the use of such a life? So we should try to end this cycle, and we can do so only by experiencing ourself as we actually are and to do so we need to turn our entire attention within. We should know what we are aiming for and know how we can achieve that goal. This clarity is a must.

Sanjay Lohia said...

If we didn’t know about Bhagavan’s teachings, how much more miserable our life would have been

If we think about it, if we didn’t know about Bhagavan’s teachings, how much more miserable our life would have been. So much misery comes into this world in so many forms – we all have our unending problems – but how we are able to bear all these problems? We are able to bear them to the extent we yield them to Bhagavan. In other words, we bear the difficulties of life by not bearing them at all – by leaving it to Bhagavan to bear them.

So Bhagavan’s path is the path of supreme bhakti, of complete self-surrender.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-12-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 13 (41: 00)

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Aham,
Thanks for the references on Talks.
You say:If neti-neti ends the identification with and absorption in thoughts then it achieves the same as Vichara. But does it?

I can't say if neti-neti will work for you or anyone, you have to discover this yourself and it requires a certain temperament.
IF you successfully practice vicara or some other type of meditation then I argue that "not this - not this" must be already incorporated into your practice to some degree.
When you are performing vicara... you will likely become momentarily distracted... then "not this distraction" and back to self attentiveness.
With "not this distraction" you have just done "neti-neti".

Hi Josef,
If you want to study about creation as thought see Brunton's comments on Mentalism: https://paulbrunton.org/notebooks/21
These notes are excellent.

Hi Agnostic,
you say "Given Sruti vs Smriti, I will take Sruti any day..."

Yes, every word that Bhagavan spoke was "revealed knowledge".

Hi Sanjay
you say We are born in misery and die in misery. ... What is the use of such a life? So we should try to end this cycle,

We know that duality or multiplicity manifests as the "pairs of opposites"?
Misery is just one side of the "joy - misery" opposition.
Part of knowing yourself as you are is seeing "as it is".
"It" is the play of opposites. To claim that life is only suffering and something that we should "end" is taking a position in the grand play. Who is it that claims to be able to "end" things? That would be the ego.
Life is also beauty, joy etc... ? We have to look closer to see the play of opposites rather than taking sides in the play.
See MJ above when he says that the atma-jnani continues to see creation exactly as the a-jnani... only the veil has been lifted.

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
to "If we didn’t know about Bhagavan’s teachings, how much more miserable our life would have been" I would like to add "...and would be".
Really, I do not want to imagine such a disastrous gap.
May I not miss the chance to prove myself to be grateful and worthy of the fact that I was spared by never hearing of Bhagavan Arunachala Ramana's teaching. May Arunachala help me to achieve a correct and comprehensive understanding of the teaching and still more important to live every day in that all-embracing practice.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
it is said that our real nature is only pure self-awareness which is not aware of anything but "only aware". Is not pure self-awareness quite well aware of just the pure self ? On the other hand the term "(blank) awareness of nothing" seems to describe anything empty or a subject lacking in content or is at least meaningless.
Real awareness cannot be bare emptiness but just the fullness.
Could you please shed light on that topic in more detail ?

Rajat Sancheti said...

Hasn't Bhagavan said that there is perception of the world only so long as we don't see ourselves as we really are? So for a jnani, does he continue seeing the world, or is there then no perception of the world and hence no world? Bhagavan has said that there is only one jnani, and you are that.. So would there be a perception of the world when we see ourselves as we are?

Unknown said...

For ordinary people (ajnanis) itself even in deep sleep there is no perception of one's own ego, one's own bodies and the perception of the worlds. Only when the deep sleep is disturbed there is awareness of one's own ego, the bodies and the perception of worlds. So what can be said of the perennial state of sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi of a Jnani like Sri Ramana Maharshi?

Josef Bruckner said...

Roger,
thanks for giving the link to Paul Brunton's notebooks, Category 21 - Mentalism.
I will have a look. I expect that Brunton's writing will be helpful for me mainly to make conversation about the world as "mental". Then I will step further to find the truth in me...:-)

Josef Bruckner said...

Unknown,
if the perennial state of sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi of a Jnani like Sri Ramana Maharshi is unknown to you, you should seek the contact to him in yourself because jnana is not outside of you. Then in order to quench your thirst of knowledge you can "ask" him the question directly.:-)
In other words the answer to your question can be found only inside yourself.
Is it not said that there is only one jnani - namely you as the only one real self ?

Unknown said...

Josef Bruckner,

Unfortunately I cannot do that and even if someone had done so he would probably just stare back at such a person and remain silent. Lol! But then Sri Ramana did answer questions on that topic and I will not go into that because it will take a lot of time to do so. My point is that sahaja nirviklapa samadhi of sri Ramana Maharshi is a far more intense, blissful, liberating and unbroken experience than mere sushupti (deep sleep) is.

If even in sushupti there is bliss and non-perception of world and no problems of samsara how can it be there in the sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi state of Sri Ramana Maharshi? So ordinary people or ajnanis like me are not yet liberated or free as a sage like Sri Ramana Maharhsi is to know the actual state of a sage like Sri Ramana Maharshi as long as we live and function as the as the ego and body.

Michael James said...

Today a friend wrote to me:

EMAIL BEGINS

I noticed today in GVK verse 622, Bhagavan is recorded as saying: “When rightly considered, nothing will be more wonderful and laughable than one’s toiling very much through some sadhana to attain Self in the same manner as one toils to attain other objects, even though one really ever remains as the non-dual Self.”

This seems to contradict his teachings in Naan Ar?, where he says ‘ippadi pazhaga pazhaga, manathirkku than pirappidathil thangi nirkum sakthi athikarikindrathu’ [‘When one practises and practises in this manner, to the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace will increase’ (sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?)]. In other words, toiling is needed.

Only way to reconcile these two comments is that by ‘some sadhana...’, he is referring to methods other than self enquiry. Can you please comment? Thanks.

EMAIL ENDS

In reply to this I wrote:

There is actually no contradiction here. Practice and effort are certainly necessary, but why? What can be easier than knowing and being what we actually are? So why do we need practice and effort to be what we always are?

The problem is that we as ego do not want to be what we actually are, because to be what we actually are we need to give up everything else, including ourself as ego. Therefore practice and effort are required because they are the means (sādhana) by which we can reduce our desires and attachments for other things and thereby become willing to surrender ourself entirely.

So what practice and effort are required? The most effective means to reduce our desires and attachments are self-investigation and self-surrender, so the முறை (muṟai: means or sādhana) that Bhagavan referred to in verse 622 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai is any means whatsoever, including self-investigation and self-surrender.

Self-investigation and self-surrender are both necessary, but what do we achieve by them? Nothing whatsoever, because we end up just being what we always have been. However, the purpose of self-investigation and self-surrender is not to achieve anything but to lose everything, and for that they are the only entirely effective means.

Josef Bruckner said...

By losing everything who will be the winner ?

Josef Bruckner said...

By losing everything who will be the loser ?

Michael James said...

Josef, there will be neither any winner nor any loser, only what is (uḷḷadu).

Aham said...

.


The ego in its purity is experienced in the intervals between two states or between two thoughts. The ego is like the worm which leaves one hold only after it catches another. Its true nature is known when it is out of contact with objects or thoughts. You should realise this interval as the abiding, unchangeable Reality, your true Being. (Maharshi's Gospel,pg.28)

That [pure] state of mind in between two thoughts, is the supreme Self. (GVK,v760)


So there should be no confusion as to what your true nature is and where to find it.
But will you?


.

Aham said...

.

"the purpose of self-investigation and self-surrender is not to achieve anything but to lose everything"

Wonderful Mr James!

.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
thank you for your reply even to my mind's questions shot from the hip.:-)
Obviously I took no account of the fact that the loss of "everything" has the signification of its dissolution and thus the remaining of the substratum, that what is (uḷḷadu).
Of course the loss of "everything" does not create automatically on the other hand any increase of that "everything" - as I evidently imagined - but dissolves residue-free/ without leaving any trace.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael,
There is a contradiction in your email reply above.

The questioner asks: is he referring to some other way than self inquiry?
You translate verse GVK 622 as "any means whatsoever, including self-investigation and self surrender".
Then you jump to "self-investigation... the only entirely effective means".

How did we get from "any means whatsoever.. INCLUDING self-investigation" to "self-investigation ... the ONLY ...means"?

GVK 622 "any means whatsoever" is certainly not the same as "self-investigation is the only way".
You've made a presumption.

The "any means whatsoever" is a link into Talks where Bhagavan repeatedly says such things like "[instructions] differ according to the temperaments of the individuals and according to the spiritual ripeness of their minds. There cannot be any instruction en masse."

Actual scholarship requires open mindedness and consideration of alternatives?

Rajat Sancheti said...

In what sense is the I-thought, ego, the 'primal thought'? What precisely is special about this I-thought, and in what way is it like any other thought? If ego, the thinker, is only the thought called 'I', how does a mere thought, manage to think or perceive? Or is it a thought only in its own view; 'ourself' is not a thought, surely? Since it has been said that there can only be one thought at a time in the mind, how does the I-thought after rising, co-exist along with other thoughts, if it does?
I see that clarity can be found only through enquiry and not in words, but I would still like to understand this intellectually.

Aseem Srivastava said...

Rajat Sancheti,

In what sense is the I-thought, ego, the 'primal thought'?

Ego is the primal thought as it the first thought said to ever rise and because all thoughts rise from and in the view of ego.

What precisely is special about this I-thought, and in what way is it like any other thought?

What is special about ego which distinguishes it from any other thought, is that ego is a mixture of self-awareness and awareness of thoughts/phenomena, and consequently it is the subject who perceives all other thoughts.

If ego, the thinker, is only the thought called 'I', how does a mere thought, manage to think or perceive? Or is it a thought only in its own view; 'ourself' is not a thought, surely?

Oneself - "I" or "I am" - is not a thought. However, ego - "I am this" - the subject who perceives all thoughts, appears to be a thought, but only in its own view.

Since it has been said that there can only be one thought at a time in the mind, how does the I-thought after rising, co-exist along with other thoughts, if it does?

The logical problem that you perceive here will cease to exist, when it is clarified that though there can be only one thought at a time in the mind, the mind - used here to refer to ego - itself is a thought. All thoughts rise from and in the view of the first thought - ego. Therefore, ego not only co-exists with other thoughts, but it is also the immediate source from which they rise and in to which they subside.

Josef Bruckner said...

Rajat Sancheti,
regarding the distinctive feature of the "I-thought, ego, the 'primal thought' ":
the 'I'-thought is conscious(ness) whereas other thoughts are not.

Rajat Sancheti said...

Thanks for the helpful and clear replies Aseem Srivastava and Josef Bruckner. The ego, I-thought, seems to be completely unlike any other thought. I seem to be quite different from the thoughts I think all day. But why is ego called I-thought, what is thought-like about it? Is it because everything whatsoever is only thought, so how else to describe this ego except as thought?
It seems extremely difficult to conceive how this whole universe and billions of galaxies and different people with their complex lives, different life forms, etc, were all imagined by 'I-thought. How to see and understand this?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan doesn’t ask to us believe anything that we do not already know

We can reasonably doubt all spiritual teachings, but if there is one spiritual teaching which we can reasonably believe, it is Bhagavan’s teachings. Why should we believe Bhagavan rather than anyone else? One, his teachings are so clear and logical. Two, they are based on our own experience. Bhagavan doesn’t ask us to believe anything that we do not already know. What he asks us to do is to analyse our own experience and when we do so, we find that what Bhagavan teaches us is perfectly reasonable.

For example, it is natural for us to believe that the world exists when we do not perceive it, but if we think deeply about it, we have no evidence to prove this. Bhagavan has pointed this out to us. We can detect many inconsistencies in almost all spiritual teachings or even if these teachings seem consistent, they are almost invariably asking us to believe things that we do not already know. So to accept what they say, we have to believe their words. In other words, it requires faith to believe what they teach us.

All we need to do is to be ready to doubt everything. There is only one thing which we cannot reasonably doubt and that is ‘I am’. We are referring to the basic awareness that we actually are. That is the one thing which cannot reasonably doubt because we need to exist before we can doubt anything. So that is the only one thing that Bhagavan asks us to believe. He asks to doubt everything else. He asks us not to believe anything else and he gives us good reasons why should not believe anything else.

So Bhagavan’s teachings are in a quite a different league to almost all other spiritual teachings. Even if you read the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras, all the old texts on which the old advaita philosophy is based, we can find so many logical inconsistencies. We can ask so many questions which are not adequately answered. That does not mean that those old teachings are wrong. They are given to suit many different levels of understanding. Even Bhagavan gave teachings to suit different levels of understanding.

• Edited extract from the video: 2018-12-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses simplicity and clarity of Bhagavan’s teachings (31:00)

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
"Therefore practice and effort are required because they are the means (sādhana) by which we can reduce our desires and attachments for other things and thereby become willing to surrender ourself entirely."

...thereby become willing to surrender ourself entirely is in my opinion the crucial occurrence. If we do not achieve this willing we our landing will be in the 'nowhere' which is certainly not in the here and now.

Sanjay Lohia said...

It is Bhagavan’s job to finish off the job which he has begun, and he will surely do so

Bhagavan knows how imperfect we are but still, he has brought us to his path. So now it is his job to finish off the work. We will surely fail again and again and again, but Bhagavan will succeed. So we should leave even the worry about our imperfections to Bhagavan.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-12-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses simplicity and clarity of Bhagavan’s teachings (1:57)

Reflections: Yes, Bhagavan will succeed because how can the supreme power (chit-shakti) ever fail? Nothing is impossible for this power. However, we should let this power work as it is meant to work. By rising as this ego and by desiring and being attached to this and that we obstruct its workings. But, eventually, it will prevail. Our sadhana is also its responsibility.

Bhagavan has put us on this path, he is making us travel on it and he will make us finally reach our destination. We should recognise the might of Bhagavan's power and remain quiet. This is what sadhana is all about.

Sanjay Lohia said...

In the spiritual path, we shouldn’t be seeking to achieve anything but seeking to give up everything

In the spiritual path, we shouldn’t be seeking to achieve anything but seeking to give up everything. If we are able to do so, that will be our greatest achievement. That is why Bhagavan calls it the path of self-surrender. Surrender isn’t about achieving anything; it is about giving up everything.

If we think we will achieve anything, we will be disappointed because there is nothing to achieve. Whatever we achieve is not real, or whatever we hope to achieve will not be real. So the only real achievement is giving up everything. So we shouldn’t be asking. ‘What have I achieved?’ but ‘What have I given up?’ – ‘To what extent am I free of desires, attachments, fears and so on?’ All these things are reinforcing our ego and keeping it alive.

So ultimately we are seeking to give up ourself, give up ego which we now seem to be. If we give up ego we give up everything and what then remains is alone real. So it is nothing new which we are going to attain.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-12-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses simplicity and clarity of Bhagavan’s teachings (1:38)

Aseem Srivastava said...

Rajat Sancheti,

But why is ego called I-thought, what is thought-like about it?

If I am not mistaken, in Bhagavan's literature the word that is translated into English as 'I-thought' is more precisely translated as 'the thought called I'.

The thought called 'I' = ego = 'I am this'. This is distinct from the intransitive awareness 'I' = 'I am'.

What is thought-like about ego ('I am this') is 'this'.


Is it because everything whatsoever is only thought, so how else to describe this ego except as thought?

Yes and No. Since 'I am this' is not 'I am', ego is described as a thought. However, as already discussed, ego is the primal thought and distinct from all other thoughts, as it is a mixture of self-awareness with awareness of thoughts.


It seems extremely difficult to conceive how this whole universe and billions of galaxies and different people with their complex lives, different life forms, etc, were all imagined by 'I-thought. How to see and understand this?

How to understand this? Its very easy. We simply need to analyse our own experience in dream. The seemingly infinite dream-universe with billions of dream-galaxies and different dream-people with their complex lives etc, are found to imaginary upon waking up.

How to see this? If by 'see' you mean 'experience', then the only way is to be aware of ourself in isolation from anything else.

Josef Bruckner said...

Rajat Sancheti,
"How to see and understand this?"
Is there any need for the mind to understand this, let alone its laking ability ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Aseem,
Thanks, that was a very useful discussion about "I-thought".
It helps reveal subtleties of what Bhagavan actually meant.

Regarding Rajat's comment: "It seems extremely difficult to conceive how this whole universe and billions of galaxies and different people with their complex lives, different life forms, etc, were all imagined by 'I-thought. How to see and understand this?"

There are a number of descriptions available. I posted above a link to Brunton's comments on "Mentalism".
Barry Long's description in "The Origin's of Man and the Universe" is spectacular.
Part of the issue I have with MJ's cosmology is that he makes no distinction between the very limited individual mind & the incredibly vast cosmic mind.

Aseem, you say "then the only way is to be aware of ourself in isolation from anything else"

The way is to be aware of self ("I am").
Whether or not the world and body continue in awareness is inconsequential as long as attention remains inward.

However you practice sitting meditation... when you are established with awareness firmly and stably within... then open the eyes. While awareness continues to be anchored within... what does it matter that objects are seen?

When "ourself" is known (attention within)... this IS in isolation whether objects are still present in awareness... or not.
The process is to isolate self (undistracted attention within) from the habitual illusion that "I" is associated with or dependent on objects. Choiceless awareness, awareness which is not involved with, does not take a position with, does not go outward into objects.
Then the ego thought "I am this [association with an object]" no longer occurs... just "I am" in isolation.

How else would one realize the translation in section 15 above:
"What the ātma-jñāni sees and what the ajñāni sees is exactly the same, but what they each see it as is different. Whereas the ātma-jñāni sees it as it actually is, which is just ‘I’, the one infinite, indivisible and hence formless reality, the ajñāni sees it as a multitude of forms, and sees ‘I’ as being limited to the extent of one of those forms, namely a particular body."

Sanjay Lohia said...

For you, who bear [carry or support everything], what is a burden? - from verse 9 of Sri Arunachala Padigam

In the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar Bhagavan says, ‘Even though one places whatever amount of burden on God, the entire amount he will bear’. What Bhagavan is implying is that ‘you are bearing the burden of this entire universe, so what can be a burden for you? My little salvation cannot be a burden for you. It is only you who sustain everything, who protect everything’ – in that sense Bhagavan is talking about ‘bearing everything’.

He takes responsibility for all of us. He nourishes us and liking a loving mother is taking care of all our needs. In the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar?, Bhagavan gives an analogy – ‘Though we know the train is bearing all the burden, why should we who go travelling in it, instead of remaining happily leaving our small luggage placed on the train, suffer bearing the luggage on our head’.

We think we bear so much responsibility – everything depends on us; we need to work to pay the bills; we need to look after our families – to do this or that. But Bhagavan says all that responsibility is already borne by God. God has already planned who is to get food when and how, so we do not have to worry about that. Whatever has to happen in our lives has already been ordained.

So truly speaking we need not carry any burden – neither our own nor that of others. We should be like a passenger on the train who happily places his luggage aside and relaxes, knowing that the train is carrying him or her and their luggage to its destination. So we should surrender completely and leave all our worldly and spiritual burdens to Bhagavan. As long as we rise as ego, we, knowing or unknowingly, carry our burdens because the very nature of ego is to cling to things other than itself. So in order to surrender our entire burden, we need to cease rising as ego.

Therefore ceasing rising as ego is the supreme sadhana. So long as we attend to other things we are attached to it. If we want to give up our attachments to other things, we have to cling firmly to ourself. Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar?:

Being completely absorbed in ātma-niṣṭhā [self-abidance], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than ātma-cintanā [thought of oneself or self-attentiveness], alone is giving oneself to God.

So long as we are attending to anything other than ourself our surrender is incomplete. In order to surrender ourself completely, we need to give no room to the rising of any thought other than self-attentiveness.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-12-08 Hampstead Heath: Michael James discusses verse 9 of Śrī Aruṇācala Padigam (15:00)



Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
"Being completely absorbed in ātma-niṣṭhā [self-abidance], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than ātma-cintanā [thought of oneself or self-attentiveness], alone is giving oneself to God."

When usual thoughts come up they do not disappear on my order.
On the other hand ātma-cintanā does not reign on my command. So therefore is always first a kind of struggle between normal thoughts and self-attentiveness before the latter gets the upper hand over disturbing thoughts. Unfortunately my practice to keep me in enduring self-investigation is still not done so constantly as necessary.

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
"So long as we are attending to anything other than ourself our surrender is incomplete. In order to surrender ourself completely, we need to give no room to the rising of any thought other than self-attentiveness."
Unfortunately at present I am far away from being able to prevent me from rising of any thought other than self-attentiveness. But in my innermost core there is - or let me say it cautiously - seems to be the indelible conviction to remain one beautiful day irrevocably in pure self-awareness alone.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Josef, you wonder, ‘When usual thoughts come up they do not disappear on my order’. We think thoughts because we want to wish to think about them. Simple! Thoughts do not originate from somewhere up there; they originate from ourself. When we rise as ego we come under the sway of our thoughts. So in this sense, we do order the thoughts to come. If this is the case we can also make these thoughts to disappear. How? It is by not rising as ego.

If our entire attention is wholly focused on ourself, we will not produce any thoughts. However, are we free to focus our entire attention on ourself? It may seem difficult now because of our present dense desires and attachments. However, it is we who have these desires and attachments, and we can surrender them if we wish to do so. So in the ultimate analyse, we indeed are free to focus our entire attention on ourself here and now.

So ultimately, as Michael often tells us, our sadhana is a fight between the two elements of our will. It is a fight between all our objective desires and our love for ourself. This is like a tug of war. Obviously, our love for ourself will eventually triumph because only this love is real. Till then let us enjoy this tug of war. When this war is also part of maya, why should we be anxious about its outcome?

In the end, we will realise that there was never any sadhana in the first place because the ego which was supposedly doing sadhana was itself non-existent. A non-existent entity fighting a non-existent war! Isn’t it a laughable situation.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We see so many problems in this world only because we project and see this world

If we look out but do not care about the world, we will be totally heartless. Terrible things are happening – wars, ethnic cleansing and what not. There is starvation at places. The world is full of plenty but still people are starving because of the greed of some people. So if we look out, we cannot but be anguished seeing the condition of the world.

But where was the mistake? It is ‘because we see the world’ or ‘because we look at the world’. So if we want to be free of anguish which we feel when we look at the world, we have to ignore the world and look at ourself – see what we really are. When ego, which sees this world, dissolves, this dream will dissolve along with us and what will then remain is anadi, akhanda, ananta sat-chit-ananda. That is what is real.

So why to look outwards and feel anguish at the condition of this world? Why dream and weep about what we see in the dream. The real way to care both for ourself and for others is to wake up, and we can do so only by turning our entire attention within.

So Bhagavan does not tell us ‘do not care about the world’, he tells us ‘do not see the world’. Or he tells us ‘care about this world so intensely that you want to end all its suffering’, which is possible only by turning within and waking up from this dream.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-04-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 15 (1:07)

Michael James said...

Roger, I have replied to your comment of 19 December 2018 at 04:56 in a separate article: Why is self-investigation the only means to eradicate ego but not the only means to achieve citta-śuddhi?

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
"When ego, which sees this world, dissolves, this dream will dissolve along with us and what will then remain is anadi, akhanda, ananta sat-chit-ananda. That is what is real."

At present I am not able to relive and comprehend that statement because I do not see that the dissolution of the ego which is now identified with my person is tantamount to the annihilation of other persons ego - even if of course you rapidly would object that there is only one ego.

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
"...So we should surrender completely and leave all our worldly and spiritual burdens to Bhagavan...".
I cannot agree with you on that point.
For instance when I need to look for a new room for my family in a district where the rents are still affordable I myself must search for the room. I certainly cannot lean back myself and leave this worldly burden of flat-hunting to Bhagavan. At most I can pray that Bhagavan as my real nature would support my searching for a flat.

Michael James said...

Unknown, I have replied to your first two comments on this article in a separate article: Which is a more reasonable and useful explanation: dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda or sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda?

Unknown said...

Mr. James,

Thank you sir and I am much obliged to you sincerely for taking your precious time to do so. I promise to take the time to read it in detail.

Unknown said...

Hello Michael,

Have read your response, and your article here in detail.
Still contradiction related to "no phenomena because there is no ego", and "all phenomena as oneself because there is no ego" remains. How can jani and ajani see the exact same thing? From a point of view of a jani yes certainly there is only Self. But ajani takes the body for himself, sees and wants to enjoy the world.

I did understand one thing. That the truth is simple if we are willing to accept. Guess I am not willing to accept.
Best regards,
Nikola

Josef Bruckner said...

Unknown - Nikola,
what is the use of the same google-account for different persons ?
(See some "Unknown" is used also in comments on the article of Sunday, 30 December 2018,
Which is a more reasonable and useful explanation: dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda or sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda?

By the way it should be spelled "jnani/ajnani".

Michael James said...

Nikola, regarding your question about how the jñāni and the ajñāni can see exactly the same thing, there is only one thing for us to see, namely our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure, infinite, indivisible and immutable awareness. That is why it is called advaita, non-twoness. It is ‘ēkam ēva advitīyam’, one only without a second. As Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]’.

Therefore this alone is what is seen by both the jñāni and the ajñāni. Both see exactly the same thing, but whereas the jñāni sees it as it is, the ajñāni sees it as ego and phenomena, subject and objects, perceiver and things perceived. What they see is the same, but what they see it as is different.

Two people see a rope, but whereas one sees it as a rope, the other sees it as a snake. What they see is exactly the same thing, but what they see it as is different.

Unknown said...

Thank you Michael. Yes I understand intelectualy but in experience not really. I see phenomena, object and subject. My 'perception' of the Self seems very unrelated, parallel and not interfering with the world. I could say that the world is super imposed on it, but still there is this strong aspect of no connection between the two.

Josef, this is my first comment on the site. Not sure how to enter the name.. Blogger writes unknown when one uses gmail account, or I have the same glitch like this person/account that you mistake me with. And thanks for the spelling corrections.

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

Hey, using "Unknown" as account/identity hides the things from one another and causes some needless confusion.

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