Friday, 22 March 2019

Is it possible to have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’ or to watch the disappearance of the I-thought?

Last year a friend wrote to me saying that it seems distortions and misinterpretations of Bhagavan’s teachings are inevitable, and that nowadays the internet is sadly inundated with misinformation and confused ideas about them, and concluding, ‘I suppose this is the nature of mind’, to which I replied:
Yes, the mind is māyā, so its nature is to distort and confuse, making what is simple seem complicated, what is clear seem clouded, what is plain seem obscure, what is obvious into something mysterious and what is subtle into something gross. The only way for us to overcome this natural tendency of the mind is to persistently turn within to see what we actually are, which is not this mind but just the clear light of pure and infinite self-awareness.
As an example of the way in which Bhagavan’s teachings are being distorted and misrepresented, my friend referred to a portion from 13.31 to 18.04 of a video that David Godman made about ‘Papaji’ (H W L Poonja) and asked me for my view about what David narrates there, because in his view what Poonja said is a misunderstanding of Bhagavan’s teachings. I wrote a reply to him, but when I reviewed my reply recently with the intention to adapt it to form this article, I listened again to that portion of the video and decided that it raised other important issues that require clarification, particularly with regard to the idea that Poonja could somehow give people an experience that bypassed the need for ‘a rather intense, vigilant practice that took place over a long period of time’, which David acknowledged (at 13.53) was what Bhagavan used to recommend, so I will discuss this latter idea in my next article, whereas this article is adapted and elaborated from the reply I wrote to my friend.
  1. Can either ego or our real nature have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’?
  2. Temporary disappearance of the I-thought is manōlaya, which is of no spiritual benefit whatsoever
  3. When the I-thought disappears, there is no one remaining to experience anything
  4. When the I-thought disappears, nothing happens, because there is no one to whom anything could happen, so no words can describe what remains there
  5. All phenomena are just a mental projection, because they do not exist except in the deluded view of ego, so their appearance has nothing to do with disappearance of ego
  6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: if we investigate ego keenly enough, it will cease to exist, and everything else will cease to exist along with it
  7. What is to investigate ego is only ego itself, so when it disappears there will be no one left to see its disappearance
  8. Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam verse 2: our real nature cannot be revealed by any means other than silence, which is what remains when we look within to see who the seer is
1. Can either ego or our real nature have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’?

I have just watched that portion of the video and, yes, you are right, what is said there is a complete misrepresentation of Bhagavan’s teachings. How can anyone ever have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’?

Who is to have such an experience? It cannot be ego, because ego is just an erroneous self-awareness, an awareness of ourself as a body, which is not what we actually are, so when we experience ourself as we actually are there will be no ego.

So then what else could have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’? Our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) cannot have such an experience, because as ātma-svarūpa we are always aware of ourself as we actually are and are never aware of anything else. Ātma-svarūpa is eternal and immutable, so for it there is no time and hence there can be no temporary experience.

A temporary experience can occur only in the view of ego, so by claiming (at 17.35) that Poonja had the ability to make people ‘wake up to a direct but temporary experience of the self’ David implied that ego can experience its real nature, whereas in fact ego is what obscures and distorts our awareness of our real nature. Since it is the mistaken awareness ‘I am this body’, the very nature of ego is to obscure our real nature, so as ego we can never experience our real nature (which is what David referred to as ‘the self’).

If we look at ourself keenly enough to see what we actually are, at that very instant ego will be eradicated for ever, just as if we look at an illusory snake carefully enough to see that it is just a rope, at that very instant our belief that it is a snake will be destroyed forever. Having once seen that it is a rope, we can never again mistake it to be a snake. Likewise, having once seen our real nature, we can never again mistake ourself to be anything else, so ego is thereby eradicated once and for all.

Therefore, since we cannot experience our real nature and survive as ego, we can never have a temporary experience of our real nature. When we investigate ourself keenly enough to see what we actually are, we will see that we have always been that, and that therefore there has never been any such thing as ego, but until we investigate ourself keenly enough we will continue to see ourself through the distorted perspective of ego and will therefore seem to be not aware of ourself as we actually are.

It could be argued that sleep is a temporary experience of our real nature, but to express it in these terms would be a conceptual confusion. What we experience during sleep is only our real nature, because in sleep ego is absent, and hence awareness of all other things is also absent. Therefore what experiences our real nature in sleep is only our real nature, but our real nature’s awareness of itself is eternal, not temporary. Therefore our experience or awareness of our real nature in sleep seems to be temporary only from the perspective of ourself as ego in waking and dream.

Because ego is absent in sleep, our experience of our real nature in that state does not destroy it. In order to be destroyed, ego must be present, and it must turn its entire attention back to face itself alone. As soon as it faces itself alone, it will experience perfect clarity of pure self-awareness, which is its real nature (ātma-svarūpa), but it will thereby be destroyed instantly and forever.

Therefore as ego we can never experience our real nature, because as soon as we experience what we actually are, we will have ceased to be ego. Either we experience ourself as ego or as our real nature. We can never experience ourself as both simultaneously.

However, though as ego we can never experience our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), we can and should try to do so, because only by trying to do so will ego be eradicated. That is, by trying to experience our real nature we will be eradicated in the process, and what then remains is not a temporary experience but only pure self-awareness, which is eternal, immutable and infinite, and therefore never not aware of itself as it actually is.

Hence we can never have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’. So long as any experience is temporary, it is not an experience of our real nature. It can only be an experience of something other than ourself, something that appears and disappears.

2. Temporary disappearance of the I-thought is manōlaya, which is of no spiritual benefit whatsoever

In the clause (at 17.30) prior to ‘and wake up to a direct but temporary experience of the self’ David claimed that Poonja was able to make people ‘eradicate their I temporarily’, and shortly before that (at 17.00) he said, ‘And simply through the power of his presence he could make your I-thought disappear, and he could give you the experience that countless decades of practice sometimes never did’, but any state in which ego (the thought called I) is temporarily absent, such as sleep, is a state of manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind), and as Bhagavan often explained, being in manōlaya can never help one progress on the spiritual path. To illustrate this he used to tell the story of a yōgi living on the banks of the Ganga who was able to go into a form of manōlaya called nirvikalpa samādhi for long periods of time. One day when he woke up from such samādhi he felt thirsty, so he asked his disciple to fetch him some water from the river, but before his disciple could return he again immersed himself in samādhi and remained in that state for three hundred years. On waking up, however, the first thing he did was to ask angrily for water, thinking that his disciple had delayed to bring it.

As Bhagavan explained, this story illustrates that not even the most superficial thought in one’s mind is destroyed in manōlaya, no matter how long one may remain in it. The seeds that sprout as thoughts are viṣaya-vāsanās, inclinations or desires to experience phenomena (viṣayas), things other than oneself, so to eradicate thoughts we need to eradicate the viṣaya-vāsanās that give rise to them.

We have created our viṣaya-vāsanās by choosing to attend to and cherish phenomena, and we nourish and strengthen them by continuing to attend to and cherish phenomena, so we can weaken and eradicate them only by choosing to attend to and cherish only ourself instead of any phenomena. This is why we can weaken and eradicate viṣaya-vāsanās only in waking and dream and not in sleep or any other state of manōlaya.

Nirvikalpa samādhi is generally believed to be in some way superior to or more spiritually beneficial than sleep, but essentially there is no difference between them, because they are both states of manōlaya, and in the absence of mind there are no differences, because differences exist only in the view of ego, the perceiving element and hence root of the mind. The only difference between sleep and nirvikalpa samādhi is not in the states themselves but in how one enters them. Whereas one falls asleep due to tiredness, one subsides in nirvikalpa samādhi due to some artificial means such as prāṇāyāma (breath-restraint) or other techniques of yōga, but whatever may have caused it, the resulting state of manōlaya is the same.

Therefore the yōgi in the story told by Bhagavan was in effect just sleeping for three hundred years, so in all that time he did not achieve any spiritual benefit. He woke up with exactly the same vāsanās that he had before subsiding into nirvikalpa samādhi, and none of them were weakened or diminished even to the slightest extent.

This is why Bhagavan taught us that we should avoid subsiding into nirvikalpa samādhi of that type. In order to be able to continue waking or dreaming we need to sleep, and we may also subside into manōlaya due to anaesthesia, head injury or other such causes, but there is no need for us to be in nirvikalpa samādhi, and no benefit in being so. Therefore if our aim is to eradicate ego, we should not seek to be in manōlaya more than necessary, because it is only in waking and dream that we can weaken our viṣaya-vāsanās and eventually eradicate all of them along with ego, their root.

Therefore if, as David claimed, Poonja was able to make people ‘eradicate their I temporarily’, what is the use of that? Even an anaesthetist or a hypnotist can make us subside in a state of manōlaya and thereby remove our ego temporarily, but we do not imagine that we would gain any spiritual benefit thereby, so why should we imagine that having our ego removed temporarily by whatever power Poonja was supposed to have would have been of any spiritual benefit?

3. When the I-thought disappears, there is no one remaining to experience anything

By saying (at 17.00), ‘And simply through the power of his presence he could make your I-thought disappear, and he could give you the experience that countless decades of practice sometimes never did’, David implies firstly that the aim of our practice is to gain some sort of experience, and secondly that there can be an experience after the disappearance of the I-thought. Though the state of self-knowledge (ātma-jñāna) is sometimes described as ‘self-experience’ (ātmānubhava or ātmānubhuti), it is not an experience like any other experience, because what experiences any other experience is ego, whereas self-knowledge or self-experience is our real nature, which is what remains when ego has ceased to exist.

Every other experience entails three factors (called tripuṭi in Sanskrit and muppudi in Tamil), namely the experiencer, whatever is experienced, and the experiencing. The experiencer in all cases is ego, the I-thought, so in the absence of ego there can be no experience in the conventional sense of the term. As Bhagavan says in verse 9 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
இரட்டைகண் முப்புடிக ளென்றுமொன்று பற்றி
யிருப்பவா மவ்வொன்றே தென்று — கருத்தினுட்
கண்டாற் கழலுமவை கண்டவ ரேயுண்மை
கண்டார் கலங்காரே காண்.

iraṭṭaigaṇ muppuḍiga ḷeṉḏṟumoṉḏṟu paṯṟi
yiruppavā mavvoṉḏṟē teṉḏṟu — karuttiṉuṭ
kaṇḍāṯ kaṙalumavai kaṇḍava rēyuṇmai
kaṇḍār kalaṅgārē kāṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: இரட்டைகள் முப்புடிகள் என்றும் ஒன்று பற்றி இருப்பவாம். அவ் ஒன்று ஏது என்று கருத்தின் உள் கண்டால், கழலும் அவை. கண்டவரே உண்மை கண்டார்; கலங்காரே. காண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): iraṭṭaigaḷ muppuḍigaḷ eṉḏṟum oṉḏṟu paṯṟi iruppavām. a-vv-oṉḏṟu ēdu eṉḏṟu karuttiṉ-uḷ kaṇḍāl, kaṙalum avai. kaṇḍavarē uṇmai kaṇḍār; kalaṅgārē. kāṇ.

அன்வயம்: இரட்டைகள் முப்புடிகள் என்றும் ஒன்று பற்றி இருப்பவாம். அவ் ஒன்று ஏது என்று கருத்தின் உள் கண்டால், அவை கழலும். கண்டவரே உண்மை கண்டார்; கலங்காரே. காண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): iraṭṭaigaḷ muppuḍigaḷ eṉḏṟum oṉḏṟu paṯṟi iruppavām. a-vv-oṉḏṟu ēdu eṉḏṟu karuttiṉ-uḷ kaṇḍāl, avai kaṙalum. kaṇḍavarē uṇmai kaṇḍār; kalaṅgārē. kāṇ.

English translation: Dyads and triads exist always holding one thing. If one sees within the mind what that one thing is, they will cease to exist. Only those who have seen have seen the reality. See, they will not be confused.

Explanatory paraphrase: Dyads [pairs of opposites] and triads [the three factors of transitive knowledge or awareness, namely the perceiver, the perceived and the perceiving, or the experiencer, the experienced and the experiencing] exist [by] always holding [or depending on] one thing [namely ego, in whose view alone they seem to exist]. If [by looking keenly at oneself] one sees within the mind what that one thing is, they will cease to exist [because their support and foundation, ego, will itself cease to exist]. Only those who have seen [this cessation of all dyads and triads along with their root, ego] have seen the reality. See, they will not be confused.
In the case of self-experience (ātmānubhava) there are not three factors but only one, namely pure awareness, because pure awareness is aware only of itself, and its awareness of itself is not other than itself. It itself is therefore what is aware, what it is aware of, and its awareness of itself, so it is ēkam ēva advitīyam, ‘one only without a second’.

Therefore ‘self-experience’ is just another term used to describe our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure awareness and hence always aware of nothing other than itself. It is what remains when ego has ceased to exist, but it is eternal, so it exists as it is whether ego seems to exist or not. It is therefore not something to be gained. All we need do is eradicate ego by looking at ourself very keenly, and then we will see that nothing other than ‘self-experience’, ‘self-knowledge’ or pure self-awareness has ever existed.

Therefore our aim when practising self-investigation and self-surrender is not to gain any new experience, but is only to see what we, the experiencer, actually are. When we investigate ourself keenly enough, we will see that we are just pure awareness, and have never been anything other than that, so there was never any experiencer, and hence nothing was ever experienced.

If by the power of his presence Poonja had actually been able to make the I-thought disappear, there would be no one remaining to whom he could give any experience, and he himself would no longer exist to give anything to anyone. The I-thought is ego, in the absence of which nothing remains other than our real nature, which always experiences itself and never experiences anything else whatsoever.

4. When the I-thought disappears, nothing happens, because there is no one to whom anything could happen, so no words can describe what remains there

From all that David described, it seems extremely doubtful that Poonja did actually make people ‘eradicate their I temporarily’ or ‘could make your I-thought disappear’, because what results when ego is temporarily absent is a state like sleep, in which there is no awareness of any world or phenomena of any kind whatsoever. So long as we are aware of phenomena, we must be present as ego, because what experiences phenomena is not ourself as we actually are (our real nature, ātma-svarūpa) but only ourself as ego.

As Bhagavan says in the first two sentences of 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’, so if Poonja did make anyone’s ego cease temporarily, everything else would have ceased along with it, and what would have remained would only have been pure awareness: awareness that is never aware of anything other than itself.

David says (at 15.57) that if you talked to people after they had seen their ‘I’ disappear, ‘They talk a very advaitic description of what had happened to them’, but if ego disappears, nothing happens, and there is no one to whom anything could happen. The first happening and root of all other happenings is the rising of ego, so the disappearance of ego entails a cessation of all happenings.

Happenings occur in waking and dream because ego is present to experience them, but no happenings occur in sleep, because ego is not present to experience anything. Except in purely negative terms, can we describe what we experience in sleep? We can say what we do not experience in sleep, but no words can describe what we do experience then.

What we experience in sleep or any other state of manōlaya is just pure self-awareness, awareness of absolutely nothing other than ourself, but can we describe the experience of self-awareness? We all know what it is to be aware of ourself (even though in waking and dream our awareness of ourself is mixed and confused with awareness of whatever person we currently seem to be), but our fundamental awareness of ourself is not something that we can describe in words.

David says, ‘They talk a very advaitic description of what had happened to them’, but what does an ‘advaitic description’ mean? Can there be any such thing as an advaitic description of anything? Words can describe duality, but not non-duality, as Bhagavan implies in verse 25 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ:
இத்துவித பாடையி லேயே வினாவிடைகள்
அத்துவிதத் தின்றே யவை.

idduvita bhāṭaiyi lēyē viṉāviḍaigaḷ
attuvitat tiṉṟē yavai
.

பதச்சேதம்: இத் துவித பாடையிலேயே வினா விடைகள்; அத்துவிதத்து இன்றே அவை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): id duvita bhāṭaiyilēyē viṉā viḍaigaḷ; adduvitattu iṉḏṟē avai.

அன்வயம்: வினா விடைகள் இத் துவித பாடையிலேயே; அத்துவிதத்து அவை இன்றே.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): viṉā viḍaigaḷ id duvita bhāṭaiyilēyē; adduvitattu avai iṉḏṟē.

English translation: Questions and answers [can occur] only in this language of dvaita [duality]; in advaita [non-duality] they do not exist.
As Bhagavan often pointed out, the language of non-duality (advaita) is only silence, because silence is the very nature of the non-dual experience of pure self-awareness, so it alone can describe it. Any description in words can only be a description of something other than the experience of non-duality.

5. All phenomena are just a mental projection, because they do not exist except in the deluded view of ego, so their appearance has nothing to do with disappearance of ego

After saying, ‘They talk a very advaitic description of what had happened to them’, David then says (at 16.03) that Poonja once told him: ‘When people have this experience, you can actually see streams of light radiating out of their head. Enlightenment is quite a good description of this. Because there’s a kind of firework explosion that you can see at a subtle level. People can’t fake this. They get it. They have the experience, and there’s this kind of light explosion around their head’.

This is certainly not an ‘advaitic description’, nor does what he describes have any relation to the true experience of non-duality or to the disappearance of ego. What he describes are phenomena, and when ego disappears there is no one remaining to see phenomena of any kind whatsoever. All phenomena are just an illusory appearance, so they do not exist except in the deluded view of ego, and hence in the absence of ego there are no phenomena.

The appearance of phenomena entails the fundamental duality of subject and objects, perceiver and things perceived. All phenomena are objects of perception, and the subject who perceives them is only ego, so ego and phenomena co-exist. Neither can exist without the other, as Bhagavan implies 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’.

He also implies the same in the first sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, ‘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 the final four sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
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 [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 refers to here as ‘நானென்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivu), the ‘thought called I’, and as ‘தன்மை’ (taṉmai), the ‘first person’, is ego, the perceiver of all phenomena, and what he refers to as ‘ஏனைய நினைவுகள்’ (ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ), ‘other thoughts’, and as ‘முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள்’ (muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ), ‘second and third persons’, is phenomena of any kind whatsoever, because what he means by ‘நினைவுகள்’ (niṉaivugaḷ), ‘thoughts’ or ‘ideas’, is all kinds of mental phenomena, including perceptions, memories, emotions, desires, fears and so on, and as he said in the previous paragraph, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai), ‘Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world’. Therefore what he implies in these final four sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? is that phenomena appear only after ego appears, and that without ego they do not exist.

Even if we take for granted that Poonja was telling the truth when he implied that when people had a certain experience in his presence he could ‘actually see streams of light radiating out of their head’, ‘a kind of firework explosion that you can see at a subtle level’, ‘this kind of light explosion around their head’, does this have any spiritual significance? He said, ‘Enlightenment is quite a good description of this’, but in a spiritual context ‘enlightenment’ is usually understood to mean attainment of self-knowledge (ātma-jñāna), so do the phenomena that he described, ‘this kind of light explosion around their head’, have anything to do with attainment of self-knowledge?

According to Bhagavan attainment of self-knowledge is nothing other than eradication of ego, and when ego is eradicated all phenomena cease to exist along with it, so it is not clear what connection Poonja imagined there could be between the ‘streams of light radiating out of their head’ and ‘enlightenment’ in a spiritual sense. If he did ‘actually see streams of light radiating out of their head’, that would have been his own mental projection, or as Bhagavan would have described it, a ‘மனோமயம் ஆம் காட்சி’ (maṉōmayam ām kāṭci), a ‘mind-constituted appearance’ or ‘mental vision’, because according to him even seeing God as something other than oneself is just seeing a ‘mind-constituted appearance’, as he says in verse 20 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
காணுந் தனைவிட்டுத் தான்கடவு ளைக்காணல்
காணு மனோமயமாங் காட்சிதனைக் — காணுமவன்
றான்கடவுள் கண்டானாந் தன்முதலைத் தான்முதல்போய்த்
தான்கடவு ளன்றியில தால்.

kāṇun taṉaiviṭṭut tāṉkaḍavu ḷaikkāṇal
kāṇu maṉōmayamāṅ kāṭcitaṉaik — kāṇumavaṉ
ḏṟāṉkaḍavuḷ kaṇḍāṉān taṉmudalait tāṉmudalpōyt
tāṉkaḍavu ḷaṉḏṟiyila dāl
.

பதச்சேதம்:: காணும் தனை விட்டு, தான் கடவுளை காணல் காணும் மனோமயம் ஆம் காட்சி. தனை காணும் அவன் தான் கடவுள் கண்டான் ஆம், தன் முதலை, தான் முதல் போய், தான் கடவுள் அன்றி இலதால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): kāṇum taṉai viṭṭu, tāṉ kaḍavuḷai kāṇal kāṇum maṉōmayam ām kāṭci. taṉai kāṇum avaṉ-tāṉ kaḍavuḷ kaṇḍāṉ ām, taṉ mudalai, tāṉ mudal pōy, tāṉ kaḍavuḷ aṉḏṟi iladāl.

அன்வயம்: காணும் தனை விட்டு, தான் கடவுளை காணல் காணும் மனோமயம் ஆம் காட்சி. தான் முதல் போய், தான் கடவுள் அன்றி இலதால், தன் முதலை, தனை காணும் அவன் தான் கடவுள் கண்டான் ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): kāṇum taṉai viṭṭu, tāṉ kaḍavuḷai kāṇal kāṇum maṉōmayam ām kāṭci. tāṉ mudal pōy, tāṉ kaḍavuḷ aṉḏṟi iladāl, taṉ mudalai, taṉai kāṇum avaṉ-tāṉ kaḍavuḷ kaṇḍāṉ ām.

English translation: Leaving oneself, who sees, oneself seeing God is seeing a mental vision. Only one who sees oneself, the origin of oneself, is one who has seen God, because the origin, oneself, going, oneself is not other than God.

Paraphrased translation: Neglecting [ignoring or not investigating] oneself [ego], who sees [things other than oneself], oneself seeing God is seeing a mental vision [a mind-constituted image, phenomenon or appearance]. Only one who sees oneself [one’s real nature], the origin [base or foundation] of oneself [one’s ego], is one who has seen God, because oneself [one’s real nature], [which alone is what remains] when oneself [one’s ego], the origin [root or foundation of all other things], goes, is not other than God.
When seeing even a vision of God is just a ‘mind-constituted appearance’, seeing any other phenomena such as the ‘streams of light radiating out of their head’ and the ‘kind of firework explosion that you can see at a subtle level’ that Poonja referred to must also be just a ‘mind-constituted appearance’. In fact according to Bhagavan all phenomena are just a mental projection and therefore no more real than anything we see in a dream, so why did Poonja imagine that there was any significance in the ‘streams of light radiating out of their head’ that he supposedly saw, or that it had anything to do with the disappearance of ego?

6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: if we investigate ego keenly enough, it will cease to exist, and everything else will cease to exist along with it

From all this it seems that Poonja had only a very superficial understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings, and that he had not grasped the simple principle that phenomena seem to exist only when ego seems to exist, because they seem to exist only in its view, and that therefore without ego (the first person) phenomena (second and third persons) do not exist, which is one of the most fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings and therefore one that he repeatedly emphasised not only in in his original writings such as Nāṉ Ār?, Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu but also in various dialogues recorded in other books. If Poonja had understood this principle and its crucial significance, would he have attached any importance at all to illusory appearances (or fantasies?) such as ‘streams of light radiating out of their head’ or ‘a kind of firework explosion that you can see at a subtle level’, or would he even have talked about them or encouraged others to believe that such phenomena were either real or significant?

Poonja understood that Bhagavan taught us that if we look at ego, it will subside and disappear, but this is only part of the story. Why does it subside and disappear if we look at it? Because it does not actually exist, but merely seems to exist, and it seems to exist only when we look at or are aware of anything else. In order for it to disappear entirely, we must not just look at it, but look at it so keenly that we cease to be aware of anything else whatsoever. In other words, it will cease to exist only when we attend to ourself so keenly that we are aware of absolutely nothing other than ourself.

Since all other things seem to exist only in the view of ego, they will cease to exist entirely along with ego, as Bhagavan clearly implies 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 ego, and hence it cannot seem to exist unless 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 [ego] is alone is giving up everything [because 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].
Why does he say in the final sentence: ‘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 is alone is giving up everything’? Because if we investigate ego keenly enough we will see that what actually exists is only our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure awareness, so there is no such thing as ego, and there never was. Moreover, since all other things are perceived only by ego, and hence seem to exist only in its view, nothing else can exist or even seem to exist in its absence, as he points out in the second sentence, ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, so if we investigate ego keenly enough to see that what seemed to be ego is actually just pure awareness, all other things will cease to exist, never to reappear. Therefore investigating what ego is entails giving up not only ego but everything else too.

Therefore if Poonja believed that phenomena continue to exist even after the disappearance of ego, as his talk about seeing ‘streams of light radiating out of their head’ and many of his other statements seem to imply, he did not really understand what disappearance or eradication of ego actually means.

7. What is to investigate ego is only ego itself, so when it disappears there will be no one left to see its disappearance

David also says (and seems to imply that Poonja said) that in his presence people watched their I-thought disappear temporarily (such as at 13.31, ‘Papaji thought that you get a direct experience by holding on to the I, finding out where it comes from, and watching it disappear’, 15.21, ‘If you co-operated with him, looked at your I-thought, watched it, held on to it, you could actually feel it subside and disappear’, and 15.42, ‘They somehow watched their I, seen it disappear’), but how is it possible to watch, see or feel the I-thought disappear? We can be aware of it subsiding, but can we be aware of it actually disappearing? ‘I-thought’ is another name for ego, so what can see it disappear? It itself cannot, because when it disappears it is no longer there to watch or see its disappearance. Not only is this logically obvious, but it is also our experience, because though as ego we disappear whenever we fall asleep, we do not actually see ourself disappear.

Can our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) watch or see the disappearance of the I-thought? No, obviously not, because in its view no I-thought or anything else have ever appeared, so how can it disappear?

What Bhagavan taught us is extremely subtle, and he taught it in a very nuanced manner, so by talking of temporary experiences and all the other weird and wonderful ideas that he had, Poonja totally misrepresented what Bhagavan taught us. Bhagavan taught us that if we watch ego keenly enough, it will disappear, but that does not mean that we will ever see it disappear, because what is to watch ego is only ego itself, so when it disappears there will be no one left to see its disappearance.

Ego will disappear forever only when we see what we actually are (our real nature or ātma-svarūpa), because when we see what we actually are we will see that we alone exist, and we exist eternally and without any change. In the clear view of what we actually are, no ego or anything else has ever existed, so being aware of ourself as we actually are amounts to seeing that there never was any ego, and that therefore nothing has ever appeared or disappeared.

Therefore the idea that it is possible for anyone to have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’ or to watch the I-thought disappear is a complete fantasy, and anyone who believes such ideas has not understood Bhagavan correctly.

8. Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam verse 2: our real nature cannot be revealed by any means other than silence, which is what remains when we look within to see who the seer is

In conclusion and to underline some of the points I have explained here, it would be useful now to consider what Bhagavan sang in verse 2 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam:
கண்டவ னெவனெனக் கருத்தினு ணாடக்
      கண்டவ னின்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன்
கண்டன னென்றிடக் கருத்தெழ வில்லை
      கண்டில னென்றிடக் கருத்தெழு மாறென்
விண்டிது விளக்கிடு விறலுறு வோனார்
      விண்டிலை பண்டுநீ விளக்கினை யென்றால்
விண்டிடா துன்னிலை விளக்கிட வென்றே
      விண்டல மசலமா விளங்கிட நின்றாய்.

kaṇḍava ṉevaṉeṉak karuttiṉu ṇāḍak
      kaṇḍava ṉiṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ
kaṇḍaṉa ṉeṉḏṟiḍak karutteṙa villai
      kaṇḍila ṉeṉḏṟiḍak karutteṙu māṟeṉ
viṇḍidu viḷakkiḍu viṟaluṟu vōṉār
      viṇḍilai paṇḍunī viḷakkiṉai yeṉḏṟāl
viṇḍiṭā duṉṉilai viḷakkiḍa veṉḏṟē
      viṇḍala macalamā viḷaṅgiḍa niṉḏṟāy
.

பதச்சேதம்: கண்டவன் எவன் என கருத்தின் உள் நாட, கண்டவன் இன்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன். ‘கண்டனன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழ இல்லை; ‘கண்டிலன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழுமாறு என்? விண்டு இது விளக்கிடு விறல் உறுவோன் ஆர், விண்டு இலை பண்டு நீ விளக்கினை என்றால்? விண்டிடாது உன் நிலை விளக்கிட என்றே விண் தலம் அசலமா விளங்கிட நின்றாய்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): kaṇḍavaṉ evaṉ eṉa karuttiṉ uḷ nāḍa, kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ. ‘kaṇḍaṉaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙa illai; ‘kaṇḍilaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙum-āṟu eṉ? viṇḍu idu viḷakkiḍu viṟal uṟuvōṉ ār, viṇḍu ilai paṇḍu nī viḷakkiṉai eṉḏṟāl? viṇḍiḍādu uṉ nilai viḷakkiḍa eṉḏṟē viṇ ṭalam acalamā viḷaṅgiḍa niṉḏṟāy.

அன்வயம்: கண்டவன் எவன் என கருத்தின் உள் நாட, கண்டவன் இன்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன். ‘கண்டனன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழ இல்லை; ‘கண்டிலன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழுமாறு என்? பண்டு நீ விண்டு இலை விளக்கினை என்றால், விண்டு இது விளக்கிடு விறல் உறுவோன் ஆர்? விண்டிடாது உன் நிலை விளக்கிட என்றே விண் தலம் அசலமா விளங்கிட நின்றாய்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): kaṇḍavaṉ evaṉ eṉa karuttiṉ uḷ nāḍa, kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ. ‘kaṇḍaṉaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙa illai; ‘kaṇḍilaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙum-āṟu eṉ? paṇḍu nī viṇḍu ilai viḷakkiṉai eṉḏṟāl, viṇḍu idu viḷakkiḍu viṟal uṟuvōṉ ār? viṇḍiḍādu uṉ nilai viḷakkiḍa eṉḏṟē viṇ ṭalam acalamā viḷaṅgiḍa niṉḏṟāy.

English translation: When [the seer] investigated within the mind who the seer is, I saw what remained when the seer [thereby] became non-existent. The mind did not rise to say ‘I saw’, [so] in what way could the mind rise to say ‘I did not see’? Who has the power to elucidate this [by] speaking, when in ancient times [even] you [as Dakshinamurti] elucidated [it] without speaking? Only to elucidate your state [of silent and motionless pure self-awareness] without speaking, you stood as a hill [or motionlessly] shining [from] earth [to] sky [though actually beyond the limits of both].
In the first sentence of this verse he does not say that he saw the disappearance of the seer, but that he saw what stood or remained when it became non-existent. Though it may seem from a superficial perspective that seeing what remained when the seer became non-existent is the same as seeing the disappearance of the seer, there is a subtle but extremely significant difference between them. What remains is only our real nature, which is pure consciousness, so what sees what remains is just pure consciousness, and since pure consciousness is never aware of anything other than itself, it cannot be aware of ego and hence of either its appearance or its disappearance.

In both the first clause of this first sentence, ‘கண்டவன் எவன் என கருத்தின் உள் நாட’ (kaṇḍavaṉ evaṉ eṉa karuttiṉ uḷ nāḍa), ‘when [the seer] investigated within the mind who the seer is’, and the second one, ‘கண்டவன் இன்றிட’ (kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa), ‘when the seer [thereby] became non-existent’, ‘கண்டவன்’ (kaṇḍavaṉ) means ‘seer’ and therefore refers to ego, which is what sees or perceives everything other than itself. If ego investigates itself keenly enough to see what it actually is, it will thereby cease to exist, because it seems to exist only so long as it is seeing, perceiving or attending to anything other than itself. When it ceases to exist, what remains is only pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa).

When ego has ceased to exist, what is it that sees what remains? Obviously ego cannot see what remains, because it has ceased to exist, so what sees what remains is only what remains and not anything else. Since what remains is just pure awareness, it alone is what sees itself. Therefore when Bhagavan wrote in the main clause of this first sentence, ‘கண்டவன் இன்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன்’ (kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ), ‘I saw what remained when the seer became non-existent’, the ‘I’ implied in ‘கண்டேன்’ (kaṇḍēṉ), which is the first person singular past tense form of காண் (kāṇ) and which therefore means ‘I saw’, is not ego but only ātma-svarūpa.

Since ātma-svarūpa, our own real nature, is pure, eternal, infinite and immutable awareness, it is always aware of itself, and therefore does not become aware of itself only when ego ceases to exist. Nothing other than ātma-svarūpa actually exists, as Bhagavan implies 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’, so what it is aware of is only itself and not anything else, because in its clear view nothing else exists, as he says explicitly in the third sentence of verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால், தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl, tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘Since it shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known], oneself is [real] awareness’. It is not aware of ego, of time, nor of appearance or disappearance of anything. It is therefore immutable and untouched by anything, so it is eternally aware of itself and never aware of anything else whatsoever.

Therefore self-knowledge (ātma-jñāna) is not something that can ever be gained, because it is our real nature. So long as we seem to have risen as ego, all that is required is to get rid of this ego, and we can get rid of it only by investigating what it actually is. Since it is just an erroneous awareness of ourself, an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are, if we attend to it keenly enough, thereby withdrawing our attention from everything else, we will see what we actually are, namely pure awareness, awareness that is never aware of anything other than itself, and thus we will see that there never was any such thing as ego or anything else whatsoever.

How can this be adequately expressed in words? Who is there to express it in words? Since it alone exists, it need not and cannot express itself in words. The only language in which it can express itself is silence, because silence is its very nature.

Though as a poet Bhagavan sang, ‘கண்டவன் இன்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன்’ (kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ), ‘I saw what remained when the seer became non-existent’, even these words fail to express his experience correctly or adequately, as he implied in the next sentence: ‘கண்டனன் என்றிட கருத்து எழ இல்லை’ (kaṇḍaṉaṉ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙa illai), ‘The mind did not rise to say: I saw’. That is, what can say ‘I saw’ is only the mind, or more precisely, the seeing or perceiving element of the mind, namely ego, which is what he referred to in the previous sentence as ‘கண்டவன்’ (kaṇḍavaṉ), ‘the seer’, so when it has ceased to exist how can it rise to say ‘I saw’?

Since it cannot rise to say ‘I saw’, it likewise cannot rise to say ‘I did not see’, as he implied in the next sentence: ‘கண்டிலன் என்றிட கருத்து எழுமாறு என்?’ (kaṇḍilaṉ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙum-āṟu eṉ?), ‘In what way could the mind rise to say: I did not see?’. Therefore it is not correct to say either ‘I saw’ or ‘I did not see’, as he implies in verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
என்னை யறியேனா னென்னை யறிந்தேனா
னென்ன னகைப்புக் கிடனாகு — மென்னை
தனைவிடய மாக்கவிரு தானுண்டோ வொன்றா
யனைவரனு பூதியுண்மை யால்.

eṉṉai yaṟiyēṉā ṉeṉṉai yaṟindēṉā
ṉeṉṉa ṉahaippuk kiḍaṉāhu — meṉṉai
taṉaiviḍaya mākkaviru tāṉuṇḍō voṉḏṟā
yaṉaivaraṉu bhūtiyuṇmai yāl
.

பதச்சேதம்: ‘என்னை அறியேன் நான்’, ‘என்னை அறிந்தேன் நான்’ என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும். என்னை? தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? ஒன்று ஆய் அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஆல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ nāṉ’, ‘eṉṉai aṟindēṉ nāṉ’ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum. eṉṉai? taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? oṉḏṟu āy aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai āl.

அன்வயம்: ‘நான் என்னை அறியேன்’, ‘நான் என்னை அறிந்தேன்’ என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும். என்னை? தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஒன்றாய்; ஆல்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘nāṉ eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ’, ‘nāṉ eṉṉai aṟindēṉ’ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum. eṉṉai? taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai oṉḏṟu āy; āl.

English translation: Saying ‘I do not know myself’, ‘I have known myself’, is ground for ridicule. Why? To make oneself an object, are there two selves? Because being one is the truth, the experience of everyone.

Explanatory paraphrase: Saying [either] ‘I do not know myself’ [or] ‘I have known myself’ is ground for ridicule. Why? To make oneself viṣaya [an object, something known as other than oneself, the knower], are there two selves [a knowing self and a known self]? Because being one is the truth, [as is known by] the experience of everyone. [That is, since we always experience ourself as one, we are never not aware of ourself, so ātma-jñāna (self-knowledge or self-awareness) is not something that we are yet to attain but is our very nature, and hence what is called the attainment of ātma-jñāna is actually not a gain of anything but a loss of everything along with its root, ego, which is merely a false awareness of ourself (an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are), and when ego is lost there is no one left to say ‘I have known myself’, because what remains is only our real nature, which is pure, infinite, eternal and immutable self-awareness.]
It is not correct to say, ‘கண்டிலன்’ (kaṇḍilaṉ), ‘I did not see’, or ‘என்னை அறியேன் நான்’ (eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ nāṉ), ‘I do not know myself’, because self-awareness is our real nature, so there is never a moment when we do not know or are not aware of ourself. We know ourself even now, but instead of knowing ourself as we actually are, we know ourself as if we were a person.

The person we seem to be is a set of adjuncts consisting of a physical body, life, mind, intellect and will (the five sheaths), and these adjuncts are all objects perceived by us, and they appear in waking and dream but disappear in sleep, so they are not what we actually are. They are things that are sometimes added to us and at other times removed from us. Whether they are added or removed, we are always present and are aware of ourself, so our awareness of them is superimposed on our fundamental self-awareness to form the mixed awareness ‘I am this person’, which is ego. Therefore underlying and supporting this false awareness ‘I am this person’ is our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which is our real nature, so ego does not actually hide our knowledge or awareness of ourself, but just obscures it by mixing and confusing it with other things.

It is also not correct to say, ‘கண்டனன்’ (kaṇḍaṉaṉ), ‘I saw’, or ‘என்னை அறிந்தேன் நான்’ (eṉṉai aṟindēṉ nāṉ), ‘I have known myself’, because we are not a viṣaya, an object or phenomenon. An object can either be known or not known, but we ourself can never be not known, because we are awareness, and the nature of awareness is to be always aware of itself. Knowledge and ignorance are a pair of opposites, each of which has a meaning only in relation to the other, so since ignorance (not knowing or not being aware) of ourself is impossible, it is meaningless to speak of knowing ourself as if it were something that could be or has been achieved.

An object or phenomenon (viṣaya) is something other than ourself, so knowing it is contingent (something that may or may not be the case, and something that even if it is the case is not always the case), whereas knowing ourself is our very nature, so it is necessary (something that must always be the case and can never not be the case). This is why Bhagavan asks rhetorically, ‘தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ?’ (taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō?), ‘To make oneself an object, are there two selves?’, and replies, ‘ஒன்று ஆய் அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை’ (oṉḏṟu āy aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai), ‘Being one is the truth, the experience of everyone’.

Since we always experience ourself as one, we can never know ourself as an object, so knowing ourself cannot be compared in anyway to knowing any object. It is knowledge of a completely different order. It is not a knowledge that can be either gained or lost, because it is what we always are, and it alone is real. As he says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), ‘Oneself, who is jñāna [knowledge or awareness], alone is real’.

To say ‘என்னை அறியேன் நான்’ (eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ nāṉ), ‘I do not know myself’ implies that we have somehow lost knowledge of ourself, and to say ‘என்னை அறிந்தேன் நான்’ (eṉṉai aṟindēṉ nāṉ), ‘I have known myself’ implies that we have somehow gained knowledge of ourself, but since we ourself are ātma-jñāna (self-knowledge or self-awareness), we can never either lose or gain ātma-jñāna, so as he says in the first sentence of this verse: “‘என்னை அறியேன் நான்’, ‘என்னை அறிந்தேன் நான்’ என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும்” (‘eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ nāṉ’, ‘eṉṉai aṟindēṉ nāṉ’ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum), “Saying [either] ‘I do not know myself’ [or] ‘I have known myself’ is ground for ridicule”.

So if it is not true to say either ‘I do not know myself’ or ‘I have known myself’, how can the truth of self-knowledge be expressed in words? It cannot be, as Bhagavan implies in the third line of verse 2 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam: ‘விண்டு இது விளக்கிடு விறல் உறுவோன் ஆர், விண்டு இலை பண்டு நீ விளக்கினை என்றால்?’ (viṇḍu idu viḷakkiḍu viṟal uṟuvōṉ ār, viṇḍu ilai paṇḍu nī viḷakkiṉai eṉḏṟāl?), ‘Who has the power to elucidate this [by] speaking, when in ancient times [even] you [as Dakshinamurti] elucidated [it] without speaking?’

This is likewise implied by him in verse 5 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam:
எப்போது முள்ளதவ் வேகான்ம வத்துவே
யப்போதவ் வத்துவை யாதிகுரு — செப்பாது
செப்பித் தெரியுமா செய்தன ரேலெவர்
செப்பித் தெரிவிப்பர் செப்பு.

eppōdu muḷḷadav vēkāṉma vattuvē
yappōdav vattuvai yādiguru — seppādu
seppit teriyumā seydaṉa rēlevar
seppit terivippar ceppu
.

பதச்சேதம்: எப்போதும் உள்ளது அவ் ஏகான்ம வத்துவே. அப்போது அவ் வத்துவை ஆதி குரு செப்பாது செப்பி தெரியுமா செய்தனரேல், எவர் செப்பி தெரிவிப்பர்? செப்பு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): eppōdum uḷḷadu a-vv-ēkāṉma vattuvē. appōdu a-v-vattuvai ādi-guru seppādu seppi teriyumā seydaṉarēl, evar seppi terivippar? seppu.

அன்வயம்: எப்போதும் உள்ளது அவ் ஏகான்ம வத்துவே. அப்போது ஆதி குரு அவ் வத்துவை செப்பாது செப்பி தெரியுமா செய்தனரேல், எவர் செப்பி தெரிவிப்பர்? செப்பு.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): eppōdum uḷḷadu a-vv-ēkāṉma vattuvē. appōdu ādi-guru a-v-vattuvai seppādu seppi teriyumā seydaṉarēl, evar seppi terivippar? seppu.

English translation: What always exists is only that ēkātma-vastu [the one self-substance: that is, the one substance (vastu), which is oneself]. If at that time the ādi-guru [the original guru, Dakshinamurti] made that vastu known [only by] speaking without speaking, say, who can make it known [by] speaking?
Our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is what Bhagavan refers to here as ēkātma-vastu, the one substance (vastu), which is ourself, is absolute silence (mauṉam), because it is completely devoid of even the least rising of ego, as he says in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: “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), “Only the place where the thought called I [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]”. Being devoid of even the least rising of ego, it is also devoid of the least rising of anything else, because everything else arises only in the deluded view of ego, so it is eternal and immutable silence, silence that can never be disturbed by anything whatsoever. How then can it be expressed, elucidated or made known by any means other than absolute silence?

Words can never come close to revealing it. All words can do is point us in the right direction, showing us where we should look in order to lose ourself forever in eternal silence. We cannot experience silence or what is revealed by it (which are of course one and the same thing) without being swallowed by it. Being swallowed by it is alone seeing it, as Bhagavan implies in the concluding sentence of verse 21 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘ஊண் ஆதல் காண்’ (ūṇ ādal kāṇ), ‘Becoming food is seeing’.

So long as we are facing outwards, attending to or being aware of anything other than ourself, we have not been and cannot be swallowed by silence, because what faces outwards and is thereby aware of other things is only ego. By facing outwards, ego feeds and sustains itself. To be swallowed by silence, therefore, we must turn back within to face ourself alone.

Since we need to face inwards to experience silence and thereby lose ourself in it, we first need to understand the need to turn within, and for that we need teachings in words to tell us that we need to turn back within and why we need to do so. This is why Bhagavan gave us teachings in words, but through his words he explained that ultimately our real nature can be revealed only in and by silence, because silence is the very nature of ourself. It is what we actually are.

Therefore though teachings in words are necessary, they are only preliminary. They are needed to make us understand the need to turn back within to face ourself, but they are useful only to the extent that we actually travel in the direction in which they point us, namely back towards ourself.

Therefore when Bhagavan taught us that the ultimate teaching is only silence, he did not mean that teachings in words are not necessary, but only that they are not an end in themselves. They are just a means to an end, and that end is silence. They are a means because they show us that silence is the ultimate and only worthwhile goal, and that the means to reach that goal is to patiently and persistently turn back within to face ourself alone until we dissolve and merge forever in silence, which is our real nature.

This is what Bhagavan taught us in words, and he taught us that this is what Arunachala is always teaching us in silence. That is, the very purpose of Arunachala is to teach us in silence that we need to look within to see who the seer is and thereby to merge in the infinite silence that remains when the seer is seen to be ever non-existent, as he implies in the fourth and final line of verse 2 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam: ‘விண்டிடாது உன் நிலை விளக்கிட என்றே விண் தலம் அசலமா விளங்கிட நின்றாய்’ (viṇḍiḍādu uṉ nilai viḷakkiḍa eṉḏṟē viṇ ṭalam acalamā viḷaṅgiḍa niṉḏṟāy), ‘Only to elucidate your state [of silent and motionless pure self-awareness] without speaking, you stood as a hill [or motionlessly] shining [from] earth [to] sky’.

What Bhagavan teaches us in these three verses, namely verse 2 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and verse 5 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam, is a detailed elucidation of a Tamil saying that he often referred to, namely: ‘கண்டவர் விண்டில்லை; விண்டவர் கண்டில்லை’ (kaṇḍavar viṇḍillai; viṇḍavar kaṇḍillai), ‘Those who have seen do not say; those who say have not seen’. Those who have seen what they actually are will never open their mouth to say ‘I have seen’, because we can see what we actually are only by dissolving and becoming one with that. Anyone who opens their mouth to say ‘I have seen’ has not yet dissolved and become one with that, so they have not actually seen what they actually are.

The goal towards which Bhagavan has pointed us and the path to it that he has shown us are simple but extremely deep and subtle, and they have no room whatsoever for the rising of ego or for saying ‘I have watched ego disappear’ or ‘I have seen myself’, so they are trivialised and grossly distorted by people like Poonja who pretend that we can have a temporary experience of this goal (namely eradication of ego), that we can come back to describe it, that it can be accompanied by phenomena such as ‘streams of light radiating out of their head’, ‘a kind of firework explosion that you can see at a subtle level’ or ‘this kind of light explosion around their head’, and that it can be achieved just by sitting in front of him (Poonja) or by the power of his presence, thereby supposedly bypassing the need for patient, persistent and prolonged practice of self-investigation and self-surrender, which (as I will explain in my next article) is what is required in order for us to become willing to allow ourself to be swallowed completely and forever in the clear and silent light of pure self-awareness.

98 comments:

morrison said...

great article Michael

some doubts/misunderstanding I had have now been cleared up.
not that there are not more doubts or misunderstanding lurking out there, as there are
but Bhagavan has a way of clearing these up for me when the time is right.

I am really looking forward to the next article you mentioned.


Abhishek S said...

I love Papaji, despite the fact i am not convinced of his realization or his teachings, still love him because of whom Ramana's popularity can be attributed
very fact that Papaji has unconditional, immense love for Bhagwan makes me respect, love Papaji

Sankarraman said...

From a reading of a little of Poonjaji's teachings , I have not got the feeling that he represents the teachings of bhaghavan. As stated by Michael, none can give us the experience of the self without resort to assiduous enquiry. It is not that simple. I doubt whether he has correctly stated self-enquiry even at the intellectual level. He may have had some small experience, which is all about him, nothing more.

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

In #6 of verse 26 of Mr. James's explanatory paraphrase he says :Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything [because 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]. Unquote.

Then how did Sri Ramana Maharshi who did have a body (until his physical death) and also a pure satvic ego function in the world? if all phenomena, other people, other objects, the earth etc. ceased to exist for him according to Mr. James?

Mouna said...

”Then how did Sri Ramana Maharshi who did have a body (until his physical death) and also a pure satvic ego function in the world? if all phenomena, other people, other objects, the earth etc. ceased to exist for him according to Mr. James?”

Unknown, greetings
Who other than a body (five sheaths) says that Bhagavan had a body?... as long as we believe we are a body (and a mind) we will keep referring to others as bodies (and minds) acting in a “world” external to that body (ours). Further on, the question is not to investigate if Bhagavan was (or had) a body, but rather who is saying that he did...

Salazar said...

David Godman has read this article and he prefers to leave no comment (unless he changes his mind).

It is a matter of choice: Michael chooses to not accept Papaji, Annamalai Swami, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Robert Adams, and others as sages, while David does with the names on this list. Michael however considers Sadhu Om as a sage what is, IMO, questionable and I personally chose to not accept him as a sage.

It appears that David is not swayed by Michael's "reasoning" why sages are supposed to to not be able to perceive phenomena (or thoughts).

I can only say that thoughts and phenomena are Self too (as Bhagavan and Shankara taught) and therefore phenomena are perceived by sages, however entirely different and incomprehensible for the ajnani.

Josef Bruckner said...

Sankarraman,
how can one "correctly state self-enquiry at intellectual level" ?
Is not self-enquiry/self-investigation just beyond intellect or mind ?

Josef Bruckner said...

Unknown,
with "In #6 of verse 26 of Mr. James's explanatory paraphrase..." obviously you refer to section 6. of this article: 6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: if we investigate ego keenly enough, it will cease to exist, and everything else will cease to exist along with it.

When you ask "Then how did Sri Ramana Maharshi who did have a body (until his physical death) and also a pure satvic ego function in the world? " you might call to mind again that Sri Ramana Maharshi "did have a body" only in our deceptive view.
Certainly his clear view was untouched/unmoved by any physical body.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 1.,
"...having once seen our real nature, we can never again mistake ourself to be anything else, so ego is thereby eradicated once and for all."

Many people claim to have had a flash of inspiration, insight, intuition or even a kind of samadhi. Nevertheless they slipped/fell back into the old limited personal ego-awareness. So how can one presume/expect to eradicate ego suddenly/at one go/all at once ("once and for all") only by having once seen our real nature ?

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 1.,
"Because ego is absent in sleep, our experience of our real nature in that state does not destroy it. In order to be destroyed, ego must be present, and it must turn its entire attention back to face itself alone. As soon as it faces itself alone, it will experience perfect clarity of pure self-awareness, which is its real nature (ātma-svarūpa), but it will thereby be destroyed instantly and forever."
It sounds bizarrely that one has firstly make ego being present for destroying it.:-)
Is bringing ego and ego face to face tantamount to hold the mirror up to it ?

Michael James said...

Josef, you say, ‘It sounds bizarrely that one has firstly make ego being present for destroying it’, but what is bizarre about it? In order to execute a criminal, is it not necessary for him to be present for his execution?

Regarding you final question, ‘Is bringing ego and ego face to face tantamount to hold the mirror up to it?’, the entire world is a reflection of ego, but it is not destroyed by seeing its reflection. In order for it to be destroyed, what it must see is itself as it really is, and seeing a reflection of itself is not seeing itself as it really is. In order to see what it really is, it must look directly at itself, without any intervening media.

A reflection of ourself is something other than ourself. It may look like ourself, but it is not ourself. As Bhagavan says in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: ‘தன்னைத் தன்னுடைய ஞானக்கண்ணாற்றானே யறிய வேண்டும். ராமன் தன்னை ராமனென்றறியக் கண்ணாடி வேண்டுமா?’ (taṉṉai-t taṉṉuḍaiya ñāṉa-k-kaṇṇāl-tāṉ-ē y-aṟiya vēṇḍum. rāmaṉ taṉṉai rāmaṉ-eṉḏṟaṟiya-k kaṇṇāḍi vēṇḍum-ā?), ‘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?’.

What he refers to here as our ‘ஞானக்கண்’ (ñāṉa-k-kaṇ) or ‘eye of jñāna’ is our awareness or attention turned within to face ourself alone. When the same awareness or attention is turned outwards to face anything else, it ceases to be the eye of jñāna and becomes the eye of ajñāna, so by looking at our reflection we are feeding and sustaining our ajñāna.

Salazar said...

Only a "living" sage can be a true spiritual teacher, anybody else is corrupted by vasanas and the evils of mind. In addition a sage knows exactly what the particular individual needs to grow spiritually, an ajnani can absolutely not. He is limited to mere concepts.

To proclaim that a living sage is not necessary is born out of ignorance. An aspirant cannot succeed by himself alone even when he properly does Self-inquiry. A sage has not to be around all the time but he is necessary in certain key moments (and that is not limited to one's life time but can spread over several life times). Most cannot just deal with the "guru within" because of the strong sway of vasanas. A seemingly "outward" influence by a sage is necessary and crucial.

One cannot proclaim the importance of ego (what includes body) but then dismiss the crucial importance of a living sage. The "body sees body" concept/phrase (as an argument that there are no bodies) is a misapplication in that context.

A temporary experience of Self is extremely helpful, it gives a taste of what to aim for, it is an extraordinary blessing. To judge it as worthless can only come from someone who has not had that experience. Nobody, including Papaji, denied that consistent practice is needed until realization. Realization cannot arrive without initial effort.

Mouna said...

Over and over again, through the course of history, a jnani starts a tradition (or teaching) and in no time schisms of all sorts start to appear. It happened with hinduism, buddhism, christianism and many other forms of “isms.” It seems that the more we as humans are more technologically globally connected these days, the more the divisive gap between reasoning arguments seems to widen, not only spiritually but also socially, politically and environmentally.

It seems now is the time with Bhagavan’s teachings. Starting under our very eyes.

I am not supporting any view, they all have their pros and their cons. It is just so funny (in a strange way) to watch the same old processes manifesting time after time and how the script of the dream unfolds with a will of its own...

Wishing you all well
mouna

Michael James said...

Unknown, in your comment of 25 March 2019 at 07:29, what do you mean when you say that Bhagavan had ‘a pure satvic ego’? How can ego be pure? Ego is the false awareness ‘I am this body’, so by its very nature it is impure. Every adjunct that it mistakes to be itself is an impurity, and when its adjuncts are removed it is no longer ego but only pure awareness, in the clear view of which nothing else exists.

It is not just according to me that all phenomena cease to exist when ego ceases to exist. Bhagavan himself says in the same verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu to which you refer: ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego does not exist, everything does not exist’. This is also our experience in sleep. In sleep there is no ego, and hence there are no phenomena, whereas in waking and dream we have risen as ego and hence in our view phenomena seem to exist.

You say Bhagavan had a body and ask how he functioned in the world, but in whose view did he have a body and function in the world? Only in our view, and not in his view, as he clearly implies in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham. Because we mistake ourself to be a body, we mistake even Bhagavan to be a body, but in his clear view there is neither body nor world but only pure awareness.

As he says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘Awareness of multiplicity is ajñāna [ignorance]’, so since he is devoid of ajñāna, he is not aware of any multiplicity. In his view nothing other than himself exists, as he implies in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘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] awareness’. Therefore so long as we experience the illusion of multiplicity and otherness we cannot comprehend his state, as he implies in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?’ (taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?), ‘They do not know [or are not aware of] anything other than themself; [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘[it is] like this’?’

However, though Bhagavan taught us that he is not the body or person whom he seems to be in our self-ignorant view, and that he is therefore not aware of anything other than himself, this does not mean that his appearance in our view as a human form is not useful or necessary for us, as I explained in another comment that I recently wrote in reply to you. There I mentioned the analogy he used to give of a lion that appears in an elephant’s dream, and another analogy that he sometimes gave in this context is of a tame deer that is used as a decoy to catch a wild deer (as recorded, for example, in the final paragraph of section 398 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi: 2006 edition, page 385), which he used to illustrate that in order to dispel our delusion ‘I am this body’, it is necessary for guru to appear as a body and teach us that we need to turn within to investigate what we actually are.

Josef Bruckner said...

Thank you Michael for your prompt reply.
The idea of bizarreness arose because of the fact that though ego does not really exist it has to line up for becoming its head chopped off.
Thanks particularly for the clarification of looking keenly within instead of looking merely at my reflection. The picture of a mirror held up to ego occured to me as an easier variant because in my attempts to turn my attention within in order to face/investigate myself alone I am often confronted with some problems caused by the lack of one-pointedness while trying to look keenly within by my own eye of awareness. So I should not be surprised that I am world champion in feeding and sustaining of ajnana.

Mouna said...

On a second note, I wish someone will challenge Michael’s statements or interpretations of Bhagavan’s teachings purely on a reasoning basis, discussing or presenting counterarguments to his writings, instead what is available is only the “I think/he said/she said/the other one said” kind of opinions about how things are.

So far nobody here (or elsewhere) did that, what I mostly read are pseudo ad hominem (fortunately polite and mild) comments on his way of expounding the understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings, which by the way I found (Michael’s comments) quite reasonable.

Salazar said...

On a third note, to "challenge" Michael's statements cannot bring more clarity or union of beliefs. Because it must be on the level of mind and concepts, that cannot work. Self is beyond mind and concepts, at best one can hint to it with pointers.

Now if there would be a sage then that would be entirely different. Anybody would have to yield to that what the sage says. That's also why it is extremely important who one chooses to accept as a sage and who not.

Michael may enjoy his way of quoting Bhagavan, first Tamil, then English, etc. etc. but that is and must be limited. As Michael recently said (and I agree with that), there is no "sattvic" ego, only an ignorant one. How could that ignorant ego ever comprehend? It can't.

Studying and reflecting about spiritual concepts has limitations; Michael, IMO, is pushing beyond these limitations and is, IMO, wasting his time with that. Once cannot squeeze the truth (or Self) out of Ulladu Narpadu or other texts. If that is believed one should re-examine that belief.

Anyway, if people feel attracted to that kind of approach, why not. I think it's redundant and tends quickly to sectarianism and dogmatism. I believe that Michael shows signs of that. No offense to Michael since I sincerely belief that he is a genuine devotee, however his vasanas are still alive and kicking :-)

Salazar said...

Now before "Unknown" gets a heart attack and cranks out multiple posts about my limitations and ignorance and what not:

Yes, I have also vasanas and they are alive and kicking.

Do I know the truth? No.

Do I insist on accepting my opinions? Not at all.

Am I half-baked (or quarter-baked)? Very likely since I am still very much attached to my body.



But we ALL are (half-baked that is), we are all in the same boat. Our vasanas however let us approach a path differently, even as devotees of Bhagavan. And only because somebody has studied Bhagavan's teachings more in detail and has scholarly vasanas, that does not make him superior to others. Quantity and also quality of (conceptual) knowledge does not equal maturity.

Maturity can only be assessed by a sage. Anybody else is just projecting their own prejudices.

Mouna said...

Salazar, how are you my friend?
We meet again, hope all is well.

My point with my recent comment is that if we want to challenge Michael’s interpretation of Bhagavan’s teachings, we need to do it with a solid reasonable basis based also in Bhagavan’s teachings, no matter if one is a jnani or not, an ardent devotee or not. For me, it doesn’t do it to say Michael is wrong or missing the point, we need also to present solid evidence against the claims he make when he explains his views on Bhagavan’s teachings.

I don’t think (my opinion) that Michael is squeezing the truth into UN, UU, N-Y etc… he is just presenting a view that one can agree with or not, and if one doesn’t and wants to debate further, one needs to present one’s side of the statements why not, and not simply discard the whole thing with a MJ is wrong. Where, in his statements, is he wrong or misleading or not getting it? That is what I would like to hear, not just that he is pushing the limitations.

I recently asked another senior devotee a question about Bhagavan’s teachings and the response was quite unsatisfactory, to my big surprise. Did I want to continue the conversation? it wasn’t worth it, although I would never publicly say the person's name or that this person is unfit to speak about Bhagavan, etc… I suppose we are all different in that.

Sometimes I wonder why some Bhagavan’s devotees who don’t agree with Michael, keep coming to this blog… I get it, people keep coming, even if they aren't inclined to Michael’s monographies because they find some things resonate, but from there to criticize without solid reasonable foundations, based on actual Bhagavan’s teachings like Michaels does, is a wholedifferent psychological ballgame.

Josef Bruckner said...

When I would put all well known "masters" in a circle:
Only the sage of Arunachala Hill gives on me convincingly the impression of being not different from brahman. But who am I to state this ?
Finally all ideas about reality are unreal.

David Godman said...

I don't wish to engage in a point by point debate on the arguments that Michael put forward. However, I will offer a blog post I wrote in 2008 that covers many interesting aspects of this debate, specifically whether it is possible to have a direct but temporary experience of the Self. The post contains several stories and quotations from the Bhagavan literature that seem to support the notion that such experiences are possible. There is also a more nuanced presentation of Papaji's views on this topic, along with a detailed account from No Mind - I am the Self in which Lakshmana Swamy adds his own authoritative comments based on his own experience.

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/09/glimpses-of-self.html

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josef Bruckner said...

If I remember correctly Michael James gave already his view on Lakshmana Swamy's (alleged) self-realisation (perhaps also on some accounts of David Godman's book Lakshmana Swamy, No Mind, I am the Self).

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josef Bruckner said...

Unknown,
regarding your above request may I suggest to do a search as follows:
Search this blog:
The search box at the top left-hand corner of this page will only search for words in the articles, not in the comments, so if you want to search this entire blog, including the comments, you can use the following search box, which will do a Google search and return all the results in a separate tab:

Using the search box at the top left-hand two articles for query "Lakshmana Swamy" are shown:
1.) Saturday, 6 January 2007
Is a 'human guru' really necessary?

2.) Saturday, 13 December 2014
The need for manana and vivēka: reflection, critical thinking, discrimination and judgement

Using the Google search box 59 results are shown.

Salazar said...

Hello Mouna, it has been awhile since our last chat. Before I reply, I said that Michael is squeezing the truth OUT of UN (and other texts) and not into – big difference.

I.e. in this article he states Papaji’s remarks about seeing phenomena like ‘streams of light radiating out of their head’ cannot happen for a Jnani. And to “prove” and underline that assumption he quotes UN and “squeezes out” the truth and apparent proof. I can only object to that since no text will ever be in the position to describe the nature of a Jnani or Self.

Michael doesn’t know (only a sage can) so he takes the next best (in his opinion) and quotes UN ‘AS HE UNDERSTANDS IT’. But that must be flawed just by the fact that it is the ignorant ego’s understanding with a huge gap for the full picture. That gap can never be filled by the mind.

Without being able to know myself (since I am not a sage) I have to rely on my faith with people who I consider to be a sage, and that is most certainly Papaji and Nisargadatta Maharaj, Annamalai Swami, Robert Adams and a few others.

Now you can see where the “schism” originates, Michael the proponent of the Orthodox Church of Bhagavan with an extremely limited amount of accepted sages, and others who are more relaxed and open to include more for a broader spectrum.

Another example: Michael’s doctrine of “one needs only to experience once the Self and one is Self-realized”. Where does that come from? Certainly not from Bhagavan and I believe the originator is Sadhu Om. Now is Sadhu Om a sage? I don’t believe so what makes certain things by him questionable. If you accept him as a sage then you must accept that doctrine too….

So can you see the irreconcilable situation in accepting different people as sages?

The only things in common is that Bhagavan is accepted as a sage, and Muruganar too and then of course the two others who were publicly declared as enlightened by Bhagavan. And then the schism starts.

I also believe that Mastan is Self-realized, the antonym of a scholar ;-)

I hope this comment clarifies where I am coming from.

morrison said...

Pardon my ignorance but for the life of me I cannot understand the fascination with and claims being made as to who is a sage and who is not a sage, who is enlightened and who is not enlightened.

What difference does any of this make?

NONE what so ever.

I seem to recall Bhagavan saying (or claimed to have said) that only a jnani can know another jnani.

Assuming that what Bhagvan said is true and I believe it is then this blog has several janani’s hanging around.

Will the real jnani's please stand up?

Salazar said...

Funny, people on this blog always come up with the same phrases, i.e. “what does it matter who is a sage or not”, or – “who is a sage in deep sleep”, etc. evoking the absolute viewpoint of things.

Frankly, then why are we following the teachings of Bhagavan and not the teachings of Mao Zedong or Lenin? Because we recognize and accept Bhagavan as a sage, Self incarnated in a body, and know that he talked the truth.

We know that is not the case with Lenin or Mao Zedong.

If it does not make a difference who is a sage, why not then follow the teachings of Lenin? BECAUSE there is a difference in duality! To declare there is not without having realized it is pure ignorance.

I hope this example makes clear the immature proposition.

Mouna said...

Salazar,
One or two personal points about your last comment, although wasn’t directed to me anyways.
I “follow and study” Bhagavan’s teachings not because “he is supposed” to be a sage, but because of all the teachings I encountered and practiced in my life is the one that not only makes more sense to me, epistemologically and ontologically speaking, and also is the one that helped me realize or know what I am (or who I am if you prefer).
If Lenin or Mao would have put on record a teaching of that level I would have bought the “red book”, but it seems those set of instructions don’t point in the same direction.

My take on sages or not sages goes hand in hand with considering this so called reality as a dream. The characters in the dream are all equal in substance, meaning all illusory, we only ascribe to these “people" sage-status with our conceptual take. The different teaching/s go the same way. Really don’t care if Bhagavan was a sage, or wasn’t and the same goes to all others, including me and you. If you give me a set of tools and instructions on how to build a stool and parts don’t fit and tools don’t seem to work the way you told me, I’ll definitely go to another carpenter. Nothing to do if he is a vegetarian or a meat eater, what I want is to build a stool.

Salazar said...

Mouna, I do not get your last comment. Well, intellectually I understand what you are saying, but is sounds very empty and nihilistic for me and I cannot relate to that at all.

I appreciate sages because they are sages and with that they are the solid and trusted background of all concepts. Their concepts are the truth, however it can be only the truth for that particular person that sage talked to depending on the context and situation. It might be entirely different for others. Certain concepts are valid for everybody.

If you feel it doesn't matter if Bhagavan is a sage or not, go for it. That concept is alien for me. It is fundamentally detrimental to how I approach spirituality. I rather have my love for Papaji (and Bhagavan) consume and kill me than follow your abstract and cold approach.

If Papaji or Bhagavan would appear to me in a dream and suggest to visit a certain individual (a sage) I'd immediately do so no matter where that individual lives. A sage is our salvation, not abstract tools or ideas.

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

Salazar,
"I rather have my love for Papaji (and Bhagavan) consume and kill me than follow your abstract and cold approach.”

I never intended to judge other “ways” to get what people want Salazar, even less to say my way or the highway… you don’t have to “follow my approach”!
I think you didn’t undertsand me, specially intellectually.
Even my love for Bhagavan doesn’t depend on Him being a jnani or not.
Love directed to a “person” (guru or not) helps at the beginning, love directed to one’ own self is a step further and love transformed into awareness/existence when guided through the right tools and application of them (in the intellect of course!) is a sure ticket to discover one’s self and eventually liberate oneself even from that discovery.

Let us not forget that Bhagavan’s state, declared by himself, was “ajata”, and for many, that is a hyper-intellectual, philosophical, cold, distant, non-sensical and nihilistic concept, until we start glancing what he is pointing at, everything changes from then on. Unless we understand and later live the “concept” of living a dream, we will continue to relate to the “other” (guru or not) in a limited way.

I rest my case, my friend.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josef Bruckner said...

Unknown,
if you are interested in Sri K. Lakshmana Swamy or his close devotee called Smt. Saradamma you could read David Godman's book Lakshmana Swamy, No Mind, I am the Self.

Mouna said...

Unknown, greetings.

I am very surprised by your comment.
I never, ever thought about you when commenting about people that are not polite in this blog. Rest assured about that.
I wonder how you got that idea...

Thanks,
m

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

Mouna, oh yeah - I did understand you. I comprehend the concept of ajata and I have pushed that concept in the past. It is just talk. Ajata is irrelevant until realization and then it is even more irrelevant. Why? Because it's the mind which gets off from concepts like that.

I also know about the different "stages" of love, blablabla, "a step further" - LMAO

For whom?

I also have read Michael's treatise "Is a human guru really necessary?". I do not concur. Granted, Michael makes some interesting points and one could get swayed by the seeming logic, but that works only for people who never actually have encountered a sage.

Hey, apparently Michael is not only a scholar and pundit. He is also a master, Jnani and sage. Why stop there? He must be the second coming of Christ, an avatar to save mankind from destruction. Buddha and Krishna step away .........

Frankly, it hurts when I have to read things like that (besides others) and that drops the appeal of this blog tremendously. Well, I believe after this short stint I'll sink back into oblivion.

Be well my friend.

Unknown said...

Mr. Michael James,

If Sri Ramana Maharshi did not have a physical body or a satvic ego or a pure satvic mind devoid of rajas and tamas and devoid of unnecessary vasanas (like ordinary people have) as you have suggested then who was it that lived for 54 years in Arunachala and interacted with thousands of people who visited him for all those years?

In his last years he did many times cry because of the excruciating pain and suffered immensely (as I would have done myself if it happens to me) as proper treatment for pain was not available at that time as it is now. Even today there is no adequate treatment for severe pain.

You or anyone else here have not provided an adequate explanation regarding Sri Ramana's body's or his jiva's activities for his 54 years since his Self-realization but given vague replies quoting certain verses and what Sri Ramana himself has said.

Granted all these activities of the body and mind have nothing whatsoever to do with his having attained mukti or moksha or having attained permanent atma-jnana or Self-realization or Self-knowledge or he being in sahaja samadhi etc. he did have a body and a mind whenever such a body and a mind was needed to live in this world.

Yet even in spite of his body and life being alive I agree that he was constantly aware he was not his body or his thoughts but he did have a body and have a mind or the necessary thoughts whenever it was needed to live and interact in this world until his physical body died as it will happen to one and all without exception.

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


To whomever concerned: You will sink back into oblivion? Please do, as it will be a great gift for humanity. You will not be missed.

Josef Bruckner said...

Unknown,
"... but he did have a body and have a mind or the necessary thoughts whenever it was needed to live and interact in this world until his physical body died as it will happen to one and all without exception."

Yet again, undisputed the jnani's appearance of seemingly having a body and mind and acting in the world like everybody else occurs/appears only in the diluted view of ego. How can ego's view ever comprehend a jnani's infinite view ?
However, who takes one's leave of ego easily ?

Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
you are completely right:
After realization of jnana all concepts prove to be mere "blablabla".
You claim repeatedly to belong to people who actually have encountered a "living" sage.
So you may easily make capital out of that gigantic advantage.
I frankly give you ten paces' start.:-)

Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
you state 'Only a "living" sage can be a true spiritual teacher'.

Is not the care of our innermost self enough ?

Has Arunachala Hill ever died, is He not fully alive ?

"...I have to rely on my faith with people who I consider to be a sage, and that is most certainly Papaji and Nisargadatta Maharaj, Annamalai Swami, Robert Adams and a few others."
Evidently it depends of one's spiritual ripeness whom one may consider to be a sage.

Mouna said...

Salazar,

Saying that “ajata” is just talk demonstrates that it wasn’t grasped it so far.
There are some concepts that when grasped change one’s whole point of view and navigation of life.
Ajata is one of them. And, of course is a concept! like every thing/phenomena else is. Even “self” is a concept until one starts understanding it and the whole identity starts changing place.
Gurdjieff used to define understanding as the combination of “being” and ”knowledge”, is the combination of both what produces change.

As far as this article is discussed, I still didn’t see anyone who posted, challenge what Michael wrote on a the basis of what he wrote, and in relation to Bhagavan's teachings.

And finally, we still continue (far less than before fortunately) to misrepresent Michael with polite and cynical “ad hominem” descriptions.
Judging another person does not define who they are, it defines who you are.

Salazar said...

It seems that "Unknown" simply cannot comprehend why the body of Bhagavan cried and seemed to be in pain and suffering while Bhagavan, being Self (and not being identified with that body), was entirely unaffected by that pain.

Now Bhagavan felt the sensation as he himself stated, (that contradicts Michael's doctrine of that Jnanis do not perceive phenomena), however, as Bhagavan stated, he was that pain too besides that body or all bodies and objects, thus "suffering" which only exists when objects are separated, is just an idea.

So Bhagavan was not only Self, but also that body and all phenomena like pain and sensations of heat etc., however there was no difference for him between Self and a body or pain. That can only be truly understood with direct experience because it goes into a territory a mind can never comprehend.

So Bhagavan was that body and he was not that body. That's why "logic" cannot work and Michael can try to be logical about it but that can only fail.

Most minds can only accept that if there was a direct experience of Self.

Josef Bruckner said...

Unknown,
"If Sri Ramana Maharshi did not have a physical body or a satvic ego or a pure satvic mind devoid of rajas and tamas and devoid of unnecessary vasanas (like ordinary people have) as you have suggested then who was it that lived for 54 years in Arunachala and interacted with thousands of people who visited him for all those years?"

Only because Mr. Unknown seems to have a physical body, ego or mind he could put this question and wishes to hear "an adequate explanation regarding Sri Ramana's body's or his jiva's activities...".
By the way visaya vasanas are never necessary.

Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar stated "Realization cannot arrive without initial effort."
Even continued effort will not lead to 'realization' if the aspirant's motivation is not sufficiently pure.

Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
"If Papaji or Bhagavan would appear to me in a dream and suggest to visit a certain individual (a sage) I'd immediately do so no matter where that individual lives. A sage is our salvation, not abstract tools or ideas."

If Papaji or Bhagavan would appear to you in a dream and suggest to visit your innermost heart would you do so immediately ? Why consider your own heart as an abstract tool ?

Salazar said...

Mouna talks in one breath about ajata (and how he has grasped it in comparison to others) and about "judging" between objects. :-D

Judging, a pure imagination of mind, is defining who I am? [Slight chuckle]

Thanks for the laugh and I like to close with what Bhagavan would have responded to you: "Who or where is the one who is judging?"


Mouna said...

Salazar,
I would like to end our exchange in a good note, I feel we deserve that as friends we are, sharing this virtual space.
I don’t hold any grudge or judgement to you personally (on the contrary), and if it ever seems so, is just my way of reviewing ideas, concepts, nothing personal, no judging of people (except when there is “anonymous” trolling like we had before in this blog).
I express my understanding, limited as might be, and challenge it with others’ comments, that’s all, try to not compare it with others’.
Thanks
m

Palani said...

Hi Salazar,

Hope you are doing well. Is there any e-mail ID or contact details that I can reach out to privately regarding Bhagavan's teaching subject. I would be grateful if you could share your time on this with me please?

Krishna Santh said...

with heavy heart i write this Michael James.

you should focus on practical tips that you can offer on self enquiry rather than criticizing very disciple of Bhagavan from Lakshmana swamy to annamalai swami to papaji.

do not you realize Sadhu Om himself has composed so many devotional songs on bhagavan and arunachala which are now published by RMCL in CDs? some of the songs directly praising the divine name of Ramana. would you dismiss all of them ?

dont you realize Bhagavan has regarded this hill of arunachala as God and praised it in many occasions and encouraged giri pradakshina?

dont you realize Bhagavan prescribed to read Ribhu Gita even to cooks and he himself participated in the readings ( Ribhu Gita is full of traditional manana sentences and bhava)

how are you going to dismiss all other aspects which Bhagavan wrote?

what are you going to achieve by dragging each and every direct disciple of Bhagavan?

I had high regard for your works earlier. now this whole blog is becoming a ISCKON equivalent of Sri Raman literature. that was never the intention of Bhagavan Ramana.

completely trying to create a fanatic set of teachings.and if we quote any Bhagavan passages for dualistic devotion to the arunachala hill you will dismiss them as unauthentic?

i advise please focus on staying with innermost sense of I feeling rathen poking into every Master like this. Sadhu Om if he was alive he would have asked you to stop these type of articles.

Michael James said...

A friend, Jacques Franck, wrote a comment on one of my recent videos, 2019-03-11 Richmond Park: Michael James discusses verse 11 of Śrī Aruṇācala Padigam: ‘Thank you for these commentaries of Śrī Aruṇācala Padigam.... but I have a little difficulty about the second sentence: “when thought of once within the mind will kill [ego] without killing [the body].” .... if the body is only ego how can the body can survive after ego was killed.... ? From my on point of view after the killing of the ego the question will not be there.... and of course you have to kill the ego and not the body because ego is the root and projection of the body.... but every time I read this passage I am a little confused....’. In reply to this I wrote:

Jacques, ‘will kill without killing’ can be interpreted to mean either ‘will kill ego without killing our real nature’ or ‘will kill ego without killing the body’, so you can take whichever interpretation appeals to you. Obviously our real nature can never be killed, and killing the body is not a solution so long as ego survives, because ego will just project and identify itself with some other body.

As you say, body will not remain when ego is killed, because it seems to exist only in the view of ego. However, this is a very deep and radical teaching, which can be accepted only by those who are willing to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda (the contention that there is no creation other than perception), which maintains that all phenomena are just a mental projection, like phenomena perceived in a dream. Since most people are unwilling to accept this, it is conceded that in the view of others the body of a jīvanmukta survives the death of ego, and hence Bhagavan implies that Arunachala will kill ego without killing the body.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 8.,
"The only language in which it can express itself is silence, because silence is its very nature."
I presume that our real nature expresses itself also for instance in the silent beauty of nature, music, arts or in people with a innocent, pure heart like a child - even though it is perceived, seen, heared or felt by our senses.

Josef Bruckner said...

"Since most people are unwilling to accept this, it is conceded that in the view of others the body of a jīvanmukta survives the death of ego, and hence Bhagavan implies that Arunachala will kill ego without killing the body."
So for example in our view Bhagavan's body survived till 14 April 1950 the death of ego or at least Venkataraman's identification with his previous person as a boy in July 1896.
Because Arunachala is beyond mind we therefore do not know the time when ego is killed.
Perhaps in the next moment or in aeons.

Michael James said...

Josef, the silence that Bhagavan refers to when he says that silence is our very nature is silence of a entirely different order to what you call ‘the silent beauty of nature, music, arts or in people with a innocent, pure heart like a child’, because as he says unequivocally in the portion of the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? that I referred to in the same section, it is silence that is completely devoid of ego, without which no phenomena could even seem to exist.

Therefore, compared to this real silence, even ‘the silent beauty of nature, music, arts or in people with a innocent, pure heart like a child’ is noise, because it seems to exist only in the view of ego, the very rising of which is noise and the origin of all other noise.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
thanks for clarifying what real silence is. Hard to believe that 'the silent beauty of nature, music, arts or in people with a innocent, pure heart like a child' is noise or at best a pale imitation compared with real silence.
Therefore my longing is real silence. Can perhaps experiencing outward silence be a springboard to stimulate being aware of our pure awareness which is said to be what we actually are ?

Salazar said...

Mouna, we are good - we both have the same tendency in discussions like this, how could I judge you for that.

Re. ajata, I said I understand the CONCEPT of ajata, ajata itself I cannot comprehend and 'I' (as the mind) never will.

We all have many common things we share, i.e. we all consider atma-vichara as an excellent practice and I agree with Michael that it has to go so deep that we are not anymore aware of our senses. Annamalai Swami said that as long as we can taste our food and can smell things etc. we are not abiding in Self.

Annamalai Swami re. "killing the ego": He said that the ego is not really killed, it is just the understanding that the ego has never existed in the first place. The ego is an idea we believe in, that belief has to go. That's it.

Now the mind obviously cannot do that (directly), because the Self does not need the confirmation of the mind in form of a thought.

*****************

Palani, I may be open for a private email exchange so I may create a "Salazar" email account and I'll post that address (with Michael's permission) here. Anybody with sincere intentions is welcome too.



Salazar said...

Re. dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda: One cannot perceive what one (truly) is. What we perceive as phenomena and objects is transient and a projection. Even though phenomena are transient they are real in the way that they get their reality from Self (according to Bhagavan, Shankara and Kashmir Shaivism).

The paradox with the Jnani is that as Self he is not only Self but also these transient phenomena however, contrary to the ajnani who perceives and projects these phenomena, Self or the Jnani is not perceiving these phenomena because he/it IS IT (too). The Jnani is not perceiving/projecting phenomena because he is that (too). With that understanding the doctrine of "dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda" has not been violated.

Palani said...

Thanks a lot for that Salazar.

Salazar said...

Palani, and others if they feel so inclined, my email address is

Who.is.Salazar"AT"protonmail.com


The "AT" needs to changed to @

Palani said...

Thank you Salazar. Have sent you a test mail message to that email address.

Krishna Santh said...

michael james

please answere below quetions without ignoring.

i) Sri Ramana encouraged people to read Ribhu Gita and he himself parcitipated in Ribhu Gita readings. Ribhu Gita is full of affirmations and negations. why do you think Sri Raman encouraged that Ribhu Gita and even advised devotees that it is highest sadhana?

ii) Sadhu Om devotional poems: sadhu om composed numerous tamil poems towards both sri ramana and arunachala where dualistic love and bhakthi pour forward. how will you reconcile each of them into sadhu om's self enquiry. i heard somehwere sadhu om told that devotion and enquiry are his two wings of sadhana. how do you reconcile?

iii) physical arunacha hill and its devotion: sri ramana has authoritatively recognized that Arunachala Hill is the Self. not just symbolic, it is Shiva itself and this fact is coming in places like navamani malai, aksharamanamalai , pancharatnam etc.
so how are you going to agree to this aspect of bhagavan ramana teachings?

iv) arunachala aksharamanamalai and padhigam: these are the places where bhagavan freely expressed his devotion to arunachala hill in dualistic way. but i see that you are comfortably silent in not discussing these works. are you planning to convert all interpretations to self enquiry alone?

v) what is your own opinion on arunachala hill? do you agree that it is the most sacred Shiva form or just will say that this is just a thought?

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 8.,
a.)‘Being one is the truth, the experience of everyone’.
b.)"Since we always experience ourself as one, we can never know ourself as an object, so knowing ourself cannot be compared in anyway to knowing any object."
c.)"To say ‘என்னை அறியேன் நான்’ (eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ nāṉ), ‘I do not know myself’ implies that we have somehow lost knowledge of ourself,..."
d.)“Saying [either] ‘I do not know myself’ [or] ‘I have known myself’ is ground for ridicule”.

Nevertheless I must make a formal apology for the fact that my actual starting position/situation is quite different:
ad a.) my experience of/as ego is just not being one.
ad b.) my experience of/as ego is just not being one.
ad c.) I have somehow lost knowledge of myself.
Because I am not yet dissolved I did not become one with my real nature.
ad d.) even it may be ridiculous ‘I do not know myself’.

Michael James said...

Krishna Santh, in answer to the questions you have asked in your latest comment:

i) Bhagavan may have encouraged some people to recite the Ribhu Gita, because the teachings or advice he gave to each person were according to their individual needs and level of spiritual maturity, but I believe it is an exaggeration to say that he advised that reciting it is the highest sādhana. As you say, it is ‘full of affirmations and negations’, in the sense that many of the verses are repetitions the idea ‘I am not this [body, mind, person and so on], I am that [brahman, sat-cit-ānanda, pure consciousness, infinite bliss and so on]’, so as Sadhu Om used to say, reciting such repetitions is like primary school children learning the alphabet and multiplication tables by repetition. It is a means to imbibe the elementary principles of advaita, so it may be helpful to some people at a certain stage of their spiritual development, but just as repetition of the alphabet and multiplication tables becomes unnecessary once we have become sufficiently familiar with them, repetition of ‘I am not this, I am that’ becomes unnecessary once we have clearly and firmly understood these elementary principles, as Bhagavan implies in following verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

“அன்றி, ‘அன்று இது, நான் ஆம் அது’ என்று உன்னல் துணை ஆம்; அது விசாரம் ஆமா?” (aṉḏṟi, ‘aṉḏṟu idu, nāṉ ām adu’ eṉḏṟu uṉṉal tuṇai ām; adu vicāram āmā?), “Instead, thinking ‘[I am] not this [body or mind], I am that [brahman]’ is an aid, [but] is it vicāra?” (verse 29)

“‘அது நான், இது அன்று’ என்று எண்ணல் உரன் இன்மையினால்” (‘adu nāṉ, idu aṉḏṟu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇal uraṉ iṉmaiyiṉāl), “thinking ‘I am that, not this’ is due to non-existence of [destitution or deficiency] of strength [or lack of clarity of understanding]” (verse 32)

“என்றும் ‘நாம் அது’ என்று எண்ணுவது ஏன்? ‘நான் மனிதன்’ என்று எணுமோ? நாம் அதுவா நிற்கும் அதனால்” (eṉḏṟum ‘nām adu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇuvadu ēṉ? ‘nāṉ maṉidaṉ’ eṉḏṟu eṇumō? nām adu-v-ā niṟkum adaṉāl), “Since we stand [abide or constantly exist] as that, why [should we be] always thinking ‘We are that’? Does one think ‘I am a man’?” (verse 36)

ii) What is there to reconcile? As Bhagavan often said, ‘Bhakti is the mother of jñāna’. We cannot attain jñāna without surrendering ourself entirely, and we will not surrender ourself unless we have all-consuming love for something far greater than this petty ego, which now seems to be ourself. The path of bhakti leads to and culminates in complete self-surrender, which can be accomplished only by self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), as Bhagavan implies in the first sentence of the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: ‘ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்று மிடங்கொடாமல் ஆத்மநிஷ்டாபரனா யிருப்பதே தன்னை ஈசனுக் களிப்பதாம்’ (āṉma-cintaṉaiyai-t tavira vēṟu cintaṉai kiḷambuvadaṟku-c caṯṟum iḍam-koḍāmal ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ-āy iruppadē taṉṉai īśaṉukku aḷippadām), ‘Being ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ [one who is completely fixed in and as oneself], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any cintana [thought] other than ātma-cintana [‘thought of oneself’, self-contemplation or self-attentiveness], alone is giving oneself to God’.

(I will continue this reply in my next two comments.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Krishna Santh:

iii, iv and v) Arunachala is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), but because we mistake ourself to be to be a body, out of its infinite love for us it has appeared to us not only in the human form of Bhagavan to teach us through words that we must turn within to see what we actually are, but also in the hill form of Arunachala to teach us the same through silence. As Bhagavan says in the first verse of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam: ‘அறிவு அறு கிரி என அமர்தரும். அம்மா, அதிசயம் இதன் செயல் அறி அரிது ஆர்க்கும்’ (aṟivu aṟu giri eṉa amardarum. ammā, atiśayam idaṉ seyal aṟi aridu ārkkum), ‘It sits calmly as a hill [seemingly] bereft of awareness [or knowledge], [but] ah, its action is pre-eminent [or wonderful], difficult for anyone to understand’.

What he refers to here as ‘இதன் செயல்’ (idaṉ seyal), ‘its action’, is described by him in more detail in the second sentence of verse 10 of Śrī Aruṇācala Padigam: ‘ஒருதரம் இதனை ஓர்த்திடும் உயிரின் சேட்டையை ஒடுக்கி, ஒரு தனது அபிமுகம் ஆக ஈர்த்து, அதை தன் போல் அசலமா செய்து, அவ் இன் உயிர் பலி கொளும்’ (orudaram idaṉai ōrttiḍum uyiriṉ cēṭṭaiyai oḍukki, oru taṉadu abhimukham-āha īrttu, adai taṉ pōl acalamā seydu, a-vv-iṉ uyir bali koḷum), ‘Subduing the mischievous activity of the soul who thinks of it once, pulling [dragging or attracting] [that soul] to face towards itself, the one [or peerless] [infinite self-awareness that shines within the heart as ‘I’], and [thereby] making it acala [motionless] like itself, it accepts [and consumes] that sweet [spiritually ripened and pure] soul as bali [food offered in sacrifice]’. In other words, if we think even once of Arunachala, it will eventually consume us by drawing our attention within to face ourself, which is its true form (svarūpa). Such is the wonderful action of Arunachala.

From what you wrote in both your latest comment and an earlier one it seems that you assume I have no love for Arunachala, that I do not appreciate the value of giri-pradakṣiṇa and that I dismiss Bhagavan’s devotion expressed in the verses of Śrī Aruṇācala Stuti Pañcakam as ‘unauthentic’. Whatever gave you this idea? I lived for nearly twenty years in Tiruvannamalai, and during most of that time I did giri-pradakṣiṇa every day. One of the first articles I wrote was The Power of Arunachala (originally published in the April 1982 issue of The Mountain Path), and I frequently refer to verses of Śrī Aruṇācala Stuti Pañcakam in this blog and in the videos on my YouTube channel, Sri Ramana Teachings, including in a recent series on Śrī Aruṇācala Padigam.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Krishna Santh:

The deeper our love for Arunachala grows, the deeper our love for Self-investigation and self-surrender will become, because this is the path that Arunachala teaches us through silence, as Bhagavan implies in verse 44 of Śrī Aruṇācala Akṣaramaṇamālai:

திரும்பி யகந்தனைத் தினமகக் கண்காண்
      டெரியுமென் றனையென் னருணாசலா

tirumbi yahandaṉaid diṉamahak kaṇkāṇ
      ṭeriyumeṉ ḏṟaṉaiyeṉ ṉaruṇācalā


பதச்சேதம்: ‘திரும்பி அகம் தனை தினம் அகக்கண் காண்; தெரியும்’ என்றனை என் அருணாசலா

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘tirumbi aham taṉai diṉam aha-k-kaṇ kāṇ; ṭeriyum’ eṉḏṟaṉai eṉ aruṇācalā

அன்வயம்: அருணாசலா, ‘அகம் திரும்பி, தினம் அகக்கண் தனை காண்; தெரியும்’ என்றனை. என்!

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): aruṇācalā, ‘aham tirumbi, diṉam aha-k-kaṇ taṉai kāṇ; ṭeriyum’ eṉḏṟaṉai. eṉ!

English translation:: Arunachala, what [a wonder]! You said: ‘Turning back inside, see yourself daily with the inner eye [or an inward look]; it [the reality that always shines as ‘I alone am I’] will be known’.

You also complain that I criticise ‘[e]very disciple of Bhagavan’, but I have not actually criticised any of his disciples. In this article and a few others I have discussed certain ideas expressed by some of his devotees and explained how some such ideas are contrary to the fundamental principles of his teachings. If you disagree with any of my explanations in this regard, you should explain why you believe my explanations are not correct, rather than accusing me of criticising those who have expressed such ideas.

Who am I to criticise anyone, and why should I want to do so? When I critique questionable ideas, that is not intended to be a criticism of the personality or integrity of anyone who believes or expresses those ideas. My only concern is Bhagavan’s teachings, so when people point out to me any misinterpretations or misrepresentations of his teachings, I do not think it is wrong for me to explain why I consider them to be contrary to what he actually taught us in his own original writings. Therefore let us discuss only his teachings and ideas related to them, rather than misinterpreting such a discussion to be personal criticism.

Salazar said...

Michael, re. your "I am not criticizing any disciples of Bhagavan" and subsequent explanations.

I cannot quite concur with your reasoning and I'll tell you why.

I suppose Bhagavan is your guru and you also admire and love the disciple Sadhu Om who is for you Self-realized and therefore you hold him in very high esteem.

Now let's take another direct disciple of Bhagavan, Sri Poonja, who many consider to be Self-realized. All those admire and hold in very high esteem Papaji and, since he's a Jnani, his teachings are and must be impeccable.

So what is Michael doing, he, with his ignorant ego's (I am using Michael's own words) understanding, is taking Bhagavan's teaching as he understands it and points out seeming contradictions to Papaji's teachings. But how can that be, contradictions in Self (or between two Jnanis)? [But for the ignorant mind]

That can only work when one considers Papaji as an impostor and liar, since anybody who has read Papaji's biography must come to the conclusion that Papaji is Self-realized. Or Papaji lied to David Godman and David was duped by a liar and impostor.

That's how I see it.

You have criticized Papaji in a very disrespectful way and would you use that same language referring to Sadhu Om like that? I highly doubt it.

So it is not just pure concepts, which are any way limited by an ignorant ego, it is entirely who we consider as a sage and their impeccable teachings.

So you have personally criticized Papaji, Annamalai Swami, the Maharaj, and others declaring them as liars and impostors. I.e. Papaji clearly indicated to be Self-realized, as did Annamalai Swami, and when Nisargadatta Maharaj openly declared disciples of him to be Self-realized that clearly indicated that he is Self-realized too.

So, according to you, all of them must be liars, even when you have not openly said that, since you do not accept them as sages.


Gargoyle/Morrison, that's why it is important who we accept as a sage and who not. And it is true that only a sage recognizes a sage. Well, why do you then accept Bhagavan as a sage? How can you trust your ignorant ego? How can Michael trust his ignorant ego? We cannot. We can only rely on our intuition what is a fruition of Self.

Now all of this is of course prarabdha karma and unfolds as it should. Including this comment and all other comments on this blog.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Who is a devotee of God?

A friend: How can we help a person who is not on this path in the process of dying?

Michael: It is difficult enough to help ourself – we can help ourself only to the extent we are willing to let go. But we cannot give such willingness to other people. So it is up to each person. But if a person has faith in God we can encourage them to leave it all to God – let go.

There are many people who have faith in God but still have very strong attachments. They believe that if they pray to God, God will give them whatever they want. So though they are devoted to God, they are not yet willing to give themselves to God. But the path of devotion is leading to surrender.

We can encourage some people to trust God. We can tell them God will take care of them – leave it all to him. Let his will be done. By giving such advice we may be able to help some people. Let things happen according to God’s will. Only someone who has this attitude is a true devotee of God.

<~> Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-24 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses death and what happens after death (1:28)

Mouna said...

A moment in time outside time

Yesterday I was working in front of my computer and a rush of anxiety showed its fangs in my heart and mind. For a moment I felt shaken since it took me by surprise. Many things going on wildly in this so called life...

Next to my big monitor I have a rare photo of Bhagavan I really cherish since the time I bought it in Ramanasramam’s bookstore. It might be some remaining photos from a photo session. At that time I bought three, real photos, old paper, a portrait of Him, sepia tone, looking at the camera, through the camera, at you or me, directly into our eyes, through us, like a sphinx gaze, eyes fixed in the timeless, and yet carrying us with Him into this inward journey.

Flying back home, my next seat neighbor in the plane, a chinese lady that didn’t speak a word of english, suddenly took out a book of Bhagavan, in chinese, which she started reading. Surprise and emotion to witness the wheel, the fabric of the whole cosmos rearranging itself in a strange but beatiful serendipitous way. I started gesticulating and finally gave her one of the three photographs to seal that moment in time of two beings united by a teacher who was just gazing out of an old photo. The second photo was damaged in time and lost it. Only this one is still adorning my days.

Back to the sudden anxiety rush, it took just one look at this photo, to be completely pierced by that timeless, all embracing look, and in that specific silent moment took care of my burden, engulfing it back into emptiness, leaving a sweet feeling of grace revealed…

I wish we could post photographs in this blog for you to understand what I mean, but on second thoughts, it might really not be necessary, that gaze is our own self looking at us, our beloved teacher, our guide, our own Arunachala taking form in a pair of beautiful eyes, while softly inviting us to...

Unknown said...

Sorry. but self does not have eyes....

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
many thanks for the given link to your wonderful article "The Power of Arunachala (originally published in the April 1982 issue of The Mountain Path)".

Arunachala !

Josef Bruckner said...

Unknown, you state "Sorry. but self does not have eyes...."
Is there anything not seen by the self ?
Is not the omnipresent and omniscient consciousness of self called its eye ?

Aham said...

.

@Salazar

"To proclaim that a living sage is not necessary is born out of ignorance. An aspirant cannot succeed by himself alone even when he properly does Self-inquiry."

Each speaks according to their understanding.

In fact Sri Ramana stated that the mature ones do not require a guru in form. For the outer guru is only to show the aspirant that the true guru is within.

I suspect Mr James no longer requires the outer guru. He realises the true guru is within and so looks there.

The rest, not recognising the true guru is within, go about telling everyone they need a guru in form.


O people, not knowing that Shiva is dwelling within you, you fly about like birds from one holy place (person) to another [seeking His Darshan]. Consciousness, when abiding still in the Heart, is the Supreme Shiva. (GVK, v190)

.

Aham said...

test

Krishna Santh said...

Michael James thanks for ur answers

First i know ur Arunachala articles. First though u seem to accept the Arunachala hill related lines of maharshi , you will take those sentences and convert them into self enquiry interpretations. ISCKON version in sri Ramana maharshi school is typically you. It is Beyond doubt proved in navamanimalai padhigam ashtakam akaharamana malai that maharshi literally considered the Arunachala hill as Self. But u said elsewhere that Arunachala worship is a additional accessory to main self enquiry. Even if i quote Tamil lines u will find some inner meaning to self enquiry

And wat about sadhu Om? Have u read all his Tamil poems? RMCL has bought about Ramana geetham. There beyond least doubt sadhu Om has employed pure devotion without self enquiry tips in many songs. But u are selectively silent on sadhu Om bhakthi aspects.

I don't have any issue in your self enquiry method or ur telling wat is not self enquiry. I myself do self enquiry as keeping the inner most feeling of I and holding that I thought

But the issue with you is , you are trying to prove that even Bhagavan devotional verses are only self enquiry

I take ur ulladhu narpadhu and upadesa undiyar into high regard. But when u try to prove even Arunachala related verses as sf enquiry it looks so narrow and artificial




Do u agree mere arunachala Japa, giri pradakshina will ensure liberation? No u will not. U will say they must be practiced as auxiliary practice along with self enquiry

And u guys completely ignore mother alagammal mukthi where Bhagavan sat with her forba night and fast forwarded her karma. And cow Lakshmi liberatuon also. Because these two cases grace comes into picture. It is so alien for u guys but u could not call it as rubbish like u did with Talks book because maharshi himself beyond doubt accepted his intervention mother alagammal case

And u guys are famous to belittle sari chakra at mother shrine saying maharishee touched bathroom handle more times than sri chakra

This is 100 percent isckon type cult only

Let me tell u instead of writing essays and dragging everyone u better practice self enquiry.

Aham said...

.

@Salazar

And since you are fond of Nisargadatta and Papaji, here's what they had to say about the guru in form:

"Running after saints (gurus) is merely another game to play. Remember yourself instead and watch your daily life relentlessly. Be earnest, and you shall not fail to break the bonds of inattention and imagination." (Nisargadatta)

*

"Question: Has the Maharshi's physical demise made a difference in the guidance that is available to seekers following the path he laid down?

Papaji: It doesn't make any difference whether he is alive or whether he is no more now. It doesn't make any difference, because it is not the form or the person that gives you satisfaction. And for those who want to seek the path that he laid, it is always there. That is, to keep quiet and find out who you are, and find out what is the source of this universe and from where does it come."

*

Papaji and Nisargadatta both gave answers according to the questioner's needs. For some they directed them to turn within and find the guru there; as in the responses above. For those unable to do this, they told them they needed a guru in form.

If an aspirant such as yourself is not able to cling to the guru within they will be attracted to the teacher's answers that encourage having a guru in form, and hanker for such.

.

Unknown said...

Michael,

In one the recent YouTube movies you talk about the 14 paragraph of Nan Yar? At the very beginning you say: „...the goal is the happiness and when correctly understood the path is also the happiness as the nature of the path can't be other than the nature of the goal...” - fully agree with you, what you mention here is very important, indisputable rule, let's call it: „the fundamental rule”.

To make my point simply I am assuming that:

- the Self is happiness and the ego is unhappiness

- our real nature = Self = happiness.

In order to be in line with the „fundamental rule” you pointed out in the movie, there must be the real happiness (Self or our real nature) on the path of Atma-Vichara or self-attention, because otherwise the path would not lead to the goal (Self, real happiness, our real nature). This is what you declare in the movie.

However, in this post you seemingly contradict this statement saying that we "experience" our real nature only as the final attainment when the path of Atma-Vichara is completed and when the ego is annihilated once and forever, so you seem to tell us indirectly that there is no real happiness on the path, only in the final attainment. On the path there is still the ego which is unhappiness so there can't be happiness, right? You seem to be on the opinion that until ego dies forever in mano-nasa state we have no chance to experience our real nature being still on the path because the I-thought doesn't disappear or subside on the path (mano-laya states don't count here), but only when it is finished, correct?

In addition, you seem to advocate the theory of „180 degrees” (expressed in some other of your posts) claiming that until we turn our attention 180 back to the Self (happiness) we can't really experience the Self (happiness) because there are still some second or third persons thoughts which obscure it, even if we achieved 179 degrees. So 180 degrees mean final ego destruction in an instant and mano-nasa state, everything less than 180 is not real Self experience, no ego subsidence, no real happiness – we are always only „close to”. Correct?

So it seems in the move you claim there is the same happiness on the path as in the final goal, whereas here you seem to claim the opposite .

In order to clarify would you please tell us where exactly in the path of Atma-Vichara taught by Bhagavan Sri Ramana is a real happiness (Self, our real nature - not mano-laya state), the same as in the goal or final attainment?
(wherein I assume that „close” means still a defective state of happiness (ego is still present) and according to the „fundamental rule” such defective state can only lead to a defective happiness not a perfect happiness which is real our nature.)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Unknown, you wonder if ‘there is no happiness on the path, only on final attainment’? There is no permanent or abiding on happiness on the path. This is because when we are travelling on this path, we are oscillating between our inward directed vision and our outward directed vision. When our vision is turned within, we do experience happiness but such happiness gives way to unhappiness when we abandon our inward vision and look outwards.

So in this sense, we can experience real, permanent and infinite happiness only on final attainment.

Josef Bruckner said...

Ramana philosophy is clear:
Since perfect happiness is our real nature it is ever present. If we attain to things other than self by rising as ego-person we restrict of course our fundamental happiness.

Michael James said...

Salazar, I have replied to your comment of 29 March 2019 at 15:19 in a separate article: Whatever jñāna we believe we see in anyone else is false.

Salazar said...

Aham et al., as usual you misunderstand what I am saying. I haven't read Michael's new article yet - depending how long I may not.

Regarding the Maharaj's comment about "guru's and saints" ... That's exactly what he meant, gurus and saints and NOT sages. Usually, "gurus and saints", and I believe even Michael has written somewhere an article about that, are not Self-realized and it would be silly to run after those, i.e Osho.

However if I'd take the effort (and I won't) I could quote several comments by the Maharaj about the importance to meet and be in the presence of a sage.

But it is not only about meeting a sage, it is who we accept as a sage and then their teaching is impeccable. Is anybody grasping the significance and hole in Michael's reasoning? For all those who feel "advanced" and THINK in absolute terms, just then deal with the guru within.

What is the big fuzz anyway to insist on only the "guru within"? The outer and inner guru are the same, so why then discarding the outer guru? BOTH are essential.

Bhagavan sent away Annamalai Swami so he doesn't get attached to his form. And yet Bhagavan met him from time to time....

You said and I quote, "I suspect Mr James no longer requires the outer guru. He realises the true guru is within and so looks there."

Ah, whatever Mr. James does must be right ;-)

What about Muruganar then, you'll agree with me that he is a little more "advanced" than Michael, why did he spend most of his life with Bhagavan? Why bother to move to Sri Ramanasramam (as countless others) when he has the "guru within"? I guess he has not read Michael's treatise "Is a human guru really necessary?" :-)




Mouna said...

Once Michael wrote an article in which some of its chapters were a direct response to one of my comments about the illusion of free will. It was a long article (Michael’s). At first (without even reading it) I reacted by contesting one or two points at the beginning of those sections that where addressing my point of view and challenged the flaws on my opinion.

I remember quite vividly saying to myself “this is too long and boring and it will be always the same song, etc, etc... Long time passed and one day decided to read it entirely. I discovered that I’ve been spending more time reacting to “my idea” of what was in the article than actually reading it and challenging the views one by one!

“Too long” to read it meant big ego wonderful cop out, not to mention that I knew that if the article had some valid points I would have either to challenge those points one by one with solid statements supporting my view or receive a good blow in egoic face. Either situation was kind of unbearable.

On another point, is very clear that Muruganar went to Bhagavan and chose to stay with him because the Maharshi WAS RIGHT THERE!.
Who is there nowadays? Even David Godman says that if there was anyone of that caliber he will be seated at his feet right now, and I doubt that David is postponing his sadhana until that moment.

If we really think an outer guru is that necessary why spent the whole day theorizing about that importance instead of leaving everything in search of that... guru or “sage”, if there is one?
Why waste time when our sage is just not only closer to ourself than anything else but also ourself and pay attention to him?

Jeremy Lennon said...

"And although nothing much can be seen through the mist, there is somehow the blissful feeling that one is looking in the right direction.” Vladimir Nabokov.

I found this quote "by chance" yesterday, which describes so well, for this aspirant, his current experience with self-investigation. So I share it here with one and all.

Salazar said...

Who is talking about postponing sadhana. Geez Louise, amazing how may preconceptions and imaginations swirl in people minds.

Josef Bruckner said...

Mouna,
greetings,
"Who is there nowadays? Even David Godman says that if there was anyone of that caliber he will be seated at his feet right now,...".
That caliber was never absent and is always and nowadays there - but right now has the form of a mountain. "This is Arunachala Siva, the Ocean of Grace that bestows Liberation when thought of". Is that not enough ?

Mouna said...

”amazing how may preconceptions and imaginations swirl in people minds”
Hahaha, couldn’t agree more with that, Louise!

Salazar said...

“Whatever Jnana we believe we see is false”

Now is that anyone’s direct experience here or is that just some conceptual fluff some have attached their minds to? I thought so.

Let me add to that:” Whatever Jnana we believe is the correct Jnana is an imagination of mind. It can only be but false, that includes Michael’s articles.”

Josef Bruckner said...

Mouna,
greetings again,
thanks for your nice story about the photo of Bhagavan Ramana...and your experience
"Flying back home, my next seat neighbor in the plane, a chinese lady that didn’t speak a word of english, suddenly took out a book of Bhagavan, in chinese, which she started reading...".

Salazar said...

Who said that one has to go for a search of a guru? Besides, if someone searches, i.e. like that Belgian woman (who went to India on a search for a guru and actually met Papaji) who then had an intimate relationship with Papaji, or not is entirely up to one's prarabdha karma.

So if we'll meet a sage or not is not depended on our (what is only imagined anyway) sankalpa but on our prarabdha karma. Thus any discussion re. this topic is redundant since it is already decided who'll meet a sage or not.

I.e. it was destined that David Godman went to India and met Nisargadatta Maharaj, Papaji, Annamalai Swami, Lakshmana Swamy, and other saints or sages. His desire was of course driven by his vasanas. He could not have done anything differently (except to not to identify with the entity "David Godman").

Also, one can strongly desire something but again if that desire doesn't align with one's prarabdha karma then it will not come to fruition. It will have to wait for a future lifetime unless there is realization before that. We are always free to be silent at all times, to not participate in any outward actions our [imagined] body does.

Papaji said that his realization was "delayed" because he believed the sastras (or "teachings"/ concepts). He believed that if one has an unfulfilled sexual desire for a woman (according to the sastras) that one has to be reborn. He emphatically exclaimed that this is not true. It only came to fruition because he believed it to be true and only that belief created another lifetime.

Papaji stressed that one can wipe out one's desires with one stroke. The only obstacle is that most will and cannot believe that and that unwillingness is the reason that it won't work.

That goes along with Michael's belief that only "prolonged, hard and intense sadhana" will yield into Self-realization.

Since Michael believes that it WILL be prolonged and hard for him. Because that belief of his mind projects that belief into this phenomenal world and it will be the obstacle to an experience of Self.

Papaji's comment about that was utmost profound and, if accepted, can shorten one's path immensely.

Palani said...

Hello Salazar, the last comment was very powerful with reference to Papaji,the beliefs etc. There is a section in Bhagavan's Parayanam book which is daily sung in the ashram. One them is called Devikalotra. It is said that Lord Shiva gave instructions to Devi Parvati. It is very powerful one where it is mentioned no prayer is needed, no chanting, no meditation, no rituals, he rules out what sastras consider . It is like just be silent.

When I look at myself, I do realize, we unconsciously believe certain things, Only Grace can take away ignorance, I need to do intense sadhana, I need to be very sattvic in nature, I should go to Tiruannamalai in Ramanashram, I have to surrender etc. Actually this very thoughts needs to be enquired. It all comes down to Just Being and one has to have that deep love for Being than any interest in thoughts no matter how noble they might seem to be.

Palani said...

Like how Bhagavan mentions in Who Am I, don't keep brooding that I'm sinner, what am I do? Is it possible to uproot all vasanas? He says these very thoughts are obstructing our realization.

I also realized, that thoughts are not problem but our identification and belief on those thoughts, how much deeply we hold and believe them. Not all thoughts that arise has same energy pull.It is the belief, hold that gives strength to these thoughts.

Unknown said...

It seems David Godman is in agreement with Michael, that until the Self Realisation is permanent, it is mediated via the "I-thought". (from the link David Godman supplied in the his comment).


In the responses to the ‘Ajata’ posting there was some discussion about whether temporary experiences of the Self could be classed as ‘ajata’, whether an experience of the Self is necessarily an experience of ajata, and so on. If these temporary experiences are, as Bhagavan seems to be saying here, just very subtle states of mind, then I would say that these experiences are not ‘ajata’. For me (and you are all welcome to disagree on this) the experience of ajata cannot be a mediated one. There cannot be a valid ajata experience if it is mediated through a ‘created’ and imaginary entity.

Shanker said...

This is what Ramana Maharishi himself has to say about this topic in Talk # 95 dated 13th November 1935:

Talk 95.
A question was raised as follows by Maj. A. W. Chadwick:-
Mr. Edward Carpenter, a certain mystic, has written in a book that
he had Self-Realisation on some occasions and that its effects lasted
sometimes afterwards, only to be gradually lost. Whereas Sri Ramana
Gita says, “Granthi (knot = bondage), snapped once, is snapped for
ever.” In the case of this mystic, the bondage seems to have persisted
even after Self-Realisation. How can it be so?
The Master cited Kaivalya as follows:-
The disciple, after realising the all-shining, unitary, unbroken state
of Being-Knowledge-Bliss, surrendered himself to the master and
humbly prayed to know how he could repay the master’s Grace.
The Master said:
“My reward consists in your permanent unbroken Bliss. Do not
slip away from it.”
D.: Having once experienced the Supreme Bliss, how can one stray
away from it?
M.: Oh yes! It happens. The predisposition adhering to him from time
immemorial will draw him out and so ignorance overtakes him.
D.: What are the obstacles to remaining steady in unbroken Bliss?
How can they be overcome?
M.: The obstacles are:
(1) Ignorance which is forgetfulness of one’s pure being.
(2) Doubt which consists in wondering if even the experience was
of the Real or of the unreal.
(3) Error which consists in the “I-am-the-body” idea, and thinking
that the world is real. These are overcome by hearing the truth,
reflection on it and concentration.
The Master continued: Experience is said to be temporary or
permanent. The first experience is temporary and by concentration it
can become permanent. In the former the bondage is not completely destroyed; it remains subtle and reasserts itself in due
course. But in the latter it is destroyed root and branch, never
to appear again. The expression yogabhrashta (those who have
fallen down from yoga) in Srimad Bhagavad Gita refers to the
former class of men.