Monday 29 July 2019

Why does ego rise again from manōlaya and not from manōnāśa?

In a comment on my previous article, Is there any such thing as ‘biological awareness’?, a friend called Abhilash wrote: ‘Could you clarify this confusion on deep sleep. We understand that in deep sleep ego is subdued, given this is the case when we wake up, how the memory that I slept well and did not know anything is obtained. If only awareness and ignorance were present during deep-sleep who reports this experience of absence back to ego in the waking state. As awareness transcends time/space/causality how can we say “awareness” possesses memory? Kindly clarify’.

In reply to this I wrote the following comment:
Abhilash, the question you ask is one that I attempted to answer in one of my recent articles, In what sense and to what extent do we remember what we were aware of in sleep?, so I hope that clarifies the matter adequately for you.

You say ‘If only awareness and ignorance were present during deep-sleep’, but how could ignorance exist in the absence of ego? Ignorance can exist only for ego, and is the very nature of ego, so there is no ignorance other than ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’. Therefore it is only from the perspective of ourself as ego in waking and dream that sleep seems to be a state of ignorance, but in fact it is not a state of ignorance but only one of pure awareness, as Bhagavan often used to point out. For example, in the first chapter of Maharshi’s Gospel (2002 edition, page 9) it is recorded that he said: ‘Sleep is not ignorance, it is one’s pure state; wakefulness is not knowledge, it is ignorance. There is full awareness in sleep and total ignorance in waking’.
In reply to this the same friend wrote another comment: ‘Thanks for the guidance. If deep sleep is a state of pure self-awareness (which I can intellectually deduct based on the “memory” of my existence as “I am” in deep sleep, once I wake up) which is devoid of ego (ignorance) why we couldn’t recognize our real nature while we are in deep sleep? Is it because the “I” (ego) which wants to realize its real nature is absent during deep sleep?’. The following is my reply to this:

Abhilash, as you imply, the reason why ego is not annihilated by the pure self-awareness that shines alone in sleep is that it is not present there to be annihilated. Sleep is just a state of manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind), and as Bhagavan says in verse 13 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
இலயமு நாச மிரண்டா மொடுக்க
மிலயித் துளதெழு முந்தீபற
      வெழாதுரு மாய்ந்ததே லுந்தீபற.

ilayamu nāśa miraṇḍā moḍukka
milayit tuḷadeṙu mundīpaṟa
      veṙāduru māyndadē lundīpaṟa

பதச்சேதம்: இலயமும் நாசம் இரண்டு ஆம் ஒடுக்கம். இலயித்து உளது எழும். எழாது உரு மாய்ந்ததேல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ilayam-um nāśam iraṇḍu ām oḍukkam. ilayittu uḷadu eṙum. eṙādu uru māyndadēl.

அன்வயம்: ஒடுக்கம் இலயமும் நாசம் இரண்டு ஆம். இலயித்து உளது எழும். உரு மாய்ந்ததேல் எழாது.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): oḍukkam ilayam-um nāśam iraṇḍu ām. ilayittu uḷadu eṙum. uru māyndadēl eṙādu.

English translation: Dissolution [cessation or complete subsidence of mind] is [of] two [kinds]: laya [temporary dissolution] and nāśa [annihilation or permanent dissolution]. What is lying down [or dissolved in laya] will rise. If [its] form dies [in nāśa], it will not rise.
Since mind (and hence ego, which is the root and essence of mind, being its perceiving aspect) is absent in both manōlaya and manōnāśa, there is no difference between these two states except for the fact that mind will rise again from laya but will never rise again from nāśa. So why does mind rise again from laya but not from nāśa? In nāśa ego is annihilated, which means permanently dissolved, whereas in laya it is just temporarily dissolved, and the reason for this difference lies in the cause for its dissolution in each of these states.

In nāśa we as ego are dissolved by attending to ourself so keenly that we are aware of nothing other than ourself, and hence aware of ourself as we actually are (that is, as pure awareness), because (just as an illusory snake will forever cease to appear as soon as we see that it is just a rope) as soon as we are aware of ourself as we actually are, we will forever cease to appear as ego (the erroneous self-awareness ‘I am this body’) and will therefore remain forever as we always actually are. In laya, however, we as ego are dissolved by some means other than such pure self-awareness, so our dissolution is only temporary. For example, in sleep we are dissolved due to tiredness, because we no longer have the energy to continue projecting and perceiving phenomena, as we do in waking and dream, so though our attention is withdrawn from everything else when we fall asleep, it is not focussed keenly on ourself, and hence we as ego are dissolved without being annihilated.

Sleep is not the only state of manōlaya, but in each other state of manōlaya the ego is likewise dissolved by some means other than keenly focussed self-attentiveness. In coma it may be dissolved because of a head injury or drug overdose, in general anaesthesia it is dissolved because of some anaesthetic drugs, and in kēvala nirvikalpa samādhi it is dissolved by breath restraint (prāṇāyāma) or some other kind of yōga practice.

Whatever be the cause of manōlaya, what shines alone after ego is dissolved is only pure awareness, but because it shines alone after ego is dissolved, it does not annihilate it. In the case of manōnāśa, on the other hand, ego is dissolved because pure awareness shines forth alone as a result of keenly focussed self-attentiveness, so its dissolution is then permanent. In other words, in manōlaya pure awareness shines alone as a result of the dissolution of ego, whereas in manōnāśa ego is dissolved as a result of pure awareness shining alone.

Therefore it is a matter of which goes first, the horse or the cart, in which the horse is pure awareness shining alone and the cart is dissolution of ego. If the horse goes first followed by the cart, the resulting state is annihilation of mind (manōnāśa), whereas if the cart goes first followed by the horse, the resulting state is only a temporary dissolution of mind (manōlaya).


Sanjay Lohia said...

Sometimes we refer to our body as ’I’, and sometimes we refer to it as ‘my body’. Which is correct?

The language always expresses our confusion because sometimes we refer to our body as ‘my body’ and sometimes as ‘I’. So is this body ‘I’ or is it mine? It is not ‘I’ and it is not actually mine because I have nothing to do with this body – what I actually am has nothing to do with this body. So whether we refer to it as ‘I’ or as ‘my body’, we are still expressing our ignorance.

Maybe it helps a little to say ‘my body’ than ‘I’ because we are then beginning to separate ourself from this body, or rather we are beginning to recognize a separation between ourself and this body.

~*~ Edited extract from the video: 2019-07-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses myths about ‘traditional Advaita Vēdānta’

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

I'm sitting in the waiting room at the dentist writing this as a note on my phone. I notice there is only one other patient in the room, a rather anxious-looking woman.

We exchange a brief smile and, she says she's come for a filling and I reply: I'm having a tooth removed. And so, here we are, two people seated opposite one another and everything that happened in life brought us to this particular time and place and neither of us knowing anything whatsoever about the other.

The thought occurs: this situation, how similar it is to that of the ego and pure-awareness. The ego in ignorance of pure-awareness and pure-awareness happy knowing only itself.

I start to laugh to which the woman opposite I imagine mistakes my laughter for that of nervousness at the prospect of having a tooth removed.

Suddenly, my name is called and, before rising, I imagine Bhagavan as the dentist to say: it's easier to remove the ego than it is a tooth I always use the anaesthetic Ātma-vichāra.

Pajó said...

Beautiful. Thank you Michael.

Michael James said...

Referring to this article and in particular to the sentence in which I wrote ‘in manōlaya pure awareness shines alone as a result of the dissolution of ego, whereas in manōnāśa ego is dissolved as a result of pure awareness shining alone’, a friend wrote a WhatsApp message saying:

‘In Chemistry, dissolution involves a medium or another component. In Manonasa, ego gets dissolved completely in pure awareness as it dives into the latter, never to reappear. But in Manolaya, the ego does not dive into the pure awareness, but just remains inactive, having exhausted all its energy to project or perceive, but gets re-charged to rise up at some point of time when the threshold for rising up is reached. Thus it seems to me that either there is no dissolution or it is not complete in manolaya’.

The following is adapted from the replies I wrote to this and subsequent messages:

Dissolution can be complete but nevertheless temporary, as can be illustrated by the example of salt dissolving completely in water. Though its dissolution is complete, sooner or later the salt may recrystalise. Like salt dissolved in water, the dissolution of mind in laya is complete but nevertheless temporary.

The root and essence of mind is ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, which is completely absent in sleep, so in sleep ego does not just remain inactive but ceases to exist altogether, albeit only temporarily, and according to the principle that Bhagavan expresses in the second sentence of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, namely ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, which he reiterates elsewhere, such as in 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’ [ego] does not exist, even one other [thought or thing] will not exist’, and in the concluding 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’, since ego does not exist in sleep, nothing else exists there. Therefore sleep (or any other state of manōlaya) is complete dissolution of ego and everything else.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

For those who are not satisfied with this and want an explanation for why ego rises from laya, it is said that vāsanās remain in the form of kāraṇa śarīra (the ‘causal body’) in laya and therefore cause ego to rise again, but how can vāsanās exist without ego, whose vāsanās they are? Since ego does not exist in sleep or any other state of manōlaya, nothing else (except pure awareness) exists there, not even ego’s vāsanās or kāraṇa śarīra. This is why Bhagavan says that sleep is a state of pure awareness, which means awareness devoid of any content or phenomena.

As I explained in my latest article, Which comes first: ego or self-negligence (pramāda)?, why or how ego arose in the first place cannot be explained, because prior to its rising nothing other than pure awareness exists, so there equally well cannot be any adequate explanation for why and how it arises from sleep. Bhagavan says that why or how are the wrong questions to ask in this context. What we need to investigate is who or what this ego actually is. If we investigate ourself keenly enough, we will see that we are just immutable pure awareness, so we have never actually risen as ego.

Since ego does not actually exist, trying to explain how it came into existence, whether from sleep or in the first place, is like trying to explain how the son of a barren woman was born.

anadi-ananta said...

it is said that ego is only a mixture of the real pure awareness (cit) and the unreal element of awareness (jada)i.e.body or mind.
So in both kinds of dissolution [temporary or permanent (manōlaya and manōnāśa)] only the unreal factor mind/ego along with the knot (granthi) is to be dissolved whereas pure awareness of course can never be annihilated. Therefore in this sense of being only a mixture ego does not need and can never be annihilated completely in its total complex/completeness.
Is that a correct view ? - apart from the fact that ego does anyway not acually exist at all and therefore does not need and cannot be dissolved.