Saturday, 24 August 2019

Is any external help required for us to succeed in the practice of self-investigation?

In a comment on my previous article, The role of grace in all that ego creates, a friend called Asun wrote: ‘I’ve been watching these days David Godman’s youtube channel. He, as well as yourself, enjoys talking about Ramana’s teachings and telling tales about him, the ashram and devotees. They are beautiful tales illustrated with very good documentaries. His understanding and interpretation of the teachings is very similar to your understanding and explanations yet, regarding to the practice he claims that there are some results only at first and that from then on it is as if one got stuck so that the only way to really reach somewhere is to sit in front of some realized being able of transmitting and making you to experience the state this being is in. Is this your experience too, Michael? Or do you completely disagree with him?’
  1. Self-investigation is both necessary and sufficient, so nothing else is either necessary or sufficient, and hence nothing in addition to self-investigation is required
  2. The only result we should expect from our practice of self-investigation is purification of mind culminating in eradication of ego
  3. What we are seeking can be found only within ourself and cannot be given by anyone else
  4. We do not need anything to be transmitted to us, because all that we need already exists within us
  5. Āṉma-Viddai verse 5: grace is also necessary, but it is already inside us, so it is always available to us if we have sufficient love to surrender ourself to it
1. Self-investigation is both necessary and sufficient, so nothing else is either necessary or sufficient, and hence nothing in addition to self-investigation is required

Asun, though David and I agree on many points, this is one point on which we do not agree, because I do not believe there is any basis in Bhagavan’s teachings for his idea that ‘the only way to really reach somewhere is to sit in front of some realized being able of transmitting and making you to experience the state this being is in’ (I am aware these may not be his exact words, but you seem to have summarised more or less what he believes and claims in this regard). In fact I would say this is quite contrary to Bhagavan’s teachings, because he taught us that self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) alone is sufficient, as he says, for example, in the eleventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: ‘ஒருவன் தான் சொரூபத்தை யடையும் வரையில் நிரந்தர சொரூப ஸ்மரணையைக் கைப்பற்றுவானாயின் அதுவொன்றே போதும்’ (oruvaṉ tāṉ sorūpattai y-aḍaiyum varaiyil nirantara sorūpa-smaraṇaiyai-k kai-p-paṯṟuvāṉ-āyiṉ adu-v-oṉḏṟē pōdum), ‘If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarūpa-smaraṇa [self-remembrance] until one attains svarūpa [one’s own real nature], that alone is sufficient’.

Bhagavan taught that self-investigation (which entails self-surrender, as I explained in my previous reply to you) is not only sufficient but also necessary. For example, in verse 22 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he asks rhetorically:
matikkoḷi tandam matikku ḷoḷiru
matiyiṉai yuḷḷē maḍakkip — patiyiṯ
padittiḍuda laṉḏṟip patiyai matiyāṉ
madittiḍuda leṅṅaṉ madi
.

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: Consider, except by turning [bending or folding] mati [the mind or intellect] back within [and thereby] completely immersing [embedding or fixing] it in pati [the Lord or God], who shines [as pure awareness] within that mind giving light [of awareness] to the mind, how to fathom [or investigate and know] God by the mind?
What Bhagavan refers to here as ‘பதி’ (pati), the Lord or God, who shines as pure awareness in the mind, giving it the light of awareness by which it knows everything else, is our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), and what he refers to as ‘மதியினை உள்ளே மடக்கி பதியில் பதித்திடுதல்’ (matiyiṉai uḷḷē maḍakki patiyil padittiḍudal), ‘turning the mind back within, completely immersing it in God’, is the practice of self-investigation, which is turning our attention back towards ourself and thereby subsiding and merging in our real nature, so the rhetorical question he asks in this verse implies that we cannot know our real nature by any means other than self-investigation.

Likewise in verse 27 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he asks rhetorically:
நானுதியா துள்ளநிலை நாமதுவா யுள்ளநிலை
நானுதிக்குந் தானமதை நாடாம — னானுதியாத்
தன்னிழப்பைச் சார்வதெவன் சாராமற் றானதுவாந்
தன்னிலையி னிற்பதெவன் சாற்று.

nāṉudiyā duḷḷanilai nāmaduvā yuḷḷanilai
nāṉudikkun thāṉamadai nāḍāma — ṉāṉudiyāt
taṉṉiṙappaic cārvadevaṉ sārāmaṯ ṟāṉaduvān
taṉṉilaiyi ṉiṟpadevaṉ sāṯṟu
.

பதச்சேதம்: ‘நான்’ உதியாது உள்ள நிலை நாம் அது ஆய் உள்ள நிலை. ‘நான்’ உதிக்கும் தானம் அதை நாடாமல், ‘நான்’ உதியா தன் இழப்பை சார்வது எவன்? சாராமல், தான் அது ஆம் தன் நிலையில் நிற்பது எவன்? சாற்று.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘nāṉ’ udiyādu uḷḷa nilai nām adu-v-āy uḷḷa nilai. ‘nāṉ’ udikkum thāṉam-adai nāḍāmal, ‘nāṉ’ udiyā taṉ-ṉ-iṙappai sārvadu evaṉ? sārāmal, tāṉ adu ām taṉ nilaiyil niṟpadu evaṉ? sāṯṟu.

English translation: The state in which one exists without ‘I’ rising is the state in which we exist as that. Without investigating the place where ‘I’ rises, how to reach the annihilation of oneself, in which ‘I’ does not rise? Without reaching, say, how to stand in the state of oneself, in which oneself is that?

Explanatory paraphrase: The state in which one exists without ‘I’ [ego] rising is the state in which we exist as that [brahman, the ultimate reality and infinite whole, the nature of which is pure self-awareness, uncontaminated by the appearance of anything else]. Without investigating the place [namely one’s fundamental self-awareness] where [from which or in which] ‘I’ rises, how to reach [achieve or take refuge in] the annihilation of oneself [ego], [the state] in which ‘I’ does not rise? [In other words, the only way to annihilate ego is to investigate oneself, the source from which it rises, because only when one investigates oneself will one see oneself as one actually is, and only when one sees oneself as one actually is will one forever cease mistaking oneself to be ego, the false rising and subsiding ‘I’.] [And] without reaching [or taking refuge in the annihilation of one’s ego], say [or explain], how to stand [stop, stay or abide] in the [real] state of oneself, in which oneself is that?
In the second sentence of this verse, ‘நான் உதிக்கும் தானம் அதை நாடாமல், நான் உதியா தன் இழப்பை சார்வது எவன்?’ (nāṉ udikkum thāṉam-adai nāḍāmal, nāṉ udiyā taṉ-ṉ-iṙappai sārvadu evaṉ?), ‘Without investigating the place where ‘I’ rises, how to reach the annihilation of oneself, in which ‘I’ does not rise?’, he clearly implied that we cannot eradicate ego except by investigating our real nature, which is the ‘place’ or source from which we rise as ego. The reason for this is that ego is nothing but a false self-awareness, an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are, so it can be eradicated only by awareness of ourself as we actually are, and in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we need to investigate ourself by being so keenly self-attentive that we cease to be aware of anything other than ourself.

Since Bhagavan taught us that self-investigation is necessary, that means that nothing else is sufficient, and since he taught us that it is sufficient, that means that nothing else is necessary, so these teachings of his give no room whatsoever for anyone to conclude that anything in addition to self-investigation, such as sitting ‘in front of some realized being able of transmitting and making you to experience the state this being is in’, is required, let alone that any such addition is ‘the only way to really reach somewhere’. To make such claims is to call into question the efficacy of simple self-investigation, because it amounts to claiming that unaided self-investigation is inadequate, which is quite contrary to what Bhagavan taught us in the first two sentences of the eighth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
மனம் அடங்குவதற்கு விசாரணையைத் தவிர வேறு தகுந்த உபாயங்களில்லை. மற்ற உபாயங்களினால் அடக்கினால் மனம் அடங்கினாற்போ லிருந்து, மறுபடியும் கிளம்பிவிடும்.

maṉam aḍaṅguvadaṟku vicāraṇaiyai-t tavira vēṟu tahunda upāyaṅgaḷ-illai. maṯṟa upāyaṅgaḷiṉāl aḍakkiṉāl maṉam aḍaṅgiṉāl-pōl irundu, maṟupaḍiyum kiḷambi-viḍum.

For the mind to cease [settle, subside, yield, be subdued, be still or disappear], except vicāraṇā [self-investigation] there are no other adequate means. If made to cease [subside or disappear] by other means, the mind remaining [for a while] as if it had ceased, will again rise up [sprout, emerge or start].
Therefore it is not necessary for us to ‘sit in front of some realized being able of transmitting and making you to experience the state this being is in’, and whatever we may achieve by doing so would not be annihilation of mind (manōnāśa), because even if it resulted in complete subsidence of our mind, that would only be a temporary dissolution of mind (manōlaya), since our mind would sooner or later rise again and wander about under the sway of its vāsanās (as he says in a subsequent sentence of this eighth paragraph). Therefore to claim that ‘the only way to really reach somewhere is to sit in front of some realized being able of transmitting and making you to experience the state this being is in’ is quite contrary to these basic teachings of Bhagavan.

2. The only result we should expect from our practice of self-investigation is purification of mind culminating in eradication of ego

You say that David ‘claims that there are some results only at first and that from then on it is as if one got stuck’, but what ‘results’ should we be expecting or looking for? We investigate ourself in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, and the result of being aware of ourself as we actually are is eradication of ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, so the ultimate result we should expect from our practice of self-investigation is only eradication of ego. However, when this result is achieved, we as ego will no longer be there, so it cannot even be said that we have achieved it. What will remain is only our real nature, which is pure awareness, and which, being immutable, always remains as it is and therefore never achieves anything.

Therefore, as Bhagavan often said, ātma-jñāna (true self-knowledge) is not a knowledge that can ever be newly achieved, because it is pure self-awareness, which is ever present, being our real nature, and hence the sole reality that underlies and supports the false appearance of ourself as ego. Therefore what is called the attainment of ātma-jñāna is not actually an attainment but only the loss of ego and all its effects, namely phenomena.

Other than our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which in its pure state is what is called ātma-jñāna, whatever we as ego may experience is unreal, so no result other than eradication of ourself as ego is real. As Bhagavan says in verse 35 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
சித்தமா யுள்பொருளைத் தேர்ந்திருத்தல் சித்திபிற
சித்தியெலாஞ் சொப்பனமார் சித்திகளே — நித்திரைவிட்
டோர்ந்தா லவைமெய்யோ வுண்மைநிலை நின்றுபொய்ம்மை
தீர்ந்தார் தியங்குவரோ தேர்.

siddhamā yuḷporuḷait tērndiruttal sidddipiṟa
siddhiyelāñ soppaṉamār siddhikaḷē — niddiraiviṭ
ṭōrndā lavaimeyyō vuṇmainilai niṉḏṟupoymmai
tīrndār tiyaṅguvarō tēr
.

பதச்சேதம்: சித்தமாய் உள் பொருளை தேர்ந்து இருத்தல் சித்தி. பிற சித்தி எலாம் சொப்பனம் ஆர் சித்திகளே; நித்திரை விட்டு ஓர்ந்தால், அவை மெய்யோ? உண்மை நிலை நின்று பொய்ம்மை தீர்ந்தார் தியங்குவரோ? தேர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): siddhamāy uḷ poruḷai tērndu iruttal siddhi. piṟa siddhi elām soppaṉam ār siddhigaḷ-ē; niddirai viṭṭu ōrndāl, avai meyyō? uṇmai nilai niṉḏṟu poymmai tīrndār tiyaṅguvarō? tēr.

அன்வயம்: சித்தமாய் உள் பொருளை தேர்ந்து இருத்தல் சித்தி. பிற சித்தி எலாம் சொப்பனம் ஆர் சித்திகளே; நித்திரை விட்டு ஓர்ந்தால், அவை மெய்யோ? உண்மை நிலை நின்று பொய்ம்மை தீர்ந்தார் தியங்குவரோ? தேர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): siddhamāy uḷ poruḷai tērndu iruttal siddhi. piṟa siddhi elām soppaṉam ār siddhigaḷ-ē; niddirai viṭṭu ōrndāl, avai meyyō? uṇmai nilai niṉḏṟu poymmai tīrndār tiyaṅguvarō? tēr.

English translation: Being knowing the substance, which exists as accomplished, is accomplishment. All other accomplishments are just accomplishments achieved in dream; if one wakes up leaving sleep, are they real? Will those who, standing in the real state, have left unreality be deluded? Know.

Explanatory paraphrase: Being [as one actually is] knowing poruḷ [the one real substance, which is oneself], which exists as siddham [what is always accomplished], is [real] siddhi [accomplishment]. All other siddhis [such as the aṣṭa-siddhis, eight kinds of paranormal powers that some people try to achieve by meditation or other yōga practices] are just siddhis achieved [or experienced] in dream; if one wakes up leaving [this] sleep [of self-ignorance], are they real? Will those who, standing [firmly] in the real state [of pure self-awareness], have left unreality [or illusion, namely the unreal states of waking and dream] be deluded [by such unreal siddhis]? Know.
Why then should we delude ourself by seeking any results or accomplishments other than eradication of ourself as ego? Even if we could experience wonderful phenomena of one kind or another (such as divine visions, an ecstatic or profoundly peaceful state of mind, some kind of samādhi or any kind of supernatural power) as a result of our practice of self-investigation, none of those phenomena would be real, so why should we value them in any way, and why should we feel that we are lacking anything worthwhile if we do not experience any of them?

However, though the ultimate result of self-investigation is only eradication of ourself as ego, in order to succeed in eradicating ourself we must be willing to surrender ourself entirely, and we will be willing to surrender ourself only to the extent that we have given up all our likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, hopes and fears for anything other than our real nature. So how are we to give up such outward-driving elements of our will? In other words, how can we succeed in surrendering our will to the will of Bhagavan? The most effective means is self-investigation, because every time we choose to turn our attention back towards ourself and hence away from all other things, we are thereby strengthening our love to be aware of ourself as we actually are and weakening our desire to be aware of anything else.

The outward-driving elements of our will are what are called citta-mala, the dirt or impurities in our mind or will, and the removal of such elements is called citta-śuddhi, the cleansing or purification of our mind or will. Such purification will eventually culminate in eradication of ego, because as ego we are the root of all impurities, and we depend on our impurities (our likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, hopes and fears for anything other than our real nature) for our survival as ego, since they are what drive us to cling to things other than our fundamental awareness ‘I am’. Therefore only when our mind is sufficiently purified will we be willing to surrender ourself entirely by turning our attention back towards ourself so keenly that we cease to be aware of anything other ourself.

Until ego is eradicated entirely, therefore, purification of our mind is the only result we should expect from our practice of self-investigation. But can we measure or even perceive the purification of our mind? We certainly cannot measure or even estimate the extent to which our mind has been purified, because our impurities exist deep within our heart as seeds called viṣaya-vāsanās (propensities, inclinations or desires to experience viṣayas: phenomena or anything other than oneself), so we are aware of them only when they rise to the surface of our mind in the form of likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, hopes, fears and so on, and hence we cannot know to what extent they have been eradicated from our heart.

This does not mean that we cannot perceive any indications that our mind is being purified, but only that we cannot measure the extent to which it has been purified. Purification is indicated only by bhakti, which in this context means love to be aware of ourself as we actually are, and vairāgya, which means freedom from desire to be aware of anything other than ourself. As Bhagavan said in the eleventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘அன்னியத்தை நாடாதிருத்தல் வைராக்கியம் அல்லது நிராசை’ (aṉṉiyattai nāḍādiruttal vairāggiyam alladu nirāśai), ‘Not attending to anything other [than oneself] is vairāgya [dispassion or detachment] or nirāśā [desirelessness]’, so bhakti is indicated by our liking to be self-attentive and vairāgya is indicated by our disinclination to attend to anything else.

This is why Bhagavan sometimes said that perseverance is the only reliable sign of progress on this path, because we will patiently persevere in our practice of self-investigation and self-surrender to the extent that we genuinely love to be self-attentive and are disinclined to attend to anything else. Conversely, the extent to which we are concerned about anything other than just knowing and being what we actually are indicates the extent to which we lack the required bhakti and vairāgya, but if we persist in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible, our liking to be self-attentive and disinterest in anything else will gradually increase.

However, though we may sometimes notice that our liking to be self-attentive and our attitude of surrender have increased, and that we are now consequently less concerned about or disturbed by things that would previously have concerned or disturbed us, at other times it may seem that the opposite is the case, but this does not mean that we are no longer making progress in our practice, because we can perceive only what is happening on the surface of our mind and not what is happening deep in our heart. Self-investigation and self-surrender are a process of purification, and as a result of this process dirt that we were previously unaware of is brought up to the surface of our mind, just as we may be able to see how much dirt there is in a coloured cloth only when we begin to wash it and see how dirty the water becomes as a result. As Bhagavan used to say, unless the dirt that is inside comes out, we cannot get rid of it.

We all have demons lurking within us in the form of our viṣaya-vāsanās, and these will all sooner or later be brought to the surface of our mind as a result of our practice of self-investigation and self-surrender. Every time one or more of them are brought to the surface, we are faced with a choice: either we can allow ourself to be carried away by them, or we can ignore them by turning our attention back towards ourself, the source from which they have risen. If we choose to turn our attention back towards ourself, we are thereby strengthening our love to be self-attentive and weakening our inclination to allow ourself to be swayed by whatever viṣaya-vāsanās may rise to the surface. This is how we gradually weaken the hold of our viṣaya-vāsanās by means of self-investigation and self-surrender.

Sometimes we are able to cope in this way with whatever viṣaya-vāsanās rise, but at other times they rise with such intensity that we are carried away by them. Therefore the process of purification by means of self-investigation and self-surrender is somewhat like a small child learning to walk. At times the child may be able to walk more or less steadily for a while, but sooner or later it will fall again. However, no matter how many times it may fall, it will stand and try again, so its falling is part of the process of learning. Likewise, when practising self-investigation and self-surrender we may be more or less steady for a while, but sooner or later our viṣaya-vāsanās will overwhelm us again, so whenever this happens we need to persevere patiently in our attempts to be self-attentive and thereby to surrender ourself.

By teaching us this path of self-investigation and self-surrender, Bhagavan has shown us the direction in which we must travel in order to reach our destination, so all we need do now is to travel in the direction he has shown us, no matter what obstacles and difficulties we may face along the way. We cannot know how far away our destination is, but we do know the direction in which we should travel, so whatever results may or may not be experienced along the way, we need to be indifferent to all of them and to continue patiently travelling in the right direction by turning back to face ourself, thereby renouncing our interest in all other things.

As Bhagavan used to say, not even the slightest effort made in this path of self-investigation will go in vain, so even if it seems, as you say David claims, that ‘there are some results only at first and that from then on it is as if one got stuck’, we should not allow ourself to be deceived by such appearances. Whether we experience any results or not should not be our concern, because our only aim should be to investigate and find out what we actually are. Other than pure awareness, which is always shining clearly within us as our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, all experiences are only for ego, so if we want to eradicate ego, we must be indifferent to all experiences.

Let any experiences come or go. To whom do they come and from whom do they go? In whose view do they appear and disappear? In whose view do they seem real? This is what we need to investigate. Therefore expecting or looking for any results is just a distraction from our real purpose, which is only to investigate ourself and thereby eradicate ego, the experiencer of any results.

Bhagavan has presented his teachings to us in a logically coherent manner based upon robust premises drawn from a deep and incisive analysis of our own experience, so we have very strong grounds to believe and trust them. Moreover, those of us who powerfully drawn to his teachings trust them not only because of their appeal to our intellect but also because of their appeal to our heart. Therefore if we trust what he taught us about the efficacy of self-investigation, we will not be perturbed by any seeming lack of results, and we will not conclude that we have got stuck just because we are not experiencing any results, because he taught us in so many ways that if we persevere in our practice of self-investigation we will certain succeed. For example, in the twelfth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he wrote:
கடவுளும் குருவும் உண்மையில் வேறல்லர். புலிவாயிற் பட்டது எவ்வாறு திரும்பாதோ, அவ்வாறே குருவினருட்பார்வையிற் பட்டவர்கள் அவரால் ரக்ஷிக்கப்படுவரே யன்றி யொருக்காலும் கைவிடப்படார்; எனினும், குரு காட்டிய வழிப்படி தவறாது நடக்க வேண்டும்.

kaḍavuḷ-um guru-v-um uṇmaiyil vēṟallar. puli-vāyil paṭṭadu evvāṟu tirumbādō, avvāṟē guruviṉ-aruḷ-pārvaiyil paṭṭavargaḷ avarāl rakṣikka-p-paḍuvarē y-aṉḏṟi y-oru-k-kāl-um kaiviḍa-p-paḍār; eṉiṉum, guru kāṭṭiya vaṙi-p-paḍi tavaṟādu naḍakka vēṇḍum.

God and guru are in truth not different. Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace will never be forsaken but will surely be saved by him; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly in accordance with the path that guru has shown.
Therefore all we need do is to follow unfailingly the path he has shown us, namely the path of self-investigation and self-surrender, and without ever wavering in our trust in the efficacy of this path we should leave everything else to his care, knowing that he will never forsake us.

3. What we are seeking can be found only within ourself and cannot be given by anyone else

What we are seeking is just to be aware of ourself as we actually are, so we cannot find this in anything outside ourself. As Bhagavan says in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
மனத்தை யடக்குவதற்குத் தன்னை யாரென்று விசாரிக்க வேண்டுமே யல்லாமல் எப்படி நூல்களில் விசாரிப்பது? தன்னைத் தன்னுடைய ஞானக்கண்ணாற்றானே யறிய வேண்டும். ராமன் தன்னை ராமனென்றறியக் கண்ணாடி வேண்டுமா? ‘தான்’ பஞ்ச கோசங்களுக்குள் ளிருப்பது; நூல்களோ அவற்றிற்கு வெளியி லிருப்பவை. ஆகையால், பஞ்ச கோசங்களையும் நீக்கி விசாரிக்க வேண்டிய தன்னை நூல்களில் விசாரிப்பது வீணே.

maṉattai y-aḍakkuvadaṟku-t taṉṉai yār eṉḏṟu vicārikka vēṇḍum-ē y-allāmal eppaḍi nūlgaḷil vicārippadu? taṉṉai-t taṉṉuḍaiya ñāṉa-k-kaṇṇāl-tāṉ-ē y-aṟiya vēṇḍum. rāmaṉ taṉṉai rāmaṉ-eṉḏṟaṟiya-k kaṇṇāḍi vēṇḍum-ā? ‘tāṉ’ pañca kōśaṅgaḷukkuḷ ḷ-iruppadu; nūlgaḷ-ō avaṯṟiṟku veḷiyil iruppavai. āhaiyāl, pañca kōśaṅgaḷai-y-um nīkki vicārikka vēṇḍiya taṉṉai nūlgaḷil vicārippadu vīṇē.

For making the mind cease it is necessary to investigate oneself [to see] who [one actually is], [but] instead [of doing so] how [can one see oneself by] investigating in texts? It is necessary to know oneself only by one’s own eye of jñāna [knowledge or awareness]. Does [a person called] Raman need a mirror to know himself as Raman? ‘Oneself’ is within the pañca-kōśas [the ‘five sheaths’ that seem to cover and obscure what one actually is, namely the physical body, life, mind, intellect and will]; whereas texts are outside them. Therefore, investigating in texts [in order to know] oneself, whom it is necessary to investigate [by turning one’s attention within and thereby] setting aside [excluding, removing, giving up or separating from] all the pañca-kōśas, is useless.
What he says here about texts (by which term he means spiritual or philosophical texts) is equally true about any person whom we take to be an ātma-jñāni or ‘realized being’. Like spiritual texts, any such person is outside the five sheaths and is perceived by us through the five senses, which belong to the five sheaths, and since the five sheaths are what we now mistake ourself to be, in order to investigate and know what we actually are we need to set them aside by excluding them from our awareness, so we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are until we let go of the five sheaths and everything perceived through them.

Because we mistake ourself to be a person consisting of five sheaths (body, life, mind, intellect and will), the ātma-jñāni seems to us to be likewise, but that is not what the ātma-jñāni actually is. As Bhagavan used to say, ‘ஞானமே ஞானி’ (ñāṉam-ē ñāṉi), ‘jñāna alone is the jñāni’. In this context jñāna means ātma-jñāna or pure self-awareness, and jñāni means ātma-jñāni, the knower of pure awareness, so by saying that jñāna alone is the jñāni Bhagavan is pointing out that pure self-awareness is known only by itself, so the ātma-jñāni is nothing other than pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna).

Therefore when we see the ātma-jñāni as a person, we are not seeing it as it actually is. In order to see it as it actually is, we need to be it, as Bhagavan implies in verse 26 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தானா யிருத்தலே தன்னை யறிதலாந்
தானிரண் டற்றதா லுந்தீபற
     தன்மய நிட்டையீ துந்தீபற.

tāṉā yiruttalē taṉṉai yaṟidalān
tāṉiraṇ ḍaṯṟadā lundīpaṟa
     taṉmaya niṭṭhaiyī dundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தானாய் இருத்தலே தன்னை அறிதல் ஆம், தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால். தன்மய நிட்டை ஈது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): tāṉ-āy iruttal-ē taṉṉai aṟidal ām, tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl. taṉmaya niṭṭhai īdu.

அன்வயம்: தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால், தானாய் இருத்தலே தன்னை அறிதல் ஆம். ஈது தன்மய நிட்டை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl, tāṉ-āy iruttal-ē taṉṉai aṟidal ām. īdu taṉmaya niṭṭhai.

English translation: Being oneself alone is knowing oneself, because oneself is not two. This is tanmaya-niṣṭha [the state of being firmly established as tat, ‘it’ or ‘that’, the one absolute reality called brahman].
Only by being ātma-jñāna can we know ātma-jñāna, because ātma-jñāna is not anything other than ourself, and therefore cannot be known as anything other than ourself. This is why Bhagavan sometimes said, particularly if anyone asked him whether a certain person was an ātma-jñāni, ‘There is only one ātma-jñāni, and you are that’. In this way he always turned the attention of any questioner back towards himself or herself, away from all others, because what we need to investigate and know is only ourself and not anything else.

The ātma-jñāni is ātma-jñāna, which is ātma-svarūpa, the real nature of ourself, so we need to seek it within ourself and not anywhere outside. The reason why ātma-jñāna may sometimes appear outside in human form, such as the human form of Bhagavan, is only because we are habituated to facing outwards, so our own real nature needs to appear outside in human form in order to teach us that the infinite happiness we are all seeking is our real nature and therefore cannot be found anywhere except within ourself.

Therefore the ātma-jñāni in human form will not say, ‘Come to me. I will give you ātma-jñāna’, but will instead say, ‘You yourself are the ātma-jñāna you are seeking, so turn back within to find it inside yourself’. We cannot find ātma-jñāna merely by sitting in the presence of any person whom we believe to be an ātma-jñāni, but only by following Bhagavan’s advice and seeking it deep within ourself.

This is beautifully illustrated by what he once said to a devotee called Janaki Mata. One day while she was visiting the ashram she saw him returning from the cow-shed, and since there were not many other people around she approached him, prostrated and held his feet, placing her forehead upon them. He looked down at her with a gentle smile and asked her what she was doing. ‘I am holding the feet of my guru’, she replied, to which he replied: ‘How can these be the feet of your guru? This body is perishable, and these feet will perish with it. The real feet of guru are imperishable. They are shining within you as ‘I’. Cling to those feet. They alone will save you’.

If ‘the only way to really reach somewhere is to sit in front of some realized being able of transmitting and making you to experience the state this being is in’, as you say David claims, it would not have been necessary for Bhagavan to reply to Janaki Mata as he did, because he could have just transmitted something and thereby made her experience the state he is in. He replied as he did because he is our own real nature and is therefore always shining within us as our own fundamental awareness, ‘I am’, and as such he is already giving us all the help we require in order to know ourself. All that is now required is for us to turn back within to see what we actually are, as he taught us in the verse Aruṇācalaramaṇaṉ (which is the Tamil version of a verse he wrote in reply to a devotee who wrote a verse in Malayalam asking him to say whether Bhagavan Muni Ramana is Hari (Vishnu), Sivaguru (Subrahmanya), Vararuci or Yativara (Siva)):
அரியாதியி தரசீவர தகவாரிச குகையில்
லறிவாய்ரமி பரமாத்தும னருணாசல ரமணன்
பரிவாலுள முருகாநல பரனார்ந்திடு குகையார்ந்
தறிவாம்விழி திறவாநிச மறிவாயது வெளியாம்.

ariyādiyi tarajīvara dahavārija guhaiyil
laṟivāyrami paramāttuma ṉaruṇācala ramaṇaṉ
parivāluḷa murugānala paraṉārndiḍu guhaiyārn
daṟivāmviṙi tiṟavānija maṟivāyadu veḷiyām
.

பதச்சேதம்: அரி ஆதி இதர சீவரது அக வாரிச குகையில் அறிவாய் ரமி பரமாத்துமன் அருணாசலரமணன். பரிவால் உளம் உருகா, நல பரன் ஆர்ந்திடு குகை ஆர்ந்து, அறிவு ஆம் விழி திறவா, நிசம் அறிவாய்; அது வெளி ஆம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ari ādi itara jīvaradu aha-vārija guhaiyil aṟivāy rami paramāttumaṉ aruṇācalaramaṇaṉ. parivāl uḷam uruhā, nala paraṉ ārndiḍu guhai ārndu, aṟivu ām viṙi tiṟavā, nijam aṟivāy; adu veḷi ām.

அன்வயம்: அருணாசலரமணன் அரி ஆதி இதர சீவரது அக வாரிச குகையில் அறிவாய் ரமி பரமாத்துமன். பரிவால் உளம் உருகா, நல பரன் ஆர்ந்திடு குகை ஆர்ந்து, அறிவு ஆம் விழி திறவா, நிசம் அறிவாய்; அது வெளி ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): aruṇācalaramaṇaṉ ari ādi itara jīvaradu aha-vārija guhaiyil aṟivāy rami paramāttumaṉ. parivāl uḷam uruhā, nala paraṉ ārndiḍu guhai ārndu, aṟivu ām viṙi tiṟavā, nijam aṟivāy; adu veḷi ām.

English translation: Aruṇācalaramaṇa is paramātman [the supreme spirit or ultimate self] rejoicing as awareness in the cave of the heart-lotus of [all] different jīvas [life-forms] beginning with Hari [Viṣṇu]. Heart melting with love, reaching the cave where the sublime supreme dwells, the eye that is awareness opening, you will [thereby] know what is innate [your own real nature, the indwelling Aruṇācalaramaṇa]; [because] it will come out [meaning it will reveal itself].
Bhagavan is our own real nature, which is always shining in our heart as pure awareness, so we can know him as he actually is only by turning back within with heart-melting love and thereby subsiding deep within and losing ourself in him. This is what all his teachings prompt us to do, and since he is dwelling in our heart as our real nature, by his power of grace he is drawing our mind within, so all we need do is yield ourself to his grace by being calmly and steadily self-attentive, as he says 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.
The onus is therefore on us to follow the path that Bhagavan has shown us, and no one else can give us any more help than he is already giving us. All the external help we need is available to us in the form of his teachings, which constantly and consistently direct us to turn back within to attend to ourself alone and thereby give not even the slightest room to the rising of any other thought, and all the subtle internal help we need is always being given to us by him from within in ways that we cannot comprehend.

If anyone believes that the help that Bhagavan is giving us directly in our heart is in some way insufficient and that being in the physical presence of an ātma-jñāni is therefore necessary in order to enable us to investigate ourself and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are, they have obviously not understood or are unwilling to accept his teaching that he is not the person that he seemed to be but is only that which shines as pure awareness in the heart of each one of us. Therefore we each have to decide for ourself whether we are willing to place all our trust in him, believing that he can and certainly will give us all the help we require, or whether we cannot trust him to do so and therefore need to place our trust in the supposed power of the physical presence of some other person whom we believe to be an ātma-jñāni.

If being in the physical presence of an ātma-jñāni were sufficient to make us experience the state of ātma-jñāna, everyone who lived in the presence of Bhagavan, particularly those who lived with him for many years, should have attained that state, but this was clearly not the case, as Bhagavan himself implied in verse 152 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai:
விளக்கடிக்கே நின்று விலகா விருள்போல்
அளக்கருஞா னாசா னடிக்கே — துளக்கமறக்
காத்துமகங் காரமயற் காரிருள்போ காதுடலம்
மூத்துவிளிந் தாலூழ் முறை.

viḷakkaḍikkē niṉḏṟu vilahā viruḷpōl
aḷakkaruñā ṉācā ṉaḍikkē — tuḷakkamaṟak
kāttumahaṅ kāramayaṟ kāriruḷpō hāduḍalam
mūttuviḷin dālūṙ muṟai
.

பதச்சேதம்: விளக்கு அடிக்கே நின்று விலகா இருள் போல், அளக்கரு ஞான ஆசான் அடிக்கே துளக்கம் அற காத்தும் அகங்கார மயல் கார் இருள் போகாது உடலம் மூத்து விளிந்தால், ஊழ் முறை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viḷakku aḍikkē niṉḏṟu vilahā iruḷ pōl, aḷakkaru ñāṉa ācāṉ aḍikkē tuḷakkam aṟa kāttum ahaṅkāra mayal kār iruḷ pōhādu uḍalam mūttu viḷindāl, ūṙ muṟai.

English translation: If some die, [their] body having grown old without the dense darkness of ego-delusion departing, in spite of waiting without moving at the feet of the limitless jñānācārya, like the unleaving darkness standing at the foot of a lamp, [that is] on account of [their] age-old disposition [or level of maturity].
In his explanatory paraphrase of this verse (a somewhat free translation of which is given instead of a translation of the actual verse in the English version of Guru Vachaka Kovai edited by David Godman) Muruganar expresses the implication of this verse by saying that just as the darkness surrounding a lamp is removed by its light, whereas only the darkness standing at its foot is not removed by it, disciples who remain far away attain salvation by worshipping by mind (or heart) the infinite jñāna-guru, whereas some others, who physically remain at his feet like his shadow without moving away, become old and wither away without thereby having their ego removed and being established in jñāna. He also explains in a brief comment on this verse that the phrase ‘அளக்கரு ஞானாசான்’ (aḷakkaru ñāṉācāṉ), ‘the limitless jñānācārya’, implies that the jñāna-guru, who is the ātma-sūrya (the sun of self), which by its very nature (svarūpa) removes the darkness of ego, is not limited by either space or time, because he is actually cidākāśa (the space of pure awareness), which is devoid of rising and setting.

According to Muruganar, therefore, this verse implies that merely living for many years in the physical presence of the jñāna-guru is not sufficient to remove ego unless one has sufficient spiritual maturity, and that even if we are far away from his physical presence, whether in time or in space, we can attain salvation by adoring him in our heart, because that is where he shines eternally in his true form (svarūpa), namely as the ever-unsetting sun of pure self-awareness. Therefore it is only by turning our mind back within and lovingly attending to him in our heart as our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, that we can truly be in his presence or ‘sit in front of him’.

4. We do not need anything to be transmitted to us, because all that we need already exists within us

You say that David claims that ‘the only way to really reach somewhere is to sit in front of some realized being able of transmitting and making you to experience the state this being is in’, and though I do not know whether he would express his belief in quite these terms, I have the impression from what I have read or heard him say that you are correct in saying that he believes that through his or her physical presence an ātma-jñāni can transmit something (presumably some kind or power) that enables us to investigate and know ourself. However, believing that anything can or needs to be transmitted to us from outside shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of reality.

Nothing real exists outside ourself. What is real is only pure awareness, which is our own nature (ātma-svarūpa), as Bhagavan says in the first sentence of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), ‘Oneself, who is jñāna [pure awareness], alone is real’. Nothing other than oneself, and hence nothing outside of oneself, is real. Even the very awareness of anything other than oneself is unreal, being just ignorance, not real awareness, as he says in the next two sentences of this verse: ‘நானா ஆம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம். பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று’ (nāṉā ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām. poy ām aññāṉamumē ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu), ‘Awareness that is manifold [that is, awareness that sees the one reality as many things, namely a subject and numerous objects] is ignorance. Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as oneself, who is awareness’.

Nothing need be transmitted to us, because all that we need already exists within us. What we need is to be aware only of ourself, because we alone are real, and the self-awareness we need always exists within us as our real nature (svarūpa). In order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we need to be aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else, and in order to be aware of ourself alone what we need is not to obtain anything from outside but to get rid everything other than ourself, and we can get rid of everything else only by being so keenly self-attentive that we cease to be aware of anything other than ourself. Then only will we be free of ignorance and its root, namely ego.

Even if we believe that some kind of transmission is necessary, we should surely consider the power of whatever transmitter we choose to reply upon. If a transmitter can transmit only to those who sit in front of him or her and only when they do so, he or she is a pretty weak transmitter. If a transmitter were actually necessary, surely it would be best for us to choose one whose power of transmission is not in any way limited by either time or space. Such a transmitter is Bhagavan, but his ‘transmission’ is really no transmission at all, because he exists within us as our own self at all times, in all places and in all states, so there is no time, place or state other than himself to which he could transmit anything, as he implies beautifully in verse 18 of Śrī Aruṇācala Akṣaramaṇamālai:
கீழ்மே லெங்குங் கிளரொளி மணியென்
      கீழ்மையைப் பாழ்செய் யருணாசலா

kīṙmē leṅguṅ kiḷaroḷi maṇiyeṉ
      kīṙmaiyaip pāṙcey yaruṇācalā


பதச்சேதம்: கீழ் மேல் எங்கும் கிளர் ஒளி மணி, என் கீழ்மையை பாழ் செய் அருணாசலா.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): kīṙ mēl eṅgum kiḷar oḷi maṇi, eṉ kīṙmaiyai pāṙ sey aruṇācalā.

English translation: Arunachala, gem of light that shines below, above and everywhere, annihilate my lowness.

Explanatory paraphrase: Arunachala, gem of light [of pure self-awareness] that shines below, above and everywhere [that is, who shines within me at all times and in all states, whether my mind is in a low state of impurity and immaturity or an elevated state of purity and maturity], annihilate my baseness [the darkness of my self-ignorance].
‘கீழ் மேல் எங்கும்’ (kīṙ mēl eṅgum) literally means ‘below, above and everywhere’, because Arunachala, and hence by implication Bhagavan, is pure awareness, which is omnipresent, being the one real substance (poruḷ or vastu), and hence in no way limited or confined within any point in time or place, but in this context these terms imply a deeper metaphorical meaning, namely in all states of mind, both high and low. That is, ‘கீழ்’ (kīṙ), ‘below’, implies a state of lowness in which the mind is impure and hence immature; ‘மேல்’ (mēl), ‘above’, implies a state of elevation in which the mind is pure and hence mature; and ‘எங்கும்’ (eṅgum), ‘everywhere’, implies all states, from the very lowest to the highest.

Wherever we may be in time or space, and whatever may be the state of our mind, Bhagavan is the ‘ஒளி மணி’ (oḷi maṇi) or ‘gem of light’, meaning the light of pure awareness that is always shining in our heart as ‘I’, so by his merely being as he is he will annihilate our lowness (namely ego, the darkness of self-ignorance) whenever we are willing to surrender ourself entirely to him. Therefore to succeed in this path of self-investigation what we need is not any kind of transmission but only complete submission. That is, we do not need anything to be transmitted to us from anywhere outside ourself, but only need to submit ourself completely to our own real nature, which is the gem of light always shining clearly within ourself as ourself.

5. Āṉma-Viddai verse 5: grace is also necessary, but it is already inside us, so it is always available to us if we have sufficient love to surrender ourself to it

Some may object to this, asking whether it is not true that we need grace. Yes, we certainly need grace, as Bhagavan says unequivocally in the final verse of Āṉma-Viddai, ‘அருளும் வேணுமே’ (aruḷum vēṇumē), ‘Grace is also necessary’, but what is grace? Is it something that descends from heaven, or that is transmitted to us by some other person? If it could come from anywhere outside ourself, it would be other than ourself and hence not real. Therefore anything that comes to us from outside is not the kind of grace that Bhagavan refers to when he says that grace is necessary.

When he says it is necessary, he implies that it is real, and since he says that what is real is only ourself, grace cannot be anything other than ourself, as he often confirmed. It is our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), because our real nature is infinite love, and grace is nothing but the infinite love that we as we actually are have for ourself as we actually are. That infinite love is the real nature of Bhagavan, and since he is infinite, he sees nothing as other than himself, and hence he loves us as himself. This infinite love that he has for us is what we experience as his grace.

His infinite love is certainly necessary, because without it where would we be? His love is what has drawn us to him and his teachings, because he has sown the seed of love in our heart. His grace is never absent and never lacking, but to avail ourself of it we need to surrender ourself to it. To the extent that we surrender ourself to his love we derive the benefit of it, and we surrender ourself only to the extent that we love to lose ourself in him. Therefore in the next sentence of this final verse of Āṉma-Viddai he says: ‘அன்பு பூணுமே’ (aṉbu pūṇumē), ‘Be adorned with [or bound by] love’.

So what will result if we adorn ourself with all-consuming love to surrender ourself entirely to him? He answers this in the next and final sentence: ‘இன்பு தோணுமே’ (iṉbu tōṇumē), ‘Happiness will [then] appear’. Why will happiness appear? Because it is our real nature, and hence it is obscured from our view only by our rising as ego, so when we as ego melt with love and thereby dissolve forever in him, what will remain is only infinite happiness.

Grace, love and happiness are all our own real nature, so they are one and indivisible, and they can be found only within ourself. Nothing and no one other than ourself can give us the grace, love and happiness that we seek, because they are ours already, and have always been ours. We seem to have been separated from them only because we have been looking outside, away from ourself. Therefore let us now finally give up seeking anything outside ourself, and instead follow the path that Bhagavan has shown us, as expressed by him beautifully 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’.
This verse is not only a clear instruction about what we need to do, but is also firm assurance that if we do so we will certainly succeed. That is, if we persistently turn back within to see ourself with our inner eye of attention, what we seek to know will certainly be known, and by knowing it we, this ego who seek to know it, will be dissolved forever in our real nature, which is pure awareness and which is therefore always clearly aware of itself as ‘I am only I’, or as he expressed it in the previous verse, as ‘தானே தானே’ (tāṉē tāṉē), ‘oneself is only oneself’.

This path of self-investigation and self-surrender that Bhagavan taught us is the true path of love (bhakti). Love is the path, and love is our goal. Therefore, with wholehearted trust in his infinite grace, let us follow this path without deluding ourself by supposing that in order to turn back within we need help from anyone outside ourself.

351 comments:

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anadi-ananta said...

Rajat,
of course we above all must actively and consciously try to ignore/reject desires when they arise even when the mind is not pure enough. If mind would be pure enough there were no desires at all.:-)
Your desire for a better job is legitimate and not against nature.

Asun said...

Anonymous,

Ego is not a lifeless entity, as you put it. It is a thought aware of itself as well as of other than itself. If awareness which is what we really are wasn´t in ego already, there couldn´t be self-investigation at all. By self-investigation it is meant to focus attention, which is a feature of awareness, only on awareness. As we try to focus attention on awareness, we find that this attention is attracted by many other things such as thoughts, feelings, desires and so on which yes, they are lifeless or insentient on their own just as the body. Overcoming this attraction, as we persevere in keeping attention only on awareness, clarifies and cleans mind of vasanas and distracting thoughts since they are fed only by our attention which gives rise to more thoughts followed by speech and action which gives rise to more vasanas or reinforces them and so on. This would be the mechanical part that keeps awareness at that stage, where gunas rajas and tamas prevail, and the endless circle we are breaking by practicing self-investigation since, ultimately, it only brings suffering about and, on the other hand, starting this process to be what it really is, is the nature of awareness since it knows itself as perfect happiness and peace, loves itself as it really is and, therefore, loves us as itself since it doesn´t see anything as any other than itself because, actually, there is nothing different nor apart from itself. Ego only appears to be something different and apart from pure awareness, just as the snake wrongly perceived in the rope, yet, turned towards itself it finds that it isn´t but pure awareness and that it always has been that .This love is the driving force along this journey marked by findings as we or awareness itself apparently progresses, beautifully explained in this text we are commenting. I say apparently because all of it are mere reflects or superimpositions on itself.
So, I would say that it is not necessary to kill the snake or ego since it doesn´t even exist. It is just a wrong perception of the rope or pure awareness due to the impurity of the mind that perceives it . The impure mind is a mind full of thoughts, desires and so on, in continuous motion which doesn´t allow a clear vision of reality as it is or a clear reflection of it. Very simple.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Rajat, I am glad that you found the extract from Michael’s video dated 10-08-2013 (34:00) very helpful. Transcribing interesting portions from Michael’s videos has become my enduring passion. I believe this is my tapas, and such passion is slowly but surely eating at my ego.

I had written, ‘So as our mind is purified, we will automatically replace our taste of rajasic and tamasic foods with more sattvic foods’. It has to be true. In fact, its converse is also true: the more we try to consume sattvic foods, the more our mind will be purified. Bhagavan has explained this in paragraph 9 of Nan Ar?:

By mita sāttvika āhāra-niyama [the restriction of consuming only sattva-conducive food in moderate quantities], which is the best among all restrictions, the sattva-guṇa [the quality of ‘being-ness’, calmness and clarity] of the mind increasing, for self-investigation help will [thereby] arise.

To the extent our mind is purified, to that extent we will automatically seek and cherish sattvic foods. We can verify this by our own experience. To me, even the sight of non-vegetarian food is nauseating. How can someone eat the flesh of other living beings?

We need to regularly read or listen to Bhagavan’s teachings, and then deeply reflect on it. However, until and unless we put our understanding to practice, our reading and reflecting will be of very little use. This process of reading, reflecting and putting the teachings into practice will gradually but surely reduce all our desires. If we stop just at manana, it will not help us much. Our ego can be destroyed only by our whole-hearted practice of self-surrender and self-investigation, and once our ego is destroyed all its desires and attachments will vanish along with it.



anadi-ananta said...

section 5.,
it is said that in order to turn back within we do not need help from anyone outside ourself.
Because my ability to turn deeply within every day becomes poorer I need help from my own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is said to be infinite love, and from grace which is said to be nothing but the infinite love that we as we actually are have for ourself as we actually are. Because that infinite love is the real nature of Bhagavan and this infinite love that he has for us is what we experience as his grace may I have confidence that my practice of turning within (self-investigation) will by grace become at some time better ?

anadi-ananta said...

AsunAparicio,
you say "that it is not necessary to kill the snake or ego since it doesn´t even exist. It is just a wrong perception of the rope or pure awareness due to the impurity of the mind that perceives it."
In any case you must kill the wrong perception (of the rope or pure awareness). If we do not kill i.e. correct that wrong perception it will continue to carry on its tyranny. And that is not what we want.:-)

Asun said...

No, sir, that´s not at all what we want :)
Longing for freedom has always been my driven force.
I love your shraddha, anadi-ananta, and reading you and Sanjay because of this. It´s my "Achilles heel".

Michael James said...

Rajat, in your comment of 28 August 2019 at 06:22 you ask whether ‘I am I’ is a circular definition of ‘I’, but when Bhagavan spoke of ‘I am I’ he did not intend it to be a definition in the sense of a dictionary definition. The meaning he intended was much deeper than that.

Now we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this’, in which ‘this’ refers to a body and associated adjuncts, but such things cannot be what we actually are, because we exist and shine in all three states, whereas such things appear in waking and dream but disappear in sleep. What remains in sleep is only I, which is sat-cit, our fundamental awareness (cit) of our own existence (sat), so I cannot be anything other than I.

Therefore, in verse 2 of Āṉma-Viddai, verse 20 of Upadēśa Undiyār and verse 30 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which he describes the destruction of ego, the false awareness ‘I am this’, he says that what shines forth in its place is ‘I am I’, meaning the clear awareness that I am nothing other than I.

You also wrote, ‘However, according to Bhagavan, we now have a mistaken knowledge of I, so I is perhaps not the most obvious thing?’ but what can be more obvious than I? As I said above, what the pronoun ‘I’ ultimately refers to is only our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), so nothing can be more obvious than that, because our awareness of all other things depends on this fundamental awareness ‘I am’.

In the view of ourself as ego this fundamental awareness is mixed and confused with other things, but that does not make it any less obvious. What is obscured by ego is not that I am but what I am, so all we need do is remove ego, the false awareness ‘I am this’, and what will then remain is the real awareness ‘I am I’.

Michael James said...

Rajat, in your comment of 18 September 2019 at 06:30 you wrote about the clue ‘to whom? to me; who am I?’, saying ‘Before I started reading this blog I had read Nan Yar and got the idea that I have to question myself, ask myself who am I’ and ‘Unfortunately I have still been unable to completely get over my initial misunderstanding of Bhagavan's teachings, the first impression I got from reading Nan Yar’.

When Bhagavan gives this clue in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? the verb he uses is ‘விசாரி’ (vicāri), which in this context clearly means to investigate. There is obviously a big difference between investigating who am I and asking ‘Who am I?’, just as there is a big difference between investigating what is written in a particular book and asking ‘What is written in this book?’. If we were asked to investigate what is written in a book, we would not sit and ask ourself ‘What is written in this book?’ but would open the book and see what is written in it. Likewise, when Bhagavan asks us to investigate who am I, we should not sit and ask ourself ‘Who am I?’ but should turn our attention back towards ourself to see what we actually are.

The fact that Bhagavan did not intend us merely to ask ourself ‘Who am I?’ or ‘From where am I?’ is made clear by him in verse 2 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam, in which he compares anyone who asks themself such questions to a drunkard who mutters in confusion ‘Who am I? What place am I?’

In this context you may find it useful to read one of my old articles: Spontaneously and wordlessly applying the clue: ‘to whom? to me; who am I?’

Michael James said...

Sanjay, regarding the questions you ask in your comment of 18 September 2019 at 08:14, the ‘I’ in thoughts such as ‘I am a father’, ‘I am a businessman’, ‘I am a son’, ‘I am thinking’ or ‘I am walking’ is the ‘I’ that is aware of itself as ‘I am this body’, namely ego.

When Bhagavan says that ego is the false awareness ‘I am this body’ (or in other words that it is that which always aware of itself as if it were a body), what he means by ‘this body’ is not only the physical body but also the life, mind, intellect and will that we always experience along with it whenever we are aware of ourself as a body. These five components or ‘sheaths’ (pañca-kōśa) form a single package in our experience, so he refers to them collectively as ‘this body’ (as he points out in verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu).

Because we experience this whole package as ‘I’, we identify ourself with all its roles and functions, such as being a father, a businessman or a son, and with all its actions such as thinking or walking. Therefore the root and basis of all the ideas you refer to, namely ‘I am a father’, ‘I am a businessman’, ‘I am a son’, ‘I am thinking’ and ‘I am walking’, is ego, the primal thought ‘I am this body’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I thank you for this clarification. It seems clear to me now. Ego (the primal thought ‘I am this body’) may identify itself as being a father, a businessman or a son. In such cases, ego identifies itself with all its roles and functions. And when ego identifies itself with the actions of mind and body, the same ego identifies itself with these actions. So the basis of everything is ego’s identification with either its roles or functions or with its actions.

As Bhagavan teaches us in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu, if ego come into existence everything comes into existence. So when we rise as ego, we superimpose these roles, functions and actions on ourself. Our identification with all its roles, functions and actions are the problem. As you explained elsewhere, our actions are not the problem, but our identification with actions is the main problem.

So if we want to give up our identification with these roles, functions and identification, we have to stop identifying ourself with a body (made of panch-kosas), and to do so we need to destroy ego, and to destroy ego we need to practise vigilant self-investigation.

I hope whatever I have written above is correct. If it needs correction, I will be more than glad to hear from you. Thank you once again.


Rajat said...

Michael, thanks for the very helpful replies to my doubts and the link to the article https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2014/02/spontaneously-and-wordlessly-applying.html. This is just the article I needed.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Actions are not a problem; doership is the problem

So long as you say ‘I am not the doer’, you are the doer because the state of not being the doer is the state of being self. As long as there is an ‘I’ which says ‘I am not the doer’, this ‘I’ not our actual self but is ego. Our actual self has no need to either say ‘I am the doer’ or ‘I am not the doer’. It just is. So long as we seem to be this ego (this idea ‘I am this body), we will feel that - I am thinking; I am talking; I am sitting; I am standing; I am a father; I am poor and so on. These describe the various roles, functions and actions of ego.

So ego cannot exist without taking itself to be a doer. Bhagavan said that one’s actions are not a problem, but one’s doership is the problem. We can go and sit in a cave doing nothing, but we are still not free of karma (action) because we still have the doership ‘I am sitting in a cave’ and so on. So our identification with our body and mind is the problem. Bhagavan says in verse 38 of Ulladu Narpadu:

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

Karmas (actions) depend upon the karta (doer). If we investigate who is the doer of action, this doer will depart because it is ego which has no real existence, and if the doer departs there will be no one who can have doership.

Based on Michael’s ideas taken from his video dated 10-08-2019 (1:40)

anadi-ananta said...

Trying to illustrate the consequence of the statement that there is only one ego sometimes a funny dreamlike picture-film arises in my mind (just as easily remembered confirmation of that teaching):

On a big area/site several hundred thousand people line up (like an army-formation) and each of them begins to call out several times loudly his/her name ("I am Mary, I am Harry" and so on) and a few moments later everyone repeatedly calls "I am not Mary, I am not Harry" and so on and - again a few moments later they all call together three times at full volume "No - We are the only one ego".
And now my further imagination pictures that such play is performed/staged at the same time in all cities of the world...:-)

anadi-ananta said...

AsunAparicio,
oh, addressing me as 'sir' you seem to act as a Spanish lady. - ?
If you think that 'shraddha' means 'faith', yes, I cannot be without faith in Bhagavan Arunachala-Ramana. What exactly is your Achilles' heel ? Do you have no faith in Bhagavan Arunachala-Ramana ?

anadi-ananta said...

Thank you Michael, for giving us the hint to study again your article of Wednesday, 5 February 2014 Spontaneously and wordlessly applying the clue: 'to whom? to me; who am I?' - very useful indeed.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
you say "...what the pronoun 'I' ultimately refers to is only our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), so nothing can be more obvious than that, because our awareness of all other things depends on this fundamental awareness 'I am'."
Yes, but what has happened to our 'ananda' which we are yearning for so much ?

anadi-ananta said...

The whole ego-package, the primal thought 'I am this body' always comes panting after happiness.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Actions are not a problem; doership is the problem – part 2

Let us try to reflect more on this topic. Why are actions not a problem? It is because actions are performed by our body and mind, but are we this body and mind? No, we are not. So if we are able to separate ourself from this body and mind, their actions no longer remain an issue. As long as we are not attending to our body and mind, how does it matter whether they are active, inactive or whatever?

There are two forces which make our body, speech and mind act. The first force is prarabdha, and the second force is our will. In order for us to experience our prarabdha, our body, speech and mind have to act in certain predestined ways. We cannot avoid or alter these actions. We can also use our will to make our body, speech and mind to act in different ways, but such actions cannot override our destiny. As long as we are facing away from ourself, both these forces – our destiny and will – will remain active.

The main problem is the actions we do by our will. Why? Bhagavan explains this in verse two of Upadesa Undiyar:

The fruit of an action having perished, [remaining] as a seed [a karma-vāsanā or propensity to do the same kind of action] it causes [one] to fall in the ocean of action. [Therefore] it [action] does not give liberation.

All our actions done by our will will produce its appropriate fruit (results of those actions). Not only that, these actions will remain as seeds [karma-vasanas] in us and such seeds will propel us to do more such actions in future. These actions and obstruct our liberation. It is because no action can give us liberation. In order to get liberated, we need to give up all our actions and remain is a state of perfect just being.

So our actions (done by our will) are a problem. However, if we can give up the sense of doership, none of the actions of body, speech and mind can bind us? These instruments may act in the view of others (if others still continue to exist when we do not experience them), but we will not be aware of such actions.

A question may arise ‘How can we give up our will because our will is required to get us through the day? Or how can we reduce the actions done by our will?’ Yes, to the extent we remain in-turned to that extent we can reduce the use of our will. Our aim should be to remain in perpetual self-attentiveness, even though such self-attentiveness may not be very deep or sustained. So we should try to keep our will always in check and the more it is kept in check, the quicker we will progress.

Asun said...

Anadi-ananta,

Yes, that´s what I think I´m and what I appear to be :)

I was practicing self-investigation spontaneously for many years long before knowing about self-investigation, Ramana and his teachings so, my link is with the formless – nameless and I lack the faith and devotion his devotees show towards him. I miss having this quite a lot, feel a bit like an orphan. Should I go to Ramanashram and see if this link gets established or should I overcome this yearning or desire for an external guru? It is as if I missed something important and had to come back to fix it. Or maybe it is just a silly thought, don´t know.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Every time we defeat even our one small desire, we win a small battle

When one undertakes a great undertaking, one cannot succeed without failing many times. This – Bhagavan’s path of self-surrender and self-investigation – is the greatest undertaking of all. This is the undertaking to try to eradicate ego, the root of this entire vast universe. So, of course, we will fail many times, but the road to success is paved through failures. So we should just continue trying. Every time we defeat even our one small desire, we win a small battle. We should cherish such victories. It all adds up in purifying our mind. So we should not underestimate even our seemingly small victories over our desires and attachments. Such victories will eventually enable us to win the final war.

Why is this path of self-investigation such a great undertaking? Let us say, we give 10 to 15 years of our to earn a PhD. It will seem to us to be a great undertaking, won't it? In our case, we may have embarked on our spiritual journey say about 200 or even 2000 lives ago. So can we imagine a greater undertaking this? We are now in the final stages of this long journey, so this is the time to keep our focus entirely on our goal. A few mistakes and we may have to take a few more births to reach our goal. Compared to this undertaking, every other undertaking seems meaningless, seems too superficial. Bhagavan once said every other effort will only end in vain. Most of us are born to die: that is, we have nothing to show in-between.

The deeper we go within ourself, the deeper layers of dirt - our desires and attachments - will start to come out. So we start to recognise how strong our desires and attachments are, but we shouldn’t be put off. We should patiently persevere in removing this dirt. It doesn’t matter how much dirt comes out because it is all part of the cleansing process. Self-surrender and self-investigation will eventually remove all the dirt hiding in the innermost recesses of our being, and once all this dirt comes out, we will become purer than the purest, so to speak.

~*~ The above reflection is based on the ideas from Michael’s video dated 22-09-2019

Asun said...

Sanjay,

Beautiful, accurate and encouraging reflection.

Thank you for sharing _/\_

Sanjay Lohia said...

Asun, I am glad you found my reflection useful. However, as I mentioned, whatever I wrote there is based on Michael’s ideas. I wrote in that comment as follows:

Every time we defeat even our one small desire, we win a small battle. We should cherish such victories. It all adds up in purifying our mind. So we should not underestimate even our seemingly small victories over our desires and attachments. Such victories will eventually enable us to win the final war.

This may need some refinement. When I say ‘Every time we defeat even our one small desire, we win a small battle’, it may seem that we have to try to fight our desires individually. We may try this if we want, but as Michael has explained in his latest video, we need not actually worry about our individual desires. We should be concerned about the overall strength of our desires.

As Michael says in this video, all we need to do is to gradually-gradually try turning our attention back towards ourself. The more we do so, the weaker all our desires will become. The more we try to turn our mind within, the less impetus it will have to go outwards. So our fight is against the entire range and strength of our desires, and we can fight them most effectively by ignoring these desires by trying to turn within at any given opportunity.

Michael also explained that this is why Bhagavan never recommended external renunciation. He never said – ‘give up coffee’ or ‘give up this or that’. The only thing he asks us to do is to turn within. If we patiently persevere in turning within, all our desires will become weak and will finally drop off.


anadi-ananta said...

AsunAparicio,
so obviously you have from nature talent for self-ivestigation. Be happy, having a natural spontaneous gift for self-investigation is certainly great. (I would be blissful and grateful to have that gift too).
Because you are already aware of your link with the nameless and formless brahman (Arunachala) - at least as you wrote - you do not have any need to go physically to Arunachala or Sri Ramanasramam. So the real Arunachala Ramana is already residing in you as your inner/internal guru and all your efforts to remain in pure self-awareness will be carried out easily by you. Therefore, by your sound and solid inner connection you do not need develop devotional faith to Bhagavan Sri Ramana (as he bodily lived at Arunachala Hill) or to an other (Indian) 'external guru'.
But when on the other hand you have the feeling of missing "something important" and have therefore a strong desire and urge for fixing "it" you should not hesitate to make the experience of visiting Arunachala and Sri Ramanasramam also physically. If you by your prarabdha are destined to "come back and fix that something important" and to see and experience that place it will happen. [Perhaps I will meet you there some time.:-)].

Asun said...

Sanjay,

Michael also says that we don´t gain anything, we lose everything. That´s truth and sometimes it looks like something unnatural or even illogical. Accepting it without questioning is surrender and unconditional trust, I guess. We still are under the yoke of time and space while the sight of that which is beyond them and guides us is a wide one and it moves at the speed of light. Our understanding is almost always in retrospect. A bit exasperating yet, it doesn´t lack beauty. Somehow :)

Michael James said...

Sanjay, from what you write in your comment of 22 September 2019 at 16:07, especially ‘So the basis of everything is ego’s identification with either its roles or functions or with its actions’, it seems that I was not sufficiently clear when I replied to you in my comment of 22 September 2019 at 14:39.

The basis of everything is ego itself and not merely its ‘identification with either its roles or functions or with its actions’. Whose roles, functions or actions are they? They are not actually ego’s but only the body’s. That is, it is the body (in the sense of the entire package of five sheaths) that is a father, businessman or son and that has any other such roles, and also that does actions such as thinking or walking. These roles, functions and actions seem to be ego’s only because ego is aware of itself as if it were that body.

In other words, the very nature of ourself as ego is to be aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, so if this body is is a father, businessman or son or if it is thinking or walking, we as ego think ‘I am a father’, ‘I am a businessman’, ‘I am a son’, ‘I am thinking’ or ‘I am walking’. Therefore our fundamental wrong identification and the root and foundation of all our other wrong identifications is only this false awareness ‘I am this body’.

Bhagavan is extremely precise and accurate in his diagnosis of the root of all our problems, namely that it is ego, whose very nature is to be aware of itself as ‘I am this body’. Our awareness of ourself as a body is the first wrong identification, and consequently it is the root of all other forms of wrong identification.

If we bear this in mind, we will see how very simple and clear his teachings are, and we will thereby avoid letting ourself become confused about them.

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, in reply to your comment of 22 September 2019 at 23:57, our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), ‘I am’, is itself infinite happiness (ānanda), but because we as ego are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, the infinite happiness that we actually are seems to be obscured. In spite of appearances, however, infinite happiness is always our own real nature, and clear evidence for this fact is pointed out by Bhagavan in the very first sentence of Nāṉ Ār?:

சகல ஜீவர்களும் துக்கமென்ப தின்றி எப்போதும் சுகமாயிருக்க விரும்புவதாலும், யாவருக்கும் தன்னிடத்திலேயே பரம பிரிய மிருப்பதாலும், பிரியத்திற்கு சுகமே காரண மாதலாலும், மனமற்ற நித்திரையில் தின மனுபவிக்கும் தன் சுபாவமான அச் சுகத்தை யடையத் தன்னைத் தானறிதல் வேண்டும்.

sakala jīvargaḷum duḥkham eṉbadu iṉḏṟi eppōdum sukham-āy irukka virumbuvadālum, yāvarukkum taṉ-ṉ-iḍattil-ē-y-ē parama piriyam iruppadālum, piriyattiṟku sukham-ē kāraṇam ādalālum, maṉam aṯṟa niddiraiyil diṉam aṉubhavikkum taṉ subhāvam āṉa a-c-sukhattai y-aḍaiya-t taṉṉai-t tāṉ aṟidal vēṇḍum.

Since all living beings want [or like] to be always happy without what is called misery, since for everyone the greatest love is only for oneself, and since happiness alone is the cause for love, [in order] to obtain that happiness, which is one’s own nature, which one experiences daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of mind, oneself knowing oneself is necessary.

Michael James said...

In a comment on one of my recent videos, 22019-09-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Āṉma-Viddai verse 3, a friend wrote: ‘No greater disciple of bhagwan now than Michael James’.

In reply to this I wrote:

Vinay, I am at best just an ordinary devotee, much like the vast majority of other devotees of Bhagavan, trying my feeble best to put his teachings into practice despite the strength of all my desires and attachments, which are constantly driving my mind outwards, in the opposite direction to the one in which he advised us to direct it. A true devotee of Bhagavan is one whose mind is constantly turned inwards and thereby surrendered to him, so by that standard I am still far from being a true devotee.

However, we can each progress only from where we now stand, so though my progress may be very slow, I am confident the he who has sown this small seed of love for him and his teachings in my heart will protect and nurture it and thereby eventually make me willing to surrender myself entirely, whereupon he will swallow me in his all-embracing love.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
your recent video Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Āṉma-Viddai verse 3, is dated 2019-09-14.
In your last sentence you wanted to write "...I am confident that he who has sown...".

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
thank you for your reply/comment.
What Bhagavan pointed out "...oneself knowing oneself is necessary." I feel urgently imperative.
However, for that task I am still working. :-)
I am far far far away from holding the mind constantly turned inwards.
I too am still confident that Bhagavan will protect and nurture the small seed of love for him in my heart.

Asun said...

Anadi-ananta,

[Perhaps I will meet you there some time.:-)].

That would be great :) I´ll let you know if it finally happens.

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, thank you for pointing out the two typos in my previous comment. Unfortunately Blogger doesn’t provide any facility for us to correct our comments after we have posted them, but I have corrected the original version of that comment on YouTube.

anadi-ananta said...

AsunAparicio,
yes, let me know when your travelling time and itinerary is fixed. Then we will see whether our paths can and will cross.:-)

Michael James said...

In a comment on one of my recent videos, 22019-09-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Āṉma-Viddai verse 3, a friend wrote:

“Michael, I read your blog, the Power of Arunachala .. In that Bhagavan says that One Arunachala has the merit of one crore Om Namah Shivaya.. So my question is, does holding “I Am” in the mind and investigating where the feeling of I am leads to, also have that kind of merit..? or we can hold the name Arunachala or any other Mantra or name of the Bhagavan or Buddha and identify with it as our own Supreme nature.. Would it not lead to the same goal since it holds so much merit? Isn’t merit essential for spiritual progress ...? Because at times when there is some trouble or urgency, then remembering ourself as “I Am” doesn’t help... At that time the heart immediately cries out the name of Bhagavan or Buddha or whoever one believes in... So I wanted to know, Is it okay to keep the attention mostly on the “I Am” throughout the day but if now and then a feeling of Bhakti arises, then can we also recite the holy name .. I hope it doesn’t contradict self-investigation ..?”

In reply to this I wrote:

Sachal, holding ‘I am’ is the pinnacle of bhakti, because ‘I am’ is the real nature (svarūpa) of both Bhagavan and Arunachala, so as Bhagavan says in verse 8 of Upadēśa Undiyār holding ‘I am’ is ‘அனைத்தினும் உத்தமம்’ (aṉaittiṉum uttamam), ‘the best among all’.

Talk of merit is for those who seek personal gain, so it does not apply to those of us who aspire to follow the path of complete self-surrender, but whether we are seeking merit or surrender the names of Arunachala and Ramana are uniquely efficacious, because as Bhagavan himself wrote in one verse, ‘அரி ஆதி இதர சீவரது அக வாரிச குகையில் அறிவாய் ரமி பரமாத்துமன் அருணாசலரமணன்’ (ari ādi itara jīvaradu aha-vārija guhaiyil aṟivāy rami paramāttumaṉ aruṇācalaramaṇaṉ), ‘Aruṇācalaramaṇa is paramātman [the supreme spirit or ultimate self] rejoicing as awareness in the cave of the heart-lotus of [all] different jīvas [life-forms] beginning with Hari [Viṣṇu]’.

For those of us who are trying to follow the path of self-surrender, the names of Arunachala and Ramana have a special power to draw our attention back within, so chanting either or both of these names certainly does not contradict self-investigation. Quite the opposite, it can be a powerful aid on this path of self-investigation and self-surrender. However, whenever we feel inclined to chant these names we should yield ourself to their power, allowing them to draw our mind back within to face ourself alone.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I thank you for this further clarification. Yes, the root of everything is ego itself. Ego comes into existence by identifying itself with a body – ‘I am this body’. It is this body (or person) which has various roles, functions and indulges in various actions. However, since ego identifies itself with this body, ego feels that these roles, functions and actions belong to it. So ego creates a body, and this body has various roles to play and has to act in various ways in order to survive as this body. Therefore ego is the root of everything. This is indeed what Bhagavan has been repeatedly teaching us.

As you know, I am very fond of posting comments on your blog, so whenever you find anything which needs correction, please point this out to me. I believe you will agree, such clarification helps one to go deep in one's manana. I thank you once again.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anything which is not swayam-prakasha (self-shining) cannot be real

Michael: What is real must always be real. Bhagavan gives the following three definitions of reality:

(1) It must be permanent or eternal
(2) It must be unchanging
(3) It must be swayam-prakasha (self-shining)

Reality must be permanent because if something is here today but gone tomorrow, how can such a thing be real? It must be unchanging because if something changes – it is one thing at one time but something else at another time, which of these two things is real. The third most important definition of reality is it must be swayam-prakasha (self-shining). What that means is it must know its own existence?

Does the world know its own existence? No, it does not, so it is unreal, even though we may think it existed before we were born and will continue to exist after we die. Likewise, does this building know its own existence? So this building is unreal. We cannot say anything exists when it is not experienced. If something exists only in the experience of something else, its existence is dependent on that other thing. So such dependent things are not self-shining and therefore not real.

Of all the things that exist, can you tell me anything that knows its own existence, in your experience?

A friend: Myself!

Michael: Yes, yourself. So only you are real. You may think, ‘Oh, this Michael is talking to me, so he must be also experiencing his own existence. But actually this Michael you see is only a thought of yours. It is a projection of your mind. How can you know Michael is really sentient? A computer may be talking exactly the same thing, but we don’t think that the computer is sentient, do we?

So we know only one consciousness. No one ever experiences more than one consciousness. So we should make research on this one consciousness which we experience as ‘I’. Bhagavan says if we make research on ‘I’, we will find that it is the only thing that exists.

-•- Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 11-08-2012 (43:00)

Reflection: Only Bhagavan is real because only he is permanent, unchanging and self-shining, and since we (in our essential nature) is not different from Bhagavan, we are real. There is only one reality, and you are that - tat-tvam-asi.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
you say "A true devotee of Bhagavan is one whose mind is constantly turned inwards and thereby surrendered to him, so by that standard I am still far from being a true devotee."
You are exercising understatement/modesty here because by the mentioned standard a true devotee of Bhagavan can be only Bhagavan himself.:-)

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"...since for everyone the greatest love is only for oneself, and since happiness alone is the cause for love, ...".
Perhaps it is necessary to understand what 'love' essentially is.
So may I suggest/welcome to hear your explanation about 'love' ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

We are so interested in this external world that we are constantly overlooking what is ever-present

In verses 13 of Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai, Bhagavan says the following:

O Arunachala, import of the sound ‘Om’, unequalled and unsurpassed, who can know you (as you are)?

The meaning of ‘Om’ is Arunachala, and Bhagavan also said many times that Arunachala is ‘I’. So when we chant ‘Om’, what we should remember is not the sound of the mantra but what it denotes, which is ‘I’. That is what Bhagavan wants us to constantly remember, but we are so interested in this external world that we are constantly overlooking what is ever-present. Our mind is darting after these fleeting appearances.

-•- Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 11-08-2012 (1:00)

Reflection: ‘Om’ is what we actually are.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We are so interested in this external world that we are constantly overlooking what is ever-present

In verses 13 of Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai, Bhagavan says the following:

O Arunachala, import of the sound ‘Om’, unequalled and unsurpassed, who can know you (as you are)?

The meaning of ‘Om’ is Arunachala, and Bhagavan also said many times that Arunachala is ‘I’. So when we chant ‘Om’, what we should remember is not the sound of the mantra but what it denotes, which is ‘I’. That is what Bhagavan wants us to constantly remember, but we are so interested in this external world that we are constantly overlooking what is ever-present. Our mind is darting after these fleeting appearances.

-•- Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 11-08-2012 (1:00)

Reflection: ‘Om’ is what we actually are.

Anonymous said...

Good question:)

Anonymous said...

I watch Anita Moorjani’s videos too. She had near death experience and her only message all the time has been ‘be yourself and love yourself’. She also says living without fear, anger, negative emotions and allowing god to express himself thru us is loving ourself. But i still dont get it. Bhagavan never went into details. I am upset with him for that reason:).

Asun said...

By the way, I found the video which gave rise to my question and this article, in the 28":

https://youtu.be/e3i0Yieemps


“The best thing to do if you want to make progress is to sit with somebody who is in that state, who has the capacity to look at you and help you to experience that state yourself.” D.G.

Michael, thanks so much for your confidence, despite I couldn´t provide the video at that moment, and for this excellent article. _/\_

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our prarabdha has been tailor-made to suit both our vasanas and our willingness not to allow ourself to be swayed by them

Fate (prarabdha) is what determines all that is to happen or all that we are to experience in each of our lives. Our fate has been carefully and purposefully chosen to promote our spiritual development, which means that it has been chosen by Bhagavan considering all our vasanas and the most effective way to help us overcome them as quickly as possible. If we allow ourself to be swayed by certain vasanas, we should not delude ourself by attributing that to our destiny. By prompting such vasanas to rise, our prarabdha is giving us the opportunity to make this choice. Our prarabdha has been tailor-made to suit both our vasanas and our willingness not to allow ourself to be swayed by them.

If we eat meat, it is our prarabdha to do so, but this prarabdha has been allotted to us because we have such vasanas and are not yet willing to curb them by not allowing ourself to be swayed by them. Adhering wholeheartedly to such restrictions (niyamas) – such as ahimsa and mita sattvika ahara-niyama – can be an effective means not only to curb and weaken these vasanas, at least to a certain extent, but also to strengthen our vairagya.

If we cannot even curb our harmful vasanas such as the desire for wrong types of food or excessive food, how can we expect to destroy the root of all vasanas, namely our ego? So we should try our best to curb all our vasanas, especially our more harmful vasanas.

-•- Based on Michael’s ideas extracted from his article: If we choose to do any harmful actions, should we consider them to be done according to destiny (prārabdha)?



anadi-ananta said...

section4.,
"Wherever we may be in time or space, and whatever may be the state of our mind, Bhagavan is the ‘ஒளி மணி’ (oḷi maṇi) or 'gem of light', meaning the light of pure awareness that is always shining in our heart as 'I', so by his merely being as he is he will annihilate our lowness (namely ego, the darkness of self-ignorance) whenever we are willing to surrender ourself entirely to him."
There is always that condition "whenever we are willing to surrender ourself entirely to him".
How can one who does not even feel/realize Arunachala being present in oneself, be willing to surrender entirely to him ?
For that reason, Arunachala, please - in order to be felt in me more plainly and undoubtedly - could you not first sufficiently clear and powerful attract my attention to you ?
If you need anything - perhaps a special kind of my keen attentiveness - let me know that immediately now ! You should not have got anything to complain about, certainly not an attention deficit !

anadi-ananta said...

section 4.,
"Nothing real exists outside ourself. What is real is only pure awareness, which is our own nature (ātma-svarūpa), as Bhagavan says in the first sentence of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), 'Oneself, who is jñāna [pure awareness], alone is real'. Nothing other than oneself, and hence nothing outside of oneself, is real."
So where is the beginning and the end of ourself, if there are such ones ?
Is there any inside or outside of ourself ? At best in the limited view of our ego.

anadi-ananta said...

section 4.,
"Nothing other than oneself, and hence nothing outside of oneself, is real. Even the very awareness of anything other than oneself is unreal, being just ignorance, not real awareness,...".
How to deal with that reality in daily life and destroy such ignorance permanently in every moment ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Any person who is still practising atma-vichara doesn’t know what self-attentiveness is

Only our experience can tell us what self-attentiveness is. Moreover, any person who is still practising atma-vichara doesn’t know what self-attentiveness is, what self-awareness is, what self-consciousness is. That is why Bhagavan called it vichara. We have a vague idea of what self-attentiveness is. We may be coming closer to self-attentiveness, but if for one moment we attend to self correctly – for one moment if we experience pure self-awareness – that is atma-jnana. The more we practise the more we will discover, and what we discover cannot be put into words.

Likewise, Bhagavan used to sometimes say summa-iru (just be). This is the highest teaching according to Tamil vedantic tradition. But the problem is, does any of us know what is to just be. Since we do not really know what 'just be' is, we may think ‘Oh, I am sitting here enjoying great peace, so I am in a state of just being’. But we are still aware ‘I am sitting here’. I am still aware of the body who is sitting there. So we are not in a state of perfect just being because our attention is still partially on the body.
So just like we do not really know what self-attentiveness is, in the same manner, do not know how to just be.

*~* Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 11-08-2012 (1:02)

Reflection: Those of us who have been practising self-investigation for quite a while now, may feel that we know what self-attentiveness is, what self-investigation is. We may even feel that we are in a position to guide others (if others need our guidance). However, since we ourselves do not know what pure self-attentiveness is, how can we really guide others? So we all are still students – sadhakas – who are trying to investigate and find out what self-investigation is, what pure self-awareness is. So such an attitude will keep us grounded, keep us humble.

If we feel we are ‘experts’ at self-investigation that will expose our big ego. The 'so-called 'expert' has to vanish forever before we can become real experts. If there is still a separate ‘I’ practising self-investigation, we are still far from our goal. So we should calmly and patiently carry on practising self-attentiveness until we reach our destination, which is pure self-attention.

Asun said...


I don´t know why almost everybody gives to those who translate, write and publish books the authority that lies only in the original words, due to the source where they arose from, in this case, Ramana Maharshi. Anyway, and since this seems to be what happens, these people should be careful what they publicly say, moreover, if their claiming are made as something that applies to everybody and not only to themselves and according to their own and personal experience.
I like Michael James because he has great discipline in this sense, he never deviates from the source and very rarely talks on himself, when he does, it is only to clarify and to refuse this kind of “transmission” .

Sanjay Lohia said...

We shouldn’t embrace anything except self

We shouldn’t embrace anything except self. However, we should not reject other things, in the sense that, we should not react against other things. Whether pleasure or pain comes in our lives, we should view it all with equanimity. We shouldn’t be overly attached to the pleasures; we shouldn’t be overly averse to the pains.

# Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 06-09-2012 (1:30)

anadi-ananta said...

section 5.,
"...if we persistently turn back within to see ourself with our inner eye of attention, what we seek to know will certainly be known, and by knowing it we, this ego who seek to know it, will be dissolved forever in our real nature, which is pure awareness and which is therefore always clearly aware of itself as 'I am only I', or as he expressed it in the previous verse, as ‘தானே தானே’ (tāṉē tāṉē), ‘oneself is only oneself’."
Sometimes - particularly when ego has aquired firm hold on me - I ask myself of what practical use for whomsoever such clear awareness might be. Even when reached the goal (Love is the path, and love is our goal)- does it help anyone ? So this ego seems to be not even satisfied with infinite love. Terrible thought, ... to whom does it arise ?...

anadi-ananta said...

section 3.,
"...saying that jñāna alone is the jñāni Bhagavan is pointing out that pure self-awareness is known only by itself, so the ātma-jñāni is nothing other than pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna)."
Therefore ego-mind as such will never gain what we call 'self-knowledge'.
At most/best ego can approach or come closer and closer to the coast of freedom/peace.
At least we should sincerely try that approach. So let us creep up on that gently.:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Fear is directly proportional to desire

The very nature of ego is to have desires and attachments, and because we have desires and attachments, we also have fear. If we have no desire, we will have no fear. Because we desire life, we fear death; because we desire money, we fear to lose money; because we desire to have a comfortable home, we fear to be homeless; because we desire to have adequate food, we fear not having any food. Because I like (like is another form of desire) my daughter, I dislike when she falls ill – I hope she recovers fast. Because I am attached to my business, I fear when the authorities withhold the trade licence – what will happen if they do not renew it?

So fear comes out of desire, and desire is the very nature of ego. We can reduce the strength of our desires and attachments, but we cannot give them up entirely without giving up ego. How to give up ego? It can be done only by self-investigation. In the initial stages of our practice, each time we turn within we reduce our desires and attachments, and when our desires and attachments have been greatly reduced, the same self-investigation will finally destroy ego. Why should that be so?

It is because ego is nothing but false awareness ‘I am this body’. That is, the very nature of ego is not to be aware of itself as it actually is, but to be aware of itself as if it were a body. So since ego is a mistaken self-awareness, it can be destroyed only by correct self-awareness and in order to aware of ourself as we actually are, we need to investigate ourself.

The most precious element of Bhagavan’s teachings, that has not been made so clear before, is this simple truth he reveals about the nature of ego. We seem to be ego only when we look away from ourself. That is, so long as we are attending to anything other than ourself, we seem to be this ego. So as long as we are looking away from ourself we are nourishing and sustaining ego. If we look back at ourself ego subsides and disappears because there is no such thing as ego. It is like a formless phantom.

If we attend to ourself so keenly that we are not aware of nothing other than ourself – we will see that what we actually are is just pure awareness. In fact, we are always pure awareness, and since pure awareness never undergoes any change, we were never this ego. Actually, there is no such thing as ego. This is the most precious thing that Bhagavan has revealed to this world. No ancient text has revealed this so clearly and emphatically as explained by Bhagavan.

All the trouble we experience – every conceivable problem – is only for ego and only when we seem to be ego. Ego becomes weak when the strength of its desires and attachments are reduced, and the more these desires and attachments are reduced, the more our fears also get reduced. And once we can get rid of ego, we will also get rid of all our fears forever.

~*~ Based on Michael’s ideas taken from his video dated 22-09-2019

anadi-ananta said...

section 5.,
"...grace cannot be anything other than ourself, as he often confirmed. It is our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), because our real nature is infinite love, and grace is nothing but the infinite love that we as we actually are have for ourself as we actually are."
When this statement obviously means that ultimately we as our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa) need grace i.e. itself - does that not sound a bit grotesquely ?

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
many thanks for your perfect (!) transcription of Michael's clear and consistent explanations given in his recent "Spanish" video of 2019-09-22 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses self-investigation and spiritually immaturity
(Only one little omission of the word "be" in the clause "in order to aware".

Rajat said...

Michael,
The first line of paragraph six of your translation of Who Am I? is -

"Only by [means of] the investigation 'who am I?' will [our] mind subside [shrink, settle down,become still, disappear or cease to be]; the thought 'who am I?' [that is, the effort we make to attend to our essential being], having destroyed all other thoughts, will itself in the end be destroyed like a corpse-burning stick [that is, a stick that is used to stir a funeral pyre to ensure that the corpse is burnt entirely]."

The phrase in brackets - "that is, the effort we make to attend to our essential being" - is reassuring. It seems to me to imply (along with the rest of the sentence) that the very effort to turn within is important and helpful, no matter if the effort to turn within is actually successful or not (this clause is my optimistic inference). If one sincerely tries to turn within, that is necessary and perhaps even sufficient? Because whether or not the effort is successful is up to Bhagavan's grace and all that I can do is at least sincerely try?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, we may indulge in our manana at the cost of our practice, so this obviously is a problem. Moreover, sometimes we may unnecessarily confuse ourselves if we stretch our manana too far. Be that as it may, I will first share my manana with you and then ask a few questions:

When we rise as ego we cannot do so without attaching ourself to a body, and this body is made up of its five sheaths. Bhagavan makes this clear in verse 5 of Ulladu Narpadu:

The body is pañca-kōśa-uru [a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical structure, life, mind, intellect and will]. Therefore all five [sheaths] are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body [composed of these five sheaths], is there a world? Say, without [experiencing oneself as such] a body, is there anyone who has seen a world?

Out of all these koshas, the subtlest of them is the sheath composed of will – called anandamaya kosha or karana sarira or the sheath composed of the darkness. This kosha contains in seed forms all the phenomena we experience, including the other four sheaths. That is, it contains the store of karma-phalas, called sanchita karma. It also contains in seed form all our vishaya vasanas (inclination or desires to experience things other than ourself), and it also contains our prarabdha is seed form.

You wrote an email to me (dated 13 September 2018), in which you wrote the following:

Visaya-vasanas are the seeds that sprout as phenomena. They are like the pictures on the film reel that are projected as the phenomena that appear on the screen. They are all the elements of our will, and are not part of prarabdha.

Prarabdha is what we are destined to experience, so it is the particular film reel that has been selected by Bhagavan for us to experience in this life. The contents of the film reel are our vasanas, but what determines which particular vasanas are to be projected as our experience in each life is prarabdha.

You say that ‘They [visaya-vasanas] are all the elements of our will, and are not part of prarabdha’, but at the same time you say ‘Visaya-vasanas are the seeds that sprout as phenomena’. To me, these two statements seem contradictory. According to my understanding, which vasana sprouts as phenomena are in accordance with our destiny. Visaya-vasana is the element of our will which makes us like or dislike a particular phenomenon.

You say, ‘The contents of the film reel are our vasanas, but what determines which particular vasanas are to be projected as our experience in each life is prarabdha’. So you admit that vasanas are projected as our experience in each life as our prarabdha. So, in fact, both – our destiny and our will – are a projection of our vasanas.

As you can see, I am slightly confused, especially by the terms vasana and visaya-vasanas. Do they mean different things? You clarification will be appreciated. Thank you.


anadi-ananta said...

Rajat,
because Bhagavan's grace is inside we only can and therefore must sincerely try to turn within - without looking at success. Of course making effort to attend to our essential being without quick success requires toughness and tenacity.:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

One cannot project this world picture without the background darkness

In the old days in India, they used to exhibit cinema in tents. So Bhagavan says that while the film is being shown, if a big wind comes and blows away the tent, what will happen to the picture? It disappears. So also when the light of self-knowledge comes, this entire world will disappear. The picture of this world depends on the darkness. Just like you cannot project a picture on the screen without darkness, so also one cannot project this world picture without the background darkness. That darkness is the darkness of self-ignorance or self-forgetfulness – the seeming lack of knowledge of what we are. But it is all seeming.

Bhagavan said jnana is not something for which you have to wait for the future. Jnana is here and now.

~•~ Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 08-06-2013



Sanjay Lohia said...

By looking at ourself closely, we gain the skill to look at ourself more and more closely

The more closely we watch ourself, the more closely we will recognise when our attention slips away. Why does it slip away? It is because when we turn our attention towards ourself, we begin dissolving and since we are not willing to let go, our attention turns outwards to grasp things. It is only by grasping things other than ourself that we can sustain our existence as ego. So for ego, it is literally a life and death struggle.

However, by looking at ourself closely, we gain the skill to look at ourself more and more closely, and we can more easily catch ourself when our attention slips away.

~•~ Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 14-09-2019 (1:25)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
visaya vasanas are the seed that sprout as phenomena. Therefore they are not projected.
Vasanas can be favourable/beneficial or infavourable/harmful. Vasanas do not project.

You may read again Michael's article of Wednesday, 24 January 2018 Why do viṣaya-vāsanās sprout as thoughts, and how to eradicate them? and section 3. of the article of Tuesday, 5 September 2017 If we choose to do any harmful actions, should we consider them to be done according to destiny (prārabdha)? :

3. Using our free will we must cultivate sat-vāsanā and thereby curb and eventually eradicate all other vāsanās

In the context of Bhagavan’s teachings, the three kinds of vāsanā that concern us most are viṣaya-vāsanās (inclinations to experience particular kinds of viṣayas or phenomena), karma-vāsanās (inclinations to do particular kinds of karmas or actions), and sat-vāsanā (inclination just to be as we actually are by being aware of nothing other than ourself). The first two of these, viṣaya-vāsanās and karma-vāsanās, are inseparable, like the two sides of a single coin, because they are actually two aspects of the same kind of vāsanā. That is, for every viṣaya-vāsanā there is a corresponding karma-vāsanā, and vice versa, because if we are inclined to experience a particular phenomenon, we will also be inclined to do whatever is required to experience it. For example, a liking for the taste of chocolate is a viṣaya-vāsanā, whereas the corresponding liking to eat chocolate is a karma-vāsanā.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"Jnana is here and now."
Yes, but one cannot pick it and put in our basket.:-)

Asun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sanjay Lohia said...

It is impossible for us to succeed; it is impossible for Bhagavan to fail

We cannot attain atma-jnana by the strength of our mind. We cannot say ‘I am determined today. I am going to do it by my will’. The ‘I’ which says such things is itself the obstacle. So this is where grace and individual effort work hand-in-hand. Actually, what we take to be our effort is not actually our effort. It is grace which is pulling us from within. We wrongly assume doership for even the act of grace. We may think, ‘I am practising atma-vichara very hard. I am a serious sadhaka’ and so on. Who is this ‘I’ who is practising?

Why are we discussing Bhagavan’s teachings here? What has attracted us to him and his teachings? Why do we find pleasure in writing these comments or in listening to Michael’s videos? By his infinite grace, Bhagavan has somehow attracted us to this path. We find this such a fascinating subject. We love listening about it; we love practising it. Bhagavan has sown the seed in our heart – a taste for him and his teachings.

Bhagavan is a good gardener, so if he has planted this seed, he will see to it that it germinates. He is not a gardener who will plant 100 seeds and only 10 of them germinate. So in the heart of each of us, he has sown the seed. This seed will not fail. It is impossible for us to succeed; it is impossible for him to fail. We as this ego can never succeed because we have to disappear before we succeed. So ultimate victory will belong to grace and grace alone.

# The above is based on Michael’s ideas taken from his video dated 09-07-2011 (1:03)

Bob said...

Sanjay

thanks for the buried treasure you keep finding and bringing to the surface

even though i don't say anything you really have no idea how much i appreciate what you are doing

cheers and best regards my friend

Sanjay Lohia said...

‘I’ is always clear to us, so we just have to turn towards his ‘I’ whenever possible, to whatever extent possible

Bhagavan didn’t attach too much importance to outward forms of meditation. Bhagavan used to say it is not the body that meditates - the body cannot get atma-jnana. The mind needs to meditate in order to see what it actually is. So we can meditate in any bodily posture – sitting, lying down, standing or whatever. The body can be in any posture as long as we try to keep our mind subsided. In fact, Bhagavan lay down during his famous death experience which destroyed his ego. Once someone asked Bhagavan, ‘Bhagavan, what is the best asana (posture) to meditate?’ Bhagavan replied, ‘nididhyasana’ – that means posture in oneself.

Bhagavan generally didn’t encourage people sitting for long hours in meditation. Sometimes people who are physically active but in constant self-remembrance make faster progress. We should try to practise self-remembrance in the midst of whatever mental or physical activities we may be engaged in. Bhagavan said that we should be in nirantara svarupa-smarana (perpetual self-remembrance). Since most of us have many worldly responsibilities, we cannot afford to sit in meditation for long hours. However, we can try combining our worldly duties with our practice of self-attentiveness. At such times, our self-attentiveness will not be very deep, but it does not matter.

‘I’ is always clear to us, so we just have to turn towards his ‘I’ whenever possible, to whatever extent possible. We can maintain a current of attentive self-awareness even during our mental activities. This may not so easy in the beginning, but such a habit can be cultivated and should be cultivated if we want to progress fast.

Bhagavan said in on his verses whose gist is as follows:

In a person whose mind or vasanas has been erased, even though he may seem to be doing things, he is actually doing nothing. Whereas, a person whose mind is soaked in vasanas, even though he may seem to be doing nothing, they are doing things.

Conclusion: We should always watch our inner attitude. Our outer duties are inconsequential as long as we are trying to look within.

~•~ Based on Michael’s video dated 09-07-2011 (1:41)






anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
the search box you used (Google search) includes the entire blog therefore also comments:
Sanjay Lohia wrote on 14 January 2018 at 12:52:(comment nr. 59 in reply to me then as Upadhi)
...
" Q: Will anything be carried forward once this life comes to the end? Yes, if we reflect on Bhagavan’s teachings and its explanations given to us by Michael, we will understand that the following three things definitely get carried forward to our next life and they are: sanchita-karmas (store of the unexhausted fruits of our actions), vishaya-vasanas (tendencies or inclinations to be aware of things other than ourself) and sat-vasana (our love to be aware of ourself alone).

Out of these three only our sat-vasana is good or beneficial to us in our next life, because this will enable us to continue with our practice of self-investigation from where we will leave it in this current life. So we should try and garner as much of sat-vasana or svatma-bhakti as possible, here and now? Who knows the next moment could be our last moment..."

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I recently (on 27 September 2019 at 8:11) asked you a few questions regarding vasanas and prarabdha and so on. I would like to withdraw those questions. Sorry for unnecessarily troubling you. I just saw, you had already answered these doubts in a comment addressed to me on 13 March 2018 at 08:24, in which wrote the following:

Sanjay, I did not actually say that some vāsanās are part of prārabdha (destiny or fate), as you seem to imply in your comment, but that we need not and and should not try to analyse or classify them in too much detail. Vāsanās are propensities, inclinations or urges to think and act in certain ways, so they are elements of our will, but our prārabdha may prompt some of them to sprout. However the workings of our fate and our will and how they interact are extremely complex, so we should not waste our time and effort trying to analyse or understand them in too much detail.

As I wrote to you in that email:

We cannot easily, precisely or accurately distinguish which of our actions (thoughts, words or deeds) are under the control of our free will and which are under the control of prārabdha (and many of them are driven by both simultaneously), but we have no need to do so, because all we should be concerned with is turning within to see who it is that experiences ‘I am doing this’.

All phenomena (including actions, whether āgāmya or prārabdha) are thoughts, and the seeds that sprout as thoughts are called vasanas, but since they are all non-self (anātman) we need not and and should not try to analyse or classify them in too much detail, as Bhagavan cautions us in the seventeenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?.

We should always remember that Bhagavan keeps things simple and asks us to focus on what is most basic, namely ourself as this ego. We know generally what is meant by the term viṣaya-vāsanās [inclinations or desires to experience things other than oneself], and that when they sprout as thoughts (phenomena) they tend to distract our attention away from ourself, so rather than being distracted by them we should try to cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness (svarūpa-dhyāna) [as he explains in the tenth and eleventh paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?]. What more than this do we need to know? Why should we break our heads trying to answer questions such as the ones you have raised? Will it help us to develop more love to turn within? Will it clarify our understanding of the core principles of his teachings?

13 March 2018 at 08:24

I exposed my inner confusion by asking you the very questions which had already answered. I sincerely apologise. Thank you.

Asun said...

Anadi-ananta,

Thanks so much _/\_

I found another gem in the search, by the way:

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2018/11/everything-depends-for-its-seeming.html



anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
indeed Michael provides gems in vast numbers.:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bob, I am glad you like the extracts from Michael’s videos which I have been regularly posting here. Michael’s videos, articles, comments, translation of Bhagavan's works and emails (at least in my case) are an absolute treasure. However, our ultimate thanks should go to Bhagavan’s grace. It is his infinite love that has brought Michael in our midst. My heartfelt prostrations to Bhagavan Ramana!

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"However, our ultimate thanks should go to Bhagavan’s grace. It is his infinite love that has brought Michael in our midst."
Because Bhagavan's grace is our real nature we ultimately have to offer our thanks to ourself !

Sanjay Lohia said...

If we want to merge in God, we should become like God

If we want to merge in God, we should become like God. It is because if two things are different in their essential nature, they cannot merge with each other. I don’t think, for example, milk and oil can be mixed together to form a homogeneous substance. So if we want to merge in God and be one with him, we should become like God. We should know what God's attributes are and try to acquire these attributes. What are God’s attributes? Bhagavan explains this in paragraph 15 of Nan Ar? He says that God is like the sun, which exists without iccha [wish, desire or liking], samkalpa [volition or intention] or yatna [effort or exertion]. So in order to become like God, we need to give up all our desires, intention and effort.

However, at present, we have almost endless desires and intentions and are making unceasing efforts to fulfil those desires and intentions. So now we need to slowly-slowly give up these desires, intentions and efforts. We can reduce these to some extent by practices other than self-investigation, but these will remain with us as long as our ego lasts. Why? It is because the very nature of ego is to have desires and to make efforts to fulfil those desires. So we have to destroy our ego, and do so we need to look at ourself very-very closely. If we do so, since ego has no substantial existence, it will dissolve and become one with God.

Regarding effort, Bhagavan once said something to the following effect: Your effort itself is bondage, so make no effort either to work or not to work. Our desires and efforts keep us in bondage, and therefore we need to keep these in check even when we experience ourself as this ego.

To put it more simply, we should reflect on what Bhagavan teaches us in verse 25 of Upadesa Undiyar:

Knowing [or being aware of] oneself leaving aside adjuncts is itself knowing God, because [he] shines as oneself.

So if we want to know God, we should be aware of ourself as we really are. There is no other way to merge in God – to become one with him.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan gives us blows from outside to wake us up, to keep us on the toes

We shouldn’t be too complacent; we shouldn’t be too confident. Sometimes everything seems to be going well, we seem to have fewer attachments, and then a big blow comes in our life. As a result, we find how strongly we are still attached to things. This is all part of the process. Bhagavan gives us blows from outside to wake us up and to keep us on our toes.

-•- Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 14-09-2019 (1:30)

Reflection: Bhagavan gives us blows to wake us up, to keep us on our toes. So when such blows come, we should try to accept it as Bhagavan’s prasad. As Michael says, it is all part of the process. In the old days (maybe even now), metal utensils were made using hammers and such things to give them the required shape. Without such blows, it was not possible to make these utensils.

So Bhagavan’s task is to bring up back in our original shape. We have become deformed because of our ego-based life. So Bhagavan has no option but to give us appropriate blows from time to time. We should not be overly perturbed by such adverse situations. We should remember – ‘this will also pass’.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
you conclude your comment saying "So if we want to know God, we should be aware of ourself as we really are. There is no other way to merge in God – to become one with him."
We all want to know God. So being aware of ourself as we really are is our aim and purpose in life.
Is it not possible to achieve that goal immediately now ? Are we not one with God even just now - just in this moment ? Now now nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww !

Asun said...

And what do you two want to know god for? Just leave everything to it so that you haven´t nor even to think and then hopelessly be the absolute simplicity, clarity and happiness that you really are. It is then when god reveals itself by itself and/or silence talks. At least, this is my understanding.

I don´t know how to be or not to be too complacent or too confident as being what we really are but no doubt that a big blow will come to our life to show us how weak are the foundations of that fulfillment in us. Here is where effort comes in, to hold on to it. Effort doesn´t mean struggle. I think some mistake them.
Struggling is like to press the accelerator in order to take the car out from the mud, the car will sink more in the mud. Effort is to keep quiet holding on to the remembrance of god at the center of the storm, since we can´t help to be carried away by the thoughts turbulences. Remembrance itself will make the storm gradually to die down, inwardly. Outwardly, come what may… no?

R Viswanathan said...

http://arunachala.org/newsletters/1997/may-jun

Now I have a question.

It seems that it would help to sit with someone who has realized the Self. Hopefully such a presence might enable me to practice Self-enquiry more productively. Can you suggest where I might go to meet such a person?

– Phil Safier, USA

The ancients say that by the accumulation of meritorious deeds over many lives we gain the company of a Jnani, or fully-enlightened person. And also, when we are ripe for such an association it will happen automatically.

This does not mean that we should sit and wait for it to happen. When the Maharshi was asked, "How to find the Guru?" He replied very simply: "By meditation." This means we should not go running around looking for some Mahatma to give us realization. When we have made sufficient effort and have matured spiritually, the Guru Himself will come to us. No effort will be required to find Him or benefit by Him. The fact is, He is already guiding us from within and we must turn within to our Source, and it is there where we will find Him and experience Him as our own Self.

By applying this kind of faith in the Master's words and acting on them with sincere devotion and perseverance, we will surely find the Master, and receive His Grace.

It is the experience of many seekers living today that Sri Ramana Maharshi guides those aspirants who turn to Him and sincerely practice his teachings. That was his promise to us before leaving the world scene.

– Editor

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, Bhagavan, grace and self are synonymous. So when we thank Bhagavan, we are in fact thanking our own self. It is our love for ourself which has compelled Bhagavan to appear before us!

Sanjay Lohia said...

If we want to merge in God, we should become like God - part 2

I wrote yesterday, ‘I don’t think, for example, milk and oil can be mixed together to form a homogeneous substance’. But then how can this ego merge in ourself? It is because both are made of the same stuff. Our ego is like a hard piece of ice, and our real nature is like water. Essentially both are just water. So when this ego melts in oneself, they will become one because they are in fact one.

How do we melt this hard ice like ego? We can melt it most quickly by repeatedly dipping it in the fire of jnana, which is burning brightly in our heart as our true nature. Bhagavan sings in verse 101 of Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai:

O Arunachala, like ice in water, graciously melt me as love in you, the form of love.

Note by Sri Sadhu Om: The solid form of a piece of ice is merely an unreal adjunct or upadhi, for its reality or substance is nothing but water; likewise, the mind or individuality of the devotee is merely an unreal adjunct, for his reality is nothing but Arunachala (self), which is the unlimited form of love. When ice melts in water, it loses all individuality or separateness and becomes one with the water; likewise, when the mind merges in self it loses its individuality and becomes one with self. Thus in this verse the devotee prays directly for the state of non-dual union with self, the reality.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Living Guru

We definitely need a living because how can a dead Guru help us? Guru is deathless. If we say Guru is dead, we mean he is the body, and if he is the body, he is not a real Guru. Sadhu Om used to say ‘Guru alone is living; we are all dead’. What is living in us is Guru. When people talk about living Guru, they mean a guru in a body. It is not necessary.

Bhagavan has revolutionised the definition of a Guru. He says Guru, God and self are one. So Bhagavan is our Guru, he is our God and he is what we really are. Such a simple but radical way of describing a Guru. So Guru is our nearest and dearest. He can never leave us. What more do we want?

-•- Based on Michael’s ideas taken from his video dated 09-07-2011 (1:49)

Sanjay Lohia said...

When our desires start reducing, the less we will be troubled by the waves of thoughts

As we practise more and more self-surrender and self-investigation, our ego will become weak. In what sense does it become weak?

Michael explains this as follows. The more we try to investigate ourself, the weaker our mind will become. A weak mind means that its outward going tendencies have become weak. When our desires start reducing, the less we will be troubled by the waves of thoughts. Thoughts will still be there to some extent, but they no will no longer carry the weight they used to carry.

Those of us we have been practising self-investigation for a while will find this to be true. We feel that our thoughts or desires do not go out with as much force as they used to. So is this a sign of progress? Yes and no. In one sense yes, because the force of our desires will only reduce when they become weak, and we are progressing if our desires are becoming weak. However, we cannot accurately judge such things, so we can easily deceive ourself by imagining our supposed progress.

Therefore, Bhagavan used to say, the true sign of progress is only perseverance. If we are trying to practice self-investigation to the best of our ability, we are surely progressing.

~•~ Based on Michael’s ideas taken from his video dated 24-02-2019 (1:01)

anadi-ananta said...

R Viswanaathan,
you say "When we have made sufficient effort and have matured spiritually, the Guru Himself will come to us. No effort will be required to find Him or benefit by Him. The fact is, He is already guiding us from within and we must turn within to our Source, and it is there where we will find Him and experience Him as our own Self."

As you already say "The fact is, He is already guiding us from within...", therefore - if the mentioned fact is actually the case - one cannot consistently/accurately expect that "the Guru Himself will come to us." Why should he come to us when he is already here guiding us from within ?

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
as you imply we will be happy "then when god reveals itself by itself and/or silence talks."
Your suggestion to "keep quiet holding on to the remembrance of god at the center of the storm" of the thoughts turbulences is great. Keen self-rememberance is what we need.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
when you suggest that we could melt the hard ice block ego "by repeatedly dipping it in the fire of jnana, which is burning brightly in our heart as our true nature" we must firstly take care of opening our heart widely.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"So Guru is our nearest and dearest. He can never leave us. What more do we want?"
Because guru seems to be not near and dear enough, we want more: infinite happiness.

Anonymous said...

When our desires start reducing, the less we will be troubled by the waves of thoughts.

Also the more we are content being ourselves, less we will have desires...

anadi-ananta said...

"Also the more we are content being ourselves, less we will have desires...".
So I might have the only desire to be content being as my real nature.:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, you write, ‘when you suggest that we could melt the hard ice block ego "by repeatedly dipping it in the fire of jnana, which is burning brightly in our heart as our true nature" we must firstly take care of opening our heart widely’

Yes, we should open our heart and soul to Bhagavan and his teachings. If we take him to be our Guru, we should blindly follow his advice. What is his advice? It is to investigate and find out ‘Who am I?’ If we do is, our life will be well lived; otherwise, it will just be coming and going – taking birth and dying. Shakespeare says in Macbeth:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Who is this idiot? It is ego. This constant chatter in our mind and this solid world we see outside is just ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing’. So let us completely ignore this world, by turning within to find out the truth about this idiot ‘I'.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Inshallah

Bhagavan recommends two paths: self-surrender or self-investigation. These may appear to be two different paths, but they eventually merge as one path in their final stages. Self-surrender has a range of implications. In self-surrender, we need to keep a tight rein on our will, trying as much as we can to reduce the impetus with which it goes outwards. Whatever happens, we should have the attitude: ‘thy will be done’ or ‘not my will but your will’. In every religion, there are such sayings. Muslims say Inshallah, meaning ‘God willing’. So such an attitude lessons our burdens because we try to accept whatever happens as God’s will.

Bhagavan has also sung in Sri Arunachala Padigam, verse 2: ‘Your wish is my wish; that is happiness for me’. Likewise, he sings in Sri Arunachala Navamanimalai, verse 7: ‘Whatever is your wish, do that. My beloved, just give me only a flood of love for your pair of feet’.

Complete self-surrender entails giving no room to the rising of ego along with its concomitant will, and that entails being keenly self-attentive. However, our love to be keenly self-attentive is not yet fully developed, and therefore we do give room to the rising of thoughts. So even at such times, we should try to limit the impetus of our outgoing will. This is where trust in Bhagavan is helpful. If we have trust and faith in Bhagavan - the all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful power - our surrender becomes relatively easy. If Bhagavan shapes and drives all that happens, why should we be concerned about anything? Bhagavan explains this in the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar?:

Even though one places whatever amount of burden upon God, that entire amount he will bear. Since one paramēśvara śakti [supreme ruling power or power of God] is driving all kāryas [whatever needs or ought to be done or to happen], instead of we also yielding to it, why to be perpetually thinking, ‘it is necessary to do like this; it is necessary to do like that’? Though we know that the train is going bearing all the burdens, why should we who go travelling in it, instead of remaining happily leaving our small luggage placed on it [the train], suffer bearing it [our luggage] on our head?

Bhagavan ends his note to his mother by saying: ‘Therefore silently being [or being silent] is good’.

~ Based on Michael’s article: Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will (Section 5)


R Viswanathan said...

I have given the link from which I have selected a portion and given - that is, the answer is that given by the editor of 'The Maharshi' newsletter.

I will reproduce another portion now from another issue, again, that stated by the editor for a query by a devotee:

"Many understand the Maharshi's teachings, many may be practicing them or teaching them, but there are not many with a sincere and firm faith in His Presence and guidance."

Anonymous said...

I work in the corporate world and the amount of evilness and silliness that occurs due to ego is unbelievable. The biggest challenge for me has been to remain unaffected. God has been constantly putting me thru these situations. I know the solution, but I am finding it so hard to achieve. There are times I put the burden to God and be content with myself, but it is just temporary :(.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We should not stop until we obtain the diamond of pure self-experience

Sri Ramakrishna used to explain through a story that we should not be satisfied merely with silver or gold but should aim for the diamond. That is, we should not rest until we obtain the diamond of pure self-experience. He said this to emphasise that we should go deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper within ourself, because this diamond lies at the bottom of the sea (this bottom is our basic and unchanging pure awareness). It is a vicious circle. It’s a circle that takes us deeper and deeper until we never come out again. Bhagavan also says something similar in paragraph 11 of Nan Ar?:

Just as pearl-divers, tying stones to their waists and sinking, pick up pearls that are found at the bottom of the ocean, so each one, sinking deep within oneself with vairāgya [freedom from desire to be aware of anything other than oneself], may obtain the pearl of oneself [literally: obtaining the pearl of oneself is proper].

Nothing special said...

I have so little enthusiasm for worldly attainment now. The enthusiasm to even prevent impending conflicts. To truly come to terms that there is no happiness in this seeming phenomena outside yet not wanting this to be true at times. Each small dissatisfaction a reminder too. It seems like a mourning process if my attention go outwards now.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Self-investigation is the ultimate path of bhakti

Self-surrender is the pinnacle of the path of bhakti; self-investigation is the pinnacle of the path of self-surrender. So self-investigation is the ultimate path of bhakti - where all bhakti leads to is self-investigation.

# Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 06-07-2019 (1:08)

Reflection: Once we start practising nishkamya-bhakti of any sort – puja, japa or dhyana – we have commenced on the path of path of surrender. How? It is because the more we indulge in such bhakti, the more we start surrendering the grosser forms of our desires. Our desires start becoming weaker and weaker as our bhakti grows. Once we have surrendered most of our desires to a great extent, we become fit for self-surrender. That is, we become fit to surrender the one - which is ego - who has these desires, and in order to make our self-surrender complete, we need to investigate ourself.

So ultimately we need to investigate ourself in order to reach our final destination. Since we have already commenced self-investigation, we are on the final leg of our journey. Now we eagerly look forward to our full and final destruction!

To whom? To me. Who am I? said...

I wish I had as little enthusiasm for the world as 'Nothing special' expressed in their comment above. I have not yet 'had enough' of the world, and still keep running behind phenomena as if there is happiness in the world.
I have tried to convince myself of what Bhagavan taught about happiness - that there is not an iota of it in the world - but still my mind thinks that different circumstances would make me happier, that I should do this and do that and perhaps I'll find some more happiness.
I do hope, however, that the way to get over my attachment to the world is not in endless experiences. I want to 'have enough' of the world but without having to tread the miserable path of acquiring more and more experiences. If there was a magic pill that I could take and suddenly the world no more seemed interesting, how good would that be!
I was thinking of how best to deal with my desire to change circumstances. To make effort or not to make effort? If I was convinced that there is no happiness in the world, I would not make effort, but unfortunately this conviction is very weak.

Then I find some help in Bhagavan's note to his Mother. Whatever is going to happen, and whatever is happening, is all according to Bhagavan's plan. And Bhagavan is 'all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful' as Sanjay writes in a comment above, so why should I worry? Why should I try to change anything. 'Silently being is good'.

anadi-ananta said...

To whom? To me. Who am I?,
when you pin your hopes on a magic pill that you "could take and suddenly the world no more seemed interesting", you should recall that every magic pill ends having an effect.:-)

You find some consolation in Bhagavan's note to his Mother saying "Whatever is going to happen, and whatever is happening, is all according to Bhagavan's plan. And Bhagavan is 'all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful' as Sanjay writes in a comment above, so why should I worry? Why should I try to change anything. 'Silently being is good'."

Of course we always try to find some help. Because Bhagavan is said to be also omnipresent the only real help can be to know whether or rather that the real Bhagavan is actually in us. Getting enthusiastic when reading encouraging messages is not sufficient. Therefore kwowing from own experience what we really are is not only good but also indispensable. So let us try it...

Sanjay Lohia said...

I want to live as long as possible, and I want to remain as comfortable as possible

Sensory perceptions create physical sensations, and we like some sensations and dislike some. We like certain sounds, tastes, smells and so on and we dislike some. Our misery is caused by our likes and dislikes. I don’t like the sound of the construction happening near my apartment so I am miserable. I listen to my favourite Md. Rafi song and I am happy. If I had no likes and dislikes, I will remain indifferent to such sounds. Since I have no dislike for the construction sound, I will also not like my favourite song. However, as long as we experience ourself as ego, we cannot avoid likes and dislikes.

As ego, we take ourself to be a body, and this is where all our desires start. Our first and fundamental desire is to preserve this body, so we don’t want to die. When this body is in danger, we become afraid. One of the strongest desire we have is for air, for breathing. We take it for granted because most of the time we are breathing easily, but if we fall underwater and are drowning, we will surely panic.

I want to live as long as possible, and I want to remain as comfortable as possible. I don’t want to live on the streets; I don’t want to go hungry. I try to earn and accumulate money because without money I will not be able to live comfortably. I have a dislike for excessive heat or for excessive cold because these make me miserable or may even threaten my life in extreme cases.

By practising self-surrender and self-investigation we can diminish our likes, dislike, desires, attachments, hopes, expectations, intentions, fears and so on, but we cannot give them up entirely as long as our ego survives. Who has these likes, dislike, desires and so on? It is ego. So if our ego vanishes, it will take along with it all our likes, dislikes, desires . . . Happy ending!

Based on Michael’s ideas taken from his video dated 06-07-2019 (1:02)

Asun said...

Yes, it´s like living in no man´s land. You get out into the open, boundless, breathing fresh air deeply and then, any movement throws you to the asphyxiating ego´s dungeon again where you don´t belong to either anymore.
At one of those occasions, I could remain for a while facing everything coming from outside, so to speak, like a firm, solid, and yet full of tenderness column of stillness. Most amazing is that this tenderness or love doesn´t belong to anyone nor it is addressed to anyone nor felt by anyone either. It just is, so sweet, so absolutely free and self-sufficient. Nothing can touch it. I think this is what we really are yet, we still insist in being someone. The perceiver entangled with its own projected perceptions. What a strange addition and addiction.
As it is asked in “Kaivalya Navaneeta”: “Now, will those who have partaken of this and satisfied their hunger, roam about eating the offal of externals?”

Well, we do, don´t we? Whom to blame for it? A war is being fought and we, as body-mind, seem to be the battlefield. Really exhausting at times yet, we can´t stop it. Isn´t it that only an exhausted mind or ego can be defeated?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our obsession with diet distracts our attention away from our real aim

I have had some interesting exchange of emails with Michael on the topic of diet. The following is a paraphrase of his views on this subject:

In Nan Ar, Bhagavan emphasised the important of mita sattvika ahara (sattvika vegetarian food in moderate quantity), so we should try and understand which foods are sattvika and which are not. Any food which causes harm when it is produced or any food which is not meant for human consumption is not sattvika. However, he also said that we should not spend too much time dwelling upon worldly matters. So once we have obtained the basic knowledge about what we should eat and what we should avoid, we should not investigate such things in detail.

Our interest in knowing other things – like about diet – distracts us away from our real aim, which is only to know ourself as we really are. So we should try to curb our curiosity and liking to learn endlessly about anything other than ourself. This does not mean that we should completely suppress such desires but should restrain them and try to turn our curiosity back towards knowing ourself. Ultimately, we alone are real and everything else is just a mind created illusion.

Fortunately, sattvika foods entail eating only simple foods, so it does not require much attention once we have understood what foods are sattvika. We may have to experiment a bit to find out which particular type of sattvika foods suits us, but shouldn’t overdo such experiments.

Science is based on the assumption that the world exists independent of our experience of it, and therefore evolution and other such ideas appear true. Ultimately, they are not true, but from the relative perspective, they are as true as the idea that food nourishes the body. In this dream life, all these seem to be real, so we have to live in this world accordingly. However, we should not spend too much time on body-related issues but should focus our interest, attention and effort on investigating who we really are.

~ •~Based on Michael’s ideas extracted from his various emails which he wrote to me around March and April 2015

Salazar said...

Regarding David Godman’s comment about the benefit to be in the physical presence of a Jnani: He did not say that this is the “only way”, that is Asun incorrectly paraphrasing. David would never say about anything “the only way”.

Furthermore he said that in order to become self-realized that the jiva in the presence of the Jnani has to be extremely pure. As it was the case with Mathru Sri Sarada. And even she had to make a tremendous effort to become self-realized while being in the presence of a Jnani.

David never said that it is sufficient to be in the presence of a Jnani and “everything else will fall into place”. So the assumption that David dropped atma-vichara in favor for being in the presence of a guru is false. He had an experience of self in the presence of a Jnani as did I and therefore I can relate to what he’s said. Apparently neither David or I or others have been pure enough that the mind could have died.
To deny the benefit to be in the physical presence of a Jnani is quite dogmatic and also not what Bhagavan taught, he clearly said that it is beneficial. Does that mean to run after a Jnani? Of course not, and that is anyway depending on prarabdha and not the “will” of the jiva. The “will” may desire it and the sankalpa siddhi will manifest it in a later life, however it is just more karma.



Sanjay Lohia said...

All solutions have their own solutions

All solutions have their own solutions. Bhagavan says whatever comes has to go, so nothing can stay. Even ego has to go one day. That is the only real problem. When it gets fed up of looking outside, and when it decides to eventually look within, then there is no such thing as ego. All problems are over!

# Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 03-02-2019

Reflection: Yes, solutions are inbuilt in the problems. What is the solution to old age, disease and suffering? It is the body’s death. If our country is faced with a war, what is the solution? It is not to look at this war, not to bring this war to the centre of our awareness. Bhagavan says whatever we experience outside is our ego’s creation, so this war is also merely our creation. It exists only as long as we experience it, so if we ignore the war, it will vanish.

What the solution to our becoming bankrupt? It is to deeply reflect on Bhagavan's teachings. Bhagavan told Kavyakantha that one does not even need the body to live. So even if our bank balance becomes zero, we don't stop living. It is because what lives in us is our deathless pure self-awareness. It can never die; it needs no money to live.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
your excursion in "no man's land" is described very vividly and nearly(:-) poetically. So sweet...
Apparently it is so "that only an exhausted mind or ego can be defeated".
On the other hand, what other way than that bloodbath on the ego's battlefield do or would you suggest or prefer ? Only a tsunami of all-embracing love from inside could make us partaking of this inexhaustible faunt of wisdom. But could not only love itself cause such an explosion of love ?

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
the last desire I will or have to give up is my desire for going into inner ecstasies
which I consider as the harbinger or anteroom of real ananda.

Asun said...

Salazar,

I posted recently the exact transcription of DG´s words along with the video I first watched which amazed me a lot. In this video, he says “the best thing to do if you want make progress …”

The best, the only, put it as you like, the implications of the statement are very clear, moreover, he weighs 18 years of practice against a split second with a jnani. After this, I kept watching more videos of him and could see that this statement is a constant in all his interviews, yet, I never heard him to say that this experience encouraged him to go on with the practice nor encouraging others to do it but rather to sit with a jnani. On the other hand, he says that he is always asked by people about jnanis in a living a body which is the logical consequence of his statement, and that he doesn´t know about any at the present moment, that if he knew, he wouldn´t be talking there but with that jnani from which I infer what anyone will, would and, actually, infers as listening to him. If this is not running after jnanis, will or/and desire, you tell me what it is, please. I won´t go into what he says about his high standards of who is a true jnani because this is not about D.G. but about this statement specifically I expressed my amazement and confusion about and Michael James kindly clarified in this article.

Nobody has denied nor said that Ramana denied the benefits to be in the physical presence of a jnani but his message wasn´t “sit with a jnani to get the experience of the self”, was it? Bhagavan clear message is: turn within and attend to yourself. As you say, and the editor of “The Maharshi” explains in the quote that R. Viswanaathan posted, if it is your prarabdha it will happen and so, you just forget it, otherwise it is just a desire or thought going around your head which is fine and exclusively of your concern but , please, don´t “transmit” it to other´s heads. It doesn´t help anyone, quite the opposite.

“So the assumption that David dropped atma-vichara in favor for being in the presence of a guru is false.”

Salazar,

That I or someone else has assumed this, it is your own assumption. I have no idea of what D.G. is doing or not. I only know what he says and what he doesn´t.

Asun said...

Anadi-ananta,

I´m entirely convinced that there is no other way. No short-cuts.

I can´t tell you about “an explosion of love”. I guess this explosion only can happen to a very thin or pure mind which is not the case in here so, it is this love what appears as very thin and subtle, but I can tell because I could see by myself that it is at the core of this deceitful and clouding hurricane we are entangled with, provoked by the ego´s emergence, silently and timelessly attracting us towards it, i.e., ourself. It is not poetry, it is the reality and the truth. Yet, beauty can´t be helped :)

Asun said...

Note to Salazar:
This is not for diminishing David Godman´s work regarding to Bhagavan´s teachings. He has my, and many others, acknowledgement and gratitude for it, as well as Michael James. It´s just about this specific statement, ok?

Sanjay Lohia said...

The thoughts are just the symptoms; the cause of these symptoms is our desires and attachments

We sit down to meditate but start thinking about other things. Why? It is because we are more interested to think about those other things than about attending to ourself. It is our strong desires and attachments which prompts us to think of other things. In other words, our vishaya-vasanas are still very robust, and therefore we are unable to rein them. These desires and attachments are like a rogue elephant which seems to be out of control.

Our desires and attachments appear as thoughts - thoughts include not only our mental chatter but all the physical phenomena. Anything that appears and disappears is a thought. So according to Bhagavan, this world is nothing but thoughts. This world is a projection of our vishays-vasanas. These vasanas rises as thoughts and these thoughts make up our world. So if we can get rid of all our vasanas, we will get rid of all our thoughts, and since this world is nothing but thoughts, this world will also vanish forever.

This mind is harmful, but the really harmful part of the mind is our vishaya-vasanas. How to render the mind relatively harmless? To do so we need to weaken our desires and attachments, and we can weaken these most reliably by the practice of self-investigation. Whenever our desires and attachments prompt us to start thinking, instead of following the thoughts we turn our attention back towards ourself, the thinker of these thoughts. So the more we practice self-surrender and self-investigation, the more our desires and attachments start getting weaker and weaker.

Our desires, attachments, likes, dislikes, fears, hopes, expectations and so on have one thing in common. They all prompt us to drive our attention away from ourself. This is the problem. So by repeatedly turning towards ourself, we are weakening our out-going tendencies. The more our out-going tendencies are weakened, the more our in-going tendencies are increased.

So this is a wonderful path given to us by Bhagavan. This is the nuclear bomb which will destroy not only our desires and attachments but will eventually destroy the very root of these desires and attachments, namely our ego.

Therefore, we need to focus all our interest, attention and effort on knowing ourself here and now. Everything else is a distraction.

# Based on Michael’s ideas taken from his video dated 22-09-2019 (26:00)

Salazar said...

Asun, I was not criticizing you or your perception. I stated the issue from my viewpoint, that's all. I do not have the same impression as you in what you've stated in your response to me. By the way, what is wrong with sitting with a Jnani and getting the experience of self? Whatever you could see as "wrong" is an imagination in your mind.

You stated your opinion and I stated mine. I do not agree with your opinion, actually with quite a few opinion of yours.

Who decides what is helpful and what is not and what is this talk of "transmitting"? Who is getting helped and how? I do not share your beliefs in that. Anyway, good luck on your path.

R Viswanathan said...


http://www.arunachala.org/newsletters/2019/sep-oct

If you don’t mind, could I ask a question? I have heard from a lot of seekers that there is a need for a physical guru. With Ramana’s followers I don’t see that as a requirement but am confused as to how that could be. Could you please explain?

— Seeker from Arizona

This a common question for seekers who are attracted by the simplicity and directness of the Maharshi’s teachings, decide to practice them yet feel the need for a physical guru to guide them. When seekers ask: “Since the Maharshi has attained mahasamadhi, merged forever in the eternal Brahman, how can he help us now?” We often point out that in this country pious religious folk worship and look upon their guru or god one who had lived over 2000 years ago as the Christ.

Similarly, those who practice his teachings and look upon Bhagavan Ramana as their guru receive confirmation from him in the same manner he gave to his disciples when he occupied a physical form. It soon becomes evident that it is not we who have chosen him as our guru, it is he who has chosen us. So, how do we know that he has chosen us?

A devotee will know. It may be by simply looking at his photo and into his eyes; or he or she may pray to him and feel a definite response which defies anything like coincidence; one may receive confirmation in dream or divine vision. One may be meditating on him or his teachings, in his Ashram or in one’s home, and all of a sudden feel lifted into a divine realm of peace and happiness. There are so many ways in which one knows. But when it does happen, there will be no doubt.

— Editor

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"Our desires and attachments appear as thoughts - thoughts include not only our mental chatter but all the physical phenomena. Anything that appears and disappears is a thought. So according to Bhagavan, this world is nothing but thoughts. This world is a projection of our vishays-vasanas. These vasanas rises as thoughts and these thoughts make up our world. So if we can get rid of all our vasanas, we will get rid of all our thoughts, and since this world is nothing but thoughts, this world will also vanish forever."
(the correct spelling of vishays-vasanas is 'Viṣaya-vāsanās')
Because there is always the reference to the term 'thought' - which is obviously of outstanding importance - one might be interested to know what a 'thought' actually is. Can one/we really assume that the significant meaning of 'thought' is (generally) known ? In any case it is valuable to us and worth knowing what a 'thought' actually is.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Silence is the light of pure awareness which illumines our mind and enables us to comprehend

Though by our mind we cannot comprehend silence, it is silence that enables us to comprehend. Silence is the light of pure awareness which illumines our mind and enables us to comprehend. All comprehension arises out of silence. When we practise self-investigation, we are turning back to face the light of pure self-awareness. That light of pure self-awareness is silence.

The more we attend to ourself, the clearer our mind will become, so we will be able to comprehend things more clearly. However, we ourself will be swallowed by the light that enables us to comprehend. Only when we are swallowed by that light we clearly understand silence. In verse 21 of Ulladu Narpadu Bhagavan says the following:

If anyone asks what is the truth of many texts that talk of ‘oneself seeing oneself’ and ‘seeing God’ [the reply is]: Since oneself is one, how is oneself to see oneself? If it is not possible [for oneself] to see [oneself], how [is oneself] to see God [who is the real nature of oneself]? Becoming food [to God] is seeing [both oneself and God]. [In other words, ego being swallowed and consumed entirely by the infinite light of pure self-awareness is alone real seeing.]

Based on Michael’s video dated 21-04-2219 (1:26)

anadi-ananta said...

R Viswanaathan,
"It soon becomes evident that it is not we who have chosen him as our guru, it is he who has chosen us. So, how do we know that he has chosen us?"
Is it not said that Bhagavan is in essence our own pure self-awareness ?
So the saying of any 'choosing' can be correct at most in a metaphorical sense.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, you ask ‘any case it is valuable to us and worth knowing what a 'thought' actually is’. Michael has answered this detail in his article: Spontaneously and wordlessly applying the clue: ‘to whom? to me; who am I?’ (published on Wednesday, 5 February 2014):

In the context of this teaching given repeatedly by Sri Ramana that whenever any thought appears we should turn our attention back from it towards the ‘I’ that experiences it, we should bear in mind what exactly he means by the term ‘thought’ or ‘idea’: எண்ணம் (eṇṇam) or நினைவு (niṉaivu). According to him, whatever we experience other than ‘I’ is a thought or idea. For example, in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?) he says:


[...] Except thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as ‘world’. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. [...]

Likewise in the fourteenth paragraph he reiterates this, saying: ஜக மென்பது நினைவே (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), ‘What is called world is only thoughts [or ideas]’. That is, what we experience as a seemingly external world is actually just a series of mental images or impressions (sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile feelings), all of which are just thoughts or ideas. Since everything that we experience is a mental impression of one kind or another (that is, some sort of mental modification that the mind experiences within itself), Sri Ramana calls them all thoughts or ideas.

Therefore in the sense in which he uses the term ‘thought’ or ‘idea’, it does not mean just one particular type of mental phenomenon, but all types of mental phenomena: all kinds of thoughts, ideas, feelings, emotions, perceptions, conceptions, memories, imaginations, beliefs, doubts, hopes, fears, desires, aversions and whatever else the mind may experience. In other words, whatever experience our mind may throw at us is only a thought, so we should treat all experiences alike, by turning our attention away from them back towards the ‘I’ that experiences them.

In this broad sense of the term ‘thought’, the mind consists of nothing but thoughts, as Sri Ramana says in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? and in verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

[...] When excluding all thoughts [one] looks, solitarily there is no such thing as ‘mind’; therefore thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or fundamental nature] of the mind. [...]

Thoughts alone are mind [or the mind is only thoughts]. Of all [thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the mūla [the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause]. [Therefore] what is called mind is [essentially just this root-thought] ‘I’.

This thought called ‘I’ (also known as the ego) is the root of all other thoughts because it is what thinks or experiences them, so in its absence no other thought can exist [...] He describes this thinking (thought-experiencing) ‘I’ as a thought because it is not our original and essential pristine ‘I’ (what we really are), which is devoid of adjuncts, but is this same ‘I’ mixed with adjuncts such as this body and mind and whatever else it experiences as ‘I’, and hence he often described it as the thought ‘I am this body’.

Asun said...

Salazar,

That´s perfectly fine. Opinions are just opinions and haven´t any value at all, unless you are considered as an authority on the matter which, in my opinion, implies certain responsibility, however, it was my will to clarify your statement that what I said is false, mainly out of deference to Michael , and incidentally, that I haven´t assumed what you assumed I did.

Good luck for you too :)

Asun said...

R Viswanaathan,

This is something I´ve started to consider only recently so, it is unknown territory for me.
I´m finding very helpful the quotes you are posting.

Thank you _/\_

Sanjay Lohia said...

To whom? To me; who am I? – this is Bhagavan’s supreme weapon

Bhagavan gives us his brahmastra in 6th paragraph of Nan Ar?:

If other thoughts rise, without trying to complete them it is necessary to investigate to whom they have occurred. However many thoughts rise, what [does it matter]? As soon as each thought appears, if one vigilantly investigates to whom it has occurred, it will be clear: to me. If one [thus] investigates who am I, the mind will return to its birthplace [oneself, the source from which it arose]; [and since one thereby refrains from attending to it] the thought which had risen will also cease. When one practises and practises in this manner, to the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace will increase.

Bhagavan wants us to remain ceaselessly and vigilantly attending to ourself, but we know that this is an impossible task when we commence practising self-investigation – that is, it is very difficult to rein in all our vasanas, and therefore our mind is always clouded with endless thoughts. Since thoughts are what distract our attention away from ourself, Bhagavan gave this powerful weapon: ‘to whom? to me; who am I? This is a truly effective means to turn our attention back towards ourself away from other thoughts that have distracted us even to the slightest extent.

Though verbalising these words may at first help us turn out attention back towards ourself, once we have become accustomed to being self-attentive, we can and should apply the clue wordlessly and spontaneously. In this clue, the words ‘to whom? to me’ describes how we should spontaneously turn back to ourself whenever we experience anything other than ourself alone. Whereas, the words ‘who am I?’ denotes the resulting state of self-attentiveness which we should cling to, firmly and vigilantly.

‘to whom? to me; who am I?’ essentially means ‘turn within and stay turned’. This is the brahmastra given to us by Bhagavan. The question is, are we using this weapon or are we using it enough? I can say for myself, I am not using it enough.

• Based on Michael’s article Spontaneously and wordlessly applying the clue: ‘to whom? to me; who am I?’ [posted on 5 February 2014]

Sanjay Lohia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Salazar said...

Asun, you mentioned "authority". For me only a Jnani is and can be an authority, the rest (as in jivas) happens in the imagination of mind. Mind cannot and will never comprehend Jnana.

Who is having responsibilities? That responsibility is also an imagination of mind, it does not exist but for the mind.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
many thanks for reminding me of Michael's great article of Wednesday, 5 February 2014
Spontaneously and wordlessly applying the clue: ‘to whom? to me; who am I?’ in which one can find essential descriptions what a thought is and how to deal with them.
My question was asked mainly from the desire to hear a definition of the term 'thought' more in respect of its mind-born origin and its formation as a process of thinking.
In any case in this regard every thought is a product of the activity of thinking.

Ah, meantwhile you deleted already your last comment which appeared obviously by mistake twice one after another.

Asun said...

Salazar,

You wrote: “Mind cannot and will never comprehend Jnana.”
I fully agree, precisely this is why things like what you say about responsibility are being said by many people at present.
Did Ramana M. ever said, when visitors arrived at the ashram, thirsty, hungry and tired, “the body is not real, who cares?” ? As for what I know, it was quite the opposite.

anadi-ananta said...

"Mind cannot and will never comprehend Jnana." - because mind will then have been desolved together with the release of jnana.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Alarm doesn’t wake us up; we wake up the alarm

At one place in this video, Michael says that we wake up from sleep and then hear the alarm ringing. Then we gradually become aware of the room we are in, and subsequently, very soon, we start thinking about other things. It took me a few seconds to understand why Michael says ‘we wake up from sleep and then hear the alarm ringing’. When we wake up – that is when our ego rises – we first project a body which we take to be ourself, and through the senses of this body we project and experience other things. Our rising as ego and our attaching ourself to a body happens simultaneously.

Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu:

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.

So when we are asleep nothing exits, so there is no alarm clock in sleep. But when we wake up, we project a body and subsequently create this alarm clock. Bhagavan’s teachings are extremely radical. Who will believe that we wake up the alarm; the alarm doesn’t wake us up. However, Bhagavan says we should not believe anything which we do not directly experience. But as devotees of Bhagavan, we have to accept what he says as a working hypothesis. With this hypothesis in mind, we need to investigate whether what he says is correct or not and experience the results ourself.

~*~ Based on Michael’s ideas taken from his video dated 24-03-2011

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
you say "So when we are asleep nothing exits, so there is no alarm clock in sleep. But when we wake up, we project a body and subsequently create this alarm clock."
(You mean: nothing exists)

That cannot be because atma-svarupa is said to be always existing.
May I insert some paragraphs of Michael's article of Monday, 22 June 2009
Ekatma Panchakam – an explanatory paraphrase:
"That is, our real self, which is the pure non-dual consciousness of being, 'I am', is the only real substance that appears as our mind, the false thinking and object-knowing consciousness that experiences itself as 'I am this body', and this mind in turn is the substance that appears as everything else that we know. Nothing exists except in our consciousness, because everything is just a thought that our consciousness has formed within itself — and of its substance.

The consciousness that thus forms itself into thoughts — which include all the objects that it knows — is our mind, and this mind is in turn just a limited and distorted form of our original self-consciousness, 'I am'. Therefore, just gold is the one substance that appears as all the various gold ornaments, so consciousness, our real self, is the one substance that appears as our mind, our body and everything else that we experience.

Thus, though our body is in reality nothing other than our real self, so long we experience it as a finite form and not as the one consciousness that it really is, our experience of it as 'I' is ignorance or ajnana. Therefore, as Sri Ramana teaches us in verse 17 of Ulladu Narpadu, a person who experiences 'I' as being only the limited form of this body is an ajnani (someone who (is)* ignorant of his or her real self), whereas anyone who experiences themself as self, the formless and therefore unlimited consciousness that is the only real substance of the body and everything else, is a jnani (someone who experiences themself as they really are).

This one real self, which is the sole substance of everything, is the only thing that always exists and that knows itself by its own light of consciousness, as Sri Ramana teaches us in the first line of verse 5 and in the preceding ‘link words’ of the kalivenba version, ‘தனது ஒளியால் எப்போதும் உள்ளது அவ்வேகான்ம வத்துவே’ (tanadu oliyal eppodum ulladu a-vv-ekanma vattuve), which means, 'That which always exists by its own light is only that ekatma-vastu [the one substance, which is self]'."

*(word in round brackets inserted by me)

To whom? To me. Who am I? said...

Anadi-ananta, I completely agree with your comment of 2 October 2019 at 12:11 in which you say that it is indispensable to know from our own experience [the truth of Bhagavan's teachings]. Thank you for your exhortation for us to try to put Bhagavan's teachings into practice :)
Perhaps self-investigation is the metaphorical pill I was referring to in my last comment, which can destroy this very troublesome and harmful attachment to the world. However I am currently unwilling to take this pill in the dosage recommended by Bhagavan, the ultimate doctor according to Michael. But as AsunAparicio says, 'there is no other way. No short-cuts.'


anadi-ananta said...

Isn't it a good idea that we ETERNALLY exist ?
Hope it is not just a mental mind-born idea.:-)

Asun said...

Anadi-ananta,

Depending on the mental mind-born idea you have in your mind about what “we” are, that “we” eternally exist can be a good or a really awful idea :)

Sorry about the disgression but, may I ask, is Michael ok? He didn´t even upload a video last week.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Siva-vakyam: think of Arunachala and your mukti is assured

[People believe] that anyone who looks at Arunachala or even thinks of it from afar will attain mukti

Bhagavan: [Yes,] it is Siva-vakyam [a statement or command of the Lord Siva]. He himself says he will give mukti to all who think of Arunachala.

The above conversation is taken from the article The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention by Sri Sadhu Om, as it appears in the latest Mountain Path.

Reflections: So we don’t have to go to Tiruvannamalai to have darshan of Arunachala. We just need to think of it or chant its name from wherever we are, and Arunachala will give us mukti. If this is true with respect to Arunachala, it has to true in respect to Bhagavan also because they are one and the same. So Arunachala and Bhagavan have made mukti extremely easy for us, haven't they?

I believe, Sri Sadhu Om used to say (Michael can confirm this) that Arunachala and Bhagavan have a unique power which other Gods do not have: that is, if we look at either of them, they will make our gaze turn back to face ourself. Once this happens we have come within the ambit of Arunachala’s or Bhagavan’s grace. That is, Bhagavan has sown the seed of mukti in us. As he says in Nan Ar ‘those who have been caught in the glance of guru’s grace will surely be saved by him and will never instead be forsaken’.

It is said if we take one step towards God, God will take ten steps towards us. We can understand this as, if we use one unit of power to turn within, God will use ten units of power to pull us from within. Even this one step we take towards God is made possible because of God’s irresistible power of attraction. So we do nothing – we can do nothing – it is grace all the way. Actually, Bhagavan is doing the sadhana for us, and he can never fail. Our job is just to let him do this sadhana, and we can do so by being as much self-attentive as possible.

Anonymous said...

Salazaar

You have said you had taste of experience of Self. If I my assumption right, can you clarify this? Since Michael is busy I am asking you this question.

I have read two versions about mind/self.

1. Upon investigating, it will be known that ego never existed and the true self will reveal itself as true I

2. Ego’s source is the self.

In the former case, ego will be destroyed. In latter case ego will be found to be true Self minus all the attributes.

So, which of the above 2 version is true ?

To whom? To me. Who am I? said...

Michael,
When we wake up we know beyond shadow of doubt that the dream world stopped existing as soon as we stopped dreaming the dream. This seems quite intuitive and logical. However, we are similarly intuitively sure and convinced that this world is not a dream that exists only so long as perceive it. But we know from what Bhagavan taught that the first intuition is right and the second one is wrong. How is it in the first case our intuition has got it so right and completely wrong in the second case? How am I so sure that dream world doesn't exist? Is it mere logical inference? For example I dreamt that I lost my phone in dream but I wake up and see it beside me therefore I know that it was just a dream? Or do I also know that it was just a dream because as you say, in dream we take a different body as I, and since two different bodies cannot be I, therefore I'm convinced that that was just a dream?

Salazar said...

Asun, Bhagavan certainly did NOT say, "the body is real" - therefore we have to feed you :-)

If one takes the body for real or not, responsibility still exists only for the mind, and that's true for both cases. That is an undeniable fact.

But enough, as I said before I do not resonate with quite a few things which are mentioned here and I have no desire to endlessly argue about that.

I remember your example with Robert Adams not locking his car and that supposedly worked because he -truly- could let go and that one of his students did the same and his car got stolen.

Asun's assumption and interpretation: Since the student did not truly let go his car was stolen. I guess the student was an example of those many bad Neo-Advaitans who mentally try but never succeed :-)

Well, that implies that somehow magically one is protected when one -truly- can let go (as being a sage), but that is New Age philosophy and quite frankly nonsense. Robert's and any sages car can be stolen.

Why was Bhagavan hit by a thief (and not spared since he can -truly- let go)? Because according to him his prarabdha was playing out, he did hit this thief in a previous live. That's why he told his devotees to let the thief leave unharmed.

My point is that things are way deeper than what a mind has learnt and comes up with in putting together concepts to find an explanation. That can never really work. At some point concepts like "responsibility" and "Neo-Advaitans" will be an obstacle.

Asun said...

Salazar,
I can see what you are trying to do.
They are all of them your interpretations and assumptions, not mine. I´m not going to be constantly clarifying it either. Once again, we agree :)

Salazar said...

Anonymous, first let me say I can only relay my conceptual understanding how I understand Bhagavan's teaching. The longer I inquire the more I realize how little mind actually knows and it really can never truly know.

That said, both points you stated are correct. Now even though one talks about the “destruction” of the ego/mind but what really evaporates is the idea or belief of an ego/mind. As it is said, the ego/mind is a phantom and self only exists. The confusion starts when “I” does not pay attention to [only] self but to objects perceived. And past life habits or vasanas are blamed for that. They are just the sum of all attention which was paid [in past lives] to objects and not to self.

They seem to be powerful mainly because most are lurking in the subconsciousness [strong spontaneous emotions and reactions are signs of resurfacing vasanas) and only vichara can bring them to light so to speak. That's why vichara doesn't yield initially any peace or bliss, because there is a huge momentum which gets carried forward while doing vichara.

Regarding the reality or non-reality of the ego, Bhagavan stated in the Talks that the ego [or potential for “ego”] latently co-existed within Self from the very “beginning” since it isn't “created” nor “uncreated” and therefore must have been there “all the time”. Of course there is no beginning or end, time and cause and effect exists only for the mind and is imagined. Alas within duality the Absolute must appear in seeming contradictions.

Now ego's source is the self in that regard, however the ego is not to be found “the true self minus all the attributes”. The attributes are or make the ego. Without them it doesn't exist. There is of course the barrier of terminology. Is ego "I" and in what regard etc. etc. It can be confusing, the remedy is vichara and not to try to make sense of this phenomenal world, the ego and its "connection" to self. That is all Maya and Bhagavan warned to try to figure out Maya or try to conquer or control it.

As Bhagavan said, the ego cannot find self, the self is never lost and therefore cannot be found.

Bhagavan was never fond of questions like that, he said that it won't do a thing to realize self. He loved to suggest to look for the questioner and if after that there is still a question he'd be happy to answer. This is the core of his teaching, cutting short ANY actions or thoughts of mind and coming immediately back to self, now and "always".

I guess the mind needs to keep doubting, analyzing, and questioning until it has exhausted itself and finally surrenders to the higher power and is quiet.


anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"Siva-vakyam: think of Arunachala and your mukti is assured

[People believe] that anyone who looks at Arunachala or even thinks of it from afar will attain mukti

Bhagavan: [Yes,] it is Siva-vakyam [a statement or command of the Lord Siva]. He himself says he will give mukti to all who think of Arunachala."

However, neither Siva nor Bhagavan Ramana did tell us the moment, the point in time, when mukti is or will be given. Therefore patience is required: we may even think thousand aeons of Arunachala and mukti will be given not before the end of hundred thousand of aeons.:-)


"Actually, Bhagavan is doing the sadhana for us, and he can never fail. Our job is just to let him do this sadhana, and we can do so by being as much self-attentive as possible."
Bhagavan is said to be our pure self-awareness. So how should he or it do any sadhana, let alone for us ? Your statement is evidently to be understood only as the use of a metaphor.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
regarding your comment of 4 October 2019 at 10:22,

"Based on Michael’s video dated 21-04-2219 ": we cannot know if Michael will provide any video at that distant future time...:-)
Instead of the year 2219 it should be 2019.

anadi-ananta said...

Anonymous,
you say "...In latter case ego will be found to be true Self minus all the attributes."
More accurately one may say that ego will be found to be true Self plus all the attributes.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
regarding your question "...is Michael ok? He didn´t even upload a video last week."
I only can tell you that only just today he replied two emails of mine dated 24 September 2019. Usually he responds within one or two days.
I hope Michael is okay. Perhaps last week he was busy with preparing/writing a new article or some translation work.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
"I guess the mind needs to keep doubting, analyzing, and questioning until it has exhausted itself and finally surrenders to the higher power and is quiet."
You have guessed right.

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

Correction:

"If it is in full alertness through self-investigation, it is known. If not, as in deep sleep, only inferred."
"It" refers to ourself or self-existence (known or just inferred)

Anonymous said...

:) ok.. i think i meant when ego merges into self, attributes will all get destroyed.

Anonymous said...

This has been my experience. My thoughts and perception of the world are heavily regulated by emotions. If my emotions are negative, world appears to be evil and vice versa. So I wonder what is the reality then? The person I interact with is acting based on what his personality is, but I really don’t know what his personality is. I am assuming who that person is based on the knowledge I have about myself. Eg. A person who has not experienced jealousy at all, would never understand other person’s jealous nature, since he never experienced it himself. The world I live in currently is full of fake people. I was very naive trusting everyone initially, but when I started observing others keenly, I noticed that other people operate from their own perception of the world. In essence, I understand how ego is creating this delusion. I also understand why saints isolate themselves from the world, since more they realize that all around them is fake and delusional, the more they lose interest.

Now going back to emotions, we all experience love. I have started doubting even this feeling of mine, since even this comes and goes. What has been constant in me is ‘I am the body’ thought. Everything else - I am convinced that it is just delusional.

What is it that can trigger me to doubt ‘I am the body’ thought? Sleep is the answer according to Bhagvan. But I don’t get convinced at all. I am unable to go beyond this thought.

I really don’t understand how self investigation can help get past this thought.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our life is a fight between God’s will and our will

What is God’s will? What is our will? Where does prarabdha fit in among these two wills? I will reflect on this topic in this comment:

What is God’s will? Sadhu Om describes God’s will as follows: ‘Since Bhagavan has infinite love for us as himself, his will is that we should merge in him forever, because only when we are one with him can we experience infinite happiness, which is our real nature’. However, as long as we experience ourself as this ego, we have a will of our own. Our will comprises of all our likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, fears, hopes, expectations and so on.

So there is always a fight between Bhagavan’s will and our will. Bhagavan wants us to merge in him so that we can enjoy infinite and eternal happiness, but our will resists his call by running after our desires and attachments. Bhagavan wants us to drown in bliss, but we foolishly run after this world, which is nothing but misery. However, Bhagavan’s love is not willing to accept defeat, so he works overtime, so to speak, to pull us towards him. This is where our prarabdha comes into the picture.

Since we are constantly resisting his will, Bhagavan has to ordain our praraddha in order to train us to stop resisting. So our prarabdha is not his ultimate will but becomes his will because we are resisting his real will. Our prarabdha is designed in such a way so that it weans us away from our desires and attachments, weans us away from our liking to experience anything other than ourself. Bhagavan knows the weaknesses of each of us, and he shapes our life in such a way as to train us to leave all our cares and worries to him.

So Bhagavan’s real aim is not that we should experience prarabdha (which is something other than ourself), but only that by experiencing it we should learn that no happiness lies in anything external. We should, therefore, develop the love to experience ourself alone.

To the extent we try to practise self-surrender and self-investigation, to that extent our ego is dissolved, and to the extent our ego is dissolved, to that extent its will is also dissolved. Ego’s will means its likes and dislikes and everything, and to the extent we are free of likes and dislikes, our will is out of the picture. The space surrendered by our will is immediately grasped by Bhagavan’s will. So what obstructs Bhagavan’s will is our will. What happens is only according to Bhagavan’s will but something about it we like and something we dislike. Bhagavan wants us to go beyond likes and dislikes.

Conclusion: We will make Bhagavan’s job much easier if we try to surrender our will to his will, and we can do so most effectively and quickly by practising self-surrender and self-investigation. In any case, ultimately, Bhagavan’s will will triumph.

Based largely on Michael’s ideas taken from his emails and videos

Salazar said...

Anonymous, my thoughts to your last comment: There is no need to isolate oneself from the world and saints are not deliberately seeking solitude, if they do then that it was predetermined and not because they “needed” solitude to deal better with the world.

The mind and emotions will be busy in a crowded place and also in a Himalayan cave, you carry your baggage with you wherever you go. Therefore one can drop the desire for solitude or a special place. Silence is a reality for a sage within the greatest turmoil. A sage could have landed with troops on D-Day in 1944 and it would not have created any concern for that sage and he'd have been in peace all the time.

The “I am the body” thought is deeply buried in our subconsciousness and is strengthened by any perception and emotion. Emotions are thoughts gone out of control, if emotions are in play then there is a huge underlying “story” involved which triggers these emotions without usually even noticing the story behind it.

Even though the goal is do be able to drop the idea “I am this body”, in the beginning with vichara it is sufficient to stop ALL train of thoughts as soon as they arise and are being noticed. Issues like “jealousy” will then become irrelevant, it is just another thought the mind likes to get busy with. There is no need to be concerned what transpires in your immediate physical vicinity. What happen will happen, independently if your mind is concerned with it or if you do not pay any attention at all to what you think you need to do.

And sleep is not the answer. You cannot accomplish anything while sleeping. Bhagavan just used that to make clear how irrelevant this phenomenal world is and that there is no need to be concerned about it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Actual Mahabharta is being fought within us

The war of Mahabharata was fought between the Kauravas and Pandavas. Kauravas had a much larger army in comparison to the Pandavas army. Not only that, Kauravas had more experienced warriors on their side. They even had the Guru of both the Kauravas and Pandavas on their side. However, Pandavas won this battle simply because Bhagavan Krishna was on their side. Though Krishna didn’t fight the battle, his very presence on the battlefield (as the charioteer of Arjuna) was enough to defeat the Kauravas. Kauravas were unrighteous so they had to be defeated.

Likewise, a Mahabharata is also being fought within us. Our Kaurava army comprises of all our vishaya-vasanas. Their numbers and strength are much more than our inner Pandava army. Our Pandava army comprises of our sat-vasana. So a fierce battle is in progress between our inner Kauravas and Pandavas. Like Bhagavan Krishna was with the Pandavas, our Bhagavan Ramana is also with our inner Pandavas (our sat-vasana).

However, just like Krishna, Bhagavan is not fighting our battle. He is a mere presence within us. So our sat-vasana has to do the real fighting. Every time a vishaya-vasana raises its head, sat-vasana has to try to defeat it by turning within. Bhagavan is of course there for all the guidance we need, and that should be enough to defeat our vishaya-vasansas in due course. So let us fight our battle joyously enjoying the company of Bhagavan Ramana.

Michael James said...

Rajat, the translation of the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? that you refer to in your comment of 27 September 2019 at 05:15 is actually one of my previous translations, but it is not much different to my latest translation.

We have not been truly successful in self-investigation until we have seen what we actually are and thereby eradicated ego forever, so any success before that is relative. The very fact that we try to be self-attentive is itself success of sorts, because as you say ‘whether or not the effort is successful is up to Bhagavan’s grace and all that I can do is at least sincerely try’.

The truth is that everything on this path happens only by his grace, including our trying to turn within. As he himself said, grace is the beginning, the middle and the end. Grace is his infinite love for us as himself, and this is what has sown the seed of love in our heart to try to turn within and surrender ourself entirely to him, so it is what starts us on this path and leads us all the way along it, and it is our final destination, because it is is what will remain alone when our surrender is complete.

The extent to which we try to turn within and surrender ourself is the measure of our love to do so, and this love is bhakti, which is what he referred to when he used to say that bhakti is the mother of jñāna. If we have even the slightest love to turn within, that love is a seed that he has sown in our heart, and he is such a caring gardener that having sown it he will unfailingly nurture and protect it, ensuring that it will grow into the beautiful tree called ātma-jñāna.

As he assured us in the twelfth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:

கடவுளும் குருவும் உண்மையில் வேறல்லர். புலிவாயிற் பட்டது எவ்வாறு திரும்பாதோ, அவ்வாறே குருவினருட்பார்வையிற் பட்டவர்கள் அவரால் ரக்ஷிக்கப்படுவரே யன்றி யொருக்காலும் கைவிடப்படார்; எனினும், குரு காட்டிய வழிப்படி தவறாது நடக்க வேண்டும்.

kaḍavuḷ-um guru-v-um uṇmaiyil vēṟallar. puli-vāyil paṭṭadu evvāṟu tirumbādō, avvāṟē guruviṉ-aruḷ-pārvaiyil paṭṭavargaḷ avarāl rakṣikka-p-paḍuvarē y-aṉḏṟi y-oru-k-kāl-um kaiviḍa-p-paḍār; eṉiṉum, guru kāṭṭiya vaṙi-p-paḍi tavaṟādu naḍakka vēṇḍum.

English translation: God and guru are in truth not different. Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace will never be forsaken but will surely be saved by him; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly in accordance with the path that guru has shown.

anadi-ananta said...

First it is necessary that those who have been caught in the look [or glance] of Bhagavan’s grace clearly recognize that they are 'caught in the jaws' of Bhagavan's grace and secondly that those who are in such way never forsaken recognize the path that Bhagavan has shown (for them). Only then they will be able to walk always unfailingly in accordance with Bhagavan's path. To get saved by him means having rejected all kinds of ignorance and having cast off the yoke of ego's tyranny. That is certainly our all aim of life.

Asun said...

Anadi-ananta,

Not necessarily so. To me, first is to recognize the value and significance of self-awareness, or to be genuinely curious about it which naturally leads to attend to it, more joyfully than effortfully. This stuff of past lives, gurus and teachings belongs to maya and may be more puzzling than helping. A complete mystery in any case, I´m not sure to what point worth of being considered since it still is attending to other thing than ourself. Anyway, as Michael uses to say, everything falls into place at the right moment.

Asun said...

To Anadi-anata(continuation)

I mean, there is no doubt about the guidance but, in my view, its manifestations as forms and names are only that, manifestations. Why is it so important to assign the guidance to this or that form in particular and to establish a bond with s/he, or to be more precise , is it important or necessary to do it? Why?

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
my comment to which you refer was mainly written as my attention to the twelfth paragraph of Nan Ar? (see Michael's reply yesterday to Rajat). So we should understand 'Bhagavan' not only as teacher incarnate but primarily as our common all-embracing awareness. Even 'maya' cannot stand without Bhagavan.:-)
Nevertheless, as long as we have not wrested ourself from the grip of ego we need guidance of the omnipresent self-awareness. There is the importance and necessity. After liberation we presumably need not worry about maya and its manifestation(s) of names and forms and it will be of no significance whether your path included more joy than effort.:-)
By the way, also Terese de Avila and Juan de la Cruz were certainly on the right path (of humble renunciation of ego).

Asun said...

Anadi-ananta,

Ah, ok. Yes, you are right. Recognizing “that they are 'caught in the jaws' of Bhagavan's grace” will save a lot of unnecessary deviations, difficulties and suffering. Well, unnecessary as seen in retrospect and from certain point of view, but it is also seen that, on the other hand, all of it was necessary.

“it will be of no significance whether your path included more joy than effort.:-)”
I find this is also truth :)

Thanks for clarifying.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
only sages can actually speak with clarity in order to 'clarify' the matter discussed. So we had a nice chat and I told you only my view.:)

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