Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Why should we try to be aware of ourself alone?

Referring to two sentences I wrote while explaining the second sentence of verse 5 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam in one of my recent articles, How to merge in Arunachala like a river in the ocean?, namely ‘How can we grind the mind on the stone called mind? By attending to ourself alone’, a friend wrote to me asking what exactly I meant by ‘alone’ here, and though there is only one in enlightenment, how we can be alone while making an effort to turn 180 degrees. In reply to this I wrote:

In the third paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? Bhagavan says:
கற்பித ஸர்ப்ப ஞானம் போனா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான ரஜ்ஜு ஞானம் உண்டாகாதது போல, கற்பிதமான ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கினா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான சொரூப தர்சன முண்டாகாது.

kaṟpita sarppa-ñāṉam pōṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa rajju-ñāṉam uṇḍāhādadu pōla, kaṟpitam āṉa jaga-diruṣṭi nīṅgiṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa sorūpa-darśaṉam uṇḍāhādu.

Just as unless awareness of the imaginary snake goes, awareness of the rope, [which is] the adhiṣṭhāna [basis, base or foundation], will not arise, unless perception of the world, which is kalpita [a fabrication, imagination or mental creation], departs, seeing svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature], [which is] the adhiṣṭhāna, will not arise.
and in the fourth paragraph he says:
மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது.

maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu.

When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.
What this implies is that so long as we are aware of the world (or anything other than ourself) we are not aware of ourself as we actually are (which is what he refers to as ātma-svarūpa or just svarūpa). This is because everything other than ourself seems to exist only in the clouded view of ourself as ego and not in the clear view of ourself as we actually are, as he implies in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

ahandaiyuṇ ḍāyi ṉaṉaittumuṇ ḍāhu
mahandaiyiṉ ḏṟēliṉ ḏṟaṉaittu — mahandaiyē
yāvumā mādalāl yādideṉḏṟu nādalē
yōvudal yāvumeṉa vōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr.

அன்வயம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், அனைத்தும் இன்று. யாவும் அகந்தையே ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே யாவும் ஓவுதல் என ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, aṉaittum iṉḏṟu. yāvum ahandai-y-ē ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē yāvum ōvudal eṉa ōr.

English translation: If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist. Ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this is alone is giving up everything.
Therefore in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we need to be aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from awareness of anything else, as Bhagavan clearly implies in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: Leaving aside external viṣayas [phenomena], the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].
We are aware of things other than ourself only when we are aware of ourself as a body, and so long as we are aware of ourself as a body we are not aware of ourself as we actually are. This is why in verse 25 of Upadēśa Undiyār he emphasises the need for us to be aware of ourself without being aware of the body or any other adjuncts:
தன்னை யுபாதிவிட் டோர்வது தானீசன்
றன்னை யுணர்வதா முந்தீபற
      தானா யொளிர்வதா லுந்தீபற.

taṉṉai yupādhiviṭ ṭōrvadu tāṉīśaṉ
ḏṟaṉṉai yuṇarvadā mundīpaṟa
      tāṉā yoḷirvadā lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது தான் ஈசன் தன்னை உணர்வது ஆம், தானாய் ஒளிர்வதால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu tāṉ īśaṉ taṉṉai uṇarvadu ām, tāṉ-āy oḷirvadāl.

அன்வயம்: தானாய் ஒளிர்வதால், தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது தான் ஈசன் தன்னை உணர்வது ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ-āy oḷirvadāl, taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu tāṉ īśaṉ taṉṉai uṇarvadu ām.

English translation: Knowing [or being aware of] oneself leaving aside adjuncts is itself knowing God, because [he] shines as oneself.
All these passages and verses imply that we need to be aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else, and this is why liberation is often described as கைவல்லியம் (kaivalyam), which means complete isolation.

The more keenly we attend to ourself, the more our attention will thereby be withdrawn from all other things, so in effect awareness of other things will gradually recede into the background until we cease to be aware of anything else at all. This is explained by Sadhu Om in terms of trying to turn 180 degrees back towards ourself. Because our bhakti (love to be aware of ourself alone) and vairāgya (freedom from desire to be aware of anything else) are not yet sufficiently strong, we are not now able to turn the full 180 degrees, so we may be turning just 90, 120, 150 or 179 degrees. The closer we get to 180 degrees, the more awareness of anything else will recede into the background, and only when we finally manage to turn a full 180 degrees will we cease to be aware of anything else at all.

If we are so keenly self-attentive that we cease to be aware of anything else, we will thereby be aware of ourself alone and hence aware of ourself as we actually are, so ego will instantly be eradicated forever. Therefore while practising self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) we should try to be so keenly self-attentive that we cease to be aware of anything other than ourself, but we will not succeed in being aware of ourself alone until the final moment, which will be the end of our journey.

Therefore we need not worry about the fact that we cannot yet be so keenly self-attentive that we are aware of ourself alone. All we need do is patiently persevere in our practice of self-attentiveness, because as Bhagavan said in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘இப்படிப் பழகப் பழக மனத்திற்குத் தன் பிறப்பிடத்திற் றங்கி நிற்கும் சக்தி யதிகரிக்கின்றது’ (ippaḍi-p paṙaga-p paṙaga maṉattiṟku-t taṉ piṟappiḍattil taṅgi niṟgum śakti y-adhikarikkiṉḏṟadu), ‘When one practises and practises in this manner, to the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace increases’, and in the tenth paragraph, ‘தொன்றுதொட்டு வருகின்ற விஷயவாசனைகள் அளவற்றனவாய்க் கடலலைகள் போற் றோன்றினும் அவையாவும் சொரூபத்யானம் கிளம்பக் கிளம்ப அழிந்துவிடும்’ (toṉḏṟutoṭṭu varugiṉḏṟa viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ aḷavaṯṟaṉavāy-k kaḍal-alaigaḷ pōl tōṉḏṟiṉum avai-yāvum sorūpa-dhyāṉam kiḷamba-k kiḷamba aṙindu-viḍum), ‘Even though viṣaya-vāsanās [inclinations or desires to experience things other than oneself], which come from time immemorial, rise [as thoughts or phenomena] in countless numbers like ocean-waves, they will all be destroyed when svarūpa-dhyāna [self-attentiveness] increases and increases [in depth and intensity]’.

21 comments:

Shiv Sivaram said...

Thanks, Michael

Michael James said...

A friend wrote to me asking, ‘How do I exhaust all my “vasanas” totally in this life before death, so that I will no longer transmigrate/reincarnate totally?’, in reply to which I wrote:

The root of all vāsanās is ego, so we cannot get rid of them entirely without getting rid of ego. However we cannot get rid of ego without first weakening our vāsanās to a considerable extent, because so long as our vāsanās are strong they will be constantly driving our attention outwards.

However the only means to eradicate ego is also the most effective means to weaken all vāsanās, namely the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender. The more we attend to ourself, the weaker our vāsanās will become, until eventually they become so weak that we are able to focus our entire attention on ourself alone, whereupon ego will be eradicated, because we will be aware of ourself as we actually are.

What is called ‘transmigration’ or ‘reincarnation’ is just a series of dreams, because what we now take to be our life is just a dream, so this series of dreams will continue so long as the dreamer survives. Since the dreamer is ourself as ego, all dreams and hence ‘lives’ will cease forever only when ego is eradicated, so the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender is the only means to bring transmigration to an end.

anadi-ananta said...

"What this implies is that so long as we are aware of the world (or anything other than ourself) we are not aware of ourself as we actually are (which is what he refers to as ātma-svarūpa or just svarūpa)."
The most simple means to defend oneself from being aware of the world (or anything other than ourself) is clearly going to bed. Unfortunately that method is not allowed.:-)Therefore it remains only the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender which I first must discover how I find that no trouble.

anadi-ananta said...

Happy Deepam !

Michal Borkowski said...

Dear Michael,

If the body is insentient, and cannot say 'I', and if that which rises in this body as 'I' is the mind, is it the mind/I-thought that makes the enquiry, who am I? If so, how or why would the mind want to make itself extinct? What would be its motivation? What or which part of us actually makes the enquiry?

Michael James said...

Yes, Michal, it is the mind (in the sense of ego, the thought called ‘I’, which is the root and essence of the mind, being its perceiving element) that needs to investigate itself, because if it does so keenly enough it will be clear that there is no such thing, as Bhagavan says in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

மனத்தி னுருவை மறவா துசாவ
மனமென வொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற
      மார்க்கநே ரார்க்குமி துந்தீபற.

maṉatti ṉuruvai maṟavā dusāva
maṉameṉa voṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
      mārgganē rārkkumi dundīpaṟa
.

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

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

English translation: When one investigates [examines or scrutinises] the form of the mind without neglecting [forgetting, abandoning, giving up or ceasing], [it will be clear that] there is not anything called ‘mind’. This is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone whomsoever.

Why would the mind want to make itself extinct? Because we know that we exist and are perfectly happy without it in sleep, and that when we rise as it in waking and dream it is always accompanied by dissatisfaction, so when we are finally dissatisfied with all this dissatisfaction we come to recognise that we as ego are the root of all our problems and that the best option for us is therefore to surrender ourself entirely, which we can do only by keenly investigating ourself to see what we actually are.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"... that the best option for us is therefore to surrender ourself entirely."
Is such a capitulation or surrender to a first at most only vaguely supposed supernatural/superordinate/greater power or force which is perceived as much higher than oneself actually unavoidable/inevitable ?

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, self-surrender as taught by Bhagavan does not mean ‘a capitulation or surrender to a first at most only vaguely supposed supernatural/superordinate/greater power or force’, but simply giving up or renouncing all that we now seem to be. Since we can give up what we seem to be only by knowing what we actually are, self-surrender is in effect surrendering what we seem to be to what we actually are.

To surrender ourself, no supposition is required, either about ourself or about any other thing. Quite the contrary, what is required is just keen self-investigation.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
many thanks again for your clarifying comment.
I easily can comprehend how to practise simply giving up or renouncing all that we now seem to be. However, your saying "Since we can give up what we seem to be only by knowing what we actually are,..." affects me deeply, because just due my ignorance of what I actually am I can surrender what I seem to be only to that unknown higher power which is said to be (that) what I actually am. Thus in any case you expound a practicable way to me - although I even don't know what I actually am.
I understand clearly your statement "To surrender ourself, no supposition is required, either about ourself or about any other thing."
Although at present I am obviously not able to practise the required keen self-investigation it seems to be much more practicable to me to simply giving up all that I now seem to be - at least as an exercise/practice.

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? said...

Actually, we do not have the power of choosing re. what happens with the body in the phenomenal world, that is entirely prarabdha.

We only have the power to choose to either identify with the body/mind or not. If we believe we make a choice then we believe to be that body and that is samsara. If there is a choice but it is not seen as "my" choice then one is not identifying with the body and that leads to freedom. The former keeps one in delusion.

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? said...

Asun, yes - negligence leads to the identification with the body, and attending to ourselves leads to non-identification. That's what I've said, just with different words, the meaning is the same.

If we choose to be negligent then we simultaneously choose the identification with the body, if we choose to attend to ourselves then we simultaneously choose to not identify with a body.

----------

An excerpt from your quotation of HOB:"[...] Because of our imaginary and self-imposed limitations, it is no longer possible for us to be whatever we choose to be, and to do
whatever we choose to do. [...]"

I personally do not resonate with that excerpt. Why? Because when these imaginary limitations have fallen off [by attending to ourselves] there is nobody who can make a choice. There is nobody who can "be whatever we choose to be", the only entity which seemingly chooses is the ego [and that would be within the self-imposed limitations]. After manonasa there are no choices and choosers.

? said...

Please let me add to my previous comment "... after manonasa there are no choices and choosers" the following:

I'd say more correctly that there are no choices and choosers even while attending to self "before" manonasa. The "chooser" only reappears when attending to self has switched to being negligent.

Also, for the sake of simplicity, I always talk about self leaving out the stepping stone "to" self what is the "I"-thought. The mind uses effort to hold onto the I-thought and then the mind vanishes and only self shines (without effort). That can involve seemingly many, many subtle stages where the mind becomes more subtle, moving through the sheaths until the idea of a sheath has evaporated what is manonasa.

Since self IS always there can be seemingly swings between self and mind since mind has the tendency to reassert itself. That's why vichara is necessary until finally the mind has stopped reasserting itself.

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. said...

Corrections: lies in (ourself) / leaving out (not only a matter of …)

anadi-ananta said...

Asun, thanks for your good wishes for Christmas.
May you too have a peaceful time at Christmas.