Monday, 22 June 2020

Why did Bhagavan sometimes say the heart is on the right side of the chest?

A friend sent me a WhatsApp message yesterday saying that while explaining the first verse of Saddarśanam someone had said, ‘Many ask why Ramana Maharshi stated that heart is on your right. It is because you think that it is on the left. Heart actually is where one experiences the existence as consciousness’. I understood this to mean that that person had implied that the right side of the chest is where one experiences existence as consciousness, so I replied accordingly, but later my friend clarified that what that person was trying to convey was that ‘ullam or heart is not on right or left or nothing to do with the position in the body, but where or what one experiences as consciousness — not the body or mental consciousness which many associate this word with’.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

How do we remember being asleep?

A friend wrote to me today asking, ‘In the deep sleep state, it is said that there is no mind. In that case, what is it that carries through the information back to the waking state that one has experienced deep sleep? Is the mind present but it is dormant (thereby registering experience and creating memory)? In other words, is there anything other than the true I (I-I) in the deep sleep state?’, in reply to which I wrote:

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

We can be self-attentive in waking and dream but not in sleep

A friend recently wrote to me:

It seems to that “Self-Attention” as taught by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi is possible only when I am in the Waking State, and not when I am in the Sleeping State and in the Dreaming State. In that case, what do I have to do in the latter two states, according to the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi? If I cannot do anything in those two states, will that be a problem or should I take it that as long as I am doing “Self-Attention” correctly during the Waking State, that will be enough?

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Though we are not aware of any phenomena in sleep, we are aware of our own existence, ‘I am’

A friend recently wrote to me:

There is something I find hard to “understand”. You say that Sri Ramana Maharshi said that when we are in deep sleep, without dreams, that we have let go of the ego and are still aware of our self existence.

How can we know that, when seemingly there is no awareness in that time? It leads me to think that if the oneness of the true self, of existence/god itself is nothing, no experience at all, then why would I want to get there? While there is suffering in this life with the ego here, there is also pleasure. As I get closer to non-attachment I suffer far less (I witness the suffering), but if I achieve complete non-attachment I will cease to exist in this way. In my form as a human I reach states of freedom and happiness but I am experiencing/aware of that. In sleep (and therefore death) am I really experiencing that?

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Self-investigation as the way to love

In April of last year a Finnish friend, Jussi Penttinen, invited me to Helsinki, where he had arranged for me to give a talk and answer questions at a meeting organised by Forum Humanum. A video of this meeting, 2019-04-03 Forum Humanum, Helsinki: Michael James discusses self-investigation as the way to love, is available on my YouTube channel, Sri Ramana Teachings:

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

The dreamer is ourself as ego, not whatever person we seem to be in a dream

A friend called Reinhard recently sent me what he described as ‘a pleasant exchange with David [Godman] about ajata and the discrepancy to ‘our’ ordinary perception’ and wrote, ‘If you have some comments, they are always welcome’.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

How can we just be?

In a comment on my previous article, What can be simpler than just being self-attentive?, a friend called Chandra asked: ‘how to practice self enquiry sir? has just to be not doing anything without activity of mind and body, just be?’ The following is my reply to this:

Thursday, 12 March 2020

What can be simpler than just being self-attentive?

A friend wrote to me recently saying that he had been reading about self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) but was unable to understand ‘how can the I enquire into the I itself’, and while expressing his confusion he asked several questions such as: ‘So how do we comprehend SELF? How do we enquire this SELF? And Who enquires SELF? The mind?’ In reply to this I wrote:

Monday, 9 March 2020

Though we appear in two distinct modes, we are just one awareness

When I woke up on Saturday morning, a fresh clarity occurred to me. If I try to put this clarity into words, as I will do in this article, it is what I knew already, but somehow on that morning I saw it with a fresh clarity. In words I cannot actually express this clarity, but I can explain what it is about: that is, what it is that somehow became more clear.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Though we now seem to be ego, if we look at ourself keenly enough we will see that we are actually just pure awareness

A question that troubles some people when they want to understand the practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is whether the ‘self’ or ‘I’ we are to investigate is ego or our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), but as I will try to make clear in this article, investigating ego is itself investigating our real nature, because what seems to be ego is just our real nature, just as what seems to be a snake is just a rope. We are just one self or ‘I’, not two different selves or ‘I’s, but when this one ‘I’ remains just as it is, without any adjuncts, it is pure awareness, which is our real nature, whereas when it seems to be conflated with adjuncts, it is what is called ego.

Friday, 7 February 2020

To curb our rising as ego, all we need do is watch ourself vigilantly

A friend wrote a long email to me recently asking for advice about how we should behave in this world, and in particular about how we should respond to certain challenging situations. This article is adapted from the reply I wrote to him.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

There are many interpretations of advaita, but Bhagavan’s teachings are the simplest, clearest and deepest

In a comment on my previous article, To know what we actually are, we need to cease being interested in any person, a friend called Mouna referred to one of my recent videos, 2020-01-19 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses why Bhagavan’s path is a path of unlearning, and wrote:
Michael mentioned in one of his recent videos (I’ll be paraphrasing) that one of the problems of vedantic teachings is that historically, the simple teachings of the Upanishads started to be complicated to understand because all the commentaries, and the commentaries on the commentaries (and the commentaries on the commentaries on the commentaries!) appeared...

Thursday, 23 January 2020

To know what we actually are, we need to cease being interested in any person

A friend wrote to me recently saying he wants to know more about me as a person, including about my family background, such as whether my parents were devotees of Bhagavan and whether all my siblings are also interested in his teachings, and he asked me whether he should try to convince his brothers and sisters to learn about his teachings, because they have other interests and opinions, some of which he disagrees with. This article is adapted from the reply I wrote to him.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

What does Bhagavan mean by the term ‘mind’?

In a comment on my previous article, Self-investigation is the only means by which we can surrender ourself entirely and thereby eradicate ego, a friend called Rajat referred to two sentences in the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன’ (maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu. idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa), ‘Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought [the primal, basic, original or causal thought]. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise’, and asked, ‘I am unable to understand this. Isn’t the “thought ‘I’” same as the mind, or ego? If yes, then how does the I-thought appear or arise in the mind, because they are the same thing? Should this be understood to mean that the first thing the I-thought sees is itself?’, and in a subsequent comment he referred to this and asked ‘Since “the thought I” is nothing but “our mind”, how to understand Bhagavan’s statement that the thought ‘I’ alone is the first thought that appears in our mind? If I-thought were to arise in the mind, then mind must exist prior to the arising of I thought’.

This article is written primarily in reply to these two comments, but also in reply both to a later comment in which Rajat asked some other questions related to the nature of the mind, and to another related subject that was discussed in other comments on the same article.