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.

Therefore, though we now seem to be ego, if we investigate ourself keenly enough we will see that we are actually just pure awareness. In order to understand why this is the case, we need to clearly understand that ego is cit-jaḍa-granthi, a knot (granthi) formed by the seeming entanglement of pure awareness (cit) with a body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), binding them together as if they were one, so it is a conflation of two elements, one of which is real, namely pure awareness, and the other of which is a mere appearance, namely the body (which in this context does not mean just the physical form but all the five sheaths that constitute whatever body we currently mistake ourself to be, namely the physical form, life, mind, intellect and will, all of which are non-aware, being just phenomena perceived by us as ego). When we investigate ourself, what we try to attend to is only the real element in this mixture, namely pure awareness (cit), as Bhagavan explained in an answer recorded in the final chapter of Maharshi’s Gospel (2002 edition, page 89):
The ego functions as the knot [granthi] between the Self [ātma-svarūpa], which is Pure Consciousness [cit], and the physical body, which is inert and insentient [jaḍa]. The ego is therefore called the cit-jaḍa-granthi. In your investigation into the source of ahaṁ-vṛtti [the thought ‘I’, which is ego], you take the essential cit aspect of the ego; and for this reason the enquiry must lead to the realization of the pure consciousness of the Self.
The source from which we rise as ego (the ahaṁ-vṛtti or thought called ‘I’) is our real nature, which is pure awareness (cit), so in order to find out from where we have risen as ego we need to attend only to the fundamental awareness aspect of ego, as Bhagavan implies when he says, ‘In your investigation into the source of ahaṁ-vṛtti, you take the essential cit aspect of the ego’. The more keenly we focus our attention on this essential cit aspect, the more everything else will recede into the background, until eventually we will be aware of nothing other than ourself, which is the state of pure awareness. This is therefore the means by which we can separate ourself from all our adjuncts and thereby untangle this knot called ego.

In the comments on my previous article, To curb our rising as ego, all we need do is watch ourself vigilantly, there were related discussions both about the distinction between ‘I am’, which is our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), and ‘I am this body’, which is the adjunct-conflated awareness called ego, and about whether self-investigation means investigating ego or our real nature, so in the first six sections of this article I will reproduce some of my replies to these discussions, and in the final four sections I will reply to some comments written by a friend called ‘Anonymous’ that I had not previously replied to.
  1. ‘I am’ without any adjuncts is our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), whereas ‘I am this body’ is the adjunct-conflated awareness called ego
  2. Awareness of anything other than ourself as we actually are is a thought, so ego is just a thought, the ‘thought called I’, but of all thoughts it is the first and root
  3. Ego is a form of self-awareness, but not self-awareness as it actually is, because it is self-awareness conflated with awareness of adjuncts
  4. If we look at the snake carefully enough we will see that it is actually just a rope, and likewise if we attend to ourself, who now seem to be ego, keenly enough, we will see that what we actually are is just pure awareness
  5. Self-awareness, which is the very nature of ourself, is our fundamental experience, and the basis of everything else that we experience, so we can never not be self-aware
  6. As ego we can experience pure awareness, but as soon as we experience pure awareness we thereby cease to be ego, just as we can see the tropical midday sun by looking at it directly, but as soon as we do so we will thereby be blinded
  7. If we attend only to ‘I am’, thereby withdrawing our attention from everything else, we will thereby leave aside all adjuncts, and what will then remain is only pure awareness
  8. In order to get rid of all that is unreal, namely ego and all its progeny, we must cling firmly to what is real, namely our fundamental awareness ‘I am’
  9. If we imagine that we are two different selves, a ‘true self’ and an ‘ego’, we are unnecessarily confusing ourself and thereby making the simple practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) seem complicated
  10. Though our awareness ‘I am’ is now mixed and confused with our awareness of adjuncts, it is nevertheless the clue by which we as ego can retrace our way back to the source from which we arose
1. ‘I am’ without any adjuncts is our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), whereas ‘I am this body’ is the adjunct-conflated awareness called ego

In reply to a comment written by a friend called Asun I wrote a series of two comments:
Asun, regarding your comment of 9 February 2020 at 13:09, it is recorded in two passages in Day by Day with Bhagavan that he said, ‘The mind turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards, it becomes the ego and all the world’ (11-1-46: 2002 edition, page 106), and ‘The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self’ (8-11-45: 2002 edition, page 37). These are probably not exactly what he said, but they convey reasonably well the general point he was making.

That is, there is only one awareness, namely ourself. When we seemingly turn to face away from ourself, we rise as ego, projecting phenomena and perceiving ourself as if we were one among them, namely a body consisting of five sheaths. And when instead we as ego turn our attention back to face ourself alone, we subside and remain as pure awareness, which is what we always actually are.

What can be easier to understand than this? It is so simple. It seems difficult to understand only if we complicate it unnecessarily.

Regarding what you wrote about ‘I am’, Bhagavan was always careful to point out the distinction between ‘I am’ and ‘I am this body’. ‘I am’ without any adjuncts is our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), which alone is real, so it is not a thought. Only when it is seemingly mixed with adjuncts as ‘I am this body’ does it seemingly become a thought. Therefore what he referred to as the thought called ‘I’ is not ‘I am’, which is pure awareness, but only ‘I am this body’, which is awareness defiled with adjuncts.

As ego (which is the thought called ‘I’) we are always aware of ourself as ‘I am’, but never just as ‘I am’, because our awareness of ourself seems to be inextricably entangled with adjuncts, since we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’. Ego is therefore called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) that seemingly binds what is aware (cit) with what is not aware (jaḍa). The cit aspect of ego is ‘I am’, which is pure awareness, whereas the jaḍa aspect of it is whatever body we currently mistake to be ourself.

Note that there is an important distinction between the meaning of ‘am’ in ‘I am’ and in ‘I am this body’. On its own ‘I am’ means ‘I exist’, so the ‘am’ in ‘I am’ denotes our existence (sat or uḷḷadu), whereas the ‘am’ in ‘I am this body’ does not denote our existence but our identity. ‘I am this body’ is a false identity, so Bhagavan often used to point out that our real identity is not ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ but only ‘I am I’. That is, what we actually are is nothing other than ourself.

You say ‘Awareness of phenomena and identification with this body is just its mean of survival’, but here the word ‘just’ is misleading, because though awareness of phenomena and identification with a body are the means by which ego survives, they are not just its means of survival, but its very nature. Without awareness of phenomena and identification with a body there is no such thing as ego at all. This is what Bhagavan implies in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum), ‘Grasping form the formless phantom-ego comes into existence; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form’. Identifying ourself with the form of a body and consequently being aware of the forms of other phenomena are what he means here by ‘grasping form’.

As ego what we need to surrender is not our self-awareness, ‘I am’, because self-awareness is our very nature, so we can never cease to be self-aware. We can only surrender what is other than our real nature, namely the adjuncts that we as ego conflate with ourself. This is why the only way to surrender and thereby eradicate ego is to cling firmly to our fundamental self-awareness, ‘I am’, thereby letting go of everything else.
Asun replied to this in her comment of 9 February 2020 at 19:10:
Yes, I understand that the word “just” in that sentence may be misleading. I always fall into it, sorry.

Not sure, but maybe it is that distinction between the meaning of “am” in “I am” and in “I am this body” what I’m referring to. Is it the “am” in “I am this body” what is melted by the love of just being or “I am” since by the habit of attending and knowing other things it gets solidified, so to speak? That would be then the only difference and what you mean when you say that they only differ in form, likewise ice and water. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be melting nor swallowing nor noticing anything such a change of state which at first it is taken as something new because we are not used to that clarity of mind but which is our natural state, actually. Don’t know if I’m explaining myself.
In reply to this I wrote on 9 February 2020 at 20:48:
Asun, regarding the analogy of ice melting in water, which you refer to in your comment of 9 February 2020 at 19:10, just as water is the substance and ice is just a temporary form composed of it, our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), which is what shines in us as ‘I am’, is the sole real substance (poruḷ or vastu), whereas ego, the adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’, is a form composed of it.

Bereft of adjuncts, ‘I am’ is not only pure awareness but also infinite love, so metaphorically ego is a frozen and solidified form of love. Therefore what must be melted in love is the entire ego, the compound awareness ‘I am this body’, and what remains when it has melted is only its substance, the pure awareness ‘I am’.

When I pointed out in my previous reply to you that the ‘am’ in ‘I am’ denotes our existence (sat or uḷḷadu) whereas the ‘am’ in ‘I am this body’ does not denote our existence but our identity, what I meant is that ‘am’ has a different semantic function in each of these two cases. Why this is important is that the phrase ‘I am’ on its own is a statement of our existence, whereas the phrase ‘I am this body’ is a statement of our (false) identity. However, in order to have an identity (even a false one) we must exist, so ‘I am’ (which is both our existence and our awareness of our existence) is implicit in ‘I am this body’ (which is our identity as ego).

Therefore, though ego is the adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’, and as such is entirely unreal, in substance it is just pure awareness, which always shines within it as ‘I am’. Therefore the more that we as ego turn back to face ourself, ‘I am’, the more we will thereby be melted in pure love, which is our real nature, until eventually we will want nothing other than to dissolve in and as pure love, whereupon we will let go of everything else and thereby be swallowed by grace.
2. Awareness of anything other than ourself as we actually are is a thought, so ego is just a thought, the ‘thought called I’, but of all thoughts it is the first and root

In her comment of 9 February 2020 at 22:58 Asun replied:
I see you completely discard what I said in my first comment that “when ego turns attention towards itself it is turning attention towards the thought “I am” which is aware of itself and it is this awareness of itself or this making itself known to itself what has to be surrendered and eradicated.” Maybe someday I’ll find the way to express it correctly because to me that’s the point. When I’m happy without cause I don’t make known to myself that I’m happy, I simply am happy and being happy is knowing it though, actually, I’m not even aware of being happy, why should I, if there is only that? No need. This would be “I am” denoting existence. Yet, if the thought “I’m happy” arises, I’m making known to myself that I am happy and this knowledge would obscure the mere being happy which would be the thought “I am” and what has to be surrendered in order to just be happy or just be. Obviously, I would be, simultaneously, limiting this knowledge or false awareness of happiness to an identity, “me” or “I am this body” and, therefore, as you say, it is the compound “I am this body” what is surrendered, can’t be otherwise. Perhaps the explanation appears to be complicated but what I would like to explain is simpler than simple and shows the absurdity and meaningless of all of it.

I’m not trying to argue, just to put something into words.
I replied to this on 11 February 2020 at 21:41:
Asun, regarding your comment of 9 February 2020 at 22:58, I think that perhaps what is not clear to you is the sense in which Bhagavan uses the term ‘thought’. When he talks about thought, he is referring not just to verbalised thoughts, which are relatively superficial, but to mental phenomena of all kinds, so according to him everything other than pure awareness is just a thought. In other words, awareness of anything other than ourself as we actually are is a thought.

This is why he pointed out that ego is just a thought and therefore often referred to it as the ‘thought called I’, but he explained that of all thoughts it is the first and root. Only from and to this first thought do all other thoughts appear.

You talk about something you call ‘the thought “I am”’, but this is a misleading and confusing term, because ‘I am’ means ‘I exist’, and our existence is not a thought but what alone is real. As ego we confuse our real existence with the seeming existence of a body, but though we are not this body, we do exist, so our existence is untouched by our appearance as ego.

What needs to be surrendered and eradicated is not ‘I am’, which is our fundamental awareness of our own existence, and therefore what alone is real, but only our false awareness ‘I am this body’, which is ego and therefore just a thought.

We can never surrender or eradicate our awareness of ourself, because it alone is real, but we can and must surrender and thereby eradicate our awareness of ourself as a body, because that is ego, which is unreal, being a mere appearance.

Regarding what you say about making ourself known to ourself, which you explain by distinguishing being happy from thinking ‘I am happy’, I think I understand what you mean, but if so that is a relatively superficial problem. The real problem we face is much deeper than that, because it is not just thinking ‘I am this body’ (in the sense of mentally telling ourself ‘I am this body’) but actually being aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’ (which is what Bhagavan means by the term ‘the thought called I’, which is ego) .

I do not know whether this explanation will help you in any way, but if you think I am missing your point please tell me.
3. Ego is a form of self-awareness, but not self-awareness as it actually is, because it is self-awareness conflated with awareness of adjuncts

Asun replied to this in her comment of 12 February 2020 at 13:10:
Yes, Michael, you are missing the point but no wonder because the way I explained myself was completely wrong and misleading. When I said “self-awareness” I was referring to ego or awareness of “I am this body- person”. If I understand correctly, awareness is what makes known this person which we take to be ourself so, as ego, we experience being aware of “I am this body- person” as being self-aware, i.e., as ego we are mistaking making known a thought or being aware of a thought with self-awareness, that’s why I said that it is this self-awareness what has to be surrendered and that this shows the absurdity and meaningless of all of it because, what’s the point of substituting reality or effortless being which is self-knowledge and perfect happiness or satisfaction for an illusion or the artificial fabrication of a seemingly being or entity, imagining it by thinking “I am this body” , using chit or awareness which is real to make known or to be aware of what is not? It is absurd and also a sad waste since it requires an enormous amount of effort and energy, all for nothing.

Your explanations have been very helpful to clarify what I had in mind but don’t know if I’m still misunderstanding or missing something. Am I?
In reply to this I wrote on 14 February 2020 at 21:54:
Asun, regarding your comment of 12 February 2020 at 13:10, it seems to me that perhaps the terms in which you understand this subject are what makes you think you may still be misunderstanding or missing something. Ego is a form of self-awareness, but not self-awareness as it actually is, because it is self-awareness mixed and conflated with awareness of adjuncts. That is, there is actually only one self-awareness, namely our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which always shines in us as ‘I am’, and there is nothing other than that, but when we seemingly rise as ego, we project awareness of adjuncts, which we mix and conflate with our real self-awareness as ‘I am this set of adjuncts [namely a body or person]’.

In this adjunct-mixed self-awareness what is real is only pure self-awareness, ‘I am’, so we need to distinguish and thereby separate this pure self-awareness from the set of adjuncts with which we as ego have conflated it. In other words, what we need to surrender is not self-awareness, which is ourself as we actually are, but only our awareness of adjuncts, which we can do only by focusing our entire attention keenly on ourself.

This is what Bhagavan explains in verses 24 and 25 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
இருக்கு மியற்கையா லீசசீ வர்க
ளொருபொரு ளேயாவ ருந்தீபற
      வுபாதி யுணர்வேவே றுந்தீபற.

irukku miyaṟkaiyā līśajī varga
ḷoruporu ḷēyāva rundīpaṟa
      vupādhi yuṇarvēvē ṟundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: இருக்கும் இயற்கையால் ஈச சீவர்கள் ஒரு பொருளே ஆவர். உபாதி உணர்வே வேறு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): irukkum iyaṟkaiyāl īśa jīvargaḷ oru poruḷē āvar. upādhi-uṇarvē vēṟu.

English translation: By [their] existing nature, God and souls are only one substance. Only [their] awareness of adjuncts is different.

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.

English translation: Knowing [or being aware of] oneself leaving aside adjuncts is itself knowing God, because [he] shines as oneself.
In other words, self-awareness + awareness of adjuncts = ego or jīva. Self-awareness without any awareness of adjuncts (and hence without any awareness of anything else whatsoever) = our real nature or God.

What can be more simple to understand than this?
4. If we look at the snake carefully enough we will see that it is actually just a rope, and likewise if we attend to ourself, who now seem to be ego, keenly enough, we will see that what we actually are is just pure awareness

In the meanwhile another friend called Anonymous wrote several comments in which he or she expressed difficulty in understanding the practice of self-investigation, so in my comment of 11 February 2020 at 21:23 I wrote:
Anonymous, regarding your various comments, I appreciate that you are trying to understand clearly what self-investigation is, but as others have pointed out, it will become clear to you only to the extent that you actually try to practise it. Just as the only way to learn how to ride a bicycle is to try to do so, the only way to learn how to investigate ourself is to try to do so. What can be conveyed through words is at best just a conceptual understanding, but that can only be a very superficial understanding, because self-investigation entails going deep within beyond all concepts to investigate ourself, the one from whom and to whom all concepts appear.

In your comment of 10 February 2020 at 23:15 you refer to the rope and snake analogy, but in a way that confuses rather than clarifies the matter, because you say ‘snake doesn’t have any knowledge of rope. Snake doesn’t know how rope looks, feels, or doesn’t even know that there is an entity called rope’, whereas as ego we are aware of ourself, though not as we actually are. We are clearly aware of our own existence, ‘I am’, so we know that we are, even though we do not know what we are.

Moreover, you say ‘Now Snake can remain as I am. But that I am is not rope, since snake is already under the delusion of being a snake’, as if the existence of the snake were distinct from the existence of the rope. What ‘I am’ denotes is our existence (sat) and our awareness of our existence (sat-cit), which are one and the same thing, and the existence and self-awareness (‘I am’) of ourself as ego (the snake) are not in any way at all distinct from the existence and self-awareness (‘I am’) of ourself as we actually are (the snake). As ego we borrow our existence and self-awareness from our real nature, so it is the thread by which we can trace our way back home, to the source from which we arose.

No analogy can be analogous in all respects, so we need to be careful when applying any analogy. The rope and snake analogy is analogous to self-investigation in one important respect, namely: if we look at the snake carefully enough we will see that it is actually just a rope, and likewise if we attend to ourself, who now seem to be ego, keenly enough, we will see that what we actually are is just pure awareness.

In your comment of 9 February 2020 at 22:42 you say, ‘When we turn back we only can remain in I am the body feeling’, but that is quite contrary to what actually happens. What you call the ‘I am the body’ feeling is ourself as ego, which is sustained and nourished by our attending to anything other than ourself, and which subsides and dissolves to the extent that we attend to ourself. Therefore we remain in the ‘I am the body’ feeling, as you put it, only so long as we attend to other things, and we extract ourself from it to the extent that we are self-attentive.

This is therefore the practical means by which we can separate our mere being or existence, ‘I am’, from ego, our false identity ‘I am this body’. In other words, instead of seeing ourself as the snake (ego) we will see ourself as the rope (pure awareness), which is what always shines in us as our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’.

If we understand it in these terms, it is actually extremely simple, but it will become truly clear only to the extent that we put it into practice.
5. Self-awareness, which is the very nature of ourself, is our fundamental experience, and the basis of everything else that we experience, so we can never not be self-aware

In an unrelated comment of 16 February 2020 at 12:21 another friend called Sanjay wrote, ‘The problem with sleep is that though sleep is a state of pure awareness, ego is not destroyed in sleep because it is absent then. If a court sentences a mass murder[er] to death and if he is absent, they cannot apply the death sentence. Ego is like that because it is absent in sleep. So we need to experience pure awareness in waking and dream when ego is present. Only when ego experiences the pure-awareness, will it be destroyed’, which was a paraphrase of an explanation I had given in one of my recent videos, and Anonymous responded to this by asking, ‘Can Ego experience self awareness Sanjay? How is it possible?’, in reply to which I wrote on 18 February 2020 at 21:37:
Anonymous, in your comment of 16 February 2020 at 18:34 you ask Sanjay whether ego can experience self-awareness, to which the appropriate answer would be the counterquestion: can we as ego ever not experience self-awareness?

Self-awareness is the very nature of ourself, whether we remain as we actually are or rise as ego. It is our fundamental experience, and the basis of everything else that we experience, so we can never not be self-aware. Whatever else we experience, we experience it as ‘I am experiencing this’, so ‘I’ is implicit in every experience, and since ‘I’ is the first person or self-referential pronoun, it implies self-awareness.

‘I’ is also the meaning of the word ‘ego’, because as ego we are always aware of ourself as ‘I’, so self-awareness is implied by the very name ‘ego’. However, though as ego we are always aware of ourself, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, because we mistake ourself to be a person, a body consisting of five sheaths, which is not what we actually are, because these five sheaths (the physical form of the body, life, mind, intellect and will) appear in waking and dream but disappear in sleep, whereas we exist and are aware of ourself in all three states. Ego is therefore an adjunct-conflated form of self-awareness, an awareness of ourself as ‘I am this body’.

There is only one self-awareness, namely ourself, and when we remain just as ourself, without conflating ourself with any adjuncts, that is the state of pure self-awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa). However, when we rise as ego, we thereby conflate ourself with adjuncts, so instead of being aware of ourself just as ‘I am’, we are mistakenly aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’. Therefore self-awareness without any adjuncts is our real nature, whereas the same self-awareness conflated with adjuncts is ego.

However, when you asked Sanjay whether ego can experience self-awareness, you were replying to his comment of 16 February 2020 at 12:21, in which he paraphrased what I said in a portion of the video 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3, in which the term I used was not self-awareness but pure awareness (which implies pure self-awareness, because as pure awareness we are not aware of anything other than ourself). What I actually said at 54:56 in that video was: ‘Though we remain just as pure awareness in sleep, ego is not thereby destroyed, because ego is absent. So in waking or dream, when ego is present, we need to try to experience that pure awareness that we experience in sleep, because only when ego experiences pure awareness will it be destroyed — because as soon as ego experiences that it’s finished’.

Therefore if the question you meant to ask Sanjay was whether ego can experience pure awareness, the answer is yes and no, because as ego we can experience pure awareness, but as soon as we experience pure awareness we thereby cease to be ego. If we as ego want to experience pure awareness, we are like a person who wants to see the tropical midday sun. We can see the tropical midday sun just by turning our eyes up to look at it directly, but as soon as we do so we will thereby be blinded. Likewise, if we turn our entire attention back to face ourself alone, we will experience pure awareness, but experiencing pure awareness means remaining just as pure awareness, so as soon as we experience pure awareness we will be pure awareness and thereby cease to be ego.
6. As ego we can experience pure awareness, but as soon as we experience pure awareness we thereby cease to be ego, just as we can see the tropical midday sun by looking at it directly, but as soon as we do so we will thereby be blinded

Before I wrote this reply Sanjay had already replied to Anonymous, but in his reply he wrote, “So when Michael said: ‘Only when ego experiences the pure-awareness, will it be destroyed’, he was speaking metaphorically”, so I replied to him on 18 February 2020 at 22:11:
Sanjay, in your comment of 17 February 2020 at 06:45, in which you replied to the question that Anonymous asked you in his or her comment of 16 February 2020 at 18:34, you wrote, “So when Michael said: ‘Only when ego experiences the pure-awareness, will it be destroyed’, he was speaking metaphorically”, but I was actually speaking literally, not metaphorically, because ego cannot be destroyed by any means other than (literally) experiencing itself as pure awareness.

That is, as I explained in the reply I just wrote to Anonymous in my comment of 18 February 2020 at 21:37 [which I reproduced in the previous section], as ego we can experience pure awareness, but as soon as we experience pure awareness we thereby cease to be ego, just as we can see the tropical midday sun by looking at it directly, but as soon as we do so we will thereby be blinded. We cannot experience pure awareness and remain even for the tiniest moment as ego, but in order to eradicate ourself as ego and thereby be eternally as we actually are, as ego we need to experience pure awareness.

As soon as we as ego experience pure awareness we will be devoured by it, as Bhagavan implies in the final sentence of verse 21 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘ஊண் ஆதல் காண்’ (ūṇ ādal kāṇ), ‘Becoming food is seeing’.
7. If we attend only to ‘I am’, thereby withdrawing our attention from everything else, we will thereby leave aside all adjuncts, and what will then remain is only pure awareness

In reply to my comment of 18 February 2020 at 21:37, which I reproduced above in section five, Anonymous wrote on 19 February 2020 at 03:25:
Thanks Michael. I meant pure self awareness and not just awareness. Nice analogy in last paragraph. But Salazar and I have lots of disagreement. Hope you can clarify.

What does turning our attention mean? Who is ‘our’ referring to? Is that ‘I am the body’ thought mixed with pure self awareness (i.e knot)? If so, when this ego eliminates all its adjuncts including I am the body idea, pure awareness will result .. right?

Is this method same as staying in ‘I am’ state? Is ‘I am’ Salazar referring to is same as the knot I am referring to?
The following is my reply to these questions:

Anonymous, we can find the answer to your first two questions, “What does turning our attention mean? Who is ‘our’ referring to?”, by considering what attention is. Attention is a selective use of awareness, a directing of our awareness towards one or more things in preference to other things, so it can be used only in a state in which many things seem to exist. In our natural state of pure awareness, nothing other than ourself exists or even seems to exist, so for pure awareness there is no such thing as attention. Even in sleep, nothing other than ourself exists or even seems to exist, because we do not exist as ego in sleep, and it is only in the view of ourself as ego that other things seem to exist, so in sleep there is no such thing as attention. Attention is possible only in the state of ego, namely waking or dream, because as ego we are aware of many things, so we can select which of those many things we wish to focus our awareness on. Therefore, in whatever context it may be used, ‘our attention’ means ego’s attention. In other words, attention is a feature only of ego and not of our real nature, which is pure awareness.

You then ask: “Is that ‘I am the body’ thought mixed with pure self awareness (i.e knot)?” Ego is the false awareness of ourself as ‘I am this body’, so it is a mixture of pure self-awareness, which is what shines in us as ‘I am’, and a set of adjuncts, namely this body (which is a form composed of five sheaths: the physical form, life, mind, intellect and will). It is therefore called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the seeming entanglement of pure awareness (cit) with the body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), binding them together as if they were one.

Next you ask: “If so, when this ego eliminates all its adjuncts including I am the body idea, pure awareness will result .. right?” Yes, except that it is not quite correct to consider the idea ‘I am this body’ to be an adjunct, because as I explained in the previous paragraph, the thought or false awareness ‘I am this body’ is a conflation of ‘I am’, which is pure awareness, and this body, which is a non-aware set of adjuncts, so it is not an adjunct but an adjunct-conflated awareness. Therefore, as you say, if we remove all our adjuncts, what remains is just pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa). This is why Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Upadēśa Undiyār, referring to our real nature as God:
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.
How then can we leave aside all our adjuncts? Only by clinging firmly to ‘I am’. What is aware of anything other than ourself is not ourself as we actually are (which is pure awareness) but only ourself as ego, so by attending to any such thing we are nourishing and sustaining our seeming existence as ego, whereas if we attend only to ‘I am’, thereby withdrawing our attention from everything else, including all our adjuncts, we will thereby leave aside all adjuncts, and what will then remain is only pure awareness, which is what we always actually are.

You then ask: “Is this method same as staying in ‘I am’ state?” Yes, what you call the ‘I am’ state is the state in which we remain just as ‘I am’, without any adjuncts, so the only way to stay in this state is to cling firmly to ‘I am’ alone. What is meant by clinging firmly to ‘I am’ alone is being so keenly self-attentive that we thereby cease to be aware of anything other than ourself, so the ‘I am’ state is the state of pure awareness: the state in which we are aware of nothing other than ourself.

Finally you ask: “Is ‘I am’ Salazar referring to is same as the knot I am referring to?” No, not exactly, because the knot is ego, the adjunct-conflated awareness ‘I am this body’, in which the only real element is ‘I am’. ‘I am’ is like the rope, whereas the knot ‘I am this body’ is like the snake. In substance they are one, but in appearance they differ. Therefore if we look at the snake carefully enough, we will see that it is just a rope, and likewise, if we attend to ego carefully enough, we will see that it is just pure awareness, ‘I am’. In other words, if we as ego attend to ourself (that is, to our real substance or essence, ‘I am’) keenly enough, our adjuncts will drop off, being deprived of our attention, and what will then remain is only ‘I am’.

As this analogy of the rope and snake illustrates, in practice it does not matter whether we consider self-investigation to be investigation of ego or of our real nature. If we look carefully at the snake, what we are actually looking at is just a rope, as we will see if we look at it carefully enough. Likewise, if we attend keenly to ego, what we are actually attending to is just our real nature, as we will see if we attend to it carefully enough.

If we were walking with Bhagavan in twilight and imagined that we saw a snake on the path ahead of us, seeing our fear he would reassure us that it is just a rope. If we trusted him, we would go closer to look at it carefully and would then see that it is indeed just a rope. However, if we were still unsure, he would walk up to it and tell us, “Come closer and look at it carefully”. Only if we were very confused would we ask him, “Which ‘it’ should I look at? The snake or the rope?” Seeing our confusion, he would probably reply, “Look at the snake and you will see that it is just a rope”.

Likewise, when people asked him which ‘I’ we should investigate, ego or our real nature, he often replied that we should investigate ego because that will reveal our real nature. However, to those who had a clearer understanding, he would explain that there is only one ‘I’, whether we see it as ego or as pure awareness, so what we need to investigate is only this one ‘I’, namely ourself. Though we (this one ‘I’) now seem to be ego, because we seem to have conflated ourself with adjuncts, if we attend to ourself (this one ‘I’) so keenly that we thereby cease to be aware of any adjuncts, we will clearly see that we are actually just pure awareness, and have never been anything other than that.

It could be argued that so long as we are practising self-investigation, we do so because we still mistake ourself to be ego and have therefore not yet shed all our adjuncts, so in effect what we are investigating is ourself as ego. This is true in a certain sense, but if we consider it more deeply, it will be clear that even when we seem to be attending to ego, what we are actually attending to is ‘I am’, which when isolated from all adjuncts is our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure awareness. That is, though ego is the adjunct-mixed awareness ‘I am this body’, when we investigate ourself what we are trying to attend to is only ‘I am’, thereby ignoring all our adjuncts, so the more keenly we attend to ourself, the closer we come to attending only to ‘I am’, which is the real substance or essence of ego (or in other words, the essential cit aspect of ego, as Bhagavan describes it in the passage of Maharshi’s Gospel that I cited at the end of the second paragraph of this article).

8. In order to get rid of all that is unreal, namely ego and all its progeny, we must cling firmly to what is real, namely our fundamental awareness ‘I am’

Anonymous, on 19 February 2020 at 18:06 you wrote a comment addressed to another friend, in which you said:
If you really are able to dive into subconsciousness, you will realize how even that is so contaminated with desires, fears and attachment. I have experienced it, hence saying it. All our consciousness, surface level and deep down is contaminated so much, that our entire existence deep down too that we know as we are during ‘waking’ is also not pure existence. This is what I have been trying to say. We can only remain in the polluted state of I during waking and remove the pollution by means of self enquiry. Answer this question: the ‘I am’ state that you remain as, during waking, does that same state exist in deep sleep? Answer would be no.. right? Then you are only remaining in Polluted I state during waking.
Though I would not express it in quite these terms, what you say here is by and large correct. In any state in which we are aware of phenomena, namely in waking and dream, we who are aware of these phenomena are ego, which is always contaminated to a greater or lesser extent with likes, dislikes, desires, fears, attachments and such like, the seed-forms of which are what are called viṣaya-vāsanās (inclinations or desires to be aware of phenomena). Only when we do not rise as ego, namely in manōlaya (any state of temporary dissolution of mind, such as sleep) or manōnāśa (annihilation or permanent dissolution of mind), are we free of all such contamination or pollution.

Though we can to some extent remove such contamination by other means, the most effective and only complete means to do so is the simple practice of self-investigation and self-surrender, because it is only by this practice that we can eradicate ego, which is the root cause of all such contamination. However, in order to practise self-investigation and self-surrender effectively, we need to clearly understand that none of this contamination is real, and that even when we seem to be contaminated we never cease to be aware of what is real, namely our awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, which is our primary and fundamental awareness.

In order to get rid of all that is unreal, namely ego and all its progeny (its viṣaya-vāsanās and all phenomena, which sprout from them), we need to cling firmly to what is real, namely our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which is ourself as we actually are. Though we are not now aware of ourself in our pristine condition, devoid of all adjuncts, we are nevertheless aware of ourself as ‘I am’, so we can and must cling to ourself as firmly as we can.

The more firmly we cling to ourself, the more we will let go of everything else. In other words, the more keenly self-attentive we are, the more everything else will recede into the background of our awareness, and the more our viṣaya-vāsanās will thereby be weakened, as Bhagavan assures us in the tenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
தொன்றுதொட்டு வருகின்ற விஷயவாசனைகள் அளவற்றனவாய்க் கடலலைகள் போற் றோன்றினும் அவையாவும் சொரூபத்யானம் கிளம்பக் கிளம்ப அழிந்துவிடும். அத்தனை வாசனைகளு மொடுங்கி, சொரூபமாத்திரமா யிருக்க முடியுமா வென்னும் சந்தேக நினைவுக்கு மிடங்கொடாமல், சொரூபத்யானத்தை விடாப்பிடியாய்ப் பிடிக்க வேண்டும். ஒருவன் எவ்வளவு பாபியாயிருந்தாலும், ‘நான் பாபியா யிருக்கிறேனே! எப்படிக் கடைத்தேறப் போகிறே’ னென்றேங்கி யழுதுகொண்டிராமல், தான் பாபி என்னு மெண்ணத்தையு மறவே யொழித்து சொரூபத்யானத்தி லூக்க முள்ளவனாக விருந்தால் அவன் நிச்சயமா யுருப்படுவான்.

toṉḏṟutoṭṭu varugiṉḏṟa viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ aḷavaṯṟaṉavāy-k kaḍal-alaigaḷ pōl tōṉḏṟiṉum avai-yāvum sorūpa-dhyāṉam kiḷamba-k kiḷamba aṙindu-viḍum. attaṉai vāsaṉaigaḷum oḍuṅgi, sorūpa-māttiram-āy irukka muḍiyumā v-eṉṉum sandēha niṉaivukkum iḍam koḍāmal, sorūpa-dhyāṉattai viḍā-p-piḍiyāy-p piḍikka vēṇḍum. oruvaṉ evvaḷavu pāpiyāy irundālum, ‘nāṉ pāpiyāy irukkiṟēṉē; eppaḍi-k kaḍaittēṟa-p pōkiṟēṉ’ eṉḏṟēṅgi y-aṙudu-koṇḍirāmal, tāṉ pāpi eṉṉum eṇṇattaiyum aṟavē y-oṙittu sorūpa-dhyāṉattil ūkkam uḷḷavaṉāha v-irundāl avaṉ niścayamāy uru-p-paḍuvāṉ.

Even though viṣaya-vāsanās, 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, contemplation on one’s ‘own form’ or real nature] increases and increases [in depth and intensity]. Without giving room even to the doubting thought ‘So many vāsanās ceasing [or being dissolved], is it possible to be only as svarūpa [my own form or real nature]?’ it is necessary to cling tenaciously to svarūpa-dhyāna. However great a sinner one may be, if instead of lamenting and weeping ‘I am a sinner! How am I going to be saved?’ one completely rejects the thought that one is a sinner and is zealous [or steadfast] in self-attentiveness, one will certainly be reformed [transformed into what one actually is].
It is true, as you say, that the more we look within, the more clearly (and painfully) we become aware of the amount of dirt that exists within us in the form of viṣaya-vāsanās, but we should not let that discourage us, because the light by which we are aware of our viṣaya-vāsanās and everything else is our real nature (svarūpa), which is what we need to cling to firmly. No amount of viṣaya-vāsanās or phenomena (viṣayas), which are the sprouted forms of viṣaya-vāsanās, can ever hide the real light of self-awareness, which is always shining within us as ‘I am’, so we should pay no heed to them, which we can do only by clinging tenaciously to self-attentiveness (svarūpa-dhyāna).

9. If we imagine that we are two different selves, a ‘true self’ and an ‘ego’, we are unnecessarily confusing ourself and thereby making the simple practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) seem complicated

In your comment of 20 February 2020 at 19:41 you refer to a passage from the first instalment of ‘The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention’, in which I recorded Sadhu Om as saying “Whatever disturbances may come, remember that they are because ‘I am’. As a result of our daily practice, the thought ‘I am’ will immediately pull us back to self-attention” (The Mountain Path, April 2012 issue page 18), and you ask:
Here he says thought ‘I am’. I really don’t understand how being in ‘I am’ can be the way and goal, when the way is actually enquiring ego. Did he mean just thinking ‘I am’ can stop one to get distracted with second/third persons and focus on self-attention (is this true self? or Ego?)? If he meant that, I fully agree with how two practices (ego enquiring ego) and thinking ‘I am’ fully connect and align with each other. Otherwise being in ‘I am’ state is quite impossible for an ego, since both states are mutually exclusive.

An ego asking ‘who is this I (ego)’ can never stay in ‘I am’ state, but can only try to be in ‘I am’ state by thinking ‘I am’. This constant trying will result in ego tracing back (also mind becomes quiet slowly) and finally, the real ‘I am’ state can be attained. So if this understanding of mine is true, I will stop being so obsessive about this.
Whatever we may experience, whether disturbances or anything else, we could not experience it if we did not exist, so if we are deeply interested in self-investigation, it will remind us of our own existence, ‘I am’. This is what Sadhu Om meant when he said, “Whatever disturbances may come, remember that they are because ‘I am’”. Therefore in the next sentence, “As a result of our daily practice, the thought ‘I am’ will immediately pull us back to self-attention”, what he meant by “the thought ‘I am’” is remembrance of our own existence, which will immediately draw our attention back to ourself, provided that we are sufficiently interested in being self-attentive.

Clinging firmly to self-attentiveness (svarūpa-dhyāna) in this way is what I assume you mean by “being in ‘I am’”, but you say “I really don’t understand how being in ‘I am’ can be the way and goal, when the way is actually enquiring ego”. “Being in ‘I am’” and “enquiring ego” are just two alternative ways of describing this simple practice of being self-attentive. How else can we investigate or enquire what ego actually is or from where we rise as ego except by just being self-attentive?

You then ask, “Did he mean just thinking ‘I am’ can stop one to get distracted with second/third persons and focus on self-attention (is this true self? or Ego?)?” Yes, if what you mean by “just thinking ‘I am’” is being self-attentive (that is, not just thinking of the words ‘I am’ but directing our attention towards what these words refer to, namely ourself), because to the extent that we are self-attentive we will thereby avoid be distracted by anything else.

However, what you ask in brackets, namely ‘is this true self? or Ego?’ (in which ‘this’ presumably refers to the word ‘self’ in self-attention), is significant, because it seems to reveal the root cause of your confusion and inability to understand the simple practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), which entails nothing other than just being self-attentive. How many selves are you? Surely you are just one self, so the ‘self’ in self-attention is only yourself and not anything else.

What you call ‘true self’ and ‘ego’ are not two different things, any more than a rope and the snake it seems to be are. In substance they are one, and only in appearance do they differ. What now seems to us to be ego is actually just our true self seeming to be something other than what it actually is, namely pure awareness. As I explained earlier, ego is just a conflation or confused mixture of pure awareness (cit) and a set of adjuncts (namely this body composed of five sheaths), which are all non-aware (jaḍa), and hence it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi. In this mixture, what is real is only pure awareness (cit), which is what shines in us as our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’. Therefore, if we want to investigate what we (who now seem to be this ego) actually are, what we need to attend to is only the awareness aspect of ego, namely ‘I am’, and not any of its adjuncts. Hence, if we understand it correctly, attending to ego means attending to ‘I am’, which when bereft of all adjuncts is our ‘true self’ or real nature (ātma-svarūpa).

So long as you imagine that you are two different selves, a ‘true self’ and an ‘ego’, you are unnecessarily confusing yourself and thereby making the simple practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) seem complicated. The reason why we need to investigate ourself is to find out what we actually are, and in order to find out what we actually are we need to start from ego, which is what we now seem to be. However, though we start by investigating ourself as ego, what we investigate is not any of our adjuncts (the body composed of five sheaths), which are the unreal and inessential aspect of ego, but only our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which is the real and essential aspect of it.

You then say, “If he meant that, I fully agree with how two practices (ego enquiring ego) and thinking ‘I am’ fully connect and align with each other”, but if we understand them correctly, these are not two practices but two descriptions of one and the same practice, because ‘ego enquiring ego’ and “thinking ‘I am’” both mean simply being self-attentive.

What you say in your next sentence, namely “Otherwise being in ‘I am’ state is quite impossible for an ego, since both states are mutually exclusive”, would be true if it were a simple case of black or white, but it is not. As ego our nature is to cling to our adjuncts and other phenomena, but instead of clinging to them we can try to cling only to ourself, ‘I am’. If we cling only to phenomena, we are immersed in the state of ego, whereas if we cling only to ourself, we are immersed in the state of pure awareness (which I assume is what you mean by “being in the ‘I am’ state”), so these two extremes are mutually exclusive. However, when we try to be self-attentive, we are somewhere between these two extremes, because we are not clinging only to ourself and therefore have not yet let go of all other things entirely.

To the extent that we are keenly self-attentive, to that extent do we exclude all other things from our awareness, so when practising self-investigation we must try to be ever more keenly self-attentive. The more keenly self-attentive we are, the closer we come to being exclusively in our natural state of pure awareness, and when we eventually manage to be so keenly self-attentive that we exclude everything else from our awareness, we will lose ourself as ego forever in pure awareness, which is ourself as we always actually are.

10. Though our awareness ‘I am’ is now mixed and confused with our awareness of adjuncts, it is nevertheless the clue by which we as ego can retrace our way back to the source from which we arose

In your comment of 20 February 2020 at 21:05 you ask, ‘Now if the practice is so simple, why Path of Ramana has prescribed another method for self enquiry? Why unnecessarily complicate the simple teaching by writing a book about it. A seeker, if he finds two approaches are being prescribed for one practice, won’t he be confused? And that too, the two teachings seem very contradictory to each other. Why then brag about how simple this practice is, compared to others?’, but what other method of self-enquiry do you imagine that Sadhu Om has prescribed in The Path of Sri Ramana?

Throughout the book he repeatedly emphasises that the correct practice of ātma-vicāra (self-investigation or self-enquiry) is only self-attention. For example, in chapter seven he says, “the correct meaning of the term ‘Self-enquiry’ (atma-vichara) is here rightly explained to be ‘turning Selfwards’ (or attending to Self)” (page 137) and “Therefore, whether done in the form ‘Whence am I?’ or ‘Who am I ?’, what is absolutely essential is that Self-attention should be pursued till the very end. Moreover, it is not necessary for sincere aspirants even to name beforehand the feeling ‘I’ either as ego or as Self, For, are there two persons in the aspirant, the ego and Self? This is said because, since everyone of us has the experience ‘I am one only and not two’, we should not give room to an imaginary dual feeling — one ‘I’ seeking for another ‘I’ — by differentiating ego and Self as ‘lower self’ and ‘higher self’” (page 138).

The fact that the correct practice of ātma-vicāra is only self-attention or self-attentiveness is clearly implied by Bhagavan in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: “சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்” (sadā-kālam-um maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadaṟku-t tāṉ ‘ātma-vicāram’ eṉḏṟu peyar), “The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to [the practice of] always keeping the mind in [or on] ātmā [oneself]”. In this context ‘மனம்’ (maṉam), ‘mind’, means attention, and ‘ஆத்மா’ (ātmā) means oneself, so ‘மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பது’ (maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadu), ‘keeping the mind on oneself’, means keeping our attention fixed firmly on ourself.

Here ‘ஆத்மா’ (ātmā) does not specifically mean either ourself as ego or ourself as we actually are, but just ourself. Since our aim when investigating ourself is to find out what we actually are, labelling ourself beforehand as either ego or our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) is not helpful but just confuses and complicates what is actually very simple, because it implies that ego and our real nature are two different selves. We all know that we are one, not two, so our aim is just to ascertain what this one self actually is.

In order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, all we need to is to be so keenly self-attentive that we thereby cease to be aware of anything other than ourself, so the correct way to practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is just to be as keenly self-attentive as we can be. Though the practice of ātma-vicāra may be described in various different ways, those are all just alternative descriptions of the same simple practice of self-attentiveness. Therefore, if you believe that Sadhu Om prescribed any practice of ātma-vicāra other than self-attentiveness, that shows that you have misunderstood his clear and simple explanations.

‘Why unnecessarily complicate the simple teaching by writing a book about it?’ you ask. Most of the explanations that Sadhu Om gave in The Path of Sri Ramana were necessary to remove misconceptions that many people had and still have about Bhagavan’s teachings, and he used to explain this necessity with a simple analogy, saying: ‘If someone comes to me with a slate covered in scribblings and asks me to write Bhagavan’s name on it, I would first have to wipe the slate clean, because if I did not do so, his beautiful name would be lost among the scribblings and would seem to be just another scribbling. Likewise, when people come with many preconceptions and confused ideas and ask me to explain his teachings, it is necessary for me first to help them remove their misconceptions, because if I do not do so, his clear and simple teachings will be lost among all their confused ideas’. In other words, in order to understand the simplicity and clarity of Bhagavan’s teachings, we must be willing to give up most of our former beliefs and ideas, because if we do not, we will be constantly complicating what is actually very simple, as you seem to be doing.

In your comment of 22 February 2020 at 13:35 you say, “But I don’t agree with ego having the ability to discern ‘I am’ in the ego during the practice of self enquiry”, but what do you mean by this? Are you not clearly aware that you exist? Your existence and your awareness of it are what you refer to when you say ‘I am’, so why do you imagine that you do not have the ability to discern ‘I am’?

As ego we are not able to discern what we are, but we clearly discern that we are. In other words, though we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, we are nevertheless aware of ourself, and this awareness of ourself is what is always shining in us as ‘I am’. This is all we need to attend to. The more we attend to our awareness of ourself as ‘I am’, the more our attention will thereby be withdrawn from everything else, so this is the simple and effective means by which we can separate ourself from all phenomena, including all the adjuncts that we mistake to be ourself.

So long as our awareness of ourself is conflated with awareness of adjuncts, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, but if we attend to ourself so keenly that we cease to be aware of anything else, we will thereby be aware of ourself as pure awareness, which is what we actually are. This is why Bhagavan often used to explain that though our awareness ‘I am’ is now mixed and confused with our awareness of adjuncts and therefore seems to be this adjunct-mixed awareness called ego, it (our awareness ‘I am’) is nevertheless the clue by which we as ego can retrace our way back to the source from which we arose, which is this same awareness ‘I am’ but without even the slightest trace of any awareness of adjuncts. Just as a dog can find its human friend by following his or her scent, we can find our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) just by following this ever-shining awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’.

In your comment of 21 February 2020 at 14:01 you refer to an article by Sadhu Om, How To Do Self-Enquiry, which is actually a copy of chapter eight of The Path of Sri Ramana, and remark, “The term ‘I am’ has not been used in that article from what I read”, but if you search the article you will see that it is used at least fourteen times, and if you search the whole of the main part (part one) of the book, you will see that ‘I am’ is used in it at least thirty-seven times. Both Bhagavan and Sadhu Om frequently used this term ‘நான் இருக்கிறேன்’ (nāṉ irukkiṟēṉ), ‘I am’, because it refers to our own existence, which alone is real, and of which we are always clearly aware, even though we generally overlook it because we are more interested in other things. In order to know ourself as we actually are, all we need do is attend ever more keenly to what this term ‘I am’ refers to, namely our fundamental awareness of our own existence.

What can be easier to understand than this? If you are not able to understand it, that can only be because you are unnecessarily complicating what is actually very simple. It may seem difficult to put into practice, but if it seems so, that because we have too much interest in other things and not enough interest in knowing what we ourself actually are. However, even if attending to ‘I am’ seems difficult, it should not be difficult for us to at least understand that this is all we need do into order to be aware of ourself as we actually are.

If we want to see the sun, the only means to do so is to turn to look at it. Likewise, if we want to see what we actually are, the only means to do so is to turn back to look at ourself. Here ‘look at’ means attend to, and ‘ourself’ means our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’. If you are able to understand this, there is nothing else you need understand in order to begin trying to practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra).

87 comments:

Salazar said...

From the article: "[...] Here ‘ஆத்மா’ (ātmā) does not specifically mean either ourself as ego or ourself as we actually are, but just ourself. Since our aim when investigating ourself is to find out what we actually are, labelling ourself beforehand as either ego or our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) is not helpful but just confuses and complicates what is actually very simple, because it implies that ego and our real nature are two different selves. We all know that we are one, not two, so our aim is just to ascertain what this one self actually is. [...]"

That is a very apt description of the situation [we are in] along with "As ego we are not able to discern what we are, but we clearly discern that we are."

Hopefully that will clarify some misunderstandings. I certainly enjoyed the article.

Nothing special said...

Thank you Michael

Aham said...

.


You write many words Mr James. However they are always clear and compelling. Thank you.


"What can be easier to understand than this? It is so simple."

Yes, so very simple in terms of both understanding and also Being who we are. For we are already That!

The difficulty of course is ceasing to contract into concepts/ entangle in adjuncts.
But we have the cure....23/7 (not 24!) Surrender ego.


The ego in its purity is experienced in the intervals between two states or between two thoughts....You should realise this interval as the abiding, unchangeable Reality, your true Being. (Maharshi's Gospel)



.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We may be suffering or in ecstasy, but we should ignore them completely by clinging to the one who is experiencing these emotions

When we are following the spiritual path, we are following the path of cleaning, and when we are cleaning something the dirt rises to the surface. So the more we follow the path, the more we are aware of all the dirt which lies hidden within us. The dirt is nothing but our desires and attachments. The more the mind is purified, the more we are clearly aware of its impurities. If you have got a very dirty cloth, you can’t really see the stains on it because the whole cloth is stained. The more you clean it, the more the individual stains will become clear.

If we don’t allow ourself to be carried away by those desires and attachments there will be no suffering. I don’t think that anyone can avoid suffering on this path. Our very existence as ego is suffering, according to Bhagavan. He teaches us in the 14th paragraph of Nan Ar?:

What is called the world is only thought [because like any world that we experience in a dream, what we experience as the world in this waking state is nothing but a series of perceptions, which are just thoughts or mental phenomena]. When the world disappears, that is, when thought ceases, the mind experiences happiness; when the world appears, it experiences duḥkha [dissatisfaction or suffering].

So our very existence as ego is itself suffering, but the more we surrender the more our dissatisfaction will reduce. The more we surrender, the happier our path will be, implies Bhagavan in the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar? When our desires and attachments are preventing us from surrendering that is where the suffering comes in. So we are not only clearly aware but also painfully aware of all the impurities in our mind. These desires and attachments are what is standing between us and our goal, which is complete self-surrender. That is why we see great anguish in the poetry of great poets. For instance, we can see the same anguish in Bhagavan’s poetry in Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam.

But all suffering is unreal because what is real is only ‘I am’. So if we want to get rid of suffering, we should cling to what is real. When the fear of death came to Venkataraman, he clung to what is real, which is ‘I am’, and the death and fear of death vanished forever. So the way to get rid of suffering is to cling to what is real. What is real is only pure awareness ‘I am’. If we cling to ‘I am’, we need not be concerned about anything else. Suffering may come and go. It is not real. Cling to ‘I am’. To whom is the suffering? To me. To whom is the dark night? To me. To whom is fear? To me. Bhagavan is constantly asking us to turn back with and hold on to what is real – that is ourself.

However, we can’t make generalisations like ‘Oh! You can’t get realisation unless you suffer’. What we have to go through we have to go through. All sorts of experiences may occur on the path. Some people have divine-visions, some feelings of ecstasy – all sorts of experiences may come, but none of them is real. So to whom is the ecstasy? To whom is bliss? To whom is the divine-vision?

• Based on the video: 2020-02-23c Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses suffering on the spiritual path (4:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

The guru is only Bhagavan because he is the original source of all clarity

I was very fortunate that I was with Sadhu Om for those years because I don’t think I would have understood Bhagavan’s teachings as I do today if I had not been with him. I don’t think I would have the same depth of love for Bhagavan that I have if I hadn’t been with Sadhu Om. But Bhagavan knows what we all need. He has preplanned our life in such a way that is most beneficial for us. If others were not with Sadhu Om that means it was not necessary for them. The help will come in some other way. When I am discussing with friends, I am passing on as it were some benefits I got from being with Sadhu Om. I still feel his influence in my life. I feel when I was with him it was like a seed that was sown in my heart, and that seed is still bearing fruit. In the sense, my understanding is still getting deeper and deeper and deeper.

However, if we are following Bhagavan’s path, he is our only master, our only guru. Though I was tremendously benefitted by my association with Sadhu Om, he never considered himself to be a guru. So my guru is Bhagavan and not Sadhu Om. Sadhu Om was like an elder brother, a fellow devotee of Bhagavan who helped me tremendously on this path. But my guru is only Bhagavan. He lives on through his teachings, and he is ever living in the heart of each of us as ‘I’. So if we are following Bhagavan’s path, we don’t need any guru other than Bhagavan. But that doesn’t mean that if we meet fellow devotees and if they have got a better or deeper understanding than us, we will not be benefitted by them. But guru is only Bhagavan because he is the original source of all clarity.

Sadhu Om used to say, if we rise as ego hoping to guide people, it is like someone standing in front of the sunlight. The sunlight of Bhagavan’s grace and guidance is always there. If we want to guide others, the best we can do is to subside. If we subside then Bhagavan’s light will shine through. So why was I able to get so much benefit by my association with Sadhu Om? It is because he was so subsided. He had surrendered himself completely to Bhagavan, so there was no Sadhu Om.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-23a Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses studying and guidance on the spiritual path (13:00)

My reflection: Likewise, why am I able to get so much benefit from my association with Sri Michael James? It is because he is so subsided. He is an epitome of humility. A rare gem in Bhagavan’s court!

Asun said...

Michael,

What I was talking about in the comment that brought about your response, the subsequent discussion and this article, has nothing to do with all of it, but it is fine. It was just an intuition of mine I failed to put into words, which is meaningless and of not general interest, whereas what it brought about, it is.

The mere idea of an awareness aware only of other things, lacking of self-awareness and the capacity of clinging to it, is suffocating and a nightmare. Fortunately, it is also a total impossibility. Even to deny “I am”, I am.

I had never understood people who claim that they can´t cling to self-awareness and dwell into it, that all they can cling to is to the person, but now I do. Some of these people seem to be sincere in their claim, but others aren´t really sincere. What lies behind both cases is the same: attachment to the body-person and world.

Those who are sincere in their claim, wholeheartedly pray for clarity of mind, since they can feel the suffocation and the anguish of their state which is part of the process of purification, most of us have to go through, while those who aren´t really sincere in their claim, argue and argue till they are left with the only argument of those who haven´t any argument ,i.e.: the insult and the provocation, not only because they aren´t interested in self-investigation nor in understanding and to get their “head above the dark waters” , so to speak, whatever they may say, but because what they really want is to drag with them those who are trying “to bath their mind in light”, as you beautifully puts it in one of your talks.
It is just a matter of discerning between ones from others which now I can do without any doubt, and to apply “the art of being” accordingly.

If what I write hurts their egos, unmasks their frustration and resentment which anyway are pretty obvious, makes their acupuncture needles to fall out or something of the like, depending on the case, I couldn´t care less, to be frank. That is perfectly true.

To tiptoe around this issue is nonsense. We are living in a seemingly dual world made up of concepts where what is not said, seems not to exist, but it exists and it is doing its own work. Self-confidence is of utter importance as following Bhagavan´s path, we shouldn´t allow to be put off by ego and its attempts of delaying us, either inwardly nor outwardly.

Sanjay Lohia said...

As ego we can’t get a glimpse of pure awareness

A friend: Can we have glimpses of truth?

Michael: This is very misleading because how can a limited entity have a glimpse of something unlimited. We experience only thing at a time. So long as there is ego, you are not experiencing yourself as you really are, and when you are experiencing yourself as you really are, ego is finished. During the course of our practice, we may get a greater degree of clarity. However, how can you have a glimpse of yourself? As ego we can’t get a glimpse of pure awareness. When ego sees pure awareness, ego is finished.

The truth is within ourself – ourself meaning ego in this context. Ego is the false awareness ‘I am this person’. What is real here is only ‘I am’, so if we cling only to ‘I am’, this person will withdraw into the background. It is because if we are attending only to ourself, there is no room in our awareness for anything other than ourself. So, this person disappears and ‘I am’ alone remains. This is the real glimpse, metaphorically speaking.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-23b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses getting rid of desires or vāsanās (12:00)

dragomirescux said...

So, the purpose of the practice is to purify ourselves. No vasanas rising up means we are pure awareness, nothing to disturb it. The practice opens a can of worms and allows us to get rid of them... Now it makes sense...

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan says the more knowledge you gather, that is ignorance: knowing many things is ignorance

On this path, we each are own our own. We have to understand the teachings on our own and practice them on our own. The real guidance is coming from within and of course from Bhagavan’s external teachings. However, though Bhagavan’s teachings are simple, they are extremely deep and subtle. Many people have difficulty in understanding them because of their simplicity. Because we come with so many preconceived ideas and deep-rooted beliefs, unless we are willing to give up our former beliefs, it becomes very difficult to appreciate and fully imbibe the simplicity and clarity of what Bhagavan has taught us.

However, as with any subject, discussing with people who are also on the same path can help us a lot to see things from different perceptive. We each understand his teachings to the degree our mind is purified. Purified means to the degree to which we are free of desires and attachments. It takes time to understand all the logical connections between all the different aspects of Bhagavan’s teachings. Also, there is a lot of implied meaning in what Bhagavan has taught us. This process of thinking and assimilation is called manana.

Actually, it is not that we need super intellects like that of a scientist or a philosopher to understand Bhagavan’s teachings because they are very simple. People with a very simple mind often understand Bhagavan’s teachings better than those who have many many ideas in their heads. Bhagavan often used to say that in this path it is a matter of unlearning and not learning. Bhagavan gives us an extremely simple view of things. He analyses our experience to its basics, so he makes things extremely simple.

We believe so many things. We believe this world exists before we saw it before we were born. And there is history, science, and there are so many things we do know, and we think we gather knowledge from outside. Bhagavan says the more knowledge you gather, that is ignorance: knowing many things is ignorance.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-23a Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses studying and guidance on the spiritual path (00:00)

Salazar said...

Asun, in your last and, IMO bizarre, comment on 25 February 2020 at 14:33 - to whom do you talk to or about? Even though I do not know anybody on this forum I'd say that all here have a sincere desire to know self.

Furthermore you talk about "claims" of others. What claim would that be and why is that even relevant? I remember you mentioning before about "other's claims" and you really had me lost there as with this last comment of yours.

All what I get from your comment is: "I, Asun, am a sincere seeker who bathes her mind in light and then there are others who are not sincere and do not get their head above dark waters."

Huh?

Jack said...

Hi Michael,

This article somewhat clarifies a question that I had about my experience with self-investigation, and I seek further clarification from your knowledge of the teachings of Sri Ramana.

My self-investigation started spontaneously one day in third grade class, with a deep dissatisfaction with my observations of the world. The dissatisfaction was much like that told in Sri Ramana's story of how when prompted by his brother's teasing he resolved to leave his family and head out to find Arunachala.

Confined to the chair at the schooldesk, after contemplating my dissatisfaction with the world, I determined that it absolutely wasn't real and wanted to know what was real.

There arose the question, "Who am I?"

I couldn't concentrate with the teacher's talking, and I needed solitude. I asked for permission to go to the boys room.

I kept the question in focus as I stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind me. I closed my eyes and looked for it.

"Who am I?"

For some reason, I opened my eyes, turned to the right and looked at the door at the end of the hallway, which was in the opposite direction that I needed to go.

I realized my mistake and kept turning to the right, to go back in the opposite direction.

As I faced the classroom doorway before completing the turnaround, the question persisted.

"Who am I?"

Awareness of everything disappeared. I only knew that I was aware. I had no awareness of my body, the world or thought.

"Whoah!"

There arose off in the distance a screen, like a movie screen, on which I saw the classroom door.

Briefly thereafter, perception went back to the ordinary.

I wanted to sit down there alone in the hallway and continue the investigation, but the thought arose that I should go to the boy's room and return to class before there was trouble.

Jack said...


Continued from my previous comment due to text limit...

Over the next day, further investigation into the world and self was futile. I didn't know where to look, and when I asked the world it only deceived me with a lie.

Over the next 38 years or so, there were a few occasions that my attention came to self-awareness. Once or twice, I happened to notice that it was unchanged over the span of years. I had a few partial glimpses, but nothing in books or in the world directly pointed me in the right direction, and distraction and ego kept getting in the way. The dissatisfaction was always there.

"Happiness and the Art of Being" was given to me almost 20 years ago, and I devoured it. I wanted so badly to pursue it, but ego overrode that desire.

About two years ago, after I had spontaneously started to listen intently to the Silence at my home in the wilderness and noticed certain effects, an attempt to research and pursue that Silence online led me straight to your website and back to "Happiness and the Art of Being", and I devoured the book again. At first, I didnt realize that I had read the book in the past, and it was as though I had written the book for myself.

I followed the trail to Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Sadhu Om and Sri Muruganar, and I devoured as much of the teachings as I could digest. There were a few detours to Maharaj, Spira and others, but I kept going back to Ramana, James and other strict adherents.

The self-investigation resumed, and I practiced diligently, at night before sleep, in the morning when I woke up and throughout the day whenever I could remember to do so.

Last Sunday night, after a day of being self-attentive as much as I could remember to do so between distractions, I decided to focus. I got into bed, and my dog went under the covers with me. I looked at the clock, which showed 6:30PM. I closed my eyes and looked.

I had very recently noticed a ringing in my ears, and for some reason at the moment I was salivating profusely. With eyes closed, I traced the awareness of these and any other phenomena directly to the awareness that was perceiving the phenomena. I settled into it and refused to let go.

Awareness was continuous. In a brief moment, perception of all phenomena was gone. There was no awareness of a body or form. There was no awareness of thought. There wasn't even the thought 'I'. There was no awareness of time. There was absolutely no awareness of any movement whatsoever. There was only awareness and existence.

Suddenly, the world arose as I found myself choking on saliva. After clearing my throat, I looked at the time. A half hour had passed without any awareness of time, though awareness had been continuous.

The question in need of clarification now arises. Why did the world arise? This validated everything that I thought I had learned from Ramana, Michael James, et al. It answered the question of any doubt that might have arisen due to lack of direct awareness of anything that Ramana claimed. Everything that I knew was confirmed. The dream should be over, because the dream was never real. The surrender was complete. The attitude was right.

What happened? Was it manolaya ? How? Why? Prarabdha? Why wasn't it consumed?

What in Ramana's teachings might narrow it down?

Anonymous said...

I need a day to read Michael’s post. But happened to read your comment. If your comment is directed towards me(acupuncture word made me think so, otherwise your comment is still little cryptic) , My ego is not at all hurt. I am quite confident about my spiritual journey, my sincerity, my understanding of everything that is so confusing :) and also I am perfectly fine being confused too :). I love the way I am and so i am not hurt by Salazar or You. Wondering where anadi anata is ..

Sanjay Lohia said...

These desires, attachments, fears and so on are what draws our attention outwards

These desires, attachments, fears and so on are what draws our attention outwards. So we have to weaken them if we want to progress spiritually. We can do so most effectively by self-investigation and self-surrender. In the path Bhagavan has taught us, we are trying to turn back towards ourself, so in a way, we are swimming against the current. So the more we turn within, the more our likes and dislikes will grow weaker and weaker and the greater our love just to be ourself will increase. But we don’t have to get rid of all our desires before we get ‘enlightenment’. So long as there is ego, there will be desires to a greater or lesser extent. We have to reduce our desires and thereby eradicate ego.

Other paths like bhakti (to God other than ourself) and yoga which we do can to a certain extent reduce our desires. However, those are all outward-facing paths. The more we think of God (say Rama or Krishna or whoever), the more our mind is withdrawn from other things. So in that sense, our desires and attachments for other things grow weaker. But we cannot love God as he really is so long as we take him to be something other than ourself because God is the infinite whole. If he is infinite, nothing can be other than him, so we cannot be other than God. So God is our real nature, what we actually are. So we need to know ourself in order to know God as he really is. So ultimately we need to turn within.

By worshipping God in name and form we are still sustaining ego, sustaining our attachment to our name and form in a subtle way. Surrender means giving ourself entirely to God. If you really love someone, you are not seeking to get something from that person. We want to give to that person, and the greatest gift we can make is of ourself - self-surrender. So the pinnacle of bhakti is surrender, and the pinnacle of surrender is self-investigation. We need to subside within so that God alone remains. God means our real nature, pure awareness.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-23b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses getting rid of desires or vāsanās (03:25)

Asun said...

Exactly, Anoymous. You are perfectly fine with your confusion, you aren´t the only one. Others aren´t and try to understand. That´s what I said, that now I can discern ones of others.

Truth is that I would love to read a good refutation and questioning of Bhagavan´s teachings from someone who really understands them and without beliefs to defend. Refutations and questionings of his teachings from a superficial and confusing understanding made rather because they challenge our beliefs than because we are really skeptical, hasn´t much credibility and interest. IMO :)

Best whishes.

Anonymous said...

I have not yet replied to Michael. I will do it over the weekend. I still don’t know what he has said in this post. Having said that, looks like you are asking me to stop confusing others:) . Unfortunately, This is not a blog you own.Hope you understand that. I will be completely ok, if Michael stops adding my comments. I am surprised that my confusion or my attempt to confuse others is indeed affecting the spiritual seekers who claim to have understood it all. I know I touch others nerves and irritate others sometimes. But my goal is not that. I don’t find any pleasure in doing that. In my mind, I am not arguing with individuals.. I am arguing with just minds that have certain beliefs, certain understanding of the teachings , quite contrary to mine, and asking the minds to pinpoint where exactly my understanding has gone wrong. I try to do the same too to others by adding verses written by authentic mature souls. If I include something written by Sadhu Om, onlySalazar has replied sincerely. I respect him for that. Others have only tried to advice me to read other books or start criticizing how I am so confusing etc. I only see ego acting in those comments. If I don’t feel convinced with Michael’s post, I will let him know that. I just need time. I am extremely passionate and obsessive about spirituality, so I will not accept anything I feel is not right.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, you are not confusing me and I am fine with you commenting here. I am sure as long as we can be civil (looking at me :-) Michael has no problem with any comment as confused they may sound.

When I respond to you then not as a teacher of some sorts but as a fellow seeker who shares his [limited] understanding and with that sharing manana is in process so it will solidify my understanding just commenting about it.

Since you are pretty new with that I am not surprised that you do not feel convinced, when I read for the first time something by Bhagavan I did not get what he was pointing to. It took me quite awhile to get there where I am.

Understanding cannot be forced, it's part of grace.

Nothing special said...

Anonymous it's all good. You are using it in a manner which I am sure is beneficial to everyone too.

Sometimes I want to challenge some comments but the reply I would post is pretty similar to the ones that get posted anyway so no point.

In my opinion a successful dialogue in this blog is one done with the attempt to turn the mind away from other and back to self investigation because given that we are willing to concede that there is only one ego then it would be the best option.

Even to write this comment, it helps me to be more self attentive.

Anonymous said...

Thanks all.

Salazar said...

People here in California get a little concerned about the coronavirus, no panic yet but it is a topic in conversations. Some people on-line already predict the financial collapse of the world economy and so on and to hoard food etc.

Bhagavan's teaching in a situation like this (and for all other situations) is like a breeze of fresh air. This virus can be ignored as all other phenomena, all actions which need to be taken have been already taken (prarabdha) and so no reason for any worries. Hoarding food is a sin according to Sri Muruganar, a devotee has faith in the guru and does not succumb to the fears and concerns of the ego.

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

When i keep my eyes open while doing vichara, i am distracted by phenomena. And with my eyes closed i feel too relaxed. Anyone face this kind of problem?

Jack said...

'To Whom? To me. Who am I?',

Others might be more qualified to answer your question, but I related with it and decided to at least offer some thoughts, as I have practiced with eyes open, with eyes closed, sitting upright, lying down, while walking and other activity and even while driving.

With eyes open, regardless of activity, the goal is the same. Trace the perception of any and all phenomena back to the awareness that is aware of the phenomenon.

With eyes closed, it's just a matter of keeping attention fixed on vichara. It matters not if you fall asleep. Simply resume when you wake up.

Diligence. Resolve. Attitude. Any questions are resolved in the teachings.

When you realize that it's all a dream, surrender is easy. All concerns, attachments and tendencies simply dissolve in that understanding.

Nothing special said...

To whom? how often do you do vichara and what do you get distracted by?

Asun said...

Dragomirescux wrote:

“So, the purpose of the practice is to purify ourselves. No vasanas rising up means we are pure awareness, nothing to disturb it. The practice opens a can of worms and allows us to get rid of them... Now it makes sense...”

Like the way you put it. As focusing on pure awareness, it sheds light on that which is not and remains unnoticed or usually not clearly seen, preventing us from being what we are, so that we can get rid of it, as you say, and “move on towards what we really are, pure awareness, closer and closer”, so to speak.

Focusing attention on vasanas, being continuously pointing them out, provoking emotional responses to see if we can overcome them or not and rejoicing at it, it is, apart from attending to other things than ourself and, therefore, drawing attention away from pure awareness, a complete waste since it brings about exactly the opposite result we are looking for and gets us stuck. It is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. To try to put out a fire with gasoline means that one either intentionally wants a larger fire of that one is not aware of what one is doing. So, seeing, getting rid and moving on, seeing, getting rid and moving on … inwardly as much as outwardly, come what may and regardless of what we have to let go. No need to prove anything to anybody.

Jack said...

'To whom...',

Guru Vachaca Kovai_

516. The true form [nature] of God [Self] cannot be understood except by the mind which stands firmly still in nishta [Self-abidance or samadhi]. Therefore, without allowing the mind either to wander as a vagabond [i.e. to undergo waking and dream – sakala] or to fall into laya [i.e. to fall into sleep – kevala] due to tiredness, train the mind to be conscious and still on one target [Self].

Persistence was the word that I sought for resolve. Training requires persistence. Keep at it.

I suppose that it answers my own question, too.

Jack said...

How is the true knowledge alone the best service to the world? Let us see. Suppose one dreams in his sleep that his friends are wounded by a tiger. Rather than his supplying medicine to his dreamfriends, would not his waking up from his sleep be doing real help to them? No other efforts taken in the dream itself will be a real service to them. So also, realising Self, which is the real awakening alone will be the only proper way of serving the whole universe.

Guru Vachaka Kovai, p. 138

Asun said...

“To try to put out a fire with gasoline means that one either intentionally wants a larger fire OR that one is not aware of what one is doing.”, sorry.

Nothing special said...

I know vichara is fixing attention on self but there are times vasanas come out very very strongly.I completely get confused and put my attention on the importance of events taking place and forget what I'm supposed to do.

It is the most fascinating aspect how prarabdha makes us dance.

Michael James said...

In a comment on one of my recent videos, 2020-02-23a Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses studying and guidance on the spiritual path, a friend wrote, ‘This dream is much stronger than other dreams. It’s the strongest illusion I have because no other dream picks up where it left off with clear memory of every detail. This apparent continuity of this dream is what makes it more challenging to eradicate this dream. I practice atma vichara everyday. Maybe I also need to sleep more- to be less and less in this dream. To give it less of my attention so it gets weaker’, in reply to which I wrote:

Bubba, we cannot sleep more than we need to, so if we try to sleep more we will end up just dreaming more. If we want to sleep forever, we must eradicate ego and thereby lose ourself in our natural and eternal state of wakeful sleep.

In the meanwhile, if we want to give less attention to this or any other dream, we must give more attention to ourself. The more we do so, the more our interest in other things will wane, and our interest in being self-attentive will wax.

------

In a comment on another video, 2020-02-23b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses getting rid of desires or vāsanās, the same friend asked, ‘Michael, when other dream characters (who are not the eka jiva) say “I had a dream last night,” are they lying? Is it all part of the maya/illusion making it appear that there are “others” who are having their own dreams?’, in reply to which I wrote:

Yes, we dream both the person we seem to be and all the other people, and we also dream that those others tell us about their dreams. All is only our own dream.

So who is lying? It is not the other people, but only our own dreaming mind, which tells us that all the people, objects and events in this dream are real.

Nothing special said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack said...

'To whom?'

Thoughts will come and thoughts will go. Just keep turning your attention back to self. There will be distractions, depending on your readiness. However, remembering to return your attention will train the mind for it, so that it becomes easier to ignore the distractions of the ego.

Not knowing your background, there isn't much more to say.

I started practicing meditation when I was about 17 years old, and I kept at it, when other things weren't dominating my thoughts. I was practicing quite haphazardly, giving the reins to ego, but it did help me to develop a certain level of concentration.

One night about two or three years ago, I spontaneously started to listen intently to the silence in my environment. I'm fortunate that I live in the wilderness, miles from any traffic or noise. At the time, I didn't even have a refrigerator inside the house to break the silence barrier with its humming, and only the occasional stirring of my dog or wildlife outside would disturb it.

Listening to that Silence had remarkable effects. I'd wake up with a whole-body buzz that was almost narcotic and that sometimes lasted for hours into the day.

Finally, I decided to research it. I had recently become familiar with Rupert Spira, so I was somewhat familiar with advaita vedanta, and in the only book of his that I had read at the time Spira did mention Sri Ramana, so I searched a combination of terms including Silence and advaita and came to "Happiness and the Art of Being", which I had read 20 years ago and unfortunately forgotten.

After pondering and learning more about the teaching, I remembered having initiated self-investigation at the age of 8 or 9 years old.

Considering all that and more that isn't necessarily important to the point, there was a lot of preparation for me, and resuming self-investigation was natural for me.

Of course, Ramana might point out that nothing could be easier. Just find the I-feeling, and hold on tight.

Have you practiced meditation? How long have you been practicing self-investigation?

Jack said...

Michael,

It would be silly to become attached to some-one or some-thing in a dream. Though some characters in the dream might seem to do so, it's only another trick of the dream to keep you from waking up.

Accepting that it is a dream should make it a cinch to surrender the ego and the world, in order to re-member one's self fully. Should it not?

Unknown said...

Michael James there is still an anomaly as to what you said on 28 February 2020 at 19:53. If I die today will all of you still not be present in your bodies and post your thoughts in this blog as and when you wish? What you say applies only to dreams of the mind in sleep and not to waking state.

Nothing special said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack said...

Guru Vachaka Kovai_

758. The best path to subside the activities of the mind – which springs forth externally as [the triad or triputi] the seer, the seeing and the object seen – is to train the mind to see its own nature [in other words, to practice Self-attention].

Jack said...

Of course, it was manolaya, because the world arose, and the world arose because the mind arose. I knew that. Those were rhetorical questions.

In past experiences [during the waking dream] where awareness of the physical body was absent, there were phenomena, which implied a mind to be aware of phenomena and a subtle body for the perception of the phenomena. In a majority of those experiences there was awareness of an extraordinary bliss phenomenon, complete with blinding light and a deafening, vibrating, cacophonous noise. Also, thought always arose before the world arose.

However, this time there was only existence-consciousness. It was effortless. There was absolutely no awareness of any movement of any kind before the world arose with the choking on the hyper-salivation.

To be more specific, my question is why was it manolaya? With the awareness of existence-consciousness without the appearance of any adjuncts, ego, vasanas and karma should have been annihilated. Is my understanding correct?

What have I overlooked?

I have been caught in the jaws of the tiger. The course is inevitable. The only answers that I'm finding in the teaching are 1) Persistence and 2) Diligence.

Have I missed something?

Michael James said...

Jack, regarding your comments of 25 February 2020 at 23:16 and 25 February 2020 at 23:17, and your more recent comment of 29 February 2020 at 05:08, if you had surrendered yourself entirely you would not have come back. Though it may seem to you that you had surrendered yourself completely, you did not actually let go of everything entirely.

When we surrender completely, not even the slightest trace of any awareness of anything other than ourself will remain, but though we may sometimes seem to come close to that state, so long as we return we have not yet surrendered ourself entirely. Some lingering clinging to subtle phenomena must have remained in that state in which we seemed to have let go of everything.

So long as we continue to rise as ego, the only solution is to persevere in our practice of self-investigation until eventually we are able to cling to ourself so firmly that we thereby let go of everything else completely.

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

Nothing Special,
I don't do vichara very often in the day. But I try to do it as often as I remember that vichara is the only hope; I could perhaps count on my fingers how often I tried to be self-attentive during an average day. For example, I have a long commute so in the bus I'll try to do vichara but will get distracted soon by my everyday worries, anxieties about the future and what to do in life, and how to do this and how to do that. It is almost a kind of neurosis, I think, but I have faith that practicing self-investigation and self-surrender alone is the way out of this neurosis. And the understanding that this is all a dream.

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

Jack, thanks for your replies to my comment of 27 February 2020 at 17:27, including the quotes from GVK and for the encouragement to "keep at it". I agree, it really shouldn't matter whether the eyes are closed or open, because we exist whether the eyes are open or closed.

But still it feels more difficult to be self-attentive with my eyes open, I start wondering what should I keep my eyes on and what I'm looking at. But I guess it's a matter of interest. If my attention was fully turned within it wouldn't matter what I'm looking at, like when I'm daydreaming with my eyes open - although I might be looking out of the window of the bus my attention is elsewhere and it doesn't matter what the eyes are looking at. Likewise I should just turn my attention inwards and not care about the sights and sounds, or even the thoughts/feelings which are the bigger problem.

With my eyes closed, sometimes I become very relaxed and it seems like my thoughts become subtler in some sense, so it becomes tricky to turn attention towards the thinker because the thought itself has become subtle. But as you say persistence is key, if I fall asleep I should just resume once I wake up. Thanks for the very useful pointers, Jack.

I have been trying to practice self-investigation for 2-3 years now and I'm still terrible at it!

Bob said...

Greetings one and all

I wanted to take a few minutes and pass along some thoughts.

I have a disease that has rapidly taking my life. While thinking about this early this morning I thought about all the time I wasted over these past years when I could have been practicing atma vichara.

I cannot change that now but I always figured I have plenty of time for practice later on. Of course I know better than that but the mind keeps pulling me back to see what I’m missing in the world.

Then I recalled something Michael has said before about us having two choices.

As far as my asthma goes, I thought I had in under control and I would live a long life. As usual I was wrong and now I cannot control it and my time is short.

Perhaps this message might help someone, at least that is my hope.

My love to one and all

Michael James said...

Bob, I am very sorry to hear about your asthma, but such illnesses remind us of the fragile and fleeting nature of our bodily life and how completely dependent we always are on Bhagavan.

Regarding all the time we have wasted, what is past is past, so there is no benefit in having any regrets. All that is required is that we try to make the best use of whatever time we may have left, and none of us know how much time that will be. We also do not know how near or far from our goal we are, but every moment of self-attentiveness takes us one step closer.

Wishing you all the best,

Michael

Michael James said...

In a recent comment on one of my videos, 2018-05-06 (morning) Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 6, a friend wrote:

COMMENT BEGINS

Just contemplating on this. “Sleep state and Impermanent dissolving of mind”: “In sleep state, first the mind (aka ego) dissolves, and after that we are in touch with self. It is impermanent meaning when we wake up, “I” or ego thought pops up and mind is again formed”

“Realizing Self in Waking state”: “To completely dissolve the mind, we have to realize the self in the waking state. We can do that by turning our mind inward with the help of “who am I” investigation step by step with patience and perseverance. If mind is turned inward without any or zero desires, we would ultimately realize self and it is what is called permanent destruction of mind. — If the mind is permanently destroyed, then do we cease to exist. Would we be still living in this world. Some of the video discussion, it has been mentioned that either realizing self or world exists — not both.

COMMENT ENDS

In reply to this I wrote:

Our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) is pure awareness, which means awareness that is not contaminated with even the slightest awareness of anything other than itself, because nothing other than itself is real. Therefore what is aware of any world is not ourself as we actually are but only ourself as ego, and hence when ego is eradicated the illusory appearance of any world will be eradicated along with it, as Bhagavan implies unequivocally in the third and fourth paragraphs of Nāṉ Ār?.

Jack said...

"To whom?..."

About two and a half years ago, just just after I had reacquainted myself with "Happiness and the Art of Being" and delved into the teachings of Sri Ramana, after several months of just listening to silence before going to sleep and during some personal turmoil, I resumed self-investigation and almost immediately found that I could turn off all thought at will. It was so amazing and surprising to me that for days I held onto it whenever I wasn't interacting with people or randomly carried away with thought. I did it while I was hiking. I did it while I was driving. If I was sitting, I would sit there in awe that the mind was so silent. Whenever I was present enough to catch the mind getting attached to thoughts, I would just close my eyes and immediately find the silence. It was incredible.

I can still close my eyes and cease all thought at will. In fact, I don't even have to close my eyes to allow it. With eyes open, I sort of step back from any particular thing and just look at the whole screen, tracing it back to being aware, to awareness that perceives it.

I still get carried away with thought. However, it is less frequent, and catching it seems to get easier.

What exactly facilitated it I can't exactly pinpoint. Perhaps, I was just at a breaking point, due to the personal turmoil. Perhaps, it was a deep dissatisfaction and the weariness of being jerked around by the mind. Perhaps, it was the understanding of the teaching. Surely, the preparation, practicing meditation for 30 years and listening to silence for many months, was a big help. There was also the memory from almost 40 years ago of the realization that none of it could be real. Perhaps, we can just call it Grace.

Examine your motives. Strengthen your determination. Contemplate the teachings. And go deep!

Jack said...

Michael,

Thank you for the reply, and thank you for "Happiness and the Art of Being" and for all of your work in bringing to us a deeper understanding of the teachings of Sri Ramana.

Your advice seems to point to what is obvious. It was obvious to me, too. I'll just have to go deeper. What else is there to do?

Jack said...

Know that the bright light of fire that rises within, kindled by more and more inwardly grinding the mind, which has been made free from impurities, on the stone of heart through [the enquiry] ‘Who am I?’, is the true knowledge ‘Anal Haq’ [I am the reality].

-Guru Vochaka Kovai, 962

Aham said...

.



"wasting time"


Bob, Mr James,

thanks for the reminder,
it is a simple one, but so very important...we do not know when our time is up, so make the most of it NOW!

I wish you well Bob.



.

Michael James said...

In a comment on one of my recent videos, 2020-03-01b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses four beliefs about ‘enlightened beings’, a friend wrote, ‘If it were only I who sees Bhagavan as appearing the way he appears, saying what he says, doing what he does, it would be easier to accept his physical being as my own fabrication. But since we all, Michael also, are in agreement as to what we witness — describing Bhagavan’s appearance and actions identically — it becomes so difficult to believe that it is anything other than real’, in reply to which I wrote:

Ross, how do you know that it is not only you who see Bhagavan and the rest of the world as you see it?

In a dream we see a world containing many people, and if we ask other people whether they see that world as we see it, their reports of what they see would probably be in agreement with what we see, so that would confirm our belief in the reality of that world, until we wake up, whereupon we immediately recognise that that world and those people were just our own mental fabrication and did not exist independent of our perception of them.

While we were dreaming that world seemed just as real as this world now seems to be, so how can we be sure that we are not now dreaming? If our present state is just a dream, as Bhagavan says it is, all the people we see in this world, including the person we seem to be, are just our own mental fabrications and therefore do not exist independent of our perception of them.

So how can we determine whether our present state is just a dream or not? We cannot know for sure so long as we do not know what we ourself actually are. Now we seem to be the perceiver of this world, and in dream we seem to be the perceiver of some other world, but in sleep the perceiver of any world disappears, yet we remain there as the fundamental awareness in which this perceiver appears and disappears, so we are not what we now seem to be. If we know the reality of ourself, who now seem to be the perceiver, we will be in a better position to judge the reality of whatever we perceive.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bob, sorry to hear about your asthma issue. How are you currently? You can try fasting (dry or on water) or remaining only on fruits or vegetables or green leaves juices for as long as possible to bring your health on track. Fasting is the best medicine. You may listen to the YouTube videos by B. V. Chauhan of NEW DIET SYSTEM (NDS). He has been advocating this sort of diet for all those who are suffering from any health issues (since over 25 years now). Even people with the last stage of cancer have reversed their disease by his diet plan and detoxification techniques. These are all very simple and have been tried by an estimated over 15 crores (15,00,00,000) people all over the world with wonderful results. If possible take plain water enemas twice or thrice daily. This will remove your toxins from your body.

The cause of all disease (physical and mental) is accumulated toxins or waste in our body. So if we could remove these toxins we can easily regain our natural health. I have a firm belief in this system. I fast up to 1 pm every day and also do a one-day dry fast occasionally. I try to consume mostly juices, fruits and salads in raw form. I have stopped taking medicines for my IBS, Thyroid, BP, B12, D3 and bipolar disorder. My eyesight has improved. Of course, ultimately whether we try this diet change and succeed all depends on Bhagavan's will.

If you feel proper, you can share your email id or mobile number with me. I will try to get in touch with you. Wishing you all the best.

Nothing special said...

Thank you Sanjay. Very thoughtful

Sanjay Lohia said...

We think that the food gives us substantial existence, whereas truly we ourself are the substance [vastu] or existence [sat]

Bhagavan talks about food in verses 590 and 591 of Guru Vachaka Kovai:

Verse 590: When one indeed exists as food [that is, as the contentment which is experienced while eating], not knowing this, if one thinks that one eats food [in order to obtain contentment, and thereby develops the desire to eat more and more], the food [the desire for food] will consume one and make one a slave to an insatiable, great hunger [that is, to an insatiable, great discontentment].

Sadhu Om: Here the word ‘food’ [annam] denotes not only the food taken in through the mouth [and tasted through the tongue], but also all the other four sense-pleasures taken in through the eyes, ears, nose and skin. We think that the food gives us substantial existence, whereas truly we ourself are the substance [vastu] or existence [sat]. We do not know that our very nature is existence [sat]. Since we are happiness or contentment itself, it is foolish for us to expect to derive contentment from food [sense-objects]. If we, the existence [sat], the fullness of contentment [ananda], desire to obtain sense-objects for our contentment, our nature of fullness of contentment is made by that desire into a nature of deficiency; thus it [the desire] swallows us [kills us] by creating an insatiable fire of desire.

Verse 591: Those who do not know that, whenever they eat, the food itself is eating away their life, thinking that they are eating the enjoyments [bhogas], crave for and run after them.

Sadhu Om: Since food and similar objects of enjoyment make the jivas crave for them more and more as they are enjoyed more and more, they take the jivas far away from the desire for self. Since death is nothing but being separated from life [in other words, being separated from self], food and other objects of enjoyment, which separate us from self, are here said to be eating away our life or killing us [the jivas] as we enjoy them more and more.

My reflection: ‘Those who do not know that, whenever they eat, the food itself is eating away their life’, says Bhagavan. The more we eat, the more our vital-energy is spent on digesting this food. Actually, we need very little food to survive, and therefore we should eat as little as possible so that we conserve out vital-energy and utilise it for our sadhana.

Salazar said...

Curious about the "New Diet System" I googled it and before one can access the webpage a window popped up with a huge disclaimer mainly stating that everything what is on their website is not approved by any physician and that there is no liability whatsoever for the authors if one should take their advice. [That is unusual, most websites have disclaimers on the bottom of their webpage, that they do that in this obvious manner suggests that they already have had many complaints ...]

One can click "agree" or "disagree". I clicked on disagree and I was returned to the search engine.

IMO, when someone claims to heal cancer with a specific diet then a red flag pops up for me. The suggestion that a certain diet could possibly heal any condition is simply quackery and one can forget the authors of such claims. It is irresponsible too.

As Bhagavan said, the body is a disgusting overgrowth and there will be always a disease. Once one disease has disappeared another will surly come. It's up to Bhagavan if one will recover from a disease or not, nothing else. It's also up to Bhagavan if one does the action which is needed to be "healed" from a disease or not. Surrender is the remedy for any dis-ease.

That said, Bob you have my sympathies, just by getting older the body starts failing on us and it can be scary (it is occasional for me despite vichara). May Bhagavan bless you and give you what you need.

Sanjay Lohia said...

To say that God created this world (whether a real world or an unreal world) defies logic

Bhagavan says in verse 22 of Guru Vachaka Kovai:

This world of empty names and forms, which are the imagination of the five senses and an appearance in the pure supreme self, should be understood to be the mysterious play of maya, the mind, which rises as if real from self, sat-chit.

My reflection: If we say God has created this world, and if we say this world is unreal, that means God has created an unreal world. But why would God create something which is unreal? What reason does God have to create an unreal world? God is fullness and perfection itself, so why would it spoil its fullness by engaging in creation. We create something out of our lack of something. But if we say this world is created by God and is therefore real, why would God who is perfection itself create an imperfect world? Why would it create a world which is full of misery? Bhagavan says that the very appearance of this world is a cause of dukha (dissatisfaction).

So to say that God created this world (whether a real world or an unreal world) defies logic. So we have to come to Bhagavan’s core teachings and which is that this world is ego’s creation. This makes logical sense. A non-existent, unreal ego has created a non-existent, unreal world. So it is all maya.

Let us read verse 26 of Guru Vachaka Kovai in this connection: ‘Is the word ‘real’ befitting to this world, which is seen only by the illusory and changeful mind, but not by self, the source of mind?’ Sadhu Om explained this verse as follows: ‘As self knows itself alone to be, any imagination such as this world is entirely non-existent to it, and thus is never seen by it’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

If the world is real simply because it appears to your senses, then a mirage would be water

Bhagavan teaches us in verse 24 of Guru Vachaka Kovai:

O man, like a parrot waiting expectantly for the silk-cotton fruit to ripen, you persist in your sufferings, believing this world-appearance to be real and enjoyable; if the world is real simply because it appears to your senses, then a mirage would be water.

Sri Sadhu Om: The fruit of a silk-cotton tree always remains green, not turning colour even after ripening; the parrot meanwhile waits expectantly, hoping to eat it when it changes colour, but is finally disappointed when it bursts, scattering its hairy seeds.

My reflection: We expectedly continue to look at this world hoping that someday this world will give us real happiness that we are looking for. But this is never going to happen. We are like this foolish parrot waiting expectedly for the silk-cotton fruit to ripen, but neither will silk-cotton fruit change colour and nor would this world ever give us the happiness we are looking for. Happiness lies only within us. In fact, we are happiness itself. So if we want real happiness, we should totally ignore this world and turn within. Only then we will find what we are looking for.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar wrote: ‘IMO, when someone claims to heal cancer with a specific diet then a red flag pops up for me. The suggestion that a certain diet could possibly heal any condition is simply quackery and one can forget the authors of such claims. It is irresponsible too’. He was commenting on the health benefits of the New Diet System by B. V. Chauhan when he wrote this. However, the New Diet System doesn’t claim to cure cancer, but those who follow this system with all sincerity do get better or recover from most of their physical and mental problems. The backbone of this system is fasting. When we fast, our body self-cures most of its problems.

Recently, a Japanese called Yoshinori Ohsumi got a Nobel Prize for his work on the benefits of fasting, which he called Autophagy. In the New Diet System recovery plan, we drink juices or eat fruits and vegetables when we are not able to fast, but eating doesn’t cure us. Yes, right eating doesn’t contribute to bodily problems, so to that extent it helps us to recover from the disease.

How autophagy works (source internet):

Yes, you can actually train your body to eat itself — and, believe it or not, you want it to. It’s a natural process called autophagy (the word literally means “self-eating”). It’s one way your body cleans house. In this process, your cells create membranes that hunt down scraps of dead, diseased, or worn-out cells; gobble them up; strip ’em for parts; and use the resulting molecules for energy or to make new cell parts Trusted Source. “Think of it as our body’s innate recycling program,” says Colin Champ, MD, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.


Salazar said...

Sanjay, re. cancer, I was referring to your comment on 3 March 2020 at 06:41 talking about the "New Diet System" where you said, "Even people with the last stage of cancer have reversed their disease by his diet plan and detoxification techniques."

As I said in my comment, I did not arrive at their webpage since I clicked on "disagree".

Again, it is up to Bhagavan if someone gets "healed" from cancer or healed from the even greater disease of the attachment to the body.

"Detoxification" is very popular with certain health-gurus, however that is only of temporary benefit (with the initial impression of feeling better) and along a course of years the body needs to be maintained and built up and that cannot be done with fasting and juices (or fruits) alone. I, and many others, know that from personal experience and no diet-guru could convince me otherwise.

P.S. I highly doubt that 15 Million people have tried that diet you talk of and if so, where are the clinical studies and records of the experiences of these 15 Million? They do not exist and therefore it is a rather vague statement which is even more evidence of quackery for me.

Jack said...

Sanjay's Lohia,

A few weeks ago, I had been dealing with a nasty bout of sciatica for a year. I couldn't wear shoes without the nagging discomfort, and it had started to interfere with doing things.

A few months or maybe a year prior to that the sciatica had subsided, but that was after I accidentally dropped a cinder block on my lower back while I was trying to prevent myself from falling due to a misstep. I didn't want to try that again.

A few weeks ago, when the sciatica was being especially vicious, I just looked at the pain. "To whom does the pain arise?" I traced it back to the awareness that was aware of it and scrutinized it.

Within the next day, I noticed that the sciatica had disappeared. It hasn't arisen since.

I still eat Ding Dongs.

Now, I'm not recommending that self-investigation will cure asthma or any other condition, but I'm not not recommending it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The jnani or jnana is the light and love that is shining through the person the jnani seems to be

Michael: There are persons in whom ego has been completely destroyed and through whom jnana is shining, but the jnani is not that person. The jnani or jnana is the light and love that is shining through that person. That light and love is shining in our heart even now.
Remember what is functioning in this world is a world of our own dream, and what functions in the world is a body and mind. Bhagavan says, ‘I am not this body; I am not this mind’. But it was through that body and mind that infinite clarity of pure awareness and that infinite love was shining through.

Bhagavan was clearly a very unique person. I am not belittling the value of that person, but Bhagavan is not that person. He seemed to be a person, but what he actually is our real nature. He is what is shining in us as ‘I’. So Bhagavan is not what he seems to be.

A friend: So would you say that through that body and mind some kind of grace was functioning. He could answer all sorts of questions and do so many things.

Michael: Yes, but what is grace. Grace is actually love. As we actually are, we have an infinite love for ourself. That love we have for ourself is grace. Because in Bhagavan’s view he alone exists, so he doesn’t see us as other than him. So he is not loving us as a person but loving us as himself. That is why Bhagavan was equally kind and loving to good people and to bad people. In fact, he sometimes showed more love to bad people because they are more in need of it. He would sometimes ignore good people because he wanted them to turn within and find him within themselves.

So an enlightened person is not a person they seem to be.

• Based on the video: 2020-03-01b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses four beliefs about ‘enlightened beings’ (4:00)

Salazar said...

Sanjay, let me add that if you are happy with that particular diet then by all means do it. Although I'd not tout it as a panacea, that is pushing it.

Let's not forget, if it is our destiny to die from cancer then we'll die from cancer no matter what diet we do. And if we are supposed to die "in sleep" being 90 years old then we'll die then no matter how bad the food is we eat.

It is hard for the ego to realize its powerlessness and it is an illusion that we could "change" things with our choices, we cannot! The only true choice we have, as you know, is to turn within. That's it!

Salazar said...

It is the same with the coronavirus spreading, it is already decided who will be infected and who not and who will die or not, etc.

Of course I still wash my hands and observe common sense, others may not. However those who do not wash their hands may never get it and those who do and wear a mask (which is not effective and ill-advised to wear when being healthy since a virus can pass through these masks) can get it.

I see those things as a reminder of Bhagavan to turn within, they do not have any other purpose :-)

Anonymous said...

Jack,

Is it possible to explain this more?

‘ "To whom does the pain arise?" I traced it back to the awareness that was aware of it and scrutinized it.

Within the next day, I noticed that the sciatica had disappeared.’

I really would like to try this out. I recently met with an accident and I am in pain currently.

Jack said...

Anonymous,

I wish that I could explain it better, to possibly alleviate your troubles. Accidents are unfortunate, and I've had quite a few.

It was just a spontaneous thing, and it wasn't any different than any other self-investigation practice session.

The sciatica had been such an annoyance. My sister had recommended some exercises that had helped her, but the exercises were ineffective for me. I even had stopped at a marijuana dispensary to ask for a referral, but I really preferred not to go that route. I just wanted it to go away.

I saw the sciatica as an unreal appearance. I looked at the sciatica. I looked for awareness, being, self. I went and cleaned out the mess in the travel trailer in the driveway.

I didn't notice the sciatica for a full day, and then I noticed that I hadn't noticed. The discomfort hasn't arisen since.

I offered the story only because I thought Sanjay's recommendation to Bob to look outward was somewhat ironic, given the nature of Michael's blog.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, you say, ‘It is the same with the coronavirus spreading, it is already decided who will be infected and who not and who will die or not, etc. Of course I still wash my hands and observe common sense, others may not’. Why do you wash your hands? It is obviously because you feel that by doing so you will be able to keep away coronavirus from contacting you. Likewise, I believe that if my body is free of toxins and is therefore sufficiently clean from inside, I will not catch any virus. In other words, if my immunity in high, I can keep all diseases or viruses at bay. And even if they come to me, I will overcome them.

On a relative plane, your belief is as true as mine. However, we know that the actual disease we suffer from is only ego, and our secondary disease is our body. So asthma or coronavirus or whatever is a symptom of our body, and our body is, in turn, a symptom of our ego. So, if we want to cure ourself completely, we need to remove the root of all disease, which is ego. There is no other permanent cure.

So, in the ultimate analyses, the only medicine we need to self-investigation. When we see ourself sufficiently keenly, we will clearly see that we are not this ego and therefore we were never any body which had this or that disease. So all our fears about diseases were totally unnecessary. Therefore, Bhagavan’s teachings are the ultimate solution to all our problems.

Michael James said...

As Bhagavan said in the second, third fourth sentences of the note that he wrote for his mother in December 1898, ‘என்றும் நடவாதது என் முயற்சிக்கினும் நடவாது; நடப்ப தென்றடை செய்யினும் நில்லாது. இதுவே திண்ணம்’ (eṉḏṟum naḍavādadu eṉ muyaṟcikkiṉum naḍavādu; naḍappadu eṉ taḍai seyyiṉum nillādu. iduvē tiṇṇam), ‘What will never happen will not happen whatever effort one makes [to make it happen]; what will happen will not stop whatever obstruction [or resistance] one does [to prevent it happening]. This indeed is certain’, so if we are destined to be run over by a bus, we will be run over by a bus, and if we are destined to be infected by coronavirus, we will be infected by coronavirus. This does not mean, however, that we should not take reasonable precautions, because if we are destined to take reasonable precautions, we will be made to do so, as he implies in the first sentence of that note, ‘அவரவர் பிராரப்தப் பிரகாரம் அதற்கானவன் ஆங்காங்கிருந் தாட்டுவிப்பன்’ (avar-avar prārabdha-p prakāram adaṟkāṉavaṉ āṅgāṅgu irundu āṭṭuvippaṉ), ‘According to their-their prārabdha, he who is for that being there-there will cause to dance [that is, according to the destiny (prārabdha) of each person, he who is for that (namely God or guru, who ordains their destiny) being in the heart of each of them will make them act]’.

Just as we all generally take the reasonable precaution of not stepping in front of an approaching bus, we should take reasonable precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus, such as frequently washing our hands, as recommended by medical experts. This is necessary not only to protect ourself but also to protect others. However, the precautions we take should be reasonable, which in this case means following the advice of medical experts and not believing whatever is recommended on the internet by people whose expertise and ideas are questionable, such as those who claim that if our body is free of toxins we will not catch any virus. If we eat a reasonably healthy diet and live a reasonably healthy lifestyle, our level of immunity is likely to be higher, but since the coronavirus that is now rapidly spreading is a new infection, it unlikely that any of us yet have any immunity to it, even if we have an otherwise strong immune system. A healthy body and strong immune system may help our body to withstand the disease if we do get infected, but it cannot prevent us getting infected or passing the infection to others, so we should pay heed to the advice of medical experts and be very wary of any claims made by self-styled experts.

We are all fallible, so experts are not always correct, but they are far more likely to be correct than those who make exaggerated claims about the benefits of any particular diet. In cases such as this new coronavirus, non-expert claims, advice and assurances (even if they come from the President of the US) can be very dangerous, as can be seen in South Korea, where the spread of the virus seems to have been exacerbated as a result of false assurances made by a popular church leader.

If by trail and error we have found a diet that suits our health, it is reasonable to stick to that diet, but it is not reasonable to believe or propagate exaggerated claims made about the efficacy of any diet, particularly when those claims are based upon overly simplistic and patently false beliefs such as that the cause of all disease (physical and mental) is accumulated toxins or waste in our body. Toxins may play a role in some disease conditions, but they are certainly not the cause of all diseases, no matter how many pseudo-experts may claim so. As in spiritual matters, in such matters we need to apply a healthy degree of scepticism, or else we are liable to end up putting our faith in false claims and charlatans. As Bhagavan often used to advise us, do not believe what you do not know.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to the discussion about diet, health and coronavirus:

As ego we naturally cherish this body, because it seems to be ourself, but the more we cherish it, the more we are thereby nourishing and sustaining ego, so we need to minimise our concern for this body. According to its destiny (prārabdha) the body will be made to do whatever is required to maintain its predetermined level of health, so it is not necessary for us as ego to concern ourself with its health. If we were truly willing to place our luggage on the luggage-rack instead of carrying it on our head, we would not be concerned at all about this body or its health, but most of us are not yet sufficiently willing to surrender ourself, so we still feel concern about these things.

We cannot force ourself to be unconcerned about the body, but we need to try to wean ourself gradually off such concerns by practising self-investigation and self-surrender. Therefore if this is the path we want to follow, we should not allow ourself to be allured by or to take interest in any overly simplistic or exaggerated claims about the health benefits of any particular diet or lifestyle, because whatever interest we take in such matters will cloud our judgement and further strengthen our already strong inclination to cherish this body.

In this context we should pay heed to the advice that Bhagavan gives us in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham:

இழிவுடல்யா னென்ன லிகந்திடுக வென்று
மொழிவிலின் பாந்தன்னை யோர்க — வழியு
முடலோம்ப லோடுதனை யோரவுனல் யாறு
கடக்கக் கராப்புணைகொண் டற்று.

iṙivuḍalyā ṉeṉṉa lihandiḍuga veṉḏṟu
moṙiviliṉ bāndaṉṉai yōrga — vaṙiyu
muḍalōmba lōḍudaṉai yōravuṉal yāṟu
kaḍakkak karāppuṇaigoṇ ḍaṟṟu
.

பதச்சேதம்: இழிவு உடல் ‘யான்’ என்னல் இகந்திடுக. என்றும் ஒழிவு இல் இன்பு ஆம் தன்னை ஓர்க. அழியும் உடல் ஓம்பல் ஓடு தனை ஓர உனல் யாறு கடக்க கரா புணை கொண்டு அற்று.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): iṙivu uḍal ‘yāṉ’ eṉṉal ihandiḍuga. eṉḏṟum oṙivu il iṉbu ām taṉṉai ōrga. aṙiyum uḍal ōmbal ōḍu taṉai ōra uṉal yāṟu kaḍakka karā puṇai koṇḍu aṟṟu.

English translation: Cease considering the wretched [base, deficient, defective or impure] body to be ‘I’. Investigate [or know] yourself, who are ever unceasing [or imperishable] bliss. Thinking [intending or trying] to know oneself while cherishing the perishable body is like grasping a crocodile [as] a raft to cross a river.

Asun said...

We think we have a body and that, as such body, we have many others things, including time and health or illness but, actually, we only have this I-am-this-body-consciousness and nor even this consciousness is ours nor true consciousness, just a pale reflection of true consciousness we misuse to perceive-create phenomena without reality nor substance in order to satisfy our own will which only leads to misery. What a waste. Yet, we are constantly being taken care of by ourself, unconditional love. Any time is the right time to re - turn (towards) our source, ourself, what we took away from ourself: our very self or being as what we really are, and see that nothing ever happened. Not really. Just a misconception :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jack. I am taking lots of rest now doing nothing. Just doing nothing and just being is helping me :) Pain has been fluctuating and doctor said it is all part of healing. So I guess I have to just be patient. If pain is consistent, I will try to go within.

Nothing special said...

Michael thank you for your love

Salazar said...

Sanjay, I wash my hands because my mother taught me that when I was little and it stuck. That's it. It's a habit.

If somebody asks me, "should I wash my hands or not" I would not answer, "you don't have to because it is already decided if you get sick or not" but would say, "that would be a good idea".

It belongs to the same class of good ideas like to not walk suddenly into a busy street, to lie down on a railway, jump from a sky scraper or swallow a capsule with cyanide.

And yet, there are people who do that anyway and so they die or get badly mutilated. Why are certain people doing that and others not? Karma.

Why do certain people believe a particular diet will benefit them? Karma.

Is there an ideal way of living as a jiva? Of course not because otherwise we'd not have an incentive to turn to self. That's why people get sick with the perfect (if that would exist) diet and die 35 years old with no existing health conditions.

For an aspirant it is always ill-advised to be overly interested in things which seem to affect the jiva. As Michael said, do we want to truly drop our baggage on the train or do we still keep a few bags on our head like diet and health concerns?

If you believe that the fear of the flu keeps you washing your hands you may want to investigate who or where is that who is afraid .... Likewise, who believes a detoxification will make him healthier?

I am for sure far away from a Bhagavan who sat in a cave, insects biting the body and worms gnawing at it with no concerns of eating or food. Would a coronavirus make a difference in that scenario? In that context it sounds rather silly.

We want to get to that level of non-attachment and not pampering the attachment to the body with ideas of an ideal diet or ideal "anything".

Nothing special said...

Sanjay focus your attention on self. You know what the message is. All of ramanas teachings are for that one purpose. There was a beautiful young lady who planted a seed in my heart. It is all the grace of bhaghavan. Be honest kind and humble with yourself.

Unknown said...

Sanjay Lohia,
reg: your post of 5 March 2020 at 08:01 pertaining to ego and body, is an excellent one. Very true indeed. Well said. It is hard to remember what you said at all times of our waking state. Thanks for reminding us though.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sooner or later we will get tired of rising as ego, projecting phenomena and having one dream after another

People may be concerned that enlightenment is very rare. They may think, ‘What hope is there for me? I am just an ordinary person with so many desires, attachments and everything. How can I get enlightenment? It is such a rare thing’. For that Bhagavan has given us an assurance. Just like when water is evaporated from the ocean, it forms clouds, passes over the mountains and falls on the mountains. It then forms streams and goes down. It may get caught in a dam, but eventually it will come out of the dam. So eventually whatever water comes out of the ocean will sooner or later find its way back to the ocean. That’s one analogy.

Another analogy he gave is that of a bird. Wherever a bird may fly in the sky, there is no place for it to rest in the sky. In order to rest, it has to return to the ground. A bird can’t continue to fly in the sky forever.

Likewise, when ego rises it cannot rest until it returns to the source. So ultimately everyone will return the way they came. This is the assurance Bhagavan has given us in the last verse (verse 8) of Sri Arunachala Ashtakam. So eventually we will reach there because we are already that. How long can we remain separated from what we actually are? Even now we are not away from what we really are. Ego is just an appearance. So we need to destroy ego in order to gain ‘enlightenment’. What remains when ego is destroyed is our real nature, which is pure awareness.

Sooner or later we will get tired of rising as ego, projecting phenomena, having one dream after another. Each dream lasts a lifetime. We will eventually get tired, so we will be eventually willing to surrender ourself.

Enlightenment is a rare thing in the sense that we may have to spend hundreds, thousands, millions, billions of lifetimes before we reach there. Bhagavan said no effort in this path goes in vain. The more effort we make on this path of self-investigation and self-surrender, the closer we come to our goal. Sometimes we may delay a little, but we are going in the right direction. So we cannot turn back.

So there is nothing as worthwhile in life as seeking enlightenment (eradication of ego).

• Based on the video: 2020-03-01a Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the belief that enlightenment is very rare (07:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

I had sent a few videos of Sri B. V. Chauhan (New Diet System) to Michael. He watched one of them and gave me his views on it. This may be of interest to others. He just wrote an email to me in which he wrote:


Dear Sanjay,

I see they are quite short videos, so I have watched the first one. He is no doubt sincere in what he believes, but as is so often the case with people who recommend such things (fasting, healthy diet and so on), he makes very implausible claims. For example, towards the end (from about 8:10) he refers to other species (or kingdoms, as he calls them) and claims that they are all happy and healthy, which is clearly not the case, because diseases of various sorts affect wild animals living in their natural habitats as much as they affect us. If at all wild animals seem healthier, that is because only the healthier ones can survive.

If your present diet is suiting you, that is good, but no diet is a cure all, and there is no way we can guarantee that our life will be healthy. Sometimes people who eat the healthiest diets become sick, whereas some people who eat unhealthily live long, so at best we can say that by eating healthily we increase our chances of remaining healthy. However, health and sickness are all according to prarabdha, so when we are following Bhagavan path we should minimise the attention we give to such things. So long as we are eating mita sattvika ahara, that is sufficient. If we know certain foods don't suit us, we can try to avoid them and eat whatever sattvika food does suit us, but the less attention we give to such mundane matters the better.

What is the purpose of our life? It is to surrender ourself and thereby eradicate this ego, so let us keep this aim in mind and try to avoid being distracted by other concerns.

With love,

Michael

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My reflection: Michael says, 'However, health and sickness are all according to prarabdha, so when we are following Bhagavan path we should minimise the attention we give to such things. So long as we are eating mita sattvika ahara, that is sufficient. If we know certain foods don't suit us, we can try to avoid them and eat whatever sattvika food does suit us, but the less attention we give to such mundane matters the better.

What is the purpose of our life? It is to surrender ourself and thereby eradicate this ego, so let us keep this aim in mind and try to avoid being distracted by other concerns'.

I have to agree with him, even though my understanding of diet and fasting may not be in full agreement with Michael's views on them. However, I agree with his overall message.





Salazar said...

Sanjay, thanks for posting Michael's email. I can relate to your passion with diet, I was the exact way in my thirties.

Jack said...

[I]f the world is real simply because it appears to your senses, then a mirage would be water.

-Guru Vachaka Kovai, v. 24

Sanjay Lohia said...

If one ego is annihilated, everyone is enlightened because everyone is only one

We should desire only to surrender ourself. When we surrender, what will remain is enlightenment. So we are not seeking to gain anything. We are seeking to lose everything. The problem is ‘I want to be enlightened, but I also want to have a family, have friends, and it will be nice if I had a lot of followers’. So I want all these things plus enlightenment. We should only want one thing. We should give up all our desires, and then what will remain is enlightenment.

This person (Michael) is not seeing anything. What is seeing this world? This one ego. Because ego takes this person to be itself, it takes every other person to be ego. When we are dreaming, it seems to us that all the other people are seeing the same world. Only when we wake up, we realise that it was just a dream. We then understand that none of the other persons in the dream was seeing the world. Even that person that I took myself to be was an object seen by me.

It is like watching a cinema and identifying with someone on the screen. We are actually just a witness. We are observing all this, but we are identifying ourself with one of the characters in our dream. We are seeing the whole dream from the perspective of that one character and think that that one character is seeing the world and all the other people are also seeing the same world.

So if that one ego is annihilated, everyone is enlightened because everyone is only one.

• Based on the video: Based on the video: 2020-03-01a Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the belief that enlightenment is very rare (14:00)

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

Michael,
In many verses from GVK that are dealing with the problem of sexual desire, it is about how desire for women has to be given up and how lusting after women will lead to misery. Is there some reason behind this apparent differentiating between man and woman? Or is this a language thing, just like the word 'man' can include all human beings? Although of course this is relevant for me because I as this ego identify a male body as I, and I am very much troubled by desires including this sexual desire.

Nothing special said...

Don't worry if the desires are there then they are there so be happy. You can tell yourself I should not feel desire over and over. It does not get to the root. You could spend a year in celibacy as a goal and in my opinion and it does not get to the root. As my love to turn within grows I have no sexual desire. It is the interest to turn within that you may start to see that desires drop off naturally. If they don't then they don't, but don't be troubled. Guilt will only increase your desire to dwell on this desire and it is interconnected to a degree.

I think my concerns have changed to what if I can't feel desire when the appropriate moment arises haha.

Sanjay Lohia said...

For the true devotees, oppression of the world is good for the annihilation of ego

A friend: It is said the enlightened beings don’t express anger.

Michael: This is obviously talking about a person like Bhagavan who seemed to be enlightened. Bhagavan sometimes expressed or displayed anger, but inwardly he is not angry because he is not affected by anything. But he seemed to get angry when certain wrong things were done. For example, when people drove away monkeys from the ashram because they were stealing mangoes, Bhagavan said, ‘They were here long before us. This is their forest. We have come and occupied their forest and now we say, these are our mangoes’.

The ashram had some nice mango trees, and people were very careful to guard them because monkeys would love to come and steal the mangoes. So if they wait for the mangoes to ripen, monkeys will steal them all. They used to get the mangoes before they ripen. So they take the sticks and beat the branches of the trees so that the mangoes fall down before they are ripe so that the monkeys do not get them first. When they beat the branches of the trees, the leaves and branches will all fall down along with mangoes. Bhagavan used to get angry when he saw that. He would say, ‘This tree is giving you nice mangoes. Why should you beat it?’

So he got angry when it was appropriate, but there were times when great injustices were done right in front of his eyes, but he seemed to ignore it. For example, Muruganar was such a good devotee of Bhagavan, but he was so badly treated by the ashram management. Even Muruganar’s songs were banned in the ashram. Bhagavan knew he was mistreated, but he didn’t interfere. He knew that for the true devotees, the oppression of the world is good for the annihilation of ego.

So we shouldn’t resist the oppression of the world. According to Bhagavan, we have only one duty, ‘to subside, subside, subside’. So even though the real devotees were being ill-treated, Bhagavan will not interfere. But in the case of monkeys being ill-treated, he will interfere. So we can’t predict anything about Bhagavan.

However, whatever actions we see being done by Bhagavan’s body is not done by Bhagavan because he is just pure awareness. He is not at all affected by any of these things. He is not even aware of these things. He is aware only of himself. Grace makes Bhagavan’s body and mind act in a certain way appropriate to a certain situation. We can’t say how that should be.

• Based on the video: 2020-03-01b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses four beliefs about ‘enlightened beings’ (17:00)

My reflection: Yes, the jnani is the greatest wonder. They seem to be with a body and mind, but they are totally disconnected from their body and mind. So as Michael says, ‘We can’t predict anything about Bhagavan’. So very true! Bhagavan is beyond our comprehension. We cannot know Bhagavan, but we can become one with Bhagavan by subsiding in him. We will be saved only when we subside and become one with Bhagavan. Everything else is a pastime, totally irrelevant to this ultimate aim.

Sanjay Lohia said...

For Bhagavan, any mental phenomenon is a thought

A friend: It is said that an enlightened being never has thoughts because thoughts are caused by ego.

Michael: Yes. Bhagavan once jokingly said, ‘Everyone says it is difficult to stop thinking but however hard I try, I am not able to think a single thought’. Of course, he said that jokingly because he never tries to have thoughts. Bhagavan spoke as if he is a person who is trying to have thoughts, but he can’t have thoughts. The truth is he is pure awareness, and pure awareness is devoid of any thought.

What is a thought? A thought is an awareness of something other than ourself. That is why Bhagavan said the world is nothing but thoughts.

In our self-ignorant view, Bhagavan seemed to have a body. He seemed to have a mind because how could he have answered questions, how could he have written Ulladu Narpadu, Nan Ar? and Arunachala Stuti Panchakam without a mind, without thoughts?’ So in our view, he seemed to be having thoughts, but he says ‘however hard I try, I can’t have thoughts’. So we should understand from that that our view of him is completely wrong. Whatever thoughts he seems to have is only in our view but not in his view.

Often when we think of thoughts, we think of the chatter going on in our mind as thoughts. But Bhagavan used the word ‘thought’ in a much more boarder sense. For Bhagavan, any mental phenomenon is a thought, and of all thought the first thought is ego, the ‘I am this body’ idea. According to Bhagavan, what seem to be physical phenomena are all mental phenomena. So all the objects we see around us are just mental phenomena. So our waking state is no different from our dream – both are dreams.

So any phenomenon is a thought, and all phenomena are objects. The root of all thoughts is the subject, ego. Bhagavan says only after ego rises, do other thoughts arise. Ego is the thinker, and the thoughts exist only in the view of the thinker. Ego is fundamentally different from all other thoughts because no other thought is sentient. I can think, for example, of an apple. Who is aware of the apple? I am, so the thought of apple is not sentient. Even or desire is not sentient. I can have a desire to eat a nice meal now. Who is aware of that desire? I am aware of it. That desire is not aware.

So everything exists in the view of ego. Ego is the only thought that is sentient, that is aware. All other thoughts are jada.

• Based on the video: 2020-03-01b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses four beliefs about ‘enlightened beings’ (10:00)


Sanjay Lohia said...

Buddha recommends the middle way of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification

The following is a paraphrase of an extract from the video: Bhagavad Gita, Episode 17, by Dr Ambika Kameshwar. It has appeared in the Rasa Web Channel:

Sri Krishna says in Bhagavan Gita that a person will not succeed in self-investigation if he does things in extremes. Everything should be done in balance. So we should neither eat too much nor sleep too much nor play too much nor read too much nor speak too much. Even Ramakrishna Paramhamsa says, ‘Tune in the sitar neither too high nor too low’. Buddha recommends madhya pantha (the middle path). He advises the middle way of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification.

So Krishna says in Gita that dhyana-yoga which destroys all dukha (dissatisfaction) is relatively easy to a person who is already trying to bring balance into his life – balanced eating, balanced rest, balanced recreation, balanced waking and so on.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Fasting

The following is a paraphrase of an extract from one of B. V. Chauhan’s videos:

Some people quote Bhagavad Gita and advise us not to undertake long fasts because Gita advises moderation. Gita says we should adopt madhyam-marga (middle path). ‘Those who eat too much or those who eat too little, neither of them can become yogis’. So Krishna asks us to eat neither in excess nor too little. However, we interpret this advice in our own way. How do we describe a fast as ‘long’ or ‘short’? Who will decide it? I believe we have to become our own guide here. Then automatically we will know what is correct and what is wrong. We can increase our capacity for fasting, but still it could be moderate in our understanding.

We often refer to Gita’s saying on moderation in order to do whatever we want to because we want to eat. To refer to holy books is not wrong, but we need to also see how we interpret those sayings. It is said that we shouldn’t fast for long, but how do we measure ‘long’? We need to think about this.

Another type of fasting is whatever God has given us, whether these are things, money, wealth, time, power or whatever, we need to gradually leave these. This is also sewa (service), and sewa gives us peace and happiness.

My reflection: Bhagavan asks us to consume mita sattvika ahara. OK, we can say more or less accurately that ‘this is sattvika and this is not sattvika’, but how do we measure mita (moderation)? We will interpret ‘moderation’ in our own way. Likewise, what is ‘moderate fasting’? According to my understating, moderate fasting is the duration of fasting in which we can remain without much physical or mental strain or problem. So we need to each decide our own level of moderation.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan: ‘I have no mind’

Bhagavan often used to tell people through various ways that he has no mind. Obviously, it is difficult to understand this because how can a mind (which is what we take ourself to be) understand a person with no mind?

When Bhagavan was suffering from cancer and it was obvious that his bodily end was near, people used to passionately plead with him to cure himself by his sankalpa (intention) or ichcha-shakti (liking). However, Bhagavan laughed at all such suggestions. He would say, ‘To cure myself, I first have to imagine that I have a body. Then I have to imagine that one of its hands is afflicted with cancer. And then I have to use my will power to cure myself. But where is there any mind to think all these thoughts?’ So Bhagavan is not that body and mind that he seems to be.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Should one set aside a specific time in a day for atma-vichara?

Yes and no. Bhagavan says that one should practise atma-vichara always – he uses the word ‘nirantara’. However, he also at other places says that we should turn within every day. So setting aside time for atma-vichara may be beneficial, even though we should not restrict the practice to only these specific times.

We are expert at planning and setting aside time for whatever we like to do. So why should we not set aside some time for atma-vichara daily? It may not be at the exact time every day (say exact 8 pm), but it could be after one returns from work or something similar. So sometimes we meditate at 7.30 pm and sometimes at 8 pm and sometimes at even 6 pm if we are home early. Some people may try getting up early to meditate. Some people may go for a morning walk and sit at a park for some time trying to remain in atma-nishtha. So we may decide how we plan our practice.

Of course, certain days we will not be able to turn within at the times set aside for the practice, but this is all part of the process. As Michael says, we cannot expect to manufacture love at fixed times daily. However, we may try setting aside some time for vichara and see if it works for us. Like all habits, we can cultivate even this habit.


Salazar said...

A breakthrough with vichara is when one can let go of the daily actions of the body (I need to do/plan/be concerned about this) and just rest in "I am". That involves being totally unconcerned about what this body will or should be doing. It will do what it needs to do without any involvement of the mind. That surrender seems difficult because there is this ingrained belief that there is the need of the use of the mind for day-to-day life. That is not the case.

That habit of believing that one needs intend or desire [to accomplish something] is not easy to break.

How does that "feel" like? One rests in "I am" while the body does what it does with not much perception of it at all, like sleep walking.

Nothing special said...

Lately I've hardly done any work. The thoughts keep coming up like I've opened Pandoras box. I know it's all destiny but seems to be a bad time right now haha.

Nothing special said...

Having any outward facing desire is to be disliked. A desire for an experience or a desire to avoid an experience. A desire achieved as an experience met with a disappointing experience. It is teaching you that having any desire apart from turning within will lead to dissatisfaction. It's to get real sensitive to the tricks of the mind.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sexual desire and the act of sex

On the 7th of this month, ‘To whom? To me. Who am I?’ wrote a comment about sexual desire. ‘Nothing special’ responded to his comment and gave his own views on the subject. I will reflect on the topic of ‘sexual desire’ in the comment:

All our desires are a problem, so sexual desire is also a problem. Why? It is because all desires take our attention away from ourself, and as long as we are experiencing things other than ourself, we are experiencing ourself as ego. As ego, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, so as ego we are immersed in ajnana. So if we are looking for jnana, we need to give up our ego. Our sexual desire and the act of sex is something other than ourself, so as long as we are aware of them or indulge in them, our attention is away from ourself. This attention to things other than ourself is what keeps us away from our goal.

So eventually we have to give up all our desires. However, what is more harmful, our desire for sex or our act of sex? Obviously, our desire for sex is a problem, and the act of sex is not a big thing. We may indulge in sexual acts according to our destiny. If I was destined to be married and have kids, obviously I was also destined to have sex in order to have kids. However, the sexual act could harm us if we overindulge in it. These acts may drain out our energy, and on the spiritual path, we need to conserve our energy and utilize it for our sadhana.

However, Bhagavan is not against sex if the desire for sex is overwhelming in us. We may try to subdue the desire, but at times it may be better to indulge in sex; otherwise, the desire for sex may keep our mind in uncontrolled turmoil. Obviously, we have to be careful about with whom we are having sex. It should happen in between consenting partners.

How to give up the desire for sex? The most effective way to give up all our desires is by practising self-investigation and self-surrender. So these practices will also reduce our desire for sex. However, since the desire of sex is a very strong desire, it is one of the desires that last as long as ego is alive (or almost till the very end of our ego’s existence). So we should not expect this desire to go away soon.

Michael said that sometimes it is better to indulge in sex in order to understand how insignificant joy we derive out of it. Moreover, the happiness we get out of our sexual act comes from within ourself. That is, when our desire for sex is satisfied, we momentarily become satisfied, but this satisfaction is just a manifestation of our essential self. However, this peace or satisfaction doesn’t last long because very soon we will start having other desires. Our sexual acts reinforce our vasana for sex, so in this sense, our karma-vasana for sex becomes strong after each act of sex.

Obviously, to lead a celibate life will be immensely beneficial if we are trying to follow the spiritual path. However, a non-celibate life will not keep us away from liberation. So we shouldn't be too bothered about sex.