Friday, 7 February 2020

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

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

Life in the world is never easy if we are trying to follow the spiritual path, but running away from the world (even if we could) would not solve the problem, because the root of all our problems is ego, which accompanies us wherever we go. Whatever we experience in our life is according to our destiny (prārabdha), which is prescribed by grace for our spiritual benefit, so whatever challenges we may face, we should accept them as opportunities given by grace for us to keep ego in check.

As you say, Sri Ramakrishna’s story about the snake who was advised by a sādhu, ‘Hiss but don’t bite’, can be a helpful guide in some circumstances. Bhagavan also said that we need to play in an appropriate manner whatever role we have been given in life, which means that we sometimes need to act as if we have desire, attachment, anger and so on, while trying inwardly to be free of all such passions. Sometimes we need to respond to situations appropriately, as you did in the case of the person who hit your car, but inwardly we should try to be unaffected either by such incidents or by whatever happens as a result of our response.

Bhagavan’s outward role was that of a sādhu, so when thieves broke into the ashram and other sādhus wanted to resist, he told them that the thieves were doing their dharma, and as sādhus they should do their dharma, which is not to resist or respond violently. Inwardly we should be sādhus, but if we outwardly have some other role in life, such as that of a family person, we need to act in a way that is appropriate to whatever role we have.

Therefore how we should outwardly respond depends on the circumstances and the role we have been given to play in them. However, we should not be too concerned about that, because all is happening according to destiny. What we should be concerned about is only keeping ego and all its likes, dislikes, desires, attachments and so on in check, which we can do most effectively by the subtle inner process of self-investigation and self-surrender.

We rise as ego to the extent that we are concerned about and attend to anything other than ourself, and we subside to the extent that we give up being concerned about anything else and instead attend to ourself alone, so Bhagavan’s path is extremely simple. All we have to do is to be self-attentive as much as possible in all circumstances. If we do so, ego will thereby be kept in check, and hence everything else will happen as it is meant to happen.

That is, the more we keep a vigilant eye on ego (in other words, the more keenly we watch or attend to ourself), the more it will subside and dissolve, because we rise, stand and flourish as ego by attending to anything other than ourself, and hence the most effective means for us to curb our rising is to be calmly and steadily self-attentive. Ego is an impostor that can rise and play its mischief only when it is not being watched (that is, when we as ego are not watching ourself), so we can easily curb it simply by watching it.

However, though watching it vigilantly (which means being keenly self-attentive) is actually very easy, for most of us it seems to be difficult, but that is only because we are unwilling to do so, since we have so much liking for rising and attending to other things that concern us more than just being as we actually are. However, if we persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as we are currently able to be, our interest in other things and liking to attend to them will gradually decrease, and thus we will become more willing to be calmly self-attentive and thereby to subside and dissolve back into our source, namely pure awareness, which is ourself as we always actually are.

Since ego subsides to the extent that we attend to it, being self-attentive is not only self-investigation but also self-surrender, and the more we thereby surrender ourself, the more the actions of our mind, speech and body will be driven only by destiny and not by our will, because ‘our will’ means ego’s will, so it will subside to the extent that we as ego subside. Therefore if we want to act appropriately in all circumstances, the most effective way to ensure that we do so is to be calmly and steadily self-attentive.

If we surrender ourself to Bhagavan by being so keenly self-attentive that we give no room to the rising of any thoughts about anything else, there will be no need or scope for us to think whether we should act in this way or that, and hence whatever actions our mind, speech and body may do will not be driven by our will but only by his divine will. Therefore, if we want to surrender ourself, we should as far as possible give up thinking about what we should do or how we should behave and should instead try our best to be calmly and steadily self-attentive, as he teaches us in the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்று மிடங்கொடாமல் ஆத்மநிஷ்டாபரனா யிருப்பதே தன்னை ஈசனுக் களிப்பதாம். ஈசன்பேரில் எவ்வளவு பாரத்தைப் போட்டாலும், அவ்வளவையும் அவர் வகித்துக்கொள்ளுகிறார். சகல காரியங்களையும் ஒரு பரமேச்வர சக்தி நடத்திக்கொண்டிருகிறபடியால், நாமு மதற் கடங்கியிராமல், ‘இப்படிச் செய்யவேண்டும்; அப்படிச் செய்யவேண்டு’ மென்று ஸதா சிந்திப்பதேன்? புகை வண்டி சகல பாரங்களையும் தாங்கிக்கொண்டு போவது தெரிந்திருந்தும், அதி லேறிக்கொண்டு போகும் நாம் நம்முடைய சிறிய மூட்டையையு மதிற் போட்டுவிட்டு சுகமா யிராமல், அதை நமது தலையிற் றாங்கிக்கொண்டு ஏன் கஷ்டப்படவேண்டும்?

āṉma-cintaṉaiyai-t tavira vēṟu cintaṉai kiḷambuvadaṟku-c caṯṟum iḍam-koḍāmal ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ-āy iruppadē taṉṉai īśaṉukku aḷippadām. īśaṉpēril e-vv-aḷavu bhārattai-p pōṭṭālum, a-vv-aḷavai-y-um avar vahittu-k-koḷḷugiṟār. sakala kāriyaṅgaḷai-y-um oru paramēśvara śakti naḍatti-k-koṇḍirugiṟapaḍiyāl, nāmum adaṟku aḍaṅgi-y-irāmal, ‘ippaḍi-c ceyya-vēṇḍum; appaḍi-c ceyya-vēṇḍum’ eṉḏṟu sadā cintippadēṉ? puhai vaṇḍi sakala bhāraṅgaḷaiyum tāṅgi-k-koṇḍu pōvadu terindirundum, adil ēṟi-k-koṇḍu pōhum nām nammuḍaiya siṟiya mūṭṭaiyaiyum adil pōṭṭu-viṭṭu sukhamāy irāmal, adai namadu talaiyil tāṅgi-k-koṇḍu ēṉ kaṣṭa-p-paḍa-vēṇḍum?

Being ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ [one who is completely fixed in and as oneself], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any cintana [thought] other than ātma-cintana [thought of oneself or self-attentiveness], alone is giving oneself to God. Even though one places whatever amount of burden upon God, that entire amount he will bear. Since one paramēśvara śakti [supreme ruling power or power of God] is driving all kāryas [whatever needs or ought to be done or to happen], instead of we also yielding to it, why to be perpetually thinking, ‘it is necessary to do like this; it is necessary to do like that’? Though we know that the train is going bearing all the burdens, why should we who go travelling in it, instead of remaining happily leaving our small luggage placed on it [the train], suffer bearing it [our luggage] on our head?
When we are travelling on a train, the train is carrying our luggage whether we choose to place it on the luggage rack or to carry it on our head. Likewise, whether we choose to surrender ourself or not, God is carrying all our burdens and making our mind, speech and body do whatever they are meant to do. However, when we do not surrender ourself, we are allowing our will to interfere by trying to make our mind, speech and body act according to our likes, dislikes, desires, fears, attachments and so on. Though we are free to interfere in this way, we cannot thereby change even an iota of what we are destined to experience, so all we can achieve by not surrendering ourself is to suffer unnecessarily, just as we would if we were to carry our luggage on our head while travelling in a train. If instead we surrender ourself by being so keenly self-attentive that we give no room to the rising of any thought about anything else, we can live our life happily, free from all cares and concerns about anything.

When we are self-attentive, we are attending to our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, which is the essence and reality of ego, so by doing so we are not only curbing our rising as ego but are also tapping directly into the source of all clarity, so the more we are self-attentive, the more we will be endowed with a deep inner clarity, which will automatically guide us to act appropriately by mind, speech and body. That is, our fundamental awareness of our own existence is the true form of our guru, Bhagavan Ramana, so by attending to him thus we are opening our heart to his silent and ever-present guidance, which like the skilful helmsman of a ship will steer us safely through whatever storms we must face on our journey back to the safe harbour of our true home, pure awareness.

Therefore, rather than concerning ourself about how we should act in this world, we should focus all our concern and interest only on trying to be self-attentive as much as possible. “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. That is, if we strive to cling fast to being self-attentive, everything else will be taken care of by him according to the destiny he has already planned for us. His clear guidance is always available to us, shining silently in our heart as ‘I am’, but to take full advantage of it we need to turn within and attend to it lovingly.

177 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan is like the skilful helmsman of a ship

Michael writes in this article as follows:

When we are self-attentive, we are attending to our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, which is the essence and reality of ego, so by doing so we are not only curbing our rising as ego but are also tapping directly into the source of all clarity, so the more we are self-attentive, the more we will be endowed with a deep inner clarity, which will automatically guide us to act appropriately by mind, speech and body. That is, our fundamental awareness of our own existence is the true form of our guru, Bhagavan Ramana, so by attending to him thus we are opening our heart to his silent and ever-present guidance, which like the skilful helmsman of a ship will steer us safely through whatever storms we must face on our journey back to the safe harbour of our true home, pure awareness.

We seek so much advice from our friends, family members and associates on so many things, but forget to seek guidance from our guru, Bhagavan Ramana. Where does our guru reside? He resides in and as our immutable awareness, which is absolute clarity. As Michael implies, we forget to tap directly into the source of all clarity, which is our fundamental awareness of our own existence ‘I am’. As Michael beautifully puts it, ‘by attending to him thus we are opening our heart to his silent and ever-present guidance, which like the skilful helmsman of a ship will steer us safely through whatever storms we must face on our journey back to the safe harbour of our true home, pure awareness’.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Saying ‘I am confused’ is like saying ‘I am ego’ because the very nature of ego is confusion

A friend: I am confused. How can I be responsible for my destiny when it is Bhagavan who has ordained it?

Michael: We have to take our responsibility to its root. Destiny is like the arrow. We have shot this arrow, but once the arrow is out of the bow, we have no control over it now. That is why the cause of everything, the cause of all multiplicity, is only ego. We are responsible for that rising as ego. In that sense we are responsible for everything, including our destiny.

Sometimes people came to Bhagavan and said, ‘Bhagavan, I have done such-a-such a terrible thing. How will I get salvation?’ Bhagavan said what is done is done – you can’t undo what is done. We should not dwell on all the bad things we have done in the past. In ‘Who am I?’ Bhagavan says instead of lamenting ‘O, I am a sinner, how can I be saved?’, if one tenaciously clings fast to self-attentiveness, one will surely be saved. So Bhagavan is only concerned about the root of all problems.

All problems are because of ego. What is its medicine? Attend to yourself. So that is all we need to be concerned about.

The friend: I understand now. I appreciate your words.

Michael: But what say about confusion, confusion is the very nature of ego because ego is chi-jada-granthi. It is neither chit (awareness) nor jada (a non-aware body), but it is some spurious entity which rises in between the two, mixing the chit and jada together as if they are one. So ego is born in confusion – the very nature of ego is confusion.

The purpose of self-investigation is to cut through all this confusion by seeing what we actually are. If we see what we actually are, all confusion ends. Until then we are all confused to a greater or lesser extent. Saying ‘I am confused’ is like saying ‘I am ego’ because the very nature of ego is confusion.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-01 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with
Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 37 (1:16)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Only when we empty ourself of ourself, will we allow Bhagavan to occupy our heart

A friend: Can the worship of God with form alone bring about self-realisation?

Michael: Indirectly yes, directly no. God with form is something other than ourself. That is not what God actually is. By cultivating devotion to God, even though we consider God to be something other than ourself, we are thereby freeing our mind from its desires and attachments for other things, provided that worship is nishkamya. However, most people engage only in kamya bhakti: that is, they worship God not because of their devotion to God but because what they can get from God. So for most of us, God is a means to an end.

But if we love God for God alone, we are thereby freeing our mind from its desires and attachments for other things. So instead of asking for anything else, you ask, ‘God, give yourself to me. I don’t want anything else. I only want you’. But in order for God to give himself to us, we have to be willing to give ourself to him. Love is a two-way process. If you are married and if you expect your wife to do everything for you, that’s not a loving relationship. Both have to give each other – give each other time, attention, love and all such things. Then it’s a loving relationship.

So if we want God to give himself to us, we must be willing to give ourself to God. Only when we empty ourself of ourself, will we allow Bhagavan to occupy our heart. However, God is not something outside ourself. He is not something other than ourself. So long as we are conceiving God as something other than ourself, we are creating a divide between ourself and God, so we haven’t really surrendered. So long as we feel we are separate from God, we are still retaining our own self.

So eventually on the path of devotion, we come to understand what actually exists is only God. If I say I am other than God, I am limiting God. If God is infinite, how can I be other than God? So who is this ‘I’ that rises as if separate from God? We then turn our attention within. We then see that God is our own real nature.

So the path of dualistic devotion will purify the mind, and the purified mind then understands that God is nothing other than ourself. God alone exists, and we are nothing other than that. So in order to know God as he really is, we need to know ourself as we really are. By knowing ourself, we thereby surrender ourself.

^ Based on the video: 2020-02-01 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 37 (27:00 to 37:00)

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

I think the Ten foolish men analogy is a very beautiful and accurate and meaningful one. Bhagavan's tool of To Whom, To Me, Who Am I?, pertains to the tenth missing man identifying himself. The tenth missing man was too concerned looking here and there, but finally he turns attention to himself, and lo and behold!
Sometimes the ego or I seems abstract, vague, difficult to attend to because it is not a 'thing' or phenomena, but sometimes it becomes clear that it is very tangible and clear and obvious, and therefore easy to attend to. Certainly the difficulty is to a large extent because of a lack of willingness to attend to I, but there is at least to some extent a difficulty because of unnecessarily complicating Bhagavan's teachings, and mistakenly thinking that ego is not that which is obviously and clearly shining as I. So it is also a matter of perception, and it seems the mind is addicted to complicated perception. Therefore Bhagavan saying in Atma Viddai that it is 'extremely easy' is a pointer that we don't overlook the simple and self-shining I, I think. Can anyone else relate with this two-fold difficulty, if yes, to what extent?
a) Lack of love to be self-attentive
b) Lack of clarity to hold on to the I because it seems to be elusive
I suppose (b) is a problem only for beginners? After studying Bhagavan's teachings deeply there can be no doubt what it is that we have to attend to?

Salazar said...

To whom? - you said and I quote, "After studying Bhagavan's teachings deeply there can be no doubt what it is that we have to attend to?"

From my experience studying Bhagavan's teachings deeply did not improve my clarity to "what it is that we have to attend to". Clarity increased simply in holding "I am", no abstract concepts could do it for me. Once I had grasped the simplicity of Bhagavan's single pointer that self is the intrinsic non-conceptual knowledge that I exist, even before a thought does come up, no other conceptual pointers, like "The Path of Sri Ramana", Part 1 and 2, could bring me more clarity but the many continuous attempts to attend to self.

Self seems elusive because it is not an object. But it is not elusive at all, it becomes elusive only when one attends to a thought or if one wants to grasp or "get it" instead to simply "be it".

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan wants us to see the one who is repeating the Gayatri or any other mantra

The following is an extract taken from the article ‘Do Parayana When You Walk’ by Vimal Balasubrahmanyan, which has appeared in the latest issue of the journal ‘Sri Ramana Jyothi’:

An interesting aspect of Bhagavan’s teachings about parayana, and the related practices of japa and sloka recital, is that it doesn’t matter if one has not understood the meaning of the words.

Krishna Bhikshu’s experience is relevant here. On an early visit to Bhagavan, he tells him that he recites the gayatri mantra. Bhagavan says that is good and tells him to keep repeating it. After some time, Krishna Bhikshu says that it’s difficult to repeat such a long mantra and at the same time meditate on its meaning. But Bhagavan asks:

“Who told you to bother about the meaning? I have asked you to see who is repeating the Gayatri, or who is the one doing the japa.”

Krishna Bhikshu adds: “By making me look for the one who was doing the japa, he was subtly and slowly turning me towards the practice of self-enquiry.” (The Power of the Presence – 3, Ed. David Godman)

My reflections: Gayatri mantra is a famous mantra and it is supposed to carry deep meaning. So scholars and others ponder over the meaning of its every word. However, though Bhagavan approves of its recitation, he is not bothered about the meaning of its words. Bhagavan is unique. Bhagavan gave the same teaching to Kavyakantha. Bhagavan doesn’t want us to look for the meaning in the words or the sounds of the mantra or sloka. Instead, he wants us to look for the meaning in the one who is reciting this mantra or sloka. Who am I who is repeating this mantra?

As Bhagavan told Kavyakantha, we should look for the place from where the mantra's sound originates. Since any sound can only originate from 'I', Bhagavan asks us to focus on 'I' by ignoring the sound of the mantra or sloka or whatever. Therefore, Bhagavan's teaching is self-investigation and self-investigation alone. Some people believe that Bhagavan approved of all forms of spiritual practice. These people have clearly not understood Bhagavan's teaching. He was not against any other form of spiritual practice, but he wholeheartedly approved only atma-vichara.

Asun said...

Michael, I´m not sure I´m fully understanding the whole thing.

Ourself is being or sat which is no different from chit or awareness. It is awareness itself aware only of itself not needing to make itself known since only it is or exists, then, this thing arises saying “I am” we call ego or mind because this saying “I am” is a thought and since it can´t stand by itself, it projects forms and names which are also thoughts, identifies itself with or grasps one of these forms and becomes the knower of itself as well as of the others forms and names or phenomena, etc.

We are always saying that ego is awareness of other than itself and that turned towards itself, it is pure awareness but it is not so, actually, is it? 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. This is why some say that it is jumping into the unknown and make a fuss about whereas in Bhagavan´s path it is a smooth and lovingly process since, as you have said many times, Bhagavan´s path is a path of love and all is done by and for love. And what can make us feel safer than experiencing love?

Awareness of phenomena and identification with this body is just its mean of survival but merely by depriving it of its mean of survival it doesn´t subside, it keeps arising till it surrenders its own self-awareness and as soon as it surrenders it, it begins to be melted by and in true awareness, not because it has turned towards itself becoming thus pure awareness or beingness but because it has acknowledged that its self-awareness is not of its own and what it turns towards and surrender to it is its source, actually, and in order to be destroyed. Just for and by the love of what is as it is and always is.

Anonymous said...

B) might be a problem for all levels:) not just beginners.

Anonymous said...

I personally started paying attention to self enquiry teaching only after I experienced extreme fear several years back. Before that event, I never understood his teachings. Whether I am happy or fearful or angry or calm or clouded with thoughts, there is one essence in me that never changes. That is the awareness of existence. I think Salazar is referring to that. That existence according to me is ‘I am the body’ thought/feeling. But I have also noticed that all other thoughts arise ‘because’ of this existence feeling and ‘not from this’. Bhagavan has tried to simplify this whole philosophy, but it really is complicated according to me. Can we just ‘be’ with that existence knowledge within us and expect all vasanas to die by itself? I don’t think that can happen, unless we take some initiative to question our outlook/beliefs and try to change it. That according to me is turning within. But even this has not been very helpful to me. Eg. I have noticed few people who are nice by default see others as nice. Similarly few people who are evil think everyone else are also evil like them. So with the limited knowledge that we have about ourself, we assume certain things about the world. So, I understand turning within would help us discover ourself and thereby we will start understanding world better. But I have not made any progress as such. All I understand is: there is treasure inside us , thats it. The best conclusion made by Bhagavan is: world doesn’t exist at all- which means the existence feeling that one is relying on to operate in this world itself is false and doesn’t actually exist. What is the truth then? Bhagavan says: only by grace of the truth, the truth will be known. I have been reading the book written by Swami Vivekananda too. He has tried to tie philosophy with science, never makes much sense to me. Science doesn’t know feeling of love and happiness. According to science energy is lifeless, but in reality energy is full of love and wisdom. So not sure why he has complicated this teaching too.

Michael James said...

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 portion of ego is ‘I am’, which is pure awareness, whereas the jaḍa portion 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.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Asun:

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 mean 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 said...

Thank you, Michael.

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.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, no - we do not have to do anything re. vasanas than attending to self. Actually, vasanas are an imagination and any "initiative" [but attending to self] is just another imagination and make things actually worse. That must be understood.

One cannot dispel an imagination with another imagination. Only attending to self is not an imagination, anything else is.

Salazar said...

Bhagavan has given me the last week or so some nasty pains in the shoulder area which won't go away. That has made it difficult for me to attend to self. My mind rather attends to the pain (while attempting vichara), an object 'I' strongly dislikes.

Now when I instead focus on a particular work-related issue which can get my entire interest, the pain vanishes and as soon as that focus moves away the pain is back.

What does that tell me? That a lack of focus or being one-pointed with my mind is not the problem, it is strong enough to phase out the pain, so it is rather a lack of interest in self which cannot get the same interest as the work-related issue.

Michael James said...

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.

Anonymous said...

Michael,
You have said this:

Therefore the more that we as ego turn back to face ourself, ‘I am’,

My question is:

When we turn back we only can remain in I am the body feeling, which is our identity. How do we separate/differentiate that from the ‘beingness’ of I am? I think this is where all the confusion about self enquiry arises.

Salazar,

Same question is to you too. How do you know that you are not remaining in ‘I am not the body’ identity , but rather in ‘I am’ existence ?

As Mouna said, I believe even for a second if we are able to be in real existence state, it means we will not be typing anything here. Until we reach that I amness, we have to mould ourselves for the better, meaning we have to keep reducing the size of ego, which means we have to reduce/solve our vasanas.

Asun said...

Yes, Michael, “I am” naming existence and “I am” as a verb (transitive verb), get that.

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 understand and appreciate your explanations. Thank you for reading and sorry for taking your time with this, we know you are busy.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, you keep asking the same questions. You are not hearing what people are telling you.

Re. your last comment, what is a "I am not the body' identity? I am not sure what you mean with that. 'I am not the body' is a thought and as such falls under the same category as 'I am the body'. There is no difference but the word "not" added to it. Both are an imagination as are "identities".

You said, "When we turn back we only can remain in I am the body feeling, which is our identity."

Why is that our identity? Whose identity? It must be the phantom ego.
And when we turn back (as in turning within) then there is no 'I am the body feeling' unless attention goes to that feeling.

There is something what is aware of the "I am the body feeling", that is what we are turning within to.

But that must be all sheer speculation until you start practicing vichara. And vichara is the only means to effectively "reduce/annihilate" vasanas.

Before you have totally destroyed your ego there will be many, many attempts of vichara, usually several life times of practice. So it is mute to speculate about the final "state" of liberation, all clarity will come by itself practicing vichara. You have to trust Bhagavan.

Anonymous said...

Asun,

I think whether one is aware of oneself when engrossed in an activity/feeling or whether one is not, I strongly believe one is only operating from ‘I am’ as identity and not as ‘I am’ as real existence. We have already covered the actual existence with a layer and everything else thereby is ego.

We never can operate under ‘I am’ as existence. So self enquiry is only enquiring the ego I am , the identity.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Can you answer my question?
‘ 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, ’

What does the above mean? And, in the quest ‘Who am I’, doesn’t I refer to ego? If so , do we have to differentiate between I as identity and I as existence? If so how do we know which aspect of I, we are enquiring?

Salazar said...

Anonymous, no - vichara is not inquiring into an identity, identity is a thought, an imagination. The term inquiring can be misleading, it is more a being (without thoughts and feelings), nothing else.

You say, "we never can operate under ‘I am’ as existence." But where is an I or we (as an entity) in 'I am'? The question of operation or non-operation cannot even come up in "I am". Your mind is speculating in a conceptual frame-work which never can capture what "I am" and especially liberation is.

You can only get a real answer in doing vichara, conceptually it can only be pointed to.
And finally no, differentiation is mind and is a waste of time. There is only one self, without a second.

From your questions, it is clear that you do not understand what "I am" points to and since you keep asking the same questions it seems you do not get the Quadrillions of pointers throughout this blog.

It is extremely simple, "I am" that is. The difficulty is to get the mind to shut up with its endless questions and doubts :-)

Asun said...

Anonymous,

No. Self-investigation is attending only to “I am” or pure awareness though it is us as ego or “I am this body” who turn towards ourself focusing attention only on “I am” and remaining as what we really are because, as Michael explained, one more time, is his response above, this “I am” isolated from the adjuncts “this or that” which would be the identity, is our real existence already. There are not two awareness, the awareness aware of “I am this body” and of all phenomena, is not different from pure awareness and that is what we have to attend to. The more we attend to what we really are, the more we love to be as what we really are hence, what he says about being melted by love, but I agree with Salazar, you have to experience it to know the truth and beauty that entails Michael´s sentence.


Anonymous said...

It was a typo. I meant ‘I am the body’. The awareness of I am the body is still ego right? I am not speculating anything. What I am trying to say is: self enquiry is only by the ego to the ego. The ‘ I am ‘ you are referring to is Ego. There is nothing else (like pure awareness) in play here. And that ego which is being questioned has to die , which means ego has to be deduced to nothing. Only after this, the real self will get revealed. How can you have a thought I am the body without being aware of it? That awareness is called Ego and not the existence ‘I am’. The existence ‘I am’ can be known only after ego dies.

I am disagreeing with your understanding by repeating my understanding again and again in this blog. I am listening to what everyone is saying thru this blog.

I feel it is very easy to get delusional in this practice, by not differentiating between what constitutes ego and what is not.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, since you seem to have made up your mind, good luck!

Salazar said...

The "I am the body feeling" appears in awareness (which is not the ego) and the mistake is the identification of the "I am the body feeling" as "my" feeling.
Vichara is BEING awareness WITHOUT any identification of other phenomena.

Awareness is always, the "I am the body feeling" appears and disappears (like in deep sleep).

Salazar said...

Anonymous, you said, "I feel it is very easy to get delusional in this practice, by not differentiating between what constitutes ego and what is not."

Well, that's too funny. You admitted not practicing vichara but you still find you can make a judgment that one can get easily deluded in that practice (you do not do).

Bhagavan and also Michael on this blog has extensively described what is the ego and what is not. I.e. Bhagavan has described very logically what we are and what we are not in Nan Yar. So it seems you are preaching to the choir with the twist that you are confused about what you really are.

Anyway, since you seem to be so convinced, without any practical experience, it seems a waste of time to exchange any further thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I don’t practice, but I read a lot to first get a grasp of what this practice is all about. After reading Path of Ramana , I was convinced that we are only enquiring ego, then after reading posts in this blog, I started getting confused.

Forget the terminologies and the practice. Lets think logically . In the rope appearing as snake analogy, 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. But snake due to some trigger asks who am I. It starts to realize slowly that some assumptions made by it is wrong and this practice will eventually make the snake basically empty itself of itself(don’t know if I expressed it right). The moment it hits the emptiness, rope will reveal itself. In this sequence, snake never acts like or knows rope at any moment.
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. Snake can get happy being snake. But that doesn’t mean that it is melting in true love. Nothing is real until snake gets destroyed. Until someone is able to point me where exactly I have gone wrong in my logic, I cannot get convinced. The only thing that connects rope and snake is the ‘existence’. But the nature of the existence is ‘bliss’ and belongs to only rope and not snake.

Salazar, until I get that aha moment when I read any thing related to self enquiry and understand what you and Asun are saying, I will just stick to my assumptions.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, the question of "who am I" is not made to realize that there are wrong assumptions, it has no conceptual or deductive purpose at all what would be all within the realm of mind.

Bhagavan suggested to ask "who am I" to lead the mind to the origin of I, where the I-thought is coming from. It comes from the rope (along the lines of the analogy you used). After that question there is a pause, a gap, that's where the rope is. That gap is thought-less, it is self. Bliss or peace is usually not experienced because an upcoming thought covers that immediately up. So the snake (or mind) returned back to [being] the rope but, because of its habits of adoring and liking being a snake, it quickly moved back to believing to be a snake. The snake can only empty itself in being the rope, how imperfect that maybe in the beginning. The snake can never empty itself on its own. That is impossible since it really does not exist. What does not exist cannot empty itself.

That is the paradox of the snake/rope analogy.

Vichara is the continuous attempt to be the rope without getting pulled back into the snake idea via thoughts.




Aham said...

.


Thank you once again Mr James. Your words have a lasting impression and the power to turn the arisen ego back to Self.


.

Aham said...

.


I notice an endless stream of advice from some confused members. Even to come here, read, write and ceaselessly debate is an indulgence that inflates ego.

Silence is the better choice.


"Being ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ [one who is completely fixed in and as oneself], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any cintana [thought] other than ātma-cintana [thought of oneself or self-attentiveness], alone is giving oneself to God." (Nāṉ Ār?)


.

Rob P said...

from Padamalai

Bhagavan

Search for the source of the 'I-thought', that is all one has to do. The universe exists on account of the 'I-thought'. If that ends there is an end of misery also. The false 'I' will end only when it's source is sought.

Stick to this 'I-thought' and question it to find out what it is. When this question takes a strong hold of you, you cannot think of other thoughts.

What happens when you make a serious quest for the self is that the 'I-thought' as a thought disappears, something else from the depths takes hold of you and that is not the 'I' which commenced the quest.

Asun said...

It is not so difficult. You say “I am Anonymous” not “I am Salazar” because that´s your identity, the name of the body you are identified with and Salazar is another identity or person that you perceive as different and apart from you. Only you know “I am Anonymous”, you can´t know “I am Salazar” and vice versa so, when you say “I am Anonymous” and Salazar says “I am Salazar” you are meaning different things and are referring to the person. Yet, when you say only “I am” to denote the fact that you exist which is awareness itself, both of you are meaning only one and exactly the same thing. This is Anonymous and Salazar´s real existence or pure awareness which doesn´t depend on Anonymous nor on Salazar to exist whereas Anonymous and Salazar depend on awareness to exist. Focusing on this awareness giving up the person, is self-investigation. Whether if for one minute per day or for hours, it doesn´t matter. Thing is to attend to it, to taste it. This will do the work.

Salazar said...

Then be silent, why the need to proclaim the importance of silence? Ego, ego, ego, my friend Ahamkara :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Certain situations in life demand a certain response, but the problem is that we are emotionally involved in that

Michael: Though we understand that we shouldn’t get carried away by things and though at times we even succeed, we do get carried away by things most of the time. This is all part of the process and is inevitable. So long as we have desires and attachments, we cannot remain totally unaffected by things, so we are affected. If we had no desires, attachments, fears or anything, nothing will affect us in any way. But why are we affected by things? It is because I like this but dislikes that, so if this happens I am happy, but if that happens I am unhappy. So the problem is our desires, our likes and dislikes.

However, all our likes and dislikes are ego’s baggage. We don’t have any likes and dislikes in sleep, but these come to the surface when we rise as ego. The more we practise self-investigation and self-surrender, the weaker our likes and dislikes will become. We still have likes and dislikes, but we are less carried away by them. So ego becomes less assertive.

A friend: So we shouldn’t react to things as much as possible?

Michael: Certain situations in life demand a certain response, but the problem is that we are emotionally involved in that. So we need to respond appropriately without being affected. So long as we are aware of ourself as a person, we have to play a certain role, and we have to play our roles appropriately. But that is not a problem because what is playing the role is our body and mind. The problem is that we identify ourself with our body and mind and have likes and dislikes. We need to act appropriately according to the circumstances but inwardly remain calm and unaffected. So slowly we need to wean our mind away from its likes and dislikes, from the cares and concerns that make us inwardly affected by things.

The friend: By holding on to self.

Michael: Exactly. The more we are self-attentive, the less we will be affected by other things. If we are always looking at other things, we will definitely be affected by other things because the more we are giving attention to other things, the more we are feeding our likes and dislikes. The more you think of things you are afraid of, the stronger the phobia becomes. If you got a desire, the more you are dwelling on the object of your desire, the more you are feeding the desire. So turning the attention back to ourself is the key to overcoming all our desires, likes, dislikes and so on and to eventually overcoming the root of all desires and attachments, which is ourself as ego.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3 (46:00)

Salazar said...

Yes Asun, it doesn't matter for how long. Time exists only for the mind, so any notions and concerns about time or length of time, being silent or not, and other "observations" are just the mind/ego chiming in with all of its wisdom (not) :-)

Michael James said...

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.

Michael James said...

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.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael and Asun. Both of your comments kind of , are similar. So my last question is: if this awareness of ego is borrowed from pure awareness , or if it is the thread that connects snake and rope, what happens to this borrowed awareness in deep sleep?

Anonymous said...

Lol. I do understand endless arguments can get annoying to others. But I strongly feel even Bhagavan has made contradictory statements. It is very hard to differentiate which of his teaching is referring to ego and which is referring to the real self. I also understand, from his view he never saw ego, but his writings talk about how ego projects world etc. too.

And, I am not going to practice self enquiry until I understand everything.

Salazar said...

Aham, I do not consider myself as 'competition' with Michael and I have no problem to say that he is far more experienced and knowledgeable about Bhagavan's teaching. In the past my ego felt like challenging Michael what is seen as immature now.

However your notion that Michael's words have the power to turn the ego back to self is of bad taste and discrimination. Only Bhagavan has the power to turn the ego back to self, no jiva does.

In fact, every circumstance in our life has the potential to turn our ego back to self, if it is the obnoxious neighbor next door, or the wise scholar on a blog. They are all instruments of Bhagavan, but in an impersonal manner, not as jivas or entities, that can only be judged that way by immature egos.

I never understood the habit of jivas who need to praise other jivas who they perceive to be "closer to the light". I perceive that as a flaw of the ego especially when done openly. It is actually violating Bhagavan's teaching and should be avoided.

Aham, even though everybody plays a role in this life and outward appearance, one should still see other jivas and objects as a projection and to praise one's projection is irrational and seems confused for an aspirant. It is the opposite of vichara and your so often quoted 'silence'.

Col said...

Anonymous

From my understanding worry, concern, confusion is only for ego. The ego thrives by dwelling on outward desires. To think I just have to figure it all out first is no exception. We could die tomorrow, why waste a precious moment during having stumbled across the teachings. Try the practice then discard it if it makes no change to your life. Find what changes your life is what I gleam from spiritual advice, who cares about the rest. This blog is packed with answering the questions you have asked. I learn something from these posts everyday. Like I learnt that I am really just denotes I exist and it is fairly obvious we exist, it doesn't change much but it takes away the amguity of the intended meaning.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The conviction is that I (this ego) alone is the basis of all that I see, will give us more courage and conviction to go deep within to find out ‘who am I?’

The deeper we go in this path of self-investigation, the difference between ourself and others seem less strong. We can see ourself or feel ourself in others because the boundaries between ourself and others start dissolving. So if we see someone suffering, we can’t bear to see it. That is the real meaning of the word ‘compassion’. ‘Compassion’ means to ‘feel with’. So we feel with others – we feel their pain; we feel their happiness.

It feels good when someone smiles at us. The simplest kindness we can do is to smile at someone in a friendly way. Everyone feels good to see someone smiling at them. To me, you seem to be just as real as this person I seem to be. So if I saw you suffering, I will not feel: ‘O! it’s just a dream’. Your suffering will seem very real to me, and I will be pained to see you suffering. But if you give me a smile, I will be happy. So at the level of the dream, the dream food is as real as the dream hunger, and the satisfaction of eating dream food is equally real. When we are looking outwards it does not matter if there is only one ego.

When we are looking outwards, there seem to be many egos, but in order to turn within, in order to go deep within, we have to let go of everything else. So for turning within it is extremely useful to have the conviction that this one ego, ‘I’, alone is causing all this because I alone am seeing all this. All the suffering seems to exist in the world because I see it. So I alone am the basis of all that I see. Such conviction will give us more courage and motivation to go deep within to find out ‘who am I?’ And finally when ego dissolves we won’t see anything. What we previously saw as everything, we will now see that to be ourself.

• Based on the video: 2019-09-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the teaching that there is just one ego (00:08)

Sanjay Lohia said...

By talking about Bhagavan’s teachings, we are encouraging each other

If we read Talks and such books, we will not know that Bhagavan is teaching us eka-jiva-vida. Bhagavan is often talking as if there are many egos. We can hardly do otherwise. But if we talk as if there is only one ego, there will be no one for us to talk to. It will be meaningless to talk, but because we seem to see many egos like us, we talk like we are talking now. By talking about Bhagavan’s teachings, we are encouraging each other.

So in effect when we are looking outwards, there are many egos. We seem to see many egos, and we have to act as if there are many egos. But when we turn within, there is only one ego. We alone are responsible for all this. So the solution to all the sufferings in the world is to kill ourself, this one ego.

• Based on the video: 2019-09-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the teaching that there is just one ego (15:00)

Asun said...

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?

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand everything you have said. But based on my spiritual practice and experiences I have gained some understanding. Due to that, I am just questioning the reality of everything we perceive as true including our own small self and the existence awareness we have when we are living as ego. Thats it. Existence never changes. It is common sense. Most of the folks in this blog have said, by practicing, we will understand. Following paragraph is from Path of Ramana: Based on that, Since Ego and Self are same, I have to conclude that Enquiring Ego or trying to attend to ‘beingness’ are both exactly same. The I feeling I have been referring to is Ego as per me, and it is absolutely right to say that enquiring’Whence am I’ where I is ego is also a form of self enquiry. Looks like Michael, Asun and Salazar are following ‘who am I’ method.

Path of Ramana:

In either of these two kinds of enquiry (‘Who am I’?’
or ‘Whence am I ?’), since the attention of the aspirant is
focused only on himself, nothing other than Self (atman),
which is the true import of the word ‘I’, will be finally
experienced. Therefore, the ultimate result of both the
enquiries, ‘Whence am I ?’ and ‘Who am I ?’, is the same !
How? He who seeks ‘Whence am I ?’ is following the ego,
the form of which is ‘I am so-and-so’, and while doing so,
the adjunct ‘so-and-so, having no real existence, dies on the
way, and thus he remains established in Self, the surviving
‘I am’. On the other hand, he who seeks ‘Who am I ?
drowns effortlessly in his real natural ‘being’ (Self) which
ever shines as ‘I am that I am’, 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 before-hand 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’

Salazar said...

I do not follow a particular method as outlined by Sadhu Om. There is only one "method", what he actually said. I very rarely use the mental aid of "who am I?". If so it comes up usually spontaneously without any perceived intention. It is not really necessary.

The -feeling- "I" is of course not the body feeling or consciousness. A feeling is usually understood as a sense perception like feeling cold or hot. Feeling "I" is not a sense perception, it is an intrinsically non-conceptual knowing.

Anonymous said...

From Path of Ramana:


Similarly, by the experience of the great void (maha
sunya) created by the annihilation of the ego, the aspirant
is some-what taken aback, ‘Alas ! Even the ‘I’ consciousness
(the ego) which I was attending to in my sadhana till now
as a beacon-light is lost ! Then is there really no such thing
at all as ‘Self’ (atman)?”. At that very moment, the Sadguru,
who is ever shining as his Heart, points out to him thus,
“Can the destruction of the ego, which is only an
infinitesimal reflected consciousness, be really a loss? Are
you not clearly aware not only of its former existence, but
also of the present great void created by its disappearance?
Therefore, know that you, who know even the void as ‘this
is a void’, alone are the true knowledge; you are not a
!”, in an instant as a direct experience of the shining
of his own existence-consciousness by touching (flashing as
sphurana) in Heart as Heart! The aspirant who started the
search ‘Whence am I?’ or ‘Who am I ?’ now attains the non-
dual Self-knowledge, the true knowledge ‘I am that I am’,

Anonymous said...

Salazar

I always am aware of I feeling. I am guessing this is what you are attending to. I call it as Ego. You call it as existence I am. It doesn’t matter as Sadhu Om says. As long as one pays attention to it, that should help in the long run. I know the I feeling as not sense perception, but as my very basis of life. Without it , there will be just void. This doesn’t exist in my sleep though. Hence I call it as Ego.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, we have to be careful with the term "ego". Because I understand it as second and third thoughts and not as self. As Bhagavan said, "I" going outwards is the ego, "I" going inwards is self. It is the same and it is not depending if it is in the heart or if it's roaming in phenomena. If it is in the heart it is the rope, if it is infatuated by phenomena, it is the snake.

self or "I am" exists always including deep sleep, ego only in the waking and dream state. That's the fundamental difference. We want to attend to self and not the ego, as the outward tending mind infatuated by phenomena.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Even if we believe there are many egos, how many egos can we destroy?

Even if we believe there are many egos, how many egos can we destroy? How many egos can we surrender? We can surrender only ourself, so we need to work only on ourself. So let others remain as egos or not, we have to be concerned about ourself. God doesn’t ask us to surrender all those egos. Surrender your ego and that is enough. So ultimately we each have our own responsibility to surrender ourself.

• Based on the video: 2019-09-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the teaching that there is just one ego (00:24)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Inside and outside are illusions

Inside and outside are illusions. Now we feel that some things are inside our body – our thoughts, feelings, emotions, they seem to be inside ourself. And the rest of the world seems outside. But just like the world we see in our dream is inside our own mind, this world is inside our own mind. That is, what we call the world is just a construction of five types of sensory perceptions – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Apart from these five kinds of sensory perceptions, there is no such thing as the world. And these are all within us – within the mind. So in this sense, everything is inside.

But in other sense in which Bhagavan generally uses the term ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, what is inside is only ourself. All phenomena are extraneous and therefore external to ourself. So when Bhagavan says, ‘look within’, he doesn’t mean ‘look at your thoughts or emotions’. They are all outside. What he means is look back at ourself –‘I’. But even this difference between ourself and everything else is real so long as we rise as ego.

When we turn back within and merge into our source, then the dream of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ will come to an end. There will be no duality of any kind whatsoever.

• Based on the video: 2019-09-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the teaching that there is just one ego (00:43)

Sanjay Lohia said...

On the spiritual path, there is no going backwards

On the spiritual path, there is going backwards. We may delay – not progress, but we cannot go back to the starting point. For instance, if I decide I want to be a guru and I want to have a lot of disciples and such things, I am not going to develop any further spiritually once I get that ego – ‘I am a guru’. So I will waste this life, but in the next life, I have to start from where I left off.

It’s like when the rain falls on the mountain, some rain quickly joins the river which is going directly to the ocean, but some rain gets stuck in a lake. And while in that lake it may get evaporate again and start over again. Ultimately, we all have to reach the ocean, but there may be delays on the way. We may take another example. The train is moving only in one direction. On the way, we may pass through a beautiful station, so we get off the train to enjoy this place. So we don’t progress further. But sooner or later we have to get back on the train, and the trains are all going in the same direction.

So we can delay on the path but cannot go back, but if we are wise we avoid delays.

• Based on the video: 2019-09-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the teaching that there is just one ego (00:31)

My reflection: Michael warns us about the allure of guruhood. We are not here to become a guru or anything. We are here to destroy our ego. We should always keep this in mind.

Rajat said...

Anonymous I think it is not quite accurate to say that without the ego there will be just void, because even to see the void, ego is required. I think the ego or I feeling is so fundamental that we cannot even contemplate any experience that does not include the ego. But there is sleep, where this ego is not present, and yet beyond shadow of doubt I can confirm that I slept. It is a mysterious thing, sleep :)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our likes, dislikes, desires, hopes, all these are perverted forms of love, distorted forms of love

Michael: The more we let go, the less we are troubled by things. To the extent we let go, to that extent we are happy and peaceful. Bhagavan has given us such a simple and pleasant path. All we need do is to let go, but we are unwilling to do so because of our desires and attachments.

A friend: So we should be in a state of non-participation?

Michael: Yes, but as long as we experience ourself as a body and mind we are participating. Even if we are sitting here and listening, we are participating. Even if we are just witnessing, we are still participating.

In order to succeed on this path, we should have extreme passion. If your hair was on fire, with how much passion you would rush to push your head in the water. We need so much passion. We have to be serious about this. We need all-consuming love because so long as we have love or liking or interest for anything other than ourself, we are not ready to let go.

The friend: But we are love.

Michael: Of course we are love, but now that love is distorted. I like this but dislike that – likes, dislikes, desires, hopes, all these are perverted forms of love, distorted forms of love. But the reality is only love. To know love as it is, we have to know ourself because we are love.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3 (37:00)

Anonymous said...

Yes. I agree. Sleep is mysterious and there can never be void any moment.

j d said...

Dear Michael, There are comments attributed to you in regard to information Katya Osborne
has relayed to you. I found it on Guruphiliac face book page. In relation to an article Strauss wrote that made the allegations about Robert Adams.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We need to use the principle of Occam’s Razor in our sadhana

Ontologically, our dream is much simpler than our waking state. ‘Ontology’ is a science of being or existence. In a dream, there is a dreamer and the dream projection. If you have got many things, that’s ontologically complex, but if you have got few things, that’s ontologically simple. This waking state, if this is not a dream, you have got many things, and you have got history and all these things, so it becomes ontologically complex. However, do we have any real evidence that this waking state is an ontologically complex state? We have no evidence that we are not now dreaming. Whatever we are now experiencing, we can equally well experience that in a dream.

One of the principles of science is called Occam’s Razor. It’s a philosophical concept and is also called the principle of parsimony. This principle says that any set of phenomena can be explained in a number of different ways, but one should always choose the most parsimonious one – that is, one should always choose the simplest explanation – the explanation that involves the least number of entities. So the simplest explanation of our present state is that it is just a dream.

Whatever we experience in a dream seems real while we are dreaming. Likewise, whatever we experience in this current state seems to be real now. In a dream, we can study science, history and can have philosophical discussions. Everything is possible is a dream. Our waking state may be a better production dream. Some cinema productions are of high quality and some are not. However, both are merely cinemas. Likewise, waking may be qualitatively different to dream but there is no substantive difference.

So the simplest explanation of all that we now experience is that it is just a dream. So we don’t need quantum mechanics, history, evolution, biology and all these things if we apply the principle of Occam’s Razor to our waking state. All such theories are not necessary. A simple explanation is that it is all a dream.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3 (01:36)

My reflection: This life is a dream and we should thank God that it is a dream. So we do not have to worry about anything in this dream. We should let whatever happens happen because if this is all a dream, why worry about changing anything? I may be the richest man today but become a pauper tomorrow, but what is that to me if all this is just a dream? We become carefree every time we remember that Bhagavan says this world is a dream, so such reminders are useful. We need a carefree mind in order to turn fully within so that we can experience ourself as we really are.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Self-attentiveness is putting our head on the block

The more we practice, the more our outward-going tendencies (our likes and dislikes and everything) will become weaker, and the more we will be willing to subside within. However, one real obstacle to subsiding within is ourself. Though we say ‘I want to attend to myself’ but we don’t actually want to. We want a little bit, but then we decide that that’s far too much, so we keep on retreating from the brink. We are not yet ready to throw ourself over the cliff.

If we take self-investigation like a meditation which we want to do for twenty minutes or something, we will seem to be failing because we cannot maintain steady self-attentiveness. Self-attentiveness is putting our head on the block, and we are not yet ready to put our head on the block. So every time we turn within, we have an urge to jump out again. So the practice is turning back within, turning back within, turning back within . . . However many times our attention turns outwards, we try to turn back within.

Though sometimes Bhagavan referred to this as svarupa-dhyana (meditation on oneself), it is actually quite different from the normal idea of meditation. It is an investigation rather than meditation. We are looking for something; we are looking for ‘who am I?’ So we are constantly trying to look within. At every moment we have a choice: either we attend to other things or attend to ourself. Even if we attend to ourself for a second, at that time we have chosen to attend to ourself rather than to other things. So the urge to attend to other things is to that extent weakened. It may not be immediately perceptible, but it is getting weaker and weaker.

All of us have failed on this path because if we had succeeded, we wouldn’t have been here. But we need to keep trying because the success lies in trying. It doesn’t matter however many times we fail because failure is also part of the process. Ultimate success will come eventually, but we need to be patient.

^ Based on the video: 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3 (00:56)

Sanjay Lohia said...

We want to believe that this world is real because ultimately this is what sustains ego

In a dream, there is only one dreamer. Likewise, in this present state, there is only one dreamer. Who is this one dreamer? It is the one who is seeing this world. So, for example, you are seeing Michael, but Michael is just one of your dream characters. It makes sense, but it is difficult for people to accept this because we are so attached to our life in this world. We want to believe all this is real. Because we want to believe all this is real, it is so difficult for us to turn away from it.

We want to believe all this real because ultimately this is what sustains ego. Now we conceptually understand that everything other than ourself is unreal, but if we actually saw through all this, it will no longer hold its attraction for us. Though we understand in theory that it’s all our mental projection, it’s all a dream - in practice, we are still taking it to be real. That’s why we get upset or agitated. That’s why we worry about the bills or about our children or about our job or business. We worry about the state of the world. We have so many things to worry about.

^ Based on the video: 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3 (01:29)

Salazar said...

So I went to the "Guruphiliac" website (not Facebook) and discovered that Steven Strouth is the author of the Robert Adams "debunking" story. The same guy who suddenly showed up on this blog and offered to tell anybody anything they wanted to know about Robert.

Nobody asked him though :-) (and then he left ....)

Interesting, I was not aware that Steven has some issues with Robert. Well, according to Steven, Robert Adams is a mentally deranged con-artist and there is nothing nice to find about him. However, I am asking myself, what attracted Steven to that "con-artist" that he even organized sat-sangs together with him? According to Steven, Robert wanted to charge $ 10 per person but Steven talked him out of it. Good job Steven!

But how true is Steven's story? Can it be verified? What is the real truth here?

What I see is someone who first believed that Robert is a guru and later changed his mind (for whatever reason) and then lashes out citing things he has ignored before. That happens all of the time with immature seekers.

Asun said...

“but then we decide that that’s far too much, so we keep on retreating from the brink. We are not yet ready to throw ourself over the cliff.”
Seems most of us raised with this instruction for Bhagavan: Cook over a low heat, stirring frequently :)
Thank you for transcriptions, Sanjay.

Michael James said...

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?

Asun said...

Thank you Michael, I understand it, just asking if you thought I was misunderstanding something after re-writing my explanation. I came across recently with a quote posted by someone in a site dedicated to Bhagavan, verse 13 from the Supplement to 40 verses, Truth Revealed by Sri Ramana Maharshi. I haven´t read it yet but in this verse he says something similar:

“The loss of 'body-am-I'-consciousness is the one aim of every sadhana (spiritual work), by whatever name it may be called.”

The “'body-am-I'-consciousness” is what I said that we take to be self-awareness as ego and that it is this “self-awareness” or “body-am- I-consciousness” what has to be surrendered. I do not always have the words to express what I want to express because, though I´m on it, still not well versed on Bhagavan´s works yet, I could see that using the term “self-awareness” in that context was misleading so, I made the distinction when I re-wrote my explanation . Now I know the right term to use :)


Steven said...

Michael James,

Can you tell me the way they pronounce Ramana in India?

I've heard it pronounced RA muh nah, with the accent on RA, and I have also heard it pronounced ruh MAHN uh with the accent on the second syllable.

If someone had actually lived in India at the ashram, how likely would it be that they pronounce it the second way?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Asun, as you say, Bhagavan did imply in so many ways that we should ‘Cook over low heat, stirring frequently’. That is, we should try to be in self-remembrance throughout the day. This is akin to cooking over low heat. And we should also look for opportunities when we can dive deep deep within ourself, by totally ignoring all phenomena (whether mental or seemingly physical). This is akin to stirring frequently.

You have thanked me for the transcriptions. However, we should thank only Michael. I act like a stenographer and that too, not a very efficient one. However, ultimately it is all Bhagavan’s grace.

Michael James said...

Steven, in Indian languages vowels are either short or long, and that determines the degree of stress on each syllable. A syllable with a short vowel has a duration of one measure (mātra), whereas a syllable with a long vowel has a duration of two measures. In the case of the name ‘Ramaṇa’, all three vowels are short, so none of the three syllables is pronounced with any stress or accent. Therefore according to the way you have shown the pronunciation, it should be pronounced ‘ruh muh nuh’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The spiritual path is the path of evolution, the evolution of bhakti and vairagya

At one place in his video: 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3, Michael says, ‘The spiritual path is the path of evolution, the evolution of bhakti and vairagya’. Yes, this should be obvious. I was thinking as to how this relates to my recent experiments with my diet. I am trying not to consume any food or water until 1.30 pm every day as part of my intermittent fasting. I think this will help me evolve in vairagya. I am addicted to food, but if I can remain without food and water every day for at least half a day, I am thereby renouncing my desire for food until 1.30 pm every day.

This is an experiment in intermittent fasting, but such fasting if done with a religious or spiritual aim, takes the form of upavaas. ‘Up’ means ‘near’ and ‘vaas’ means ‘residing’. So upavaas in this context means ‘staying near God’. The concept and practices of upavaas or fasting are prevalent in almost all religions. Some people keep weakly fasts, some keep a periodical fast of several days, overlapping some festivals.

Why should we fast? It is done to give our digestion system a rest. Whenever we put anything into our mouth, our prana-shakti (vital-force) is immediately diverted to digest this food. Since we are eating non-stop, our vital-force is always busy with digesting food. So this force gets very little time to engage itself in the repairs and maintenance of body’s cells, tissues or various parts. Our vital-force can do only one job effectively at one time. It does try to multi-task, but it is not very good at it. So fasting (with water or without water) is becoming increasingly popular as a means for the reversal of diseases or even prevention of diseases. This vital-force if kept free from the task of digesting removes the toxins, acids and other unwanted waste from our inner organs.

However, if we treat this fasting as upavaas, we can use this relatively free vital force to progress spiritually. Upavaas in our context means remaining in self-attentiveness. According to Bhagavan, self-attentiveness is the best way to remain near God because God is what we actually are. So my intermittent upavaas can help me in my progress in vairagya and bhakti, if I use this time correctly - that is, if I use this time to remain as much self-attentive as possible.

What do I hope to do after I break my intermittent fast? I hope to eat only simple fruits, vegetables and greens the rest of the day. So I opt for simpler foods instead of the more complex ones I was used to taking earlier. This is again vairagya as I am giving up more complex or processed foods and trying to stick to simple fruits and vegetables.


Anonymous said...

Asun,

In your comment on 11 February 2020 at 10:57, you have stated something totally in contradiction to your comment on 14 February 2020 at 23:17. In all my comments to you, Michael and Salazar, I have been trying to say that self-awareness is not what we attend to, but it is ‘I am the body’ consciousness that we attend to. And this should be lost to realize the truth. So looks like you are agreeing to the fact that we always attend to ego/i am the body consciousness in self-enquiry. Sadhu Om also exactly says the same.

Anonymous said...

Salazar,

I posted a comment earlier. Not sure why it didn’t get published. Reading the post in the link below, I have high regards for Steven now and Robert James might have been really delusional. Steven is definitely not immature seeker.

https://medium.com/@quietriotr/chances-are-you-are-infected-by-a-mental-parasite-582e05953015

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan often talked in terms of srsti-dsrti-vada, but his real teaching is drsti-srsti-vada

Advaita gives many levels of explanations. Advaita is clear that there is one without a second, but advaita has to account for this multiplicity. Most of the explanations given in advaita are according to srsti-drsti-vada (first there is creation, and then I see it). We see so many jivas, and one explanation given in advaita to account for this is that there is only one sun, but there are many pots of water, and in every pot of water you see the reflection of the sun. However, all such explanations are superficial explanations. The deeper explanation is drsti-srsti-vada: that is, creation has no existence independent of our perception of it. In any dream, how is a dream world created? It is created just by our perception of it.

However, the majority of people who call themselves advaitins prefer srsti-drsti-vada because it is more palatable and in accordance with all our pre-existing beliefs. But if we want to go deep and want to experience what advaita is pointing towards, we have to eventually accept drsti-srsti-vada. That is where the dream analogy comes in. It is okay to accept the srsti-drsti-vada explanations until we are ready to accept deeper explanations. Bhagavan never forced anything on anyone. If our bhakti and vairagya develop, we will be willing to accept the deeper explanations like pure drsti-srsti-vada.

The different levels of explanations are given to suit people of different levels of maturity. Bhagavan often talked in terms of srsti-dsrti-vada. If people came to Bhagavan and complained that this world is such a terrible place and that therefore they want to reform it, Bhagavan would often say, ‘God has created this world, and he knows how to look after it. Leave everything to him’. This is pure srsti-drsti-vada – as if there is a God which has created this world. But in his original works, Bhagavan clearly taught us drsti-srsti-vada – ‘if ego come into existence everything comes into existence’. In verse seven of Sri Arunachala Ashtakam, Bhagavan says, ‘If the thought ‘I’ does not exist, nothing else exists’.

^ Based on the video: 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3 (01:50)

Salazar said...

Yes, I like to do intermittent fasting about two times a week. I started it not with a spiritual motivation but just to feel 'better'. And it works for me.

It's pretty popular with certain health-gurus in the US.

Michael James said...

In a recent comment on one of my videos, 2016-04-23 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James, a friend called ‘Evil Deeds’ asked ‘If we are “aware” during sleep but there is no phenomenon, why then is Samadhi superior to sleep. If both are “unconscious” states, what distinguishes them? Why don’t we just sleep forever, or die for that matter?’, in reply to which I wrote:

Evil Deeds, if we could just sleep or die forever, then all our problems would be over, but we cannot sleep or die forever without eradicating ego. So long as we continue to rise as ego, we will continue to undergo birth and death repeatedly and to alternate between waking, dream and sleep.

Regarding the idea that samādhi is superior to sleep, that is no doubt what many people believe, but whether it is true or not depends on what one means by the term ‘samādhi’, because it is a term that is used to describe various different states. Generally, however, kēvala nirvikalpa samādhi is considered to be the ‘highest’ samādhi, but since it is just a state of manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind), any supposed difference between it and sleep can seem real only from the perspective of ego in waking or dream, because in the absence of mind there can be no differences whatsoever.

This is why Bhagavan said that we should avoid falling into kēvala nirvikalpa samādhi, because we cannot make any spiritual progress while in a state of manōlaya. Spiritual progress is nothing but the gradual weakening and eradication of our viṣaya-vāsanās (propensities, inclinations or desires to be aware of phenomena), and since they are active only in waking and dream, they can be weakened and eradicated only in these two states (which are actually not two states but one and the same state).

According to Bhagavan the only real samādhi is what he called sahaja samādhi (natural samādhi), which is the state of manōnāśa (annihilation or permanent dissolution of mind), from which we can never rise again as ego. This is therefore the only samādhi that is actually superior to sleep, because sleep is just a temporary non-existence of ego, whereas sahaja samādhi is eternal (beginningless, endless and timeless) non-existence of ego.

Asun said...

Anonymous,

In my conversation with Michael I´ve been talking on ego all the time. In the comment you are referring to I was responding to the comment you addressed me that self-investigation is “only enquiring the ego I am, the identity” and tried to explain you the difference between the identity or “I am this body-person” and “I am” as mere existence or pure awareness isolated from the person so that you could understand what is self-investigation: attending only to “I am” or awareness of just being, not of being this body-person. In the practice, the loss of 'body-am-I'-consciousness is only temporal and many times partial, if we are walking down the street, or cleaning the house or whatever, since we are still aware of other things though in these situations, our awareness of other things recedes to the background and self-awareness takes the foreground, so to speak.
The total and definitive loss of 'body-am-I'-consciousness would be the result of this practice.

Asun said...

Cont. to Anonymous,

I don´t know where Shadu Om says that it is consciousness “I am this body” what we attend to in self-investigation, as you claim. As far as I know and I understand, what Shadu Om says is that practice is not focusing on “I am I” or “I am Brahman”, as many wrongly think, which is the result of the practice not the practice, but this doesn´t mean that practice consists in focusing on the person or “I am this body”, he always clearly says that it consists in focusing only on “I am” or awareness of being, not of being this or that. So, we have to discern between “I am this body-person”, “I am”, and ultimate realization “I am I”.
Discerning between “I am this body-person” and “I am” is all we can do as ego but abiding as “I am” is not doing nor, therefore, ego, it is being already and this is the practice of self-attention or self-investigation, trying to abide as what we really are or just being as much as possible, weakening the primal tendency to rise as “I am this body-person”, being “I am I” the result of the practice.

Anonymous said...

Ohh ok. I had not read your comment properly. I thought you said self enquiry is about focussing on pure awareness. So I guess I am disagreeing only with Salazar.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Only when ego experiences the pure awareness, will it be destroyed

We need to be clear about deep sleep. Though we do not experience anything in deep sleep, we are aware. We are aware of three states. We are aware of this present state which seems to be waking. We are aware of another kind of state which we take to be dream. In both waking and dream, we are aware of phenomena. And we are aware of a third state in which we are not aware of phenomena. Now we are aware of being in a state in which we were not aware of anything. So in sleep, we are aware but not aware of anything. So sleep is a state of pure-awareness.

But now we are aware of ourself as ego, and as ego we are not aware of ourself as we actually are. So sleep seems to us to be a dark state. We are aware ‘I slept’, but we have got no clear recollection of it. If we could clearly recollect what we experienced in sleep here and now, we will be experiencing it here and now, so we will be finished. That’s why we have to bring sleep into waking. What we experienced in sleep, we have to experience here and now.

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 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.

^ Based on the video: 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3 (00:52)

Aham said...

.


I Am


.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, your disagreement rises from understanding certain terms differently. For me self is self and I do not distinguish between different "stages" of self even if one can do that [with the mind].

That's the problem, the mind is used to use certain terms and ways of understanding and then jumps in when it perceives something differently. As I said before, when I talk about self I am not talking about manonasa or, as some may define that as, "pure awareness/consciousness".

Since vichara transcends duality one cannot attribute to it any "progress" or "changes" what could only happening in the deluded mind. "I am", as Aham pointed it out, is sufficient for the understanding of vichara. Anything else is just complicating the matter with talks about different kind or qualities of consciousness' etc.

That is actually irrelevant and i.e. I cannot relate to Asun's many questions about certain facets since "I am" should be quite obvious and there is no room for doubt. But everybody is different. And that was no disrespect to Asun, it's her process and that is quite fine.

Anyway, just forget what I am saying and listen to Michael and you should be fine.

Anonymous said...

He who seeks ‘Whence am I ?’ is following the ego,
the form of which is ‘I am so-and-so’, and while doing so,

Sadhu Om has said above. So he does mean I am the body assumption/awareness/consciousness/etc when he says I am so-and-so.

Anonymous said...

Can Ego experience self awareness Sanjay? How is it possible?

Anonymous said...

Bhagavan would have meant: if ego comes into existence everything comes into existence only by the power of God. So God only creates this world. But Michael always has given spider analogy. Even spider can create that web only by the power of God. Or right way to say it is: the web gets created by the power of God. Does web really get created? Answer is: it appears to get created only to the spider.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, you have asked, ‘Can Ego experience self awareness Sanjay? How is it possible?’ This refers to my earlier comment, where 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 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’. Michael said this (or something to this effect) in his video.

Obviously, ego cannot experience pure-awareness because ego is impure-awareness: that is, ego is body-mixed awareness and is therefore impure. So ego’s impurity (all its adjuncts) has to vanish before it can experience itself as it really is. So when Michael said: ‘Only when ego experiences the pure-awareness, will it be destroyed’, he was speaking metaphorically. That is, ego has to present while it tries to experience pure-awareness, and eventually, ego surrenders itself to pure-awareness.

Asun said...

An essay by Michael on Shadu Om:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/ramana-hridayam/sri-sadhu-om-swami-and-the-question-who-is-a-jnani-by-michael-james/2699339300175538/

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our concern for anything other than ourself is an impurity

They talk of purification of mind, but the word that is generally used in Sanskrit is chitta-suddhi. Chitta in some context means the mind in general, but specifically, chitta refers to the will. So we are trying to purify the will. What are the impurities in our mind or will? It is our desires and attachments – our interest in anything other than ourself is an impurity. Our concern for anything other than ourself is an impurity.

‘Ourself’ means just ‘I’. The purity or impurity of your mind is the one thing which you will take with you into your next life. The will contains all the vasanas, and vasanas are the seeds which give rise to all thoughts. And everything that seems to be outside is just our own thoughts.

The actions we do are driven by our will, so it is the will that creates karma, and then we experience the fruit of our karma as our destiny. So desire is the energy that is driving our whole world. The will is sometimes called the karana-sarira. Karana means causal, so Karana-sarira means the causal body. But it is not the root. The root is ego.

^ Based on the video: 2020-02-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 3 (01:16)

My reflection: The karana (cause) of karana-sarira is ourself as ego. So our ultimate fight is with ego, but since its karana-sarira is like a strong army which is surrounding and protecting ego, we need to considerably weaken the karana-sarira (our will) before we can get at ego. So we continue to fight with our desires and attachments because by doing so, we are thereby weakening our enemy, which is ego.

‘Our concern for anything other than ourself is an impurity’, explains Michael. This has to be true. So if we want to know ourself, we should focus all our interest and effort on attending to ourself alone. This may seem difficult at present, but there cannot be any other way.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Asun, I thank you for posting the link of Michael's article on Sri Sadhu Om. I have read it once but in a hurry. So I will read it again, this time slowly.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Silence is the one language that will join us all as one

Bhagavan said there is only one real language and that real language is silence. Only one language can convey the truth and that language in silence. The way to understand silence is to turn within. So by surrendering ourself we learn the language of silence.

If we learn the language of silence, we don’t need any other language. Silence is the one language that will join us all as one.

Based on the video: 2019-09-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the teaching that there is just one ego (00:40)

Reflection: But what is silence? Bhagavan gave us a strict definition of the term ‘silence’. He teaches us in paragraph 6 of Nan Ar?:

Only the place where the thought called ‘I’ does not exist even a little is svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature]. That alone is called ‘mauna’ [silence].

So silence is not merely a verbal or mental silence. Real silence is beyond even the mental silence. We are in real silence only when we merge in our svarupa. So when we practice atma-vichara, we are in relative silence. However, this relative silence is good because this is the doorway to real silence.

‘Silence is the one language that will join us all as one’, says Michael. Yes, when the heart meats the heart, no other language is required.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Who is a true mahatma?

Michael wrote, ‘One day in the early 1960's Swami [Sadhu Om] composed eleven Tamil verses which later came to be included in Sadhanai Saram as verses 340-350 under the title 'Yar Jnani?' (Who is a Jnani?)’. The following is one of these verses:

Even though you may visit any number of mahatmas, and even though they may exhibit all the eightfold occult powers [ashta siddhis], know that he who turns your attention towards self, saying, 'Without allowing your mind to go after these juggleries, turn within', is alone the true mahatma.

So I know only true mahatma and that is Bhagavan Ramana. And of course, Michael is a true devotee of Bhagavan because he has been unceasingly urging us to turn within, turn within . . . So we are blessed to be in the company of this unique guru (Bhagavan Ramana) and his worthy shishya (Michael James).

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I have a question for you. Sri Sadhu Om wrote (as recorded in his article ‘Sri Muruganar The Right Hand of Sri Bhagavan’ - extracted from the book ‘Ramana’s Muruganar’, page 59):

Though it may appear a little difficult for some people who are not sufficiently well-versed in Tamil to understand the meaning of all the verses of Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai, mere recitation of these verses will be sufficient to enable devotees to obtain the Grace of the lord, for these verses are the holy words of a divine soul who has attained Self-knowledge.

Could you please elaborate on what Sri Sadhu Om says here? How could mere recitation of Muruganar’s works (like Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai) without understanding them enable us to obtain divine grace? Thank you.

Salazar said...

In the beginning and even after many years of practice of vichara (as in my case), "pure consciousness" was never realized. And yet, there were many, many moments in self, obviously not as "pure consciousness" or the silly measure 100% [pure] consciousness.

So how much "pure" consciousness was experienced? 2%, 10%, 20%, 60%? As described by some, only a 100% "turn" is manonasa.
Of course this whole percentage business is silly and can serve only as an abstract concept for the mind. It might be useful to remind the mind how far one has to go until phenomena is completely gone from perception.

However vichara is beyond any percentages and measures, it is simply "I am". If it is 10% "I am" or 99% "I am" is irrelevant for the "I am", it is only relevant for the mind/ego which ironically is the reason (just from wondering 'how far did I go?') for missing out on manonasa. It never can know anyway, therefore just stay with "I am".

So instead of worrying to be stuck in "body consciousness" why not starting with a second or two of thought-less being and go from there? Body consciousness is only perceived via a thought (the mind-translation of all sense perceptions). That particular upcoming thought needs to be noticed immediately and be discarded. Since it is a fundamental vasana it will come up many, many times and it needs to be discarded (besides other thoughts) until that thought does not rise anymore. At that point the idea of a body-consciousness is gone. That's the theory.

It will be a theory until tried out with many failures and a few successes.

Anonymous said...

This is my thought about self enquiry.

All thoughts arise because of body consciousness. First thought is body consciousness and then everything else arises. It is very easy to prevent all the other thoughts to rise, since we know when it arises. But it is not the same case with our body consciousness. It already has risen. So all we can do is stay in this body consciousness or ask where this came from and keep working on destroying all other vasanas and thoughts. Then we will have to start getting aware of that millisecond when body consciousness thought arises after deep sleep ends. At that moment we have to eliminate that thought. After that, we will realize pure consciousness .

I have stayed in body consciousness and have been able to eliminate other thoughts successfully.

Col said...

I appreciate the passion shown by all the commenters. It certainly helps me 🙂

Jeremy Lennon said...

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

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

Wow! Thank you Michael for the article above, a veritable Primer it is, which I have read several times now, and thank you also for these two verses which you included in your comment of 14 February. The shear simplicity of them is astounding and serves as the best evidence on behalf of their truthfulness.

Surely it's for us to just marvel at the perfect edifice of Bhagavan's teachings.

To know God is our goal here and indeed that always was the noble quest of all contemplatives.

Anonymous said...

Good one. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

There is one tamil song by Sadhu Om. I used to listen to it so often. Just beautiful verses.

https://youtu.be/2plYWYL6Gwo

Anonymous said...

Michael and Sadhu Om’s writing style is quite similar. But for some reason I could easily connect with Self Enquiry teaching written in Path of Ramana. I guess all of us are referring to the same awareness, but calling it with different terms.

Sanjay Lohia said...

It’s our own mind that we see as this world

All phenomena are our thoughts. What is the substance of everything we see in a dream? It is our own awareness, but that is awareness in the sense of mind. It’s our own mind that we see as a dream-world. Likewise, it’s our own mind that we see as this world.

• Based on the video: 2019-09-28 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the teaching that there is just one ego (00:47)

My reflection: We create this world by our mind – in fact, this world is just an expansion of our mind. This world is synonymous with our mind because both are maya. However, the root of this maya is our mind (or ego).

Sanjay Lohia said...

Muruganar’s role in bringing Bhagavan’s real teachings before the world is without any parallel

Sri Sadhu Om wrote (as recorded in his article ‘Sri Muruganar The Right Hand of Sri Bhagavan’ - extracted from the book ‘Ramana’s Muruganar’, page70):

If we want to verify what the correct teaching of Sri Bhagavan is on any particular subject, the answer will be available in Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar or Guru Vachaka Kovai. Therefore, these three works are the true Sri Ramana Prasthanatraya (the three fundamental texts of Sri Ramana’s divine revelation), and they are indeed a prasadam of His grace which the world has received through the agency of Muruganar. There is no wonder in the fact that any true aspirant for liberation who has studied these three great works and understood their import without any doubt or distortion, will not find anything to be learnt in any of the Vedanta sastras which existed hitherto, and will feel such sastras to be insipid like state gruel offered to one who has just eaten a sumptuous feast.

So we will always remain indebted to Muruganar.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, you said in your comment from 17 February 2020 at 18:38 and I quote, "[...] It is very easy to prevent all the other thoughts to rise, since we know when it arises. [...]"

Really? Since you never could do or tried vichara, that seems to be a bold statement. I beg to differ and anybody else who practices vichara will agree with me. There are very subtle thoughts and also the "I am the body"-thought is constantly going on in the waking state, however it is usually undetected in the subconsciousness.

You are obsessing about the so-called "body-consciousness" thought as the ultimate obstacle and ignoring all of the garbage which is involved with that which is supposedly "easy to prevent". Not so, it seems for me more that this is a trick of your mind to avoid vichara in the first place. Anyway, just my impression.

Salazar said...

Also Anonymous, we do not focus on "preventing" or suppressing thoughts, we just attend to self or "I am". Thoughts will come up until manonasa but they are not the problem, they are only a problem if we attend to them instead to ourself. Thoughts will disappear by themselves ....

You stipulated that it is too late once the "I am the body" idea has arisen and one has to catch that "before" it arises. But WHO or WHAT catches that? That what you believe it may catch it is that what creates it in the first place :-)

Anyway, I believe there is a logical block somewhere in your mind which is not grasping the paradox of "I".

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

Salazar, you say to Anonymous, "... there is a logical block somewhere in your mind which is not grasping the paradox of 'I'."
Who is to grasp the paradox of I? That which grasps or does not grasp the paradox of I is itself the paradoxical I in question. So i suppose if one finds it difficult to grasp I,that is reason to rejoice because recognizing this inability to grasp I is proof that I am (just like awareness of all phenomena) so who am I? Everything points to I Am alone, in a way! Yet I complain this path is too hard!

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Sadhu Om: In his guru-bhakti, Sri Muruganar was equal only to himself

Sri Sadhu Om wrote (as recorded in his article ‘Sri Muruganar The Right Hand of Sri Bhagavan’ - extracted from the book ‘Ramana’s Muruganar’, page 87):

In his Guru-bhakti, Sri Muruganar was equal only to himself. He had understood the truth that, though it is only the one real Supreme Reality which is pointed out by all religions as their goal and which is manifest as all the names and forms of God, allowing the mind to expand and diverge by wandering after all religions and after all the names and forms of God cannot be a means to attain the final knowledge. Hence, in accordance with the great truths ‘Clinging to one, remain with a single mind’ and ‘The Gurumurthi alone is all the Trimurtis’, he cherished a one-pointed devotion, clinging firmly to the name and form of his Sadguru Sri Ramana and not allowing his mind to expand and become scattered in many directions. This fact is made clear in so many of his verses […]

It was only such one-pointed devotion to Sri Bhagavan which enabled Sri Muruganar to attain Self-realisation so easily. […] Since Sri Muruganar came to Sri Bhagavan with a pure, empty and clear mind which was unburdened by the impression of any sastras, he directly became a fit vessel to receive the Grace and Jnana of Sri Bhagavan.

My reflection: We Hindus revere the names and forms of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna. We have grown up listening to their stories, so we are naturally attracted to these names and forms and their stories and lilas. However, if we allow our love to be scattered in many directions, this will not be good for our sadhana. So Bhagavan’s name and form, his life, and his teachings should be the focus of our love and interest. Bhagavan is the one reality which appeared as Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and others, and therefore by loving Bhagavan, we love every other God.

Michael James said...

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.

Michael James said...

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, 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’.

Anonymous said...

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 ?

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

Michael in paragraph 3 of Nan Yar Bhagavan writes, "Just as knowledge of the rope, which is the base, will not arise unless knowledge of the imaginary snake ceases [...]". What would be wrong about saying that knowledge of the imaginary snake will not cease until knowledge of the rope arises? Because at one time we see either rope or snake, not both, and if we see that it's a rope then only we'll be convinced that it's not a snake. If both are valid statements, then it's like saying A requires B and B requires A, so neither A not B can happen. But perhaps I am stretching the analogy. Because in the case of vichara, Bhagavan has explained clearly, if we look at ego closely it will disappear and only our real nature will remain. We cannot gain knowledge of our real nature except by making ego cease. This paragraph seems like a clear pointer that we have to investigate only this ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I thank you for clarifying my mistaken understanding. As you say, ‘I was actually speaking literally, not metaphorically, because ego cannot be destroyed by any means other than (literally) experiencing itself as pure awareness’. We may take another example of a fly trying to go near the fire. It will die if it touches the fire, but it has to touch the fire in order to die. So ego has to touch its innate pure awareness if it wants to be annihilated.

As you have explained: 'as Bhagavan implies in the final sentence of verse 21 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘ஊண் ஆதல் காண்’ (ūṇ ādal kāṇ), ‘Becoming food is seeing’'. So we have to serve ourself to ourself and that is seeing God or seeing ourself. Thank you.

Sanjay Lohia said...

How can we think of Bhagavan without thinking of ‘who am I?’

We cannot separate Bhagavan from self-knowledge. Bhagavan is the very embodiment of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge means pure self-awareness: the awareness that is aware of itself alone. That is Bhagavan. Only when we experience that, will we be in the true state in which he alone exists.

How can we think of Bhagavan without thinking of ‘who am I?’ Bhagavan came to teach this simple path of self-investigation. So the mere thought of Bhagavan, the mere sight of his photograph, should remind us to turn our attention back within to see ‘who am I?’

• Based on the video: 2020-02-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to cope with attachments and relationships (58:00)

My reflection: When people say they are Bhagavan's devotees but don't practise self-investigation, they are not the devotees of Bhagavan in true sense. As Michael says, 'How can we think of Bhagavan without thinking of who am I? Bhagavan came to teach this simple path of self-investigation. So the mere thought of Bhagavan, the mere sight of his photograph, should remind us to turn our attention back within to see who am I?'

Asun said...

Good point, “To whom?”

All of us are aware of being, of existing, of “I am” and it is this fact, without room for different interpretations, what leads naturally to ask questions such as who or what am I. This question, also naturally, leads to the silence of an introverted mind which allows focusing attention on the fascinating fact of being and of being aware of being and to directly experience self-awareness which, naturally too, emanates love and happiness as a flower emanates its fragrance. Abiding as this mere beingness strongly attracted by the love and happiness it emanates, and diving deeper and deeper into it, it is what I understand that it is called self-investigation in Bhagavan´s path, I guess because it not only emanates love, peace and happiness not dependent on anything nor anyone to be so, we can add inner freedom to the list, it also emanates understanding but in a different way to the usual along with many self-discoveries so that the more we go into it, as someone told me recently “the more impossible it comes to putting it into words, until eventually there will no rising to conceive or express anything.”

But we have to be really fascinated by this fact of self-awareness and curious about it as only a child or a simpleton person can be. Unfortunately, our mind has grown up becoming too sophisticated and it is caught rather by the fascination of explanations about awareness than by the very fact of being self-aware itself which is, in part, what I meant when I wrote about the absurdity of making known through thought what is already and directly known, but since I can´t clearly explain myself, all I´ll say is that, by doing so, all we get is to be drawn away from it.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, how can "I am" be the "knot"? The "knot" does not really exist. It is an explanation within the realm of the phenomenal world. It is also basically a "thought", nothing else.

There are limits within conceptual understanding and in "I am" there is no conceptual understanding NOR a knot unless one thinks about it.

Anyway, it is puzzling for me that you say you agree with, i.e., Michael but have many disagreements with me. I concur with Michael with everything he has written addressed to you.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Muruganar: Devotees need not worry because Bhagavan has direct contact with each of his devotees in the heart

The following extract is taken from Michael’s article: Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om (taken from the book ‘Ramana’s Muruganar’):

Sri Sadhu Om quotes Sri Muruganar as once expressing his own experience saying, ‘Devotees need not worry; Sri Bhagavan, who is the ocean of the amrita which is the fullness of grace, himself has direct contact with each of his devotees in the heart, without the need of anyone to meditate or intercede in the middle’. (Sri Jnana Bodham, vol. 3, p. xii). As Sri Sadhu Om used to say, Sri Bhagavan is the bright sun of jnana who is always and everywhere shedding the clear light of his grace upon all, so if we rise between him and his devotees with the feeling ‘I can help and guide others’, we will only be obstructing the free flow of his light and casting a shadow upon those whom we seek to guide, and hence the best help we can do for others is not to rise as a separate individual but only to subside in the heart, thereby merging and losing ourselves in his light.

Therefore we should understand from the example set by Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om that no true disciple of Sri Bhagavan will ever take himself as guru, and that the greatest help we can do to guide others is to efface ourselves totally, outwardly living as simple, humble and unassuming devotees of our sadguru, Sri Ramana Bhagavan.

My reflection: The so-called ‘gurus’ will fail because they are in the business of guiding others. Bhagavan’s true devotees will succeed because they are in the business of following Bhagavan’s guidance.

Asun said...

I made yesterday a search looking for that book but I didn´t find it yet, I came across with that article by Michael. Loved that extract you quote, Sanjay.

Anonymous said...

My first question is: Are you sure you are practicing self enquiry correctly?

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.

What I meant by ‘preventing thoughts’ is actually ‘ignoring thoughts’.

Eg, say entire world is filled with polluted air. Can we ever find pure air anywhere?answer would be:No. Only remaining in pollution, we can clean up the pollution. So is our ego. We remaining as Ego, is cleaning up the ego by means of self enquiry. By Ego, I mean the knot, just not ‘I am’ state. When there is no clean air (during waking), we can never be in a space filled with clean air(I am) and wait for the impure air to get eliminated.

I have asked a question to Michael. Will wait for his response.

Anonymous said...

As long as you and I write in this blog, we have to acknowledge the existence of knot. Being in duality, we can only talk about duality.

I agree with Michael, but I have asked a question too, to make sure I fully agree with him.

Assume a line is drawn by you as you walk along a path. Assume as you walk, your feet automatically draws the line . And assume now, you are at the end of the line. Now you want to see the beginning point. You turn 180 degrees to face beginning point and start tracing back. That is what I believe Michael is saying. I agree with that. The line is the illusion (mind) we have created unnecessarily. My question to him is: who is that who traces back? I think it is the knot. Because knot is the one that drew the line and is also aware.

I am not able to relate to I am state you refer to, in the above analogy though.

Salazar said...

Where did I say that I dive into the subconsciousness? Huh? What good would that do?

Nobody can tell you if you do self-inquiry correctly or not. It is beyond duality and as such a question like "are you sure you are practicing self inquiry correctly" is revealing the confusion about what "I am" is. Since it is extremely simple it is overlooked by the ego and usually discarded as "it can't be that simple".

I give up. There are plenty of texts who describe the nature of "I am" and the nature of the "knot" aka "I am the body" - consciousness .... i.e. Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai and many other texts.

If they cannot clarify your confusion, I for sure won't be able to.



Anonymous said...

He who thinks ‘I (am so-and-so)’ is himself one among the thoughts. Of all thoughts, the thought ‘I (am so-and-so)’ is the very first. The jiva who thinks ‘I (am so-and--so)’ is only our reflection. For, we never think ‘I (am this or that)’ when we shine as That (the Supreme).

4. This thought, ‘I (am the body)’, does not exist in deep sleep. This thought, ‘I (am the body)’, does not exist in the true state of jnana either. Since it rises and slips away in between (two such states), this ‘I’ is unreal; hence, this ‘I’ is only a thought.
5. The waxing of this thought ‘I’ is indeed the waxing of misery! This thought ‘I’ alone is what is called the ego. It is only because of non-enquiry that this ‘I’ has come into existence and is flourishing ! If, instead of being favoured, it is enquired into...

The second and third persons (the objects) live only because of the root, the first person (the subject or ego). If the fickle mind turns towards the first person, the first person will become non-existent and That which really
exists will then shine forth. This indestructible, real Self is Jnana.


Salazar,
I might have been wrong about my explanation on how ‘I am the body thought’ can die.

But if you read the above verses, it says fickle mind turns its attention towards first person(i.e ego), then ego dies and truth will shine. So all along we are always in the realm of ego during self enquiry. The enquirer and the enquiree are all ego.

I cannot provide any other evidence or explanation.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We need to learn the art of doing nothing

In Bhagavan’s path, we don’t have to do anything. The whole problem is we are constantly trying to do things. We need to learn the art of doing nothing. We can do nothing only when we surrender ego.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to cope with attachments and relationships (01:05)

My reflection: To experience ourself as we actually are, we need to learn the art of doing nothing. Likewise, to regain our health or to overcome any disease, we need to learn the art of doing nothing. That is, whenever we are afflicted with any bodily problems, we should immediately fast – not consume food and water until we regain our health. This is the sure way to regain our health. If we are not able to fast, we can consume coconut water, juices or juicy fruits and such things in limited quantity. However, the supreme medicine is fasting, according to Ayurveda.

Anonymous said...

I am unable to see my own comments in my phone. My phone really has some problems. I am sorry if I said that. I really cannot relate to being in I am state, because Sadhu Om has not explained self enquiry in that manner.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Doership is not a separate thing to deal with; doership is just a symptom of ego

The problem is not the actions we do. Our body, speech and mind are made to do certain actions according to our destiny. The problem is we rise as ego and take that body, speech and mind as ourself. So whatever the mind is thinking, we think ‘I am thinking’. Likewise, whatever the speech is speaking or body is doing, we think that we are speaking or doing. Even when the body isn’t doing anything, for example, we may be sitting and listening, the body is not doing anything, speech is not doing anything because we are just listening, but doership is still there because we feel ‘I am sitting. I am not speaking. I am just listening’.

So even in a state of inaction, we are still having that feeling of doership. So the problem is not whether the body and mind do any action, the problem is doership. We are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body and mind’, and consequently, it seems to us that whatever the body, speech and mind do are actions done by us. We can’t get rid of this doership without getting rid of ego. So long as we rise as ego, we experience this body and mind as ‘I’, so whatever actions they do seem to us to be actions done by us.

So doership is not a separate thing to deal with. Doership is just a symptom of ego. The only way to get rid of it is to surrender ego, and we can surrender ego only by being self-attentive.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to cope with attachments and relationships (01:09)

My reflection: Some of our friends advise us to act without doership. They obviously give us correct advice but they fail to tell us how to act without doership if our ego is still alive. As Michael implies, doership is an unavoidable symptom of ego. Since the root of doership is ego, we need to obviously get rid of ego if we want to get rid of doership. In fact, a doer (ego) and doership rise and subside together.

Asun said...

Anonymous,

Yes, it is us as ego who do self-investigation by giving up attending to other things than ourself and turning attention towards ourself or focusing it on self-awareness which is pure awareness or awareness aware only of itself.
I think that it is because there are not two awareness, one to attend to the other, but only awareness which is ourself or pure awareness, that Salazar states that it is ourself what does self-investigation, not ego. But this is not correct because whereas ego turned towards itself is ourself or pure awareness, ourself is not ego since, unlike ego, it never is aware of anything other than itself nor rises as ego. So, it is ego what does self-investigation to know itself as what it really is and what, by knowing or facing its own true “form of light”, subsides and it is known that it never existed, actually.

Regarding to the issue of “I am”, Michael wrote in his comment at 9 February 2020 at 18:33:

“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 portion of ego is ‘I am’, which is pure awareness, whereas the jaḍa portion 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.”

And Shadu Om says in “The paramount importance of self-attention” (5 December 1977):

“To dwell upon ‘I am’ in whatever way is possible is good contemplation (manana). It is the practice that will root out all interest in other things (second and third persons) and make self-abidance easy.
Good and bad are based on the limiting concept ‘I am the body’. The experience of the jñāni is simply ‘I am’. Though it may seem that the jñāni sees differences, he never actually experiences any distinctions such as good or bad. He is ever contented with the knowledge ‘I am’. ‘I am’ is both the way and the goal (as Bhagavan teaches us in verse 579 of Guru Vācaka Kovai).

Salazar said...

Instead to argue about "who" is doing vichara (does that really matter in "I am"? Of course not!} why not just being [mentally] quiet? I am starting to appreciate Aham's hints to drop this endless bickering, at some point it is self-sabotaging (pun intended).

Salazar said...

Sanjay, one can surmise that doer-ship only simultaneously vanishes when the ego vanishes. According to Bhagavan it is impossible to be not a doer with an ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Though Bhagavan bestows faith in us, he will also roast us in the world

The following extract is taken from the article Sri Muruganar’s Poetry – Enjoying its Beauty by V. Chandramouli (published in the book ‘Ramana’s Muruganar’):

Muruganar used to take liberties with Ramana in praising him is a seemingly critical way (Ninda Stuti). He says:

Do not take for granted that Ramana bestows his grace as we desire. He is a friend of the cat while standing guard for the milk. He will pinch the child and at the same time sing the lullaby. Though he bestows faith in us, he will roast us in the world. I wonder if he takes pleasure in seeing our anxiety. While punishing the guilty he may also test the devotees. He seems to have chosen the singular path of leaving his devotees to their fate. For is he not the master of maya? Who can fathom his ways?

My reflection: Beautiful, isn’t it? Bhagavan does roast us in the world, but he does so only to mature us, to make us ripe, so that he can devour us. So we should joyfully accept his will as his holy prasad. Bhagavan is love, and love can never hate us. Everything is a play of Bhagavan’s love, so let us enjoy this play as long as we chose to look away from ourself.

However, eventually, we need to stop looking at this play because our very looking at it is keeping us bound. We need to ignore everything outside and turn within and within and within . . . until we lose ourself in the bliss which is Bhagavan!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Asun. From that article Sadhu Om also has said:


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.

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.


Salazar said...

From Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai: "All sadhanas other than self-enquiry involve some action to be performed either by the mind, speech or body, and hence one may experience some difficulty in using these instruments. But in the path of self-enquiry taught by Sri Bhagavan no action need be performed by any of these three instruments, and hence this path is the easiest of all paths."

According to the above, no action by the mind is needed for vichara (what is of course clear for all who know "I am"): No action - no doer, thus who then is doing it :-)

Please do not answer that with another concept like "chit-aspect" or whatever ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Salazar. I really like arguing with you:)
The following note is for all:
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?

I guess I have to give up the desire to understand everything perfectly. I am still on Path of Ramana 2. May be , I will be able to connect all the dots after I complete reading that.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, it is not bragging but the truth, so Sadhu Om was not bragging when he said that. What could be simpler than the non-conceptual knowledge that one exists (aka Self, pure consciousness etc.)? Everybody knows that but gets distracted by thoughts. It is so subtle that it cannot be grasped by the mind nor senses, and yet there it IS - always.

Asun said...

That´s what Michael explains in the comment I copied for you, Anonymous, the difference between “I am” related to a body, “I am this body”, which is a thought, and “I am” isolated from the adjuncts which is self-awareness.

As dwelling upon self-awareness or “I am”, even partially and to some degree, and holding into it, nothing disturbs us, come what may, we remain inwardly or emotionally unconcerned and peace of mind is not affected by events, however, if we are experiencing ourselves as “I am this body”, we are affected by events and we get disturbed by them. That´s why Shadu Om says that, if as soon as we feel disturbed by something we think that disturbance comes because “I am” that in this context refers to “I am this body” and therefore is a thought, this remembrance “will immediately pull us back to self-attention”, i.e., to “I am” as self-awareness facilitating us to get rid of ego. Note that he also says that this is possible “as a result of our daily practice”. Without the experience of self-awareness it is difficult to understand.

“I am” as self-awareness is pure awareness, not ego. Ego is always awareness of “I am this body”, i.e., it is that which is aware of the thought “I am this body” so, it can separate itself or awareness from the adjuncts and dwell only upon awareness which requires discernment and one - pointed mind or, as Michael uses to say a “keen attention”, as well as surrendering since for dwelling upon pure awareness we have to give up attending to second and third persons, overcoming vasanas. This is the practice which is done by ego, obviously, and requires effort. Once we are dwelling upon pure awareness, even for a split second, we are not doing, just being. With practice, dwelling upon pure awareness becomes easier and easier, to a great extent because the more we can abide as what we really are, the more we love to be as what we really are and grace starts to do its work but, again, this only can be known by practice.

Diving deeper and deeper in this state of just being, is the beginning of true self-inquiry and what we may find out along this practice, belongs to silence.

As Shadu Om also says, Bhagavan said many things which may appear to be contradictory but any of them contradicts the instruction of being self-attentive, of attending to ourself, “I am”, or “our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), which alone is real”. Very simple, indeed. Once heard Bhagavan´s clear and simple instruction, it is up to each one what to do about it.

I don´t know for how long you have been in this blog but it seems that most of you have been hanging around here for a number of years. I have been only for one year now and I can assure you that I am far from being specially skillful and smart, as you seem to be, specially, tilting at windmills :)


Asun said...

Correction to myself: grace is working inside us from the very beginning though we become sensitive to its presence and action or acknowledge them as we go into the practice.

Col said...

Anonymous

I just like the original teachings by Ramana and the commentaries by Michael in video form. In Nan Yar you can take each sentence and go into greater depth and it seems every paragraph has a purpose. It's a good question to ask, why the need for all these additional books? Perhaps it is only for our need to complicate matters. Can you find contradictions in Nan Yar?

Sanjay Lohia said...

What we call failure is when we allow our attention to be drawn outwards again

Scientific investigation is outward-looking. They are overlooking the basis of all this appearance. However, we are investigating the basis of all this appearance, so what can be more interesting than this? So Bhagavan directs us in the right direction. He says, yes, all this appears, but to whom does this appear? The one to whom all this appears is the basis of all this appearance. If we don’t rise as ego, nothing appears. So what can be a more interesting subject to investigate than ourself? Before we know what we ourself actually are, what value does all knowledge we have about other things have? That is, we can’t know the truth of anything else without knowing the truth of ourself. We have to know the truth of the knower before we can know the truth of the known.

So this is a very interesting task Bhagavan has given us. We find it difficult because our attention is constantly going outwards, and it is going outwards because we are more interested in knowing other things than knowing ourself. But the more we follow this path, the more the interest to know ourself will increase, and the more we are interested to know ourself, the less interested we will be in other things.

What is the light by which all this multiplicity in known? That is, we know physical objects by physical light, but what appears physical actually appears only in our mind, so physical objects and physical light are all actually mental. So what is the light that illumines the mind? That is ourself – that is awareness. So what we are investigating is the light that illumines all other lights. So when we turn our attention back towards ourself, we are bathing our mind in light of pure awareness, so to speak.

So the more we turn within, the more our mind will be clarified, so the clearer and simpler the path will become by following it. This is the path of investigating the original light of all lights, the light of awareness. So we cannot wrong on this path. What we call failure is when we allow our attention to be drawn outwards again. What is the solution? We have to turn back in again. We have to just continue trying, trying, trying . . .

• Based on the video: 2020-02-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to cope with attachments and relationships (01:26)

Sanjay Lohia said...

We are not only the investigator and the investigated but also the instrument of investigation, namely awareness or attention

Sometimes people used to ask Bhagavan: ‘Is there any secret teaching?’ Bhagavan would say in this path it is all an open secret. So Bhagavan has taught us all we need to know, but to understand it properly we need to put it into practice. The more we put it into practice, the clearer and simpler it will become because clarity lies in simplicity. And the ultimate simplicity is the state of oneness, the state of non-duality. If you have got two or more things, you have got complications. But when all we have to attend to is ourself, no two things are involved in this path.

That is, the one who is investigating is itself the one who is being investigated. The investigator is investigating itself, so it is a state of oneness. And what is the instrument we use to investigate? Attention. And what is attention? It is awareness focused on one thing. So we are not only the investigator and the investigated but also the instrument of investigation, namely awareness or attention.

So the more we investigate ourself, the simpler it will become and the more we will recognise how incredibly simple this is.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to cope with attachments and relationships (01:33)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In Advaita philosophy they talk about jivanmuktas (that is, people who are liberated while alive), but these are all at a superficial level of belief

A friend: How is it possible that Nisargadatta being a jnani ate meat?

Michael: How do we know who is a jnani? When we do not know jnana in ourself, how can we know jnana in others? We may think this person is a jnani and that a ajnani, but it is all our beliefs. What does the term 'jnana' mean? It means ‘awareness’. In this context, it means awareness of ourself – that is, atma-jnana (self-awareness). So without knowing ourself, how can we know anything else? Sometimes people asked Bhagavan, ‘Is such-a-such a person a jnani?’ Bhagavan would say, ‘There is only one jnani and you are that’. So let us not ask questions about this jnani or that jnani.

In a dream, we may feel that this one person is a jnani and others are ajnanis, but when we wake up from the dream we know all those people were just our mental fabrications. So whoever we take to be a jnani is just our mental fabrication because, according to Bhagavan, what we are experiencing now is just our own dream. Who is seeing this dream? The dreamer is doing so, and the dreamer is ego. As ego we say, ‘this person is me and all these are other people’. But this person is not ourself, and even this ego is not what we actually are. When we investigate ourself and know what we actually are, that alone is jnana. Everything else is just our imagination.

So Bhagavan’s path is very very deep and radical. In Advaita philosophy they talk about jivanmuktas (that is, people who are liberated while alive), but these are all at a superficial level of belief. If all this is a dream, what meaning does it have to say ‘this person is a jnani; this person is ajnani’. So to know the jnani, we need to know ourself. When people say so-and-so is a jnani, we blindly believe them. The real jnani will tell us, ‘You alone are that. Know yourself and you will know the jnani’. So long as we mistake ourself to be a body, we mistake even the jnani to be a body.

So the root of all the problems is our rising as ego and thereby mistaking ourself to be a body or person. Nisargadatta is just one of the many people appearing in your dream. If you want to know the truth about Nisargadatta, know the truth about yourself. When you know the truth about yourself, you know I alone am. There are no others.

• Based on the video: 2020-02-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to cope with attachments and relationships (1:37)

My question: Did Nisargadatta really consume meat? If yes, how did he justify eating meat? If anyone has any information on this, please share this with us. Thanks

Sanjay Lohia said...

Nisargadatta says in his book ‘I AM THAT’ (Starting on page 193 of the pdf file):

Q: You smoke?
M: My body kept a few habits which may as well continue till it dies. There is no harm in them.
Q: You eat meat?
M: I was born among meat-eating people and my children are eating meat. I eat very little -- and make no fuss.
Q: Meat-eating implies killing.
M: Obviously. I make no claims of consistency. You think absolute consistency is possible; prove it by example. Don't preach what you do not practise.

My reflection: Nisargadatta says, 'You think absolute consistency is possible; prove it by example'. How about Bhagavan Ramana? His words, deeds and actions were all one - absolutely consistent!

Anonymous said...

I think I glanced it once. I didn’t gather much from it. I really loved reading Path of Ramana.it was simple and extremely relatable and no contradiction there. Asun included something from Paramount article. It was not Sadhu Om’s own words. So Sadhu Om never contradicts at all. I realized it just yday night.


If Bhagavan wrote something what I observed is: he only explained what reality is. He never went into details of ego .. cannot blame him though. Hence I don’t find his writing that helpful. But His life story itself has taught me a lot. Eg. His fear of death and self realization at that moment is itself a teaching. I have experienced great fear and at the same time bliss, hence I understand that very well. A strange person who guided him to thiruvannamalai , then disappearing itself shows us, how powerful God is.

I read little bit of this :

https://realization.org/p/sadhu-om/how-to-do-self-enquiry.html

Looks like what I understand about self enquiry is indeed right.

The term ‘I am’ has not been used in that article from what I read.

We only abide in ‘I’ feeling that comprises of consciousness of identity, self image, I am the body thought, and all other thoughts. Then after we eliminate everything, I becomes I-I and it shines. Seems simple to me now. At some point enquirer also should disappear.

Sadhu Om is considered to be the perfect translator of Bhagavan’s teachings. So I rely only on him.

Thanks for you comment.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, in your comment of 21 February 2020 at 11:27 you paraphrased what I replied to a question about how it is possible that Nisargadatta being a jñāni ate meat, but you seem to have missed the point, because you end by asking: ‘Did Nisargadatta really consume meat? If yes, how did he justify eating meat?’ What is it to you whether he ate meat or how he justified eating meat? So many people eat meat, and presumably they each believe they are justified in doing so, whereas you do not think it is justified, so you do not eat meat. Among all the billions of people who eat meat, why are you so interested in Nisargadatta and his justification for doing so?

Presumably your interest is prompted by the widely held belief that he was a jñāni, so in effect you are asking the same question that I had answered in the portion you had just paraphrased. What is it to you whether he was a jñāni or not? Why should you be interested in such matters? Asking about others is anātma-vicāra, which is none of our business. As Bhagavan used to say, ‘வந்த வேலையைப் பார்’ (vanda vēlaiyai-p pār), ‘See [look at or attend to] the work for which you have come’, and that work is not anātma-vicāra but only ātma-vicāra.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, do not get confused by terms like "true" self-inquiry. Terms like "true" are made up by the ego to imply a lack of some sorts, a goal, something yet not attained ....

A game of the ego, also to indirectly imply, see "I am going deeper" than those who do not do "true" self-inquiry but just plain self-inquiry. LOL

That is a false approach IMO. It is imperative to not have a goal in mind, the need to have something to attain in the FUTURE. There is no future with vichara, if there is one is not doing vichara but attending to the mind.

As Bhagavan said, holding "I am" with effort is vichara, holding "I am" without effort is realization. That is all needed to know. The simpler one can make it the better.

Granted, Bhagavan talks in Nan-Yar about "diving deep" but that is meant more figuratively since there are no spatial parameters in self. There is nowhere to dive deeply but in the imagination of mind. As Michael said, people only understand these teachings to the level of their maturity.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I get your point. What you say is correct. As you say, ‘Among all the billions of people who eat meat, why are you so interested in Nisargadatta and his justification for doing so?’ Yes, trying to find out about Nisargadatta – whether he ate meat and if he did eat, what was his justification for doing so, are all anatma-vichara. So as Bhagavan used to say, ‘See [look at or attend to] the work for which you have come’. What is that work? Only atma-vichara, as you make clear. So thank you!

Sanjay Lohia said...

So long as there is a dream mixed with lucidity, it’s not lucid

A friend: I have a question about lucid dreams? Does it have any room in Bhagavan’s teachings?

Michael: Lucid means with light. So long as we are dreaming, we are not in a state of lucidity. Whatever people call lucid dreams is a state of self-ignorance because if we knew ourself as we actually are, the dreamer will come to an end. So there will be no dreams. The dreamer is ego, and ego is a false awareness of ourself. As ego we dream and whatever we dream, we dream ourself to be a person within our dream. That is a state of self-ignorance.

So lucid dreams, non-lucid dreams, all these distinctions have no meaning in this path. The true state of lucidity is when we are aware ‘I alone am’: that is when we are aware of nothing other than ourself. Nothing else is real lucidity. So if we want lucidity, we must know ourself. What is the original light? That is pure awareness. That is what we really are. So let us just take lucidity and forget the dream. So long as there is a dream mixed with lucidity, it’s not lucid. The light without any dream – that’s true lucidity.

So, lucid dreams have no relevance in Bhagavan’s path. We should be interested in knowing only one thing: ‘who am I the dreamer?’

• Based on the video: 2020-02-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to cope with attachments and relationships (1:45)

Note: A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. During a lucid dream, the dreamer may gain some amount of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment; however, this is not actually necessary for a dream to be described as lucid. (Source: the internet)

Salazar said...

Yes, at least one thing what I've learnt on this blog is to stop wondering and asking about others, especially those I consider(ed) to be Jnanis. With the grace of Bhagavan, my interest in other spiritual figures has vanished and it seems now odd that I was interested in it in the first place.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, you said and I quote, "We only abide in ‘I’ feeling that comprises of consciousness of identity, self image, I am the body thought, and all other thoughts."

That is totally wrong and not vichara!

Since that is so outrageously wrong I leave it as is is. Vichara is NOT attending to "identity", "self image", "thoughts" etc. which are all phenomena.

If that would be vichara than the 6 Billion people on this planet would be all masters of vichara :-)

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

Salazar I agree with your comment of 21 February 2020 at 14:47, especially about not having a goal to be attained in the future. In Bhagavan's path there is nothing new to be gained.
Just one clarification. In paragraph 2 you are talking about not having goal Vs having goal. In paragraph 3 you are talking about holding I Am with effort and without effort. And the paragraph starts with "As" which seems to suggest that you are making a connection between para 2 and 3. Perhaps implying that having a goal in mind is for those who are holding I Am with effort and not having a goal indicates holding I Am without effort. But I don't think what you're saying in para 2 and 3 can be related thus. Because when holding I Am becomes effortless mind itself is destroyed so there is nothing to hold goal or to not hold a goal. Apologies if this is not what you were implying and I have misunderstood.

Anonymous said...

I am comfortable with the term ‘I’ feeling rather than ‘I am’ term. Paramount article - I don’t think Sadhu Om wrote it himself. So, we should not bring that up in our discussion. But you seem to exactly understand where I and others disagree.

He always used the term I feeling to represent ourself. The following are from Sadhu Om:

He has confirmed the same idea in the work Who am I? where He says: “Always keeping the mind (the attention) fixed In Self (in the feeling ‘I’) alone is called Self-enquiry’…


When the mind reaches the Heart by enquiring within ‘Who am I?’, he, ‘I’ (the ego), falling down abashed, the One (the Reality) appears spontaneously as ‘I-I’ (I am that I am)…


When the mind thus abides in the Heart, the first thought, ‘I’ (‘I am the body’, the rising ‘I’), which is the root of all other thoughts, itself having vanished, the ever-existing Self (the being ‘I’) alone will shine. The place (or state) where even the slightest trace of the thought ‘I’ (‘I am this, that, the body, Brahman and so on’) does not exist, alone is Self. That alone is called Silence (maunam).

When the attention goes deeper and deeper within along the (reflected) ray ‘I’, its length decrease more and more, and when the ray ‘I’ dies, that which shines as ‘I’ is Jnana.


So , my understanding is : it is either ego or pure self. So we will remain in I feeling(comprises of all thoughts, the Ego), keep purifying it until I becomes
I-I (pure self). The last thought to get destroyed may be I am the body thought . At that moment I feeling itself will be vanished. There is just one I (reflected ray) we are working on all this time. When I feeling dies, I-I will reveal.

What you are saying is: it is possible to remain in a state of being ‘I am’ and get rid of all thoughts(also I am the body thought) and after successfully eliminating all thoughts, you will just remain as pure Self. Basically you are saying, it is possible to distinguish between the pure awareness piece of the knot and the adjuncts of the knot. You do accept that ego is the enquirer. Whatever it experiences during the journey is all illusion only. Michael is saying Ego can experience pure awareness. It is possible only after all traces of ego are destroyed which includes even the enquirer. Sadhu Om has never explicitly said that we can identify /remain as pure awareness during the journey. Even if you removed some adjuncts, you will always remain with other remaining adjuncts. Only after all adjuncts are removed , can you remain in that I am state. The last adjunct to get destroyed could be I am the body thought, since that is the first thought that appeared. In his verse ‘When the mind thus abides..’ he means at the moment ego is almost getting destroyed and ‘not during the journey’.

Please note that we are only living , breathing, shining as reflected ray. We can only decrease the length of this reflected ray. In this journey, we really don’t have any clue as to how actual light of the sun feels. Unless we destroy reflected ray fully, we can never see /be in the actual light. The ray analogy is in ‘path of ramana’ book.

I am being so obsessive about this, since I have also had some great experiences. I see a subtle flaw in how the teaching is understood. I might be wrong myself, but the only answer I get is: practice and experience it to know it. How can I rely on ego’s experiences? So I have to rely on authentic books.

Salazar said...

To whom? You are making a good observation here. That's the paradox of vichara, there is effort since the mind seemingly has to keep turning into the direction of the sun (to use that analogy) due to forgetfulness. However once looking to the sun (or holding "I am") there is no effort nor mind.

Due to vasanas that holding of "I am" gets disturbed and that disturbance is the reemerging of the mind (in form of a thought) so to speak and with that, being back in the "effort zone". The vasanas have turned the attention away and so effort again seems to be needed to remember self and turn to it.

As you said, when that process has become effortless, meaning no vasanas divert away from the supreme devotion to self, mind is destroyed aka manonasa.

However even before manonasa there are instances of effortlessness. There is not much to say about that since it defies logic and dual parameters.

From my experience vichara is getting "better" by just practicing it. That must be due to the elimination of thoughts (patterns of belief) and vasanas which is quite mysterious since the mind cannot really grasp that.
Alas the interest in or love of self is pretty little in myself and I suppose that will change in due course keeping patiently with vichara.

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

In “The paramount importance of self-attention” appears many times the term “I am” referred to as our real existence, I don´t think Michael recorded it all the times wrongly as I don´t think that he invented what he says in his comment (9 February 2020 at 18:33) that Bhagavan himself “was always careful to point out the distinction between ‘I am’ and ‘I am this body.”, meaning that "‘I am’ without any adjuncts is our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), which alone is real" and “I am this body” the I-thought.

Just for the record. Personally, I have no problem with the aforementioned term at all.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, I do not concur with the "it's either ego or self" stance. That is not Bhagavan's teaching. Because it implies that there are two selves, one called ego and one called self. That is not the case and until that is at least conceptually understood you are tapping around in the dark.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan, we have caught you till eternity

Muruganar sings in Ramana Sannidhi Murai -‘Pidittu Pattu’ (Decad of divine grip):

Blind to the inner eye I was wandering ego-ridden. Out of compassion you have drawn me away from all the bondages. Now I have caught you till eternity. Where can you go away from me?

Unfortunately, many of us do not know Tamil and therefore we cannot study such verses in their original. However, the beauty of Muruganar’s poetry is priceless even in such translations. See how beautifully he expresses his love for Bhagavan. Bhagavan is trying to draw us away from all our bandages, so now it is our turn to catch him till eternity. Muruganar has caught him till eternity, and if we are wise, we will do the same.

Muruganar starts this verse by singing, 'Blind to the inner eye I was wandering ego-ridden'. What is this inner eye? It is our inner awareness, our fundamental, immutable awareness. This immutable awareness is the real form of Bhagavan. So when poets like Muruganar and Sadhu Om talk about their heart-melting love for Bhagavan, they talk about their love for this inner eye, the real form of Bhagavan. Superficially, it may seem that they are madly in love with the name and form of Bhagavan but that is not actually true. Muruganar and Sadhu Om had fully surrendered to Bhagavan and therefore had got over the illusions of all forms. These devotees had merged in the formless, so they were actually never aware of any forms. Bhagavan says in verse four of Ulladu Narpadu:

If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? How? Can the seen be otherwise than the eye? The eye is oneself, the infinite eye.

Bhagavan says, ‘The eye is oneself, the infinite eye’. His unmatched devotee Muruganar used the same metaphor when he sang ‘Blind to the inner eye I was wandering ego-ridden’.

Asun said...

Self is not only existence (sat-I) it is also consciousness (cit-am) of itself as what it is (I am I) which is perfect satisfaction or happiness (ananda)

Ego is not only existence (sat-I) it is also consciousness (cit-am) of itself as a body (I am this body) which is dissatisfaction and misery.

When ego isolates self-awareness from adjuncts, it is existence (sat-I) and also consciousness (cit-am) of its existence (I am) but it still doesn´t know what it is. It only knows “I am” yet, it finds that this state of abiding as “I am” free from adjuncts is a state of relax, unconcern, peace and contentment, come what may.

Many years ago I would have agree with those who talk about not having a goal as abiding as “I am” but not at present. Just abiding as “I am” enjoying the fruits of this state still is ego, though in its subtlest form, and therefore, we not only have to intensify keenness of attention in order to be aware of it as such at this point, otherwise, we´ll just have learnt a trick as ego to remain peaceful, content and unaffected by events, we also have to know that the goal of dwelling upon “I am” is to know what am I, knowledge of which is self-knowledge or “I am I” that implies the complete and definitive eradication of ego. Knowing and bearing in mind this goal not only prevents us from just dwelling upon “I am” enjoying as ego its fruits at a very superficial level which, on the other hand, very easily can result in an unnoticed reinforcement of ego or the knot, if not in experiencing a greater misery than someone alien to this practice can experience, we are like tightrope walkers and we can fall on either side at any moment, it also keeps us on the right track and encourages us to dive deeper and deeper into this state which is doing self-investigation, till it is not necessary anymore.
I agree with being unconcerned about when this process will be accomplished or with whether it will be accomplished or not.

Anonymous said...

Salazar,
Ego should die for pure Self to shine. But since there is no ego in reality, it is very difficult to prove this. I never said there are 2 selves. Ego is appearing on self , with self being that base.
It is like: bubble on water. Bubble has to die for water to appear as it is.

When the mind reaches the Heart by enquiring within ‘Who am I?’, he, ‘I’ (the ego), falling down abashed, the One (the Reality) appears spontaneously as ‘I-I’ (I am that I am)

Anonymous said...

I agree with ‘I am’ referred as real existence. But I don’t agree with ego having the ability to discern ‘I am’ in the ego during the practice of self enquiry. Only at the moment of realization can ego become I am , and not during the journey.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately 6 billion people are not interested in doing vichara. If they are, they would become masters by merely starting with enquiring ego. They don’t have to go deep at all within.. all they have to do is ask what the ego is. Majority of them just lie, cheat, take what others own, work on just their own self interest , sleep well, lead a very happy life without an inch of guilt, take rebirth, repeat the cycle.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, who says that the ego is discerning "I am"? Of course it doesn't or can't, you still do not grasp the pointer of ONE SELF without a second.

If the ego would be able to discern self then we, again, have two selves: One self (as ego) who is discerning the other self (as self). Again, that is not what Bhagavan taught. It is apparent that you have not grasped the snake/rope analogy.

You are circling in concepts .....

Anonymous said...

Salazar,

I thought Asun said that. So I disagreed with her. I agree there is just one. I strongly feel you and Asun are practicing it right, but all of us have disagreements in terminologies used to describe the practice. That should be fine, since ego is just not existent after all .

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan’s entire teaching is pointing towards mauna (silence)

In Ramana Puranam (1: 321-22), Muruganar writes:

All the best books are but a preface to his [Bhagavan’s] book of mauna.

Our spiritual journey will come to a halt only when we drown ourself in mouna (silence). On our way to this silence, we may read many books or read other things but all such writings can at best be like a preface to Bhagavan’s book of mouna (silence). So, we have not learnt anything worthwhile before we read the book of mouna. How do we read mouna? We can do so by not rising as ego. And if we have risen as ego, we can reconnect to mouna by turning within and subsiding back into our source.

Only mouna is eternal satisfaction, so until we permanently reach mouna, we will always be dissatisfied. So let us strive our best to merge in mouna. Everything else is ultimately maya, which needs to be forgotten.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Muruganar was Bhagavan’s shadow

The following is a paraphrase of an extract from the article Guru Vacaka Kovai and Muruganar by H. Vaidyanathan, which was published in the book Ramana’s Muruganar:

Muruganar would never leave Bhagavan’s presence, so he was Bhagavan’s shadow. So Murugunar was always present when Bhagavan interacted with devotees and others and answered their questions. He listened to whatever Bhagavan said with utmost attention and care. This accounts for his deep and clear knowledge of Bhagavan’s teachings. Muruganar noted down all that Bhagavan said in such conversations and all this was later compiled in the book Guru Vachaka Kovai. Since Muruganar had totally surrendered to Bhagavan, his recordings of Bhagavan’s sayings are free of his ego’s distortions because there was no ego left in him to distort anything.

Each night Muruganar would write these sayings and submit them to Bhagavan the next morning for scrutiny. Bhagavan would either approve them or suggest modifications. In some instances, Bhagavan would write his own fresh verses to amplify or elucidate Muruganar’s recordings. Bhagavan wrote 28 such fresh verses.

My reflections: We owe a lot to Muruganar. He has not recorded Bhagavan’s teachings in works such as Guru Vachaka Kovai but has also demonstrated to us what real love for Bhagavan is. He has shown us through his life and works how we should surrender to Bhagavan and his teachings. Glory to Bhagavan! Glory to Muruganar!

Asun said...

That´s what many people think, Anonymous, that experiencing self-awareness or “I am” is self-realization so, we can meet more self-realized people per square meter at present than never before.

Is not self-inquiry asking the question “Who am I?”? To ask that question we have to know “I am”, haven´t we? Discriminating “I am” from adjuncts, isolating it and holding onto it or pure awareness, as much as possible as well as diving deeper and deeper into it, is the practice of self-investigation. Where many others end, Bhagavan´s path begins or continues. It is called practice so long as we remain arising as ego and we remain arising as ego not only because of our vasanas but also because we haven´t known ourself as what we really are. We not only have to hold on to “I am” by giving up attending to second and third persons, we have to know what we really are too. Once we know ourself as what we really are, we can´t nor do arise as ego never again. It´s over, gone, along with vasanas and all the rest. Until then, practice. We have to be realistic, beyond words and conceptual games.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, Asun has an issue with people who believe to be self-realized and therefore from time to time she has to comment about her concept about reality. I find it amusing since it keeps coming up repeatedly.

I.e. I didn't know that there is a difference between holding "I am" and reality. How does she come up with that idea? How does she know what "I am" entails for "others" unless she projects her own idea of "I am" and seeming differences to reality?

I find it silly to argue about the intricacies of vichara.

When Bhagavan was asked about details of the practice of vichara he gave only indirect answers, probably well knowing if he would give a more direct explanation then mind would quickly pervert it and then centuries of arguments would follow like the endless arguments about free will and destiny.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Muruganar: Bhagavan said more than fasting, sattvic food in moderate quantities is the proper aid for sadhana

Bhagavan teaches us verses 492 and 493 of Guru Vachaka Kovai as follows:

492: Since the gracious Lord produces the needful food for all creatures only in the needed quantity, if one consumes more than what is needed to sustain life, it is a sin of stealing violently other’s food. Thus should you know.

Sri Muruganar: Although this verse mentions only food, it is applicable to all the necessities of life. Whatever one heaps more than necessary is nothing but heaping sins. This is well confirmed by the next verse.

493: By the crime of excess, even the nectar will become poison. By the crime of excess, many are the evils. Hence one should realize the crime of excess and remove it.

Sri Muruganar: Though it is said that fasting and non-sleep are in a way an aid to spiritual progress, excess of them is certainly harmful. Bhagavad Gita points out: "For he who sleeps more or utterly restrains sleep, and for he who eats more or fasts more, there is no success in yoga." Sri Bhagavan also used to say that more than fasting, sattvic food in moderate quantities is the proper aid for sadhana

My reflection: Bhagavan has given us enough for our needs but not enough for our greed. So we should consume food and other necessities in the absolutely essential quantity. At least, this should be our endeavour, even though as long as we experience ourself as ego, we will eat and consume things in excess. This is how ego survives. It has to constantly grasp things in order to survive and the more things it grasps, the better it is for its survival.

Regarding fasting, if we fast by suppressing our desires, it could be detrimental to our sadhana. However, if we joyfully fast in order to conserve our vital-energy and to redirect it towards our sadhana, I think this could be beneficial for us. However, Bhagavan’s teaching is clear: one should consume sattvik food in limited quantity. We need not ignore this advice. So we should progress gradually in our fasting if we want to fast, and this should be a willing and joyful process and not something forced. What do others (including Michael) have to say on my views on fasting?

Anonymous said...

Didn’t mean to bring any conflicts here. As I am doing pranayama and acupuncture, my mind is becoming clearer more and hence my outlook towards the teachings are also changing. I feel good commenting here, hence posting something or other everyday. I think all of us are heading in the right direction. We are in a better off situation than others who don’t care to hurt others , put up a fake face all the time and are more malicious.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, no conflicts - just different opinions ....

Conflicts will arise as long as an ego arises, same with opinions. I.e. IMO there is no difference between the ego saying and believing "I am self-realized" or saying "I am not self-realized and therefore I still have to practice ...."

Both statements are based on ignorance since both are statements by an ego.

Rob P said...

Upadēśa Undiyār verse 19: we should investigate the source of our ego, which is what we actually are

Bhagavan:
When one investigates within what the place is from which it rises as ‘I’, ‘I’ will die. This is jñāna-vicāra.

Michael:
Our ego obviously cannot itself be the place or source from which it rises, so its source cannot be anything other than ourself as we actually are, and hence what Bhagavan implies in each of these verses is that what we should investigate and know is our real self, the source from which our ego rises as ‘I’. However, though he teaches in this way that we should investigate what we ourself actually are, he often explained that the only way in which we can investigate what we actually are is by attentively watching our ego, because when we watch it exclusively, it will subside back into ourself, its source.

This is why he sometimes said that our ego is like the scent that a dog follows in order to trace its ‘master’ or human companion. So long as the dog holds on to that scent, it will be led by it unfailingly back to its (the scent’s) source, who is the person it is seeking. Likewise by vigilantly holding on to or observing our ego, we will be led by it unfailingly back to its source, which is our real self.

However, in the case of a person and his or her scent, they are actually two different things, whereas in the case of our ego and our real self, they are not actually two different things but one and the same thing, because it is our real self alone that now seems to be this ego. Therefore a still more accurate analogy is that looking at our ego is like closely observing an illusory snake. If we observe the snake keenly enough, we will see that it is only a rope. Likewise, if we observe our ego keenly enough, we will see that it is only our real self.

Rob P said...

From
http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2017/09/upadesa-undiyar-tamil-text.html

Upadēśa Undiyār verse 17: our ego or mind does not actually exist at all, even now

Moreover, if we claim that the ego exists in any form whatsoever in sleep, we would be attributing undue reality to it. According to Bhagavan, this ego does not actually exist even now, but merely seems to exist, whereas in sleep it does not even seem to exist. Whatever is experienced must either actually exist or at least seem to exist, because whatever does not actually exist or even seem to exist cannot exist at all and hence cannot be experienced. Therefore, since our ego does not ever actually exist, whenever it does not even seem to exist, as in sleep, it does not exist at all or in any form whatsoever.

Even though our ego seems to exist in waking and dream (that is, whenever we are aware of anything other than ourself), Bhagavan advises us not to assume that it actually exists, but instead to investigate it to see whether it actually exists even now, because according to his experience if we investigate this ego we will find that there is no such thing at all, as he declares in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

English translation: When [one] investigates [examines or scrutinises] the form of the mind without forgetting, anything called ‘mind’ will not exist. For everyone this is the direct [straight, proper, correct or true] path.

Since we now experience ourself as this ego, our self-investigation must begin with investigation of this ego, but even while we are investigating this ego, the portion of it that we are trying to investigate or observe is only its essential self-awareness and not its awareness of a body or anything else. In other words, within this body-mixed self-awareness called ego we must try to isolate and experience only its essence, our pure self-awareness, which is what we actually are.

When we eventually succeed in our attempt to experience our pure self-awareness in complete isolation from everything else, we will find that there is actually no such thing as a ‘mind’ or ‘ego’ at all, but only an infinite expanse of pure self-awareness, just as if we were to carefully observe an illusory snake we would eventually see that it is not actually a snake but only a rope. Just as what seemed to be a snake was actually only a rope, what now seems to be this ego, mind or thought called ‘I’ is only our actual self, which is pure self-awareness, devoid of even the slightest awareness of anything else whatsoever. Therefore since our ego or mind does not actually exist even when it seems to exist, as in waking and dream, to believe that it actually exists even when it does not seem to exist, as in sleep, would be absurd.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, I have replied to several of your comments, such as those of 19 February 2020 at 03:25, 19 February 2020 at 18:06, 20 February 2020 at 19:41, 20 February 2020 at 21:05, 21 February 2020 at 14:01 and 22 February 2020 at 13:35, in a separate article: Though we now seem to be ego, if we look at ourself keenly enough we will see that we are actually just pure awareness (particularly in the final four sections).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael. I will take some time and read it.

Asun said...

Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Rob. The mere idea of an awareness lacking of self-awareness aware only of other things is suffocating and a nightmare. Fortunately, it is also a total impossibility :)

Rajat said...

From Rob's comment, "while we are investigating this ego, the portion of it that we are trying to investigate or observe is only its essential self-awareness and not its awareness of a body or anything else"

The awareness in "awareness of a body" is the same awareness in "essential self-awareness", right? It is just the same awareness that can be turned outwards (attending to body/world) or turned inwards (towards itself) when it becomes self-awareness.

Also, the ego takes itself to be a body, so the ego's self-awareness is its awareness of a body, because 'self' here refers to the body. But this is wrong inference on my part, i think. Because ego, although it takes itself to be a body, it still says "this is my body, this body is my possession". So self does not refer to the body, when we talk about ego's self-awareness. "self" only refers to awareness, the same awareness that can attend to itself or to the body/world.

Michael James said...

‘To whom? To me. Who am I?’, regarding your comment of 19 February 2020 at 04:57, the snake is just a misperception of a rope, and that misperception will cease only when we see the rope as it is. The reason why Bhagavan says in the third paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? ‘கற்பித ஸர்ப்ப ஞானம் போனா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான ரஜ்ஜு ஞானம் உண்டாகாதது போல, கற்பிதமான ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கினா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான சொரூப தர்சன முண்டாகாது’ (kaṟpita sarppa-ñāṉam pōṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa rajju-ñāṉam uṇḍāhādadu pōla, kaṟpitam āṉa jaga-diruṣṭi nīṅgiṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa sorūpa-darśaṉam uṇḍāhādu), ‘Just as unless awareness of the imaginary snake goes, awareness of the rope, [which is] the adhiṣṭhāna [basis, base or foundation], will not arise, unless perception of the world, which is kalpita [a fabrication, imagination or mental creation], departs, darśana [seeing or sight] of svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature], [which is] the adhiṣṭhāna, will not arise’, is that what he is pointing out in that context is that we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are so long as we are aware of any world.

Why is this the case? Because what perceives any world is only ourself as ego, and ego is a mistaken awareness of ourself as a body, which is not what we actually are. So long as we are aware of ourself as a body, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, and when we are aware of ourself as we actually are, we can no longer mistake ourself to be a body, and hence we cannot perceive any world. Therefore unless we cease perceiving any world, we cannot achieve svarūpa-darśana (seeing or perception of our own real nature).

However, though ceasing to perceive any world is a necessary condition for svarūpa-darśana, it is not a sufficient condition, because we cease perceiving any world whenever we fall asleep, but we do not thereby achieve svarūpa-darśana. We can cease seeing the rope as a snake just by looking in some other direction, but we do not thereby see the rope as it is. In order to see it as it is, we not only have to cease seeing it as a rope, but also need to look at it carefully enough to see what it actually is. Likewise, to achieve svarūpa-darśana, we not only have to cease perceiving any world, but also need to look at ourself keenly enough to see what we actually are, as Bhagavan implies in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: Leaving aside external viṣayas [phenomena], the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].

Leaving aside external viṣayas is ceasing to perceive any world, but we do so whenever we fall asleep, so that is not உண்மை உணர்ச்சி (uṇmai uṇarcci), ‘real awareness’ or ‘awareness of reality’. In order to be aware of what is real, we not only need to cease perceiving any world, but need to do so by being aware of ‘தன் ஒளி உரு’ (taṉ oḷi-uru), ‘our own form of light’ (our real nature, which is the original light of pure awareness).

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to ‘To whom? To me. Who am I?’:

As you say, ‘if we look at ego closely it will disappear and only our real nature will remain’, just as if we look at the snake carefully enough, we will see that it is only a rope. However, your final inference, namely ‘This paragraph seems like a clear pointer that we have to investigate only this ego’, should not be taken to mean that we cannot investigate our real nature, because as I explained in my latest article, Though we now seem to be ego, if we look at ourself keenly enough we will see that we are actually just pure awareness, investigating ego is itself investigating our real nature, just as looking carefully at what seems to be a snake is actually looking carefully at the rope.

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

Thank you for the reply Michael.
Thanks for pointing out what you say in the last paragraph, "investigating ego is itself investigating our real nature, just as looking carefully at what seems to be a snake is actually looking carefully at the rope." I feel that before I might understand this unity of self and ego, I have to first deal with the problem of separating I from this body. But perhaps both steps require the same kind of discrimination.

From the quote of Upadesa Undiyar that you quote, the phrase "tan oḷi-uru" I would like to ask you about. The word "light" seems to be another adjective used to describe our real nature, such as infinite, eternal, etc. But i suspect there is lot of meaning in this description of our real nature. What is the meaning of "own form of light"? Why is our real nature described as a "form" of light?

You say " [..]we cease perceiving any world whenever we fall asleep, but we do not thereby achieve svarūpa-darśana. We can cease seeing the rope as a snake just by looking in some other direction [...]" You are implying here that in sleep we are looking at neither ego nor our real nature, but 'in some other direction'. This is because in sleep I as ego subside so there is nothing that can look at anything, is that right? What is the 'other direction' in the case of sleep?



Michael James said...

‘To whom? To me. Who am I?’, regarding your question about the term ‘தன் ஒளி உரு’ (taṉ oḷi-uru), ‘its [or one’s] own form of light’, in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār, ‘light’ is a widely used metaphor for awareness, because awareness is the light by which we know all things, both ourself and everything else. Likewise, ‘form’ is a metaphor for nature (svarūpa), so ‘தன் ஒளி உரு’ (taṉ oḷi-uru), ‘its own form of light’, implies that our real nature (or the real nature of the mind) is the light of pure awareness.

Regarding your final question, ‘What is the ‘other direction’ in the case of sleep?’, when we fall asleep we simply withdraw our attention from all other things, but without turning it back to face ourself, so we are not looking in any direction at all. Since ego subsides in sleep, what remains then is only our own real nature, which is pure awareness, but since ego is then not present, it does not experience pure awareness and is therefore not annihilated by it.

Therefore, in order to be annihilated, we as ego must turn our entire attention back to face ourself alone during either waking or dream, because then only will ego experience itself as pure awareness, and as soon as it does so it will thereby be dissolved forever in pure awareness.

Seeing ourself as pure awareness and thereby being dissolved forever in it is what Bhagavan meant by the term ‘svarūpa-darśana’ (sight or perception of our own real nature) in the third paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, which you had asked about in your comment of 19 February 2020 at 04:57.

Michael James said...

Rajat, regarding your comment of 25 February 2020 at 08:27, the exact sense in which the term ‘awareness’ is used in each case is determined by the context in which it is used. In same contexts it means what is aware, namely ourself, and in other contexts it means our knowledge or experience of something. In the term ‘awareness of a body’, awareness is obviously used in the latter sense, so such awareness is not the same awareness as in the term ‘essential self-awareness’. However, as ego we conflate our self-awareness with awareness of a body, and hence it seems to us that we are a certain body.

I assume, however, that this is not exactly what you meant when you asked: ‘The awareness in “awareness of a body” is the same awareness in “essential self-awareness”, right?’ What I think you meant to ask is whether what is aware of a body is what is aware just of itself, to which the answer is yes and no.

There is only one thing that is aware, namely ourself. When we are aware just of ourself (that is, of nothing other than ourself), we are pure awareness, which is what we always actually are, and which is what I assume you meant by the term ‘essential self-awareness’. However, when we are aware of ourself as a body, we are what is called ego, which is not what we actually are. Pure awareness and ego are one in substance, but different in appearance. That is, the substance (poruḷ or vastu) of ego is just pure awareness, but as ego we seem to be something other than pure awareness, namely something that is aware of itself as a body and that is consequently also aware of other phenomena.

However, though we now seem to be ego, if instead of attending to anything else we turn our entire attention back to face ourself alone, we will see that we are just pure awareness. This is why Bhagavan sometimes used to say that if the one awareness turns outwards (that is, away from itself), it becomes ego and projects all phenomena, and that if the same awareness turns back within (that is, towards itself alone), it remains as pure awareness, which is its real nature. This does not mean that awareness (in its real sense of pure awareness) ever turns outwards, but that is what seems to have happened when we rise as ego.

In the next paragraph you say, ‘the ego takes itself to be a body, so the ego’s self-awareness is its awareness of a body’, but that is not correct. As ego we conflate our self-awareness with awareness of a body, but these are never actually the same thing. Ego is a form of self-awareness, but it is an unreal form of it, because instead of being aware of itself just as ‘I am’ it is always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’.

Self-awareness and awareness of a body are two distinct things, and ego is neither of them, but something that borrows certain features of both, because it is aware of itself, but aware of itself as if it were a body. The body is an object of which ego is aware, but what ego is is not just awareness of that body but awareness of itself as that body (in the sense of what is aware of itself as that body).

Asun said...

There is a very good explanation on this issue in this video (from around 1:37 on):

https://youtu.be/gE8inMp4YJo

Michael, what you say that “that we think is evidence that we exist but you don´t need that evidence because our existence is so plainly visible” and that “that you need to think in order to know what you are is like saying in order to believe there is an elephant, I have to see its footprints , you have seen the elephant, you don´t need to see the footprints” is what I meant by ego making known through thought what is already known on its own or by itself, which shows the meaningless of all of it.

I´ve enjoyed very much this part of the talk.

Rajat said...

Thank you Michael for clearing my confusion between the terms "self-awareness" and "awareness of a body". I understand now that awareness can refer, depending on the context, either to that which is aware, or to our knowledge of something. Does self-awareness always refer to "awareness that is aware of only itself"? That is, self in self-awareness is only referring to awareness itself? When ego is said to borrow certain features from self-awareness, is this feature the ability to be aware, or is it specifically the ability to be aware of itself, to know that it exists, that I exist? What about about the ability to be aware of the world and phenomena? Is that just a byproduct of the conflation of self-awareness with awareness of a body? Or is the awareness of a world included in the awareness of a body, because body is five sheaths and one of the sheaths is thoughts and the world is nothing but thoughts, according to Bhagavan.

Asun said...

Ego is always aware of itself as “I am this body”, this is why I said that it is this self-awareness what has to be surrendered and where I went wrong because when ego separates, isolates or discriminates, by using intellect which, as Michael says in this talk, is the power of seeing the truth in things, “am” or consciousness which is the only reality in it, from the adjuncts, it is self-awareness or pure awareness itself. Correct is to say that “I am this body-consciousness” is what has to be surrendered or lost.

Michael James said...

Rajat, regarding your comment of 1 March 2020 at 12:48, awareness (in the sense of what is aware) is always self-aware, because we cannot be aware without being aware that we are aware, and being aware that we are aware entails being aware of ourself. What we actually are is just pure awareness, and as such we are aware of nothing other than ourself, but when we rise as ego, we are aware of ourself conflated with adjuncts, and as such we are aware not only of ourself but also of other things. Therefore pure awareness is pure self-awareness, whereas ego is an adjunct-conflated form of self-awareness.

The principal feature that ego borrows from pure awareness is awareness, but whereas pure awareness is never contaminated with even the slightest awareness of anything else, ego is a form of awareness that is aware of things other than itself. Therefore, since nothing other than ourself actually exists, pure awareness alone is real awareness, and ego is just a semblance of awareness, because it is always aware of things that do not actually exist but merely seem to exist in its self-ignorant view.

You are therefore correct in saying that awareness of phenomena is just a by-product of ego’s conflation of self-awareness with awareness of a body, as Bhagavan implies in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்?’ (uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ?), ‘If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms, and how [to do so]?’ Only when we mistake ourself to be the form of a body can we perceive other forms, some of which we call the world and others of which we may call God.

Regarding your final question, namely ‘is the awareness of a world included in the awareness of a body, because body is five sheaths and one of the sheaths is thoughts and the world is nothing but thoughts, according to Bhagavan[?]’, that is one way of explaining it. When Bhagavan defines ego as being that which is aware of itself as ‘I am this body’, what he means by the term ‘body’ is a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical form, life, mind, intellect and will. In this context ‘mind’ (manōmaya kōśa) means the grosser aspects of the mind, namely those aspects that exclude intellect, will and ego, so in this sense mind includes aspects such as perceptions, memories and emotions.

As he says in verse 6 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று’ (ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu), ‘The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-impressions [sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations], not anything else’, so since sense-impressions (sensory perceptions) are just mental impressions, and as such are an aspect of the manōmaya kōśa (sheath composed of mind), awareness of a world comes packaged along with our awareness of ourself as a body.

Frank Bryn said...

I request you to send some wisdom from life of Raman Mahrshi in context of this virus epidemic.

Regards,

Michael James said...

Frank, I spoke about the coronavirus pandemic in the light of Bhagavan’s teachings in one of my recent videos, 2020-03-14 Coronavirus and the note that Bhagavan wrote for his mother in December 1898, and also to a lesser extent in my latest video, 2020-03-22 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the key role of our will. I hope these may help to answer your request for ‘some wisdom from life of Raman Mahrshi in context of this virus epidemic’.