Thursday, 28 May 2020

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

A friend recently wrote to me:

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

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

I practise meditation a lot, study Thich Nhat Hanh and Ram Dass (to name a few) and find it most helpful on the path to losing my ego... or rather having an awareness of my ego. When we die presumably we go back into this self/one/god/love without the ego... so why be here now and trying to become essentially dead at the same time as taking care of my health and body?
In reply to this I wrote:

What is present in waking and dream but absent in sleep is not awareness but only awareness of phenomena. Since we are aware of three states, in two of which we are aware of phenomena and in one of which we are aware of no phenomena whatsoever, we are certainly aware in all three states.

If we were not aware in sleep, we would not be aware of any such state at all, nor would we be aware of any gap between successive states of waking and dream. What we would be aware of would only be a seemingly uninterrupted succession of alternating states of waking and dream. However, we are aware not just of two states but of three, and we are aware that in the third state we are not aware of any phenomena, so we must be aware in that third state in order to be aware of the absence of any awareness of phenomena.

Awareness is our real nature, so there is never a moment when we are not aware. However, though we are always aware, we are aware of things other than ourself (namely phenomena) only in waking and dream. In sleep we are aware but without being aware of anything other than ourself. When we wake up from sleep we are aware that we were asleep (that is, we were in a state in which we were not aware of anything other than ourself), so that means that we were aware of our existence in such a state. That is, when we say ‘I slept’, what we mean is that we existed in a state that we call sleep, which is characterised by the absence of any awareness of phenomena, so by saying ‘I slept’ we clearly imply that we were aware of being in that state, so even though we were not aware of anything else, we were aware of our existence, ‘I am’.

Whether we are awake, dreaming or asleep, we are always aware of our own existence, ‘I am’. Whereas everything else (including not only awareness of phenomena but also that which is aware of phenomena, namely ego) appears in waking and dream but disappears in sleep, our awareness of our own existence exists and shines in all three states without ever appearing or disappearing. Therefore our awareness of our own existence (sat-cit) alone is what is real, and everything else is just a transitory appearance and hence unreal.

Therefore awareness of phenomena is not real awareness (cit) but only a semblance of awareness, and hence it is called cidābhāsa, which means an ābhāsa (semblance, likeness or reflection) of cit (awareness). Real awareness is only pure awareness, which means awareness that is not aware of anything other than itself.

However, because we generally associate awareness with awareness of phenomena, on superficial observation it seems to us that sleep is a state devoid of awareness, but if we consider this more carefully, it is clear that we were aware of our existence in sleep. How could we be aware that we were asleep if we were not aware of our existence while asleep? If we were not aware of our existence in sleep, we would not be aware of having been in such a state at all. That is, if we were not aware that we existed even when we were not aware of any phenomena, we would not be aware that we were ever not aware of phenomena.

What seems to concern you most about sleep is that from the perspective of ourself as ego in waking and dream sleep seems to be ‘nothing, no experience at all’, as you put it, and hence if such is the nature of ‘the oneness of the true self, of existence/god itself’ you ask ‘then why would I want to get there?’ However it is only from the perspective of ego, which did not exist in sleep, that sleep seems to be a state of nothingness or no experience at all, because it is actually a state of pure sat-cit-ānanda: infinite being (sat ), awareness (cit) and happiness (ānanda).

Now we are aware that we are, even though we are not aware what we are. Likewise, what we now remember about sleep is that we were, even though we do not remember what we were. What we were in sleep is what we actually are even now, namely pure sat-cit-ānanda, so since we are not now aware of ourself as pure sat-cit-ānanda, we cannot remember having been aware of ourself as such during sleep. That is, our present ignorance or forgetfulness of our real nature is what prevents us from remembering sleep as a state of perfect awareness of our real nature, which is what it actually is.

What we actually experienced in sleep was only our own real nature, but in order to remember having experienced our real nature in sleep we need to experience it here and now, in this state that we mistake to be waking. That is, only if we remove our current self-forgetfulness (forgetfulness or failure to be aware of our real nature) by being aware of ourself as we actually are will we be able to recognise the real nature of what we experienced while asleep, because that is nothing other than what we actually are even now and always, namely pure and infinite sat-cit-ānanda.

Do we not all want to be perfectly happy, without even the slightest unhappiness or dissatisfaction? In sleep we were perfectly happy, without even the slightest unhappiness or dissatisfaction, because such is our real nature, so this is why we would ‘want to get there’, as you put it. This is clearly explained by Bhagavan in the first paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
சகல ஜீவர்களும் துக்கமென்ப தின்றி எப்போதும் சுகமாயிருக்க விரும்புவதாலும், யாவருக்கும் தன்னிடத்திலேயே பரம பிரிய மிருப்பதாலும், பிரியத்திற்கு சுகமே காரண மாதலாலும், மனமற்ற நித்திரையில் தின மனுபவிக்கும் தன் சுபாவமான அச் சுகத்தை யடையத் தன்னைத் தானறிதல் வேண்டும். அதற்கு நானார் என்னும் ஞான விசாரமே முக்கிய சாதனம்.

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

Since all living beings want [or like] to be always happy without what is called misery, since for everyone the greatest love is only for oneself, and since happiness alone is the cause for love, [in order] to obtain that happiness, which is one’s own nature, which one experiences daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of mind, oneself knowing oneself is necessary. For that, jñāna-vicāra [awareness-investigation] called ‘who am I’ alone is the principal means.
Regarding you final question, ‘When we die presumably we go back into this self/one/god/love without the ego... so why be here now and trying to become essentially dead at the same time as taking care of my health and body?’, if ego were the body, it would die when the body dies, but it is not the body. The body is jaḍa (non-aware), because it is never aware of anything, but ego is that which is mistakenly aware of itself as ‘I am this body’. In a dream we are also aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, but the body we mistake ourself to be in dream is different to the body we now mistake ourself to be, so we are neither the dream body nor the current body, but that which mistakes itself to be a different body in each of a series of different states.

According to Bhagavan our entire life as a body is just a dream, which begins with the birth of that body and ends with its death. In fact there is neither birth nor death, just the beginning and ending of a dream, because so long as we are dreaming the body we then mistake to be ourself is alive. The dreamer of this dream and every other dream is ourself as ego, so as long as this dreamer survives it will go on dreaming one dream after another, interrupted only by periods of sleep or similar states of manōlaya (temporary dissolution of mind), such as swoon or coma. Therefore, until and unless ego dies, when the dream of our present life ends, we will either start dreaming another dream immediately or subside in sleep for a while before starting to dream another dream.

Since ego is what is always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’, it is an erroneous awareness of ourself, so it can be eradicated only by our being aware of ourself as we actually are. In other words, this mistaken self-awareness called ego can be annihilated only by correct self-awareness.

What we actually are is eternal, infinite and immutable sat-cit-ānanda, as Bhagavan implies in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தனாதியல் யாதெனத் தான்றெரி கிற்பின்
னனாதி யனந்தசத் துந்தீபற
      வகண்ட சிதானந்த முந்தீபற.

taṉādiyal yādeṉat tāṉḏṟeri hiṟpiṉ
ṉaṉādi yaṉantasat tundīpaṟa
      vakhaṇḍa cidāṉanda mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தனாது இயல் யாது என தான் தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த சத்து அகண்ட சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa tāṉ terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta sattu akhaṇḍa cit āṉandam.

அன்வயம்: தான் தனாது இயல் யாது என தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த அகண்ட சத்து சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta akhaṇḍa sattu cit āṉandam.

English translation: If one knows what the nature of oneself is, then [what will exist and shine is only] anādi [beginningless], ananta [endless, limitless or infinite] and akhaṇḍa [unbroken, undivided or unfragmented] sat-cit-ānanda [being-awareness-bliss].
Therefore, if we want to experience infinite happiness (ānanda), which is always our real nature, we need to be aware of ourself as we actually are, and in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we need to investigate ourself and thereby surrender this erroneous self-awareness called ego.

66 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

Whichever element of our will is uppermost in our mind, our attention will go towards that thing

Our attention always follows our desires. It is our will that determines where we direct our attention. We have many conflicting elements in our will. We have some love to go within, but we also have many desires and attachments which drive us to attend to other things. So our attention is being constantly pulled here and there by so many different desires because our attention doesn’t go anywhere except wherever it is directed by our desire or will.

So if the uppermost desire in our mind is to watch a film, we will want to watch a film. If the uppermost concern in our mind is about a sick friend, we will be thinking about him even while we may be trying to watch a film. So our will determines where we direct our attention from moment to moment. So whichever desire or concern is uppermost in our mind, our attention will go there.

Potentially, the uppermost concern in our mind is our own self-preservation – protection of our life in this body. We usually don’t think about protecting our life, but when suddenly we are put in a situation which is dangerous, self-preservation becomes our uppermost concern.

So whichever element of our will is uppermost in our mind, our attention will go towards that thing.

• Based on the video: 2020-05-24b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James explains that our attention is directed by our will (00:00)

My reflection: Michael often says that our sadhana is a battle within our own will. It is a battle between our love to turn within and our desires and attachments which unceasingly pull us away from ourself. Bhagavan has also spoken about rectification or purification of mind or will. So we need to unceasingly try to work on our will – make it more and more willing to turn within.

Robert said...

Sunday, 12 October 2014
The essential teachings of Sri Ramana
By Michael James

A friend wrote to me recently saying, ‘My humble opinion with total respect: far far too many words. Can you indicate where in your web page is your essential succinct truth’, to which I replied trying to give a simple summary of the essential teachings of Sri Ramana as follows: You are probably right: far too many words.

Sri Ramana’s teachings are actually very simple, and can therefore be expressed in just a few words, but our minds are complicated, so sometimes many words are necessary in order to unravel [Investigate and solve or explain (something complicated or puzzling)] all our complex beliefs and ideas and to arrive at the simple core: ‘I am’.

‘I’ is the core of our experience (since whatever we experience is experienced only by ‘I’), and is also the core of his teachings. Everything that we experience could be an illusion, and everything that we believe could be mistaken, so it is necessary for us to doubt everything, but the only thing we cannot reasonably doubt is ‘I am’, because in order to experience anything, to believe anything or to doubt anything I must exist.

However, though it is clear and certain that I am, it is not at all clear or certain what I am, because we now experience a body and mind as ‘I’, yet we have good reason to doubt whether either this body or this mind is actually ‘I’.

Though we now experience this body as ‘I’, in dream we experience some other (mind-created) body as ‘I’. Therefore in dream we experience ‘I’ but we do not experience our waking body, so this body and ‘I’ cannot be identical. If this body was actually ‘I’, we could not experience ‘I’ when we do not experience this body. In both waking and dream we experience our thinking mind as ‘I’, but in dreamless sleep we do not experience this mind at all. But though the mind disappears in sleep, we are able to experience its absence then, so we must exist and be aware of our existence in sleep in order to experience the absence of the mind or anything else in that state.

Though we generally believe that we are not aware of anything in sleep, it would be more accurate to say that we are aware of nothing. The difference between what I mean here by ‘not being aware of anything’ and ‘being aware of nothing’ can be illustrated by the following analogy: if a totally blind person and a normally sighted person were both in a completely dark room, the blind person would not see anything, and hence he or she would not be able to recognize that there is no light there. The normally sighted person, on the other hand, would see nothing, and hence he or she would be able to recognize the absence of light. The fact that we are able to recognize the absence of any experience of anything other than ‘I’ in sleep clearly indicates that we exist in sleep to experience that absence or void. [continued in the following comment]

https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-essential-teachings-of-sri-ramana.html

Robert said...

[Continuation of my previous comment]

The fact that we do actually experience sleep can also be demonstrated in other ways. For example, if we did not experience sleep, we would be aware of experiencing only two states, waking and dream, and we would not be aware of any gap between each successive state of waking or dream. But we are aware that sometimes there is a gap that we call sleep, in which we experience neither waking nor dream. We do not merely infer the existence of this third state, sleep, but actually experience it, and that is why we are able to say after waking from a period of deep sleep: ‘I slept peacefully and had no dreams’.

Why it is important to understand that we do actually experience sleep, even though sleep is a state that is completely devoid of any knowledge of multiplicity or otherness, is that our experience of sleep illustrates the fact that we do experience ‘I’ in the absence of the mind. Therefore the mind cannot be what I actually am.

The only experience that exists in all these three states is ‘I am’. It is I who am now experiencing this waking state; it was I who experienced dream; and it was I who experienced the absence of both waking and dream in deep sleep. Therefore ‘I’ is distinct from anything else that we experience in any of these three states.

Once we have understood this, it should be clear to us that our present experience of ‘I’ is confused and unclear, because we now experience this transitory body and mind as ‘I’. Therefore though we know for certain that I am, we do not know for certain what I am, and hence it is necessary for us to investigate this ‘I’ in order to ascertain what it actually is.

In order to experience ‘I’ as it actually is, we need to experience it clearly in complete isolation from everything else. And the only way to isolate ‘I’ is to focus our entire attention on it, thereby with -drawing our attention from every-thing else. This is the practice of ātma-vicāra (self - investigation), which Sri Ramana taught us as being the only means by which we can experience what this ‘I’ actually is (which is why he also called this practice ‘investigating who am I’).

This is the sum and substance of Sri Ramana’s teachings, and is all that we need to understand in order to start investigating what we actually are. However, people approach this teaching from different standpoints, and each person has their own pre-conceived ideas, beliefs and values, and they ask a wide variety of different questions, so this same teaching can be expressed in different ways to suit the needs of each person.

This is why so many words have been written and spoken by me and others on the teachings of Sri Ramana, but whatever may be written or said about them (provided of course that it does accurately represent what he actually taught), it should all focus on, lead back to and boil down to the simple and compelling [demanding attention/very strong] need for each of us to investigate and experience what ‘I’ actually is.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
you say "Whereas everything else (including not only awareness of phenomena but also that which is aware of phenomena, namely ego)...".

At the moment I cannot see any difference between 'awareness of phenomena' and 'that which is aware of phenomena, namely ego'.
Possibly my above view is wrong. If so in which point ?

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, awareness of phenomena and what is aware of phenomena, namely ego, are different because awareness of phenomena is the knowing whereas ego is the knower. Of course the two are interdependent, because there can be no knowing without the knower, and since it is the nature of the knower (namely ego) to know (that is, to be aware of phenomena), without knowing these is no knower, because we cease to be ego as soon as we cease to be aware of phenomena.

anadi-ananta said...

Thanks Michael for pointing out this difference between knowing and knower.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Self-forgetfulness (pramada) is like a demonic ghost

Sri Sadhu Om teaches us in verse 214 of Sadhanai Saram:

We should not give even the least room in our heart to the demonic ghost of forgetfulness (pramada), which deludes the mind by diverting it from self-attention. Instead, with unhesitating and irresistible courage, we should victoriously attain self-knowledge.

My reflection: Yes, self-forgetfulness (pramada) is nothing but a demonic ghost. So we should try to keep this away by being in unceasing self-attentiveness. We should remember that self-knowledge is the only goal worth aspiring for.

anadi-ananta said...

Somehow or other self-forgetfulness (pramada) already managed to nest in our heart. Only by the power of grace we will have the unhesitating and irresistible courage to victoriously wipe out the seeds of pramada and exorcize that demonic ghost. So we should not prevent the curative effect(iveness) of grace from working. :-)

anadi-ananta said...

"Since ego is what is always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’, it is an erroneous awareness of ourself, so it can be eradicated only by our being aware of ourself as we actually are. In other words, this mistaken self-awareness called ego can be annihilated only by correct self-awareness."

Though 'correct self-awareness' is always present, the flourishing continuation of wrong self-awareness is curbed not at all.
Ego's annihilation seems to happen not even in my wildest dreams.
To whom does it seem ? To me.....:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

When we split ego, this chit-jada-granthi, infinite power will be released, which will engulf this entire universe

How to get rid of all the suffering in the world? Simple solution: get rid of the world. The best thing we can do for the world is to destroy it. Bhagavan said when the atom bomb of jnana descends, all the worlds will be burnt like a pile of cotton because they are all built on the flimsy foundation of ego. When ego is destroyed, everything else is destroyed along with it.

What is the power in an atom bomb? It is splitting of an atom. So what is the smallest atom of all, the atom from which all this has been expanded? It is ego, and ego is chit-jada-granthi. It is the knot between consciousness and the insentient. When we split this atom, infinite power is released which will engulf this entire universe.

• Based on the video: 2016-04-24 (morning) Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James (00:09)

My reflection: Bhagavan’s teachings are extremely radical and deep. Bhagavan doesn’t want us to reform this world or improve this world or serve this world. He wants us to destroy this world. Our salvation depends on our destruction, and likewise, this world’s salvation, so to speak, depends on its destruction.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael: I am saying the same thing again and again and again

If you read my blog and wherever else I write or say, I am saying the same thing again and again and again. It is because our mind is always trying to slip away from this. We always try to complicate things, whereas Bhagavan is always trying to simplify things. So whatever I write, I aim to emphasise how simple it all is. I am trying to remind myself as much as anyone else.

So long as our mind is outward going, we need to cling to Bhagavan’s teachings. All we need to do is to continue turning within, and Bhagavan’s teachings give us constant encouragement to continue trying. Even if our mind is outward going, it is going around this flame of Bhagavan’s teachings. One day we will get too close to the flame and get burnt in it.

• Based on the video: 2016-04-24 (morning) Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James (01:06)

My reflection: Yes, whatever Michael writes or says, he is almost saying the same thing over and over again. However, every time I hear him or read him, I find I have gained something new. I do not know how this happens, but it happens inevitably. Maybe my understanding becomes more and more clear the more I listen to him.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Prayers…

In today’s Zoom meeting with Michael, someone asked him about the efficacy of prayers. Michael said something to the following effect:

Prayers for any material things in life are going against the path of surrender. The more we surrender, the less miserable we will be. So our aim should be the eradication of desires and not the satisfaction of desires. If we are wise, we would pray only for love for Bhagavan and consequent annihilation of ego. That is the only worthy prayer.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Vedanta philosophy…

In today’s Zoom meeting, Michael said something to the following effect:

You can understand the essence of advita-vedanta just by studying and understanding Bhagavan’s three core texts, namely Nan Ar, Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar. We don’t need to study all the other bulky books on advaita philosophy. Advaita philosophy should be the simplest of philosophy because advaita means one, and how can one be complicated? Bhagavan has restored the simplicity of advaita through these three texts.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Guru Vachaka Kovai, Sadhanai Saram and such texts…

In today’s Zoom meeting, I asked Michael about Sri Sadhu Om text ‘Sadhanai Saram’. I did not note down his answer, but what I understood from his answer is as follows:

I felt that Sri Sadhu Om’s text 'Sadhanai Saram' has not been given its due importance. I felt it is an extremely important text, and therefore we should hear more about it. Michael said that Sadhanai Saram is a text of practical significance, as it is all about sadhana. So the text is valuable. However, he implied that Bhagavan’s core texts such as Nan Ar, Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar and Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam (and other small texts) contain everything we need to know. He said that he can easily quote from these works of Bhagavan but finds it difficult to remember all the verses written by Muruganar and Sadhu Om.

So what I believe is that we can and should study texts such as GVK and Sadhanai Saram, but even such texts pale in comparison if we compare them to Bhagavan’s core texts. We will find many useful ideas in GVK and Sadhanai Saram which may not be so explicitly stated in even Bhagavan’s other core texts, but all ideas contained in GVK and Sadhanai Saram are more or less implied in Bhagavan’s core texts.

The above is my interpretation of what I understood Michael say about GVK and Sadhanai Saram vis-à-vis Bhagavan’s core texts. I would request Michael to correct my understanding if they are off the mark.


Salazar said...

Sanjay, I do not concur.

Firstly one can get everything concept wise from GVK, the other texts are not necessary to be read, that's Michael's preference and opinion. And secondly, nothing can beat vichara and a minute of vichara is more worth than a day with Ulladu Narpadu or any other texts.

Also, what's up with that Indian attitude of servility with people who seem to be in a position of authority? I've noticed that personally and even an Indian journalist who immigrated to Canada mentioned that he's disgusted by the Indians servitude to their government and in general. He said, and that was very funny, that the Indians did not win their independence in 1947, but that the British had left out of disgust.

Interesting opinion from an Indian ....

Asun said...

As far as I´ve seen, most of what Sadhu Om wrote, or was recorded and noted down by others, consists in explanations about Bhagavan´s teachings arising from questions and doubts posed to him by so called seekers. Personally, I find that these explanations as well as his explanatory comments on these works (Nan Ar, Ulladu Narpadu, Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam …) we are fortunate to have, mainly due to the work of translatiing he did with Michael, are very useful and I´m grateful for having this reliable guidance. I very much doubt I would have been able to understand or to go deep into the teachings by myself.

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted with that indian who is disgusted with his own people. Regarding servility attitude, I find in western culture, it is quite opposite and I am annoyed with that too. In western world, the pattern I have observed is: each individual thinks so highly of himself/herself , they often fail to appreciate greatness in others, and instead become so stubborn when their core beliefs are questioned. It is same ego acting in both worlds, but just expressed differently. Each and everyone of us are already enslaved to our own ego , so there is no point in pointing fingers at others.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, there is certainly a difference between these two cultures. I also noticed that many Indians usually cannot cope with aggression and strong assertiveness what is common in the Western world.

That "politeness" of the Indians feels often fake since it seems more that Indians do that so they do not have to confront somebody. It seems confrontation is a big boogeyman for most Indians. Looking at that I am surprised that there was the Sepoy Mutiny in the 19th century.

And that is not pointing a finger at others, no need to get defensive, it is an observation and many Westerners share that opinion.

Anonymous said...

So it goes back to what Bhagavan taught. Don’t try to change the world. That belief in my opinion is strongly ingrained in the culture. Hence I think we don’t confront anybody. I don’t know about politeness. I feel politeness in American is extremely fake. And indians absolutely lack politeness. Regardless, I don’t want to pollute the blog talking about different topic. Just not sepoy mutiny, there was Bhagat Singh, Subash Chandra Bose and women leaders too.

Salazar said...

Asun, yes - I personally find some texts from Sadhu Om more helpful than Ulladu Narpadu. Is that sacrilege? No way, Bhagavan would be the last to insist on his verses of reality. I also believe that it is not necessary at all to have read Ulladu Narpadu nor Upadesa Undiyar.

Nan Yar though is, as the fundamental text of vichara, a must. But even that text is not necessary as soon as one has grasped the concept of self, the sense of existence, "I am". Then one stays with vichara and that's it. The rest is up to the grace of the guru.

Once one has grasped "I am", what else is needed? The notion (I believe Michael has mentioned that in the past) that these texts are necessary to go "deeper" is false. It may have been the experience of his mind, but that doesn't mean that would be true or necessary for other minds. "Deeper" exists only for the ego, how can that unreal notion be any helpful with vichara? It cannot, it is rather a distraction, it is suttarivu.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, yes - we, as the "individual entity" can't help it but have these opinions according to our vasanas. There is no other way, as long as we believe to be that doer, that man or that woman, we'll have these opinions. There are no good or bad opinions, they are just opinions. And yet ego can get very excited once a certain story runs through the mind.

Asun said...

Salazar, Bhagavan knows me much better and with much more depth than I know myself. I don´t see difference between reading his words, reflecting and practicing self-investigation. If Michael has said that these texts are helpful in order to go deeper, I can´t but agree with him as I agree with you that going deeper is only for ego but so it is vichara. Your understanding that it is ourself who practices self-investigation and that ourself gets involved with non-self is completely wrong as they are completely wrong many of the statements you use to make, supposedly with regard to Ramana´s teachings, and I say “supposedly” because they are an odd mixture of concepts, grasped from here and there you try to make them to fit with this teaching, that results in complete nonsense and absurdity when put together.

I appreciate your well-meant advises but not needed, thank you.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"What is present in waking and dream but absent in sleep is not awareness but only awareness of phenomena."
Is not even plain/mere awareness of phenomena also awareness ?
How can one be aware of phenomena without being aware ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Prayer is an expression of our will, of what we want

Question: Can prayers change our destiny?

Michael James: The simple answer is 'no'. Praying to God to change our destiny is not only futile - it is also going against the path of surrender. It is only by surrender that we can be truly happy.

Prayer is an expression of our will, of what we want. If we pray sincerely for true love for Bhagavan and for the eradication of our ego, that prayer is our heart calling out to Bhagavan expressing what we desire most. So he will certainly clear the way for us and do all he can to make us more willing to surrender ourself. So that is what we should pray for, not for anything else.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-05-30 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses prayer, happiness, dream and so on (00:13)

My reflection: If we pray to enable us to surrender, he will certainly clear the way for us and do all he can to make us more and more willing to surrender, explains Michael. Is this not reassuring? So Bhagavan does answer our prayers, but he doesn’t answer our foolish prayers for material things. Bhagavan will surely answer our prayers if we pray for what is really good for us. What is really good for us? Only the annihilation of ego is really good for us. This ego and ego-based life is a sure recipe for misery.

Some people believe that even Bhagavan prayed to Arunachala for his mother’s recovery when she was down this very high fever and her life was despaired of. However, this is not exactly correct. Bhagavan did pray to Arunachala, but his prayer had a double meaning. Bhagavan wanted Arunachala to cure his mother of delirium, but delirium can also mean the ‘I am the body’ illusion. The following is this prayer to Arunachala by Bhagavan (as it appears in the book ‘The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi’):

Oh Lord, hill of my refuge, who curest the recurrent births, it is for thee to cure my mother’s fever.

Oh God, who slayest death! Reveal thy feet in the heart-lotus of her who bore me to take refuge at thy lotus-feet and shield her from death. What is death if scrutinized?

Arunachala, thou blazing fire of knowledge! Enfold my mother in thy light and make her one with thee. What need then for cremation?

Arunachala, dispeller of illusion! Why dost thou delay to dispel my mother’s delirium? Is there any but thee to watch as a mother over one who has sought refuge in thee and to rescue from the tyranny of karma?

Since Bhagavan was supposed to give liberation to his mother, he composed such a prayer. Arunachala did answer Bhagavan's prayer because Bhagavan's mother was eventually liberated. In India, the body of a sage is buried after death, whereas others are cremated. Having passed through the fire during life, they do not need to do so again after death. The mother attained liberation before death and was buried, as this verse foresees.




anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"..., we are certainly aware in all three states."
That implies that 'being' is tantamount to 'being aware' because being without awareness is reasonably inconceivable and therefore completely impossible.
Further thoughts:
Even a so-called brain-dead person lying in coma must be aware (of whatsoever). Presumably such a person is not aware of her/his damaged brain. Perhaps (s)he is aware by a subtle form of brain or even without any brain only by the heart.
Our deceased ones who have left (or lost) four of the five sheaths are certainly self-aware by any subtle tool or instrument in their heart. Similarly pure self-awareness in deep sleep is evidently functioning without any bodily brain.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"If we were not aware in sleep, we would not be aware of any such state at all, nor would we be aware of any gap between successive states of waking and dream. What we would be aware of would only be a seemingly uninterrupted succession of alternating states of waking and dream. However, we are aware not just of two states but of three, and we are aware that in the third state we are not aware of any phenomena, so we must be aware in that third state in order to be aware of the absence of any awareness of phenomena."
Is it not more accurate to say "...we are aware that in the third state we were not aware of any phenomena",...because being "aware of the absence of any awareness of phenomena" occurs only after awakening from deep sleep ?

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"In sleep we are aware but without being aware of anything other than ourself."
From own experience I can with certainty confirm only: After awakening from sleep I can say by deducing conclusion that I must have existed in sleep. That I was aware of nothing other than myself I do not really know albeit much speaks well for that.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"In a dream we are also aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, but the body we mistake ourself to be in dream is different to the body we now mistake ourself to be, so we are neither the dream body nor the current body, but that which mistakes itself to be a different body in each of a series of different states."
Because I often am not even aware of the fact that I am that which mistakes itself to be a different body in each of a series of different states, I at long last come to the conclusion that it is highly reasonable to intensify practising self-investigation.:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

We are all seekers – seeking is our very nature

The people who say ‘stop seeking’ haven’t understood Bhagavan’s teachings at all. Such advice is directly opposed to Bhagavan’s teachings. What is it that we are all seeking? We are all seeking happiness. However, most of us, most of the time are seeking happiness in things other than ourself. But we cannot stop seeking because when we rise as ego, we separate ourself from our real nature which is unalloyed happiness. So as ego, we are always dissatisfied, and dissatisfaction leads to seeking.

So we all seeking happiness because seeking happiness is ego’s very nature. If we stop spiritual seeking, we will go back to worldly seeking. The problem is most of the time we are seeking happiness in the wrong places. We are seeking happiness in things other than ourself. What Bhagavan says is that happiness is our real nature, so we can find happiness only within ourself. So we should seek within ourself.

Anyone who says ‘stop seeking’ should be avoided because that’s an impossible instruction. They are asking us to do something which we can never do. Moment to moment wherever our mind goes, it goes seeking happiness. The essence of all our desires is our desire for happiness because happiness is what we actually are.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-05-30 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses prayer, happiness, dream and so on (00:30)

My reflection: So we are all seekers, but we are foolish seekers. We are seeking happiness in material things or in outside happenings, but happiness does not lie in these things. So we need to become wise and intelligent seekers and seek happiness where it actually belongs, and it belongs only and only within ourself.

Salazar said...

Asun, you have the tendency to switch from one extreme to another. A few days ago you announced that you've unsubscribed Michael's videos (I guess indirectly exclaiming that you are done with him) because he is abusing the comments of people talking/posting to him for his own gain. In between you can't help yourself and praise unilaterally Michael's suggestions :-)

Lately we seem to agree on this blog and then suddenly you are calling my comments "nonsense" (without of course going into detail, chicken). That must be triggered from the same vasana which called Michael abusive, maybe some paranoia thing? Who knows and not my problem.

Have a good one Asun, I am done with you, as a commentator and projection.

Asun said...

Just to clarify:

I never called Michael “abusive” nor did I say that Michael is “abusing” the comments of people either, but “using”. There is a great difference with regard to the meaning of these two terms. Do not put in my mouth words I never said, right? He himself has claimed many times that he finds useful comments and questions of people to deepen his own understanding on the teachings and to look at them from different perspectives which is fine, so long as the way to be a way in both senses which is what I called into question. Anyone reading his response to my comment can find the answer on its own. There is nothing to hide nor hidden.

Asun said...

And, Salazar, regarding to my “switching”, for instance: if you say that ego attending only to itself or being attentively self-aware it is self, I agree to some extent, but if from this you assume and claim that “self gets involved with the non-self aka mind/body/emotions in giving it attention”, as you state in a response to Palani in another thread, I don´t agree. It may seem contradictory but it is not if we can discriminate, even at a conceptual level, self from ego and ego from the person.
I think Anonymous´ advise to talk from the dual perspective by now was a good one because, if we pretend to talk from the non-dual perspective, in spite of having certain understanding, we´ll show only our lack of true understanding and will say nonsenses and absurdities. But if you insist on it, go ahead. I won´t say anything else about.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"In sleep we were perfectly happy, without even the slightest unhappiness or dissatisfaction, because such is our real nature,...".
I think that can we know with certainty i.e. from own experience only after having subsided to the bottom of our innermost heart.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"Since ego is what is always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’, it is an erroneous awareness of ourself, so it can be eradicated only by our being aware of ourself as we actually are."
Following the doctrine/theory of eka-jīva-vāda there is (seems to be) only one ego.
Sometimes the question arises whether ego is aware of a great variety/multitude of bodies and if so by what means one ego can be aware of billions of bodies at the same time. I think that cannot even all the gods together.:-)
Assuming, one person or jiva has actually managed to eradicate ego, what consequences if any at all has that for all the other persons ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan is ever-present in the form of ‘I’, in the form of his teachings and in the form of Arunachala (part one)

A friend: I sometimes wish I was able to have satsanga with Bhagavan’s physical presence. But Bhagavan has sadly denied me this opportunity.

Michael: Bhagavan’s basic teaching is ‘I am not this body’, but because we mistake ourself to be a body, we feel ‘Oh, we weren’t fortunate to be in Bhagavan’s physical presence’. When Bhagavan was asked whether he was an incarnation of this God or that God, he said: ‘Arunchala Ramana is that which blissfully shines as awareness in the heart of all jivas from Hari downwards’. That means we are always in the presence of Bhagavan. He is always in us as ‘I’.

When Sadhu Om was alive, there were many people alive who had been with Bhagavan for many many years. Sadhu Om used to say ‘People think that those of us who were in Bhagavan’s presence was fortunate, but it is not necessarily the case because when we were in Bhagavan’s presence, there was a veil of maya over us’. Sadhu Om used to say that there was a subtle maya that Bhagavan was that physical form. He used to say those who came after Bhagavan are at least free of this maya.

Sadhu Om said ‘Many old devotees you can see still have the pride – Oh, I was with Bhagavan for so many years’. That itself shows they were not really with Bhagavan because so long as ego rises, we have separated ourself Bhagavan. If we really want to be with Bhagavan, ego needs to subside’. So being in Bhagavan’s presence shouldn’t be the source of pride.

So Bhagavan is always present in us as ‘I’, and if we want external support, he is always there in the form of his teachings. If we want a physical form, he is always there in the form of Arunachala.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-05-30 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses prayer, happiness, dream and so on (01:06)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
of course you mean Bhagavan said 'Arunachala Ramana is that which blissfully shines as awareness in the heart of all jivas from Hari downwards’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan is ever-present in the form of ‘I’, in the form of his teachings and in the form of Arunachala (part two)

In many spiritual traditions, they have sampradayas – one guru appoints another guru and he, in turn, appoints another guru and so on. So they have a lineage of gurus, but in Bhagavan’s path, there is no lineage.

One person who was most qualified to be the guru after Bhagavan was Muruganar. But when people came to Muruganar and asked him, ‘Swami, will you be my guru?’, he said, ‘No, no, there is only one guru. Bhagavan alone is the guru for all of us’. So Bhagavan is the eternal guru – always shining in or heart as ourself.

Long before we knew Bhagavan, he was our guru. He is the one who is leading us and guiding us through so many janmas, and finally, we have come to his teachings. Guru is only one. Bhagavan says in the 12th paragraph of Nan Ar: 'God and guru are not different'. Since there is only one God, there is only one guru. Guru may appear in different forms, but guru is actually only one.

At other place Bhagavan said, ’God, guru and self are one’. Since God is our real nature, guru is also our real nature. So if we want to have contact with guru, we have to turn within. That’s why Bhagavan said the best satsanga is atma-sanga. In other words, turning our attention within and abiding as we really are – that is true satsanga.

Bhagavan defined what real seeing is. In verse 21 of Ulladu Narpadu, Bhagavan says, ‘Becoming food is seeing’. That means being swallowed by God or guru is seeing them. Only when we are swallowed by Bhagavan, when this ego is completely devoured by Bhagavan, then only we are seeing him. Only when we become one with Bhagavan are we really seeing him. So long as we are seeing him as something other than ourself, we do not know him as he really is.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-05-30 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses prayer, happiness, dream and so on (01:06)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, yes, it should have been Arunachala. Thank you. As you can see, my carelessness continues!

anadi-ananta said...

No matter, Sanjay,
you are much more careful in the act of typing than some years ago.:-)
Now you are writing nearly perfect !
Thanks again for your video-transcriptions.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
Nan Ar? should be correctly written always with a question mark.
You wanted to write: So Bhagavan is the eternal guru – always shining in our heart as ourself.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, thanks. Yes, it should be 'So Bhagavan is the eternal guru – always shining in our heart as ourself.

Regarding the question mark after Nan Ar?, yes, it is better to place the question mark in most places, but sometimes we can avoid it if Nan Ar comes in between a sentence. So I believe there are no hard and fast rules in this regard. I would request Michael to correct me if my understanding is incorrect in this regard.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Even to say ‘ego exists because of avichara’ is not a very satisfactory answer

Sometimes Bhagavan used to say ‘ego exists because of avichara (non-investigation)’. That means actually there is no ego, but ego seems to exist because we don’t investigate it. If we investigate it, we will see that there is no such thing as ego. But even to say ‘ego exists because of avichara’ is not a very satisfactory answer. The reason Bhagavan gave that answer is that solution to the problem of ego is vichara (investigation).

Ego is the first cause of everything, so how to explain the first cause? What is the cause of the first cause? The first cause obviously has no cause.

So long as there is ego, we can say there is ego because of its interest in other things but that is again not a satisfactory answer. Who is interested in other things? Who has these desires and attachments? It is only ego. So the only solution is to investigate ego keenly enough to see that there is no such thing.

• Based on the video: 2019-06-16 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses vivarta vāda and the mistakes of neo-advaita (01:52)

My reflection: Ego is the greatest mystery, the biggest enigma. Why did it come into existence, and why did it consequently put us into all these problems. This coronavirus is nothing but a gift to us from this ego.

So we need to get rid of this ego as soon as possible. Bhagavan has given us a brahmastra (supreme weapon) to fight this ego. We just need to look at it very very keenly and it will take flight. Such a simple solution to all our problems! If ego goes, all our problems will vanish along with it.

Asun said...

Thanks for these transcriptions, Sanjay.

Ego is a false awareness, not only because it is aware of other things than itself but also because its awareness is a mere semblance or reflection of true awareness. This is why giving up attending to other things is not enough, ego also has to acknowledge that its awareness is a borrowed awareness, to surrender it to its source or true awareness, and merge with it. Then it is known that it never existed, the same way that our own reflection in a mirror doesn´t actually exist, it is just an appearance. Only us who appear reflected in the mirror, are real.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
"This is why giving up attending to other things is not enough, ego also has to acknowledge that its awareness is a borrowed awareness, to surrender it to its source or true awareness, and merge with it."
Can (a person or) we educate ego to acknowledge or recognize that its awareness is only a borrowed awareness ? Or can we force ego to surrender itself to its source or true awareness, and merge with it ? After merging of ego with its source, who will be there to whom it could be known that it never has existed ? Can we in our real existence and true nature be reflected or mirrored at all ?
[According to a video-interview once Bhagavan's great-nephew V.S. Mani was told of the fact that on a photograph of Bhagavan's body a shadow could not even be seen - in contrast to the surrounding buildings of Sri Ramanasramam. So on that photograph Bhagavan's body did evidently not cast any shadow.:-)]

Sanjay Lohia said...

Asun, I agree. But we should be clear that the only way this ego can surrender itself is by investigating it: that is, by looking at itself very very keenly and closely. Ego cannot surrender itself by any other way. We need to turn back within with all the power and love at our command and try to lose ourself in ourself. This is the direct and only doorway to freedom, according to Bhagavan.

You have thanked me for these transcripts, but all thanks to Michael. He has been so gracious to participate in these meetings and then upload the videos of these meetings. His love for Bhagavan is simply unmatched. Of course, since Bhagavan is certainly using Michael to propagate and clarify his teachings, ultimately we should thank Bhagavan:)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sadhu Om’s songs originated from Bhagavan himself, so these are priceless

Sadhu Om once spoke about himself. He said, ‘I used to compose songs, and I would be only satisfied if I went and sand my songs in front of Bhagavan. But then I used to laugh at myself thinking – from where do these songs came if not from Bhagavan. I am foolishly taking Bhagavan to be a person outside, and I want to come and sing my song in front of him as if it is my song and not his song’.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-05-30 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses prayer, happiness, dream and so on (01:08)

My reflection: Sadhu Om sang songs in praise or love of Bhagavan or about Bhagavan’s teachings and such topics. Our love for Bhagavan is a gift from Bhagavan itself, and Bhagavan’s teachings, of course, can come only from Bhagavan. So as Sadhu Om rightly reflected, all his songs of love or teachings could have originated only from Bhagavan and nowhere else.

So Bhagavan is author or writer of whatever we lovingly write about him and his teachings.
We borrow love from Bhagavan and shower it back on him. So it is all Bhagavan's Leela!

Salazar said...

Asun, do what you must, as is anybody doing anyway. It doesn't matter what is said here. This blog is nothing else than a release for the busy mind so it can dump its accumulated concepts. There is no other purpose.

Dual viewpoint? LOL That cracks me up, truly. I am out.

Sanjay Lohia said...

God knows all our vasanas, and he ordains our prarabdha keeping our vasanas in mind

Bubba the Self: How are the ego’s vasanas related to the prarabha karma and sanchita karma? Is it that the vasanas (likes/dislikes) create those karmas by agamya (karmic action)? If the vasanas get weaker, those karmas still go on until complete annihilation of ego right? (But the ego might experience the dream as lighter and less dense because it is losing its attachment to the body)

Sanjay Lohia: Bubba the Self, you wonder ‘How are the ego’s vasanas related to the prarabdha karma and sancita karma?’ Ego’s vasanas are the entire package of ego’s will – they consist in seed form of all of ego’s desires, attachments, likes, dislikes, fears, hopes and so on. These are all the elements of our will that drive our mind to go away from ourself. Ego also has sat-vasana or the love to turn back within and abide as it really is. So ego has two types of vasanas: vishaya-vasanas and sat-vasana. Are these vasanas related to our prarabdha and sanchita karmas? No, they are not related directly.

However, since God or guru knows all our vasanas (he knows the type of vasanas we have and also the strength of these vasanas), he ordains our prarabdha keeping our vasanas in mind. That is God designs our prarabdha in such a way so as to allow certain of our strong vasanas to rise to the surface of our mind. God knows that if we can curb these strong vasanas, we can progress fast on our spiritual journey. So God gives us a good opportunity to keep our strong vasanas in check.

You ask, ‘Is it that the vasanas (likes/dislikes) create those karmas by agamya (karmic action)?’ Yes, our vasanas are responsible for our agamya karmas. Whatever actions we do by our body, speech and mind using our will create agamya karmas. These karmas get stored in sanchita, and God selects from this store our prarabdha.

You ask, ‘If the vasanas get weaker, those karmas still go on until complete annihilation of ego right?’ Our karmas will go as long as our ego is intact. As long as ego is intact, we will continue to experience prarabdha and continue to do agamya. The weaker our vasanas become, the less agamya we will do because we will then use our will less and less. Likewise, the weaker our vasanas become, the less concerned we will be about our prarabdha. However, all our karmas will end only when our ego is annihilated.

• Extract from the comment section of the video: 2020-05-17 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to ignite unwavering devotion

Asun said...

anadi-ananta, if by “educating” you mean to come to know, see or understand it, yes, it is possible. Actually, this is the aim of Bhagavan´s teachings though they are not aimed at the person which is insentient and a mere projection of ego but to the very ego, this false awareness aware of being a person, for it to follow the instructions or clues that he gave to us, in case it to be suffering because of its condition as a limited and vulnerable, to so many distressing challenges, person or fed up with it.

They are teachings strongly practical, i.e., to be put into practice because it is the practice what enables us to understand the theory and to keep up following the instructions or to deepen them since not at any moment all of them make sense to us. Simplicity is very deceitful to our mind that has become very gross and superficial, due to our habit of attending to other things than ourself, and we overlook the deepness underlying it so, it is only by the practice of being attentively self-aware that mind becomes thin enough and the underlying deepness of the teachings begins to spill out, so to speak. If practice enables us to understand, understanding enables us to surrender. Surrender can´t be forced, it is love which flows out from the very understanding brought about by the practice that, firstly, we are not the person we mistake to be and, secondly, that our awareness as ego is a borrowed awareness that allows us to perceive-project everything we become attached to, as if they existed on their own out of us, since it becomes obvious that without the light of true awareness reflected on mind or ego this other dim light of the false awareness or ego couldn´t project-perceive anything, likewise it can´t be projected-perceived anything in the light of pure or true awareness. The former is maya, the wondrous power in ourself , what ultimately has to be surrendered, and has been explained on this blog many times. Bhagavan talks on it in many texts. As everybody else, I also have my favorite so, to find the answer to your last questions I´d recommend you the reading of “Sri Arunachala Ashtakam”, specially, “Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam”, commented by Sadhu Om.

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

From Sadhanai Saram,
"115. Even before the experience of the current destiny (prarabdha karma) which caused the appearance of a dream has come to an end, if the mind is struck by intense fear, joy or suffering, its power of attention will be driven Selfwards and return to the heart, whereupon waking will result."
Can intense fear, joy or suffering lead to waking? Isn't it said that only vichara can lead to waking? Or is waking here referring to the so-called waking state which is actually just another dream? We do snap out of a dream and into this so called waking state when we experience intense dreams. Can intense fear in this so called waking state also lead to end of this illusion? Bhagavan had intense fear of death during his death experience, but then he did do vichara also, it wasn't just the intense fear of death that led to destruction of ego, I think. Also Michael once explained that we are more attached to this so called waking state body than to the dream body, that's why we are able to snap out of dream very easily. So since we're more attached to waking body, intense vichara is the only way to end this dream.

Sanjay Lohia said...

To whom? To me. Who am I?, you ask, ‘Can intense fear, joy or suffering lead to waking? Isn't it said that only vichara can lead to waking?’ Only atma-vichara (self-investigation) can lead to real awakening. That is, we can experience ourself as we actually are only through the practice of turning so completely within that we are aware of only ourself and nothing else.

Sri Sadhu Om wrote in this verse: ‘if the mind is struck by intense fear, joy or suffering, its power of attention will be driven Selfwards and return to the heart, whereupon waking will result’. When our mind is struck by intense fear, joy or suffering, its power of attention recoils from such experiences and rests in our source (at least momentarily), but very soon we go out again. How should we use such moments of extreme fear, joy or suffering? We need to investigate very very keenly the one who is experiencing this extreme fear or joy or suffering.

So only our correct and well-directed response to extreme fear, joy and suffering will enable us to wake up to our true state of pure self-awareness. How we are able to respond to such intense experiences depends on the strength of the practice we may have done before we have such experiences. If our practice of self-investigation has gone very deep and therefore we are spiritually mature, we will be able to make use of such intense experiences to turn back within fully then and there.

When young Venkataraman had that intense fear of death, his response was unique because he was a highly mature jiva. He had done enough practice in the past to make use of this precious moment. When the fear of death overpowered him, he clung to himself with so much love and vairagya that his ego was annihilated at that very moment. At the moment of this intense fear, he had only one concern: ‘with the death of this body will I also die’. So with his entire attention, he held on to his ‘I’ to see whether it will survive death or die along with his body. The intensity of his self-attentiveness was enough to destroy his ego.

So what Sri Sadhu Om is implying is that we should try to respond to such extreme fear, joy or suffering with the same intensity as young Venkataraman responded to his intense fear of death. This is how I understand this verse of Sadhanai Saram.


anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
thanks for your thorough explanation/description and your reading-recommendation. I will study these texts again.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
regarding extreme fear,
many years ago I had a nightmare in which I was pursued by a giant tyrannosaurus rex in a steep mountainous jungle for a felt whole night long. My luck was that the beast could not see me exactly but only hear me fleeing and smell my perspiration. The only way to escape was that I threw stones always in an other direction in order to distract the beast from me.
Finally in the morning I reached the river in the valley, swam downstream to the other bank and woke up bathed in sweat. It was the utter horror. In that dream experience I did not have the power to keenly investigate the one who is experiencing this extreme fear. :-)Besides at that time I had not even heard of Bhagavan Ramana of Arunachala.

Asun said...

Funny thing is that by practicing or being attentively self-aware, we are already surrendering our mind or our power to project-perceive or know and experience things other than ourself from the very first moment. The mean is the goal, though the goal becomes clearer and clearer along the practice as well as the nature of the love of ourself for ourself by making available to us this mean. There is beauty in all of this, despite appearances.

Sanjay Lohia said...

If we had reached the goal we wouldn’t be here having this discussion, and there would have been no world to have any discussion

A friend: I have let go of my job, let go of family, let go of everything, but still why is it that I am not able to surrender completely? Why can’t I be just as Ramana says ‘summa iru’ - remain quiet? I try to remain quiet but seem to be failing miserably.

Michael: We can let go of everything, but so long as we don’t let go of ‘I’, our letting go is insufficient. Our surrender is complete only when we surrender ego. So long as ego is there, it will have an interest in other things. It will have desires and attachments. We may be able to reduce the strength of these desires to a certain extent, but they all remain so long as this ‘I’ remains.

What is the solution? Continue following the path Bhagavan has shown us – patiently and persistently try to turn our attention within. The more we turn our attention within, the more we will lose interest in other things. Our attachments will become weaker and weaker and weaker until finally, we will be willing to give ourself entirely.

So we are all on the path. If we had reached the goal we wouldn’t be here having this discussion, and there would have been no world to have any discussion. All this comes into existence only when we rise as ego. So we haven’t yet reached the goal, but we are on the path. We just have to continue following what Bhagavan says patiently and persistently, and everything else will fall in place.

The friend: So we have to act without ego?

Michael: Actions of the body, speech and mind will go on. We need not be concerned about actions. So we shouldn't be bothered about acting without ego, but we should be without ego. That is, we shouldn't rise as ego and to achieve that we need to turn our attention within. Turning our attention within is the only way to truly surrender ego.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-05-30 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses prayer, happiness, dream and so on (01:34)

My reflection: Yes, sometimes we get frustrated due to our supposed lack of progress. However, we shouldn’t expect quick results on this path. Why? It is because we are fighting against our age-old vasanas. We have accumulated these vasanas over many many births, so these will not vanish all of a sudden. So we need time to weaken and finally destroy all our vasanas. So as Bhagavan says, until our vasanas are destroyed, we need patient and persistence practice. We do not have any other quick method of reaching our goal.

However, we will surely reach our goal sooner or later. Bhagavan has assured us in so many ways. So we cannot fail on this path!

Sanjay Lohia said...

Asun, every time we turn within to face ourself alone, we are surrendering partially. Every time we turn back within, we are taking at least one step in the right direction. And as you say, our means itself will be found to be our goal. So we will surely reach our goal because we have adopted the correct means.

Asun said...

"means", sorry. Thanks, Sanjay.

Anonymous said...

I have suffered intense fear , so I can relate very well and agree to this verse :). I also experienced intense love at the time of experiencing fear. During extreme fear, I think automatically everything that one assumed as permanent will suddenly vanish and look temporary and the only thing one can hang on at that moment of fear will be the self. So naturally, it will be easier to wake up at that moment. Unless the core assumption one has is completely shaken, it is not possible to wake up. That shaking can happen only by God’s grace or by one’s own intense effort.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, when young Venkataraman had the intense fear of death, that was certainly due to grace because there was no apparent cause for that fear to rise in Venkataraman. So, as you imply, at times we need to be thoroughly shaken up so that we become willing to wake up. However, our response to fear or to any other emotion will still depend on us. For example, we see all around fear and misery now due to coronavirus, but how many of us are trying to wake up to reality because of this fear?

So ultimately we should wholeheartedly want to wake up and try to wake up to reality. No amount of external stimulus can do this for us if we are not willing to turn within fully and become food to God or guru. This is the only way we can awaken to reality.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Talking about personal experiences will only be misleading people, distracting them away from the path

A friend: Michael, would you mind sharing with us your experiences of your spiritual journey? What were the main hurdles you faced, and how you overcame them? Your journey can inspire us . . .

Michael: The more we practise this path, the more clarity we get. So that is how we grow in ‘experience’ so to speak. We are aware of ‘I am’, but can you describe what that awareness ‘I am’ is? We can’t describe it. So, anyone who tries to describe experiences, they are describing something other than themself. That is not self-investigation. Self-investigation is trying to be aware of ourself alone.

Anything we experience is a phenomenon, something other than ourself. When we are investigating ourself, we are trying to turn our attention away from all phenomena back towards the one who is experiencing these phenomena.

OK, we all know about the obstacles we face. When we try to turn our attention within, it quickly bounces out again. Why? It is because of our desires and attachments. We can overcome this weakness only by following the path Bhagavan has shown us. OK, we continue failing, but we continue trying to bring back our attention to ourself. This goes on again and again and again. Slowly slowly our vishaya-vasanas will loses its strength and our love to know ourself increases in strength.

Sometimes people ask me about my personal experience. The whole problem is that we now mistake ourself to be a person. The whole story of this person’s life is not ourself. That is something other than ourself. I can tell you about Michael. I can tell you what Michael has gone through and about his experiences, but that is not what we are seeking. You are seeking to know ‘Who am I?’ not ‘Who is Michael?’ So Michael’s experiences are irrelevant.

We need to be concerned about only ‘Who am I?’ that is ever-present, not something that appears and disappears. All experiences appear and disappear. What is ever-present us ‘I’, and that is what we are seeking to know. So talking about personal experiences will only be misleading people, distracting them away from the path. Each one of us has to turn our attention within to know ourself.

Bhagavan aptly called this path vichara, which means ‘investigation’. You learn how to investigate as you go along. As you proceed with your investigation, the way becomes clearer and clearer. So the only way to investigate yourself is to investigate yourself.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-05-30 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses prayer, happiness, dream and so on (01:23)

Karen Taylor said...

Dearest Sanjay,

Though I have consciously chosen to cease questions here, the reading of your transcription of Michael's talks has become a source of wisdom and clarity. For example, I was on the last two live satsang gatherings with the UK group, as well as the Connecticut gathering, and couldn't grasp some of what was shared at that time. However, in reading again the transcript extracts here, suddenly deeper understanding has come especially in regards to "seeking" and asking others about their personal experiences. Sincere gratitude to you for your steadfast effort to assist all to dive inward! May peace be with you always! :)

Anonymous said...

The fear caused by coronavirus is really nothing compared to the fear of physical/ego death. In ulladhu narpadhu there is one verse saying how one who knows/experienced fear of death will automatically take refugee in God. Ego will realize how powerless and foolish it is only during its death(either physical or mental)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Karen, thank you for your kind words. You thank me by writing, ‘Sincere gratitude to you for your steadfast effort to assist all to dive inward!’ However, all thanks are due only to Sri Michael James, and ultimately to Bhagavan. I am in fact merely assisting myself by writing all these transcripts, but I am glad if others also find these useful. To transcribe all these extracts is the source of great joy for me.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
indeed your MJ-video-transcriptions are very valuable particularly for those who do not easily and clearly understand quickly spoken English (like me). Many thanks to you !

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
on 1 June 2020 at 15:35 you wanted to quote Sadhu Om having said, ‘I used to compose songs, and I would be only satisfied if I went and sang my songs in front of Bhagavan....from where do these songs come if not from Bhagavan...'.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, thanks. I am grateful to you reading these comments so carefully. It is always helpful to know one's typos so that one can be careful in the future.