Wednesday, 17 June 2020

What exists and shines in sleep is nothing other than pure awareness

Yesterday I discussed with a friend called Murthy what Bhagavan pointed out to us about what exists and what we are aware of in sleep, and our discussion is recorded in the video 2020-06-16 Michael and Murthy discuss the non-existence of ego and its five sheaths in sleep:


However, Murthy wrote to me today expressing some of his reflections on our discussion, and among his reflections he wrote:
[…] per vivarta, we admit manifested gross appearance of ego/mind/world in waking and dream (yes even in dream I would say they are ‘gross’ appearance within the dream state although we call it ‘subtle’ from the waking state point of view). Therefore, I don’t see much harm in admitting unmanifested and ‘really subtle’ form of ego/mind/world in the local sleep state.
In reply to this I wrote:

Vivarta means false appearance or illusion, so according to vivarta vāda all multiplicity (everything other than our real nature), including ego, is just an illusory appearance. That is, ego and all the multiplicity perceived by it do not actually exist but merely seem to exist. Therefore when ego and phenomena do not appear, as in sleep, they do not exist at all.

You say “I don’t see much harm in admitting unmanifested and ‘really subtle’ form of ego/mind/world in the local sleep state”, but if you admit that they exist in an unmanifested form then, you are attributing to them more reality than just an illusory appearance (vivarta). An illusory appearance does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, so when it does not seem to exist, as in sleep, it does not exist at all, not even as an appearance. In other words, an appearance is an appearance only when it appears or manifests, so to speak of an unmanifested appearance is a contradiction in terms.

Vivarta vāda is a core principle of advaita, so all advaitins accept it. However, as I mentioned yesterday, the majority of advaitins, both past and present, are unwilling to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi vāda, so they try to reconcile some form of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi vāda with vivarta vāda, but there will always be problems with such an attempt, because an illusory appearance exists only in the view of the perceiver and therefore does not exist independent of the perceiver’s perception of it. According to sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi vāda the world exists independent of our perception of it, and there are many perceivers (nānā jīva vāda), so those who accept sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi vāda would see no problem in accepting that things can exist in an unmanifested form, even though such an idea is logically inconsistent with vivarta vāda.

Bhagavan taught dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi vāda because it is the simplest explanation and also the explanation that is most useful for those of us who want to follow his path of self-investigation and self-surrender. According to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi vāda nothing exists independent of our perception of it, so when something does not appear or manifest in our perception, it does not exist at all, and hence, since we do not perceive any ego or vāsanās in sleep, they do not exist then.

Any explanation that postulates the unmanifested existence of anything, or the existence of anything other than pure awareness in sleep, is thereby creating unnecessary complications. Such explanations may satisfy our curiosity about things other than ourself, but they will not help us in our self-investigation, so it is best to reject all such explanations and adhere firmly to the simple explanation of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi vāda. All that needs to be explained is explained very clearly and simply by dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi vāda, so why should we seek any explanation that is not entirely consistent with dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi vāda?

As I explained during our discussion yesterday, the sole purpose of analysing our experience of ourself in our three states, waking, dream and sleep, is for us to be firmly convinced that we cannot be anything other than pure awareness, which alone is what exists and shines in sleep, because only when we clearly understand this will we be able to grasp what it is that we need to investigate. That is, when we investigate ourself we are trying to be aware of ourself as we actually are, and what we actually are is nothing other than pure awareness, which is what we experience alone in sleep.

Therefore our experience in sleep is a vital clue that guides us in our self-investigation. So long as we are aware of anything that we are not aware of in sleep, our attention is still not focused solely and exclusively on ourself. In other words, we have not entirely left all வெளி விடயங்கள் (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷ), ‘external phenomena’, and therefore we are not yet aware of only தன் ஒளி உரு (taṉ oḷi-uru), ‘our own form of light’, as Bhagavan implies that we should be 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 external phenomena, the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness.

Explanatory paraphrase: Leaving aside [awareness of any] external viṣayas [namely phenomena of every kind, all of which are external in the sense that they are other than and hence extraneous to oneself], the mind knowing its own form of light [namely the light of pure awareness, which is its real nature and what illumines it, enabling it to be aware both of itself and of other things] is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].
Therefore postulating the existence of anything other than pure awareness in sleep undermines the entire purpose of our analysis of our experience of ourself in our three states, and obscures the vital clue that our experience of ourself in sleep offers us to guide us in our self-investigation. This is why Bhagavan repeatedly emphasised that what exists and what we are aware of in sleep is only pure awareness, which is our own real nature and which is completely devoid of ego or mind, as he implied, for example, by the phrases ‘மனமற்ற நித்திரையில் தின மனுபவிக்கும் தன் சுபாவம்’ (maṉam aṯṟa niddiraiyil diṉam aṉubhavikkum taṉ subhāvam), ‘one’s own nature, which one experiences daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of mind [and hence of ego, its root and essence]’, and ‘நான் அற்ற தூக்கத்தும்’ (nāṉ aṯṟa tūkkattum), ‘even in sleep, which is devoid of I [namely ego]’, in the first sentence of Nāṉ Ār? and verse 21 of Upadēśa Undiyār respectively:
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.

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.

Since all sentient 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.

நானெனுஞ் சொற்பொரு ளாமது நாளுமே
நானற்ற தூக்கத்து முந்தீபற
     நமதின்மை நீக்கத்தா லுந்தீபற.

nāṉeṉuñ coṯporu ḷāmadu nāḷumē
nāṉaṯṟa tūkkattu mundīpaṟa
     namadiṉmai nīkkattā lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: நான் எனும் சொல் பொருள் ஆம் அது நாளுமே, நான் அற்ற தூக்கத்தும் நமது இன்மை நீக்கத்தால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): nāṉ eṉum sol poruḷ ām adu nāḷumē, nāṉ aṯṟa tūkkattum namadu iṉmai nīkkattāl.

அன்வயம்: நான் அற்ற தூக்கத்தும் நமது இன்மை நீக்கத்தால், நான் எனும் சொல் பொருள் நாளுமே அது ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): nāṉ aṯṟa tūkkattum namadu iṉmai nīkkattāl, nāṉ eṉum sol poruḷ nāḷumē adu ām.

English translation: That is at all times the substance of the word called ‘I’, because of the exclusion of our non-existence even in sleep, which is devoid of ‘I’.

Explanatory paraphrase: That [the one that appears as ‘I am I’, namely pure awareness, which is our real nature] is at all times the substance [or true import] of the word called ‘I’, because of the exclusion of our non-existence [that is, because we do not become non-existent] even in sleep, which is devoid of ‘I’ [namely ego].

56 comments:

Asun said...

Michael,

It seems that this issue of sleep is making many people to lose sleep :)

You have published lately on this blog several of your responses to questions on this subject and I don´t know if you are still writing the article you told me, since you think that there are many points to clarify from my questions on this blog but, as I told you, I solved the conundrum by myself and the key is in the awareness of pure awareness we can experience in the gap between sleep and the waking state.

The more we practice self-investigation, the more the mind becomes calm and clear and the more the mind becomes calm and clear, the more we can be aware of pure awareness in the gap between sleep and the waking state and witness our rising as ego, due to our habit of grasping form or of being carried away by thoughts, since mind is slowed down by the practice. It is a matter of clinging to pure awareness at that moment rather to thinking and also during the waking-dream state by being attentively self-aware, this is the only way to know-experience the continuity of pure awareness along the two states of waking-dream and sleep which presence is seemingly obscured by the first thought - I giving rise to all other thoughts. I don´t see there are further complications.

I´ve watched this video and I left you a question I´ll pose on the blog too because I don´t know where you prefer to answer, in case you do:

Around 23:15 you say that sleep is necessary because we need, metaphorically speaking, recharge our batteries and that we do it by going back to the state of sleep or pure awareness to recharge them but that this doesn´t mean that we exist as ego in sleep recharging our batteries. What does it mean, then? Is it just another explanation given to ego or is there something more to it?

As you see, ego keeps rising wanting to know :) Maybe I should leave the youtube channel too, not only this blog.

Salazar said...

LOL

Salazar said...

Yes Asun, just keep telling us how clear everything is for you and give your endless good-byes. How many times have you now said you'd leave? Three, four?

Why the need to tell us? That is too funny.

What cracked me up too is that you really said in a previous comment that "you agree with Bhagavan". LMAO

As if there would be the option to disagree :-) In those little things one can notice your ever-expanding arrogance.

Michael James said...

Asun, we all know from our own experience that we periodically require sleep, and that after spending a while in sleep we wake up refreshed (whether in our present state or some other dream), so this is what I described metaphorically as needing to recharge our batteries. Ego is refreshed or ‘recharged’ after a period of sleep, so does this mean that ego existed in sleep? In a sense, yes, ego does exist in sleep, but only as pure awareness, not as ego.

That is, when we as ego fall asleep, we dissolve back into our source, namely pure awareness, so what remains in sleep is only pure awareness, the infinite peace (śānti) of which is itself infinite power (śakti), as Bhagavan sometimes explained. Therefore just by remaining for a while as pure awareness we recuperate our energy, and hence when we rise again as ego we find ourself refreshed.

I do still hope to complete the article I began to write in reply to your earlier questions, but whether or not I will find time to do so is up to Bhagavan.

Incidentally, besides the video I referred to at the beginning of this article, there is another video I made recently on the subject of sleep, namely 2020-06-14b Sri Ramana Center, Houston: Michael James discusses the five sheaths and three bodies, and because they are closely related, I put both of them in a playlist, The five sheaths and three states.

Asun said...

I´ve observed this during the so called waking state and also how this “recharging energy” is used many times to rise as ego instead of to remain abiding as pure awareness. Habit is very strong and so long as it doesn´t itself as what it really is, it´ll keep rising.

What you say ,“does this mean that ego existed in sleep? In a sense, yes, ego does exist in sleep, but only as pure awareness, not as ego.”, now makes full sense to me.

Thank you, Michael.

Asun said...

"It doesn´t know itself", sorry.

Asun said...

Well, I referred to a “relative” pure awareness, so to speak, during the waking state. It is more precise to say that this energy is used many times to fully rise as ego and go on doing things instead of using it to dive deeper into the awareness of our existence or of being.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Since there is no ego in sleep, how can the vasanas exist in the absence of ego?

For an explanation, it is said that what remains in sleep is just the karana saria (which is the sum total of all our vasanas) because that is the seed from which everything sprouts. But since there is no ego in sleep, how can the vasanas exist in the absence of ego? Because whose vasanas are they? They are ego's vasanas. Can your desire exist without you being there to desire those things? It is 'I' who desires, so without 'I' there will be no desire.

So without ego, there is no karana sarira. There is no ego in sleep, and there is no karana sarira in sleep. Because people want explanations, explanations are given to satisfy people. But actually, a lot of explanations are unnecessary. Some explanations are useful. Whatever philosophical arguments Bhagavan gave, they were for one purpose and one purpose alone: that is, to help us and motivate us in the investigation of ourself.

Why is it said that karana sarira exists in sleep? It is said so in order to explain how we came out of sleep again. That is, it is said that our desires drive us out again. It is said that the desires remain in the seed form and they force ego to come back into existence, to rise again in waking. But why do we need an explanation of why do we rise out of sleep again? Can we explain how ego first came into existence? No, we cannot.

As Bhagavan said trying to explain how ego came into existence is like trying to explain how the son of the barren woman was born? We can never explain it because there is no such thing as the son of the barren woman. So the son of the barren woman is completely non-existent. It is logically impossible to have a son of a barren woman. Bhagavan says ego is as non-existent as the son of the barren woman. When we investigate what this ego is, we find there is no such thing at all. So why should we look to explain something that doesn’t actually exist? Since we don’t need to explain why this ego first came into existence, why do we need to explain why it came into existence at the beginning of any dream that seems to be waking? So we don’t need to explain it.

It is often said that sleep is a state of darkness and that in that darkness all the vasanas are there. There are so many different levels of explanations. According to Bhagavan, sleep is the state of pure awareness. In sleep ego has totally subsided. Since this ego is ‘I am this body’ awareness, and this ‘I am this body’ awareness is not there is sleep, what remains in sleep is just pure awareness, which is our real nature.

In ‘Maharshi’s Gospel’ Bhagavan said sleep is not a state of ignorance. It’s a state of pure awareness. In GVK he says even more clearly, sleep appears to be a state of darkness only from the perspective of ego in waking and dream. In sleep, there is no ego. There is just pure awareness.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-14b Sri Ramana Center, Houston: Michael James discusses the five sheaths and three bodies (13:00)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
thanky again for your transcription;
in the first line you write "...it is said that what remains in sleep is just the karana saria...". It should be 'kāraṇa śarīra', the 'causal body'.

anadi-ananta said...

it should be..."and this ‘I am this body’ awareness is not there in sleep,...".

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, yes, it should be, ‘it is said that what remains in sleep is just the karana sarira’. Also, it should be, ‘and this ‘I am this body’ awareness is not there in sleep’. Thanks.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The Upanishads, Brahma-sutras and Bhagavad Gita, all come from Bhagavan

The majority of the advaitins now as in the past are not able to accept what Bhagavan taught, which is drsti-srsti-vada. They are much more comfortable with their own forms of srsti-drsti-vada. They think this world exists independent of our perception of it. They think they are many jivas, not just one jiva.

Bhagavan teaches us the purest and the most radical form of advaita, which is not acceptable to most who consider themselves to be advaitins. There are some advaitins who even criticise Bhagavan. They think Bhagavan didn’t have proper training. They think since Bhagavan never studied advaita under a qualified guru, Bhagavan is capable of making mistakes.

They are not willing to accept Bhagavan as the source of all Upanishads. From where did the Upanishads, Brahma-sutras and Bhagavad Gita all come? They all come from Bhagavan. Some feel Bhagavan was just born 120 years ago, so what does he know? These Upanishads have been there for thousands of years. So we will not only be attacked by other schools of philosophies but even the advaitins will attack us. We don’t mind. As Bhagavan said we haven’t come here to argue with others.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-14b Sri Ramana Center, Houston: Michael James discusses the five sheaths and three bodies (32:00)

Salazar said...

Sanjay, thank you very much for the extract from Michael's video on 2020-06-14b. That is another excellent comment. One may add since one cannot find the ego with vichara, then it also cannot be "purified". One cannot purify what does not exist or cannot be found.

Of course one can use the term purification to demonstrate a change in the phenomenal world, but that goes along the line of the son of a barren woman. Can that son be purified?

As Michael stated Bhagavan, all these "explanations" should only have one goal, to lead us to vichara. If we instead try to make sense of it conceptually one has to add more and more concepts and finally one gets lost in concepts without ever making sense of anything.

Also what came to me, it is said that the mind needs to be strong and focused in order to be able to perform vichara. Well, that can be understood too on different levels. Firstly the mind, once turned to "I am" does not perform vichara, and secondly, it needs to be focused so it does not interfere with "I am" because the mind serves only as an intrusion or obstacle to self. Thus the more agitated the mind, the more it is a chance that the attention goes from self to the illusionary mind/ego.

So the mind does not have to be strong in order to perform vichara but to be less of an obstacle for vichara. Self and mind are mutually exclusive and even the "mix" of pure consciousness with objectified consciousness or suttarivu is a delusion. Suttarivu is the son of the barren woman, it is a figment of imagination.

The paradox, self and mind are one and self and mind are mutually exclusive. It just depends how one looks at it within duality. Re. "non-duality", that is just another pointer, what reality truly is cannot be found or understood with the mind. It is not non-duality as opposed to duality, that is just something to satisfy the mind :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan often used to say, ‘go back the way you came’

Ego is the doorway through which we have come out into this world and see all these things. Bhagavan often used to say, ‘go back the way you came’. We came out by rising as ego and we must turn back – this ego is the doorway through which we must return to our real nature.

Why is ego the doorway? It is because to see the rope as it is, we need to look very carefully at the snake. We can say the snake is the doorway to the rope. Actually, the snake is nothing but the rope, but in order to see the rope as it is, we need to look at the snake very carefully. So the snake is ego. We need to look at this ego very carefully to see what we actually are.

What is ego? Ego is the fundamental awareness ‘I am’ mixed up with the adjuncts. So you are not Francis, and I am not Michael. I am I; you are you. Francis and Michael are just temporary adjuncts that appear and disappear. The person we seem to be has appeared at birth and will disappear at death, but we exist beyond birth and death.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses the practice of self-investigation (1:34)

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
regarding your favourite statement that 'mind cannot be "purified" ',
to one who sometimes claims to correctly understand Bhagavan's teaching is to be recommended to study Michael's article of Sunday, 28 February 2016 The role of logic in developing a clear, coherent and uncomplicated understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings namely
section 3. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 23 and 28: we need a subtle and sharp mind in order to discern what we actually are
and section 4. Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam verse 5: we must purify our mind by polishing it on itself


Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, again, it depends how one looks at it. Your problem is you are attached to one specific view and insist that is the truth. That is a fallacy. All what I do is, in your case and also with Yo Soy, to point out another view which opposes the one you guys are attached to. And that view is as valid, how can the son of a barren woman get purified? Tell me :-)

The truth can only be found with vichara and not with Ulladu Narpadu. As magnificent Ulladu Narpadu is, it is still only pointers and concepts. They cannot replace vichara and, in your case, have actual a deluding effect on you.

You are the classic example of a spiritual aspirant who is so enmeshed with pointers (aka texts like Ulladu Narpadu) that you are totally unaware to what these pointers actually point to. Thus the obsession with concepts and specifically the ONLY meaning of a certain concept. Your OCD is not helping either.

Salazar said...

Vichara cuts through all this conceptual crap, through all arguments of the pundits and wannabe pundits. It is the non-conceptual truth. There is no bondage nor freedom with vichara, nothing gets discerned or purified there but by the delusional outlook of the mind which is not vichara.

There is no Ulladu Narpadu nor Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam with vichara, in fact Ulladu Narpadu kills and destroys vichara since it only can exist in mind.

There is no Ulladu Narpadu nor the Vedas nor the Bible in self or vichara.

anadi-ananta said...

Oh great! Are we not in a very comfortable position so that everyone can cultivate his/her own view ? Simply wonderful, such a diversity of opinion:-)

Anonymous said...

Well then there is no GVK either and so there is no self either. Self is also a concept of the mind and so is vichara the concept of mind.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, yes, you are correct. GVK, self and also vichara are just pointers. Vichara is a very important pointer though because it goes beyond pointers :-)

anadi-ananta said...

Who is the king reigning in the wonderland beyond pointers ?
That reminds me about the fairytale of Snow White behind the seven mountains.:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

The anandamaya kosa, the will, is called the karana sarira (causal body) because everything sprouts from vasanas

The totality of our will in seed form is called anandamaya-kosa. It is called anandamaya-kosa because all our desires ultimately are desires for happiness. As Bhagavan says in Nan Ar?, ‘Since happiness alone is the cause of love’. So happiness and love are inseparable. So the driving force behind all desires is our desire for happiness. Whatever we desire we desire because we believe we are going to get happiness from it. That is why the totality of all our vasanas (which is our will) is called anandamaya-kosa.

The totality of all our vasanas is our will. This will is called anandamaya kosa and is also called the karana sarira. Why is it called the karana sarira? It is because the vasanas are the seeds that sprout as everything else. All thoughts are sprouted forms of vasanas, and according to Bhagavan, the whole world is nothing but thoughts. So this gross body along with its prana, mind, intellect and will, everything is thoughts. Everything sprouts from vasanas. That is why the anandamaya kosa, the will, is called the karana sarira (causal body).

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-14b Sri Ramana Center, Houston: Michael James discusses the five sheaths and three bodies (00:09)

My reflections: Everything sprouts from vasanas. What are vasanas? Vasanas are our desires in seed forms and these seeds sprout as thoughts and what we experience as this world is nothing but our thoughts. And what is the root of these vasanas? It is ourself as ego. So ego is what gives rise to everything. So as Bhagavan says, if ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence, if ego does not exist everything does not exist, so ego itself is everything. Therefore, investigating this ego and finding that it does not exist is giving up everything.

Bhagavan’s teachings are the most radical form of advaita. It is radical but at the same time most logical. If advaita says everything is an illusion, how many egos are seeing this illusion? Any illusion is a projection of only one jiva who projects this illusion. So if some interpretations of advaita imply that there are many jivas watching this illusion, they are being illogical. So if we want a completely logical and coherent interpretation of advaita, we have to come to Bhagavan’s teachings. We will find clarity only in Bhagavan’s teachings.

Bhagavan's teachings are the crest-jewel of Advaita! I thank Michael for explaining why is it so!

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
many thanks for your recent extract.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Thanks, Anadi-ananta. But as Michael would say, 'All thanks only to Bhagavan'.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
as you correctly imply, only grace will make us comprehensively understand and apply Bhagavan's teaching. And yes, 'All thanks only to Bhagavan', who/which is nothing but grace.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Arunachala is there only to kill us, to kill ego

The true form of Arunachala is ‘I’. Arunachala is what is shining in each of us as ‘I’. Because our mind is outward-going, Arunachala appeared in the form of a hill to teach us through silence. But it is only the most mature souls who will be able to understand that silence. So because we lack that maturity to understand that silence teaching of Arunachala, Arunachala appeared as a human form of Bhagavan to tell us to turn back within and know ourself.

Bhagavan has revealed to us the special power of the physical form of Arunachala. That physical form of Arunachala is standing there and teaching us through silence exactly what he taught us through words in the form of Bhagavan. What is the significance of Arunachala? Bhagavan says it very clearly in the 1st verse of Aksaramanamalai:

Arunachala, you eradicate the ‘I’ [ego] of those who meditate on you in the heart.

ahame nanaippavar means ‘those who think [of you] in the heart’ or ‘meditate on you in the heart’. Aham in Tamil has two meanings. Aham is a Sanskrit word. It’s the first person pronoun ‘I’, so aham is used in that sense. There is also a separate word in Tamil with the same spelling and same sound. So aham also means ‘inside’ or ‘home’ or ‘interior’. So ahame can mean either ‘within’ or it can mean ‘I’. So one meaning is that ‘those who meditate on Arunachala as ‘I’, you root out their ego’.

The inference we can draw from this first verse is that the whole purpose of the manifestation of Arunachala is the eradication of ego. There are so many different Gods in Hinduism for different purposes. If you want wealth, for example, you can worship Venkateshwara. But Arunachala is there as the killer of ego.

Bhagavan says in one verse of Arunachala Aksaramanamalai: ‘You hoisted your flag to announce yourself to be the killer of your devotees. How can I survive after coming to you?’ So Arunachala is there only to kill us, to kill ego. To reveal to us what we actually are – that is the purpose of Arunachala, to put it in different words. And when it reveals to us what we actually are, ego is thereby annihilated.

Ego is nothing but a false awareness of ourself. It is an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are. So when we are aware of ourself as we actually are, ego is finished. So that is complete surrender.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses the practice of self-investigation (01:12)

My reflections: Bhagavan’s relationship with Arunachala was unique. He loved Arunachala as himself.

What is the sole purpose of the manifestation of either Bhagavan or Arunachala? Its sole purpose is to kill us. Bhagavan loves us as himself, but since this ego seems to be standing between him and us, he wants this ego to vanish. So Bhagavan is after this ego with his brahmastra. This ego has no chance of survival, but it is bravely fighting it out as if it can escape Bhagavan’s brahmastra of self-investigation.

So the sooner this ego surrenders the better for it. It is unnecessarily prolonging its misery by holding on to itself. How is it holding on to itself? It is doing so by always grasping this or that. All its desires and attachments are keeping it alive. However, when it tries to grasp only itself, it not only gives up all its desires and attachments, but it also gives up itself. In other words, ego can really surrender itself only by keenly looking at itself.

Since it is just a formless phantom, according to Bhagavan, when it tries to hold on only to itself it will no longer exist as ego. It will remain as it actually is: that is, it will remain as pure awareness which is its true nature.

Salazar said...

Sanjay, one may add that Bhagavan loved everything the same way. So he loved the thief who beat him exactly and as much as Arunachala. Could Bhagavan have had a "unique" relationship with anything? I believe that is just one of those stories for people who like to listen to these kind of stories. There are no distinctions in self and to make that mountain an exception is illogical. I cannot find Arunachala in "I am", only self.

Self can only be "Arunachala" with a mind in play and that would be maya.

Salazar said...

The only reason why Bhagavan (and as I understand it, a few other sages) is fascinated with Arunachala must come from the time as a spiritual aspirant where he developed an attachment to that mountain. And that is a vasana.

As a sage however, any uniqueness is a mere appearance but not the reality of that sage as self. It only appears that way to the observer.

Also, there are many other sages who are not from India, who never ever mentioned Arunachala, however they are as much self as Bhagavan. My point is, if Arunachala had really a significance beyond personal (and therefore delusional) preference of local sages, that term would be in the spiritual stories everywhere what is, of course, not the case.

Sanjay Lohia said...

These challenging times are no different to any other time: the big challenge for all of us is the challenge to surrender, to let go everything

A friend: How to apply equanimity in these challenging times?

Michael: The present times are challenging for many people in many ways, but such is the nature of life. Sometimes life seems to be going on smoothly and comfortably, but at any time in life, we are liable to be faced with challenges of one sort or another.

Why we find life challenging? It is because we have likes and dislikes. If we were ready to accept whatever happens with equanimity, we would not be affected by even the greatest of tragedies or the greatest of joys in life. If we had no likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, fear and so on, nothing would affect us. So equanimity could be achieved only to the extent we are ready to let go of our likes and dislikes, our desires and attachments and our hopes and fears.

This is much easier said than done. The nature of the mind is to have likes and dislikes, desires and attachments and hopes and fears. To wean our mind off its likes and dislikes, the most effective way is to follow the path that Bhagavan has shown us, which is the path of self-investigation and self-surrender. By trying to turn our attention back within slowly slowly, we will reduce the strength of our likes and dislikes. But as long as we rise as ego, we cannot get rid of all of them because the very nature of ego is to have desires, attachments, likes and dislikes.

But by following the path Bhagavan has taught us, we can to a very great extent reduce the strength of our likes and dislikes. The weaker our likes and dislikes become, the more willing we will be to surrender ourself. The easier it will be to turn within.

So these challenging times have come as a wakeup call to us, but essentially these challenging times are no different to any other time. The big challenge for all of us is the challenge to surrender, to let go of everything. The big challenge is to allow things to take their own course and to be indifferent to everything, and thereby to turn our mind within to merge back into the Lord which is shining in our heart as ‘I’. So that challenge is there at all times, whether we have a coronavirus or whether life is going on favourably. Whatever it is, life is challenging.

So we have to surrender ourself completely whether the time seems more challenging or less challenging. We should make use of every moment at our disposal to try to turn within. But when we are not turning our attention within, we should spend as much time as possible dwelling on Bhagavan’s teachings and reminding ourself and encouraging ourself that the most important thing in life is to turn back within to know what we actually are.

The more we follow this path, the more we try to turn within, the weaker our desires and attachments, likes and dislikes will become, and the more natural it will be for us to maintain equanimity in the face of whatever life may throw at us.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses the practice of self-investigation (00:48)

My reflection: So our challenge is to let go of our desires and attachments. Our life in this world will always throw challenges at us, but overcoming them should not be our priority. Our priority is let go of our desires, attachments, likes, dislikes and so on, and eventually, we need to let go of the one who has these desires, attachments, likes, dislikes and so on.

To makes things plain and simple our only real challenge is to turn within and surrender ourself to the Lord shining in our heart as ‘I’. We can leave all other challenges to the care of our destiny or to the care of Bhagavan. He is in charge, so why bother about these external things?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, Bhagavan’s relationship with Arunachala was indeed unique, but when we say this, we are talking about the relationship between their forms. That is, Bhagavan’s form had an extraordinary love for the form of Arunachala and vice-versa. Bhagavan was pulled to Arunachala as a boy of sixteen, and he stayed on or near Arunachala for the next 54 years, without ever leaving its presence even once. What can be more unique than this?

How much Bhagavan loved Arunachala can be understood by reading his heart-melting prayers to Arunachala. These prayers are peerless in their beauty and outpouring of love. These hymns are a perfect blend of jnana and bhakti. Bhagavan acknowledged that Arunachala was his guru. Bhagavan just passed on the knowledge he learnt from Arunachala to all of us.

However, all such love between Bhagavan and Arunachala was only in our view. Since Bhagavan is Arunachala, and Arunachala is Bhagavan, it would not be literally true to say that one form loved another form. So their love for each other was a divine play. It was played out to show us how we should love God, and how we should pray to God. In reality, both Bhagavan and Arunachala are just pure, limitless and formless sat-chit-ananda.

Salazar said...

Sanjay, yes indeed, that is inspirational and in the tradition of all sages who gave unique (as in the culture they lived) examples to inspire their devotees. Whose heart does not melt seeing a weeping Bhagavan reading from a spiritual text?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, yes, sometimes Bhagavan would shed tears when he read inspiring devotional texts, or when these texts were read in his presence. Bhagavan supposedly shed tears when he was about to give up his body because at that moment some verses of Aksaramanamalai spontaneously poured forth from the devotees. Hearing these verses he was not able to control his tears. Likewise, when people came to him and narrated their sorry state, like bereavement and such things, he would shed tears.

Some of us may not understand this. Actually, Bhagavan was like a mirror. He merely reflected the emotions of the persons who appeared before him. But how can we ever hope to understand his state until and unless we merge in him?

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
saying that "He merely reflected the emotions of the persons who appeared before him."
seems to be somehow inconsistent with the teaching that Bhagavan is just pure light or pure awareness. But as you further quite rightly say: how can we ever hope to understand his state until and unless we merge in him ?

anadi-ananta said...

As Michael said (in his discussion with a friend called Murthy around 1:00:28):

"We have to be very careful to avoid the tendency to seek an explanation for everything.
We should only look for explanations which will help us in our practice."

I just have to take that advice to heart. :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anandi-ananta, yes, as Michael says, ‘We have to be very careful to avoid the tendency to seek an explanation for everything. We should only look for explanations which will help us in our practice’. When we read religious or spiritual literature, we will find so many different types of explanations. When we listen to various spiritual teachers, again we find them giving us so many different explanations about so many things. However, we need to use our discrimination: that is, we need to reject all the explanations which have no relevance to our practice.

Bhagavan’s entire teachings are practice-oriented. That is, whatever he has explained in his original works is for one purpose and one purpose alone: these explanations are given only to help in our practice of self-investigation and self-surrender. So we do not have to seek for any explanations beyond Bhagavan’s teachings. He has given us the entire theoretical framework we need, and he has done so by using as few words as possible. So if we do not want to get lost in the maya-jal (the net of maya) of so many explanations given to us in so many different types of books, it is best to stick to reading only Bhagavan’s original works.

Of course, we should read (or listen in the case of Michael) to the writings of Michael James, Sadhu Om and Muruganar, because these writings will help clarify what Bhagavan says. Bhagavan’s writings though simple to understand may need suitable clarifications and expansions. This is where we find Michael James and others so helpful.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael: Any clarity in what I say comes from Bhagavan

A friend: I am regularly watching your talks and enjoying your gems. Thank you very much.

Michael: These are all Bhagavan’s gems, not my gems. I am only saying what I have learnt from Bhagavan. I have nothing of my own. Any clarity in what I say comes from Bhagavan. Any confusion in what I say comes from me.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses the practice of self-investigation (01:09)

My reflection: Michael knows practically everything about Bhagavan’s life and teachings, but we need to admire his humility. He never takes any credit for his vast knowledge. So we can see by this how much subsided his ego is. Michael is a real gem in the court of Bhagavan. I would have been nowhere without Michael’s guidance. However, as Michael says, all clarity comes from Bhagavan.

Since Bhagavan is what we actually are – Bhagavan is the pure awareness shining in us as ‘I’ – the more we subside within, the more clarity we will get in our understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings. However, this ego will always confuse things because ego is born in confusion and exists in confusion. So if we want to give up all our confusion and get clarity, we need to attend to ourself more and more. The more our ego-nature starts to vanish, the more our confusions will also start to vanish. Eventfully, we will drown in absolute clarity.

Only Bhagavan is this absolute clarity, and this clarity is also our real nature.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We are safe in Bhagavan’s jaws

A friend: What will happen if this body dies without this ego dying? As a devotee of Ramana Maharshi, am I going to be saved?

Michael: Well, remember Bhagavan has given us some wonderful assurances. He has assured us that we are like prey in the jaws of a tiger. So we are saved. We certainly cannot escape. We are saved in the sense that the tiger is going to swallow us, but a little bit of cooperation is needed on our part. We need to surrender to the tiger before the tiger can swallow us.

I think the best way to deal with the type of apprehension you are talking about is to surrender. We need to remind ourself that we are in Bhagavan’s hands and that he is taking care of everything. Whatever will be will be, and all that is required on our part is to yield ourself to him – to not to carry the burden on our head but to give it to him. He is the train that is carrying all our burdens. So instead of carrying our burden on our head, put it on him.

So our concern about what will happen if this body dies without this ego dying, even this concern we should leave it on Bhagavan. If I have to take hundred-thousand births, let it be, but let me be always thinking of you. Let me be always surrendered to you. Let me always have love for your feet. Bhagavan has given us beautiful prayers in Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam. He sings in verse 7 of Sri Arunachala Navamanimalai:

O Annamalai! The very moment you took me as your own, you took possession of my soul and body. Therefore is there now any shortcoming (defect, want or grievance) for me? I will not think of them, my shortcomings and virtues, but only of you. O my life (my real self), whatever be your will, do that alone. O beloved, bestow upon me only ever-increasing love for your two feet.

So rather than thinking about whether we will be born again, or what is going to happen to us or anything, let us pray to Bhagavan to give us ever-increasing love for his feet. Even if we have to take hundred-thousand more births it does not matter. So long as we always keep that love for him in our heart, that will save us. That will protect us from everything. So the path of surrender is the most beautiful path because it is taking the entire burden off us and putting the burden on him.

Whatever concerns, whatever worries or fears we have, let us surrender it to him. He will take care of everything. We are safe in Bhagavan’s jaws. So let us just try to stop struggling and yield ourself to him and he will surely swallow us.

Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses the practice of self-investigation (01:29)

My reflection: Verse 7 of Navamanimalai is so beautiful, isn’t it? Why should we always be looking at our defects, wants, grievances? Why should we be always thinking about our virtues and shortcomings? Instead, if we keep our love focused on Bhagavan’s feet, he will take care of all our defects, wants, grievances. He will eventually remove all our virtues and shortcomings. He will make us pure and nirguna (without any qualities) like he himself is.

So we should throw the entire burden of our life on Bhagavan. He has taken care of us, he is taking care of us, and he will take care of us. Simple . . . if we are willing to accept this fact!

Salazar said...

I like that, any clarity comes from Bhagavan, any confusion comes from me. I certainly can agree 100%. Who but ignorant buffoons would claim it is their own clarity or wisdom? That just re-affirms the ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Salazar, ego cannot have much clarity because it is born in confusion, and it exists in confusion. Ego is a confused mixture of chit (awareness) and jada (non-aware adjuncts). So if it wants to remove its confusion, it should surrender itself to pure chit. Only pure chit is absolute clarity.

Asun said...

What Michael says it is the plain truth, not humility. So long as we take ourself to be a person we´ll see other persons and we´ll attribute them humility or the opposite. Whether flattery or insults, it makes no difference. If during a boat ride on a lake we crash with another boat and the boat is empty, we´ll go on our ride without giving to it a thought but if there is someone in the boat, we´ll react, that´s to say, ego will rise. We feel comfortable with apparently humble people because we don´t perceive them as a threat to our own self-conceit.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
"...and the boat is empty, we´ll go on our ride without giving to it a thought...".
Is that so ? Will you not look for the passengers who perhaps were thudded into the water ? :-)

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, that is the point of Bhagavan's path, there is nobody who could look out for passengers when one attends to self. That is true surrender, to be not concerned about other passengers but to attend to self and leave it to Bhagavan to care for these passengers.

Only that is supreme devotion, to attend to self only and leave everything else be.

anadi-ananta said...

"Whatever concerns, whatever worries or fears we have, let us surrender it to him. He will take care of everything. We are safe in Bhagavan’s jaws. So let us just try to stop struggling and yield ourself to him and he will surely swallow us."
In which manner shall people behave towards their nerve-racking problems in life who don't even know Bhagavan Ramana ? I am thinking for instance of a few ladies in my circle of acquaintances who have many troubles for years in their partnerships.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
that is not supreme devotion but possibly failure to render assistance in an emergency.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, I can only say that your faith in Bhagavan is very little and simultaneously you are arrogant. Why?

Because you assume that you are a body and mind, an individual entity which could act and render assistance. According to Bhagavan that is not the case and he suggests to dispel that illusion with vichara. There is truly nobody doing anything, it is the delusion of the ego. Bhagavan takes care also of those who never have heard of him and even atheists and mass murderers.

The ego can take comfort with the knowledge that Bhagavan takes care of anybody, much, much better than we, in our delusion, possibly could.

It is a sin to help others with the idea that "I" am helping others. The notion to help others needs to be discarded, it is as bad as the notion to become famous and rich.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
"It is a sin to help others with the idea that "I" am helping others."
I did not speak about the idea ' "I" am helping others' but plainly about helping just in the moment when it is highly necessary. The feeling of one's doership is your projection only, added by you looking through the glasses of your mental fabrication.
It cannot be denied that your understanding of Bhagavan's teaching is quite dubious. :-)

Salazar said...

anandi-ananta, yes it is quite dubious indeed. I have nothing to add.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Should we keep our eyes closed or open when we practise self-investigation?

The following is a reproduction of my Whatsapp exchange with one of my friends:

Sanjay Lohia: A question was asked in the recent RMCL online satsang about whether one should keep one's eyes open or closed when we practise self-enquiry. As akka [Dr Sarada] said, it could be done either way. In fact, when we are attending to ourself, our attention should be focused so keenly on ourself that we are not even aware of our body. So in such a scenario, it makes little difference whether our eyes are open or closed. Ideally, when practising self-attention, we should not be aware of our body or its eyes or anything happening within the body.

However, on a more superficial level, we can choose to practise with our eyes open or closed depending on the circumstances. The only important thing is to keep our attention turned within whatever posture our body may be in or whether our eyes are open or closed. If we are aware of our eyes, that means our attention is on our eyes. So we are not practising self-investigation in a deep manner. Only attention is the key. It should be directed within. Rest everything is of peripheral concern to us.

A friend: By Bhagavan's Grace He has kept your focus on this.

Sanjay Lohia: Absolutely! Bhagavan's grace is the driving force behind our sadhana. Grace is doing everything. We should just remain silent so that it can do whatever is required to be done. But to remain silent means not rising as ego, so we do have this little responsibility.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Is it morally right to abort a foetus?

A friend: When does human life start? When do we get this ego? Is it in the womb as a foetus or once the baby is born? I am asking this in the context of the right or wrong of abortion.

Michael: When do we first become aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’? It is very difficult to answer. A foetus in the womb is a potential life. The foetus in the womb may be in a state of sleep, so ego may not be manifest there until after birth. But still, a foetus is a potential life.

So the question of abortion is a very very difficult question. It’s the right of the foetus against the rights of the mother. We may believe that mothers should have the right over their bodies, but the foetus also arguably has certain rights. Just like we wouldn’t kill somebody who is asleep just because they are asleep, so if a foetus is in the state of sleep, abortion is questionable. So I don’t think there are any easy answers to that.

Life is full of moral dilemmas, and there are no easy answers to these things. If we are following the spiritual path, the main ethical criteria should be ahimsa: we should avoid causing harm to anyone to the best of our ability. But how to put this principle into practice is not very clear. Sometimes we are faced with situations where if we do one thing we create one harm, and if we don’t do that we create some other harm. So we need to balance out which harm is greater. So there is no easy way of measuring these things.

However, ultimately if we are following Bhagavan’s path, we are following the path of surrender. We are trying to surrender our will to his will. If we are truly following the path of surrender, it will be natural for us to live according to the principles of ahimsa. That doesn’t mean we will always get it right. Sometimes we make mistakes, but since we have surrendered to Bhagavan, whatever mistakes we make, that’s according to prarabdha. So let’s not concern ourself with these things.

However, we shouldn’t spend too much time dwelling on these things and investigating these things. Our aim is to surrender ourself because what makes us do wrong is our will, which is all our desires, attachments, likes, dislikes and so on. To the extent we surrender these desires, attachments, likes, dislikes - to that extent we are avoiding causing harm.

So if we are following the spiritual path, maybe abortion is wrong, but who are we to tell this to others? Who are we to interfere in the affairs of others? Bhagavan said ‘As far as possible we should not interfere in the affairs of others’. So abortion is a moral question, and each parent has to decide the right or wrong of it themselves. If we are in a situation that affects us, we each act according to what we feel is right. But we can’t impose our sense of right or wrong on others. It creates other problems.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses the practice of self-investigation (00:59)

anadi-ananta said...

In any case the alleged mass murdering of femal foetus committed in India for financial reasons (dowry) is a mass crime and has not the slightest reason/cause for doing that. Those parents should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

Asun said...

I meant, there is nothing personal in clarity of mind nor it is an accomplishment of the person neither. Michael was just discriminating and that´s what we need to do too instead of ascribing qualities to the person and admiring him. Another good pointer completely missed in the mess of Sanjay´s reflections, I just felt like to rescue for my own benefit.

Salazar said...

For a devotee, abortion is clearly ahimsa, yet I am not condemning women in general who abort. I.e. the fetus could be the result of rape (I heard it's a sport in India) and I can understand if the mother does not want to have that child.

Also, any action of the body is due to prarabdha, so an abortion can happen even if the mother adheres to ahimsa.

This whole morality discussion is just a big judgemental feast of the mind. What others do is not my business and it should be no-ones business.

Of course, politically there is a huge hypocrisy, especially in the US where it is all political motivated: The liberal governors in the US behave like little dictators who tell healthy people that they have to wear masks (currently a huge controversy in the States) with the credo "to save lives".

The same governors guard (from fanatics who want to hold them back) personally women who are on their way to an abortion clinic in order to kill their fetuses. The same governors say it is okay to protest in groups (especially if it is race related), however a politically rally for "devil" Trump is not save because of "social distancing". "Black lives" suddenly matter again in an election year, that will stop abruptly after the November election.

Politics is a racket, no matter what party or affiliation and that includes the topic of abortion.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
when you say today at 15:57 "For a devotee, abortion is clearly ahimsa...". you should at first bear consider what the term 'ahimsa' actually means.
According Michael: Because ahimsa is a passive state of refraining from doing any action that could directly or indirectly cause any harm or suffering to any person or creature,
we clearly should adhere to the practice of ahiṁsā (trying not to harm any sentient being).
So your above mentioned statement is possibly a bad/serious misunderstanding.

anadi-ananta said...

correction: sorry, it should be ..."at first consider"...

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, I meant abortion is clearly 'a violation' of ahimsa. That you even consider I'd misunderstand that term shows quite clearly your state of mind. Come on, seriously?

Bhagavan must hate me other he'd not confront me with 'you' :-)

Salazar said...

Anadi-ananta, seriously - your obsession with correct spelling and "meaning" in general borders at pathology. So instead to get all excited about "abortion is clearly ahimsa" you should have either stayed quiet (highly preferable) or at least have the courtesy to say, "dear Salazar, you must have made a mistake, you highly likely meant the opposite of 'abortion is ahimsa'.

But instead your needed to feed your arrogance and lack of discernment.