Monday, 22 June 2020

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

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

Saddarśanam is a Sanskrit translation (albeit a very inadequate and in many places seriously distorted translation) by Kavyakantha Ganapati Sastri of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, so the first verse of Saddarśanam is his translation of the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which Bhagavan said:

உள்ளதல துள்ளவுணர் வுள்ளதோ வுள்ளபொரு
ளுள்ளலற வுள்ளத்தே யுள்ளதா — லுள்ளமெனு
முள்ளபொரு ளுள்ளலெவ னுள்ளத்தே யுள்ளபடி
யுள்ளதே யுள்ள லுணர்.

uḷḷadala duḷḷavuṇar vuḷḷadō vuḷḷaporu
ḷuḷḷalaṟa vuḷḷattē yuḷḷadā — luḷḷameṉu
muḷḷaporu ḷuḷḷaleva ṉuḷḷattē yuḷḷapaḍi
yuḷḷadē yuḷḷa luṇar
.

பதச்சேதம்: உள்ளது அலது உள்ள உணர்வு உள்ளதோ? உள்ள பொருள் உள்ளல் அற உள்ளத்தே உள்ளதால், உள்ளம் எனும் உள்ள பொருள் உள்ளல் எவன்? உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே உள்ளல். உணர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḷḷadu aladu uḷḷa-v-uṇarvu uḷḷadō? uḷḷa-poruḷ uḷḷal-aṟa uḷḷattē uḷḷadāl, uḷḷam eṉum uḷḷa-poruḷ uḷḷal evaṉ? uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē uḷḷal. uṇar.

அன்வயம்: உள்ளது அலது உள்ள உணர்வு உள்ளதோ? உள்ள பொருள் உள்ளல் அற உள்ளத்தே உள்ளதால், உள்ளம் எனும் உள்ள பொருள் எவன் உள்ளல்? உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே உள்ளல்; உணர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḷḷadu aladu uḷḷa-v-uṇarvu uḷḷadō? uḷḷa-poruḷ uḷḷal-aṟa uḷḷattē uḷḷadāl, uḷḷam eṉum uḷḷa-poruḷ evaṉ uḷḷal? uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē uḷḷal; uṇar.

English translation: If what exists were not, would existing awareness exist? Since the existing substance exists in the heart without thought, how to think of the existing substance, which is called ‘heart’? Being in the heart as it is alone is thinking. Know.

Explanatory paraphrase: If uḷḷadu [what is or what exists] were not, would uḷḷa-v-uṇarvu [existing awareness, actual awareness or awareness of what is] exist? [Or: (1) Except as uḷḷadu, does uḷḷa-v-uṇarvu exist? (2) Other than uḷḷadu, is there awareness to think [of it, meditate on it or investigate it]?] Since uḷḷa-poruḷ [the existing substance or reality] exists in the heart without thought, how to [or who can] think of [meditate on or investigate] uḷḷa-poruḷ, which is called uḷḷam [the heart]? Being in the heart as it is [that is, as pure thought-free self-awareness] alone is thinking [of it, meditating on it, contemplating it, investigating it or revering it]. Know [or be aware] [of it as it is].
What I replied to my friend is as follows:

What Bhagavan says about heart in the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu has nothing to do with the body or the right side of the chest. He says it is ‘உள்ளல் அற’ (uḷḷal-aṟa), ‘without thought’, whereas the body, like everything else in the world, is just a thought.

This verse is extremely subtle and deep in meaning and implication, whereas what he said about the heart on the right is relatively gross and superficial, so we should not trivialise the deep meaning of this verse by associating it with the heart on the right.

The heart on the right is true relative only to the dēhātma-buddhi. When we mistake ourself to be a body, the dēhātma-buddhi (the false awareness ‘I am this body’) is experienced by us as centred on the right side of the chest, which is why we point there when referring to the body as ourself, and why when we experience any shock or strong emotion we feel a sensation there. We also sometimes experience a similar sensation there when we try to turn our attention back towards ourself, but that is because of our attachment to this body, the survival of which is threatened by keen self-attentiveness.

Therefore the right side of the chest is not where one experiences existence as consciousness (sat as cit), but where one experiences one’s dēhātma-buddhi centred.

The heart on the right has nothing to do with the core teachings of Bhagavan. He referred to the heart being on the right side of the chest only to satisfy those who were unwilling to give up thinking in terms of the body and who therefore asked him where in the body the heart is located and whether it is the same as the anāhata cakra.

However, in most cases where Bhagavan used the term heart, such as in the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, he was not referring to the right side of the chest but only to our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is sat-cit, our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, because that alone is the real heart, core or centre of ourself, and hence of all other things also. Therefore when he says in the first maṅgalam verse, ‘உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே உள்ளல்’ (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē uḷḷal), ‘Being in the heart as it is alone is thinking [or meditating on it]’, he does not mean we should be in the right side of the chest, but only that we should be in and as உள்ள பொருள் (uḷḷa-poruḷ), the existing substance, which is our real nature, pure awareness.

266 comments:

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Advaita is a name given to a very simple principle: ekam evadvityam (one only without the second)

A friend: People believe that Bhagavan was an advaitin. But Bhagavan’s teachings are much more broad-based than mere advaita. What do you say?

Michael: Advaita is concerned about knowing 'who am I?' or 'what am I?' So theism (that is, belief in God) is optional. So sometimes Bhagavan would say, 'if you believe God will do all that you want him to do, leave it all to God. If you don't trust God, investigate yourself'. So belief in God is not essential. However, because generally people have a concept about God, Advaita says that God is nothing other than you. You are that. People who believe in God believe that God is something great. He is infinite. If God is infinite, we cannot be other than him. So he must be what we actually are. So for advaita, God is nothing other than oneself: oneself means our real nature.

Even the atheist believes ‘I am’. So Bhagavan doesn’t believe than an atheist is an atheist. So long as you believe in ‘I am’ you believe in God because there is no God other than ‘I am’. The people who believe they are atheists have merely rejected certain concepts about God, but nobody can deny that ‘I am’. OK, some philosophers deny ‘I am’, but who is denying ‘I am’? I am denying ‘I am’. How can I deny my own existence? So ‘I am’ has to exist in order for one to be a philosopher and to deny one’s own existence. So, philosophers sometimes get very very confused.

Bhagavan’s teachings are the core of advaita principles, and they are perfectly logical and reasonable. Now we take ourself to be this person. Bhagavan by simple arguments shows us that we cannot be this person because we experience ourself in sleep without experiencing this person. So we cannot be this person. That’s simple logic. If two things are identical, what is true for one must be true of the other because they are actually not two things but one thing. So if we and this body are one, we couldn’t be aware of ourself without being aware of this body. The fact that we are aware of ourself without being aware of ourself as this body means logically we cannot be this body.

Most philosophers including the atheists believe in the existence of the world. Bhagavan says why should you believe that the world exists independent of your perception of it? Why should you believe that the world is anything but a dream? What evidence do you have? Just like atheists say there is no evidence that there is a God, there is equally no evidence that there is a world except in my mind. You cannot say anything exists independent of your perception of it. So Bhagavan is as logical as one can possibly be.

Bhagavan often used to say, ‘Do not believe what you do not know’. We do not know that the world exists in sleep. We don’t know that the world exists independent of our perception of it. So why should we believe these things?

Advaita is a name given to a very simple principle: ekam evadvityam (one only without the second). That’s the principle of advaita. How then to explain the appearance of multiplicity? Bhagavan has given us the simplest possible explanation which is in perfect accord with our experience. When ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence. When ego does not exist, nothing exists. That’s our experience. In waking and dream, we rise as this ego, so we see this or some other world. In sleep, we don’t rise as ego and there are no phenomena. Generally, we assume though we don’t see the phenomena is sleep, they are still there. But why should we believe they exist independent of ourself?

So, advaita is the name given to the philosophy that there is only one without a second and that we are that.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses the practice of self-investigation (1:53)





anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
thank you for your recent video-transcription-extract.
Regarding the Sanskrit words in the heading: Michael's spelling is usually 'ēkam ēva advitīyam' (one only without a second).

Salazar said...

Yes Sanjay, how dare you, spelling is the most important thing in the world. Who needs vichara as long as we spell correctly ..... :-D

Can that kind of compulsion, the obsessive compulsion to have words be spelled correctly, be healthy at all? Is it a wise idea to give in to that compulsion? Would it be not much better to seek competent help from a mental health professional?

Let's thank our lucky stars again, a free and unsolicited lesson for the sake of humanity and the sanity of this blog :-)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
only a little typo, but made not seldom, is typing 'is' instead of 'in'.
Here it should be: "Generally, we assume though we don’t see the phenomena in sleep,...".

Salazar said...

LOL, you are so predictable. It's your mental health, not mine.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananda, I thank you for correcting my typos. I will remember to spell 'ēkam ēva advitīyam' correctly in future. Yes, it should be ‘in’ and not ‘is’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

If we put our trust in him, he will never let us down

Michael: Bhagavan is shining in our heart. He is guiding us from within. He knows the appropriate type of understanding to give us, and he is constantly making our understanding deeper and subtler. As we proceed along the path, our understanding will evolve. It will become clearer and more correct. So let us follow the guidance he is giving us. We should have full faith and trust in Bhagavan.

A friend: Yes, Michael, it is about trust. I fully trust that I am being guided by Bhagavan.

Michael: Ya, ya.. That’s the important thing. We shouldn't believe anything else but should believe Bhagavan. He alone will save us. If we put our trust in him, he will never let us down.

The friend: Thank you very much, Michael. I love you.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-21 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the appropriate attitude towards injustices (01:22)

My reflection: If we put our trust in Bhagavan, he will never let us down.

Bhagavan is constantly refining and evolving our understanding. So very true! The more we practice self-investigation, the more our understanding will grow. The more we read and reflect on Bhagavan’s teachings, the more our understanding will grow. The more we read Michael and listen to his videos, the more our understanding will grow. And the more our understanding grows, the deeper we can go within in our practice . . .

And, yes, I too whole-heartedly love Michael. He is without any least doubt the most wonderful person I know. My admiration for him knows no bounds. He is my teacher, who is teaching me something new every day.



Sanjay Lohia said...

Ego is the only daemon

Ego is the only daemon. There is no daemon other than ego. All our problems are caused by ego, but ego is not something other than ourself. What we experience as ourself - that is ego. That is why we need to surrender ourself completely.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-21 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the appropriate attitude towards injustices (01:08)

My reflection: Ego is the only daemon, and this daemon can be killed only by Bhagavan. In our context, Bhagavan means the power of keen and sustained self-attentiveness. So, only self-attentiveness can destroy this ego-daemon. Since all problems are caused only by this daemon-ego, if this ego goes all our problems will be destroyed along with this ego. Bhagavan has made this absolutely simple and clear!


Sanjay Lohia said...

The heart on the right has nothing to do with the core teachings of Bhagavan

Michael writes in this article:

Therefore the right side of the chest is not where one experiences existence as consciousness (sat as cit), but where one experiences one’s dēhātma-buddhi centred.

The heart on the right has nothing to do with the core teachings of Bhagavan. He referred to the heart being on the right side of the chest only to satisfy those who were unwilling to give up thinking in terms of the body and who therefore asked him where in the body the heart is located and whether it is the same as the anāhata cakra.

However, in most cases where Bhagavan used the term heart, such as in the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, he was not referring to the right side of the chest but only to our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is sat-cit, our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, because that alone is the real heart, core or centre of ourself, and hence of all other things also. [End of Michael’s quote]

My reflection: As Michael says, ‘I am’ alone is the real heart. That alone is the centre or core of ourself, and hence of all other things. I have heard and read people say that self-enquiry means concentrating on the right side of the chest and such things, but this is a complete misinterpretation of Bhagavan’s teachings. In the context of Bhagavan’s teachings, we should take 'heart' to mean atma-svarupa. Bhagavan is our real heart because he is the centre of our life in all possible ways.

Real heart is the place which is devoid of all thoughts including the root of all thoughts, this ego. This body is nothing but a thought, an idea in our mind, so the right side of the chest is also a thought. Bhagavan wants us to reject all thoughts by focusing wholly on the thinker. If we focus our attention on the right side of the chest or anywhere in the body, we are keeping both the thinker and its thoughts alive. Ego, which is thinker, has to exist to attend to the right side of the chest. So this is not what Bhagavan wants us to do.

Bhagavan wants us to focus our entire attention on ourself or on our real heart, which is devoid of the thinker and thoughts. If we miss this crucial point, we will misapply Bhagavan’s teachings in practice.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Claiming a separate existence for ourself is robbing or stealing what belongs to God

So long as we rise as ego and experience ourself as a person, we seem to be something other than God, or God seems to be something other than ourself. But if God is the infinite whole, how can we be other than God? So claiming a separate existence for ourself is robbing or stealing what belongs to God. That is, we have no existence apart from or independent of or separate from God. So claiming a separate existence is stealing from God.

So if we truly love God, we should want to give ourself completely back to him. We should want to lose ourself completely in him. But we cannot do so as long as we rise as ego because as ego we experience ourself as a person, and therefore experience ourself as if we were something separate from God. But if God is the infinite whole, nothing is other than him. He is our very existence. He is our real self. He is what we actually are.

But now take ourself to be a person. This ego is nothing but a wrong awareness of ourself. Therefore, we can surrender ego only by being aware of ourself as we actually are. That is, in order to destroy the false awareness of ourself, 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 turn our attention within to investigate ourself. That is why Bhagavan says in the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar?:

Being ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ [one who is completely fixed in and as oneself], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any cintana [thought] other than ātma-cintana [thought of oneself], alone is giving oneself to God.

Only when we turn our attention within and look at ourself keenly will we experience ourself as we actually are, and ego is thereby dissolved and what remains is God alone. So self-surrender becomes complete only by the means of self-investigation.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-21 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the appropriate attitude towards injustices (01:13)

My reflection: As Michael says, ‘claiming a separate existence for ourself is robbing or stealing what belongs to God. That is, we have no existence apart from or independent of or separate from God. So claiming a separate existence is stealing from God’.

So we are the greatest sinner because we have committed the greatest sin of stealing what rightfully belongs to God. That is, what we believe is our separate existence is actually misappropriating God's existence. It is because we do not really exist. Our separate existence is a false idea stolen from God's infinite existence.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"Our separate existence is a false idea stolen from God's infinite existence."
If that is true then the omnipotent God must have grined and borne it.
Such a robbery is at best a metaphorical story because obviously the infinite God has not made any loss from that (robbery). :-)
(it should be "But now we take ourself to be a person.")

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"English translation: [...].Since the existing substance exists in the heart without thought, how to think of the existing substance, which is called ‘heart’?"
So does that mean that the 'heart' (namely the existing substance) exists in the heart (itself)?

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"Explanatory paraphrase: If uḷḷadu [what is or what exists] were not, would uḷḷa-v-uṇarvu [existing awareness, actual awareness or awareness of what is] exist? [Or: (1) Except as uḷḷadu, does uḷḷa-v-uṇarvu exist? (2) Other than uḷḷadu, is there awareness to think [of it, meditate on it or investigate it]?] Since uḷḷa-poruḷ [the existing substance or reality] exists in the heart without thought, how to [or who can] think of [meditate on or investigate] uḷḷa-poruḷ, which is called uḷḷam [the heart]? Being in the heart as it is [that is, as pure thought-free self-awareness] alone is thinking [of it, meditating on it, contemplating it, investigating it or revering it]. Know [or be aware] [of it as it is]."

Am I right in the supposition that the four terms

uḷḷadu [what is or what exists]
uḷḷa-v-uṇarvu [existing awareness, actual awareness or awareness of what is]
uḷḷa-poruḷ [the existing substance or reality]
uḷḷam [the heart]

are one and the same, albeit they may differ in their functions ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Many things Bhagavan says are metaphorical because the truth lies beyond thoughts and words

A friend: Bhagavan says ‘turn within’. What does ‘within’ mean in this context? And what does ‘outwards’ mean?

Michael: Everything other than ourself is outside. Everything which is not ‘I’ is 'out'. So everything other than ourself is, metaphorically speaking, outside ourself. So, all the five sheaths are outside. All thoughts, feelings, emotions, everything is outside ourself. Outside means extraneous or external to ourself. So, we alone are within.

Everything other than ourself is just a projection. Of course, it is all projected within awareness, so it couldn't exist without awareness. But these are all shadows appearing within awareness.

The friend: But you said in the beginning that self is everything.

Michael: Self is not everything. Self is the only thing. We are pure awareness, and pure awareness is the light. We are looking for that light. That is, we ourself are the light that illumines all these things. So when Bhagavan talks about ‘turning within’, he means turning towards ‘I’.

There is a term Bhagavan often used in Tamil ‘ahamukham’. Mukham means ‘facing’, and aham has two meanings in Tamil. One meaning is ‘inside’ or ‘home’, and another meaning is ‘I’. It’s the Sanskrit first-person pronoun ‘I’. So ahamukham means ‘facing within’ and it also means ‘facing towards I’. Both actually mean the same because what Bhagavan means by within is only ‘I’. Anything that appears and disappears is external to ourself – external means it is extraneous to ourself, something other than ourself.

So when Bhagavan talks about ‘turning within’, he means ‘turning towards I’. For example, Bhagavan sings in verse 44 of Arunachala Aksaramanamalai:

Turning within see yourself with your inner eye; it will be known - thus you taught me my Arunachala.

tirumbi yahan means ‘turning within’. danai dinam aha kan kan means ‘see yourself with your inner eye’. teriyam means ‘it will be known’. Thus you taught me my Arunachala. So the implication is if we turn within, what we see is only ourself because everything other than ourself is, metaphorically speaking, outside ourself.

Of course, nothing can exist independent of ourself because they all appear within our awareness. But so long as we rise as ego, we are the perceiver and everything else is the things perceived by us. We are the subject and everything else is objects. So, all objects are outside the subject, metaphorically speaking. So we have to turn back to face ourself alone. So that’s what Bhagavan means by ‘turning within’. Facing or attending to anything other than ourself is, metaphorically speaking, facing outwards.

The friend: Yes, thank you, Michael. The word ‘metaphorically’ has cleared my misunderstanding.

Michael: Yes, because many things Bhagavan says are metaphorical because the truth lies beyond the thoughts and words. So no words can adequately express what Bhagavan is pointing to. So Bhagavan speaks metaphorically quite often. We have to understand the sense in which he is using the words.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-21 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the appropriate attitude towards injustices (01:57)

My reflection: In the beginning, I used to feel that ‘turning within’ means ‘turning within the body’. This is a crude way of understanding the statement ‘turning within’. We are not actually turning within the body, but we are turning within to face ourself alone. So actually we are rejecting our body and mind and everything when we try to turn back within. This body is outside ourself, so we are not turning within the body, even though it may seem that is what we are doing when we are turning within.

So we need to clearly understand what does ‘turning within’ mean. Therefore, this conversation with Michael is extremely useful because Michael makes it clear that turning within means becoming ahamukham, and aham means both ‘within’ and ‘I’.


anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"...but we are turning within to face ourself alone."
'Facing ourself alone' is an exiting read. Indeed.
To come across oneself as the bare awareness 'I am' must be a cheering experience.

Sanjay Lohia said...

What we are looking for is ‘who am I?’ Everything else is just a distraction (Part One)

A friend: Nisargadatta Maharaj used to smoke. How can a realised being smoke and have other addictions?

Michael: We cannot judge who is a realised being and who is not. So long as we do not know what we actually are, how can we know about the state of others? I believe, Nisargadatta implied that he had attained some sort of self-knowledge and no doubt he genuinely believed it. However, what we call ‘realisation’ is a state of the complete dissolution of ego.

According to Bhagavan, those who say either ‘I have known myself’ or ‘I have not known myself’, both are ground for ridicule. When we are always aware of ourself, it cannot be true to say ‘I have not known myself’. Since we are always aware of ourself as ‘I am’, we are always aware of ourself. The problem is what we are now aware of ourself as something other than what we actually are. And when ego is eradicated, who is left to say ‘I have realised myself’? That is when ego is annihilated, what remains is just pure awareness, and pure awareness will never say ‘I have known myself’ or ‘I have not known myself’. So Bhagavan says ‘saying I have known myself or I have not known myself, both are equally ridiculous’.

So labelling others as jnanis or ajnanis is futile. In a dream, we may see many people, and we may believe that some of them are jnanis and some are ajnanis, but when we wake up from the dream, we will know that they were all figments of our imagination. According to Bhagavan, our present state is just a dream. So all the people we currently see, including the person we seem to be, is a figment of our imagination. What is real is only ‘I am’. So to think in terms of a realised person shows a fundamental misunderstanding. There is no such thing as a ‘realised person’. That is, ‘realisation’ only means knowing ourself as we actually are.

Bhagavan never said, ‘I am a jnani. Come to me and I will save you’. He said, ‘You are the jnani. Go within and save yourself’. So the truth we are seeking cannot be found outside in any other person. We can find the truth only within ourself because we ourself are the truth we are seeking. So why should we be concerned about whether Nisargadatta was a jnani or not a jnani, or whether he smoked or whatever. These things need not concern us at all.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-21 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the appropriate attitude towards injustices (01:35)

Sanjay Lohia said...

What we are looking for is ‘who am I?’ Everything else is just a distraction (Part two)

In continuation of my previous comment:

Michael: If at all we are concerned about Nisargadatta, we should try to know what he actually taught. Is that useful or not? There are many many differences in what Bhagavan taught and what Nisargadatta taught. Many things that Nisargadatta taught are not at all compatible with Bhagavan’s teachings, so I am not at all interested in Nisargadatta.

Even if what he taught us is same as Bhagavan, why do we need it? Is not Bhagavan’s teaching sufficient for us? So, if we understand Bhagavan correctly, there is nothing more for us to learn from outside. Even if we find some other guru, the real guru will tell us only one thing: turn within and know yourself. Bhagavan has taught us that so clearly in so many ways. That is the role of the outward guru.

Bhagavan has said that the real guru is what is shining in us as ‘I’. So the guidance we are seeking, we need to seek within ourself. Bhagavan’s teachings in words are there to encourage us and to help in many ways. But ultimately, his words serve one purpose and one purpose alone; that is, turning our attention within. That is the sole purpose of all that he taught us. So what we have to do? We have to try our best to turn within.

So Bhagavan taught us ‘turn within’. So if we are really following Bhagavan’s teachings, we should understand that what we are looking for can be found only within ourself. So let anyone smoke or drink or take drugs or do anything, that’s no concern of ours. What we are looking for is ‘who am I?’ Everything else is just a distraction.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-21 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the appropriate attitude towards injustices (01:35)

Salazar said...

In that extract from 2020-06-21 Michael is a little inconsequential: He says that labeling others as Jnanis or ajnanis is futile (and I agree of course) but then he says "Nisargadatta implied that he had attained some sort of self-knowledge and no doubt he genuinely believed it" where he basically labelled Nisargadatta with a doubtful remark.

Elsewhere i.e. Michael implied that Sadhu Om had realized self. It might have been not a direct remark but it is quite obvious what he meant.

So Michael in fact labelled Sadhu Om as a Jnani and Nisargadatta (and quite a few other personalities) as ajnanis. Of course he did not use these specific terms but the meaning is exactly that.

Why the need to make a distinction between Sadhu Om or Muruganar and Nisargadatta? Because Michael, contrary to the credo of "labeling others as Jnanis is futile" nonetheless likes to share his opinion about exactly that.

Frankly, that is fooling oneself. Either it is futile or it is not. If it is futile why making judgmental comments about Nisargadatta, Papaji, Lakshmana Swamy and some others? That is of course ego.

Salazar said...

Also re. the "smoking issue". Bhagavan could have been smoking during his life time if his tendency in a past life was to smoke. It is a wrong assumption that a Jnani like Bhagavan has to be "perfect" in any regard.

I.e. what does it matter if Bhagavan would be smoking or not? He is not the body and self is not smoking. That is just the incorrect view of immature aspirants.

Bhagavan could have had sexual union with a woman and produced a child, again, as being self, these events are totally inconsequential but for the outlook of the immature observer.

Alas most aspirants still have that delusional image how a Jnani is supposed to be, but they only look at the body and "personality" because that's where the projection of the mind goes. It is evidence of slacking of vichara because otherwise one would only see or better be self.

anadi-ananta said...

Goodness gracious ! Salazar trumpetes "That is just the incorrect view of immature aspirants." because he seriously considers himself as a mature aspirant always being in sole possession of the only true view. Oh great !

Sanjay Lohia said...

The idea of making progress is a distraction

The idea of making progress is a distraction. Any idea is something other than ourself. Why should we think about whether we are making progress or not? All Bhagavan asked us to do is to put it into practice now. Try to turn within. If we are turning within, we won't be thinking about progress. If we are thinking about progress, our attention is facing outwards, not inwards.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-04-26b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses eradicating ego and doership (12:00)

My reflection: Sometime back I foolishly felt that my ego was about to subside and vanish forever. In other words, I foolishly felt that I have made enough progress now, and therefore this ego is about to die soon. I felt this way because I could see that my self-attentiveness was becoming deeper and at times I was finding myself reluctant to leave the peace of deep self-attentiveness. I even foolishly told my wife that I feel my ego was about to subside forever. Of course, all this was a delusion, a mere play of maya. When I shared all this Michael, this is what he wrote back:

In a dream would you tell the people you see there that you think you are about to wake up? If you have truly understood that it is just a dream, you would have no inclination to announce it to others, and you do have such an inclination, then you have not truly understood that it is a dream.

So as sadhakas we may sometimes feel that we are making good progress, or may even feel that our ego is about to die soon, as I had felt. However, we should reject all such ideas because all such ideas are a distraction. Such ideas will keep our attention on those ideas, and therefore we will not be doing what we are supposed to be doing, which is to always keep our attention turned within.

So instead of thinking about progress, ‘we just need to continue patiently and humbly following the path that Bhagavan has shown us’, as Michael once wrote in an email to me.



anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"Try to turn within."
What we will find 'inside' is always the crux of the matter.
Different persons experience different things inside - depending on the intenseness of that turning within and of their actual maturity.

Sanjay Lohia said...

All the people we love are actually nothing but our real nature, so they never actually leave us

If we are true devotees of Bhagavan, we will be happy. It doesn’t matter what happens. We undergo so many experiences in life – some pleasant and some unpleasant. Death comes to our loves ones sooner or later, but all these things are part of our dream. Moreover, if we accept that whatever happens in life is for our ultimate spiritual good, we will be happy amidst all our dream happenings.

The nature of the world is misery. Bhagavan says when the world appears, the mind experiences misery. The more we surrender ourself, the less weight we will give to this world, the less importance we will give to the person we seen to be, and therefore happier we will be.

If we accept all that happens as given to us by Bhagavan for our ultimate liberation, we can experience happiness underlying under even the most miserable experiences of life. One of the greatest miseries of life is someone very dear to us leaves us for good. We all experience such bereavement sooner or later. However, even in the midst of that, we should find joy because nothing actually is ever lost or gained. It is because what actually exists is only infinite happiness, which is our own nature. So all the people we love are actually nothing but our real nature.

So, our near and dear ones never actually leave us. They are always with us, but instead of seeing them outside we must turn within and see them as they actually are – which is our own real nature.

So if we are truly following Bhagavan’s path instead of seeing happiness outside, we have to really seek it within ourself. All that we love outside actually comes from within. So if we want to experience the full happiness, the full joy, the full love, we have to turn within because infinite love and infinite happiness is our real nature.

So Bhagavan asks only one thing of us. He doesn’t ask anything else. He just asks us to be happy, but how to be happy amidst all this misery of life? We can do so only by turning within, by surrendering to Bhagavan.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-01-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 14 (00:45)

My reflection: We will sooner or later lose our loved ones, or they will sooner or later lose us. So this separation from our loved ones is inevitable. But we should remember that all those whom we love are nothing other than our real nature. They exist in us as our own self, and since we can never be separated from ourself, we will actually never be separated from our near and dear ones.

This is easy to understand, but I believe the pain of separation with our spouse or child or such near and dear ones will be quite traumatising. If I lose my wife before I die, for example, how will I take it? It is hard to imagine, but surely I will be devastated. So we need to prepare ourself for such eventualities. We need to reduce our attachments and dependence of our near and dear ones. How? We can do so most effectively by turning within more and more.

The more we become established in our true self, the more we give up our ego nature, the more detached we will become from our near and dear ones. And when we lose this ego in the infinite clarity of pure self-awareness, we will lose all our attachments completely. If we cut our identification with the person we seem to be, we also cut all our other attachments forever. So from here onwards, no bereavement can ever touch us because we will experience no loss when our near and dear pass away.



Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, you say, ‘What we will find 'inside' is always the crux of the matter’. Yes, only what is inside is the real crux of the matter. Everything outside of us is mere shadows, here today, gone tomorrow. So we should value only that which is inside, and reject everything which is outside of us. Only this crux inside is permanent, eternal and immutable. Only this crux inside is happiness, everything outside is misery.

Salazar said...

There is nothing to experience "inside". Whatever "experiences" is the mind. Thus what the mind thinks or believes it is experiencing "inside" is as much phenomena as what it sees or experiences "outside", including love.

So who states that different persons "experience" different things (turning within) clearly does not know vichara nor the nature of self. Self is the same for anybody, there are no differences of self.

Tsk tsk, as I said before, actually practicing vichara beats the study of texts by aeons, it also dispels the ignorance of certain aspirants who rather focus on concepts and the spelling of concepts than actually going within :-)

anadi-ananta said...

Actually I am very eager to correctly practise vichara. Then it will not in the far distance to "know vichara and the nature of self". Why should a champion in spelling not succeed also in practising vichara ? :-)

Salazar said...

One of the crucial things is to realize that "being" is not "experiencing". Because an "experience" is only an "experience" for a mind which acknowledges that experience with a thought. Where could be any acknowledgment or re-cognition of an experience without a thought (as in vichara)? Without a thought (and that could be subtle or even subconscious) there is no experience.

And yet there is being.

Thus if there is an experience then this is mind and not self.

That is a crucial pointer for the practice of vichara, that's while a term like sat-chit-ananda can be misleading for some because happiness or bliss is an experience of the mind. The happiness of self is not experienced because there is no thought which could acknowledge that experience and yet there is (impersonal) happiness.

One can also say that the ananda of sat-chit-ananda is not equal to a thought or mind. That ananda only exists without a mind and thus it is not and cannot be an experience.

That's fundamental Bhagavan, there is no "doer" or "experiencer" in self.

Salazar said...

Thus the sat in sat-chit-ananda defined as "existence" or being is not an experience nor is the chit and ananda part.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
the seeming semantic problem is solved if one replaces the verb "experience" with "being aware of" and the seeming semantic problem is . For the same purpose the noun "experience" can be exchanged for "awareness of".

Salazar said...

As usual you do not get my point. So be it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

It is expressed differently in different religions, but self-surrender is fundamental to any type of spiritual practice

We can surrender ourself long before we come to the path of self-investigation. But we can surrender ourself only partially through other means. Actually, self-surrender is the underlying practice of most types of spiritual practices. It is expressed differently in different religions, but self-surrender is fundamental. So whether you are a Christian or a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Jain or whatever, giving oneself up is the underlying practice in all religions.

In the early stages of self-surrender, we are trying to surrender our will to the will of God. Like they say in the Christian prayer ‘thy will be done’, Bhagavan has also sung to Arunachala ‘your will is my will; that itself is happiness’. So we are surrendering our will to the will of God or whatever. Some people think in terms of God, or if you don’t have a particularly theistic view of the world, we can say ‘accepting things as they are’.

We think we can change things in the world. We think we can obtain happiness by doing this or that, but actually, things happen as they are meant to happen. People say they want to be in control. So many things happen in our life over which we have no control. Things happen to us, and accepting these things, giving up our likes and dislikes, finding contentment and satisfaction in things as they are, this is the beginning of the path of surrender.

So surrender begins by giving up our likes and dislikes, our desires, our hopes, our fears – in other words surrendering our will. But we can never surrender our will without surrendering the one who has the will. That is, the will is ego’s will, so eventually, we need to surrender our ego for our surrender to be complete.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-01-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 14 (50:00)

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
of course 'being that' is said to be our real nature. Nevertheless, the everyday level of ego/person as our starting point shows usually a different face which is not free of thoughts and where is no "impersonal happiness".
(incidental remark regarding my last comment: sorry, I forgot to remove the final words "and the seeming semantic problem is").

Sanjay Lohia said...

To the extent we turn our attention within, to that extent ego is subsiding and its desires and attachments are dropping off

To the extent we turn our attention within, to that extent ego is subsiding and its desires and attachments are dropping off. Only when this ego doesn’t rise even to the slightest extent are we truly just being.

We can close our mouth, close our eyes, and sit like a rock. We can try to stop our mind from going outwards, but so long as we are feeling ‘I am meditating’. ‘I am keeping quiet’, ‘I am doing this’, ‘I am doing that’, ego is still there. It is the non-rising as ego that is true surrender.

So whatever the body, speech or mind is doing, that is all outward, whereas surrender is inward. We can surrender whatever the body, speech and mind may be doing outwardly, but we can inwardly surrender only by turning our mind back within.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-01-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 14 (01:30)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Just like the paramesvara shakti is taking care of our inner world, it is likewise also taking care of this outer world

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

Sanjay Lohia: Michael James: People say, they want to be in control. So many things happen in our life over which we have no control. Things happen to us, and accepting these things, giving up our likes and dislikes, finding contentment and satisfaction in things as they are, this is the beginning of the path of surrender.

My friend: Just look at our own body inside. It is a factory. So much going on. We have no control at all. Surrender only works. Namo Ramana

Sanjay Lohia: Yes, agree. We can hardly control anything within our body. All the physiological functions inside us are taking place by our pranic shakti, which is just an extension of the paramesvara shakti (the one supreme power). Just like this paramesvara shakti is taking care of our inner world, it is likewise also taking care of this outer world. This ego which we now seem to be is in control of nothing.

Anonymous said...

True

Salazar said...

If you'd practice vichara you'd realize that even a short time without a thought has a profound effect because it gives the clarity of self, not the "full" clarity since there is still the confusion of the mind, nonetheless it is there.

The more one practices vichara the more clarity or self will be prevalent.

But, that "no-thought" gap or "I am" is not "experienced" differently by people, as you've claimed, but is the same for all. And there is no "awareness of" self, there is only self which is self-aware. The mind is never aware of self! Because it can only be aware of something when it has risen and the rising of the ego obscures self.

Salazar said...

Sanjay says, "This ego which we now seem to be is in control of nothing."

Yes, I keep saying that now for years but anadi-ananta can't help it but objects to that. Unless he's changed his mind recently ;-)

Since the go is in control of nothing, how could it "improve" itself unless vichara is practiced? "Improvement" of the ego is the delusion of control, it is maya.

Only vichara steps out of maya/mind, anything else is the playing field of immature aspirants. By the way, everybody is immature (with seemingly different degrees) but self, so to get all excited about the term immaturity is a waste of time :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

By identifying Bhagavan’s teachings as Adviata, we are not identifying it with the unnecessary complexities of Advaita but with the basic principles of Advaita (part one)

A friend: Bhagavan approved many teachings of Christianity and Buddhism. So his teachings are much more than mere Adviata. So why should we say that Bhagavan taught Advaita?

Michael: There are many complicated explanations given in Advaita. Bhagavan has simplified it all. If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence. If ego doesn’t exist, then nothing exists. Simple! What is ego? When we investigate it, it disappears. What can be simpler than this?

Another thing that has led to the complication in Advaita is that Advaita says that the problem is avidya (ignorance), and the solution to avidya (ignorance) is vidya (knowledge). This has been interpreted in so many ways by the advaitins. According to their own level of understanding, they understand these terms in their own sense. Avidya means non awareness of our real nature. So the nature of ego is avidya, and what is vidya (the correct awareness of ourself) will remove avidya. So avidya is not some book knowledge as many take it to be.

According to Bhagavan, vidya is awareness of ourself as we actually are, and we can be aware of ourself as we actually are only by turning within. So Bhagavan has really simplified both the theory and practice of Advaita. He brought it back to its pristine origin, to its fundamental principles. Bhagavan’s only concern is self-investigation and self-surrender because that is the means to gain vidya, to know ourself as we actually are.

So by identifying Bhagavan’s teachings as Adviata, we are not identifying it with the unnecessary complexities of Advaita but with the basic principles of Advaita. But when we identify Bhagavan’s teachings with Advaita, we are not doing so in a sectarian way, in an exclusive way. Advaita is the simple truth.

If we accept ‘I am’, the simple truth, we are already half-way through Advaita.

In verse 37 of Ulladu Narpadu, Bhagavan teaches us:

Even the contention that declares, ‘Duality only in spiritual practice, non-duality in attainment’, is not true. Both when one is eagerly searching and when one has found oneself, who indeed is one other than the tenth man?

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses the practice of self-investigation (2:01)


Salazar said...

Michael James (per Sanjay's transcription above): " 'Duality only in spiritual practice, non-duality in attainment’, is not true. Both when one is eagerly searching and when one has found oneself, who indeed is one other than the tenth man?"

Yes, yes, and yes! That is the point I try to make with anadi-ananta what he seems to not grasp. I hope that Anonymous is reading that too since she demands that one should talk only from the dual point of view what is a fallacy.

************ Who indeed is one other than the tenth man? ********************

That's why there is no "awareness of" self but just self. The allegory of the tenth man illustrates that point very nicely (if it is properly understood of course).

Sanjay Lohia said...

By identifying Bhagavan’s teachings as Adviata, we are not identifying it with the unnecessary complexities of Advaita but with the basic principles of Advaita (part two)

In continuation of my previous comment:

The friend: Can we use 'Ellam Ondre' instead of Advaita?

Michael: Ellam Ondre means ‘all is one’, but there is no ‘all’. There is only one. If by ‘all is one’ we mean ‘all these things are one’, that is a bit confusing. If we mean ‘all there is, is only one’, that is correct. That is Advaita because Advaita is, philosophically speaking, a very special kind of monism.

Generally, monism means ‘all things are basically one thing’. One form of monism is Physicalism, which means that basically, all things are one thing: that is, all things are physical. Another kind of monism is Idealism, which means that basically, all things are one thing: that is, all things are mental.

However, Advaita doesn’t recognise the existence of all things. Advaita says there is one thing without a second. So Advaita is the most radical form of monism. It denies the existence of everything other than the one. It says everything else is just an appearance. This is vivarta vada, which means everything is just an appearance.

Ultimately, Bhagavan says the truth is not even vivarta vada. Ultimately, the truth is ajata, which means nothing has ever appeared.

The friend: Buddhists say everything is nothing. It is totally empty.

Michael: Even to say everything is totally empty is not exactly true. There is at least one thing, otherwise, we wouldn’t be here talking. The manyness could be an appearance, but the oneness is what is real.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses the practice of self-investigation (2:01)

Unknown said...

Regarding the allegory of the tenth missing person, Michael James had posted about this earlier on Sunday, 4 March 2007 "Non-duality is the truth even when duality appears to exist"

Sanjay Lohia said...

What happens to ego when one dies? (part one)

A friend: What happens to ego is sleep?

Michael: Nothing happens to ego in sleep. Ego is something that happens in waking and dream. In waking and dream, ego rises and dances around, and when it ceases dancing what remains is just pure awareness. If ego is something that exists, we have to give some explanations to ‘What happens to ego is sleep? Does it go and hide in a hole?’ It doesn’t exist at all.

It seems to exist in waking and dream. It doesn’t exist in sleep. Sleep is a state of absolute non-happening. Nothing happens in sleep because there are no phenomena in sleep. There is neither the perceived nor the perceived.

THe friend: What happens to ego when we die?

Michael: What happens to ego when a dream comes to an end? You have two options: either you fall asleep or you come to another dream. Exactly the same thing happens after death. Either temporarily you remain in sleep or you immediately grasp some other form and begin dreaming again. What we call ‘death’ is just an ending of a dream.

But even if we sleep after death, whatever sleep we have will not last very long because we have not eradicated ego. So we want eternal sleep, and to get that eternal sleep we have to get rid of ego by seeing what we actually are.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-01-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 14 (02:03)

Sanjay Lohia said...

What happens to ego when one dies? (part two)

The friend: Does ego retains its identity when it re-emerges?

Michael: Every time it emerges, it emerges with an identity, one identity or another. What we call our present life is a big dream divided into so many smaller chunks. It is because we fall asleep and we come back to this dream again. So the whole of our life we should consider one dream, and within that one dream, there are many many dreams. Every night we fall asleep and within our dream, we have so many dreams. So we have dreams within dreams within dreams.

The friend: So if another dream emerges after death, will it continue some of the qualities which were there previously?

Michael: Yes, what will continue is our will, our likes and dislikes, our desires and attachments, our hopes and fear and so on. The seeds of all this are called vasanas. These vasanas come with us.

Ego is like a General and vasanas are like its army. Every time the army goes out to fight a war, the General leads it and it every war some of the soldiers get killed. But the General cannot remain without his army. So he recruits new soldiers. So over the course of time, our vasanas may be changing, but ego remains the same.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-01-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 14 (02:03)
My reflection: Michael said in another video:
‘Ego consists of a real aspect and an unreal aspect. Ego doesn’t have part but aspects. One aspect of it is ‘I am’, which is pure awareness. The other aspect of this is ‘this body’, which s unreal. So if we want to know what we actually are, we have to do hold on to ‘I am’, that is to the real element of ego. So if we are holding on to ‘I am’, we are holding on to our real nature.


anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
many thanks for your recent video-transcription (• Edited extract from the video: 2019-01-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK).

You presumably wanted to write:

part one:

"What happens to ego in sleep?"
"There is neither the perceiver nor the perceived."

part two:
"Does ego retain its identity when it re-emerges?"
"...and in every war some of the soldiers get killed."

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, I thank you for pointing out my typos. Out of the four typos you have pointed out, three are obvious typos, but I am not sure about the fourth one.

That is, I wrote: ‘Does ego retains its identity when it re-emerges?’ You believe that it should be ‘Does ego retain its identity when it re-emerges?’ Even the questioner had said ‘retain’ and not ‘retains’, so in this sense, it is a typo. But I am not sure whether the correct usage should be ‘retain’ or ‘retains’.

According to my understanding, since ‘ego’ is a singular noun, it should be followed by a plural verb ‘retains’. Maybe someone with a better grasp of English grammar will help clarify this. Thanks.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael: When practising self-investigation, I have to look at the ‘I am’ aspect of ‘I am Michael’

A friend: Is self-investigation a two-way process? Do you first have to look at ego and then our real self?

Michael: No, self-investigation is not a two-way process. It’s not first seeing ego and then seeing the real self. We are all aware of ego. We all say ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’. We all say ‘I am sitting’, ‘I am talking’, ‘I am angry’, ‘I am sad’, ‘I am this’, ‘I am that’. So ‘I’ is the centre of our world. So we are all aware of ‘I’.

However, instead of being aware of ‘I’ as it actually is, we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this or that’. I am aware of myself as ‘I am Michael’. Michael is not I actually am. But so long as I am aware of myself as Michael, I have to look at the ‘I am’ aspect of ‘I am Michael’. The more I look at ‘I am’, the less I will look at Michael. Michael means not only the physical body of Michael but all his thoughts, feelings, desires, hopes, fears everything.

Who or what is it that is saying ‘I am Michael’? Who is the perceiver of all these phenomena? So we turn our attention back towards ‘I’ and that’s all we need to attend to. If we focus on this ‘I’, all the phenomena, all its adjuncts will drop off, and what will remain is the pure ‘I’ which we actually are.

So there is no two-state process. There is only one thing there. It seems to be a snake, but if you look at it carefully, you see it’s just a rope. There never was a snake there. So if we look at ego carefully enough, we will see that what actually exists is just pure awareness. Nothing else is there at all. There never was an ego, there never was a world, a body or anything. What exists is just pure awareness, and we are that.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-01-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 14 (02:01)

Unknown said...

Sanjay Lohia, In case you are writing a book in the near future you have none other than the ever reliable and meticulous Josef Bruckner to check for correct spelling, grammar etc.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
regarding the interrogative clause "Does ego retain its identity when it re-emerges?",

Because you are not sure whether the correct usage should be ‘retain’ or ‘retains’.

According English grammar:
a.) If you use the present simple in the spelling of the third person singular (he,she,it) as a general rule an 's' is coupled to the basic form/infinitive of the verb (here:retain).
However, to form a question in the present simple you need the auxiliary verb 'do' and the 's' is not coupled to the verb (here:retain) but to the auxiliary verb 'do'.
b.) The subject (here: ego) determines the form of the following verb in number and person. Therefore the predicate (here: retain accompanied by the auxiliary verb do) always includes a conjugated verb form which must fit in number and person to the subject. Because 'ego' is a singular noun in the third person therefore the auxiliary verb form 'do' must be transformed to 'does'.

So when you say "since ‘ego’ is a singular noun, it should be followed by a plural verb ‘retains’, you are badly mistaken.:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

It is sufficient if we save ourself

The following are some of the things Michael said in yesterday’s Zoom meeting of RMF UK. I have paraphrased whatever he said according to whatever I remember him saying:

(1) Michael: It is sufficient if we save ourself. If this one ego wakes up, that is sufficient.

My reflection: What Michael implies is that we shouldn't bother about this world or about the other egos in this world. Let them wake up or remain sleeping. It should not bother us. Our only concern should be that we wake up to the reality or we save ourself. How do we save ourself? We can do so only by surrendering this ego, and ego can be surrendered only by turning fully within and by experiencing ourself as we actually are.

(2) Michael: As long as we take ourself to be a body, we are no better than a vegetable.

My reflection: I think Michael said this in response to someone telling him that it seems that being self-attentive all the time will seem like remaining as a vegetable. Michael said it is the opposite. That is, as long as we take ourself to be a body, we are no better than a vegetable. Why? It is because our bodies are made of the plants we eat, so this body is a modified vegetable so to speak. Secondly, when someone goes into a coma and is not in a position to recover, we say that they have become like a vegetable. So as long as we take ourself to be a body, we are no better than living corpses or like the people who have become like vegetables.

(3) Michael: We need to dig the well deeper and deeper and deeper until we find water. We need to dig it one place instead of digging a bit here, then digging some bit there and so on. That is, we need to follow only the one set of teachings and go deep into it, instead of following bits and pieces of different teachings.

My reflections: I believe, what Michael implied is that if we are following Bhagavan’s teachings, we should go deep into his teachings. That is, we should not follow a bit of what Bhagavan says and then follow a bit of some other teachings. This will not take us anywhere.

Just like we will get water only if we dig a well deep enough, so we can drink the cool and refreshing nectar of true self-knowledge only if we stick to Bhagavan’s teachings. That is Bhagavan’s teachings direct us to turn our attention within and to go deep deep within ourself. We can experience what we are looking for only within ourself, so with one-pointed attention we should look within. We will surely reach our destination if we keep travelling in the right direction.



Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, as you say, it should be 'retain' and not 'retains':

Does ego retain its identity when it re-emerges?

Sounds correct!

Sanjay Lohia said...

In order to make us willing to surrender ourself, God allows us to undergo so many experiences that we consider bad (part one)

A friend: We see many injustices happening in this world. We are ourselves recipient of many such injustices. Should we bear all of them without protesting, or should we do all that we can to protect our rights?

Michael: We see many things happening in this world which we consider bad. Why does God allow all these things to happen? He allows them to happen because God’s ultimate aim is that we should surrender ourself to him and thereby experience the infinite happiness which is our real nature. God’s aim is not our immediate freedom from pain or the immediate gratification of our desires. So it is from our limited perspective we say that certain things are bad – we say wars or disease or death are bad – but why does God allow these things to happen? God is taking a long term view and he is aiming to bring all forms of suffering to a complete end.

All forms of suffering will only come to an end only when we surrender ourself, only when this ego is completely eradicated. In order to make us willing to surrender ourself, God allows us to undergo so many experiences that we consider bad. The ultimate aim of all these experiences is to teach us that we cannot find happiness outside ourself. If we depend on outward circumstances for our happiness, which we are all doing at present, we will never be satisfied.

As embodied being we face so many difficulties. That is, as embodied being we have so many needs. We need air to breathe. We need water to drink. We need food to eat. We require clothing to protect us from the cold weather. We need adequate shelter to protect us from the elements. We require sleep every day. We have so many needs, so the state of an embodiment is a fundamentally unsatisfactory state. Sure we experience some pleasure here and there, but we can never experience complete satisfaction.

And however pleasant our life may be, one day we are going to face death and the more pleasant our life, the more reluctant we will be to leave this world and die. So as Buddha said, the very nature of embodiment is dukha. ‘Dukha’ can be translated as suffering or pain, but a comprehensive translation of ‘dukha’ is ‘dissatisfaction’. We can never be satisfied as long as we experience ourself as an embodied being, and embodiment is the very nature of ego. When we rise as ego, we always experience ourself as ‘I am this body’ – not always the same body but we always experience some body or other as ‘I’.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-06-21 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the appropriate attitude towards injustices (43:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In order to make us willing to surrender ourself, God allows us to undergo so many experiences that we consider bad (part two)

Michael: So because God knows the fundamentally unsatisfactory nature of embodied ego-existence, he also knows that we are not ready to surrender ourself because of the strength of our desires and attachments. He gives us such experiences that will gradually wean our mind off its desires, attachments, likes, dislikes, hopes, fears and so on. In other words, God’s ultimate aim is that we surrender ourself. So if we are wise, we will cooperate with God because God knows better than we do what is good for us.

However, the more we are concerned about the world, the more unwilling we will be to turn within and surrender ourself. That is why Bhagavan said as far as possible we shouldn’t dwell on worldly matters, and that is why he also said as far as possible we shouldn’t interfere in the affairs of others. We should just leave everything to the care of God because God knows better than we do how to take care of all these things.

Moreover, Bhagavan has said our entire life is just a dream, so it is all the more reason for not concerning ourself with whatever is happening in our dream. In a dream, if we see suffering – we see famines, wars, diseases and so on – what is the best way to end that suffering? We can end all that suffering we experience in that dream world simply by waking up. Likewise, if we want to put an end to all the suffering we see in this world, we need to wake up. In order to wake up, we need to turn our attention back within to investigate ‘who am I’ and thereby surrender ourself completely.

So the deeper we go into Bhagavan’s teachings, the less we will feel drawn to solve the problems of this world. It is because we will understand that we cannot solve the unending problems of this world except by waking up from this dream. Of course, in our day-to-day life, we come across injustices. We may be made to interfere to do something to stop these injustices according to our prarabdha. But we don’t have to concern ourself with it because if it is our destiny to do, we will be made to do so.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-06-21 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the appropriate attitude towards injustices (43:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In order to make us willing to surrender ourself, God allows us to undergo so many experiences that we consider bad (part three)

Michael: So if we are firmly convinced by what Bhagavan has taught us, and if we are really serious about seeking to surrender this ego, we will confidently turn our attention away from this world and all its problems and try to investigate ourself. We will not be concerned about what actions we should do. Whatever actions the body, speech and mind are destined to do, they will be made to do. Whatever other actions we do in accordance with our will will not yield any result because they are not according to prarabdha. Such agamya actions will just build up the fruits of more karmas and strengthen our vasanas.

So ultimately Bhagavan has given us just one responsibility: that is, to turn our attention within and thereby to surrender ourself completely. Only surrendering ourself completely is the sure way to end all injustices. Why? It is because injustices happen in the world, and the world is just a dream appearing in our own mind.

So long as we continue looking outwards, the dreamer will continue. So ultimately who is responsible for all the injustices we see in this world? We alone are - because we have risen as ego, we see the world with all its injustices. Therefore, we have to take responsibility for all these things and put an end to all injustices by turning within and thereby surrendering ourself.

So ultimately the best good we can do to this whole world is to surrender ourself. When we see what we actually are, ego and the world is thereby completely eradicated and what remains is the beginningless, endless and infinite happiness.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-06-21 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the appropriate attitude towards injustices (43:00)

My reflection: It is a sheer joy and rare privilege to transcribe these extracts from Michael’s videos because what Michael is telling us is the ultimate teachings. Yes, Michael is just expanding what Bhagavan has so loving taught us, but we wouldn’t have understood the meaning of Bhagavan’s words if they were not explained to us as clearly as Michael has been doing so tirelessly. So a thousand prostrations to Bhagavan, and heartfelt thanks to Sri Michael James!

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
many thanks again for your good video-transcription.
"Therefore, we have to take responsibility for all these things and put an end to all injustices by turning within and thereby surrendering ourself."
What does surrender mean exactly ?
Presumably, that we should not at all rise as a separate identity and that we completely give up our (own) will. But unfortunately, most of the time I am dwelling more or less in that ego-bound awareness from which I evidently cannot escape by a simple act of will. As far as I am concerned it seems that there must happen first a big inner explosion which could lead me to that required willingness to surrender.

Salazar said...

One cannot escape by a simple act of will because one is not an ego. That's why. One cannot escape that what one truly is. It is simply the wrong assumption that one seems to be an ego.

All "attempts" of the ego to escape has the opposite effect, it actually bounds the ego.

That has to be crystal clear. Vichara is non-ego so to speak, it is simply the sense of existence, the non-conceptual knowledge to exist. There is no escaping from it since one IS it. The rising of the mind with ideas of sadhana and "escape" spoils that natural and effortless "I am". That last sentence should be repeated a hundred times so it really sinks in ....

Self is the non-conceptual (meaning without a thought or mind) knowledge to exist. That's it. It is nothing special at all, that would be a bad misunderstanding. The "special-ness" with self is rather the non-existence or non-appearance of the mind. That seems special because the mind cannot imagine that everything is just fine until it appears.

The mind is so delusional that it takes reality in reference to itself. It thinks, "I suffer, hm, what do I have to do to stop suffering?"

The answer most minds won't accept is "nothing". "Oh no, how could that be. That is neo-advaita, that is the wrong way .... blablabla"

"Nothing" denotes being mentally quiet, just being that non-conceptual sense of existence. That's it. No mind is involved with that. As soon as mind "thinks" it has spoiled it. That is vichara.

The mind can even butcher vichara with false understanding. One description of vichara is "to keenly investigate self". However that should be not understood in the way that there is an observer who needs to keenly investigate or observe the self, that is not the case and an illusion.

The "keenly investigation of self" points to the non-dual sense of existence where there is and cannot be an observer, one IS self and that "keenly investigating" part only points to that one should stay being self and not let the attention of self slack so phenomena sway away the attention from self to phenomena. That's it.

Phenomena equals mind. So mind/phenomena can never "investigate self" since it very appearance obscures self.

For all newbies to vichara: The very first step before anything else is to be clear about the only thing one truly knows: That one exists. That sense of existence, and not as this or that, is with anybody and not difficult to find. We know that we exist without thinking about it. That knowledge is self. That's it. Extremely simple.

So in order to know what vichara truly entails one must be very clear about this "sense of existence". Once "noticed" or re-discovered it will be, especially in the beginning, seemingly lost and found many times, however it is easy to re-cognize since it is always the same subtle sense of existence or sat-chit-ananda.

That can be directly experienced by anybody, it is very simple once "discovered". And I am not talking about manonasa what is something different and is unimportant (for now) for the beginner of vichara.

Once one has had a "taste" of that existence one can get more acquainted with it in just being it more and more often.

P.S. It is also important to drop all concepts (at least for awhile), like manonasa and sat-chit-ananda, and really just try to get clarity what that sense of existence truly is and how it "feels" like. Without that any attempts of vichara are not vichara and a waste of time.



anadi-ananta said...

"...we should be in and as உள்ள பொருள் (uḷḷa-poruḷ), the existing substance, which is our real nature, pure awareness."
I am not sure whether I ever have been in and as (uḷḷa-poruḷ), the existing substance, which is our real nature, pure awareness.

Salazar said...

The ego, that what people commonly understand as "I", can never be uḷḷa-poruḷ, that is the answer to your question anadi-ananta. You are still not grasping the allegory of the tenth man. Until you do all of your assumptions are wrong. You are just repeating concepts you've read without the crucial point of it. Without it, pure awareness is just a phrase in mind.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
I merely stated to be uncertain about my present feeling, but did not put a question.
However it is true that I understand the allegory of the tenth man only mentally.
If I were fully aware of the tenth man in me I would not have to deal with any spiritual teaching.:-)

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, you say that you are not certain about your present feeling. I suppose you talk about the "sense of existence" or self.

It is not really a feeling, it is not a sense perception, it just is. Since it cannot be felt nor mentally grasped it cannot be easily described, even Bhagavan used pointers like, "don't you know your very own home?".

It is a thoughtless "presence", devoid of sense perception. One clue is that it can only be "noticed" in the presence since thoughts either take one to the future or to the past. Another clue is that it is very subtle, NEVER changes, it always has the same "quality". So it is not any sense perception like hot, cold, dense, hate, love, sadness, happiness, light, darkness, etc.

If there is a change, any change, then that is the mind or maya. That's why I am so certain that bliss, as in intense feelings of happiness, cannot be self. Because bliss comes and goes.

Bhagavan made clear, we cannot be something what comes and goes, because anything what appears must also disappear. That is true for anybodies experience, even for the most dense person in the world. That person can get a taste of self and will notice that it never changes. That leads to the clarity that realization is a non-event and that it does not change the fundamental knowledge one gains from vichara even when the mind is still rising.

The only thing which changes is the mind and to the extend one identifies with the mind/ego one identifies with these changes as "me". That is a delusion.

So for anybody, self does not appear (after some "realization") - it is always there, unchanging. What seems to change is the mind, it evaporates due to lack of attention.

The mind cannot kill itself by not giving itself no attention anymore, that is ridiculous or is, as Bhagavan said, making the thief the police man. It is accomplished only in simply being self. And of course the mind cannot be, nor "give attention to" self.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
thank you for your explanation.
However, the sentence "The mind cannot kill itself by not giving itself no attention anymore,..." has three negations what seems to be to much. Apparently you wanted to express "The mind cannot kill itself by giving itself no attention anymore,..." or
"The mind cannot kill itself by not giving itself any attention (anymore),...".

Sanjay Lohia said...

How do we explain the projection of this world? (part one)

A few weeks back, I asked the following question to Michael through an email. He read out my email in the last Saturday’s Zoom meeting of RMF UK and then answered my question. The following are the excerpts from what I wrote to him:

Sanjay: The following is an extract from your video of 08/02/2020. At around 01:26 of this video you said something to the following effect:

The world we see in our dreams is just our thoughts. Our current so-called waking state is also a dream, so all this is also the projection of our thoughts. The seeds from which these thoughts sprout are called vasanas. Vasanas means the seed forms of our likes, dislikes, desires, attachments and so on. These are what sprout as thoughts and appear as this world. Whose vasanas are they? They are ego’s vasanas. So ego is the one who has projected all this. Ego is the dreamer. Because it is the same dreamer, the one who dreamt at night, the same dreamer dreams this dream. You dream something and you experience something similar the next day. This is because they are all projections of the same vasanas.

Sorry, this is not 100% clear to me. My question is how can we say that our likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, fear and so on have projected this world? Whatever we experience is in accordance with our prarabdha as decided by Bhagavan. So according to my understanding, what we experience outside is according to Bhagavan’s will and not our will.

So we may like some projections or dislike some projections, but the projection is not according to our likes and dislikes. For example, the current coronavirus is my projection, but the power that has made this come into existence is Bhagavan’s will. I react to this situation according to my will. In other words, we react to the situation according to our vasanas.

Yes, I can understand that this projection is just our thoughts, and all thoughts originate from the seeds of those thoughts, but such seeds of projection are different from our likes and dislikes. I would be glad if you could clarify this?

Michael: Firstly, it’s not necessary to be 100% clear to us. What we need to understand is a general principle. According to Bhagavan, all phenomena, which includes the world we see, all feelings, everything is our thoughts. That is all phenomena are mental phenomena, and the seeds of all thoughts are what are called vasanas. Vasanas are the inclinations that we have formed from our past likes and dislikes. So vasanas are the seeds from which everything sprouts.

Those seeds first sprout in the form of likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, fears and so on. That is the primary manifestation of the vasanas. All other thoughts or phenomena are the secondary manifestation of the vasanas.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-27 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses self-realisation and karma (00:16)

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, I wish that you'd have commented on the contents of my last comment and not of the grammar thereof.

Was it helpful? Nothing new for you? Agree, disagree? Clear, not clear?

Sanjay Lohia said...

How do we explain the projection of this world? (part two)

Michael: Our desires, attachments, likes, dislikes and so on are collectively called our ‘will’. The word generally used in Sanskrit is chittam, which is sometimes also described as the karana-sarira (causal body) or anandamaya-kosa (the sheath composed of happiness). Different explanations are given as to why it is called anandayamaya-kosa. The usual explanation given is that it is called anandayamaya-kosa because this kosa is said to remain in sleep when no other kosas exist, and since what we experience in sleep is just happiness, this kosa is called anandamaya-kosa.

However, according to Bhagavan, the happiness we experience in sleep is not a kosa, but our real nature. So Bhagavan has given us much deeper and refined explanations. What Bhagavan says is that all desires are ultimately desire for happiness. Whatever we desire, we desire it because we think we are going to get happiness from it. As Bhagavan has said in the first sentence of Nan Ar ‘Happiness alone is the cause of love’. Love also means desire in this context. So because all our desire is the desire for happiness, the will is sometimes called the anandamaya-kosa.

The reason why it called karana-sarira is that these seeds are what we project as all these phenomena. Bhagavan sometimes compared the vasanas to the film reel is a projector: the vasanas get projected as this world.

Regarding prarabdha, what we now experience is the fruit of our past karma, so it is not entirely true to say it is Bhagavan’s will. We did actions in the past by our will, and these actions have certain fruits. Those fruits get stored in sanchita. Bhagavan selects from these fruits the fruits which will be most beneficial for us to experience in each lifetime. So in that sense, it is Bhagavan’s will. But it is not Bhagavan’s will that we suffer. Bhagavan’s ultimate will is that we surrender ourself completely. That is Bhagavan’s true will, but he ordains our prarabdha in such a way that will be conducive to our spiritual progress, our ultimate surrender.

So Bhagavan determines which vasanas are projected at each moment. Because it is said that the vasanas are the seeds of our likes and dislikes, your objection seems to be that the projection is not according to our likes and dislikes. It is not according to our present likes and dislikes, but in the past, we have done actions driven by our likes and dislikes. What we are experiencing is the fruits of those actions.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-27 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses self-realisation and karma (00:16)

Sanjay Lohia said...

How do we explain the projection of this world? (part three)

Michael: Our current projections may not be to our liking at present, but we may have done actions in the past which caused harm to other sentient beings. We didn’t want that harm to be caused to us, but we were willing to cause it to other sentient beings. So we may not like the harm which is coming our way in this present projection, but we liked such harm to be caused to others in our past. We were willing to make others experience something which we wouldn’t have liked to experience because we thought that we would gain from it.

So all actions are driven by our likes and dislikes, and the fruits of actions are what we now experience as our prarabdha. So ultimately things come back to our likes and dislikes, but it is not as simple as ‘I project what I like and not what I dislike’. It’s not a simple matter like that.

But as I said earlier what we need to understand is the general principle. According to Bhagavan, whatever we experience is just thoughts. So the whole world is nothing but thoughts. What seems to be physical phenomena are just mental phenomena, which are what are called thoughts, and the seeds from which all thoughts sprout is our vasanas. These vasanas first manifest in the form of our likes and dislikes and later manifest as these other things.

So how this projection takes place is not a simple matter, and we don’t need to understand it entirely. What we need to understand is that what we now experience is our projection. So I who perceive it have also projected it. So who am I who has projected this and who perceives all this? That is what we need to find out. If we investigate this ‘I’, this ego, we will find there is no such thing. Then we will find that there has never been any projection of this world. There has never been any vasanas. There has never any prarandha or sanchita. None of these things is true.

That is the key principle to understand. If we understand that, everything else will be clear. We don’t need to understand the whole thing because after all, all this is maya, and maya is anirvachaniya, inexplicable. We don’t need to explain it because it doesn’t actually exist. What is true is only ‘I am’. That is Bhagavan. That is what we need to know.

So we don’t need to break our heads trying to understand all these things fully. We need to understand the general principle which will help us in our practice of self-investigation and self-surrender. Trying to understand all these things in too much detail is unnecessary.

• Edited extract from the video: 2020-06-27 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses self-realisation and karma (00:16)

My reflection: Sir, Thank you for such a detailed reply to my question. Things seem clearer now. As you say, we need to understand the basic principles of these things, but shouldn’t try to understand these things in too much in detail.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
again many thanks for your recent video-transcription of Michael's answer to your question put by email.
(some typos:
you meant to write anandamaya-kosa [twice you wrote anandayamaya-kosa];
it should be "film reel in a projector;
and "There has never been any prarabdha or sanchita".)

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
to fulfil your wish of today at 14:38.
Thank you again for your comparing description of self and mind.
However, I cannot comment about self which I do not really know. At best what I can express is more of a hunch.
You are certainly correct in saying that 'self just is'.
Nevertheless, I presume that real bliss does not come and go because self must be always (t)here.
For the time being I urgently have to improve my feeble ability to anchor the mind in self.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, you are still after that bliss, aren't you? Good luck with that. Funny, I do not desire bliss at all so it can stay away. I leave bliss to anybody else who's after it.

Salazar said...

Oh, it just struck me, you distinguish between "bliss" and "real bliss" whatever that is. Are you not getting tired of dabbling around with all of these terms without having a first-hand experience of self via vichara?

At some point you must get tired of it. It is a dead end.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
without bliss I am not complete. :-)
Look at Bhagavan's eyes, are they not permanently radiating bliss ?

Salazar said...

Bhagavan's eyes decomposed a long time ago, obviously there is nothing permanent with them. You must admit that this notion of his eyes "radiating bliss" is an imagination of mind and nothing else. It has no reality whatsoever, as it is with bliss.

anadi-ananta said...

Bhagavan's bodily eyes (may) have decomposed, but not the emanation of bliss itself.
But without having a first-hand experience of self via vichara how could I know anything ?

Salazar said...

There is no emanation of bliss (but as an imagination of mind). What would emanate bliss? That would constitute a subject and an object, a self or Bhagavan what "produces" bliss.

But there is only "One without a second". If self or Bhagavan would emanate bliss then we have "One (self/Bhagavan) WITH a second 'bliss' ". Impossible, it can only be possible as an imagination of mind and therefore is maya.

An emanation of bliss is maya.

anadi-ananta said...

Bliss is the one without a second.

Salazar said...

So you equal the term of self with bliss. One can do that but it is confusing since bliss denotes usually an "intense feeling of happiness or ecstasy". And that is not self. I am very certain.

One can also equal self with apple. And then one can triumphantly declare, "apple is the one without a second". That goes along with your bliss/self equalization. One can equal self with anything but logically one wants to equal it with something what defines it very closely. And that is not bliss, despite the term sat-chit-ananda. That term is as much an imagination of mind as bliss.

Alright, from what I am hearing you are setting yourself up with certain expectations about "self" what is based on hearsay or belief: an imagination. That will be or is already an obstacle.

You got to sort that out eventually, but that will be only possible to the extend you are not attached to the idea of "bliss". So it doesn't look good.

Salazar said...

And still, the notion that Bhagavan's eyes are permanently radiating bliss is hearsay, belief, an imagination. How could that be helpful at all? It's actually a superstition.

It must be clear for any devotee of Bhagavan that all kinds of beliefs are maya and have no relation to reality whatsoever. One can convert even the precious teachings by Bhagavan to a superstitious belief system analyzing and dissecting terms like "sat-chit-ananda". Time to let go and relax, clinging at definitions and their spelling is a trap of the mind.

anadi-ananta said...

You mean the noun 'extent'.
Our real nature is said to be sat-chit-ananda, not sat-chit-apple.:-)

No imagination, no expectation, no obstacle. Neither good look nor bad look.
Only happiness. Freedom of suffer and sorrow.
(incidentally, you mean the noun 'extent').

anadi-ananta said...

As you say, all kinds of beliefs are maya and have no relation to reality whatsoever.
Without exception.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, I thank you for pointing out my typos. I need to proofread whatever I type more carefully before I post them.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We need not concern ourself with what will happen after ‘self-realisation’ because ‘self-realisation’ is the end of all happenings

A friend: How does a ‘self-realised’ person earn a livelihood in today’s world? Does a person’s day-to-day life change after self-realisation?

Michael: There is actually no such thing as a ‘self-realised’ person. Though it may seem to us that certain people are ‘self-realised’, that is only from our ignorant perspective. What does ‘self-realisation’ mean? It means being aware of ourself as we actually are. So long as we are aware of ourself as a person, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are. What we actually are is the infinite expanse of pure awareness. So as long as we are a person, we are not ‘self-realised’. When we are ‘self-realised’, we are no longer a person. So ‘self-realised person’ is a contradiction in terms.

People might say, ‘What about Bhagavan? He was self-realised’. In whose view was Bhagavan a person? It’s only in our view. Because we mistake ourself to be a person, we take Bhagavan to be a person. What is a person? A person is a body. Bhagavan says, ‘I am not this body or mind’, so Bhagavan is not what he seems to be.

Bhagavan often used to say, jnana alone is the jnani. Jnana here means pure awareness. That alone is the jnani. Only pure awareness knows itself as pure awareness. So when we are ‘self-realised’, as it is called, that is the complete dissolution of ego. When ego is dissolved, what remains is only pure awareness.

When we experience ourself as we actually are, we are no longer a person, and there is no longer a world in which we need to earn a livelihood. The world is a projection of the ego. So when ego is destroyed, the world comes to an end. What remains when our ego is destroyed is best described by Bhagavan in verse 28 of Upadesa Undiyar:

If one knows what the nature of oneself is, then what will exist and shine is only anadi [beginningless], ananta [endless or infinite] and akhanda [unbroken] sat-chit-ananda [being-awareness-bliss].

So eternal and infinite sat-chit-ananda, that is what remains after ‘self-realisation’, and that is present even now. But since now we are aware of ourself as ego, we are not aware of ourself as anadi, ananta, akhanda sat-chit-ananda. When we turn our attention keenly within to see what we actually are, we will see that we have always been anadi, ananta, akhanda sat-chit-ananda, and therefore there has never been any world or anything else.

Only when we rise as ego is waking and dream that there seems to be a world. Where is the world in sleep? In sleep, there is no ego and therefore there is no world. So we need not concern ourself with what will happen after ‘self-realisation’. ‘Self-realisation’ is the end of all happenings. It is returning to what is ever-present, which is infinite, pure awareness. We may call this pure awareness brahman or atma-svarupa or whatever.

• Edited and paraphrased extract of the video: 2020-06-27 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses self-realisation and karma (00:35)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Money is not a problem; the problem is our attachment to the money

Sanjay: As you implied earlier today, we should not hoard wealth because then it will be difficult to leave it and go when we die. But suppose if there is a family settlement happening and I am supposed to get some money which is more than my needs, what should I do? This money will come to me automatically, but in a way, it will then be hoarding.

Michael: Money is not a problem. The problem is our attachment to the money. So if it comes automatically, we can then decide what to do with it. We can give it away to those who are in more need. Money is neither good nor bad, though as a general rule hoarding money is not good.

Nowadays there are people who have an unbelievable amount of wealth, not only billions, but there are people who have hundreds of billions. Such wealth disparity creates so many problems. So generally we shouldn’t take for ourself more than we need. Having enough for our needs and the needs of our family, that is fine. But if it is in our destiny to have millions or billions, it is better to find some way of giving it away to those who need it more than we do.

So ultimately what matters is not the money itself but our attachment to it.

• Edited and paraphrased extract of the video: 2020-06-27 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses self-realisation and karma (01:46)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
good idea, but we all commentators generally need to proofread whatever we type more carefully before we post them.:-)

Asun said...

I agree with Michael that we only need to understand the general principle so that it encourages us to turn within and investigate by ourselves since it is only self-investigation what provides us with clarity of mind to really understand Bhagavan´s teachings in detail and in due course. On the other hand, we can find all explanations on Bhagavan´s works in the archive of this blog as well as Bhagavan´s works in Michael´s site. For instance:

In his article https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2018/01/why-do-visaya-vasanas-sprout-as.html, Michael explains how ego projects phenomena very clearly and succinctly.

And in his article https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-role-of-grace-in-all-that-ego.html, he beautifully explains how grace regulates what we as ego create though, as we are warned by Shadu Om in his comment to verse 668 of GVK we shouldn´t misinterpret the saying "All are God’s actions; not even an atom can move without the will of God".
By the way, in verse 667 it is also explained how this universe rising along with ego is created and destroyed every moment.

We are really fortunate having all these genuine works and explanations. We only need to correctly practice self-investigation so that there can be enough clarity of mind to understand them. At a certain moment what we completely overlooked or didn´t make any sense to us, we´ll become perfectly clear and make full sense.

Asun said...

"will become perfectly clear ..."

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, we do not "need" anything. That's your ego's obsession to control and it does that with extreme attention to spelling and grammar (and probable other things).

As money is no problem unless one is attached to it, so is correct (or incorrect) spelling no problem unless one is attached to it. I reckon, you got a problem! :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

How do we deal with abusive relationships?

A friend: How do we deal with abusive relationships of any kind? Do we have the duty to extricate ourself from such abuse, or do we just accept it as a lesson from the Lord?

Michael: There are no simple answers to such questions. Whatever is destined to happen will happen. If we are destined to be in an abusive relationship, we will be in an abusive relationship for as long as that destiny is there. When the time comes for that relationship to come to an end, it will come to an end. So if it's time for the abusive relationship to come to an end, you may be prompted from within to bring it to an end, or circumstances may prompt you to decide, ‘OK, enough is enough – time to end this relationship’.

Sometimes Bhagavan will perform a clean operation. If the relationship is harming us, he will bring it to a complete end. He will sever that relationship entirely. We may decide to bring the relationship to an end, but if it is our destiny to continue in that relationship, we will continue in it. But if our decision to bring that relationship to an end is supported by our prarabdha, that decision will fructify. So it’s all according to destiny.

Abusive relationships can be extremely damaging, so from a mundane point of view, it is better to avoid such relationships. So there are no simple answers to such questions.

The friend: What about the near and dear ones who either perpetuate abuse or turn a blind eye to abuse for selfish reasons?

Michael: Sometimes the near and dear ones may let us down due to selfish reasons. Whatever relationship we are in, that is our prarabdha, but that doesn’t mean we have to continue in that relationship forever. What our destiny will be the next moment or the next day, we don’t know.

I was also in an abusive relationship, but when the time was ripe, it came to an end. But so long as I was destined to be in that relationship, I had to bear with it. So whatever it is, it is all according to the will of Bhagavan for our own good.

So let us leave everything to Bhagavan. Sometimes it is best to just pray to Bhagavan, ‘Bhagavan, this is entirely your problem, not my problem. Take care of all this’. At an appropriate time, he will bring the relationship to an end if that is what is best for us. The fact that you are experiencing that relationship means that that is best for you at that moment.

So Bhagavan will take care of everything. He is taking care of everything. Nothing can happen except by his grace. In Tamil, there is a saying: ‘Except by his grace not even an atom can move’. So let us surrender, leave everything to him.

• Edited and paraphrased extract of the video: 2020-06-27 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses self-realisation and karma (00:09)

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
spelling became my hobby horse after I had noticed my good eye for typos and spelling mistakes as a special gift. Be assured that I consider my own typos as extremely "unpardonable".:-)
And besides I got no problem with it.
However, believe me I'd love to exchange that spelling "attachment" for the ability to keenly and persistently practise self-investigation.

Salazar said...

Considering also one's own typos as "extremely" unpardonable is not an excuse or a justification for attachment. Of course you are as obsessive with your own mistakes as with others, it is the obsession to control.

Letting go of control is a difficult task and there are many ways the ego tries to control and nobody is immune from that. However yours goes somewhat into the extreme and you are still justifying it as a "special gift". As long as you do not see "your gift" as a predicament and something to let go off you are deluding yourself.

Frankly, I am amazed that for someone, who claims to be a devotee of Bhagavan, you are totally oblivious about the extreme obstacle your obsession with spelling is presenting not only for having natural mental faculties but for self-realization itself.

I see you lying on your death bed and instead of holding to "I am" your mind is obsessing about the correct spelling and correct meaning of, i.e., sat-chit-ananda. :-)

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
thanks for your warning. But frankly I think everybody should primarily look at one's own obsessions which are mostly overlooked quite easily.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, well my friend, if you want to stay blind to it then one cannot do much, can we? And looking at your response I'd say that you are in deep denial. It's quite obvious.

Frankly, stupid me believing that your ego would jump at the opportunity for some growth but instead it is stubborn, arrogant, and in deep denial.

:-(

Salazar said...

Michael says one should not hoard money. Yes, one can file that under ethic rules like the Christian Ten Commandments. Nothing wrong with that.

However, let's say a devotee of Bhagavan owns a fortune of $ 10 Million, now what that devotee does with it is entirely depended on prarabdha. Of course a reluctance to give away at least part of it is due to vasanas as it is if he gives away the entire amount. Let's say the vasanas prevent the devotee to donate some of the money, should the devotee feel bad about that? No, that would be a huge mistake because "feeling bad" because one does not the "right thing" equals identification with the body/mind. Same if one feels benevolent and "spiritual" when giving away the entire amount.

In fact, as long as one identifies with, either the gracious donator who blesses the poor people who get his money, or the miser who keeps the money, one is in the same shoes of maya. Both are equal because both are identifying with the role which is playing out. The only difference is that, due to the identification with the doer, one will accumulate "good" karma while the other will get "bad". Alas, for both samsara goes on.

So, the conclusion is to not worry about having money and what to do with it. It's the same with trying to be a sannyasin, there is no outward action or change necessary, true sannyas is within as is non-attachment to money and anything else.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
"...jump at the opportunity for some growth ...",
How could I ever want ego's growth ?
For what do you hope from passing judgement on others ?

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
some days ago, on 29 June 2020 at 13:19, you wrote "The world we see in our dreams is just our thoughts. Our current so-called waking state is also a dream, so all this is also the projection of our thoughts.[...]."

On reflection about that statement I come to the conclusion that this declaration/explanation - that the world-perception in waking and dream is just thoughts - does not change the fact that we have to deal with that world-perception along with the world. Only our point of view or the way of looking or angle of vision has changed.

Sanjay Lohia said...

If we can make our outlook into the inlook, we can change everything (part one)

A friend: You say everything is Bhagavan’s will. My experience is that it seems it is like being a vegetable – ‘since it is Bhagavan’s will, we cannot do anything’. So it seems we have no freedom.

Michael: No, it’s not like being a vegetable. We don’t have any freedom to change anything that is happening outwardly, but we can change our outlook by turning our attention within. If we can make our outlook into the inlook, we can change everything. But we don’t actually change everything. We can eradicate ego and thereby experience the infinite freedom that we actually are – infinite happiness, infinite awareness that we actually are. So this is the very opposite of being a vegetable.

So long as we take ourself to be a body, we are being a vegetable. When we experience ourself as we actually are, that is the very opposite to being a vegetable. This body is no different to a vegetable. This body is just a matter. We eat vegetables and it becomes this body – the body is composed of nothing but vegetables. Even if we eat meat, meat comes from vegetables. So ultimately all physical living organism comes originally from the plant kingdom. So long as we take ourself to be a body, we are no longer better than a vegetable.

The friend: Karmas are created by desires and our desires create our world, and this desire is for ego. So if this ego is destroyed then . . .

Michael: Then everything is destroyed – if ego is destroyed everything is destroyed. That is why Bhagavan’s whole teaching is centred on ego. The whole problem is ego. How to get rid of ego? Simply investigate it and it disappears because we seem to be ego so long as we are looking at anything other than ourself. If we look at ourself, has anyone ever seen ego?

• Edited and paraphrased extract of the video: 2020-06-27 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses self-realisation and karma (01:23)

My reflection: As Michael says our life in this body is no better than the life of a vegetable because this body is made up of nothing but vegetables.

As Michael has beautifully put, if we can make our outlook into the inlook, we can change everything. Our outlook is the root of all problems, and our inlook will root out all our problems forever. So simple!


Sanjay Lohia said...

If we can make our outlook into the inlook, we can change everything (part two)

The friend: What is ego?

Michael: Ego is nothing but false awareness of ourself as ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ – as ‘I am this person’.

The friend: It’s just an idea?

Michael: It’s an idea, but it’s the root of all other ideas. It’s ultimately unlike all other ideas because no idea is aware of itself or aware of anything. But ego is that idea that is aware both of itself and of all other ideas. So all other ideas are jada (non-aware), but ego is a mixture of chit (awareness) and jada (non-aware objects). It’s a combination of awareness and non-awareness. As ego we are aware, but we are aware ‘I am this body’. This body is jada (non-aware). What is aware is this ego which mistakes itself to be this body.

The friend: So ego takes this body to be the reality, but in the dream state we have a different body and in sleep, we have no body.

Michael: What we learn from the dream is that ego has an ability to project a body and take it as itself. So when we know that we are able to do that in a dream, why should we be so sure that what we are now experiencing is anything but a dream? According to Bhagavan, this body is just another dream body. This world is another dream world.

The friend: Thank you very much.

• Edited and paraphrased extract of the video: 2020-06-27 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses self-realisation and karma (01:23)

My reflection: Yes, as Michael says, ‘What we learn from the dream is that ego has an ability to project a body and take it as itself. So when we know that we are able to do that in a dream, why should we be so sure that what we are now experiencing is anything but a dream? According to Bhagavan, this body is just another dream body. This world is another dream world’. It is extremely crucial to understand this if we want to understand Bhagavan’s teachings.

Our dream experience and our deep sleep experience give us invaluable clues to so many things, and thus help clarify so many aspects of Bhagavan’s teachings.


Salazar said...

The assumption that we have to "deal with the world" is false. We do not. Whatever happens is due to prarabdha. So the only thing which is required to do is to attend to "I am". Everything else will take care of itself.

As Bhagavan taught, if we are destined to do something it will happen no matter what, if we are destined to not do something we won't do it, no matter how much we seem to try.

That is hard to accept for the ego because it means it has no control over anything. It just is deluding itself that it "controls" its destiny in "dealing with the world". Nothing could be further from the truth.

That is Bhagavan's teaching and a very crucial point. Ignoring it is ignoring Bhagavan.

anadi-ananta said...

Writing a comment and thus lecturing about Bhagavan's teaching is dealing with the world, whether you call it prarabdha or not.
Regarding "ignoring Bhagavan", even rise as ego is just ignoring Bhagavan.
So who can with full justification claim to not ignoring Bhagavan ?

Salazar said...

The first part of Maharshi's Gospel is describing quite clearly why we do not have to deal with the world.

My favorite is the following quote by Bhagavan:" [...] so, all actions will go on whether you strain yourself to be engaged in them or not. The work will go on of itself. [...]"


One has to note "whether you STRAIN yourself to be engaged or not" meaning that any intensity or effort or engagement to do something is irrelevant and a delusion since it doesn't matter. That same action will "go on of itself" if one does not even think about it.

The implications are huge but it just boils down to that one just has to attend to "I am" and not worry about the rest, at ANY time.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"According to Bhagavan, this body is just another dream body. This world is another dream world."

Even considering this world as a dream or dream world does not relieve/discharge somebody of his/her duties.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, thank you for sharing your opinion.

anadi-ananta said...

Bhagavan told us not to believe anything before experiencing or knowing it.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
thanks for your attention.

Salazar said...

There are no duties, that is a delusion according to Bhagavan. Who is having duties? To insist that one has duties is ignoring Bhagavan. It is as simple as that. Duties will be performed or they will not be performed according to prarabdha. They are irrelevant but for the phantom ego.

Phantom duties by the phantom ego. LOL

Salazar said...

The main point one can glean from the concept of destiny or prarabdha is that the actions of the ego will go on as destined, no matter how the ego feels and thinks about it. It can think it has duties but what does it matter? It's thoughts, nothing else. They have no reality but the reality it is given to them [by the ego].

As Bhagavan said to Major Chadwick when he doubted eka-jiva: Does the world tell you that it is real? So along that line, does duty tell us that it is real? Duty and for a matter of fact also the world, has never talked to me that it is real. It seems to be real only when one thinks about it. So Bhagavan speaks the truth that the world, and its seeming duties, is a thought and therefore not real. It is not self.

Again, what makes a duty a duty? Only a thought or personal belief, nothing else. Is that self? Of course not. Then why is that even relevant? It's part of maya, why engaging with maya? Duties and the world is maya.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
when you say "Duties and the world is maya.",
did not you self outline today at 16:26 a special kind of duty by stating "So the only thing which is required to do is to attend to "I am". Everything else will take care of itself."
and again at 16:53 that "...one just has to attend to "I am" and not worry about the rest, at ANY time." ?

Salazar said...

That is not a duty but vichara and that transcends maya. So one cannot really mix vichara with what the ego usually understands as "duty". Your mind is trying to be clever but it only is shooting in its foot with this kind of attitude.

Salazar said...

Vichara cannot be a duty. Vichara is reality. It is what we truly are.

"Duty" and any other terms or ideas are thoughts or ego only. Even sat-chit-ananda, pure consciousness, or any other term, in lieu being used as a pointer, is a thought and as such ego.

Even vichara, merely used in a thought, is ego. What relevant is what "vichara" and "sat-chit-ananda" POINT to and not what the mind thinks what it is. What the mind thinks what is sat-chit-ananda is nothing else but maya or ignorance.

anadi-ananta said...

Is not vichara only the method of self-investigation ?
If I remember correctly, atma-vichara is only trying to distinguish oneself from ego, called also self-investigation.
According Michael's article of Wednesday, 15 August 2007 is atma-vichara only the practice of keeping our mind fixed firmly in self.

So how can it be said that "Vichara is reality. It is what we truly are." ?

Salazar said...

It is a pointer. Your mind cannot grasp the meaning of a pointer since it is obsessing about concepts.

"He said that, but he said something else. Is it not said that this is like this? He said x=y but is it not said that x=u? On Feb 22, 2008 he said p>y but on March 28 you said tt<g. Blablablablablabla."

Where is self in "what has been said or written"?

Boy, you are truly an excellent example how deeply and deviously maya is deluding jivas.

anadi-ananta said...

Maya means that what is not. Consequently maya's deluding power is itself only figment or imagination.

Salazar said...

You are too much :-D

Sanjay Lohia said...

‘Love’ as a word describes our real nature

A Friend: How to describe what true love is?

Michael: As we go deeper into this path, what true love is will become clearer and clearer to us. Can you describe the awareness ‘I am’? We cannot. We all know ‘I am’, but it is not something which we can describe. Love is actually ourself, but we cannot put what love is into words. If we want to discover what true love is, we need to discover what we ourself are. The love we are seeking is only within ourself. We will discover true love only when we lose ourself in love - only when this ego dissolves back into its source.

Aksaramanamalai has 108 beautiful prayers, and among these, one that is very very simple and appealing is verse 101, in which Bhagavan sings:

Like ice in water, melt me as love in you, O form of love, Arunachala!

Arunachala is our real nature. It is the very embodiment of love, the very nature of love. To know that love, like ice in water we have to dissolve in that. In substance ego is nothing but Arunachala, which is the ocean of love, but because it is frozen it seems something separate. So it needs to melt back – our heart needs to melt with love for him. It is only by that heart-melting love that we need to follow the path of self-investigation. The more we surrender ourself, the more we will become willing to surrender ourself completely to him – dissolve back into love as love.

The friend: So it is a process surrendering into love – just going deep into it.

Michael: Yes, our very nature is love. As Bhagavan talks in the very first paragraph of Nan Ar?:

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. For that, jñāna-vicāra [awareness-investigation] called ‘who am I’ alone is the principal means.

So the implication is that not only is happiness our real nature, but love is also our real nature. Why we love ourself? It is because we are love. So love and happiness are one and the same thing. So what we are seeking is only love, but the problem is that we are seeking it in things other than ourself. Whereas love and happiness we are seeking is our real nature.

‘Love’ as a word describes our real nature. When we rise as ego, the love that we actually are takes the form of desire for things other than ourself. Even desire is a form of love, but it’s a distorted form of love. But the substance of desire is love.

So love is our real nature. Love is what we actually are and that’s the only reality.

• Edited and paraphrased extract of the video: 2020-06-27 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James discusses self-realisation and karma (01:34)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Is Michael James a fanatic? (part one)

A friend: Some people say Michael James is a fanatic of the teachings of Ramana Maharshi. So should we just focus on one spiritual path or should we value other teachings at the same time?

Michael: There are many spiritual teachings because people are at different levels of spiritual development. We are attracted to those teachings which are most appropriate to us. I have been attracted to Bhagavan’s teachings which I consider the deepest and subtest but at the same time the simplest and the clearest of all teachings. I am fully convinced by Bhagavan’s teachings, and I don’t feel anything lacking in his teachings. So I don’t feel the need to look elsewhere.

The fact I focus on Bhagavan’s teachings doesn’t mean that I consider other teachings invalid. Other teachings may be suitable for other people. I respect that, and that’s not a problem for me. But for me, Bhagavan’s teachings are the clearest. Obviously, I am not alone in this as many people are attracted to Bhagavan’s teachings in a similar way as I am. So when I am talking or writing, basically I am talking or writing for those who are attracted to Bhagavan’s teachings.

Some people may feel that Michael is a fanatic. Well, if fanatic means being one-pointed, yes, I think it is necessary. If we are following a spiritual path - whatever path we are drawn to - we should be one-point in following that path. If we are going to dig a well, obviously we have to select an appropriate place to start digging and dig. We shouldn't just dig one meter or two meters and then decide to go and dig somewhere else. In that way, we will never get water. We need to continue digging at the right spot as long as we do not get water.

So if we are firmly convinced by Bhagavan's path, we should follow this path with one-pointed devotion and dedication. We don't have to look for anything elsewhere. All the help and guidance which is required is provided by Bhagavan's teachings. So no other teachings are necessary. If we are reading too many different kinds of spiritual teachings, we are likely to get confused. By focusing on one we are likely to get more clarity and depth of understanding. We need to not only study Bhagavan’s teachings but put it into practice. We need to practise Bhagavan’s twin path of self-investigation and self-surrender to the best of our ability.

Bhagavan has clearly indicated that atma-vichara is the ultimate path. As he says in verse 8 of Upadesa Undiyar, ‘It is the best among all paths’. So we don’t need any other path or teaching if we are attracted to Bhagavan’s teachings. If we are not attracted to Bhagavan’s teachings, fine, then we can go and look elsewhere. If we are attracted to Bhagavan’s teachings, we do not need to look elsewhere.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-06-28c Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the need for one-pointed dedication

My reflection: We all need to be ‘fanatics’ if we want to succeed in our spiritual journey. However, ‘fanatic’ here means one-pointed in following one spiritual path. So it is in this sense that Michael is a ‘fanatic’ because for him Bhagavan and Bhagavan’s teachings are be-all and end-all.

I have also become a fanatic because I do not look beyond Bhagavan’s teachings. So in this regard, Michael has made me somewhat like himself, but I am happy. It is because I am fully satisfied with Bhagavan’s teachings, and I am no longer mixing and matching various teachings as I was doing at one time. So, thankfully, it is now Bhagavan’s teachings and only Bhagavan’s teachings for me!

Salazar said...

Sanjay, then you can include me into the illustrious circle of fanatics. I also only refer to Bhagavan's teachings and I possibly could blame Michael for that.
I also stopped wondering if someone is or is not a Jnani, it doesn't matter. One could say to attribute Jnana to an individual body is maya.

I can say that it is important to stick with one teaching and leave even alone the teachings of well known sages like Ramakrishna (unless one chooses those instead of Bhagavan). I also include Shankara, a towering figure of advaita, however Bhagavan's "advaita" is sufficient and, IMO, due to its simplicity superior to the expression by Shankara. I did enjoy Shankara but his concepts are not necessary anymore.

Now I have no issue with anybody who has a different guru or with those who dip into several pots of honey. That's their choice and is as good or as bad as my choice (is it really?) to stick with Bhagavan.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Is Michael James a fanatic? (Part two)

The friend: Jiddu Krishnamurti would say, ‘Truth is the land without roads’. He would say, ‘when we confuse the road with the truth, we end up getting lost’. How will you respond to these statements?

Michae: These are very nice sounding words, but it doesn’t really have much substance in them. What is real? If we understand Bhagavan’s teachings, what is real is only ourself. Our fundamental awareness of our existence ‘I am’ – that is the truth. Bhagavan has given us very sound reasons for believing this. Everything else appears and disappears – that is, all phenomena appear and disappear. They appear in waking and dream but disappear in sleep. But there is something that remains whether they appear or disappear. That is the fundamental awareness of our existence.

So this awareness ‘I am’ is the only enduring element of our experience. We perceive so many phenomena now, but everything could be an illusion. Even the ego that appears and disappears, its reality is open to question, but the one thing we cannot reasonably doubt is ‘I am’. We are aware that ‘I exist'. We have good reasons to doubt what we are, but we don’t good grounds to doubt that we are. We do exist, but what we are, that we need to investigate. That’s what Bhagavan’s teachings are all about.

So what is real is our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, and the path to that is to attend to ‘I am’. In one verse of GVK, Bhagavan says that our real nature is both the path and the goal. So ‘I am’ is the path, and ‘I am’ is the goal. So the road we are following is nothing other the truth we are seeking.

When ego dissolves and the reality alone remains then there are no paths because we are always that. But from the perspective of ego, because we have risen as ego, Bhagavan said, ‘go back the way you came’. We have risen as ego, so we need to subside back into the source from where we rose. So in that sense, from the perspective of ego, there is a path. But the nature of the path is not other than the goal we are seeking.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-06-28c Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the need for one-pointed dedication

My reflection: It is recorded that J. Krishnamurti once said, ‘I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect’. To say this is absurd because this means we need no sadhana. A sadhana indicates that there is a path to reach the goal. So J. Krishnamurti is denying the validity of all religions and all spiritual practices, which is clearly absurd. All religions and spiritual practices are indicating some path. These may not be the direct path like Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation, but nevertheless, they are paths to eventually come to this direct path.

As long as we experience ourself as this ego, we do need a path to reach our destination. Why? It is because ego is not our destination. Ego is where we now find ourself in. So, as Bhagavan used to say, ‘go back the way you came’. So Bhagavan has given us a clear path, but this path is nothing other than our goal. When we are following this path, we need the effort to walk on this path, but when we reach the goal, it will be an effortless state. That is the only difference between the path and the goal.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, thank you. I enjoyed reading your comment addressed to me.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Is Michael James a fanatic? (Part three)

The friend: Many believe that we should enrich ourself from many points of view in different teachings. They believe that we should explore everything that is out there in the spiritual market and decide which is best for us. But it’s a question of resonance. You resonate with Bhagavan’s teachings, so what is the point in going to the other teachings.

Michael: Yes, if we are still looking around, we haven’t found what is right for us. Once we have found what is right for us there is no need looking around. So if Bhagavan’s path is the path for us, we will recognise it pretty quickly and then is no need to look elsewhere. That doesn’t mean we look down upon other paths, or we think that those paths are invalid. They may be valid for others. So there will always be a diversity of spiritual teachings. We need to decide what is appropriate for us, what draws us.

The friend: Yes, many of the people who have come to Bhagavan have followed different spiritual paths before.

Michael: Yes, all of us. If not in this lifetime but in previous lifetimes we would have followed other paths. But now we have come to this path, so there is no need to look elsewhere.

The friend: So if we come to Bhagavan’s path - that is no accident. We have not come to this path by chance.

Michael: It’s no accident because this is what is meant for us. This is the appropriate thing for us.

If people disagree with my views on Bhagavan’s teachings and if they want to call me a fanatic, that’s fine. That’s not a problem for me. But generally, a fanatic is one who goes and tries to impose their views or beliefs on other people. I have no desire to impose my beliefs on anyone. If people are interested in following Bhagavan’s path, I am happy to talk about it. I am happy to share what I have learnt or what I have understood. But the last thing I would try to do is to impose my views on anyone else. Just because Bhagavan’s path is appropriate for us doesn’t mean it is appropriate for everyone else.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-06-28c Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the need for one-pointed dedication

My reflection: As Michael says, ‘if Bhagavan’s path is the path for us we will recognise it pretty quickly and then is no need to look elsewhere’. Yes, very true. I feel no need to look elsewhere after I have come to Bhagavan’s teachings.

Salazar said...

Now that's funny, Krishnamurti, "when we confuse the road with the truth, we end up getting lost."

Well, one can understand it in different ways and I concur with Michael's interpretation referring to Bhagavan who stressed that the path is the goal, both are "I am". That is quite important.

However I believe that Krishnamurti meant with the "road" the teaching concepts which point to the truth. And then it can get fuzzy and anadi-ananta (sorry buddy to put you into the spotlight) is a good example of "confusing the road with the truth".

Unless one grasps Bhagavan's pointer to the non-dual reality what makes the path also the goal one can get enmeshed with the teachings concepts and is obsessing about terms and what they "must" mean. There are quite a few people like that and anadi-ananta (sorry again) is a great example.

Talking and thinking about "sat-chit-ananda" is not "I am". Declaring that self equals bliss is not "I am". It is confusing the road with the truth!


Sanjay Lohia said...

Is Michael James a fanatic? (Part four)

Michael: Bhagavan generally didn’t give any teaching of his own accord. He gave teachings only people asked him questions. So we should not be going and telling people about Bhagavan’s teachings. If people ask, then we can say. We are not here to evangelise Bhagavan’s teachings.

The friend: Or go to the streets with boards of Bhagavan’s teachings. If we were really fanatics, we would have done that.

Michael: Yes, but if anyone means by ‘fanatic’ someone who has one-pointed zeal in following the path, then it is good to be a fanatic of Bhagavan’s teachings. I wish I was more fanatic.

The friend: I wish I was a radical or a fundamentalist.

Michael: I wish I was more serious about going within. What does ‘radical’ mean? ‘Radical’ means going to the root. What does ‘fundamentalist’ mean? It means going to the fundamentals. So Bhagavan’s teachings by their very nature are radical and fundamental. So if we truly want to follow Bhagavan’s teachings, we have to be radical. We have to be a fundamentalist but not in a bad sense, but in a good sense.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-06-28c Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses the need for one-pointed dedication

My reflection: I too seriously wish I was more serious about going within.

anadi-ananta said...

How can I ever hope to cross the vast ocean of samsara if not Bhagavan from inside removes all my ignorant ideas (ignorance) ?
It is clear to me that I am incapable to surrender myself completely to Bhagavan.
Even to receive Bhagavan's grace without the help of his higher power seems to be impossible.
Nevertheless, I trust in Arunachala who is said to give us all we need.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The term ‘soul’ generally refers to ego

Sue Thompson: I am a little confused here by the reference to souls being born. Is this a reference to the individual person being born rather then Brahman?

Sanjay Lohia: Sue, no, soul means ego, so the soul is different from a person. A soul or ego is what projects a person and takes it to be itself. For example, in your case, ‘Sue’ is the name of a body or a person that you seem to be. But what or who is it that says ‘I am Sue’? That ‘I’ who identifies itself with Sue, that ‘I’ is ego or soul. So this ego or soul can attach itself to many persons in its spiritual journey, but it still remains apart or different to all these persons.

Does this help?

• Extract from the comment section of the video: 2020-06-28b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses introducing one’s children to this path

Sanjay Lohia said...

We have no control over what sort of a soul is born to us

A friend: What would be the best way to introduce our children to Bhagavan’s path from an early age?

Michael: Children learn not only from what we say but also by example. So we can be talking about Bhagavan’s path, but we shouldn’t try to impose our ideas and beliefs on our children. Our children may be physically born of us, but every child is its own individual. When we are born in this world, we are born with the baggage from the past, with our own vasanas - our own interests and inclinations. So we have no control over what sort of a soul is born to us. It could be a very pure soul or a soul full of desires and attachments.

So if we want to introduce these ideas to our children, we should do it in a very gentle way without imposing our ideas on them. They may be interested, or they may not be interested. That will depend on their level of maturity. So what we can do as a parent to influence our children is limited. We do our best and leave the rest to Bhagavan. We cannot mould our children in our image. We have to let them grow according to their own interests, their own inclinations. We try our best to guide them on the right path, but ultimately the child is their own person.

In Bhagavan’s path, we should be concerned about our own practice. Are we turning our attention back towards ourself? Are we surrendering ourself? If we are surrendering ourself, we are leaving the burdens of what we should do, and how we should behave, and how we should bring up our children. We leave that entire burden to Bhagavan. God will guide us appropriately at each moment. So let us leave everything to him. He will take care of everything.

The friend: In a sense parents shouldn’t worry because everything is predestined. If it is predestined, the child will run into a book or a guru or whatever. If it is predestined, the parents’ guidance will bear fruit.

Michael: Yes, we are parents of their body, but we are not the parents of the soul. According to our prarabdha certain souls are born to us as our children, and according to the prarabdha of our children, they experience us as their parents. So everything is according to destiny. Why a particular child is born to us is known only to Bhagavan.

So everything we do in life, we have to do it with detachment, without expectation of the results that we would like to achieve. So long as our children our small, we provide for their bodily needs and we try to guide them in a proper way in terms of their learning good values and morals and introducing them maybe to a little to Bhagavan’s teachings to see if they have any taste for it. The outcome of all these things, we leave entirely to Bhagavan. If we are trying to follow the path of surrender, we should try to accept whatever happens as his will for the good of all concerned.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-06-28b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses introducing one’s children to this path

My reflection: Yes, I too have tried to guide my children in the matter of proper diet and such things but have mostly failed. They may have picked up some good habits but overall they are not interested, for example, in a vegan diet as I am. I tried to talk to them about such subjects but the response has always been disappointing. So I used to feel let down, but now I have become more accepting of their choices.

As Michael says, ‘we are parents of their body, but we are not the parents of the soul’. So we cannot do much to guide them. They have to live their lives according to their likes and dislikes. Of course, Bhagavan is taking care of them as he is taking care of us. So we should trust his guidance. If Bhagavan is moulding us, he is also surely moulding them in accordance with their maturity. So we should leave everything to the care of Bhagavan. As ego, we are in control of nothing.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay, regarding your comment "Is Michael James a fanatic? (Part two)" of 2 July 2020 at 16:07,

"These are very nice sounding words,..." you quoted Michael having been said (not Michae).:-)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"If we are trying to follow the path of surrender, we should try to accept whatever happens as his will for the good of all concerned."

I generally don't believe that we should perform our life as a weak-willed or spineless robot but should use our will reasonably and conforming to all the requirements. What then is the purpose [or good] of being provided with reason, will and heart ?

By the way, you obviously wanted to write "So long as our children are small, we provide for their bodily needs...".

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, I thank you for pointing out my typos.

Salazar said...

Sanjay, the path of surrender is not easy. My attempts showed me how much I desire a certain outcome, how much I'd like the 'world' to unfold according to my beliefs, or better likes and dislikes. Why? Because I still am very much infatuated with this world and ignore self.

What is the purpose of being provided with reason, will and heart? Well, what is the purpose of all manifestation, the entire universe with all sentient beings?

There is none, the ego rises and with the ego rises reason, will, and heart [and the entire universe]. When the ego subsides in deep sleep, reason, will, and heart subside too. When we attend to self there is no reason, will and heart. It is an illusion, a play of maya.

Bhagavan suggested to attend to reality and not be infatuated with the [projections of the] ego and it seeming attributes. Attending to reason is delusion, ego, it certainly is not attending to self and will never even lead to self.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, yes, as you say, ‘the path of surrender is not easy’. Many people who came to Bhagavan were not particularly attracted to Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation. They would say to Bhagavan, ‘Bhagavan, I can’t do atma-vichara, but I want to surrender to you’. These people thought that surrender was easy. This is not exactly the case. As you imply, we all act with our body, speech and mind, and we all desire a certain outcome by such actions. So as long as we are looking for such particular outcomes to take place, we have not surrendered.

So surrender is not easy. So long as we feel ‘I should do this’ or ‘I should not do that’, we have not surrendered. As long as we have any desire, attachment, like, dislike, hope, and fear, we have not surrendered.

And why do we find self-investigation difficult? It is because we are not willing to surrender our desire, attachment, like, dislike, hope and fear. However, the more we practice Bhagavan’s twin paths self-investigation and self-surrender, the more easy and natural our surrender will become. So we just need to keep practising what Bhagavan has asked us to practice. Everything will eventually fall into place.


Sanjay Lohia said...

According to Bhagavan, Arunachala is Shiva himself (part one)

A friend: Why did Bhagavan make such a big deal about Arunachala? Is there something special about the hill, or is it just a myth?

Michael: It could be explained at various levels. At the most basic level, Bhagavan says Arunachala is ourself. So at the most basic level, whatever Bhagavan is saying about Arunachala, he is saying about ourself, about what we really are. So in other words, we can say that whatever he said about Arunachala is a poetic description of ourself - it is a metaphor. We can take it in that sense. But that is not the end of it because many people find strength and solace by following a path of dualistic devotion, and that is not necessarily in conflict with the path of self-investigation.

So long as we are ready to worship God as another but at the same time have the understanding that what we are actually worshipping is only ourself – it’s a bridge we can say. It’s a bridge connecting duality with non-duality. So possibly the best way to understand whatever Bhagavan has said and written about Arunachala is to understand that Bhagavan is providing a bridge. This may of course not true for all people. Whatever Bhagavan has said about Arunachala as a hill does not resonate with all people. That is because it is not essential to his teachings, but for many it is essential.

The friend: So whatever Bhagavan is saying about Arunachala, he is saying about me. I never realised that before. But Arunachala is a symbol of Shiva, isn’t it?

Michael: According to Bhagavan, Arunachala is Shiva himself. A linga is not meant to represent Shiva; a linga is meant to be Shiva. To understand this [Michael points at the photograph of Bhagavan], does the person in that picture represent Bhagavan, or is it Bhagavan? In one sense, it represents Bhagavan because Bhagavan is far greater than that form that lived for 70 years. But at the same time, that form is Bhagavan. So we are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. That person is Bhagavan, but at the same time, Bhagavan is much more than that person.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2015-04-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on self-investigation (01:44)

Sanjay Lohia said...

According to Bhagavan, Arunachala is Shiva himself (part two)

Michael: I think we have to be very careful. Bhagavan explicitly at many places indicates that Arunachala is ourself. However, simply saying that all that Bhagavan said about Arunachala is only about ourself, it’s not about the hill, that would be doing injustice to it.

For some devotees of Bhagavan, the role that Arunachala plays in their devotion to Bhagavan is much greater than for others. We cannot say what is right or wrong. Some people view all that Bhagavan said in Arunachala Stuti Panchakam at a metaphor. That’s fine for those people. Other people take it more than a metaphor. That is fine for them.

But even if we worship Arunachala as an external form, Bhagavan constantly made clear that that external form is a manifestation of ourself. It is ourself that we are seeing in that form of Arunachala. So Bhagavan never allows us to get away from the central importance of what we ourself actually are. Who am I?

The friend: It is down to predilection, is it not?

Michael: It is.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2015-04-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on self-investigation (01:44)

My reflection: Michael said later in this video that ‘You can express your love both inwardly by investigating yourself and outwardly for a form of God’.

anadi-ananta said...

If one preaches that "Attending to reason is delusion, ego, it certainly is not attending to self and will never even lead to self.", such one should (be invited to) happily and contentedly attend 24 hours a day strictly to self.
Equally when one complains that attending to reason will never even lead to self, it is enough to remark that self is anyway never absent. Therefore the assumption that we are separated from self and because of it should led to self seems to be rather annoying.

Salazar said...

What is absent is the ***attention*** to self, to just be self. Instead the ego, being ego, trumpets "self is never absent" which is quite confused in that regard, it is the usual way of an ignorant and clever ego to argue for the arguments sake. It abuses concepts which are true in the right context but are terribly distorted in the way they are used in that particular context on 3 July 2020 at 19:56.

So what truly is rather annoying are stubborn, ignorant, and incorrigible egos blabbering repeatedly the same confused concepts with impunity. To what end? For what do you hope from keep going this childish game? It is not anymore ignorance, it is malicious and deliberate ignorance of Bhagavan's teachings.

This is Groundhog Day, protagonist anadi-ananata keeps harping the same confused arguments day after day, alas with no satisfying ending in sight as it was the case with the movie.

Unknown said...

anadi-ananta, yes some really good posts from you in this thread as well as in others. Good luck to you.

anadi-ananta said...

Unknown,
I do not deserve praise, I only do my best. Best wishes to you too. :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Inaugural Ceremony for Venkat S. Ramanan, Ramanasramam’s Fourth President

In the midst of a global pandemic, duty called and Dr. Venkat S. Ramanan traveled to India to administrate the Ashram and look after his ailing father. After testing negative for COVID 19 both in the US and in India, as per public health requirements, Anand made the journey to Tiruvannamalai. On the morning of the 17th June, he was installed as Sri Ramanasramam’s fourth President. The requisite papers were signed at 5.30 am in Bhagavan’s Shrine in the exact place where his father used to sit each morning at the same hour to chant Ramana Gita. Later that morning, a brief ceremony in the presence of his mother and two uncles took place under the venerable iluppai tree. In honour of the newly ordained President, on the following day, 18th June, a homa was performed with social distancing in the New Hall.

An extract from the asram magazine – Saranagati - SPECIAL EXTENDED INAUGURATION EDITION JULY 2020, VOL. 14, NO. 7

Sanjay Lohia said...

This ego is like a ghost possessing a corpse

Now I experience myself as Michael, but in sleep where was this Michael? In dream, I may still have the name Michael, but the body I was experiencing in dream was not this Michael body but some other Michael body. I have attached myself to many persons in my previous dreams, and I will continue to do the same in my future dreams as well.

In GVK, Bhagavan says that the life lived by ego is like a ghost possessing corpses in cremation grounds. This body according to Bhagavan is just a corpse - an animated corpse. So each of us is like a ghost possessing a corpse.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2015-09-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on life as a dream

My reflection: Yes, so very true. This ego is like a ghost possessing a corpse. So we are carrying this corpse-like body with us and feel that this corpse is me. How foolish are we? Bhagavan while explaining the practice of atma-vichara said that we should leave aside this corpse-like body and focus fully on the awareness that seems to attach itself to the body.

So our aim in atma-vichara is to disassociate with this corpse – in order words, to make this living body a corpse before it actually becomes a corpse. If we experience ourself as we actually are, we will discard this corpse here and now.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"Anand made the journey to Tiruvannamalai...".
Anand is presumably an other name of Dr. Venkat S. Ramanan.
Sometimes when I stayed there in Sri Ramanasramam I heard the rumour that the son of
the third President V.S. Ramanan has low ambition to resign his doctor's surgery in the USA and to succeed his father in the presidentship although nominated. Probably in the meantime Dr. Venkat S. Ramanan has changed his opinion. Perhaps he will be represented by a full-time staff member of Sri Ramanasramam. Let us wish him all the best to find the required strength to fulfil his responsible task. May he by it be supported by Bhagavan's presence. (Some people are afraid that there could rise some tendencies towards commercialization). In December 2022 Sri Ramanasramam will celebrate its one hundred-year anniversary (centenary).

Salazar said...

Sanjay, I like Michael's comment of "Bhagavan never allows us to get away from the central importance of what we ourself actually are."

This is a very important point because it stresses indirectly that the actions and intentions of the mind/ego are irrelevant since only vichara (the path) seemingly "manifests" the goal (self). However, as Michael said before quoting Bhagavan, the path equals the goal, thus vichara IS self.

As soon as the mind appears vichara disappears and so does self. Yes, self is always present, however as long as an ego rises self is seemingly obstructed and therefore self is seemingly absent.


P.S. What happens at Ramanasramam, its politics and who is running it, who cares? It is irrelevant and it can only distract from vichara. Bozo the clown could run the ashram and he may do a good job :-)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"So each of us is like a ghost possessing a corpse."
Is it not more accurate to say that each of us is (like) a corpse possessed by the ghost called ego ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, yes, it seems Anand is another name of Dr. Venkat S. Ramanan. I didn’t know Dr. Venkat was a surgeon in the USA. As you say, let us wish him all the best because managing Sri Ramanasramam can never be easy with thousands visiting the ashram every day in normal circumstances.

I believe Sri Ramanasramam is one of the best-managed asrams we can find anywhere. It is only because of Bhagavan’s grace. Bhagavan’s and Arunachala’s overpowering presence will always keep Sri Ramanasramam relatively corruption-free. However, some amount of commercialization cannot be avoided. However, the asram doesn’t charge for food and accommodation, which is unique. It has always been well managed, and I believe things will not change much. They have a good and dedicated team there, so the job of the President is not that difficult, so it seems.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
"Yes, self is always present, however as long as an ego rises self is seemingly obstructed and therefore self is seemingly absent."
Therefore in the subordinate clause I would consequently insert also the adverb "seemingly" and thus say "as long as an ego seemingly rises"...

Sanjay Lohia said...

We should try to understand Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam in the light of Bhagavan’s core teachings

If you read the verses of Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, you will see the anya-bhava and ananya-bhava are beautifully blended there. That is, Bhagavan is mixing the jnana marga and the bhakti marga together. It is because though in actual practice we may aspire to practice only atma-vichara, we all have our weaknesses. We are still attached to ourself as a person, so we keep slipping down from that place of pure self-awareness and experience ourself as a person in this world. Thus we are painfully aware of our inadequacy to experience ourself alone.

So in our desperation, we turn to God as if he is something other than ourself. But there is a double meaning in almost all the verses of Stuti Panchakam. What is Arunachala? Is Arunachala just a form of a hill? Yes, it is the form of a hill, but that is the manifestation of the real Arunachala which is shining within us as ‘I’.

So if we read and understand Bhagavan’s core teachings and then we read Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, it is very very clear what is happening. It’s the condition of the soul which is trying to cling to itself, but it is swept out because of his vasanas, and then it is praying to its own self outwardly projected as a God in the form of this hill. So it is the journey of the soul in the path of atma-vichara.

Bhagavan implies in verse 8 of Upadesa Undiyar that non-dualistic devotion, devotion to God as ‘I’, is the highest of all forms of spiritual practices. But when we are not able to be in that state all the time, it is perfectly legitimate to pray to God. Bhagavan doesn’t recommend praying for health, wealth or such external things. He only recommends praying for the annihilation of ego, for ever-increasing love for him. When we pray to God for the annihilation of our ego, we are channelling our love for that. We are focussing our love as it were, and that makes it easier to turn back within.

So it’s a process, but what we should always be aiming for is what Arunachala taught Bhagavan in verse 44 of Aksaramanamalai:

Daily turning within see yourself with the inner eye; it will be known.

That’s the best form of bhakti. But we fail in that, so we pray to him – and we fail all the time, and we will continue failing all the time. We will succeed only once, and that will be the end of everything.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2015-09-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on life as a dream (01:43)

Sanjay Lohia said...

You have learnt a lot, did you listen to this?

The following song of Sri Sadhu Om has been posted by a friend called ‘A’ in the comment section of the video: 2020-07-04 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: Michael James discusses Upadēśa Undiyār verses 3 to 8

A: Yesterday I came across this Song by Sadhu Om:

You have learned a lot, did you listen to this?
At least from now, won't you be at peace?

All that is beyond our intellect's grasp
Happens well-understood by the One Power
If you leave everything to It
Peace will reign in the heart

You have learned a lot, did you listen to this?
At least from now, won't you be at peace?

Deeds you do through constant thinking
That hurts your own heart
Are utterly unnecessary since
Guru carries it all out through Grace

You have learned a lot, did you listen to this?
At least from now, won't you be at peace?

Drop the luggage while travelling in a vehicle
Don't struggle carrying it on your head
Nothing happens through mind's mischief
Divine Grace alone orchestrates

Body and mind are not yours
Just handy instruments of God
In the act of the One Supreme
Why do you claim doership and suffer?

You have learned a lot, did you listen to this?
At least from now, won't you be at peace?

To not consider this body as I
Is to die and not be reborn
To know to die thus
Is to know oneself

If you rise up as the doer
Pleasure and pain will follow you
Then you will forget the archer
And blame and hate the arrow

Without the One who alone is
You are really nothing
Your heart free of any guile
Surrender to His hand of Grace

This mind will come in the way and block
Deeds done by the Grace of God
If this mind gets destroyed
Divine Grace will bestow realization of wisdom

Deny your ego and subside
Be without taking body and mind as I
Whatever remains after that
Is alone known as Brahman

By the Grace of the wise Guru Ramana
Let all things that happen happen
To not rise up as 'I am the body'
And to be alert is alone our duty.

https://youtu.be/2plYWYL6Gwo

My reflection: Simply beautiful… pure jnana… ‘to be alert is alone our duty’, says Sadhu Om.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"In GVK, Bhagavan says that the life lived by ego is like a ghost possessing corpses in cremation grounds. This body according to Bhagavan is just a corpse - an animated corpse."
Therefore the whole mankind seems to consist of corpes, some of them animated and the other part of them not animated. :-)
Perhaps the same goes for the animal kingdom.

Salazar said...

Sanjay, great song by Sadhu Om, it speaks for itself. I have the feeling I'd defile it by commenting about it.

"Deeds you do through constant thinking
That hurts your own heart
Are utterly unnecessary since
Guru carries it all out through Grace"

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, yes, absolutely wonderful song by Sri Sadhu Om with deep deep teachings.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Can the puja done by Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa in any way be compared to the puja done by the ordinary people? (part one)

A friend: Is puja not a real expression of my love for God? I have my doubts: who am I to give these things to God anyway? How is my love for God different to my love for my family?

Michael: When you are taking care of your children, for example, you are giving them your time, you are giving them your attention and you are giving them your care. But one thing you cannot give is yourself. Likewise, when we do puja, we can give God material things, but we are not able to completely give ourself at the level of puja. Basically, puja is an action of the body, so it is a material thing. What is important in puja is the love with which do that.

Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, for example, used to do puja, but can the puja done by him in any way be compared to the puja done by the ordinary people? It cannot. It is because the ordinary people may do exactly the same ritual, but the love with which Ramakrishna Paramhamsa did puja was so much greater. So love is the key. Ramakrishna came with a certain mission: basically, he came with a mission to give his seal of approval to a wide range of practices. So in his life he did puja. He did it at a certain stage in order to exemplify all these different paths.

So what Bhagavan is talking about in these verses [verses 3 to 8 of Upadesa Undiyar] is how the love is refined. So if we have love for God, naturally we want to give to God. So, in the beginning, we offer material things. So it is at that level that puja is appropriate. But like you said, ‘who am I to give these things to God anyway’ because they already belong to God? Bhagavan used to tell a beautiful in this regard:

A travelling wayfarer – he must have been a poor salesman or something – would never take his meal without first worshipping Lord Ganesha (Ganapati). He usually carried a small vigraha of Ganesha with him. But once he somehow got separated from this vigraha. So how could he perform his worship now? He remembered that he had jaggery with him, so he moulded the cake of jaggery into the form of Ganesha, and he worshipped that form. But he wanted to offer naivedya (offering to the idol without which any puja is not considered complete). Usually, he would offer jaggery as an offering, but he had used up all his jaggery while making the form of Ganesha. So he had no jaggery left. But he had to offer something, so he pinched off the toe of Ganesha and offered it to Ganesha!

What Bhagavan illustrates by this story is that whatever we try to give to God is already God’s. So such surrender is not of much use.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-04 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: Michael James discusses Upadēśa Undiyār verses 3 to 8 (01:37)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
Ramakrishna's honorary title was 'Paramahamsa'.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Can the puja done by Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa in any way be compared to the puja done by the ordinary people? (part two)

Michael: So as our love gets more and more refined, we will understand that who am I to offer all these things to God? They are all God’s anyway. So as our love evolves, we find more and more appropriate ways to express our love. Do I need to do all these outward rituals to express my love to God? Why not just repeat his name? So we come to japa, and we feel more satisfied repeating his name. This doesn’t mean we have to necessarily give up all these outward rituals, but we feel more satisfied repeating his name.

At first, it feels nice to repeat his name aloud, but after a while, we feel why should I repeat it aloud? Let me keep it within. So we speak more softly – we don’t want others to notice it. And as our love gets more refined, we find it is not necessary to say his name even softly within the mouth. Mentally repeating his name is sufficient for us. If we repeat it mentally, our mind is more focussed on it. So we find more satisfaction – we find we are expressing our love better by just repeating his name mentally. Bhagavan said mental japa is dhyana.

But when we repeat his name mentally, we find that our attention is often distracted towards other things because our love isn’t yet refined enough. So we practise this more and more until our love is more and more refined, and slowly, slowly the interruptions become less and less, and we are able to focus more keenly on his name alone.

But ultimately we come to the point when we understand that I am repeating the name of God, but God is that which has manifested as all these things. So who am I separate from him? As Bhagavan explains in verse 7 of Arunachala Padigam:

If the five elements - space, air, fire, water, earth and all material objects, which manifest as the many living beings, are not other than you, the space of light (the space of consciousness or chitakasa), who else am I but you? O blemishless one, since you shine without another in the heart as the space of consciousness, who am I who come out as another (that is, who am I who rise as I am so-and-so)? O Arunachala, placing your vast lotus-feet on his head (on the head of this rising ‘I’, the ego), come out and manifest yourself as the real ‘I’.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-04 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: Michael James discusses Upadēśa Undiyār verses 3 to 8 (01:37)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Thanks, Anadi-ananta. Yes, it is spelt as 'Paramahamsa'. I will correct this in the future.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay, thanks for your recent video-transcription.
Probably you wanted to write "Bhagavan used to tell a beautiful story in this regard:"

Sanjay Lohia said...

Can the puja done by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in any way be compared to the puja done by the ordinary people? (part three)

Michael: So eventually from anya-bhava, we are now drawn to ananya-bhava. We recognise that God is that which is shining in us as ‘I’. All those outward forms, they appear and disappear. We can worship any name and form of God only in waking and dream, but can we do that sleep? But since we remain in sleep, our own pure existence must be the true form of God. That is pure awareness which is always shining within us as ‘I’. So, as our love gets more and more refined, we are drawn more and more away from other things back towards ‘I’. It is because we find only ‘I’ is permanent - only ‘I’ is ever-shining and ever-unchanging. So that is the true form of God.

So in these initial verses of Upadesa Undiyar, Bhagavan is not putting down puja or japa or dhyana. He is showing us that we pass through all these different stages, but when our love gets refined enough, eventually, we come to this path of self-investigation or ananya-bhava.

It is not wrong to perform puja at a certain stage of our spiritual development, but as our love gets more and more refined, we will be drawn to more and more inward practices.

The friend: Whatever I eat, I like to first offer it to God, as I like to offer the eatables to my kids. So is that OK?

Michael: It is perfectly OK. Bhagavan approves of it in verse 5 of Upadesa Undiyar:

Considering all the eight forms [the aṣṭa-mūrti, the eight forms or manifestations of Siva, namely the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space), sun, moon and sentient beings (jīvas)] [or all thought-forms, namely all forms, which are just thoughts or mental phenomena] to be forms of God, worshipping [any of them] is good puja [worship] of God.

Bhagavan says if you are doing that with love, it’s good worship of God. But don’t stop there. Puja is good, but do not limit yourself only to puja. Also, do some japa. Also, do some meditation. And most important of all, do ananya-bhava meditation – meditate on ‘I’ because ‘I’ is the true form of God.

* Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-04 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: Michael James discusses Upadēśa Undiyār verses 3 to 8 (01:37)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, yes, I wanted to write: 'Bhagavan used to tell a beautiful story in this regard:' Thank you.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
you wanted to write:"All those outward forms, they appear and disappear. We can worship any name and form of God only in waking and dream, but can we do that in sleep?"

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

Dear Michael,
In verse 25 Of Ulladu Narpadu Bhagavan says "grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly". In what way does the formless ego "grow"? In your video on verse 25 you explained this line saying that ego sustains itself by grasping and feeding on form. Ego sustaining itself is bad enough, but if ego is growing by grasping form then it is an even more urgent problem! And it must be growing steadily for about 15 hours a day, because the waking/dream world comes into existence by ego's grasping form, so all the waking hours ego is growing abundantly by grasping/feeding on form!

Can this line also be interpreted in the context of desire? The more ego indulges in desire, the more the desires grow in strength and proportion? When I was troubled by desire, this verse came to my mind and showed me some reason. I was reminded of a) Desires bring much misery and suffering in my life. b) Indulging in desire has not lessened their intensity even an iota. c) Perhaps they're only "growing abundantly" the more I indulge in them, as verse 25 line 3 seems to be saying.

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

Sometimes it is so helpful to consider that "the ego" is just another term for myself, that the subject of Ulladu Narpadu is I, that I am the root of all my problems and suffering and dissatisfaction!

So what Bhagavan is teaching about myself in verse 25 is that by grasping form, I, this formless phantom-ego come into existence; by holding on to this body as myself, I stand and continue; by projecting and perceiving this world I grow abundantly; leaving this body I grasp another body as myself. But if I investigate myself, I will take flight because I have no form of my own. Investigate I.

Only the last line becomes a little difficult. Because how can I take flight from myself? I can't escape from myself.

Salazar said...

What one escapes from is the habit of grasping form. Self cannot escape, but all attention to other than self can be "escaped from" in simply attending to self.

In attending to self, or better, being self, one has escaped all evil just by that.

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

I agree.. The best way to let go of the habit of grasping form must be to simply attend to self. At least nothing else has worked for me, and I've started to lose hope in any other way, so why not try what Bhagavan taught, self-investigation..
It seems to me that one has to completely lose hope that there is anything worthwhile about this embodied existence. Then Bhagavan's teachings will shine as the one beacon of hope, because Bhagavan teaches we are not this body or mind, and we will cling then only to Bhagavan's teachings, and let go of this vast and miserable world in disgust.

Salazar said...

Yes, it needs a certain amount of disgust of this world. A sense of futility to entertain any thought to deal with or accomplish anything in this world. Only attending to self gives me peace. If I still read about the happenings in the world I feel as if that is a repetition of countless life times being enmeshed in many facets of life and yet not truly accomplishing anything.

Bhagavan's teachings are the saving grace. It is truly a great blessing.

anadi-ananta said...

To whom? To me. Who am I?,
to "consider that "the ego" is just another term for myself" is not entirely correct because the meaning of the term 'ego' depends always on the context in which it is used.
In my view the meaning of 'ego's taking flight' is that its seemingly separate existence will begin to dissolve and disappear in its source.

Regarding your question about ego's 'taking flight' you might for instance read what Michael wrote in his article of Wednesday, 5 February 2014 Spontaneously and wordlessly applying the clue: 'to whom? to me; who am I?':

"When we try thus to experience this 'I' as it actually is by attending keenly and vigilantly to the primal thought that we now experience as 'I', this thought will subside and disappear. This is why he says: ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it takes flight’ (தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்: tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum). When it thus 'takes flight' (subsides and disappears), what remains in its place is only the one pristine 'I', which is what we really are.

The reason why this ego or thought called 'I' thus 'takes flight' when it is examined or investigated is that it seems to exist only when it is grasping a gross form (that is, attending to any thought other than itself), so when it tries to grasp (attend to and experience) only itself it subsides, since it has no form of its own for it to cling to (which is why he describes it as the ‘formless phantom-ego’, உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை: uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai). Thus in this verse, which is a clear summary of one of his most basic and essential teachings, he has revealed to us a unique and crucially important property of this ego or thought called 'I' (which is the primal and only essential thought that constitutes the mind), namely that it seems to exist only when it is attending to anything other than itself, and that it therefore subsides and ceases to exist when it attends only to itself."

Salazar said...

"If sought it takes flight" is nothing else than attending to self. There is actually no "seeking" as an action, it just denotes that, if looking for the source of "I" that only self is present and a reality. But there is no looking since that would be a dual act, there is only holding "I am" or attending, or better, being self.

The seeking of the origin of the I seems to be an action from the viewpoint of the ego, however the origin of the I, self, cannot be really found since it always IS. One can only find self in being it!.

anadi-ananta said...

To whom? To me. Who am I?,
regarding verse 25 of Ulladu Narpadu
one can find Michael's statement:

2017-09-24: A series of two comments explaining that the most important of all the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings is that the ego will cease to exist if and only if we investigate it, and clarifying that though ‘If sought, it will take flight’ is a suitably crisp translation of ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), a more accurate translation of it would be ‘If one seeks [it], it will take flight’, or better still ‘If it seeks [itself], it will take flight’.

(Bold type set by me.)

Salazar said...

The ego cannot seek itself the ego, that is impossible. That is making the thief the police man.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
you may offer your objection to Michael himself.

Salazar said...

No need, Michael knows what I am talking about. Bhagavan mean that as a pointer, not as an actual act the ego would be doing since it is impossible.

Without having an actual experience with vichara, one is truly handicapped when it comes down to Bhagavan's teaching. Just copying and pasting and literally believing certain pointers won't do.

Salazar said...

Thus, vichara is not really looking for anything nor the source of "I", not in practical terms. It is only used as a pointer since "looking for the source of I" is self itself. However there is no looking since self is non-dual reality.

anadi-ananta said...

Sometimes even handicapped people are quite correct in their assumption.:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan was the most natural ‘person’

People felt that Bhagavan's form radiated peace. Some felt Bhagavan's form terrifically radiated divinity. Though this was true at one level, from a deeper perspective, this was not true. There is no radiation from Bhagavan because he is our true nature. He is pure awareness which just exists without any radiation or anything. People try to glorify Bhagavan, but Bhagavan was the most natural person - if we still foolishly continue to call him a 'person'.

Bhagavan is ulladu - what is, and ulladu is without any radiation, vibration or any such other thing. In fact, Bhagavan is not even aware of his divinity. He (or it) is just aware of himself as anadi, ananta, akhanda sat-chit-ananda.

Asun said...

Sanjay, can you remember in which video Michael talks on vasanas as the army of ego that would be the "general" commanding them?

Sanjay Lohia said...

To whom? To me. Who am I?, Bhagavan teaches us in verses 25 and 26 of Ulladu Narpadu:

Grasping form the formless phantom-ego comes into existence; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly; leaving form, it grasps form. If it seeks, it will take flight. Investigate.

If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist. Ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this is alone is giving up everything.

Michael often says if we can understand these two verses properly, we will not only understand Bhagavan’s entire teachings but will also understand the essence of the entire Advaita-Vedanta.

You asked Michael, ‘In verse 25 Of Ulladu Narpadu Bhagavan says "grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly". In what way does the formless ego "grow"?’ Ego is an idea ‘I am this body’, so ego ‘grows’ when this ‘I am this body’ idea is strengthened or reinforced: the more this ego grasps and feeds on forms, the more this idea 'I am this body' becomes large in our awareness. That is, the more this ego attends to other forms or thoughts or phenomena (all mean the same in this context), the more this idea ‘I am this body’ or ‘I am this person’ gains in prominence - in the sense that we become more and more attached to this body.

You ask, ‘Can this line also be interpreted in the context of desire? The more ego indulges in desire, the more the desires grow in strength and proportion?’ Yes, ego grasps forms or attends to things other than itself only because of its desires and attachments. So, it is true, ‘The more ego indulges in desire, the more the desires grow in strength and proportion?’, and the more the desires grow in strength and proportion, the more the ego also grows in strength and proportion. So the strength of ego and the strength of its desires are directly proportional to each other. If one grows, the other also grows, if the one subsides, the other also subsides.

You say, ‘Desires bring much misery and suffering in my life’. Yes, only desires and attachments can bring suffering in our life. This was Buddha’s main teaching. If we had no desires and attachments, we will have no likes and dislikes, and without likes and dislikes nothing will cause us pain or pleasure. If I have a desire for more money in my bank account, and if I am not able to get this money in spite of my best efforts, I will suffer. But if I have no desire, whether the money comes to my bank account or not, it will not make the least difference to me. So likes and dislikes are the only cause of our misery.

(To be continued in my next comment)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
your saying "Bhagavan is ... just aware of himself as anadi, ananta, akhanda sat-chit-ananda" sounds very promising for me, because in order to complete ulladu in me I just have to get some akhanda (unbroken, undivided, unlimited) awareness and a bit sat-chit-ananda, - and then my case has had it. :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

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

In another comment, you say that ‘Sometimes it is so helpful to consider that "the ego" is just another term for myself, that the subject of Ulladu Narpadu is I, that I am the root of all my problems and suffering and dissatisfaction!’ The term ‘ego’ is indeed just another term for ‘myself’. The term ‘ego’ means ‘I’ in Latin. So ego is only this ‘I’, but this ‘I’ is what I now seem to be and not what I actually am. Ego is ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’, and what we are is simply ‘I am I’.

Yes, as you say, indeed ‘the subject of Ulladu Narpadu is I, that I am the root of all my problems and suffering and dissatisfaction!’ So the central teaching in Ulladu Narpadu is not Ulladu (what is) but ego (what is not but what seems to exist). Everything is a construct by and on this ego, so all our problems, suffering and dissatisfaction is only because of our ego and it is only in the view of ego. So if we can get rid of ego, we will get rid of all our problems forever. All our problems are part of our bodily existence, and our bodily existence is because of this ego, so if this ego vanishes for good, this ‘I am this body’ will vanish, and without this ‘I am this body’ idea, nothing else can exist.

Bhagavan teaches us in verse 25 of Ulladu Narpadu: ‘If it [ego] seeks [itself], it will take flight. Investigate’. Your doubt is, ‘how can I take flight from myself? I can't escape from myself’. Bhagavan describes ego as ‘formless phantom-ego’. Ego has no form of its own. It comes into existence by taking the form of a body as itself. So if ego looks keenly at itself, it gives up grasping the form of this body, and therefore it dissolves back into pure awareness, which is its actual form and substance.

Michael often describes this by the analogy of the snake and rope. Suppose if we mistake a rope to be a snake, how can we make this snake take flight? We can do so simply by looking keenly at the snake. If we do so, we will find that there is no snake there, and what remains is just a rope. This ego is like this snake. It seems to exist, but it does not actually exist. So ‘If it [ego] seeks [itself], it will take flight. Investigate’. We just need to investigate this ego vigilantly and it will take flight because it simply does not exist.

Does all this make sense?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Asun, no, I don’t remember in which video (or videos) Michael talks of vasanas being the army of ego. He compares ego to the General or the Commander-in-chief in charge of this army of vasanas. But he has used this analogy in many places. It’s a beautiful and apt analogy.

Salazar said...

Sanjay, I do not believe that the central teaching in Ulladu Narpadu is ego, the central teaching is Ulladu (what really is). Ulladu is the central teaching of all texts from Bhagavan. Bhagavan would never make a ghost the central point of his teachings but to stress that it does not exist. But if you like to see it that way I am not objecting.

In Ulladu Narpadu "investigating the ego" is synonym with "investigating self" since both are the same according the snake/rope analogy. However "investigating" can be misunderstood since it implies an act in duality. That is not the case with vichara since investigating is rather being self and not scrutinizing self. As I said before, the mind is not scrutinizing the self when turning within, it IS self.

The process of a seeming "investigation" is as much maya as any action in the phenomenal world. Self doesn't change, what seemingly changes is the ego what is an illusion in itself. Investigation, purification etc. are just terms to explain seeming actions or changes in the phenomenal world from the viewpoint of the ego. But why dwell or giving importance to the viewpoints of an ego? That would, strictly said, not be vichara since there is no viewpoint of the ego in vichara.

Asun said...

Didn´t know that. I´ve just made a search with those key words and found a very extensive and thorough article on the subject. I´ll study it. Thanks, Sanjay.

https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2018/09/like-everything-else-karma-is-created.html

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
regarding your saying "...since investigating is rather being self and not scrutinizing self",

If investigating would mean "rather being self", then there were no need for self-investigation because self itself - as our real nature - has surely no reason to investigate itself because self is said to be anyway always being itself or just being.
In my view, as in the stage of a beginner, 'self-investigation' is first investigating or scrutinizing the I-thought with the instrument of the mind.
Only in later stage of self-investigation one could claim that investigating self is rather being self and not scrutinizing self.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, I do get your point, you like to see it from the viewpoint of the ego. That can have it pitfalls. In order to be able to transcend one needs to let go of the ego and its viewpoints at some point. Why not now?

Beginner and advanced stages also only exist from the viewpoint of the ego. Since it really does not exist, why bother taking it for real? I suppose it takes time to come to this.

I can only say that the viewpoint of the ego has very limited benefits and for many it has a confusing effect in regards to self (realization).

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, Bhagavan does talk about ulladu (what actually is) in Ulladu Narpadu. For example, he talks ulladu more explicitly in the first mangalam verse and verses 7 and 13 of Ulladu Narpadu:

1st mangalam verse: If what exists were not, would existing awareness exist? Since the existing substance exists in the heart without thought, how to think of the existing substance, which is called ‘heart’? Being in the heart as it is alone is thinking. Know.

Verse 7: Though the world and awareness arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by awareness. Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place for the appearing and disappearing of the world and awareness is the substance, which is the whole.

Verse 13: Oneself, who is awareness, alone is real. Awareness that is manifold is ignorance. Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as oneself, who is awareness. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist except as gold, which is real?

However, if we read most of the verses of Ulladu Narpadu, Bhagavan is talking about ego in various ways. How it comes into existence? What is the nature of ego? How does ego thrive? How can it be destroyed? So Bhagavan is addressing these and similar topics in Ulladu Narpadu. Bhagavan does talk about what actually exists, but he is more concerned about how we can experience what actually exists? Since ego and all its creations, which is this entire phenomenal world, is what obscures what actually exists, Bhagavan focuses on the means to get rid of ego. It is because only if this ego vanishes can we experience what actually exists.

So Bhagavan is indeed discussing more about ego in Ulladu Narpadu.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Salazar:

You say, ‘However "investigating" can be misunderstood since it implies an act in duality’. According to my understanding, self-investigation does not imply either duality or non-duality. It implies that we need to investigate and find out what we actually are. We will only know the outcome of this investigation once our investigation reaches its conclusion. You further say, ‘investigating is rather being self and not scrutinizing self’. Self-investigation is indeed scrutinizing self. Investigating and scrutinizing mean more or less the same thing.

You also say, ‘The process of a seeming "investigation" is as much maya as any action in the phenomenal world’. Ego is maya: it is maya and root of all other forms of maya. So in this sense self-investigation is also an aspect of maya. Who is investigating itself? It is ego, and anything ego does is part of maya. However, self-investigation is different from all our other outward-directed actions. When the ego or mind attends to anything other than itself, that is action, but when ego attends only to itself, it is the subsidence of action. So though self-investigation is in the realm of maya, it will eventually destroy the root of maya, namely our ego. So self-investigation will eventually enable us to free ourself of all Maya.

You end your comment by saying, ‘since there is no viewpoint of the ego in vichara’. Ego has a clear viewpoint in vichara. In vichara, ego is trying to find out ‘what I actually am?’ ‘I seem to be this ego and this person, but am I all these things?’ So ego investigates with this view in mind.

Salazar said...

Sanjay, more or less I have no objections to that particular way you are phrasing things in your last two comments. Yes, Bhagavan talks a lot about the ego, does that make it the "central teaching"? I think not. But again, I have no objections to your viewpoint, you are making fine points here.

Re. your comment, "We will only know the outcome of this investigation once our investigation reaches its conclusion."

I must say that this is not truly accurate. "We", and I suppose you talk about the ego (what else could it be), will never know the "outcome" since the ego cannot know nor will it ever know self [the "outcome"]. See, that's where this whole "viewpoint of the ego" collapses, it never existed and therefore it never can come to a conclusion! That's the paradox many either do not grasp or just ignore.

You say, "Ego investigates with this view in mind".

Okay, one can see it that way. However that view is not real in the first place, it is an imaginary blue print of some sorts, a pointer to reality, but not reality itself. In order to have a "view in mind" the ego MUST rise and therefore vichara is impossible. Because proper vichara is thought-less, even if it is only for a fraction of a second. How can a view exist without a thought?

I am talking from my personal experience with vichara and as a matter of fact, when practicing vichara there is no viewpoint whatsoever, that viewpoint or any viewpoint only rises when there is slacking and the attention goes away from self.

So a viewpoint only exists with the rising of the ego. How could that be helpful for vichara? It is ego! It maybe helpful for someone who never did vichara but once one has some experience with vichara, that "viewpoint" has become obsolete garbage.

Now I am not claiming to know the truth, I am speaking from my [limited] experience of vichara and what conclusions I draw from that.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, I too speak from my limited experience, so we are all in the same boat. In fact, in this coronavirus times, we are not only in the same boat but in the same storm :)

Salazar said...

Sanjay, that virus is certainly a world-wide phenomenon. It seems that masks are now the new reassurance of the politicians. They even say based on a "study" masks would be effective. Well, there is no comprehensive study which covers a larger population in a situation like that, it is a lie. The word "science" is evoked a lot by "experts" and the media, however most what is cited is not really science, it is propaganda.
Goebbels would be proud how people get misinformed by their governments.

First it was "flattening the curve", now after the curve has flattened, it is a "second wave" or so goes the story of the hysterical media. Fact is that the death count is down more than 90% in the US since the peak in April. But let's ignore that and just focus on that what creates the most fear with the main population.

Thanks God for vichara so I can leave that comical drama to itself.

anadi-ananta said...

Last night I had a dream: I saw Bhagavan walking on Arunachala - having covered his nose and mouth with a mask.
No, I was only joking.:-)

anadi-ananta said...

How can one be in and as உள்ள பொருள் (uḷḷa-poruḷ), the existing substance, which is our real nature, pure awareness ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

What is tapas? (part one)

A friend: Bhagavan in a way approved of all practices? So why should we say that only atma-vichara is his teaching?

Michael: Bhagavan didn’t dissuade anyone from anything. A nice example is Kavyakantha. He had been to Bhagavan before, he knew about Bhagavan, but he hadn’t actually come to him for advice. One day he was feeling dejected because, after all these years of mantra-japa and so many different types of tapas, he didn’t feel he had got all the powers and other things he wanted. So in desperation, he came to Bhagavan and asked, ‘Bhagavan, I have done so many crores of japa, so many other types of austerities like fasting and this and that, but still I don’t know what is tapas. Please enlighten me what is tapas?'

Bhagavan first answer was to keep quiet – for about 20 minutes or so Bhagavan didn’t answer anything. Then Kavyakantha said, ‘Bhagavan, I have read about such mouna-diksha (teachings through silence) in books, but I am not able to understand it. So please tell me in words’. Then the first advice Bhagavan gave was as follows:

If one attentively observes that from where what says ‘I, I’ goes out, there the mind will be dissolved; that alone is tapas.

Kavyakantha was saying ‘I have done this’, ‘I have done that’, so Bhagavan asked him to find out the place from where what says ‘I, I’ goes out. However Kavyakantha was into mantras and tantras and all these sorts of things, so he was bewildered by the unfamiliarity of this teachings, so he asked, ‘Is it not possible to attain that state even by mantra-japa?’, to which Bhagavan replied:

If one does japa of a mantra, if one attentively observes from where that mantra-sound goes out, there the mind is dissolved; that itself is tapas.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2015-09-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on life as a dream (01:34)

Sanjay Lohia said...

What is tapas? (part two)

Michael: Bhagavan’s first response was silence, which was his highest teaching, his real teaching. So he comes down to our level and gives us teachings in words by asking us to investigate ‘I’. If we are wise, we will take that advice and we will stick to that advice, but many people are not ready for this. So they ask, ‘Can I not do the same through mantra or tantra or japa or all these things’. If they ask such things, even then Bhagavan doesn't let them go too far away.

So he says, ‘OK, you do your japa, but see from where the sound of the mantra arises?’ From where does the sound of the mantra arise? It arises from ‘I’ obviously. The mantra sound does not come from outside. It comes from me. So indirectly Bhagavan gives the same teaching but in a different way. So Bhagavan did sometimes concede to other practices. If people came to Bhagavan and said, 'Bhagavan, this vichara is very difficult. Can I do japa instead?’ Bhagavan isn’t going to dissuade them because they have already decided that vichara is very difficult. So he would say, ‘yes, carry on with whatever you are doing’.

So Bhagavan didn’t dissuade people, but for those people, who really wanted to understand self-investigation, he not only explained the practice, he explained the reason for the practice: why self-investigation is the only way to liberation? He explained that so long as we are aware of anything other than ‘I’, we are feeding ego. If we want to be free of ego, the only way is to attend to ego alone because rises by attending to things other than itself. So it will subside by attending only to itself.

If we understand that then we will understand why Bhagavan says, it doesn’t matter however many thoughts arise? Whenever any thought arises, if you investigate it as soon as it arises ‘to whom it arises’, the mind will turn back to yourself. Thereby, it will destroy every thought at its very place of rising. In other words, don’t give room to the rising of any thoughts. So long as we attend to ourself, not even ego can arise, let alone thoughts.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2015-09-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on life as a dream (01:34)


Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, we had a great laugh reading what you wrote: 'Last night I had a dream: I saw Bhagavan walking on Arunachala - having covered his nose and mouth with a mask' -:)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay, it is fine having made you laugh. Is it not said that laugh is healthy ?
When after reading Salazar's yesterday's covid-comment the idea of this dream rose out from my mind I myself had to laugh out loud.
Therefore spontaneously I wrote that comment.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay, regarding your today's comment at 09:25,
I would insert the pronoun 'it' in the sentence "[...], the only way is to attend to ego alone because it rises by attending to things other than itself."

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, yes, it should have been either ‘[...], the only way is to attend to ego alone because it rises by attending to things other than itself’, or alternatively I could have repeated ‘ego’ instead of ‘it’.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"...don’t give room to the rising of any thoughts. So long as we attend to ourself, not even ego can arise, let alone thoughts."

Whose mind/attention or vigilance can refuse any room to the rising of any thoughts ?
Is it not ego's mind and is not the "we" in the above mentioned sentence already ego arisen ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

The ‘I’ in Mozart that composed all that music is the same ‘I’ in you

Friends were discussing with Michael about Bhagavan’s teachings of eka-jiva-vada (the contention that there is only one ego). The following conversation took off from this topic:

A friend: If everything is ‘I’, this one ego, then I was also once Shakespeare and Mozart!

[Laughs]

Michael: The ‘I’ in Mozart that composed all that music is the same ‘I’ in you. But you can’t be Mozart and Shakespeare at the same time because ‘I’ is always one. So you have to choose, what do you want to be now?

The friend: In my previous dream, I was Mozart.

Michael Quite possibly! Well, I am sure I wasn’t Mozart because if I was Mozart than I would have a little bit more musical ability that I have - maybe Shakespeare because I can write a lot of words. That’s my only talent.

• Edited & paraphrased extract from the video: 2015-09-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on life as a dream (01:24)

My reflection: If there is only one ego, then it was only I that was Mozart, and I was also once Shakespeare. I must have been once Hitler also. So I was responsible for all the terrible things that Hitler was responsible for. If this one ego is responsible for everything, we have to say that we as this one ego are responsible for all the misdeeds of all the evil people in the past. And we were also responsible for all the good deeds done by various good people in the past. So I can take credit for Gandhi’s non-violent freedom struggle, for example.

However, I am not sure if I can view things this way because if everything is my dream, so Mozart, Shakespeare, Hitler and Gandhi are also just part of my dream. Whatever they did is also part of my dream.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"...so Mozart, Shakespeare, Hitler and Gandhi are also just part of my dream. Whatever they did is also part of my dream."

Does calling/considering all happenings as an unreal dream make all our experiences insignificant or even non-existent and possibly all the events/occurrences of mankind's history at all undone ?

Salazar said...

No, calling/considering all happenings as an unreal dream doesn't do anything, that is just another thought. Only the thought-less space of "I am" makes all experiences insignificant and no ideas of mankind or its history can come up.

That's why the mind is not doing vichara, it is self being self, as also said by Sadhu Om. Sadhu Om talked about the "pure" aspect of the mind what is actually self. Objectified consciousness (what we usually consider as mind/ego) cannot do vichara, as the name alone implies, objectified consciousness needs something to "objectify", an object. Self is not an object and therefore only pure consciousness can be pure consciousness.

Self is already there, all what is needed in vichara is to get the mind/ego out of the picture.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
how does one get the mind/ego out of the picture ?

Salazar said...

To be "I am", the sense of existence/presence. I explained it in more detail in a previous comment where I stressed that one has to be very clear about that "sense of existence" since it is self. Without that [non-conceptual] knowledge vichara is not possible.

Of course the mind/ego is still around and will rise again, so one has to go back to "I am". Vichara is an endless circle of "I am", thought/mind coming up, "I am" again, thought/mind coming up, "I am" again, and so forth.

With practice, "I am" will become clearer and also more prolonged with increased clarity.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
I hope it is not an endless circle.:-)

Salazar said...

For the ego it seems like an endless circle but of course it will be ending. It will be ending when for the mind/ego the need to rise has ended, and the disappearance of the need coincides with the demise of the ego.

What remains is that what is there always, self. And according to Bhagavan, there is the realization that the mind/ego, the individual entity, has never existed at all.

In a way it is a joke. Bhagavan commented about that on different occasions.

anadi-ananta said...

"What remains is that what is there always, self. And according to Bhagavan, there is the realization that the mind/ego, the individual entity, has never existed at all."

Therefore let us pray: Kyrie eleison

Sanjay Lohia said...

The moment of the death of the body is a favourable opportunity to let go of all our attachments (part one)

Bhagavan asks us to slowly slowly practise daily. Though Bhagavan used the word ‘daily’, what he means is constantly. We have to turn within repeatedly. By repeatedly turning our attention within, we are refining our power of attention. Our power of attention has become very gross because, since countless lives, we are using it to know things other than ourself. But now we are trying to use the power of attention to know ourself, and we are much more subtle. So now we have to refine our power of attention – like training to focus our eyes to focus on very very minute things.

Ego is a mixture of pure awareness and jada (non-aware parts). The real element in this ego is the chit element. We are trying to focus our attention on the chit element. We are trying to isolate the chit element from all its jada parts. This is the key to get out of prison which we have got ourselves in. We just have to continue investigating. Bhagavan has assured us that we will succeed sooner or later if we continue investigating.

We can’t measure our progress. We can’t say how far or how near we are to our goal. We are so attached to our life in this world. I have been Michael for the last 60 years. I identify with so many things and experiences. So it is extremely difficult for me to let go of all my attachments. But by persevering in this path of self-investigation, we are slowly slowly weakening our attachments inwardly. It may not be very apparent, but our attachments are getting weaker and weaker if we are constantly practising.

A very good opportunity will come at the end – the moment of the death of our body when we are forcibly separated from this body. None of us wants to leave the body, none of us wants to die, but a time will come when that will be forced upon us. That’s why it is said that death is a very favourable moment. But we can’t expect to get realisation then if we are not trying now.

If we succeed at the moment of death that is because of all the practice we have done before. We don’t have to necessarily wait for the death of the body. It may happen before it, but at least that’s a favourable opportunity.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited & paraphrased extract from the video: 2015-09-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on life as a dream (00:36)

Salazar said...

Yes, let's ask Bhagavan for his mercy, to grant us the boon to eradicate the needs of the mind. He is doing it already anyway, so any prayer is just for the psychological benefit of the seeker. What is very helpful in times of distress.

Salazar said...

Thanks Sanjay for the timely post of Michael's video from 2015-09-12:

"We are trying to isolate the chit element from all its jada parts."

Exactly, that's self being self. Chit is pure consciousness and that is what is being "used" with vichara. Now the ego is not focusing on the chit part, that is impossible (that would be jada focusing on chit), it is chit being chit instead.

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