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.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

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

If we don’t succeed to let go of ego at the moment of death, however much practice we have done till that moment, we are building up a bank account. It won’t go to waste. It’s a bank account that can’t be squandered. If you do a lot of good karmas and you enjoy a lot of good fruits of those karmas, you lose the benefits of those good karmas. So you can squander your credits in the karma account. But self-investigation is not karma. It is non-karma – it is akarma. We are turning within and just trying to be.

So the credit we are building up is in the form of our love to experience ourself and detachment from everything else. This will never go to waste. We just have to keep working patiently. Every little effort we make on this path is worth it. Whether we reach our goal in the next few moments or a thousand births ahead doesn’t matter because it’s all ultimately just a dream.

So each moment we are faced with a choice: we can either chose to experience other things or chose to experience ourself alone. We have that choice from moment to moment in our life. We should patiently try to make the right choice from moment to moment. It won’t go in vain. Bhagavan said that just like the prey in the jaws of a tiger can never escape, those who have come under the glance of guru’s grace will never be forsaken, yet, he adds, it’s necessary to follow the path shown by the guru.

So we have to continue trying however inadequate we feel our efforts maybe. That seed of love to know ourself has been sown in our heart by Bhagavan. It’s our responsibility to water it, nurture it and cultivate it. So it’s all in our hands. Bhagavan is lovingly and unceasingly giving us all the help we need.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said in order to get atma-jnana, you need the grace of three people: the grace of God, the grace of guru and grace of the jiva. The grace of God and guru, which are one, is always abundant. It is the grace of ego which is lacking.

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

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anadi-ananta said...

Indeed, truth should be the measure of all things.
But first we need to know the truth.
Nevertheless, it should be possible to find the truth even in the territory of ego where its tentacles can easily embrace us and force us to ruin.

Rajat said...

Thank you Sanjay for the extract from Michael's video on life as a dream. The audio is not very good in that video so these extracts are very helpful.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Rajat, yes, the audio of this particular video: 2015-09-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on life as a dream is not very good. But it is not so bad that we cannot understand it, especially if you watch it on a PC.

Sanjay Lohia said...

How to gain deep and abiding faith in God (part one)

A friend: In the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar Bhagavan says that we should not concern ourself with what we should do and what we should not do. But how do we get on with our lives without thinking about the necessity of certain actions?

Michael: God is already doing all our duties, but because we rise as ego, we claim doership for it. If we subside, if we cease rising as ego, then we are letting God do everything. The ego rises and interferes, and the only way this ego can subside is described by Bhagavan in the first sentence of 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.

He says in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu, ‘Investigating what this ego is, is giving up everything’, ego included. So, only by self-investigation can we really surrender ourself to God.

The friend: But how to give up doership?

Michael: So long as you are attending to what is happening outside, you are rising as ego, and when you rise as ego, you experience yourself as the doer. It is because when you rise as ego, you take this body and mind to be yourself, and whatever the body and mind does, you feel ‘I am doing it’.

The friend: Most of the time we keep thinking about the food, security, money . . .

Michael: Why do we turn our attention outside and worry about these things? It is because we feel we need all these things – food, security, money, clothing, shelter, but these are just an excuse. But the fact is we are more interested in these things than we are in experiencing ourself alone. We say, ‘because I have to earn money and all these things, I don’t have time for this’ or ‘I have only a little time for this’. But even if everything is provided to us, we will still not be turning within because we are not yet interested enough.

Let’s face it – we may have a little bit of bhakti, but none of us has adequate bhakti. The other side of bhakti is vairagya, and none of us has adequate vairagya. We are more interested in our life as a person than we are in experiencing what we really are. If we want to experience what we really are, we can experience it here and now - nothing is obstructing us. The only thing that is obstructing is that we don’t want it.

So we have to cultivate that liking. How to cultivate that liking? We can do so only by trying – by practising, practising and practising.

(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 (01:59)

My reflection: Michael says, ‘God is already doing all our duties, but because we rise as ego, we claim doership for it. If we subside, if we cease rising as ego, then we are letting God do everything. The ego rises and interferes’. If we can even faintly understand this, it will make our life so much simpler and happier. If God is already doing our duties, why should we rise as ego and want this or that to be done? We need to drill this into our mind.

Sanjay Lohia said...

How to gain deep and abiding faith in God (part two)

Michael: By trying, trying and failing a thousand times and getting up again and trying again … we may fail a thousand times or even crore times… doesn’t matter how many times we fail so long as we continue trying. Sooner or later we will succeed.

The amount we try is the measure of the amount of bhakti we have. Bhakti is not going to temples and lighting camphor or such things. That’s the show of bhakti, not real bhakti. The real bhakti is constantly trying to turn our mind within to experience ourself alone, unmindful of the needs of our body or anything.

If we really have faith in God, if we really have faith in Bhagavan’s words, we will leave all these things to him. But we think, ‘It’s my responsibility’; ‘I have to earn money’; ‘I have to take care of my family’; ‘I have to do this’; ‘I have to do that’.

The friend: Can a common man like me think like this?

Michael: Who says you are a common man?

The friend: I am just a beginner.

Michael: Who says you are a beginner?

The friend: So I should accept all the good and bad things with equanimity. I should not worry about all these worldly things so that I have more and more time to attend to myself. Correct?

Michael: We need to acknowledge the fact that we are not succeeding because we have insufficient bhakti and insufficient vairagya. The way to cultivate bhakti and vairagya is by persevering in trying. Why Bhagavan says ‘leave everything in the hands of Bhagavan’? If we have that attitude, if we have that faith and trust, that will make it so much easier to turn within.

(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 (01:59)

My reflection: This friend asks, ‘Can a common man like me think like this?’ Michael answers this by a counter-question, ‘Who says you are a common man?’ This friend then tells Michael, ‘I am just a beginner’. Michael asks, ‘Who says you are a beginner?’ Actually, Michael was trying to direct the attention of this friend towards himself. That is, Michael was trying to tell him to turn within and find out who has this idea that he is a common man and a beginner. This is how Bhagavan responded to such questions. When people asked such questions, either Bhagavan would just keep quiet or he will ask such counter questions.

Bhagavan was not interested in discussing his philosophy beyond a certain point. He always wanted the questioners to get a taste of the practice of turning within then and there. So Bhagavan would often use his brahmastra - 'Who is having this doubt?'; 'Who is suffering?'; 'Who is having this problem?' and so on. He would try to take the questioners attention away from their doubts, problems and such things, by prompting them to turn towards the one who had these doubts, problems and such things.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

How to gain deep and abiding faith in God (part three)

Michael: If we really trusted God, we wouldn’t worry about all these things, but we all have got our worries. So we don’t really trust God. It’s very nice to talk about faith in God but none of us has it.

The more we investigate ourself, the more our mind will be purified. When our mind gets sufficiently pure, we will get the clarity of mind and heart in which faith in God will automatically blossom. Just telling people, ‘Have faith in God’, what good does that do? I would love to have faith in God but the fact is I don’t have faith. I am constantly worrying about my little life as this small person.

I am miserable because of my lack of faith in God, but I can’t have faith in God just because I say ‘It’s good to have faith in God'. We have a little bit of faith, but this faith is grossly inadequate.

The friend: So what should we do to develop that faith?

Michael: We try to investigate ‘who is it who has grossly inadequate faith?’

The friend: Me, of course.

Michael: Do not try to satisfy yourself by saying ‘me, of course’. Go on persevering by trying to find out ‘who is this me?’ There is no easier or more effective way than investigating ourself. Investigating ourself is not opposed to faith in God. It is the way to gain deep and abiding faith in God.

The friend: How can I develop faith in God without God’s grace?

Michael: We are responsible for the mess we are in. We ourselves have to get ourself out of this mess. Because we have chosen to attach ourself to all these things, seek pleasure in all these things, we have got ourselves into the mess. So we have got to reverse this process. The divine grace is always there. It is never lacking.

As Sri Ramakrishna said, the grace of God and the grace of guru are always abundantly there. They are never lacking in the least. What is lacking is the grace of ego. In other words, we don’t have enough love to turn towards God. To get that love, we got to persevere in trying to investigate ourself.

• Edited & paraphrased extract from the video: 2015-09-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on life as a dream (01:59)

My reflection: As Michael says, ‘Investigating ourself is not opposed to faith in God. It is the way to gain deep and abiding faith in God’. As Michael implies, if we investigate ourself deep enough and long enough, our mind and heart will be purified and clarified. As a result, we will develop deep viveka: that is, we will somehow be fully convinced that Bhagavan is taking care of everything. Thus, faith in God will automatically blossom.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, Michael said, ‘God is already doing all our duties, but because we rise as ego, we claim doership for it. If we subside, if we cease rising as ego, then we are letting God do everything. The ego rises and interferes’. You object to this by writing, ‘That could be misunderstood, it may imply that God is only doing everything if we do not rise as an ego. That is not correct, God is doing everything in any case. The rise or non-rise of the ego does not affect God [doing everything] at all’.

What you say is correct, but by rising as ego and by identifying with the actions of this body, speech and mind, we are becoming the doers. So we are claiming doership of even the actions done by God. So if this ego subsides, we will know that this ego is not the doer and that all actions of this body, speech and mind are being done in accordance with our destiny. This was the point Michael was trying to make.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, you say, ‘The ego cannot do anything, once it has risen it is in delusion’. This ego cannot achieve anything by the power of its will, but ego can want to and try to do a lot of things. It can to a limited extent use its body, speech and mind to try to change what it is destined to experience, or it can try to experience what it is not destined to experience. So it can try to do a lot of things, but it will only succeed if its actions are in accordance with its destiny.

So what is the only wise thing which this ego can do? It can turn within and subside in its place of origin, which is pure awareness. So this is the only worthwhile thing this ego can do. The sooner it understands this, the better it is for it. Everything else it tries to do or achieve is ultimately meaningless.

You say, ‘One has to come to the strong conviction that ANY thought, ANY idea is delusion and it should serve only one purpose, as a reminder for vichara’. Yes, this is true. All thoughts or ideas are a delusion, a mental fabrication. But who has this delusion? This delusion is for me, this ego. So every thought or idea should prompt us to investigate the one who has this thought or idea. Bhagavan says in paragraph 6 of Nan Ar?:

If other thoughts rise, without trying to complete them it is necessary to investigate to whom they have occurred. However many thoughts rise, what [does it matter]? As soon as each thought appears, if one vigilantly investigates to whom it has occurred, it will be clear: to me. If one [thus] investigates who am I, the mind will return to its birthplace [oneself, the source from which it arose]; [and since one thereby refrains from attending to it] the thought that had risen will also cease. When one practises and practises in this manner, to the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace increases.

Sanjay Lohia said...

As our love matures, the actions by which we express our love for God will become more and more internalised (part one)

Puja, that is physical worship, is a relatively gross expression of love for God. If we have a deep love for God, we wouldn’t be inclined to even do puja.

In the early days when Muruganar came to the ashram, there were very people in the ashram. Since Muruganar was a brahmin, for sometimes he was given the job of doing puja in the Matrubhutewara temple. But Muruganar found he was completely unfit for this job. He said how to ring the bell and wave the light and such things – he found it all too confusing. Muruganar’s bhakti was at a very higher level. So, to someone whose bhakti is at such a level, to ask them to do puja, this gross form of worship, is totally inappropriate.

But for some people when they are first developing love for God, doing puja is appropriate. But as our love gets more refined, we will feel less inclined for such outward things. We will feel more inclined to just chant the name of God in our heart. At first, we may chant the name of God aloud: Ramana, Ramana, Ramana…… Arunachala, Arunachala, Arunachala……Nama Shivaya, Nama Shivaya, Nama Shivaya……or whatever. We may first like to chant aloud, but after some time we will do it softly. Then we will do it mentally, and the more our love matures, the more our meditation on the name or form of God will become undistracted.

So as the love matures, the actions by which we express our love for God will become more and more internalised. We will express our love more subtly. Eventually, we will reach a point when we would like to give ourself to God. Then we will get the clarity to understand ‘Who am I to give myself to God? Who is this I that I need to give to God? Is there anything other than God? When he alone is, who am I?’

(To be continued in my next comment)

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

My reflection: Who am I to give myself to God? Who is this I that I need to give to God? Is there anything other than God? When he alone is, who am I? Yes, we need to think on these lines.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
yesterday 8 July 2020 at 17:39 you wrote: 'That includes to stop to think along the lines "I am an ego and therefore ...." what leads only to delusion. In the moment one identifies with being an ego/person vichara is required. Very simple.'

I your statement I would include also the opposite thought "I am not an ego and therefore ....".
Just in the moment one identifies with being not an ego/person vichara is required. Very simple.'

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar, sorry, it should be: In your statement...

Sanjay Lohia said...

The aim of any manana we do should be to simplify and clarify our understanding

Recently I was watching Michael’s video: 2015-09-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on life as a dream (01:24). At this point, friends were discussing with Michael about Bhagavan’s teachings of eka-jiva-vada (the contention that there is only one ego). I drew the following inference from this discussion. I shared my inference with Michael and requested for his comments. My inference and Michael's reply, both of these are mentioned below:

Sanjay: 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 is 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 even Mozart, Shakespeare, Hitler and Gandhi are also just part of my dream. Whatever things they had supposedly done are also part of my current dream.

Michael: Identifying ourself as one person is more than enough trouble. Why would we want to identify ourself with so many historical characters? No identification is real, so our aim should be just to investigate ourself here and now in order to see what we actually are. If we do so keenly enough we will see that we are just pure awareness, which is infinite, eternal and immutable, so we are not and never were any person at all.

The aim of any manana we do should be to simplify and clarify our understanding, and if we do so correctly it will reduce all unnecessary thoughts and speculations such as these.

My reflection: So very true. This reply by Michael shows me why he is so precious to me and many others like me. He will always keep our manana on track, and if are manana is on track, our practice cannot go much wrong.

What Michael says makes a lot of sense. I am already miserable because I identify myself with Sanjay, so why should I add to my misery by now further identifying myself with so many other historical characters from the past? Point well taken!


anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
as Michael said "Identifying ourself as one person is more than enough trouble."
Did not Sadhu Om aptly use the comparison of ego with a general and the persons with his soldiers ?
So the mentioned historical characters Mozart, Shakespeare, Hitler were perhaps just mere particularly striking soldiers whereas Gandhi perhaps was a sage.

By the way, it should be: "...and if our manana is on track, our practice...".

Sanjay Lohia said...

As our love matures, the actions by which we express our love for God will become more and more internalised (part two)

Bhagavan sings beautifully 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’).

So as our bhakti develops and matures, as it becomes deeper and purer, we wouldn’t even want to meditate on God. We would like to wholly give ourself to God. Meditation is the closest we can come to that, but ‘I don’t want even to give my thoughts to God. I want to give myself to God’. But then ‘Who is this I who wants to give himself to God? Who am I to surrender myself to God? When he alone is everything, what am I? Am I something separate from him that I can give myself to him?’

So at this point, that anya-bhava turns into ananya-bhava, and we understand, ‘O, I am nothing other than God. What is shining in me as ‘I’ is nothing but God’.

As Bhagavan sings in this verse of Padigam: ‘O blemishless one, you shine without another in the heart as that space of pure awareness, so who am I who have come out as if another?’ Then he adds: ‘O Arunachala, come out [that is, come out of my heart] placing your vast lotus-feet on his head [on the head of this ego]’.

So we are powerless even to surrender ourself to him because who are we other than him? He has to manifest himself and with his big lotus-feet press the head of this ego down and crush it to death. This is of course put in a metaphorical and poetic language. What it means is that Arunachala has to reveal himself as pure awareness and that will crush this ego. Ego will be crushed only when it sees ‘who am I?’ – what it actually is.

So this is a very very beautiful verse. This verse also gives a clue to the advance level of bhakti. How the anya-bhava switches to ananya-bhava. When we truly want to surrender ourself to God, then the question arises, how can we surrender ourself without knowing ourself? We have to know ourself before we can surrender ourself.

(To be continued in my next comment)

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

My reflection: Michael says, ‘We have to know ourself before we can surrender ourself’. What exactly does this mean? If a soldier is captured by its enemy and if he is asked to surrender, he has to obviously lay down his arms and put up his hands showing that he is without his arms now. So that is surrender in the context of a soldier surrendering to his opponent party.

So if Bhagavan wants us to surrender ourself to him, what does he expects us to surrender? He expects us to surrender ourself: ‘ourself’ in this context means our separate individuality, this ego, this ‘I am this body’ idea. It is because it is only this separate individuality or ego or ‘I am this body’ idea which is separating ourself from God. So we have to surrender this false separateness to God. So we need to clearly identify what we need to surrender, and then we have to find out the correct means to surrender ourself.

Bhagavan has given us a perfectly scientific and an infallible means to surrender ourself to him. We will not go into this method in this comment.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, thank you. Yes, it should be 'if our manana is on track, our practice cannot go much wrong'.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael: 'Any help or guidance you may seem to get from me comes only from Bhagavan'

I had sent a Whatsapp message to Michael on the 5th of this month, the day of guru-poornima. He replied to my message today – that is on the 9th. The following is the extract of our conversation:

Sanjay Lohia: Sir, happy guru poornima. Though Bhagavan is our guru, you are also my guru since I have learnt so much from you and am learning so much from you. With pranams.

Michael James: If we want to follow Bhagavan's path, there is only one guru, namely Bhagavan himself. When he is our guru, what need is there for any other guru?

Please do not delude yourself by putting me on a pedestal. As a person, I am nothing. Any help or guidance you may seem to get from me comes only from him

Sanjay Lohia: Thank you, sir. All I can say is that it is a rare blessing to be associated with you. Since you are back in London, please take proper care of yourself. I believe you are back earlier than expected. Regards.

Michael James: Yes, circumstances changed faster than expected, but all happens according to his will

Sanjay Lohia: Yes, all happens according to his will. Pranams.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, you say, ‘the "will" is a delusion too since it is ego’. The will is not ego, but the will is ego’s will. In other words, this ego attaches itself to its will. It may take its will to be itself, but the will is something other than itself.

Our will consists of all our desires, attachments, likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, wants and such things. This ego is not that desire; ego has that desire. We may identify we are desires. For example, I may say ‘I like sweets’. But ‘I’ am not my ‘like’. I have added that ‘like’ to me. So we can give up that ‘like’ whenever we want to give it up.

Yes, Bhagavan’s true teaching is indeed mouna (silence) This mouna means not only no thoughts but more importantly no thinker of those thoughts. So Bhagavan’s mouna is much deeper than the usual mouna of thoughts or speech.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

As our love matures, the actions by which we express our love for God will become more and more internalized (part three)

Who am I other than God? God exists as ‘I’. God is that which is shining in us as ‘I’, as Bhagavan says in verse 8 of Upadesa Undiyar, ‘ananya-bhava in which he is I’. Bhagavan says ‘meditating on I is the best among all’. So there is no God other than ‘I’. Therefore, to meditate on God correctly is to meditate only on ‘I’, not on anything else. Meditating on a form of God is meditating on a thought. As Bhagavan indicates in verse 5 of Upadesa Undiyar, all forms are nothing but thoughts or mental phenomena.

So whatever spiritual practice we may be doing is beneficial only if it leads to this ultimate path of ananya-bhava or self-investigation. Of course, Bhagavan approves every other path in its proper context, but what is the best of all? It is ananya-bhava. So that is the aim of all the verses of Upadesa Undiyar.

Our bhakti can be expressed in actions, whether those actions are by our body, speech or mind. If these actions are done in niskamya-bhava and with love for God, that will purify our mind. But we have to go beyond actions because karma is bondage according to Bhagavan. Bhagavan said liberation is not attained by doing anything but by just being.

So long as we rise as ego, our rising as ego is an interruption to being, so to speak. However, in reality, being is never interrupted because even when we rise as ego, we still are. So being is the ever-present ground, the base from which we rise. Without being there could be no rising. But so long as we are rising, we are not just being. So long as we are rising, we are far from liberation.

The nature of liberation is pure awareness, and being and awareness are the same. So the whole thrust of Upadesa Undiyar, from the beginning to the end, is: Action is not the way. Being is the only path to liberation. Action, if done without desire and for love of God, will purify the mind and lead us to this path of just being.

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

My reflection: As Michael says, the core message of Upadesa Undiyar is, ‘Action is not the way. Being is the only path to liberation’. We may miss out this message if we do not read these verses carefully because, in Upadesa Undiyar, Bhagavan seems to be talking about various practices of bhakti, yoga and such things.

However, the message is very clear. These other practices can only take us so far and then they become powerless. We have to finally come to ananya-bhava, which is the path of atma-vichara. Only atma-vichara is the final gateway to freedom.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
if I really had no idea [first hand experience] of "I am" I even could not write a comment. You weren't expecting that, were you ? :-)

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R Viswanathan said...

Salazar said on 8 July 2020 at 15:41
"....thus vichara is required which prevents the rising of the ego (jada) in the first place."

I guess and hope that Salazar did not mean to term 'ego' as 'jada'. In Ulladu Narpadu verse 24, Bhagavan states this (Sri Robert Butler's translation):

"The physical body does not say 'I'. Being-consciousness does not arise [or disappear]. But in between the two something arises, the 'I', which is limited to the body. Understand that this is known as the knot between consciousness and the insentient, as bondage, as the individual soul, as the subtle body, as the ego, as this worldly condition of existence, and as the mind."

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, I agree when you say, ‘The tendency to put people on a pedestal is very prevalent in spiritual circles. That's why many impostors are so successful’. So we should avoid putting people on a pedestal.

You say, ‘Bhagavan works through everyone, why singling out a specific personality? Why is a specific jiva more important/special than others?’ Yes, Bhagavan works through everyone but his grace works better through the jivas whose minds have become pure. His grace works better through those who have surrendered to him. That surrender may not be complete, but to the extent they have surrendered, to that extent Bhagavan’s acts more clearly through them. Of course, all these things are relative and cannot be measured or need not be analysed in too much detail.

You say, ‘A "will" is not independent of an ego’. Bhagavan teaches us in verse 5 of Ulladu Narpadu:

The body is pañca-kōśa-uru [a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical structure, life, mind, intellect and will]. Therefore all five [sheaths] are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body [composed of these five sheaths], is there a world? Say, without [experiencing oneself as such] a body, is there anyone who has seen a world?

So ‘will’ is part of the body, and the body is paccha-kosa-uru, a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical structure, life, intellect and will. Ego is that which attaches itself to this body, but ego is not this body. So will is an adjunct of ego, and therefore it is clearly apart from ego.

Yes, this will is the subtlest sheath, but it is nonetheless a sheath, which comes and goes. The contents of the sheath keep on changing, but ego remains the same as long as it exists.

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

When I see Michael overwhelmed with love while explaining verses from Sri Arunachala Astakam or verse 101 of Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai, my cold loveless heart is also little bit moved, seeing my own extreme lack of love. Ultimately this path is all about love. So we can, i think, put Michael's singular love for Bhagavan, on a pedestal, because without love We are lost. If we put our love for Bhagavan above everything else We will try more and more to turn within because Bhagavan has said he is always shining within us as I.
I wonder if and when Michael will get a chance to discuss verses from Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai on his YouTube channel.

Sanjay thank you for your replies above to my questions, they were helpful 🙏

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

Ego is the subject or perceiver, which is different from the objects it perceives. According to what Bhagavan taught in UN, subject exists only so long as it perceives objects. So alone, the subject cannot exist. But just because subject exists only so long as objects exist, that does not imply that the subject is the objects.

How can the subject be Unknown to itself? :)

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

Unknown, what I meant when i said that the subject (ego) is always known to us is that we are always aware of the ego. Because whenever We know objects, We are also aware, "i am aware of these objects". What Sri Ramana asked us to do, as i understand it, is to try to be aware of ego or the subject or I, in isolation. We are aware of ego along with adjuncts, and we have to try to be aware of ego in isolation.

I didn't mean to imply, as you seem to think that I did, that I find vichara to be simple. I struggle in the practice. But I meant that we already always know the subject because we are the subject.

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

Unknown, I do not experience myself as "subject and not the objects you perceive". If I did become aware of subject in isolation from objects, then according to Bhagavan, the world would cease to exist and the ego would be destroyed. So I am aware both of the subject and objects, and am also aware of the subject as the objects it perceives, like this body.

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

Salazar, an object must exist in the view of a subject. If the ego is not the subject and the self is the subject, that means self perceives these objects, but according to Bhagavan, self perceives no objects.

Karen Taylor said...
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Sanjay Lohia said...

Anma viddai, ayye athi sulabham...

Michael: Bhagavan explains his teachings in a clear and logical manner because if we have a clear understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings, we are already half-way there, so to speak. In the sense, by understanding Bhagavan’s teachings, we are saved from so much confusion. OK, initially it is just an intellectual understanding, but that intellectual understanding saves us from so much unnecessary thoughts and confusions.

So a clear intellectual understanding is a starting point we need to have. We cannot investigate ourself without clearly understanding what Bhagavan has taught us.

A friend: It is the foundation of anma viddai, ayye athi sulabham....

Michael: Yes, it’s extremely easy. When we say it is difficult we are just trying to evade our responsibility. Bhagavan said of all paths, this is the easiest path. There is nothing easier than knowing ourself. Why it seems difficult? It is because of our unwillingness to let go. So when we say, ‘O, it is difficult’, we are trying to shift the blame from ourself onto the supposed difficulty.

How can it be difficult to know ourself? It is difficult to know other things because our attention has to move away from ourself towards those other things. But we are always aware of ourself as 'I am'. We do not need to know anything beyond 'I am'. We already know it, but we are not willing to let go of other things. That reluctance to let go of phenomena - that is the problem. So the problem lies in us, in our attachments, in our unwillingness to surrender ourself. If we are willing to surrender ourself, we will be that here and now.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-08 Michael and Murthy discuss the oneness of ego and pure awareness (31:00)

My reflection: Yes, If we understand Bhagavan’s teachings even intellectually, it saves us from so many unnecessary thoughts and confusions.

Regarding anma viddai, ayye athi sulabham, after we come to this path of self-investigation, we will find every other path to be difficult. When we can do our sadhana by just remaining still without the least action of body, speech and mind, why to act in any way by our body, speech and mind to perform other sadhanas? So every other form of sadhana seems too cumbersome for us.

anadi-ananta said...

Karen Taylor,
I easily can understand how you feel.
Because you already pray to be rescued from yourself as ego/mind/separated person you should persistently continue to sacrifice ego/mind/separated person to the heart/self.
Having a family to contend with is in my experience not at all an obstacle to desire self-realisation. On the contrary you should try to integrate your sense of duty regarding your daily family-responsibilities in your striving for self-realisation.
Both do not conflict sharply or inevitably with each other.
Do not forget ego has a wide and well-stocked box of tricks.:-)

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
you say yesterday 9 July 2020 at 19:55 "So ego is not different from objects since it creates and perceives them simultaneously."
However, according Bhagavan's teaching ego is aware whereas its imaginations are jada (insentient).

Sanjay Lohia said...

Unknown, you wrote, ‘Sanjay Lohia, you said many things of the ego by denying it its adjuncts like body, person, will, thoughts etc and say ego is not this or it is not that. So then can you tell us then what is this ego by itself and when all alone without the body, person, will, thoughts etc?’

Bhagavan teaches us in verse 25 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.

So this ego is just a formless phantom, which comes into seeming existence by grasping a body and by taking this body to be itself. However, to fully understand the true nature of ego, we should look at verses 23 and 24 of Ulladu Narpadu:

23: This body does not say ‘I’. No one says ‘In sleep I do not exist’. After one thing, ‘I’, rises, everything rises. Contemplate by a subtle mind where this ‘I’ rises.

24: The insentient body does not say ‘I’; being-awareness does not rise; in between one thing, ‘I’, rises as the extent of the body. Know that this is the awareness-insentience-knot, bondage, soul, subtle body, ego, this wandering and mind.

So ego is that chit-jada granthi that rises seemingly binding our pure being-awareness with an insentient body. So, ego is just an erroneous idea ‘I am this body’. This ego is not this body, but it is a false awareness which takes a body to be itself. So ego is different from a body, a person, all its thoughts, will and so on.

Ego is also a thought, but it the root of all other thoughts. Ego is the only thought which is aware both of itself and of other thoughts. All other thoughts are jada, but ego is aware, even though ego’s awareness is not the real awareness but just a semblance of awareness. Ego is awareness, but it borrows its awareness from pure awareness. So if we keenly investigate this ego, we will find that it does not exist. So ego’s awareness is not the real awareness, because it itself is not real.

Michael implies in his latest video that ego is not real as ego, but it is real as pure awareness. He says ego exists in sleep as pure awareness but not as ego. What Michael implies is that the reality of ego is only pure self-awareness. Just like the reality of the illusory snake is only the rope. So the snake exists in rope as rope but not as a snake. We can likewise say this world exists in brahman as brahman but not as this world. So these are the subtle and nuanced way of explaining Bhagavan's teachings.

Sanjay Lohia said...

To whom? To me. Who am I?, I am glad you found my replies helpful.

You say, ‘So we can, i think, put Michael's singular love for Bhagavan, on a pedestal, because without love We are lost’. I cannot agree with you more. Michael may not consider himself to be a guru, but he is a beacon of light of many like me. His love for Bhagavan and his teachings is second to none. I would have been lost without his clear guidance. Yes, ultimately all comes from Bhagavan, but we see it coming to us through the channel of Michael. Therefore, we do have a deep admiration for Michael.

You say, If we put our love for Bhagavan above everything else We will try more and more to turn within because Bhagavan has said he is always shining within us as I’. Yes, Bhagavan can be found nowhere expect in and as ‘I’. The sooner we understand it, the better it is for us. So we want to meet Bhagavan, we should just turn within and attend to ‘I’ with deep deep love. This is the direct path and the only goal worth seeking.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
you mean saying "Bhagavan can be found nowhere except in and as ‘I’. "
(The letters 'p' and 'c' had to change their place).:-)

anadi-ananta said...

Karen,
you say "This world interests me not one bit, and nothing makes sense. Who am I? ???????"
We have to learn not to take a (subjective) ego/mind-born view of "this world" but with our real eye which means by real self-awareness.
Presumably we then will have a way of looking at things cleared up from ego's ignorance.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, I thank you for pointing out this typo. Yes, it should be: ‘Bhagavan can be found nowhere except in and as ‘I’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Karen, this is in response to your two recent comments:

You write, ‘This world interests me not one bit, and nothing makes sense. Who am I? ???????’ If this is the case, what more do you need? Why we are still stuck up in this world? It is because this world still interests us a lot. We are still attached to our bodily existence. So if you are now only interested in finding out ‘Who am I’, you are probably in a blessed state. We need such overwhelming love and dispassion to experience ourself as we actually are.

You write, ‘Can anyone please explain what Bhagavan means when he instructs us to "go back the way we came"? How has this ego come into existence? It has come into existence by grasping a form of a body and by taking it to be itself. In other words, ego comes into existence because of pramada (self-negligence), which means by looking away from itself. So now it has to go back the way it came. It can do so only if it stops grasping forms and instead grasps itself alone. Since Bhagavan says, ego is a formless phantom, if it turns towards itself and tries to grasp itself alone, it will subside back into its true nature, which is pure and infinite self-awareness. We are back in our true home!

You also say, ‘I never thought as a youngster that I would feel so weary after just fifty-six years but here I AM. Why such increased fear suddenly? however, I really don't want a return ticket here so someone please wake me up now!’ If we are weary of this world, and if we are weary of our bodily existence, these could be good signs. How can we be comfortable in this world and hope to transcend the world? So extreme dissatisfaction in this world is not bad if such dissatisfaction prompts to leave everything outside and turn within will all-consuming love.

No intelligent jiva will want a return ticket here, but, Karen, no one can help us get out of this mess we find ourself in. We have bound ourself to this ego and this world by taking interest in things other than ourself. And now only we can extricate ourself from this seemingly hopeless condition by taking interest in only attending to ourself. We do not have any other way out of this ‘jail’. We are in our self-created ‘jails’ whether we know it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not.

But we can anytime walk out of this jail anytime we want because this jail has a small doorway on the wall at the back of us. This doorway is always open, and this takes us out of this jail. So we just turn back within, and we walk out of this tiny doorway never to return again. We can now celebrate our independence day!

Does all this help to answer your questions and doubts?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Karen, I ended my comment addressed to you by writing: ‘But we can anytime walk out of this jail anytime we want because this jail has a small doorway on the wall at the back of us. This doorway is always open, and this takes us out of this jail. So we just turn back within, and we walk out of this tiny doorway never to return again. We can now celebrate our independence day!’

I would just like to add to this analogy. This is an extremely tiny doorway, so in order to get out of it, we need to really bend very very low. We cannot just walk past it. This signifies that our ego has to subside, subside, subside and subside before we can hope to get out of the prison we find ourself in. I fully erect ego can pass through this doorway.

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anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
you say today 10 July 2020 at 15:38 "I fully erect ego can pass through this doorway."
What do you mean ? If 'erect' is used as an adjective, perhaps you wanted to write "A fully erect ego cannot pass through this doorway". If 'erect' is used as a transitive verb that sentence seems to be not complete.

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anadi-ananta said...

Karen,
I too like that small book "Truth Revealed" (Sad-Vidya) published by Sri Ramanasramam, Translated from the Tamil original of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Yes, the preface was written in 1935 by Grant Duff whose name was also Douglas Ainslie, a Scottish poet, translator ...

Karen Taylor said...
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R Viswanathan said...

"Viswanathan's comment referring to Robert's translation of Ulladu Narpadu inspired me to go over that translation again....."

I did not mean to make you feel burdened to go though the painstaking effort of Sri Robert Butler when I gave this reference. My apologies. I thought that one can easily skip that portion if one prefers and look for word to word translation or the summary itself, which I reproduced for that UN verse. His translation of Sri Muruganar's Vrithi Vurai of Aksharamanamalai helped me to understand better the original Tamil version of Sri Muruganar since the classic Tamil of Sri Muruganar was in the beginning a bit difficult for me to absorb. Thus, it is both admiration and gratitude for Sri Robert Butler that perhaps has motivated me to refer to him here in this blog where translation of Sri Michael James itself is available in various places.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

True sattvika ahara…

The following is an extract of my exchange with Michael on the matter of diet and what Sri Krishna says about sattvika diet in Bhagavad Gita. This exchange happened over Whatsapp and email. This started when I forwarded to Michael the following Whatsapp message:

MOST ANIMALS DIE BECAUSE WE EAT THEM. MOST HUMANS DIE BECAUSE THEY GET SICK FROM EATING THEM

This message triggered our conversation:

Michael James: True, but none of us can die till our allotted prarabdha is over, and none can live for a moment after that. While alive we should avoid eating animals, but whatever we do or don't do, death cannot be averted

Sanjay Lohia: Thank you, sir. So by eating healthily we cannot prolong our life. But it is written in Bhagavad Gita that if we eat sattvika food, it will increase the duration of our life. Verse 8, Chapter 17 says:

Foods in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one's existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.

How do we understand this verse?

Michael James: On average, people who eat healthily live longer than those who eat unhealthily, so if we are destined to live long we are likely to be inclined to eat healthily, namely a sattvika diet. However, though a sattvika diet is conducive to a long and healthy life, some people who eat such a diet die young, whereas some who eat an unhealthy diet live long. All depends entirely on prarabdha.

What is implied in that verse in the Gita is that a sattvika-minded person will be inclined to eat a sattvika diet, and that such a diet is generally conducive to a long life. Perhaps part of the purpose of this verse is to encourage people to like a sattivka diet, but only people who are inclined to have sattika qualities will be encouraged in this way.

If we are following Bhagavan's path, we will naturally be inclined to eat a sattvika diet, so we need not give much thought to such matters.

The most sattvika of all diets is to feed our mind with a diet of his teachings, so constantly dwelling on his core teachings and trying to put them into practice is true sattvika ahara.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, what I wanted to write was:

A fully erect ego cannot pass through this doorway.

I thank you and appreciate your keen power of observation.

Sanjay Lohia said...

How do we remember that we existed in sleep? (part one)

Michael James: Murthy, what you asked me was: ‘How do we remember that we existed in sleep?’ What I wrote in that email was as follows:

Our ‘memory’ of our existence in sleep is not a ‘memory’ like any of our other memories which are relatively superficial, because all other memories are memories of phenomena which we experience in waking or dream. So they are registered in our mind, and they can easily be forgotten, whereas our ‘memory’ of our continuity of our existence in sleep is a much deeper ‘memory’, which is not registered in our mind but in and as our very existence. So it can never be forgotten.

I particularly put ‘memory’ in scare quotes because it is not a memory in the normal sense of the term. Since we remember sleep, we take it as ‘memory’, though it is not memory like any other memory. So what we call our ‘memory’ of sleep is the very nature of our existence sat-chit. As sat-chit we are clearly always aware of our existence – not only I am aware ‘I am’ but I am also aware ‘I was’. So we call it ‘memory’ for want of any better term.

Even in waking and dream, as ego, we remember that we slept. How do we remember that we slept when we were not there in sleep? The answer is we were there in sleep not as ego but as pure awareness. The clue to this is in verse 24 of Ulladu Narpadu, in which Bhagavan says:

The insentient body does not say ‘I’; being-awareness does not rise; in between one thing, ‘I’, rises as the extent of the body. Know that this is the awareness-insentience-knot, bondage, soul, subtle body, ego, this wandering and mind.

What does Bhagavan mean by ‘in between’ or idaiyil here? How can something arise in between the body and sat-chit? Obviously, he is using ‘in between’ is a metaphorical sense here. This can be illustrated by an example. Suppose if you read a story in the newspaper and ask me ‘Is this story true?’ I may reply to you, ‘It is neither true nor false but somewhere in between’. It implies that it has got certain elements of truth in it and certain elements of falsehood – as a whole it is not true.

Ego is exactly like that. Why Bhagavan says idaiyil? It is because ego takes certain properties of the body and certain properties of sat-chit and claims them both as its own. That’s why it’s called chit-jada-granthi. It’s an entangled mixture of chit and jada, of pure awareness and the body. So just like it claims the body as ‘I am this body’, it also claims the awareness as ‘I am this awareness’.

(To be continued in my next comment)

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-08 Michael and Murthy discuss the oneness of ego and pure awareness (34:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

How do we remember that we existed in sleep? (part two)

Michael James: When we say ‘I existed in sleep’, we are claiming that our real existence was there in sleep. We are claiming that sat-chit is ours, just like we claim that our body is ours. But ego is neither of these. It is some spurious entity that has risen grasping the properties of both. As ego we are always aware of ‘I am’, but ‘I am’ doesn’t’ belong to ego. ‘I am’ is our real nature. This body doesn’t belong to ego, but ego takes on the properties of both.

If you wake up and I ask you, ‘did you sleep?’, and you say, 'yes, I slept’. If I ask you ‘how did you remember you were asleep?’ You would probably say, ‘I clearly remember that I was in a state in which I wasn’t aware of anything’. How did you remember that? That is not a memory like the normal memory of phenomena. That ‘memory’ is our very nature of our existence sat-chit because sat-chit is that which is always existing and shining. So since I exist and shine now, I know very clearly that I was existing in sleep.

That’s why Bhagavan says even when see others dying, death is somehow never real to us. Bhagavan said even in a battlefield when a soldier sees his comrades dying around him, he doesn’t actually feel he is going to die. He may feel fear, but he doesn’t feel he is going to die because we all know very clearly that we are immortal. But the trouble is we superimpose our immortality, which is the immortality of sat-chit, on the body. So we take our body to be immortal and think that we are never going to die.

That’s why Bhagavan also told the story of an imposter who didn’t belong to either the bridegroom party or the bride’s party, but he posed to each party that he belonged to the other side. So, such is the nature of ego. Ego doesn’t belong to sat-chit. It doesn’t belong to the body. It takes the properties of both.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-08 Michael and Murthy discuss the oneness of ego and pure awareness (34:00)

My reflection: How do I know that I was asleep? As Michael explains, I clearly recall that I was asleep because I existed in sleep. But this ‘I’ which existed in sleep was not ego but the chit aspect of ego. So since one aspect of ego was present in sleep, I as ego claim that I was asleep.

I know that I was asleep because I am clearly aware now that I was in a state in which I was not aware of any phenomena. The ‘I’ who is now aware of such a state which was devoid of phenomena is ego. So this is ego’s ‘memory’. However, this memory is different from all our other more superficial memories. All other mundane memories are impressions in our mind, but our ‘memory’ of sleep is not an impression on our mind because actually our mind or ego was not there in sleep to form this impression.

So our ‘memory’ of sleep is quite unlike our other memories, but we clearly recollect that we existed in sleep as ‘I am’. So in our true nature, we are just this ‘I am’ because only this ‘I am’ exists and shines in all our three states of waking, dream and sleep. Anything that comes and goes cannot be the real ‘I’. So this is a very crucial inference we draw by analysing our experience in our various states.

R Viswanathan said...

Salazar said on 11 July 2020 at 04:09:
"I bought a few years ago Robert's translation of Ozhivil Odukkam and enjoyed it a lot."
I am very thankful for this remark because it encourages me now to start reading Ozhivil Odukkam, which I learn was often quoted by Bhagavan. I could download the commentary (Vilakka Vurai) by Sri. K. Sriram (Mugavai Kanna Muruganadimai). I learn that Bhagavan has even mentioned once to Sri Muruganar that it would be good if this work is explained by someone in Vedantic terms.

R Viswanathan said...

Karen Taylor said on 10 July 2020 at 06:30:
"Can anyone please explain what Bhagavan means when he instructs us to "go back the way we came?......Why such increased fear suddenly? Is this part and parcel? I felt more peaceful twenty-five years ago when just entering spiritual path....."

You may find it useful the following passage taken from the article 'Encounters with Ramaswami Pillai' by Roland Olson, which appeared in Mountain Path, January-March 2014:

...When I returned to Arunachala the next year a fellow devotee, Robin, introduced me to him and I overcame my shyness by asking him a question about Self Enquiry. He responded by glaring at me and shouting, “Forget about that! That is not for you! Look at Bhagavan’s picture! Just sit quietly and look into his eyes! He will do everything! Is it a mistake that God spelled backwards is dog? It is not! Where else will you find someone who returns only good for evil, who is always your friend, who has complete trust in you? Bhagavan will do everything. Just trust him.” I tried to ask another question but it was as if he hadn’t heard. “Just go back to the Source! Water comes from the ocean as vapour, rains down into the rivers and goes back to the ocean. God to God! That bliss is there right now. Meditate in front of Bhagavan, eyes open, eyes closed, it doesn’t matter. He will do everything for you.”

The ferocity and sheer volume of his voice overwhelmed me. I had expected him to answer my question with sophistication and surgical precision and instead it felt like he was hitting me over the head with a board, but I did take him seriously enough to write down what he
said in my journal and think about it.

When I visited the Ashram again two years later with one of my daughters we walked over to the Morvi Compound so I could introduce her to him. Maria was a young woman in her early 20’s, a college graduate and rather reserved. She knew very little about Bhagavan and the Ashram. This visit to Ramanasramam was to be an exploration for her and not a deep sea dive. That did not deter Ramaswami Pillai from pushing her into the deep water! As soon as the introduction was over he began to shout. “Surrender! That’s the path for you. Nothing else is necessary. Life is full of trouble and challenges so put your cares on the Lord and surrender. Churches and temples are not necessary! He will take care of it all!” He stared at her as he went on in this vein and concluded by saying, “If you wish you may take this as initiation.”

As we walked away she looked at me and said, “Dad, can you tell me what that was all about?” How could I explain? I took care to write down what he said and sent it to her several years later when she asked me to.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar said that he bought a few years ago Robert Butler's translation of Ozhivil Odukkam. Actually the first edition of this book composed by Kannudaiya Vallalar came out in the year 2019, published by Sri Ramanasramam.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Ego does exist in sleep but only as pure awareness

No words can adequately express this subject. This is why Bhagavan often used words which seemed paradoxical. He says in verse 5 of Ekatma Panchakam ‘ceppedu ceppit’, which means 'saying without saying'. Though these words seem to be paradoxical, they are very very deep in meaning. Bhagavan uses these words to stop us in our tracks as it were. He could have said 'silence', but why does he say 'saying without saying'? Such phrases make us think more deeply beyond the words. If he had said 'silence', we would have just skimmed over it without thinking over it.

Verse 5 of ‘Ekatma-Panchakam’ is as follows:

That which always exists (and shines) by its own light, is only the reality (vastu), that one self. When at that time (in ancient days) the Adi-Guru (the primal Guru, Dakshinamurti) revealed that reality without saying (that is, by teaching through silence), say who can reveal (it by) saying (through words).

Bhagavan says ceppadu ceppit – even the Adi-guru taught this saying without saying. What does he mean by the words ‘saying without saying’? In order to understand Bhagavan, we have to go beyond words. We have to see where these words are pointing towards. That is why I wrote that ego does exist in sleep but only as pure awareness, not as ego, thereby implying that what ego actually is, is only pure awareness. As such it exists in sleep, and as such, it exists even now.

Now ego exists as ‘I am so-and-so’, but actually what it is, is only ‘I am’. So all this is to see the immediacy of it. So long as we see ego and pure awareness as two things, we are not getting it. What ego actually is is only pure awareness here and now. So if you look at yourself, you will see yourself as pure awareness. Obviously, who is doing the looking? Only ego, but when ego looks at itself it sees itself as pure awareness, it thereby ceases to be ego.

Bhagavan often used to emphasise that ego and pure awareness are one and the same thing. Bhagavan says in verse 24 of Upadesa Undiyar:

By existing nature, God and soul are just one substance. Only adjunct-awareness is different.

So it is only upadhi unarvu (adjunct-awareness) that is different, and upadhi unarvu is just an appearance. In substance, the snake is nothing but the rope, but in appearance, it is something other than the rope. So the rope and the snake are just seemingly different. Likewise, the difference between ego and our real nature is just an appearance. They are one in substance. That is why if we look carefully at ego, we will see that it is nothing but pure awareness.

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-08 Michael and Murthy discuss the oneness of ego and pure awareness (44:00)


Sanjay Lohia said...

Karen, only Michael’s efforts are truly inspirational. I am learning from him every day in so many ways. So, all thanks to our beloved Sri Michael James! Of course, ultimately it is all coming from Bhagavan – Bhagavan is shining in us as absolute clarity of pure self-awareness. So anything inspirational can originate only from this clarity.

If love is coming through these transcriptions, again thanks should go to only Bhagavan because only Bhagavan is pure and infinite love. Our ego is held together by its bundle of desires, so ego is the very antithesis of love. So as ego, we are devoid of much love.

Anyway, I thank you for your kind and encouraging words.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Unknown, all thanks only to Bhagavan. Who are we to clarify anything, when we are born in confusion, exist in confusion and will perhaps also die in confusion? By 'we' I mean this ego. So clarification can only come from clarity, and only Bhagavan is absolute clarity. So all thanks to Bhagavan and Michael: Michael is our link to Bhagavan. He is our ladder to Bhagavan - our bridge to Bhagavan.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"That is why if we look carefully at ego, we will see that it is nothing but pure awareness."
Therefore all appearances seem to be a case of carefully looking. In other words one may conclude from that statement that the careful onlooker is already nothing but pure awareness. However, the emphasis is on the word 'careful'. Hence all the people who are not able/ready to look carefully enough at ego have bad prospects. Ultimately humanity seems to be divided in the caste of a few good observers or careful onlookers and those who are not looking keenly enough.:-)

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, you say, ‘Your two main vasanas which became obvious over the years: And that is diet and Michael, your savior :-) Once you can let go of these two strong attachments, you'll be much closer to self’. I admit that I am guilty of these crimes in the court of Salazar. Now I await your punishment. Anyway, I appreciate your concern for me because you obviously want me to come closer to self. So, thank you!

Our saviour is only Bhagavan because only Bhagavan exists. Michael has pointed out to me in clear and unambiguous terms why Bhagavan is our only saviour. So I have high regards for Michael.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

The supreme power of grace is leading us along this path, and it will never fail

Michael: Bhagavan has said that all that we have to do is persevere and we will surely succeed – success is guaranteed. All that is required is perseverance.

A friend: Will we ever be able to abide in ourself permanently? It seems impossible.

Michael: It is possible for grace, and grace is driving us. What is grace? Grace is the infinite love that Bhagavan has for us as himself because he doesn’t see us as other than himself. So he loves us as himself. Because he loves us as himself, he wants us to be as we actually are, so to speak. We say Bhagavan wants but Bhagavan doesn’t want anything. We say this because we can think of it only in our terms. Bhagavan loves us as himself, so he wants us to be himself.

So that power of love is what is drawing us along this path, leading us along this path. That is the supreme power of grace, and grace will never fail. We are powerless in front of it.

Bhagavan is very very gentle. He doesn’t force things. He gently leads us until we are willing to put our head on the block and then he chops it.

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James answers questions on Bhagavan’s teachings (02:21 + 02:28)

My reflection: Michael says, ‘success is guaranteed’. It’s music to my ears. Bhagavan himself has guaranteed our success in so many places. But perhaps, the greatest assurance he has given us is in paragraph 12 of Nan Ar?:

God and guru are in truth not different. Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace will never be forsaken but will surely be saved by him; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly in accordance with the path that guru has shown.

Bhagavan says, ‘so those who have been caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace will never be forsaken but will surely be saved by him’. Can Bhagavan give us a greater assurance than this? I don’t think so. Since we are trying to walk (albeit at our own lethargic speed) in accordance with the path shown to us by Bhagavan, now we expect Bhagavan to keep his promise and save us as asap.

As Bhagavan sings to Arunachala in one of his verses, ‘Arunachala, now do not cheat me!’ So I am confident that Bhagavan will not cheat us. His written assurance cannot be a false promise – he will not lie. It is impossible. So Bhagavan will surely save us. When? Michael has answered this: ‘Bhagavan is very very gentle. He doesn’t force things. He gently leads us until we are willing to put our head on the block and then he chops it’. So our job is to become more and more willing to put our head on the block. Bhagavan is ever ready to finish us off here and now.

anadi-ananta said...

Is that a good idea when one who is surely not free of attachments discovers/identifies alleged ego-feeding mistakes/attachments of an other ?:-)

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, you say, ‘Sorry, ultimately that is not my business, however since you increasingly take on the role of a "teacher" in communicating with others, I am setting certain standards otherwise I have to consider you for a hypocrite’. I am indeed a hypocrite. ‘I’ means ego here – this ego is certainly the biggest hypocrite. Sometimes it poses as chit (awareness) and sometimes as a body, but it is neither. So we should welcome all condemnation or abuse coming to this hypocrite, which is the greatest imposter. So this shameless fellow should bend its head down and disappear from the scene asap, which it is not willing to do yet.

By the way, Bhagavan is our only real teacher and guru. So we are his shishyas or chelas (disciples). If this imposter ego is posing as a ‘teacher’, it needs to be shown its place. I can do so only by investigating, ‘who is trying to pose as a teacher?’

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anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
"Change is extremely slow...".
Is there anything else wrong ?
So instead of complain about imperfect contemporaries let us stay with the changeless pure consciousness.

anadi-ananta said...

Unknown,
tell me which spelling mistake correction (in this thread) were you expecting. I am full of expectation.:-)

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anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
it is clear that one cannot derive benefit from everybody. Because my consciousness can still be compared to murky water, I regret that my ideas were not to your advantage and did not come up to your expectations. :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

The vasanas are the likes and dislikes in their seed form

Sanjay: Our vasanas are our collection of desires.

Michael: They are the seeds of our desires – they are desires in seed form.

Sanjay: OK, but every time we experience ourself as a new person, does it alter our vasanas in any way?

Michael: Now you identify yourself with a person called ‘Sanjay’, and you have certain likes, dislikes, attachments and so on as Sanjay. When Sanjay dies, obviously all his desires, attachments die along with Sanjay, but the seeds of those desires and attachments are carried forth by the ego that now says ‘I am Sanjay’. This ego takes all its vasanas with it, and it again projects another person as itself, and it then thinks ‘I am John’ or ‘I am Mohammad’ or whatever.

Let us take you are born as Mohammad in Arabia. As Mohammad, you will have different parents, different relations and you will be in a different place. So you will seem to have different desires and attachments, but the same seeds of vasanas will now sprout from the perspective of Mohammad. You (the same ego) will now be attached to Mohammad’s wife, his children and his children. So the seed forms of vasanas are carried forth.

So vasanas are not desires per se, but the seeds of the desires. The seeds of desires will carry on and manifest differently. Now you like a certain sort of a diet because of the culture you are born in. If you are born in a different culture, you may have a liking for a different type of diet.

Sanjay: So suppose if I have a desire for a bigger car now, and if I die and am born as a poor person, will I still have this desire for this big car?

Michael: Because you have money now and you have a car, you may have desire for a bigger car. When you are born a poor person, you may desire to have a bicycle. The object of desire may seem to be different, but still, you have a desire for a faster mode of travel.

So vasanas are the likes and dislikes in their seed form. So the form in which they manifest may be different, but the seeds remain the same.

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James answers questions on Bhagavan’s teachings (01:48)

My reflections: This ego is carrying these desires and attachments within itself since we do not know how many thousands or even crores of births. So the same sort of story must be repeating again and again. In every birth, I have a family and am attached to my family. In every birth, I am attached to a particular sort of diet. So my current life is no different from my other countless lives which I must have lived in my previous dreams.

So I should not be overly attached to this life because even this life will pass. If this ego doesn’t vanish before I die, I will be born again and the same old story will repeat itself. Why do the same things over and over again? Why not simply surrender here and now and prevent the reoccurrence of this same story - another wife or husband, another set of parents and children but the same type of desires and attachments. So aren't we being foolish by doing the same things over and over again? Why are we not weary and exhausted by such repetitive same type of life-stories? It is because of our spiritual immaturity. We are not able to see through all these things.

So reflecting deeply in this way will help us gain vairagya, and vairagya will help us to leave everything outside and turn within with greater love.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Thirukkural: Some verses from Chapter 35 titled ‘Renunciation’

Michael was referring to some of the following verses of ‘Thirukkural’ in his latest Zoom meeting organised by RMF-UK. Michael often quotes the following verses, especially verse 341:

Verse 341:

Pain, there is none,
from all those one renounces.

Whatever one renounces,
cannot cause pain.

By giving up lust for something,
one also precludes the pain it can cause.

Verse 350:

Be attached to God, who is attached to none,
only so that you leverage that attachment to let go of all other attachments.

Be attached to the One, who is attached to none.
Be so attached to be free of any attachments.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan’s whole heart is poured out in Aksaramanamalai

Michael: I have embarked on doing a translation of Aksaramanamalai of my own, and it’s still a work-in-progress. It’s a very very important work to do because Bhagavan’s whole heart is poured out in Aksaramanamalai. So words cannot express what an important work it is. It is also extremely important for anyone following Bhagavan’s path because, in this work, Bhagavan expresses the feelings and challenges that any devotee following this path will face.

A friend: : I believe these verses can be interpreted in many ways.

Michael: Muruganar was writing a commentary of Aksaramanamalai. In this process, he came to one of its verses and he wasn’t fully satisfied with any of its meanings. So he asked Bhagavan, ‘Bhagavan, what was it that you had in mind when you sang this verse?’ Bhagavan said, 'The fellow who sang it has gone away long ago. If you want me to give a meaning I have to break my head to do so. You may as well break your head and give your own meaning'.

So Bhagavan always declined to give the meaning of these verses because Bhagavan didn’t want to limit the meaning. That is, verses that have multiple-meaning are meant to have multiple-meaning, and in different states of mind the verses may strike in different ways. So we cannot give an exhaustive list of all the possible interpretations because more meaning may come out later. Bhagavan was careful to avoid interrelating Aksaramanamalai in any way.

Sometimes when people asked Bhagavan, ‘Bhagavan, I recite these verses but I am not able to understand them’, Bhagavan said, ‘Recitation of it is itself the meaning’. Even to the people who were not fully able to understand them, he still encouraged them to recite them because the words have their own power.

The friend: Yes, we listen to these songs and even if we don’t understand them, love comes forth spontaneously.

Michael: The words coming from sages like Bhagavan have the power of a mantra. Bhagavan’s original words have such power in them. Even if we don’t understand the language, they can melt your heart. The whole purpose of Aksaramanamalai is to melt completely in the love of Bhagavan. Bhagavan sings:

Like ice in water, melt me as love in you, the form of love.

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James answers questions on Bhagavan’s teachings (02:12)

My reflections: As Michael has indicated that he has a plan to give a series of talks on Aksaramanamalai in these meetings. He has indicated that before starting these talks, he wants time to prepare for each verse. However, I believe Bhagavan’s grace will speak through Michael if and when he begins this series of talks.

If, as Michael says, ‘Bhagavan’s whole heart is poured out in Aksaramanamalai’, the same heart of Bhagavan will eloquently speak through Michael. So my humble suggestion to him is that he should start this series of talks without concerning himself with elaborate preparations. Why not surrender even the preparations to Bhagavan? As Sadhu Om used to say, Bhagavan is even prepared to think for us if we surrender to him. So I am sure Bhagavan will do the thinking for Michael.

Sir, what do you say? I would love to have your reaction to my humble views.

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anadi-ananta said...

As we see Nostradamus is back. :-)

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Karen, you wrote, 'It comes across clearly to this one that Sanjay knows Bhagavan is paramount while feeling much gratitude to Michael for being such a mighty instrument. Haven't been here long but this is one perspective'. I am in 100% alignment with your perspective.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Karen, as you say, 'All is Bhagavan, Bhagavan is all!' Yes, we as ego are nothing, so why to think so much about the life of this transient and ephemeral person in this world? In fact, as a person, we have only our death to look forward to. We are a passing show. Bhagavan is all - only Bhagavan is. Only Bhagavan is living. We are as good as dead.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
perhaps you wrote your "Faith song" originally in Spanish. At least for me at first reading, that what you wanted to express with your poetry in English comes through not so entirely clear. Perhaps one should read it several times.
On no account do not be discouraged to indulge in your poetric bent also in English.:-)

Michael James said...

Firstly I apologise to anyone who has written any comments (or emails) addressed to me recently that I have not replied to. During the past few months there have been so many comments here and I have received so many emails that I have not had time to read most of them, let alone reply to them. I have been replying to as many emails as possible, but I have not had time to reply to the vast majority of them.

Secondly, Sanjay, you wrote to me recently drawing my attention to your comment of 13 July 2020 at 16:41, in which you asked for my reaction to the views you expressed in the penultimate two paragraphs, so the following is my response:

You ask, ‘Why not surrender even the preparations to Bhagavan?’, but why should you assume that preparing to do any work to the best of one’s ability conflicts in any way with surrender? If it is my prārabdha to prepare as well as I can for this task, Bhagavan will make me do so.

Surrender is not just not doing this or that, but is not rising as ego to think ‘I should do this’ or ‘I should not do that’, so what we need to guard against first and foremost is the rising of ego. If I were to think, ‘Bhagavan will speak through me, so I need not think carefully or deeply about each verse’, would that not be presumptuous and egotistic?

Whether Bhagavan chooses to speak through us or not is up to him, so it would be the height of egotism to assume that he is speaking or will speak through us, as if we were some sort of divinely commissioned channel for his grace. Sometimes in retrospect it may seem that what we have said could not have been said by us without his guidance, but we should not assume that that will always be the case, because if we allow such a big ego to rise it will surely face an equally big downfall.

As often seems to be the case, you seem to be placing me on an unrealistic pedestal, which is not good either for you or for me. In Bhagavan’s path our aim is to separate ourself from whatever person we may seem to be, because what is real is only ‘I am’ and not any person. Therefore putting any person (whether oneself or anyone else) on a pedestal is going directly against the path that he has shown us. Sanjay and Michael are both just fleeting appearances in a dream, so why attach any importance to them or delude ourself by pretending that either of them is in any way something special?

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"Only Bhagavan is living.
We are as good as dead."
Because we are Bhagavan we have nothing to fear.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Saying without saying (part one)

In his video: 2020-07-08 Michael and Murthy discuss the oneness of ego and pure awareness, at 44:00 Michael quoted two verses which both had the phrase ‘saying without saying’. I wrote to Michael asking him to clearly specify the verses because he had not mentioned the exact source of the first of these verses. He has sent me an email mentioning these verses:

The verses I referred to were verse 36 of Akṣaramaṇamālai:

சொல்லாது சொலிநீ சொல்லற நில்லென்று
சும்மா விருந்தா யருணாசலா

sollādu solinī sollaṟa nilleṉḏṟu
summā virundā yaruṇācalā

பதச்சேதம்: சொல்லாது சொலி நீ ‘சொல் அற நில்’ என்று சும்மா இருந்தாய் அருணாசலா.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): sollādu soli nī ‘sol aṟa nil’ eṉḏṟu summā irundāy aruṇācalā.

English translation: Arunachala, saying without saying, ‘Stand [stop, stay or remain] without speech’, you just were [without doing anything].

and verse 5 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam:

எப்போது முள்ளதவ் வேகான்ம வத்துவே
யப்போதவ் வத்துவை யாதிகுரு — செப்பாது
செப்பித் தெரியுமா செய்தன ரேலெவர்
செப்பித் தெரிவிப்பர் செப்பு.

eppōdu muḷḷadav vēkāṉma vattuvē
yappōdav vattuvai yādiguru — seppādu
seppit teriyumā seydaṉa rēlevar
seppit terivippar ceppu.

பதச்சேதம்: எப்போதும் உள்ளது அவ் ஏகான்ம வத்துவே. அப்போது அவ் வத்துவை ஆதி குரு செப்பாது செப்பி தெரியுமா செய்தனரேல், எவர் செப்பி தெரிவிப்பர்? செப்பு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): eppōdum uḷḷadu a-vv-ēkāṉma vattuvē. appōdu a-v-vattuvai ādi-guru seppādu seppi teriyumā seydaṉarēl, evar seppi terivippar? seppu.

English translation: What always exists is only that ēkātma-vastu [oneself, that one substance]. If at that time the ādi-guru [the original guru, Dakshinamurti] made that vastu known [only by] speaking without speaking, say, who can make it known [by] speaking?

sollādu soli and seppādu seppi both mean 'not saying saying' or 'saying without saying'.

(To be continued in my next comment)


Sanjay Lohia said...

Saying without saying (part two)

• verse 36 of Akṣaramaṇamālai:

Arunachala, saying without saying, ‘Stand [stop, stay or remain] without speech’, you just were [without doing anything].

Sadhu Om explains this verse as follows: ‘O Arunachala, through silence you instructed me, ‘Be still, without the least action of mind, speech and body’, and you also remained in such a fashion’.

• verse 5 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam:

What always exists is only that ēkātma-vastu [oneself, that one substance]. If at that time the ādi-guru [the original guru, Dakshinamurti] made that vastu known [only by] speaking without speaking, say, who can make it known [by] speaking?

As Michael said in one of his recent videos, Bhagavan deliberately uses phrases such as ‘saying without saying’ or ‘speaking without speaking’ to make us stop and think deeply.

What is Arunachala or Bhagavan or Dakshinamurti trying to say without saying? They are trying to tell through their eloquent silence that we cannot find what we are searching for if we do not remain silent like them. They are telling us that we can experience true and infinite happiness only in silence. But what sort of silence are they talking about? They are talking about the silence which is devoid of ego or mind: in other words, we can experience true silence only when ego does not rise to say ‘I’ or anything else.

Only such silence, which is beyond all types of the silence of body, speech and mind, will enable us to understand what Arunachala or Bhagavan or Dakshinamurti are trying to say without saying. If we want to experience ekatma-vastu as it is, we have no other option but to remain absolutely silent or remain in a state where our ego has no chance of rising even in the least. Only then Arunachala or Bhagavan will be able to teach us whatever they are trying to say without saying.

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Unknown said...

Michael, well said indeed. Trust you are doing well. Take care and the very best wishes to you. Warm Regards.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I thank you for your latest comment. I am sorry if I have gone overboard in praising you in some of my comments. Obviously, I did this because of my spiritual immaturity: that is, I didn’t fully realise that ‘putting any person (whether oneself or anyone else) on a pedestal is going directly against the path that Bhagavan has shown us’. But since you have now pointed this out to me, I will definitely from now onwards keep this in mind.

Yes, I agree. Bhagavan may want us to thoroughly prepare before we speak on his teachings, so why should we assume that every time we speak or write about Bhagavan’s teachings, Bhagavan will speak through us? Our job is to keep our ego in check and not assume that we are some divinely ordained channel for Bhagavan’s grace. As you rightly imply if we feel this way, we are clearly exposing a strong ego in us.

As you imply, Sanjay, Michael or whoever is just fleeting appearances on the screen of pure awareness ‘I am’. Only this ‘I am’ is real – this ‘I am’ in its purity is what Bhagavan actually is. So we should not be concerned with the fleeting appearances which appear on the screen of pure awareness. Our interest in these appearances is keeping us away from turning within fully to experience ourself as we actually are.

We need such clear guidance so that we don’t falter in our path. That is, we should not become a yogabrastha – one who has fallen from the practice of yoga. In our context, yoga means this mahayoga, this practice of atma-vichara. So we need to careful to walk this path with caution and utmost humility. Bhagavan teaches us in Nan Ar that the humbler we are, the better for us. This humility entails not rising as ego to praise or criticise others – at least, we should keep such praise and criticism within limits.

I once again thank you for this valuable lesson. With regards.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

We always have to go deeper and deeper and deeper (part one)

A friend: I have a dispute with my cousins regarding some property which is in our joint name. They want to sell the property but don’t seem to be inclined to give me my fair share in it. So should I give in to their demands or fight for my rights?

Michael: What is required is that we don’t have the desire for things. If it is your destiny to fight for your rights, you will fight for your rights. Your destiny may prompt you to feel that for the sake of your children or your family, you have to fight for certain rights. But inwardly we need to be free of the desire for these things. So the outward actions will go according to prarabdha.

We need not be concerned about our actions. We need to be concerned about the desires that are driving us to do these actions. We don’t have to even analyse that too much. We should take care not to rise as ego – by not rising as ego, our desires and attachments are not coming into play. So whatever actions are done by our body, speech and mind are according to prarabdha. If we don’t surrender our ego, definitely our likes and dislikes will come into play. So we will feel, ‘O these cousins are cheating me. This isn’t fair’. Thus we will feel resentment and all sorts of things.

What is the root of all this resentment, all these feelings of injustice? It is our rising as ego. That is why Bhagavan focuses on the root. All such resentment, feelings of injustice, attachments is for whom? These are obviously for me – that is ego. So we thereby turn our attention back within and thereby curb the rising of ego. To the extent we curb the rising of ego, to that extent we are curbing our desires and attachments.

Maybe it the destiny of our body and mind to be engaged in litigations, but inwardly we will not be affected by the outcome. We lose the litigation and we have to pay all the opponent’s fees and everything, but we will not be affected by that because we are not rising as ego.

So the whole problem is ego. Even the vasanas are not a problem. The ego is the root of vasanas. So long as we rise as ego, vasanas will come into play. To the extent we investigate and surrender ourself, to that extent we will subside, and to the extent we subside, to that extent our desires and attachments will be weakened.

(To be continued in my next comment)

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James answers questions on Bhagavan’s teachings (01:52)

Sanjay Lohia said...

We always have to go deeper and deeper and deeper (part two)

The friend: Whatever is to come to me, will come to me. So if I tell my cousins, ‘OK, if you feel you are being fair, please take whatever you want’, but if my fair share is to come to me, it will come to me.

Michael: It will come to you, yes.

The friend: I don’t want to fight, so I leave it to them to decide my share. Whatever is in my destiny as decided by Bhagavan will automatically come to me. So I believe that’s a better attitude to have?

Michael: Yes, yes, certainly, it’s a better attitude to have, definitely. But supposing it is your destiny to fight a court case with them, you will be driven to do so, even though you may not want to. Something will prompt you – your family members may prompt you, or you may feel, ‘O this is unfair. I have to fight for my rights’. Your body, speech and mind cannot avoid doing those actions which you are destined to do. But that need not concern us.

Bhagavan says in the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar, ‘Instead of yielding ourself to the parameshwara shakti, why should we constantly be thinking ‘it is necessary to do like this; it is necessary to do like that?’ Even to think, ‘I should fight for my rights’ or ‘I shouldn’t fight for my rights’ – leave that burden to Bhagavan. He will decide whether you are going to fight with them or surrender to their demands. What you need to be concerned about is yielding yourself to him – that is, not rising as ego.

So the practice Bhagavan has taught us is the practice of turning within and letting go of all outward things. Bhagavan has greatly simplified things by asking us just to focus on self-investigation and self-surrender. We do not have to concern ourself with whether we should act like this or like that. That will be taken care of by prarabdha.

(To be continued in my next comment)

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James answers questions on Bhagavan’s teachings (01:52)

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Sanjay Lohia said...

We always have to go deeper and deeper and deeper (part three)

The friend: That I agree. What I mean to say is that it is always better not to hold on to things than to hold on to things consciously.

Michael: Always letting go of things is better. Often in Scotland, people say the following saying:

What is for you will not go by you

What is destined to come to us will come to us. It will not go past us. In Thirukkural there is a verse which Bhagavan often used to quote:

Whatever we let go of, we are free from the trouble of that thing

So it is always better to let go.

The friend: That was how I was thinking. They want to give me something but not my fair share. So I say, ‘OK, whatever you want to give, please give’. Whatever I am destined to receive or not receive does not rest with my cousins. It will all happen according to my destiny.

Michael: As Bhagavan said in that note to his mother, whatever is not to happen, will not happen, however much effort we make to make it happen. Whatever is to happen will not stop from happening, however much we try to prevent it from happening. So what is destined - only that will happen. So if your fair share is to come to you, it will come to you, and you are destined to receive an ‘unfair’ share, you cannot avoid that. So we need not concern about such things.

What is important is that inwardly you let go. If you outwardly let go also that is according to prarabdha. But we have to be always watching the inward thing. We should be free of desires and attachments by not rising as ego. Then, whatever happens, let it happen according to destiny.

Outward renunciation is relatively easy. For example, you can say, ‘OK, I don’t want to fight with my cousins. Let them take whatever they want to take’, but inwardly you may still be thinking ‘O, it’s unfair. They got an unfair share. I got less’. So the problem is not the outward thing but the inward thing. So long as you feel ‘I have renounced in their favour’ or ‘I have given it up’, you haven’t properly renounced.

You should aim to remain established in a state where an ‘I’ does not rise to say, ‘I have renounced’. So we always have to go deeper and deeper and deeper.

(The end)

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James answers questions on Bhagavan’s teachings (01:52)

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anadi-ananta said...

Congratulations to everyone for having reached the unique state where "effort is no longer needed” !

anadi-ananta said...

“The mind will always feel that self-attention is difficult, because it can never attend to self. Only self can attend to self.”
Yes, certainly the self has no need to attend to itself.
Therefore it is unmistak(e)ably clear: the mind has to strive for self-attention.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan said ego is the primary disease, and the body is the secondary disease, and any disease that comes to that body is a tertiary disease (part one)

A friend: The following is an extract from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi - Talk 22 (31st January, 1935):

Mrs. Piggott returned from Madras for a further visit. She asked questions relating to diet regulation.

D: What diet is prescribed for a sadhak (one who is engaged in spiritual practices)?

M: Satvic food in limited quantities.

D: What is satvic food?

M: Bread, fruits, vegetables, milk, etc.

D: Some people take fish in North India. May it be done?

No answer was made by the Maharshi.

D: We Europeans are accustomed to a particular diet; change of diet affects health and weakens the mind. Is it not necessary to keep up physical health?

M: Quite necessary. The weaker the body the stronger the mind grows.

D: In the absence of our usual diet our health suffers and the mind loses strength.

M: What do you mean by strength of mind?

D: The power to eliminate worldly attachment.

M: The quality of food influences the mind. The mind feeds on the food consumed.

D: Really! How can the Europeans adjust themselves to satvic food only?

M: (Pointing to Mr. Evans-Wentz) You have been taking our food. Do you feel uncomfortable on that account?

Mr. Evans-Wentz: No. Because I am accustomed to it.

D: What about those not so accustomed?

M: Habit is only adjustment to the environment. It is the mind that matters. The fact is that the mind has been trained to think certain foods tasty and good. The food material is to be had both in vegetarian and non-vegetarian diet equally well. But the mind desires such food as it is accustomed to and considers tasty.

D: Are there restrictions for the realised man in a similar manner?

M: No. He is steady and not influenced by the food he takes.

D: Is it not killing life to prepare meat diet?

M.: Ahimsa stands foremost in the code of discipline for the yogis.

D: Even plants have life.

M: So too the slabs you sit on!

D: May we gradually get ourselves accustomed to vegetarian food?

M: Yes. That is the way

The friend: Bhagavan says, ‘The weaker the body the stronger the mind grows’. How do you interpret this statement?

(To be continued in my next comment)

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-12 Michael and Kijan discuss the nature and role of the will (01:16)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan said ego is the primary disease and the body is the secondary disease, and any disease that comes to that body is a tertiary disease (part two)

The friend: Bhagavan says, ‘The weaker the body the stronger the mind grows’. How do you interpret this statement?

Michael: Whether the body is strong or not is according to prarabdha. When we are young, generally the body is strong, but as we grow old, the body becomes weaker. Regarding the strong mind, maybe something was misunderstood or misinterpreted by the recorder.

Bhagavan did say in the context of fasting: if you fast, your body thereby becomes weak and your mind will thereby become strong – meaning more outward going. It is because you will be thinking about food and such things. Bhagavan discouraged people who wanted to fast or do severe tapas. The fasting which is required is not feeding the mind with phenomena. So turning the mind within is the correct fasting. As he says in verse 16 of Upadesa Undiyar:

Leaving external phenomena, the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness.

So withdrawing the mind from the seen and turning it back to the seer – that is the correct fasting.

The friend: The following is an extract from: Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, Letter no 35, DISEASE:

Two years back, when our elder brother came to the Ashram, Mr. Manne Venkataramayya, retired Judge, was here. It seems he was sick some time back and got cured, but not completely. After listening to the details of the sickness from early morning till 8-30 p.m., Bhagavan said, ‘Yes, indeed! The body itself is a disease. If the body gets a disease, it means that the original disease has got another disease. If you really want this new disease not to trouble you, you must first take the required medicine for the original disease so that the later disease — that is, the disease of the disease — does not affect you. What is the use of worrying about the secondary disease instead of trying to find out a method of getting rid of the primary disease? Therefore allow this new disease to go its own way, and think of a medicine for the original disease’.

How do you interpret this?

Michael: When Bhagavan was in his final illness and people were asking him to cure himself, Bhagavan said, ‘This body is a disease. If a disease come to the disease, it is good for us’. So a lot of things Bhagavan said in a particular context, but we shouldn’t try to extrapolate it beyond that context.

(To be continued in my next comment)

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-12 Michael and Kijan discuss the nature and role of the will (01:16)



Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan said ego is the primary disease and the body is the secondary disease, and any disease that comes to that body is a tertiary disease (part three)

Michael: Bhagavan generally was not either for or against taking medicines because according to him, the disease comes according to prarabdha and if the medicines come, that’s also according to prarabdha. So we shouldn’t concern ourself too much about these things. It is natural that when we are sick, we go to a doctor and he gives us medicines, and we take the medicines.

A lot of people become overly concerned about physical health. Obviously, Bhagavan didn’t encourage that. As he said in verse 12 of Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham:

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

So Bhagavan never said ‘don't take medicines’ - Bhagavan never went to extremes. He would advise not to attach too much importance to these things. We should ensure that we don’t let our health become an obsession because there is nothing like perfect health. And we know that the body is going to die one day. Whatever disease is to come to the body is according to prarabdha, and whatever cure is to come is also according to prarabdha.

Obviously, when we have a body, we take care of it. We feed it, we give it sufficient exercise, but we shouldn’t be obsessed with our bodily health. We shouldn’t attach too much importance to it.

About the passage you read, actually, Bhagavan said ego is the primary disease and the body is the secondary disease, and any disease that comes to that body is a tertiary disease. The original disease we have to deal with is ego. So this may be the missing link in that passage from Letters. Maybe it was not perfectly recorded because Bhagavan wouldn’t have said that the body is the first disease.

Regarding diet, Bhagavan very clearly encourages a sattvik diet because a sattvik diet increases the sattvik quality of the mind, and the sattvik quality of the mind is favourable to self-investigation. But what determines whether the food is sattvik or not is partly the quality of the food, but it is also how the food is produced. So in the passage from Talks, Bhagavan considers milk to be sattvik, but today’s milk is produced in factories with a lot of cruelty, so it cannot be termed sattvik. Today’s dairy industry is anything but sattvik.

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-12 Michael and Kijan discuss the nature and role of the will (01:16)





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Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, you say, ‘Even quoting Ulladu Narpadu is stupidity when it is kept on the level of mind’. Michael says in his latest video that Bhagavan’s original works, like the verses of the Stuti Panchakam, Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar, have the power of mantras. So even if we do not understand them, even if they are kept at the level of the mind, it is beneficial to quote them or remember them or chant them.

It may be particularly beneficial to remember them in their original form because his original words cannot be matched. But those of us who do not know Tamil, it is still beneficial to remember the translations - especially when they are word to word translations without additions or deletions of words. Such translations, I am sure, still have the mantric power albeit in a somewhat diluted form.

My next comment will say exactly what Michael said on this topic.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan’s verses of Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar and other original words of Bhagavan have mantric powers (part one)

A friend: Do you believe that certain words when chanted before the food changes the nature of the food we eat – like the Vedic chants and so on? Do you chant them?

Michael: I don’t do it. Mantras have their own power – not all words but certain words. I think the words that have the mantric powers are the words that come from the jnani. Bhagavan’s original works like Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar and so on – these words have their power. The power is not in the words themselves but is in the source from which they arose.

So I think there is such a thing as mantra-shakti. All Bhagavan’s original works are for the annihilation of ego. The very first verse of Aksaramanamalai says, ‘Arunachala, you eradicate ego of those who think of you in the heart (or those think Arunachala is only ‘I’)’. So the very first verse he is connecting with the annihilation of ego. The whole of Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar and so on – all his original works – have one aim in mind: the annihilation of ego. So these are mantras which are conducive to the annihilation of ego.

Someone couldn’t understand the verses of Aksaramanamalai and asked Bhagavan, ‘Bhagavan, I recite these verses every day but am not able to understand the meaning. Could you explain the meaning?’ Bhagavan said, ‘Recitation of it is itself the meaning’. It is because even if we do not understand the meaning, these words have certain power – but the power of these words is for the annihilation of ego.

But there are many tantric-mantras, the aim of which is just to gain power. They have that power, but that is not the power we are seeking. If we are following Bhagavan’s path, our sole aim is the annihilation of ego.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-12 Michael and Kijan discuss the nature and role of the will (01:31)

anadi-ananta said...

Who says that the mind does not exist ? The mind.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan’s verses of Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar and other original words of Bhagavan have mantric powers (part two)

The friend: When I was in Vaishnavas temples, they chanted mantras when they prepared food. They chanted mantras like Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya Namah…

Michael: Those are bhakti-mantras. Those mantras are conducive to the path of self-surrender, so those are good. They are not chanting those mantras to gain shakti or siddhis or anything. It’s to cultivate more devotion, so that is good.

The friend: They believe that when they chant such mantras on the food, the Lord purifies the food because they invoke the Lord.

Michael: Yes, yes, again this is a matter of belief, but if they believe that then that belief has its own power.

The friend: So, do you chant anything?

Michael: I used to chant Arunachala Stuti Panchakam when I used to go around the hill every day. Nowadays, I don’t regularly chant anything, but sometimes I do chant certain verse of Arunachala Stuti Panchakam or even a verse of Ulladu Narpadu if it comes to my mind. I just go through that in the mind, but I don’t take that as a practice or anything. The problem with regular recitation is that it can become very mechanical. The verses appeal to me, but the regular recitation doesn’t appeal to me so much.

But sometimes when the verses come to the mind, it can have a very good effect on the mind. We can’t generate that effect. So, yes, words have their power. They are so beautiful verses - the whole of Stuti Panchakam is a gem.

However, the practice that appeals to me the most is self-investigation and self-surrender. But all of Bhagavan’s works are connected with these practices, so sometimes these verses come to my mind. There are so many verses of Arunachala Stuti Panchakam that I really love, but I don’t regularly recite them.

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-12 Michael and Kijan discuss the nature and role of the will (01:31)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, the sole aim of whatever Bhagavan wrote is to motivate us to turn within. But even if we do not understand his original words, the mere recitation of them have their power. Of course, if we chant his works with love, that will give us extra points so to speak.

anadi-ananta said...

"One can lose oneself in Ulladu Narpadu ....".

However, the aim of Ulladu Narpadu is to find oneself...

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, I also believed that mere recitation of mantras can have no powers, but I have changed my views. As you imply, all power resides in ourself – that is, since only atma-svarupa exists, all power exists only within atma-svarupa. However, as long as we experience ourself as ego, we seem to derive power from mantras and such things. All these could be our beliefs in worst cases, but in some cases, it could have some relative reality.

The following is what Michael wrote to me in an email yesterday:

As I mentioned in one of my recent videos, when someone once told Bhagavan that they regularly recite Aksharamanamalai but are not sure whether they understand the meaning of all the verses correctly (or something to that effect) and therefore asked him to explain their meaning, he replied: 'Recitation of them is itself their meaning'.

It is up to each one of us to understand what he meant by saying this, but it does seem to imply that the words have their own power even if we do not fully understand their meaning.
[The end of Michael’s email]

What power can Bhagavan’s words have? They have the power to stop our mind in its tracks. They have the power to prompt us to turn within. Obviously, we need to act on the prompting, otherwise, the prompting is of no use.



Sanjay Lohia said...

God saves us by promoting us to follow his path

Bhagavan teaches us in paragraph 12 of Nan Ar?:

God and guru are in truth not different. Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace will never be forsaken but will surely be saved by him; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly in accordance with the path that guru has shown.

Today morning, I was listening to one of Michael’s videos. In this video, he said that God or guru saves us by prompting us to follow his path. Michael said this while explaining paragraph 12 of Nan Ar. And how do we know whether we are caught in the look of guru’s grace or not? Michael explained that if we are attracted to Bhagavan and Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation or self-surrender, we are well and truly in Bhagavan’s net of grace – now there is no escaping.

God saves us by promoting us to follow his path. Why is God so sure that we will follow his promoting? It is because he knows that his promoting has so much power and love that we cannot resist it for long. Sooner or later we will do what he is so lovingly asking us to do.

What does Bhagavan want us to do? He wants us to turn within and experience ourself as we actually are. If we are wise, we will do as he wants us to do because there is no safely outside. There is coronavirus and death outside, whereas there is fearlessness and immorality inside.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
of course you mean "immortality".

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay, you mean "there is no safety outside".

Saravanapavan said...

Is there any outside or inside for Bhraman?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, yes, it should have been 'immortality' and 'safety'. I thank you for pointing this out to me.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Saravanapavan, you have asked, ‘Is there any outside or inside for Bhraman?’ It is usually spelt as 'brahman'. Brahman in Indian spirituality means God without forms and attributes. Brahman is distinguished by the term Ishvara in the sense that Ishvara is usually taken to mean a God with a form and attributes.

So Brahman is what actually exists, and since what actually exists is only atma-svarupa, brahman is therefore nothing other than atma-svarupa. Bhagavan says in verse 28 of Upadesa Undiyar that our real nature is anadi, ananta, akhanda sat-chit-ananda. That means our real nature is beginningless, infinite, unbroken being-awareness-bliss. So in this sense, nothing exists outside or inside brahman, because brahman alone exists – ekam eva advitiyam (one alone without a second).

However, Bhagavan teaches us in paragraph seven of Nan Ar?:

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. The world, soul and God are kalpanaigaḷ [fabrications, imaginations, mental creations, illusions or illusory superimpositions] in it, like the [illusory] silver in a shell. These three appear simultaneously and disappear simultaneously. Svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] alone is the world; svarūpa alone is ‘I’ [ego or soul]; svarūpa alone is God; everything is śiva-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of śiva, the one infinite whole, which is oneself].

Therefore, the world, ego and God are merely imaginations or mental creations which exists within brahman or atma-svarupa, but these imaginations or mental creations are actually nothing other than brahman or atma-svarupa in substance. So in this sense, we can say that the world, ego and God exist inside brahman but as mere projections of ego or mind.

However, in the context of our practice of atma-vichara, we have to take that the world, ego and God (as a separate God) are something which our outside brahman or atma-svarupa. All this – that is, the world, ego and God are thoughts or mental phenomena – are external or extraneous to ourself. Why this is important is that when we practice atma-vichara, we need to completely reject all such thoughts or mental phenomena and attend only to our fundamental awareness ‘I am’.

So everything is inside brahman or atma-svarupa from one perspective, whereas everything is outside brahman or atma-svarupa from another perspective.

Do you find this reply useful?


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Anonymous said...

Sanjay,

How is Michael so confident that the guy who interpreted Bhagavan in Talks may be wrong and his interpretation is right? I do see Michael’s mind playing some tricks and there is a chance that he may in the process getting more delusional.

Strength of mind by Bhagavan from talks(could be right too, implies Michael’s understanding is wrong):

M: What do you mean by strength of mind?

D: The power to eliminate worldly attachment.

Sanjay,

You being indian know very well how fasting is prescribed by certain type of physicians. So there is a higher probability of Talks being right.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, you say, ‘You being indian know very well how fasting is prescribed by certain type of physicians’. Firstly, let us recollect what Michael in that extract said which I had paraphrased. He said there:

Michael: Whether the body is strong or not is according to prarabdha. When we are young, generally the body is strong, but as we grow old, the body becomes weaker. Regarding the strong mind, maybe something was misunderstood or misinterpreted by the recorder.

Bhagavan did say in the context of fasting: if you fast, your body thereby becomes weak and your mind will thereby become strong – meaning more outward going. It is because you will be thinking about food and such things. Bhagavan discouraged people who wanted to fast or do severe tapas. The fasting which is required is not feeding the mind with phenomena. So turning the mind within is the correct fasting. As he says in verse 16 of Upadesa Undiyar:

Leaving external phenomena, the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness.

So withdrawing the mind from the seen and turning it back to the seer – that is the correct fasting.

[End of the extract from Michael’s video]

In this context, we can refer to the verses of GVK which talk about diet and fasting. The following are verses 678 and 679 from GVK:

Introduction to verse 678: The word ‘upavasa’ has two meanings, namely (1) its literal meaning, ‘living near’ (upa=near; vasa=living), that is, living near God or self, and (2) the meaning which is generally applied to it, ‘fasting’. In this verse, however, Sri Bhagavan uses upavasa in its literal sense, and he uses another word, unna-vratam, for fasting.

verse 678: Wise people, knowing that not yielding to the taste for the five sense-pleasures is the truth of fasting and that abiding unceasingly in self is the truth of upavasa [living near God], will always observe [both fasting and upavasa] with great love.

Sadhu Om: The true fasting is not refraining from feeding the stomach, but refraining from feeding the five senses [by not providing them with the objects of pleasure]. Since the word ‘upavasa’ literally means ‘living near’, the true upavasa is ever abiding in self without leaving it.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment)

Unknown said...
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Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Anonymous:

Verse 679: Since diet-regulation develops the sattvic quality of the mind, it will help a long way in self-enquiry. Therefore, what is the need for one, due to confusion, to long for any other observances [niyama]? Diet regulation alone will suffice.

Sadhu Om: Diet-regulation [ahara-niyama] means taking only sattvic food in moderate quantities.

Sri Muruganar: Aspirants on the path of self-enquiry often concern themselves about the many other observances [niyamas] which may aid their sadhana. But diet regulation alone will be sufficient, since it is the highest of all observances.

So I believe there is the common consensus here that Bhagavan doesn’t recommend extreme fasting. He does recommend refraining from feeding the five senses by not providing them with the objects of pleasure. So we can say that in this sense Bhagavan does recommend fasting to a limited extent. However, Bhagavan’s teaching is clear. We need to consume sattvik food in limited quantity, and as sadhakas that is the only thing we need to be concerned about.

However, fasting is beneficial if we want to get over some bodily disease. It is said in Ayurveda ‘langanam param aushadham’, which means fasting is the best medicine. So fasting (no intake of food for long durations – one, two, three days and more) can be extremely beneficial as a medicine. It really works. However, severe fasting is not recommended as an aid to our sadhana.

However, I do intermittent fasting every day. That is, I am without food and water until 12 noon every day. So there is no harm in such limited fasting, but I believe Bhagavan was against long fast of many days and such things as an aid to our sadhana.

Bhagavan did say that we should ensure that our digestive tract is kept clean. So limited fasting can help us in this regards. We can turn within with relative ease if our stomach is clear.

Moreover, as sadhakas, we should not be too concerned about our food and such things. Ideally, we should eat what we are given to eat according to our prarabdha. So some days we may enjoy a feast and some days we may have to fast. We shouldn't be concerned about our food and such things beyond a point. Our main concern should be, are we putting into practice what Bhagavan has taught us - rest everything is of secondary importance.

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

Sanjay

You seemed to have missed my point. May be I was not clear. My point was to not blindly use Michaels posts as the most authoritative source, but use our intellect to what to follow and what not to follow. I see many of them here who don’t consider Michael as Guru still referring to ‘only’ Michael’s posts as reference and ascertaining their understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings. And then , also insisting how other sources cannot be relied on , because it doesn’t conform to ‘their beliefs’ and ‘their interpretation’ of Bhagavan’s teachings.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael’s favourite verses from Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam (part one)

Michael: There are so many verses of Arunachala Stuti Panchakam that I really love. It is difficult to put in words, but words have their power.

A friend: Would you recommend certain verses which you enjoy chanting?

Michael: Yes, in Arunachala Stuti Panchakam there are certain verses which are particularly appealing. But it also depends on the time and the state of mind. In certain states of mind, certain verses are particularly appealing. In other states of mind, other verses are particularly appealing.

The friend: Does anything come to your mind?

Michael: [laughs] So many of verses from Aksaramanamalai come to my mind. Some of my favourite verses are:

(a) Turning within daily see yourself with your inner eye, and it will be known; thus you said Arunachala

(b) Like ice in water melt me as love in you, the form of love

(c) So that this mind that wanders around the world may subside, show your beauty

(d) Completely removing all my defects, giving me all good qualities, take me as your own and shine as guru, Arunachala

Defects mean the rising as ego and good qualities means subsidence of ego.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

~ Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-12 Michael and Kijan discuss the nature and role of the will (01:37)

My reflection: One of Michael’s favourite verses is: ‘So that this mind that wanders around the world may subside, show your beauty’. If we see the real beauty of Arunachala our mind will remain with that beauty, and therefore it will become absolutely still. A still mind actually means no mind.

So Bhagavan is prompting us through this verse to see or experience our own inner beauty. Once we experience what we actually are, our mind will give up its infatuation with the things of this world. So the only way to give up our desires and attachments is to have more and more love for our real nature. The more we turn within, the more we will become captivated with our own inner beauty. Eventually, nothing outside will seem beautiful to us.



Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael’s favourite verses from Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam (part two)

Michael: There are many other verses from Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam – verse 7 of Arunachala Navamanimalai comes to my mind:

Sri Arunachala Navamanimalai verse 7 (as it appears in the book ‘Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam’ by Sri Sadhu Om)

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

[In the video, Michael translated this verse as follows]

The very day you as Annamalai took me as your own or took possession of me, you took my body and soul, so now is there anything lacking? Both my lacks and good qualities are not apart from you. I will think only of you and not think of the shortcomings or defects or good qualities. My soul [that is, Bhagavan is addressing Arunachala as ‘my soul’], whatever you think, do that [your will be done]. O my eyes [he is addressing Arunachala as ‘O my eyes’ – that is something precious. ‘Eye’ means the physical eye], do whatever you will. Just give me an ever-increasing flood of love for your two feet.

So do whatever you want. Just give me ever-increasing love for you.

So beautiful verses! The whole of Arunachala Stuti Panchakam is full of gems.

Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-12 Michael and Kijan discuss the nature and role of the will (01:37)

My reflection: So we should also likewise pray to Arunachala. In the context of our practice of self-attentiveness, we should not worry about what is happening in our outward life. As long as we are turning within and attending to ourself with more and more love, our outward bodily existence should not concern us. Bhagavan is taking care of everything outside. Our only - I repeat 'only' - responsibility is to turn back within and attend to ourself.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, yes, I agree. We should use our intellect to decide what to follow and what not to follow. But more often than not our intellect is driven by our will: that is, we follow what we like to follow. So more often than not our heart rules over our head.

Even Bhagavan does not ask us to blindly follow his teachings. So we are free to decide whom to believe or what to believe.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Why do we wake up in the morning?

A friend: We say the world is being projected by ‘I’, but I don’t see any autonomy. I don’t see myself as an autonomous being having the power to control and project.

Michael: Why do we wake up in the morning?

The friend [silence] Why do I wake up? [laughs] That’s a good question. Why do I wake up at all?

Michael: That’s where the will comes in. We may not like the particular thing we project – now we have projected this world and there are so many things in this world that we don’t like. There is so much injustice, suffering, coronavirus pandemic – so many things that we don’t like in this world. But why do continue to wake up every morning to see this world with all its problems?

It is because we have a liking to experience form, a liking to experience phenomena. We have a liking to rise as a separate entity and see all these things. The fundamental of all desires is the desire to rise as ego. Of course, it is only as this ego that we have this desire. I am not saying that there is a desire before we rise as ego. We rise as ego of our own volition.

# Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-12 Michael and Kijan discuss the nature and role of the will (00:15)

My reflection: When Michael asked this friend, ‘Why do you wake up in the morning?’, it was like a koan to me. The friend who asked this question had no answer to this so he kept quiet for a few seconds, and I also was not able to formulate the answer to this question. If we project this world, and if this world is full of problems, misery, dissatisfaction and such things, why to project this world in the first place? It’s a koan-like puzzle. Such question stops our mind in its tracks because we cannot immediately answer this question.

However, Michael answered this question. We project this body and world because of our fundamental desire to rise and exist as ego, which is a desire to exist as an individual entity. Without rising and grasping a form as itself, this ego cannot come into existence. Since this ego wants to exist, it rises and grasps a form and takes it to be itself.

Obviously, ego’s desire to exit as ego comes into existence along with the rising of ego, because even this fundamental desire cannot exist before ego comes into existence.
As Michael says, ‘Of course, it is only as this ego that we have this desire. I am not saying that there is a desire before we rise as ego. We rise as ego of our own volition’.


Saravanapavan said...

1)My simple answer is, morning is waking time for most of our egos, but shift workers egos wake up according to their shift!
Will this analysis help us to turn with in?
2)May be A reminder for us to “turn with in” for the day.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Saravanapavan, whatever our shift may be and whatever time we wake up in the day or night, why do we wake up? When this dream comes to an end, we will stop identifying ourself with Saravanapavan or Sanjay or whatever, but sooner or later we will wake up with a new identification. I may become John or Saraswati or whoever. The basic question is if all this is our projection, and if we know that we do not like many of things we project, why do we still continue projecting this world? Why should we create a Frankenstein when we know this Frankenstein will only give us endless troubles and will eventually kill us.

This world which we have projected and created is nothing but a Frankenstein. It will give us endless problems, endless miseries and will eventually disappoint us thoroughly. It is because there is no happiness or satisfaction in this creation. Happiness or satisfaction is our real nature, so if we want happiness or satisfaction, we need to turn within and experience it as our actual nature.

So back to our original question: why do we wake up from sleep or death? As Michael says, ‘It is because we have a liking to experience form, a liking to experience phenomena. We have a liking to rise as a separate entity and see all these things’. So, all our desires and attachments drive us to wake up, to rise as ego, whenever we rise as ego after a state of laya. The most basic or fundamental desire we have is the desire to exist as this ego. However, all these desires come into existence along with this ego.

So first this ego comes into existence, but why does this ego come into existence? It is because it has a desire to exist as ego. So we have to say this ego rises along with this most fundamental desire for its self-preservation. Once this ego and its fundamental desire for its self-preservation come into seeming existence, all of ego’s other desires also come into play as and when their seeds, our vasanas, get the opportunity to raise their head.

You ask, ‘Will this analysis help us to turn with in?’ Yes, in Bhagavan’s teachings whatever analysis we do will help us to turn within provided we do the analysis correctly. If we keep things to the basics of Bhagavan’s teachings, all our sravana and manana of Bhagavan’s teachings will eventually prompt us or motivate us to turn within. So our above analysis will also help us to turn within because it shows that we are unnecessarily creating a Frankenstein by rising and creating this world.

So it is foolishness to rise as ego and bring all this unnecessary trouble upon us? The best thing is not to rise as ego, or in other words, the best is to turn within and be as we really are.


Sanjay Lohia said...

As we get a greater and greater degree of clarity, we will automatically be able to see through all these transient experiences

A friend: Some people go a little bit along this spiritual path, have some experience, take that experience to be the real thing and think they have achieved everything. They think they have become jnanis and they try to become gurus, and they want to teach others. How can we guard ourself against making similar mistakes?

Michael: To avoid that, I think, a deep and clear understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings is possibly the best protection. If we understand Bhagavan’s teachings, we will not take any phenomena and mistake it to be ourself. So whatever great experience we have, it is something which has come, and it will also go. It is not real. What is real is what is always present.

Bhagavan often used to say there is nothing new to be achieved. That jnana is always shining within us as ‘I’. All we need to do is to give up ajnana. If we give up awareness of everything other than ourself, we remain as pure awareness. If we understand this correctly, our aim is not to attain any experience. Our ego is to get rid of the experiencer – that is this ego.

So if we have a clear understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings, we will not be misled by whatever experiences may come. We will not attach importance to them because who is it who is experiencing all this? So we will try to go deeper within.

Moreover, if we are following this path correctly, the more we turn our attention within, the more clarity will shine in our heart. This clarity is already within our heart, so we are uncovering the clarity so to speak. The more we follow this path, the more we are turning our attention back to ‘I’. This ‘I’ is the original light that illumines the mind, thereby illumines the whole world. So the original light is the light of pure awareness that is ever-shining in our heart as ‘I am’.

So if we are constantly trying to turn our attention within, our mind is purified and clarified. As we get a greater and greater degree of clarity, we will automatically be able to see through all these transient experiences. So only the more superficial aspirants will be misled thinking that some experience is the final thing. So long as there is an experiencer, we haven’t yet reached our goal.

What we are seeking is beyond experience – experience in the sense of an experiencer and something that is experienced. So our aim is to go beyond that triputi – that triad of knower, knowing and known.

# Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-12 Michael and Kijan discuss the nature and role of the will (01:06)

My reflection: Yes, indeed, correct understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings will protect us in all possible ways. Obviously, we are not aiming to become gurus because there is only one guru – Bhagavan Ramana. He is the eternal guru and real guru-tatva in all other manifested gurus.

Somebody commented that I am trying to act as a teacher. I do not think this is my aim in posting all these comments or why I try to answer some of the questions put on this blog? I am clearly a student of Bhagavan’s teachings. I just love to dwell on Bhagavan’s teachings – it has become my passion. I am sure this passion is keeping me away from doing many unnecessary things.

Moreover, the more one dwells of Bhagavan’s teachings, the more one will be inspired to turn within. This is the main benefit of trying to keep our mind constantly on Bhagavan’s teachings.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay, today you write at 12:42:
"So, all our desires and attachments drive us to wake up, to rise as ego, whenever we rise as ego after a state of laya. The most basic or fundamental desire we have is the desire to exist as this ego. However, all these desires come into existence along with this ego."
Certainly our destiny (prārabdha) has considerable influence on our wake up from sleep.
If a baby's or a child's mother would not wake up every morning, what fate would take its course ?

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, you say, ‘Certainly our destiny (prārabdha) has considerable influence on our wake up from sleep. If a baby's or a child's mother would not wake up every morning, what fate would take its course?’

Does our destiny (prarabdha) make us rise from sleep? No, our destiny comes into existence only when we rise as ego and look away from ourself. Bhagavan used to say that prarabdha is only for an outward turned mind. The mind which is in-turned is not affected by prarabdha.

So we rise as ego due to our own volition and not due to prarabdha. Only when we rise as ego, do we experience our own prarabdha and also the prarabdha of our baby or child or whoever. So we should take responsibility for our rising as ego and not blame it on prarabdha.

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Sanjay Lohia said...

When this ‘I am this body’ is a false awareness, all our knowledge about the world is equally false because it is based on this false awareness 'I am this body'

Michael: Why does this world seem to be real? So long as we are dreaming, the dream world also seems real. Why does it seem to be real? What is real is only ‘I’, but as long as take a body to be ourself, that body seems to be real. It is because if this body is ‘I’, then this body is real. Since this body is part of the world, the whole world seems to be real.

When we wake up from our dream, our identification with that dream body is severed. So when we wake up from that dream, that dream world no longer seems to us to be real. Why? It is because the dream body no longer seems to be ‘I’. So likewise what makes this so-called waking world seems to be real is only our identification with this current body.

Though this body has changed so much since we were a small baby, throughout that time, all those years in the waking state we have been experiencing this body as ‘I’. Though this body is changing and ‘I’ remains unchanging, we still take this body to be ‘I’. So this body cannot be what we actually are.

Moreover, if I were this body, I cannot be aware of myself without being aware of this body. But when I am dreaming, I am not aware of this body. I am aware of some other body as myself. So neither of these bodies can be what I actually am. And in sleep, I am aware of myself without being aware of any body, without being aware of any phenomena. So I cannot be any of these phenomena. I must be that which is aware in all the three states. I must be just that fundamental awareness ‘I am’.

All our experiences are based upon this fundamental experience ‘I am this body’. Only when we are aware of ‘I am this body’, are we aware of this world. So when this basis of all our awareness ‘I am this body’ is a false awareness, all our knowledge about the world is equally false. That’s why Bhagavan says in verse 13 of Ulladu Narpadu:

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?

So the real awareness is only the fundamental awareness ‘I am’. That alone is real.

• Edited and paraphrased extract from the video: 2020-07-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: Michael James answers questions on Bhagavan’s teachings (01:43)

My reflection: So true. If the awareness ‘I am this body’ is a mistaken awareness of ourself, and if our awareness of this world is entirely based upon this mistaken awareness, everything we know about this world has to be false. Simple, simple logic!

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, ego and its volition to rise appears simultaneously. Obviously, the buck stops with ego because, without ego, there can be no volition of the ego. However, if we investigate this ego keenly enough, we will see that this ego has never risen. So ultimately ego and its volition are false. They don’t actually exist even when they seem to exist.

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Saravanapavan said...

Dear Salazar
You may be correct. But this way of communication keep the people with the same vibration to share the views and avoid our mind to deviate from Bahawan teaching. Finnaly may help us to reach the destiny. My opinion is to limit one comment per day and concentrate on Athma vichara in the rest of the time

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anadi-ananta said...

What may be the reason for the remarkable procedure that Salazar deleted more than 140 of his comments on Michael's article of 7 October 2018 ? (When Bhagavan says that we must look within, what does he mean by ‘within’?)

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anadi-ananta said...

Ah, Salazar engineered a big general covering his tracks on many MJ-articles. I'm not all surprised.

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anadi-ananta said...

next time write: ad hominem

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Asun, Karen or whoever it may concern:

I don’t remember his or her name, but one of our friends had asked me about the particular video where Michael talks about the analogy of our vasanas being like the soldiers in an army and this ego being its General or Commander-in-chief. Michael has talked about this analogy in detail in the first half an hour of the following video: 2019-05-26 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how it is possible to overcome vāsanās

Sanjay Lohia said...

What is love for God? (part one)

A friend: I get from your lectures that love for God is the key, but can love for God itself be defined, or is it just abstract and subjective? In other words, what is love for God?

Michael: [laughs] Some things cannot be expressed in words. We all know ‘I am’ – that is, ‘I am’ is an expression of our self-awareness. But can we describe self-awareness? We can’t even describe a gross thing like the taste of chocolate or taste of mango. We can’t really describe it because only when we experience it, can we know it. So if we can’t describe even such gross things, we certainly can’t describe ‘I am’.

Love is our real nature according to Bhagavan, so to know love, we must know ourself. How can we describe love? To the extent we surrender ourself, to that extent we will know what love is. However, though I cannot say what love for God is, I can say what the measure of true love is. If we truly love any person, whether a friend or a relative or whoever, we are not looking to what we can get from that person. We want to give to that person, not to take from them. Love is all about giving, and the highest form of love is to give ourself.

So what is love for God? True love for God is nothing but self-surrender. To the extent we are willing to surrender ourself or give ourself wholly to God - that is the indicator of true love for God. So love for God is our willingness to surrender ourself. Even when we are doing anya-bhava worship like puja, japa and dhyana, the same principle is true.

Puja, japa and dhyana are not bhakti. They can be expressions of bhakti, but bhakti means love. Most people who do puja, japa or dhyana are not doing it for the love of God. They have some kamya motive – it’s kamyata. So it’s not the action that determines whether it is love for God. Only if the actions are done without desire for any personal gain, purely for the love of God – that is bhakti.

If we are practising nishksmya puja, japa or dhanya, we are trying to give to God whatever we can. When we are doing puja, a lot of ritualistic puja entails offering things to God. You offer food to God. You give a bath to God. You give clothing to God. You may garland God and finally, you wave light. So all this is symbolically giving to God. It is because surrender is about giving.

However, we must be willing to surrender not only everything which is 'mine', but we must finally be willing to surrender 'I' - the 'I' whose 'mine' it is.

(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 (01:14)

My reflection: As Michael implies, if we love a person or any other jiva or any cause, we will be willing to give to that person or jiva or that cause whatever we can without expecting anything in return. Suppose my country is under occupation by some imperialist forces, if I really love my country, I will be willing to make any sacrifice to free my country from these imperialist forces. I will give my time for this cause, and I will give my money for this cause without expecting anything in return. So we give in love. This is the true measure of love.

If I love my daughter, I will try to give her whatever I can. I will give her care, attention, money, food without expecting much in return. Likewise, if we love God, we will try to give to God and not expect things from God.

Michael James said...

I have not had time to read most of the comments that have been posted here recently, but a friend has written to me pointing out that of late many of the comments have been blatantly transgressing the Guidelines for Comments, so could I please ask you all the abide by these guidelines for the sake of all who read your comments. That is, please do not allow any discussion about Bhagavan’s teachings to deteriorate into a series of ad hominem attacks and abuse. If you disagree with any idea expressed by anyone else, you are welcome to explain why you disagree with it, but please do not criticise personally whoever has expressed whatever ideas you disagree with.

anadi-ananta said...

Unknown,
I was only by chance flicking a bit through the Article Archive 2018 and then I was astonished how many comments were deleted with the note "This comment has been removed by the author". In doing so the mentioned author did a good job.:-)

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