Monday 16 November 2020

How can we weaken and eventually destroy all our viṣaya-vāsanās?

The following are some extracts from section 80 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (1978 edition, pages 82-3; 2006 edition, pages 83-4):

M.: The thoughts are only vasanas (predispositions), accumulated in innumerable births before. Their annihilation is the aim. The state free from vasanas is the primal state and eternal state of purity.

D.: It is not clear yet.

M.: Everyone is aware of the eternal Self. He sees so many dying but still believes himself eternal. Because it is the Truth. Unwillingly the natural Truth asserts itself. The man is deluded by the intermingling of the conscious Self with the insentient body. This delusion must end.

D.: How will it end?

M.: That which is born must end. The delusion is only concomitant with the ego. It rises up and sinks. But the Reality never rises nor sinks. It remains Eternal. […] The ever-present Self needs no efforts to be realised, Realisation is already there. Illusion alone is to be removed. […]

D.: What if one meditates incessantly without Karma?

M.: Try and see. The vasanas will not let you do it. Dhyana comes only step by step with the gradual weakening of the vasanas by the Grace of the Master.
In Reflections on Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (chapter 13, section 18: 5th edn, 2006, p. 145) SS Cohen wrote his reflections on the final paragraph of these extracts, and in the first paragraph of his reflections on it he wrote:
By vasanas is meant the habits of the mind, which ceaselessly pop up as thoughts, like the ceaseless waves of the ocean. Memory is the storehouse of the vasanas and thus the worst enemy of a quiescent mind.
Having thus erroneously associated vāsanās with memory, in the third and final paragraph of this section of his reflections he wrote:
Studying the tricks of memory is a very helpful practice, which will result in keeping one on one’s guard, against its insidious pressure on the whole course of the sadhana. Retrospection, excepting as it has a direct bearing on the vichara, is always a drawback in this practice, for there is generally nothing uplifting in the experiences of a less mature age. [...]

Referring to this, a friend wrote to me:
I am reading a quote of Ramana Maharishi from book “Reflections on Talks with Sri Ramana Maharishi” by S.S. Cohen, page 145, quote 18. Could you please help me understand the last paragraph where it says: “Retrospection, excepting it has a direct bearing on vichara, is always a drawback in this practice...”.
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to this:
  1. The cittam is often described as ‘the storehouse of vāsanās’, but cittam does not mean memory but only will
  2. Vāsanākṣaya (annihilation of all vāsanās) can be achieved only by complete eradication of ego, which can be achieved only by patient and persistent practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra)
1. The cittam is often described as ‘the storehouse of vāsanās’, but cittam does not mean memory but only will

The sentence you refer to, ‘Retrospection, excepting as it has a direct bearing on the vichara, is always a drawback in this practice’, is not a quotation of anything Bhagavan said, but is a part of SS Cohen’s reflections on a passage recorded in Talks. Retrospection means looking back on past events, so it is not ātma-vicāra (self-investigation) but anātma-vicāra (investigating or thinking about what is not oneself). Attending to anything other than ourself is anātma-vicāra, whereas ātma-vicāra is attending to ourself alone.

I do not know what Cohen meant by ‘excepting as it has a direct bearing on the vichara’. How can retrospection ever have a direct bearing on ātma-vicāra? Thoughts about the past (or about the future) are thoughts about things other than ourself, so they divert our attention away from ourself, and hence retrospection is always, without any exception, a distraction from the practice of ātma-vicāra.

Another misleading idea in the page you sent me is Cohen’s remark that ‘Memory is the storehouse of the vasanas’. Memory is the storehouse of memories, not of vāsanās, but I assume that this confusion arose in Cohen’s mind because the Sanskrit term ‘cittam’, which means will, is sometimes wrongly translated as memory.

The cittam or will is often described as ‘the storehouse of vāsanās’ because it consists entirely of (and is the totality of) vāsanās, which are subtle inclinations or propensities, the seeds of all likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, fears and so on. As Bhagavan says in the tenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘தொன்றுதொட்டு வருகின்ற விஷயவாசனைகள்’ (toṉḏṟutoṭṭu varugiṉḏṟa viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ), which means ‘viṣaya-vāsanās, which come from time immemorial’, and which therefore implies that vāsanās originate not just from this life but from numerous past lives, so vāsanās are carried over from one life to another.

I suppose the reason why cittam is sometimes wrongly translated as memory is that memories also come from the past, but (except perhaps in some rare cases) they come from the past in this lifetime only. When each life comes to an end, all the memories of that life are wiped out, whereas all our vāsanās remain and are carried on by us to our next life.

Memories are a kind of internal perception or recollection of things that we have experienced in the past, so like all other phenomena they are a projection of our vāsanās. As per an analogy that Bhagavan often used, vāsanās are like the images on a film reel, whereas all phenomena (thoughts, perceptions, memories and so on) are like the pictures projected from that film reel onto the screen.

We need not and should not be concerned about thoughts, perceptions, memories or any other kind of phenomena, because they are all things that appear and disappear, so they are other than ourself. What always exists and shines clearly without ever undergoing any change, namely our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’, alone is what we actually are, so this alone is what we need to investigate. Phenomena seem to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, so they come into existence only when we rise as ego, as in waking and dream, and they cease to exist whenever we subside, as in sleep.

2. Vāsanākṣaya (annihilation of all vāsanās) can be achieved only by complete eradication of ego, which can be achieved only by patient and persistent practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra)

Our inclinations or likings to be aware of phenomena (viṣayas) are what are called viṣaya-vāsanās, so since we seem to be ego only so long as we are aware of phenomena, viṣaya-vāsanās are the fuel that keep ego alive and thriving. The very nature of ego is to have viṣaya-vāsanās, because without being constantly aware of phenomena ego cannot survive, so we will continue rising and thriving as ego so long as our viṣaya-vāsanās remain strong. Therefore we will not be willing to surrender ourself and thereby eradicate ego until we have weakened our viṣaya-vāsanās to a considerable extent.

So how can we weaken and eventually destroy all our viṣaya-vāsanās? So long as we attend to phenomena of any kind whatsoever, we are thereby nourishing and sustaining our viṣaya-vāsanās, so we can weaken and destroy them only by clinging firmly to self-attentiveness, thereby giving no room to the rising of any thoughts about anything other than ourself, as Bhagavan explains in the tenth and eleventh paragraphs of Nāṉ Ār?:
தொன்றுதொட்டு வருகின்ற விஷயவாசனைகள் அளவற்றனவாய்க் கடலலைகள் போற் றோன்றினும் அவையாவும் சொரூபத்யானம் கிளம்பக் கிளம்ப அழிந்துவிடும். அத்தனை வாசனைகளு மொடுங்கி, சொரூபமாத்திரமா யிருக்க முடியுமா வென்னும் சந்தேக நினைவுக்கு மிடங்கொடாமல், சொரூபத்யானத்தை விடாப்பிடியாய்ப் பிடிக்க வேண்டும். ஒருவன் எவ்வளவு பாபியாயிருந்தாலும், ‘நான் பாபியா யிருக்கிறேனே! எப்படிக் கடைத்தேறப் போகிறே’ னென்றேங்கி யழுதுகொண்டிராமல், தான் பாபி என்னு மெண்ணத்தையு மறவே யொழித்து சொரூபத்யானத்தி லூக்க முள்ளவனாக விருந்தால் அவன் நிச்சயமா யுருப்படுவான்.

toṉḏṟutoṭṭu varugiṉḏṟa viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ aḷavaṯṟaṉavāy-k kaḍal-alaigaḷ pōl tōṉḏṟiṉum avai-yāvum sorūpa-dhyāṉam kiḷamba-k kiḷamba aṙindu-viḍum. attaṉai vāsaṉaigaḷum oḍuṅgi, sorūpa-māttiram-āy irukka muḍiyumā v-eṉṉum sandēha niṉaivukkum iḍam koḍāmal, sorūpa-dhyāṉattai viḍā-p-piḍiyāy-p piḍikka vēṇḍum. oruvaṉ evvaḷavu pāpiyāy irundālum, ‘nāṉ pāpiyāy irukkiṟēṉē; eppaḍi-k kaḍaittēṟa-p pōkiṟēṉ’ eṉḏṟēṅgi y-aṙudu-koṇḍirāmal, tāṉ pāpi eṉṉum eṇṇattaiyum aṟavē y-oṙittu sorūpa-dhyāṉattil ūkkam uḷḷavaṉāha v-irundāl avaṉ niścayamāy uru-p-paḍuvāṉ.

Even though viṣaya-vāsanās [inclinations or desires to experience things other than oneself], which come from time immemorial, rise [as thoughts or phenomena] in countless numbers like ocean-waves, they will all be destroyed when svarūpa-dhyāna [self-attentiveness, contemplation on one’s ‘own form’ or real nature] increases and increases [in depth and intensity]. Without giving room even to the doubting thought ‘So many vāsanās ceasing [or being dissolved], is it possible to be only as svarūpa [my own form or real nature]?’ it is necessary to cling tenaciously to svarūpa-dhyāna. However great a sinner one may be, if instead of lamenting and weeping ‘I am a sinner! How am I going to be saved?’ one completely rejects the thought that one is a sinner and is zealous [or steadfast] in self-attentiveness, one will certainly be reformed [transformed into what one actually is].

மனத்தின்கண் எதுவரையில் விஷயவாசனைக ளிருக்கின்றனவோ, அதுவரையில் நானா ரென்னும் விசாரணையும் வேண்டும். நினைவுகள் தோன்றத் தோன்ற அப்போதைக்கப்போதே அவைகளையெல்லாம் உற்பத்திஸ்தானத்திலேயே விசாரணையால் நசிப்பிக்க வேண்டும். அன்னியத்தை நாடாதிருத்தல் வைராக்கியம் அல்லது நிராசை; தன்னை விடாதிருத்தல் ஞானம். உண்மையி லிரண்டு மொன்றே. முத்துக்குளிப்போர் தம்மிடையிற் கல்லைக் கட்டிக்கொண்டு மூழ்கிக் கடலடியிற் கிடைக்கும் முத்தை எப்படி எடுக்கிறார்களோ, அப்படியே ஒவ்வொருவனும் வைராக்கியத்துடன் தன்னுள் ளாழ்ந்து மூழ்கி ஆத்மமுத்தை யடையலாம். ஒருவன் தான் சொரூபத்தை யடையும் வரையில் நிரந்தர சொரூப ஸ்மரணையைக் கைப்பற்றுவானாயின் அதுவொன்றே போதும். கோட்டைக்குள் எதிரிக ளுள்ளவரையில் அதிலிருந்து வெளியே வந்துகொண்டே யிருப்பார்கள். வர வர அவர்களையெல்லாம் வெட்டிக்கொண்டே யிருந்தால் கோட்டை கைவசப்படும்.

maṉattiṉgaṇ edu-varaiyil viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ irukkiṉḏṟaṉavō, adu-varaiyil nāṉ-ār eṉṉum vicāraṇai-y-um vēṇḍum. niṉaivugaḷ tōṉḏṟa-t tōṉḏṟa appōdaikkappōdē avaigaḷai-y-ellām uṯpatti-sthāṉattilēyē vicāraṇaiyāl naśippikka vēṇḍum. aṉṉiyattai nāḍādiruttal vairāggiyam alladu nirāśai; taṉṉai viḍādiruttal ñāṉam. uṇmaiyil iraṇḍum oṉḏṟē. muttu-k-kuḷippōr tam-m-iḍaiyil kallai-k kaṭṭi-k-koṇḍu mūṙki-k kaḍal-aḍiyil kiḍaikkum muttai eppaḍi eḍukkiṟārgaḷō, appaḍiyē o-vv-oruvaṉum vairāggiyattuḍaṉ taṉṉuḷ ḷ-āṙndu mūṙki ātma-muttai y-aḍaiyalām. oruvaṉ tāṉ sorūpattai y-aḍaiyum varaiyil nirantara sorūpa-smaraṇaiyai-k kai-p-paṯṟuvāṉ-āyiṉ adu-v-oṉḏṟē pōdum. kōṭṭaikkuḷ edirigaḷ uḷḷa-varaiyil adilirundu veḷiyē vandu-koṇḍē y-iruppārgaḷ. vara vara avargaḷai-y-ellām veṭṭi-k-koṇḍē y-irundāl kōṭṭai kaivaśa-p-paḍum.

As long as viṣaya-vāsanās exist within the mind, so long is the investigation who am I necessary. As and when thoughts appear, then and there it is necessary to annihilate them all by vicāraṇā [investigation or keen self-attentiveness] in the very place from which they arise. Not attending to anything other [than oneself] is vairāgya [dispassion or detachment] or nirāśā [desirelessness]; not leaving [or letting go of] oneself is jñāna [true knowledge or real awareness]. In truth [these] two [vairāgya and jñāna] are just one. Just as pearl-divers, tying stones to their waists and sinking, pick up pearls that are found at the bottom of the ocean, so each one, sinking deep within oneself with vairāgya [freedom from desire to be aware of anything other than oneself], may attain the pearl of oneself [literally: attaining the pearl of oneself is proper]. If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarūpa-smaraṇa [self-remembrance] until one attains svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature], that alone is sufficient. So long as enemies [namely viṣaya-vāsanās] are within the fort [namely one’s heart], they will be continuously coming out from it. If one is continuously cutting down [or destroying] all of them as and when they come, the fort will [eventually] be captured.
As he implies in these two paragraphs, we cannot weaken and eventually destroy all our viṣaya-vāsanās without patient and persistent practice of self-attentiveness (svarūpa-dhyāna), which is another term for ātma-vicāra. This is also what he implied when he said ‘Dhyana comes only step by step with the gradual weakening of the vasanas’, as recorded in the passage of Talks on which Cohen was writing his reflections that you asked about. In this context ‘dhyana’ implies svarūpa-dhyāna, which means contemplation or meditation on our own real nature, or in other words, self-attentiveness.

The more we practise being self-attentive, the more our self-attentiveness will increase in depth and intensity, and the more our viṣaya-vāsanās will thereby be weakened, so the gradual intensification of our self-attentiveness (svarūpa-dhyāna) and the corresponding weakening of our viṣaya-vāsanās go hand in hand, each contributing to the other. The more our viṣaya-vāsanās are weakened, the more willing we will become to surrender ourself, and the more willing we become to surrender ourself, the more firm, keen and deep our self-attentiveness will become, because as Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘யாது இது என்று நாடலே யாவும் ஓவுதல்’ (yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum), ‘investigating what this [namely ego] is alone is giving up everything’, so we can be self-attentive only to the extent that we are willing to let go of everything else and thereby surrender ourself entirely.

What surrendering ourself entirely means is explained by him in the first sentence of the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்று மிடங்கொடாமல் ஆத்மநிஷ்டாபரனா யிருப்பதே தன்னை ஈசனுக் களிப்பதாம்.

āṉma-cintaṉaiyai-t tavira vēṟu cintaṉai kiḷambuvadaṟku-c caṯṟum iḍam-koḍāmal ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ-āy iruppadē taṉṉai īśaṉukku aḷippadām.

Being ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ [one who is completely fixed in and as oneself], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any cintana [thought] other than ātma-cintana [thought of oneself or self-attentiveness], alone is giving oneself to God.
Therefore being keenly self-attentive and thereby giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought about anything other than ourself is the means not only to weaken all our viṣaya-vāsanās but also to surrender ourself entirely, and since we as ego are the root of all viṣaya-vāsanās, only when we surrender ourself entirely will we thereby destroy all viṣaya-vāsanās. In other words, vāsanākṣaya (annihilation of all vāsanās) can be achieved only by complete eradication of ego, which can be achieved only by means of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra): patient and persistent practice of self-attentiveness.


Michael James said...

In a comment on one of my recent videos, 2020-11-22b Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael discusses till when we need to practise ātma-vicāra with effort, a friend wrote:

“Can I try to re-discover love for myself by trying to love myself more than:
- my successes and failures,
- the Criticisms and Praises thrown at me (as this name and form)
- my Pleasures and Pain
- my Joy and Sorrow
- my Bad Karma and Good karma
- my resistance and surrender
- my good qualities and my bad qualities
So and forth?”

In reply to this I wrote:

Jyoti, none of these things are you. They are attributes of the person you mistake yourself to be. What you actually are is the fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which is the screen on which all these things appear and disappear, and the light that illumines both their appearance (in waking and dream) and their disappearance (in sleep). It is as such that we need to learn to love ourself, not as this fleeting person with all its inevitable imperfections.

Michael James said...

A friend wrote to me about her frustration at being unable to visit Arunachala in spite of many attempts to do so, so I replied:

Arunachala is always shining in your heart as ‘I’, and he gives mukti when merely thought of, so no one can ever keep you away from him. I understand your longing to visit his outward form, and that longing is good, but everything happens as per his plan, so we can only visit him when he decides to bring us.

Therefore if you want to go there, you should not ask anyone except him, and then you should leave it up to him to decide if and when to bring you there. If and when he chooses to bring you, no one else can stop you, and until then, whatever efforts you make to go there, you will not be able to go.

Why does he choose to keep you away for the time being? Only he knows, but whatever he chooses is what is best for us, so we should happily abide by his will, whatever it may be.

Therefore please do not try to read any meaning into the fact that he is not bringing you there now, because only he can know what is best for each of us at each moment of our life. As Sadhu Om sang in verse 14 of Sādhanai Sāram:

   He knows the best of all,
      Leave it to him, be calm.
   Believe him the most of all,
      Then rests the mental storm.

Therefore if you leave everything to him, understanding that he alone knows what is best, you do not need any other mind-healing techniques. What better technique can there be to heal the mind than self-surrender?

Michael James said...

In a comment on my latest video, 2020-12-06 San Diego Ramana Satsang: Michael James discusses sleep and the nature of ego, a friend wrote, “It’s well known that physical impinges on the physical body during REM sleep can be reflected in the narrative content of dream, for xample, putting a hot iron near dreaming subject’s face results in a dream whose story is escaping from fire in a burning house. So dream cannot be entirely separate from physical body as if it doesn’t exist”, to which I replied:

You seem to be assuming that your current state is not a dream, but there is and can be no evidence that that is the case, because whatever you experience in this state you could equally well experience in a dream. If this is just a dream, whatever we take to be physical is actually just a mental projection, so it does not exist independent of our perception of it, in which case whenever we are dreaming some other dream this dream does not exist.

In one dream we may dream that we are escaping from fire in a burning house, and in the next dream we may dream that a hot iron was being held near our face, but that coincidence can be easily explained by the fact that both dreams are projected by the same mind.

Michael James said...

Referring to No thought can rise unless we, the ego, are willing to attend to it, so we are ultimately responsible for everything that we think (section 29 of Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will), and particularly to the penultimate paragraph, in which I wrote, “Therefore prārabdha cannot make us think any thought unless we are willing to attend to it, so if we were not willing to attend to anything other than ourself, prārabdha would be powerless to make us think, do or experience anything. Even when we are still willing to attend to things other than ourself, we are nevertheless free to choose what we attend to, so to the extent that we do not attend to other things we will not only avoid doing āgāmya by mind, speech or body but will also avoid being affected by prārabdha”, a friend asked me, “Does it not mean that we can control even the thoughts and actions controlled by prarabdha by our will by not attending to it? Does it mean a strong will or total indifference to what is happening around us change the outcome?”, in reply to which I wrote:

No, we cannot change anything that is destined to happen, but to the extent that we attend to ourself and thereby refrain from attending to whatever happens according to prārabdha, we will not be affected by it. And if we attend to ourself keenly enough, we will eradicate ego and thereby destroy all the three karmas, as Bhagavan says in verse 38 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

வினைமுதனா மாயின் விளைபயன் றுய்ப்போம்
வினைமுதலா ரென்று வினவித் — தனையறியக்
கர்த்தத் துவம்போய்க் கருமமூன் றுங்கழலு
நித்தமா முத்தி நிலை.

viṉaimudaṉā māyiṉ viḷaipayaṉ ḏṟuyppōm
viṉaimudalā reṉḏṟu viṉavit — taṉaiyaṟiyak
karttat tuvampōyk karumamūṉ ḏṟuṅkaṙalu
nittamā mutti nilai

பதச்சேதம்: வினைமுதல் நாம் ஆயின், விளை பயன் துய்ப்போம். வினைமுதல் ஆர் என்று வினவி தனை அறிய, கர்த்தத்துவம் போய், கருமம் மூன்றும் கழலும். நித்தமாம் முத்தி நிலை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viṉaimudal nām āyiṉ, viḷai payaṉ tuyppōm. viṉaimudal ār eṉḏṟu viṉavi taṉai aṟiya, karttattuvam pōy, karumam mūṉḏṟum kaṙalum. nittam-ām mutti nilai.

English translation: If we are the doer of action, we will experience the resulting fruit. When one knows oneself by investigating who is the doer of action, doership will depart and all the three actions will slip off. The state of liberation, which is eternal.

Explanatory paraphrase: If we are the doer of action, we will experience the resulting fruit. [However] when one knows oneself [as one actually is] by investigating who is the doer of action, [ego, which is what seemed to do actions and to experience their fruit, will thereby be eradicated, and along with it its] kartṛtva [doership] [and its bhōktṛtva, experiencership] will depart and [hence] all [its] three karmas [its āgāmya (actions that it does by its own free will), sañcita (the heap of the fruits of such actions that it is yet to experience) and prārabdha (destiny or fate, which is the fruits that have been allotted for it to experience in its current life)] will slip off. [This is] the state of mukti [liberation], which is eternal [being what actually exists even when we seem to be this ego].

Michael James said...

A friend wrote to me, ‘Michael, can you suggest any mantra or nama japa to help turn the mind inward as I am new to self enquiry and surrender’, in reply to which I wrote:

Bhagavan said that the first and foremost name of God is ‘I’ or ‘I am’, so if we want to do nāma japa, the best nāma is ‘I’ or ‘I am’. However, when repeating this name, we should try to attend to that to which it refers, namely our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), because that alone is the real form (svarūpa) of God.

Michael James said...

Referring to verse 228 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai, a friend wrote to me, “I got irritated by this verse. Immortality seems besides the point. If we are going the distance towards eradication of ego it is out of and for love. Immersion in that love erases time. The use of the term immortality is insulting to the reality of that love. I understand it as a concession to the fear of death but really death has already occurred. After writing the above I read the verse again and it was softer for me. It is meant more as an encouragement. ‘As death is the result of ignorance, it is said in this verse that it can be overcome only by Knowledge, the Pure Consciousness of Self.’ Death is deathlessness! no? Death and its embrace seems hardly ignorant! I do recognize he means body death but why talk about it? The body is only a dream after all!”, in reply to which I wrote:

Immortality is our real nature, because what we actually are is beyond time and hence eternal and immutable. Mortality is an illusion that rises and co-exists with ego, because as ego we are always aware of ourself as ‘I am this mortal body’. This is what Sadhu Om meant when he commented that death is the result of ignorance.

The death we must embrace is the death of ego, because that death is deathlessness. That is, ego dies only when we see ourself as we actually are, but when we see ourself as we actually are we will see that we have always been nothing other than that, so there never was any such thing as ego, and consequently there never was any such thing as death.

You say ‘I do recognize he means body death but why talk about it?’ He talks about it because the nature of the body (such as insentience, appearance and disappearance, pleasure and pain, mortality, limitations of all sorts, especially in time and space) is diametrically opposed to our own real nature (such awareness, permanence, immutable happiness, immortality, limitlessness, timelessness and placelessness), yet we are now aware of ourself as if we were this body, and consequently we face so many problems. Therefore, as he constantly reminded us, the solution to all problems is for us to investigate and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are.

Regarding fear of death, if we are mature enough we should consider it to be a great blessing, because when sufficiently intense it has the power to drive the mature mind inwards to drown in its source, as happened in the case of the ego that mistook itself to be the 16-year-old boy Venkataraman. When that ego died, what remained was Bhagavan Ramana, so we must be eternally grateful for that blessed fear of death, a fear that we are not yet mature enough to experience with such intensity.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

Therefore let us not take the fear of death lightly. As he says in the second maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, referring indirectly to his own experience:

மரணபய மிக்குளவம் மக்களர ணாக
மரணபவ மில்லா மகேசன் — சரணமே
சார்வர்தஞ் சார்வொடுதாஞ் சாவுற்றார் சாவெண்ணஞ்
சார்வரோ சாவா தவர்.

maraṇabhaya mikkuḷavam makkaḷara ṇāha
maraṇabhava millā mahēśaṉ — caraṇamē
sārvartañ cārvoḍutāñ cāvuṯṟār sāveṇṇañ
cārvarō sāvā davar

பதச்சேதம்: மரணபயம் மிக்கு உள அம் மக்கள் அரண் ஆக மரண பவம் இல்லா மகேசன் சரணமே சார்வர். தம் சார்வு ஒடு தாம் சாவு உற்றார். சாவு எண்ணம் சார்வரோ சாவாதவர்?

Padacchēdam (word-separation): maraṇa-bhayam mikku uḷa am makkaḷ araṇ-āha maraṇa-bhavam-illā mahēśaṉ caraṇamē sārvar. tam sārvu oḍu tām sāvu uṯṟār. sāvu eṇṇam sārvarō sāvādavar?

அன்வயம்: மரணபயம் மிக்கு உள அம் மக்கள் அரண் ஆக மரண பவம் இல்லா மகேசன் சரணமே சார்வர். தம் சார்வு ஒடு தாம் சாவு உற்றார். சாவாதவர் சாவு எண்ணம் சார்வரோ?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maraṇa-bhayam mikku uḷa am makkaḷ araṇ-āha maraṇa-bhavam-illā mahēśaṉ caraṇamē sārvar. tam sārvu oḍu tām sāvu uṯṟār. sāvādavar sāvu eṇṇam sārvarō?

English translation: Pure-hearted people who have intense fear of death will take refuge at the feet of God, who is devoid of death and birth, as a fortress. By their refuge, they undergo death. Will those who are deathless be associated with the thought of death?

Explanatory paraphrase: Pure-hearted people who have intense fear of death will take refuge at [or surrender to] the feet of Mahēśaṉ [the Great Lord, Śiva or God], who is devoid of death and birth, [depending upon him] as [their protective] fortress. By their [taking] refuge [or as soon as they take refuge], their ego dies [and what remains is only their real nature, which is immortal awareness]. Will those who are [thereby] deathless be associated [ever again] with the thought of death?

Here ‘the feet of Mahēśaṉ [the Great Lord, Śiva or God], who is devoid of death and birth’ means the pure awareness that is always shining in our heart as ‘I’, which alone is our refuge, and until we take refuge in those feet we will continue undergoing this dream of repeated births and deaths.