Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Self-attentiveness, intensity and continuity

Last week a person called Teck posted two comments on one of my recent articles, Making effort to pay attention to our mind is being attentive only to our essential self, in the first of which he or she wrote:

… My question is, how important is CONTINUITY and INTENSITY of self abidance/attention for our progress (of recognizing our true being)? Recently I started to intuit that these 2 factors are of very critical importance in our progress. …
In his or her second comment, Teck continued:
I think I need to elaborate more about what I mean by intensity and continuity.

By the 1st I mean the degree of “alertness/mindfulness” of our attention to awareness itself, while ignoring others eg feeling, thoughts etc., kind like when a cat trying to catch a mouse, it’s attention is very alert/focused.

Continuity is very obvious, it’s simply the ability to sustain our attention on our consciousness/awareness without interruption.

I suspect that the speed of our realization (progress) depends on these 2 factors more than anything else. Is this true?
Both intensity and continuity are important, but of these two the most important is intensity, because even a moment of absolutely intense — that is, perfectly clear — self-attentiveness will be sufficient to destroy forever the illusion that we are this finite mind, after which the continuity of our self-attentiveness will never be interrupted even for a moment.

Self-attentiveness and time

With reference to a reply that I had written to an earlier comment quoting pages 584-5 of Happiness and the Art of Being, last week the following anonymous comment was posted on one of my recent articles, Making effort to pay attention to our mind is being attentive only to our essential self:

When once one has the intensity, there is no question of doing meditation or vichara in short periods with various intervals or going in for long ardous sessions as time itself is a subsequent factor having no relevance to our essential being of, “I AM”, unless one does some yoga exercise.
Yes, time is a phenomenon that appears to exist only when our mind is active — that is, when it is attending to anything other than itself — so when we are wholly absorbed in self-attentiveness time is truly non-existent. Therefore, all questions and concern about time exist for us only when our love to abide in our natural state of clear thought-free self-conscious being is not yet sufficiently intense for us to remain without ever being distracted from it.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Our basic thought ‘I’ is the portal through which we can know our real ‘I’

Last week the following anonymous comment was posted on an old article in this blog, The transcendent state of true self-knowledge is the only real state:

Very frequently reference is being made in works purporting to explain the teachings of Bhaghavan that the very fundamental thought, subsequent to which all the other thoughts arise, is the thought, ‘I’. My question is can there be a thought at the level of the pure I. Any thought can be of the form of the modification of the I, attaching it to a phenomenal object with a relative subject being there. So is it not a fact that tracing all thoughts to the basic I thought presupposes the idea of steering clear of thoughts by knowing the unassociated I. Apart from thoughts there can be no I thought. Hence there is no question of tracing everything to the I thought. Bhaghavan has given this method, I feel, out of compassion to direct individuals to the feeling of subject. Otherwise it would delude us into the idea that there is an I thought as a hiatus from which one should proceed further to one’s real being, which may not be correct. Ramana himself says that there are no two ‘I’s one trying to know the other. This also holds good in regard to the further oft repeated idea that only after the arising of the first person, that is the I, the other persons arise, and hence one should remain with the first person. The first person itself is a form of thought, a modification as it were, unless one has reached the feeling of pure, ‘I AM’.
What Anonymous asks in this comment is to a certain extent answered by what I explained about our primal thought ‘I’ in connection with verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār and verse 2 of Āṉma-Viddai in my previous article, Self-enquiry, self-attention and self-awareness, and in greater detail in chapter three of Happiness and the Art of Being (particularly on pages 167-83, 192-3, 213-9, 225-7 and 234-6). However the following is a more specific answer to his or her comment:

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Self-enquiry, self-attention and self-awareness

A few weeks ago a very long anonymous comment was posted on one of my recent articles, Self-attentiveness, effort and grace. Though this comment was posted under the identity ‘Anonymous’, the name ‘Michael Langford’ was written at the end of it.

I do not know whether or not this comment was actually posted by Michael Langford (though I suspect it probably was not), but except for his name at the end of it, the entire comment is a verbatim copy of a webpage that he wrote entitled Sri Sadhu Om - Self Inquiry, which is one of the many pages in the Awareness Watching Awareness section of the Albigen.Com website.

Most of this webpage, Sri Sadhu Om - Self Inquiry, is an edited copy of chapter seven of Part One of The Path of Sri Ramana, a PDF copy of which is available on my website, Happiness of Being. However, before his edited copy of chapter seven, Michael Langford has written the following two introductory paragraphs:
Sri Sadhu Om spent five years in the company of Sri Ramana Maharshi and decades in the company of Sri Muruganar. Sri Sadhu Om wrote a book called The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One, which contains what has been called the most detailed teaching on the method of Self-inquiry ever written. Sri Sadhu Om points out that:

Self-inquiry is only an aid to Self-Awareness;
only Self-Awareness is the True Direct Path.

However, Sri Sadhu Om never actually wrote or said that ‘Self-inquiry is only an aid to Self-Awareness; only Self-Awareness is the True Direct Path’, either in this chapter of The Path of Sri Ramana or elsewhere, and to say that he pointed out such an idea is misleading and confusing. Before explaining why this idea is misleading, however, I should first say something about the way in which Michael Langford has edited the copy of this chapter on that webpage.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The truth of Arunachala and of ‘seeing the light’ (deepa-darsana)

I began to write this article on Thursday of last week, 11th December, which was the day of Kārttikai Deepam, but for various reasons I was unable to complete it till today, 18th December.

Kārttikai Deepam is an annual festival celebrated in the Tamil month of Kārttikai (mid-November to mid-December) on the day on which the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Pleiades (known in Tamil as kārttikai and in Sanskrit as kṛttikā), which always coincides with the full moon or comes one or two days before or after it. On this day a beacon light or dīpam (popularly spelt as deepam) is lit on the summit of the holy mountain Arunachala, at the foot of which lies the temple-town of Tiruvannamalai, where Bhagavan Sri Ramana lived for the last fifty-four years of his bodily life.

On Kārttikai Deepam day in 1931 (called prajōtpatti in Hindu calendars, the fifth year in the 60-year Jupiter cycle), which was 24th November, when answering some questions on the subject Sri Ramana explained the tattva — the truth, reality or inner significance — of Arunachala, and his explanation was immediately recorded by Sri Muruganar in a Tamil verse entitled ஸ்ரீ அருணாசல தத்துவம் (Śrī Aruṇāchala Tattuvam), which is as follows:

புத்தியகங் காரம் புலம்பெய்த வோங்கு
மத்தியித யந்தான் மறையவனு மாலு
நத்தவறி யாது நலங்குலைய வன்னார்
மத்தியொளி ரண்ணா மலையினது மெய்யே.

buddhiyahaṅ kāram pulambeyda vōṅgu
maddhiyida yandāṉ maṟaiyavaṉu mālu
nattavaṟi yādu nalaṅgulaiya vaṉṉār
maddhiyoḷi raṇṇā malaiyiṉadu meyyē
.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Making effort to pay attention to our mind is being attentive only to our essential self

Referring to a sentence that I wrote in my recent article Self-attentiveness, effort and grace, “We can free ourself from thoughts, sense-perceptions and body-consciousness only by ignoring them entirely and being attentive only to our essential self, ‘I am’”, an anonymous friend wrote in a comment today:

As I see it, thoughts, sense-perceptions and body-consciousness can’t be ignored nor we can be attentive only to our essential self then. If we are attentive only to our essential self, it is because there is not thought, sense-perception nor body-consciousness to be ignored by us. Otherwise, we have to be attentive to thoughts and so on, because it is only then, through this practice, that attention becomes self-attentive and therefore self-consciousness because then, there is not thought, sense-perception nor body-consciousness as a natural result of the practice, obtained without an act of will nor effort. Effort is in paying attention to mind which is a reflection of true consciousness, but once attention becomes self-attentive the rest just disappears and all happens by itself. Asking at that moment: who am I? it is something that I couldn’t do yet.

Baghavan Sri Ramana talking on being attentive only to our essential self from the beginning, gives us a clue on how far we are from that state. To me, starting from that point is starting from just one more thought, I have to follow a long process before to arrive to the pure feeling of just being, and I don’t always arrive, only in very few occasions. Feeling is so much perfect that then I’m unable of asking “what is this? Who am I?

Baghavan used to talk on weakness of mind as well, I guess he meant exactly this.
I am not sure that I have correctly understood all that Anonymous wrote in this comment, but I hope that he or she may find the following few remarks helpful.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Advaita sadhana – non-dualistic spiritual practice

Towards the end of his long and interesting second comment on my recent article, Guru Vāchaka Kōvai – a new translation by TV Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and David Godman, with reference to verse 579 of Guru Vachaka Kovai Haramurthi wrote:

In my view, this verse has a very pronounced non-dualistic emphasis, it speaks from the non-dual perspective: there is simply no mode of existence ever apart from the Self — and then it explicates a mode of existence under the aspect of a path/means for attaining something and under the aspect of being the result of actions (karmaphala), here technically designated as upeya, that which may be attained by some means. And all this is ever already inseparable from the Self — a suggestion which, at least for an awareness deeply engaged in a sAdhana (e.g. of self-enquiry), has profound implications!

If a translator suddenly introduces the essentially dualistic notion of a “refuge”, it means turning the verse into partially speaking from the altogether unenlightened perspective of a self-estranged and confusing consciousness, thereby actually destroying the sublime beauty, suggestiveness and logical integrity of the verse.

It may be part of the agenda, say, of Christian piety to adopt its phantasy of a god as a consoling refuge, but it is less sure whether such a model and its implication, to quote Michael, of “clinging firmly to self as our sole refuge” is a particularly useful strategy in terms of an Advaitic practice, to say nothing of being the “only” method.
I agree with Haramurthi that verse 579 of Guru Vachaka Kovai ‘has a very pronounced non-dualistic emphasis’ and that ‘it speaks from the non-dual perspective’. In fact the absolutely non-dual nature of self, which is expressed by the word அத்துவித (advaita) in the first clause and reiterated by the word அபேதம் (abhēdam) in the final sentence, is the very foundation upon which the teaching given in this verse is based.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Self-attentiveness, effort and grace

Yesterday the following anonymous comment was posted on my previous article, Atma-vichara and the ‘practice’ of neti neti, with reference to a sentence that I had written in it, “Since thoughts can rise only when we attend to them, they will all subside naturally when we keep our attention fixed exclusively in our own essential self-conscious being, ‘I am’”:

… I try to fix my attention on the feeling ‘I am’, which is present all the time. However, this attention, even when sustained for a considerable amount of time, does not result in the melting away of body consciousness, and as a result of this, other thoughts occasionally arise and sense perceptions are constantly active. Sometimes, I feel the practice is futile because the melting away of body consciousness seems like an act of grace and not something which I can accomplish by attempting to focus on ‘I am’ as much as possible. Exclusive attention to ‘I am’ doesn't seem like something the spurious ‘I’ can accomplish but something which may or may not happen, depending on if an act of grace occurs or not. I’m not sure if I’m practicing correctly. How long should I keep my attention on ‘I am’ before body consciousness abates? If done correctly, should it abate immediately, in a few seconds, in a few hours? Please help.
When practising self-attentiveness, our sole aim should be to experience the perfect clarity of pristine non-dual self-consciousness.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Atma-vichara and the ‘practice’ of neti neti

On one of my earlier articles, Repeating 'who am I?' is not self-enquiry, two anonymous comments dated 31 October 2008 and 19 November 2008 have been posted recommending the practice of neti neti as prescribed by Stephen Wolinsky.

I do not know anything about Stephen Wolinsky or the practice that he has prescribed, but what these two comments say about his practice of neti neti makes me suspect that it is very different to the simple practice of atma-vichara (self-investigation or self-enquiry) taught by Sri Ramana, which is the only truly effective means by which we can experience our natural state, in which we remain separate from all the extraneous adjuncts that are not ‘I’.

The term neti neti literally means ‘not thus, not thus’, and denotes the process of intellectual self-analysis by which we discriminate and understand that our body, mind and all other such adjuncts cannot be ‘I’. Having understood this truth intellectually, we should seek to experience what we really are. Since we are not the body, mind or any other such transitory phenomenon, we should withdraw our attention from them and allow it to rest in and as our own essential being, which is always conscious of itself as ‘I am’.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Guru Vachaka Kovai verse 579 and Anubhuti Venba verse 610

When I wrote my previous article, Guru Vāchaka Kōvai – a new translation by TV Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and David Godman, I unfortunately overlooked an important fact, namely that Sri Muruganar himself had written a brief urai (explanation) for verse 579 of Guru Vāchaka Kōvai in Anubhūti Veṇbā.

I overlooked this partly because I do not have a copy of Anubhūti Veṇbā, and partly because I forgot to check the appendix on page 536 of David’s version of Guru Vachaka Kovai, in which he has given the corresponding verse numbers in Guru Vāchaka Kōvai and Anubhūti Veṇbā for the 95 verses that are included in both these works.

Fortunately David has sent me an e-mail attaching a scanned copy of a letter written to me by a mutual friend, in which he pointed out that verse 579 of Guru Vāchaka Kōvai is included in Anubhūti Veṇbā as verse 610, and in which he also copied by hand the urai that Sri Muruganar wrote for it in Anubhūti Veṇbā, which is as follows:

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Guru Vāchaka Kōvai – a new translation by TV Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and David Godman

A new English version of Guru Vāchaka Kōvai has recently been published. It is translated by Dr T.V. Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and David Godman, and is edited and annotated by David Godman.

More information about this new book and where it can be purchased is given by David on his website at www.davidgodman.org/books/gvknew.shtml and on his blog at www.sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/10/guru-vachaka-kovai.html.

In his lengthy and interesting introduction David has not only given a detailed history of the original Tamil text and the various translations of it, but has also explained why he felt there was a need for this new translation.

Since I have recently received many e-mails from people asking me for my opinion about this new translation, and in particular whether I thought there was really any need for it, I would like to take this opportunity to put on record my support for this new book and for what David has written in his introduction.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

God as paramarthika satya – the absolute reality

In continuation of three of my earlier articles, God as both nirguna brahman and saguna brahman, Experiencing God as he really is and God as purna – the one infinite whole, the following is the fourth extract from the second chapter, ‘God’, of The Truth of Otherness:

Thus, these three verses of Guru Vachaka Kovai are an emphatic refutation of our separation from God, the one infinite purna, the unlimited and absolute reality, who alone truly exists, and who is perfectly non-dual and therefore completely devoid of parts. In verse 888, Sri Ramana emphasises that the infinite purna alone exists by quoting this Vedic mantra, which says that even “when purna is taken out of purna, purna whole alone remains”, and by adding that purna alone remains not only then but also when purna has united purna. That is, whether anything appears to separate from it or unite with it, the infinite purna in truth always exists alone, because whatever appears to separate from it or unite with it is in truth nothing but that purna itself.

Then in verse 889 he explains that, since nothing other than that real purna exists, there is nothing that could ever either separate from it or unite with it, and that therefore everything that appears to exist as other than it is in truth one with it. However, he does not conclude his explanation of this Vedic mantra by saying merely that everything is one with the infinite reality, but goes one step further by stating clearly in verse 890 that everything except the infinite reality is a mere imagination and is therefore completely unreal.

Monday, 7 July 2008

God as purna – the one infinite whole

In continuation of my earlier two articles, God as both nirguna brahman and saguna brahman and Experiencing God as he really is, the following is the third extract from the second chapter, ‘God’, of The Truth of Otherness:

The reason why we said in the previous chapter [an extract from which is given in the article The world is a creation of our imagination] that this world is not created by God is that in his true nirguna form he is mere being, and therefore never does anything, and that in his imaginary saguna form he and this world are both created simultaneously. That is to say, God as a seemingly separate supreme being comes into existence only when we come into existence as a seemingly separate individual being.

When we rise as this mind, our limited individual consciousness, we perceive the world and all the other objective thoughts in our mind as being separate from and other than ourself, and thus we seemingly create duality and division in our non-dual and undivided real self. When we thus see ourself and this world as separate and finite entities, we transform our infinite real self into a seemingly infinite God, whom we consider to be separate from ourself and this world.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Cultivating uninterrupted self-attentiveness

In a comment on one of my recent articles, Self-enquiry, personal experiences and daily routine, an anonymous friend wrote:

“...uninterrupted self-attentiveness...”

This is not quite possible in my daily work life. I work as a software developer where I have to constantly think to write programs. I try to do be self-attentive while using elevators, walking the corridors... sometimes even while smoking, and also try to be self-attentive while driving.

So please tell me how to hold on to the “I” while working.
Here the words “... uninterrupted self-attentiveness ...” refer to a sentence that Sri Ramana wrote in the eleventh paragraph of Nan Yar? (Who am I?), which I quoted in that article, namely:
… If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarupa-smarana [self-remembrance] until one attains svarupa [one’s own essential self], that alone [will be] sufficient. …
As I explained in a subsequent article, Where to find and how to reach the real presence of our guru?, the adjective that Sri Ramana actually used in this sentence to qualify svarupa-smarana or ‘self-remembrance’ is nirantara, which means ‘uninterrupted’ in the sense of ‘having no interval’, ‘incessant’, ‘constant’, ‘continuous’ or ‘perpetual’. When we read this sentence, many of us wonder like our anonymous friend how it could be possible for us to hold on to self-remembrance or self-attentiveness continuously in the midst of all our usual daily activities, some of which appear to require our undivided attention.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Experiencing our natural state of true immortality

In a comment on my recent article Self-enquiry: the underlying philosophy can be clearly understood only by putting it into practice, Kirk Crist asked, “in death of the body what are the differences in the experiencing or knowing in the janni and the ajanni”. Though the answer to this question is quite simple, when I started to write it one idea led to another, as a result of which I ended up writing the following:

The death of the physical body makes absolutely no difference to a jnani, because jnana or true self-knowledge is the absolutely non-dual, undivided and therefore difference-free experience in which only ‘I am’ — our real self or essential adjunct-free self-conscious being — exists and is known by itself alone.

In other words, in the experience of a jnani, who is jnana itself, there is no such thing as a body or world, and therefore no such thing as birth or death. As Sri Ramana says in verse 21 of Upadesa Tanippakkal (verse B-24 of Guru Vachaka Kovai):

The body is impermanent [and therefore unreal]. Just as a person blinded with the intoxication of toddy [a drink of fermented palm sap] [is not aware whether] the fine cloth with which he was adorned [is still on his body or has fallen off], the siddha [that is, the jnani] who has known self does not know the body, whether [due to prarabdha karma or destiny] it rests or is active, and whether due to [that same prarabdha] karma it is joined or has separated [that is, whether it lives or has died].

Friday, 20 June 2008

The true nature of consciousness can be known only by self-enquiry

The anonymous friend whose comment I replied to in my previous article, Self-enquiry: the underlying philosophy can be clearly understood only by putting it into practice, has replied to that article in another comment on the earlier article I think because I am, but I am even when I do not think. In this latest comment Anonymous writes:

First of all, your reply in the form of a separate article is greatly appreciated. It makes me imagine the level of clarity you have on the subject. I confess that I was not very serious when I wrote my earlier comments, though I believe whatever I wrote was true/correct to me. I’m not sure whether I should be writing this reply now or perhaps after thoroughly reading and thinking about it... but I’m writing this as I keep reading your article and getting questions/doubts in between:

‘... sleep is not absolute unconsciousness …’. It would be good if you further clarify what is meant by ‘relative unconsciousness’. Does it mean some part of consciousness still remains?

This question from your reply: “... if we really did not know anything in sleep...would we not just have to say ‘... I do not know whether or not I knew anything in sleep’?” is a good one. It made me for a moment think how could we ascertain that we do not know anything in sleep. (I explained whatever I think as the answer towards the end of this reply — last but one paragraph.)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Self-enquiry: the underlying philosophy can be clearly understood only by putting it into practice

In his written and spoken teachings, Sri Ramana has given us a clear, subtle, profound and complete philosophy, which prompts us to think about our experience of ourself and everything else more deeply than we would ever do without such prompting, and which provides us with a truly satisfactory answer to all the most essential philosophical questions that we could ever ask. However, he did not give us his philosophical teachings merely to satisfy our intellectual curiosity, but only for a single purpose, namely to urge and guide us to practise self-enquiry and self-surrender and thereby to know ourself as we really are.

All the philosophy or theory that he has taught us has only this one aim or purpose, so until and unless we actually practise this one path of self-enquiry and self-surrender, we will not gain the real benefit that we should gain from studying his teachings. What he has taught us is not merely a theoretical philosophy but also a practical science, so if we try to restrict ourself to the philosophical aspect of his teachings and ignore their practical aspect, our understanding of them will be incomplete, one-sided and distorted.

We can truly understand his entire teachings and be benefited by them only if we put them into practise by earnestly attempting to scrutinise our essential self-conscious being, ‘I am’, and thereby subside into the innermost depth of ourself. If we do not thus attempt to practise self-enquiry and self-surrender, we will never be able to understand his teachings clearly or deeply.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Where to find and how to reach the real presence of our guru?

In reply to my recent article, Which sat-sanga will free us from our ego?, Anonymous wrote a comment in which he or she said:

Thanks for your reply to my (anonymous) concerns. “Merely being in the physical presence of a true guru is not the most efficacious form of sat-sanga” — yes I accept that, but I’ve heard so many stories of people experiencing the Self effortlessly in the presence of a true guru after many years of failure through their own attempts to experience the Self and that’s why I was tempted to ask that question. ...
If we truly have faith in the grace and guidance of our sadguru, Sri Ramana, we will have no doubt about the simple truth that he can and does provide us with all the help — both inward and outward — that we need to enable us to scrutinise and know our real self.

If we would really be helped by being in the physical presence of a true guru, would he not place us in such a presence? And if he has not placed us in such a presence, should we not understand that we do not actually need such help now?

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Self-enquiry, personal experiences and daily routine

In another comment on an earlier article, Happiness and the Art of Being is now available on Amazon and other sites, Anonymous wrote:

How do you find hope when you’ve made earnest attempts at Self-enquiry, not made any tangible progress (because there is no glimpse of the ‘I-I’ state), don’t have the Self in a human garb to say a few kind/harsh words to help you in your enquiry and have to remain in the mundane madness of the everyday world and deal with many egos including your own? I was also wondering if you could kindly post your personal (if there is one left;) experiences of attempting to go beyond the surface thoughts and deep into ‘I am’. What kind of daily routine proved to be the most effective for you?
The first of these questions is answered at least partially by some of the points that I explained in my previous post, Which sat-sanga will free us from our ego?. In this present context, the most important of those points is that tenacious perseverance is absolutely essential in order for us to make real progress in our practice of self-enquiry or self-attentiveness.

However, we should not despair because of our seeming lack of progress, because as Sri Ramana said, perseverance is itself the only true sign of progress. The importance of such tenacious perseverance is strongly emphasised by him in paragraphs six, ten and eleven of Nan Yar? (Who am I?):

Monday, 9 June 2008

Which sat-sanga will free us from our ego?

In a comment on an earlier article, Happiness and the Art of Being is now available on Amazon and other sites, Anonymous wrote:

I’ve been reading your book. I think most people would find it difficult to sink into the Self transcending body consciousness because they have to do some work everyday and hence their identification with the body remains and so do the vasanas. Holding onto a tenuous current of the Self doesn’t really help because it’s often lost when the mind is deeply immersed in work. My question is: What does it take to transcend body consciousness and ahamkara? Is it wanting or desiring self-realization to the exclusion of everything else until the goal is achieved (which would mean leading a meditative life)? Is it being in the presence of a guru who can be seen with the eye? I guess you had the fortune of spending time with Sadhu Om. Are you or do you know a guru who is established in the natural state?
The following is a reply to these questions:

The key to transcending our ahamkara or false ego and the body-consciousness that always accompanies it is, as Anonymous says, “desiring self-realization to the exclusion of everything else until the goal is achieved”.

However, rather than describing such whole-hearted self-love or svatma-bhakti as a ‘desire’, it would be more appropriate to describe it as true ‘love’, because the state of ‘self-realization’ or true non-dual self-knowledge is not a state that our mind or ego can achieve for itself, but is the state in which it itself will be wholly consumed and lost forever. In other words, self-knowledge is not something that our mind can add to itself, thereby enhancing itself and helping it to satisfy its desire for self-preservation, which is its most basic desire. On the contrary, self-knowledge is the state in which our mind will lose itself entirely.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Experiencing God as he really is

In continuation of my previous post, God as both nirguna brahman and saguna brahman, the following is the second extract from the second chapter, ‘God’, of The Truth of Otherness:

In order to experience the nirguna form of God — that is, God as he really is — we must experience ourself as we really are. In our essential nature we are just the one absolutely non-dual self-conscious being, ‘I am’, which is devoid of all gunas. Therefore only when we remain steadfastly as our infinitely clear self-conscious being, ‘I am’, thereby refraining from rising as this imaginary object-knowing consciousness that we call our ‘mind’, will we be able to experience God as he really is — as our own true self, which is the one infinite nirguna reality.

This truth is clearly expressed by Sri Ramana in verses 24, 25 and 26 of Upadesa Undiyar:

By [their] irukkum iyarkai [their ‘nature which is’ or ‘being nature’] God and souls are only one porul [substance, essence or reality]. Only [the soul’s] upadhi-unarvu [adjunct-consciousness] is [what makes them appear to be] different.

Knowing [our real] self, having relinquished [all our own] upadhis [adjuncts or gunas], itself is knowing God, because [he] shines as [our real] self.

Being [our real] self is indeed knowing [our real] self, because [our real] self is devoid of two. This is tanmaya-nishtha [the state of being firmly established as tat or ‘it’, the one absolute nirguna reality called ‘God’ or brahman].

Thursday, 29 May 2008

God as both nirguna brahman and saguna brahman

In continuation of my previous two articles containing extracts from the currently incomplete draft of The Truth of Otherness, the following is the first of several extracts from the second chapter, which is entitled ‘God’:

The ultimate truth about God is that he is our own real self, our fundamental and essential self-conscious being, which we always experience as ‘I am’. That is, he is both our being and our consciousness of our being — our perfectly non-dual being-consciousness or sat-chit.

He is our own essential being, and the essential being of everything that is or appears to be. He is the infinite fullness of being, which is the ultimate reality and essence of all things. He is the source, substratum and support of everything.

He is the absolute reality, which shines in the heart or innermost core of every sentient being as the knowledge ‘I am’. He is the ancient and eternal ‘I am’, the timeless ‘I am’, the omnipresent and all-pervading ‘I am’, the infinite ‘I am’, the absolute ‘I am’, the immutable and indivisible ‘I am’, the non-dual ‘I am’, the one and only truly existing ‘I am’, the all-transcending ‘I am’, the essential ‘I am’ other than which nothing is.

Friday, 23 May 2008

The world is a creation of our imagination

In continuation of my previous post, Introduction to The Truth of Otherness, the following brief extract from The Truth of Otherness is all that I have so far drafted for the first chapter, ‘The World’. Needless to say, if I ever happen to complete writing this book, I would include in this chapter a detailed discussion of many other important truths that Sri Ramana has revealed to us about the nature of this world, particularly about how we experience it only due our pramada or slackness in self-attentiveness — that is, our failure to abide firmly in our natural state of absolutely non-dual self-conscious being.

God is not some being outside ourself who one day decided to create this universe. He is our own real self, which in truth just is, and never does anything. Therefore, this universe is truly created not by God, but only by our own kalpana-sakti or power of imagination. However, if we wish for any reason to attribute the creation of this vast and wonderful universe to God rather than to our own imagination, we should at least understand that he has created it only through the channel of our own mind or power of imagination.

If we wish to maintain that God created this world, we are in effect maintaining that he is not real in the absolute sense of the term, because the absolute reality is mere being, which never does anything. All doing or action involves change, and is therefore transient and unreal. Since action is unreal, whoever performs action is equally unreal. Something that is real cannot do something that is unreal.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Introduction to The Truth of Otherness

As I explained in the introduction to Happiness and the Art of Being, pages 55 to 58, I began to form it as a book by compiling some reflections on the teachings of Sri Ramana that I had originally written for my own benefit, because I find writing to be a valuable aid to the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender, since it helps me to deepen and clarify my understanding and is therefore an effective way of doing manana or deep reflective meditation upon his teachings.

When I thus began to compile my personal musings into the form of a book, I arranged them under various chapter headings, which I divided into two parts. Thus an early draft of Happiness and the Art of Being consisted of two parts, ‘The Essentials’ and ‘The Peripherals’, with ten chapters in the first part and eighteen in the second part.

However, when I began to compile ‘The Four Yogas’, which was one of the chapters that I planned to include in the second part, I soon found that it would be too long to form a single chapter, because I was trying to include in it some detailed musings that I had begun to write about certain fresh meanings that emerge from the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali when we carefully consider it in the clear light of Sri Ramana’s teachings, so I decided to separate such musings from the rest of the chapter and form them into an appendix.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Happiness and the Art of Being — complete Spanish translation is now available

Pedro Rodea has translated into Spanish many English books on the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, including Nan Yar? (Who am I?), Upadesa Undiyar, Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam (with the commentary by Sri Sadhu Om), Guru Vachaka Kovai (from the English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and me), Maharshi’s Gospel, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Day by Day with Bhagavan and Be As You Are, and his translations are posted either as PDF files or as zipped Word documents on his AtivarnAshram website. Some of his translations, such as Guru Vachaka Kovai, have also been published as printed books by Ignitus Ediciones.

In a post that I wrote on 22nd August of last year, Spanish translation of Happiness and the Art of Being, I said that Pedro was also translating Happiness and the Art of Being into Spanish, and that his translation of some of the chapters was available on the AtivarnAshram website. Recently he completed this translation, and it is now available on the AtivarnAshram website as a PDF e-book, which can be opened by clicking on the following link:

La Felicidad y el Arte de Ser:
Introducción a la filosofía y la práctica de las enseñanzas espirituales de
Bhagavan Sri Ramana

Some selected passages from this Spanish translation can also be accessed through links on the Michael James page of the AtivarnAshram website.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Sri Ramanopadesa Nunmalai — English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James

In a post that I wrote on September 25th of last year, Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam — English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James, I announced the publication of the word-for-word meaning and English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and me of Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, the 'Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala' composed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana, and I mentioned that within the next few months it would be followed by a similar book containing the word-for-word meaning and English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and me of Upadesa Nunmalai, the 'Garland of Teaching Texts' or 'Garland of Treatises of Spiritual Instruction', that is, the poems such as Ulladu Narpadu that Sri Ramana wrote conveying his teachings or upadesa.

This translation of Upadesa Nunmalai has now been published under the title Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai and is available for sale in Sri Ramanasramam Book Stall. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first book to contain the word-for-word meaning in English for each verse of these poems.

The following is a copy of the introduction that I wrote for this translation of Upadesa Nunmalai:

"So that we may be saved, [graciously] reveal to us the nature of reality and the means to attain [or experience] it." This is the prayer that Sri Muruganar made to Bhagavan Sri Ramana when requesting him to compose Ulladu Narpadu, and these are the words with which he begins the first verse of his payiram or preface to this great work.