Friday, 24 March 2017

After the annihilation of the ego, no ‘I’ can rise to say ‘I have seen’

In Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 33: the ‘I’ that rises to say ‘I have seen’ has seen nothing, which is the final section of one of my recent articles, There is only one ego, and even that does not actually exist, I quoted a Tamil saying, ‘கண்டவர் விண்டில்லை; விண்டவர் கண்டில்லை’ (kaṇḍavar viṇḍillai; viṇḍavar kaṇḍillai), which means ‘those who have seen do not say; those who say have not seen’, and then verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which Bhagavan says:
என்னை யறியேனா னென்னை யறிந்தேனா
னென்ன னகைப்புக் கிடனாகு — மென்னை
தனைவிடய மாக்கவிரு தானுண்டோ வொன்றா
யனைவரனு பூதியுண்மை யால்.

eṉṉai yaṟiyēṉā ṉeṉṉai yaṟindēṉā
ṉeṉṉa ṉahaippuk kiḍaṉāhu — meṉṉai
taṉaiviḍaya mākkaviru tāṉuṇḍō voṉḏṟā
yaṉaivaraṉu bhūtiyuṇmai yāl
.

பதச்சேதம்: ‘என்னை அறியேன் நான்’, ‘என்னை அறிந்தேன் நான்’ என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும். என்னை? தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? ஒன்று ஆய் அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஆல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ nāṉ’, ‘eṉṉai aṟindēṉ nāṉ’ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum. eṉṉai? taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? oṉḏṟu āy aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai āl.

அன்வயம்: ‘நான் என்னை அறியேன்’, ‘நான் என்னை அறிந்தேன்’ என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும். என்னை? தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஒன்றாய்; ஆல்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘nāṉ eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ’, ‘nāṉ eṉṉai aṟindēṉ’ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum. eṉṉai? taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai oṉḏṟu āy; āl.

English translation: Saying ‘I do not know myself’ [or] ‘I have known myself’ is ground for ridicule. Why? To make oneself an object known, are there two selves? Because being one is the truth of everyone’s experience.
I then concluded:
Therefore we should be very sceptical about anyone who claims ‘I have known myself’ or ‘I have experienced what remains after the ego is annihilated’. As you rightly point out, if the ego has been eradicated, who remains there to say ‘I’ have experienced anything? Whatever ‘I’ makes such claims can only be the ego, because what we actually are is infinite self-awareness, other than which nothing actually exists, so how could it make any such claims, and to whom could it make them? Therefore as Bhagavan says, all such claims are ‘ground for ridicule’.
Referring to this, a friend wrote to me: ‘although I assume totally true the saying in Tamil that you mention, nevertheless I think to Bhagavan telling about his first and ultimate experience at the age of 16 years, or to Sri Muruganar in his Sri Ramana Anubhuti, where he affirms without any doubt the total annihilation of his ego at the merciful feet of Bhagavan. If the ego has been eradicated, who remains there to say ‘I’ have experienced anything? Yes, no one, but can we conceive the jnani, nay, his human form in our dream, using words, that is dualism, to describe to our dualistic mind, the experience which his human form had of annihilation of his illusory ego? I think yes, but in that case, no ego rises in him to say ‘I have seen’, so that rising and saying ego doesn’t belong to the jnani but to us, who project and see his human form. Because the jnani is each of us, and his grace is always calling us to recognize ourself. But here I stop, and ask to you rescue for my fumbling mind’, and then in a second email he wrote: ‘So I express a precise question: what prompted Sri Muruganar to write his Sri Ramana Anubhuti, where he affirms without any doubt the total annihilation of his ego at the merciful feet of Bhagavan?’ The following is adapted from my reply to him.
  1. Since there was no ego in Muruganar, what prompted him to sing in praise of Bhagavan’s grace was only his grace
  2. When Bhagavan spoke about his death experience, he did so without using the word ‘I’ in a personal sense
  3. Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam verses 1 and 2: when the seeing ego ceased to exist, the mind did not rise to say ‘I saw’
  4. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 28: our real nature is infinite and undivided, so nothing else exists to know it
  5. Śrī Ramaṇa Sahasram verse 960: when you caught me in your jaws, what happened? Only you can say
  6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 31: egolessness is a state devoid of awareness of anything other than oneself, so how can the mind comprehend it?
1. Since there was no ego in Muruganar, what prompted him to sing in praise of Bhagavan’s grace was only his grace

Whatever Muruganar wrote in any of his verses was not written with any egotism but was only addressed to Bhagavan and was sung in praise of his grace, which had swallowed the ego that had previously identified the person Muruganar as ‘I’. I do not know how accurately any of his verses have been translated into English, but in the original Tamil there is not a trace of ego in them.

Moreover, in his personal life he was the embodiment of perfect humility, and he never claimed to be anything or to have achieved anything. Whenever anyone told him that they considered him as their guru, he would react strongly, saying that he is nothing and only Bhagavan is guru.

Therefore what prompted him to write so many verses in praise of Bhagavan’s grace was only his grace, which is the infinite love that we as we actually are have for ourself as we actually are. Since the ego in Muruganar had been consumed entirely by that grace, the person that he seemed to be was just an empty shell through which grace sang in praise of itself to itself.

What need did grace have to sing thus? Since such singing seems to exist only in the outward-looking view of ourself as this ego, it did so for our benefit, as part of its strategy to draw us back within to see ourself as we actually are.

2. When Bhagavan spoke about his death experience, he did so without using the word ‘I’ in a personal sense

Regarding whatever Bhagavan said about his death experience, it has not been translated or recorded accurately in English, and people have added in their own interpretations and embellishments of what he said. What he said was very carefully nuanced and said in a completely impersonal way without using the pronoun ‘I’ or the first person form of any verb (which is possible to do in Tamil but impossible in most other languages, except by using the passive voice), except when referring to the one infinite (and hence absolutely impersonal) self-awareness that we all actually are, so there was no trace of any ego in the actual words he used, but what he said was translated into English using the word ‘I’ in a personal sense, which radically changes the flavour and nuanced meaning of what he actually said.

3. Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam verses 1 and 2: when the seeing ego ceased to exist, the mind did not rise to say ‘I saw’

In short, neither Bhagavan nor Muruganar ever said directly ‘I have known myself’, ‘I have lost my ego’ or any such thing, but they spoke or wrote in a way that enables us to infer that this was the case. Consider for example what Bhagavan wrote about his experience in the first two verses of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, which contains the most reliable account of his spiritual journey up to the age of sixteen, when he reached his final destination, ceasing to be anything other than Arunachala, the one infinite space of pure self-awareness. Though in most English translations ‘I’ is used several times, it does not occur at all in Tamil, and he used first person forms of verbs only twice in verse 1 and three times in verse 2.

In verse 1 he sang:
அறிவறு கிரியென வமர்தரு மம்மா
      வதிசய மிதன்செய லறிவரி தார்க்கு
மறிவறு சிறுவய ததுமுத லருணா
      சலமிகப் பெரிதென வறிவினி லங்க
வறிகில னதன்பொரு ளதுதிரு வண்ணா
      மலையென வொருவரா லறிவுறப் பெற்று
மறிவினை மருளுறுத் தருகினி லீர்க்க
      வருகுறு மமயமி தசலமாக் கண்டேன்.

aṟivaṟu giriyeṉa vamardaru mammā
      vatiśaya midaṉceya laṟivari dārkku
maṟivaṟu siṟuvaya dadumuda laruṇā
      calamihap perideṉa vaṟiviṉi laṅga
vaṟihila ṉadaṉporu ḷadutiru vaṇṇā
      malaiyeṉa voruvarā laṟivuṟap peṯṟu
maṟiviṉai maruḷuṟut taruhiṉi līrkka
      varuhuṟu mamayami dacalamāk kaṇḍēṉ
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறிவு அறு கிரி என அமர்தரும். அம்மா, அதிசயம் இதன் செயல் அறி அரிது ஆர்க்கும். அறிவு அறு சிறு வயது அது முதல் அருணாசலம் மிக பெரிது என அறிவின் இலங்க, அறிகிலன் அதன் பொருள் அது திருவண்ணாமலை என ஒருவரால் அறிவு உற பெற்றும். அறிவினை மருள் உறுத்து அருகினில் ஈர்க்க, அருகு உறும் அமயம் இது அசலம் ஆ கண்டேன்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟivu aṟu giri eṉa amardarum. ammā, atiśayam idaṉ seyal aṟi aridu ārkkum. aṟivu aṟu siṟu vayadu adu mudal aruṇācalam miha peridu eṉa aṟiviṉ ilaṅga, aṟihilaṉ adaṉ poruḷ adu tiruvaṇṇāmalai eṉa oruvarāl aṟivu uṟa peṯṟum. aṟiviṉai maruḷ uṟuttu aruhiṉil īrkka, aruhu uṟum amayam idu acalam ā kaṇḍēṉ.

அன்வயம்: அறிவு அறு கிரி என அமர்தரும். அம்மா, அதிசயம் இதன் செயல் அறி அரிது ஆர்க்கும். அறிவு அறு சிறு வயது அது முதல் அருணாசலம் மிக பெரிது என அறிவின் இலங்க, அது திருவண்ணாமலை என ஒருவரால் அறிவு உற பெற்றும் அதன் பொருள் அறிகிலன். அறிவினை மருள் உறுத்து அருகினில் ஈர்க்க, அருகு உறும் அமயம் இது அசலம் ஆ கண்டேன்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): aṟivu aṟu giri eṉa amardarum. ammā, atiśayam idaṉ seyal aṟi aridu ārkkum. aṟivu aṟu siṟu vayadu adu mudal aruṇācalam miha peridu eṉa aṟiviṉ ilaṅga, adu tiruvaṇṇāmalai eṉa oruvarāl aṟivu uṟa peṯṟum adaṉ poruḷ aṟihilaṉ. aṟiviṉai maruḷ uṟuttu aruhiṉil īrkka, aruhu uṟum amayam idu acalam ā kaṇḍēṉ.

English translation: It stands calmly as a hill [seemingly] bereft of knowledge [or awareness], [but] ah, its action is pre-eminent [or wonderful], difficult for anyone to understand. Though Arunchalam shone in the mind as something exceedingly great from the young age bereft of knowledge, even [after] coming to know from someone that it is Tiruvannamalai I did not know its poruḷ [substance, reality, truth, import, meaning or significance]. When it enchanted the mind and drew [the body] near, at the opportune time of coming near I saw it to be acalam [a hill or what is motionless].
In this verse the only two first person verbs are ‘அறிகிலன்’ (aṟihilaṉ), ‘I did not know’ or ‘I did not understand’, at the beginning of the third line, and ‘கண்டேன்’ (kaṇḍēṉ), ‘I saw’, at the end of the last line. In the third line he says that he did not know the poruḷ (substance, reality or import) of Arunachala even when he came to know that it was Tiruvannamalai, so there is no hint of any egotism or claim to know implied there, and in the last line he says that he saw it to be a hill (or what is motionless), so again this is making no claim to any special knowledge.

In verse 2 he sang:
கண்டவ னெவனெனக் கருத்தினு ணாடக்
      கண்டவ னின்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன்
கண்டன னென்றிடக் கருத்தெழ வில்லை
      கண்டில னென்றிடக் கருத்தெழு மாறென்
விண்டிது விளக்கிடு விறலுறு வோனார்
      விண்டிலை பண்டுநீ விளக்கினை யென்றால்
விண்டிடா துன்னிலை விளக்கிட வென்றே
      விண்டல மசலமா விளங்கிட நின்றாய்.

kaṇḍava ṉevaṉeṉak karuttiṉu ṇāḍak
      kaṇḍava ṉiṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ
kaṇḍaṉa ṉeṉḏṟiḍak karutteṙa villai
      kaṇḍila ṉeṉḏṟiḍak karutteṙu māṟeṉ
viṇḍidu viḷakkiḍu viṟaluṟu vōṉār
      viṇḍilai paṇḍunī viḷakkiṉai yeṉḏṟāl
viṇḍiṭā duṉṉilai viḷakkiḍa veṉḏṟē
      viṇḍala macalamā viḷaṅgiḍa niṉḏṟāy
.

பதச்சேதம்: கண்டவன் எவன் என கருத்தின் உள் நாட, கண்டவன் இன்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன். ‘கண்டனன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழ இல்லை; ‘கண்டிலன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழுமாறு என்? விண்டு இது விளக்கிடு விறல் உறுவோன் ஆர், விண்டு இலை பண்டு நீ விளக்கினை என்றால்? விண்டிடாது உன் நிலை விளக்கிட என்றே விண் தலம் அசலமா விளங்கிட நின்றாய்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): kaṇḍavaṉ evaṉ eṉa karuttiṉ uḷ nāḍa, kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ. ‘kaṇḍaṉaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙa illai; ‘kaṇḍilaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙum-āṟu eṉ? viṇḍu idu viḷakkiḍu viṟal uṟuvōṉ ār, viṇḍu ilai paṇḍu nī viḷakkiṉai eṉḏṟāl? viṇḍiḍādu uṉ nilai viḷakkiḍa eṉḏṟē viṇ ṭalam acalamā viḷaṅgiḍa niṉḏṟāy.

அன்வயம்: கண்டவன் எவன் என கருத்தின் உள் நாட, கண்டவன் இன்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன். ‘கண்டனன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழ இல்லை; ‘கண்டிலன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழுமாறு என்? பண்டு நீ விண்டு இலை விளக்கினை என்றால், விண்டு இது விளக்கிடு விறல் உறுவோன் ஆர்? விண்டிடாது உன் நிலை விளக்கிட என்றே விண் தலம் அசலமா விளங்கிட நின்றாய்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): kaṇḍavaṉ evaṉ eṉa karuttiṉ uḷ nāḍa, kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ. ‘kaṇḍaṉaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙa illai; ‘kaṇḍilaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙum-āṟu eṉ? paṇḍu nī viṇḍu ilai viḷakkiṉai eṉḏṟāl, viṇḍu idu viḷakkiḍu viṟal uṟuvōṉ ār? viṇḍiḍādu uṉ nilai viḷakkiḍa eṉḏṟē viṇ ṭalam acalamā viḷaṅgiḍa niṉḏṟāy.

English translation: When [the seer] investigated within the mind who the seer is, I saw what remained when the seer [thereby] became non-existent. The mind did not rise to say ‘I saw’, [so] in what way could the mind rise to say ‘I did not see’? Who has the power to elucidate this [by] speaking, when in ancient times [even] you [as Dakshinamurti] elucidated [it] without speaking? Only to elucidate your state without speaking, you stood as a hill [or motionlessly] shining [from] earth [to] sky.
In this verse the only three first person verbs are ‘கண்டேன்’ (kaṇḍēṉ), ‘I saw’, at the end of the first line, ‘கண்டனன்’ (kaṇḍaṉaṉ), ‘I saw’, at the beginning of the second line, and ‘கண்டிலன்’ (kaṇḍilaṉ), ‘I did not see’, in the middle of the second line. In the first line he says that when the seer (the ego) investigated within the mind to see who is the seer and when the seer thereby became non-existent, he saw that which remained. This was the closest that he came to saying that he had seen what he actually is, but in the next sentence he clarifies this by saying that the mind did not rise to say ‘I saw’, so how could it rise to say ‘I did not see’?

That is, though he said ‘கண்டவன் இன்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன்’ (kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ), which means ‘I saw what remains when the seer ceased to exist’, the ‘I’ that saw what remained was not the mind but only what remained, which is the pure, infinite and indivisible self-awareness that we always actually are. The mind or ego is the seer, which is what ceases to exist when it investigates itself to see who or what it actually is, so when it has ceased to exist what sees what remains is only what remains.

The first line of this verse, ‘கண்டவன் எவன் என கருத்தின் உள் நாட, கண்டவன் இன்றிட நின்றது கண்டேன்’ (kaṇḍavaṉ evaṉ eṉa karuttiṉ uḷ nāḍa, kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa niṉḏṟadu kaṇḍēṉ), ‘When [the seer] investigated within the mind who the seer is, I saw what remained when the seer [thereby] became non-existent’, is a single sentence, and in Tamil each sentence can have only one finite verb (a verb whose ending expresses tense, person, number and in some cases gender), unless any of the subordinate clauses are quotative, in which case each such clause may have its own finite verb. In this sentence the finite verb is கண்டேன் (kaṇḍēṉ), which is the first person singular form of the past tense of காண் (kāṇ), so it means ‘I saw’, and hence though the subject of this verb is not explicitly stated, it is unambiguously implied by the first person singular ending, ஏன் (ēṉ).

There are two other verbs in this sentence, each of which is non-finite, namely நாட (nāḍa) and இன்றிட (iṉḏṟiḍa), both of which are infinitives used to express conditions similar to those expressed by ‘when’ in English. The subject of இன்றிட (iṉḏṟiḍa), which means ‘when [the subject] ceases [or ceased] to exist’, is கண்டவன் (kaṇḍavaṉ), which means ‘the seer’, so ‘கண்டவன் இன்றிட’ (kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa) means ‘when the seer ceased to exist’. However there is no explicit subject for நாட (nāḍa), which means ‘when [the subject] investigates [or investigated]’, so in such cases the implied subject would normally be the subject of the main verb (the finite verb) of the sentence, which in this case would be the ‘I’ implied in கண்டேன் (kaṇḍēṉ), ‘I saw’. Therefore this sentence would normally be interpreted as meaning ‘When [I] investigated within the mind who the seer is, I saw what remained when the seer [thereby] became non-existent’ (or ‘When [I] investigated within the mind who the seer is, [and] when the seer [thereby] became non-existent, I saw what remained’).

However, since the ‘I’ who investigated who the seer is is ‘I’ as the seer (the ego or mind), whereas the ‘I’ that saw what remained when the seer thereby became non-existent is ‘I’ as what remained, in this translation I have taken the subject of the first subordinate clause, ‘கண்டவன் எவன் என கருத்தின் உள் நாட’ (kaṇḍavaṉ evaṉ eṉa karuttiṉ uḷ nāḍa), ‘When [the subject] investigated within the mind who the seer is’, to be the same as the subject of the second subordinate clause, ‘கண்டவன் இன்றிட’ (kaṇḍavaṉ iṉḏṟiḍa), ‘when the seer [thereby] became non-existent’, so I translated the whole sentence as ‘When [the seer] investigated within the mind who the seer is, I saw what remained when the seer [thereby] became non-existent’ (or I could have translated it as ‘When [the seer] investigated within the mind who the seer is, [and] when the seer [thereby] became non-existent, I saw what remained’).

There is actually only one ‘I’, which is the pure, infinite and indivisible self-awareness that we actually are, but from this one ‘I’ an ego seems to rise into existence, though it seems to do so only in its own self-ignorant view, and so long as it seems to exist it seems to be ‘I’. Since this ego is what sees, perceives or is aware of everything other than itself, Bhagavan refers to it here as ‘கண்டவன்’ (kaṇḍavaṉ), ‘the seer’, but though it can see everything else, it cannot see what it itself actually is, because it only seems to be the ego or seer so long as it is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’, which is not what it actually is.

The ego (which is what he refers to it here not only as ‘கண்டவன்’ (kaṇḍavaṉ), ‘the seer’, but also as ‘கருத்து’ (karuttu), ‘the mind’) is what is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’, whereas what remains when this ego ceases to exist is what is aware of itself only as ‘I am’ or ‘I am I’. Since whatever person the ego mistakes itself to be is just one of the numerous illusory phenomena that it projects and perceives, it is not real, so the ego is a combination of two elements, one of which is real, namely the fundamental self-awareness ‘I am’, and the other of which is unreal, namely the temporary adjunct ‘this person’.

So long as the ego is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’, it cannot be aware of itself as it actually is, because what it actually is is just pure self-awareness, which shines alone as ‘I am’ without any adjuncts. Therefore when it investigates what it actually is and thereby sees that it is actually just pure self-awareness, ‘I am’, it will cease to exist as the false adjunct-bound self-awareness ‘I am this person’, and what will then remain is only the pure self-awareness that it always actually is. Therefore though it is the ego that must investigate itself to see what it actually is, when it sees what it actually is it is no longer the ego but only pure self-awareness, which is all that then remains, and hence what sees pure self-awareness is not the ego but only pure self-awareness itself.

This is why Bhagavan said in the second line of this verse, ‘‘கண்டனன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழ இல்லை; ‘கண்டிலன்’ என்றிட கருத்து எழுமாறு என்?’ (‘kaṇḍaṉaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙa illai; ‘kaṇḍilaṉ’ eṉḏṟiḍa karuttu eṙum-āṟu eṉ?), which means ‘The mind did not rise to say ‘I saw’, [so] in what way could the mind rise to say ‘I did not see’?’ That is, since கருத்து (karuttu), ‘the mind’, is கண்டவன் (kaṇḍavaṉ), ‘the seer’, and since he said in the previous sentence that the seer had ceased to exist when it investigated itself to see who it actually is, the mind no longer existed and hence it could not rise to say either ‘I saw’ or ‘I did not see’. Therefore the ‘I’ that saw what remained when the seer ceased to exist was not the mind or ego but only what remained, namely the pure adjunctless self-awareness ‘I am’.

However, since speech is a tool designed and used by the mind to express and interpret its experience of phenomena, it is not an adequate instrument to express or explain what remains when the mind has ceased to exist, so in the third line of this verse he asks, ‘விண்டு இது விளக்கிடு விறல் உறுவோன் ஆர், விண்டு இலை பண்டு நீ விளக்கினை என்றால்?’ (viṇḍu idu viḷakkiḍu viṟal uṟuvōṉ ār, viṇḍu ilai paṇḍu nī viḷakkiṉai eṉḏṟāl?), which means, ‘Who has the power to elucidate this [by] speaking, when in ancient times [even] you [as Dakshinamurti] elucidated [it] without speaking?’ By referring here indirectly to Dakshinamurti , the original guru (ādi-guru), who taught through silence, he implied that what remains when the seer (the ego or mind) ceases to exist can be made clear only in absolute silence, the state in which the mind does not rise at all.

To emphasise this implication, in the final line he wrote, ‘விண்டிடாது உன் நிலை விளக்கிட என்றே விண் தலம் அசலமா விளங்கிட நின்றாய்’ (viṇḍiḍādu uṉ nilai viḷakkiḍa eṉḏṟē viṇ ṭalam acalamā viḷaṅgiḍa niṉḏṟāy), which means ‘Only to elucidate your state without speaking, you stood as a hill [or motionlessly] shining [from] earth [to] sky’. அசலம் (acalam) is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word अचल (acala), which means unmoving, immovable or motionless, and which is therefore frequently used to refer to a hill or mountain, and hence the name அருணாசலம் (aruṇācalam) or ‘Arunachala’, which means ‘Aruṇa Hill’ or ‘the motionless Aruṇa’. In this sentence அசலம் (acalam) occurs with an adverbial suffix as அசலமா (acalamā), which therefore means either ‘motionlessly’ or ‘as a hill’. Therefore what Bhagavan implies by saying that Arunachala stand motionlessly as a hill only to elucidate its state without speaking is once again that the state of pure self-awareness can be made clear only in absolute silence.

Thus what he implies in this verse is that although he said that when he investigated who the seer is, it disappeared and he saw what then remained, what saw that was not the ego, mind or seer but only that itself. That is, what remained is only Arunachala, which is pure self-awareness and therefore always aware of itself as it actually is, and since it alone actually exists, there is nothing other than it that could ever know it. Therefore how, by whom and to whom could this ever be elucidated?

These two verses of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam were addressed primarily to Arunachala (just as Muruganar’s verses were addressed primarily to Bhagavan), but even then he expressed in a very nuanced and impersonal manner what happens when the ego (the seer) is dissolved. Therefore this is utterly different to those people who address the world and claim (whether explicitly or just implicitly) that they are egoless or ‘self-realised’.

4. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 28: our real nature is infinite and undivided, so nothing else exists to know it

What remains when we investigate and see what our real nature is, thereby annihilating the ego, which alone is what sees the appearance of everything else, is clarified by Bhagavan in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தனாதியல் யாதெனத் தான்றெரி கிற்பின்
னனாதி யனந்தசத் துந்தீபற
      வகண்ட சிதானந்த முந்தீபற.

taṉādiyal yādeṉat tāṉḏṟeri hiṟpiṉ
ṉaṉādi yaṉantasat tundīpaṟa
      vakhaṇḍa cidāṉanda mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தனாது இயல் யாது என தான் தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த சத்து அகண்ட சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa tāṉ terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta sattu akhaṇḍa cit āṉandam.

அன்வயம்: தான் தனாது இயல் யாது என தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த அகண்ட சத்து சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta akhaṇḍa sattu cit āṉandam.

English translation: If one knows what the nature of oneself is, then [what will exist and shine is only] anādi [beginningless], ananta [endless, limitless or infinite] and akhaṇḍa [unbroken, undivided or unfragmented] sat-cit-ānanda [being-awareness-bliss].
Since our real nature is sat-cit-ānanda, which is beginningless, endless, infinite and undivided, nothing other than it can actually exist (because if anything else did exist, sat-cit-ānanda would thereby be limited and hence not infinite), and it cannot consist of any parts (because if it did, it would thereby be divided), so what ‘sees’ or is aware of it is only itself and not anything else. Therefore if any person claims ‘I have seen my real nature’ or ‘I have experienced sat-cit-ānanda’, that would be patently false, because how could sat-cit-ānanda rise to claim anything, and to whom could it make any claim?

Therefore when sages like Bhagavan and Muruganar sing about the experience of sat-cit-ānanda, their bodies and minds are being used by grace to sing thus for our benefit. However, those bodies and minds that are used in this way are very rare, whereas egos who wish to claim ‘I know myself’ or ‘I have seen what remains after the ego has died’ are very common, so we should be cautiously sceptical about anyone who makes such claims.

5. Śrī Ramaṇa Sahasram verse 960: when you caught me in your jaws, what happened? Only you can say

When the ego has been eradicated, no one will remain to say ‘I have experienced this’ or ‘I have seen that’, as was beautifully expressed by Sadhu Om in verse 960 of Śrī Ramaṇa Sahasram (a thousand verses praying for jñāna):
இறந்தேனா வின்னு மிருந்தேனா வுன்னை
மறந்தேனா வொன்று மறியேன் — றிறந்துவா
யென்னைப் பிடித்த விறைவேங்கை யேரமணா
பின்னை நடந்ததென்ன பேசு.

iṟandēṉā viṉṉu mirundēṉā vuṉṉai
maṟandēṉā voṉḏṟu maṟiyēṉ — ṟiṟanduvā
yeṉṉaip piḍitta viṟaivēṅgai yēramaṇā
piṉṉai naḍandadeṉṉa pēsu
.

பதச்சேதம்: இறந்தேனா? இன்னும் இருந்தேனா? உன்னை மறந்தேனா? ஒன்றும் அறியேன். திறந்து வாய் என்னை பிடித்த இறை வேங்கையே ரமணா, பின்னை நடந்தது என்ன? பேசு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): iṟandēṉā? iṉṉum irundēṉā? uṉṉai maṟandēṉā? oṉḏṟum aṟiyēṉ. tiṟandu vāy eṉṉai piḍitta iṟai vēṅgaiyē ramaṇā, piṉṉai naḍandadu eṉṉa? pēsu.

அன்வயம்: வாய் திறந்து என்னை பிடித்த வேங்கையே, இறை ரமணா, இறந்தேனா? இன்னும் இருந்தேனா? உன்னை மறந்தேனா? ஒன்றும் அறியேன். [வாய் திறந்து என்னை பிடித்த] பின்னை நடந்தது என்ன? பேசு.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): vāy tiṟandu eṉṉai piḍitta vēṅgaiyē, iṟai ramaṇā, iṟandēṉā? iṉṉum irundēṉā? uṉṉai maṟandēṉā? oṉḏṟum aṟiyēṉ. [vāy tiṟandu eṉṉai piḍitta] piṉṉai naḍandadu eṉṉa? pēsu.

English translation: Lord Ramana, O tiger who opening [your] mouth caught me, did I die? [Or] did I still exist? Did I forget you? I do not know anything. After [you opened your mouth and caught me] what happened? [Only you can] say.
Though the final word of this verse is just ‘பேசு’ (pēsu), which is an imperative that means ‘say’, in his explanatory paraphrase Sadhu Om indicated that this implies ‘நீதான் சொல்ல முடியும்’ (nī-tāṉ solla muḍiyum), which means ‘Only you can say’, thereby implying that only our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is what Bhagavan actually is, can know what remains when the ego and everything else has ceased to exist. The ego who investigates itself, having been caught under the sway of his grace, cannot know what happens when it is swallowed, being consumed by the absolute clarity of pure self-awareness. It cannot even know that it has ceased to exist, or that it ever did exist, so how could it know anything else, or claim to have experienced or achieved anything at all?

6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 31: egolessness is a state devoid of awareness of anything other than oneself, so how can the mind comprehend it?

Regarding your question, ‘but can we conceive the jnani, nay, his human form in our dream, using words, that is dualism, to describe to our dualistic mind, the experience which his human form had of annihilation of his illusory ego?’, his human form exists only in our outward-looking view, so it does not experience anything. When the ego is annihilated, what remains is only the eternal and ever-immutable ātma-svarūpa (the ‘own form’ or real nature of ourself), which is always experiencing itself as it is and nothing else whatsoever, so from its perspective no change ever occurs. Therefore our finite and ever-changing mind cannot conceive what the infinite and immutable state of egolessness actually is, as Bhagavan implies in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
தன்னை யழித்தெழுந்த தன்மயா னந்தருக்
கென்னை யுளதொன் றியற்றுதற்குத் — தன்னையலா
தன்னிய மொன்று மறியா ரவர்நிலைமை
யின்னதென் றுன்ன லெவன்.

taṉṉai yaṙitteṙunda taṉmayā ṉandaruk
keṉṉai yuḷadoṉ ḏṟiyaṯṟudaṟkut — taṉṉaiyalā
taṉṉiya moṉḏṟu maṟiyā ravarnilaimai
yiṉṉadeṉ ḏṟuṉṉa levaṉ
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை அழித்து எழுந்த தன்மயானந்தருக்கு என்னை உளது ஒன்று இயற்றுதற்கு? தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai aṙittu eṙunda taṉmaya-āṉandarukku eṉṉai uḷadu oṉḏṟu iyaṯṟudaṟku? taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?

அன்வயம்: தன்னை அழித்து எழுந்த தன்மயானந்தருக்கு இயற்றுதற்கு என்னை ஒன்று உளது? தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): taṉṉai aṙittu eṙunda taṉmaya-āṉandarukku iyaṯṟudaṟku eṉṉai oṉḏṟu uḷadu? taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?

English translation: For those who are [blissfully immersed in and as] tanmayānanda [‘happiness composed of that’, namely our real self], which rose [as ‘I am I’] destroying themself [the ego], what one [action] exists for doing? They do not know [or are not aware of] anything other than themself; [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘it is such’?
Therefore it is futile for us to try to understand Bhagavan’s state by our mind. To understand it we must experience it, and to experience it we must cease rising as this ego. And if we cease rising as this ego, there will be no one to say that we have understood anything.

46 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yesterday, I wrote I one my manana [reflection] e-mails to Michael. I relates to the topic of this article; hence, I thought I would reproduce this here:

Revered Sir,

The following is based on the video taken on 8th June 2013. In this video, you say at one place:

Michael: We don’t want to let go, but actually it is so easy if we are ready to let go even for one moment . . . that’s the end of the story.

Devotee: Have you done that?

Michael: If I say, ‘I have done that’, there is still an ‘I’ to say, ‘I have done that’. But from my perspective, I haven’t done that . . . So long as any ‘I’ says, ‘I know; you don’t know; I have got something special’, there is an appropriation. This appropriation is only by the ego.

My [Sanjay's] note: We want to attain ‘self-realization’, as if ‘self-realization’ will be an achievement of our ego. There will remain no one to say ‘I have attained’, when we experience ourself as we really are; also, likewise, there will remain no one to whom we can say so. Therefore, unfortunately, nobody will be there to celebrate our ‘self-realization’, whenever we attain that state.

It is like falling to sleep. Our ego does not experience the state of sleep, because it is not be there to experience it. Likewise, our ego will not experience the state of atma-jnana, because it will not be there to experience it.

With regards,

Sanjay

jacques franck said...

Dear Michael,

is there a translation of Śrī Ramaṇa Sahasram (a thousand verses praying for jñāna) by Sadhu Om?

Thank you very much

Jacques Franck

stream of flowing water said...

Sanjay Lohia,
why bewailing the fate of the ego ?
On the contrary, it is a great fortune that no ego is there to arise after "attaining self-realization".
Similarly the waters of for instance the Krishna and Kaveri River cannot "celebrate their end" after entering the Bay of Bengal and their absorption by the floods of the Indian Ocean.

Michael James said...

Jacques, there is a complete translation of Śrī Ramaṇa Sahasram available here, but I do not know how accurate it is. There is also a translation that I made of verse 138 in section 11b, Anya bhakti and ananya bhakti can be mutually supportive practices, of one of my earlier articles, Can we experience what we actually are by following the path of devotion (bhakti mārga)?.

jacques franck said...

Great, Thank you :)

jf

jacques franck said...

Apparently the 960 in your article correspond to the 930 in the link above :

930
O my Lord Ramana, the divine tiger who caught me by Your jaws open (?), Am I dead or still alive or have I forgotten You? I do not know anything. Tell me what happened after You caught me in Your jaws.

And the one from verse 138 in section 11b, Anya bhakti and ananya bhakti can be mutually supportive practices correspond to the 129 from the link above :

129
Though I ask You thousands of boons other than the boon to turn Self-ward, be gracious not to give me those boons which will not help to pull back my mind within and to make me quiet; And do not give that will only be a hindrance (?)

Thanks again :)

jf

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in section one of this article as to how grace used Muruganar’s mind and body to sing its own praise to itself. Michael says that Muruganar was just like an empty shell; thus, grace could fully use him. We can replace ‘Muruganar’ by the boy ‘Venkataraman’ and understand the same message in the context of Bhagavan’s heart-melting verses in praise of Arunachala. We can say:

Since the ego in Venkataraman had been consumed entirely by that grace, the person that Bhagavan seemed to be was just an empty shell through which grace sang in praise of itself to itself.

What need did grace have to sing thus? Since such singing seems to exist only in the outward-looking view of ourself as this ego, it did so for our benefit, as part of its strategy to draw us back within to see ourself as we actually are.

Grace has to openly broadcast the uniqueness of its power. Until and unless we are told about the power of grace - which is just the love that it has for itself – how can we be motivated to surrender our ego? Thus when Bhagavan sang Arunachala’s praise, he was basically ‘advertising’ his own power - that is, he was trying to attract and catch his preys, many egos, in order to fully consume them.

pēsu said...

Sanjay Lohia,
does the non-existent ego have really a need to be attracted and caught ?
Will not the real nature of us reveal itself sooner or later ?

tanmayananda said...

Michael,
"For those who are [blissfully immersed in and as] tanmayānanda [‘happiness composed of that’, namely our real self], which rose [as ‘I am I’] destroying themself [the ego], what one [action] exists for doing? They do not know [or are not aware of] anything other than themself; [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘it is such’?"
"Therefore it is futile for us to try to understand Bhagavan’s state by our mind. To understand it we must experience it, and to experience it we must cease rising as this ego. And if we cease rising as this ego, there will be no one to say that we have understood anything."
Are not those who are [blissfully immersed in and as] tanmayānanda [‘happiness composed of that’, namely our real self], which rose [as ‘I am I’] destroying themself [the ego] and not being aware of anything other than themself to a certain extent lost for the rest of humanity because they have forgotten the dense ignorance of their (former) fellow men/women ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

pesu, our ego is actually non-existent, but it seems to exist, and this separate ‘I’ is the cause of all our troubles, miseries and dissatisfaction. God (which is nothing but ourself as we really are) is free of all these defects: troubles, miseries and dissatisfaction. He is happiness itself. So he wants to end all our unhappiness by making us one with himself, and therefore tries to attract us towards itself in order to destroy our individuality.

Krishna played his enchanting music on the flute in order to attract the gopis towards himself, with the aim to destroy their egos. Likewise, Bhagavan from without teaches us the practice of self-investigation and thereby motivates us to look within, and the same Bhagavan from within our heart tries to pull us towards itself. Our ego will not surrender itself without the power of such push and pull.

Our real nature is always revealing itself to us. Do we doubt that we exist, and that we are aware of our existence? This existence-awareness is our real nature. However, this is obscured by all our thoughts, and thus we are not able to experience our true self as it really is. Thus we need to practise self-investigation in order to experience ourself as we really are.

pēsu said...

Sanjay Lohia,
if God is nothing but ourself as we really are you are referring of course only to our seeming "unhappiness" and seeming "individuality.

Sanjay Lohia said...

pesu, everything other than atma-svarupa (our own fundamental self) only has a seeming reality – this seeming reality is called vyavaharika-satya or transactional reality. Thus, yes, our individuality and our unhappiness only have a seeming reality. This can be clearly understood from what Bhagavan says in the seventh paragraph of Nan Yar:

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [our own essential self]. The world, soul and God are kalpanaigaḷ [imaginations, fabrications, mental creations or illusory superimpositions] in it, like [the imaginary] silver [seen] in a shell. These three appear simultaneously and disappear simultaneously. Svarūpa [our ‘own form’ or actual self] alone is the world; svarūpa alone is ‘I’ [our ego, soul or individual self]; svarūpa alone is God; everything is śiva-svarūpa [our actual self, which is śiva, the absolute and only truly existing reality].

Avila said...


Michael,
according Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi is the enquiry 'Who am I ?' our central task.
After visiting Sri Ramanasramam in Tiruvannamalai some question arise:
From the outer view one could get the impression that worshipping the (sculpted) gods in the Mother's Shrine particularly of the Sri Meru-Chakra in the garba griha through pujas conducted by the Ashram priests are the main thing. Much significance seem to be attached also prostrations before and going round repeatedly Bhagavan's grave/tomb together with the Mahalingam/Sivalingam there (circumbalation) by both Indian and foreign devotees.
May I ask you for your opinion in which way that Hindu - behaviour is important also for me as a Western seeker and should be observed carefully by me regarding our aim to annihilate our ego ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Avila, you have asked some interesting questions to Michael. May I share my reflections on these? However, I am not answering on behalf of Michael.

Yes, according to Bhagavan Ramana, this self-enquiry or self-investigation is our central task, or to be more accurate our only task. Until and unless we know who we actually are what is the use of knowing anything else, and once we know who we really are there will remain nothing else for us to know.


As Bhagavan says in the eleventh paragraph of Nan Yar: 'If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarūpa-smaraṇa [self-remembrance] until one attains svarūpa [one’s own actual self], that alone [will be] sufficient'. At another place Bhagavan said: ‘our first and foremost duty is life is to know Self. All other efforts will only end in vain'.

What Bhagavan clearly implies is that our practice of self-remembrance or self-investigation alone is enough to take us to our goal, and therefore we need no other spiritual or religious practice (even as a supplement to self-investigation). So why are pujas, group singing and so on being practised at Sri Ramanasramam? These have been started by his devotees, who attached importance to these practices, and they have their value (at least for some), so Bhagavan let these happen. However, such pujas are not essential to his teachings – and whether one is an Indian or a westerner makes no difference here.

The mother’s shrine and Bhagavan’s samadhi-shrine are valuable, because they are shrines of jnanis, and hence have the power of jnana. It is beneficial to go around the samadhi-shrine of Bhagavan, and its benefit is equal to going around Arunachala, as Michael once explained.

One point about Sri-chakra-meru at the mother’s shrine. Michael once said this was totally unnecessary. This was installed by people who were enamored by such symbols, foolishly believing that it will give more power to the shrine. What can be added to the power of jnana?

gargoyle said...

Sanjay Lohia
thanks for the info regarding the shrines and the importance or non importance as it may be.
Anytime I watch the videos of the happenings at Sri Ramanasramam I am often puzzled.
One on hand I can't imagine how this could be beneficial to my practise of atma vichara and the other hand I think perhaps there must be some benefit or all the devotees would not be gathered around watching.

Your information helped clear up some questions I had.

Avila said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thank you for your comment.
The pujas may primarily satisfy the need of Brahmin priests to worship the Hindu-gods in the traditional vedic manner. That need can easily be noticed also by most of the Indian visitors who come to the Samadhi-Hall of the Ashram. Often in the morning before the so-called "milk-offering to Bhagavan" is a big crush in front of the presented arati flame. Everyone particularly of the male devotees wants to receive/absorb as the first the radiance/radiation of the arati light, take some sacred ash (vibhuti) and make a stripe on the forehead and additionally apply some red/vermilion powder as a dot or drop between the eyebrows.
Contrary what you say about the Sri Meru-Chakra - if you watch the devoted events of the Sri Vidya Havan and the devotion/dedication which is applied at this probably vedic ritual by all the assembled staff of the Brahmin priests of the Vedapatasala and Ashram authorities one may draw the conclusion that that ceremonial is of outstanding or fundamental significance. After all it is pointed to the fact that Bhagavan touched the three-dimensional yantra with his own hands and thus sanctified it on the Ashram Home Page.

Maha Meru said...

Avila,
generally one should not superficially judge traditions which are unknown to one's knowledge like the full-day homa(fire worship) to rededicate the Meru-Chakra which is placed in Matrubhuteswara Temple.

Avila said...

Maha Meru,
I do not judge, I only want to recognize/experience/know the real (cosmological) inner meaning of that sculpture, which is possibly or at least of fundamental importance for the continued existence of that temple and therefore for Sri Ramanasramam as such.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Avila, most of the devotees (perhaps 99% of them) are attracted only to anaya bhakti (devotion to God considering him to be other than ourself), and this is as true at Sri Ramanasramam as it is at any other place in the world. Since our minds are always outward turned, most of us are attracted to devotion to God considering him to be outside ourself. Therefore, pujas and other ceremonies are just a normal way of worship even at Sri Ramanasramam. However, we also see many sitting silently inside the old-hall, and therefore we believe many also practise self-investigation.

Yes, it has been recorded that Bhagavan touched the Sri Chakra Meru when it was being consecrated. However, he was requested to do so, and he did so merely to satisfy the belief and faith of those who believed in its special power. Bhagavan never gave any importance to its presence after this incident.

I believe, Sri Ramanasramam is one of the manifestation of Bhagavan’s grace. At most of the other ashrams we will find a guru or a set of gurus, and we can clearly see that they are not real gurus. We even see many financial and sexual scandals in many of these ashrams. I believe, Sri Ramanaashram is relatively free of all these issues. As I wrote in one of my recent manana e-mails to Michael:

Sri Ramanasramam is another element of his net of grace. The way it is managed reflects the life and teachings of Bhagavan. We find no element of greediness here, as we find in many other ashrams. There are no formal charges for accommodation and food. Poor people are fed before other guests. There are no formal dos and don’ts. Devotees are free to spend their time as they feel like, with no compulsory group meditations or group pujas and so on. Bhagavan is the only God and guru in this ashram.




Avila said...

Sanjay Lohia,
regarding Sri Chakra Meru you may read the article "A Chakra at Sri Ramanasramam", written by Sri Krishna Bhikshu, a Devi upasaka, taken from the newsletter THE MAHARSHI,May/June 2013. This article first appeared in the April 1965 issue of the Mountain Path journal. It sheds some light why it has become an integral feature of the rituals performed at Sri Ramanasramam today. It gives some explanation about tantric worship of the manifestation of the Divine Mother in name and form. In this article it is further maintained that Bhagavan added some "bija aksharas of the mantra of Kumara or Subramanya". Further to this article it is added a note on the installation of the Sri Chakra recorded by Alan Chadwick.
Sanjay, no doubt, Sri Ramanasramam made a good impression on me. It is a blessed place, as you say a manifestation of Bhagavan's grace. All in all the way it is conducted is outstandingly good. Most of the residents seem to do their work completely selflessly and some of them seem to me to be well in an advanced spiritual state.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Avila, I have very little interest in reading articles like: A Chakra at Sri Ramanasramam. Our only concern should be find out who we actually are, and articles such as these can be a distraction to our practice of self-investigation. Everything other than ourself is anatma (not self) and we should not do anatma-vichara (that is, investigation on what is other than ourself), but should do only atma-vichara (self-investigation).

Avila said...

Sanjay,
you are right.
My inquisitiveness about the subject of tantric symbols came to an end too. Therefore let us pursue our main business of self-investigation out of pure enthusiasm.
May Arunachala grant us to merge in Him.

ulladu is unarvu said...

Michael,
section 3.,
"When [the seer] investigated within the mind who the seer is, I saw what remained when the seer [thereby] became non-existent."

"The mind or ego is the seer, which is what ceases to exist when it investigates itself to see who or what it actually is, so when it has ceased to exist what sees what remains is only what remains."
Theerefore we must first try that investigation.
But most of us shall soon find out that that investigation is not a short or quick way to happiness. So the question what remains when the seer/this ego became non-existent does not at all appear in the focus of discussion or interest. Therefore we should develop a lively interest how to become the seeing ego-mind non-existent. So our overriding concern and a matter of urgency must be to end as the false adjunct-bound self-awareness 'I am this person' and to see that the remaining seer is then what remains as Arunachala which is said to be our pure adjunctless self-awareness 'I am' or 'I am I'.

Noob said...

Do people in our dreams have the thoughts of their own?

jagad-dristi said...

Noob,
people in our dreams are only our imaginations. Therefore their thoughts are also nothing other than our imaginations.

Noob said...

Then the same must be true for this world too

jagad-dristi said...

Noob,
so it is - if I am not in error.
You may it interesting to read Michael's article of
Thursday, 1 March 2007
Everything is only our own consciousness
...Whenever we perceive a world, we always do so from within the confines of a particular body, which we feel to be ourself", and before the next paragraph, which now begins, "Our primal imagination that we are a physical body is the foundation upon which our mind is built. Whenever it rises, whether in a dream or in a so-called waking state, our mind always imagines itself to be a body...", I have added the following:

Hence our perception of any world is dependent upon our imagining ourself to be a body in that world, which in turn is dependent upon our mind, the finite consciousness that imagines itself to be that body. Therefore in verses 5, 6 and 7 of Ulladu Narpadu Sri Ramana says:

[Our] body [is] a form [composed] of five sheaths [the pancha kosas or five adjuncts that seemingly cover and obscure our consciousness of our real self when we imagine any of them to be ourself]. Therefore all five [of these 'sheaths' or adjuncts] are included in the term 'body'. Without [some kind of] body, is there [any such thing as a] world? Say, having left [all kinds of] body, is there [any] person who has seen [this or any other] world?

The world [is] nothing other than a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense perception [sight, sound, smell, taste and touch]. Those five [kinds of] sense perception are objects [known] to [our] five sense organs. Since [our] mind alone cognises the world through [these] five sense organs, say, without [our] mind is there [any such thing as a] world?

Though the world and [our] mind rise and subside as one [that is, together and simultaneously], the world shines [or is known only] by [our] mind. Only that [our own real self] which shines without [ever] appearing or disappearing as the space [or base] for the appearing and disappearing of the world and [our] mind [is] porul [the true substance, essence or absolute reality], which is the whole [the infinite totality of all that is].

Sri Ramana begins verse 5 by saying that our body is a form composed of five sheaths, and that all these five sheaths are therefore included in the term 'body'. As we saw when we discussed the meaning of verse 22 of Upadesa Undiyar in the final pages of the previous chapter [in the portion that is posted in Our body, mind and other adjuncts are not 'I'], the pancha-kosas or 'five sheaths' are our physical body, the life-force in our body, our mind, our intellect and the darkness of relative ignorance that we experience in sleep.

These five 'sheaths' or adjuncts appear to obscure our natural consciousness of our real self because we imagine ourself to be one or more of them in each of our three usual states of consciousness, waking, dream and sleep. In waking and dream we experience ourself as a combination of four of our five sheaths — a physical body, the life in that body, our mind and our intellect — and hence through the five senses of our physical body we experience a world of material objects.

In sleep, on the other hand, we cease to experience ourself as any of those first four sheaths. Instead we identify ourself with our fifth sheath, which is a seeming darkness or ignorance, because we imagine ourself to be unconscious of anything, and hence at that time we do not know any world other than that darkness.

We perceive a physical world only when we imagine ourself to be a physical body in that world. Therefore in verse 5 of Ulladu Narpadu Sri Ramana asks, "… Without [some kind of] body, is there [any such thing as a] world? Say, having left [all kinds of] body, is there [any] person who has seen [this or any other] world?"

(will be continued)

jagad-dristi said...

Noob,
in continuation:
In verse 6 he points out the obvious truth that everything that we call the 'world' is just a combination of the five types of sense perception — sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations — which we experience though the medium of our five sense organs. However, that which actually experiences these five types of sense perception is only our mind. Therefore Sri Ramana asks, "… Since [our] mind alone cognises the world through [these] five sense organs, say, without [our] mind is there [any such thing as a] world?"

That is, the appearance of any world depends not only upon our body, through the five senses of which we perceive it, but also upon our mind, which is the consciousness that actually knows it. This dependence of the appearance of any world upon our mind is further emphasised by Sri Ramana in verse 7, in which he says, "Though the world and [our] mind rise and subside together, the world shines by [our] mind".

What exactly does he mean by saying that the world shines by our mind? Here the word olirum or 'shines' means 'appears', 'becomes perceptible' or 'is known'. That is, the world appears or is known only due to our mind, which is the consciousness that cognises it.

Any world appears or is known only when our mind attends to it. In our present waking state this world appears because our mind attends to it, whereas in dream some other world appears because at that time our mind is attending to it. Therefore our mind does not depend upon the appearance of any particular world, whereas the appearance of any particular world does depend upon our mind.

Though the world and our mind both appear and disappear, underlying their appearance and disappearance is a reality that neither appears nor disappears. That reality is our own real self — our essential non-dual consciousness of our own being, which we always experience as 'I am'. In both waking and dream our mind appears along with a world, whereas in sleep our mind and all worlds disappear. However in all these three states we continue to experience ourself as 'I am'.

Since our essential self-consciousness — our knowledge that we are — persists even in the absence of our mind, it is clearly more real than our mind. Since it transcends all the limitations that are experienced by our mind, it is not limited in any way, and hence it is both infinite and absolute. It is the one enduring reality, and hence it is the true substance that appears as our mind, our body, this world and every other thing.

Therefore, referring to our basic self-consciousness 'I am', which we experience continuously, Sri Ramana concludes verse 7 by expressing his own transcendent experience of true self-knowledge:

… Only that which shines without [ever] appearing or disappearing as the space [or base] for the appearing and disappearing of the world and [our] mind [is] porul [the true substance, essence or absolute reality], which is the whole [the infinite totality of all that is].

Just as a rope appears to be a snake without ever ceasing to be a rope, so our non-dual self-consciousness 'I am', which is the one absolute reality, appears as our mind and all the duality experienced by our mind without ever ceasing to be what it really is.

Sri Ramana summarises the truth that he expresses in the above three verses of Ulladu Narpadu in verse 99 of Guru Vachaka Kovai:

[This or any other] world does not exist without [a corresponding] body [that we imagine to be ourself], [any such] body does not exist at any time without [our] mind, [our] mind does not exist at any time without [our essential] consciousness, and [our essential] consciousness does not exist at any time without [our true] being [our own reality or 'am'-ness].


(will be continued)

jagad-dristi said...

Noob,
in further continuation:
The existence of any world is dependent upon the body through which we perceive it. The existence of any such body is dependent upon our mind, which experiences it as 'I'. The existence of our mind is dependent upon our essential consciousness, without which it could not know either its own existence or the existence of any other thing.

How exactly does this sequence of dependence take place? Our real consciousness — that is, our basic self-consciousness 'I am' — does not depend upon any other thing, because it always exists and knows its own existence. Our mind, on the other hand, does not always exist, or at least it does not always know its own existence. It knows its own existence only in waking and dream, but not in sleep. It appears to know its own existence only when it superimposes an imaginary body upon our real self-consciousness 'I am', thereby experiencing that body as 'I', and only after it has thus imagined itself to be a body is it able to experience a world through the five senses of that body. Therefore the appearance of the world depends upon our body, the appearance of our body depends upon our mind, and the appearance of our mind depends upon our essential self-consciousness 'I am'.

After expressing this sequence of dependence, Sri Ramana concludes by saying, "… consciousness does not exist at any time in the absence of being". By saying this, he does not mean to imply that consciousness is some separate thing that is dependent upon being, but only that consciousness itself is being.

If consciousness were other than being, it would not be — that is, it would not exist — and hence it could not know either itself or any other thing. Similarly, if being were other than consciousness, it could not know itself, and hence it would have to depend upon some consciousness other than itself in order to be known. Hence in order to be independently and therefore absolutely real, being must be conscious of itself, and consciousness must be.

The real being is only our own being, because our being is self-conscious, whereas the seeming being or existence of every other thing is known only by us, and is therefore dependent upon us. Since our being is self-conscious, it is a perfectly non-dual consciousness, and hence it is not dependent upon any other thing either to be or to be known to be. Being completely independent, it is free from all forms of limitation, all conditions and all relativity. It is therefore the one infinite and absolute reality.

In this verse of Guru Vachaka Kovai the word that I have translated as 'being' is unmai, which usually means 'truth' or 'reality', but which etymologically means 'is'-ness or 'am'-ness. Since the real being or 'am'-ness is self-conscious, it is not an objective form of being, but is the one infinite reality that underlies and supports the appearance of all objectivity or duality. It is the fundamental consciousness that makes the appearance of all other things possible.

Since our mind, our body, this world and every other conceivable thing depend upon our non-dual self-conscious being, and since they all appear and disappear, they are all mere imaginary appearances, and the sole reality that underlies and supports their appearance is only our own being or consciousness. In other words, the one substance that appears as everything is only our own essential consciousness, 'I am'.

Whereas every other thing is only relatively real, being a mere imagination, our own consciousness is the one and only absolute reality. In essence, therefore, everything is only our own consciousness. Hence our consciousness alone is real. Other than it, nothing truly exists. This is the final conclusion to which Sri Ramana leads us.
(will be continued)

jagad-dristi said...

Noob,
last continuation:
However, understanding theoretically that everything is only our own consciousness is not an end in itself. Sri Ramana leads us to this conclusion in order to convince us that the only means by which we can experience the absolute reality is to experience ourself as the infinite non-dual consciousness of being that we really are. In order to experience ourself thus, we must divert our attention away from all other things, and focus it wholly and exclusively upon ourself — that is, upon our own self-conscious being, which we always experience as 'I am'.

Our present knowledge of duality or otherness is what obstructs us from experiencing our own consciousness as the adjunct-free and absolutely non-dual self-consciousness that it truly ever is. Since our knowledge of duality arises only when we imagine ourself to be a body, we cannot experience ourself as the infinite, undivided, non-dual and absolute reality so long as we experience the seeming existence of any other thing.

In order to remove our imaginary knowledge of duality, we must cease to imagine ourself to be this or any other body, and in order to cease imagining ourself thus, we must know ourself as we really are. Our mind rises, imagining itself to be a body and thereby experiencing things that appear to be other than itself, only because of our self-ignorance, and hence it will be destroyed only by true self-knowledge.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Is Matter Conscious? (The Hard Problem of Matter)


Check out http://nautil.us/issue/47/consciousness/is-matter-conscious

siva-svarupa said...


D Samarender Reddy,
My answer to the above question: Is matter 'I am' ?

D Samarender Reddy said...

siva-svarupa,

For that question "Is Matter Conscious?", the answer would depend on what we mean by "conscious". If, as you seem to suggest, to be conscious is to have the sense of 'I am', that is self-awareness, then I would have to say no, matter is not characterized by consciousness in the form of 'I am'. I refer you further to this article by Rick Archer called "If Everything is Consciousness, is Everything Conscious?" - https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/if-everything-is-consciousness-is-everything-conscious/

gargoyle said...

I have a question....

Will knowing or understanding what matter is or is not help me improve my practise of atma vichara?

D Samarender Reddy said...

Gargoyle, yes, "knowing or understanding what matter is or is not, [will] help [you] improve [your] practise of atma vichara" to the extent that you begin to appreciate the Advaitic truth that everything is Consciousness and there is only Consciousness (Prajananam Brahma - Consciousness is Brahman --- Aitareya Upanishad). If, on the other hand, you posit matter and Consciousness as two separate entities, then you end up in duality. So, thus your conviction in Bhagavan's philosophy is backed by reasoning, and so will help your atma-vichara because then your mind will not hanker after external objects because they are merely manifestations of Consciousness and since you are that Consciousness, they are already part of you and you need not hanker after them, so your thought-flow gets reduced and atma-vichara can then proceed without obstacles in the form of thought-waves.

Michael James said...

Gargoyle, in answer to your question, we cannot know (by direct experience) what matter actually is unless we know what we ourself actually are, because what we perceive as ‘matter’ (or rather as material phenomena) is just a series of perceptions that appear in our mind, and the perceiver to whom all perceptions appear is only ourself as this ego, the thought called ‘I’, which is the root and foundation of the mind and all that appears in it.

However, if we accept what Bhagavan says in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, namely ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai), which means ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as world’, and in the fourteenth paragraph, namely ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), which means ‘What is called the world is only thought’, and if we therefore understand that all material (or physical) phenomena (the totality of which is what is called ‘the world’) are actually just mental phenomena (which is what Bhagavan means by the term ‘நினைவுகள்’ (niṉaivugaḷ), ‘thoughts’ or ‘ideas’), as are all the seemingly material phenomena that we perceive in a dream, that understanding will help us in our practice of ātma-vicāra (self-investigation), because it will help us to cultivate the vairāgya (freedom from desire to perceive anything other than ourself) that is required (as Bhagavan points out in the eleventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?) for us to be able to focus our entire attention keenly and deeply on ourself alone, since we cannot focus it only on ourself without thereby turning it completely away from all phenomena.

If we accept Bhagavan’s teaching that whatever appears to us as a world or as material phenomena is just a series of thoughts projected by our mind and therefore does not exist independent of our perception of it, we need not concern ourself with all the philosophical and scientific speculation about the nature of the world and its relationship to consciousness such as that which is expressed in the articles that Samarender Reddy provided links to above, because all such speculations are just a part of this world-appearance, which is projected and perceived by us alone.

Miken Morrison said...

D Samarender Reddy

Wow..that was a fast reply and thank you for sharing.

I do appreciate the Advaitic truth that everything is Consciousness and there is only Consciousness.

When I first followed the link you posted and started to read....as usual...it is so far over my head as to make my head start to spin around and get dizzy.

The standing joke about my life is that when god was handing out brains I ran the opposite direction. In other words if you find the right dictionary and look up the word 'stupid' my name would be there.

I have found self investigation to be very easy, as Bhagavan says...Oh so easy.
Of course is was not that way at first, I battled with the ego for years and always lost the
fight.

But I vowed to never give up, and perseverance finally won out. Kind of like a pit bull dog, once they clamp down they don't ever give up.

Of course the battle is far from over but I can now see the light at the end of tunnel whereas before everything was total darkness.

I found Bhagavan via Michael James and the question that had plagued me for 70 years was finally answered. All my life (as far back as I can recall) I knew something was wrong. The burning question 'what is the meaning of life' was left unanswered until I started reading Happiness and the Art of Being. I knew without any doubt within seconds I had found the answer to my age old question. The answer was always there but hidden behind a dark curtain.

Didn't mean to chatter so much, forgive me for that.

I do appreciate your input and reply

Take Care



gargoyle said...

I selected the wrong identity, should be Gargoyle says...
Miken is my dog as you can see

D Samarender Reddy said...

Hi Miken/Gargoyle,

Glad to know you found your answers at last through Michael's book and Bhagavan's teachings. Anyone who can be as endearingly self-deprecating as you are ("The standing joke about my life is that when god was handing out brains I ran the opposite direction. In other words if you find the right dictionary and look up the word 'stupid' my name would be there.") is in my opinion quite close to realizing the Truth.

Wish you all the best in your atma-vichara.

gargoyle said...

Michael

thank your for your reply

As you say....

"we need not concern ourself with all the philosophical and scientific speculation about the nature of the world and its relationship to consciousness"

I don't concern myself with such subjects because I can't understand any of it to begin with. Perhaps that is a blessing in disguise. I have trouble understanding much of what you write so I just skip around the articles looking for paragraphs that I can understand.
I'm sure you won't take my comment critically, as that is not my intent.
But I do understand what Bhagavan teaches and it turned my life around. And I am thrilled to be in the jaws of the tiger and the tiger is not letting go.


Best Regards Michael

Mouna said...

Gargoyle, greetings
"Will knowing or understanding what matter is or is not help me improve my practise of atma vichara?

What would help most will be knowing and understanding who is asking the question.

gargoyle said...

Mouna


thank you for the reminder, I often use this myself to get back on track. I need those reminders.

the ego is often so subtle that I find the mind has taken control

I also often ask myself "what would bhagavan do"?

sometimes I tell the tiger to bite down a little harder if you see me squirming and trying to escape.
Whatever you do tiger please do not let go, hold tight.


Best regards

Noob said...

If there is consciousness it is always self conscious.

jagad-dristi said...

Noob,
self-consciousness and consciousness of other things are patently obvious not one and the same thing.

siva-svarupa said...

D Samarender Reddy,
regarding Rick Archer's article (SAND-Dialogue: If everything is consciousness, is everything conscious ?) I endorse completely the remarks of Michael's previous comment.
First we should know by direct experience what we ourself really are. Then let us see what statement we can make on that matter - if necessary.

kingdom of pramada said...

Miken/Gargoyle,
we all at least most of us need the hefty bite of "the tiger" in the broad neck of our self-forgetfulness.
wow-wow