Thursday, 27 July 2017

Any experience that is temporary is not manōnāśa and hence not ‘self-realisation’

A recent post on the Facebook page of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK was a partial quotation of a paragraph in A Sadhu’s Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi (3rd edn, 1976, pp. 52-3), in which Alan Chadwick wrote:
Before I came to India I had read of such people as Edward Carpenter, Tennyson and many more who had had flashes of what they called “Cosmic Consciousness.” I asked Bhagavan about this. Was it possible that once having gained Self-realization to lose it again? Certainly it was. To support this view Bhagavan took up a copy of Kaivalya Navanita and told the interpreter to read a page of it to me. In the early stages of Sadhana this was quite possible and even probable. So long as the least desire or tie was left, a person would be pulled back again into the phenomenal world, he explained. After all it is only our Vasanas that prevent us from always being in our natural state, and Vasanas were not got rid of all of a sudden or by a flash of Cosmic Consciousness. One may have worked them out in a previous existence leaving a little to be done in the present life, but in any case they must first be destroyed.
Referring to this, a friend wrote to me: ‘Having once attained is there a chance of unattaining again? This question has confused me for many weeks. I was under the impression that once the ego had been completed annihilated it will never rise again. Yet discussions with fellow devotees on the Ramana Maharshi Foundation page seem to indicate that even once attained it is possible to be lost again if all vasanas [are] not destroyed. What was Bhagavan’s view on this? It disturbs me immensely that having attained one can fall again into the illusion, it also seems to render our practise quite meaningless if that is the case’. The following is my reply to her.
  1. Self-realisation (ātma-sākṣātkāra) is not ‘cosmic consciousness’ but awareness of oneself alone
  2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 6: the cosmos does not exist independent of the mind that perceives it
  3. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 3: unless perception of any world or cosmos ceases, there can be no self-realisation (svarūpa-darśana)
  4. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 4: when we see what we actually are, no world or cosmos will seem to exist
  5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: if we seem to be the ego, phenomena seem to exist, and if we do not seem to be the ego, no phenomena exist at all
  6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 13: awareness of phenomena is not real awareness (jñāna) but only ignorance (ajñāna)
  7. Since sleep is devoid of multiplicity or diversity (nānātva), it is pure self-awareness, whereas waking and dream are states of dense ignorance
  8. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 13: the only difference between manōlaya and manōnāśa is that the ego will rise from manōlaya but never from manōnāśa
  9. In order to be annihilated our ego must turn its entire attention keenly back towards itself alone to see what it actually is
  10. Since viṣaya-vāsanās are the ego’s urges, none of them can survive when the ego is annihilated by ātma-sākṣātkāra
  11. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 17: if we investigate it keenly enough, we will find that there is no such thing as an ego or mind
  12. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 38: if we investigate it keenly enough, we will find that there is no ego and hence no bondage, so liberation is eternal
1. Self-realisation (ātma-sākṣātkāra) is not ‘cosmic consciousness’ but awareness of oneself alone

In asking Bhagavan the question that he refers to in this passage Chadwick seems to be equating ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ with ‘Self-realization’. What people mean by the term ‘cosmic consciousness’ is not clear, but the term itself does not suggest any state that could be equated with any of the various meanings of the term ‘self-realisation’. ‘Cosmic’ is an adjective derived from ‘cosmos’, which means universe, the totality of all physical phenomena, so ‘cosmic consciousness’ clearly implies some state in which there is awareness of physical phenomena, which is not our aim if we seek the annihilation of our ego along with all its viṣaya-vāsanās (propensities, inclinations, likings or desires to be aware of phenomena).

‘Self-realisation’, on the other hand, is a term that refers not to awareness of the cosmos but to either awareness of or a condition of oneself. In psychology and most English dictionaries ‘self-realisation’ is defined as fulfilment of one’s own potential as a person, but since the late nineteenth century the same term has come to be used quite frequently as a translation of the Sanskrit term ātma-sākṣātkāra, which actually has a completely different meaning to the usual meaning of self-realisation. In the term ātma-sākṣātkāra, ātman means oneself, sākṣāt literally means ‘from having eyes’ (being the ablative case of sākṣa, which means ‘having eyes’ or ‘with eyes’) but is generally used to mean directly perceived, and kāra means making or doing (or what makes or does), so sākṣātkāra means ‘making directly perceived’ or ‘directly perceiving’, and hence ātma-sākṣātkāra means ‘direct perception of oneself’ in the sense of being directly aware of what one actually is.

What is aware of the cosmos or any other phenomena is only the ego, and it is aware of phenomena of any kind whatsoever because of its viṣaya-vāsanās. However, the ego and its viṣaya-vāsanās are inseparable, because having viṣaya-vāsanās is its very nature, since it seems to exist only when it is aware of phenomena, and hence its fundamental desire for its own survival gives it a strong urge (vāsanā) to cling firmly to awareness of phenomena (viṣayas). Therefore we cannot free ourself from all viṣaya-vāsanās without annihilating their root, the ego.

The ego is nothing but a false awareness of ourself — an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are — so we can annihilate it only by being aware of ourself as we actually are, which is the state called ātma-sākṣātkāra. Therefore, since ātma-sākṣātkāra entails the annihilation of the ego along with all its viṣaya-vāsanās, and since the ego alone is what is aware of the illusory appearance of phenomena, there can be no awareness of phenomena or ‘cosmic consciousness’ in the state of ātma-sākṣātkāra, and hence ātma-sākṣātkāra is a state in which we are aware of nothing other than ourself.

Presumably when Chadwick used the term ‘self-realisation’ he was using it in the sense of ātma-sākṣātkāra, but it seems that he did not understand very clearly that in ātma-sākṣātkāra there can be no awareness of anything other than oneself. However, he did at least understand that self-realisation is not exactly the same as ‘cosmic consciousness’ (whatever that term may mean), because earlier in the same book (A Sadhu’s Reminiscences, 3rd edn, pp. 25-6) he wrote:
In Western books one reads of people who had flashes of illumination. One Dr. Bucke collected and published records of many such. But whereas the Realization of Bhagavan was permanent, this was not the case with those described by Bucke, which were never more than temporary flashes, lasting usually no more than half-an-hour. The effect of such may remain for some days but it will invariably pass with time. I asked Bhagavan about this, how it could be so and he explained to me that which comes as a flash will disappear in a flash. Actually it is not Self-realization they experience but Cosmic Consciousness where they see all as one, identify themselves with Nature and the Cosmic Heart. In Hinduism this is called Mahat. Here a trace of ego remains even during the experience and a consciousness of the body belonging to the visionary. This false sense of “I” must go entirely, for it is the limitation which serves as bondage. Liberation is final freedom from this.
Since in this passage Chadwick distinguishes ‘cosmic consciousness’ from self-realisation, it is not clear why he later seemed to equate them in the passage that the Ramana Maharshi Foundation quoted on their Facebook page. Moreover, since he wrote (in the latter passage) that in reply to his question Bhagavan implied that it is certainly possible to lose self-realisation after gaining it, we have to doubt what exactly he asked Bhagavan, because any experience that can be gained and then lost is not self-realisation in the sense of ātma-sākṣātkāra. If ‘cosmic consciousness’ entails awareness of the universe or of physical phenomena, as the term seems to imply, it can certainly be lost, because whatever is gained at one time will certainly be lost at a later time, which is why Bhagavan often emphasised that liberation (which is another term that refers to ātma-sākṣātkāra) is eternal, being our own real nature, as we will discover if we investigate our ego keenly enough.

2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 6: the cosmos does not exist independent of the mind that perceives it

From what Chadwick wrote in the earlier of these two passages (the second one that I quoted above), it seems that what he means by the term ‘cosmic consciousness’ is a state in which one identifies oneself with nature and the ‘Cosmic Heart’ (whatever he imagines that to be) and feels that everything is one, which means that it is just a state of mind, because what is aware of the seeming existence of everything and of nature (in the sense of all physical phenomena collectively) is only the mind or ego, as Bhagavan states unequivocally in verse 6 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உலகைம் புலன்க ளுருவேறன் றவ்வைம்
புலனைம் பொறிக்குப் புலனா — முலகைமன
மொன்றைம் பொறிவாயா லோர்ந்திடுத லான்மனத்தை
யன்றியுல குண்டோ வறை.

ulahaim pulaṉga ḷuruvēṟaṉ ḏṟavvaim
pulaṉaim poṟikkup pulaṉā — mulahaimaṉa
moṉḏṟaim poṟivāyā lōrndiḍuda lāṉmaṉattai
yaṉḏṟiyula kuṇḍō vaṟai
.

பதச்சேதம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

அன்வயம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். மனம் ஒன்று உலகை ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. maṉam oṉḏṟu ulahai aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

English translation: The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-data, not anything else. Those five [kinds of] sense-data are sensory phenomena [perceptible] to the five sense organs. Since the mind alone perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there [any] world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?
What he refers to here as ‘மனம்’ (maṉam), the mind, is the ego, because though the term ‘mind’ is often used to refer to all thoughts or mental phenomena collectively, the root of all mental phenomena is only the ego, so what the mind essentially is is just the ego, the primal thought called ‘I’, as he explains in verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
எண்ணங்க ளேமனம் யாவினு நானெனு
மெண்ணமே மூலமா முந்தீபற
      யானா மனமென லுந்தீபற.

eṇṇaṅga ḷēmaṉam yāviṉu nāṉeṉu
meṇṇamē mūlamā mundīpaṟa
      yāṉā maṉameṉa lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: எண்ணங்களே மனம். யாவினும் நான் எனும் எண்ணமே மூலம் ஆம். யான் ஆம் மனம் எனல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): eṇṇaṅgaḷ-ē maṉam. yāviṉ-um nāṉ eṉum eṇṇam-ē mūlam ām. yāṉ ām maṉam eṉal.

அன்வயம்: எண்ணங்களே மனம். யாவினும் நான் எனும் எண்ணமே மூலம் ஆம். மனம் எனல் யான் ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): eṇṇaṅgaḷ-ē maṉam. yāviṉ-um nāṉ eṉum eṇṇam-ē mūlam ām. maṉam eṉal yāṉ ām.

English translation: Thoughts alone are mind. Of all, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the root. What is called mind is ‘I’.

Elaborated translation: Thoughts alone are mind [or the mind is only thoughts]. Of all [thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the mūla [the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause]. [Therefore] what is called mind is [essentially just] ‘I’ [the ego or root-thought called ‘I’].
In this verse and elsewhere in his teachings Bhagavan uses the term ‘thought’ (எண்ணம் (eṇṇam) or நினைவு (niṉaivu)) to refer to mental phenomena of any kind whatsoever, and according to him all phenomena are mental phenomena (‘thoughts’), because no phenomenon exists independent of the mind that perceives it. Since all thoughts or mental phenomena other than the ego are just objects perceived by it, and since none of them are aware either of their own existence or of anything else, they all depend for their seeming existence on the ego, which is the only thought that is aware of anything. Therefore the perceiving element of the mind is only the ego, and since it is the core of the mind and its only constant element, what the mind essentially is is just the ego.

Therefore when Bhagavan asks rhetorically in verse 6 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ?’ (ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō?), which means, ‘Since the mind alone perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, is there [any] world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?’, what he implies is that the world or cosmos does not exist independent of the mind or ego that perceives it. He explains the reason for this in the first sentence of this verse, ‘உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று’ (ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu), which means, ‘The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-data, not anything else’.

Here the term ‘புலன்கள்’ (pulaṉgaḷ) means sense-data, the perceptual impressions (sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations) that we seem to receive through the five senses. Though we generally assume that these impressions are caused by an external world that exists independent of our perception of it, we experience exactly the same kind of impressions in dream, and while dreaming we likewise assume that they are caused by an external world that exists independent of our perception of it, but as soon as we leave one dream and enter another state in which we experience such impressions, we are able to recognise that the perceptual impressions we experienced in the previous state were just our own mental projection, and that the world consisting of those impressions therefore did not actually exist independent of our perception of it.

In other words, the world we perceive in a dream is nothing other than a phenomenon consisting of five kinds of perceptual impressions, all of which are our own thoughts or mental phenomena, and according to Bhagavan any world that we experience in any state is likewise just a form or phenomenon consisting of five kinds of perceptual impressions. Therefore he says that no world exists independent of our perception of it, and since what perceives any world is only our mind or ego, he asks rhetorically whether any world exists besides the mind.

3. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 3: unless perception of any world or cosmos ceases, there can be no self-realisation (svarūpa-darśana)

Since the mind or ego is nothing but an erroneous awareness of ourself, it seems to exist only when we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, and hence it will cease to exist as soon as we see what we actually are. Since seeing what we actually are is what is called ātma-sākṣātkāra, in ātma-sākṣātkāra there can be no mind or ego and hence no awareness of any world or cosmos, as Bhagavan explains unequivocally in the third paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
சர்வ அறிவிற்கும் சர்வ தொழிற்குங் காரண மாகிய மன மடங்கினால் ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கும். கற்பித ஸர்ப்ப ஞானம் போனா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான ரஜ்ஜு ஞானம் உண்டாகாதது போல, கற்பிதமான ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கினா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான சொரூப தர்சன முண்டாகாது.

sarva aṟiviṟkum sarva toṙiṟkum kāraṇam-āhiya maṉam aḍaṅgiṉāl jaga-diruṣṭi nīṅgum. kaṟpita sarppa-ñāṉam pōṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa rajju-ñāṉam uṇḍāhādadu pōla, kaṟpitamāṉa jaga-diruṣṭi nīṅgiṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa sorūpa-darśaṉam uṇḍāhādu.

If the mind, which is the cause for all awareness [of phenomena] and for all activity, subsides, jagad-dṛṣṭi [perception of the world] will cease. Just as unless awareness of the imaginary snake ceases, awareness of the rope, which is the adhiṣṭhāna [base or foundation], will not arise, unless perception of the world, which is a kalpita [a fabrication or figment of the imagination], ceases, seeing svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature], which is the adhiṣṭhāna, will not arise.
The term that I have translated here as ‘seeing svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature]’ is ‘சொரூப தர்சனம்’ (sorūpa-darśaṉam), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit term स्वरूप दर्शन (svarūpa-darśana), which means the same as ātma-sākṣātkāra, so in this passage Bhagavan teaches us very clearly that there can be no ātma-sākṣātkāra or ‘self-realisation’ unless perception of the world (jagad-dṛṣṭi) ceases. That is, if we perceive any world, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, and if we are aware of ourself as we actually are, we cannot perceive any world or cosmos. Therefore ‘cosmic consciousness’ has nothing to do with self-realisation (ātma-sākṣātkāra or svarūpa-darśana) and is in fact the very antithesis of it.

4. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 4: when we see what we actually are, no world or cosmos will seem to exist

The reason why it is not possible for us to see what we actually are so long as we perceive any world is explained by Bhagavan in more detail in the following extract from the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது.

niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagam-um illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagam-um uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉṉiḍamirundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉam-um taṉṉiḍattilirundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu.

Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.
What Bhagavan refers to here as ‘மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படுவது’ (maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍuvadu), ‘the mind coming out [or emerging] from ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]’, is the rising of ourself as the ego or mind. Only when we thus rise and stand as this ego or mind does any world seem to exist, as he clearly implies by saying in this context: ‘மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும்’ (maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum), ‘When the mind comes out [or emerges] from ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself], the world appears’.

Just as the world we perceive in a dream is merely a projection of our own mind and therefore does not exist independent of our perception of it, according to Bhagavan this world and any other world that we may perceive is likewise just a mental projection and therefore does not exist independent of our perception of it. Since what projects and perceives this or any other world is only our own mind or ego, a world can seem to exist only when we experience ourself as this mind or ego, and since this mind or ego is merely an erroneous awareness of ourself, it seems to exist only so long as we are not aware of ourself as we actually are. Therefore when we see what we actually are, which is what Bhagavan refers to here as ‘சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது’ (sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu), ‘when svarūpa [one’s ‘own form’ or real nature] appears (shines)’, no mind or ego will seem to exist, and hence no world or cosmos will seem to exist.

5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: if we seem to be the ego, phenomena seem to exist, and if we do not seem to be the ego, no phenomena exist at all

All experience or states of awareness can be classified into just two simple categories, namely awareness of phenomena and awareness devoid of phenomena. Waking and dream are states in which we are aware of phenomena, whereas sleep is a state in which we are aware without being aware of any phenomena.

Since all phenomena are projected and perceived only by our mind or ego, and since our mind or ego cannot stand on its own without being aware of phenomena, any state in which we are aware of phenomena is a state in which we are aware of ourself as the mind or ego, and any state in which we are not aware of any phenomena is a state in which we are not aware of ourself as the mind or ego. Therefore as Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

ahandaiyuṇ ḍāyi ṉaṉaittumuṇ ḍāhu
mahandaiyiṉ ḏṟēliṉ ḏṟaṉaittu — mahandaiyē
yāvumā mādalāl yādideṉḏṟu nādalē
yōvudal yāvumeṉa vōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr.

அன்வயம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், அனைத்தும் இன்று. யாவும் அகந்தையே ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே யாவும் ஓவுதல் என ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, aṉaittum iṉḏṟu. yāvum ahandai-y-ē ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē yāvum ōvudal eṉa ōr.

English translation: If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.
In other words, when we seem to be this ego, phenomena seem to exist, and when we do not seem to be this ego, no phenomena seem to exist — or exist at all — so all phenomena are just an expansion or projection of ourself as this ego. Therefore, since we seem to be this ego only because we do not investigate or attend to ourself keenly enough, and since the ego will therefore cease to exist if we investigate it keenly enough, Bhagavan concludes this verse by saying that investigating what this ego is will result in our giving up not only the ego but also everything else, namely all the phenomena perceived by it.

6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 13: awareness of phenomena is not real awareness (jñāna) but only ignorance (ajñāna)

Since the ego is just a false awareness of ourself, and since phenomena seem to exist only in the deluded view of this unreal ego, in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says:
ஞானமாந் தானேமெய் நானாவா ஞானமஞ்
ஞானமாம் பொய்யாமஞ் ஞானமுமே — ஞானமாந்
தன்னையன்றி யின்றணிக டாம்பலவும் பொய்மெய்யாம்
பொன்னையன்றி யுண்டோ புகல்.

ñāṉamān tāṉēmey nāṉāvā ñāṉamañ
ñāṉamām poyyāmañ ñāṉamumē — ñāṉamān
taṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟaṇika ḍāmpalavum poymeyyām
poṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yuṇḍō puhal
.

பதச்சேதம்: ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய். நானா ஆம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம். பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று. அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ? புகல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey. nāṉā ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām. poy ām aññāṉamumē ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu. aṇikaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō? puhal.

English translation: Oneself, who is jñāna [awareness], alone is real. Awareness that is manifold is ignorance. Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist apart from oneself, who is [real] awareness. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist apart from the gold, which is real?
‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām) literally means ‘jñāna [knowledge or awareness] that is manifold is ajñāna [ignorance]’, which implies that awareness of many things (or of multiplicity) is ignorance. This ignorance is unreal, as he says in the next sentence, and what is real is only ourself, as he says in the previous sentence: ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), ‘Oneself, who is jñāna [awareness], alone is real’.

What he means by saying that we alone are real is that we alone are what actually exists, and that whatever else may seem to exist does not actually exist. Therefore the real awareness that we actually are is single, infinite and indivisible, because nothing other than it actually exists to limit it or divide it, but when we seem to rise as the ego, this one infinite awareness (jñāna) seems to be divided as a subject (the perceiving ego) and numerous objects (all the phenomena perceived by it). This divided awareness is what he describes here as ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘awareness that is nānā [manifold, various, diverse, separate, different or distinct]’, and he says that it is ignorance (ajñāna) and unreal (poy), meaning that it has no substantive existence, since it is just a false appearance.

Therefore of the two kinds of experience or states of awareness that I referred to at the beginning of the previous section, namely awareness of phenomena and awareness devoid of phenomena, awareness of phenomena is not real awareness but only ignorance, whereas awareness devoid of phenomena is alone real awareness, because it is what we actually are, since nothing other than ourself actually exists. That is, our real nature is just pure awareness, which is not aware of anything other than itself, and since it alone actually exists, it is the adhiṣṭhāna, the base or foundation (as Bhagavan says in the third paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?), without which awareness of phenomena could not even seem to exist, as he implies in the third sentence of this verse: ‘பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று’ (poy ām aññāṉamumē ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu), ‘Even ignorance [awareness of multiplicity], which is unreal, does not exist apart from oneself, who is [real] awareness’.

Therefore the only experience or awareness we should take interest in is awareness devoid of phenomena, because it is the only awareness that is real, and it is what we actually are. Hence the aim and purpose of practising self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is for us to cultivate passionate interest (love or bhakti) in being aware of ourself alone and thereby to wean our mind away from its interest in being aware of anything else whatsoever.

7. Since sleep is devoid of multiplicity or diversity (nānātva), it is pure self-awareness, whereas waking and dream are states of dense ignorance

Though we generally take waking and dream to be states of real awareness and sleep to be a state of ignorance or non-awareness, Bhagavan teaches us that the opposite is the case, because the awareness we experience in waking and dream, namely awareness of diverse phenomena, of which we seem to be a part, is what he calls ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘awareness that is manifold [or diverse]’, which he says is அஞ்ஞானம் (aññāṉam), ignorance (ajñāna), and பொய் (poy), unreal, whereas the awareness we experience in sleep is devoid of both the ego and all phenomena, and hence of any multiplicity or diversity (nānātva), so it is the real awareness about which he says, ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), ‘Oneself, who is jñāna [awareness], alone is real’.

This is why he said (as recorded in in the first chapter of Maharshi’s Gospel, 2002 edition, page 9):
Sleep is not ignorance, it is one’s pure state; wakefulness is not knowledge, it is ignorance. There is full awareness in sleep and total ignorance in waking.
Sleep seems to be a state of ignorance only from the deluded perspective of the ego, which was absent in sleep. We ourself were present in sleep, though not as the ego but only as the pure self-awareness that we actually are, so we are aware of having been in sleep (which means that we were aware of being in such a state while we were in it), but since we now mistake ourself to be this ego, which was not present in sleep, we cannot recall clearly what we experienced in sleep, which was only ātma-svarūpa, the real nature of ourself.

Since there was no ego or any phenomena in sleep to cloud and obscure the pure self-awareness that we actually are, Bhagavan says that there is full awareness in sleep, and since the presence of the ego and diverse phenomena in waking and dream obscures our pure self-awareness and makes it seem to be an awareness of multiplicity (நானாவாம் ஞானம்: nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), he says that there is total ignorance in waking and dream.

8. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 13: the only difference between manōlaya and manōnāśa is that the ego will rise from manōlaya but never from manōnāśa

Differences seem to exist only in waking and dream, in which we are aware of phenomena, because in the absence of any phenomena there is no multiplicity or diversity (nānātva) and hence nothing that could be different or distinct from anything else. The Sanskrit term नाना (nānā), which in Tamil is spelt as நானா (nāṉā ), is an adverb that means differently, variously, distinctly or separately, but it is often used as an adjective meaning different, diverse, various, many, manifold, separate or distinct from, and it is in this adjective sense that it is used in Tamil, so when Bhagavan says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘awareness that is nānā [different, diverse or manifold] is ignorance’, he clearly implies that awareness of any differences or diversity is ignorance (ajñāna) and hence unreal (poy).

Moreover, since differences seem to exist only in the view of the ego (and hence only in waking and dream), there are absolutely no differences in any state in which the ego is absent. In other words, in states such as sleep, in which we are aware only of ourself and not of any phenomena whatsoever, there are absolutely no differences.

However, though there are no differences in the absence of the ego, and hence in the absence of any phenomena, from the perspective of the ego in waking and dream there seem to be two different kinds of state in which the ego and all phenomena are absent, but the only difference between them is that one is temporary whereas the other is permanent. In other words, from one such state the ego or mind will sooner or later rise again, whereas from the other it will never rise again, as Bhagavan points out in verse 13 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
இலயமு நாச மிரண்டா மொடுக்க
மிலயித் துளதெழு முந்தீபற
      வெழாதுரு மாய்ந்ததே லுந்தீபற.

ilayamu nāśa miraṇḍā moḍukka
milayit tuḷadeṙu mundīpaṟa
      veṙāduru māyndadē lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: இலயமும் நாசம் இரண்டு ஆம் ஒடுக்கம். இலயித்து உளது எழும். எழாது உரு மாய்ந்ததேல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ilayam-um nāśam iraṇḍu ām oḍukkam. ilayittu uḷadu eṙum. eṙādu uru māyndadēl.

அன்வயம்: ஒடுக்கம் இலயமும் நாசம் இரண்டு ஆம். இலயித்து உளது எழும். உரு மாய்ந்ததேல் எழாது.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): oḍukkam ilayam-um nāśam iraṇḍu ām. ilayittu uḷadu eṙum. uru māyndadēl eṙādu.

English translation: Subsidence [of mind] is [of] two [kinds]: laya and nāśa. What is lying down [or dissolved in laya] will rise. If [its] form dies [in nāśa], it will not rise.
In this context laya means temporary dissolution or abeyance of the mind or ego, whereas nāśa means its annihilation or destruction, which is permanent. However, this difference between manōlaya and manōnāśa is not experienced by us either in manōlaya (such as in sleep) or in manōnāśa, because it seems real only from the perspective ourself as this ego in waking and dream. That is, after we have come out of sleep or any other state of manōlaya, such as a coma, general anaesthesia, death or nirvikalpa samādhi, such states appear to us to be temporary and hence distinct from manōnāśa, but there is absolutely no difference between the actual experience of manōnāśa and any kind of manōlaya.

Either the ego is present or it is absent. That is, either it seems to exist or it does not seem to exist. If it is present, we perceive phenomena, multiplicity, diversity and differences, whereas if it is absent we are aware of nothing other than ourself alone, unclouded by the appearance of any multiplicity or diversity (nānātva) of any kind whatsoever.

Therefore the problem we face is only the seeming existence of ourself as the ego. Though the ego is absent in manōlaya, no kind of manōlaya is a solution to our fundamental problem (namely the ego itself, which is the root of all other problems), because from any state of manōlaya the ego will sooner or later rise again with all its viṣaya-vāsanās intact and reinvigorated with fresh energy derived from ourself, its source. Therefore what we should aim to achieve is not manōlaya but only manōnāśa.

9. In order to be annihilated our ego must turn its entire attention keenly back towards itself alone to see what it actually is

There are various causes that can make the ego subside in manōlaya, and according to the cause that brings it about manōlaya is called by various names. The ego subsides in sleep because of tiredness or exhaustion, it subsides in general anaesthesia because of certain drugs, it subsides in coma or death because of damage to the physical organism that it took to be itself, and it subsides in nirvikalpa samādhi because of certain practices of yōga or meditation.

The reason why the ego will sooner or later rise from any of these states of manōlaya with all its viṣaya-vāsanās intact is that none of the various causes that bring about manōlaya are sufficient to annihilate it. Since the ego is just an erroneous awareness of ourself, it can be annihilated only by turning its entire attention keenly back within (towards itself alone) to see what it actually is. That is, being a wrong awareness of ourself, it can be destroyed only by correct awareness of ourself.

Though we experience correct awareness of ourself in manōlaya, our ego is not thereby annihilated, because it is not present in manōlaya to be annihilated. That is, in manōlaya we become aware of ourself as we actually are as a result of (and hence subsequent to) the subsidence of our ego, but in order to be annihilated our ego must subside as a result of (and hence subsequent to) our being aware of ourself as we actually are.

Metaphorically speaking, we can say that when we subside in manōlaya the cart is being put before the horse. The cart is the subsiding of the ego, and the horse is being aware of ourself as we actually are. In order to eradicate our ego, we must put the horse before the cart. That is, absolutely clear awareness of ourself as we actually are must precede the subsidence of the ego.

However, saying that it must precede the subsidence of the ego does not mean that there will be any gap between our seeing what we actually are and the annihilation of our ego. As soon as we look at ourself keenly enough to see what we actually are, our ego will thereby be annihilated instantaneously.

Seeing what we actually are is what is called ātma-sākṣātkāra (direct perception of oneself) or svarūpa-darśana (seeing one’s ‘own form’ or real nature), so since it instantaneously annihilates the mind along with its root, the ego, ātma-sākṣātkāra is manōnāśa (annihilation of the mind), and hence it is permanent and irrevocable, as Bhagavan indicates in verse 13 of Upadēśa Undiyār by saying: ‘எழாது உரு மாய்ந்ததேல்’ (eṙādu uru māyndadēl), ‘If [the mind’s] form dies [in nāśa], it will not rise’.

10. Since viṣaya-vāsanās are the ego’s urges, none of them can survive when the ego is annihilated by ātma-sākṣātkāra

During the process of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) our viṣaya-vāsanās will be gradually weakened, because every time we choose to be self-attentive rather than attending to any phenomenon (viṣaya) we are strengthening our sat-vāsanā (our inclination, liking or urge just to be by attending to nothing other than ourself) and correspondingly weakening the vāsanā (inclination, liking or urge) to attend to that phenomenon or any other one. However, we cannot eradicate all our viṣaya-vāsanās until we eradicate their root, our ego, because our ego cannot survive without clinging to phenomena, so viṣaya-vāsanās, which are our urges to cling to them, are the fuel that keeps our ego alive.

Since viṣaya-vāsanās are the ego’s urges, none of them can survive when the ego is annihilated by ātma-sākṣātkāra. Therefore what Chadwick recorded about his question and Bhagavan’s answer in the passage quoted at the beginning of this article is confused and misleading, firstly because self-realisation in the sense of ātma-sākṣātkāra or manōnāśa is permanent and can never be lost, since no ego or mind remains in ātma-sākṣātkāra either to have gained it or to subsequently lose it, and secondly because by annihilating the ego ātma-sākṣātkāra destroys all its viṣaya-vāsanās along with it.

Moreover Chadwick wrote, ‘In the early stages of Sadhana this was quite possible and even probable’, in which ‘this’ refers to ‘once having gained Self-realization to lose it again’, but whatever may be gained in the early stages of sādhana (spiritual practice) is not self-realisation in the sense of ātma-sākṣātkāra, because ātma-sākṣātkāra is the final goal of sādhana, and when it is attained all sādhana must come to an end, because it eradicates the ego, thereby leaving no one behind to do any sādhana.

11. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 17: if we investigate it keenly enough, we will find that there is no such thing as an ego or mind

From the perspective of ourself as this ego self-realisation (ātma-sākṣātkāra), annihilation of the mind (manōnāśa) or liberation (mukti or mōkṣa) seems to be a state that is not now present and that is therefore to be attained at some time in the future. However, though this seems to be the case from the perspective of this ego, it is not actually so, because according to Bhagavan what is called by various names such as ātma-sākṣātkāra, manōnāśa and mukti is actually our natural state (sahaja sthiti), so it is eternal and unchanging, and can therefore never be either gained or lost.

Since it is already ours, we cannot gain it, and since it is our real nature, we can never lose it. Why then should we practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) in order to gain what is eternally ours?

Though ātma-sākṣātkāra (direct perception of ourself) is our natural and eternal state, from the perspective of ourself as this ego it does not seem to be so. It is a state of perfect clarity of pure self-awareness, absolute peace and calm and infinite happiness, yet what we as this ego now experience seems to be quite the opposite. Therefore if what Bhagavan tells us is the truth, there is something seriously wrong with our present perspective. That is, we are not seeing ourself as we actually are.

Therefore we need to free ourself from this wrong perspective in order to see what we actually are. But how can we do so? What is the cause or root of this wrong perspective? It is only the ego, because it is the ego’s perspective. We now seem to have this wrong perspective because we seem to be this ego, so to free ourself from this wrong perspective we must free ourself from this ego, which is a delusive awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are.

When we appear as this ego in waking and dream, everything else appears along with us, and when this ego disappears in sleep, everything else disappears along with it, leaving us peacefully and happily all on our own. Therefore this ego is the sole cause for the appearance of everything else, including our wrong perspective, our dissatisfaction, our deficiencies, our miseries and all our other problems, so to correct our wrong perspective and to get rid of all our other problems, thereby restoring us to our natural state of pure self-awareness and infinite happiness, all we need do is to eradicate this ego.

Therefore though from the perspective of ourself as this ego ātma-sākṣātkāra, manōnāśa or mukti seem to be the ultimate gain, it is not actually a gain of anything but a loss of everything, including the ego. However, when the ego is consumed forever in the infinite clarity of pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna), it will not seem to us as if anything has been lost, because the ego and all the phenomena perceived by it do not actually exist even now. They merely seem to exist, but only in the view of the ego, which itself does not actually exist.

If the existence of the ego now were real, it could reappear at any time, but it does not actually exist at all, even now, as we shall discover if we investigate ourself keenly enough to see what we actually are. This is stated clearly by Bhagavan in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
மனத்தி னுருவை மறவா துசாவ
மனமென வொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற
      மார்க்கநே ரார்க்குமி துந்தீபற.

maṉatti ṉuruvai maṟavā dusāva
maṉameṉa voṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
      mārgganē rārkkumi dundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: மனத்தின் உருவை மறவாது உசாவ, மனம் என ஒன்று இலை. மார்க்கம் நேர் ஆர்க்கும் இது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): maṉattiṉ uruvai maṟavādu usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai. mārggam nēr ārkkum idu.

அன்வயம்: மறவாது மனத்தின் உருவை உசாவ, மனம் என ஒன்று இலை. இது ஆர்க்கும் நேர் மார்க்கம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maṟavādu maṉattiṉ uruvai usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai. idu ārkkum nēr mārggam.

English translation: When one investigates [examines or scrutinises] the form of the mind without neglecting [forgetting, abandoning, giving up or ceasing], anything called ‘mind’ will not exist. This is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone whomsoever.
What he refers to here as ‘மனத்தின் உரு’ (maṉattiṉ uru), ‘the form of the mind’, is the ego, because as he explains in the next verse (verse 18, which I cited in the second section of this article) the ego, which he refers to as the primal thought called ‘I’, is the root and essence of the mind. If we investigate this ego keenly enough, we will find that there is no such thing at all (not even as an illusory appearance, because how could any illusory appearance seem to exist only in its own view?), because what actually exists is only ourself, the one eternal, infinite, immutable and indivisible sat-cit-ānanda (being-awareness-happiness).

12. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 38: if we investigate it keenly enough, we will find that there is no ego and hence no bondage, so liberation is eternal

As Bhagavan often explained, liberation is our ever-present state, not a state to be gained by us in future, because if it could be gained, it would sooner or later be lost, since everything that comes must sooner or later go. Only what is eternal can remain forever. This is why he frequently emphasised that liberation is eternal, because it is our real and natural state. For example, in verse 38 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
வினைமுதனா மாயின் விளைபயன் றுய்ப்போம்
வினைமுதலா ரென்று வினவித் — தனையறியக்
கர்த்தத் துவம்போய்க் கருமமூன் றுங்கழலு
நித்தமா முத்தி நிலை.

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

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

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

English translation: If we are the doer of action, we will experience the resulting fruit. [However] when one knows oneself by investigating who is the doer of action, doership will depart and all the three karmas will slip off. [This is] the state of liberation, which is eternal.
What he refers to here as ‘வினைமுதல்’ (viṉaimudal), ‘the doer of action’, is the ego, and since doership and karmas exist only for the ego, what he implies when he says that doership and all the three karmas will depart when one knows oneself by investigating who is the doer of action is that they will cease to exist along with their root, this ego. That is, since the ego is not real but just what we seem to be so long as we are aware of the seeming existence of anything other than ourself, if we investigate it by looking at it keenly enough, we will see that what we actually are is just pure self-awareness (just as if we were to look carefully enough at an illusory snake, we would see that what it actually is is just a rope), and hence we will no longer seem to be the doer of any actions or the experiencer of any fruits of actions.

Since what seems to be bound is only the ego, when we investigate it and find that there is no such thing but only pure and infinite self-awareness, which is ever free, we will see that eternal freedom or liberation (mukti) is our real nature, and that bondage has never actually occurred. This is why Bhagavan ends this verse by saying: ‘நித்தமாம் முத்தி நிலை’ (nittam-ām mutti nilai), which means ‘the state of liberation, which is eternal’, and which implies that the state of absolute freedom that remains when the ego has been found to be ever non-existent is eternal: that is, without any beginning, interruption or end.

This is also clearly implied by him 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].
Here the adjectives anādi (beginningless), ananta (endless) and akhaṇḍa (unbroken) clearly indicate that sat-cit-ānanda (being-awareness-happiness), which is all that we will experience if we are aware of our real nature, is eternal. And since ananta also means limitless or infinite, it implies that it alone is what actually exists, because if anything else existed or even seemed to exist, that would limit it and thereby make it finite. Therefore since it is eternal and infinite, it can neither be gained nor lost.

Unlike both experience of phenomena and states of manōlaya, which come and go, liberation or manōnāśa can neither be gained nor lost, because it is our natural and eternal state. Therefore what is sometimes called the attainment of liberation, manōnāśa or ātma-sākṣātkāra does not actually entail gaining anything, but only losing everything along with its root, the ego. And what remains alone when the ego and everything else has been lost is our real nature, which can never be lost, because it is the eternal reality, the only thing that ever actually exists.

Gain and loss or any other kind of change can only occur in time, and time seems to exist only in the view of the ego. Therefore, when we find the ego to be ever non-existent, we will clearly see that there never was any such thing as time, and hence that no change of any kind whatsoever has ever occurred or could ever occur. This is the ultimate truth (pāramārthika satya), which is called ajāta: the truth that there has never been any birth, arising, origination, appearance, occurrence or happening of any kind whatsoever.

262 comments:

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Salazar said...

In order to still the mind other methods [than atma-vichara] are not necessary. Other methods are helpful for those who cannot do vichara at all. That's it and that's what Bhagavan conveyed. So why all the fuzz about that? Beats me .........

I believe it is save to say that even luminaries like Sadhu Om and Annamalai Swami "struggled" from time to time with their practice of atma-vichara, that is quite normal and anybody who states he has no phases of struggle is delusional.





Salazar said...

Roger, you said and I quote: "The attitude "if I have an auto accident while practicing Atma Vichara while driving then it is all just karma or divine will" is actually just an irresponsible attitude, fake philosophy, which may endanger the lives of others. It has nothing to do with Self Attention."

As usual you are twisting my comments, you have a neck for that. I certainly do not want to harm someone but, and if you'd have grasped even a little of Bhagavan [which you haven't] you could only but agree with that, if I will have an accident or not is not in the power of my doing. Nobody has the power to do something which is not in alignment with his praradhba karma. The only thing we can do is to either identify with that or not.

Roger, I am afraid that you are so strongly identified with your mind and body that you still believe that you are really the do-er. YOU ARE NOT!!!! EVER!!! GOT IT!!!!!!! YOU WERE NEVER, YOU ARE NEVER, AND YOU WILL BE NEVER a do-er!

Your mind festers in its perverted intelligence and is arguing for the sake of argument, a sure way to hell. And I sincerely mean that!

I have heard these arguments before, like, oh, if I don't have any responsibility then I just get a gun and start shooting people............. But who gets a gun? That "who" doesn't exist and if a jiva really intends to kill somebody with a gun that can ONLY happen if it is in alignment with his praradhba karma. THAT IS WHAT BAGHAVAN CONVEYED!

My suggestion for you: Take a break, empty your mind of those useless concepts you have accumulated and after a year of not reading anything read Guru Vachaka Kovai.

All of your comments are absolute HOGWASH!!!! A collection of badly understood concepts ........ Geez, what an insufferable jiva you are....... LOL

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
regarding: YOU WERE NEVER, YOU ARE NEVER, AND YOU WILL BE NEVER a do-er!

Your are either perceptually a doer OR you are Self Realized.

To say that "you are not a do-er" when in fact you are perceptually still a do-er is delusional, DELUSIONAL!

Regarding In order to still the mind other methods [than atma-vichara] are not necessary

Again, what is the perceptual reality? If you are able to sustain Atma Vichara without being carried away by unwanted thoughts... then perhaps no other means are necessary.

But then, Salazar, I know you have never been concerned with perceptual reality. :-)
I know you prefer your imagined mentally projected advaita fantasy to reality.

Hi Sanjay,
regarding Why don’t you experiment with this and see. Of course you can do this only if you drive a car, which hopefully you do.

Yes, I own cars, but travel by magic flying carpet is more economical.

Does anyone know how to accomplish Lahiri Mahasaya's method of travel?
“A nebulous light was rapidly floating over the Ganges; the strange luminescence was reflected in the opaque waters. It approached nearer and nearer until, with a blinding flash, it appeared by the side of Mataji and condensed itself instantly into the human form of Lahiri Mahasaya.

Salazar said...

Roger, we are all Self, that is the reality. Perception is the delusion, you have it backwards. Too bad that you are so immature that you have not grasped Bhagavan at all.

With your attitude you will never realize Self. Why? Because as a "perceptual do-er" you maintain the illusion of duality, you stay with the delusion of a subject-object relationship and frankly, since you haven't grasped one of Bhagavan's main points it is highly likely that you are not properly doing atma-vichara. With that belief you may do many things but it ain't atma-vichara.

I am tired of that bickering. I do not want to sound arrogant (alas it will be perceived as that) but you Sir are a little kid who sits in a PHD course and confuses his level of understanding with the level of the rest of the class.

Go back to kindergarten where you belong. I mean it.

Over and out.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Between Bhagavan and us no intermediaries are either necessary or possible, because he is always shining in our heart as ‘I am’, the light that will remove all darkness

I have been in touch with Sri Michael James since the year 2012. I started corresponding with him through e-mails in the year 2012, and also started to regularly read this blog and his book HAB around the same time.

All these somehow convinced me that he was fit to be my guru. When I hinted this to Michael saying I had started looking at him as my guru, and that Bhagavan had sent me to him for my spiritual treatment, he disagreed with me and sent me the following e-mail on 21/12/2013:

Dear Sanjay,

Any treatment that is done is done only by Bhagavan. Michael is nothing, and can do nothing, except try to turn inwards to allow himself to be treated (consumed) by Bhagavan.

Between Bhagavan and us no intermediaries are either necessary or possible, because he is always shining in our heart as ‘I am’, the light that will remove all darkness.

With love and namaskarams,

Michael

Thus Michael made is very clear that Michael doesn’t consider himself to be a guru. He made it clear that Bhagavan is the guru for all of us. Even Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om reacted the same way when people wanted to take them as their guru.


Salazar said...

Sanjay Lohia, thank you for that touching comment. I believe that for most Michael's statement in that email does not come as a surprise.

I may be of sentimental nature but when I read something like that a thrill resonates from my heart and I feel a strong kinship.

May we all be soon consumed by Bhagavan. There is no better time than now ;-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, Bhagavan will surely consume us, and there is no doubt about this. We are like the birds flying in the sky. In order to get rest we have to finally come down to earth. However, the question is not whether will he consume us, but when will he consume us.
If we want him to consume us as soon as possible, the most direct and quickest way is by self-investigation. We need to practise this as intensely and as frequently as possible.

Every other path will also eventually lead us to our final goal, but it will take very-very long through other indirect methods. May be it will take a 100 births of prayers, a 100 births of mantra japa, a 100 birth of dhyana, and so on, but finally we have to come to atma-vichara. There is no other door leading to freedom.

If we want to waste so much time and effort, we may stick to those other paths. However, if we want our story to end here and now, if we want all our troubles to end here and now, vichara is the only way.

Aseem Srivastava said...

Roger Isaacs, this comment is in response to the concluding paragraph of your comment where you state that "I speak about this because I believe the statements here such as "other than atma vichara all other practices are for the ego" are misleading. Such statements do not emphasize that other preparation (for example pick one of the yogas) is generally essential".

All practices are only for the ego. The only difference (albeit a crucial one) between atma vichara and any other practice is that in the former, the ego tries to attend to its own source, whereas in the latter, the ego focusses its attention on a single or multiple object/phenomena. So long as there is even the slightest sense of doer-ship, an ego is implied, and therefore all practices are for the ego.

It is true that other practices are essential, but they are essential only to a certain extent. As any practice becomes increasingly subtle, the ego progressively attenuates. To this extent the practice becomes efficacious in refining our power of attention and this subtle power of attention assists in practicing atma vichara. However, by itself no practice other than atma vichara can lead directly to the annihilation of the mind.

We have thus acknowledged the office of other practices and given them their rightful due. With this cleared, we should now give atma vichara its rightful due. Atma vichara - the practice of attending to oneself, the consciousness of one's being, the intransitive self-awareness - is the only means to annihilate the mind and consequently to experience the happiness which is our real nature. No matter how simple or difficult it may seem to us, atma vichara is the direct means to experience oneself. No time other than now is the best time for practicing it. No place other than here is the best place for practicing it. No one other that 'I' can practice it.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
There is a great danger in Advaita and that is that the intellectual understanding of the principles can be mistaken for Self Realization. Then... enlightenment becomes just an intellectual concept.

This is what has largely happened with the Satsang crowd originating with Papaji. It is possible to become enamoured with Advaita concepts and fail to do any actual Self Inquiry.

Self Inquiry is placing attention inward on the subjective aspect, on "I" or "Self"
Then when the attention slips off of Self... place the attention back on Self. (right?)

When the attention slips off Self the attention goes into thinking about DOING something (or not doing, or a reaction etc.) : this is the DO-ER !

If we say that we are NEVER the "do-er", that we never think about "doing" something.... then how is it possible to engage in Atma Vichara? The very purpose of Atma Vichara is undermined if we can not discriminate clearly when "do-er consciousness" is at play and then turn back within. If we say the mind never moves outward into "doing"... either we are already enlightened... or deluded.

Salazar, you fail to make distinctions between the following:
"you are not the doer" is initially a concept.
"you are not the doer" can be a temporary experience during Atma Vichara.
"you are not the doer" can become a permanent all the time Realization.

Maybe you're familiar with the rock & roll song "civil war" by "guns and roses". It starts off with audio from the movie "cool hand luke": What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach.

In that voice: what we've got here is failure to discriminate.

Salazar said...

The great danger of Advaita.... LMAO .... if you really believe that of me you are quite dense my friend...... you again make an ass out of you and me, ass-u-me.

Wow, and you know if the Papaji crowd did do vichara or not. Are you clairvoyant by any chance? I love these generalizing comments, have you actually been at one of his satsangs or are you just gossiping hearsay and what you have read by others?

By the way, no more "explanations" by me. If you didn't get my point from all of my comments I made on this blog nothing else could do it but the grace of Bhagavan.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
You say:" no more "explanations" by me. If you didn't get my point from all of my comments I made on this blog nothing else could do it"

This makes at least 4 times that you've said that you will stop talking to me... but this never lasts long. What is behind this apparent lack of personal integrity? promises... promises...

Salazar said...

"Personal integrity", "responsibility", "and what not" are as much an illusion as your comments ;-)

When will you understand that the actions of our bodies, like typing, driving, etc. is solely determined by karma? There is no will power or similar psychological nonsense. Nobody makes a "decision" if one takes a right or left turn or if one leaves a comment or not. It just seems that way. Practice correctly atma-vichara and no more "explanations" are necessary.

And thoughts are not our enemy. So there is no do-er if there are no thoughts AND if there ARE thoughts. A Jnani has still thoughts, he is not continuously thoughtless while still inhabiting a body.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
Well good luck. I think you should be married. Then when you fail to pick up groceries and say "there is no doer, it's all karma" we will see how this goes over. :-)

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Aseem,
I agree with your comments. But also, what we are attempting to describe is beyond words... no single teaching has a monopoly.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Aseem, this is in reference to your comment addressed to Roger. I agree with what you write, except perhaps when you write: ‘It is true that other practices are essential, but they are essential only to a certain extent’.

Yes, all our sadhana if done with nishkamya-bhava will purify our mind, and because of such purification our power of attention will increase. This enhanced power of attention will assist us in our self-investigation.

But are these other sadhanas (practices) really essential? It may not exactly the case. Yes, these other practices are generally beneficial in the beginning, but in my understanding these practices are not absolutely necessary. We can and should directly attend to ourself from the very beginning. Of course this can be a debatable point.

Aseem Srivastava said...

Sanjayji, namaskar.


I agree with you in that "We can directly attend to ourself from the very beginning", but have reservations about using the "should directly attend to ourselves from the very beginning" part in discussing the teachings with other people. Those who understand the logic behind and necessity of atma vichara will accept the 'should' part; others might construe it as being didactic. The 'can' part shows that atma vichara can be practiced by everyone; therefore this statement will be accepted by everyone.

To those unwilling to accept the reason for the 'should' part, it is more useful to truthfully assure them that their practice(s) has value in that it refines their power of attention. Further, it is useful to encourage them to understand the logical necessity of atma vichara in attaining the supreme goal. The claim that other practices should be dispensed with altogether may be too radical for most people and consequently make them defensive about other practices and turn them hostile towards the topic of atma vichara. Any further discussion along this line will be unproductive for both parties to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Swami Sivananda...

Though every experience is finally caused by Prarabdha alone, its connection with one’s consciousness constitutes effort or a fresh deed. Effort is nothing but consciousness of action as related to oneself, whatever be the thing that prompts one to do that action. It is not the action as such but the manner in which it is executed that determines whether it is a Kriyamana- Karma or not. A Jivanmukta’s actions are not Kriyamana-Karmas; for they are not connected with any personal consciousness. They are spontaneous functions of the remaining momentum of past consciousness of agency.

Experiences which are forced upon oneself or which come of their own accord without the personal will of the experiencer, are the workings of Prarabdha. But others which result from a deliberate and conscious act, which has a pre- meditated background, show that it is a Kriyamana-Karma, though it may be sanctioned by the law of the Prarabdha-Karma itself. An experience caused by mere Prarabdha does not cause another fresh result but is exhausted thereby; but a Kriyamana-Karma tends to produce a fresh experience in the future as it is attended by the sense of doership.

Only a good Prarabdha can allow higher effort, the rise of knowledge, and cessation from Kriyamana-Karmas. But, on that account, effort cannot be stopped; for the Prarabdha forces itself out in the form of effort as long as its appearance can be possible only through the individual consciousness. Sometimes Prarabdha manifests itself, not through the individual consciousness, but either through external agency or occurrences having causes beyond human comprehension.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Aseem, yes, I fully agree with your line of thinking. As you imply, if we insist on the ‘should’ part (of our advice to directly practise self-investigation, by dispensing with other practices), it is likely to appear too patronizing. It is difficult to convince others of even the ‘can’ part (of our advice to directly practise self-investigation, by dispensing with other practices), and therefore the ‘should’ part may be a tad too much to digest.

Self-investigation is a gentle path, and therefore, as you rightfully say, we should not try to force it on others. Bhagavan is a perfect example of this gentle approach.

Salazar said...

Is it just me or isn't it strange that from time to time "new" people show up here on this blog who coincidentally make comments to support Roger's ill-conceived notions?

"baby_steps", "Anonymous", and a few others........

Isn't that deception? Lucky for Roger that personal integrity is just an illusion ;-)

Bhagavan was asked to which extend are actions predetermined and a devotee raised at that moment his arm and asked if that was predetermined too. And Bhagavan said yes.

So if a little action like that was predetermined then it is clear that all actions of the body are predetermined. People who deny predetermination have just scared egos who are so terrified to accept that fact because their egos realize that is has no control whatsoever over the actions of the body. So better to maintain the illusion of "control". So if your wife kicks you out because you didn't take out the trash that was as much predetermined at your birth as your incessant know-it-better comments on this blog, Roger.

All this talk is nonsense too, let's heed Bhagavan's advice of who thinks that there is or is not predetermination. After that the whole issue is gone and it is realized that neither ever existed.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay, Seem,

You discuss the issue "are other practices necessary" from the theoretical & philosophical perspective.

But this is a simple practical question: can the reader sit for 1-2 hours per day (as suggested by Bhagavan in "Search in Secret India" which is just an example or an experiment here) and place the attention on Self or "I" without struggling ineffectively against rising thoughts and emotions?

You are concerned with this from the standpoint of your religious doctrine. But it is absolutely just a practical common sense question. What happens inwardly when you try this?

I strongly believe in the advice: you should NEVER believe in anything unless first you find it to be true in your own experience. You guys apparently have the opposite position: what is the proper belief?

As you do not discuss experience or actual practice this makes me wonder if you guys actually practice Atma Vichara for example sitting for an extended period of time. What is your actual experience of dealing with the mind & emotions which Arjuna says "it is as difficult to control as the wind"? For you... is it easy to have the mind and emotions and be totally still resting with inward focus?

Bhagavad Gita 6.34: For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krsna, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind

Has humanity evolved to the point where the mind is now easy to control? We are all more advanced than Arjuna? Or... perhaps just less honest about looking inward and seeing our state?

"Simple formless Self-inquiry is difficult to sustain, except for very advanced aspirants who have well developed powers of attention and extreme dispassion from all external objects starting with the body itself". [frawley]

Occasionally, people post here saying that they don't really understand Atma Vichara or struggle to practice it, including the argumentative and disrespectful Salazar. Are we to ignore these people? They are the ones innocently telling the true from actual practice & experience.

Decades ago when I started university Transcendental Meditation was very popular and I was instructed. Subsequently I did that for a couple of hours per day for almost 10 years. Eventually a talented instructor appeared who taught me how to do his style of Jnana Yoga. This practice is simply "not this!" meaning whatever thought or emotions rises, drop it, and put attention back on Self. It is very close to Atma Vichara. But even then, after thousands of hours of mantra practice, it was a supreme challenge while having a demanding corporate job and raising a family to not have the attention carried away by various mental and emotional activities. I suspect that the thousands of hours of mantra practice helped a great deal in providing a basis for inward attention without any aids. But then, and I'm sure Salazar would immediately agree, I could be denser than most.

Salazar says:
Is it just me or isn't it strange that from time to time "new" people show up here on this blog who coincidentally make comments to support Roger's ill-conceived notions?

Well Salazar, you see what happened is that Sanjay threatened to block posts from my email. So I created a large number of other email accounts with Indian names, now I can pretend to be multiple people while I converse with myself and pretend to build support for my ill conceived notions.

Salazar said...

Roger said in his last comment and I quote:”[…] I strongly believe in the advice: you should NEVER believe in anything unless first you find it to be true in your own experience […]”

LOL

That is rich, so all of your comments are based on your own experience? Including all of these quotes you copy and paste on this blog?

So I suppose you believe in the comments you post here and then consequently you must have them found true in your “own” experience. Whose experience? That highly reliable ego of yours? LOL

That is quite delusional Roger.

“Who” on God’s Earth strongly believes? Ah, that’s right, you commented a few days ago that you understand Bhagavan’s question “who is the believer” as an invitation “to look for an entity”. So much for your understanding of atma-vichara….

Pack your things and finally move your behind to the kindergarten where it belongs….


Salazar said...

Speaking of "disrespectful": Roger, dear, look into the mirror you fool.

Your constant attacks on Michael are rude and offensive. He is a perfect gentleman and a true devotee of Bhagavan, alas I am not.

If you want respect then you have to earn it. I respect anybody on this blog besides you and that other guy, I actually forgot his name. Bhagavan suggests to not bother about what "others" do but you Sir need a [virtually] slap in the face to snap you out of your
fantasy world.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
when you call me "fool" and "ass" this shows that you are absolutely unable to challenge my posts on the level of the ideas. If you have anything to say please respectfully discuss the ideas.

Otherwise, I will ask Sanjay to ask Michael to have you blocked from posting.

Salazar said...

Roger, there is nothing to challenge (except in the fantasy world of your mind). You come on a blog discussing Bhagavan's teaching and then keep harping your own confused interpretation. People are trying patiently to point out your confusion, but instead you stubbornly cling at your confused beliefs. In addition you ass-um-e that Michael is just a blabber-mouth who is posting confused interpretations of Bhagavan and who is not practicing vichara. You must be omniscient, or is that just another confused imagination as the rest of what evacuates from your mind?


And what level of ideas? Whose ideas? Whose level? The level of that inflated ego of yours? Keep on dreaming, boy - samsara has really sucked in for good.

And you are twisting my comments again. I said you are making an ass out of you AND ME, ass-um-e.



Salazar said...

Actually it is ass-u-me ;-)

Aseem Srivastava said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aseem Srivastava said...

Roger, for ease of communication I have italicised the questions you have addressed to me, followed by my response in plain text.


But this is a simple practical question: can the reader sit for 1-2 hours per day (as suggested by Bhagavan in "Search in Secret India" which is just an example or an experiment here) and place the attention on Self or "I" without struggling ineffectively against rising thoughts and emotions? […] What happens inwardly when you try this?

What happens during our efforts at self-attention is that thoughts invariably distract our attention and consequently we fail to attend exclusively to ‘I’. Our efforts seem to always meet with failure in achieving the stated objective. Occasionally, we even seem to regress to a state of denser ignorance. On rare occasions we may seem to get a clearer experience of our ever-present self-awareness.

With regard to duration of effort, that is immaterial. What we are seeking is clarity of self-awareness, which is independent of time, as time itself is a thought. In practice, intense spells of self-attention seem to be of short durations, while a steady current of self-attention can be sustained over a relatively greater time duration.

Whether or not someone struggles against rising thoughts and emotions during self-investigation is irrelevant so long as one perseveres in said self-investigation. As Bhagavan says in paragraph 11 of Nāṉ Yār?, 



“As and when thoughts arise, then and there it is necessary to annihilate them all by vicāraṇā [investigation or vigilant self-attentiveness] in the very place from which they arise.”

Subsequently, in the same paragraph he gave an analogy as follows:

“Just as a pearl-diver, tying a stone to his waist and submerging, picks up a pearl which lies in the bottom of the ocean, so each person, submerging [beneath the surface activity of their mind] and sinking [deep] within themself with vairāgya [freedom from desire to experience anything other than self], can attain the pearl of self.”

By this analogy, he makes clear that a one-pointed attention towards oneself, with no regard to the activity of the mind, will invariably and inexorably lead us to the clearest experience of ourself.


What is your actual experience of dealing with the mind & emotions which Arjuna says "it is as difficult to control as the wind"?

The perfect way to deal with the mind and emotions is to pay them no heed and simply attend to the one who seems to be the mind. In practice, we fail in this regard. To reduce the oscillations of the fickle mind and increase its capacity of sustaining one-pointed attention, most of us seek assistance of supplementary practices. I have found studying Vedant philosophy in general and Bhagavan’s works in particular to be beneficial. Further, practicing temperance in sensory activities, and other too-numerous-to-list practices done by mind, speech, and body help in cultivating (relative) mental poise.


For you... is it easy to have the mind and emotions and be totally still resting with inward focus?

Total stillness is experienced in mano-laya (as in dreamless sleep, when the mind subsides temporarily) and in mano-nasa (the state of pure self-awareness, where the mind is destroyed, never to rise again). In both, the mind is absent. So, the answer to this question is ‘No, this is impossible’.


Occasionally, people post here saying that they don't really understand Atma Vichara or struggle to practice it [….] Are we to ignore these people?

This is your call. If you feel that you can help clarify someone’s understanding of a particular topic, and more importantly, if you decide that this activity is what you want to attend to at a given time, then you will do so.

In this context it is necessary to understand that atma vichara can neither be learned from nor taught to anybody. It is an investigation done by and of the ego, with the sole object of experiencing the clear light of self-awareness which is what the ego really is.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Assem, I am in agreement with your last comment to Roger. If possible, please stick around this blog as much as you can. I find very few here who focus on discussing Bhagavan’s teachings, and you are one of them.

Obviously, this blog is meant to discuss Bhagavan’s teachings (as far as possible), so that we can refine our understanding of the same. We can also by extension discuss spirituality in general.

However, my opinion is that we should avoid unnecessary arguments here, as I see some of the others indulging in quite often. We have enough other forums for arguments, why also bring this there. What do you feel?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Aseem, sorry, I misspelled you name in my last comment. Apologies.

Salazar said...

Sanjay Lohia, I agree and if that is possible, I'll minimize my involvement in these futile arguments as much as possible.

I have to admit that certain comments irritate me and the habitual reaction is to engage that person in soon to be futile arguments. (Some more vasanas to burn in Bhagavan's fire).

I don't mind if people don't grasp Bhagavan fully (and I don't claim I do) but at least there should be the nature of curiosity and not an apparent arrogance which challenges that person who most certainly is better soaked in Bhagavan's teachings than the rest of us.

I like Aseem comments too and I am looking forward to further contributions in that spirit.

I apologize to all who felt offended by my often blunt and explicit comments.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
You say: "You come on a blog discussing Bhagavan's teaching and then keep harping your own confused interpretation. People are trying patiently to point out your confusion, but instead you stubbornly cling at your confused beliefs".

One way to describe our differences, I prefer "Talks" and the teaching here excludes Talks. Therefore, you are not so much saying that I am "confused" but the Bhagavan in Talks is confused.

I strongly prefer an inclusive approach respecting other jnanis as potential equals and acknowledging certain natural differences, such as: some individuals gravitate towards Bhakti (perhaps Sanjay Lohia?) and other individuals gravitate towards discrimination (Krishnamurti) etc... This is from Talks, it is brilliant.

You guys seem to prefer a religious supremacy approach where your teaching is the only teaching, the only way to Self Realization. Not only do you exclude other jnanis, you exclude other works from Bhagavan other than the main 3. As you exclude other works from Bhagavan... this is Michael James teaching, not Bhagavan's.

You say:" In addition you ass-um-e that Michael is just a blabber-mouth who is posting confused interpretations of Bhagavan and who is not practicing vichara. You must be omniscient, or is that just another confused imagination as the rest of what evacuates from your mind?"

I provided some alternate interpretations earlier to 2 of your key doctrines. These interpretations are based on what I get out of Talks. Would you like to address specific issues with these interpretations? When you provide only a general dismissal then it seems you can't identify any specific issues. Without specific comments.... I might think that you agree with me. :-)

Michael James claims (or at least you think he claims) that Atma Vichara is the ONLY way to Self Realization. The implication here is the Michael James is pretty much the only teacher (of course there could be other teachers of Bhagavan) in the world who is really teaching the ONLY way to enlightenment. This is a rather extraordinary claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As Michael knows the ONLY way and he's probably been doing it for decades, then it's entirely reasonable and appropriate to ask him to demonstrate the actual results of his practice.

I mean, if some unknown guy comes to you and makes such claims... you'd ask him to demonstrate?

Michael seems like a good interpreter. And he is philosophically skilled not that I agree with him all the time. But when I read Bhagavan or Swami Annamalai I feel instantly that they exude the truth. For me, Michael James exudes religious supremacy: "the ONLY way...."

Salazar, the most important thing seems to be that you get excited about such discussion. This excitement is the ego. I mean, the issues don't really matter do they? Different people will always view things differently. Are you going to go through life demanding that other people agree with you and getting upset when they don't? This is the ego.

Salazar said...

Sanjay Lohia, I’d like to clarify what I meant when I said “there is no responsibility” or “no personal integrity”. Firstly, of course for the jiva there is responsibility in form of karma. Now you posted a more elaborate comment about karma by Michael and it is interesting but since we cannot know what is prarabhda karma and what is not we can leave that alone (at least I do).

I said there is no responsibility because I refuse to entertain any notion that there actually is an ego or jiva. We all are still very much attached to that body and mind anyway, so why supporting that delusion in addition in comments and in general? Why deliberately support that error in perception even if one is still not Self-realized?

Let me give an example: You go into a bar and sit down at a table. You look at a guy and somehow that guy doesn’t like that look and comes to you and punches you into the face. Now, on a superficial or psychological level one could say that that guy has certain issues triggered by whatever theory one want to use and that triggered it.

But not according to Bhagavan: That punch in the face is actually your doing and the guy, who actually doesn’t even exist (conjured up with a thought) is an instrument of karma as is anything else. Now one can say you probably punched somebody in this life or a past life but that is not really relevant because there is actually no cause and effect.

So if one dwells now with this phenomenal world created by us and imagines that that guy who punched you has any responsibilities is missing totally the point. Whatever happens to us is solely by our doing and the only proper reaction is to do atma-vichara.

And, to not react to what happens outwardly. So one does not punch that guy back but moves on. Punching back would not resolve the “internal issue” of the jiva, or vasanas, only atma-vichara will do that. Punching back is keeping delusion alive.

So the whole world is created by us, or more precisely, by “I” and there are no “others”, they are actually “I” too and what they “do” is “you” in seemingly disguise. So we ought to not react to any outwards things happening to us, because why reacting to our own doing? On the other hand, what we do to “others” is not to others but to “I” too. So if you feed somebody being hungry you feed yourself, if you donate money you donate it to yourself.

Why waste time in those superfluous ideas like responsibility and integrity and what not and instead just do atma-vichara?

Aseem Srivastava said...

Sanjay Lohia,

I have been a regular reader of articles in this blog since mid 2014 when I first came across it. Since then, I have also occasionally taken part in discussions and answered few questions under a limited Blogger profile 'who?'. So long as self-ignorance seems to hold its sway over me, i will keep following this blog (or at least the teachings which is the subject matter of the articles in this blog).

Disagreements over opinions, assertions, logic, or premise of arguments, through open and clear communication, is acceptable and perhaps inevitable in this forum, as the subject matter of this blog deals directly with the root of all disagreements. However, as you rightly imply, the participants in discussions here should desist from posting ad hominem comments.

Salazar said...

Roger, every comment on this blog is "ego". And that ego will be alive and kicking until Self-realization. So one can be just an inch away from enlightenment and the ego can still mess things up.

My point is, to tell people "look that is your ego doing" is like saying "look you are breathing". Do you breath?

Salazar said...

Sanjay Lohia, to clarify even further: What I meant with "to not react" is to not react inwardly. So there could be a punch back to the guy, however no identification with that action would we the no reaction inwardly.

One can never judge the spiritual maturity of a person by their actions. What matters is to which extension they have freedom inwardly, a Jnani way appear angry (and may even punch somebody) but inwardly he's always the same.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
you say: "Roger, every comment on this blog is "ego"."'

Are quoted comments from Bhagavan or other jnanis ego?

Salazar, one of the differences I apparently have with you, with the teaching here, is this:
You seem to believe that the only point of "non-ego" is when the world and body are no longer in awareness.

Let us just see our differences clearly and let them be. Comment if you have a different perspective, but let go any hostility please.

I agree "no ego, no body, no world" has some value, but I do not think it's true from all angles.

Bhagavan in Godman "be as you are" which seems to derive from Talks points out that Savikalpa Samadhi, that is samadhi WITH changes, samadhi with awareness of the world at the same time... ALSO leads to Self Realization.

So this points to a potential state of non-ego in the world. So then we can consider what is the ego during waking state with awareness of the world?

This is a key part of my practice: one can have have the inward Self Attention in activity, and then note when the attention starts to go outward becoming involved with external things which is actually a loss of attention. And noticing that the attention is going outward and getting identified with things... not this!, back to Self.

If you practice Atma Vichara sitting sitting with eyes closed, you may notice that even with a profound inward focus... some awareness of the external world still exists: sound for instance. Thus, Self Attention can coexist with sensory awareness.

Another topic:
Yes, I am provocative and I challenge concepts. I imagine that this can be disturbing to some.
But I don't see any issue with challenging concepts. The ultimate reality is beyond all concepts, there is no set of concepts (such as a particular teaching) which adequately describes the ultimate reality. So let's not get attached to concepts, they should be destroyed. 'Zen is nothingness.... therefore anything said about it is a lie'.

I support Sanjay's position (if I understand it) that he loves Michael and Bhagavan. But love limited to a particular object or a particular teaching or a particular guru is not full. Love ultimately flows over all boundaries and embraces all.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Aseem, oh, you are ‘who’. So we have found out who was ‘who’? Liked the pun! Yes, I clearly remember the comments by ‘who’ and our other friend ‘Wettgeinstein’ (I am not sure if I have spelt it correctly). To tell you frankly, I was missing the contributions by two of you. In fact, I was very recently remembering both of you, since both of you used to post quite useful comments. So welcome back!

Yes, you are correct. As long as we are under the sway of our ego, disagreements and fights are inevitable. However, as you say, we should avoid ad hominem comments. I have learnt a new word: ad hominem. As I have discovered, it means: ‘(of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining’.

Actually it is not our aim to fight and defeat each other, but rather we should fight and defeat our ego, and we can do this only by keen and unceasing (or frequent) self-investigation. All personal fights will prove futile in the end. Of course, as they say, easier said than done.

Salazar said...

Sanjay Lohia, also “taking responsibility” not only reinforces this phenomenal world but it also lets us dwell in the past what is best to be avoided. “Responsibility” is taken care by the law of karma, the jiva does not have to worry about it or dwell on it. That just perpetuates delusion.

We all have done things we regret, but that is the past and the only prudent course is to let go of the past and move on. There is a reason why we don’t remember our past lives, it is a huge blessing. Because we have been moving through every experience possible and that includes that we have murdered, tortured, raped, abused, betrayed, etc. through many lives and if we’d remember that we’d be a mental case and atma-vichara would be impossible.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, I fully agree when you say, ‘Why waste time in those superfluous ideas like responsibility and integrity and what not and instead just do atma-vichara?’ All ideas are superfluous and ephemeral, because the only real substance is atma-svarupa, and we can experience it as it really is only by atma-vichara.

Bhagavan used to repeatedly remind his devotees: ‘Do atma-vichara. Why waste your time in anatma-vichara?

Salazar said...

Roger, yes, quoted comments by Bhagavan are ego too because it is an ego who is posting them. They are often misinterpreted by the very egos who are "using" them. In fact short quotes by sages are often more misleading than helpful.

And yes, concepts are to be destroyed, so please destroy all of your past and future comments. Especially the concept that you are provocative and challenge concepts. Thank you!

Roger Isaacs said...

Salazar,
The ego likes to think that "it is just one thing", but this is never the case. The only "one thing" is Self Realization. Otherwise... any "one thing" is just an aspect of the play of the pairs of opposites.

When you say "responsibility reinforces this phenomenal world..."

"It" is neither responsibility.... nor is it NOT responsibility.

One has to take an intelligent approach to all such things.

We must take responsibility in all sorts of ways, for our health, for coordinating all things which provide a basis for successful practice of Atma Vichara, we must take responsibility for our arising thoughts and emotions... otherwise how are we to quell them?
We must take responsibility for the disorder and chaos and lack of harmony and stress in our lives... otherwise how could we have enough internal harmony to be successful at Atma Vichara?

But at the same time it is also NOT responsibility. We must take control wherever possible AND relinquish control at the same time. We must do everything that we possibly can... and then surrender at the same time.

Seeing that there is no single teaching, no single position, no single concept... then the mind does not take positions with any particular concept.

Yes, the car accident is karma, the working of the divine. But at the same time, we have responsibility to be aware of our surroundings, have good tires, not do things with distract attention from the surroundings, not speed and wait till later for that heroin (just kidding)... The reality is that the situation is not totally responsibility nor lack of responsibility. If you choose only one (responsibility or the lack of it) then you are siding with a single side in what is that play of pairs of opposites.

Roger Isaacs said...

Salazar,
>> And yes, concepts are to be destroyed, so please destroy all of your past and future comments. Especially the concept that you are provocative and challenge concepts. Thank you!

But I thought that my being provocative was an established fact not speculation. :-)

Salazar said...

"But I thought that my being provocative was an established fact not speculation."

Apparently only in your mind.

I disagree with your idea of "responsibility", there is no "we" who has to make sure to have good tires. Even if you believe that, is that so hard to understand? There are just thoughts coming into the awareness of "I". If you have good or bad tires, or if your tires are properly inflated or not is not because of the so-called personality of yours but by prarabhda karma. THAT is samsara, to believe that one is an entity who does outward actions in this phenomenal world.

There is literally nobody who takes care of anything, the body does that by itself, it is not animated by your thoughts, "will" or beliefs, it is animated by Self. "You" just believe the thought-story which runs in unison with the actions of the body and mistakenly believe that the actions of your body are yours. They are most certainly not!

That is quite basic understanding and it baffles me that you don't grasp that!

Salazar said...

Personally I find it strange that somebody comes to a blog with the intention to "challenge". That intention is not sattvic at all and can only have been spawn out of arrogance.

"Challenge" can only lead to conflict and to appeal to others to refrain from hostility is quite hypocritical. You reap what you sow.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Aseem,

Thanks for your detailed comments. I respect your practice... so I don't have any comments about your practice. But a few general comments or comments from my perspective.

>> What happens during our efforts at self-attention is that thoughts invariably distract our attention and consequently we fail to attend exclusively to ‘I’. Our efforts seem to always meet with failure in achieving the stated objective.

I don't see practice as "failure" at all. When the attention slips off Self... attention is brought back. No "failure" in this. IF self-attention is difficult to achieve at all because the mind and emotions are too active.. then possibly aids can be considered. For example, under stressful conditions I might fall back to breathing, hatha yoga ending with the death pose with inward attention,or something else basic which may lead back to settled awareness. There are many different tools available. I am suggesting to seek out such tools if the mind / emotions are difficult to calm. You guys in general seem to want to avoid evaluating your practice at all. But if you characterize practice as "failure" this does not seem good. :-)

With regard to duration of practice: duration matters.
It is difficult to say much about "duration" because it is personal. Some practice in activity, some may not sit at all, some maybe at a beginning level, some may not practice formally at all and just go with a devotional practice, others may sit for hours. But... the personal variability does not invalidate the issue.

Bhagavan says "search in secret India": "If you will meditate for an hour or two every day, you can then carry on with your duties. If you meditate in the right manner, then the current of mind induced will continue to flow even in the midst of your work." Try it!

Thus a recommendation for an hour or two does have a precedent. I was suggesting an hour or two as a test to see if inward Self Attention can be achieved. What is the result? This seems far too practical for this group. :-)

Eventually, regardless of one's style, continuous practice is advised:

Swami Annamalai says:
When the rejection of mental activities becomes continuous and automatic, you will begin to have the experience of the Self.

Meditation must be continuous. The current of meditation must be present in all your activities. With practice, meditation and work can go on simultaneously.


continued

Roger Isaacs said...

>>: What we are seeking is clarity of self-awareness, which is independent of time, as time itself is a thought.

If time is a thought, then you are the Lord of creation. Human thought can be in time or about time or it is possible to have awareness out of time, but time itself is at a very subtle level far beyond the typical human level. The vast majority of practice is done in time (in my experience, yours may differ), and so it can make a difference if you practice Atma Vichara for 2 minutes or 2 hours per day or 4 hours. In my experience, the more time I spend, hours per day.... the more results in the form of settled still alert inward attention.

>> Whether or not someone struggles against rising thoughts and emotions during self-investigation is irrelevant so long as one perseveres in said self-investigation.

And Bhagavan says elsewhere that attention on the heart is impossible without aids. So one might consider if the mind/emotions are too active to achieve settled self attention... if so then aids might be considered. Struggling is the ego, it is not Self Attention. If you're struggling... then try something else in the toolkit to settle down.

>> Total stillness is experienced in mano-laya (as in dreamless sleep, when the mind subsides temporarily) and in mano-nasa (the state of pure self-awareness, where the mind is destroyed, never to rise again). In both, the mind is absent.

Bhagavan says that the lack of unwanted thoughts or the ability to persist with one thought is indication of progress. "Stillness" refers to lack of distracting mental activity, lack of arising thoughts and emotions, settled continuous Self Awareness. Stillness in not mano-laya aka lack of awareness. In mano-laya you would not know if you are still because you are not aware.

>> the clear light of self-awareness which is what the ego really is

The clear light of self awareness is the ego?

Leigha Pree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sanjay Lohia said...

Leigha, yes, what is the use of visiting the swami [Bhagavan], one must become the swami [Bhagavan]. Very true! What is use of reading about Bhagavan, or what is the use of worshipping Bhagavan, we should become Bhagavan.

We are actually nothing but Bhagavan (atma-svarupa), but we do not experience ourself to be such. How can we experience ourself to be Bhagavan? As Michael often explains, we must try and shift the focus of our attention and interest away from everything else, towards ourself alone. There is no other way.

ajāta said...

Sanjay Lohia,
how can one focus the attention to ourself alone ?
We obviously cannot focus our attention to atma-svarupa which is unknown to us.
At best we can focus our attention to our ego which is said that it does not actually exist. So do we not be in a dilemma ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

ajata, so you think you can focus your attention on your ego, but can’t focus your attention on atma-avarupa. Suppose if we find a snake on our way, and if a passer-by tells us the truth that it is just a rope, we just have to look at this snake carefully enough, and we will very soon come to know that there was no snake there. Likewise if we try and focus all our attention on our ego, we will soon find that there is no ego there, and what exists is only atma-svarupa.

So please try and focus your attention on your ego. According to Michael, the word ‘Ego’ is a Latin term which simply means ‘I’. So whether we call it ego, or call it atma-svarupa, or call it ‘I’, or call it ourself, all these terms makes no difference to our actual practice of self-investigation. The practice remains the same. When we practise, we need to be attentively self-aware, as frequently as possible, as intensely as possible.
.
It is all very simple. We all know that we exist, and we are clearly aware of our existence, aren’t we? We need to try and focus all our attention on our innermost awareness, 'I', which is aware of everything else. There should not be any dilemma, and even if there is one it will start dissolving as we persevere in our practice.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,
Your recommendations seem to be copied from Michael or Bhagavan. in addition... what is your actual experience with this? What do you experience when following this advice?

Salazar said...

There seems to be a misunderstanding about the term “experience”. Bhagavan used the term “direct experience” and what he meant was the natural state or sahaja Samadhi. He was not referring to any other experiences because any experience other than the natural state (what is actually not an experience either in the classic understanding) is by the mind. And all perceptions and experiences by the mind is an imagination and therefore to be disregarded.

To ask others about their “experiences” is to ask, how is your dream coming along? Anybody who is answering that question would be revealing his interpretation of the dream world. Therefore anybody who has grasped Bhagavan’s teaching would neither ask that question nor answer it ;-)

ajāta said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thank you for your response.
Your advice to the "actual practice of self-investigation" meaning focussing all our attention on our innermost awareness 'I' is of good use to me.

R Viswanathan said...

"We need to try and focus all our attention on our innermost awareness, 'I', which is aware of everything else."

The two terms frequently used in connection with Bhagavan's teachings are: awareness (of self) and attention.

I understand that in UN Mangalam verse 1 Bhagavan asks: without existence can there be any awareness?

I frequently read about the necessity that attention needs to be taken off from objects or perceptions and placed on the subject 'I' that latches onto the objects or perceptions.

Is the attention a small portion of infinite awareness (of self) that the so-called mind or ego utilizes?

In other words, is the word attention used only with reference to mind?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viswanathan, the word ‘attention’ means the power of our awareness (our ego) to focus or channel its observation or concentration on a particular object, by ignoring everything else.

Suppose if we are writing an e-mail, we need to concentrate or attend to the computer screen and to whatever we type on it. Thus ‘attention’ is the selective use of the power inherent in our ego to focus its vision on a particular thing. We can also be self-attentive. In this case, we can use our power of attention to focus our awareness on ourself, by trying to ignore all objects. So this is subjective attention - being attentively self-aware.

We may not be aware of other things to the extent we are focus on a particular object. Of course we are usually aware of other things in the background, even while we are attending to something particular, because our attention is not always single-pointed.

Yes, only our ego or mind can attend to things which seem to be other than ourself. This power of attention originally belongs to ourself as we really are, but ourself as we really are can only attend to itself. In other words, in this case our power of attention remains fixed on ourself alone.

Aseem Srivastava said...

Roger, with reference to your comments addressed to me:

By ‘failure to meet the stated objective’, what is meant is that during practice, we fail to meet the stated objective of atma vichara, which is to experience the clear light of self-awareness without awareness of anything else. If we consider our practice of self-attention as being successful in achieving its objective, even while we experience phenomena, then we will be deluding ourself.


You asked the question: The clear light of self awareness is the ego?
In the context of this question you quoted the following clause: the clear light of self-awareness which is what the ego really is.



What is clearly evident from this clause is that the clear light of self-awareness is what the ego is; not the other way around. This is equivalent to the logical statement that ‘A’ is what ‘B’ really is. This statement does not mean that ‘A’ is ‘B’, but that ‘B’ is in reality only ‘A’.

Michael James said...

Ajāta, regarding your questions, ‘how can one focus the attention to ourself alone? We obviously cannot focus our attention to atma-svarupa which is unknown to us. At best we can focus our attention to our ego which is said that it does not actually exist. So do we not be in a dilemma?’, firstly please see the reply that I wrote earlier today to a similar question, which I hope will answer the first of your questions, namely ‘how can one focus the attention to ourself alone?’

Regarding your second sentence, ‘We obviously cannot focus our attention to atma-svarupa which is unknown to us’, ‘ātma-svarūpa’ means the ‘own form’ (svarūpa) or real nature of oneself (ātman), so it is not entirely true to say that it is unknown to us. We are always aware of ourself, and though we are now aware of ourself as if we were something other than ātma-svarūpa, the nature of which is pure, infinite, indivisible and immutable self-awareness, what we are actually aware of is only ātma-svarūpa, but we mistake it to be something else.

We can illustrate this with the analogy of a rope that seems to be a snake. Though we may think that what we are seeing is a snake, what we are actually seeing is just a rope, even though we mistake it to be a snake. That is, we are seeing the rope, but we are seeing it as a snake rather than as it actually is. Likewise, what we are now aware of is only ātma-svarūpa, which is ourself, but we are seeing it as this form-grasping ego rather than as it actually is.

If we look carefully enough at what we mistake to be a venomous snake, we will see that it is actually just a harmless rope. Likewise if we attend carefully enough to ourself, which we now mistake to be this finite ego, we will see that what we actually are is just ātma-svarūpa, which is infinite self-awareness, and therefore never aware of anything other than itself.

As you say, the ego does not actually exist, but just as the snake seems to exist even though it does not actually exist, the ego seems to exist even though it does not actually exist. Therefore just as we can look carefully at what seems to be that snake in order to see what it actually is, we can look carefully at what seems to be this ego in order to see what it actually is.

Therefore we are not in a dilemma as you suggest, because all we need do is to try to look at what we now seem to be, namely this ego, in order to see what we actually are, which is ātma-svarūpa.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Aseem,
I see, so if I understand you:
The goal of your Atma Vichara practice is a state where body and world are not in awareness. And what remains when body and world are not in awareness is the "clear light of the ego".

ajāta said...

Michael,
thank you for your apt explanatory reply.
Your yesterday explanation to me (as ahandai) regarding my similar question put on your recent article is quite well an apposite answer.
Because till now my attention to myself is not careful enough I need to keep on trying to look at this ego in order to see what I actually am, which is said to be atma-svarupa.
As you say I mistake atma-svarupa as something other though it is only it what I am aware of.
Many thanks.

Aseem Srivastava said...

Roger, the goal of atma vichara is to experience self-awareness clearly, in isolation from awareness of other things.

What logically follows is that the world and body, which are not experienced in sleep, will similarly not be experienced in the state of pure self-awareness, where only pure adjunct-free self-awareness remains shining.

However, this conclusion is neither being dictated to us nor being accepted in deference to some perceived external authority. We are encouraged to follow the premise (ie, the experientially verifiable statement that we experience no body or world in the state of dreamless sleep, while simultaneously being aware of our own existence) to see whether it leads to the conclusion (ie, the statement that in the state of pure self-awareness, the world and body will likewise not be experienced) if we are inclined to test the validity of the conclusion.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Aseem,
I agree with you in large respect and take your comments for contemplation. Thanks for your comments here and the newer blog.

I am working on "experience self-awareness clearly, in isolation..." while in the world. This is very possible as we see in deep sitting meditation for example sounds may come into awareness and not disturb the absorption. With practice, one can open the eyes and still remain inwardly focused... but this may not resonate depending on a person's temperament. One of my main tools for doing this is "Not This! Not This!" to distraction when it arises. "Not This" meaning drop the distraction and back on Self.

ātma-sākṣātkāra said...

Michael,
self-realisation (ātma-sākṣātkāra) is said to be a state of true happiness.
But I become suspicious that it is only normal or ordinary or customary.
Is self-investigation not a bit insipid or flat or even dull ?

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