Happiness and the Art of Being: A Layman's Introduction to the Philosophy and Practice of the Spiritual Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana has been available on the publisher's website at www.trafford.com/07-0799 since the end of October, but because they recently moved their printing operations to a new location, it is currently taking more than one month for them to fulfill orders.
However, because the publisher has arrangements with other companies to print their publications on demand in Europe and North America, Happiness and the Art of Being is now available more quickly on the sites of many other online booksellers, and through some of those booksellers it is available at a considerably reduced price. The following is a list of sites on which it is currently available:
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
Happiness and the Art of Being: A Layman's Introduction to the Philosophy and Practice of the Spiritual Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana has been available on the publisher's website at www.trafford.com/07-0799 since the end of October, but because they recently moved their printing operations to a new location, it is currently taking more than one month for them to fulfill orders.
Friday, 23 November 2007
Yesterday I posted an e-book copy of Part One of The Path of Sri Ramana on my main website, Happiness of Being, and in the near future I hope to add an e-book copy of Part Two.
As a prelude to this e-book copy of Part One I have written an introductory page, in which I give a detailed overview of both Part One and Part Two. The following is a copy of the introduction and the overview of Part One that I give in this introductory page:
The Path of Sri Ramana is an English translation of ஸ்ரீ ரமண வழி (Sri Ramana Vazhi), a Tamil book written by Sri Sadhu Om, in which he explains in great depth and detail the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana.
Sri Ramana taught us that the only means by which we can attain the supreme happiness of true self-knowledge is atma-vichara — self-investigation or self-enquiry — which is the simple practice of keenly scrutinising or attending to our essential self-conscious being, which we always experience as 'I am', in order to know 'who am I?'
Thursday, 1 November 2007
Yesterday evening the Canadian publication of Happiness and the Art of Being - A Layman's Introduction to the Philosophy and Practice of the Spiritual Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana was released, and it is now available for purchase on the publisher's website at:
At present this webpage gives only minimum information about the book, but within the next few days more detailed information will be added to it.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Earlier today the first copies of the Indian edition of Happiness and the Art of Being were offered at the feet of Bhagavan Sri Ramana at his shrine in Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, and it has now been released for sale in Sri Ramanasramam Book Stall.
On Monday I also received a bound proof copy of the Trafford edition from the publishers in Canada, but unfortunately it contained a few minor errors, which they are now correcting. As soon as they have corrected these errors they will send me a revised e-proof, so I hope that they will be able to release it for sale on their website at www.trafford.com/07-0799 by the end of this week or early next week. As soon as it is released, I will announce it here in this blog and on my main website, www.happinessofbeing.com.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Recently the English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and me of Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, the 'Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala' composed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana, has been published as a book, and it is now available for sale in Sri Ramanasramam Book Stall.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first book to contain the word-for-word meaning in English for each verse of the entire Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, and within the next few months it will be followed by a similar book containing the word-for-word meaning and English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and me of Upadesa Nunmalai, the 'Garland of Teaching Texts', that is, the poems such as Ulladu Narpadu that Sri Ramana wrote conveying his teachings or upadesa.
The following is a copy of the introduction that I wrote for this translation of Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam:
Bhagavan Sri Ramana taught us that the only means by which we can attain the supreme happiness of true self-knowledge is atma-vichara — self-investigation or self-enquiry — which is the simple practice of keenly scrutinising or attending to our essential self-conscious being, which we always experience as 'I am'.
Monday, 10 September 2007
In his comment on the post Happiness and the Art of Being will soon be available in print, Sivan asked when printed copies of Happiness and the Art of Being would be available in Sri Ramanasramam Book Stall.
I have been informed that the printer in Bangalore expects to have the Indian edition of this book ready by the end of this month, and will immediately supply copies to Sri Ramanasramam Book Stall.
There has also been some delay in the publication of the Trafford edition of this book, but I hope that copies will be available for purchase through the Trafford website by the end of this month.
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Yesterday I added an e-book copy of Guru Vachaka Kovai (English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and me) to my main website, Happiness of Being.
The following is an extract from my introduction to this e-book:
Guru Vachaka Kovai is the most profound, comprehensive and reliable collection of the sayings of Sri Ramana, recorded in 1255 Tamil verses composed by Sri Muruganar, with an additional 42 verses composed by Sri Ramana.
The title Guru Vachaka Kovai can be translated as The Series of Guru's Sayings, or less precisely but more elegantly as The Garland of Guru's Sayings. In this title, the word guru denotes Sri Ramana, who is a human manifestation of the one eternal guru – the non-dual absolute reality, which we usually call 'God' and which always exists and shines within each one of us as our own essential self, our fundamental self-conscious being, 'I am' –, the word vachaka means 'saying', and the word kovai is a verbal noun that means 'threading', 'stringing', 'filing' or 'arranging', and that by extension denotes a 'series', 'arrangement' or 'composition', and is therefore also used to denote either a string of ornamental beads or a kind of love-poem.
Saturday, 1 September 2007
Today is the 111th anniversary of Sri Ramana's arrival in Tiruvannamalai, to celebrate which I have added my English translation of Nan Yar? (Who am I?) to my main website, Happiness of Being.
I have also restructured my website, replacing the old Resources page with the following five new pages:
Thursday, 23 August 2007
Today I have posted on my website at www.happinessofbeing.com/happiness_art_being.html the third e-book edition of Happiness and the Art of Being, which is a revised and enlarged version of the second e-book edition, and an exact copy of the forthcoming printed edition.
Since I published the second e-book edition on the 20th March 2007, I have further revised it, making many minor changes and incorporating in various places a total of about 48 pages of additional explanations, and I have also added a detailed index.
The following is a list of all the major additions that I have incorporated in this final third e-book edition, which I have been posting here during the past one month. For each addition, I have listed the page numbers at which it now appears in this third e-book edition, a link to the article in this blog in which I posted it, and finally in brackets the page number of the location in the second e-book edition in which I incorporated it.
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
Pedro Rodea has translated into Spanish many English books on the teachings of Sri Ramana, including Nan Yar? (Who am I?), Guru Vachaka Kovai (from the English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and me), Maharshi’s Gospel, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Day by Day with Bhagavan and Be As You Are, and his translations are posted as zipped Word documents on his website, www.ativarnashram.com. Some of his translations, such as Guru Vachaka Kovai, have also been published in print by Ignitus Ediciones.
Recently Pedro has been translating Happiness and the Art of Being into Spanish, and he has now posted his translation of the introduction and first two chapters on his website in the zipped file La Felicidad y el Arte de Ser (Introducción, Capitulo I y II, por Michael James). He has also posted an extract from this book (a translation of pages 26 to 32) on the page Libro de enseñanzas seleccionado.
In continuation of my previous post, The supreme compassion of Sri Ramana, the following is what I have newly incorporated on pages 601 to 609 of the forthcoming printed edition of Happiness and the Art of Being:
By both his words and his example he [Sri Ramana] taught us the virtue of perfect ahimsa or compassionate avoidance of causing any harm, injury or hurt to any sentient being. Through his life and his teachings he clearly indicated that he considered ahimsa or ‘non-harming’ to be a greater virtue than actively trying to ‘do good’. Whereas ahimsa is a passive state of refraining from doing any action that could directly or indirectly cause any harm or suffering to any person or creature, ‘doing good’ is an active interference in the outward course of events and in the affairs of other people, and even when we interfere thus with good intent, our actions often have harmful repercussions.
When we try to do actions that we believe will result in ‘good’, we often end up causing harm either to ourself or to others, or to both. The danger to ourself in our trying to do ‘good’ to others lies principally in the effect that such actions can have on our ego. If we engage ourself busily and ambitiously in trying outwardly to do ‘good’, it is easy for us to overlook the defects in our own mind, and to fail to notice the subtle pride, egotism and self-righteousness that tend to arise in our mind when we concentrate on rectifying the defects of the outside world rather than rectifying our own internal defects.
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Towards the end of chapter 10, ‘The Practice of the Art of Being’, on page 558 of the second e-book edition (page 589 of the forthcoming printed edition) of Happiness and the Art of Being, I give a translation of the nineteenth paragraph of Nan Yar?, which Sri Ramana concludes by saying:
... It is not proper [for us] to let [our] mind [dwell] much on worldly matters. It is not proper [for us] to enter in the affairs of other people [an idiomatic way of saying that we should mind our own business and not interfere in other people’s affairs]. All that one gives to others one is giving only to oneself. If [everyone] knew this truth, who indeed would refrain from giving?On pages 559 to 562 of the second e-book edition (pages 589 to 592 of the printed edition) I discuss the meaning of this paragraph, and while doing so I write:
When Sri Ramana says that it is not proper for us to allow our mind to dwell much upon worldly matters, or for us to interfere in the affairs of others, he does not mean that we should be indifferent to the sufferings of other people or creatures. It is right for us to feel compassion whenever we see or come to know of the suffering of any other person or creature, because compassion is an essential quality that naturally arises in our mind when it is under the sway of sattva-guna or the quality of ‘being-ness’, goodness and purity, and it is also right for us to do whatever we reasonably can to alleviate such suffering.
Monday, 20 August 2007
On page 529 of the second e-book edition (page 555 of the forthcoming printed edition) of Happiness and the Art of Being I give the following translation of the first maṅgalam verse of Ulladu Narpadu:
Other than ulladu [‘that which is’ or being], is there consciousness of being? Since [this] being-essence [this existing substance or reality which is] is in [our] heart devoid of [all] thought, how to [or who can] think of [or meditate upon this] being-essence, which is called ‘heart’? Being in [our] heart as [we truly] are [that is, as our thought-free non-dual consciousness of being, ‘I am’] alone is meditating [upon our being]. Know [this truth by experiencing it].On pages 529 to 538 of the second e-book edition (pages 555 to 565 of the printed edition) I have given a detailed explanation of the meaning of this important verse, after which on pages 565 to 569 of the printed edition I have added the following conclusion to my explanation:
In the first of the two verses of his payiram or preface to Ulladu Narpadu, Sri Muruganar writes that Sri Ramana joyfully composed this clear and authoritative text in response to his request, "So that we may be saved, [graciously] reveal to us the nature of reality and the means to attain [join, reach, experience or be united with] it". Accordingly, in this first mangalam verse Sri Ramana reveals to us both the essential nature of reality and the means by which we can experience it, which is possible only by our being one with it.
Sunday, 19 August 2007
In my previous four posts, Atma-vichara is only the practice of keeping our mind fixed firmly in self, Atma-vichara and the question ‘who am I?’, Sri Ramana’s figurative use of simple words and The question ‘who am I?’ as a verbalised thought, I serialised the newly written material that I have incorporated on pages 439 to 456 of the forthcoming printed edition of Happiness and the Art of Being. In continuation, the following is the expansion of what I had written on pages 431 to 432 of the second e-book edition, which will come on pages 456 to 459 of the printed edition:
Besides using the Sanskrit word vichara, Sri Ramana used many other Tamil and Sanskrit words to describe the practice of self-investigation. One word that he frequently used both in his original writings such as Ulladu Narpadu and in his oral teachings was the Tamil verb nadutal, which can mean seeking, pursuing, examining, investigating, knowing, thinking or desiring, but which with reference to ourself clearly does not mean literally either seeking or pursuing, but only examining, investigating or knowing.
He also often used the word nattam, which is a noun derived from this verb nadutal, and which has various closely related meanings such as ‘investigation’, ‘examination’, ‘scrutiny’, ‘sight’, ‘look’, ‘aim’, ‘intention’, ‘pursuit’ or ‘quest’. In the sense of ‘scrutiny’, ‘look’ or ‘sight’, nattam means the state of ‘looking’, ‘seeing’ or ‘watching’, and hence it can also be translated as ‘inspection’, ‘observation’ or ‘attention’. Thus it is a word that Sri Ramana used in Tamil to convey the same sense as the English word ‘attention’.
Saturday, 18 August 2007
In continuation of my previous three posts, Atma-vichara is only the practice of keeping our mind fixed firmly in self, Atma-vichara and the question ‘who am I?’ and Sri Ramana’s figurative use of simple words, the following is what I have newly incorporated on pages 450 to 456 of the forthcoming printed edition of Happiness and the Art of Being:
We cannot ascertain who or what we really are by merely asking ourself the verbalised question ‘who am I?’, but only by keenly attending to ourself. If Sri Ramana were to say to us, "Investigate what is written in this book", we would not imagine that we could discover what is written in it by merely asking ourself the question ‘what is written in this book?’. In order to know what is written in it, we must open it and actually read what is written inside. Similarly, when he says to us, "Investigate ‘who am I?’", we should not imagine that he means that we can truly know who we are by merely asking ourself the question ‘who am I?’. In order to know who or what we really are, we must actually look within ourself to see what this ‘I’ — our essential self-consciousness — really is.
In order to experience ourself as we really are, we must withdraw our attention from everything other than our own real self — our essential self-conscious being, ‘I am’. Since the verbalised question ‘who am I?’ is a thought that can rise only after our mind has risen and is active, it is experienced by us as something other than ourself, and hence we cannot know who we really are so long as we allow our mind to continue dwelling upon it.
Friday, 17 August 2007
In continuation of my previous two posts, Atma-vichara is only the practice of keeping our mind fixed firmly in self and Atma-vichara and the question ‘who am I?’, the following is what I have newly incorporated on pages 445 to 450 of the forthcoming printed edition of Happiness and the Art of Being:
In his teachings Sri Ramana frequently employed ordinary words in a figurative sense, because the absolute reality about which he was speaking or writing is non-objective and non-dual, and hence it is beyond the range of thoughts and words. Since the one undivided and infinite reality can never be known objectively by our mind, but can only be experienced subjectively by and as our own essential non-dual self-consciousness, no words can describe it adequately, and hence its true nature can often be expressed more clearly by a metaphorical or figurative use of simple words rather than by a literal use of the more abstract technical terms of scholastic philosophy.
Since the true nature of the one absolute reality cannot be known by our mind or described by any words (which are merely tools created by our mind to express its knowledge or experience of objective phenomena), the only means by which we can merge in and as that non-dual and otherless absolute reality is likewise beyond the range of thoughts and words. Hence Sri Ramana often used simple words figuratively not only when he was expressing the nature of the one absolute reality, but also when he was expressing the means by which we can attain our true and natural state of indivisible oneness with that infinite reality.
Thursday, 16 August 2007
In continuation of my previous post, Atma-vichara is only the practice of keeping our mind fixed firmly in self, the following is what I have newly incorporated on pages 441 to 445 of the forthcoming printed edition of Happiness and the Art of Being:
However, though atma-vichara or ‘self-investigation’ is truly not any form of mental activity, such as asking ourself ‘who am I?’ or any other such question, but is only the practice of abiding motionlessly in our perfectly thought-free self-conscious being, in some English books we occasionally find statements attributed to Sri Ramana that are so worded that they could make it appear as if he sometimes advised people to practise self-investigation by asking themself questions such as ‘who am I?’. In order to understand why such potentially confusing wordings appear in some of the books in which the oral teachings of Sri Ramana have been recorded in English, we have to consider several facts.
Firstly, whenever Sri Ramana was asked any question regarding spiritual philosophy or practice, he usually replied in Tamil, or occasionally in Telugu or Malayalam. Though he understood and could speak English quite fluently, when discussing spiritual philosophy or practice he seldom spoke in English, except occasionally when making a simple statement. Even when he was asked questions in English, he usually replied in Tamil, and each of his replies would immediately be translated into English by any person present who knew both languages. If what he said in Tamil was seriously mistranslated, he would occasionally correct the translation, but in most cases he would not interfere with the interpreter’s task.
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
On page 431 of the second e-book edition (page 439 of the forthcoming printed edition) of Happiness and the Art of Being, chapter 9, ‘Self-Investigation and Self-Surrender’, I give the following translation of an important sentence from the sixteenth paragraph of Nan Yar?, in which Sri Ramana defines the true meaning of the term atma-vichara or ‘self-investigation’ by saying:
… The name ‘atma-vichara’ [is truly applicable] only to [the practice of] always being [abiding or remaining] having put [placed, kept, seated, deposited, detained, fixed or established our] mind in atma [our own real self]…After this quotation, on pages 439 to 456 of the forthcoming printed edition I have incorporated some fresh material, and on pages 456 to 459 I have expanded what I had written on pages 431 to 432 of the second e-book edition. Since this new and expanded material comes to a total of twenty pages in the forthcoming printed edition, it is too long to give here in one post, so I shall divide it up into a series of five posts.
The following is the new explanation about the sentence from Nan Yar? that I have quoted above, which will come immediately after it on pages 439 to 441 of the forthcoming printed edition:
Monday, 30 July 2007
In the forthcoming printed edition of Happiness and the Art of Being, chapter 7, ‘The Illusion of Time and Space’, I have incorporated three new portions that are not in the second e-book edition.
After the first paragraph on page 389 of the second e-book edition, regarding verse 15 of Ulladu Narpadu I have added the following new paragraph, which will be on page 395 of the printed book:
In the kalivenba version of Ulladu Narpadu Sri Ramana added two extra words before the initial word of this verse, nihazhvinai or ‘the present’, namely nitamum mannum, which mean ‘which always endures’. Thus he further emphasised the fact that the present moment is ever present, that all times are the present while they occur, and that the present is therefore the only time that actually exists — the only time that we ever experience directly and actually. All other times, both past and future, are just thoughts that occur in this present moment.On page 395 of the second e-book edition, immediately after verse 14 of Ulladu Narpadu, I have added two new paragraphs, and modified and expanded the next paragraph. These three paragraphs, which will be on page 402 of the printed book, are as follows:
Sunday, 29 July 2007
As I wrote at the end of my previous post, Happiness and the Art of Being – additions to chapter 5, on page 339 of the second e-book edition of Happiness and the Art of Being (pages 344 to 345 of the printed book) I have added a translation of verse 5 of Ekatma Panchakam and a brief explanation about it. This newly added portion, which I wrote in continuation of my explanation about the term mauna-para-vak, which Sri Ramana uses in verse 715 of Guru Vachaka Kovai, and which means 'the supreme word, which is silence', is as follows:
The power of the silent clarity of unadulterated self-consciousness to reveal itself as the absolute reality is expressed by Sri Ramana poetically in verse 5 of Ekatma Panchakam:
That which always exists is only that ekatma vastu [the one reality or substance, which is our own true self]. Since the adi-guru at that time made that vastu to be known [only by] speaking without speaking, say, who can make it known [by] speaking?The word eka means ‘one’, atma means ‘self’, and vastu is the Sanskrit equivalent of the Tamil word porul, which means the absolute reality, substance or essence. Therefore the ekatma vastu, which Sri Ramana declares to be eppodum ulladu, ‘that which always is’, is the one absolute reality or essential substance, which is our own true self.
Saturday, 28 July 2007
In the forthcoming printed edition of Happiness and the Art of Being, chapter 5, ‘What is True Knowledge?’, I have incorporated eight new portions that are not in the second e-book edition.
On page 304 of the second e-book edition, immediately after the first paragraph following verse 9 of Ulladu Narpadu, I have added two new paragraphs and modified the first sentence of the next paragraph. These three paragraphs, which will be on pages 306 to 307 of the printed book, are as follows:
The unreality both of these ‘triads’, which form the totality of our objective knowledge, and of these ‘pairs’, which are an inherent part of our objective knowledge, being objective phenomena experienced by our knowing mind, is emphasised by the word vinmai, which Sri Ramana added between the previous verse and this verse in the kalivenba version of Ulladu Narpadu. Being placed immediately before the opening words of this verse, irattaigal mupputigal, this word vinmai, which literally means ‘sky-ness’ — that is, the abstract quality or condition of the sky, which in this context implies its blueness — defines the nature of these ‘pairs’ and ‘triads’. That is, these basic constituents of all our objective or dualistic knowledge are unreal appearances, like the blueness of the sky.
Friday, 27 July 2007
In chapter 4 of Happiness and the Art of Being, on page 258 I have quoted verse 38 of Ulladu Narpadu, in which Sri Ramana says:
If we are the doer of action, we will experience the resulting fruit [the consequences of our actions]. When [we] know ourself [by] having investigated ‘who is the doer of action?’, kartritva [our sense of doership, our feeling ‘I am doing action’] will depart and the three karmas will slip off [vanish or cease to exist]. [This state devoid of all actions or karmas is] the state of liberation, which is eternal.I have expanded the explanation that I previously gave in the three paragraphs after this verse, and my expanded explanation (which will be on pages 258 to 261 of the printed book) is as follows:
The compound word vinai-mudal, which I have translated as ‘the doer of action’, literally means the origin or cause of an action, but is used idiomatically, particularly in grammar, to mean the subject or agent who performs an action. In the context of karma or action, the word ‘fruit’ is used idiomatically in both Tamil and Sanskrit to mean the moral consequences that result from any of our actions, whether good or bad, in the form of correspondingly pleasant or unpleasant experiences that we must sooner or later undergo.
As I wrote in my last post, Happiness and the Art of Being will soon be available in print, I have written various new explanations, which will be incorporated in the printed version of Happiness and the Art of Being. Most of these new additions are quite brief, often just one or two paragraphs, but four of them run to more than three pages, one in chapter 4, one in chapter 9 and two in chapter 10.
In chapter 2, ‘Who am I?’, I have incorporated just two single-paragraph additions. On page 128, immediately after verse 3 of Ekatma Panchakam, I have added the following paragraph:
In the kalivenba version of Ekatma Panchakam Sri Ramana added the compound word sat-chit-ananda, which means ‘being-consciousness-bliss’, before the initial word of this verse, tannul or ‘within [our] self’, thereby reminding us that what we are in essence is only the perfectly peaceful consciousness of being, ‘I am’. Other than our basic consciousness of our own being, everything that we know appears within the distorted object-knowing form of our consciousness that we call our mind, which arises within us during waking and dream, and subsides back into ourself during sleep. Our true consciousness of being — our essential self-consciousness ‘I am’ — is therefore like the screen on which a cinema picture is projected, because it is the one fundamental adhara or underlying base that supports the appearance and disappearance of our mind and everything that is known by it.
Thursday, 26 July 2007
I have recently finished revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication in print, and I have given the final version of it to the publishers. In its final form, the main body of the book comes to 610 pages, and a very detailed index has been added to it.
It will be published in Europe and North America by Trafford Publishing, a Canadian-based 'print-on-demand' publisher, who will make it available worldwide through all the major on-line and off-line book distribution channels. However, since the cost of books published in Europe and America is prohibitively expensive by Indian standards, some devotees of Sri Ramana in India are arranging to have a separate edition printed there for local distribution at a more affordable price.
Monday, 11 June 2007
The following is a copy of my reply to N K Srinivasan's comment on the post Please note – for a few weeks I will not have internet access:
Constantly remembering Bhagavan's name is an effective way of keeping our mind dwelling upon him. Such remembrance is most efficacious when we do it with the clear understanding that he is not merely an external diety but is our own real self, which is always shining within us as our essential self-conscious being, 'I am'.
When we remember the name of something, that remembrance brings the form or image of that thing to our mind. Likewise, when we remember the name of 'Ramana', it should draw our attention to his true form, which is 'I am'. Thus repetition or japa of his name can be a powerful aid in helping us to focus our attention upon 'I am', which is the practice of atma-vichara or self-investigation which he taught us. And since our mind will subside only when it thus attends to its own essential self-consciousness, 'I am', this self-attention is also the true practice of self-surrender.
Thursday, 10 May 2007
In my previous post, Please note – for a few weeks I will not have internet access, I wrote that for at least two weeks and perhaps longer I would not have an internet connection or access to my e-mail. That expected "two weeks and perhaps longer" turned out to be seven weeks, but I now have my internet connection again, and I expect it to be uninterruped for a while, except probably for ten days or so at the end of this month, and another ten days or so at the beginning of August.
If you have sent me any e-mail since March 22nd, I apologise for not having replied earlier, and I will try to reply during the next week or so. I now have a backlog of more than a hundred e-mails to read and respond to, so I cannot reply to all of them immediately, but I will do so as soon as I can.
Posted by Michael James at 11:58
Thursday, 22 March 2007
From tomorrow, for at least two weeks and perhaps longer, I will be staying in a place where I will not have an internet connection or access to my e-mail. Therefore if you happen to send me any e-mail, please bear with me if I do not reply promptly. Whenever I have internet access again I will begin replying to the backlog of unanswered e-mails that will no doubt build up.
When I have a regular internet connection once again, I will remove this post, and hopefully begin posting more new articles on the teachings of Sri Ramana.
Posted by Michael James at 23:49
Wednesday, 21 March 2007
Yesterday I posted on my website at www.happinessofbeing.com/resources/happiness_art_being.html a revised and enlarged second e-book edition of Happiness and the Art of Being.
Since I published the first e-book edition on 15th December 2006 I have revised it thoroughly, making many small amendments and incorporating a considerable number of additional explanations, together with translations of several more passages from the original Tamil writings of Sri Ramana.
Though I have incorporated the equivalent of about 80 pages of new material in this second e-book edition, the actual number of pages has increased only by about 32 pages, up to more than 570 pages, because the software that I have used to create the PDF file of this edition has produced a more compact but still very readable font, thereby ensuring that the printed version of this book will be a somewhat less massive volume.
Monday, 19 March 2007
On pages 329-330 of the present e-book version of Happiness and the Art of Being there are two paragraphs in which I write:
Though in our present waking state we mistake the seeming 'unconsciousness' of sleep to be merely an unconsciousness of our body and the world, in sleep we do not think 'I am unconscious of my body and the world'. Only in the waking state do we think 'In sleep I was unconscious of my body and the world'. That which thinks thus is our mind, but since our mind was not present in sleep, it cannot accurately tell us what our experience in sleep actually was.
All we can now say about sleep is that, though we knew 'I am' in that state, it was nevertheless a state of seeming darkness, ignorance or lack of clarity. That seeming lack of clarity is the 'unconsciousness' that we experience in sleep. But what actually is that seeming lack of clarity? About what is it that we lack clarity in sleep? Only about our real self, the real nature of our essential consciousness 'I am'. In sleep we know that we are, yet we lack clarity about what we are. Therefore the seeming 'unconsciousness' of sleep is actually only our lack of clarity of true self-knowledge, our so-called 'forgetfulness' of our real self. If our real self, our essential consciousness 'I am', were not obscured by the veil of our self-forgetfulness, sleep would be a state of perfectly clear self-knowledge.
Sunday, 18 March 2007
On page 119 of the present e-book version of Happiness and the Art of Being there is a paragraph in which I write:
Generally we think of deep sleep as a state of 'unconsciousness'. But what we were unconscious of in sleep was only things other than 'I', such as any body or world. We were not, however, unconscious of our own existence. We need other people to tell us that our body and the world existed while we were asleep, but we need no one to tell us that we existed at that time. Without the help or testimony of any other person or thing, we know 'I slept'. In sleep we may not have known exactly what we were, but we did know very clearly that we were. The knowledge that we clearly possess about our experience in sleep, and that we express when we say 'I slept peacefully, and knew nothing at that time', would not be possible if in sleep we had not been conscious that we were having that experience. If we did not know 'I am' while asleep, we could not know so clearly 'I slept' after we wake up. Since in the waking state we know clearly not only that we slept, but also that in sleep we did not know anything, is it not clear that sleep was a state that we actually experienced? The 'unconsciousness' of sleep – the absence at that time of any knowledge about anything other than 'I am' – was our own experience, something that we ourself experienced or knew at that time.Today I have been checking all the changes that I have made while revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication in print, and while doing so I decided to expand the explanation given in this paragraph as follows:
In the seventh last paragraph of my recent post Overcoming our spiritual complacency I wrote:
So long as we experience ourself as a physical body, the fear of death will always exist in us, but usually in a dormant form. Because we imagine ourself to be this body, we are attached to it and hence we fear to lose it...While doing a final check on the changes that I have made while revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication in print, I decided to expand this explanation about our fear of death as follows:
However, though it usually remains in a dormant form, our fear of death is in fact the greatest, most fundamental and most deep-rooted of all our fears. We fear death because it appears to us to be a state of non-existence — a state in which we ourself will cease to exist, or at least cease to exist as we now know ourself. Since we love our own being or existence more than we love any other thing, we fear to lose our own being or existence more than we fear any other thing. In other words, our fear of death is rooted in our self-love — our basic love for our own essential self or being.
Friday, 16 March 2007
While revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication in print, in chapter 10, 'The Practice of the Art of Being', I have modified my translation of verse 28 of Ulladu Narpadu (on page 457 of the present e-book version) and I have expanded the explanation of it that I give in the subsequent paragraphs as follows:
Sri Ramana often used this analogy of diving or sinking into water to illustrate how deeply and intensely our attention should penetrate into the innermost core or essence of our being. For example, in verse 28 of Ulladu Narpadu he says:
Like sinking [immersing or diving] in order to find an object that has fallen into water, diving [sinking, immersing, piercing or penetrating] within [ourself] restraining [our] speech and breath by [means of a] sharp intellect [a keen, intense, acute and penetrating power of discernment or attention] we should know the place [or source] where [our] rising ego rises. Know [this].
In my previous two posts, Overcoming our spiritual complacency and Taking refuge at the 'feet' of God, I gave the first two instalments of the additional material that I have written for inclusion in chapter 9 of Happiness and the Art of Being (after the first paragraph on page 422 of the present e-book version). The following is the third and last instalment:
In the second sentence of this verse [the second mangalam verse of Ulladu Narpadu] Sri Ramana says, "By their surrender, they experience death". The death that they previously feared was the death of their body, but when the fear of that death impels them to take refuge at the 'feet of God', they experience death of an entirely different kind. That is, when they take refuge at the 'feet of God' by subsiding into the innermost depth of their own being, they will experience the absolute clarity of unadulterated self-consciousness, which will swallow their mind just as light swallows darkness.
Our mind or finite individual self is an imagination — a false form of consciousness that experiences itself as a body, which is one of its own imaginary creations. We imagine ourself to be this mind only because we ignore or fail to attend to our own true and essential being. If we knew what we really are, we could not mistake ourself to be any other thing. Hence, since our mind has come into existence because of our imaginary self-ignorance, it will be destroyed by the experience of true self-knowledge.
Thursday, 15 March 2007
In my previous post, Overcoming our spiritual complacency, I gave the first instalment of the additional material that I have written for inclusion in chapter 9 of Happiness and the Art of Being (after the first paragraph on page 422 of the present e-book version). The following is the second of these three instalments:
In the first sentence of this second mangalam verse of Ulladu Narpadu Sri Ramana says:
Those mature people who have intense fear of death will take refuge at the feet of mahesan [the 'great lord'], who is devoid of death and birth, [depending upon him] as [their protective] fortress. …This is a poetic way of describing his own experience of self-investigation and self-surrender. Though the word mahesan, which literally means the 'great lord', is a name that usually denotes Lord Siva, the form in which many Hindus worship God, Sri Ramana did not use it in this context to denote any particular form of God, but only as an allegorical description of the birthless and deathless spirit, which always exists in each one of us as our own essential self-conscious being, 'I am'.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
While revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication in print, I have written an additional ten pages for inclusion in chapter 9, 'Self-Investigation and Self-Surrender'. These additional pages will be included after the paragraph on page 422 of the present e-book version that ends:
... The only way we can thus submit or surrender ourself to his grace is to 'think of' or constantly attend to our own essential being-consciousness 'I am', melting inwardly with overwhelming love for it. Sincerely attempting to surrender ourself in this manner is what Sri Ramana meant when he said, "Nevertheless, it is necessary to proceed unfailingly according to the path that guru has shown".Since the additional matter to be included at this point is quite lengthy, I will post it here in three separate instalments, of which the following is the first and largest:
In order to know our own real self, which is absolute, infinite, eternal and undivided being-consciousness-bliss or sat-chit-ananda, we must be willing to surrender or renounce our false finite self. And in order to surrender our false self, we must be wholly consumed by an overwhelming love to know and to be our own real self or essential being.
Monday, 12 March 2007
In Happiness and the Art of Being, chapter 8, 'The Science of Consciousness', on pages 386 to 390 of the present e-book version I discuss the modern field of study that is known as 'consciousness studies' or the 'science of consciousness', and I explain that any true science of consciousness must clearly distinguish consciousness from any object or phenomenon known by consciousness, a process that in the philosophy of advaita vedanta is known as drik drisya viveka or 'discrimination between the seer and the seen'. In this context I write on pages 388 to 389 of the present e-book version:
... Until we understand this basic distinction between consciousness and even the subtlest object known by it, we will not be able to focus our attention solely and exclusively upon our essential consciousness, and thus we will not be able to experience it as it really is — that is, as our pure and unadulterated consciousness of our own being, which is devoid of even the slightest trace of duality or otherness.While revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication in print I have modified and expanded the next paragraph and added a new paragraph, so the next four paragraphs will read as follows:
Unless modern scientists are willing to accept this fundamental but very simple principle, all their efforts to understand consciousness will be misdirected. Any scientist who imagines that they can understand consciousness by studying our physical brain, its electrochemical activity or its cognitive function, has failed to understand that all these things are merely objects that are known by consciousness as other than itself.
Saturday, 10 March 2007
In chapter 6 of Happiness and the Art of Being I explain on page 342 of the present e-book version that our fundamental state of true self-knowledge is sometimes described in advaita vedanta as the state of 'wakeful sleep' or 'waking sleep' (jagrat-sushupti in Sanskrit, or nanavu-tuyil in Tamil) because, since it is a state in which we experience no duality, it is a thought-free state like sleep, but since it is at the same time a state in which we experience absolute clarity of self-knowledge, it is also a state of perfect wakefulness. I then write:
Since this state of 'wakeful sleep' is beyond our three ordinary states of waking, dream and deep sleep, in advaita vedanta it is also sometimes referred to as the 'fourth state' or turiya avastha. Somewhat confusingly, however, in some texts another term is used to describe it, namely the 'fourth-transcending' or turiyatita, which has given rise to the wrong notion that beyond this 'fourth state' there is some further 'fifth state'. In truth, however, the non-dual state of true self-knowledge is the ultimate and absolute state, beyond which no other state can exist.On pages 343 to 344 of the present e-book version I then quote and explain verse 32 of Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham and verses 937 to 939 of Guru Vachaka Kovai, but while revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for print I decided that I could improve my translations and explanation of these verses. I have therefore revised my translations and expanded my explanation as follows:
Thursday, 8 March 2007
In Happiness and the Art of Being, chapter 6, 'True Knowledge and False Knowledge', on pages 322 to 323 of the present e-book version I have written:
... though our basic knowledge or consciousness 'I am' alone is real, and though all the other things that appear to be real borrow their seeming reality only from this consciousness, which is their underlying base and support, we are so accustomed to overlooking this consciousness and attending only to the objects or thoughts that we form in our mind by our power of imagination, that those objects and our act of knowing them appear in the distorted perspective of our mind to be more real than the fundamental consciousness that underlies them.
The only reason why we suffer from this distorted perspective is that we are so enthralled by our experience of duality or otherness, believing that we can obtain real happiness only from things other than ourself, that throughout our states of mental activity, which we call waking and dream, we spend all our time attending only to such other things, and we consequently ignore or overlook our underlying consciousness 'I am'.
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
I have posted the five largest additions that I will be incorporating in chapter 5 of Happiness and the Art of Being in my five most recent posts, namely:
- Objective knowledge will disappear along with our mind when we know ourself as we really are
- Non-duality is the truth even when duality appears to exist
- Everything is just an expansion of our own mind or ego
- 'I am' is the most appropriate name of God
- The true import of the word 'I'
In my discussion about the meaning of verse 22 of Ulladu Narpadu I have split the paragraph that begins on the bottom of page 291 and ends on the top of page 292 of the present e-book version, and have added a new sentence, so the two resulting paragraphs will read as follows:
In the place [the core of our being] where 'I' [our mind or individual self] merges [or becomes one], the one [true knowledge] appears [or shines forth] spontaneously [or as ourself] as 'I [am] I'. That itself [or that, which is ourself] is the whole [the infinite totality or fullness of being, consciousness and happiness].On pages 312 to 314 of the present e-book version I discuss the meaning of verse 21, and I conclude my explanation with the following paragraph:
That [one infinite whole that shines thus as 'I am I'] is at all times [in the past, present and future, and in all eternity] the [true] import of the word 'I', because of the absence of our non-existence even in sleep, which is devoid of [any separate or finite sense of] 'I'.
Tuesday, 6 March 2007
In a recent post, Contemplating 'I', which is the original name of God, I quoted verse 716 of Guru Vachaka Kovai and while explaining it I referred to verses 712 to 715, saying that I would translate and explain them in a later post.
While revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication in print, I have incorporated my translation and explanation of these four verses in chapter 5, 'What is True Knowledge?'. That is, on pages 304 to 305 of the present e-book version there are two paragraphs in which I write that Sri Ramana often said that the words that express the true nature of the absolute reality most accurately are 'I' and 'am', and I have now enlarged upon those two paragraphs as follows:
Though the absolute reality is given many names and descriptions such as God, allah, brahman, the absolute, the eternal, the infinite, the fullness of being, purna or the whole, pure knowledge, sat-chit-ananda or being-consciousness-bliss, tat or 'it', nirvana, the kingdom of God and so on, Sri Ramana often said that the words that express its real nature most perfectly and accurately are 'I' and 'am', or their combined form 'I am'.
Monday, 5 March 2007
In Happiness and the Art of Being, chapter 5, 'What is True Knowledge?', there is a paragraph on page 279 of the present e-book version in which I have written as follows:
Though our true, absolute and non-dual knowledge 'I am' is the ultimate support or substratum that underlies all forms of duality or relativity, it is not their immediate support or base. The immediate base upon which all duality depends, and without which it ceases to exist, is only our wrong knowledge 'I am this body', which is our individualised sense of selfhood, our ego or mind. ...In the present e-book version I then quote what Sri Ramana says in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu, but for the forthcoming publication of Happiness and the Art of Being as a printed book I have written an explantion of verse 23, which I will incorporate at this point before verse 26, and immediately after verse 26 I will also incorporate another new paragraph of explanation. This entire portion will then read as follows:
[...] Therefore in verse 23 of Ulladu Narpadu Sri Ramana says:
This body does not say 'I' [that is, it does not know 'I am', because it is just inconscient matter]. No one says 'in sleep I do not exist' [even though in sleep this body does not exist]. After an 'I' has risen [imagining 'I am this body'], everything rises. [Therefore] by a subtle intellect scrutinise where this 'I' rises.
Sunday, 4 March 2007
While revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication as a printed book, I have written some fresh material to incorporate in chapter 5, 'What is True Knowledge?', after the paragraph (on page 278 of the present e-book version) that ends, "... in that state we will clearly know that we have always been only the pure consciousness of being, 'I am', and that ignorance — the wrong knowledge 'I am this body' — never really existed, just as when we finally see the rope as it really is, we will understand that we were always seeing only that rope, and that the snake we imagined we saw never really existed", and I have amended and expanded the next paragraph. This new material, the amended portion and the final paragraph of this passage will read as follows:
Even when we imagine that we do not know our real self and therefore try to attend to ourself in order to know what we really are, we are in fact nothing other than our real self, which always knows itself as it really is. Our seeming ignorance of the true non-dual nature of our real self is only an imagination, and the sole purpose of our effort to know ourself is only to remove this imagination. This truth is stated emphatically by Sri Ramana in verse 37 of Ulladu Narpadu:
Even the argument that says, 'Duality [is real] in [the state of] spiritual practice, [whereas] non-duality [is real] in [the state of] attainment [of self-knowledge]', is not true. Both when we are lovingly [earnestly or desperately] searching [for ourself], and when [we] have attained ourself, who indeed are we other than the tenth man?
In Happiness and the Art of Being, chapter 5, 'What is True Knowledge?', after the paragraph (on page 277 of the present e-book version) that ends, "Is it not clear, therefore, that the only true knowledge that we can attain is the clear knowledge of ourself as we really are, devoid of any superimposed adjuncts — that is, knowledge of ourself as our unadulterated and essential self-consciousness, 'I am', which is the absolute non-dual consciousness that knows only itself?" I will incorporate the following addition:
All objective knowledge involves a basic distinction between the subject, who is knowing, and the object, which is known. It also involves a third factor, the subject's act of knowing the object.
Because our knowledge of ourself involves only the inherently self-conscious subject, and no object, we know ourself just by being ourself, and we do so without the aid of any other thing. Because we are naturally self-conscious, we do not need to do anything in order to know ourself. Therefore unlike all our objective knowledge, our knowledge of ourself involves neither an object nor any act of knowing, and hence it is a perfectly non-dual knowledge.
Saturday, 3 March 2007
Yesterday I posted the last two of the four major additions that I will be incorporating in chapter 3, 'The Nature of Our Mind', of Happiness and the Art of Being, namely:
- The foundation of all our thoughts is our primal imagination that we are a body
- Everything is only our own consciousness
- Contemplating 'I', which is the original name of God
- By self-attentiveness we can experience our true self-consciousness unadulterated by our mind
On page 219 of the present e-book version, I have added two sentences in the middle of the first paragraph, and after these sentences I have split the paragraph into two as follows:
Friday, 2 March 2007
While revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication as a printed book, in chapter 3 (on page 206 of the present e-book version) after the paragraph that ends, "... Therefore our states of waking and dream are a macrocosm of which the formation and dissolution of each one of our individual thoughts is the microcosm", I have added the following three paragraphs:
Therefore if we gradually refine our power of attention or cognition by our persistent practice of self-attentiveness, we will eventually be able to cognise the underlying reality that remains between each successive subsidence and subsequent rising of our mind or root thought 'I'. That underlying reality is our essential self-consciousness, which we always experience as 'I am'.
In Happiness and the Art of Being, chapter 3, 'The Nature of Our Mind', there is a paragraph (on page 190 of the present e-book version) in which I write:
In whatever way he may describe this process of self-investigation or self-scrutiny, the sole aim of Sri Ramana is to provide us with clues that will help us to divert our attention away from our thoughts, our body and all other things, and to focus it wholly and exclusively upon our fundamental and essential consciousness of being, which we always experience as 'I am'. In his writings and sayings there are many examples of how he does this. In this fifth paragraph of Nan Yar? for instance, after first suggesting that we should investigate in what place the thought 'I' rises in our body, he goes on to give us a still simpler means by which we can consciously return to the source from which we have risen, saying, "Even if [we] remain thinking 'I, I', it will take [us] and leave [us] in that place".While revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication as a printed book, after this paragraph I have added several new paragraphs, and have also amended the paragraph that currently comes immediately after it, as follows:
Thursday, 1 March 2007
While revising Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication as a printed book, in chapter 3 (on page 182 of the present e-book version) after the paragraph that ends, "... Whenever we perceive a world, we always do so from within the confines of a particular body, which we feel to be ourself", and before the next paragraph, which now begins, "Our primal imagination that we are a physical body is the foundation upon which our mind is built. Whenever it rises, whether in a dream or in a so-called waking state, our mind always imagines itself to be a body...", I have added the following:
Hence our perception of any world is dependent upon our imagining ourself to be a body in that world, which in turn is dependent upon our mind, the finite consciousness that imagines itself to be that body. Therefore in verses 5, 6 and 7 of Ulladu Narpadu Sri Ramana says:
[Our] body [is] a form [composed] of five sheaths [the pancha kosas or five adjuncts that seemingly cover and obscure our consciousness of our real self when we imagine any of them to be ourself]. Therefore all five [of these 'sheaths' or adjuncts] are included in the term 'body'. Without [some kind of] body, is there [any such thing as a] world? Say, having left [all kinds of] body, is there [any] person who has seen [this or any other] world?
Wednesday, 28 February 2007
In preparation for the forthcoming publication of Happiness and the Art of Being as a printed book, I have today made one further addition to chapter 2, 'Who am I?' That is, on page 137 of the present e-book version, after the paragraph that ends, "... what each and every one of us experiences as 'I am' is the one eternal, undivided, non-dual and infinite being", I have added the following:
The fundamental difference between the experience of sages such as Sri Ramana, who know themself to be the one infinite and undivided self-conscious being, and the experience of those of us who imagine ourself to be anything other than this one infinite and undivided self-conscious being, which is our true and essential self, lies only in the limitations that we imaginarily superimpose upon our truly infinite being. This fundamental difference is expressed by Sri Ramana in verses 17 and 18 of Ulladu Narpadu:
[Both] to those who do not know themself [and] to those who have known themself, this body [is] only 'I'. [However] to those who do not know themself 'I' [is limited to] only the extent of the body, [whereas] to those who have known themself within the body 'I' itself shines devoid of limit [boundary or extent]. Understand that this indeed is the difference between them.
Tuesday, 27 February 2007
In chapter 3 of Happiness and the Art of Being (on pages 153-154 of the present e-book version) I have translated verse 2 of Anma-Viddai as follows:
Since the thought 'this body composed of flesh is I' is the one string on which [all our] various thoughts are attached, if [we] go within [ourself scrutinising] 'Who am I? What is the place [the source from which this fundamental thought 'I am this body' rises]?' [all] thoughts will disappear, and within the cave [the core of our being] self-knowledge will shine spontaneously as ‘I [am] I’. This alone is silence [the silent or motionless state of mere being], the one [non-dual] space [of infinite consciousness], the sole abode of [true unlimited] happiness.In preparation for the forthcoming publication of Happiness and the Art of Being as a printed book, I have expanded the two paragraphs that follow this verse (on page 154 of the present e-book version) as follows:
Monday, 26 February 2007
As I wrote in an earlier post, I apologise if I have not replied to any e-mail that you might have sent me, for the past one month I have had only intermittent access to the internet and to my e-mail, and I expect my access to continue being irregular for some time to come.
Before today, the last time I had access to the internet was eight days ago, and that was only for a few hours, so there are many e-mails that I have received during the past two weeks to which I have not yet had an opportunity to reply. Therefore if you have written to me during the last two weeks and have not yet received a reply from me, please accept my apologies. I will reply to all the e-mails that I have received as and when I have opportunity to do so.
However, the good news is that while I have not had access to the internet, I have been making good progress on the final revision of Happiness and the Art of Being in preparation for its forthcoming publication as a printed book, and while doing so, I have added several new explanations.
In preparation for the forthcoming publication of Happiness and the Art of Being as a printed book, I have expanded the final three paragraphs of chapter 2, 'Who am I?', (which are on pages 145-146 of the present e-book version) as follows:
Since none of these other tattvas [that is, none of the so-called tattvas or ontological principles other than our own essential self-conscious being] are real, neither they nor anything composed of them can be our true self, and therefore we should not waste our time and energy thinking about them, enumerating them, classifying them or examining their properties, but should ignore them entirely and instead attend only to our real 'I' — our fundamental and essential consciousness of our own true being. The only need we have to consider our body, our mind and all our other adjuncts is to understand the fact that they are unreal, and are therefore not 'I'.
Hence in verse 22 of Upadesa Undiyar Sri Ramana briefly states the essential conclusion that we should arrive at by means of the rational process of self-analysis, which in the ancients texts of advaita vedanta is called neti neti or 'not thus, not thus':
Since [our] body, mind, intellect, life and darkness [the seeming absence of knowledge that we experience in sleep] are all jada [inconscient] and asat [unreal or non-existent], [they are] not 'I', which is [chit or consciousness and] sat [being or reality].
Sunday, 18 February 2007
In continuation of my earlier posts Our imaginary sleep of self-forgetfulness or self-ignorance, Are we in this world, or is this world in us?, Our waking life is just another dream and Only the absolute clarity of true self-knowledge will put an end to all our dreams, the following is the fifth and final instalment of the additional matter that I plan to incorporate after the paragraph that ends on the first line of page 127 of my book, Happiness and the Art of Being:
In our present experience, the only thing that is real is our own self-consciousness, 'I am'. If we did not exist, we could not know our own existence, nor could we imagine the existence of anything else.
The one real basis of all our knowledge and all our experience is our own consciousness. When we say 'I know' or 'I experience', we imply 'I am conscious'. However, though we sometimes appear to be conscious of things other than ourself, our consciousness of those other things appears and disappears. Being impermanent, it is only relatively real.
Saturday, 17 February 2007
In continuation of my earlier posts Our imaginary sleep of self-forgetfulness or self-ignorance, Are we in this world, or is this world in us? and Our waking life is just another dream, the following is the fourth instalment of the additional matter that I plan to incorporate after the paragraph that ends on the first line of page 127 of my book, Happiness and the Art of Being:
In verse 1 of Ekatma Panchakam, after the first two clauses, "Having forgotten ourself" and "having thought '[this] body indeed is myself'", Sri Ramana adds a third clause, "having [thereby] taken innumerable births". What exactly does he mean by this? How actually do we "take innumerable births"?
As we have discussed earlier, our present waking life is actually just a dream that is occurring in our imaginary sleep of self-forgetfulness or self-ignorance. When we imaginarily ignore or forget our real self, which is infinite being, consciousness and happiness, we seemingly separate ourself from the perfect happiness that is our own self. Therefore until we reunite with our own reality, which is absolute happiness, we cannot rest, except during the brief but necessary interludes that we experience in sleep, death and other such states, in which our mind subsides in a state of temporary abeyance or inactivity.
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
In continuation of my earlier posts Our imaginary sleep of self-forgetfulness or self-ignorance and Are we in this world, or is this world in us?, the following is the third instalment of the additional matter that I plan to incorporate after the paragraph that ends on the first line of page 127 of my book, Happiness and the Art of Being:
In the eighteenth paragraph of Nan Yar? Sri Ramana says:
Except that waking is dirgha [long lasting] and dream is kshanika [momentary or lasting for only a short while], there is no other difference [between these two imaginary states of mental activity]. To the extent to which all the vyavahara [activities or occurrences] that happen in waking appear [at this present moment] to be real, to that [same] extent even the vyavahara [activities or occurrences] that happen in dream appear at that time to be real. In dream [our] mind takes another body [to be itself]. In both waking and dream thoughts and names-and-forms [the objects of the seemingly external world] occur in one time [that is, simultaneously].
In continuation of my earlier post Our imaginary sleep of self-forgetfulness or self-ignorance, the following is more of the additional matter that I plan to incorporate after the paragraph that ends on the first line of page 127 of my book, Happiness and the Art of Being:
After saying [in verse 1 of Ekatma Panchakam], "Having forgotten ourself", Sri Ramana says, "having thought '[this] body indeed is myself'", because our present imagination that we are this body arises as a result of our self-forgetfulness. If we clearly knew what we really are, we could not imagine ourself to be anything that we are not. Therefore we could not imagine ourself to be this body if we did not first imagine our seeming self-forgetfulness or lack of clarity of self-consciousness.
Whenever our mind becomes active, whether in waking or in dream, it first imagines itself to be a body, and then through the five senses of that imaginary body it perceives an imaginary world. Our mind cannot function without first limiting itself within the confines of an imaginary body, which it mistakes to be 'I'. Hence our mind is an intrinsically limited and therefore distorted form of consciousness.
Wednesday, 7 February 2007
This is a personal message to all friends who may have sent me an e-mail or tried to contact me in any other way during the last ten days or so.
I moved from my former apartment on 28th January, and since that time I have not had regular access to the internet and my e-mail. During this time I have received many e-mails and other messages, but I have not had an opportunity to reply to them, so if you have not received an acknowledgement for any message you may have sent me, I apologise.
Posted by Michael James at 10:20
Tuesday, 6 February 2007
Since many people have expressed a desire to have a printed copy of my book, Happiness and the Art of Being, I have recently been revising it carefully in preparation for its publication as a printed book. While doing so, I expect to add several new portions, discussing certain aspects of Sri Ramana's teachings in greater depth and detail.
As and when I write any such new additions, I plan to post them on this discussion forum.
The first significant addition that I am in the process of writing will be incorporated after the paragraph that ends on the first line of page 127 in the present e-book version, which is currently available for free download on the page Happiness and the Art of Being in my main website, www.happinessofbeing.com. Though I have so far completed only the first part of this first addition, I have decided to post it now, and to post the rest of the first addition later.
The following is this first part of the first addition:
Thursday, 25 January 2007
One confusion about self-enquiry that exists in the minds of many spiritual aspirants is that the practice of self-enquiry involves asking ourself or repeating to ourself the question 'who am I?' Therefore I often receive questions from aspirants that reflect this common misunderstanding.
For example, a new friend recently wrote to me as follows:
I am still trying to obtain a copy of The Path of Sri Ramana (Part One) translated by you. According to product description from Amazon.com product page of this book [at http://astore.amazon.com/powerfulspiri-20/detail/B000KMKFX0/103-0369146-2237457]:In my reply I wrote as follows:... Sri Sadhu Om makes it clear that the point of Self-inquiry is not repeating "Who am I?" and the point of Self inquiry is not repeating "To whom do these thoughts arise?". The purpose of Self-inquiry is Self-Awareness or Self-attention ...Is this correct observation? But from what I read from Sri Ramana Maharshi's books, basically Maharshi was saying "repeating 'Who am I?' or 'To whom do these thoughts arise?'" when doing self-inquiry? Is this conflicting? Actually, I feel "repeating 'Who am I?' or 'To whom do these thoughts arise?'" is quite awkward.
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
A new friend wrote to me recently saying that he was chronically ill, and he asked:
The body continuously distracts me with pain, breathing problems, foggy-headedness, etc. I was wondering if you had any advice that might be helpful for someone trying to practice self-enquiry with physical issues going on?In my reply I wrote as follows:
I know from experience how the condition of our physical body can affect our mind and can (at least to some extent) impede our ability to concentrate and be focussed. However, such impediments caused by our physical condition are only relative, and it is possible for us to rise above them, if we have a true and sincere love to do so.
Sunday, 21 January 2007
A friend wrote to me recently asking:
Every time that I bring my awareness to I AM, to BEING. Every time, I have this relaxing sensation in my body and a slight drowsiness. I just feel like closing my eyes, not talk, and feel an inner peace. I presume that with time I will be able to abide in this continuously ... Is that also your experience? Are there other "symptoms" that will appear? If I understood, in persevering, ultimately this will destroy the mind, and I will realize Self.The following is adapted from my reply:
There are no objective 'symptoms' or indicators of self-enquiry. In fact, any objective indicators only indicate that our self-scrutiny, self-attentiveness or self-consciousness is lacking in clarity and precision, because the state of true non-dual self-attentiveness, which is the correct practice of self-enquiry, is an absolutely non-objective experience.
Monday, 15 January 2007
With reference to my recent post The cognition of duality, the friend whose e-mail prompted me to write it replied as follows:
Thank you for your clarification. It is very nice. What I wanted to share is if one tries to understand how cognition takes place, it almost reveals the Truth. We generally take it for granted.In my reply I wrote as follows:
You are right. If we understand correctly how cognition takes place, our understanding will lead us back to the only reality in this whole process of cognition, which is our own consciousness. And when we carefully consider our own consciousness, we will understand that the cognising (object-knowing) aspect of it is transient and therefore not absolutely real. The only aspect of it that is permanent and therefore absolutely real is our fundamental consciousness of our own being, 'I am'.
Sunday, 14 January 2007
The question of whether we really need the physical presence of a jnani, someone who has attained true self-knowledge, in order for us to attain the experience of such true self-knowledge ourself, appears to trouble the minds of many spiritual aspirants. Since last weekend when I wrote the post Is a 'human guru' really necessary?, I have received e-mails from many people asking for further clarification on this subject. In one such e-mail a friend wrote:
Concerning the example of Lakshmana Swami and Saradamma: they maintain that the final surrender of the ego needs the help of the physical presence of a jnani. To mature to that threshold the personal sadhana is very necessary, they say. If this is so or not we have to await, haven't we? I could give many examples of very mature seekers in many traditions that can underline this; Bhagavan himself is an exception; he is unique in every regard.In my reply I wrote as follows:
Personally I feel dubious about the idea that the final surrender of the ego needs the help of the physical presence of a jnani. I have never heard that Sri Ramana or any other true sage has said so. It appears to me that this idea is based upon the wrong belief that a jnani is really the physical body that he or she appears to us to be. Please read what I have written in this regard in my recent posts, Where can we find the clarity of true self-knowledge? and 'Giving satsanga'.
Saturday, 13 January 2007
A friend recently wrote to me asking, "Do you give satsang?" In my reply I wrote as follows:
No, I do not "give satsang", because my understanding of this term is quite different to the sense in which it is commonly used nowadays. The word sat means 'being' or 'reality', and sanga means 'association', so the compound word satsanga means 'association with being'. Therefore, as Sri Ramana often explained, true satsanga is only the practice of self-attentiveness, which is the state in which we associate with our own real being.
By extension the word satsanga is also used to mean association with a jnani, someone who has attained true self-knowledge and who therefore abides just as being or sat. However true association with a jnani does not merely mean being in his or her physical presence, but means studying, reflecting upon and practising his or her teachings, since those teachings are what direct us towards the state of true being or sat.
With reference to my earlier post 'Awareness watching awareness', a friend wrote to me an e-mail which he concluded with the statement:
If the tricks of the ego are not dealt with and exposed in detail, all spiritual teachings end up serving the ego.The following is adapted from my reply to that e-mail:
I believe that this statement is very true. Our mind or ego is our only real enemy, and it plays so many tricks to continue its illusory existence. The sole purpose of all spiritual teachings is to expose the unreality of this impostor and all its progeny, our thoughts and this entire world of duality, all of which depend upon its dubious reality for their seeming existence.
Sri Ramana has taught us that the only way to expose the unreality of our mind or ego is to know our true self by scrutinising ourself. As he says in verse 17 of Upadesa Undiyar:
When [we] scrutinise the form of [our] mind without forgetfulness [interruption caused either by sleep or by thinking], [we will discover that] there is no such thing as 'mind' [separate from or other than our real self]. For everyone, this is the direct path [to true self-knowledge].
With reference to my article 'The Nature of Our Mind', which appeared in the latest issue of The Mountain Path and which is an extract from the third chapter of my book, Happiness and the Art of Being, a friend wrote expressing his difficulty in understanding how 'seeing' actually takes place in our mind, since 'seeing' depends upon our eyes, which are a part of our body, which is itself a part of the world that we see. In my reply I wrote as follows:
The simple truth is that everything other than our own real self, our non-dual consciousness of our own being, 'I am', is merely a product of our own imagination. Other than our real self, nothing truly exists. However, by our power of maya or self-delusion we imagine that we do not know our non-dual reality, and as a result of this seeming self-forgetfulness or self-ignorance we imagine this entire world of duality, multiplicity and relativity.
Our body, our eyes, the world that we see through our eyes, our act of seeing, and everything else — all these are imagined by us. That is, they are images or thoughts that we form in our mind by our power of imagination. When our mind subsides in sleep, they cease to appear, because they exist and are known only in our own mind. There is truly nothing outside our mind. Everything that we know, or ever can know, is a thought or mental image that we have formed in our own mind.