Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Is there more than one way in which we can investigate and know ourself?

A friend recently sent me an email in which he asked:
I had mentioned to you that in my view there appear to be three different approaches to self-investigation, i) self-enquiry, which involves asking who am I and going to the root of the I thought, ii) meditating on I am, excluding the arising of any thought, and concentrating on I am, and iii) trying to notice the gap between two thoughts, expanding the gap, and being without any thought, summa iru. You had replied that these are not three different approaches but constitute only one approach. Could you please elaborate your comment?
This article is adapted from the reply that I wrote to him.
  1. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 16: ātma-vicāra is only the practice of keeping one’s attention on oneself
  2. Our aim should be to destroy the illusion that we are this ego
  3. Upadēśa Undiyār verses 24 and 25: experiencing ourself without adjuncts is experiencing what we actually are
  4. To destroy our ego we must try to be attentively self-aware
  5. Being attentively self-aware is what is called vṛtti-jñāna
  6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: our ego rises and endures by attending to other things, so it will die only by attending to itself
  7. We can investigate and know what we actually are only by trying to be self-attentive
  8. Self-enquiry means investigating who am I, not merely asking who am I
  9. Since we alone are the source of our ego, investigating our source means investigating what we actually are
  10. Investigation entails meditation, but not every meditation entails investigation
  11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: our ego and its thoughts are mutually dependent
  12. Being attentively self-aware entails just being without any thought
  13. All we need to focus on is ourself, because we are thereby doing everything that Bhagavan instructed us to do
1. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 16: ātma-vicāra is only the practice of keeping one’s attention on oneself

When you say ‘there appear to be three different approaches to self-investigation’, what exactly do you mean by ‘approaches’? If you mean three different ways of practising self-investigation, that would be incorrect, because there is only one practice that can be called ātma-vicāra or ‘self-investigation’ in the sense in which Bhagavan used this term. As he said in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
[...] சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்; [...]

[...] sadā-kālam-um maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadaṟku-t tāṉ ‘ātma-vicāram’ eṉḏṟu peyar; [...]

[…] The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to [the practice of] keeping the mind always in [or on] ātmā [oneself]; […]
‘மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பது’ (maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadu) literally means ‘putting [placing, keeping or fixing] the mind in [or on] oneself’, so since in many languages, including both Tamil and English, putting or keeping one’s mind on something (for which in Tamil and some other languages the locative case is used in place of the English preposition ‘on’) is an idiomatic way of saying attending to that thing, what Bhagavan clearly implies in this sentence is that the term ātma-vicāra or ‘self-investigation’ means only the simple practice of keeping our attention fixed firmly on ourself. Therefore the only way to practise self-investigation is to try to be self-attentive as much as possible.

However, if what you mean by ‘three different approaches to self-investigation’ is three different angles from which one can come to this one practice, in the sense of three different ways in which one can conceptualise or describe it, then yes, there are a variety of different ‘approaches’ to it or ways in which it can be conceptualised and described. However, all the different angles from which one can approach it and ways in which it can be described are approaches to or descriptions of only one practice, namely the practice of simple self-attentiveness or ‘keeping [one’s] mind always on oneself’.

2. Our aim should be to destroy the illusion that we are this ego

Therefore, though Bhagavan made it clear that there is only one correct way to practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), he described this one practice in various different ways because there is more than one way in which it can be conceptualised. However, since this practice is not objective but purely subjective, in the sense that it entails being aware of nothing other than ourself alone, it is a state beyond thought and hence beyond the power of words to describe it, so he often said that no words can describe it adequately. Therefore whatever descriptions he gave of it were only clues or pointers, so it is up to each one of us to understand what his words were pointing at or indicating.

In order to understand his descriptions of this practice correctly, we need to consider them in the context of his entire core teachings. As he often explained, we are always self-aware, but in waking and dream we are aware not only of ourself but also of other things, and we become aware of other things only when we rise as an ego. Rising as an ego means becoming aware of ourself as something other than what we actually are, particularly a body, so he often said that what is called ‘ego’ is nothing other than the illusory awareness or experience ‘I am this body’.

Whenever we are aware of anything other than ourself, whether in waking or in dream, we are aware of ourself as a body, so since awareness of anything other than ourself is a thought or mental fabrication, the root of all thoughts is only this primal thought ‘I am this body’, which Bhagavan often referred to as the thought called ‘I’, which is our ego. Since this ego is a wrong knowledge or illusory experience of ourself, we can destroy it only by experiencing ourself as we actually are. Therefore the sole aim of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is to experience ourself as we actually are and thereby to destroy our ego, the illusory experience ‘I am this body’.

But how can we experience ourself as we actually are? We are always aware of ourself, so experiencing ourself as we actually are obviously does not entail becoming aware of anything that we are not already aware of. As Bhagavan often used to say, self-knowledge (ātma-jñāna) must be what we already experience, because if it were something that we do not experience now but will experience only at some point in the future, it would not be permanent, since whatever appears or comes will sooner or later disappear or go. Therefore, if ātma-jñāna is the eternal reality, it must exist and shine (that is, it must be experienced by us) even now.

What is called ātma-jñāna is therefore simply our ever-present self-awareness, so what is sometimes described as the attainment of ātma-jñāna is not actually an attainment of anything new but is only the removal of our seeming wrong knowledge or illusory experience of ourself as this ego. How then to remove or destroy this wrong knowledge of ourself?

3. Upadēśa Undiyār verses 24 and 25: experiencing ourself without adjuncts is experiencing what we actually are

This wrong knowledge of ourself, which is our ego or thought called ‘I’, is not a non-awareness of ourself, because we can never cease to be aware of ourself, since self-awareness (ātma-jñāna) is our very nature — what we actually are. It is just an awareness of ourself as something that is not actually ourself, namely a body, so it is a confused mixture of our real self-awareness and an illusory awareness of a body and other things. Therefore in order to remove or destroy our ego or wrong knowledge of ourself we need to separate our essential self-awareness from our non-essential awareness of a body and other things in order to experience our pure self-awareness alone, in complete isolation from even the slightest awareness of anything else.

Since we are always self-aware, self-awareness as such is not sufficient to destroy our ego. Indeed our ego could not rise or seem to exist if we were not self-aware, because it is a mixture of our real self-awareness and awareness of extraneous adjuncts such as a body. This awareness of extraneous adjuncts is what Bhagavan refers to as உபாதி உணர்வு (upādhi-uṇarvu) in verse 24 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
இருக்கு மியற்கையா லீசசீ வர்க
ளொருபொரு ளேயாவ ருந்தீபற
      வுபாதி யுணர்வேவே றுந்தீபற.

irukku miyaṟkaiyā līśajī varga
ḷoruporu ḷēyāva rundīpaṟa
      vupādhi yuṇarvēvē ṟundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: இருக்கும் இயற்கையால் ஈச சீவர்கள் ஒரு பொருளே ஆவர். உபாதி உணர்வே வேறு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): irukkum iyaṟkaiyāl īśa jīvargaḷ oru poruḷē āvar. upādhi-uṇarvē vēṟu.

English translation: By [their] existing nature, God and souls are only one substance. Only [their] awareness of adjuncts is different.
In this context īśa or ‘God’ means brahman, which is what we really are, whereas jīva or ‘soul’ means our ego, which is what we seem to be. Since brahman alone actually exists and since it is indivisible, in its view there is no awareness of adjuncts, whereas in the view of ourself as this ego there is awareness of adjuncts, so in the next verse Bhagavan says:
தன்னை யுபாதிவிட் டோர்வது தானீசன்
றன்னை யுணர்வதா முந்தீபற
      தானா யொளிர்வதா லுந்தீபற.

taṉṉai yupādhiviṭ ṭōrvadu tāṉīśaṉ
ḏṟaṉṉai yuṇarvadā mundīpaṟa
      tāṉā yoḷirvadā lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது தான் ஈசன் தன்னை உணர்வது ஆம், தானாய் ஒளிர்வதால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu tāṉ īśaṉ taṉṉai uṇarvadu ām, tāṉ-āy oḷirvadāl.

அன்வயம்: தானாய் ஒளிர்வதால், தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது தான் ஈசன் தன்னை உணர்வது ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ-āy oḷirvadāl, taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu tāṉ īśaṉ taṉṉai uṇarvadu ām.

English translation: Knowing [or experiencing] oneself leaving aside adjuncts is itself knowing God, because [he] shines as oneself.
‘தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது’ (taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu) literally means ‘Knowing oneself leaving aside adjuncts’, which implies being aware of ourself without being aware of anything else whatsoever. However, in order to destroy our ego, merely being aware of ourself alone is not sufficient, because though we are aware of ourself alone in sleep our ego is not thereby destroyed, so what Bhagavan means here by ‘knowing oneself leaving aside adjuncts’ is more than just being aware of ourself alone as we are in sleep.

4. To destroy our ego we must try to be attentively self-aware

As I mentioned earlier, self-awareness as such is not sufficient to destroy our ego, because we are always aware of ourself. To illustrate this, Bhagavan sometimes used to give the analogy of sunlight, the mere presence of which is not sufficient to burn a pile of cotton, but which will burn the cotton if it is focused by a magnifying lens into a sharp and intense point on it. Just as sunlight needs to be intensely focused in order to burn cotton, our ever-present self-awareness needs to be intensely focused in order to consume our ego.

How can we focus our ever-present self-awareness? Only by means of our power of attention or attentiveness. That is, though we are always self-aware, we are generally not attentively self-aware, because we are more interested in being aware of other things than we are in being aware of ourself alone, so our attention is usually directed away from ourself towards other things. Therefore in order to destroy our ego we must try to be attentively self-aware. That is, we must try to focus our entire attention on ourself alone.

Attention or attentiveness is a very powerful weapon, because it is also the only means by which we can know or experience anything (and hence it is the means by which we create the illusory appearance of this entire universe). What attention essentially is is our ability as this ego to select from a range of options what we want to be aware of at each moment, so it is a reflection or limited form of our cit-śakti (our power of awareness or consciousness), which is the supreme power of our real self.

When we remain as we really are, we are aware only of ourself (as we are in sleep), because there is actually nothing other than ourself that we could be aware of, but as soon as we rise as this ego, we become aware of many things other than ourself, so we are then free (at least to a limited extent) to choose which of those many things we want to be principally aware of at each moment. This ability to choose or select what we focus our awareness on is called attention.

Attention is therefore a function of our ego or mind and not of our actual self (ātma-svarūpa), because in the view of our actual self there is only one thing that we could ever be aware of, namely ourself. This is why we cannot be attentively self-aware when we are asleep, because in sleep our ego does not exist, and without our ego there is no attention, because nothing then exists except our pure self-awareness.

Though we are self-aware in waking and dream, as we are in sleep, and though we have the option and ability to be attentively self-aware, because our ego and its power of attention are then functioning, we are generally not attentively self-aware, because we are more interested in being aware of other things than we are in being aware of ourself alone, as we are in sleep. When Bhagavan advises us to try to be asleep while we are awake or dreaming, what he means is that we should try to be aware of ourself alone, and the only way in which we can be aware of ourself alone in waking or dream is by trying to be attentively self-aware. That is, instead of attending to and thereby being aware of anything else, we should try to attend to and thereby be aware of ourself alone, because only by being attentively aware of ourself alone (that is, only by focusing our entire awareness only on ourself) can we destroy the illusion that we are this ego, whose nature is to be always aware of something other than ourself.

5. Being attentively self-aware is what is called vṛtti-jñāna

As I explained in Our ego can be destroyed only by vṛtti-jñāna (self-attentiveness) (the thirteenth section of my previous article, Sleep is our natural state of pure self-awareness), in some ancients texts self-awareness is referred to as jñāna (in the sense of ātma-jñāna or svarūpa-jñāna) whereas the state in which it is intensely focused is called vṛtti-jñāna, and hence in such texts it is said that jñāna alone is not sufficient to destroy our ego, because it can be destroyed only by vṛtti-jñāna. In this context vṛtti-jñāna means ātma-vṛtti or self-attentiveness, which is the state in which our self-awareness is keenly focused by means of vigilant attentiveness.

The term vṛtti cannot be accurately translated into English, because there is no single term in English that conveys the same range of meanings, but in most cases in a spiritual context it means any mental activity or function and can therefore usually be translated as ‘thought’. In this particular context, however, it means attentiveness, because attentiveness is a function of our ego or mind and it is only by directing its attention away from itself that our ego forms or produces thoughts.

Self-attentiveness is sometimes described using terms such as svarūpa-dhyāna or ātma-cintanā, which are both terms that Bhagavan used in Nāṉ Yār? (in the tenth and thirteenth paragraphs respectively) and which mean meditating on or thinking of oneself, because we can meditate on or think of ourself only by directing our attention back towards ourself. Therefore just as svarūpa-dhyāna or ātma-cintanā both mean self-attentiveness, ātma-vṛtti also means self-attentiveness, and vṛtti-jñāna means attentive self-awareness (because in this context jñāna mean self-awareness). Therefore when it is said that our ego can be destroyed only by vṛtti-jñāna or ātma-vṛtti, what is meant it that it can be destroyed only by our being attentively self-aware.

6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: our ego rises and endures by attending to other things, so it will die only by attending to itself

One of the most fundamental and important principles of Bhagavan’s teachings is that by attending to anything other than ourself we are nourishing and sustaining our ego, whereas by attending only to ourself we will dissolve it, so the teaching in ancient texts that our ego can be destroyed only by vṛtti-jñāna is in perfect accord with this principle taught by Bhagavan, which he expresses particularly clearly and beautifully in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருப்பற்றி யுண்டா முருப்பற்றி நிற்கு
முருப்பற்றி யுண்டுமிக வோங்கு — முருவிட்
டுருப்பற்றுந் தேடினா லோட்டம் பிடிக்கு
முருவற்ற பேயகந்தை யோர்.

uruppaṯṟi yuṇḍā muruppaṯṟi niṟku
muruppaṯṟi yuṇḍumiha vōṅgu — muruviṭ
ṭuruppaṯṟun tēḍiṉā lōṭṭam piḍikku
muruvaṯṟa pēyahandai yōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும், உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை. ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum, uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai. ōr.

அன்வயம்: உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும். ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum. ōr.

English translation: Grasping form, the formless phantom-ego rises into being; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows [spreads, expands, increases, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form. If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight. Investigate [or know thus].
Since in this verse Bhagavan describes our ego as an உருவற்ற பேய் (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy) or ‘formless phantom’, what he implies by the term ‘உரு பற்றி’ (uru paṯṟi) or ‘grasping form’ is our ego grasping anything other than itself, and since our ego can ‘grasp’ anything only by attending to and thereby being aware of it, ‘grasping form’ means attending to anything other than ourself. Therefore, since this ego can rise and stand only by attending to other things, if it tries to attend to itself alone it will subside and disappear, which is what he implies here by saying ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), which means ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight’. This is why Bhagavan often said that we can destroy our ego only by means of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), by which term he means observing ourself or being self-attentive.

7. We can investigate and know what we actually are only by trying to be self-attentive

The purpose of any investigation is to gain knowledge about whatever is being investigated, and any investigation entails observation, because if we do not observe something we cannot obtain direct experiential knowledge of it. The basic tool that we must use to observe or investigate anything is our attention. To observe physical phenomena, we also need to use other instruments, such as one or more of our five senses, and in some cases we may also need to use further instruments such as a microscope or telescope, but whatever other instruments we may need to use to observe anything, we cannot use such instruments without using our most fundamental instrument, namely our power of attention.

In the case of trying to know ourself, we cannot use any instrument other than our attention to observe or investigate ourself, so self-investigation must entail being self-attentive. Unless we try to be attentively self-aware, we will not be able to know or experience ourself as we actually are, which is the aim and purpose of self-investigation.

Therefore if we carefully consider Bhagavan’s core teachings and the fundamental principles around which they are formed, as we have been doing above, it should be clear to us (1) that all our problems and shortcomings are caused only by our experiencing ourself as this ego, which is not what we actually are but merely what we seem to be; (2) that we can destroy this illusory ego only by experiencing ourself as we actually are; and (3) that we can experience ourself as we actually are and thereby destroy this ego only trying to be self-attentive or attentively self-aware. If we have clearly understood these fundamental principles taught by Bhagavan, it should be obvious to us that what he means by the term ātma-vicāra or ‘self-investigation’ is only trying to be vigilantly and steadfastly self-attentive — that is, attentively aware of ourself alone.

Obviously we cannot investigate ourself without attending to ourself, and if we attend to anything else we are not investigating ourself but only whatever other thing we are attending to. Therefore self-investigation must entail attending only to ourself and to nothing else whatsoever. If we have understood all this clearly and coherently, it will be obvious to us that there cannot be more than one way in which we can investigate ourself, and that that one way is simply to try to be self-attentive as much as possible.

Because our awareness of ourself is now mixed and confused with awareness of extraneous adjuncts and other things, when we begin to practise self-investigation most of us cannot immediately succeed in separating and experiencing our pure self-awareness alone, in complete isolation (kaivalya) from even the slightest awareness of anything else whatsoever, but this is what we should aim to experience whenever we investigate ourself. Therefore though our self-attentiveness is not yet perfect, being still mixed to a greater or lesser extent with awareness of other things, the practice of self-investigation entails nothing other than trying to be as perfectly self-attentive as possible.

Therefore, though Bhagavan described the practice of self-investigation in various different ways, each of his descriptions of it is just another way of describing this one practice — the practice of trying to be keenly self-attentive. Hence we should consider each of his descriptions of it to be another clue that he has given us in order to help us to cling to being attentively self-aware or to regain our self-attentiveness whenever we find that our attention has been distracted away towards anything else.

Therefore, if understood correctly, what you described in your email as ‘three different approaches to self-investigation’ are not actually different practices but only different descriptions of the same one practice of trying to be attentively self-aware. To make this clear, let us consider each of the three descriptions you gave.

8. Self-enquiry means investigating who am I, not merely asking who am I

The first description you gave was ‘self-enquiry, which involves asking who am I and going to the root of the I thought’. The first point to clarify here is that the practice that Bhagavan advised was not merely to ask who am I but was only to investigate who am I, and there is obviously a big difference between investigating who we are and asking ourself who we are. We cannot experience what we actually are merely by asking ourself the question ‘who am I?’ but only by investigating ourself experientially.

We can understand this with the help of a simple analogy. Suppose Bhagavan had advised us to investigate what is written in a particular book. We obviously cannot find out what is written in it merely by asking ourself ‘what is written in this book?’ No matter how many times we may ask ourself this question, we cannot know what is written in it unless we open it to see what is written there. Likewise, no matter how many times we may ask ourself the question ‘who am I?’, we cannot know what we are unless we look carefully at ourself to see or experience what we actually are. Looking carefully at ourself is what is called self-investigation or investigating who am I.

To use another analogy, suppose you notice some unidentified object and you want to know what it is. Merely asking yourself ‘what is it?’ will not help you to know what it is. Only if you go closer to it and look at it very carefully will you be able to find out what it is. For example, if the unidentified object is something that looks like a snake but is actually only a rope, you will be able to see what it actually is only by carefully observing or inspecting it. Likewise, what we now seem to be is a finite ego, but we will be able to see what we actually are only by carefully observing or inspecting ourself, and such observation or inspection is what is called investigating who am I.

9. Since we alone are the source of our ego, investigating our source means investigating what we actually are

The second part of your first description is ‘going to the root of the I thought’, but this again is not quite how Bhagavan described this practice. The ‘I thought’ or thought called ‘I’ is our ego, which is the root of all our other thoughts, so what we need to know is not some other root of this root, but only the source from which this root has sprouted. The source from which we sprouted or rose as this ego is obviously just ourself, because other things come into existence only when we rise as this ego (as Bhagavan taught us, for example, in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam), so there is nothing other than ourself from which our ego could have arisen.

Therefore when Bhagavan advised us to investigate, seek or look for the source or place from which our ego or thought called ‘I’ has arisen, what he meant is that we should try to experience or be aware of what we actually are. Hence the only means by which we can go to or find the source of our ego is by carefully observing ourself in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are. Therefore, as I explained in one of my earlier articles, There is no difference between investigating ‘who am I’ and investigating ‘whence am I’, investigating from where this ego has arisen is just an alternative way of describing the practice of self-investigation or investigating what we actually are.

10. Investigation entails meditation, but not every meditation entails investigation

The second description that you gave of this practice of self-investigation was ‘meditating on I am, excluding the arising of any thought, and concentrating on I am’. Since ‘I’ is a pronoun that refers only to ourself, and since ‘am’ is a verb that expresses the existence of ourself, ‘meditating on I am’ obviously means meditating on ourself, which entails directing our attention only towards ourself and not towards any other thing. Therefore ‘meditating on I am’ is obviously just another way of describing the simple practice of self-attentiveness or being attentively self-aware.

Since no thought can arise unless we attend to it, thoughts arise only when we allow our attention to go away from ourself, so the only effective way to exclude the arising of any thought is to direct all our attention back towards ourself alone. Therefore ‘meditating on I am’ or ‘concentrating on I am’ necessarily entails ‘excluding the arising of any thought’, so this second description of yours (or ‘approach’, as you call it) is only an alternative description of the practice of being exclusively self-attentive.

Though Bhagavan sometimes described this practice of self-investigation as ‘meditating on oneself’ or ‘meditating on I (or I am)’, using terms such as svarūpa-dhyāna or ātma-cintanā (as he did, for example, in the tenth and thirteenth paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?), he described it more often as an investigation than as a meditation, and he had a good reason for doing so, because we cannot investigate anything without meditating on it (in the sense of observing or attending to it), but we can meditate on something without investigating it, so every investigation entails meditation, but not every meditation entails investigation.

For example, if we meditate on a name or form of God, we are not investigating it, because investigation is meditation done with a particular purpose or intention, namely the intention to find out, discover or know more about whatever we are meditating upon. If we meditate on a name or form of God, our purpose or intention would probably be to express our love for him, or it could be in the hope that we will thereby gain some benefit from him, and if we meditate on our breathing or on some particular point in our body, our intention may be to develop our power of concentration, to control our thoughts or whatever, so such meditation is not an investigation or attempt to gain knowledge about the object on which we are meditating.

When we investigate ourself, on the other hand, we are meditating on ourself in order to know what we actually are. Therefore the reason why Bhagavan emphasised that this practice is an investigation is that we should not consider it to be merely an exercise in concentration or an attempt to ward off all other thoughts, because our sole aim and purpose should be to experience ourself as we actually are.

Therefore though self-investigation does entail meditating on ourself, it is quite unlike most other practices that are called meditation, because when we turn our attention back towards ourself we are attempting directly to experience what we actually are. This is why Bhagavan described this practice of meditating on ‘I’ or ‘I am’ as investigating who am I.

11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: our ego and its thoughts are mutually dependent

The final description you gave of this practice was ‘trying to notice the gap between two thoughts, expanding the gap, and being without any thought, summa iru’. What exactly is ‘the gap between two thoughts’, and what exists in that gap? Sleep is a good example of this gap, so what we experience in any gap between two thoughts is exactly what we experience in sleep, namely ourself alone, and neither any more nor any less than that. Therefore ‘trying to notice the gap between two thoughts’ means trying to experience ourself in waking or dream as we experience ourself in sleep.

Thinking is a process of forming and simultaneously experiencing thoughts, but though we speak of forming and experiencing thoughts as if they were two separate parts of this process, they are actually one and the same, because we form thoughts only by experiencing or being aware of them. What forms and experiences thoughts is only ourself as this ego, so no thought can arise without this ego.

However, as Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, this ego can rise and endure only by ‘grasping form’, which means by forming and experiencing thoughts, so just as no thought can arise or stand without this ego, this ego cannot arise or stand without any other thoughts. This ego and its thoughts are therefore mutually dependent, as indicated by him 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.
This ego itself is just a thought, because it can rise and stand only by grasping the form of a body as itself, and any body that it grasps as itself is just a thought that it forms and experiences within itself. Therefore, to emphasise that this ego is only a thought, Bhagavan often referred to it as the thought called ‘I’ or ‘I am this body’, and because it is the thought that forms and experiences all other thoughts, he said that it is the root of all thoughts.

Therefore ‘the gap between two thoughts’ is not just a gap between any two consecutive other thoughts, but also a gap between two consecutive risings of this ego. In this gap no thought — neither our ego nor any other thought — can exist, so what exists and is experienced in any such gap is only ourself, whose nature is pure self-awareness. Therefore ‘trying to notice the gap between two thoughts’ means trying to be aware only of ourself, and ‘expanding the gap’ means trying to cling to our pure self-awareness so firmly that we do not become aware of anything else. Hence this final description that you give is yet another description of exactly the same practice, namely trying to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

12. Being attentively self-aware entails just being without any thought

In the final part of this final description you say ‘being without any thought, summa iru’, which amounts to the same thing, because if we are attentively aware of ourself alone, no other thought can arise (since thoughts can arise only if we attend to them and are thereby aware of them), and because being attentively aware of ourself alone is not an action or ‘doing’ of any sort but only our natural state of just being (summā iruppadu). Attending to anything other than ourself is an action or karma, because it entails a movement of our mind or attention away from ourself towards that other thing, whereas being attentively aware of ourself alone is not an action, because it does not entail any movement of our mind or attention away from ourself. Therefore what is called ‘just being’ (summā iruppadu) is only the state in which our mind or ego remains merged in ourself, as Bhagavan says in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
சும்மா விருப்பதாவது மனத்தை ஆன்மசொரூபத்தில் லயிக்கச் செய்வதே.

summā-v-iruppadāvadu maṉattai āṉma-sorūpattil layikka-c ceyvadē.

What ‘just being’ (summā-v-iruppadu) is is only making the mind dissolve in ātma-svarūpa [our own actual self].
However, when this state of ‘just being’ or being attentively self-aware is described as ‘being without any thought’, we should not mistake ‘being without any thought’ to be our aim, because even in sleep we are without any thought but our ego is not thereby destroyed. Being aware of ourself alone is being without any thought, as we are in sleep, but (as I explain in several of my recent articles, such as Why is it necessary to be attentively self-aware, rather than just not aware of anything else? and Sleep is our natural state of pure self-awareness) in order to destroy our ego we must not only be aware of ourself alone but must be attentively aware of ourself alone. As I explain above (in section 5), being attentively self-aware is what is called vṛtti-jñāna, and as Bhagavan often explained, it is the only means by which our ego can be destroyed.

Therefore though Bhagavan explained the practice of self-investigation in a variety of different ways, what he was actually describing in each of these ways was only this one practice of trying to be attentively aware of ourself alone, because there is no other means by which our illusion that we are this ego can be dissolved and annihilated.

13. All we need to focus on is ourself, because we are thereby doing everything that Bhagavan instructed us to do

After I wrote the above reply to my friend, he replied saying, ‘There are so many explanations or interpretations of Bhagavan’s teaching that one gets confused’, and he explained that because of the confusing explanations he has read in various books and articles he is never sure what he should focus on when he sits down to practise self-enquiry: whether on investigating who am I, meditating on ‘I am’, pushing aside thoughts as they arise, trying to be still, without any thought, or focusing on who is the thinker of the thoughts as they arise. I therefore replied:

All you need to focus on is yourself, who are what is aware of everything else, and who is the only thing you are aware of in each one of your three states (waking, dream and sleep). If you focus on or become aware of anything you are not aware of in sleep, that is something other than yourself, so you should then try to turn you attention back towards yourself, who are aware of it.

This is what Bhagavan clearly implied in the sentence from the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? that I quoted at the beginning of my previous reply:
சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்.

sadā-kālam-um maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadaṟku-t tāṉ ‘ātma-vicāram’ eṉḏṟu peyar.

The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to [the practice of] keeping the mind [one’s attention] always on oneself.
This is such a clear and simple instruction, and it tells us all that we need to know in order to practice ātma-vicāra: just try to fix your mind or attention on yourself.

Everything else that Bhagavan said about this practice is just clues to help us keep our attention on ourself. For example, if you try to focus all your attention only on yourself, that is the correct way to do everything else that you mentioned, namely to investigate who am I, to meditate on ‘I am’, to push aside thoughts as they arise, to be still, without any thought, and to focus on who is the thinker.

Other thoughts can rise only if we allow our attention to slip away from ourself, so as long as our attention is focused only on ourself, no other thoughts can rise. Therefore if we become aware of any other thought (that is, anything other than ourself), that means that our attention has slipped away from ourself, so we should draw it back to ourself, thereby ending (or ‘pushing aside’) whatever other thoughts had arisen.

Moreover, since our mind is active only when we are attending to other thoughts, we can truly be still (or just be, summā iru) only if we attend to ourself alone. Thus whatever Bhagavan instructed us to do can be done properly only by our attending to ourself alone, so please do not be misled by anyone who advises us to do anything other than just trying to be self-attentive.

278 comments:

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Algeciras said...

Venkat,
thanks for your reply.
But my question is not answered satisfactorily.

Thutmosis said...

Venkat,
thank you for your response.
However, your explanation does not resolve the supposed contradiction (fully).

Wittgenstein said...

Algeciras,

When you doubt the reality of all the items you have listed (let us call this collection of items simply as ‘world’), you cannot take one of those items as a witness to prove the reality of the rest of the items.

If you press on with the argument, consider this further: you cannot find anything independent of the world to supply the required evidence of existence of the world. Because, anything independent that you set up before you go sleep (like your camera) would also be part of the world whose reality you are questioning. Suppose, upon waking, you ran the tape in the camera and saw the part of the world recorded in that and you accepted the reality of the world. If so, what new proof does the camera provide that was not there before you went to sleep? You anyway saw them before you went to sleep!

Consider this further: if the world were independent of you, why were you, as an observer not aware of it (assuming you are not denying your existence during sleep)? Are not the senses in your body and the body as a whole part of the world? Therefore, they should have worked (as the world was assumed to be there) in that case to reveal the world. Why did that not happen, while you existed (that is, conscious of your existence)?

Have you ever seen or experienced the world when you do not experience yourself as a physical body called Algeciras? Therefore, it is clear that whenever the feeling, ‘I am this body called Algeciras’ (the ego) appears, the world too appears. When that feeling (the ego) disappears (as in sleep), the world too disappear. Still you remain in sleep, but not as the physical body.

Algeciras said...

Wittgenstein,
thank you for your reply.
To avoid any misunderstanding please do read my question exactly. I think you have misunderstood my question. I did not "doubt the reality of all the items" I have listed. In the contrary I tried to maintain the continued existence of that listed items during the absence of the ego in sleep. I merely doubted the literal correctness of the statement 'if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist'.
The listed items seem to exist despite of the non-existence of the ego in sleep.
That was the reason why I expressed my opinion that a film could easily testify the continued existence of the items. You agree with me on the point that the camera has no ego. But I admit that the existence of the items may be only a seeming one. I did not claim the absolute reality of that listed items.
That the ego-bound perceiving mechanism has never seen or experienced the world when I did not experience myself as a physical body called Algeciras as in sleep is in no way surprising. Rather as you say the world experience is only possible when the perceiving mechanism of the ego called Algeciras is working in waking and dreaming.
But on my level of experience - as I tried to claim - the world does not at all disappear in the absence of the ego as in sleep. However, only perceiving the world ceases when the ego disappears. Therefore I confidently draw the conclusion:
In contrast to the process of sense-perceiving of the world,
the world itself has never ceased or does never cease to exist apparently/seemingly.
But of course I humbly do not put my experience on a level with the experience of our incomparable Sri Ramana Arunachala.

venkat said...

Algeciras,

The issue here is that you don't know the world if you (ego) are not there to perceive the world. Yes, a camera can take a film of the world whilst you are sleeping. But you only see the camera, and its evidence of the world, when you are awake. So what Bhagavan is saying is that whenever you see the world, it is based on the evidence of your senses. And to roll back from this, the sense perceptions are only see as images in your mind. And the mind is witnessed by consciousness. So, you cannot be CERTAIN that the images that flow across your consciousness represent an actual body-world outside of consciousness; it is just an assumption. They could be an elaborate dream that is appearing to consciousness.

Bhagavan says that the only thing of which we can be certain is that we exist and we are consciousness. What it is that exists and is conscious is the subject of his vichara, self-investigation.

Sivanarul said...

Wittgenstein,

Thank you for your latest comment. Yes, having Bhagavan (at least part of one's life) is a great boon. In time, his teachings start to percolate in day to day activities even in mundane things. Thanks again for all your comments and help.

Venkat,

I don't think I said Vedanta implies that all paths lead to Moksha. I think I said Sanatana Dharma says so. As you are well aware, Sanatana Dharma is a much bigger tent that has Vedanta as one of it's occupants along with other illustrious traditions. I was recently reading portions of Yoga Sutras of Sri Patanjali and was struck by the close similarity it has to Bhashyas written by Sri Shankara. Anyone who understands these 5 obstacles and works towards removing them, even though they are following Raja Yoga as per Patanjali, we could say they are simultaneously following Jnana Yoga too, because what else is Jnana Yoga other than piercing through Avidya and "realizing" that we were never bound.

2.3 There are five kinds of coloring (kleshas): 1) forgetting, or ignorance about the
true nature of things (avidya), 2) I-ness, individuality, or egoism (asmita), 3)
attachment or addiction to mental impressions or objects (raga), 4) aversion to
thought patterns or objects (dvesha), and 5) love of these as being life itself, as well as fear of their loss as being death.
(avidya asmita raga dvesha abhinivesha pancha klesha)

Sivanarul said...

Continuation of post to Venkat..

Notice how the the following from the Yoga sutras of Sri Patanjali are strikingly similar to Jnana teachings and writings:

2.4 The root forgetting or ignorance of the nature of things (avidya) is the breeding ground for the other of the five colorings (kleshas), and each of these is in one of four states: 1) dormant or inactive, 2) attenuated or weakened, 3) interrupted or
separated from temporarily, or 4) active and producing thoughts or actions to varying
degrees.
(avidya kshetram uttaresham prasupta tanu vicchinna udaranam)

2.5 Ignorance (avidya) is of four types: 1) regarding that which is transient as eternal, 2) mistaking the impure for pure, 3) thinking that which brings misery to bring happiness, and 4) taking that which is not-self to be self.
(antiya ashuchi duhkha anatmasu nitya shuchi sukha atman khyatih avidya)

venkat said...

Sivanarul, apologies I made the assumption that you were talking of advaita vedanta rather than the other schools of hinduism.

I have not had a chance to read Patanjali, or the other schools. Bhagavan, as you know, said all religions at their essence point in the same direction.

However, Bhagavan when he read advaita vedanta, said that it accorded with his own experience. Hence his appreciation of Mandukyakarika and his translation of Sankara's Vivekachudamani. So one may surmise that jnana yoga was for him the main path to moksha.

However, in Maharishi's Gospel he says
"The eternal unbroken, natural state of abiding the Self is jnana. To abide in the Self, you must love the Self. Since God is verily the Self, love of the Self is love of God; and that is bhakti, Jnana and bhakti are thus one and the same."

Algeciras said...

Venkat,
what I tried to uncover is that we must differentiate between
percieving the world and the abstract being of a world.
The reality of a world does not depend on the quality of sense perceptions of any waking observer. The evidence of our senses are not fundamentally and on principle wrong. We don’t have any reason to believe that all sense perceptions are in any case only illusion.
I did not maintain that there is actually a „body-world outside of consciousness".
I only did refer to the literal correctness of the statement 'if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist' in order to grasp the correct meaning of that verse.
By the way : Nothing can exist outside of consciousness because (pure) consciousness is all what exists. Even the uncertainty and unreliability of our sense perceptions and all "images in the mind" remain in the sphere of consciousness. Even now our commenting takes place not outside of consciousness.

Wittgenstein said...

Algeciras,

I am sorry for having misunderstood your question. Before I take up the conclusion, if I stick with the premise, I read you as follows:

“[…] the world does not at all disappear in the absence of the ego as in sleep. However, only perceiving the world ceases when the ego disappears”.
As I see, you seem to bring in two things which you think are independent of each other.

(1) The world
(2) Perception of the world

This is how I see them: they are not independent. In fact, they are one and the same. According to me, there is no world apart from the perception of it through five senses. If it is, then in what sense do I know it in the absense of senses?

Algeciras said...

Wittgenstein,
getting to the heart of the matter :
maybe the world is only an other name of consciousness.
Considering the assertion of the sages that only one consciousness does really exist
your statement that perceiving the world and the world itself are not independent of each other but one and the same would be correct.
But according the principles of inductive logic as Venkat referred in his comment nr.199 of yesterday at 10:42 :
To know no world in the temporary absence of the function of the senses as in sleep does not provide any conclusive proof of the non-existence of a world as I have listed the mentioned items.
Of course always may doubt the reliability of the thought process and hence of any logic.
In spite of my trusting to the truth of Sri Ramana's teachings to check the content of them if they may agree with my experience of life I cannot do without this help.

Anonymous said...

In response to Algeciras comments, I would like to add the following in his support:
In Avasthatraya arguments adavnced by Ramana Maharshi, he says that in deep sleep state, the body and world "do not exist" and upon waking they are projected again by one's mind. So, the question arises, do the body and world not exist only for the sleeping ego or they do not exist period - Raman seems to imply the latter. I feel there is one evidence that we can bring to bear to show that the body and the world exist even when I sleep. Of course, as Ramana points out, I can get such evidence only after I wake up. However, let us suppose the following scenario: I decide to watch my friend go to sleep. I sit by his bedside as he slips under the covers and slowly drifts into sleep. Later he wakes up after say a couple of hours. I ask him if he slept. He says yes, and also that he had a dream. Now, he may not believe from my testimony that his body and the world existed when he slept, but I know for a certain fact that it did because I was with him before he slept, while he was sleeping the whole time and after he woke up. Although I may not be able to convince him about it, but I can certainly extrapolate and infer (which is a reasonably good inference given that I am not different from him) that pretty much the same thing would happen if I were to go to sleep and he sat in watch by my bedside - analogous, don't you think? Of course, the crucial assumption I am making is that the others I see in my waking life are similar human beings like me, which is quite a reasonable assumption, don't you think? So, wouldn't one have to admit the existence of one's body and the world even in one's deep sleep, though they do not exist for the sleeping individual?
D. Samarender Reddy

who? said...

Algeciras,

I try to answer the doubts that you have raised in this thread. I here use the word 'world' to refer to everything that we are aware of as being other than ourself. I will refer to our daily experience of waking and sleep; the arguments i put forth can be checked independently by the reader.

There is no proof of the existence of a world independent of the ego who seems to be part of it. This is validated by our experience of sleep; though we are clearly aware of our own existence, we are not aware of the existence of the world. If the world were existing independent of our ego, what prevented its being to be known to us while we were aware of nothing other than our self in sleep?. That there is no mind or sense organs in sleep, is no reason for the world not being seen, if it exists independent of the sense organs and the mind.

Thus, the reality of the world is doubtful at best, is a conclusion that we arrive at, after pursuing these lines of thought.

This itself is the utmost that we can do intellectually. Bhagavan did not intend that we should assert the unreality of the world while we are a part of it. If we do so, then we'll be fooling ourselves, since in our current waking state, this world is seemingly real.

The purpose of this teaching (especially of verses 25 and 26 of Ulladhu Narpadu) is that we should give up all thoughts about this possibly non-existent world, by turning our attention to the one whose existence in every state of experience we cannot doubt - our own self.

Wittgenstein said...

Algeciras,

While the question was about independence of world and its perception, you have now added a new thought into the discussion by saying, "maybe the world is only an other name of consciousness". I am sorry I am lost here. Why suddenly consciousness?

To see the mutual dependence of world and its perception (by the ego), in my opinion no principles of inductive logic is required. Its our everyday experience. By the way, which of the principles in inductive logic was meant is unknown to me.

Who?,

The arguments in the second paragraph of your comment - I have earlier presented that to Algeciras. However, Algeciras very clearly told me in one of his replies he does not doubt the reality of the world. Therefore, as far I see it, it is not about the question of reality of the world. In more sophisticated terms, he is taking first two elements in the triad world-ego-god and saying they are independent. I say they are mutually dependent, as they rise and set together, as evident in our everyday experience.

In my opinion, if we want to jump from independence of the elements of the triad to the reality of the triad itself, we should discuss how these two ideas are related. As Algeciras is not interested in that, I do not want to complicate it.

madman said...

Algeciras,
Whether the world is real or unreal, there must be someone to discuss the matter. But after all, what do you mean by word such as "world", "real" and "unreal" ? It would be wise first to give a definition of what is the world. Then what is the world ? You can only say something like "this is what I see when I am awake", can't you ? Therefore, before trying to debate about the reality or unreality of the world, woudn't it be wise first to know the truth about the one who sees it ? Then, try first to elucidate the truth about you. DO IT HERE AND NOW, there is no time for discussion because death is coming soon.

Algeciras said...

Anonymous signed with name D.Samarender Reddy,
maybe there is a typo in the fifth line:
What means ..."do not exist period" ?
Do you mean "periodically" ?
I cannot comprehend/understand the word which Ramana Maharshi is believed to have said(if it is correctly reported):
"In deep sleep state the body and the world do not exist and upon waking they are projected again by one's mind".
Regarding the question which has arisen to you:"Do the body and world not exist only for the sleeping ego or they do not exist..." I can only answer from the view of my experience: In the state of the sleeping ego because of the then absence of the ego along with its equipment of any perception of course there is no perception at all neither of a body nor of the world.
What you ask in the last sentence of your comment is the very thought which I think about the matter.
I am really sorry that I cannot grasp Sri Ramana's experience.

Algeciras said...

who ?
as I mentioned already in my reply to Venkat yesterday at 22:34:
perceiving (or knowing) the world is not the same as the abstract being of a world.
Do we really think that the world has not existed during collapsing unconscious ?
I do not.
Your question "If the world were existing independent of our ego, what prevented the being of the world to be known to us while we were aware of nothing other than our self in sleep ?" is missing the point just saying „to be known to us“ .
As you say in the first paragraph of your comment you use the word ‚world‘ to refer to everything that we are aware of as being other than ourself.
It is just impossible to know a world while you are aware of nothing other than yourself in sleep. Does not from the start the one exclude the other ? They are mutually exclusive.
Apart from this: A filmcamera as an objective impartial unbiased witness would show that there was not at all any interruption in the appearance of the world.
When it may be true to say "There is no proof of the existence of a world independent of the ego who seems to be a part of it" then it may also not wrong to say that the suspension of the function of the ego in sleep does not
prevent the constant appearance of the world although not to the same observer.
However, particularly I have to thank you for all the eludication which you wrote in the last three paragraphs. I fully agree in that points. Turning our attention to the one whose existence in every state of experience we cannot doubt – our own self - is the main and mere purpose of Sri Ramana‘s teachings.
Arunachala

Algeciras said...

Wittgenstein,
can there be anything outside of consciousness ?
No. Therefore the world is nothing but consciousness.
Regarding the maintained mutual dependence of world and its perception:
If a blind man would make a complaint to you about the non-existence of the sun
would you agree with him telling that there is not at all a sun ?
Sorry about seeming to jump to much between some ideas if related or not.
Mainly I felt some doubt and lacking congruence with my own experience about the consequence of the clause "...if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist".
By the way I have to admit that I am not well-versed in the principles of inductive logic.

Algeciras said...

madman,
I only wanted to resolve my doubt about the consequence of the clause "...if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist". There was not at all any intention to debate whether the world is real or unreal(square or round). Nevertheless thank you for your advice.
I share your opinion to know first the truth about myself.
By the way, death (of the ego) is not coming soon but is going on every night.

R Viswanathan said...

Both Sri Michael James and Sri David Godman often indicated that Bhagavan's words themselves have the greatest power to make one understand his teachings straight into one's heart. Therefore, if I can suggest to Algeciras, please go through Bhagavan's Ulladhu Narpadhu verses 3 to 7 a few times to obtain clarification for your questions. Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai, pdf version which can be downloaded from Sri Michael James' main web site (www.happinessofbeing.com/Sri_Ramanopadesa_Noonmalai.pdf) gives word by word translation as well brief explanation.

I reproduce below the English translation from this book for the verses 3 to 7.

3) ‘The world is real’, ‘(No, it is) an unreal appearance’; ‘the world is sentient’, ‘It is not’; ‘the world is happiness’, ‘It is not’ – what is the use of arguing thus in vain? Having given up the world and having known oneself, both one and two (duality) having come to an end – that state in which ‘I’ has ceased to exist is agreeable to all.

4) If oneself is a form composed of flesh, the world and God will be likewise (that is, they will also be forms); if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms, and how? Can the sight (that which is seen) be otherwise than the eye (the seer)? Self, the (real) eye is the limitless eye (the eye which is devoid of the limitation of name and form).

5) If we scrutinize, the body is a form (composed) of five sheaths (pancha-kosas). Therefore, all the five (sheaths) are included in the term ‘body’ (that is, any of the five sheaths may be denoted when we use the term ‘body’). Without the body, does the world exist? (That is, in the absence of any of the five sheaths, does any world, subtle or gross, exist?) Say, is there anyone who, having given up the body, (that is, having given up identifying the body as ‘I’, as in sleep, death or Self-realization), has seen the world?

6) The world which is seen is nothing other than the form of the five sense-knowledges (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch). Those five sense- knowledges are sensations (known) to the five sense-organs. Since the one mind (or the mind alone) knows the world through the five sense-organs, say, without the mind does the world exist? (That is, in the absence of the mind which perceives it, does any such thing as a world exist? Hence the world depends for its seeming existence upon the mind.)

7) Although the world, which is (seen) in front (of us), and the mind (which sees it) rise (appear or come into existence) and subside (disappear or cease to exist) simultaneously, the world (exists and) shines (only) because of (or by) the mind. That which is the Whole (purna) and which shines without appearing and disappearing as the base for the appearance and disappearance of the world and mind, alone is the Reality.
Note : The world and mind are unreal because they appear at one time and disappear at another time, and because they are divided as separate entities. Only that which shines eternally without appearing and disappearing, and which is a single undivided Whole, is the Reality. Just as the rope is the base on which the unreal snake appears and disappears, so the eternal and undivided Reality is the base on which the unreal world and mind appear and
disappear.

Wittgenstein said...

Algeciras,

You say world is nothing but consciousness. I do not see it so. In sleep there is consciousness but no world. So they cannot be the same.

Regarding the blind man and sun, to the items you had listed earlier in your comment on 5 December 2015 at 20:58 (the piece of land, the monkeys, dogs, etc.) you have added two more new items, namely, a blind man and the sun. This we discussed already. So, I am afraid, there is nothing new here for further consideration.

If you don't mind, I would suggest one thing. You may kindly look into the book written by Michael at http://www.happinessofbeing.com/happiness_art_being.html (you may download the whole book for free). I would suggest chapter 3 of the book (http://www.happinessofbeing.com/hab-ch03.html). The chapter is pretty long (about 50 pages in the downloadable PDF copy). If you read it through, you may get your answers clarified by Michael himself.

Wittgenstein said...

Algeciras,

Please forgive me for being too intrusive.

I just forgot to write Michael's book is also available in Spanish (in addition to Czech, Italian and French) and may be downloaded from http://www.happinessofbeing.com/La_Felicidad_y_El_Arte_de_Ser.pdf.

Algeciras said...

Wittgenstein,
thanks for your kind suggestion to study Michael's book Happiness of Being.
I will do it meticolously in the earliest possible time.
Spanish is only the chosen identity for comment on that article.

Algeciras said...

R Viswanathan
Thank you for your suggestion to go repeatedly through Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai verses 3 to 7 to obtain clarification for my questions.
Thanks also for providing a reproduction of the English translation of them.
However, I am afraid that after studying them carefully my mind will put further questions when it cannot comprehend Sri Ramana’s experience.
Regarding the maintained statement that nothing / no world do exist in the absence of the ego the following examples may be considered:
Because the bird ostrich hides/sticks its head in the sand it does not perceive a world. Can it wisely conclude that it cannot be seen by other beings and that there is no danger (no world) at all ?
Because the owl is awake only in the night time it does not see the sun.
Does that behaviour really entitle it to claim that there is no sun at all ?

Kambyses said...

R Viswanathan,
Wittgenstein,
I regrete that my state of cognition is in a similar misty condition like the Spanish Algeciras:
1. I enter the state in which ‚I‘ has ceased to exist only in sleep.
2. My mind is dominated by the limitation of name and form.
3. My seeing is totally lacking for the limitless eye.
4. I have not given up the world.
5. I have not given up identifying the body as 'I' - apart from sleep.
6. I do not know from own experience - apart from sleep - how to remain in the absence of the world perceiving mind.

who? said...

Algeciras

From reading your comments, i gather that you are finding it difficult to comprehend what Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Ulladhu Narpadu in contradistinction to your own experience.
However, upon a deeper perusal of that verse, we can understand that it does align perfectly with our experience.

You say that "When it may be true to say "There is no proof of the existence of a world independent of the ego who seems to be a part of it" then it may also not wrong to say that the suspension of the function of the ego in sleep does not prevent the constant appearance of the world although not to the same observer." ; "A filmcamera as an objective impartial unbiased witness would show that there was not at all any interruption in the appearance of the world." , "If a blind man would make a complaint to you about the non-existence of the sun would you agree with him telling that there is not at all a sun ?" , "Because the bird ostrich hides/sticks its head in the sand it does not perceive a world. Can it wisely conclude that it cannot be seen by other beings and that there is no danger (no world) at all ?".

From these, it is evident that you contend that though the world ceases to appear to a sleeping person, it does appear continuously to other people and objects. You consider that a sleeping person is like a blind man oblivious to the the the sight of the sun (the world), or like an ostrich burrowing its head under the sand and hence being ignorant of the world above the sand. Your example of a film camera points to the same conclusion.

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.

It is evident that in this verse, Bhagavan is not not talking about appearance, he is talking about existence. And his emphasis is on the seeming existence of the first person, the ego.

There is a profound difference between a blind man/ostrich/owl and a sleeper; while the former are aware of the existence of otherness, the latter is not aware of any otherness; in fact, the sleeping person is not a person, but just self-awareness.

Our experience points that we remain aware of our existence continuously in sleep, and the people, objects, and thoughts ('the world') are not known to us, which also implies that their seeming existence is broken. This explains the clause 'when ego does not exist, everything does not exist'. Only when we wake up as an ego do these people and objects come into existence. This is what is indicated by 'If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence'.

And here is the crux of the verse: the seeming existence of the ego, to whom other objects appear to have existence. When the ego, the first person whom we now take to be as our self does not exist, none of the objects even seem to exist. These objects arrive simultaneously with the arrival of the ego in waking or in dream. This is what we conclude from our experience of sleep, waking, and dream after reflecting over this verse.

Bhagavan's conclusion of this verse is what we need to consider: Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.

Wittgenstein said...

Kambyses, my friend, I am in the same condition!

i-current said...

Ulladu narpadu verse 26 is conclusion of vivartha vada taught from verse 1 to 25
Why take conclusion and argue? Many terms should be redefined
Start from 1 and slowly proceed to 25 with a good commentary. Then verse 26 will be understood without much difficulty
The effect in the end should be to get into vichara

tiripura ragasyam said...

this is unbelievable.... i does not understood thoughts same like world...they are different

Algeciras said...

Who ?,
many thanks for your substantial comment particularly for pointing out that Bhagavan talks essentially about existence - in contradistinction to appearance - and elaborating the profound difference between a sleeper and my mentioned examples of beings experiencing/being aware of otherness.
As you write at the end : Investigating what this ego is,
alone is giving up everything (what includes and characterizes our ignorance).
So let us have the love to investigate our ignorance.
I congratulate you on having obviously understood the content of the verse and to have the gift to clear the misunderstanding of an ignorant reader.

Kambyses said...

Wittgenstein,
so we are already (at least) three blind men who have compelling need to investigate what this ego is.

R Viswanathan said...

"However, I am afraid that after studying them carefully my mind will put further questions when it cannot comprehend Sri Ramana’s experience.
Regarding the maintained statement that nothing / no world do exist in the absence of the ego the following examples may be considered:
Because the bird ostrich hides/sticks its head in the sand it does not perceive a world. Can it wisely conclude that it cannot be seen by other beings and that there is no danger (no world) at all ?
Because the owl is awake only in the night time it does not see the sun.
Does that behaviour really entitle it to claim that there is no sun at all ?"

Bhagavan is a great friend and lover of animals and birds. I heard that he was teaching Atma Vidya to monkeys when one of them died on a stone being thrown at it, and when the others were 'complaining' to him about the incident.

I for one will go by faith in Bhagavan's experience and his teachings based on his experience, and wait for the power of his words to work on me and enable me experience his teachings wholly. That is the reason why I suggested reciting Ulladhu Narpadhu verses. I genuinely feel that the power of his words will work on anyone who will be receptive.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Algericas, when you allude that this world exists in the view of others when we are asleep, perhaps we need to read and reflect on Bhagavan's words, especially what he writes in paragraph eighteen of Nan Yar. In which he writes:

Except that waking is dīrgha [long lasting] and dream is kṣaṇika [momentary or lasting for only a short while], there is no other difference [between these two mind-created states]. To the extent to which all the vyavahāras [doings, activities, affairs or occurrences] that happen in waking seem [at this present moment] to be real, to that [same] extent even the vyavahāras that happen in dream seem at that time to be real. In dream the 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].

He clearly says here and at other places that our waking and dream states are essentially the same. If this is true, can we really say that our dream exists in the view of others when we are not experiencing it? Obviously it cannot be true. When we stop dreaming and are awake, we clearly recognise that our dream was our (this ego's) creation, and ceases to exist when we stop dreaming. There obviously cannot be others experiencing our dream when we are not dreaming this dream.

Likewise we have to understand our waking state. This waking state is exactly like our dream state. We likewise create all our waking experiences by our power of imagination, and these cease to exist when we die, or are asleep, or attain atma-jnana.

Therefore we can re-phrase verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu as follows:

When our ego comes into existence we start dreaming, and it makes no difference whether we call this dream 'our waking state' or 'our dream state'. Both are fabrications of our ego. Therefore when this ego ceases to exist as in manolaya or on manonasa, this dream also ceases to exist.

Does this sound logical? Regards.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viswanathan, you write 'I for one will go by faith in Bhagavan's experience and his teachings based on his experience, and wait for the power of his words to work on me and enable me experience his teachings wholly. That is the reason why I suggested reciting Ulladhu Narpadhu verses. I genuinely feel that the power of his words will work on anyone who will be receptive.

Yes, Bhagavan's words have power and it will work if we read these repeatedly, but these words are constantly directing us to investigate ourself alone. Therefore even his words will fail to work fully or adequately, if we do not heed to his words, and practise earnest and whole-hearted self-investigation to the best of our ability.

As Sankara says, our practice of self-investigation is hundred-thousand times more powerful than our manana or mere reflection of our sadguru's teachings, and only this practice can take us to our final goal and destination.

Do you agree? Regards.

Wittgenstein said...

Who?,

I admire the reply you have given to Algeciras. You have the ability for deeper manana on Bhagavan’s words and I am happy to see this. For the benefit of my own understanding, I would like to get some clarifications on what you wrote.

Immediately after quoting the Ulladu Narpadu verse, you write,

“It is evident that in this verse, Bhagavan is not not talking about appearance, he is talking about existence.”

Here, you are making a distinction between appearance and existence. It conveys an idea that you are talking about appearance and absolute existence. If it is apparent existence, then why would one need such a distinction? However, soon after that you write,

“And his [Bhagavan’s] emphasis is on the seeming existence of the first person, the ego.”

Now as you say that, it is not absolute existence of the ego as one would have expected after that distinction, but the seeming (or apparent) existence of it. Is not seeming existence same as appearance? If it is so, the original distinction you made does not come out in further arguments. I am at the moment not introducing my own opinions here which would complicate things. I am just trying to understand what I could have misunderstood.

Followed by that you make the distinction between few cases Algeciras quoted and a sleeping person in the following way.

“There is a profound difference between a blind man/ostrich/owl and a sleeper; while the former are aware of the existence of otherness, the latter is not aware of any otherness; in fact, the sleeping person is not a person, but just self-awareness.”

Actually, when a statement about a sleeping person is made, it can only be made of the body of the sleeping person, as that is what appears to us. However, in pure awareness (which I assume to be the same as ‘just self-awareness’), there is no body and its actions. Therefore, will it not be better to say, “In sleep there is only self-awareness” rather than saying, “The sleeping person is pure awareness”, which sounds like, “The body is pure awareness”? Similarly, we can never be sure of the awareness of others (leave alone if they are aware of the existence of otherness). It is just an assumption.

Finally, if someone thinks the world continues to appear in sleep while he remains unconscious, if we say, “Our experience points that we remain aware of our existence continuously in sleep, and the people, objects, and thoughts ('the world') are not known to us”, is it not a subtle way of begging the question? The person already has the experience but is not critically considering his experience. Should we not, in that case, point out what critical feature is missing in his consideration of his own experience?

who? said...

Wittgenstein

Apropos your comment addressed to me, i acknowledge you of expressing profound and incisive points therein; these questions will help in deeper manana and understanding of our guru's teachings.

Unfortunately, presently i have to attend to mundane commitments related to my studies, and so i will reflect over and reply to your comment near about this time tomorrow.

Algeciras said...

R Viswanathan,
yes we should place our unshakeable trust in the truth of Bhagavan's experience.
May the power of pure consciousness eradicate our concentrated ignorance, immature unruliness and humiliating blindness.
Arunachala

Algeciras said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for your comment.
You say:
"...we likewise create all our waking experiences by our power of imagination...".
Obviously that cannot be true. Particularly some experiences of bodily mortal danger in my life make me suspicious of your statement. I did surely not imagine suicidal intentions.
What you write about "There obviously cannot be others experiencing our dream when we are not dreaming this dream" does not directly refer to what I had written supposedly about the seeming existence of the world while we are sleeping.
In order not to take any risk of a wrong interpretation on principle I would refrain from rephrasing Bhagavan's verses.
Kind regards

Steve said...

Sanjay, I disagree with Algeciras. I think your understanding is clear, and I like your interpretation of Nan Yar? and Ulladu Narpadu. And I agree with you and Sankara in your comment to Viswanathan! Regards to you.

Michael James said...

Venkat, I have replied to your first, second, third, fourth and seventh comments on this article in a new article that I posted earlier today: Thought of oneself will destroy all other thoughts.

After replying to your comments in the first nine sections of this very long article, in the next fifteen sections I replied to the following comments by other friends:

In section 10 I replied to two of Sivanarul’s comments: 21 November 2015 at 16:28 and at 16:47.

In section 11 I replied to Rudraksha’s comment of 23 November 2015 at 23:33.

In section 12 I replied to Algeciras’s comment of 5 December 2015 at 20:58 and to Samarender Reddy’s comment of 7 December 2015 at 13:14.

In section 13 I replied to Amrita’s comment of 23 November 2015 at 22:46.

In section 14 I replied to Tirich Mir’s comment of 24 November 2015 at 15:28.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Venkat:

In section 15 I replied to the anonymous comments about ‘methods’, beginning with one of 23 November 2015 at 15:21.

In section 16 I replied to another one of Sivanarul’s comments: 21 November 2015 at 19:54.

In sections 17 and 18 I replied to two of Viswanathan’s comments and one of Steve’s: 23 November 2015 at 01:05, 24 November 2015 at 01:46 and 24 November 2015 at 07:22.

In section 19 I replied to another aspect of Venkat’s seventh comment.

In sections 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 I replied to several other comments by Sivanarul, such as 1 December 2015 at 17:25, 28 November 2015 at 16:56, 30 November 2015 at 18:48, 2 December 2015 at 14:01 and 24 November 2015 at 22:22.

Rudraksha said...

Michael,
thank you for your reply in the new article of yesterday.

Algeciras said...

Michael,
many thanks for your explanation in section 12 of the new article of 10 December 2015.

Amrita said...

Michael,
thank you for clarifying the term "thought" in section 13 of your new article of yesterday.

Tirich Mir said...

Michael,
many thanks for answering my questions in section 14 of the new article of 10 December 2015.

Michael James said...

In the two comments I wrote here yesterday, I did not create the links to the last fifteen sections of my new article correctly, so the following are correct links to those sections: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24.

who? said...

Wittgenstein

With reference to the first clarification that you seek from my side, i concur that there is no difference between 'appearance' and 'seeming existence'; that statement of mine ("It is evident that in this verse, Bhagavan is not not talking about appearance, he is talking about existence") is admittedly inconsistent with the following sentence.

Secondly, as you have observed, i appear to be objectifying the self-awareness of sleep (in the clause "in fact, the sleeping person is not a person, but just self-awareness."). As you say, it is better, and less misleading, to say instead that “In sleep there is only self-awareness”. I wish to emphasize that this objectification was inadvertent; i will be more careful to avoid writing such statements.

With reference to the final clarification that you seek, you may read the penultimate paragraph in my reply to Algiciras. In it, i did mention that other objects exist only to our ego when it rises into seeming existence, and cease to exist with the cessation of the seeming ego, as Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Ulladhu Narpadu. Hence, i find it difficult to know where i made the error of circular reasoning.

Michael James said...

Regarding the various comments that either quoted extracts from The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention or asked me to post a copy of it on my website (such as this, this, this, this, this, this and this), I will try to post all the sixteen instalments that I have edited so far on my website later this month. Before doing so I need to catch up on replying to many emails that I kept on hold while I was writing my recent long article, and then I need check and revise the published instalments (such as adding diacritics, which I was asked to avoid, and finding and restoring portions I was asked to remove for one reason or another) and make them into a webpage (and perhaps also a PDF). After posting it, I will then add further instalments as and when I edit them for publication in future issues of The Mountain Path.

Wittgenstein said...

Who?,

Actually in the last but one paragraph of your reply to Algeciras you do say, “These objects arrive simultaneously with the arrival of the ego in waking or in dream. This is what we conclude from our experience of sleep, waking, and dream after reflecting over this verse”. My only point was that as Algeciras already has the experience of sleep, but could not conclude the arrival of objects simultaneously with the ego after reflecting on the verse, he may further need additional arguments. However, I read an earlier comment of yours in which you say:

“If the world were existing independent of our ego, what prevented its being to be known to us while we were aware of nothing other than our self in sleep?. That there is no mind or sense organs in sleep, is no reason for the world not being seen, if it exists independent of the sense organs and the mind.”

Now I find the above a very sound argument. I had overlooked it. It was my mistake.

Kambyses said...

Who ? and Wittgenstein,
I agree that the experience of other objects is possible only to our ego when it rises into seeming existence. Equally this experience ceases with the cessation of the seeming ego.
But to make any statement whether any world has really existed during sleep is not seriously possible in waking and dreaming.
The argument that the arrival and departure/disappearance of objects (the world) simultaneously with the ego is admittedly original and witty but does not correspond with my daily experience. But I am only a beginner on the path to pure/full awareness and do not have the sharp power of differentiation at the moment of transition of the mind in the state of sleep and inversely in the state of waking.
So I understand the objections made by Algeciras very well.
Also the „very sound argument“ that the world did not provide „its being to be known to us while we were aware of nothing other than our self in sleep“ from its own accord/initiative is on the contrary very feeble. How can any subject/thing which is exclusively aware of itself be aware additionally and simultaneously of the world ? This is scarcely conceivable except the world is in no way different from self. But that would you surely not claim.
But I think Bhagavan taught us the mutually dependence of mind and world not in order to ignore the world and our fellow human beings. That would be in my opinion a grave error of judgement.
To deny the significance of the world for our life in it is therefore in our current condition of ignorance pointless. Because the body , mind and world do not exist in sleep should not be an excuse to act so as they would be real existent. If for instance a hungry child would ask us for some edibles were we really justified to declare that suffering is only nonexistent because it is not really existing during sleep but only imagination in waking and leave the child back hungry ?

Sivanarul said...

Kambyses,

Bhagavan never applied that teaching to the practical world. He took the task of feeding people very seriously and many times he himself served food to beggars and ascetics telling that there are lots of siddhas who visit him in the guise of a beggar. Bhagavan also took all the devotee’s mundane practical difficulties seriously and never put them off as an illusion. We are not justified in treating a hungry child as an illusion.

As I have commented before, I myself am not able to accept that the world is not there when not perceived and Bhagavan did not follow this himself via his actions. There was careful planning of Ashram will that the eldest son of his brother’s family in each generation will take over ashram management to ensure the ashram is there to help many future aspirants and devotees. Bhagavan did not decide that since his ego is gone, there are no future devotees and there is nothing for him to plan or do. A typical reply to this is that Bhagavan did not do anything but some power did it. I am calling that power as Bhagavan, since Venkatararaman died at 16.

If you cannot accept what Who? and Wittgentein have explained, simply continue your spiritual practices. The spirit of the teaching is to develop dispassion towards the world. Also if you like, study Buddha’s first noble truth, which can help in developing dispassion. I have found that to correspond better to our daily experience. Buddha says that Dukkha (a sense of unsatisfactoriness) permeates all our experiences (both pleasant and painful). If you carefully watch your pleasant experiences, you will see that unsatisfactoriness will creep in as you begin to realize that the pleasant experience will end soon. For example, when you eat a very tasty food, mid-way, dukkha will creep in with the realization that this eating will end very soon and you cannot eat more of this. The spiritual journey then is to end this Dukkha.

Who? and Wittgenstein have explained the intricacies very nicely. Simply keep them as possibilities that you may be more open to, in the future and for now just continue with what you can accept.

who? said...

Kambyses

Reading the last paragraph of your comment addressed to Wittgenstein and me, i agree with it and don't feel the necessity to embellish anything to it, except to point out that if we can feel and understand the suffering of other beings, then we consider their suffering to be similar to our suffering; because of our self-love, we then try to alleviate the suffering of others to the extent possible. From this, we can infer that altruistic action is concomitant with attenuation of ego.

However, a clarification in the initial part of what you wrote might help.

You begin by writing that "I agree that the experience of other objects is possible only to our ego when it rises into seeming existence. Equally this experience ceases with the cessation of the seeming ego.". and soon later claim that "The argument that the arrival and departure/disappearance of objects (the world) simultaneously with the ego is admittedly original and witty but does not correspond with my daily experience.". Here there is no difference between 'my daily experience' and 'our ego's experience', since they are the same - what we now take to be as ourself is what we refer to when we use the word 'ego'. Our experience confirms that the world and a body in that world which we take be as ourself are mutually dependent.

We do not detect the "moment of transition of the mind in the state of sleep and inversely in the state of waking" - the world and ego appear and disappear simultaneously. However, Bhagavan does claim that if we 'see' the ego (motivated perhaps by the desire to detect its rising or settling), we will experience that there is no such thing as ego, but only self. You may read Michael's writing on verse 25 of Ulladhu Narpadu for a better explanation about this.

You also write "How can any subject/thing which is exclusively aware of itself be aware additionally and simultaneously of the world ? This is scarcely conceivable except the world is in no way different from self. ", the first part of which is logically correct. Sages say that this 'subject' is ourself, and the world does not exist; but this same 'subject' (we), while being aware of the existence of otherness cannot grasp this conceptually. We are not required to believe in this; we are encouraged to experience what that statement implies.

We contemplated about sleep earlier to analyze what that experience implies. When we now discuss sleep, we are certain that we experienced no world at that 'time', but we are certain that we experienced sleep. Who, or what, is this 'we'? It cannot be what we now take to be as our self. It is something which was aware exclusively of itself, but paradoxically, now we are sure that 'it' is 'we' (as in when we now say that "i was asleep"). All this implies that we are not clear about who we are.

So let us try our best to gain clear experiential knowledge about who we are.

Kambyses said...

Sivanarul,
thank you for your comment and your advices.
Treating a hungry child as an illusion was of course mentioned only as an example.
But I feel instinctively that the attitude/opinion „All the world experience is just an illusion or just a creation of the non-existent ego“ holds the danger to put worldy affairs and „mundane practical difficulties“ generally off from having the sense of responsibility for acting correct in that world. Perhaps we may lose our sense of duty in daily life.
I only can do properly such a spiritual practice which is in accordance with the parameters of my experience of life. What is not in the realm of my experience
I cannot really employ. Hopefully I will find always the appropriate/best way to chase away the „creeping unsatisfactoriness“.

Sivanarul said...

Kambyses,

I am with you. I feel the same way that treating the world as an illusion will ultimately reduce significantly the sense of responsibility one has towards dependents. It is ok for people who don’t have any dependents to treat the world as an illusion. But for people with dependents, I think it is a violation of Dharma to treat the world as an illusion, if one does not have a very high degree of spiritual maturity. The better alternative is to treat the world as a manifestation of Ishvara and treat all jiva’s as oneself and help whatever one can (in addition to fulfilling one’s responsibilities to one’s dependents).

That is why I always look towards Bhagavan’s actions and in that you will never find any irresponsible action. Bhagavan took care of his mother, his brother and everyone else entrusted under his care. For one of the devotees who came to him as a young man, his father came to get him back. The devotee did not want to go back and the father said he will only leave him behind if Bhagavan vouchsafed his safety and will shepherd his spiritual maturity. Bhagavan who rarely guarantees anything, did so in that ocaasion. Bhagavan kept that promise and in the last 2 minutes before Bhagavan was leaving the world, the devotee was blessed by the experience of the Self. So fulfilling one’s responsibility was a top instruction of Bhagavan and he never advised anyone to leave family or responsibility to search for the truth.

It is my honest opinion that you don’t have to treat the world as an illusion or consider you are the only Jiva (Eka Jiva) for spiritual progress. In the initial stages, the main practice is to withdraw the mind from the senses (Pratyahara in Yoga terms, assuming you have Yama and Niyama covered). What does withdrawal mean? It means that withdrawing your mind away from everything that has nothing to do with your responsibilities or spirituality. If this is done fully, the ego will get severely starved and the mind will get really focused on just your responsibilities and in the search for truth. After this I don’t know what’s next, since I am only at the Pratyahara stage and trust that Ishvara will guide me later.

Wittgenstein said...

Kambyses,

I have tried to discuss based on my limited understanding. For convenience, I have broken your statements down to short statements and numbered them. I have a feeling that some background reading might be helpful. In such cases I have indicated the Ulladu Narpadu verses that I feel are relevant. The best thing would be to go to the book, ‘Happiness and the Art of Being’ (HAB, for short) by Michael James and look for these verses there and read his explanations. That would be more fruitful.

[1] To make any statement whether any world has really existed during sleep is not seriously possible in waking and dreaming.

Yes, if you mean by ‘real existence’ absolute existence, to make statements about absolute existence (or absolute non-existence) is not possible.

[2] I agree that the experience of other objects is possible only to our ego when it rises into seeming existence. Equally this experience ceases with the cessation of the seeming ego. The argument that the arrival and departure/disappearance of objects (the world) simultaneously with the ego is admittedly original and witty but does not correspond with my daily experience.

Here, the assumption seems to be that the world is independent of the mind (ego) that experiences it. Bhagavan teaches us that the world is mental creation, although the world and the mind appear and disappear together. We have to reconsider our everyday experience in the light of this teaching. Everyday experience is one thing and critically considering that experience in the light of Bhagavan’s teaching is another thing. Following up with their implications is yet another thing. You may consider Ulladu Narpadu, verses 5, 6 and 7 here.

[3] How can any subject/thing which is exclusively aware of itself be aware additionally and simultaneously of the world ?

If the subject is exclusively aware of itself, it cannot be aware of anything other than itself.

[4] This is scarcely conceivable except the world is in no way different from self.

This exception is for a jnani and of course it is scarcely conceivable for us. For the previous point and this point, you may refer to Ulladu Narpadu verses 17 and 18.

[5] But that would you surely not claim.

Yes, that cannot be my claim.

[6] But I think Bhagavan taught us the mutually dependence of mind and world not in order to ignore the world and our fellow human beings. That would be in my opinion a grave error of judgement.

Actually, Bhagavan teaches us that the world is mental creation, although the world and the mind appear and disappear together. By ‘ignoring the world and fellow human beings’, it appears that suffering in the world is brought into the discussion, in view of point 9 below. Therefore, I have tried to answer this in point 9.

[7] To deny the significance of the world for our life in it is therefore in our current condition of ignorance pointless.

The world is as significant as us. Therefore, we should try to investigate our significance.

[8] Because the body , mind and world do not exist in sleep should not be an excuse to act so as they would be real existent.

Here the idea that the body, mind and world do not exist in sleep is accepted by you, as against your assumption in point 2. How we act is determined, according to Bhagavan.

[9] If for instance a hungry child would ask us for some edibles were we really justified to declare that suffering is only nonexistent because it is not really existing during sleep but only imagination in waking and leave the child back hungry ?

Suffering is not absolutely non-existent. If it were, we cannot even be talking about it. It does appear real as long as it appears. How we act is determined. In every such determined act, there is someone acting and Bhagavan asks us to attend to that actor. Such attention, he says, is not determined.

Wittgenstein said...

Kambyses,

You say in one of your latest comment addressed to Sivanarul,

“All the world experience is just an illusion or just a creation of the non-existent ego”

A non-existent ego cannot create anything. It is contradiction in terms. I don’t know who holds/teaches such ideas. If the jnani says the ego is (absolutely) non-existent, well, we cannot believe that. That may be his experience. It is not of much help to us. Actually, the jnani does not teach that way. On the other hand, the jnani says, ego is an appearance and hence all its creations are appearances. Motivated by that, if we want to determine ego’s exact existential status (and consequently the existential status of all its creations), we have to investigate this ego (‘I’ in our experience).

In the center of the realm of all our experiences, there is an ‘I’, accessible at all times, quite immediately. Therefore, the moment this is understood, attending to that ‘I’ (which is what investigating it means) is a possibility which is available at all times, even while helping a hungry child or when japa is going on or when breathing is going on.

If that moment of understanding has not come yet, well, helping the child, japa and watching the breath will go on, without attending to who is helping the child, who is doing japa, who is watching the breath. Along with that, holding the idea that there is a world independent of the ego will also go on.

Michael James said...

Kambyses, I have addressed the concerns that you express in your comment of 12 December 2015 at 13:19 and in several later ones about how we would or should behave in this world if we take it to be just a mind-dependent illusion, like a dream, in an earlier article, Why are compassion and ahiṁsā necessary in a dream?.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Kambyses:

Regarding your remark that the argument that the world appears and disappears simultaneously with the ego does not correspond with your daily experience, the argument is not that this particular world appears and disappears along with our ego but that some world or other always appears whenever our ego appears and disappears whenever our ego disappears, because our ego always experiences itself as a body, and a body is part of a world. The body that we experience as ourself and the world or which it is a part is not the same in both waking and dream, but in any state of waking or dream we always experience some body and world, whereas in sleep we experience no body or world. This is the daily experience of each one of us.

Though we all generally recognise that any body and world that we experience in a dream are just mental creations and therefore do not exist independent of our experience of them, we naturally tend to believe that our present state is not a dream and that our present body and world are therefore not just mental creations but exist independent of our experience of them. However, Bhagavan points out that even when we are dreaming we naturally tend to believe that we are awake, so at that time we believe that the body and world we are then experiencing are not just mental creations but exist independent of our experience of them. Only after waking from a dream do we recognise that it was not waking but just a dream.

According to Bhagavan, every state that we believe to be waking while we are experiencing it is just another dream, because whenever we dream we dream that we are awake. Therefore there is no fundamental difference between waking and dream. Whatever dream we are currently experiencing seems to us to be waking, and every other dream seems to be just a dream. Therefore just as the body and world that we experience in any other dream are mental creations, so too are the body and world that we now experience.

If we consider our experience carefully, we will not be able to find any adequate evidence or other reason to support our habitual belief that we are not now dreaming. If we think we have found any such evidence or reason, that is because we have not considered our experience sufficiently carefully, because all the evidence and other reasons we think we have to support our belief that we are not now dreaming are indirectly based on our fundamental assumption that this is not a dream. In other words, our belief that we are not now dreaming is supported only by circular reasoning.

The only effective way to cut through this illusory circle of reasoning is to consider the fact that even if we were now dreaming we would still be able to cite exactly the same ‘evidence’ or reasons to support our belief that we are awake and not dreaming. How can we know for certain that we are not just dreaming that we are now awake? There is absolutely no means by which we can know for certain that we are not now dreaming, because the very nature of any dream is to seem as if it were a state of waking so long as we are still experiencing it.

Therefore if we are completely honest with ourself, we have to acknowledge that we have good reason to doubt whether our present state is actually a state of waking or just another dream. If it is a dream, then our present body and world are just creations of our own mind, and hence they seem to exist only so long as we are experiencing them, in which case they do not exist at all while we are asleep.

Kambyses said...

Who ?,
thanks for replying.
Sorry that I missed to write the word „happen“ between the words „simultaneously“ and „with“ in the initial part.
Why should we not be fully aware of the moment of appearance and disappearance of the ego and herewith the world – although it is really not existent ? Let us then mention/call it seeming appearance and seeming disappearance. What you write about Bhagavan’s claim about 'if we see the ego …[…]' results in/ invites arising of some further questions/statements:
1. Does the ego experience that there is no such thing as ego but only self ?
2. Is not be said that the self does not at all experience anything but is only being itself alone?
3. If so the experience of the non-existence of the ego can be made only by the ego itself. It is like calling: "Help, I do not at all exist !".
4. Being aware of (the existence of) otherness should be dissolved in favour of awareness of our true being.

Generally, to be not clear about who we really are is a total disaster.
Yes, as you say let us try our best to gain clear experience/experiental knowledge about who we actually are.

Kambyses said...

Sivanarul,
thanks for your reply. As long as we experience the world as otherness I think that we are better advised to fulfill our tasks in the world although it may be not really exist in the view of Jnana. To withdraw the mind from the senses and away from everything that has nothing to do with our responsibilities is already a task occupying a whole life. Feeling a need to get the mind really focused in just our search for truth is surely not backing the wrong horse but a suitable initial position to get the ego severly starved even though according the wise Sri Ramana Arunachala paradoxically the ego does actually not exist.
As a shoot of Ishvara you will be guided by your having every trust in the guidance of Ishvara.

Sivanarul said...

Kambyses,

“To withdraw the mind from the senses and away from everything that has nothing to do with our responsibilities is already a task occupying a whole life”

I agree that it is not an easy task and for some of us it could be a whole life (or perhaps many lives). But if one preserves, in spite of repeated failures over several years/decades of trying, a time does come when the futility of engaging the mind with senses (other than for what is necessary) is clearly seen and the withdrawal begins. Initially the withdrawal is slow. But participation in Satsang (like this blog or other relevant blogs or actual physical satsang), repeated discrimination between real and unreal and the contemplation that physical death can come anytime, creates a sense of urgency which makes the withdrawal faster. That is my experience anyway.

The Buddhist meditative contemplation on death can be a really powerful tool to facilitate this withdrawal. It basically involves meditating on your last day on earth and looking back at your life and scoring yourself how you spent the years/decades before it. What would you have done differently, if you had the wisdom years before that you have on your last day?

Sivanarul said...

Kambyses,

In case you are interested, these are the 9 contemplations of death in the Buddhist tradition (that can help in Withdrawal)

https://www.upaya.org/dox/Contemplations.pdf

Summary:
1. All of Us Will Die Sooner or Later
2. Your Life Span Is Decreasing Continuously
3. Death Will Come Whether You Are Prepared or Not
4. Your Life Span, Like That of All Living Beings, Is Not Fixed
5. Death Has Many Causes
6. Your Body Is Fragile and Vulnerable
7. Your Loved Ones Cannot Keep You from Death
8. At the Moment of Your Death, Your Material Resources Are of No Use to You
9. Your Own Body Cannot Help You at the Time of Your Death

Anonymous said...

Even for Bhagavan its the fear of death that made him inquire into his true nature.

Swami Vivekananda on the transient nature of life
/**
Life is but momentary, whether you have the knowledge of an angel or the ignorance of an animal. Life is but momentary, whether you have the poverty of the poorest man in rags or the wealth of the richest living person. Life is but momentary, whether you are a downtrodden man living in one of the big streets of the big cities of the West or a crowned Emperor ruling over millions. Life is but momentary, whether you have the best of health or the worst. Life is but momentary whether you have the most poetical temperament or the most cruel. There is but one solution of life, says the Hindu, and that solution is what they call God and religion. If these be true, life becomes explained, life becomes bearable, becomes enjoyable. Otherwise, life is but a useless burden. That is our idea, but no amount of reasoning can demonstrate it; it can only make it probable, and there it rests. The highest demonstration of reasoning that we have in any branch of knowledge can only make a fact probable, and nothing further. The most demonstrable facts of physical science are only probabilities, not facts yet. Facts are only in the senses. Facts have to be perceived, and we have to perceive religion to demonstrate it to ourselves. We have to sense God to be convinced that there is a God. We must sense the facts of religion to know that they are facts. Nothing else, and no amount of reasoning, but our own perception can make these things real to us, can make my belief firm as a rock.
**/

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, anonymous, I agree with Swami Vivekananda that life is momentary. Therefore we should not waste our time and energy by thinking about unnecessary things, but put in maximum efforts in self-investigation. Only this self-investigation can reveal our true nature to us, and make us free. Regards.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

/**
Only after waking from a dream do we recognise that it was not waking but just a dream.
**/

How do you explain lucid dreaming?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, you ask Michael, 'Only after waking from a dream do we recognise that it was not waking but just a dream. How do you explain lucid dreaming?'

If I am not wrong, lucid dreams are supposed to be dreams in which we recognise that we are dreaming. Even if we dream, and in this particular dream we recognise that we are dreaming, it will still be a dream, and will not be essentially any different from any other type of dream. Any state in which our ego is functioning is a state of dream. This could be the simplest way to understand dream. Therefore our present so-called waking state is very much a dream. Regards.

Anonymous said...

Sanjay, appreciate that - thanks| Not so convinced| Will wait for Michael's reply|

Bob - P said...

****{Yes, anonymous, I agree with Swami Vivekananda that life is momentary. Therefore we should not waste our time and energy by thinking about unnecessary things, but put in maximum efforts in self-investigation. Only this self-investigation can reveal our true nature to us, and make us free. Regards.}****

I personally agree with this, I think it so true, thank you Sanjay.

My own personal opinion right or wrong on lucid dreaming is as long as we experience dualism and are the perceiver of things that seem other than our self waking, dream, lucid dreaming, OBE they could all be placed in the same category no matter how wonderful some may seem. As long as we experience our self as the perceiver we must investigate earnestly what this perceiver is.

I remember reading somewhere that we must stay on the train to the final destination and not get off before we arrive no matter how wonderful it may seem.

Personally speaking if I were to experience a lucid dream again out of blue ( I don't try to) I would try my best to investigate as best I could who is experiencing this lucid dream, Unfortunately I may find I wake up (this happened before) ... and so on it goes.

In appreciation
Bob

Michael James said...

Kambyses, regarding the questions you ask in one of your comments about experiencing the non-existence of the ego, obviously the ego cannot experience its own non-existence, so what is sometimes described as ‘experiencing the non-existence of the ego’ is just experiencing that we alone exist, and what experiences this is only ourself as we actually are.

That is, when we as this ego investigate ourself sufficiently keenly, the illusion that we are this ego will dissolve forever, and what will then remain is only ourself as we actually are. As we actually are, we never experience anything other than ourself, because we alone actually exist, so in the clear view of our actual self no ego has ever existed at all. This clear experience of ourself as what alone exists is what is therefore described as ‘experiencing the non-existence of the ego’.

Obviously our actual self does not think ‘there is no ego’ or ‘the ego is non-existent’, because what it is aware of is only itself and nothing else whatsoever, but since it is so clearly aware of itself as what alone exists, that amounts to being aware that neither the ego nor anything else has ever existed.

Kambyses said...

Michael,
thank you for your comment which did clarify the matter of 'experiencing the non-existence of the ego' along the asked questions sufficiently.
Therefore nothing should prevent the clear experience of ourself as what alone exists. Now come on clear awareness and solve that mysterious shadowy ego-phantom.
Stop - in your view there is nothing to solve because nothing but you has ever existed.
How could I ever allow the illusion that you seem to be in the shadow of a never existing phantom ?

Mouna said...

Ego creates gods and gurus and then asks for fusion and guidance.
Ego creates birth and death and then reincarnation to sustain its flow.
Ego creates time and space to be some-thing and some-where and then creates theories to escape its own grasp.
Ego creates a windowless and doorless room for itself and then feels trapped.
Ego creates dreamy dreams and a waking dream and even a sleep-state without dreams where it thinks it is not there and then can’t imagine anything else.
Ego creates lies, truths and what lies between them, opinions and then talks and stays silent, writes and reads.
Ego creates a body and then feels limited.
Ego names itself maya/i-thought/samsara/mind and then tries to investigate itself.
Ego conceives theories that even state that ego never existed in the first place.

Ego IS everything, every thing.
Its own hallucination...

Michael James said...

Anonymous, in reply to your question about ‘lucid dreaming’, a so-called ‘lucid dream’ is just a dream in which one has an idea ‘this is a dream’. Even now in our present state we can have such an idea, but though this means that we are doubting the reality of our present state, it still seems to us to be real so long as we are experiencing it, and if we found that our life as a body was suddenly in danger, we would be afraid as much (or almost as much) as we would have been if we had no such idea. Likewise in any other dream, whatever we are then experiencing would seem to be real to us even if we had an idea that it is just a dream.

In any dream, whether ‘lucid’ or otherwise, we experience ourself as a body, and so long as we experience ourself thus, that body will inevitably seem to be real (because it seems to be ourself, and we are undoubtedly real, albeit not necessarily as whatever we currently seem to be), so since that body is part of a world, that world will also seem to us to be real. We may think that it is just a dream, but so long as we are experiencing it it would nevertheless seem to be real.

The only difference between a ‘non-lucid dream’ and a ‘lucid dream’ is that whereas in the former we are dreaming that we are awake, in the latter we are dreaming that we are dreaming. In both cases we are dreaming, and so long as we are dreaming we are not experiencing what is actually real, which is only ourself as we really are.

Whatever we may dream, we are deceiving ourself, because we can dream only when we experience ourself as this ego, and this ego is not what we actually are. Therefore what we dream and whether our dream is ‘lucid’ or otherwise really does not matter, because it is all a delusion, and hence rather than concerning ourself with any dream we should concern ourself only with trying to find out what we (who now seem to be experiencing this dream) actually are.

Sleepyhead said...

Michael,
All hell has broken loose:
I am dreaming that I am awake.
I am dreaming that I am dreaming.
I am dreaming that I am sleeping.
God only knows what I am really are.
I am dreaming that I am God.
Oh Arunachala, is there any hope for me ?

Sleepwalker said...

Mouna,
Mouna is thinking and hallucinating about the phantom ego plying its dreadful trade.
It's time that an end was put to the terrorizing ego.
Or is it just a dream ?
Find out, find out, find out...sleepwalker !

Kambyses said...

Sivanarul,
thanks again for your comments.
The ego not only does not prefer differentiation between real and unreal
but prefers clearly the unreal.
Everyday is our last day.
If I would have had the wisdom of Sri Ramana I would not have to come physically on earth.
If I would not have spent the years before today in my way of experience I would not be able to relate to Arunachala Ramana today.
Regarding the Buddhist tradition of contemplations of death I want to tell you that in my opinion death will come only to the ego and its appendage.
How can 'I am' ever die ?

Kambyses said...

Wittgenstein,
thank you for taking a lot of effort over commenting all my statements. I will consider the recommended verses of Ulladu Narpadu as well as Michael‘s book ‚Happiness and the Art of Being‘(HAB) as soon as possible.
As you say : Attending to the ever accessible 'I' is an absolute unavoidable necessity.

Anonymous said...

Michael, thanks for the lucid explanation about lucid dreaming.

little thing said...

Shea Kang,
and what shall we do now ?

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