Sunday, 16 April 2017

Why is effort required for us to go deep in our practice of self-investigation?

A friend recently wrote to me asking:
My question about I-Alone is this: in relaxing attention from objects I can be keenly aware of my existence as Sat Chit. That is effortless, but it is not completely and exclusively ‘I’-Self-aware. Other objects are also ‘known’.

But, today I have read from you [in Our aim should be to experience ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else]: “Our real aim should not be just longer durations of self-attentiveness but should be more deep, intense and clear self-attentiveness — that is, attentiveness that is more keenly and exclusively focused on ‘I’ alone, without the least trace of any awareness of anything else.”

First of all, wow! My experience so far is that this is not effortless, but an intense, actively engaged ‘focusing down’, so to speak, on Self.

I just wanted to ask you if that is correct. That intense active focusing is required.
The following is adapted from what I replied to him:
  1. We are always self-aware, but we must make effort to be attentively self-aware
  2. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: to the extent that our attention is focused on ourself it will thereby be withdrawn from other things
  3. The more we are able to be partially self-attentive, the easier it will be for us to be more keenly self-attentive when free from other activities
  4. Effort is required to overcome our ego’s natural resistance to being self-attentive
  5. The way to proceed with our self-investigation will gradually unfold as we proceed
1. We are always self-aware, but we must make effort to be attentively self-aware

We are always self-aware, because self-awareness is our very nature (what we actually are), so we do not need to make any effort to be self-aware. However, though we are always self-aware, we are generally not attentively self-aware, because most of our attention is taken up with being aware of other things, since we find it more interesting and appealing to be aware of other things than to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

This self-negligence or lack of self-attentiveness is what is called pramāda, and it is the root of all our problems, because it is the very nature of the ego and the means by which the ego seems to rise, stand and flourish. Therefore all our efforts should be directed towards being self-attentive and thereby overcoming our pramāda.

2. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: to the extent that our attention is focused on ourself it will thereby be withdrawn from other things

Merely withdrawing our attention from other things (objects or phenomena) is not self-attentiveness and is therefore not a means to destroy the ego, because our attention is withdrawn from everything else whenever we fall asleep, but our ego is not thereby destroyed. However, to the extent that our attention is focused on ourself, it will be withdrawn from other things, so though withdrawing our attention from other things is not sufficient, it is necessary, because we cannot be exclusively self-attentive without thereby withdrawing our attention entirely from everything else.

This is why Bhagavan says in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

அன்வயம்: மனம் வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maṉam veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

English translation: Leaving aside external viṣayas [phenomena], the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].
The subject of this sentence is ‘மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē), ‘the mind knowing its own form of light’, which means being keenly self-attentive (attentively aware of the light of awareness that we actually are), whereas ‘வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு’ (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu), ‘leaving aside external phenomena’, which means ceasing to be aware of anything other than ourself, is an adverbial clause, which indicates that it is either a precondition for or an effect of being keenly self-attentive. In fact it is both, because we cannot be focused entirely on being attentively self-aware unless our attention is withdrawn from everything else, but it will be withdrawn from everything else merely by being keenly focused on its ‘form of light’ (the pure self-awareness that we actually are).

Therefore our sole aim while investigating who am I should be to be so keenly self-attentive that our entire attention is focused only on ourself, thereby being withdrawn completely from everything else.

3. The more we are able to be partially self-attentive, the easier it will be for us to be more keenly self-attentive when free from other activities

In the midst of our daily activities, most of us are unable to be exclusively self-attentive, because we are not yet able to see clearly that whatever is destined to happen will happen whether we attend to it or not. However, even though we cannot be keenly self-attentive so long as we feel any need to attend to anything else, we can at least be partially self-attentive even while engaged in our routine activities. Such partial self-attentiveness is very beneficial, particularly if we are able to maintain it relatively clearly and steadily no matter what activities our body, speech and mind may be engaged in, because the more we are able to be partially self-attentive, the easier it will be for us to focus our entire attention on ourself more keenly when we are not engaged in any bodily or mental activity.

However, in addition to trying to be steadily and at least partially self-attentive even in the midst of activities, we should also try whenever possible to sink more deeply into ourself by attempting to be keenly and exclusively self-attentive, because ultimately we (this ego) will subside completely and dissolve forever back into our source (the absolutely pure and clear self-awareness that we actually are) only by being so keenly self-attentive that we thereby completely exclude everything else from our awareness.

4. Effort is required to overcome our ego’s natural resistance to being self-attentive

Regarding the question of effort, it is required only because — and to the extent that — we resist allowing ourself to be self-attentive, and the reason we resist being so is that we know instinctively that we cannot survive as this ego without attending to other things, and that self-attentiveness is therefore a direct threat to our very existence as this ego. Since partial self-attentiveness is not such an immediate threat to the survival of our ego, being partially self-attentive requires relatively little effort, whereas more keenly focused self-attentiveness requires much more effort.

In other words, the amount of effort we need to put into being self-attentive is proportionate to the extent to which we resist allowing ourself to be self-attentive, and the more keenly and intensely we try to be self-attentive, the more we will resist such attempts.

To make this clearer, the following analogy may help. Let us suppose that we are at the top of a high cliff with a protective railing along the edge of it. If we wish to see what is at the bottom of the cliff, we can climb over the railing and, while holding it tightly, we can lean out to look down. If we have a strong head for heights, so long as we are holding the railing firmly we will not be afraid to lean out, but if we dare ourself to loosen our hold, fear will immediately grip us and we will quickly tighten our hold again.

Partial self-attentiveness is like holding the railing firmly while leaning out to look down, because though we are trying to look at ourself (our fundamental self-awareness), we are also holding on to our awareness of other things, and hence we are still relatively safe and secure. However, being more keenly self-attentive is like loosening our hold on the railing, because we are so eager to look at ourself that we begin to let go of our awareness of other things, and since this is putting the life of our ego in immediate danger, our urge to attend to other things will naturally manifest itself more strongly.

In other words, the more keenly we attend to ourself and thereby loosen our hold on our awareness of other things, the more strongly our viṣaya-vāsanās (our propensities, inclinations, impulses or desires to be aware of anything other than oneself) will rise up in rebellion to protect their parent and master, our ego, and consequently the more effort we will need to make to swim against the powerful current of the outward-going urge that they induce.

Therefore you are correct in saying that ‘intense active focusing is required’, provided that what you mean by ‘active’ is effortful, because as I am sure you appreciate, being keenly self-attentive is not literally an action or activity, but is simply a state of just being (summā iruppadu) — that is, just being as we always actually are, which is pure and hence actionless self-awareness.

5. The way to proceed with our self-investigation will gradually unfold as we proceed

However, whenever anyone describes to me how they practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) and asks me whether it is correct, I can never say with certainty to what extent it is correct, because no words can adequately describe this practice, and hence as Bhagavan used to say, we each have to discover for ourself what the state of pure self-attentiveness actually is. If we had discovered it perfectly, we would no longer be aware of ourself as anything other than what we actually are, so our story would already be over.

This is why Bhagavan called this practice ‘ātma-vicāra’, which means self-investigation, because like any true investigation, the way to proceed with it will gradually reveal itself as one proceeds. Thinking deeply and carefully about his teachings, particularly as expressed by him in his own original writings (especially in Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār), perhaps with the aid of explanations of them given by those who have followed them correctly, will reveal to us many valuable and subtle clues, but we each need to apply such clues for ourself in order to discover what ātma-vicāra actually is, and thereby what we ourself actually are.

34 comments:

Michael James said...

The same friend to whom I wrote the reply in this article wrote to me again saying:

“Having taken your words to heart, I was focusing as exclusively as possible on I-alone. All of a sudden there was a powerful pull from within. I had thought that when Bhagavan speaks about the guru pulling from within it was more metaphorical. But no, this was an urgent, intense and very fast and powerful movement of pulling inward. I noticed there was no fear at all, there was only excitement and love and willingness and desire to go. The words, ‘I am ready take me’, came to my mind and it was genuine and truthful. But even still, after a short while I felt the pull fading. I kept focusing as much as possible on self, but it eventually faded. Afterwards I was very disappointed. I kept meditating but it did not re-occur.”

In reply I wrote:

We would all like to surrender to that inward pull, but our liking is not yet strong and pure enough, which is why we allow ourself to be pulled out again.

Who is the ‘I’ who felt very disappointed? Obviously it is the ego, and the fact that it felt such disappointment shows that it is not yet ready to let go completely, because the disappointment arises because of dissatisfaction with its present state, and dissatisfaction exists because we want things to be other than how they are now. This is the very nature of the ego, because the ego can never see that what is is perfect as it is, so it always wants something more, whereas what it needs is not to gain anything but to lose everything, including itself and its dissatisfaction.

Therefore the ways in which the ego clings on for survival can be very subtle and deceptive. How then can we overcome such subtle and deceptive clinging? The only way is to persevere in investigating the ego itself to see whether it is actually real. When we investigate it keenly enough, we will see that it does not actually exist, so there will then be no one left to cling to anything, and hence there will be no dissatisfaction or disappointment.

tinnam said...

Michael,
indeed perseverance in investigating the ego is the point.
However, perseverance and love to surrender are mutually dependent. The one cannot grow without the other and vice versa/conversely. To focus our entire attention on ourself more keenly much love to overcome our pramada/self-negligence is highly necessary.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Ramana Maharshi on Turning the Mind Inward

from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 213)

Mr. B. C. Das asked why the mind cannot be turned inward in spite of repeated attempts.
Maharshi: It is done by practice and dispassion and that succeeds only gradually. The mind, having been so long a cow accustomed to graze stealthily on others’ estates, is not easily confined to her stall. However much her keeper tempts her with luscious grass and fine fodder, she refuses the first time; then she takes a bit; but her innate tendency to stray away asserts itself; and she slips away; on being repeatedly tempted by the owner, she accustoms herself to the stall; finally even if let loose she would not stray away. Similarly with the mind. If once it finds its inner happiness it will not wander outward.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in section 4 of this article: ‘Let us suppose that we are at the top of a high cliff with a protective railing along the edge of it. If we wish to see what is at the bottom of the cliff, we can climb over the railing and, while holding it tightly, we can lean out to look down’.

Yes, though we have climbed to the top of a high cliff, but while trying to lean out to look down we are tightly gripping the railing along the edge of this cliff. However because (in this context) our aim is to fall to the very bottom of the cliff, which means that because our aim is to subside to the very depths of our being, we must completely give up our hold on this protective railing (our objective-attention).

We should try to impress upon ourself that by giving up this hold we will be merely falling into the land of bliss. By giving up such hold we will not lose ourself, but rather find ourself; it will not be death but eternal life. We will be letting go of all our miseries and dissatisfaction. Why this foolish hesitation to let go?

karuttu said...

D Samarender Reddy,
if I had the body of a cow I too would like to be happy eating and ruminate the fresh and lush grass while straying across the spacious idyllic mountain pastures.
Certainly my longing to be confined to the small area of the stall would be very low.
Only after repeated experience of inner happiness in the stall I would stop my roaming the mountain meadows.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Karuttu,

What you say is true. The million dollar question then is, how do we experience inner happiness. I guess that can be had only by "practice" and "dispassion" as Bhagavan says. Even the Bhagavad Gita says the same thing regarding mind control, that is, the mind can be brought under control only by abhayasa (practice) and vairagya (dispassion). And a controlled or stilled mind generates inner happiness because the thoughts are no longer veiling the Self and the inherent happiness in it.

Richie said...

"though we are always self-aware, we are generally not attentively self-aware, because most of our attention is taken up with being aware of other things, since we find it more interesting and appealing to be aware of other things than to be attentively aware of ourself alone."

"However, to the extent that our attention is focused on ourself, it will be withdrawn from other things, so though withdrawing our attention from other things is not sufficient, it is necessary, because we cannot be exclusively self-attentive without thereby withdrawing our attention entirely from everything else."

Michael,
Can you let us know how long it took you (since you started practicing self-enquiry) to be exclusively self-attentive (not aware of 'other things' like your body and sense perceptions)? The reason I am asking is that for most of us (probably 99% of us), 'other things' remain in our field of consciousness while we try to stay with the 'I', even though we do not have any interest in them. Simply trying to be exclusively attentive to the core feeling 'I' does not get rid of other perceptions.

The state of exclusive self-attentiveness (non-perception of body and other things) is probably an act of grace rather than any 'effort' we try to put in to focus on I (ourself). Your comments please.

Richie

Sanjay Srivastava said...

When trying to stay with I, I often blank out. Not exactly sleeping, but not awake also.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Richie, you say ‘The state of exclusive self-attentiveness (non-perception of body and other things) is probably an act of grace rather than any 'effort' we try to put in to focus on I (ourself)’. This is not exactly how we should approach our sadhana.

I just read a quotation of Bhagavan where he says: ‘All effort is simply to get rid of this viparita buddhi, this mistaken impression that one is limited and bound by the woes of samsara’. What Bhagavan implies is that as long as we wrongly experience ourself as a body, we definitely need to make effort to get out of this mistaken identification. However, if we are content with this mistaken identification and the problems that come along with it, we need not make any effort to get out this bondage.

As long as we retain our ‘doership’ or free-will to do ‘this’ or ‘that’, we need to make use of this very free-will to turn within, and to thereby experience ourself as we really are. In this regard it could worth considering what Bhagavan teaches us in the twelfth paragraph of Nan Yar?:

God and guru are in truth not different. Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the glance of guru’s grace will surely be saved by him and will never instead be forsaken; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown.

Grace is lovingly and unceasing helping us in all ways, including supporting and guiding us in our sadhana. In fact it is this very grace which has sown the seeds of self-love (svatma-bhakti) in our heart; however, it expects us to ‘walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown’, so that it can easily complete its task of swallowing us.

karuttu said...

D Samarender Reddy,
so the billion dollar question is how do we bring that required abhyasa and vairagya in perfect balance.

aṟivē aṟivu āhum said...

Michael,
section 2.
"Therefore our sole aim while investigating who am I should be to be so keenly self-attentive that our entire attention is focused only on ourself, thereby being withdrawn completely from everything else."
How can one manage to meet that requirements in daily life when he is aware of his lack of self-attentiveness ? To direct all one's effort towards overcoming his pramada (self-negligence) has as prerequisite the ability to do it. If one is lacking that ability he must humbly surrender to Arunachala's grace.

atma-nisthaparan said...

"...seeing ourself without any adjuncts."
One must be highly talented for that supreme art.

Noob said...

to weaken the ego we must persuade it that it has no power at all except for turning inside and taking a look at itself.

Noob said...

for that to happen grace will send us all the so called "difficulties" in our "life".

Amithaba said...

Noob,
(how) can the ego be persuaded by itself - the own ego ?

jacques franck said...

aṟivē aṟivu āhum said...

From the article of Michael : Making effort to pay attention to our mind is being attentive only to our essential self:

Since our desires or vāsanās are nourished and strengthened only by our pramāda or self-negligence - that is, by our not being vigilantly and exclusively self-attentive and consequently allowing ourself to think of other things - and since ‘they will all be destroyed when svarūpa-dhyāna [self-attentiveness] increases and increases’ (as Sri Ramana assures us in the tenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?), the only effective means by which we can overcome our weakness of mind is to persevere tenaciously in our simple practice of ātma-vicāra (self-investigation), svarūpa-dhyāna (self-attentiveness) or svarūpa-smaraṇa (self-remembrance), which are three synonyms that describe our natural state of thought-free self-conscious being.

and Paragraph Ten of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?)

Even though viṣaya-vāsanā [our latent impulsions or desires to attend to things other than ourself], which come from time immemorial, rise [as thoughts] in countless numbers like ocean-waves, they will all be destroyed when svarūpa-dhyāna [self-attentiveness] increases and increases.
Without giving room to the doubting thought, ‘Is it possible to dissolve so many vāsanās and be [or remain] only as self?’, [we] should cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness.
However great a sinner a person may be, if instead of lamenting and weeping, ‘I am a sinner! How am I going to be saved?’, [he] completely rejects the thought that he is a sinner and is zealous [or steadfast] in self- attentiveness, he will certainly be reformed [or transformed into the true ‘form’ of thought-free self-conscious being].

and also from the blog : Why to write about self?

Until our bhakti and vairāgya are sufficiently intense, we will repeatedly succumb to pramāda or self-negligence, slipping down from our natural state of vigilant self-attentiveness or clear self-consciousness and thereby experiencing this mind and its body-bound life as real. Since we are not yet able to remain free of pramāda constantly, we have to wean our mind gradually away from its infatuation with this body-bound life by doing everything that we can to draw it back to self.
______
In this struggle to overcome pramāda, our nididhyāsana or practice of self-attentiveness will be greatly aided by śravaṇa and manana - studying and reflecting upon the teachings of our guru, Sri Ramana.

Namaste :)

jacques franck said...

Sanjay Srivastava said...
When trying to stay with I, I often blank out. Not exactly sleeping, but not awake also.

here some articles of Michael that I have found :

from : There is only one ‘I’, and investigation will reveal that it is not a finite ego but the infinite self

If we experience any void, blankness, stillness or quietness that comes or goes, it cannot be ‘I’, because ‘I’ is what we experience permanently.
______
Therefore if we think we are experiencing a void or any such alien phenomenon, we should turn our attention back towards ‘I’, the experiencer of whatever we may be experiencing.
______
Anything that is temporary - experienced at one time but not at all times - cannot be ‘I’, but it also cannot be experienced by anything other than ‘I’, so it should remind us to turn our attention back to ‘I’.

------------------------------------------

From : Self-knowledge is not a void (śūnya) - 18a. Why does sleep seem to our waking mind to have been a blank?

Regarding the question why sleep seems to our waking mind to have been a blank, void or nothingness, it seems to be so only because we mistake our awareness of phenomena in waking and dream to be real and to be the only experience there is. In other words, because we mistake (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam) or awareness of multiplicity to be real knowledge, we mistake the absence of such awareness in sleep to be ignorance, whereas according to Bhagavan awareness of multiplicity is ignorance and the absence of such awareness is real knowledge.
______
However, the deeper we go in our practice of being attentively self-aware the clearer it will become to us that underlying and supporting all our awareness of anything else is our awareness of ourself, and that whether we are aware of anything else or not, our fundamental self-awareness always continues without a break.

...

It is only from the perspective of our ego or mind, which cannot exist without experiencing phenomena or one kind or another, that sleep seems to be a blank or state of nothingness - a state in which we are not aware of anything at all - whereas in fact sleep is a state in which we are clearly aware of ourself. As Bhagavan is recorded to have said in the first chapter of Maharshi's Gospel (2002 edition, page 9):
<<
Sleep is not ignorance, it is one's pure state; wakefulness is not knowledge, it is ignorance. There is full awareness in sleep and total ignorance in waking.
>>

------------------------------------------

From : Why is it so necessary for us to accept without reservation the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings?

As Sadhu Om often used to say, in order to fully imbibe and absorb Bhagavan’s teachings, and to allow them to impress themselves firmly and indelibly in our heart and mind, we must first make our heart and mind a blank slate. If we ask Bhagavan to write his name on a well-scribbled slate, his beautiful name will become just another confused and illegible scribbling, so we must first wipe our slate clear, and then when he writes his name on it we will be able to appreciate its beauty fully.
______
Likewise, unless we are willing to clear our heart and mind of all our old ideas, beliefs, desires and aspirations, when we read his teachings they will not be able to make a clear and indelible impression on our mind, but will just become further unclear additions to the confused mass of scribblings already present there.
______
Therefore acceptance of the clear, simple and fresh ideas that Bhagavan has taught us requires us to give up clinging to all our old ideas and beliefs, and thereby to make our mind a blank slate that is ready to see everything afresh in the clear light of his teachings and the core set of simple principles on which they are all based.

Namaste :)

Noob said...

TO Amithaba,
Because it is the same "I" that experiences both the waking and the dreaming state, we can make it easier to understand the driving force by analyzing both states.
1) in both states "I" is aware of its body, though "I" is the same, the bodies are not the same.
2) In both states "I" is aware of a "world"
3) In both states "I" experiences emotions such as fears, affection, lust, etc.
4) In both states it looks like "I" acts(interacts with the world)and experiences the results of the actions.
5) Both states do not last forever.
6) Both states have its own perception of time.

In our dreaming states we are aware of many things, including people and animals. They seem to be made of various materials: buildings are made out of building material, aircraft are made of metal, people and animals are made of flesh, etc. But if we analyze it deep enough, "I" would make a conclusion that in our dreams everything is made of the awareness of those many things, because in fact there is no one in our dreams but ourselves, there are no other people in our dreams and no animals, but our fundamental essence, our awareness.

Moreover, it does not look like "I" is acting on its own will, but rather according to a certain script, this dream maybe full of fears and the next one maybe full of pleasures, but "I" is a mere experiencer or is just aware of all the phenomena, including its bodies, thoughts, worlds , etc.

The if we assume that the dreaming state and the waking state are not very much different, then it becomes clear that even in our waking state it just seems that there are so many things, people and the whole world to experience. But in truth there is just one "I" - the ego - the one thing that is aware of all the phenomena but not the one who is interacting with the world by its own will. Therefore we must find out who we are by being aware not of all the "other" phenomena but exclusively of "ourselves", otherwise the change or the states might keep going on.

Amithaba said...

Noob,
thanks for your thorough excursus about both the state of waking and dreaming.
As you say "it is the same "I" that experiences both the waking and the dreaming state. But that was not my question, which you might read again.
Incidentally I do not think the dreaming subject or 'I' to be "our fundamental essence, our awareness." The dreamer is nothing other but our ego.

Noob said...

This is what we have to find out while investigating what this "I" is made of.

As for the answer to your question: once a particular dream has started, the experiencer of this dream cannot change what he experiences in it, be it a nightmare or a dream full of pleasures. Therefore if the dreaming state and the waking state are not different in their essence then it means that we cannot change what we are to experience in this world.

Noob said...

What looks like a snake in the end can be just a rope.Therefore the dreaming subject can be in the end our fundamental essence, our awareness. This is our goal to find out.

aṟivē aṟivu āhum said...

jacques franck,
thank you for your emboldening quotations of Paragraph Ten of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?) and of some paragraphs of Michael's articles. As Bhagavan said we should cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness.

Amithaba said...

Noob,
1.)I do not try to find out or investigate "what this "I" is made of". I only try to find out who am 'I' ? In my opinion that is not the same.
2.) Waking and dreaming are never our foundamental self-awareness, which is said to be our waking-sleep.

Amithaba said...

Noob,
please read fundamental - not foundamental.

Noob said...

What are we doing when we are trying to find out what something is made of or what is something? We are paying attention to it, we are looking at it. However no sensual perception can grasp our essence, it cannot be seen, heard, felt, smelled, tasted.

Amithaba said...

Noob,
"paying attention to it" sounds like activity. Our awareness is not an object.
Therefore I prefer "being self-attentive" to "paying attention to something".

D Samarender Reddy said...

Deep Sleep

The following 16 posts by Dr Ramesam Vemuri on "The Enigma of Deep Sleep" are worth reading:

The Enigma of Deep Sleep – 1 --- http://advaita-academy.org/blogs/the-enigma-of-deep-sleep-1/

Links to the other 15 posts on "The Enigma of Deep Sleep" - http://advaita-academy.org/archives/?years=2015&month=8&auth=9

Amithaba said...

D Samarender Reddy,
thank you for giving the links to the posts by Vemuri Ramesam of the advaita academy. After looking roughly through the first three posts on "The Enigma of Deep Sleep" I would state that there are expounded some interesting aspects but not any new essential important discoveries. So I relinquish to study in depth all the other 4-15 posts. Nevertheless thank you.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Amithaba,

You are welcome. You would have made some "new essential important discoveries" if you had read all the 16 posts of Dr Vemuri. I recommend that you do it because I am sure you would thank me later for asking you to do so.

Amithaba said...

D Samarender Reddy,
so I can hardly pass over your warm recommendation to read all the remaining 13 posts of Dr Vemuri.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Existence of the World During Anesthesia and Deep Sleep

Dear Michael,

Take the case of anesthesia. I may be undergoing an operation, for which anesthesia is given. Under the influence of anesthesia, I am unaware or do not perceive the world. But once the operation is done and the anesthetic wears off and I wake up, I might see a big scar with stitches on my abdomen. Can I not thereby conclude that the world existed during the anesthesia for the operation to have taken place even though I was not perceiving it due to the effect of anesthesia. Otherwise, how to account for the fact of the scar on the abdomen, and the consequent relief from pain I might be experiencing. If the world did not exist when I was under anesthesia, then how did the operation take place, as evidenced by the scar and relief of symptoms, and maybe, say, even a specimen of my gallbladder taken out. And if we so concede that the world existed during anesthesia, then analogously can we not conclude that the world exists even during deep sleep. Perception is not the only means to establish a fact, right, with inference and verbal testimony being the other means of knowledge to establish a fact. In the case of anesthesia and deep sleep, while I cannot resort to perception as a means of knowledge to establish the fact of the existence of the world during those states, but surely inference (with regard to cause-and-effect) and the verbal testimony of others can lead me to conclude that the world does indeed exist during anesthesia and deep sleep, right?

Michael James said...

Samarender, we draw inferences from evidence, but when we do so we need to be critical of the evidence, of our interpretation of it and of the logic by which we draw inferences from it, because unless we do so, we are liable either to draw wrong inferences or to be unduly sure of whatever inferences we happen to draw.

In your latest comment you offer some hypothetical evidence (such as the scar we may see on our abdomen and the relief from pain that we may feel after waking from anaesthesia) and you suggest that we can infer from such evidence that the world did exist while we were under anaesthesia. But how sure can we be that this inference is correct? In a dream we may see a building and infer that it was built by some people, and that those people must have worked on it for some time in order to build it, and that would be a perfectly reasonable inference if we were to assume that we are not dreaming. But are we justified in assuming that we are not dreaming?

While dreaming we normally assume we are not dreaming, and even if we question this assumption, the dream world still seems to us at that time to be as real as this world now seems to be. Therefore are we justified in assuming that we are not now dreaming, or are we ever justified in assuming that we are not dreaming?

If our present state (and also any other state in which we perceive any kind of phenomena) is just a dream, as Bhagavan says it is, then whatever we perceive is just our own mental projection and does not exist independent of our perception of it, in which case the inference that you suggest we can draw from whatever evidence we may perceive after waking from anaesthesia cannot be correct.

Any evidence we may offer to prove that our present state is not a dream could be adequate evidence only if our present state were actually not a dream, so we cannot infer that this is not a dream without assuming that it is not. Therefore any argument that anyone may offer to support the contention that this is not a dream would entail circular reasoning, and such arguments are what is technically called ‘begging the question’, which is a term used to describe the logical fallacy in which a contention (an inference or the conclusion of an argument) is assumed to be true and that assumption is used either as an implicit or an explicit premise in order to prove or at least support the contention.

Since we cannot be sure that our present state is not a dream, and since we have no evidence to support the contention that it is anything but a dream, there is no adequate justification for us to assume that whatever we perceive is anything other than our own mental projection or that it exists independent of our perception of it. Therefore, since the verbal testimony of others and even the principles of cause and effect are all phenomena perceived by us, we should not assume that they exist when we do not perceive them, as in sleep or when we are supposedly under the influence of general anaesthesia.

The inference you attempt to draw in your comment is therefore unjustified. If everything we perceive is just a dream, the scar on your abdomen, the relief from pain, the specimen of your gallbladder, the verbal testimony of others, the laws of cause and effect, and any other evidence you may find are all just your own mental projection and hence they seem to exist only when you perceive them and not when you are asleep or in any other state in which you perceive no phenomena.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael has recently uploaded four new videos in his YouTube channel. These were filmed at a two-day retreat organized by RMF, UK on the 22nd and 23rd of April 2017. The following are some of the extracts (may not be verbatim) from the first video, filmed during the morning session of the 22nd April 2017:

1) Attention is attachment. When I attend to this flower here, I am attaching my awareness onto the flower, so to speak. I bring this flower to the centre of my awareness.

2) In the story of Arunachala appearing as a column of fire, Bhagavan says that Brahma flying up into the sky as a swan represents the intellect, because the intellect is always going outwards, expanding, constantly looking for more. So it’s the nature of the human mind to complicate things.

3) Michael (M): According to Bhagavan, since we see the world, the world seems to exist.
Devotee (D): There seems to be many egos…
M: But how many egos are there? In whose view are all these other egos?
D: In my view…
M: OK, so there is only one ego that you aware of. You infer the existence of an ego in me; however, the ego you see in me is a reflection of your own ego.

4) This ego can never be satisfied. This ego is always trying to grasp something other than itself, because so long it has confined itself in the small space of a body, the infinite whole is confined within the small space. It wants to regain its infinitude, so it is always trying to grasp this or that. It is never satisfied.

The feeling of loneliness, which you mention, comes from the feeling of something lacking. But when we experience what we really are, that is poornatvam. It is fullness, it is wholeness, and therefore nothing is lacking there. That is the state of absolute and infinite happiness.







D Samarender Reddy said...

Thanks Michael. I understand that waking life could also be, and to all accounts is, dream-like. Yet, it is a bit difficult to believe that no operation was done and yet I ended up with a scar. Imagine telling the doctor, "Sorry buddy, I will not be giving you the fees because how could you have operated on me when the world did not exist once you gave me the anesthesia." Because if I were the doctor and the one administering the anesthesia, I would see that the world does not disappear when I give anesthesia to a patient. But I know what you are going to say. You will say from the doctor's viewpoint it does not disappear but from the viewpoint of the patient it disappears. Somehow, I find it too far-fetched to believe that the world disappears the moment someone administers me anesthesia, although I do admit that from my point of view or in my experience it does not exist. There is a distinction between Ishvara-srishti and jiva-srishti, which even Bhagavan alluded to in an analogy he gave of a father receiving the wrong news that his son was dead. Moreover, Bhagavan says at one point that in the Avasthatraya analysis, the object is to be kept in view and one should not accentuate the differences between dreams and waking life, thereby hinting that there are some differences between waking life and dreams. From Talk 399: "There are different methods of approach to prove the unreality of the universe. The example of the dream is one among them. Jagrat,
svapna and sushupti are all treated elaborately in the scripture in order that the Reality underlying them might be revealed. It is not meant to accentuate differences among the three states. The purpose must be kept clearly in view."