Thursday, July 24, 2008

Meditation on the Heart-centre

The first comment in the open thread on vichara was from Maneesha who said:

Initially, when I began vichara, I used to concentrate on the right side of the chest, expecting an answer to come from there when I questioned who I was.

This reminded me that I had promised to respond to a question from Celio about why some direct disciples of Bhagavan have written that self-enquiry is to be done by (or while) concentrating on this centre whereas others have refuted this position.

Many people came to the conclusion that meditating on the right-side Heart-centre was a part of self-enquiry, even though Bhagavan frequently said that it was not. This is what I wrote on this subject in the ‘Self-enquiry – Misconceptions’ chapter of Be As You Are. The quotes that follow my introduction are from later in the same chapter:

In describing the origin of the ‘I’-thought he [Bhagavan] sometimes said that it rose to the brain through a channel which started from a centre in the right-hand side of the chest. He called this centre the Heart-centre and said that when the ‘I’-thought subsided into the Self it went back into the centre and disappeared. He also said that when the Self is consciously experienced, there is a tangible awareness that this centre is the source of both the mind and the world. However, these statements are not strictly true and Sri Ramana sometimes qualified them by saying that they were only schematic representations which were given to those people who persisted in identifying with their bodies. He said that the Heart is not really located in the body and that from the highest standpoint it is equally untrue to say that the ‘I’-thought arises and subsides into this centre on the right of the chest.

Because Sri Ramana often said ‘Find the place where the “I” arises’ or ‘Find the source of the mind’, many people interpreted these statements to mean that they should concentrate on this particular centre while doing self-enquiry. Sri Ramana rejected this interpretation many times by saying that the source of the mind or the ‘I’ could only be discovered through attention to the ‘I’-thought and not through concentration on a particular part of the body. He did sometimes say that putting attention on this centre is a good concentration practice, but he never associated it with self-enquiry. He also occasionally said that meditation on the Heart was an effective way of reaching the Self, but again, he never said that this should be done by concentrating on the Heart-centre. Instead he said that one should meditate on the Heart ‘as it is’. The Heart ‘as it is’ is not a location, it is the immanent Self and one can only be aware of its real nature by being it. It cannot be reached by concentration.

Although there are several potentially ambiguous comments of this kind about the Heart and the Heart-centre, in all his writings and recorded conversations there is not a single statement to support the contention that self-enquiry is to be practised by concentrating on this centre. In fact, by closely examining his statements on the subject one can only conclude that while the experience of the Self contains an awareness of this centre, concentration on this centre will not result in the experience of the Self.

Question:
You have said that the Heart is the centre of the Self.

Bhagavan:
Yes, it is the one supreme centre of the Self. You need have no doubt about it. The real Self is there in the Heart behind the jiva or ego-self.

Question:
Now be pleased to tell me where it is in the body.

Bhagavan:
You cannot know it with your mind. You cannot realise it by imagination when I tell you here is the centre [pointing to the right side of the chest]. The only direct way to realise it is to cease to fantasise and try to be yourself. When you realise, you automatically feel that the centre is there. This is the centre, the Heart, spoken of in the scriptures as hrit-guhaarul [grace], ullam [the Heart].

Question:
In no book have I found it stated that it is there.

Bhagavan:
Long after I came here I chanced upon a verse in the Malayalam version of Ashtangahridayam, the standard work on ayurveda [Hindu medicine], wherein the ojas sthana [source of bodily vitality or place of light] is mentioned as being located in the right side of the chest and called the seat of consciousness [samvit]. But I know of no other work which refers to it as being located there.

Question:
Can I be sure that the ancients meant this centre by the term ‘Heart’?

Bhagavan:
Yes, that is so. But you should try to have rather than to locate the experience. A man need not find out where his eyes are situated when he wants to see. The Heart is there ever open to you if you care to enter it, ever supporting all your movements even when you are unaware. It is perhaps more proper to say that the Self is the Heart itself than to say that it is in the Heart. Really, the Self is the centre itself. It is everywhere, aware of itself as ‘Heart’, the Self-awareness.

Question:
In that case, how can it be localised in any part of the body? Fixing a place for the Heart would imply setting physiological limitations to that which is beyond space and time.

Bhagavan:
That is right. But the person who puts the question about the position of the Heart considers himself as existing with or in the body. While putting the question now, would you say that your body alone is here but you are speaking from somewhere else? No, you accept your bodily existence. It is from this point of view that any reference to a physical body comes to be made. Truly speaking, pure consciousness is indivisible, it is without parts. It has no form and shape, no ‘within’ and ‘without’. There is no ‘right’ or ‘left’ for it. Pure consciousness, which is the Heart, includes all, and nothing is outside or apart from it. That is the ultimate truth. From this absolute standpoint, the Heart, Self or consciousness can have no particular place assigned to it in the physical body. What is the reason? The body is itself a mere projection of the mind, and the mind is but a poor reflection of the radiant Heart. How can that, in which everything is contained, be itself confined as a tiny part within the physical body which is but an infinitesimal, phenomenal manifestation of the one reality? But people do not understand this. They cannot help thinking in terms of the physical body and the world. For instance, you say, ‘I have come to this ashram all the way from my country beyond the Himalayas’. But that is not the truth. Where is ‘coming’ or ‘going’ or any movement whatever, for the one, all-pervading spirit which you really are? You are where you have always been. It is your body that moved or was conveyed from place to place till it reached this ashram. This is the simple truth, but to a person who considers himself a subject living in an objective world, it appears as something altogether visionary! It is by coming down to the level of ordinary understanding that a place is assigned to the Heart in the physical body.

Question:
How then shall I understand Sri Bhagavan’s statement that the experience of the Heart-centre is at the particular place in the chest?

Bhagavan:
Once you accept that from the true and absolute standpoint the Heart as pure consciousness is beyond space and time, it will be easy for you to understand the rest in its correct perspective.

Question:
The Heart is said to be on the right, on the left, or in the centre. With such differences of opinion how are we to meditate on it?

Bhagavan: You are and it is a fact. Dhyana [meditation] is by you, of you, and in you. It must go on where you are. It cannot be outside you. So you are the centre of dhyana and that is the Heart. Doubts arise only when you identify it with something tangible and physical. Heart is no conception, no object for meditation. But it is the seat of meditation. The Self remains all alone. You see the body in the Heart, the world is also in it. There is nothing separate from it. So all kinds of effort are located there only.

Question:
You say the ‘I’-thought rises from the Heart-centre. Should we seek its source there?

Bhagavan:
I ask you to see where the ‘I’ arises in your body, but it is really not quite correct to say that the ‘I’ rises from and merges in the Heart in the right side of the chest. The Heart is another name for the reality and it is neither inside nor outside the body. There can be no in or out for it, since it alone is.

Question:
Should I meditate on the right chest in order to meditate on the Heart?

Bhagavan:
The Heart is not physical. Meditation should not be on the right or the left. Meditation should be on the Self. Everyone knows ‘I am’. Who is the ‘I’? It will be neither within nor without, neither on the right nor on the left. ‘I am’ - that is all. Leave alone the idea of right and left. They pertain to the body. The Heart is the Self. Realise it and then you will see for yourself. There is no need to know where and what the Heart is. It will do its work if you engage in the quest for the Self.

Question:
Upadesa Saram where it is said, ‘Abiding in the Heart is the best karma, yoga, bhakti and jnana?’

Bhagavan:
That which is the source of all, that in which all live, and that into which all finally merge, is the Heart referred to.

Question:
How can we conceive of such a Heart?

Bhagavan:
Why should you conceive of anything? You have only to see from where the ‘I’ springs. That from which all thoughts of embodied beings issue forth is called the Heart. All descriptions of it are only mental concepts.

Question:
There are said to be six organs of different colours in the chest, of which the Heart is said to be two finger-breadths to the right of the middle line. But the Heart is also formless. Should we then imagine it to have a shape and meditate on it?

Bhagavan:
No. Only the quest ‘Who am I?’ is necessary. What remains all through deep sleep and waking is the same. But in waking there is unhappiness and the effort to remove it. Asked who wakes up from sleep you say ‘I’. Now you are told to hold fast to this ‘I’. If it is done the eternal being will reveal itself. Investigation of ‘I’ is the point and not meditation on the Heart-centre. There is nothing like within or without. Both mean either the same thing or nothing. Of course there is also the practice of meditation on the Heart-centre. It is only a practice and not investigation. Only the one who meditates on the Heart can remain aware when the mind ceases to be active and remains still, whereas those who meditate on other centres cannot be so aware but infer that the mind was still only after it becomes again active. In whatever place in the body one thinks Self to be residing, due to the power of that thinking it will appear to the one who thinks thus as if Self is residing in that place. However, the beloved Heart alone is the refuge for the rising and subsiding of that ‘I’. Know that though it is said that the Heart exists both inside and outside, in absolute truth it does not exist both inside and outside, because the body, which appears as the base of the differences ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, is an imagination of the thinking mind. Heart, the source, is the beginning, the middle and the end of all. Heart, the supreme space, is never a form. It is the light of truth.

The following incident, narrated by Annamalai Swami in Living by the Words of Bhagavan, also has Bhagavan giving out similar advice:

In the beginning, when I first came to Bhagavan, I had asked him for a mantra. In response he told me to repeat ‘Siva Siva’ continuously. Later, Bhagavan advised me to keep my attention in the Heart while I was working. I had read that Bhagavan had spoken of a place called ‘the Heart-centre’, which he located on the right side of the chest. I had assumed that Bhagavan wanted me to concentrate on this particular centre. However, when I started to practise in this way, Bhagavan stopped me and corrected me.

‘This right-side Heart-centre is not the true Heart,’ he said. ‘The real Heart is not located anywhere. It is all-pervasive.’

‘Stop meditating on the Heart-centre,’ he continued. ‘Find the source. That is the true Heart. Just as electricity comes not from the individual meter boxes in people’s houses but from a single source, so too the whole world has a single source, which is the Self or the Heart. Seek and enquire into this source of limitless energy. If the centre of the Self were really located in the body, the Self would die when the body dies.’

I understood from these remarks that just as one cannot experience the nature and source of electricity by staring at the meter box in one’s house, one cannot gain a direct experience of the current of the Self by concentrating on the Heart-centre. I gave up concentrating on this centre and tried to follow Bhagavan’s advice.

Faced with this comprehensive array of citations from Bhagavan it would be hard to conclude that Bhagavan associated self-enquiry with the practice of concentrating on the Heart-centre, but still some writers did manage to make the connection and advocate this. For example, Arthur Osborne on page 151 of The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own Words wrote:

In a number of passages already quoted Bhagavan does not only tell the questioner to investigate the ‘I’-thought but to find out where it arises. This connects self-enquiry with concentration on the Heart at the right side.

And in ‘The Direct Path’, an article from The Mountain Path that was reprinted in For Those with Little Dust, he wrote:

Bhagavan’s instruction was, while meditating, to concentrate the consciousness on the Heart – not the physical heart on the left, but the spiritual Heart on the right side of the chest.

Celio noted that other writers had come to the same conclusion. When I wrote the ‘Who are you Ramana?’ post I quoted Bhagavan saying that all the stories about himself being Subrahmanya and Kumarila Bhatta in previous incarnations originated with Ganapati Muni. In much the same way I think that most of the people who believe that self-enquiry involves meditating on the right-side Heart-centre can trace their beliefs back to Arthur Osborne’s writings. The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own Words came out in the 1950s and for the next twenty-five years or so it was the only book on Bhagavan’s teachings that was easily available in the West. Several generations of Bhagavan’s western devotees picked up their ideas about Bhagavan from this book. I was one of them. I read this book in 1974, and when I came to Ramanasramam for the first time in 1976 I was firmly convinced that self-enquiry involved concentrating on the Heart-centre. However, in the first year or so after my arrival here I read all the available books on Bhagavan and spoke with many old devotees about Bhagavan’s teachings. Faced with the overwhelming body of quotes on this topic (many of which I have listed above) I dropped this particular idea.

I think that Arthur Osborne went through a similar process. In the articles that he wrote for The Mountain Path in the 1960s he was advocating a more acceptable position: that meditation on the Heart-centre was one practice – and a very good one – and that self-enquiry was something else. I suspect that, like me, he read more widely, and perhaps talked to other devotees about this, and eventually came to the conclusion that the two practices were not related. He concluded, as I did, that ‘you should try to have rather than to locate the experience’. That was Bhagavan’s advice to Kapali Sastri, and it is advice that all devotees should follow.

A few moments’ reflection on how and why self-enquiry works ought to convince most devotees that self-enquiry will not be successful if one holds the Heart-centre as the object of one’s attention. Bhagavan taught that the individual ‘I’ continues to exist only so long as it associates itself with objects of thought or perception. When it is freed of such associations, it subsides into the Heart and disappears since it cannot exist unless it latches on to and associates with thoughts. Concentrating on any place in the body prolongs the existence of the individual ‘I’; being subjectively aware of ‘I’ and ‘I’ alone makes it sink and disappear.

Around 1980 I was giving a talk at a conference in New Delhi. I mentioned that Bhagavan had not advocated concentrating on the Heart-centre during enquiry. At a later session of the same conference I was accosted by a distinguished elderly gentleman who produced a pile of bookmarked Ramanasramam publications. All the marks related to his contention that self-enquiry and concentrating on the Heart-centre were practices that should be done together. I tried to convince him that Bhagavan had not taught this, but he remained unconvinced. A few years later he took sannyasa under the name Swami Ramanananda Giri, and he ended up becoming a devotee of Papaji. In the early 1990s I caught up with him again in Lucknow, where we were both attending Papaji’s satsangs. He told me that when he first met Papaji in Rishikesh in 1985 he had produced the same pile of books and had tried to get Papaji to validate his position. Papaji refused, saying that Osborne was wrong on this particular point.

Apologies for not responding to the many people who have asked me to comment on thoughts expressed in the open thread on vichara. Once I have posted this material on the Heart-centre, I will start working my way through them.




162 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I entered the hall in the afternoon Bhagavan was already explaining in answer to some questions put by Mr. Poonja, a Punjabi:
“I ask you to see where the ‘I’ arises in your body, but it is really not quite correct to say that the ‘I’ rises from and merges in the heart in the right side of the chest. The heart is another name for the Reality and it is neither inside nor outside the body; there can be no in or out for it, since it alone is. I do not mean by ‘heart’ any physiological organ or any plexus of nerves or anything like that, but so long as one identifies oneself with the body and thinks he is in the body he is advised to see where in the body the ‘I’-thought rises and merges again. It must be the heart at the right side of the chest since every man, of whatever race and religion and in whatever language he may be saying ‘I’, points to the right side of the chest to indicate himself. This is so all over the world, so that must be the place.
And by keenly watching the daily emergence of the ‘I’-thought on waking and its subsiding in sleep, one can see that it is in the heart on the right side.”

[Day by Day, p 234, dated: 23-5-46]

Anonymous said...

Again today a visitor put questions: I do not understand how to make the enquiry ‘Who am I?’
Bhagavan: Find out whence the ‘I’ arises. Self-enquiry does not mean argument or reasoning such as goes on when you say, “I am not this body, I am not the senses,” etc.: all that may also help but it is not the enquiry. Watch and find out where in the body the ‘I’ arises and fix your mind on that.

[Day by Day, pp276-7, Dated: 19-7-46]

See also pages 297 and 344 for similar.

celio leite said...

Dear David,
Thanks a lot for the serious explanation.
Bring to us a lot of material and words of Ramana and close disciples. My question and of so many people have been answered.
Om Shanti.

David Godman said...

Anonymous

I did mention in my introduction to the chapter from Be As You Are that there are several potentially ambiguous comments by Bhagavan on this topic. This is one of them.

While Bhagavan was happy to say, 'Find out where in the body the "I"-thought arises and fix your mind there,' he clearly (on the basis of the replies I gave in the Be as You Are chapter) did not intend that this should be done by putting attention on the Heart-centre.

How, then, is one to go about doing it? I believe that, rather than putting one's attention on a part of the body that is the presumed origin of the 'I'-thought, one should abide as 'I' and allow the 'I' to sink naturally to its source. The place of its origin is revealed when one arrives there. This process can occur when the 'I' is not externalised and when it is not grabbing on to thoughts and preceptions.

Self-enquiry is the process by which one disconnects the subject 'I' from the objects that it habitually associates and identifies with. When this is done successfully, the 'I' subsides into its source giving a direct experience of that source, not one that is a projection of one's imagination.

arvind said...

Couldn’t agree with you more on this one David.

The fact is that it is far easier to concentrate on a physical spot on the body than to try to fix attention on an intangible, slippery ‘I’. And the practice is not much removed from the many yogic methods of concentrating on a particular ‘chakra’, which are already being followed by a lot of people. And so the method remains popular, though everyone would be well advised to stick to what Sri Bhagavan really said and intended.

Even Sri Bhagavan’s teaching of ‘Diving’, as for a pearl, may be misinterpreted. It may be erroneously assumed that He was talking about ‘Diving’ into a physical location of the Heart on the right side of the body, and a practice developed around that. Whereas of course He meant that we should dive into the Heart, the universal, ‘un-locatable’ Self.

My earnest apologies if my remarks are hurtful to anyone ...

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, I agree with arvind.
It is better to have a location inside the body, than considering
that the Self is All Pervading. It
is like Siva linga in the temple,
than meditating that Siva is
everywhere. Of course, I see
the point in what Annamalai
Swami said about the electricity
and metre box.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, further Bhagavan
Himself has said: "While the
Self is within five sheaths, what
is the use of enquiring in books,
which are outside?"

Ravi said...

Since Sri Bhagavan has mentioned about this Heart Centre on the Right,It must have some Validity.Until now,I have not felt it necessary for sadhana to understand this observaton,but may be some others may find some useful clue in this.Intellectually,I GUESS this may be akin to the CENTRE OF GRAVITY point,where instinctively one feels the 'I'-Like even a Child or an unlettered person also FEELS the 'I'at this VIRTUAL centre.No one points to his hands or legs or head in referring to himself.It looks like this is the centre of 'I'when one is completely identified with 'I AM THE BODY'idea.All the same it does not imply that one can do a mental vivisection of the body and reach to this point!Anonymous has also brought out this point in his comments.May be that this would help tilt the attention from the outer Body Consciousness to the more immediate and intimate Self Consciousness.

R Subramanian,
Reading Books is a very useful thing if our objective is to have SATSANGH with the Great ones.This is one way of connecting with them and their liberating teachings.What Sri Bhagavan as well as all the other Sages have discouraged is READING for INTELLECUAL STIMULATION which Swami Vivekananda used to call INTELLECTUAL OPIUM EATING.Again nothing can be written off!What is not useful to one may be a Source of Great inspiration and sustenance for another.
Salutations!

arvind said...

Sincerest apologies to everyone. I think I may have conveyed a wrong impression with my earlier comment.

What I said was that – I agree TOTALLY with David on what he has written on this topic.

That indeed, if we take the Heart as the Self as Sri Bhagavan said, then there can be NO location for the Heart anywhere, let alone in the body. This is because the moment we specify a location, we imply cognition and perception of a location, which implies the 'active' presence of the mind, and immediately the Self is negated.

Not only that, what I tried to emphasize was that since it is much simpler to concentrate on a physical location, people take the easy way out and do not struggle with the true Vichara as taught by Sri Bhagavan. And the same malaise may arise in the practice of ‘Diving into the Heart’.

I believe that there is no need to slip into an easier practice when we find Vichara very difficult. I believe that one must struggle with Vichara, strictly as taught by Sri Bhagavan, even if we fail miserably day in and day out. For, He has Himself said that we cannot ourselves assess our progress, and we may actually be ‘advancing’ much further even with all the failures. And I believe that He watches protectively over us, particularly those who struggle and fail with practicing His true teaching, and still carry on regardless; and then one finds that, unknowingly, when the time is right, ‘whilst we slept like a baby, we were fed our spiritual milk to the full’.

Sorry once again if my comments are found hurtful by anyone …

Maneesha said...

For me, it was pretty difficult to get over the "Observe the right side of the chest" idea, as I had practiced it for pretty long time. In fact, that was the way I started it as mind needed something gross to hold on to, because of its long inherent tendencies to dwell on gross objects more easily. I have been able to dismiss the idea by arguing: “When the body is not me, I can most definitely not be "inside" the body.” and go on with my vichara to find the origin of the "I".
"So, how do we happen to identify ourselves with this particular body?" I argue, "Ihe same way as we identify ourselves in the dream with a particular body, even though its one mind that has manifested itself as multiple bodies."

I feel, Maharshi’s statements on Heart being origin of Self have been misinterpreted by many as “Heart is the origin of the Self” than interpret as “Heart is where the Self originates from (or Heart is ‘wherever’ Self is)”. The subtle difference between the two statements is that while the former seems to give more importance to Heart by itself, as it were, than the Self, while the latter gives importance the Self. Any comments, David?

Broken Yogi said...

My understanding, perhaps a little speculative, is that the experience of feeling a current of happiness in the right side of the heart is a possible side-effect of the process initiated in self-enquiry. In other words, doing self-enquiry begins to open the heart to what is beyond the mere ego-self. Cracks form, so to speak, and the Self bleeds through and creates all kinds of spiritual and human phenomena. This may include the feeling of a current of bliss rising out of the heart on the right, and attention naturally being drawn to that as a pervasive feeling of love. But I also thought this was not to become a substitute for self-enquiry, and not to be troubled if it doesn't arise, or think it should become a substitute for self-enquiry. In other words, it's not some meditation on the right side of the heart that leads to this opening, but it's self-enquiry that leads to the opening, and we shouldn't confuse the primal practice with its effects.

One thing I wasn't sure about was if this current on the right doesn't, at some very mature point, become the vehicle by which the "I"-thought is finally attracted to and destroyed in the heart, that this current draws attention away from the mind if allowed to, and that in that sense it does at the very end supercede self-enquiry, in that there's very little mind left to enquire with or of in that late stage of the process. But I wouldn't really know for sure, since the literature is a little sketchy at that point. Maybe you know better sources that address this issue.

arvind said...

Forgive me Maneesha, for putting up some further thoughts of my own on the ‘Heart’ - on your query to David.

Sri Bhagavan laid down the definition of what He really meant by the ‘Heart’ as far back as 1902 or thereabouts.

The following is from the 3rd of Michael James’ 5 marvellous articles on “The various Texts of ‘Who am I ?’ given in 5 issues of the Mountain Path between 1993 to 1996. [I would earnestly urge all devotees of Bhagavan, and especially those who are fond of the booklet ‘Who Am I ?’, to go thro’ these essays, if not done already].

Michael James in these articles, has painstakingly studied Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai’s old notebooks and put down a literal translation of material he found related to the text of ‘Who Am I ?’. In the introduction Michael writes,

“On pages 98 to 114 of the same notebook (SP-20) in which the earliest manuscript (…) is found, Sri SPP has noted many sayings of Sri Bhagavan under the heading ‘Sri Ramana Maharshigalin Upadesa Mozhigal’ (Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Words of Instruction). Many of these sayings were later included in the various printed and unprinted versions of Nan Yar ?, worded either in the same or in a similar manner, but some of these are not found elsewhere … .”

In this work, verse 19 is:

“Heart (Hridayam): From where thoughts all arise, that alone is the Heart. Therefore Self (atma-swarupam) alone is the Heart. Yet they will speak of the heart in many ways saying that it is a lump of flesh (mamsa-pindam), that it has a form like a lotus bud, and that it has the shape of a wheel (chakrakaram). ‘Vidhampadum ulandorum viseda varivayut’ etc etc, Brahma Gitai.”

At the end, the Suta Samhita is quoted. The meaning is [please see the article for the full explanation given by Michael]: “Due to His benevolently existing and shining as the special knowledge in each heart, which appear diverse (i.e. as the peerless, pure, adjunctless, single and indivisible Self-consciousness ‘I-am’ in the heart of each jiva, who appear to be different from one another), they ( the people who know the truth) call God Himself the Heart ...”

It would be quite apparent even to a beginner-devotee that these words are vintage Sri Bhagavan and have quite an authentic ring about them.

It is easy to see that this same idea as of verse 19, went into the first benedictory verse of Ulladu Narpadu (please see David’ post in this blog); and in fact Sri Muruganar’s Upadesa Tiruvahaval has even the same language virtually:

“The place where ullal [thought] arises and subsides is ullam [the heart] …”, and, “Since ulladu [reality] exists in ullam [the Heart], ulladu itself may be said to be ullam”.

And the same idea has gone into verse 2 of Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam:

“Since You dance eternally in the heart as ‘I’, they say that Your name itself is Heart …”

And I could probably dig up a lot more of quotes from Sri Bhagavan’s works where he expresses the same, unchanged idea, from way back in 1902.

The point I am trying to make is that Sri Bhagavan’s primary teaching with respect to the ‘Heart’ is that - the “Self (atma-swarupam) alone is the Heart”.

I know we could find ‘quotes’ from later dates that attach all sorts of ‘shades’ to this basic teaching of Sri Bhagavan. These could be [some as mentioned by Maneesha] - that the Heart is the source of the Self; that the Heart is where the Self originates from; that the Heart is a door to the Self, and so on. Also could be found some lines/verses relating to a physical location for the Heart and so on.

I would submit with all humility that ALL these should be taken as auxiliary teachings. Sri Bhagavan had devotees of all types of samskaras in later years [we must remember that even the great Ganapati Muni came much later than SPP’s 1902 date, and Sri Muruganar even later]. And some of the later devotees were, perhaps, naturally keen to have at least some validation of their own practices and beliefs from the Master. Sri Bhagavan, given His great catholicity, would have simply ‘nodded’ away in His characteristic way as long as the devotees’ beliefs were not completely unacceptable.

And I would also be willing to accept that some of the practices related to such ‘auxiliary’ teachings could be useful for a while. But then at a later stage, and with even greater difficulty perhaps, we would have to return to the primary teaching.

Therfore, the golden words are: “SELF (atma-swarupam) ALONE IS THE HEART”.

David, apologies for the long comment on this one.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and everyone, why
then Bhagavan quoted Ashtanga
Hridayam and the Bible? : 'the
fool's heart is on the left, while
the wise one's in on the right'.

Ravi said...

R Subramanian,
Brahmastram Unleashed!Yes,Sri Bhagavan did bring out this point when someone asked whether it is substantiated in the scriptures.My Master often narrates this incident.He also says that Sri Bhagavan used to have a Fascination for VALAMPURI VINAYAKA-where the trunk of Lord Vinayaka is to the Right.Whenever such Vigrahas(Statue)were brought to the attention of Sri Bhagavan,he would view them with interest.I do not know from where my Master picks up such interesting tidbits about Sri Bhagavan!

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and ravi, Bhagavan
always had a fascination for the
'right'. It is always right and not
wrong. The Sanskrit "Dakshinam'
also means 'right' because, when
we look at the sun in the morning,
to our right is South, that is
"Dakshinam". The term Dakshinamoorthy does not merely denote the one who is looking southwards, but one who looks
his at right side! In Tamil, Tiruvchakam songs say:
"Then paal ugandhadum Thillai
Chitrambalavan.." meaning
Nataraja of Chidambram is also
looking southwards. Bhagavan,
when somebody said that there is a old statue of Dakshinamoorthy, which has been brought from some temple or excavation, to Madras Museum, Bhagavan said,
'Can someone bring the photograph of that statue?". He also said that Dakshinamoorthy not only does look southwards, but also looks 'right-side", by
slightly bending his head towards right! It is as if he is looking at his Heart!!! Bhagavan also, in some photographs looks rightside, bending His head slightly.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

I remember that some tibetan teachings (Dzogchen?) state that in deep meditation many people are looking slightly to the left.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and everyone, while
Jesus Christ is born everyday to
redeem us, why are we celebrating 25th December as his
birthday, Christmas? Every seeker needs a focal point. In
Devi worhsip, the yogis look to the left, because she is on the left of Siva, as a concorporate Sakti.
"Vama bhaaga" or the left hand is more beneficial for Sakta-tantrics. People prefer Sri Chakra for Devi
worship, where in alphabets are written in Telugu, because in Telegu, alphabets are written from left to right. Tibetan Lamas are said to be tantrics, with worhsip of some divine female principle.

Ravi said...

Subramanian R,
Interesting to note your comments.Ramos has given a quick counter to the same!
Whatever it may be, atleast on this point,Sri Bhagavan has puzzled the Gnanis and the Ignorant alike!Atleast one area where we can claim that we know as much as the Gnanis!This quite fits in with Sri Bhagavan's typical characteristic -SAMA DARSHANA-Remember,how when Paramahansa Yogananda asked Sri Bhagavan the way to help the world,Bhagavan produced his Brahmastra!

Nice Fun!

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and everyone, there is
a small correction to what I had said about Sri Chakra and Telugu
alphabets. Telugu alphabets are
written from "right to left" and not as stated by me earlier. This is one language where the vama technique is adopted unlike other Indian languages, hence its importance in Sri Chakra. I think Urdu, Persian and other Muslim languages are also written, I think from right to left or from bottom or top. Perhaps this is why Arabian Nights and erotic literature flourished! Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has recommended vama-tantra, worshipping Sakti, while copulating with a woman but he has cautioned about the dangers of such practices and has said that it is like walking on a razor's edge. While Bhairavai Brahmani wanted to taught "vama tantra" to Sri Ramakrishana, he has said 'No' adding that he could look upon women only as mothers and not in any other fashion!

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and everyone, perhaps, this could be one of the
reasons, why Marakadamma wanted to embrace Lakshmanaswami and other sadhus as also Bhagavan! Bhagavan's attendants drove her out of the hall many a times!

S. said...

salutations to all:
(subramanian/clemens: hope what am scribbling here is not offensive)
i guess this 'heart-centre' thing is beginning to get very speculative...i may have read much much less than many of you and thus may not be able to quote the exact sources...yet in my opinion, let me humbly submit that there was only one thing where bhagavan was uncompromising, which also appears with the highest degree of consistency, and that is obviously: vichara...everything else was more or less customised to the particular needs of a particular visitor/devotee in a particular situation...as such, they cannot be generalised...

take the case of this 'heart being on the right': even if bhagavan had explained this within the framework of this psychophysical vehicle (mind-body), i would treat it as an answer given to satisfy those who could not, or simply refused to, get satisfied by bhagavan's simple suggestion to of self-enquiry...further, relating it with anything else that may somehow locate it inside or outside the mind-body has to be quite incongruent with self-abidance...

needless to say, there could be many more instances where bhagavan may have said something or the other, and in my opinion, it may be better for us to exercise discretion (or even scepticism) before accepting any such thing by way of instruction...

Ravi said...

Friends,
Just the other day,David was mentioning about 'Spiritual entertainment',also wondering what shape it is going to take!Sankalpa has its own effect!So,here we are!
This is not without any learning.

Thanks R. Subramanian for presenting some diverse thoughts!Interesting to note the way Telugu is written and the comparison to the other scripts.I also have read about the Dakshinamoorthy episode-perhaps it was from an article by Ganapathy Sthapathi-The Sculptor who is currently building Kanchi Mahaswami Mani Mandapam at Orirukkai near Chennai.He and his Father were Sri Bhagavan's Devotees,was perhaps also associated with the Matrubhooteswara Temple.

I am always wary of choosing What is Sri Bhagavan's Final teaching and what is only intermediate or just offered to cater to some whim or fancy of some idiosynchratic devotee.I remember how Sri Ramakrishna despatched Naren,when Naren was blasting Vamachara for over 3 Hours!Thakur simply said-"Well,may be there is a Backdoor entry to God!" and that settled it!

Coming to the Heart issue,What happened at the time of Sri Bhagavan's mother's Mahasamadhi?Did Bhagavan just kept abiding in the 'HEART'or the Self?Why did he have to place one hand on her head and another on her heart.(He did the same to Palani Swami as well).There must be some significance.May be that we do not know...To dismiss all this?!!!!

It is useful to remember that Sri Bhagavan's Teachings cannot be confined to the answers that he gave to the questions,nor to his compositions.IT IS HIS LIFE-That I consider as his Loftiest Teaching.(If at all it can be considered as a Teaching)

I also want to share what I have Learnt from my Master about HUMILITY.He says it is Humility only when one knows that one does not know AND WANTS TO KNOW.

Salutations!

S. said...

salutations to all:
(my apologies if my brashness has hurt anyone anytime...it is a blessing to be with everyone of you...please don't take this scribble as an argument.)

read this nice verse sometime back...some say it's persian and some sanskrit:
[he who knows not & knows not he knows not, he is a fool; avoid him
he who knows not & knows he knows not, he is a student; teach him
he who knows & knows not he knows, he is asleep; awake him
he who knows & knows he knows, he is wise; follow him]...nice one, isn't it?

humility perhaps is the greatest of all virtues...in my opinion, humility 'is' where the ego 'is not' (ego not in the sense of arrogance but more fundamentally, the i-thought)...
no wonder, the enlightened 'define' humility... thus, am definitely not humble :) humility cannot be cultivated, nor can it be as long as i see the 'other'...as the i-thought dissolves (so to say), let humility manifest incidentally...

my words may sound a bit odd now &
then...in my opinion, bhagavan's teaching 'is' vichara (surrender included)...the reason why am dismissive of many other things is because at the stage of sadhana (at least in the stage in which i am now, and others like me), it is preferable to be a horse 'with' blinkers...focus is important, and for me, focus is self-enquiry... what bhagavan did to his mother is beyond my understanding...and i also do not know what he meant by 'heart' there as well...

yes, i agree from whatever little i know, bhagavan's life is beautiful...but thats all only second-hand (i know this sounds funny, or even atrocious)... a whole lot of the accounts are subjective (it has to be!)... empirically, if i had been a
contemporary of bhagavan, i could perhaps have had a first-hand experience of his sublime life... the only thing i have now is his teaching, which i can test and whose truth i can verify for myself...except by 'vichara', i have no other way to know or accept what bhagavan was or said or did...if there is a 'truth' that bhagavan abided in and referred to, then let me make the best efforts possible to find out what that was...and for that, the 'tool' bhagavan suggested was vichara

Jupes said...

S., thanks for that marvelous verse and for the wonderfully balancing effect of your latest comment. I was on the verge of sending a comment with my own thoughts on this subject but decided not to after reading yours. My general lack of humility was a bit too evident in what I was saying.

You mentioned that if you had been a contemporary of Bhagavan you might have been able to experience his life firsthand. I have wondered many times whether any of us on this blog WERE there in Bhagavan's time, in a past life. Does anyone have any sense of that?

May we all be steeped in Bhagavan's Grace!

Ravi said...

S.
"if there is a 'truth' that bhagavan abided in and referred to, then let me make the best efforts possible to find out what that was...and for that, the 'tool' bhagavan suggested was vichara"

Wishing you All the Very Best.May Sri Bhagavan's Blessings be with you and all of us.
Salutations!

David Godman said...

Ravi (and others)

'Since Sri Bhagavan has mentioned about this Heart Centre on the Right,It must have some Validity.'

This post was not intended to dispute the existence of the Heart-centre, or to diminish its importance in the process by which the 'I'-thought goes back into the Self and dies; I merely intended to dispel a widely held belief that self-enquiry should be practised by fixing attention on this particular place in the body. The long extract in my post came from a chapter entitled 'Self-enquiry - Misconceptions'. The ideas I expressed should be seen from that perspective.

I did a post on the role of the Heart-centre in Self-realisation back in April. Then I took the position that Bhagavan's words on the Heart-centre should be taken to have a real significance, and that the 'I'-thought did, in fact, go back into this centre and die at the moment of realisation.

What I was trying to establish in this post was my opinion that (a) the Heart-centre is a real place, the place in the body from where the 'I'-thought arises and into which it subsides (b) self-enquiry is the process through which the 'I'-thought is made to retreat back into the Self via the Heart-centre (c) that concentrating on this centre is not the way to make the 'I'-thought go back into the Self.

David Godman said...

Maneesha

'I feel, Maharshi’s statements on Heart being origin of Self have been misinterpreted by many as “Heart is the origin of the Self” than interpret as “Heart is where the Self originates from (or Heart is ‘wherever’ Self is)”. The subtle difference between the two statements is that while the former seems to give more importance to Heart by itself, as it were, than the Self, while the latter gives importance the Self. Any comments, David?'

Heart and Self are synonymous. One is not the cause or source of the other. We give the Self different names when we want to stress different aspects of it (i.e. mauna or sat-chit-ananda). When we say 'Heart' we are usually denoting the Self as the source and centre of all manifestation, and as the substratum on which it all manifests.

The Heart is the point of emergence for the individual self, but not of the immanent Self.

Ravi said...

David,
Trust all is well with you.
Just copying a mail that I had sent on 2nd March,2007,to my friends.

Dear All,
If time permits,please read the article -My Son The Missionary, in davidgodman.org(I do not have the Adobe acrobat to download and convert it to PDF).Quite poignant to read about how a mother is struggling to come to understand the strange ways of her dear son!Also the human ways of the wonderful seeker that David Godman is!Whether Arunachala Siva has deemed it enough to Bless this aspirant,a prayer rises in our hearts that this child should attain this fulfillment!

In the article sent by Gopi,we cannot forget the words of Sri Poy to David Godman-"Part time Sadhus never realise the Self!".This is what Papa Ramdas told Sri Dilip Kumar Roy who asked him how to realise Si Krishna!-"If you want to attain to Sri Krishna(Dilip K Roy's chosen Ideal)you must love krishna not among other things but above all things!"
Papa's entire life breathed this spirit of Supreme Love.His Books-In Search Of God and IN THE VISION OF GOD are an inspiring revelation of this spirit!
If only we can develop this thirst and longing!
Love...Ravi
--------------------
My master always is fond of what Jk had said-"If you throw yourself on the lap of Nature,Nature has an astonishing way of taking care of your needs"

Hope to see you back in action soon.

Salutations to you.

Ravi said...

David,
Good to see you back.Our Posts crossed!
Yes,I got your point on the Heart centre even before your post!
This was a welcome diversion.I especially enjoyed all that R Subramanaian had to say!we do need this sort of a thing to expand our horizon!
As I have said,This(The Heart centre,or the circumference!Just kidding!) has not been a Sadhana imperative as yet.

Thanks very much for all this.

Salutations to you!

Jupes said...

Hi David.
Good to find you back on the blog!

After reading your comments I am confused. If the Heart center is a real place in the body, and if the Heart is synonymous with the Self, then does that mean that the Self has a location in the body? This does not make sense to me, since I understood the Self to be without location. When you speak of the Heart in the body, are you referring to something other than the Self?

Sorry to be so ignorant but there's something I'm not getting here.

Thank you, David.

David Godman said...

Broken Yogi

'My understanding, perhaps a little speculative, is that the experience of feeling a current of happiness in the right side of the heart is a possible side-effect of the process initiated in self-enquiry. In other words, doing self-enquiry begins to open the heart to what is beyond the mere ego-self. Cracks form, so to speak, and the Self bleeds through and creates all kinds of spiritual and human phenomena. This may include the feeling of a current of bliss rising out of the heart on the right, and attention naturally being drawn to that as a pervasive feeling of love. But I also thought this was not to become a substitute for self-enquiry, and not to be troubled if it doesn't arise, or think it should become a substitute for self-enquiry. In other words, it's not some meditation on the right side of the heart that leads to this opening, but it's self-enquiry that leads to the opening, and we shouldn't confuse the primal practice with its effects.'


I was sitting with Papaji in my house in Lucknow in 1993. He had come there to take a phone call from an old devotee in Karnataka. For obvious reasons, he didn’t want a phone in his house, because if he had one there, it would never stop ringing.

While we were there he started talking about an interview two Buddhists had had with him in 1990. He had enjoyed the interview very much and he asked me to include an edited version in Papaji Intervierws.

During the course of our conversation I said, ‘You are asking people to “be quiet” or “be still”. Some of these Buddhist meditators have been practising vipassana meditation for years, and many of them have attained a strong inner silence. Are these people not better equipped to follow your “keep quiet” teachings than those who come here with no background in meditation at all?’

I asked this because, as many people know, he didn’t have a high opinion of formal meditation.

He replied, ‘No, they are not better equipped, and I will tell you why. When you start to meditate, you usually have a goal that you want to reach, and a route by which you intend to attain that goal. These are just ideas that you invent, nourish and sustain. You are already the Self. You are never away from it, so there is no route to get there. You just have to stop pretending that this is not true, and the way you do that is by giving up all ideas, not by accumulating and cherishing new ones.

‘The ego is very clever and very powerful. If you set up a goal – such as inner silence – and then earnestly devote your time to a practice that you strongly believe will help you to reach that goal, your ego will then create an inner mental realm into which you can immerse yourself and dualistically enjoy peace and silence. You, the enjoyer, will immerse yourself in this inner self-created world, and there you will enjoy the experiences that you desire, or the ones that you think indicate that you are making progress towards your self-created goal. Through effort and concentration you can enter this self-created inner realm and have extraordinary experiences. However, they are all experiences of the mind, created and sustained by your powers of concentration. In ancient time rishis such as Viswamitra could create whole universes in this fashion. But all these inner worlds are imaginary; they are sustained by your belief in them and by the effort you put in to discovering them and abiding in them.

‘If you have an idea of what enlightenment is and how it can be reached, the mind will happily create a place inside itself where your idea of enlightenment, or the steps along the way to attaining it, can be experienced as a pleasant, beautiful, peaceful and blissful place. However, these experiences don’t last because they are not natural; they are created and sustained by the mental effort of the person who wants to experience them. That is why experiences wear off when you stop meditating. Everyone who meditates says, “I experienced some bliss when I meditated, but soon after I stopped meditating, the bliss went away”.

‘What comes and goes is not real. If you experience an ananda that ceases when you stop making an effort, then that ananda is not real. It is something you created yourself because you had an inner desire to enjoy it.

‘These Buddhist meditators, and all other kinds of meditators, are experts at abiding in self-created states that give them validations of their spiritual world view. These meditators get attached to their inner states of quiet and don’t want to give them up even when I tell them that their thoughts about practice and their experiences from pursuing it are actually keeping them away from the place and the state that I am trying to direct their attention to.

So, the people who come here with no mental baggage about enlightenment and how to attain it are often the ones who get what I am pointing at. The ones who have heads full of ideas about practice listen to what I say, and then they tell themselves that they are well on the way to this state of peace I am describing to them because they have been looking for this silence in their meditations for years.

The only true ananda, the only true peace, is that which is there all the time. You discover it when you desist from all mental activities. Permanent peace is discovered when the mind stops, not when it concentrates on an object that it thinks will give it peace.’

I include this rather trenchant critique of practice here because I think it is highly relevant to the practice of meditating on the Heart-centre. People think: ‘This is the source of the ‘I’. I will meditate on this spot and get enlightened.’

I know people who have done this, and some of them have told me that they experience extraordinary blissful experiences. One man even told me that when he did it, he would have visions of his Guru (Lakshmana Swamy) laughing and smiling at him from inside the Heart-centre. Such experiences can be highly seductive. This man would not give them up even when Lakshmana Swamy told him that, while it was a good devotional practice, it would not result in the extinction of the ‘I’.

Self-enquiry (rather than concentration on a location) succeeds because it discards all the ideas that attach themselves to the ‘I’. When you meditate on a point, you invest mental energy in a goal and route. That mental energy is what keeps the mind active and the Self undiscovered. When you do self-enquiry properly, you abandon all ideas. The ‘I’ sinks into the Self and disappears when it gives up all the ideas it is attached to, not when it picks one and then concentrates on it. Self-enquiry works because it focuses or directs attention to what is real – the subjective awareness of ‘I’ – and discards what is not real: all the thoughts and ideas that this ‘I’ attaches itself to.

David Godman said...

Arvind

“The place where ullal [thought] arises and subsides is ullam [the heart] …”, and, “Since ulladu [reality] exists in ullam [the Heart], ulladu itself may be said to be ullam”.

And the same idea has gone into verse 2 of Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam:

“Since You dance eternally in the heart as ‘I’, they say that Your name itself is Heart …”


Yes, I agree with you on this. This introductory verse rhetorically poses the question that we have been discussing here: how to meditate on the Heart? It even adds the comment 'How can it he done since the Heart alone exists?' meaning, 'How can one meditate on the Heart if there is no one separate from it to do the meditating?'

The answer, says Bhagavan in the same verse, is to meditate on the Heart 'as it is'. This means 'being' the Self, without presuming that one is separate from it. Once you assume separation, you are back in the mental realm of positing a goal and moving towards it.

David Godman said...

“The place where ullal [thought] arises and subsides is ullam [the heart] …”, and, “Since ulladu [reality] exists in ullam [the Heart], ulladu itself may be said to be ullam”.

And the same idea has gone into verse 2 of Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam:

“Since You dance eternally in the heart as ‘I’, they say that Your name itself is Heart …”


The introductory verse of Ulladu Narpadu, from which the first paragraph is an extract, rhetorically asks the question we are discussing in this post: how to meditate on the Heart?

The verse first posits the paradox: how can we meditate on the Heart when the Heart is the only thing that exists? If there is nothing separate from the Self, who is going to do the meditation, and how can it be done? Bhagavan's answer in this verse is to meditate on this Heart 'as it is'. That is to say, one should abide as the Self by being the Self, not by imagining that one is so separate from it that meditation is needed to close the gap.

David Godman said...

Subramanian

'Dear David and everyone, why
then Bhagavan quoted Ashtanga
Hridayam and the Bible? : 'the
fool's heart is on the left, while
the wise one's in on the right'.'


As I pointed out earlier, the Heart-centre is the place where the 'I'-thought arises from and subsides into. Bhagavan said he could feel this place in his body. He found confirmation of this location in Ashtanga Hridayam and included two of its verses in Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham.

The point I am trying to make is that while Bhagavan said that the Heart-centre was a real phenomenon that had a function connected to the appearance and disappearance of the 'I'-thought, he did not recommend concentrating on that point during self-enquiry.

David Godman said...

Subramanian

'Dear David and ravi, Bhagavan
always had a fascination for the
'right'. It is always right and not
wrong. The Sanskrit "Dakshinam'
also means 'right' because, when
we look at the sun in the morning,
to our right is South, that is
"Dakshinam". The term Dakshinamoorthy does not merely denote the one who is looking southwards, but one who looks
his at right side! In Tamil, Tiruvchakam songs say:
"Then paal ugandhadum Thillai
Chitrambalavan.." meaning
Nataraja of Chidambram is also
looking southwards. Bhagavan,
when somebody said that there is a old statue of Dakshinamoorthy, which has been brought from some temple or excavation, to Madras Museum, Bhagavan said,
'Can someone bring the photograph of that statue?". He also said that Dakshinamoorthy not only does look southwards, but also looks 'right-side", by
slightly bending his head towards right! It is as if he is looking at his Heart!!! Bhagavan also, in some photographs looks rightside, bending His head slightly.'


I remember the story of this photo being produced Whoever was recording the incident (Devaraja Mudaliar, I think) mentioned that, based on the evidence of the photo, one could not really conclude that Dakshinamurti was looking at the right side. Still, Bhagavan was interested enough in the statue to have a good look at at.

David Godman said...

Subramanian

'Every seeker needs a focal point.'

If you are a bhakta, then you may need a form to be the target of your love and devotion. If you are a yogi, you probably need to concentrate on points in the body. If, on the other hand, you are attempting to do self-enquiry, focusing on any point or location will prevent the 'I'-thought from sinking into its source. The focal point for self-enquiry is the subjective awareness of 'I', not a bodily location.

David Godman said...

Subramanian

'Dear David and everyone, perhaps, this could be one of the
reasons, why Marakadamma wanted to embrace Lakshmanaswami and other sadhus as also Bhagavan! Bhagavan's attendants drove her out of the hall many a times!'


She was still visiting Ramansramam when I first started meditating in the old hall at Ramanasramam in 1976. She would stand outside the hall with a bag of oranges and give an orange and a kiss to all the sadhu-like people who were going in to meditate. She looked about eighty at the time.

One time, while I was sitting in the hall, I felt my body moving a little. I opened my eyes and looked down and saw Maragathamma trying to pull out the towel I was sitting on. She had already asked for it when I entered the hall, and I had told her 'no'. Perhaps she thought I would be in such an absorbed state while I meditated I would not notice her attempts to pull it out from underneath me. Unfortunately, my meditation has never reached such heights.

David Godman said...

Ravi

'Coming to the Heart issue,What happened at the time of Sri Bhagavan's mother's Mahasamadhi? Did Bhagavan just kept abiding in the 'HEART'or the Self? Why did he have to place one hand on her head and another on her heart.(He did the same to Palani Swami as well).There must be some significance.May be that we do not know...To dismiss all this?!!!!'


Bhagavan said that the vasanas withdraw in the Heart at the moment of physical death, and that they subsequently take another form in which they can be experienced. Bhagavan said that when he placed his hand on his mother's Heart-centre, he 'saw' all her future lives like a fast-forwarded movie. When the film ended, the vasanas had all been extinguished and his mother was liberated from all future births.

This seems to me to validate Bhagavan's statement that the vasanas withdraw into the Heart at the moment of death. It was also a superb exhibition of Bhagavan's liberating power. However, it still doesn't mean that we should concentrate on that particular spot to get enlightened or to eliminate our vasanas.

I will reiterate what I have already said this morning. So long as you have a body, the Heart-centre is a real place that has a specific function. However, concentrating on it is not part of the process of self-enquiry as taught by Bhagavan.

David Godman said...

Jupes

'You mentioned that if you had been a contemporary of Bhagavan you might have been able to experience his life firsthand. I have wondered many times whether any of us on this blog WERE there in Bhagavan's time, in a past life. Does anyone have any sense of that?'


I have no sense of what I might have been. Logic tells me that I wouldn't have abandoned my country and culture at the age of twenty-three to spend thirty years at the foot of Arunachala unless there was some connection, but I have no idea what it might have been.

When I was collecting material for Nothing Ever Happened, I found a letter written by Papaji addressed to Raj Prabhu, one of his close devotees. In it Papaji said that when he lived in Londa (northern Karnataka) in the 1960s and 70s, many of the people who came to see him were his devotees from a previous life when he was a yogi living near Sringeri. Then he said that when he settled down in Lucknow in the early 1990s, he started to notice the people from his Sringeri life stopped coming, and that they were replaced by people whom he recognised from Ramanasramam in the 1940s. They had died, had been reborn and were now in 20-40 year-old age bracket, while he was an old man, still in the same body. He never said who they were.

David Godman said...

Jupes

'After reading your comments I am confused. If the Heart center is a real place in the body, and if the Heart is synonymous with the Self, then does that mean that the Self has a location in the body? This does not make sense to me, since I understood the Self to be without location. When you speak of the Heart in the body, are you referring to something other than the Self?

Sorry to be so ignorant but there's something I'm not getting here.'

The first reply posted here is quite relevant:

When I entered the hall in the afternoon Bhagavan was already explaining in answer to some questions put by Mr. Poonja, a Punjabi:

“I ask you to see where the ‘I’ arises in your body, but it is really not quite correct to say that the ‘I’ rises from and merges in the heart in the right side of the chest. The heart is another name for the Reality and it is neither inside nor outside the body; there can be no in or out for it, since it alone is. [Day by Day, p 234, dated: 23-5-46]

The Heart alone is real. It is the Self. It has no dimensions and no centre.

The Heart-centre, as described by Bhagavan, is the place in the body where body and world consciousness arises. The electricity meter analogy that Bhagavan gave to Annamalai Swami is very apt here. A formless energy starts in a particular place in a form and spreads out to animate that form. If you want to know what electricity is, you have to feel the current. Staring at the meter box will not do. If you want to feel the current of the Self, immerse yourself in the feeling of 'I'. Staring at the Heart-centre won't get you there.

Ravi said...

Friends,
This is just to correct a mistake in my earlier post regarding the Autobiography of Swami Ramdas(Papa Ramdas)-it is -"IN QUEST OF GOD" and not 'in Search of god'.
If we need to understand SURRENDER IN PRACTICE(also good humour,intense Humanity,True Humility)this is not to be missed.

You will enjoy Papa's meeting with Sri Bhagavan,as also his total nonchalance and carefree abandon.In quest of God is available as a pdf download from www.anandashram.org.

Salutations!

Broken Yogi said...

David,

Thanks for that quote from Papaji. I don't know that I've heard that particular quote before, but there's a very similar one making the same point somewhere in Papaji's written teachings that I simply love and quote often to others. I think it's simply excellent not to have any idea what one is doing in self-enquiry, which is the only reason I feel at all qualified to practice it. I try not to have any fixed ideas about what self-enquiry is, and just do it however it feels natural to me, which might be very unusual, or it might be "by the book". I am free to be a total ass and get everything about it wrong, because after all, I have no idea what I'm really doing anyway, what self-enquiry really is, what I should do to make it "right", or how it should unfold. In fact, I've found it's best not to do anything at all but be attentive and allow for Grace to guide me. That seldom fails, although I often fail to keep it that simple.

Isn't that what's wrong with having so defined a notion of what self-enquiry is and isn't? That the mind that has such a strong idea of what self-enquiry is, will simply manufacture the experience of self-enquiry that goes along with his ideas, and thus never really transcend his mind? Such a mind may practice self-enquiry for decades, reading all the books and getting all the inside information, even become something of an expert on the topic, and yet never really get the point, never really get beyond the mind? This seems all too common. Maybe it's something all of us suffer from in our own unique ways.

I hope you understand I wasn't in any sense suggesting that anyone deliberately meditate on the heart on the right or a current rising therefrom, only that Ramana has suggested such an experience might arise in advanced enquiry, and so he accounts for it. It's certainly not my experience, or something I ever give any thought to while practicing self-enquiry.

Of course, we are all susceptible to the trap Papaji describes, especially when we aren't looking, myself as much as anyone. So if tomorrow I see currents of bliss rising from my heart on the right, I will let you know and we can stomp that sucker flat.

For my part, I do experience a loving bliss in self-enquiry, and I don't know why, except love is the nature of the Self, so it seems to fit. I just don't experience the Heart as being located anywhere in particular. To me it's simply a pervasive feeling of love the comes from beyond the feeling of self.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and ravi, there is no
first and final teaching for Bhagavan. There is only one teaching and that is what He has
said in Who am I? In 1902, what He said to Sivaprakasam Pillai is the only teaching of Bhagavan. But people get different interpretations. But Bhagavan suggested improvements, whenever a devotee came, depending upon the path adopted by him, so that he can come to the self enquiry at the end. Bhagavan is direct but always subtle and that is the reason for different interpretations by various persons, on His teaching.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, I read all your clarifications. Let me contemplate on these for a while. Meantime,
what is your interpretation of Bhagavan's famous Sanskrit verse, 'Hrudaya Guhara madhye
kevalm Brhamam matram....'?

Anonymous said...

Hi David,
this point of view of Papaji seems to contradict Bhagavan's way of teaching is many regards. Although right from an absolute point of view it seems to categorically condem all seekers that practise. This was never endorsed by Bhagavan as far as i know, who always started with the level of practice of each person and guided him on from there. I have met several people that claim to have gained enlightenment through Papaji and although they surely have had some good experiences i really question any stable realisation, as far as i can see, some behaved quite egocentric.
I met someone who was present when Papaji met Jean Klein and asked him what Jean's reaction contained.
The warning was that Papaji was seen by Jean as someone who used occult powers to influence people via the third eye rather than transmitting a genuine radiation of the Self. I am aware that in the end only a jnani can judge a jnani and we have to rely on trust.
In this case i rather follow Bhagavan's upadesa.

Anonymous said...

After having read all the very interesting comments, I have the impression that the debate on the heart center is on whether the Self is "contained" in a physical "location".
There is a "sinking-in" when doing Self-Attention, Being. Could it be what Sri Ramana meant when he talked about "diving deeply" in the Self?
Then does the Self have a form, a size to enter the heart on the right side?
After all the comments here, I still have difficulties in understanding that one can focus on a specific place where the Self reside. Mainly because it makes me think that there's a meditator and an object. The meditator is trying to "localte" the object, the Self. Who is the meditator?

Broken Yogi said...

Anon,

"I have the impression that the debate on the heart center is on whether the Self is "contained" in a physical "location".
There is a "sinking-in" when doing Self-Attention, Being. Could it be what Sri Ramana meant when he talked about "diving deeply" in the Self?
Then does the Self have a form, a size to enter the heart on the right side?"

This is something of the issue I was bringing up, and I don't know the answer to it either. I don't think it's enough to say we shouldn't talk about this because then our minds might create this experience and fool us into thinking we are enlightened. Obviously Ramana talked about this sort of thing because it does sometimes arise in self-enquiry spontaneously.

My understanding of this, and I could easily be wrong, is that this attractive force of the heart which awakens in self-enquiry and draws us beyond the ego-self illusion does sometimes manifest as the feeling of a current that rises out of the right side of the heart, and that draws the mind into the heart where it eventually dies. But I think it needs to be mentioned that until there is full death of the mind, and full awakening beyond the mind, the heart on the right is actually a "knot" that is essentially closed, and thus the center of the ego. Ramana talked about the point of view of the yoga of opening the knots in all the nadis, and said that the primary knot to be opened was not the Sahasrara or the heart chakra, but this knot on the right, and that the primary nadi to be opened was the Self-Nadi, the Amrit Nadi. It's just that he didn't recommend some yogic technique of meditating on this spot or directing energies to it, but merely of remaining the witness enquiring even of this experience, of who is the one who witnesses even this? By remaining in the disposition of self-enquiry rather than yogic knowledge, the mind is drawn into the heart and destroyed, and one goes beyond even the witness. This of course is accomplished by Grace, as Ramana said that even self-enquiry cannot achieve this final step, that the Grace of the Guru must step in and complete the job.

From what I gather the whole notion that the Heart is "contained" in the right side of the chest is just as illusory as the notion that the Self is "contained" in the body at all. The Self is beyond the body, which in reality is merely a series of knots in consciousness, the opening of which essentially dissolves the body itself, which has no real existence apart from the mind. It's just that there's a hierarchy of these knots, the primal knot being located in relation to the body in the right side of the heart, and when this is opened in realization, one is released from all identification with the body, even the most subtle. It's not that one is supposed to think of this spot as being the "location" of the Self, only the location of the primal knot that is the ego. After this knot is dissolved, things may look quite differently, of course. Then the heart on the right becomes the yogic point at which the Self radiates through the nadis into the body and world. Of course, for this to be real the mind must already be dead, and not merely conjuring up visions to flatter itself, as Papaji suggested might happen.

Broken Yogi said...

In regards to Papaji and Jean Klein, I've heard this kind of criticism of Papaji before, and I don't know if there's any truth to it, but I'd frankly put Jean Klein on any list of dubiously "enlightened" people in the Advaitic scene as well, so I don't know that his opinion is that of a jnani at all. People who I do have some confidence in as realizers not connected with Ramana, such as Nisargadatta, do seem to see him as a genuine Jnani.

Papaji himself seems to address this question in his books, and says categorically that he never used any conscious intention in directing yogic energies at people, that everything that happened around him occurred spontaneously, and he doesn't know why. Of course, he could be lying, but I trust that at the very least on a conscious level he was telling the truth. And I'm not altogether sure there was any unconscious level going on in him at all. So while it's certainly true that many dubiously "enlightened" people became associated with him in the last years of his life, he swore off all of them as being self-deluded, rather than genuinely awakened, and sometimes rather forcefully.

As for his admonitions against practice, Ramana wasn't very big on practices either. He simply seemed to allow people to do whatever it is they wanted to practice, as long as they did self-enquiry, which isn't really a "practice" at all, it's a deconstruction of the one who would engage in any practices at all. If there is no doer, how does one "do" practice. So in effect, by telling people over and over again to practice self-enquiry, he was telling them to do nothing at all, but simply question who is it that could be doing anything. Self-enquiry thus destroys the whole outlook on spiritual life that says we are supposed to be "doing" a practice, including self-enquiry. Once again, it's an example of using a stick to stir a fire, the stick itself being burned up in the process.

Jupes said...

David,
Thank you for clarifying on Heart and Heart-center. My confusion came because of similarity in wording. I was basically equating Heart with Heart-center and that was not adding up in my mind, knowing that the Self is without dimension.

Anonymous suggested that the debate on the Heart-center might be about whether the Self is 'contained' in a 'location.' That seems to be at least one of the debates, and I have to wonder if confusion in WORDING is part of what triggers it.

Many thanks for all your work on this blog, David, and for all the thoughtful and stimulating comments from everyone. I feel as though I have moved in leaps and bounds in my spiritual understanding and practice since joining the blog two months ago. My gratitude is soaring!!

All the best to everyone.

PS. I wrote this before reading your comments, Broken Yogi, and did not take them into account here.

David Godman said...

Subramanian

'there is no first and final teaching for Bhagavan. There is only one teaching and that is what He has
said in Who am I? In 1902, what He said to Sivaprakasam Pillai is the only teaching of Bhagavan. But people get different interpretations'


I agree that Bhagavan wrote everything a serious sadhak needs to know in Who am I? Blessed are those (and I know one or two) who have read these words and then got on with their practice, without feeling any need to find out anything else about Bhagavan or his teachings.

It is sometimes said that all western philosophy is footnotes to Plato. You could make a similar case that Bhagavan's writings and teachings are all elaborations of what he said so very succinctly in Who am I?

David Godman said...

Subramnanian

What is my interpretation of this verse?

(In the inmost core, the Heart
shines as Brahman alone,
as 'I-I', the Self aware.
Enter deep into the Heart
be searching for Self, or diving deep,
with breath under check.
Thus abide ever in Atman.

Collected Works translation)

The 'diving' and the 'searching' (which is I assume what you want me to comment on) is done by holding on to the I-thought, not by hunting for it physically, or by concentrating on a particular point.

If the 'I' looks 'at' something or 'for' something, there is a subject holding on to an object. This means that the mind is being activated and externalised, even though the intent is to 'look within'. By holding on to 'I' and by resisting its tendencies to attach itself to objects, the mind sinks into its source, the place of 'I-I'. The search and the diving are, paradoxically, done by giving up objects that are looked at or looked for.

Holding on to the one who is doing the looking makes the 'I' disappear. Looking at a particular place prolongs its existence.

David Godman said...

anonymous

I agree with you that Papaji's comments, while true from an absolute point of view, are rather dispiriting for spiritual seekers who want to practice, and I also agree that Bhagavan did encourage us all to make effort up to the moment of realisation.

However, what Papaji is warning against is misguided effort. He wanted us to tackle the key question, 'Who is the one who is meditating?' and not get lost in the practice of meditation itself, which presupposes a mind and goal that it wants to reach. In this he is in agreement with Bhagavan who said that all sadhanas except self-enquiry presuppose the existence of a mind. Enquiry is the direct path that challenges that erroneous premise.

David Godman said...

anonymous and broken yogi

After all the comments here, I still have difficulties in understanding that one can focus on a specific place where the Self reside. Mainly because it makes me think that there's a meditator and an object. The meditator is trying to "localte" the object, the Self. Who is the meditator?


I agree with you both on this point. This is the point I have been trying to make ever since this thread started.

Ravi said...

David,
"I agree that Bhagavan wrote everything a serious sadhak needs to know in Who am I? Blessed are those (and I know one or two) who have read these words and then got on with their practice, without feeling any need to find out anything else about Bhagavan or his teachings."
Beautifully put!Yes,they must be great souls whoever they are!This what Sri Ramakrishna mentions when he refers to a Pearl Oyster,how it takes a Drop of rain water(Grace!)and then works on it to fashion a Beautiful Pearl!

Subramanian R,
Thanks for your enthusiasm!This is what I value so much(The Thought that is expressed is secondary).The 'TEACHING' that i have expressed is regarding the day to day Living-Here also we need guidance ,as otherwise we seem to be riding 2 Horses!Blessed are the rare few who are privileged to RIDE ONE HORSE!

In this context,I am amazed how Sri Ramakrishna said-AS LONG AS I LIVE,SO LONG DO I LEARN!

Thanks very much.
Namaskars!

David Godman said...

Broken yogi

Jean Klein and Papaji had one meeting in the south of France in the 1970s. Apparently, it was a somewhat fractious affair that degenerated into arguments between devotees who had come along. The teachers themselves apparently kept quiet. Papaji never made any comments on Jean Klein, other than to say he had met him, whereas Jean Klein subsequently made a point of criticising Papaji, his state and his teaching methods.

S. said...

'Kalama Sutta' by the Buddha
(Anguttara Nikaya Vol. 1, 188-193 P.T.S. Ed.)

[Do not believe in anything (simply) because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything (simply) because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conductive to the good and benefit of one and all then accept it and live up to it.]

Broken Yogi said...

David,

I think the problem comes in seeing the heart on the right as a point the mind focuses upon, rather than a point in which the mind is dissolved. One cannot in truth "focus" on the heart, or the Self, because it isn't an object. The heart on the right isn't properly speaking an actual point, but merely a "doorway" beyond the mind. The mind that wants to meditate on objects can't actually meditate on the heart on the right, it can only imagine itself doing so. It's only as the mind dissolves in self-enquiry that this point may appear spontaneously, and when it does so, it's not as an object of attention, but as an effect of the process of transcending the mind. So there is no focus on the point, but a dissolution into the current of bliss that arises spontaneously from beyond it. The closer one approaches, the more the mind dissolves and is unable to focus.

I have thought that this would account for Papaji's experience shortly before his realization, in which he could no longer concentrate on his mantra anymore, but his mind dissolved whenever he tried to think of it. The experience of the heart on the right may be similar for the advanced practitioner of self-enquiry. Any attempt to focus on the heart on the right as it might appear in subtle vision is frustrated by vision itself being dissolved in the process. At least this is how I understand it from my readings.

And thanks for that info about a meeting with Jean Klein and Papaji. It makes sense that nothing much good could come from such an encounter.

Anonymous said...

David, thanks for your comment. I just read your quote about Bhagavan's advice to Kunju Swami's structure of practice when he lived in Palakottu.There seems to be a gap in practical and philosophical points of view. To my understanding 'direct' is relative to the state of the seeker. There are many quotes of Bhagavan where he is indicating that the progress is the deepening calm in meditation. Also he enhanced anyone in his efforts and faith.('Practice is power') If japa brings a state conducive to vichara it is certainly more direct than mental acrobatics and hairsplitting, isn't it? See Natananda's practice of Om namo Bhagavate. The point seems to be to not get stuck in anything mental but realise the non-dual Self - by ALL means.

David Godman said...

S

Thanks for the wonderful lines from the Kalama Sutta. Bhagavan said that the one thing that we cannot reject is our own beingness. He said that everything else was inference and attribution, rather than direct experience. He asks us to hold onto what we know from direct experience, which means rejecting other forms of knowledge and sources of information.

There is a very nice dialogue about this in Annamalai Swami's Final Talks, section seventeen:

Question: I know that listening to the Guru and believing his words is important. When he says, ‘You are the Self. The world is not real,’ and so on, I can accept that what he says is true, but my belief in the truth of those words doesn’t seem to make it my experience.

Annamalai Swami: You must believe the Guru and you must also believe your own experience because the Guru is not telling you to add another belief to your mind. He is instead telling you to look at your own experience of yourself, and in doing so, disregard everything else.

There is a story that Ram Tirtha used to tell. A man who was a little mad lived in a small village with his wife. His friends liked to tease him and make fun of him because they all thought he was stupid.

One day, one of them said, ‘We have some bad news for you. Your wife has become a widow.’

He believed them and started crying out in grief, ‘My wife has become a widow! My wife has become a widow!’

Some of the people he passed on the street laughed at him and said, ‘Why are you mourning? You are very much alive. How can your wife be a widow if you yourself are alive to complain about it?’

‘My closest friends have told me this,’ he replied, ‘and I trust them. They are very reliable people. If they are saying that my wife has become a widow, it must be true.’

We would think that a man who behaved like this was utterly stupid because he chose to believe the words of others instead of his own experience. But are we any better? We believe, on the basis of indirect information provided by the senses, that we are the body. The experience of ‘I am’, of the Self, is present in all of us, but when the mischievous senses gang up on us and try to make us believe something that is patently untrue, we believe them and ignore our direct experience.

Then we grieve about our state, lamenting, ‘I am bound; I am unenlightened; I am not free’.
And even when the Guru comes along and says, ‘You are the Self. You are free. Why do you insist on believing this misinformation that the mischievous senses are giving you?’, still you do not believe the truth.

You tell him, ‘The senses have always given me reliable information in the past. I have learned to trust them. What they tell me must be true.’

And so you go on grieving and complaining, even when your direct experience and the words of the Guru agree with each other and reveal the truth.

S. said...

salutations to all:
"I" by Rabindranath Tagore

[I wonder if I know him
In whose speech is my voice,
In whose movement is my being,
Whose skill is in my lines,
Whose melody is in my songs
In joy and sorrow.
I thought he was chained within me,
Contained by tears and laughter,
Work and play.
I thought he was my very self
Coming to an end with my death.
Why then in a flood of joy do I feel him
In the sight and touch of my beloved?
This 'I' beyond self I found
On the shores of the shining sea.
Therefore I know
This 'I' is not imprisoned within my bounds.
Losing myself, I find him
Beyond the borders of time and space.
Through the Ages
I come to know his Shining Self
In the ‘I’ of the seeker,
In the voice of the poet.
From the dark clouds pour the rains.
I sit and think:
Bearing so many forms, so many names,
I come down, crossing the threshold
Of countless births and deaths.
The Supreme undivided, complete in himself,
Embracing past and present,
Dwells in Man.
Within Him I shall find myself -
The 'I' that reaches everywhere...]

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot, a really beautiful poem!

Anonymous said...

Sri Ramana always answered to the devotee respecting the "capacity" of the person. Thus sometimes he would suggest mantra, other time Japas etc.
Without much studying, this first encounter with his teaching is often confusing because of apparent contradictions.
The writing of Sri Sadhu Om, for example has very much help me get at the core of Sri Ramana's teaching.
As it has been mentioned here by some, Self guides you to books, teachers, blogs for clarification.
All of this is Grace flowing.
Thus, both points of view regarding this subject could be right. Sri Ramana's Self-Enquiry is a mean to "dive deeply in the Self". When he taught this, it implies an "outside". This is duality! If there's an inside to dive in, it means there's an "outside". So long as one believes in the thought "I-am-a-body", there is an outside and an inside. Thus diving in at the heart is exactly that.
When the ego as been destroyed and the "I-thought" has merge with the Self, then there isn't any inside/outside.

Anonymous said...

Sri Ramana always answered to the devotee respecting the "capacity" of the person. Thus sometimes he would suggest mantra, other time Japas etc.
Without much studying, this first encounter with his teaching is often confusing because of apparent contradictions.
The writing of Sri Sadhu Om, for example has very much help me get at the core of Sri Ramana's teaching.
As it has been mentioned here by some, Self guides you to books, teachers, blogs for clarification.
All of this is Grace flowing.
Thus, both points of view regarding this subject could be right. Sri Ramana's Self-Enquiry is a mean to "dive deeply in the Self". When he taught this, it implies an "outside". This is duality! If there's an inside to dive in, it means there's an "outside". So long as one believes in the thought "I-am-a-body", there is an outside and an inside. Thus diving in at the heart is exactly that.
When the ego as been destroyed and the "I-thought" has merge with the Self, then there isn't any inside/outside.

nonduel said...

Forgive the two replies, I had problem posting. I also posted as "anonymous" because somehow it wouldn't accept my "account".

nonduel said...

When we "do" Self-Enquiry and ask "Who Am I?" this enquiry is done by the ego. The Self doesn't need to do any enquiry.
In practicing Self-Enquiry, we are in fact in duality, the ego searching for the Self.
Doesn't it make sense therefore to dive in the heart, on the right side so long as one hasn't merged in the Self?
Sri Ramana said to abide in the Self and Sri Sadhu Om said Self-attention, (the "I-thought"). To Abide in the Self, one has to be Self-realised. Therefore, until then, the Sadhana is attention on the "I-thought", Self-Attention.

Ravi said...

Nondual,
How hard it is to JUST BE,without doing anything!The crux of the matter is to just be.The SELF IS!It is on account of identifying with the thoughts that the sense of THINKER/ DOER is wrongly perceived.This has become a HABIT over several births. All approaches are only different ploys to get rid of this HABIT.Now it all depends on the STRENGTH of this habit.If it is too Strong,it has to be first diluted at a Physical/emotional level only.VICHARA will NOT WORK.It is better to counter the HABIT through disciplined Living,Bhakti and Holy Association.This will be the DIRECT path.If Vichara does not have any prerequisite and if it can be practiced by all and sundry,then it should have displaced all other Paths.

Sri Bhagavan as well as all the other sages have acknowledged this fact and have encouraged seekers in their respective paths.

Even the advanced seekers had to resort to other means before they STUMBLED into Gnana.(No one had achieved(?) this in a PREMEDITATED way!)
Sri Ramakrishna tells the tale of a Drunken man.This man took just one peg and was immediately intoxicated.People who had gathered there wondered how this man could get drunk with just one small peg.The Shopkeeper explained to them that the man had been drinking all through the Night!

Vichara needs to be intuited.No amount of intellectual groping will help."DO NOT STARE JUST SEE"-Sri Nisargadutta Maharaj.He further says-"If I point a Finger at the parrot ,you look at the finger and say that you do not see the parrot!"

Salutations!

Broken Yogi said...

Ravi,

You make a good point that in previous times sadhus did not use self-enquiry in a deliberate, pre-meditated way (that I'm aware of at least), but stumbled across self-enquiry at some point late in their development, sometimes at the very end like Papaji or Lakshmana. However, this does not mean that this is the way things should always be. It is perhaps not only a good thing that Ramana taught self-enquiry to everyone as a path, but a great sign that humanity is perhaps developing a greater spiritual capacity to engage this primal spiritual approach at a much earlier stage in the process. It certainly seems difficult, once one has seen the benefits of self-enquiry, to go back to any other approach.

Ravi said...

Broken Yogi,
I am not at all sure that the WORLD HAS CHANGED and that HUMANITY IS DEVELOPING A GREATER CAPACITY!Each one is living in his own World.
This is just an Illusion!Even at a material level,it is suspect!Just copying this interesting observation of George carlin,comedian of the 70s and 80s-
"A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom!"

What has given rise to this ILLUSION is that now more and more people have ACCESS;That does not mean that the HITRATE will be higher!

The Rules of the game of Life as set by providence is always the same.

"It certainly seems difficult, once one has seen the benefits of self-enquiry, to go back to any other approach."

If one has seen the benefits,that means that he is fit to practice.I am not asking him to giveup or change his approach.
All I have said is that it is not the only one or even the BEST one for all.Sri Bhagavan's question is equally valid here-FOR WHOM?

Salutations!

nonduel said...

Salutations Ravi,

When I wrote that both points of view could be right, it depends on the person. The same thing can be said of Japas, Yoga etc... Sri Ramana always answered in respect of the questionner.
I agree with JUST BEING. As long as one hasn't a conviction, Bhavana, on the truth of the teaching, there will still be questions, a need of practices, of doing, until the doubts are all cleared away and only BEING remains.
All this discussion on the heart at the right side is for Sadhakas like myself. While just BEING doesn't require anything.
...Who is saying he is a Sadhaka?

Ravi said...

NonDual,
I am not sure whether I got you right.The Primary objective is turn the mind inward towards the source(SELF or HEART).As David Explained ,the HEART is Different than the HEART CENTRE.
Towards this,we turn our attention to the Feeling "I'.THERE IS NO BHAVANA here.The 'I' Feeling is something that IS THERE.
I am not sure whether you FEEL the Heart Centre and hence want to turn your attention there.In case it is so,my apologies!I do not know a thing about it!
On the other hand,if it is only a BHAVANA,then as David had explained,this is not at all recommended.Why?Because it is only an exercise in CONCENTRATION on AN OBJECT and will not serve the purpose of turning the mind back to the source.

The Other thing that I had mentioned is regarding the HABIT OF BODY CONSCIOUSNESS.This will have to be handled through other means as well in case it is strongly ingrained.As long as I AM THE BODY idea is there,Self Realization is a far cry.This true for most(including advanced aspirants).

Broken Yogi said...

Ravi,

Thanks for the George Carlin quotes. I love the guy too. But I don't think even Carlin would suggest that things don't change. Human beings have evolved and changed and developed all kinds of new capacities and capabilities, in all kinds of areas. Why not in spiritual matters as well? Perhaps some people are simply more suited to practice self-enquiry from the beginning than has been the case before, and that is why Ramana taught as he did, rather than merely repeat the age-old admonitions of sages from previous epochs. I wonder if David knows anything Ramana might have said about this, or someone else in his lineage.

Ravi said...

Broken Yogi,
Very interesting that you are thinking along these lines!If at all any support can be elicited for this thought,it is certainly not from Sri Bhagavan's camp!
It is Sri Aurobindo who was pursuing this type of path-The Path of Supramental TRANSFORMATION.He said that the WORLD CONSCIOUSNESS is ready to take the next step in evolution from mind to Supermind.
As you know that Sri Aurobindo and Sri Bhagavan were contemporaries and were aware of the difference in the APPROACH,yet had Tremendous respect for each other.(to put it into human terms!).
Whenever anyone asked about Supramental Transformation,Sri Bhagavan (Ever the ESSENTIALIST!)will advise the aspirant-"Sri Aurobindo has said that Surrender is the path.First do it and then SEE".
Sri Aurobindo ,on his part,acknowledged that "THE MAHARSHI's PATH(?)is VERY HIGH O)N ITS OWN PLANE" and the Maharshi as "THe Flaming Tapas of India".

Sri Bhagavan never accepted the evolution theory-"Is the World apart from the self?Look within.Find out who you are First.Then we will SEE".

Coming to the way we look at the Great SEERS of the Past-It is a gross mistake to think that they are outmoded.We are missing/OVERLOOKING SOMETHING VITAL when we come to such conclusions.Right from the time of the Vedas to now,the CONDITIONS TO BE SATISFIED have not changed.The LANGUAGE IS WHAT has changed.Instead of SIN,now it may be called ERROR.While there has been definitely a PLUS in this approach that one does not get stuck by RUEING ABOUT IT,one gets stuck by NOT DOING ANYTHING TO ELIMINATE the ERROR!That is it.Call it 'SIN' or 'ERROR',unless that is eliminated,Do whatever it will not yield anything.THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH!

Sri Bhagavan's 'Who Am I' is also nothing new.This has been there since begining(so to speak).What is Sri Bhagavan's GIFT is that he LIVED THIS TRUTH and BREATHED LIFE into this teaching.This is how it has come to our ATTENTION and we are attempting it.

Salutations to you!

Broken Yogi said...

Ravi,

I'm not a fan of Aurobindo's teachings on evolution. I'm not suggesting that Ramana was trying to get humanity to evolve, only that he's responding to an evolution that has been underway in the conditional worlds for, well, forever.

My impression of Jnanis is that they have no fundamental teaching or practice to give. They just respond to the needs of the people in front of them. As people change in their outward expressions and mind, so do the outwards expressions of jnanis, their teachings, and recommended practices. So while self-enquiry may always have been the best practice, it may well have been that many people simply couldn't understand or make use of it, which might be why it was not often taught or recommended. Ramana's teaching on self-enquiry could be taken as a response to the changing world of this new era in human history we have been entering into over the last century, and his emphasis on self-enquiry, even for beginners, could be seen as a sign that Ramana simply saw people as being ready for this practice, ready to understand and grasp it, in a way that was perhaps not previously so widespread.

There are some who think Ramana has introduced something new into the stream of spiritual practice. I think it's clear that this was not the case. Self-enquiry is an ancient practice that has many early precedents. It may well simply be that in recommending self-enquiry to everyone, Ramana was responding to something new going on in humanity at large, such that it was simply natural for him to recommend this practice, whereas in previous ages jnanis have seldom emphasized self-enquiry.

Anyway, it's an interesting topic that's hard to come to any final conclusions about. But fun to talk about anyway.

Ravi said...

Broken Yogi,
" It may well simply be that in recommending self-enquiry to everyone, Ramana was responding to something new going on in humanity at large, such that it was simply natural for him to recommend this practice, whereas in previous ages jnanis have seldom emphasized self-enquiry."

Very Valid point!I would like to examine the"Something new going on".What is this that has been happening?Is it something NEW or a recoil from something OLD and worn out.I believe it is the later.Why?

1.People have lost faih in organised religion.It is more of CONVENTION and GOOD NATURED BELIEF ,depleted of all vitality.(I am talking about the PRACTICE part.All religions have the GRAIN but it is the HUSK that is widely offered).
2.The Relationships are breaking down.Absence of Feelings like TRUST and LOVE at a human Level has developed a Deep distrust for the Devotional Path for some and FOR THE SAME REASON, A ROMANTIC ATTACHMENT TO THE DEVOTIONAL PATH FOR SOME OTHERS which is MORE OF SENTIMENT than anything else;Their need for emotional security is catered to!TRUE Devotion and Surrender IMPLIES GIVING UP SELF SEEKING WAYS and this is generally given the Go By!(Same with those who pursue Gnana or what they call the RATIONAL PATH)

3.Reasons 1 &2 have lead to something like an INCUMBENCY VOTING!Ring out the old and Bring in the New!TRUST NOT OTHERS WHO ARE NOT DEPENDABLE,RATHER DEPEND ON YOUR OWN REASON AND YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE IS THE REFRAIN.SELF ENQUIRY IS ATTRACTIVE TO START WITH AS IT SEEMS TO CATER TO THIS 'NEED'.

It is clear now that there is no NEW EVOLUTION;It is just that more people are SHOPPING for a new Product/service! This Explains the increase in the NUMBERS!Corresponding to this need you will find an INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF "GURUS" marketing the products/services(charging a Good Fee,conducting workshops in 5 star hotels).All this is part of the new "AWAKENING".

I am sorry to have painted such a sombre BRUTAL picture.

This does not in any manner mean that the World has gone to dogs,that it is a hopeless siuation out there.THERE STILL ARE MANY WHO ARE LOOKING FOR LIGHT,and they will find it through whatever path.It is not the Path that is important,it is the SEEKER.This is Sri Bhagavan's SIMPLE ANSWER.

Yes,I perfectly agree with you to is Fun discussing these matters and there is no last word.All the same,A good Learning experience.

Thank ou very much.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and ravi, I read with
interest your 'taller buildings and
narrower view points' story.
Nice, these are the days when
one tries to read 'e-forums' to
merge with 'e-Self'!

Only one point. 'Are we turning our mind to the Feeling of I' without 'bhavana'? In Ribhu
Gita, it is stated that one can
jettison all 'bhavanas' but not
the bhavana - "I am Brahman',
and the necessary steps to It.

Ravi said...

R Subramanaian,
Good one about the e-Self!Yes,I am Brahman is also one type of Meditation.Sri Annamalai Swami advised us to Practice the Traditional-"I am not the Body;I am not the Thoughts;Verily I am Atma.ALL is Atma".I have treasured these letters with me.They used to be accompanied by Kumkum and Vibhuti Packets.(Swami is a Gnani,yet he recognized the validity of this approach/practices).
Yet,this is not the Pure Vichara taught by Sri Bhagavan.
The validity of this approach is what Anonymous had expressed-To develop a Strong CONVICTION to get over the I AM THE BODY idea.

Your e-Self and e-Forum Nirvana seems to be Revolutionary.I might not have addressed my earlier post to Broken Yogi,had I perceived this!(Just Kidding!).Hilarious!

nonduel said...

Dear Ravi,

What I was trying to convey is that in this discussion, both views are right, it depends of the Sadhaka. The example I gave was that Sri Ramana and other Sages always give answers adapted to the questionner. In Love and respect. Thus the teaching, outwardly can seem to be full of contradiction. This discussion is a very good example.
As for Bhavana (Conviction), in the Ribhu Gita (The Essence of Ribhu Gita): ""The Bhavana I-am-Brahman-self swiftly takes one to mukti""
All the teaching in the world is worthless without conviction, Bhavana. You can do any kind of practice, listen to any Sages if there are doubts, it is useless.
For the concentration on an object, as long as you are a Sadhaka, you are practicing duality, no matter what sadhana you are practicing. This is even right for Self-Enquiry, which is putting attention on the "I-thought". Consequently a thought AND a subject. In a preceeding post, I wrote:
""In practicing Self-Enquiry, we are in fact in duality, the ego searching for the Self.
Doesn't it make sense therefore to dive in the heart, on the right side so long as one hasn't merged in the Self?""
Why should focussing in the right side of the heart be wrong and other Sadhanas in duality right? When you are diving "inside" isn't there an "outside"?
Unless one is Self-Realised.
Nevertheless I am still questionning a Sadhana where the Self has a form and an habitat.
Fascinating discussion!

Ravi said...

Nondual,
I understand this much of what you have said-That irrespective of whatever path one travels,it will lead to the same Goal,SELF-IF PRACTISED WITH CONVICTION.
What I am unable to link up is this-"In practicing Self-Enquiry, we are in fact in duality, the ego searching for the Self.
Doesn't it make sense therefore to dive in the heart, on the right side so long as one hasn't merged in the Self?Why should it make sense to dive in the heart on the right hand side?-Do not get this point.How to Dive?What is DIVING?WHERE ON THE RIGHT SIDE?(Does it mean getting rid of the 'I am The Body' idea.)
Sorry,if it is clear to you and if this is SERVICEABLE,Wish you godspeed.I do not know anything about this.Kindly excuse me.May be,I am not cutout for this approach as yet.

nonduel said...

Dear Ravi,

Quote:
""I understand this much of what you have said-That irrespective of whatever path one travels,it will lead to the same Goal,SELF-IF PRACTISED WITH CONVICTION.""

No, of course I didn't mean that.

As for duality, as we write here on this blog, there's you and me. You said, it's to just BE! it's also duality. There is a subject (Ravi) and an object (Being).

If you are Self-Realised, a Jnani, then there is no more duality, only the SELF, all pervasive, no you and me. Non duality. One without a second.

Till then, we are in duality as long as there remains the thought I-am-the-body. The Sadhanas are dual.

I wasn't expressing my beliefs, but only for discussion sake, on this subject of concentrating, or focussing on the heart-center. Only saying that it isn't better or worse than the other practices, because they are all dual.

For the "diving", we can discuss semantics here for a long time. I think that Sri Ramana used the example of the pearl diver for "diving" within. It is only to turn the attention within on the "I". This is the first thought where all the others sprout from. At one point, the Self will dissolve the "I-thought", the mind, the ego. That is Realisation.

This is just my humble opinion, no more.

Ravi said...

Nondual,
I understand diving into the Heart as used in the Bhakti Parlance-You do feel the impact of Bhakti(a sort of Melting) in the centre of the Chest;Like We feel FEAR in the BELLY.
As for THE HEART CENTRE on the RIGHT ,I have no clue,still less of what diving means in this context.
I appreciate the Pains that you have taken repeatedly to reach out to me.
Thanks Very Much.
Salutations!

nonduel said...

Dear Ravi,

No pains my friend. I asked the same question on "diving deeply" myself recently on another forum. Here is the answer I was given, by someone more learned in the scriptures than I am:

[i]"""...diving deeply" means dwelling in the Heart, where
Brahman or the Self or Guru Ramana is ever. He is already pulling
to merge in His place or Guru outside is pushing you to merge in
His place."""[i]

Hope it helps you too.

All these questions Ravi, the inner stirring, is Brahman, Self's Grace manifesting. "Nonduel", "Vari" do not exist. Self is doing the pulling, pushing.

Salutations!

nonduel said...

Dear Ravi,

Just another thing. If you are absolutely convinced (Bhavana) of this, that you ARE BRAHMAN, as in the Ribhu Gita, and just rest in this conviction, just BEING BRAHMAN, bliss will fill "you".

Broken Yogi said...

Ravi and Non-duel,

I like your discussion about "diving" into the right side of the heart. I don't see a problem with dualistic practice per se, as long as it addresses and deconstructs dualism in the process. I just don't see where trying to concentrate on the right side of the heart does that. It's not even natural to do so. I mean, we don't generally walk around thinking of ourselves as dwelling in the right side of the heart. If we did, it would perhaps be fine to do self-enquiry there, and perhaps at some stage this does happen for some advanced souls. But otherwise, it seems like an unnatural fixation of attention on a point in our bodies that seems "other" to us, rather than our very self. I think it's best to simply feel into the sense of self wherever that is, without conceiving of it as located in some particular place.

Now, it's true that you could practice puja on a deity, or visualize a deity in your mind, and practice devotion to it with some decent results. I suppose one could do the same thing with the right side of the heart, I'm just not sure why one would do it that way. It seems better to just devote oneself to the Self, in the self-position, wherever one can find oneself existing. I just don't think very many people actually have a spontaneous sense of their self residing in the right side of the heart, and so it's unnatural to meditate or do self-enquiry in relation to the heart on the right for most of us.

nonduel said...

Dear Broken Yogi,

What a funny name!!!

In fact only the Jnani is "out" of duality. For the rest of us, all Sadhanas are dual.

Self-Attention, per-se, isn't natural either. We have to put effort, one-pointedness.

The most important Sadhana is Self-Enquiry, Self-Attention. I would add the conviction that I AM THAT I AM, I AM BRAHMAN.

But for some people, Sri Ramana also taught different practices, adapted to the person. When that same person would return saying it didn't work, or that he had difficulties, Sri Ramana often said """then do Self-Enquiry"""

So in that same token, why not focus on the heart center on the right?

Mind you, I'm still unsure on this.

Broken Yogi said...

non-duel,

"So in that same token, why not focus on the heart center on the right?"

If it works for any individual, I don't have a problem with it. Strange things have worked for strange people in the past. I just think that it doesn't really work for most people, and it doesn't have anything to do with self-enquiry either. There's the risk of becoming deluded into thinking that it does work, that it does have something to do with self-enquiry, simply because people associate both with Ramana, when it isn't actually doing anything but messing with someone's mind. Frankly, there's just too many self-deluded people doing things like this and becoming victims of self-inflationary egotism for me to suggest that it's a legitimate practice, unless of course it just arises spontaneously and naturally to a mature practitioner. Beginners who think they are going to grow by meditating on the right side of the heart are just kidding themselves. There certainly are dualistic practices that beginners can grow through engaging, such as mantras, puja, devotions, chanting, bhavanas, mahavakyas, etc. I just don't think this is one of them.

On the other hand, I'm just a Broken Yogi, so what do I know?

Ravi said...

Nondual,
"All these questions Ravi, the inner stirring, is Brahman, Self's Grace manifesting. "Nonduel", "Vari" do not exist. Self is doing the pulling, pushing."

"Dear Ravi,

Just another thing. If you are absolutely convinced (Bhavana) of this, that you ARE BRAHMAN, as in the Ribhu Gita, and just rest in this conviction, just BEING BRAHMAN, bliss will fill "you".

Thanks very much Nondual.I take it as a Blessing coming from the GURU.
Salutations!

srinivasan said...

From all the wonderful discussions,
heart-centre is conceded reluctantly as the focal point for doing self-enquiry to start with.
Why this heart-centre on the rightside is emphasised? It may be due to the mind sinking with the breath. When breath subsides mind also subsides. Bhagavan has said that if it is difficult to quiten down the mind watch the breath initially it will help.
I had the good fortune to talk to a realised soul whom Bhagavan miraculously guided by his grace to realise. He emphasised on meditating on the right side of the heart, two inches to the right from the centre of the chest. He said that there is no concentration but do the equiry and remain silent. Wheneven a thought arises root it out through the enquiry to whom this thought has come and as there is no one to answer dive with the 'I' thought and remain silent looking for the source of I. Remaining silent looking within for the source of the 'I' thought is meditation.
In reality there is no centre for the self in the body in the nondualistic sense. Looking for the sourse of 'I' thought and remaining silent is the real thread to vichara. May Bhagavan's grace guide us to realisation.

Jupes said...

Greetings to all.
Sorry to mention this in the midst of this very moving dialogue, but in the past few days I've noticed that the vichara thread is taking longer and longer to load on my computer and does not always load properly. I assume this is due to my old operating system and not having broadband, plus the increasing length of the thread. (although.... who knows?!) So, I'm going to try leaving a comment over here and see if it goes through.

Ravi, I've been wanting to thank you for your wonderful reply to my questions on Grace. Very beautifully put by both you and Sri Aurobindo. Thank you, dear Ravi!

And thanks to everyone for this continuing and most nourishing discussion!

maha mantra blogger said...

This is an excellent post.
I'm way tooooo happy to see bhagavan's work in the form of blogs for i believe blogs to be a better forum than anything else on the web.

Ravi said...

Jupes,
Yes,I can understand how difficult it must have been for trying to cope up with the Limitations of your PC.
Sri Aurobindo is very dear to me.Whenever ,I read his works, I have this Feeling of being LIFTED into a TIMELESS VASTNESS-A GREAT SYNTHETIC SWEEP- SURVEYING ALL DIMENSIONS.Truly one of The All time Greats!

Here is one of my favourites:
"The lotus of the eternal knowledge and the eternal perfection is a bud closed and folded up within us. It opens swiftly or gradually, petal by petal, through successive realisations, once the mind of man begins to turn towards the Eternal, once his heart, no longer compressed and confined by attachment to finite appearances, becomes enamoured, in whatever degree, of the Infinite. All life, all thought, all energising of the faculties, all experiences passive or active, become thenceforward so many shocks which disintegrate the teguments of the soul and remove the obstacles to the inevitable efflorescence."

I will recommend Sri Aurobindo's Masterly Essays on the Gita to all those who want to savour this Great Classic.

"All Life is Yoga"-Sri Aurobindo.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

"O Rama, doing what is appropriate, at all times, the mind should not be attached to the action, the thoughts or the object. Neither should it be attached to the heavens above, nor what is below nor in the other directions. It should not be bound to external relations, to the natural movement of the inner senses, nor to the life-force. The mind should not rest in the head, inside the palate, between the eyebrows, at the tip of the nose or in the mouth or eyes. It should not repose either in the darkness or in the light or even in the cave of the heart."

Vasisthas Yoga by Swami Venkatesananda, p. 291

David Godman said...

nonduel

'In practicing Self-Enquiry, we are in fact in duality, the ego searching for the Self.
Doesn't it make sense therefore to dive in the heart, on the right side so long as one hasn't merged in the Self?'

I disagree with this. Concentrating on the Heart-centre is, as Bhagavan remarked, the best place to put one's attention if one wants to do a practice that focuses on a bodily location. However, it is not self-enquiry. And far from being an aid to self-enquiry, it is actually a hindrance. It uses the power of your concentration to maintain an awareness of a thought-object. Self-enquiry can only be done properly if attention is focused exclusively on the subject, the one who is doing the looking.

Bhagavan distinguished between enquiry and meditation by saying that enquiry puts attention on the subject 'I' whereas meditation maintains an awareness of an object. Concentration on the Heart-centre is meditation, not enquiry.

David Godman said...

Ravi

'If Vichara does not have any prerequisite and if it can be practiced by all and sundry,then it should have displaced all other Paths.

Sri Bhagavan as well as all the other sages have acknowledged this fact and have encouraged seekers in their respective paths.'


In my opinion the only prerequisite for self-enquiry is a willingness to try it and a determination to stick with it afterwards. Bhagavan never told anyone not to do it because they were not ready or mature enough for it.

If you asked Bhagavan, 'What is the most direct way to realise the Self?' he would always tell you 'self-enquiry'. But that does not mean that he imposed it on everyone who came. If people came to him and asked for advice on sadhana, he would generally ask what they were doing already.

If they replied, 'Japa,' or 'Worship of my ishta devata,' and so on, he would generally say 'Very good, carry on.'

If people were happy with what they were practising, he would not ask them to change. However, if people came and, of their own accord, said that they felt like changing their practice, he might suggest self-enquiry.

Lucia Osborne made an interesting comment on this. She said, after observing him for a few years, that he never gave out any sadhana unless he was specifically asked to do so. One one exception was asking people to perform giri-pradakshina. It was the only 'advice area' in which he was pro-active.

Bhagavan did say in Spiritual Instruction that self-enquiry was 'for ripe souls only'. However, as I have already said, Bhagavan never prohibited devotees from doing it on the grounds that they were not ripe enough.

People come to enquiry when they are ready for it. Bhagavan recognised this and didn't force the issue.

If anyone reading this is attracted to self-enquiry, my advice would be 'do it'. Don't think that you have to prepare yourself for it by doing something else first.

David Godman said...

Broken Yogi, referring to a comment by Ravi

You make a good point that in previous times sadhus did not use self-enquiry in a deliberate, pre-meditated way (that I'm aware of at least), but stumbled across self-enquiry at some point late in their development, sometimes at the very end like Papaji or Lakshmana. However, this does not mean that this is the way things should always be. It is perhaps not only a good thing that Ramana taught self-enquiry to everyone as a path, but a great sign that humanity is perhaps developing a greater spiritual capacity to engage this primal spiritual approach at a much earlier stage in the process. It certainly seems difficult, once one has seen the benefits of self-enquiry, to go back to any other approach.


There are hints in ancient scriptures, such as Yoga Vasishta, about doing self-enquiry, but so far as I am aware, no one ever explained the method and the theory behind it in the way that Bhagavan did.

In the Hindu tradition one way of earning the right be be addressed as 'Maharshi' is by founding a completely new path. I think Bhagavan fully earned his title by introducing self-enquiry to the world.

David Godman said...

Broken Yogi and Ravi

Bhagavan generally kept quiet when the teachings of Aurobindo were mentioned in his presence. Sometimes he would say, 'Aurobindo advocates surrender and so do I. First surrender, and then see if you have any questions afterwards.'

This was a diplomatic way of avoiding a discussion in which he might have to point out that his own views were radically different. However, he made an exception when Swami Madhavatirtha and a devotee who had recently returned from Aurobindo Ashram asked him questions on Aurobindo's ideas. The following dialogue is reproduced from Swami Madhavatirtha's chapter in part one of The Power of the Presence. There are other questions and answers on Aurobindo's teachings later in the same chapter, but these should be enough to see that Bhagavan disagreed fundamentally with them.

________

One day, during the second week of my stay, I was standing near the northern gate that leads to the hill path. With me was a devotee who had returned the previous day from Sri Aurobindo’s ashram. It was evening and Sri Maharshi came by that way after his usual evening stroll. I wanted to ask him about his views on the theory of creation and the presence of the devotee who had returned from Sri Aurobindo’s ashram prompted me to refer to Sri Aurobindo’s views on the subject. I may say here that I am well acquainted with Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, for during my earlier visits to him some twenty-five years ago I used to discuss with him freely about these spiritual subjects. By way of an introduction, I asked the Maharshi whether he upheld the vedantic views on creation that were promulgated by Adi-Sankaracharya. After that we moved on to a discussion about Sri Aurobindo’s world view.

Q: In the Vedanta of Sri Sankaracharya, the principle of the creation of the world has been accepted for the sake of beginners, but for the advanced, the principle of non-creation is put forward. What is your view in this matter?

M: Na nirodha na chotpattir
Nabaddho na cha sadhakaha
Na mumukshur na vai mukta
Ityesha paramarthata

This sloka appears in the second chapter [v. 32, vaithathya prakarana] of Gaudapada’s Karika [a commentary on the Mandukyopanishad]. It means really that there is no creation and no dissolution. There is no bondage, no one doing spiritual practices, no one seeking spiritual liberation, and no one who is liberated. One who is established in the Self sees this by his knowledge of reality.

Q: Sri Aurobindo believes that the human body is not the last on this earth. Establishment in the Self, according to him, is not perfectly attained in a human body, for Self-knowledge does not operate there in its natural way. Therefore the vijnanamaya sarira [the body made of pure knowledge] in which Self-knowledge can work naturally must be brought down on this earth.

M: Self-knowledge can shine very well in the human body, so there is no need of any other body.

Q: Sri Aurobindo believes that the vijnanamaya sarira will not be attacked by disease, will not grow old, and will not die without one’s desire.

M: The body itself is a disease. To wish for a long stay of that disease is not the aim of the jnani. Anyhow, one has to give up identification with the body. Just as the I-am-the-body consciousness prevents one from attaining Self-knowledge, in the same way, one who has got the conviction that he is not the body will become liberated even if he doesn’t desire it.

Q: Sri Aurobindo wants to bring the power of God into the human body.

M: If, after surrendering, one still has this desire, then surrender has not been successful. If one has the attitude, ‘If the higher power is to come down, it must come into my body’, this will only increase identification with the body. Truly speaking, there is no need of any such descent. After the destruction of the I-am-the-body idea, the individual becomes the form of the absolute. In that state, there is no above or below, front or back.

Q: If the individual becomes the form of the absolute, then who will enjoy the bliss of the absolute? To enjoy the bliss of the absolute, we must be slightly separate from it, like the fly that tastes sugar from a little distance.

M: The bliss of the absolute is the bliss of one’s own nature. It is not born, nor has it been created. Pleasure that is created is sure to be destroyed. Sugar, being insentient, cannot give its own taste. The fly has to keep a little distance to taste it. But the absolute is awareness and consciousness. It can give its own bliss, but its nature cannot be understood without attaining that state.

Q: Sri Aurobindo wants to bring down on the earth a new divine race.

M: Whatever is to be attained in the future is to be understood as impermanent. Learn to understand properly what you have now so that there will be no need of thinking about the future.

Q: Sri Aurobindo says that God has created various kinds of worlds and is still going to create a new world.

M: Our present world itself is not real. Each one sees a different imaginary world according to his imagination, so where is the guarantee that the new world will be real? The jiva [the individual person], the world and God, all of these are relative ideas. So long as there is the individual sense of ‘I’, these three are also there.

From this individual sense of ‘I’, from the mind, these three have arisen. If you stop the mind, the three will not remain, but Brahman alone will remain, as it remains and abides even now. We see things because of an error. This misperception will be rectified by enquiring into the real nature of this jiva. Even if the jiva enters Supermind, it will remain in mind, but after surrendering the mind, there will be nothing left but Brahman. Whether this world is real or unreal, consciousness or inert, a place of happiness or a place of misery, all these states arise in the state of ignorance. They are not useful after realisation.

The state of Atmanishta [being fixed in the Self], devoid of the individual feeling of ‘I’, is the supreme state. In this state there is no room for thinking of objects, nor for this feeling of individual being. There is no doubt of any kind in this natural state of being-consciousness-bliss.

So long as there is the perception of name and form in oneself, God will appear with form, but when the vision of the formless reality is achieved there will be no modifications of seer, seeing and seen. That vision is the nature of consciousness itself, non-dual and undivided. It is limitless, infinite and perfect.

When the individual sense of ‘I’ arises in the body, the world is seen. If this sense is absent, who then will see the world?

Ravi said...

David,
Maharshi means MAHA-Great Rishi-Seer.This has nothing to do with finding a new path.The word 'Maharshi' for Sri Bhagavan was coined by Kavyakanta Ganapathy Muni.The people earlier used to call him BRAHMANA SWAMI-The word BRAHAMANAN is a combination of BRAHMAN+ANUGUTHAL(in tamil it means onw who is CLOSE to Brahman)similiarly andaNAn(antham+Anuguthal,Close to the END ).
This ofcourse does not subtract from Sri Bhagavan's Greatness (I am sure that you will concur).My master used to say that POSTs used to come addressed as 'MAHARSHI,INDIA).Those days the posts from abroad used to come by ship to Bombay and from there distributed to other places.The moment they saw 'MAHARSHI' they used to despatch it to Tiruvannamalai.Master used to add -'Others may add TITLES like Maharshi,but only Sri Bhagavan is the Maharshi.
coming to the Self Enquiy-you will find it associated with Sri Sankara as well.Sri Bhagavan GAVE THE EMPHASIS and POPULARISED this approach as 'Who am I'.Earlier it was the 'Neti' ,'Neti' type and also 'AHAM brahmasmi'-the focus is on 'AHAM'.
No master has as yet Claimed that he has founded anything 'NEW'.There is nothing new!The language/expression is what is current(new?).

COMING TO PREREQUISITE-I had not intended that Self Enquiry cannot be attempted nor tried to say that OTHER 'Methods' have to be practised before attempting this.
What I have intended is this-"I have seen people saying they are practising 'Self Enquiry' or 'Gnana Marga'.In ordinary Living they are 'Fractional',riding rough shod over others,manipulative,given to anger,jealousy,one upmanship,etc.YET,they PRACTISE SELF ENQUIRY!I have even heard them describe their 'Wonderful Experience!'.
All I have meant is that THE WHOLE OF LIFE and not just a part needs to be addressed.Otherwise it is a NON-STARTER.
This is the reason that my Master places a lot of Emphasis on tese FUNDAMENTALS OF LIVING as enunciated in Tirukkural(Tiruvalluvar is called POIYA MOZHIPULAVAR in Tamil-meaning whose words cannot be FALSIFIED).

I have also seen how there are any number of such Practiioners(particularly in papaji's lineage!)getting lost!
My Master says it simply-First see that you are a GOOD HUMAN BEING;parallely aspire for the Divine.Otherwise it is only SOME AMBITION that is driving one and not INSPIRATION!(This is what Sri Annamalai Swami also used to tell us)

Thanks for serving Sri Bhagavan's Grace.
Salutatons to you!



Salutations!

Ravi said...

david,
'that Bhagavan disagreed fundamentally with them.'

Yes,I am aware of this as well.This takes us back to what we discussed and concurred-'Gnanis differ in their views.BAHMAN ALONE IS THE POINT OF AGREEMENT'.

I will add that sri aurobindo's approach(Pretty much the VEDIC, and NOT THE VEDANTIC) is a continuation of what was already stated in a seed form by Sri Ramakrishna.I had not touched upon this-This is where we need to get onto if we want to discuss the NEW THREAD that you have opened!

Practically speaking ,I will prefer to go along with what Sri Bhagavan said which SEEMS DIPLOMATIC.(I prefer to call it SERVICEABLE!).

We need to understand that SRI AUROBINDO clearly had the 'NIRVANIC EXPERIENCE' even before the ship that carried him back to india from England touched the shores-Nirvana walked into me Without even saying 'may I come in Sir!'.(Please note I anticipate that it was only 'manolaya' and not 'Manonasa' type of response.Suffice to say this was not so).We may understand it from Sri Ramakrishna's saying that after Gnana the 'I' has only a semblance.'THIS IS LIKE A BURNT ROPE:WE SEE IT COILED,BUT IT WILL NOT BIND'.This 'I' is for the purpose of 'TEACHING THE WORLD'. our limited understanding perceives everything in BLACK AND WHITE ONLY-i.e,Something is or it is not.yet atleast we know that maya is grey!)

Salutations!

David Godman said...

Subramanian

Only one point. ‘Are we turning our mind to the Feeling of ‘I’ without ‘bhavana’? In Ribhu Gita, it is stated that one can jettison all ‘bhavanas’ but not the bhavana – ‘I am Brahman’, and the necessary steps to It.


Here are some quotes on 'I am Brahman' from Bhagavan that I collected on a brief trawl through Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Bhagavan: Why should one be meditating ‘I am Brahman’? Only the annihilation of ‘I’ is Liberation. But it can be gained only by keeping the ‘I-I’ always in view. So the need for the investigation of the ‘I’ thought. If the ‘I’ is not let go, no blank can result to the seeker. Otherwise meditation will end in sleep. (talk 139)

A visitor: What is the difference between meditation (dhyana) and investigation (vichara)?

M.: Both amount to the same. Those unfit for investigation must practise meditation. In this practice the aspirant forgetting himself meditates ‘I am Brahman’ or ‘I am Siva’; thus he continues to hold to Brahman or Siva; this will ultimately end on the residual Being as Brahman or Siva which he will realise to be Pure Being, i.e. the Self.

He who engages in investigation starts holding on to himself, asks ‘Who am I?’ and the Self becomes clear to him. (talk 172)

M.: “I am Brahman” is only a thought. Who says it? Brahman itself does not say so. What need is there for it to say it? Nor can the real ‘I’ say so. For ‘I’ always abides as Brahman. To be saying it is only a thought. Whose thought is it? All thoughts are from the unreal ‘I’. i.e., the ‘I’- thought. Remain without thinking. So long as there is thought there will be fear. (talk 202)

M.:‘I am Brahman’ is an aid to concentration. It keeps off other thoughts. That one thought alone persists. See whose is that thought. It will be found to be from ‘I’. Wherefrom is the ‘I’ thought? Probe into it. The ‘I-thought’ will vanish. The Supreme Self will shine forth of itself. No further effort is needed.

When the one Real ‘I’ remains alone, it will not be saying; “I am Brahman”. Does a man go on repeating “I am a man”? Unless he is challenged, why should he declare himself a man? Does anyone mistake oneself for a brute, that he should say “No. I am not a brute; I am a man”? Similarly, Brahman or ‘I’ being alone, there is no one there to challenge it and so there is no need to be repeating “I am Brahman”. (Talks 202)

D.: Shall I meditate on “I am Brahman” (Aham Brahmasmi)?

M.: The text is not meant for thinking “I am Brahman”. Aham (‘I’) is known to everyone. Brahman abides as Aham in everyone. Find out the ‘I’. The ‘I’ is already Brahman. You need not think so. Simply find out the ‘I’….

The other methods are meant for those who cannot take to the investigation of the Self. Even to repeat Aham Brahmasmi [I am Brahman] or think of it, a doer is necessary. Who is it? It is ‘I’. Be that ‘I’. It is the direct method. The other methods also will ultimately lead everyone to this method of the investigation of the Self. (talk 266)

* * *

For the reasons outlined above, Bhagavan did not recommend having the bhavana ‘I am Brahman’. So far as I am aware, the only bhavana he recommended having was the feeling ‘“I am” is my true nature’. This is what Swami Madhavatirtha reported Bhagavan as saying in The Power of the Presence part one:

“One man who had been practising self-enquiry by asking himself ‘Who am I? Who am I?’ failed to make any progress. On the contrary he started to experience fear in the mind.

When he told the Maharshi that he had failed to get any kind of beneficial experience from following the practice, the Maharshi replied, ‘To get the experience one should not rely on buddhi [the discriminating intellect] alone, one should combine it with a firm conviction [bhavana] ‘I am’: one who has that thought is also ‘I’, pure consciousness. With such a feeling one should go deep within and take hold of the experience.’”

* * *

The best bhavana for enquiry is: “I know that I am”. From that point one makes an investigation into what this ‘I am’ really is.

arvind said...

Great to have you back, David.

Swami Madhavatirtha’s story in “The Power of the Presence” is one of my favourites. Some people had the knack of eliciting relevant and useful tidbits from Sri Bhagavan and surely SM was one of them. Like this marvelous gem you have quoted here, in your comment.

So, when you did the chapter on SM, was all of “Temno parichay Ane Bodha” translated ? And then you picked out the relevant portions ? Why I ask is because I would dearly love to read all of what SM wrote in this book. I have the Gujarati version and have been struggling with it. Gujarati characters are similar to Hindi so its possible to make out the gist, but its real heavy going.

But if a full English translation is available, that would be a goldmine. If you have further details about the book or its translation, grateful if you would tell us more about it.

In any event, we all owe you a world of thanks in having at least the most relevant portions of this important book translated and published.

best wishes

David Godman said...

Ravi

Yes,I am Brahman is also one type of Meditation. Sri Annamalai Swami advised us to Practice the Traditional-"I am not the Body;I am not the Thoughts; Verily I am Atma. ALL is Atma". I have treasured these letters with me. They used to be accompanied by Kumkum and Vibhuti Packets. (Swami is a Gnani,yet he recognized the validity of this approach/practices).
Yet,this is not the Pure Vichara taught by Sri Bhagavan.



This is an interesting case. Bhagavan asked Annamalai Swami to do this sadhana because he could see that it would be effective for him. To almost everyone else he said that it was just an intellectual exercise that would not lead to liberation.

The 'added ingredients' here that I think made this an effective path for Annamalai Swami were twofold: (1) Bhagavan was a powerful jnani whose words had a fulfilling power of their own. If he said 'Do this and it will work for you,' then it would work. (2) Annamalai Swami had an unassailable faith in the necessity of following Bhagavan's words to the letter. His whole sadhana revolved around doing what Bhagavan told him with the absolute conviction that unquestioning obedience would bring him benefits. It was not for nothing that I entitled his book 'Living by the Words of Bhagavan'. When I suggested that title to him, his face lit up with a huge smile of appreciation.

I think any sadhana would have worked for Annamalai Swami because he had such faith in Bhagavan. I think Bhagavan picked this practice for him because he could see that it wad the one that Annamalai Swami had the most affinity with.

What Annamalai Swami did and taught was most definitely not self-enquiry as taught by Bhagavan. However, it worked for him because of his maturity and his immense faith in Bhagavan's words.

David Godman said...

nonduel

No pains my friend. I asked the same question on "diving deeply" myself recently on another forum. Here is the answer I was given, by someone more learned in the scriptures than I am:

[i]"""...diving deeply" means dwelling in the Heart, where
Brahman or the Self or Guru Ramana is ever. He is already pulling
to merge in His place or Guru outside is pushing you to merge in
His place."""[i]

* * *

The Self is tugging at us, trying to pull us back into itself. Why is it not succeeding? Because we are holding on to things that are not the Self. When the 'I'-thought holds on to an object, the force of the association is enough to prevent the Self from making any headway. When the 'I' is free from identifications and associations, the power of the Self can pull the unattached 'I' towards itself.

'Diving' is not mentally aiming for a particular spot and proceeding towards it; it is giving up all thoughts, points of conentration and associations so that the Self can do its tugging work on the isolated 'I'

David Godman said...

Jupes

Greetings to all.
Sorry to mention this in the midst of this very moving dialogue, but in the past few days I've noticed that the vichara thread is taking longer and longer to load on my computer and does not always load properly. I assume this is due to my old operating system and not having broadband, plus the increasing length of the thread. (although.... who knows?!) So, I'm going to try leaving a comment over here and see if it goes through.

* * *

Does anyone know if there is a facility withing Blogger for dividing long response threads up? It would be nice to have twenty responses to a page, with a '1 2 3 4 5' page option at the bottom. Then, if you wanted to read comments 80-100, you could just click on page five.

I have to say that I am astonished that I even need such a facility. I have been pleasantly surprised that there are so many people out there who care enough about enquiry to trade opinions backwards and forwards for days at a time.

David Godman said...

maha mantra blogger

This is an excellent post.
I'm way tooooo happy to see bhagavan's work in the form of blogs for i believe blogs to be a better forum than anything else on the web.

* * *

Welcome to the thread, and thanks for joining the discussion. I know from my stat counter that there are many other people out there who log on every day and read without making any comment. If you feel you have something to say, please don't feel shy or apprehensive about saying it.

And for those of you who keeping logging in as 'anonymous', it would be nice if you could adopt some handle or other. It doesn't compromise your anonymity in any way.

David Godman said...

Clemens Vargas Ramos

Lovely quote from Yoga Vasishta! Thanks for posting it.

Ravi said...

David,
Totally agree with you on Sri annamalai Swami-One has to see his face light up at the mention of Sri Bhagavan!Actually other than the heart cente part of it,I am comfortable with whatever way the Self Enquiry is put;Even in Meditation ,it is only a matter of MOMENT for the concentration to SWITCH FROM THE OBJECT TO THE SUBJECT!The arguements are only for the sake of understanding to START WITH.In PRACTICE all these fine distinctions may be lost!
To Begin with,it looks like we start off with a BIG ADVANTAGE to attend to the 'I';it gives the impression that we are STARTING OFF WITH SOMETHING 'TANGIBLE','KNOWN',not 'IMAGINED','SELF EVIDENT',etc.The KEY Thing is to STAY with the 'I' in an EFFORTLESS manner and 'Just Be'.For some this may be invoked through INTENSE FEELING(Devotion),that annihilates 'Thought'most effortlessly rather than the drab way of having to play 'The Watchman!'(on accasions when this process does not workout).It all depends on the individual!

Whenever you mention Sri Annamalai Swami,It is always a joy-LIVING BY THE WORDS OF BHAGAVAN-it is this LIVING that made it possible for swami-Not any seperate Process.'How Much of this and How much of that?'-This is the way the INTELLECT would like to dissect!The HEART simply knows!It is only to convince OTHERS that arguements are required.This is not required for oneself!

Salutations!

David Godman said...

Ravi

Thanks for your long response.

I read a few weeks ago (sorry, can't remember where) that in ancient times 'Maharshis' founded lineages or new spiritual traditions. The comment stuck in my head because I remember thinking 'How appropriate that is for Bhagavan since he opened up and made available to all an innovative way of seeking and finding the Self'. Apologies if this idea is the spiritual equivalent of an urban myth. I took what I read at face value.

The title 'Maharshi' has been devalued in recent years. They seem to sprout everywhere. Even B. V. Narasimha Swami, the author of 'Self Realisation' ended up with the title. Like you, I feel that there is only one 'Maharshi' and I tend to laugh when I hear other people assuming the title or being given it by their followers.

I agree that one can find the term 'self-enquiry' in many ancient texts, but if one then finds out what it denotes, it usually means affirmation or negation: variations on 'I am Brahman' or 'I am not the body', and so on. Bhagavan's innovation was instituting a practice that focused on the subjective awareness of 'I', rather than on a formula that describes what one really is or is not. I have not come across any other Guru prior to Bhagavan who taught enquiry in this way.

I agree that sadhaks should behave properly, but I would not disqualify people who cannot reach high standards of personal rectitude from doing enquiry. Bhagavan's advice in Who am I? to people who were aware that they were doing wrong was not to change their behaviour but to ask, without recriminations, 'Who is the "I" who is sinning?'

Muruganar was a big advocate of proper behaviour, stressing it even more than Bhagavan himself. He even once made the astonishing statement that good character was higher than jnana. I wouldn't go that far, but I do accept that sadhaks who consistently behave badly are unlikely to make much headway with their practice.

David Godman said...

Arvind

I had the assistance of a Gujarati devotee who has translated several of Bhagavan's books. I asked him to go through the book and pick out every passage in which there was a reference to Bhagavan. I didn't edit it down. I used every quote that was there.

I agree Swami Madhavatirtha was a great recorder of Bhagavan's teachings. He was only at Ramanasramam for fourteen days, but he recorded more good material in that time than many others managed in fourteen years. It is unfortunate that he wasn't destined to stay longer.

David Godman said...

I have reached the end of the responses on this post and I hope I have given responses to everyone who wanted one. If I missed anyone, let me know what you want me to respond to.

I will now go back to the vichara thread and reply to the pending queries there. There are lots of them and it might take a day or two to get through them all.

Ravi said...

David,
" Annamalai Swami had an unassailable faith in the necessity of following Bhagavan's words to the letter. His whole sadhana revolved around doing what Bhagavan told him with the absolute conviction that unquestioning obedience would bring him benefits. It was not for nothing that I entitled his book 'Living by the Words of Bhagavan'. When I suggested that title to him, his face lit up with a huge smile of appreciation."

When I first received this Book,I was dumbstruck by the Title of this Book-Instantly knew how it is TRULY REPRESENTATIVE of this Great(sorry,pl help me find a better word!)Guru Bhakta.I had the good fortune of listening to Swami recalling FONDLY how he even received a RAP OF THE KNUCKLES(KUTTU as it called in Tamil)from Sri Bhagavan!Swami was looking towards oneside -HE HAD GONE BACK in time-a gentle smile lighting up his face;Also recalled the way he got injured on the crown of his head(Near that newly constructed water tap,when he gotup and got hit on the head) and how Sri Bhagavan asked for some ointment and with HIS OWN PALM massaged swami's head!Swami had a deep desire that Sri Bhagavan should bless him with Hasta Diksha!This was it!
Swami will look downwards and shake his head like a cow!

My Master often is fond of narrating this story about TK Sundaresa Iyer-Once someone asked him what is it that TKS had gained by staying with Sri Bhagavan-TKS smpl replied-"We have not come for any gain.We are here BECAUSE WE HAVE REALISED THAT WE DO NOT HAVE ANY EXISTENCE APART FROM BHAGAVAN!'.Master used to add this TIRUPPAVAI song of Andal-"eRRaikkum EaEazhu Piravikkum uRRome aavom,umakke naam aatchaivom,maRRAi nam kaamangal maaRRelor enpaavai!(I am not competent to translate this Tiruppavai verse-it goes something like this)-FOREVER and for seven times seven births(Andal is saying that REBIRTH is no problem whatsoever!),bonded to you,serving you;It is For you to CHANGE(destroy) any other desire in us!

Just want to add this bit-that not all have gone to Sri Bhagavan for Self Realization!There were devotees who did not even aim for SELF Realization!Are they any less?!!!

Salutations

Ravi said...

David,
"I agree that sadhaks should behave properly, but I would not disqualify people who cannot reach high standards of personal rectitude from doing enquiry. Bhagavan's advice in Who am I? to people who were aware that they were doing wrong was not to change their behaviour but to ask, without recriminations, 'Who is the "I" who is sinning?'

Muruganar was a big advocate of proper behaviour, stressing it even more than Bhagavan himself. He even once made the astonishing statement that good character was higher than jnana."
-----------------
I tend to agree with Muruganar!As such Human Nature is such that it will try to extract MAXIMUM CONCESSIONS-saying that 40% is enough to pass the Examination and hence no need to study hard!

What Sri Bhagavan had said only APPLIES TO SEEKERS WHO HAVE REALLY GIVEN IT THEIR BEST SHOT and it had become a sort of FIXATION!It only means that ONE HAS TO APPROACH IT INTELLIGENTLY and not try to force a RESULT.Bhagavan never advocated that there should be any slackening on the Efforts side to get over these SPEED BREAKERS/BLIND ALLEYS.
This is truly important and if we find that some advanced souls have fallen by the wayside,it is because of LACK OF EFFORT in this area.
My Master emphasises that both the approaches should go Hand in hand and support each other.This is what I have found beneficial.
IT IS NOT BEHAVIOUR,it is the ATTITUDE.Behaviour can be IMITATED ,but Attitude requires COMMITMENT and UNDERSTANDING.THIS IS NOT TO GET A CERTIFICATE FROM 'OTHERS',it is to FACILITATE the process of UNFOLDMENT.This has been recognised and emphasised by all sages.Yet in our Ultramodern days,we take an Ultramodern approach to Spiritual Living as well,and give the Go BY to SIN(euphemism is 'error'.I have already wrtten in one of my earlier posts).

The lack of emphasis in this area will mean that THIS TEACHING will soon be hijacked by a swarm of pseudo gurus with a huge following -all of them GNANIS!IS IT ALREADY HAPPENING???(I wonder!)

nonduel said...

David quote:
For the reasons outlined above, Bhagavan did not recommend having the bhavana ‘I am Brahman’. So far as I am aware, the only bhavana he recommended having was the feeling ‘“I am” is my true nature’. This is what Swami Madhavatirtha reported Bhagavan as saying in The Power of the Presence part one:

“One man who had been practising self-enquiry by asking himself ‘Who am I? Who am I?’ failed to make any progress. On the contrary he started to experience fear in the mind.

When he told the Maharshi that he had failed to get any kind of beneficial experience from following the practice, the Maharshi replied, ‘To get the experience one should not rely on buddhi [the discriminating intellect] alone, one should combine it with a firm conviction [bhavana] ‘I am’: one who has that thought is also ‘I’, pure consciousness. With such a feeling one should go deep within and take hold of the experience.’”

* * *

The best bhavana for enquiry is: “I know that I am”. From that point one makes an investigation into what this ‘I am’ really is. (end of quote)

David could you clarify your post, because it contradict itself. Bhagavan did not recommend having the bhavana ‘I am Brahman' and you follow with the Bhavana I know that I Am etc. I AM is Brahman!

There is probably a subtlety that I don't catch here.

My understanding is that the Bhavana I Am Brahman isn't the continous repetition of I Am Brahman but the conviction that I AM.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

In Vasisthas Yoga I found this passage. Maybe it is of interest of some of you:

"VASISTHA continued:

O Rama, two aspects of the 'heart' are spoken of here: one is acceptable and the other is to be ignored. The heart that is part of this physical body and is located in one part of the body may be ignored! The heart which is acceptable is of the nature of pure consciousness. It is both inside and outside and it is neither inside nor outside. That is the principal heart and in it is reflected everything which is in the universe, and it is the treasure-house of all wealth. Consciousness alone is the heart of all beings, not the piece of flesh which people call the heart! Hence, if the mind, freed of all conditioning, is gathered into pure consciousness, the novement of prana is restrained."

Ravi said...

Ramos,
Truly appreciate your interest.This seems to make sense and is close to what Sri Bhagavan seems to have meant.
Thanks very much.
Salutations!

David Godman said...

Clemens Vargos Ramos

Bhagavan translated these lines into Tamil and they appear in Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham as verses 21, 22 and 23. The is the translation from the current edition of Collected Works:

21 When Rama asked, 'Which is the great mirror in which we see these images of things? What is it that is called the heart of all the beings in the world?' Vasishta answered, 'When we reflect we see that all the beings in the world have two different hearts.

22 'One of these is worth acceptance, the other worth rejection. Listen how they differ. The organ called the heart placed somewhere in the chest of the physical body is worth rejection. The heart which is of the form of pure awareness is worth acceptance; it is both within and without - it has no inside or out.

23 'That indeed is the essential heart and in it all this world abides. It is the mirror in which all things are seen. It is the source of all wealth. Hence awareness may be termed the heart of all beings. The heart is not a part of the perishable body, inert like a stone.'

David Godman said...

nonduel

This is a quotation from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi that I posted earlier in a response to Subramanian:

A visitor: What is the difference between meditation (dhyana) and investigation (vichara)?

M.: Both amount to the same. Those unfit for investigation must practise meditation. In this practice the aspirant forgetting himself meditates ‘I am Brahman’ or ‘I am Siva’; thus he continues to hold to Brahman or Siva; this will ultimately end on the residual Being as Brahman or Siva which he will realise to be Pure Being, i.e. the Self.

He who engages in investigation starts holding on to himself, asks ‘Who am I?’ and the Self becomes clear to him. (talk 172)

The feeling 'I am Brahman' is an idea that the mind holds. It is thus (according to Bhagavan's definition) meditation rather than enquiry.

Enquiry starts from an 'I-thought that is unattached to any other idea. 'I' is pratyaksha, self-evident and directly experienced. It is not an idea about oneself that has to be sustained through meditation. Bhagavan is saying that one should have the conviction that this directly experienced 'I' is the truth of oneself.

nonduel said...

David,

My post was more on this aspect:
QUOTE
"""Bhagavan did not recommend having the bhavana ‘I am Brahman’."""

It comes to say that Bhagavan said not to be convinced (Bhavana) of being Brahman.

Then you finish with:
"""Bhagavan is saying that one should have the conviction that this directly experienced 'I' is the truth of oneself."""

In other word that I Am Brahman!

This is what I see as a contradiction and don't understand.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but is it having an "idea" on being Brahman that is meditation? Or using this as a mantra, Japa. Or continously hold to this "idea"?

The difference then would be on the conviction that the "I" IS Brahman, not just an idea.

nonduel said...

Ramos and David,
Thank you for those two posts from Ulladu Narpadu and/or Vasistha Yoga.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

David Godman; ... Bhagavan translated these lines into Tamil ...

Ah yes, I see.

This kind of mixing up the centre of all beings with the physical/subtile body is really intractable.

Recently I read a conversation between an esoteric thinker and someone else, and the esoterian said: "Ramakrishna died of cancer, and now that I have had the experience (of enlightenment), I know in an absolute way that this is impossible (if he had attained this state). If he had decided to go because the Divine wanted him to go, it would have been with an orderly departure, in total harmony and with a total will, whereas this illness is a means of disorder."

The other person replied (I try to translate it into English): "You are confusing the Divine with the body. It is not the body being the abode of the Divine - on the contrary: the Divine is the abode of the body! In vedantic thought the 'body' is nothing else than a dense material object - of divine origin like roses and butterflies, but nothing a spiritual seeker is concerned with because of his transitory existence. The vedantic seeker is in search for the eternal life of his own true being - not for the eternal life of his body. I believe that the esoteric thinker can't grasp this because he is making the transitory embodied life into an ABSOLUTE."

Ravi said...

Ramos/Other Friends,
It is very interesting to see what Sri Ramakrishna SAID ABOUT THIS!
He said-"HERE THERE ARE TWO!The Devotee and THE MOTHER!It is the DEVOTEE who is suffering."

If we apply the experience of GNANI's(the oversimplification and inability of THE MIND to bridge the gap between the Absolute and the RELATIVE-please NOTE!-THE MIND and not the gnanis)that perceiving DUALITY means lack of Gnana.

Yet,If we have read Sri Ramakrishna's life and also his Gospel,HE IS CLEARLY AWARE OF THE NONDUAL STATE AND ALWAYS had it as a BACKDROP(so to say).This is the reason that no Gnani(if at all he is a Gnani!-S!)has till date COME OUT OPENLY questioning Sri Ramakrishna's attainment.

Sri Aurobindo is the ONLY MASTER that I know that has touched upon this-He talks about the INTUITIVE MIND PLANE which can SO TO SAY bridge the gap between the ABSOLUTE and the RELATIVE.He Refers to SRI RAMAKRISHNA to be expressing himself from this INTUITIVE PLANE.
This is what I have mentioned earlier that Sri Aurobindo is carrying forward and amplifying on what Sri Ramakrishna had hinted!(I believe!S!!!!!Like ,I have eliminated the DISCLAIMER FOR YOU,Pl RECIPROCATE!).
The point I AM TRYING TO MAKE is that just as SOME GNANIs dismissed EMPIRICAL REALITY as transient and as of no significance,EQUALLY GREAT GNANIS have Affirmed it as a FIELD OF DELIGHT and this has the Backing of VEDAS/UPANISHADS!
This is the point behind Sri Ramakrishna saying-
"I spit on Brahma Gnana"-'Mother !Do not let My mind sink in Nondual Samadhi!Let me enjoy the DelIGHT of Talking with the Devotees!".

In my experience,I have had the 'Peace' Experience;I have also had the 'Love' Experience.In this context,I can infer,may be remotely what Sri Ramakrishna is talking about-HAVE THE PEACE AS WELL AS THE DELIGHT!SAT,CHIT,ANANDA!

Sri Ramakrishna used to talk of Gnanis as COWARDS-they are too eager to move to a safety Zone!THE EXPERT SATRANCH PLAYER REVELS IN TAKING RISKS!HE IS NOT AFRAID OF LOSING!

Now to refer to the pages where these statements are found?!Actually I got an ebook CD from the RK Mutt but am unable to load it on my Vista PC.It will be easier to cut and paste than to key in(with my typos!).

I have just given some preview of what to expect in the New Thread that David had opened!
Salutations!

David Godman said...

Clemens Vargas Ramos

"Ramakrishna died of cancer, and now that I have had the experience (of enlightenment), I know in an absolute way that this is impossible (if he had attained this state). If he had decided to go because the Divine wanted him to go, it would have been with an orderly departure, in total harmony and with a total will, whereas this illness is a means of disorder."


This reminds me of an appalling little book that came out about twenty years ago by a woman who claimed to be channelling Seshadri Swami. After writing down what Seshadri Swami had told her, she went off, she says, in her subtle body to the heavenly realm where all the great and dead Gurus are supposed to hang out after they die. As she arrived, they were all standing in a line, waiting to greet her. She addressed them, saying, 'I have just written down a book of Seshadri Swami's teachings, dictated by Seshadri Swami himself. Would anyone like to write a foreword to the book?'

Bhagavan stepped forward, but, according to the woman, the other Gurus immediately objected.

One of them said, 'You are always putting yourself forward, making out you are better and more enlightened than anyone else. You have a big ego. That's why you caught cancer and died.'

The woman included this account of her adventure in an introduction to the book. She obviously had a chip on her shoulder about Bhagavan and Ramanasramam having a better and wider reputation than Seshadri Swami Ashram, and she made up this fantasy to air her grievances.

The book was in Tamil and I remember Kunju Swami, then almost ninety years old, hopping up and down in the ashram office, waving a copy of the book and demanding that the president go to Seshadri Ashram immediately and lodge a personal complaint against the book. I have no idea if he went or not.

David Godman said...

nonduel

Bhagavan used to say '"I am" is the truth whereas "I am such and such" is just an idea.' He wanted us to drop ideas so that the 'I' would reveal itself 'as it is'. When that revelation takes place one knows that 'I' and Brahman are one and the same, but thinking or even strongly believing 'I am Brahman' does not, according to Bhagavan, take one to that final revelation.

nonduel said...

Thank you David, it's clear now.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

... Ravi; ...The point I AM TRYING TO MAKE is that just as SOME GNANIs dismissed EMPIRICAL REALITY as transient and as of no significance,EQUALLY GREAT GNANIS have Affirmed it as a FIELD OF DELIGHT and this has the Backing of VEDAS/UPANISHADS!
This is the point behind Sri Ramakrishna saying-
"I spit on Brahma Gnana"-'Mother !Do not let My mind sink in Nondual Samadhi!Let me enjoy the DelIGHT of Talking with the Devotees!". ...


Yes, it's my understanding too. This point is often misunderstood. Ramakrishna said a lot about the misunderstanding of terms like "advaita", "nonduality", "unreality of the world" etc. There is this wonderful story with advaitin Totapuri. Sri Ramana said: "Don't practice advaita in daily life." (Living by the Words of Bhagavan)

Ramakrishna also said: "The devotee of the Lord don't wants to become sugar - he wants to taste sugar!" It is interesting that Sri Ramana apparently objected somewhat against this saying:

"Some contend that the sugar cannot taste its own sweetness and that a taster must taste and enjoy it. Similarly, an individual cannot be the Supreme and enjoy the Bliss of that state; therefore the individuality must be maintained on the one hand and God-head on the other so that enjoyment may result! Is God insentient like sugar? How can one surrender oneself and yet retain one’s individuality for supreme enjoyment?"
Talk 208.

I can not believe that there is any real difference between Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana except for the words.

The speculative mind can't grasp this kind of experience Ramakrishna, Ramana or vedantic mystics are pointing to. Sutra 25+26 in Bhakti Sutras says: "Bhakti is higher than karma, jnana and yoga. Because bhakti is the fruit of all endeavor." Perhaps he wanted to say: "Pure mystic love is the fruit, and it is indescribable!" (whereas the way of self enquiry is describable.) "Thus Silence is the Highest of all achievements." (Talk 594)

Silence=Indescribability

Anyway a lot of complicate explanations are necessary to get at least an idea of this. No one can describe The Undescribable.

But we love it to hear all this descriptions being so imperfect, isn't it? Poonjaji said: "Everyone coming to me is completely satisfied hearing from me the truth about his true nature. But I know FOR SURE that there is yet another holy secret no one talks about. No one is asking about this! I've never heard of someone asking about this and then going beyond this. And I like it to hear about this secret over and over again. I'm still not able to satisfy this desire." (Be still!)

Ravi said...

David,
" I think that Bhagavan taught that good and virtuous behaviour was a desirable end in itself, rather than a route to liberation."

Excellent!This is what I have wanted to emphasise in my earlier post.Also that without attending to this aspect,one cannot hope to make much headway-be it Gnana Marga or Bhakti Marga or any Marga.

I do not take these as exhortations but as vital imperatives.

Thanks very much David.I just wanted to be EXPLICIT on this aspect.

Salutations

Ravi said...

Ramos,
Your post on Ramakrishna and Ramana is quite to the point.
I recall the answer that Bhagavan gave Sri Dilip Kumar Roy,a disciple of Sri Aurobindo when he asked Bhagavan about Bhakti Marga-Bhagavan replied -"BHAKTI GNANA MATA"-Bhakti is the Mother of Gnana.
The point That I had tried to make is that THE SAME UPANISHADS has been interpreted by advaitic,vishistadvaitic and dvaitic schools-These schools differ in the way the EMPIRICAL reality is seen besides the relationship of the atma and Brahman.Most of the advaitic teachers lean towards an interpretation that the ADVAITIC experience is superior to the other two and is so to say FINAL.

Sri Ramakrishna and subsequently Sri Aurobindo depart from the PURE ADVAITA philosophy and give a greater significance to the EMPIRICAL REALITY-thus bridging the gap between the eternal and the temporal.

ALL THE ABOVE IS FROM A PURELY THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE and as far as spiritual practice is concerned,i do not allow myself to be concerned about these things.

I appreciate your keen interest in narada bhakti sutras,yoga vasishta,sri ramakrishna,Sri Bhagavan and others.

Thanks very much.

Salutations!

Broken Yogi said...

Non-duel,

This thread is so rich I was re-reading some of it this morning and came upon one comment of yours I disagree with:

"Self-Attention, per-se, isn't natural either. We have to put effort, one-pointedness."

I think Self-Attention is, indeed, natural, whereas attention to objects is unnatural and requires a great deal of energy on our part that ends up wasted. The problem is that we have become so accustomed to putting attention on objects we have become distorted by the process and fixed in place. It's like using a muscle group the wrong way for so long that the muscles grow in a distorted way to compensate, and the moving in the natural way feels difficult, because we have to stretch our distorted muscles back into place. Enquiry is like that, in that we have been so accustomed to meditating on objects rather than being freely Self-Aware that it feels hard at first to wrest our attention away from habitual clinging to objects. But once we overcome that initiat resistance, the natural happiness that comes from self-awareness begins to show itself, and we can see that this is the natural way to live, and not as we had become mistakenly accustomed to. I am with Nisargadatta that the true way is always a "natural" path, it just takes some effort to steer ourselves back to what is natural after so long being steered in the wrong direction by the ego.

nonduel said...

Broken Yogi,

My point was more on the "effort" needed. Thus it isn't something that "naturally" flows with easiness. What you wrote: ""...overcome that initial resistance.."""
The resistance. But you are right the word "natural" was a bad choice.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

Gems from Bhagavan:

Found in the Ecclesiastics: ‘There is one alone and there is no second’ and ‘The wise man’s heart is at the right hand and a fool’s heart is at the left’.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I just didn't know where else to put this. But there does seem to be as time goes on a subsiding into the heart, and feeling feeilngs fully, or bringing them in, to the center, and keeping the mind quiet.

Earlier today, I had another moment where my mind became completely still (seemingly), thoughts still arose but erratically. There was that "falling in" completely sensation, like at the pizza resteraunt the other day. I don't want to label it samadhi, for one because i don't know, and I for certain did not lose cognizance of my environment (although Maharshi would probably ask why strive for something silly like that?) although my eyes were closed, however I was intensely dispassionate when I opened my eyes, and my thoughts while going on were extremely subdued.

When I came out of it, my mind was active as if I had never fallen in. So it seems it is manually possible to shut down all mental activity, while that might not be realization proper, being still is what I can do, and that is in my control. And usually for a long time after I'm filled with kind of a sensation of intoxicating bliss, not euphoria, it's not manic, but a feeling of being drunk on joy, although I'm not mentally excited, but calm.

Some of these experiences are so intense and profound, that I feel a strong urge to write about them at times. There was also a pulsating light behind my "eyelids" in the dark of my closed eyelids. I followed Maharshi's advise to not rest with that.

In the completely silent state, the sense of reality being something solid dissolves. I could very clearly see my body when my eyes opened, but I felt a little like it was an inert piece of wood that I was seeing, and I was a little more disconnected from it. There was less of the senation, this is "me".

However then my mind became chatty again, and about the same things it normally is (which seemed kind of odd), however there was a strong background of bliss and peace behind the now chatty mind. Although I have intermittedly and repeatedly tried to return to stillness, which after each of these experienecs becomes easier.

After I opened my eyes, I was in the bathtub, and emerged from the space of relatively effortless mental silence, it felt like I had sunk into the chest, and was completely relaxed, and subdued. Some of these experiences are reminiscent of when I was 22, but different in that I now have the confidence to effortfully return there.

This may sound silly, or arrogant, but I don't care, it's honest. When I had opened my eyes, even though my mind became chatty, this background peace made me wonder for a sec, if I had realized the Self, but didn't know it yet, because there was a sense, taht I had completely "sunk in", that is the best I can describe it. Pretty much it required the tenacity to just stop all efforts, and stop even that effort and just plain stop thinking. I can't stop thinking at all times, but when there gets to be an uneccessary struggle because my mind has stopped going out, but I'm still engaged in the strain of bringing it back in. I just stop that effort, and then stop thinking as best I can, and then abide as the I whose observing that, without anything. that is the method. It seems to work sometimes, if dilligently, with the intention of being completely quiet, making an intense attempt at that. I don't think i realized, but then language like that gets kind of silly, putting labels on states. It seems when things start to get really quiet, the lines blur between what is just a silent state, and what is truly falling in, and what is effortful, and effortless, it's really impossible to put a label on things so why bother.

Nonetheless these are interesting landmarks in my attempts at Inquiry. I can rest assured in making these earnest attempts, my behavior in the world will be much more auspicious to others, and make others feel good about themselves, since I'm redirected from needing, and wanting, and trying to get.

I can also honestly say, this is much deeper then I previously was in my attempts at Inquiry, and why is that? Because Giant Vasanas rose to the surface and terrified me, or made me intensely, intensely depressed. All throughout those Vasana-ordeals, I kept attempting Inquiry, which makes all the difference, suddenly it's much easier to go deeper.

Perhaps that will happen agian, btu I notice that my fear of bad things happening, and my need for good thigns to happen is significantly reduced, and there is a background bliss that is more and more ever present, and yes sometimes I do lose it.

I also notice that I'm connecting intensely deeply with others in my presence, and i can also tell, that when I'm experiencing this intoxicating bliss, that it is rubbing off on those around me. What more could anyone ask for? Really.

These experiences, however much I might be wrong, or right, there is no way to know, do suggest to me, that earnest, as in with sincere intentions, Inquiry, I can't quite figure out why someone wouldn't Realize the Self. With the depths I'm experiencing now, only a year after starting. It's not subtle, it is dramatic, my vasanas are getting cleared. Is that other people's experiences? Broken Yogi, do you feel immesurably healed, O.K with whatever happens. That's the magic, thats why I continue, and make the attempt to go deeper. I also notice that there seems to be no conflict with functioning in the Institutional Environment. Only in some of hte more effortful repressions of the outgoing tendencies sometimes interfere with functioning. In completely surrender, In a state of Mauna more and more, listening, and learning is easy. It's those intensely abiding in their egos, that are the ones stressed out about tests, completely divided with their, and mine (when like that) weak minds.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf;

I also wanted to add on the conversation with Broken Yogi eariler, although there is still some part of me that is excited about the idea of being a Gnani, a Saint, yes that shallowness exists, but why resist it? why resist anything? Thats where I'm at now, just complete surrender even to egoic urges, just complete surrender of doing anything in relation to anything else. Using only the mind only to do the bare necessity to survive. Some of these experiences lately are exciting, int hte sense that there is a feeling of pay off after great effort. That teh results are starting to come in. That I'm starting to feel and commune with Mauna, a Blissful radiating silence that is healing me, and healing anyone. That I can rest now, that I can stop doing. But look, actions go on, such as writing this stuff. And doing school is no problem. And this is happiness, this is the goal of life. To become happy, to have a happy ending but it is only in silence, not in aquiring an experience. Although still, a profoundly good experience, in that all the nightmare of unhappiness, evil discontent, insecurity, which makes others feel insecure is dissipating. I have to go to class for my test. But especially to Broken Yogi if he reads this. I was just speaking from the standpoint of where I was, and if I have any maturity, its' enough to know that it's pointless to get in fights where the point is to win and hurt feelings. Nonetheless I had a strong urge to comment on what are to me inspiring feelings on the topic of Sincerity And Earnesty, which I believe are the two most Golden Traits, and I'm glad to have been given these. If, I do realize the Self, it's because of Sincerity and Earnestness that wanted to breakthrough the shackles of insecurity, and despair, into radiant warmth. Now it seems to be happening.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

This bliss, is wonderful. It becomes easy to be silent, and everything around me is just beautiful. It's the feelings of being "madly in love", but all the time. So i think it's a really good idea to stay quiet, stay quiet until any tendency that could besmirch this rising tendency is gone.

The central key is not only staying silent. It all changed when i did something very specific and easy. When I worried about something terrible happening, or a careless mistake, and the worries were cropping up, and I was terrified, and closed off. Then and there, turning away and returning to the Self, giving it up, letting it go awry if it wants to. Everytime.

When I'm depressed, or in my case I often would think about women that I was really interested on all levels, crushed out on intellectually, bur romantically as well. And regretful that nothing passionate happened with them. Turning away from these as well. These mega-vasanas, on being turned away from. It seems that just being, but not only that being in the blissful grace-filled state talked about, starts to happen and is no longer theoretical. The body's at peace, not being persecuted by teh ego any longer. (i.e. the stomach analogy Bhagavan used)

Because the things I really cared about, worried about in the world, I turned away from in the moment they rose acutely. It doesn't appear that has to happen much, and suddenly I'm falling into pure uncontaminated bliss, staying in thoughtless states is easy, Be still is no longer theoretical.

Then I do the more generic Inquiry of just shutting down the mental faculties, because even the more neutral seeming thought, the intellectual thought, excitement, has it's downsides to, if nothing else in that, turning people, and events into stories and concepts belies their grandeur. Why use words?

Why not that heart to heart speak, I've always had so much trouble with? That is love, and it makes up for any deficiencies in flirting, because magically people pick up on your love for them, and reciprocate it without thought even having to enter the equation. How could the Unrealized ever experience true love, falling in love? There is this punk haircut place I go to.

And I'm not really into sexist attitudes, or hitting on female workers that work at places. But this one person that I was deeply attracted to would give me eye contact, that was really affectionate and shy, and I kind of developed feelings about it. A few days ago, and I was in this blissful state, and succsesful in just being, there was such romantic eye contact between me and her, and I did not plan it. I'm not a sleaze going to businesses and hitting on employees. But the communication at the deep level was happening unhindered, because the hinderance was removed. Magical communication does start happening, when the ego, the mind starts subsiding.

I'm not going to let this bliss be put out. I'm going to keep giong deeper and deeper. Until all these tendencies are gone, and live in reality.

Akira said...

>> For example, Arthur Osborne on page 151 of The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own Words wrote:
In a number of passages already quoted Bhagavan does not only tell the questioner to investigate the ‘I’-thought but to find out where it arises. This connects self-enquiry with concentration on the Heart at the right side.

>> And in ‘The Direct Path’, an article from The Mountain Path that was reprinted in For Those with Little Dust, he wrote:
Bhagavan’s instruction was, while meditating, to concentrate the consciousness on the Heart - not the physical heart on the left, but the spiritual Heart on the right side of the chest.



What Mr.Osborne says here is that you should concentrate on the Heart which is on the right side of the chest.
He does not say you should concentrate on the right side of the chest.
Concentration on the Heart on the right side of the chest is one thing, and concentration on the right side of the chest is another.
Concentration on a film on a screen is not the same with concentration on a screen.


In the same book 'The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own Words', on page 25, he worte:

It is a tantric practice to concentrate on one of the chakras or spiritual centres of the body, very often on the point between
the eyebrows. As will be shown in a later chapter, the heart on the right side is not one of these chakras; nevertheless, in the following passage, Bhagavan explains concisely his teaching that concentration on the heart-centre is more effective than on any other point but less effective than pure enquiry.

Here he clearly distinguishes 'concentration on the Heart on the right side of the chest' from 'concentration on the right side of the chest (heart-centre)'.


When devotees had difficulty distinguishing these two, and mistakenly concentrating on the right side of the chest, Bhagavan advised to concentrate on the Heart, which is spiritual, not on the right side of the chest, which is physical.

Just like when you concentrate on a film, your concentration comes naturally on the screen where the film is on, when you concentrate on the Heart, your concentration comes naturally on the right side of the chest where the Heart is, even if it might take you some time before you find the Heart on the right side of the chest.

I do not find anything wrong with Mr.Osborne's comments.
I do not see anything inconsistent with Bhagavan's words.

I just wanted to make this clear for the sake of Mr.Osborne's honour.

Prasanth Jalasutram said...

David Garu,

But there was some interesting discussion happened between ramana maharshi and ganapati muni regarding where are the vasanas stored.

-----------

When I was on the Hill, Nayana (Kavyakantha Ganapathi Muni) once argued that the brain was the seat of the vasanas, because it consisted of innumerable cells in which the vasanas were contained and illuminated by the light of the Self which projected from the heart. Only this set a person working or thinking. But I said, "How can it be so? The vasanas must be with one's Self and can never remain away from the Self. If, as you say, the vasanas be contained in the brain and the Heart is the seat of the Self, a person who is decapitated must be rid of his vasanas and should not be reborn. You agree that it is absurd. Now can you say that the Self is in the brain with the vasanas? If so, why should the head bend down when one falls asleep? Moreover a person does not touch his head and say `I'. Therefore it follows that the Self is in the Heart and the vasanas are also there in an exceedingly subtle (Difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyse) form and they function like the flm in a cinema projector.

"When the vasanas are projected from the Heart they are associated with the Light of the Self and the person is said to think. The vasanas which lie imbedded in an atomic condition grow in size in their passage from the heart to the brain. The brain is the screen on which the images of the vasanas are thrown and it is also the place of their functional distribution. The brain is the seat of the mind, and the mind works through it." So then this is what happens.


When a vasana is released and it comes into play, it is associated with the light of the Self. It passes from the heart to the brain and on its way it grows more and more until it holds the field all alone and all the vasanas are thus kept in abeyance for the time being. When the thought is reflected in the brain it appears as an image on a screen. The person is then said to have a clear perception of things. He is a great thinker or discoverer. Neither the thought that is extolled as being original, nor the thing, nor the country which is claimed to be a new discovery, is really original or new. It could not manifest unless it was already in the mind. It was of course very subtle and remained imperceptible, because it lay repressed by the more urgent or insistent thoughts or vasanas. When they have spent themselves this thought arises and by concentration the Light of the Self makes it clear, so that it appears magnificent, original and revolutionary. In fact it was only within all along. This concentration is called samyamana in the Yoga Sastras. One's desires can be fulfilled by this process and it is said to be a siddhi . It is how the so-called new discoveries are made. Even worlds can be created in this manner. Samyamana leads to all siddhis. But they do not manifest so long as the ego lasts. Concentration according to yoga ends in the destruction of the experiencer (ego), experience and the world, and then the quondam desires get fulfilled in due course. This concentration bestows on individuals even the powers of creating new worlds.

When I was staying in the Skandasramam I sometimes used to go out and sit on a rock. On one such occasion there were two or three others with me including Rangaswami Iyengar. Suddenly we noticed some small moth-like insect shooting up like a rocket into the air from a crevice in the rock. Within the twinkling of an eye it had multiplied itself into millions of moths which formed a cloud and hid the sky from view. We wondered at it and examined the place from which it shot up. We found that it was only a pinhole and knew that so many insects could not have issued from it in such a short time. That is how ahankara (ego) shoots up like a rocket and instantaneously spreads out as the Universe. The Heart is therefore the centre.
---------------

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

This bliss, is wonderful. It becomes easy to be silent, and everything around me is just beautiful. It's the feelings of being "madly in love", but all the time. So i think it's a really good idea to stay quiet, stay quiet until any tendency that could besmirch this rising tendency is gone.

The central key is not only staying silent. It all changed when i did something very specific and easy. When I worried about something terrible happening, or a careless mistake, and the worries were cropping up, and I was terrified, and closed off. Then and there, turning away and returning to the Self, giving it up, letting it go awry if it wants to. Everytime.

When I'm depressed, or in my case I often would think about women that I was really interested on all levels, crushed out on intellectually, bur romantically as well. And regretful that nothing passionate happened with them. Turning away from these as well. These mega-vasanas, on being turned away from. It seems that just being, but not only that being in the blissful grace-filled state talked about, starts to happen and is no longer theoretical. The body's at peace, not being persecuted by teh ego any longer. (i.e. the stomach analogy Bhagavan used)

Because the things I really cared about, worried about in the world, I turned away from in the moment they rose acutely. It doesn't appear that has to happen much, and suddenly I'm falling into pure uncontaminated bliss, staying in thoughtless states is easy, Be still is no longer theoretical.

Then I do the more generic Inquiry of just shutting down the mental faculties, because even the more neutral seeming thought, the intellectual thought, excitement, has it's downsides to, if nothing else in that, turning people, and events into stories and concepts belies their grandeur. Why use words?

Why not that heart to heart speak, I've always had so much trouble with? That is love, and it makes up for any deficiencies in flirting, because magically people pick up on your love for them, and reciprocate it without thought even having to enter the equation. How could the Unrealized ever experience true love, falling in love? There is this punk haircut place I go to.

And I'm not really into sexist attitudes, or hitting on female workers that work at places. But this one person that I was deeply attracted to would give me eye contact, that was really affectionate and shy, and I kind of developed feelings about it. A few days ago, and I was in this blissful state, and succsesful in just being, there was such romantic eye contact between me and her, and I did not plan it. I'm not a sleaze going to businesses and hitting on employees. But the communication at the deep level was happening unhindered, because the hinderance was removed. Magical communication does start happening, when the ego, the mind starts subsiding.

I'm not going to let this bliss be put out. I'm going to keep giong deeper and deeper. Until all these tendencies are gone, and live in reality.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf;

I also wanted to add on the conversation with Broken Yogi eariler, although there is still some part of me that is excited about the idea of being a Gnani, a Saint, yes that shallowness exists, but why resist it? why resist anything? Thats where I'm at now, just complete surrender even to egoic urges, just complete surrender of doing anything in relation to anything else. Using only the mind only to do the bare necessity to survive. Some of these experiences lately are exciting, int hte sense that there is a feeling of pay off after great effort. That teh results are starting to come in. That I'm starting to feel and commune with Mauna, a Blissful radiating silence that is healing me, and healing anyone. That I can rest now, that I can stop doing. But look, actions go on, such as writing this stuff. And doing school is no problem. And this is happiness, this is the goal of life. To become happy, to have a happy ending but it is only in silence, not in aquiring an experience. Although still, a profoundly good experience, in that all the nightmare of unhappiness, evil discontent, insecurity, which makes others feel insecure is dissipating. I have to go to class for my test. But especially to Broken Yogi if he reads this. I was just speaking from the standpoint of where I was, and if I have any maturity, its' enough to know that it's pointless to get in fights where the point is to win and hurt feelings. Nonetheless I had a strong urge to comment on what are to me inspiring feelings on the topic of Sincerity And Earnesty, which I believe are the two most Golden Traits, and I'm glad to have been given these. If, I do realize the Self, it's because of Sincerity and Earnestness that wanted to breakthrough the shackles of insecurity, and despair, into radiant warmth. Now it seems to be happening.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

Gems from Bhagavan:

Found in the Ecclesiastics: ‘There is one alone and there is no second’ and ‘The wise man’s heart is at the right hand and a fool’s heart is at the left’.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

David Godman; ... Bhagavan translated these lines into Tamil ...

Ah yes, I see.

This kind of mixing up the centre of all beings with the physical/subtile body is really intractable.

Recently I read a conversation between an esoteric thinker and someone else, and the esoterian said: "Ramakrishna died of cancer, and now that I have had the experience (of enlightenment), I know in an absolute way that this is impossible (if he had attained this state). If he had decided to go because the Divine wanted him to go, it would have been with an orderly departure, in total harmony and with a total will, whereas this illness is a means of disorder."

The other person replied (I try to translate it into English): "You are confusing the Divine with the body. It is not the body being the abode of the Divine - on the contrary: the Divine is the abode of the body! In vedantic thought the 'body' is nothing else than a dense material object - of divine origin like roses and butterflies, but nothing a spiritual seeker is concerned with because of his transitory existence. The vedantic seeker is in search for the eternal life of his own true being - not for the eternal life of his body. I believe that the esoteric thinker can't grasp this because he is making the transitory embodied life into an ABSOLUTE."

Ravi said...

David,
" Annamalai Swami had an unassailable faith in the necessity of following Bhagavan's words to the letter. His whole sadhana revolved around doing what Bhagavan told him with the absolute conviction that unquestioning obedience would bring him benefits. It was not for nothing that I entitled his book 'Living by the Words of Bhagavan'. When I suggested that title to him, his face lit up with a huge smile of appreciation."

When I first received this Book,I was dumbstruck by the Title of this Book-Instantly knew how it is TRULY REPRESENTATIVE of this Great(sorry,pl help me find a better word!)Guru Bhakta.I had the good fortune of listening to Swami recalling FONDLY how he even received a RAP OF THE KNUCKLES(KUTTU as it called in Tamil)from Sri Bhagavan!Swami was looking towards oneside -HE HAD GONE BACK in time-a gentle smile lighting up his face;Also recalled the way he got injured on the crown of his head(Near that newly constructed water tap,when he gotup and got hit on the head) and how Sri Bhagavan asked for some ointment and with HIS OWN PALM massaged swami's head!Swami had a deep desire that Sri Bhagavan should bless him with Hasta Diksha!This was it!
Swami will look downwards and shake his head like a cow!

My Master often is fond of narrating this story about TK Sundaresa Iyer-Once someone asked him what is it that TKS had gained by staying with Sri Bhagavan-TKS smpl replied-"We have not come for any gain.We are here BECAUSE WE HAVE REALISED THAT WE DO NOT HAVE ANY EXISTENCE APART FROM BHAGAVAN!'.Master used to add this TIRUPPAVAI song of Andal-"eRRaikkum EaEazhu Piravikkum uRRome aavom,umakke naam aatchaivom,maRRAi nam kaamangal maaRRelor enpaavai!(I am not competent to translate this Tiruppavai verse-it goes something like this)-FOREVER and for seven times seven births(Andal is saying that REBIRTH is no problem whatsoever!),bonded to you,serving you;It is For you to CHANGE(destroy) any other desire in us!

Just want to add this bit-that not all have gone to Sri Bhagavan for Self Realization!There were devotees who did not even aim for SELF Realization!Are they any less?!!!

Salutations

Ravi said...

David,
Totally agree with you on Sri annamalai Swami-One has to see his face light up at the mention of Sri Bhagavan!Actually other than the heart cente part of it,I am comfortable with whatever way the Self Enquiry is put;Even in Meditation ,it is only a matter of MOMENT for the concentration to SWITCH FROM THE OBJECT TO THE SUBJECT!The arguements are only for the sake of understanding to START WITH.In PRACTICE all these fine distinctions may be lost!
To Begin with,it looks like we start off with a BIG ADVANTAGE to attend to the 'I';it gives the impression that we are STARTING OFF WITH SOMETHING 'TANGIBLE','KNOWN',not 'IMAGINED','SELF EVIDENT',etc.The KEY Thing is to STAY with the 'I' in an EFFORTLESS manner and 'Just Be'.For some this may be invoked through INTENSE FEELING(Devotion),that annihilates 'Thought'most effortlessly rather than the drab way of having to play 'The Watchman!'(on accasions when this process does not workout).It all depends on the individual!

Whenever you mention Sri Annamalai Swami,It is always a joy-LIVING BY THE WORDS OF BHAGAVAN-it is this LIVING that made it possible for swami-Not any seperate Process.'How Much of this and How much of that?'-This is the way the INTELLECT would like to dissect!The HEART simply knows!It is only to convince OTHERS that arguements are required.This is not required for oneself!

Salutations!

Ravi said...

david,
'that Bhagavan disagreed fundamentally with them.'

Yes,I am aware of this as well.This takes us back to what we discussed and concurred-'Gnanis differ in their views.BAHMAN ALONE IS THE POINT OF AGREEMENT'.

I will add that sri aurobindo's approach(Pretty much the VEDIC, and NOT THE VEDANTIC) is a continuation of what was already stated in a seed form by Sri Ramakrishna.I had not touched upon this-This is where we need to get onto if we want to discuss the NEW THREAD that you have opened!

Practically speaking ,I will prefer to go along with what Sri Bhagavan said which SEEMS DIPLOMATIC.(I prefer to call it SERVICEABLE!).

We need to understand that SRI AUROBINDO clearly had the 'NIRVANIC EXPERIENCE' even before the ship that carried him back to india from England touched the shores-Nirvana walked into me Without even saying 'may I come in Sir!'.(Please note I anticipate that it was only 'manolaya' and not 'Manonasa' type of response.Suffice to say this was not so).We may understand it from Sri Ramakrishna's saying that after Gnana the 'I' has only a semblance.'THIS IS LIKE A BURNT ROPE:WE SEE IT COILED,BUT IT WILL NOT BIND'.This 'I' is for the purpose of 'TEACHING THE WORLD'. our limited understanding perceives everything in BLACK AND WHITE ONLY-i.e,Something is or it is not.yet atleast we know that maya is grey!)

Salutations!

David Godman said...

Broken Yogi, referring to a comment by Ravi

You make a good point that in previous times sadhus did not use self-enquiry in a deliberate, pre-meditated way (that I'm aware of at least), but stumbled across self-enquiry at some point late in their development, sometimes at the very end like Papaji or Lakshmana. However, this does not mean that this is the way things should always be. It is perhaps not only a good thing that Ramana taught self-enquiry to everyone as a path, but a great sign that humanity is perhaps developing a greater spiritual capacity to engage this primal spiritual approach at a much earlier stage in the process. It certainly seems difficult, once one has seen the benefits of self-enquiry, to go back to any other approach.


There are hints in ancient scriptures, such as Yoga Vasishta, about doing self-enquiry, but so far as I am aware, no one ever explained the method and the theory behind it in the way that Bhagavan did.

In the Hindu tradition one way of earning the right be be addressed as 'Maharshi' is by founding a completely new path. I think Bhagavan fully earned his title by introducing self-enquiry to the world.

David Godman said...

nonduel

'In practicing Self-Enquiry, we are in fact in duality, the ego searching for the Self.
Doesn't it make sense therefore to dive in the heart, on the right side so long as one hasn't merged in the Self?'

I disagree with this. Concentrating on the Heart-centre is, as Bhagavan remarked, the best place to put one's attention if one wants to do a practice that focuses on a bodily location. However, it is not self-enquiry. And far from being an aid to self-enquiry, it is actually a hindrance. It uses the power of your concentration to maintain an awareness of a thought-object. Self-enquiry can only be done properly if attention is focused exclusively on the subject, the one who is doing the looking.

Bhagavan distinguished between enquiry and meditation by saying that enquiry puts attention on the subject 'I' whereas meditation maintains an awareness of an object. Concentration on the Heart-centre is meditation, not enquiry.

Ravi said...

Jupes,
Yes,I can understand how difficult it must have been for trying to cope up with the Limitations of your PC.
Sri Aurobindo is very dear to me.Whenever ,I read his works, I have this Feeling of being LIFTED into a TIMELESS VASTNESS-A GREAT SYNTHETIC SWEEP- SURVEYING ALL DIMENSIONS.Truly one of The All time Greats!

Here is one of my favourites:
"The lotus of the eternal knowledge and the eternal perfection is a bud closed and folded up within us. It opens swiftly or gradually, petal by petal, through successive realisations, once the mind of man begins to turn towards the Eternal, once his heart, no longer compressed and confined by attachment to finite appearances, becomes enamoured, in whatever degree, of the Infinite. All life, all thought, all energising of the faculties, all experiences passive or active, become thenceforward so many shocks which disintegrate the teguments of the soul and remove the obstacles to the inevitable efflorescence."

I will recommend Sri Aurobindo's Masterly Essays on the Gita to all those who want to savour this Great Classic.

"All Life is Yoga"-Sri Aurobindo.

Broken Yogi said...

Ravi and Non-duel,

I like your discussion about "diving" into the right side of the heart. I don't see a problem with dualistic practice per se, as long as it addresses and deconstructs dualism in the process. I just don't see where trying to concentrate on the right side of the heart does that. It's not even natural to do so. I mean, we don't generally walk around thinking of ourselves as dwelling in the right side of the heart. If we did, it would perhaps be fine to do self-enquiry there, and perhaps at some stage this does happen for some advanced souls. But otherwise, it seems like an unnatural fixation of attention on a point in our bodies that seems "other" to us, rather than our very self. I think it's best to simply feel into the sense of self wherever that is, without conceiving of it as located in some particular place.

Now, it's true that you could practice puja on a deity, or visualize a deity in your mind, and practice devotion to it with some decent results. I suppose one could do the same thing with the right side of the heart, I'm just not sure why one would do it that way. It seems better to just devote oneself to the Self, in the self-position, wherever one can find oneself existing. I just don't think very many people actually have a spontaneous sense of their self residing in the right side of the heart, and so it's unnatural to meditate or do self-enquiry in relation to the heart on the right for most of us.

Ravi said...

Nondual,
I understand diving into the Heart as used in the Bhakti Parlance-You do feel the impact of Bhakti(a sort of Melting) in the centre of the Chest;Like We feel FEAR in the BELLY.
As for THE HEART CENTRE on the RIGHT ,I have no clue,still less of what diving means in this context.
I appreciate the Pains that you have taken repeatedly to reach out to me.
Thanks Very Much.
Salutations!

nonduel said...

Dear Ravi,

What I was trying to convey is that in this discussion, both views are right, it depends of the Sadhaka. The example I gave was that Sri Ramana and other Sages always give answers adapted to the questionner. In Love and respect. Thus the teaching, outwardly can seem to be full of contradiction. This discussion is a very good example.
As for Bhavana (Conviction), in the Ribhu Gita (The Essence of Ribhu Gita): ""The Bhavana I-am-Brahman-self swiftly takes one to mukti""
All the teaching in the world is worthless without conviction, Bhavana. You can do any kind of practice, listen to any Sages if there are doubts, it is useless.
For the concentration on an object, as long as you are a Sadhaka, you are practicing duality, no matter what sadhana you are practicing. This is even right for Self-Enquiry, which is putting attention on the "I-thought". Consequently a thought AND a subject. In a preceeding post, I wrote:
""In practicing Self-Enquiry, we are in fact in duality, the ego searching for the Self.
Doesn't it make sense therefore to dive in the heart, on the right side so long as one hasn't merged in the Self?""
Why should focussing in the right side of the heart be wrong and other Sadhanas in duality right? When you are diving "inside" isn't there an "outside"?
Unless one is Self-Realised.
Nevertheless I am still questionning a Sadhana where the Self has a form and an habitat.
Fascinating discussion!

nonduel said...

Salutations Ravi,

When I wrote that both points of view could be right, it depends on the person. The same thing can be said of Japas, Yoga etc... Sri Ramana always answered in respect of the questionner.
I agree with JUST BEING. As long as one hasn't a conviction, Bhavana, on the truth of the teaching, there will still be questions, a need of practices, of doing, until the doubts are all cleared away and only BEING remains.
All this discussion on the heart at the right side is for Sadhakas like myself. While just BEING doesn't require anything.
...Who is saying he is a Sadhaka?

Broken Yogi said...

Ravi,

You make a good point that in previous times sadhus did not use self-enquiry in a deliberate, pre-meditated way (that I'm aware of at least), but stumbled across self-enquiry at some point late in their development, sometimes at the very end like Papaji or Lakshmana. However, this does not mean that this is the way things should always be. It is perhaps not only a good thing that Ramana taught self-enquiry to everyone as a path, but a great sign that humanity is perhaps developing a greater spiritual capacity to engage this primal spiritual approach at a much earlier stage in the process. It certainly seems difficult, once one has seen the benefits of self-enquiry, to go back to any other approach.

Anonymous said...

David, thanks for your comment. I just read your quote about Bhagavan's advice to Kunju Swami's structure of practice when he lived in Palakottu.There seems to be a gap in practical and philosophical points of view. To my understanding 'direct' is relative to the state of the seeker. There are many quotes of Bhagavan where he is indicating that the progress is the deepening calm in meditation. Also he enhanced anyone in his efforts and faith.('Practice is power') If japa brings a state conducive to vichara it is certainly more direct than mental acrobatics and hairsplitting, isn't it? See Natananda's practice of Om namo Bhagavate. The point seems to be to not get stuck in anything mental but realise the non-dual Self - by ALL means.

David Godman said...

anonymous and broken yogi

After all the comments here, I still have difficulties in understanding that one can focus on a specific place where the Self reside. Mainly because it makes me think that there's a meditator and an object. The meditator is trying to "localte" the object, the Self. Who is the meditator?


I agree with you both on this point. This is the point I have been trying to make ever since this thread started.

David Godman said...

Subramnanian

What is my interpretation of this verse?

(In the inmost core, the Heart
shines as Brahman alone,
as 'I-I', the Self aware.
Enter deep into the Heart
be searching for Self, or diving deep,
with breath under check.
Thus abide ever in Atman.

Collected Works translation)

The 'diving' and the 'searching' (which is I assume what you want me to comment on) is done by holding on to the I-thought, not by hunting for it physically, or by concentrating on a particular point.

If the 'I' looks 'at' something or 'for' something, there is a subject holding on to an object. This means that the mind is being activated and externalised, even though the intent is to 'look within'. By holding on to 'I' and by resisting its tendencies to attach itself to objects, the mind sinks into its source, the place of 'I-I'. The search and the diving are, paradoxically, done by giving up objects that are looked at or looked for.

Holding on to the one who is doing the looking makes the 'I' disappear. Looking at a particular place prolongs its existence.

Anonymous said...

After having read all the very interesting comments, I have the impression that the debate on the heart center is on whether the Self is "contained" in a physical "location".
There is a "sinking-in" when doing Self-Attention, Being. Could it be what Sri Ramana meant when he talked about "diving deeply" in the Self?
Then does the Self have a form, a size to enter the heart on the right side?
After all the comments here, I still have difficulties in understanding that one can focus on a specific place where the Self reside. Mainly because it makes me think that there's a meditator and an object. The meditator is trying to "localte" the object, the Self. Who is the meditator?

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and ravi, there is no
first and final teaching for Bhagavan. There is only one teaching and that is what He has
said in Who am I? In 1902, what He said to Sivaprakasam Pillai is the only teaching of Bhagavan. But people get different interpretations. But Bhagavan suggested improvements, whenever a devotee came, depending upon the path adopted by him, so that he can come to the self enquiry at the end. Bhagavan is direct but always subtle and that is the reason for different interpretations by various persons, on His teaching.

Broken Yogi said...

David,

Thanks for that quote from Papaji. I don't know that I've heard that particular quote before, but there's a very similar one making the same point somewhere in Papaji's written teachings that I simply love and quote often to others. I think it's simply excellent not to have any idea what one is doing in self-enquiry, which is the only reason I feel at all qualified to practice it. I try not to have any fixed ideas about what self-enquiry is, and just do it however it feels natural to me, which might be very unusual, or it might be "by the book". I am free to be a total ass and get everything about it wrong, because after all, I have no idea what I'm really doing anyway, what self-enquiry really is, what I should do to make it "right", or how it should unfold. In fact, I've found it's best not to do anything at all but be attentive and allow for Grace to guide me. That seldom fails, although I often fail to keep it that simple.

Isn't that what's wrong with having so defined a notion of what self-enquiry is and isn't? That the mind that has such a strong idea of what self-enquiry is, will simply manufacture the experience of self-enquiry that goes along with his ideas, and thus never really transcend his mind? Such a mind may practice self-enquiry for decades, reading all the books and getting all the inside information, even become something of an expert on the topic, and yet never really get the point, never really get beyond the mind? This seems all too common. Maybe it's something all of us suffer from in our own unique ways.

I hope you understand I wasn't in any sense suggesting that anyone deliberately meditate on the heart on the right or a current rising therefrom, only that Ramana has suggested such an experience might arise in advanced enquiry, and so he accounts for it. It's certainly not my experience, or something I ever give any thought to while practicing self-enquiry.

Of course, we are all susceptible to the trap Papaji describes, especially when we aren't looking, myself as much as anyone. So if tomorrow I see currents of bliss rising from my heart on the right, I will let you know and we can stomp that sucker flat.

For my part, I do experience a loving bliss in self-enquiry, and I don't know why, except love is the nature of the Self, so it seems to fit. I just don't experience the Heart as being located anywhere in particular. To me it's simply a pervasive feeling of love the comes from beyond the feeling of self.

David Godman said...

Subramanian

'Dear David and everyone, why
then Bhagavan quoted Ashtanga
Hridayam and the Bible? : 'the
fool's heart is on the left, while
the wise one's in on the right'.'


As I pointed out earlier, the Heart-centre is the place where the 'I'-thought arises from and subsides into. Bhagavan said he could feel this place in his body. He found confirmation of this location in Ashtanga Hridayam and included two of its verses in Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham.

The point I am trying to make is that while Bhagavan said that the Heart-centre was a real phenomenon that had a function connected to the appearance and disappearance of the 'I'-thought, he did not recommend concentrating on that point during self-enquiry.

David Godman said...

“The place where ullal [thought] arises and subsides is ullam [the heart] …”, and, “Since ulladu [reality] exists in ullam [the Heart], ulladu itself may be said to be ullam”.

And the same idea has gone into verse 2 of Sri Arunachala Pancharatnam:

“Since You dance eternally in the heart as ‘I’, they say that Your name itself is Heart …”


The introductory verse of Ulladu Narpadu, from which the first paragraph is an extract, rhetorically asks the question we are discussing in this post: how to meditate on the Heart?

The verse first posits the paradox: how can we meditate on the Heart when the Heart is the only thing that exists? If there is nothing separate from the Self, who is going to do the meditation, and how can it be done? Bhagavan's answer in this verse is to meditate on this Heart 'as it is'. That is to say, one should abide as the Self by being the Self, not by imagining that one is so separate from it that meditation is needed to close the gap.

Ravi said...

David/Friends,
I recall that David had mentioned how Nisargadatta maharaj had told him that he does not make out what the 'Heart centre' or 'heart' is, as pointed out by Sri bhagavan(paraphrased by me.David may clarify).I found this interesting excerpt from the Talks of The sage of Kanchi (Advaita sadhana):
When the person who treads the path of jnAna, at the apex of his SAdhanA, resorts to bhakti for the extinction of his ego, the mind and intellect come into the semi-physical heart, the seat of the ego; the heart is filled up by love in its subtle form and the ego thins out and then goes and shrinks into the central gate -- all this process takes place (involuntarily) without his knowledge! The Atman is attributeless, so the mind has no hold on it or has only a vague hold. So as the Guru has told him he holds on to what appears as the root or source of breath and thought and he concentrates at that ‘point’. That is all. The Guru might have told him and he would have learnt that it is the center of the heart. Still in actuality, his cittam (antaHkaraNaM) will not be drawn into it permanently in its entirety then and there. To a certain extent he has located something like that and his cittam stations itself there for the moment. All the vAsanAs have to be exhausted, ego has to be totally extinguished; only thereafter, it stands there for good. Here ‘stands’ has two connotations: one is, ‘stops, halts’; the other is ‘endures, abides, belongs’. So here what happens is, the process begins with the first meaning and ends with the second. The whole process which thus takes place in relation to the heart and the nADis is not in his knowledge. His attention is not there. His only attention, and all his thought, is – and should be -- in the Atma-sphuraNaM (Sparking of the Atman) at the seat or locale that he has caught hold of almost as a bhAvanA (attitude). His concentration is all on the goal of Realisation. If he thinks of anything as a ‘path’ now, it will be a distraction. Attention to the path will stray you from the goal; and then the path will also disappear! And you will be left back with the straying mind; back to square one!
Suppose somebody tells us that Ambal (Mother Goddess) has manifested somewhere in your vicinity. What would we do immediately? Mentally we get a kind of locale for Her and we rush on the road to find it in reality. And as we rush, do we pay attention to the track that we pass through – whether it is a country road or a macadamised road and so forth?
Therefore, if we accost an enlightened JnAni and ask him about the heart, the nADis and the Gate that Vedanta talks about, he may not tell us anything! He does not know about what is happening to himself; wherefrom would he know about the other persons, devotee or layman? How do you expect somebody who does not know how he came here to know what kind of shops or buildings were there on his way?
But then how did the enlightened Rishis mention these things in the Upanishads? After they got their enlightenment, after again they got the siddhi that never slips at all, the paramAtmA Himself, in token of His appreciation, makes the mysteries of His creation and other secrets known to them and also tells them about all the processes related to upAsakas as well as laymen. Revelling in the sweetness of those leelAs and miracles, they have made it known to others also.
continued...

Ravi said...

David/Friends,
kAnchi mahAswami on the 'heart' continued...
"But after all the information reached others, they have also done some blurring. Doesn’t the touch of MAyA come everywhere? That might be the reason! If we go to some JnAni to resolve the perplexity, he is not knowledgeable! Or perhaps, he knows only to that little extent that the Almighty has opened out for him! Probably he (the JnAni) does not himself want to know anything more! Nor does the seeker , who just received the information just because the JnAni condescended to tell him something, develop any further interest in it, to seek more knowledge! In this state of affairs, the vague knowledge itself becomes and remains the complete knowledge!
It is in that manner, when everybody was thinking that the mUrdha nADi that goes to the head was itself the sushhumnA of the yoga-shAstra, it was at that time that our Acharya manifested on Earth! He was all-knowing even at birth. There was nothing which was not known to him. However, having manifested as a human being to show the way to humans, he had to show that he learnt everything only from the Guru. First he studied several shAstras, as a Brahmachari, staying with a guru (*gurukulavAsaM*) and then from a sannyAsi-guru he took over the Brahma-vidyA. Thereafter he wrote the Bhashyas as per the orders of the Guru.
When he thus wrote the Bhashyas, he did something which demonstrates his great humility. Though he was himself an all-knowing person as also one who had the experience, he did not claim to say anything on the basis of his own experience or knowledge. He always leaned on shAstras, tradition and the regimens of elders’ observance (*shishhTAchAra*) and the things approved by them. “If I said things on my own authority, what guarantee is there that things will happen to others in the same way it happened to me? Only by declaring theories on one’s personal authority did the Bauddha and Jaina philosophies go wrong and it has been left to us to make the correction” – this was the thought of the Acharya and accordingly he restrained himself and made tradition do the talking. In matters unrelated to the growth of spirituality, even when the traditional belief was not right, he thought “Let me not touch it. Once I meddle with it, that will leave the precedent
for others to do the same and discipline will be lost” and thereby he spoke only in conformity with tradition and its beliefs."

-----------------------------------
Here paramAcharya is unconsciously talking about himself!
continued....

Ravi said...

David/Friends,
kAnchi mahAswami on the 'heart' continued...
"The matter of the heart and the NADis that Vedanta talks about is one such. By knowing about them there is not going to be any gain of spirituality; nor is there any loss by not knowing about them.There is a great difference between the sushhumnA and other nADis that Yoga ShAstra talks about and this (matter of the heart, etc.). The Yoga-shAstras say several things about how you have to practise, how you have to generate the activity of prANashakti in the nADis, make it ascend or climb, and you may reap such and such results. Among these there are also included some for the growth of spirituality. On the other hand, we cannot do anything with the heart or nADis or the central gate, enunciated by our Vedanta shAstras and obtain any result.It all depends on his life style, upAsanA, self-enquiry and accordingly the JIva-bhAva automatically goes and joins thosenADis or the central seat of the Atman.That is all. In the YogashAstras, whatever movement of the prANas that one creates through self-effort, that influences and formulates the life and SAdhanA. In Vedanta, on the other hand, depending on the life style, routine and SAdhanA, certain things happen, beyond his control, in the nADis etc. And knowing those ‘certain things’ he does not gain anything; nor does he lose anything by not knowing them.
The matter of the yoga-shAstra-nADis is like a careful climb up a ladder. Every step there has to be done by self-effort. VedAanta-nADis are like an elevator. It lifts you up by itself. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to know how the lift works. Even if you have a wrong understanding of it, it does not fail to do its job.
That is why when the Acharya wrote the Bhashyas, in the beginning days, whatever general opinion was there about the nADis he also wrote the same way and used the ‘sushhumnA’ accordingly. He did not elaborate on it, but he did write briefly about it. Later when the matter came up more deeply in BrihadAranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads and also in the Brahma-sUtra, instead of using the word ‘sushhumnA’ he just said ‘the nADi that goes to the head’ and stopped there. Even then he did not say explicitly that ‘it is not the sushhumnA’. Also he did not do any correction to his own usage of ‘sushhumnA’ in the previous Upanishads. Obviously he does not give importance to insignificant controversies! Only I am making a big issue of this!"

Continued....

Ravi said...

David/Friends,
kAnchi mahAswami on the 'heart' continued...
"Another interesting point to note. The name ‘sushhumnA’ itself was there originlly only for the mUrdha-nADi, spoken of in Vedanta! The sushhumnA is the first ray among the most import seven of the Sun. Appayya Dikshidar has mentioned it in his stotra of the Sun. (‘Aditya stotra ratnam’: Shloka 4). It is the Sun’s rays that run through the nADis (that Vedanta speaks) that run from the heart and spread through all the parts of the body and produce the semi-physical juices which are the source for blood, bile and flegm. Chandogya Upanishad (VIII – 6) has this matter. Of these nADis, the nADi through which the Sun’s sushhumnA ray runs is the one which goes from the heart to the head. Therefore it is that one which was originally called the sushhumnA nADi. The Yoga-shAstra people used that name for the central nADi which is most important for their yoga. Though the source of sushhumnA goes to the Sun, they gave that name to the agni-nADi because of its centrality, in their shAstra, instead of giving that name to the sUrya-nADi.
The fact that the Acharya who uses the name mUrdha-nADi in the BrihadAranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads and in the Brahma-sUtra – in all three of which the topic is elaborated – left the name of sushhumnA uncorrected in the first three places where he used that name, probably has the following explanation. He might have left it like that in order to bring home to everybody the fact that it is the heart-nADi of Vedanta that had the original name SushhumnA. But really what has happened is the reverse. Scholars of later times have concluded that just because in those three places it has been called sushhumnA, in the other places also it is the sushhumnA of the mUlAdhAra that has been mentioned!"
-----------------------------------
How Sri Bhagavan has said more or less the above!how he has also said that it is sankara who as the preceptor of Atma Bodha,being as Atma ,is translating the Atma Bodha into Tamizh!Sri Bhagavan's utter simplicity is the Hallmark of his greatness,how Sri Bhagavan could explain any karma,bhakti,yoga or jnana-how nothing was hidden from his vision!!!
Are all jnanis Equal?(From our standpoint).I am unable to say 'Yes'-May be Brahmavid,brahma varishta ,etc have some sense that Sri Bhagavan perhaps did not want to elaborate,as it would then lead to more confusion.Already there is enough confusion among devotees as to whose guru is superior!Most tends to feel-"All gurus are Equal,but my Guru is more than equal"!

Namaskar.

Ravi said...

Friends,
This is what kAnchi mahAswami has said:"After they got their enlightenment, after again they got the siddhi that never slips at all, the paramAtmA Himself, in token of His appreciation, makes the mysteries of His creation and other secrets known to them "

Here is an excerpt from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:
""The important thing is somehow to cultivate devotion to God and love for Him. What is
the use of knowing many things? It is enough to cultivate love of God by following any of
the paths. When you have this love, you are sure to attain God. Afterwards, if it is
necessary, God will explain everything to you and tell you about the other paths as well.

"
Namaskar.

Maneesha said...

@Ravi
Beautiful!!