Sunday, July 20, 2008

An open thread on vichara

One of the comments on the Annamalai Swami film announcement this morning suggested a forum for people to discuss how they do self-enquiry. I think this is a good idea, so I have made a separate post for this which will enable readers to keep track of the discussion.

salutations to all:
the prospect of getting a video recording of annamalai swami's interview made me very happy...so were the many other interesting comments expressed in the past few days...from the posts, i could also guess that most of you (subramanian, arvind, murali, ravi, jupes, a few anonymous'and many others) are very experienced. notwithstanding everything else, since nothing may be a better place than david's blog to discuss about bhagavan's most important teaching, viz., 'vichara' (at least in my humble opinion), i would like to SUGGEST & REQUEST something :

from a strict sadhaka perspective, could we all share as to how exactly we practise self-inquiry? ...by 'practice', i mean every detail that goes into the actual process (both the 'why' and the how')... this way all of us could benefit each other, may be in the best possible way...and wherever we have a doubt/lack of clarity, who better than david to correct or clarify as well as offer the much-required prescription to render our vichara more effective.

let me also add a note that, it seems, at least to me, that we can call ourselves as a devotee of bhagavan if and only if we practise vichara...some of you, or even most of you, may not agree with this last statement of mine because bhagavan also emphasized 'saranagati' or self-surrender... infact, if i am not wrong, i remember david mentioning in one of his long interviews (posted on his site) that only a few among the many who regularly visit ramanasramam actually try to practise vichara as their principal means of sadhana (for a variety of reasons)...yet, as we all know, for bhagavan, the most effective means to 'surrender' too lay through 'vichara'!

(and i really don't understand when people talk of submitting to god's will while thinking & doing their 'own' will most of the time...of course, i don't mean here that saying 'god made me think this way' or 'do this way' is not genuine but don't you think that to mean it 'honestly' requires a very high order of maturity, which is nearly not possible during the better part of this weird journey?)





556 comments:

1 – 200 of 556   Newer›   Newest»
Maneesha said...

Very very valid thread indeed! Thanks for making this a reality!

For long I was thinking I knew what enquiry really is... but as days pass by and I "fine-tune" my vichara, I realize that my previous understanding was not right. And, since this has been history and has been repeating itself, I doubt if my current understanding is right too. However, as someone said, it’s really the sincerity than the method itself that would take us there. With this hope, I am presenting the way I have come around it.

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. But later from the “Talks”, I read Maharshi saying that we need to “dissect” every part of the body and see wherefrom really the “I” arises. This changed my viewpoint of the Heart. But because of my previous strong thoughts of concentrating on right side of the chest, I still could not effectively do vichara – my mind would still confine the Heart to some place on the right side of the chest in the body. Then I came across pieces of writings from “Ramana Leela” and “Guru Ramana” that the method of vichara really is a method of “recollection” of memory, similar to the way we try to concentrate and remember a thing that we have lost. Maharshi says it is as if we have forgotten our name and we argue within ourselves to know who I am… I have found that this helps a lot in concentrating on the I and not getting distracted so often. This definitely helped me in not thinking of the right side of the chest as the Heart but concentrate on the very feeling “I am”. This method again got refined a couple of days back… Whichever method I followed as vichara, I realized that I felt as if its something really “inaccessible” that I am trying to access, when its not truly so.

Its really right here right now! This very moment “it” is! I am, this very moment and this very place! So, with this, I know that I can catch it right away, if the concentration is fierce. I just concentrate on where the “I am” is coming from. This is the way I do my vichara now.

As I am typing this, I really feel that its not really possible to lay out the way of vichara. Simply because words come from thought and vichara is something that cannot be carried by thought. So, to be honest, I have not laid down the exact way I do vichara, but just pointers to it.

And as regards to surrender, its always partial surrender till you reach the Jnani state. Sri Sankara says only a jnani is true devotee. No one else is. So very true! They all want something or the other. Some want materialistic pleasures, the rest want either His Grace or the Lord Himself. Whatever/however they term it, there is still want of something from the Lord. Talking about myself, I firmly believe that partial surrender and vichara go hand in hand. They aid each other and cannot be separated. When I say I surrender(of course, partial surrender) at any situation, I simply accept the situation as is, without making any judgment as to whether its good for me or not. I simply let the body do whatever it does, without attaching any importance to it or without thinking whether whatever its doing is the best or if its right or wrong. This is what surrender means to me. Once you surrender (partially), you no longer think about “it”. When surrender becomes complete, you have nothing to think about. At that stage you are a Jnani, which is also the result when we do vichara the right and effective way!

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

For me vichara means the deliberate termination of all personal aspirations and activities motivated by anger, hatred, fear etc., but also of the seeking for love and friendship; the seeking for everything except the seeking for self-knowledge. The termination of the belief that there is something to gain or to loss in this world except for self-knowledge. To rest in mental quiescence.

There is a price to pay for peace. Vichara gives pain. That is my experience.

"To one who is desireless, the earth, O Rama, is (as insignificant as) the hoof-print of a cow, Mount Meru, a mound, space as much as contained in a casket and the three worlds a blade of grass."
Yoga Vasistha Sara, 3-13

"2. What are the marks of an earnest disciple (sadsishya)?

An intense longing for the removal of sorrow and attainment of joy and an intense aversion for all kinds of mundane pleasure."
Spiritual Instruction, 1-1

Be still. It is the wind that sings.
Arthur Osborne

Clemens Vargas Ramos
Oldenburg, Germany

Ravi said...

The vichara as I practice is the simple act of CATCHING UP WITH ONESELF and LATCHING onto it.Like I AM Keying in this Text-just to be aware of ONESELF in whatever one is engaged in.A certain Quietude is a prerequisite for a certain measure of success.In the event of an inability to effect this,I have found that there is no better thing than to read and listen to the words of the Great ones.This helps to reconnect.
I totally agree with Manisha that Devotion is a Great Help-It MELTS in a moment all recalcitrant and Gross material that can resist all sorts of maneuvres!Like Sri Bhagavan used to say how no matter however deep a pit one digs to bury the shadow,it just pops up again.
Jupes and R Subramanian mentioned about this Melting in tears!Whoever experience this,rest assured that we are on course!
Salutations to you all.May Bhagavan's Grace be with us.

Thiru said...

I am realy happy that you have started this thread,it will be of extremly useful for a beginer like me.

In Bhagawan,
Thiru.S

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and other friends, I am reading Who am I? everyday,
as a regular prayer and am wondering whether I can follow
every word of it. It is extremely
difficult and I am still trying. eg.,
Bhagavan says that both desire and hate should be eschewed. I find it extremely difficult and I am
still trying. Bhagavan says that
whosoever gives to others, he is
giving only to himself. I am still
practising. But I believe that Who am I? is adequate for the entire civilization and all the scriptures and treatises of Hindu and other
faiths are only details.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and other friends, I am reading Who am I? everyday,
as a regular prayer and am wondering whether I can follow
every word of it. It is extremely
difficult and I am still trying. eg.,
Bhagavan says that both desire and hate should be eschewed. I find it extremely difficult and I am
still trying. Bhagavan says that
whosoever gives to others, he is
giving only to himself. I am still
practising. But I believe that Who am I? is adequate for the entire civilization and all the scriptures and treatises of Hindu and other
faiths are only details.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear friends, Sometimes, I think
surrender is comparatively easy. But it is extemely difficult and one cannot cheat Bhagavan. By surrender, we always mean 'partial' surrender and this too for avoiding bad and pain. The total
surrender is what the King did with Ashtavakra, after placing his left foot and then waiting
for a long long time,for the Guru to command him to place his right foot on the stirrup. This is eventually as difficult as "vichara".

S. said...

salutations to all:
thanks to ravi and maneesha about 'vichara'...the process outlined by maneesha was very informative, very much in the lines i was looking to when i had made the request...
have two questions for all of you:

(i) my breathing typically slows down to a bare minimum while doing vichara...and as soon as my attention is on the breathing rhythm, my 'holding the 'i' ' is broken...this keeps happening continually...any views on this?

(ii) even more serious is another thing that happens while trying vichara...now & then, a thought occurs to the effect that whether this 'feeling of 'i am' ' is itself some kind of a subtle and strange thought...a related occurrence is while holding on to the 'i', a question arises, 'who is trying to hold on to the 'i' ', and this at times leads to a never-ending regress...any views on this too?

let me re-iterate that am not referring to any 'why' here... mukti, liberation, deliverance are concepts that don't motivate me...sincerely don't know what makes me do 'vichara'!...funny, isn't it? perhaps, i love bhagavan (again don't know what 'love' means), or as bhagavan used to say, i could say 'some power' makes me do it again & again & again :)

[ravi and maneesha also mentioned about devotion...i face a dichotomy here: whenever i hear some of the tamil songs of the 'naynamars' (saivaite saints) or songs sung by sri ramakrishna), i find myself hopelessly in tears quite often...yet am more of an agnostic (very often whenever i do get pulled into an argument (indulge in it less and less), am typically on the side of atheism!) ...don't know how to reconcile :( ]

S. said...

subramanian and maneesha: don't you think 'trying to surrender' is a better description than saying 'partial surrender'?...am not talking of semantics here...there may be nothing called 'partial surrender' just as there may be nothing as 'partial jnana'...

Kamalesh said...

Namaste everyone.

Here is a little taste of 'my' self-enquiry practice:

Who is experiencing all of these sensations right now? Who is this me, this i-ness that is aware right now? What is aware of all of this? Whence / from where / what - is aware, aware of all these colours, these sounds, these thoughts? What is asking these questions?

I trust that your directions, dear Ramana, to enquire, to look for the source of who I am, is what needs to happen right now, therefore 'I' continue: who is breathing this body Master? Who or what is looking through these eyes and hearing these sounds and experiencing all this? Who am I?

There is this sense of me-ness or presence, there is something here that seems to think it's aware, what is it?

What is having these thoughts? What loves? What is silent right now? What is this life, this ... that beats this heart? Why did you direct us to enquire "Who am I?" Master rather than "What am I?" Is there a difference Master? Does it matter? I will keep exploring this I-ness, this being-ness, right now?

O brothers and sisters, there is a wish that we all be in the same room and explore Self-Enquiry together, a virtual room will have to suffice.

Who is it that hopes right now, that wants support, that wants Sangha, that wants to be with others who are enquiring like this?

Who feels these emotions? Who is this that wants Ramana Maharshi to materialise right here, to smile at me, or scold me, anything me? Who wants the true, the most loving Guru to make contact with me?

Who is the Master that the Master states is the Master that is everywhere? Who am I? Am I YOU? Who/What are YOU Master? YOU am I, I AM YOU? Yeh?

Am being. Am aware. Noticing thoughts arising and passing away. Am quiet. Am silent. Am busy. Am silent. Who is experiencing this silence, this busy-ness, this oscillation? This pain, this bliss? This anger? This clarity? This love?

Who is here? Who am I?

A sense of I-ness is here. A sense of openness, of exploration, of awareness, of vastness, of waiting...

Who is experiencing all this?

Who just needed to attend to 'my' 3 year old?

***

Namaste dear ones... If wisdom speaks through you in response to this - please don't block it...

much love

Kamalesh

Maneesha said...

S: Here are my comments on points you made:
(i) Yes, as the concentration reaches peak during vichara, the breathing does slow down to minimal and I have experienced the same distraction. I have also experienced similar other distraction: sometimes, when I am doing vichara and I reach a pretty good concentaration, I suddenly become “aware” that “T am meditating” and so, my meditation is broken.

(ii) :) Yeah.. Its all like that… the mind trying to hold on to itself… and asking these questions. Probably the best way out is to collect oneself and ask who is getting into this maze. One thing Maharshi always told is to NOT entertain doubts, as doubts are as endless as thoughts. As they say, when we start getting doubts, we need to doubt the doubter than solve them.

As regards to surrender, I quoted the term “partial surrender” that Maharshi used. Here is the reference: Talk 244 in “Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi” (available on the ashram's official website).

Here are my two perspectives w.r.t. your comments on partial surrender:
1. If you see surrender as goal, “partial surrender” doesn’t make sense. However, if you view it as path, it does.
2. Surrender, like vichara is complete only when they are synonymous with Jnana. Thinking in that sense, just the way we call whatever we do as “vichara”, I guess we can the other as “partial surrender”. I doubt the way we (or I) do vichara because, Papaji says, “Do vichara once and do it the right way”. I am sure, if we do it “the right way”, we would not be doing it any more, just like only complete surrender brings about Jnana.

Please share your views. I could be wrong in my interpretation.

Maneesha said...

typo in my previous post. Should have been:

I suddenly become “aware” that “I am meditating” and so, my meditation is broken.

Jupes said...

§
F?cided not to read the other comments before sending my own. Thank you, s., for coming up with this very appropriate and inspiring idea. I know good things will come of it.

Since I only came to Bhagavan 3 and a half years ago I feel that I am in an infancy stage with vichara, maybe even still in the womb. During that time I've gone through periods when I haven't done it at all, and then suddenly something brings me back and I am working hard with it again.

There are certain activities and times of day when it is easier to be focused and 'do' it, and others when it seems near impossible. I have a very active mind that can go off in many directions at almost any time. So it is challenging just to be quiet enough to remember to say the things that will help bring me to vichara.

I took David's suggestion (from some weeks ago) to think of Arunachala when I am walking. When I take my dog out in the mornings I pretend that the park is the mountain and that I am doing giri pradakshina as I walk towards it and around it. The refrain from 'Arunachala Aksharamanamalai' is usually in my mind as I walk. During this time there are often short spurts when my mind quiets down completely and I find myself in vichara.

For me, vichara is being aware of being aware, of 'feeling/knowing' that I AM, without thoughts or words cluttering the mind -- not allowing the mind to abide anywhere, as Papaji said. The words I use to 'get there' are mostly 'I - I' (or 'I am I') and various forms of 'Who am I?', such as 'Who is thinking that?', 'Whose body is this?', 'Who is worried?', 'Who is having pain?', and sometimes just 'Who?'. Sometimes I can simply BE, without using words.

Focusing on my body in various ways often helps my mind to quieten and to help with vichara. This could be listening to and following my breath in and out, noticing bodily sensations and discomforts, moving and exercising, pushing on acupressure points, etc. I don't know if this runs counter to letting go of the 'I am the body' idea, but I find that my body is a useful tool, just as my mind is a useful tool.

When I say 'I - I', I often notice tension moving out of my body, and my awareness moving from my head downward towards the heart. It's usually only a matter of seconds, or a split second, before thoughts begin piling in again. But if I can have a brief moment of simply being, I feel like I've accomplished something. And, if I don't have that, I try not to judge myself for not being able to do it. That part is very important: not judging myself. I know that Bhagavan wouldn't judge me, so why should I judge myself?

Speaking of Bhagavan, looking at a picture of him, especially into his eyes, really helps calm me and can bring me to vichara.

So, I guess this is all for now. I'll post this and then read the other comments.

(David, if there's anything I've said that sounds like I'm on the wrong track, I hope you will tell me. )

Ramprax said...

I started doing 'vichara' by repeating mentally the words 'Who am I?' directing them at me. After sometime, I was led in a train of thought that asked 'What is this 'I'-feeling?'. How do I feel it? When someone calls out my name, "Ram!", for a split second I have this feeling 'Someone is calling ME!!'. What do I feel that instant? Then 'vichara' for me became a process of imagining and recapturing that feeling of ME and then mentally putting the question 'Who am I?'.

One day early in the morning when I was trying 'vichara' in the above way, I went through a wave of forceful thoughts that asked 'How do I know that I am alive? What tells me from within that I-exist? What is this aliveness?' But I did not give much importance to this sequence of thoughts and still continued with my mental verbalisation of 'Who am I?'.

After this, I happened to read Sadhu Om's 'Path of Sri Ramana' and got to know that vichara was not a verbalisation of the question 'Who am I?'. The question is rather a tool to direct attention to the I-thought and vichara means to stay with the I-thought. From this point on, 'vichara' for me was to try and stay with the I-thought as much as possible. I would drag my attention to the I-thought first and then try to hold on to it for as long as possible. Depending on the state of my mind, the tool or the question that I use to drag my mind back to the 'I' varies. These are some of the ways I bring my attention to the I-thought:

- How do I know that I exist, that I am alive? Who is alive?

- Who is seeing through these eyes?

- To whom is this thought coming? To me.

- Whose happiness am I worrying about? Mine!

- Sometimes I just say 'I, I, I'. (I say 'Naan, Naan, Naan' in Tamizh)

- When the mind is really agitated, I mentally shout 'Silence!' or 'Ramana!'. For a few seconds I find that thoughts subside. Then I try to stay with the 'I am'. But the thoughts do bounce back.

So that's the process I try to follow.
**************************************

I have some doubts:

- Breathing
When the attention on the 'I' is fierce/intense, my breathing comes to a stop. My lungs can only withstand this for a few seconds and I have to breathe in heavily again. This ends up disturbing the attention & thoughts start rising up. Does this happen with anyone else? Or am I doing vichara the wrong way?

- Effort
Everytime I lose my attention from the 'I'-thought, I treat it as a failed attempt at vichara. I feel that if one is able to do true vichara just once, then the job is done once and for all. So I feel I need to be putting constant effort to do vichara.

I have been reading 'Nothing Ever Happened' lately. Papaji seems to be asking us not to put effort at all. This has thrown me into a huge confusion. Papaji says that physical efforts give physical results, mental efforts give mental results and intellectual efforts give intellectual results. Since the Self is none of these, no effort is required.

After having read this, nowadays everytime I sit to do vichara I get the doubt 'Am I not just doing some mental effort to focus on the I-thought? Is it right or wrong?' And due to this I am not able to proceed with doing vichara. And trying to think 'Who is getting this doubt?' is not helping either.

David, I would be grateful to you if you could help me out of this confusion? How would you reconcile Papaji's exhortation to not put effort with the practice of vichara?

Regards,
Ram

Jupes said...

Weird techno-flaw at the beginning of my longer post. It should have said: I have decided not to read the other comments before sending my own.

Scott Fraundorf said...

I started practicing Vichara (enquiry) because with Asperger's Syndrome, my attempt to live the life I wanted, fulfill my desires socially were not successful. So it was kind of a last ditch effort to succeed at being happy, and connected to others. When it started a year ago, I would fight individual thoughts with the question, "To whom has this arisen?" following the instructions of the essay. I realized from reading alot of Talks and other writings, to seek the source of thoughts. Often I still found this difficult, but at times I had successes at having a relatively quiet mind, or getting past stumbling blocks. I also have turned to the more dualistic organized religion, and started going to Catholic Church again, which I guess counts as bhakti. And most recently reading Lakhsmana swami and mathru sri sarada's book No Mind, I am the Self, Saradamma pointed out that at the times Enquiry is difficult, concentrating on the name and form of a living jnani (enlightened person) would be helpful to stimulate grace and surrender. I don't know if I've experienced the self, but the level of quiescence I've experienced is very refreshing. No doubt, I'm kindergarten compared to Self-Realization. I do notice the less there is a "me", and "someone else", the more I connect with everything, since there is nothing to external to connect with.

Jupes said...

It is truly amazing to read all these comments and to see how we all 'do' and regard vichara. I would love to hear Bhagavan's response to this!

A few things caught my eye as I was reading. First of all.... Kamalesh, your impassioned account is so moving to read! Your line of questioning is so detailed and profound. I felt very drawn into your process as I read. And I totally hear you on the part about a virtual room having to suffice for our being somehow 'together' in our pursuits. I too have wished for something besides the virtual.

Clemens Vargas Ramos, I was puzzled by what you said about vichara 'giving pain'. Is it the letting go of the outer world that is painful?... the sense of having put a lot into certain 'things' and then having to somehow 'give them up'? I don't have this experience during vichara so am trying to clarify.

And the last thing is to note that many of these responses indicate that people are actually sitting to do vichara, similar to meditation. I wonder if I've been missing something for all this time! My approach has been to (try to) incorporate vichara into my daily activities and not so much to sit and 'do' it.

David, does it seem important to set aside time each day especially for vichara, or is it ok to just continue what I'm doing, trying to incorporate it as much as possible into daily life?

Thanks to everyone for your contributions. What a great blog this is!

celio leite said...

My personal experience doesnt point out that everytime "I lose my attention from the 'I'-thought" (lost of self-attentiveness or pramada) is a failed attempt at vichara.
If I have lost the attention from the 'I'-thought 99 times...its not important, its a Zero.
The important thing is the 99 times I come back to ineer feeling of I or to the feeling "I am".
We will lost the I-THOUGHT many times...
Ramana said that the vasanas will come for most of us.... in the forms of desires and thoughts. It doesnt matter.
The important thing is always come back to the inner feeling of I. The serious, intense and wholehearted Atma-Vichara and Surrender.
Lets focus on the remembering(the important thing) and not in the lost of I-THOUGHT.
This change of "gestalt" or point of view helped me a lot.

Ravi said...

It is wonderful to read all the comments and to find Sri Bhagavan's Grace in action!At the outset,as suggested by S,I will leave it to David to suggest any "course correction" if necessary.
I will only reflect on what I found valuable:
1.Maneesha-"vichara is something that cannot be carried by thought. So, to be honest, I have not laid down the exact way I do vichara, but just pointers to it."
"Surrender is not the Goal but the Path"-Beautifully put.THOUGHT sets Goals but FEELING does not have goals.Quite often this is the problem!We let the MIND take the place of the HEART and viceversa and this leads to all the confusion.Thank you very much.

2.Subramanian R:"surrender is what the King did with Ashtavakra, after placing his left foot and then waiting
for a long long time,for the Guru to command him to place his right foot on the stirrup. This is eventually as difficult as "vichara"."-Wonderful sir!
3.Kamalesh:"Who is here? Who am I?

A sense of I-ness is here. A sense of openness, of exploration, of awareness, of vastness, of waiting... "-Thanks very much.

4.S!Shall like to call you Arunachala Siva!-"ravi and maneesha also mentioned about devotion...i face a dichotomy here: whenever i hear some of the tamil songs of the 'naynamars' (saivaite saints) or songs sung by sri ramakrishna), i find myself hopelessly in tears quite often...yet am more of an agnostic (very often whenever i do get pulled into an argument (indulge in it less and less), am typically on the side of atheism!) ...don't know how to reconcile "-This is Devotion sir,trying to reconcile it with THOUGHT!
4.JUPES-THE WHOLE OF WHAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN(The First one,how thoughtful of you not to read others!).Your going round Arunachala!How it quietens your mind!"I Find Myself in Vicahara"-simply wonderful to see how Sri Bhagavan is with you.Thanks very much.
5.Ramprax:"After this, I happened to read Sadhu Om's 'Path of Sri Ramana' and got to know that vichara was not a verbalisation of the question 'Who am I?'. The question is rather a tool to direct attention to the I-thought and vichara means to stay with the I-thought. From this point on, 'vichara' for me was to try and stay with the I-thought as much as possible. "-BASIC CLARITY provided.Thanks very much sir.
6.Scott Fraundorf:"And most recently reading Lakhsmana swami and mathru sri sarada's book No Mind, I am the Self, Saradamma pointed out that at the times Enquiry is difficult, concentrating on the name and form of a living jnani (enlightened person) would be helpful to stimulate grace and surrender. I don't know if I've experienced the self, but the level of quiescence I've experienced is very refreshing"-How True and valuable.Thanks very much Sir!
7.Ceilio Leite:"The important thing is the 99 times I come back to ineer feeling of I or to the feeling "I am"."-The very ESSENCE of PRACTICE.
Salutations!

Anonymous said...

thank you everyone for all the posts. I am learning a lot from them.

Maneesha, your initial post was very knowledgeable & shows your impressive advancement on the path. One help to me please. In your post you mention:

“Then I came across pieces of writings from “Ramana Leela” and “Guru Ramana” that the method of vichara really is a method of “recollection” of memory, similar to the way we try to concentrate and remember a thing that we have lost. Maharshi says it is as if we have forgotten our name and we argue within ourselves to know who I am…”

Could you clarify on that further ? Also, grateful if you could tell where exactly the above idea is located in the books mentioned (page no. etc). I would like to read up more on what Maharshi said regarding this “recollection” of memory method. Sorry for the trouble but I have not come across this specific teaching from the Maharshi before, and am eager to learn.

many thanks

Mohan

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

JUPES: ...Is it the letting go of the outer world that is painful?... the sense of having put a lot into certain 'things' and then having to somehow 'give them up'? ...

Yes, that was the meaning. The whole vedanta points out that without the removing of the world the knowledge of the self is impossible. The "world", which is consciousness, appears if there is the clinging of the mind on his likes and dislikes. One can say that it begins with the concentration on the inner feeling of I, but in the end it leads to knowledge:

4. When will the realization of the Self be gained?

When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer.

5. Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is there (taken as real)?

There will not be.

6. Why?

The seer and the object seen are like the rope and the snake. Just as the knowledge of the rope which is the substrate will not arise unless the false knowledge of the illusory serpent goes, so the realization of the Self which is the substrate will not be gained unless the belief that the world is real is removed.

7. When will the world which is the object seen be removed?

When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.

24. (...) We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self. Similarly,in the states of sleep, samadhi and fainting, and when the object desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind becomes inward-turned, and enjoys pure Self-happiness. Thus the mind moves without rest alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been going about in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. A wise man stays permanently in the shade. Similarly, the mind of the one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman. The mind of the ignorant, on the contrary, revolves in the world, feeling miserable, and for a little time returns to Brahman to experience happiness. In fact, what is called the world is only thought. When the world disappears, i.e., when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness; and when the world appears, it goes through misery.
--------------------------------------
Who am I (Nan Yar)?

(...) However, if we want to go beyond the body, beyond the mind, we have to understand and fully accept that all the information the senses provide is not real. Like the mirage that produces an illusory oasis in the desert, the senses create the impression that there is a real world in front of us that is being perceived by the mind. The apparent reality of the world is an illusion. It is merely a misperception.

(...) Once this happens, we see the superimposition, the unreal ideas and forms we have created, and we forget about the substratum, the reality that underlies them.

(...) Self-inquiry is the process by which attention is put on the substratum instead of on the names and forms that are habitually imposed on it. Self is the substratum out of which all things appear to manifest, and the jnani is the one who is continually aware of the real substratum.
--------------------------------------
Annamalai Swami, Final Talks


When we are doing sadhana, vichara, the mind has to let go all his likes and dislikes - to practice the understanding that there is no real thing like the objects he tries to gain or to avoid. This naturally causes pain (in the mind). This is basically my understanding and my practice of vichara.

Clemens Vargas Ramos
Oldenburg, Germany

Ravi said...

Mohan,
Perhaps this is the passage referred to by Maneesha where Sri Bhagavan describes Self Enquiry as akin to a Dog pursuing the scent of its Master.
Please see BOOK 2 of THe Maharshi's Gospel -very first Chapter called SELF ENQUIRY.I is available on the Following Link
http://nondualite.free.fr/c_rgospel.htm

Dear All,
Please visit the following link on this very same Blog where David has explained Self Enquiry in an interview.
http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/05/interview-with-integral-yoga-magazine.html

There are quite a bit of DAVID on SELF Enquiry already available in this weblog.
I wonder how David finds time to do this sort of multitasking!Apart from this Blog,there are so many other activities like takng care of Publishing,visitors,guests,SADHANA,digging out new FINDS!

S. said...

salutations to all:
please treat this a little digression & also with some humor:
thanks to all of you for these wonderful comments, many of which were sublime...
but for the 'satsanga' with the self/guru, this probably is the next best form of 'satsanga' :) ...yet how strange? being in infancy, i still visualise 'vichara' as a 'path' despite the advaitin's retort ('how can there be any 'path' to the 'pathless' '; recognition of a path is a thought that takes place in time, and thus can anything of time and in time lead us to the timeless? etc etc)

such statements amuse & inspire rather than distract & confuse...
the whole thing seems to be an unreal entity making an unreal effort to extricate itself from an unreal bondage to realize an unreal liberation :) ...

sometime back read a short poem by feynman:I wonder, I wonder why I wonder why, I wonder why I wonder, I wonder why I wonder why I wonder why I wonder!

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and everyone, Bhagavan said that "breath control,meditating on forms of
god and chanting 'mantras' are
only aids to control mind. Sattvic
food in moderate quantities is
helpful for improving the mind's sattvic quality and for aiding
vichara. In my case, I have
left the breath control business,
but not the worship and mantras.
Sattvic food, ha ha! I take more
than moderate quantities, because
I am a diabetic! I have debated
about worship and mantras within
myself but I am not able to leave
them. But Bhagavan has said to
Viswanatha Swami's brother, a Brahmin: 'Your desire to sit in non-brahmin's row for food to show that you are a Gandhian, and thus
you are above caste, is itself a desire like wanting to sit in
brahmin's row!'. Hence, I decided to give up the desire to leave the
mantras and worship and excess food believing that giving up the desire is also a desire and as
Bhagavan said: "Let it drop off
when these have to." I have no
compunction. I am still at the
fringes of the outskirts of atma-
vichara and I am sure Bhagavan
will show the way to proceed further.
is also

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and everyone, Bhagavan has said "God and Guru
are only aids to Self-realization.
They will not establish one in the
Self." But poor me, I am not able
to distcontinue God and Guru (Ramana outside) hoping that they will make the path to the goal easy and it is being done. I am like a deer in tiger's jaw and I am sure tiger will consume me one day completely, for which I am again going by the words of Bhagavan. I am contemplating on
3 holy names of Bhagavan. 'Pullambuja Vilochanaya Namaha' the one with lotus eyes. 'Uddhepta Nayanaya Namaha', the one with piercing eyes and
'Purushottamaya Namaha' - the only Male principle, Purusha, of the universe. We are like gopis, the female principles, the jivas. We are coming round and round of Him, like gopis did it with Krishna. We are making every effort for union, but if it has to be take place in this birth, and not after 84 million births, that can be only through His abundant grace,
again, Dayarnavaya Namaha,
an Ocean of Grace!

Subramanian. R said...

Dear s, I am happy that you are also like me shedding tears. I do while reading several episodes in life of Bhagavan.
1. He said to Azhagamma, cry, cry!
as she was crying becuase He had chided her for taking greens from Akhilandamma through Ramanatha Brahmachari,
for bringing batter from downtown for making papads!

2. He asked Annamalai Swami to taste the chutney, on an early morning, and when Swami resisted saying that he is a non-
brahmin and that he had not then brushed his teeth, He has said,
"You can taste it first and then
brush the teeth."

3. He deliberately took Kunju
Swami to the Hill knowing that he had to go to Tirupati, walked very slowly, and when He saw the train moving past T.malai station, He
told Kunju: 'O your train to Tirupati! Fly, Fly, Go."

4. He presented a sandalwood
walking stick to Rangan and said, 'Now you are the leader, take it.
(I am giving the baton to you...)

5. He rushed to the gates of the Ashram and told Pravananda Swami, 'Grandpa, you are tired, your legs must be aching' and then massaged his legs0!

6. He sent Dr. Melkote, G.V.
Subbramaiah and another to Dr.
Syed's house for dinner, telling
Mrs. Syed about His coming!

Tirvachakam says in Tiru-sadhakam 9, 'I can get you if I
cry'. Arunagiri Natha cried in
Seer Pada Vaguppu, " Your holy feet will merge in the waterfalls of devotees' tears and you will give a hurried roar, "I am coming!" and then take care of us."

I believe shedding genuine tears about Bhagavan for His innumerable acts of Grace is a sure way to go near the Goal"

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, my experience with
self-enquiry is similar to many devotees, who expressed it to
Bhagavan. When I ask Who am I?
and go further, an immense fear
takes over me. Already I am an
anxiety patient ( I think, one should make the mind healthy and then do the annihilation), and the fear is expansive. Many a times, I try to come out by chanting, Arunachala Siva, Arunachala Siva,
Arunachala Siva, Arunachala! and then rest in my stupid self. On certain other occasions, as done by the poet, Tennyson, I am saying Subramanian, Subramanian... but ends up with a Subramanian Storam. But 'Subramanian, Subramanian' gives me some peace and good sleep. When I get up in the morning, I say Arunachala Siva...
and wake up. An allied question to my psychiatrist friends, do people suffering from depersonalized schizophrenia, who is always in stupor, live in
bliss? Any method to check their
state of mind?

Anonymous said...

David, if you like to talk about it:
how do you experience vichara and the path yourself?
Thank you for your great blog and all the work you do...
...all devotees

Maneesha said...

Dear All, I misquoted one of the books. While one book is “Guru Ramana”, the other is “Golden jubilee Souvenir” and not "Ramana Leela". Apologies for misquoting.

Mohan and Ravi, here are the quotes -
1. Quote from “Guru Ramana”(Pg 181 on the PDF):

Bhagavan speaks: “Whose Self is to be realized? Is there anyone who has no Self? Why magnify the Self as if it is something to be brought from outside? You are the Self, the Being, the ‘You’ itself. All you have to do is to understand this by ordinary common sense and arguments. This is called ‘Vichara’ (enquiry as to who you are). This is the same as ‘Who am I?’. You practise Vichara for Self-Realization. There is no mystery in it. Where then is the question of using ‘Who
am I?’ as a mantra to be repeated consciously or unconsciously? You have to argue it, as you argue any other problem, say, when you forget your name, or when you forget which one of two particular men is your uncle. You are the Self, your misfortune now is you think It is your body, which is a mere corpse, like a motor car which has no engine to make it move.”

2. Quote from “Golden Jubilee Souvenir”(Pg 416).

(Note: This is not Maharshi’s words, but of a devotee is in reconciliation with what Maharshi had said in Guru Ramana. So, I believe this is the way.)

“The process of finding the “I” is similar to the process of recollecting a forgotten thing. When we try to recollect a forgotten thing we do not rake out, one by one, all the hidden contents of our mind - the number of which is legion - and go on rejecting each one of these, as not this, till we find the desired one. The true process of recollecting is to keep the mind quite still, only keeping the desire to recollect the thing at the back of the mind. When the conscious mind is thus kept quite still, the forgotten thing flashes forth of itself in the mind. There are two essentials in this process - a desire to recollect the forgotten thing (without which the forgotten thing will not appear in mind) and keeping the surface mind quite still. In the quest of the Self also these are the two essentials: first, there must be a keen and earnest desire to know the Self and, secondly, with this will in the background, the mind must be completely stilled. The will to know the Self, which expresses itself as an intent, unbroken, watchful gaze within, is the dynamical element in the quest. In fact, this intense and steady watchful inward gaze forms the essence of this method. Simply stilling the mind without this is inoperative."

Again, apoogies fro misquoting.

David, can you please let us know the way you do vichara too?

Maneesha said...

@Jupes:
I too do rounds around a park near my house thinking of Arunachala too! That way it would be a giri pradakshina, even though being away from Him and it helps in concentrating too!

Santhana ganesan said...

My dear fellow devotees of Bhavagan, The idea is nice. You will definitely get as many ways of doing vichara as the devotees of Bhavagan.
My experience goes this way. First of all I was attracted to his talks. I also used to listen to Akshara Ramana Malai. In early days tears would pour down my eyes while I was hearing this. I started enquiring myself whenever I was walking, or riding bicycle or travelling in bus. Some sort of calmness used to descend in me sometimes. Sometimes whenever I had heaache I used to do vichara in the following way, The pain is not to me. It is for the body and so on. The pain would come down or I would not have pain at all as long as I was in that state. Later I stopped this practice. Because I read that one should not indulge in getting small things But should aim at a higher goal. But nowadays I recite Akshara manamalai daily while I go for walking and also whenever Iam on wheels, in car or bike. But the tears which rolled down earlier do not come now. It has become mechanical now, But I would continue to sing Aksharamana malai. As Maneesha said Iam also concentrating to visualise the peetam of Athama at the right heart. It is also due to Bhagavan's teachings only. But Bhagavan said that thousands of books would not bring the enlightenment. But if a student does not understand how the mathematcal formuala is derived at, even then he can easily pass exam if he just memorizes the formula. Let us continue to do whatever we feel like. But Bhagavan never condemned any method. So he would only guide us in our efforts.But Bhagavan would say ultimately vichara is the straight forward method. Finally one thing I can say is once we have really done the athma vichara and found out the answer for the "Who am I?", we wont be writing this. Because one who had seen it can not explain. But if one explains it, it means it is not seen by him. Irrespective of whether I get answer or not I want to be proud devotee of Bhavagan Ramana.

Scott Fraundorf said...

On the pain issue, with Enquiry. I've more had to put intention intensely into breaking old patterns that are easy, and often it is easy and safe to suffer from wanting, with Enquiry I'm pulling the mind back from that tendency back inward. I've also had aspects of my life fall apart, things that wanted to fall apart but I was stuck in. I've found that after a crisis, I feel fresher and my Enquiry is far deeper. It seems that Enquiry will rearrange things internal and external to make itself much 'deeper', and resolve age-old mind created conflicts and confusions. But in my case, this hasn't been in one day, but staggered over non-existant time. On sitting, I haven't been sitting, but just doing Enquiry from waking to sleep. Sometimes I've used yoga, and sitting observing breath as 'auxillary practices', and other times I let my mind just run it's course. I haven't really looked at it as failure. It seems that for me, at times when my mind is too active, and too ouward bound to easily Enquire into the source, which happens often, I'm learning that that is a good time for devotion, or repitition of mantras. Following Saradamma's advise, visualizing her or Lakshmana since they are supposedly living jnanis. But also now attending Catholic Church with critical thinking. When my mind is really subdued, i just focus on stopping thought when I notice that there is a subtle level of thought. On doing Enquiry correctly, I don't know whether I'm doing it correctly, and I've stopped worrying about it. It seems like practicing earnestly what I understand of it, automatically leads to a more comprehensive understanding. I wanted to reply to more people, but I can't remember who said what.

S. said...

salutations to all:
the simplicity and honesty with which people have been expressing themselves is touching...jupes and maneesha talking about thinking of arunachala & circumambulating a park was very sweet :)...

arvind & murali: it will be nice to get your views on self-enquiry

though words are inadequate, yet the right usage of words, wherever possible, does save a lot of trouble/ confusion...as long as there is a mind, words may make sense, and are perhaps even necessary...while the process of recollection has been delineated well, relating the same to vichara is something i would like to disagree a bit...of course, english at times may not have an exact equivalent of a technical term used in tamil or sanksrit but the word 'realize' must have been adopted owing to its nearness to the original tamil/sanskrit description...'realize' doesn't seem to have anything to do with time (to say 'present' is just a close approximation)...on the other hand, recollection is an act of memory that relates the past to the present in time (memory as a valid pramana is also disputed) and thus cannot be associated with vichara...

even 'knowing the self' immediately brings time into reference since all knowing by a knower can happen only in time...if vichara is attention, recollecting and knowing are incongruent with enquiry... 'attending' by itself cancels out time (not just vichara; be it attending to a mathematical problem or listening to a poem or any other kind of absorption)... attending to the i-thought happens in the present (albeit present itself is an approximation)... 'will to know the self' may also be an aberration because it could implant a misconception that the 'self' is to be reached or attained or arrived at, as if it were a 'goal'

hope am not offending anyone... folks, my apologies if i did so...

Jupes said...

Greetings to all.
I continue to be completely fascinated by the depth and breadth of comments that are pouring into this blog on a subject that is clearly of great importance to us all. I find that the excitement of reading, responding and contemplating, in addition to being so inspiring, is also physically and mentally tiring. I have wondered if the time difference between the western U.S, where I am, and Europe and India, where many of you are, is keeping me 'tuned in' almost 24 hours each day! (s., I'm sure you will have something to say about this, after reading your latest comments on 'time'!) Regardless of this, I am loving every minute of this communication.

Clemens, thank you for clarifying what you said about pain and vichara. I am thinking about this and trying to relate it to my own experience. I don't think I experience it as you do. Not that I don't have plenty of attachments to 'the world'; but I find that vichara is a RELIEF from being 'in the world' and 'in a body', and if there is any pain involved, it is more that I can't be in vichara all the time and that I have to COME BACK to the world.

Maneesha and Santhana Ganesan, I am glad to know that you, too, remember the mountain as you walk (or bicycle, or drive!), wherever you are. It is a wonderful practice and I would recommend it to anyone on this blog.

.... and thank you for the quotes, Maneesha. I especially like the part that says, "this intense and steady watchful inward gaze forms the essence of this method." There it is in a nutshell.

Scott Fraundorf, I find your comments most useful, so sensitively written and from a very practical point of view. It is interesting what you said about feeling fresher after a crisis and that your vichara is so much deeper also. The crisis probably 'cleans you out', scrapes the insides of the vessel, making it deeper and able to hold more. Thank you for sharing all that.

Subramanian, your question about people with schizophrenia is similar to one I've had about Alzheimer's patients. It would be interesting to know the answer. I suspect there is something lacking for those individuals, related to awareness and intention, that might keep their minds somewhere besides a blissful state. Although.... who knows?

Thanks to everyone for this ongoing ride.

Jupes

David Godman said...

I am happy to see such a large quantity of thoughtful and insightful responses to this post. It is also good to see so many new names on the posting list.

For those of you who are new here, or new to self-enquiry, there are some other related posts on this blog:

Dialogue on Self-enquiry (May)

Interview with Integral Yoga magazine (May)

Robert Adams on self-enquiry (June)

Robert Adams again (June)

Many points have been raised here that I would like to reply to. I am finally 'home alone', but I have many urgent jobs to attend to before I can sit down and respond to everyone's comments. Tomorrow I will be in Pondicherry all day since the printing of Guru Vachaka Kovai needs a few hours of my time and attention there. I hope to make a start on my replies here later today.

Please keep the comments flowing. I am sure we are all enjoying them and benefiting from them.

Murali said...

Here is what I do in implementing Vichara.

In my case, I am finding that banging the ego in two directions - by both Vichara and Surrender is looking effective.

1. Vichara: I pretty much follow what David has elaborated. Focusing on the feeling of I while rejecting other thoughts. One thought which helps me is to remember that the mind is always in two states...i.e., the state of "lost in thoughts" and the state of "not lost in thoughts". I think that the state of "not lost in thoughts" is almost same as focusing on the feeling of I. I used to get confused many times whether I was focusing on the I or on something else. But, after I found how this "not lost in thoughts" feels like, I feel confident now that when I focus on I, I am not actually focusing on the thought that I am focusing on I. These are all words but I hope I am expressing myself clearly. I am still far away from what Bhagavan told that Vichara has to be continuous. I have put 30 minutes in the morning and 30 mintues in the evening for a kind of "do or die" sitting.

2. Surrender: I pretty much follow again what David has recommended...i.e., to be in the continuous feeling of gratitude towards Bhagavan for whatever is happening in my life. There is an interview between Maalok and David Godman in David's website which has one question on Surrender. That question acted as a life changer for me and I hooked onto the method outlined there. I found this to be amazingly effective in terms of leaving the grip on the likes and dislikes.

The problem I am facing is my day to day struggle to "give up my control" on my life and let Bhagavan steer it. Concerns, Ambitions and the likes are strong in me and hopefully Bhagavan will interfere soon.

Regards Murali

Anonymous said...

Maneesha, many thanks for giving the references. No problem at all about the tiny misquote. Actually the copy of “Guru Ramana” I pulled out of my library does not have that page at all ! That’s the problem with older editions. The “Golden Jubilee Souvenir” I pulled out has it as page 398 (written by Mr. B. C. Sengupta).

Thank you S. for clarifying further on Recollection as related to Vichara. I had got quite a bit confused earlier. Probably Mr. Sengupta in Golden Jubilee has stretched out Maharshi’s words more than is warranted.

Maneesha, you too have mentioned that you found it useful for a while but have since moved on and refined your practice further.

Thank you David for this great blog.

Mohan

Broken Yogi said...

David, I want to thank you for your help. Two years ago I became very interested in self-enquiry, and wrote you for help in understanding what it meant. We exchanged some 20 emails on the subject, most of which were me arguing this way and that and fighting the simple path of feeling the "I"-thought. Finally I began to try to accept this, and simply feel this feeling of self. It brought up a great deal of emotion, and love, and also a great deal of trouble. It would go well for a while and then it wouldn't, and I'd feel dead and lost and hopeless. At times I would just give up, because I was so distracted and confused. But somehow it kept pulling me back in.

I've tried all kinds of variants of self-enquiry, including Papaji's recommendation to simply say "I am free". The more I tried, the more I noticed that whatever I did it would produce the opposite. The dualism of the mind seems inescapable within the mind, so something else has to come into the picture from outside the mind. I call that grace. I find that if I humble myself before the Lord something moves in and makes the enquiry come alive on its own. So I find myself making less and less effort, and accepting myself as I am as much as I can, even in all the stupid human ways. I find that feeling the "I"-thought is the same as love, that love is the Self's real nature, and that feeling love in the heart is the same as self-enquiry. Even so, I still don't know what I'm doing, and I just try to remain attentive when I can. I don't actually sit to meditate, but I do fall into meditation naturally from time to time, and I simply try to live in a way that feels this feeling of love in the Self-position as much as possible. It makes my breath feel more open and free and full of prana, and it makes my mind feel stupidly unconcentrated but clean. Sometimes I find myself just saying the word "love" over and over agains, and it feels the same as saying "I", but better. I don't know where it comes from or where it goes to. Sometimes I just say "I love you" to God knows what, maybe nothing at all. I like reading things like this blog and all the different people here because it makes me fall back into this feeling of love. I don't really read too much of spiritual things, however, even of Ramana and others like him. I have all the books, and lots of books altogether, and I can't evern read them very much anymore. Enquiry for me is just a meditation on myself, it's so self-ish, wondering what this consciousness and awareness is, and finding that it's just an amazing force of love that spreads everywhere and into everything and from everything. I have all the anxieties and worldliness I always had, but they don't bother me as much. I don't really try to do anything about any of that. Somehow I get through the day, even though things seems less and less real to me, and this love feels more and more real. I'm really grateful for all the help you gave me, and to Ramana and all the other Gurus in his lineage who have been of help. I'm nowhere near mature in any of this, but at least something has been coming alive for me, and that's plenty enough for me for now.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Hello All,

Am posting the way I do self enquiry. This is the way I started when I first came to Bhagavan. But I sort of 'forgot' it, and just stumbled back into doing it again.

Try not to laugh, as it is a childish technique.

1. I close my eyes and visualise all the thoughts in my head as starting from a single point, the thoughts typically being 'I like this', or 'I dont want a certain thing', etc. I try to see them as rays emanating from a single point.

2. I go in close to the centre and sort of visualize an 'I'.

3. I tell myself that this 'I' is the centre of all thoughts. And that all thoughts begin from here.

4. I then ask myself where this 'I ' comes from, since all thoughts come from here.

5. I start with 'Where does this 'i' come from?', and shorten it to 'who am i?' along the way. I find that as this happens, attention goes to the heart by itself.

It is admittedly a silly method, but it works, in the sense that whenever the thread is broken, one seems to be able to go back quickly.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Sorry, a few points by way of continuation.

1. David, when I am doing self-enquiry, after a point, there seems to be two 'me's in me! One is aware of the self-enquiry and the other is either listening to let's say Aksharamanamalai, or even watching a cricket match. Of course this is only for a short period before one of the activities fades into the background. Is this normal - this sense of two 'me's?

2. Am I doing it right? It seems to work for me in the sense of it setting up a peaceful current, but I would like to know if the method I follow is within correct limits.

3. Sometimes, when self enquiry becomes a bit of labour (though I find that it is the best method in a busy or noisy environment), I switch over to the method outlined by Annamalai Swami in 'Final Talks' - mentally focus on 'I -I', and ignore all other thoughts. Is this okay,as I feel that it helps keep the 'current' going for a bit longer?

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and ramprax, on
breathing, if you get a feeling that your breath has stopped and
if you want to do a forceful breathing, it means only that you have diverted your mind to breathing. It is the experience for many of us. There is nothing wrong. Bhagavan has said both mind and breath are the organic branches of the same mind-stuff.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and nandu narasimhan,
there are no two 'me's. There is only one 'me' which is in the Self
and directs the mind, (here it is
Pure Mind or Suddha Manas or
the other 'me') to do other work,
be it chanting A.manamalai or office work or circumambulating the Hill. Bhagavan has said that this 'Suddha Manas' is necessary to do the work of the world. In
fact, Bhagavan, in all His living years in T. malai was doing work,
be it kitchen work,talking or reading or writing only with this
'Suddha Manas'. It is like honey,
which can corrupt nothing that is added to it.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and nandu narasimhan,
there are no two 'me's. There is only one 'me' which is in the Self
and directs the mind, (here it is
Pure Mind or Suddha Manas or
the other 'me') to do other work,
be it chanting A.manamalai or office work or circumambulating the Hill. Bhagavan has said that this 'Suddha Manas' is necessary to do the work of the world. In
fact, Bhagavan, in all His living years in T. malai was doing work,
be it kitchen work,talking or reading or writing only with this
'Suddha Manas'. It is like honey,
which can corrupt nothing that is added to it.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and nandu narasimhan,
there are no two 'me's. There is only one 'me' which is in the Self
and directs the mind, (here it is
Pure Mind or Suddha Manas or
the other 'me') to do other work,
be it chanting A.manamalai or office work or circumambulating the Hill. Bhagavan has said that this 'Suddha Manas' is necessary to do the work of the world. In
fact, Bhagavan, in all His living years in T. malai was doing work,
be it kitchen work,talking or reading or writing only with this
'Suddha Manas'. It is like honey,
which can corrupt nothing that is added to it.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David, coming back to the aids for self-realization, Bhagavan says: "Since everything is being
conducted by the Parameshwara
Sakti, why should we, instead of abiding in It, constantly think,
'I should do this; I should do that'. In fact, after reading this,
I decided that I should not think about anything long term and decided that I should think and plan only for next 1 hour. During morning prayers before bath, like
reading Tiruvachakam, I shall tell myself that I will not think anything beyond my bath. During bath, I think of only post bath prayers like Gayatri chanting, Namasivaya chanting, other secret mantras taught to. During this time, I shall think only about by pre-food diabetic tablet and nothing beyond that. After the prayers and after the tablet, I shall think about my food. During eating, I think about newspaper reading and reading Who am I?
This method works well and any work that I should go to ATM to draw money or go to market next day etc., etc., are postponed to
the hour that is before that work is actually done. Sometimes it is difficult but it is quite good to leave anything about 'longer than next hour' plans to Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Subramanian,

I realise and agree that there can only be one 'me'.

What I wanted to know was if it is normal to having this sense of split personality. If it is normal, one can then ignore the false 'I' that is engaging in everyday activities and claiming ownership.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and nandu narasimhan,
the two 'me's are not indicative of a split personality, where there is
a split of mind and ego. Here, what can I say, one can compare this to the Sun and the Moon. The mind in the Self is the Sun and the other 'me', the Suddha Manas, is the Moon. If reflects the Self to do the activities. In Saiva-Siddhanta, they call it Siva-Sakti principle. or matter-energy duo.
In yoga, Saiva Siddhantis call it
Chandrasekaran Paavai, that is
Chandrasekara and his concorporate lady. It is supposed to be in Sahasrara.

Anonymous said...

My contibution to vichara:
I started with a mantra meditation which had a deep quietening effect and brought soon very subtle states. When i came to slowly understand about vichara (around 1972) it had a irresistible attraction. The problem was that my usual sittings were only directed to quieten the mind and i found it hard to bridge that gap and integrate the active quest.
It brought tension and headache. But for the deep trust in Bhagavan i would have dropped vichara. Bhagavan was and is the absolutely trusted jnani ( i am not really sure about anyone else, except Annamalai whom i had the grace to serve a little). This trust i understand as His grace and not anything i achieved. So over the years i learned to listen to the body and mind and Bhagavan. Slowly a wonder has evolved. Although i see myself still a beginner sittings have become a way of life and grow in attraction. There is a confidence that i am the Self (although the person is the same old stupid one)and this confidence can manifest during dhyana sometimes quite strongly, like a powerful presence that is blissful and peaceful. So it is an adventure to trust Bhagavan. I am sure He is more alive than most of us and He is the process and the goal, as He sometimes said. The once painful gap He can close easily and there is no longer any discrepancy. Doing is, in my view and Bhagavan's sayings contrary to Poonjaji and others only immature Being. But this cannot be bypassed. Trust, effort and persistence are essential so that this path can slowly ripen. This also has been forgotten in our greedy times: Bhagavan often said, progress is slow. I understand slow as solid and reliable. In the living faith in Him the seed of liberation is already present, isn't it?

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Dear Subramanian,

I don't think I have explained myself clearly. I understand all you are saying and am aware of it.

Yes, it is the mind-ego combine and the self. And one learns to reject the former.

What I would request David to clarify is whether this kind of split is normal / acceptable while doing Self Enquiry. As in, does this occur to other followers too?

All the same, many thinks for your reply.

Srik said...

Some very inspiring posts here, His grace indeed.

Introduced to enquiry for the last 2+ years, I've gone through various phases. I had once felt I had made it look so complicated!

I very recently came across the 'forgotten I' concept. 'I' that is being enquired is something that I already knew and due to (whatever) reasons, have forgotten now. With this knowledge, pursuing enquiry into the 'forgotten I', is making the process look simple. In this, I find an extra bit of endurance for enquiry, compared to simply looking for the source of I or asking 'who am I?'.

During the process, I am tending to end at 'What is that I knew, which I have forgotten now?'

Please share your thoughts. Anyone else who are following such a method?

Thanks,
Sri.

Ravi said...

Dear All,
It is indeed nice to see the amount of interest and Enthusiasm that has been generated in the sharing of practice and experiences.
Just want to add a Note of what my Master always emphasize-The Purpose of Life is SELF REALIZATION(Pl do not treat this very Technically)yet this cannot be done by pursuiing any Technique or Exclusive concentration alone.LIFE IS TOO COMPLEX for any such narrow Practce!LIFE NEEDS TO BE BASED ON A SOLID FOUNDATION OF DISCIPLINE and VIRTUE(EEGAI and OZHUKKAM as it is called in Tamil).TRUTHFULNESS AND INTEGRITY,NOT CAUSING HARM IN THOUGHT,WORD OR DEED Form the core of Discipline.GOING to the HELP of the needy (to whatever way and extent is possible)is the core of virtue.Wihout this foundation NO SPIRITUAL PRACTICE CAN BE SUSTAINED or done effectively.
He also says that it is not important whether you get some suernormal experience,it is a sure sign of progress when you GAIN IN POISE and CAN ACCEPT THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE with Equanimity,YOU ARE NOT AFFECTED BY HOW OTHERS TREAT YOU,YOU DEVELOP MAGNANIMITY AND LEARN TO ACCEPT OTHER's POINT OF VIEW,YOU LEARN TO HANDLE PROBLEMS WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT THE OUTCOME.This Practice of INTEGRITY and VIRTUE,combined with Self Enquiry is what he Emphasises will lead to Self Realization.
Salutations!

Jupes said...

Dear Ravi,
I very much appreciate your latest comment (as I have ALL your comments). As I was reading I was thinking, 'yes, this makes complete sense; this is very good.'

Then, about half an hour later a little light bulb went off in my head and I thought of something that I want to throw out there. It relates to one part of what you said. The only place I've ever seen this is in Sri Ramana Darsanam (by Sadhu Natanananda, ed. by David), in a footnote on p. 128. The footnote is in a section with the poem Atma Gita and the note comes at the end of verses, 88-94.

Here is what the note is in reference to:
'True greatness in the field of good conduct and behavior consists only of becoming one with grace. Everything else is merely paying lip service.'

Then, here is David's footnote:
'That is to say, it is a greater accomplishment for the mind to disappear in the Self than for it to remain separate, even if in its separate state it is highly virtuous. It should be noted that Bhagavan taught that CORRECT AND VIRTUOUS BEHAVIOR IS A CONSEQUENCE OF SELF-REALIZATION, NOT A ROUTE TO IT.' (That is my emphasis, not David's.)

David, I would be interested in knowing where this appears in Bhagavan's teachings, and also, if you could expound on it a little, in relation to what Ravi said about virtue.

Thank you, Ravi and David!

Anonymous said...

Subramanian R's method of thinking of only one hour from now was intriguing. But would it not be better to only be in the NOW rather than 1 hour from now?

Anonymous said...

I meant to add whether this practice of not thinking about anything beyond the next 1 hour at most can progressively be shortened to only be in the NOW

Broken Yogi said...

My understanding of the mind/self split many here are talking about is that it is inherent to the dualistic mind that enquires, and can't be undone or bypassed except by the successful use of self-enquiry itself. Ramana repeatedly said that self-enquiry is a dualistic practice engaged by the dualistic mind, and that the difference between self-enquiry and other dualistic practices is that self-enquiry makes us constantly aware of this inherent dualism of the mind, rather than trying to distract ourselves away from it. So finding this split in our minds is exactly the point of self-enquiry. We are supposed to see that we are essentially living as schismatic separatists, as crazy people who imagine themselves to be two when in reality we are one Self. That's why when we start doing self-enquiry it drives us crazy. It's not the fault of self-enquiry, that's just blaming the messenger. The craziness is our own, self-enquiry just makes it more obvious because we are paying attention to the structure of the mind rather than just assuming it and operating as if it were normal and true. So this split in the mind becomes more and more obvious. On the other hand, as it becomes more obvious, it also becomes more obvious that it's an illusion of perspective, not something inherently true. The Self begins to shine forth from beyond the dualistic mind that is watching itself watching itself watching everything "else". In reality, it becomes more clear that all that we think is arising as "other" is also just mind, that the mind is just one thing, and that it's not other than the one who watches the mind. Attention is itself the living form of the mind, not the objects of attention. And that living form is single, not dual. So self-enquiry resolves these seemingly separate parts and pieces of mind into one comprehensive illusion, and that illusion is itself broken by putting attention on it through self-enquiry. Ramana said that self-enquiry is like a stick used to stir a fire. The stick at first is a dualistic addition, that seems different from the fire, but as the fire is stirred, the stick itself is burned up. In the end, it is all just one fire, and the sticks are burned to ash. So self-enquiry is designed to self-immolate. The split in the mind that self-enquiry takes advantage of and turns into a method of understanding what we are doing wrong itself is destroyed by the process of self-enquiry. But in the beginning it just exagerates the problem it is pointing to by making us deliberately engage in a schismatic self-questioning process. Who is asking the question self-enquiry? And who is askign that question? Keep doing that, and one gets dizzy really fast. How many people are in here asking questions? It seems like an infinite hall of mirrors? But pointing this out is like smashing the mirrors, which makes things rather messy but in the end we end up going beyond the reflections to the source that is ourselves.

Anonymous said...

The way I do self-enquiry is almost like mantra. A moment to moment noting of (the feeling) I-I-I as you reach out in your heart away from self concern and towards your true identity. Your heart may feel like its breathing. The reaching out is the most important, Nisargadatta said simply the desire for liberation takes one speedily to their goal. Earnestness is most important.
This is slightly different than the grasping of the sense of "I am" and holding onto it for dear life. I used to do it that way but I found it requires too much effort to be really effective and causes headaches. Nisargadatta said sadhana should be effortless, I've found that slowly refining effort is essential.
It is important not to do self-enquiry periodically. It has to be done from the moment of waking to the edge of sleep (hence the need for refining effort). Its all or nothing. I've never gone a whole day without stopping but I'm getting better daily.
Some side effects of self-enquiry is that my bodies has started to feel too "big" to be me. Too arbitrary and silly to be who I really am. Its an estrangment that is a little frightening at first. There is also the paradox of there being observation but there is no observer to be found. That is, I keep looking for myself but the very thought of looking is not being done by me, so sometimes I feel there is no me but who is the one observing "no me"? Accompanied by this paradox is the seeing of my self in objects. This is hard to describe. I see a shape and it has the feeling of me attached to it. Existence itself is becoming an increasingly bizarre and puzzling fact. The world sometimes feel fake and strange. These aren't very frightening thoughts or feelings so it no big deal.
The reason why I do self-enquiry, is out of a search for meaning. Nothing has ever interested me as much as the search for meaning in my life. I've discovered that all the self-concepts I've constructed and took for granted are hollow, incomplete and have a need for justification attached to them. I believe this is the cause for humanities search for meaning in life.
The value of self-enquiry is that instead of trying to change one's habits of thought and action for the better, which simply leads to fresh karma, one puts the urges on hold and let the energy behind them slowly dissipate. Either self-worth and happiness is conditional or its not. The Maharishi to me is proof that it is not. Self-enquiry is the giving of doership regardless of circumstance, past actions and feelings of unworthiness.

Ravi said...

Jupes,I am really wonderstruck to see how deeply you have soaked into Sri Bhagavan's teachings!Yes,What you have mentioned is very true,in the sense that there cannot be INTEGRITY when the FRACTION remains!Virtue and vice are indeed relative.What My Master has emphasised is that the FRACTION should not split into further fractions!In all our dealings wth the world(others)this integrity and virtue has to be PRACTISED.Undoubtedly it is by the MIND AND HEART and is bound to be imperfect,YET THIS IS VITAL and forms the base for Sadhana.
In Sri Bhagavan's VERBAL Teachings this is not emphasised,yet if we LOOK AT HIS LIFE(WHICH I BELIEVE WAS HIS LOFTIEST Teaching)we find that this is shining through and through.(How he left a note for his brother that his college fees has not been paid,etc).
My Master has given several Talks on Sri Bhagavan(only in Tamil!)and he brings in these seemingly trivial incidents that ILLUMINE and serve as ROLE MODEL for us.

May Sri Bhagavan's Blessings be with us.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Broken Yogi,

Many thanks for your post, as it explains some of the things I go through while doing enquiry.

Srinivasan said...

An open thread to vichara is indeed
filling up the gap for the earnest
sadhakas. Self enquiry
or vichara through 'who am I' is a perfect method to self realisation
a direct method advocated by Bhagawan and noneelse so far. The mind when introverted (ie.antharmuka) is absorbed in the self when thought level/force is zero. Mind can become antharmuka by catching the 'I' thought and following its root source through Bhagavan's sef enquiry. We are not to be absessed with the thought 'I'
but look for it's source deep within and remain silent till a thought surfaces which is erased though the enquiry process and stay antharmuka ie,silently looking at the source of the 'I' thought. The mind is a slave of habit and using its weakness repeat the practice of being antharmuka and over time mind will prefer to stay within aiding gradually the full absorbtion of the mind in the self. You can call it the merging of the 'I' in the spiritual heart. The whole process is a conscious one leading to awareness of the self only when the last thought'I' also perishes.
Through Bhagavan's method it is harmonious and the self realisation takes place in a measured pace not induced suddenly or forced into it. The change to a realised state will not destabilise the system since the whole process is gradual through Bhagavan's method. Though Bhagavan himself had realised in a flash his method stipulates slow sinking of the mind to zero thought level/force. Understanding the process is very important. During the vichara mind quietens down and thought level/force subsides. If the mind does not relax and quieten using this method, please note something is wrong in the practice. Be quiet and calm for sometime atleast before you start the practice. I am also a beginner. All that I am stating is through my analysis and attempts I am making sporadically ever since I started the enquiry. Good luck to everybody and pray to Bhagavan for everybody's success.

Anonymous said...

to Broken Yogi and Anonymous:
this is correct, we cannot escape the dualistic mode of the mind and the effort is directed towards silence but must refine itself on the way (see Day by Day, Bhagavan's answer to the Krishnamurti follower). The attraction everyone has, true Self-love, will see to it that we go on and on. Also the sattvic qualities are like the warmth of the sun and a more natural interest along the way.
To Srinivasan:
it seems to me that everyone experiences the path very subjective and all generalisations are just subjective viewpoints too, aren't they?

Subramanian. R said...

Dear anonymous, Thinking only
about NOW is ideal, but as an allowance to me, I am thinking of next one hour. Is it not better than thinking now itself about
Diwali (Nov 2008) and Christmas
(Dec 2008). Today graduates are not only thinking about jobs, but also about marriage, raising children, buying a villa in the
coutryside, which is a plan for
10 years.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David and everyone, Bhagavan has said that there is no use in reading endlessly, since the
Self should be searched within five
sheaths. This aid to realization, is again difficult to follow. We start with romantic, crime and sci fiction, then go for Camus, Kafka,
then try our hands in Western philosophy, meandering from Kant,Spinoz,Nietzshe and Heidiggor (is the spell correct?).
Then we go to Zen (Watts, Humphreys, and Suzuki), JK and Osho and finally land up with
Sankara & Ramana. Even here, there are multitude of books.
What is the limit? I think we have to finish our quota of karma,
even with books also. The oneday
we will remain still in silence and that day even in Ramana's books we would lose interest.

Ramprax said...

But for this thread, I would never have imagined that 'vichara' would be viewed and practised in as many different ways as mentioned in this thread. Getting know of so many people practising vichara itself provides a fillip, a thrust to my own practise.
Thanks a lot to David - for making this sharing possible, S - for his SUGGESTION & REQUEST and everyone else - for having responded honestly with their own words about vichara.

I wish to add one more doubt to the already posted list of doubts.
What exactly is meant by trying to find out from where the 'I'-thought arises? I am only able to focus my attention on(or feeling my) 'I' - . That is as far as I am able to go. What exactly is to be done to look for the source of this 'I'?

Thanks & Regards,
Ram

Srinivasan said...

Dear Anonymous,
I do agree that most of the opinions and comments are subjective and our experience of self-enquiry is very subjective.
If you carefully go through what I
said you will see that I tried to
bring out basic approach to vichara in clear focus as outlined by Bhagavan. His emphasis on silence and the habit of inner focus are important threads to vichara. May Bhagavan bless us in our vichara.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

Ramprax:
... What exactly is meant by trying to find out from where the 'I'-thought arises? I am only able to focus my attention on(or feeling my) 'I' - . That is as far as I am able to go. What exactly is to be done to look for the source of this 'I'? ...


Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 196, 9th June, 1936:

M.: How do you meditate?

D.: I begin to ask myself “Who am I?”, eliminate body as not ‘I’, the breath as not ‘I’, the mind as not ‘I’ and I am not able to proceed further.

M.: Well, that is so far as the intellect goes. Your process is only intellectual. Indeed, all the scriptures mention the process only to guide the seeker to know the Truth. The Truth cannot be directly pointed out. Hence this intellectual process. You see, the one who eliminates all the not I cannot eliminate the ‘I’.

To say ‘I am not this’ or ‘I am that’ there must be the ‘I’. This ‘I’ is only the ego or the ‘I-thought’. After the rising up of this ‘I-thought’, all other thoughts arise. The ‘I-thought’ is therefore the root-thought. If the root is pulled out all others are at the same time uprooted. Therefore seek the root ‘I’, question yourself “Who am I?”; find out its source. Then all these will vanish and the pure Self will remain ever.

D.: How to do it?

M.: The ‘I’ is always there - in deep sleep, in dream and in wakefulness. The one in sleep is the same as that who now speaks. There is always the feeling of ‘I’. Otherwise do you deny your existence? You do not. You say ‘I am’. Find out who is.

D.: Even so, I do not understand. ‘I’, you say, is the wrong ‘I’ now. How to eliminate this wrong ‘I’?

M.: You need not eliminate the wrong ‘I’. How can ‘I’ eliminate itself? All that you need do is to find out its origin and abide there. Your efforts can extend only thus far. Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach it.

D.: If ‘I’ am always - here and now, why do I not feel so?

M.: That is it. Who says it is not felt? Does the real ‘I’ say it or the false ‘I’? Examine it. You will find it is the wrong ‘I’. The wrong ‘I’ is the obstruction. It has to be removed in order that the true ‘I’ may not be hidden. The feeling that I have not realised is the obstruction to realisation. In fact it is already realised; there is nothing more to be realised. Otherwise, the realisation will be new; it has not existed so far, it must take place hereafter. What is born will also die. If realisation be not eternal it is not worth having. Therefore what we seek is not that which must happen afresh. It is only that which is eternal but not now known due to obstructions; it is that we seek. All that we need do is to remove the obstruction. That which is eternal is not known to be so because of ignorance. Ignorance is the obstruction. Get over this ignorance and all will be well. The ignorance is identical with the ‘I-thought’. Find its source and it will vanish. The ‘I-thought’ is like a spirit which, although not palpable, rises up simultaneously with the body, flourishes and disappears with it. The body-consciousness is the wrong ‘I’. Give up this bodyconsciousness. It is done by seeking the source ‘I’. The body does not say ‘I am’. It is you who say, ‘I am the body!’ Find out who this ‘I’ is. Seeking its source it will vanish.

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

Reading the talks of Sri Ramana is the same as looking over the shoulder of the cook preparing the meal in the kitchen - we get the idea how the meal is prepared. The visitors of Sri Ramana have had the same questions as we - don`t let us forget that. Which answer could be better than Ramanas answer?

Jupes said...

Ravi, thanks for clarifying (so beautifully!) your point about virtuous behavior. What you say rings absolutely true to me, and yet, when I read again David's footnote from Sri Ramana Darsanam and Bhagavan's teaching that "correct and virtuous behavior is a consequence of Self-realization and not a route to it," I am still somewhat puzzled. The words seem to collide. Maybe David will add his thoughts on this when he is free to do so. Or, maybe it will become clear to me somehow through Bhagavan's grace.

Thank you, Everyone, for this extraordinary teaching and learning that is occurring here!

Srinivasan said...

Dear Ramprax,
Well said. It is as if Bhagavan got
on to the top of the roof and entreated all seekers to look for the source of this root thought 'I'
and abide by it ie.,remain silently
aware of the source. Deep within the mind say 'I' not by the tongue,
sink with it and look for it's source and remain silent and be consciously aware. That is meditation. AS Bhagavan put it it is only Grace that will remove the obstruction and the real 'I' will emerge after the false I has perished. I am not realised but I think this is the process. May Bhagavan show us the true path.

Anonymous said...

Dear Srinivasan,
you are right, i didn't want to criticize you. Silence is the path and the goal. My feeling was that on the path there may happen all kinds of experiences and to be able to be the Self needs a matured effort as mentioned in my comment yesterday, drawn by Bhagavan's Grace. Because we do start with a dualistic mind, don't we and cannot escape it. Only if doing matures to being. Samadhi is also a component of sama, evenness and dhi for intellect. To me that means the total harmony of activity and rest. May we all reach His feet....

Anonymous said...

Mouni Sadhu, a disciple of Ramana wrote a book called "Concentration" which happens to be a treatise on the matter together with all important graded exercises to develop ones concentrative powers, now i have only recently obtained this book, and Mouni Sadhu expressly forbids the reader from jumping into the advanced exercises before completing the lesser ones. However Mouni Sadhu indicates that the culmination of these exercises is in fact none other than atma vichara. Now it would seem to be the case that while atma vichara is a stand-alone method to the realization of the Self(the Self being the teacher), aspirants past and present would do well to learn the yogic methods of concentration as a precurser to atma vichara. I am not posting to promote this book, but if you google you will find plenty said for this book as regards the efficacy of its methods. Mouni Sadhu infuses much of the book with his respect for his deceased(but in fact eternal) master

Ravi said...

Anonymous,
It is indeed true that a certain degree of Preparation is required to understand the FULL IMPLICATION of Atma Vichara.Earnestness and Integrity on the part of the seeker alone is called for.EXPERTISE in Concentration is not required,only a CHILDLIKE SIMPLICITY(INTEGRITY-to accept ourselves with our MINUSES and pluses)to just see ouselves as we are,just go behind and simply be ONESELF.Atma Vichara is just this shifting of ATTENTION to the SELF, abiding in our NATURAL state and not getting lost in our various ROLES as FATHER,HUSBAND,MANAGER,INDIAN,etc.Just to recognize our IDENTITY and play the ROLE allotted in our lives.
ATMA VICHARA is not an EXERCISE IN CONCENTRATION and is not a stand alone METHOD,but something that needs to be practised in all our WAKING hours and eventually it will envelope Dream and Sleep State as well.
It only means STAY AWAKE all through Life.

sD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sD said...

I try to follow these steps as much as i can
1) Eliminate "I'm the doer"
2) I act upon my thoughts (mostly the good ones), also knowing possible outcomes, but not desiring a favorable one.
3) Be self-attentive whenever i can, when attention slips i think about Ramana

My heartfelt thanks to the person who posted a link to http://www.faculty.virginia.edu
Always had a doubt about being self-attentive while working. If interested please read about working mind & thinking mind at http://www.faculty.virginia.edu/consciousness/new_page_15.htm

Murali said...

I have posted the following link. I would recommend all to go through the course in consciousness which is posted there. I found it personally very useful in Sadhana.

http://www.faculty.virginia.edu

Regards Murali

David Godman said...

I finally have the time to reply to the many comments that have been posted here. I will start from the first one, and then work my way down the list. In the first comment Maneesha wrote:

‘… as someone said, it’s really the sincerity than the method itself that would take us there.’

I think this is probably true. If you are earnest and sincere, and if you have a strong desire for the Self, then this attitude will propel you in the right direction and ultimately enable you to reach the goal. Help will come when you need it, and if you are doing something that is not quite right, people or books will appear in your life to give you the necessary corrective advice.

Papaji used to say that it is the desire and hunger for the Self that takes you to the goal, not a particular method or technique. He used to say that his twenty-five years of intense japa, done round the clock in the last few years, were a symptom of his intense desire to see God, rather than the cause of his eventual union with Him.

His insistence that desire for the Self was essential led many people to ask him, ‘How can I increase my desire for the Self?’

On one occasion he replied, ‘Your desire for things that are not the Self are distracting you and keeping you in ignorance of your true state. If you give up these other desires, you will begin to feel the power of the Self within you, and when that feeling becomes stronger, you will hunger for it more and more. That hunger will then become so strong, it will propel you into the Self where the hunger will die. You will then remain as Self alone.’

From a practical point of view, self-enquiry is the process by which one learns to avoid following up chains of thought that take one away from the Self, rather than towards it. When, through enquiry, desire for and interest in the non-Self diminishes, one becomes dimly aware of the Self. And when those emanations from the Self become more attractive and interesting, the desire to point the mind that way instead of outwards increases.

As Bhagavan remarked in Who am I? ‘Keeping the mind in the Heart, not allowing it to go out, alone is called ‘ahamukham’ [facing the Self]. Allowing it to go out is called ‘bahirmukham’ [Facing outwards, or extroversion].’

David Godman said...

Maneesha

You wrote:

'Talking about myself, I firmly believe that partial surrender and vichara go hand in hand.'

Bhagavan has said that true surrender is to give oneself up to the source of one's being. This is no different from enquiry. It is the giving up of the individual self, rather than merely abandoning the habits and practices of that self.

One can regard partial surrender as the progressive surrendering of attachments and desires by transferring attention from them to the one who has them or indulges in them. To whatever extent one can refuse to be distracted by them, to that extent one is surrendering to the source.

David Godman said...

Ravi wrote:

'A certain Quietude is a prerequisite for a certain measure of success.In the event of an inability to effect this, I have found that there is no better thing than to read and listen to the words of the Great ones. This helps to reconnect.'

Someone once asked Bhagavan if he should meditate all day. Bhagavan replied, 'Try it and see. Your vasanas will not allow you to do it.'

While, ideally, one should be doing enquiry at all times, it is everyone's experience that this is not possible. It does take a certain inner quietness and focus to do enquiry well, and there are times when the mind simple refuses to co-operate.

When Kunju Swami asked Bhagavan how he should spend his time and live his life after he had informed Bhagavan that he was planning to leave Bhagavan's service and move to Palakottu, Bhagavan replied, ‘It is enough if the mind is kept one-pointedly on vichara, dhyana, japa and parayana without seeking anything else’.

When the mind refuses to cooperate with the attempts to practise vichara one should, instead of letting the mind run wild, occupy it with the other activities mentioned by Bhagavan. 'Reading and listening to the words of the great ones' is one such 'plan B' activity for when the mind is proving to be stubborn.

Kunju Swami narrates what happened next:

'I left feeling that I had received the full blessings of Sri Bhagavan.

'Though I had given up my ashram duties, I found it hard to decide how exactly I should spend the entire day in search of realisation. I referred the matter to Sri Bhagavan and he amplified the advice he had already given me.

‘"Make self-enquiry your final aim," he said, "but also practise meditation, japa and parayana. If you find one method irksome or difficult, switch to one of the others. In the course of time the sadhana will become stabilised in self-enquiry and will culminate in pure consciousness or realisation."’

David Godman said...

Subramanian

'But I believe that [the text of] Who am I? is adequate for the entire civilization and all the scriptures and treatises of Hindu and other faiths are only details.'

I agree that this small text contains everything one needs to know about the nature of the Self and the means for discovering it. During his lifetime Bhagavan insisted that subsidised copies be available in the bookstore in many languages, and he often asked new people to read if if they asked general questions about his teachings.

I have a friend who was a Bhagavan devotee for seventeen years. For the whole of that period the only book on Bhagavan she ever read was Who am I? That pamphlet, along with a photo of Bhagavan, was, she said, all she needed.

David Godman said...

S asked two questions:

(i) my breathing typically slows down to a bare minimum while doing vichara...and as soon as my attention is on the breathing rhythm, my 'holding the 'i' ' is broken...this keeps happening continually...any views on this?

The mind can only put attention on one thing at a time. Watching the breath usually slows down the mind, but you can't watch the breath and hold on to the 'I' at the same time. Watching the breath is an a way of slowing down the mental flow. Once that has happened, you can probably hold on to the 'I'-thought more effectively since there will be fewer distracting thoughts.

(ii) even more serious is another thing that happens while trying vichara...now & then, a thought occurs to the effect that whether this 'feeling of 'i am' ' is itself some kind of a subtle and strange thought...a related occurrence is while holding on to the 'i', a question arises, 'who is trying to hold on to the 'i' ', and this at times leads to a never-ending regress...any views on this too?

You can only have a witnessing regression if you are a subject looking at an object. Then the thought might occur: 'Who is aware of the subject looking at the object? and so on. The aim of self- enquiry is to 'be' the 'I' rather than merely be a witness to it. One should try to be subjectively aware of oneself as 'I'. It is not one 'I' looking at or for another 'I'.

If thoughts such as these arise, don't involved in speculations about regressions. Just transfer your attention back to the feeling of 'I'. That's self-enquiry in a nutshell: whenever attention is discovered to be on something that is not the 'I', simply switch attention to one's inner feeling of 'I'.

David Godman said...

S wrote:

'[ravi and maneesha also mentioned about devotion...i face a dichotomy here: whenever i hear some of the tamil songs of the 'naynamars' (saivaite saints) or songs sung by sri ramakrishna), i find myself hopelessly in tears quite often...yet am more of an agnostic (very often whenever i do get pulled into an argument (indulge in it less and less), am typically on the side of atheism!) ...don't know how to reconcile :( ]'


I spoke to Chalam shortly before he passed away in the late 1970s. His story appears in the first volume of The Power of the Presence.

He said, 'David, I came to Bhagavan as an atheist, and I stayed an atheist all my life. However, whenever I was sitting in the presence of Bhagavan I knew that I was sitting in the presence of God Himself. That knowledge should have cancelled out my atheism, but somehow it never did.'

I could never understand how he managed to keep these two ideas in his mind, without one dislodging the other. You seem to have mastered the same trick!

Murali said...

Chalam is a big bundle of contradictions. There is whole athetist organsation thriving on this name in Andhra Pradesh which is completely ignorant of his inner life and thinks that his association with Bhagavan is a mental distortion.

Regards Murali

Murali said...

David,

During your Kannappa temple days, were you able to sit day long in Self Enquiry? did not the vasanas come in the way and make you jump out of our seat, as Bhagavan was mentioning? How did you manage to subside them?

Regards Murali

David Godman said...

Kamalesh

I loved your description of how you went about doing self-enquiry, how it was an intimate expression of your love for Bhagavan himself.

This is not a specific comment on what you wrote; it is more a stray thought that arose as I was reading what you had to say.

When I was reading one of the Robert Adams dialogues I posted here a few weeks ago, I was struck by his comment that we should not just concentrate on the 'I'; we should instead try to find its source. I think we all find it relatively easy to revert to the feeling of 'I'. What is far more difficult is holding onto it so fiercely, it has no option but to subside and disappear. The intensity and hunger to find the source seems to be absent in us all, which is why we end up on the merry-go-round of enquiry-distraction-enquiry-distraction, and so on.

It was Ramakrishna who said that when one wants God as badly as a drowning man, who is having his head held underwater, wants air, then one will find Him. Papaji used the example of a man whose clothes are on fire and who is rushing towards a river so that he can jump in and extinguish the flames. Nothing distracts him on the way because nothing is as important as putting out the flames.

I am now back in the position that I explained in the first comment in this series: it is intense desire for the Self that takes us to the goal, not the practice itself.

While the desire for the non-Self always seems to win out in the battle for our attention, each time we pull the mind's focus from objects of thought and desire to 'I' we lessen the outgoing momentum of the mind and develop an opportunity to dwell in silence for a moment, a moment in which the silence and peace of the Self can reveal itself to us.

It's late evening here. I will carry on with the replies tomorrow morning.

Kamalesh said...

Thankyou David and everyone.

David, synchronistically just before you posted your comment in response to mine - I was exploring the origin of the "I", inspired by Sri Ramana Maharshi's talk that Clemens Vargas Ramos posted, particularly this:

"...All that you need do is to find out its origin and abide there. Your efforts can extend only thus far. Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach it."

In this wonderful teaching I imagine that the 'problem' of effort / non-effort is resolved, not intellectually of course.

Much love everyone

Kamalesh

scott fraundorf said...

This thread is helpful, it really resonates what people are saying, and david godman's responses. Good to see that other people are having similar intricacies arise. And the merry go wheel of distraction/enquiry/distraction realy fits. and i have noticed the burning desire need to find the source increase as I've pulled the mind back from its 'pets'. Thanx

David Godman said...

Maneesha

Papaji says, “Do vichara once and do it the right way”. I am sure, if we do it “the right way”, we would not be doing it any more, just like only complete surrender brings about Jnana.

I only know one person who 'did it once and did it properly' and that was Bhagavan himself. He asked himself 'Who is the seer?' and the seer disappeared 'leaving That alone which stands forever.' (Arunachala Ashtakam verses 2).

Lakshmana Swamy did intense japa up till the moment he sat before Bhagavan and found the question 'Who am I?' spontaneously appearing in him. He had never done enquiry before, although he was aware that this was Bhagavan's core teachings. As an answer to the question, his 'I'-thought sank into the Self and died. He didn't actually ask the question of his own volition; it just appeared within him, and as an answer he received the direct experience of the Self.

With regard to Papaji's 'Do it once and do it properly,'I think he wanted people to look for the source of their 'I' while they were sitting in front of him. He did not want them to go away and do it as a practice for months and months. Those who followed his instructions and turned their minds to face their source, while they were sitting there, sometimes found that the source pulled the 'I' into itself and then made it vanish. These experiences were almost always temporary, but there was a power in Papaji's presence that somehow enabled hundreds of people to look within and see their individual 'I' vanish into the Self.

It was quite extraordinary to see the faces of visitors physically light up as they suddenly became aware of the substratum of the Self for the first time. Papaji once said that he could see in their eyes when this happened, and as a confirmation he said that he would often see streams of light suddenly pouring out of their subtle body. On a subtle level 'enlightenment' really can mean being filled with light.

Those of us who are not blessed with such a powerful catalytic presence have to do it the hard way with unremitting effort.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

Scott Fraundorf:
... the burning desire need to find the source increase as I've pulled the mind back from its 'pets'.


That is exactly what I meant with "vichara gives pain".

The ego, which is the "I"-thought, finds itself in a dead-end-street, the world (=its pets, the love for itself and its objects). This world is no longer attractive. The only way is the way back, the source where the "I"-thought arised. This source is consciousness without the "I"-thought - without any form, creator of all forms, pure being. Certainly the "I"-thought will find its death therein.

The "I"-thought don't wants to merge with this consciousness. It will survive and continue to live in its world. Therefore the pain.

The "burning" is the process of being aware of this pain. One can say it is a feeling (I prefer to say: a subtile thought). But there is also a clear understanding of what is happening in the mind and why. That is my experience.

Clemens Vargas Ramos
Oldenburg, Germany

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

... this wonderful answer related to "concentration on I-thought" and "vasanas" was given to me some years ago by V.S. Ramanan. The answer in my eyes wants to say: It is the ego who is searching for god. How can any effort of the ego be successful? Because god means stillness?

Maybe other people here find it interesting too?

Clemens Vargas Ramos
Oldenburg, Germany

-------------------------------------
Gesendet: Dienstag, 12. September 2000 12:00
An: Sri Ramanasramam
Betreff: Re: Problems of practising

Dear Mr. Ramanan,
thank you for responding. I thank you very much that you have found time to answer my letter. I already have received all available books from Sri Ramana Maharshi and study them every day. Please, let me ask only a question (I can answer all other questions for me at the moment):

How STRONG must my effort be DURING the meditation?

Let me explain: Some time ago I had an experience of Mano-Laya (?), a complete blackout of all thoughts in which only my surprise was left. It happened during the meditation as i was concentrating on the thought „I”. But to come into this condition, an enormous effort was necessary. I don't think that I can find this effort once again. I also doubt whether this is really necessary. I have on the other side in my practice mostly the feeling that „nothing happens actually”.

Sri Ramana Maharshi writes, that one shall concentrate intensively and with staying power on the feeling „I am”. However Sri Annamalai Swami himself wrote, that it suffices to be relaxed in the feeling „I am”. Well, shall I more relax or make an effort? Can you me say something to this?

Thank you,

Yours CVR
-------------------------------------
Von: Sri Ramanasramam [alagamma@vsnl.com]
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 28. September 2000 05:06
An: CVR
Betreff: Re: Problems of practising

Dear Sir,

with respect to the experience of „black-out of all thoughts” and the question of having „to make enormous effort”, the recurring focus must be on who had the blocking out? & „who feels the need for effort?” & who feels „I cannot find this effort again.” Focus on that I. This is the SAME on saying „Rest in that I”. The two statements are different only for the ego that wants results.

As long als there are vasanas of a worldly-career, this „Focussing” or „Resting” will be experienced as being the result of great effort. The entity which has the experience of making this „great effort” must have the clarity to renounce even „great effort” as concept.

Yours in Bhagavan,

V.S. Ramanan

PRESIDENT

David Godman said...

Jupes

'There are certain activities and times of day when it is easier to be focused and 'do' it, and others when it seems near impossible. I have a very active mind that can go off in many directions at almost any time. So it is challenging just to be quiet enough to remember to say the things that will help bring me to vichara.'

It's true. The gunas alternate and make it easier or harder to do self-enquiry.

I find that silence sometimes manifests spontaneously. When this happens, I drop whatever I am doing and turn attention within for as long as the natural silence lasts.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier replies, Bhagavan recommended that when the mind will not behave itself, one should occupy it with other spiritual activities and not just wait for it to become quiet again.

'I took David's suggestion (from some weeks ago) to think of Arunachala when I am walking. When I take my dog out in the mornings I pretend that the park is the mountain and that I am doing giri pradakshina as I walk towards it and around it. The refrain from 'Arunachala Aksharamanamalai' is usually in my mind as I walk. During this time there are often short spurts when my mind quiets down completely and I find myself in vichara.'


A friend of mine did giri pradakshina here almost every day for about fifteen years. That was quite an impressive accomplishment since he was well into his sixties when he first came here around 1980. When he left here to return to California, he would walk barefoot every morning through the local forests and imagine that he was back at Arunachala, walking the pradakshina route. Several people here have tried to invite him back for a visit but he doesn't want to come. He was offended by all the new buildings on the pradakshina road and doesn't want to see all the new developments that have sprung up in his absence. He prefers to walk in California with the memory of the 1980s pradakshina road in his head.

In the 1980s the section of the road from the Bangalore road turn off to the Kanji road - about four kilometres - was still a dirt track. My friend would always walk around the hill at the time when all the local schoolchildren were hurrying to get to school on time. They would all ask him the time, and in response he would write the time with his big toe in the dirt. I often used to go around the hill at the same time, so I could tell how far ahead of me he was by the time bulletins written in the dust.

David Godman said...

Jupes

PS I just read the rest of your comment and I think your approach to enquiry is excellent.

S. said...

salutations to all:
clemens: thanks for sharing your wonderful correspondence with the president of the ramanasramam...
you asked 'Maybe other people here find it interesting too?'

yes, though i 'try to do vichara', this whole process of we imagining ourselves as bound and seeking for freedom appears weird, and even amusing...am sure some of you may reply using bhagavan's brahmastra (most powerful weapon) here, 'who finds this amusing? who considers this to be weird? etc etc...

'some power' makes me do vichara again and again...and my so-called effort is an effort made 'as if' i have to & can make an effort! (not that i subscribe to an irritating thing called destiny, which may be nothing more than a mechanism to appease the mind thats always wanting an explanation for everything in order to 'feel good')

the same 'some power' frequently makes me feel that this very process is an unreal entity making an unreal effort to extricate itself from an unreal bondage for realizing an unreal liberation :)

[btw clemens, your address is german but do you speak spanish (your name sounds so)...if so, have just begun to learn espanol (no spanish keyboard as yet)...am from india and would simply say 'gracias' to you :)]

David Godman said...

Ramprax

'After this, I happened to read Sadhu Om's 'Path of Sri Ramana' and got to know that vichara was not a verbalisation of the question 'Who am I?'. The question is rather a tool to direct attention to the I-thought and vichara means to stay with the I-thought. From this point on, 'vichara' for me was to try and stay with the I-thought as much as possible.'

This is an interesting point. I know that Sadhu Om gives very little importance to asking the question 'Who am I?', but when Bhagavan explains the procedure in his recorded dialogues, he frequently recommends that devotees ask this question.

I agree that asking the question 'Who am I?' can be seen as a tool for redirecting attention from perceived objects to the perceiver of them, and that attention to the feeling of 'I' is the goal. On the other hand, Bhagavan did repeatedly ask devotees to do the enquiry by asking themselves 'Who am I?' In the Robert Adams dialogues that I posted recently, he was even more insistent than Bhagavan that one should repeatedly ask oneself 'Who am I?'

Bhagavan does speak of 'self-attention', 'holding on to the "I"', 'finding the source of the "I"', and so on, but he also stresses the importance of asking this key 'Who am I?' question. One should remember that the technique is called 'self-enquiry', not 'self-attention'. It is an enquiry into the nature and source of the individual 'I'. I believe that there is a force inherent in asking the question that somehow compels the 'I' to go back to its source.

When a true Guru gives a disciple a mantra, then the power of the Guru is invoked each time that the mantra is repeated. One communes with the grace of the Guru each time one repeats the words that he has initiated one with. I know that Bhagavan never initiated anyone, and I know that he never asked devotees to repeat 'Who am I? as a mantra, but to some extent the same principle applies: each time you ask yourself 'Who am I?' you are invoking the grace and power of Bhagavan in your search for the source of the Self. I think it would be foolish to disregard such an aid and such a source of power by restricting self-enquiry to self-attention.

Srikantha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Srikantha said...

Hi all!
Seeing the variety of ways in which vichara is being carried out by ppl here, I understand, this is not something that can be simply carried out by reading an instruction manual. For an individual, it gets "refined" across various stages with each trail.

I feel sincerity/earnestness, determination and need not mention His Grace - all these make way for the "right" vichara.

David Godman said...

Ramprax again

"- Breathing
When the attention on the 'I' is fierce/intense, my breathing comes to a stop. My lungs can only withstand this for a few seconds and I have to breathe in heavily again. This ends up disturbing the attention & thoughts start rising up. Does this happen with anyone else? Or am I doing vichara the wrong way?"

I think that this is a common phenomenon. Bhagavan has said that source of breath and the mind is the same. If you slow down one, you often slow down the other as well. The corollary of this is that if you suddenly start breathing deeply and heavily after a period when the breath has slowed down, the mind will also jump into action again. I have experienced this many times, and I am sure many other devotees go through this as well.


"- Effort
Everytime I lose my attention from the 'I'-thought, I treat it as a failed attempt at vichara. I feel that if one is able to do true vichara just once, then the job is done once and for all. So I feel I need to be putting constant effort to do vichara."

Don't be so hard on yourself. It is the nature of the mind to wander. Your job is just to bring it back each time you recollect that it has strayed. If you are learning a new skill, you are on a learning curve. If you are, for example, learning to type and you start off slowly and make lots of mistakes, you are not a failure unless you give up at that point by telling yourself you can't do it. If you persist and if you have a determination to get better and better, then you are a work in progress, not a failure.

In Who am I? Bhagavan says that if, instead of lamenting 'I am a sinner' one remains steadfast in self-attention, then one will surely be saved. Substitute 'failure' for 'sinner' and the same advice is equally applicable. Instead of dwelling on one's shortcomings and feeling guilty about them, one should non-judgmentally revert to the 'I'-feeling and dwell there.


"I have been reading 'Nothing Ever Happened' lately. Papaji seems to be asking us not to put effort at all. This has thrown me into a huge confusion. Papaji says that physical efforts give physical results, mental efforts give mental results and intellectual efforts give intellectual results. Since the Self is none of these, no effort is required."



You have misrepresented the punchline of this quotation. It should be 'since the Self is not physical, mental or intellectual, physical, mental and intellectual efforts cannot attain it'. Effort is normally directed along one of these channels.

Papaji is not saying that one should give up trying and do nothing at all, he is saying that misdirected effort will not produce the desired results. Instead, he advises people to abide at the source of the mind 'without stirring a single thought'. Sometimes he asked people to reach this place and state by doing self-enquiry, and sometimes by just being quiet. It is unfair to brand this as 'doing nothing' since this implies a kind of uninterested laziness.


"After having read this, nowadays every time I sit to do vichara I get the doubt 'Am I not just doing some mental effort to focus on the I-thought? Is it right or wrong?' And due to this I am not able to proceed with doing vichara. And trying to think 'Who is getting this doubt?' is not helping either."


You have to start with the mind because you have no other tool to begin with. This is what Bhagavan said when he was asked the same question:

Question: In turning the mind inwards, are we not still employing the mind?

Bhagavan: Of course we are employing the mind. It is well known and admitted that only with the help of the mind can the mind be killed. But if, instead of setting about saying there is a mind, and I want to kill it, you begin to seek the source of the mind, you find the mind does not exist at all. The mind turned outwards results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards it becomes itself the Self. (Day by Day with Bhagavan 8th November 1945)


"David, I would be grateful to you if you could help me out of this confusion? How would you reconcile Papaji's exhortation to not put effort with the practice of vichara?"


Papaji advocated vichara, turning towards the Self and abiding thoughtlessly there, and said that all other efforts were misdirected. I think this is brought out in the Summa Iru interview I posted a few weeks ago. Abiding at and as the source requires immense focus and vigilence. It is not a lazy do-nothing approach.

David Godman said...

Scott Fraundorf

I am a little curious about how easy or difficult you find enquiry to be. I know that people with Asperger's have problems with social interactions, but I have also been told that many of them have immense powers of concentration on one thing. One of my friends here who has Asperger's, has a superb intellect that can get to the heart of any problem very quickly. He is cranky, has a phenomenal memory (classic Asperger trait) but he has an enviable talent for prolonged focus when the occasion demands it. He does, though, quite frankly admit that he finds enquiry and keeping quiet as hard as everyone else. How is it for you?

David Godman said...

Jupes

"And the last thing is to note that many of these responses indicate that people are actually sitting to do vichara, similar to meditation. I wonder if I've been missing something for all this time! My approach has been to (try to) incorporate vichara into my daily activities and not so much to sit and 'do' it.

"David, does it seem important to set aside time each day especially for vichara, or is it ok to just continue what I'm doing, trying to incorporate it as much as possible into daily life?"

I think I answered this question a few weeks ago, but here again is a quotation that Sivaprakasam Pillai recorded Bhagavan as saying:

'Destruction of mind is alone tapas. This alone is one's duty. One who is doing his work will not pay attention to anyone else's work. One should never give room for swerving from the thought of the Self. However many duties one may have, at all the other times not meant for performing duties, one must perform only self-enquiry. While standing, sitting or taking food one can do vichara can one not? If the mind happens to forget the enquiry "Who am I?" because of vasanas, when it remembers the enquiry, it should try not to lose hold of the enquiry again.' (The Power of the Presence part one p. 56)

I like the central idea 'at all the other times not meant for performing duties' one should be doing enquiry. It might be impossible or even dangerous to attempt enquiry while one is, for example, driving or giving a talk, but at all times when it is practical one should attempt to pull the mind back and make it rest in the sense of 'I'.

This is Bhagavan's advice, but I have to say, in my experience, it is advice that almost no one can put into practice. Annamalai Swami told me that Bhagavan asked him to meditate while he was working in the ashram in the 1930s, but he couldn't because his head was always full of thoughts about his work. It was, he said, only possible to meditate properly when he left the ashram and went to live in seclusion in Palakottu. If someone of that level of maturity, who had the opportunity to be with Bhagavan every day, couldn't do it, is it surprising that the rest of usually fail as well?

In A Search in Secret India Bhagavan says that formal sitting meditation is for spiritual novices. However, I have found that nearly all devotees tend put aside time for sitting meditation. Most of them will admit that they find it easier to be mentally quiet during formal sitting sessions.

David Godman said...

Anonymous

"“Then I came across pieces of writings from “Ramana Leela” and “Guru Ramana” that the method of vichara really is a method of “recollection” of memory, similar to the way we try to concentrate and remember a thing that we have lost. Maharshi says it is as if we have forgotten our name and we argue within ourselves to know who I am…”"

An example Bhagavan often used was the woman who has lost her necklace and who looks for it, unaware that she is still wearing it around her neck. The key to 'recollection' is the understanding 'that which is being searched for is that which is doing the looking'. Recollection means becoming subjectively aware of the one who is trying to remember.

Scott Fraundorf said...

Asperger's and Enquiry:
I think overall I find enquiry probably as difficult as everyone else. And it's really hard to say, and also I only know one other person personally who 'practices' Enquiry, the one who introduced me to it. Off the subject, he was my Filipino Martial Arts teacher, a martial art called Eskabo Daan, which is fascinating in itself, but too much of a tangent. He took me to Society for Abidance in Truth in Santa Cruz a year ago, and then I immediately started reading everything about Maharshi and Enquiry.

Honestly, I don't know whether the local guru there at SAT "Nome" is a jnani, although he claims to be on the website, which is a little suspect. I really didn't like him at first, gave me a fraudulent vibe, but my mind became completely still in his presence, much like the grace described around Maharshi, Papaji, etc. Intellectually, and with many of the issues I've suffered and attempts to become 'relaxed', everything Maharshi, upon reading it, made perfect sense.

With the person you mentioned also having Asperger's, I share those qualities. And I actually find that I can be superfocused on Enquiry. The social difficulties of Asperger's stem from not being able to read and reciprocate nonverbal social interaction effectively. It's hypothesized that this is because mirror neurons which are believed to be involved in imitative social behavior in primates and some birds, mirror neurons do not distinguish between the action of 'self' and action of 'other' (ex. whether you pick up a cup, or someone else does). On the Autism Spectrum, they're thought to respond poorly, sluggishly, or not at all. Because of that, it's like flying in a storm without radar, not being able to gauge others intentions except intellectually.

This has to do with Enquiry, because for instance the person who introduced me to it is much more caught up in the 'world' then I am. and I'm hardly caught up in it. His efforts are as sincere as mine. But I think all the rebuffs and lack of success I've had in the 'social world', which I so badly wanted, forced me to turn inward much more, or gave me little choice. (like the Maharshi quote "if you desire Realization it will be forced upon you whether you want it or not) In that respect I find that Asperger's has made things easier, in a sense paved the way for me to look inward because the 'world' as I imagined it, didn't hold much promise. But upon turning inward, ironically, I find that the things I wanted come easier, even if I am less attached. Someone asked Maharshi "Why is there suffering in the world?" And I believe he said something like "To make you turn to God"

I should also add that with Asperger's, I've had experiences where the percepual world around me, became so grand and visionary, and clearly unreal, although it still has that consistency, that it wasn't such a big stretch for me to accept the idea that "waking is long, dreaming is short. Other then that there is no difference" But despite all this, I still have a very existent ego, but I'm enjoying Enquiry, and the happiness I now experience much more often. I should add, ironically, since I've been practicing Enquiry I'm a much better student, biochemistry major. Fun to give powerpoint presentations on protein molecules, and not even believe that any of it is true.

Jupes said...

After reading the latest comments I want to say some things about my experience prior to coming to Bhagavan and then maybe someone will have a response.

For many years I was an avid meditator, starting in 1970, and I stopped 'cold turkey' in 2002, six months after a traumatic break with a spiritual group I'd been involved with for two years. The last 15 of those 'meditation years' I was meditating religiously every day, sometimes as much as two hours a day. During my two years with the sufi order I was considered by leaders to be 'on fire' with passion and desire in a way they didn't often see in new dervishes. I jumped right into doing the daily prayers; I fasted for Ramadan (even though I'm thin and was concerned about losing weight); I quickly learned to recite portions of the Q'uran and was often called on to sing in Arabic and even to lead prayers at our circle.

When I 'broke' with the sufis in 2001 (one probably never makes a complete 'break' in situations like this), it was one of the most painful times of my life, but it also seemed like the 'right' thing was happening. Slowly, over the next months, I gave up all the practices I'd been doing and, along with that, I lost most of the desire I'd had during those two years. It was three and a half years later that I came to Bhagavan.

So now, returning to the present.... I never came back to regular meditation; I do not do japa (aside from singing Arunachala Siva or Ramana Satguru when I walk); I'm no longer much for singing hymns or praising God; and my level of desire is still at a very low ebb. I don't see any of this as a problem necessarily, but I do think that what happened all those years ago has affected how I am now in my life with Bhagavan. I do what I can and don't push myself. I feel like there is a blockage that keeps me from going deeper into it, and most of the time I can't even bring myself to form words and ask Bhagavan for help. Maybe this is why I don't feel the pain described by Clemens Vargas Ramos: because I no longer have the burning desire that would take me deep enough to experience such pain.

If anyone has any thoughts on this I would love to hear them.

Thanks to all.

Jupes said...

PS. I just read Scott Fraundorf's interesting comments on Asberger's and Enquiry and laughed outloud at the last sentence. Way to go, Scott.

Ravi said...

Scott Fraundorf,
Thanks very much for such a clear and open account of your experiences.I really appreciate your level headed approach,taking things in the stride.This is a very important asset for Sadhana(spiritual living).
Salutations and May Sri Bhagavan's Blessings be with you.

Jupes,
Interesting to read about your past experiences with the Sufis.My Master often says that no Effort is wasted-It is your yearning and prayers that have lead you to Sri Bhagavan.
I am not sure what it is that you term as a Blockage that is Holding you back.From your description of your past,I gather that you refer to the INTENSITY that was then which you find is missing now,and you are not WHIPPING UP yourself in the same fashion.Devotion has exited the stormy waters(characterised more by EMOTION and VEHEMANCE-RAJASIC) and has entered the calm and deep waters (Characterised by LOVE and SURRENDER-Satwik).Instead of Being Fizzy now it may be just a QUIET MELTING and a calm Faith.(Please note that Pain is not at all necessary.Absence of Pain does not mean absence of Depth!Rather it is the other way around.Absence of Depth is what leads to pain!More on this later,in case you want to go into this).
Importantly, you have been lead into Self Enquiry through Sri Bhagavan's Grace!
It may also help to see if there is any HURT or BITTERNESS on account of the breakup.This needs to be understood completely.

Salutations to you!May Sri Bhagavan's Blessings be with you.

Jupes said...

Ravi,
You are a dear person. Thank you for your wisdom and compassion. The blockage I referred to is probably an emotional knot of some kind that was triggered by the circumstances surrounding my break with the circle (and probably goes back much further than that). Yes, there was hurt and bitterness, much of which I have dealt with, but probably not all of it.

I like the way you wrote of the exiting of devotion and the entering of 'calm and deep waters,' characterized by love and surrender. I don't expect to be as 'fizzy' now as I was then (I love your use of that word), and maybe part of what's going on is simply the challenge of doing vichara (the hardest practice I've ever done) rather than the more alluring and somewhat easier practices I was doing then. Perhaps I'm not patient enough with myself.

In any case, I have a knot in my belly right now just from having this discussion. It seems that something wants to break through but can't find the avenue to do that.

My apologies to anyone who finds this too personal. For those who have been keeping up with this blog you know that I tend to go there sometimes.

Blessings to all.

Ravi said...

Jupes,
I think I missed out responding to one important detail that you have been pondering over-The Fact that you are not SITTING for any meditation.Yes,my Master also does not advocate setting aside time and SIT for meditation/Self Enquiry.THIS IS AKIN TO YOGA PRACTICE OF CONCENTRATION and has a limited utility. My Master always emphasises that the Path of Knowledge is a DIRECT PATH where UNDERSTANDING is the key thing.You keep jettisoning all the unwanted BAGGAGE and you start travelling lightly.(This is called Vairagya or Dispassion).You Stay in Awareness.The Difference between Awareness and CONCENTRATION is that the State of Awareness is ALL INCLUSIVE-you will be able to EAT,SIT,DRIVE,TALK without losing yourself. CONCENTRATION is EXCLUSIVE-it excludes all else and focusses on the object -be it the Self or any other object.
I have also found that WALKING more than sitting helps in being centred in Awareness.(Sitting is more TAMASIC than Walking,for me)Sri Bhagavan has often pointed to this BASIC DISTINCTION between VICHARA and DHYANA and has always emphasised that Vichara can be carried out anywhere anytime.
Sri Aurobindo also used to walk to and fro in his room in his Ashram and it is said that it left a Trail mark on the Flooring!
Salutations!

Maneesha said...

Scott,
The last sentence made me laugh out loud too... :)
Your sentence that you are a better student now is very inspiring for people like me who find it hard to reconcile work with vichara.

Jupes and Ravi,
Sorry for barging in... but feel like sharing my experience regarding sitting at a place and doing vichara... I find it easy to sit at a place and do vichara very few times. Most of the times as I sit for vichara, my mind simply runs amock. I find it easier to do vichara when the body is engaged otherwise. Its the easiest when I am reading something about Ramana/vichara on blogs or books, or while watching a video related to Maharshi or vichara on youtube. The reading/watching will happen with the attention to the source in the background pretty easily.

Jupes said...

Maneesha and Ravi,
Thank you both for your comments on 'sitting versus not sitting' to do vichara. It is welcome confirmation of what I'm already thinking and doing. If the sitting can be just one more daily activity in which to do vichara, then I may do it now and then.

And thank you for the clear distinction between concentration and awareness, Ravi. Awareness implies a letting go, being tuned in but not attached to any one thing. Concentration gives one the impression of holding tightly to something. I know that for myself it is the letting go that is most needed.

And finally.... like Sri Aurobindo, may we all leave trail markings on our floors!

celio leite said...

David,
Its not because I am in your blog, but each day I discover your book "Be as You Are" is the more clear and helpful to "learn" Atma-Vichara.
The almost 240 milion of Brazilian and portuguese people would love have your books translated into the portuguese.
Ramana teachings and devotees are increasing day by day here in Brazil.
We hope your books be soon published here.
Thanks.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

... I found this interesting passage related to "pain" versus "fear" and vichara in A Sadhu's Reminisience of Ramana Maharshi ()Alan Chadwick):

After I had been meditating in the presence of Bhagavan for some months, I reached a certain stage when I would be overcome by fear. I asked Bhagavan about this. I was assured by some of those present in the Hall at the time, not of course by Bhagavan, that this was all wrong and quite absurd. In fact they laughed at me for my foolishness. Bhagavan was not so amused. He explained that it was the ego that experienced the fear as it felt that it was gradually losing its grip. It was, in fact, dying, and naturally resented it. He asked me, “To whom is the fear? It is all due to the habit of identifying the body with the Self. Repeated experience of separation from this idea will make one familiar with this state and fear will then automatically cease.” Since then I have come to realize that Bhagavan mentions this fear in the second verse of the Ulladu Narpadu: ’tis only those who fear death intensely take refuge at the feet of the Lord.” In fact it is really a good sign when one is following the method of self-enquiry, though it must be overcome. Afterwards some of the scoffers came up to me secretly and said that had they had the same trouble and what were they to do about it? This conversation of mine with Bhagavan must have been recorded somewhere, for still people come to me to ask about it. There is the one and only answer to this in the method taught by Bhagavan: enquire to whom is the fear, get behind it to the witness and fear will automatically cease.

Clemens Vargas Ramos
Oldenburg, Germany

Nandu Narasimhan said...

David,

While I am still waiting for your reply to my doubts on Self Enquiry, there is a lot I am learning from the other devotees' doubts and experiences, and no doubt, your clarifications.

Maybe this might just warrant a separate blog, as there are gems coming by in every post.

Ravi said...

Maneesha,
"The reading/watching will happen with the attention to the source in the background pretty easily."-Precisely!The VICHARA is invoked in a Natural way.Thanks very much for sharing this.

Jupes,
Happy Walking!Hope you do not have Vitreous Tiles as Flooring material!

Ramos,
"this wonderful answer related to "concentration on I-thought" and "vasanas" was given to me some years ago by V.S. Ramanan. The answer in my eyes wants to say: It is the ego who is searching for god. How can any effort of the ego be successful? Because god means stillness?

Maybe other people here find it interesting too?"

Yes,How can the efforts of the Ego be successful?-Beautiful point!The Answer to this is "IT CANNOT BE!"Then Why is it that Efforts are called for!The answer to this is that NOT MAKING EFFORTS is worse still!
This is the LOSE-LOSE situation!Then What is it that can be done?

I will just narrate Sri Ramakrishna's beautiful parable of THE CROW ON THE MAST OF A SHIP.
"A crow sat on the mast of a ship and fell asleep.The Ship setoff and reached the Deep waters,when the crow woke up.The Crow wanted to get back to the land it was so used to!It flew to the North as much as it can but finding No Land,it returned to the Mast,gasping for Dear Breath.After sometime,it flew to the South and again had to get back to the Mast.Again it flew to the West and then to the East,back and forth in all directions until it Realised that IT's PERCH on The Mast was GOOD Enough!It finally settled itself comfortably on the Mast!

This is the state of Affairs of the Ego.Driven by craving for more,it keeps flying hither and thither.It has to finally realise that it has to give up its craving and settle down on the Mast of the Self!

Salutations!

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

... Ravi's Ramakrishna story...

I always find this story from Ramakrishna Kathamrita moving:

(...) Who gets such divine inspiration? One who is rid of worldly wisdom. When the sap of attachment is completely dried up, one attains the inspiration of God in no time. A wet match stick will not strike fire, even if you rub it a thousand times. But when it is dry, it at once strikes fire when rubbed just a little.

After God-realization, self-surrender comes, and a steady wisdom in sorrow and death.

The body, of course, is subject to happiness and sorrow. He who has realized God surrenders his mind, body, prana and soul, all these, to Him.

Before taking a dip in Pampa lake, Rama and Lakshmana thrust their bows into the earth near the lake. After his bath Lakshmana saw that his bow was smeared with blood. Seeing it, Rama said, ‘Look, brother, some living being seems to have been injured.’ Lakshmana dug in the earth and saw a big frog half dead. Full of compassion, Rama said, ‘Why didn’t you make a noise? We would have tried to save you! When a snake seizes you, you croak loudly!’ The frog said, ‘Rama, when I am seized by a snake, I croak loudly, ‘Rama save me, save me! Oh Rama!’ Now when I see that Rama (God) himself is killing me, I don’t say anything.’ ”

Ravi said...

Thanks very much Ramos.It is wonderful to read your favourite Sri Ramakrishna's story about the Bull Frog!This is the essence of TRUE SURRENDER!Simply wonderful!Thanks very, very much.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

... or this. Why annoying God at all with our little things?

Ramakrishna Kathamrita:

A Devotee — Which is better: bhakti mixed with jnana or prema bhakti?

Sri Ramakrishna — Unless one has intense love for the Lord, one cannot attain prema bhakti (ecstatic love) and does not consider Him as one’s very own. Three friends were going through a forest when they saw a tiger. One of them said, ‘Brother, we are done for.’ The second said, ‘Why should we die? Let’s call on the Lord.’ And the third one said, ‘No, why trouble Him? Come, let’s climb a tree!’

“The person who said, ‘We are done for,’ did not know that the Lord is the savior. He who said, ‘Let’s call on the Lord,’ was a jnani. He knew that the Lord creates, preserves and dissolves. And he who said, ‘Why should we trouble Him? Come, let’s climb a tree,’ had prema (intense love) in his heart; he had deep love for God. Such a love has this characteristic: the one who has it considers himself more powerful than the beloved. He does not want his beloved troubled. He wants to save his beloved from even the prick of a thorn.”

Ravi said...

Ramos,
Thanks very much.as S. had mentioned ,The Kathamrita is "a one-of -kind"book captured with Stenographic precision by 'M'.The Whole of it is AMRITA-Elixir that can restore us back to LIFE.Thanks very much.
May be that I should not derail/sidetrack S's wonderful idea that this thread be dedicated for VICHARA.
Thanks very much>
Namaskar!

S. said...

salutations to all:
any reference to bhagavan fills me with joy;likewise the mere mention of thakur (sri ramakrishna) bring tears in me...i know nothing of jnana and i know nothing of bhakti (no modesty here...i really don't know)...but i do know that 'bhagavan 'is' jnana; thakur 'is' bhakti' :)

we have also been hearing a lot about this thing called the 'heart'...while i can't comment since i know nothing to contribute, here is a beautiful song from the 'kathamrita' that has a reference to the 'heart' (i can only imagine how melodiously thakur would have sung):

["Dive deep, dive deep, dive deep, O my mind into the sea of Beauty.
Make a search in the regions lower and lower down under the sea;
You will come by the jewel, the wealth of prema (intense love)
Within your heart is Vrindavan, the abode of God who is love.
Search and look; search and look; search and look. You will find it.
Then shall burn without ceasing the lamp of divine wisdom.
Who is that Being that does steer the boat on land on land, on solid ground?
Kabir says, ‘Listen, listen, listen! Meditate on the hallowed feet of the Guru "]

folks, doesn't it sound so much like bhagavan asking us to do vichara?

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

God laughs on two occasions. One, when a physician says to the mother of his patient, ‘Mother, you needn’t fear. I will cure your son.’ The Lord says to Himself, ‘I am taking his life and this fellow says that he is going to save him.’ The physician thinks that he is the doer. He doesn’t know that it is God alone who is the doer. The Lord also laughs when two brothers divide land between themselves, measuring it with a cord and saying ‘This side is mine and that yours.’ God laughs, saying to Himself, ‘This world, the whole universe, is Mine, but these fellows say: this plot of land is mine and that is yours.’

Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita

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

M.: Leave it to Him. Surrender unreservedly. One of two things must be done. Either surrender because you admit your inability and also require a High Power to help you; or investigate into the cause of misery, go into the source and merge into the Self. Either way you will be free from misery. God never forsakes one who has surrendered. Mamekam saranam vraja.

D.: What is the drift of the mind after surrender?

M.: Is the surrendered mind raising the question? (Laughter.)

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

25. Pure devotional service, on the other hand, is far superior to fruitive work, philosophical speculation, and mystic meditation.

26: After all, bhakti is the fruit of all endeavor.

27: Furthermore, the Lord dislikes the proud but is pleased with the humble.

Narada, Bhakti Sutras

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

The most important for Bhagavan was humbleness.

Annamalai Swami, Living by the words of Bhagavan

Maneesha said...
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Maneesha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maneesha said...

Dear David,

This is in response to your quote “Those of us who are not blessed with such a powerful catalytic presence have to do it the hard way with unremitting effort.” I differ from you on this, because I feel that its our sadhana that determines if we can feel the catalytic presence or not. I was, in fact, thinking about this just a couple of day’s back, about not having the joy of being in Master’s presence. I felt miserable at the thought that I was “late”, as I read various accounts of so many devotees who were inspired being in His (physical) presence. “But then”, I argued, “Is Maharshi a mere body”? He is not! If he were just the body, He would not have been different than any of us, and would not be a Maharshi/Bhagawan to us! People would not have been attracted to the old meditation hall in His Ashram after He left the body! He is beyond the body, beyond time and beyond space. So, if we do not feel His presence, it only shows wavering on our part than anything else. In fact, were there not thousands of people in His lifetime that did not get a bare chance to even have a His single glance? Were there not people who came to him and left the place without their mind turned inward? I feel they all missed Him because of lack of sadhana. Of course, His presence was catalytic and would have impacted them all, without them being aware of it. But then it was not His physical presence that was catalytic. It was the power within, power of the Self, which resides in ourselves that gave such a response. This is similar to the famous saying that we get only as much water as the size of the bowl we carry to fetch water from ocean. So, if we do not feel His presence in His physical absence, its shows lack of maturity in our sadhana.

And then, are not we guided on this path rightly just at the right moment? Has He not been Gracious to us when we felt that we needed His Grace to carry out sadhana when our mind refused to co-operate? How are these to be reconciled? His Presence is, not just in Tiruvannamalai, but wherever we evoke it! Such is His Presence, such is our Ramana!

I am pretty sure you did not mean it the way it sounded. But, just to help people like me, who could think otherwise and feel low, have I posted this.

Sorry if I offended anyone. But this was the way I felt and is not intended to hurt anyone.

Jupes said...

This is off-topic but might be of interest to some of you. Yesterday I mentioned that I used to be active in a sufi order. One of the previous sheikhs of this order was Lex Hixon, also known as Sheikh Nur al-Jerrahi. Here are two short excerpts from an obituary printed in The Maharshi Newsletter in March/April of 1996:

In 1974, a year before the construction of the Sri Arunachala Ramana Mandiram in Nova Scotia, Lex Hixon and his son made a flying visit to this relatively new outpost dedicated to the Sage of Arunachala. Lex had recently completed his Master’s thesis on the teachings and philosophy of Sri Ramana Maharshi, and he was happy to see a centre established in the Sage’s name. The following year, Sri Arunachala Ramana Mandiram was built in Nova Scotia and Lex Hixon came forward as the major contributor. ...

... In New York City, from 1971 to 1984, Lex Hixon hosted a weekly radio program “In the Spirit,” in which he interviewed representatives from all the world’s religions, among them the Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa. He earned a Ph.D. in comparative religion from Columbia University in 1976. Thereafter he lectured, wrote books, gave seminars and dedicated himself to teaching and imbibing a greater understanding of the world’s religious traditions.

On November 1, 1996, at the age of 53, Lex quietly passed away at his home in Riverdale, New York.
~~~~~~~

I never met Sheikh Nur, since he died before I joined the order, but I have never heard anything but the highest praise for him.

Ravi said...

Jupes,
Thanks very much for sharing about Lex Hixon-that he had done his Masters on The Teachings of Sri Bhagavan.Besides,Sufism is indeed a lofty approach,quite like the Vedantic way of Living,also has a beautiful blend of Devotion and Gnana incorporated in its practices.I am sure that Lex must have been an inspired soul.
It is wonderful of you to have remembered him through this Forum;this is a way of expressing GRATITUDE.It is Gratitude and Love that can integrate the discordant fractions and make us whole.
Salutations!

Ravi said...

Maneesha,
Very much appreciate your impassioned affirmation of Sri Bhagavan's continued PRESENCE and help to all seekers.Yes,When I visited the Old Meditation Hall about a month or so back,The Thought that was uppermost in my mind was Sri Bhagavan's simple affirmation -"Where can I go?".It is indeed very true that we can only Take only what we bring-a spoonful if we bring a spoon,a ladlefull if we bring a ladle,a bucketfull if we bring a bucket.
To the extent we give of ourselves we benefit.
Very thoughtful of you to have signed off with this-"I am pretty sure you did not mean it the way it sounded. But, just to help people like me, who could think otherwise and feel low, have I posted this."

David has had the Great Good Fortune to have served and moved with Great Gnani devotees of Sri Bhagavan-He has experienced what it is to be in the PRESENCE of a Gnani.No degree of Self Effort can compensate for this sort of Presence.As Sri Ramakrishna beautifully puts it that the devotee's Heart is the DRAWING ROOM of god.One moment spent in their company is equal to a thousand lives's tapasya!
The scales are evenly balanced!All the same,I will like to tilt it in your favour.This way it is COMFORTABLE for ordinary personszix like me!
Salutations!

Ravi said...

S.,
Thanks very much for spilling some of your beans!This is what Sadhu Arunachala observes in his reminiscences(with which I concur)which is the same as what you have expressed:
see page 54 of Sadhu's Reminiscences(pdf):
"The classic examples of these four Yogas in modern
times are: Jnanam, Sri Ramana Maharshi; Bhakti,
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa; Yoga, Sri Aurobindo of
Pondicherry; and Karma, Sri Shankaracharya of Kanchi
Peetam, the only one of the above still in the body."
Alas,The Sage of Kanchi also left his mortal coils in 1996!I can never forget seeing him in a place near Kanchipuram,(sometime in 1976 or so).The Great Sage was talking to a small boy in a HUSHED voice which was amplified/relayed by his attendant.The Sage was squatting on a roadside near that boy who had injured his Leg."Does it Hurt?","Does it Hurt more when you look at it?"-It was like a Child exchanging notes with another child!I was watching this exquisite scene,the sheer beauty of it got the better of me-I was sobbing!This went on for nearly Half an hour!I felt a thorough cleansing and was left in peace!
There was a crowd of people watching and I was in that crowd,Thankfully!(What a Scene I would have created Otherwise!).

Salutations!

arvind said...

Jupes,

This is certainly not off-topic, given all the recent posts on Sri Ramakrishna!

'Cause, Lex Hixon, or Sheikh Nur al-Jerrahi, co-founder of the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order of Dervishes, was an initiated disciple of Swami Nikhilananda, the translator of the ‘Kathamrita’ or ‘Gospel’ of Sri Ramakrishna. Folks would remember that Swami Nikhilananda was himself a direct disciple of Mata Sarada Devi.

I believe that Lex Hixon regarded Sri Ramakrishna as his true Guru and wrote a book “Great Swan”. How he later on entered into a Turkish Sufi Order, though, I have no idea.

It’s a small world isn’t it ?

Jupes, your previous sadhana with this Order has echoes of Arthur Osborne’s life actually. You would know perhaps that he had converted to Islam early on and when he made his first trip to India, before WWII, it was specifically to get initiated and join a Sufi Order here. Then he quit the Order, and the faith, later on of course. Makes for fascinating reading amongst his autobiographical works.

arvind said...

Folks, apologies for another ‘off-topic’ comment.

Was keen to understand how a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, who studied for many years under Swami Nikhilananda, would later join a Muslim religious sect.

A little research shows that Lex Hixon’s story is an inspiring one and that he was an extraordinary person by all accounts. It is not as if he left one faith and took up another. In the quest to show that all religions were basically virtuous, and to create a unifying religious force, he added on sadhanas and practices to the ones he had already become proficient in. In fact, to be accurate, he practiced them all simultaneously. In his own words – “I try to remain current in four sacred traditions - Ramakrishna Vedanta, Vajrayana Buddhism, the Jerrahi Dervish Order, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity”. Apparently, he was quite an advanced ‘Master’ in each of the faiths, and actively taught all of them. He was also a great musician and had studied classical sarod under the Master Vasant Rai. He died of cancer, “conscious and light-hearted right up to the moment of leaving the body”.

His life was an echo of his Guru’s, as Sri Ramakrishna, we all remember, undertook the sadhana of various faiths to realize for himself how each is a path to the same Final Goal. And Jupe’s post tells us of the high respect and regard he obviously had for Sri Bhagavan.

I am sorry that my remarks in the previous post may have been perhaps too casual. And the foregoing is posted with apologies to Lex Hixon, to set the record straight.

Murali said...

Dear all,

I must say that this whole thread is such a moving intimate experience. We would not have been here unless all of us are suffering and are struggling to tread the path shown by Bhagavan. Therefore, when DAvid opened up this thread, it was such an experience to share each other's notes and struggles. This is all His Grace. I was imagining what would have happened if a worldly person looked at this site and tried to follow the 125 odd comments:-)

Finally, can I say that the following statements which appear at various points in Bhagavan's literature are synonymous?
"Reverting to the Feeling of I"
"Turning back to the Source"
"Abiding in the Self"
"Abiding in the Heart"
"Questioning Who am I"

Regards Murali

Anonymous said...

David said:
Help will come when you need it, and if you are doing something that is not quite right, people or books will appear in your life to give you the necessary corrective advice.

In my personal experience that is so true.

Ravi said...

Anonymous&Friends!
Want to share with you The Elephant Narayana Story from whoelse!Sri Ramakrishna!

There was a Gurukul in a forest(A Gurukul is a school run by a Guru where the Student aspirants are attached as interns-No FEES are charged!).Each day morning,the Guru will takeup a specific topic for deliberation.So it was on that momentous day ,the Teacher woundup his teaching with this Lofty Teaching-Everything is Narayana!Whatever you see,whatever you touch,whatever you hear,whatever you smell,whatever you Taste-ALL IS NARAYANA,NOTHING BUT HE!
The class dispersed;the boys went into the forest to gather twigs for their oblations to the Fire.When they were busy gathering the dried twigs,they heard a MAN shout-"Run!Run!A Mad Elephant is destroying everything in its path and is rushing in that direction!RUN!".All the boys threw whatever twigs they have gathered and ran for dear LIFE,except one boy who was deeply pondering about the Thought for the day!He Thought-"Everything is Narayana!Surely this Elephant must be Narayana!Then WHY FEAR?".He stood his Ground.The Elephant approached him ,lifted him by the trunk and threw him among the bushes.After destroying a few more trees ,the Elephant turned back and went its way.
The Guru and the other students came in search of the missing DESPERADO.They found him lying unconscious among the bushes.They sprinkled some water and started fanning him.Slowly he opened his eyes.The Guru asked him what happened and why he did not run when the other boys did.The boy told him-"It is your teaching sir-ALL IS NARAYANA!I wanted to validate the Truth !This is the Result!You told us that all is Narayana and I thought that the ELEPHANT is Narayana!".
"Surely the Elephant is Narayana;but HE WHO ASKED YOU TO RUN,HE IS NARAYANA TOO!WHY DID YOU NOT HEED HIM!"-said the Guru as they were returning to the Gurukul.

I have narrated the story in the context of what Annonymous has quoted(David's)!Surely ,the Help is ever present,YET OUR SELECTIVE DEMENTIA(I use it for one dimensional thinking)takes only the ELEPHANT into consideration and misses out the MAN!

1.Unless we are open to explore,we run the risk of this Selective dimunition of EVEN THE LOFTIEST Teaching.

2.We tend to apply to the FRACTION what is attributed to the WHOLE!

3.Virtues/values/attitudes are irrelevant because THE WHOLE IS BEYOND ALL.This has been the danger in the present day SUPER MARKET OF SPIRITUAL SHOPPING(My Master's terminology!)

The Ramakrishna Kathamrita is a treasure house of Supreme WISDOM(Sri Ramakrishna is very deceptive-On the surface he is very simple,but this simplicity masks a SUPREME GNANI!As he said,that Elephants(again!)have one pair of Teeth(Tusks) to show to the outside world and another set for chewing!)
Vivekananda once said that he could talk on the deep implication of this simple tale for days!

For those of you who are already hooked on the Kathamrita,I wish to recommend another followup and Sequel-"M,The Apostle&The Evangelist:-By Nityatmananda-a series of about 11 volumes-A diary of talks with M by his disciple-WONDERFUL series that deals with translating Kathamrita into Practice!Why?Simply because M LIVED THE KATHAMRITA, and this is captured beautifully by his disciple.The ENGLISH Translation is a little below par ,yet does not detract.Very inspirational.

Namaskars!

Ravi said...

Murali,
Thanks for summing up in such a fashion;yes,more or less they mean the same thing.Fine distinctions may be there,yet there is no need for any hair splitting.
Namaskar!

David Godman said...

I haven't given up on this thread. there are still many unanswered questions here that I hope to respond to. Today I will start a new post on a different topic. Once that is up and running, I will come back to the comments here.

Anonymous, or anyone else who might know: where did you get your bold and italic fonts from? That would be useful when I am citing quotes here, or pasting in comments that I want to reply to.

Ravi said...

David.
Thanks very much for clarifying on the 'summing up'.What I meant is just on the happenings/expressons thus far.

Surely we have not come to the end!we can never do that perhaps!When I looked at it again,I see that it may send across that sort of an unintended signal!

This has been a rewarding experience,not only to understand others,but more importantly to understand what WE THOUGHT WE KNOW.

Certainly looking forward to your responses.(Also understand how difficult it must be for you to devote time for this activity.I appreciate your going through each and every statement,giving it all due weightage,before responding in the manner that you do)

Namaskar!

Anonymous said...

'Look, the Self is only Be-ing, not being this or that. It is simple Being.
Be - and there is an end of the ignorance...
Realise your pure Be-ing. Let there be no confusion with the body. The body is the result of thoughts. ' (Talk 46)
Sometimes i wonder why we over-sophisticated western intellects brake our heads in trying to solve this by will and intellect rather than searching pure 'Isness', beingness. Amness is our beingness, isn't it?

Jupes said...

Arvind,
Many thanks for your research and comments on Lex Hixon. You have honored his name through this blog and, in so doing, have honored the traditions he followed and the people associated with them.

If anyone is interested, here are several of his books that I can recommend:

COMING HOME: The Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions (1978) [contains a chapter on Sri Ramakrishna and another on Sri Ramana].

ATOM FROM THE SUN OF KNOWLEDGE (1993) [written during his time as Sheikh Nur]

HEART OF THE KORAN (1988) [illuminations on selected passages from the Koran]

Here is a small taste of his writing, from Atom From the Sun of Knowledge, from a chapter on submission:

"The dervishes who walk the mystic way not only accept but welcome the sufferings that come upon them by the Will of Allah, regarding every form of privation, pain, and struggle, just as the sword in the hand of the weapon maker regards anvil, hammer, and fire. The more intense the suffering, the more precious the opportunity for refinement of faith, increase of wisdom, purification of heart, and blossoming of selfless patience, that Gift from Allah so sweet that the human soul who tastes such patience needs nothing else. For human reality to be transmuted into a clear mirror for the Divine Attributes--Patience, Faith, Justice, Beauty, Wisdom--more pressure is necessary than required to transform coal into diamond. ..."

Blessings to all!

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

... Anonymous, or anyone else who might know: where did you get your bold and italic fonts from? That would be useful when I am citing quotes here, or pasting in comments that I want to reply to.

You can use enclosing HTML tags:

[i] for italic, [b] for bold font. Replace [] with <>.

For example: [i]This is italic.[/i]. Notice the slash in ending tag.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

Jupes, ... islamic books

I suppose that many of you already know this breathtaking stories of life and quest of sufi saints and mystics (written in 12th century)?

Muslim Saints and Mystics


Clemens Vargas Ramos
Odlenburg. Germany

Chris said...

Hello beautiful beings,

I would appreciate your feedback.

My brief history with the practice of “Who Am I?”, and some other pranayam practices, is that I began doing this as a small child. I was brought up in atheistic environment (a communist country) and had no education or information about any spiritual practices. Almost daily I was put very early to bed to be out of the way of my adult family in the very small apartment where we lived. Sometimes, at such times, I would entertain myself with “Who Am I?” and actually do it in a sequence of discarding my body, sense impressions, feeling/emotions, and thoughts, and eventually the very thought “Who Am I?” At that point I would fall asleep.

Years passed. I came to the United States.

In 1975, now as a young adult, I attended a Hindu Bhakti spiritual retreat with Ram Dass and, among other practices, was briefly introduced to self-inquiry. When I tried doing self-inquiry, I would get distracted by my thoughts and soon abandoned this particular practice. Nevertheless, since then my life became consumed with the Bhakti yearning. For some periods of time I did various practices, at other times none, but the longing for God continued always.

When I would try doing the self-inquiry, I would soon become frustrated by being distracted by my thoughts. Occasionally I would enter a peaceful spaciousness for a few seconds, but soon would return into my personality dramas.

A couple of years ago I tried the self-inquiry, and again gave it up as I would become frustrated by the internal distractions.

A year and half ago I have started to channel a Divine being. I channel some for myself but mostly for other people. While in the state of channeling incredible peace and love pours through me for extended periods of time, and this practice affects the rest of my time with its peace and love.

About half a year ago I tried again the self-inquiry practice, and now it consistently brings me into a state of pure awareness and kindly neutrality toward everything. I drop identification with my body and personality, see myself as a puppet going through various motions, and it is a very light and pleasant state. Now this can last from a few minutes to several hours, waxing and waning.

Eventually I either get distracted out of this state by some life’s demands or an emotional stress (I suspect that with practice I could stay longer in this neutral awareness without being so easily distracted), but even more so by a longing for the love which I experience when I am in the channeling state. It is not an attached, needy, conditional love to which I am referring, but sweet love or kindness that fills me and extends itself to anyone, anything its focus falls on.

My question is: how to bring this love to the awareness that comes out of self-inquiry? Doesn’t this love belong in this awareness? Why doesn’t it come naturally for me with the awareness consequent to my doing self-inquiry?

I would appreciate your input very much. Thank you. Chris

Ravi said...

Chris,
Salutations!Interesting to go through your Life experiences.I am not competent to give you any specific advice.
All the same,If I were you,I will start exploring what Sri Ramana Maharshi has to say on this(From the Books on his teachings)-From what I have understood,he would most likely ask you to shift your attention to the 'I'Feeling than be distracted by the pleasant feeling of lightness.If there is work to do,it can still be done by a part of the mind without losing the awareness.At first it may be difficult and the state of awareness may be lost every now and then,yet through practice one will learn to regain this by shifting of attention to the 'I'Feeling.YET THIS IS ONLY JUST TECHNIQUE!It may give you a little quietude.EARNESTNESS TO KNOW THE TRUTH OF YOURSELF is VITAL to break the barrier.This is the same as SURRENDER -The Other pursuit that you have mentioned as LOVE culminates in surrender when you purge it of all vestige of INDULGENCE AND SELF SEEKING(ENJOYMENT)
Whether it is through Self Enquiry or through Self Surrender,The paths converge at this point.SELF REALIZATION occurs due to the GRACE AND GRACE ONLY.EFFORT CANNOT TAKE ONE THERE.
When the aspiration becomes sincere and pure,the mind itself becomes the Guru and guide you.

It will also help to go through the Robert Adams articles in this BLog as well as other articles by David.
Wishing you the Very Best.

Jupes said...

Clemens, thanks for the sufi literature tip. I am not familiar with that book but it sounds like a good one.

By the way, what do you actually do with the HTML tags? I can see them beneath the comment box but I don't understand how to use them. I know you explained a little but I'm still not getting it. Can you clarify?

Thanks!

Ravi said...

Jupes,
Clicking on it downloads the pdf .Pl try.
Salutations!

Jupes said...

Chris,
Very interesting to read your story and to hear your experiences with vichara, starting at such a young age! I don't know that I can answer your questions, but I would echo what Ravi said about Grace and also about looking at Bhagavan's and David's writings related to self-enquiry. There was another blogger, Broken Yogi, who mentioned feeling love during vichara. Perhaps he will have some things to say on this.

Best wishes!

Jupes said...

Ravi, thanks for the tip. I just downloaded the book and opened to the first page. Was AWESTRUCK when I saw "Ames, Iowa" on the cover. Iowa is my home state, and Ames is where I spent my first two years of university in the early '70s. Small world, eh?!

Ravi said...

Jupes,
Any idea about jalaludeen Ruimi?I have heard that he was one of the Great Sufi Mystics.Not sure whether he figures in this book.I am also keen to know as to what principles/practices that were most appealing to you in the Sufi way and drew you to them.

Salutations to you!

Ravi said...

Jupes,
Good!Augurs well for you!
Happy Reading!
Salutations!

Jupes said...

Ravi,
Rumi is not listed in the table of contents of the Muslim Saints and Mystics book--I don't know why. To my mind he is the most famous of them all, but I don't know how the book is oriented. There may be a good reason he's not in there.

During my Sufi days I LOVED Rumi and still have several books of his poetry. Had not looked at them in years until reading your post just now. Rumi lived in the 13th century and was a wildly inspired visionary who lived life on the greatest heights of the spirit. I believe he is considered the original whirling dervish. (I have forgotten many details.) He was an incredibly prolific writer and I will give you a couple of short ones here.

The Friend comes into my body
looking for the center, unable
to find it, draws a blade,
strikes anywhere.

~~~
In the presence of His Glory,
closely watch your heart
so your thoughts won't shame you.
For He sees guilt, opinion, and desire
as plainly as a hair in pure milk.

~~~
I knew very little about Sufism at the time I was initiated. I had seen a ceremony the year before in which dervishes from Konya, Turkey, were whirling. The beauty of that alone was part of what sucked me in. Then, in reading about it I was struck by how the whirling was such a profound way of being connected to God and that, in order to even do the turning, the dervish had to be very present and in a surrendered state.

At the point in my life when I 'bumped into' Sufism and became an initiate, I was feeling deep desire to be closer to God. My first personal encounter with the Nur Ashki Jerrahi sufis was during a public Zhikr ceremony (Circle of Love). I felt such an incredible Love and Light during it that it seemed to be answering the desire I'd been having prior to that. I went to that Zhikr thinking I'd be a distant observer; I left it a participant and initiate.

For days afterwards I wondered what on earth I had done, how I had managed to get sucked in, and was in the strangest state. But slowly I got used to the idea and eventually became deeply impassioned.

The Zhikr ceremony continued to be the most attractive of the practices for me, and I loved the fact that I was doing it with other people and not alone. Also, I was attracted to the idea that Sufism is beyond religion, at least in theory. In practice, that was not entirely the case, at least in my experience.

So, hopefully this answers your question. Thanks for asking!

Blessings to all!

Ravi said...

Thanks for your sensitive response.I am deeply moved by what you had to say.You have a GENUINE AND DEEP THIRST!It is GRACE that has sought you out in VARIOUS FORMS and has lead you to Sri Bhagavan.RAIN WATER FALLING FROM THE SKY issues out through different spouts.
As Sri Aurobindo says so beautifully-"HE WHO CHOOSES THE INFINITE HAS BEEN CHOSEN BY THE INFINITE.HE HAS RECEIVED THE DIVINE TOUCH WITHOUT WHICH THERE IS NO AWAKENING,NO OPENING OF THE SPIRIT;BUT ONCE IT IS RECEIVED,ATTAINMENT IS SURE,WHETHER CONQUERED SWIFTLY IN THE COURSE OF ONE HUMAN LIFE OR PURSUED PATIENTLY THROUGH MANY STADIA OF THE CYCLE OF EXISTENCE IN THE MANIFESTED UNIVERSE."

You talked about the BEAUTY in the surrender of the circling dervishes!I have heard about it.I COULD GET A WHIFF of it from your description.Looks like in the whirling you perceive what remains STATIONARY and remain in a state of surrender!
Salutations!

Jupes said...

Ravi, THANK YOU. I am so touched by your comments and that beautiful quote from Sri Aurobindo. It gives me goose bumps. Writing and reflecting on that experience has been good for me, especially in this format. Thank you for nudging me along. If you were standing in front of me now I would be bowing my head to you. I wish there was a single closing word to express that.

Chris said...

Thank you for your comments, Ravi and Jupes.

I will look up the articles you suggest.

GRACE and SURRENDER I have been in love with for these 30 years. Even the very desire to surrender I see as Grace.

I suspect that my use of the word "pleasant' was a poor choice on my part, not accurate.

To me the self-inquiry can often unfold naturally, though the experience of Love. When I start with self-inquiry it is a "dryer" process.

In the last 20 years when I do the self-inquiry in bed at night, it can be a rather startling experience. I get pierced by the light in my head, which stays there for the rest of the night, and I cannot sleep. Has anyone experienced this, and if so, how do you handle this?

Thanks.
Chris

arvind said...

Maneesha,

I was scrolling up on this thread and found your little gem of a query on David’s remark,
“Those of us who are not blessed with such a powerful catalytic presence have to do it the hard way with unremitting effort.” Let me say that one has been really impressed by the honesty and earnestness of purpose shining thro’ all your posts. And forgive me once again for attempting to find an answer without David’s reply.

I also beg the indulgence of David and all readers in that I have been making all sorts of posts, ALL of the level of a baby’s prattle or even worse! I request all readers to take my posts as those put up by a silly but enthusiastic beginner who deserves to be condescended with, rather than berated. So please don’t get angry and upset with what I write!

Maneesha, I agree wholeheartedly with what you have mentioned in your post. That Sri Bhagavan is not the body but the Self itself. His Grace is available to all and did not stop flowing after He left the body. And that His Grace is available wherever you might be and at all times. Nor is there any diminution whatsoever in the amount of Grace flowing. To disagree with all this would be to negate the basic teachings of Sri Bhagavan!

But it is an empirical fact that it was a special experience for all to sit in the old hall in the physical presence of Sri Bhagavan. These blessed people have written how easily their minds became still and their egos dropped away and sank into the Self. They have also written that when they left Sri Ramanasramam and went back to their homes to continue their sadhana, they found that their great experiences could not be repeated whatever they tried. Obviously there was something to being physically in Bhagavan’s presence. In that David is absolutely right.

So how are we to reconcile this paradox? I think the clue may lie in the famous anecdote recorded by Sri T. K. Sunderesa Iyer. He had written 2 verses on the Lord in Tamil, which he then submitted to Sri Bhagavan for perusal. The 2nd verse described the Lord as, “from whom Grace is flowing over the sentient and the insentient”. TKS writes that Bhagavan asked him to change one letter which altered the meaning to, “who directs His Grace to the sentient and insentient”. [From “First Meetings with Ramana Maharshi”, 2nd edition, Pg 14].

Though the verse was talking about the Grace of the ‘Lord’, I am sure all would agree that the words would apply equally to Sri Bhagavan and the Grace flowing from Him. So Sri Bhagavan Himself, in a bit of an enigmatic way, is suggesting something. That those
who come to Him and sit in His presence get a ‘direct’ look of Grace. That He perhaps, ‘takes up’ His ever-flowing and omnipresent Grace and feeds it, as if to a baby, into those who sit in His presence. Perhaps that is what the devotees who sat in His presence write about, when they say that Sri Bhagavan’s luminous, compassionate eyes pierced into them to their core and their minds became still and so on.

And so what are we to do, His devotees in today’s world? I believe that we have to simply invoke His PRESENCE to be with us all the time, like it was physically with the old devotees. We can go about doing our day-to-day activities with the unshakeable and deep conviction that even now, Sri Bhagavan is physically present near us, 24x7. That He is peering over our shoulder when we are writing something for example, or that he is eating food along with us at the table, or that He is sitting next to us when we are driving to work and so on. This would be virtually similar to trying to hold on to the ‘Self’ during all our activities, but easier. I believe then, if this is done with full faith and devotion, one would find that when one sits down for formal Vichara, it would be just like sitting in His presence in the old hall in the olden days.

arvind said...

PS: Clemens, many thanks for the info on the html tags. What fun !

Ravi said...

Arvind,
Thanks very much for bringing out that beautiful point-"DIRECTS".Sri Bhagavan also asked T K Sundaresa Iyer to write a foreword to the Book-'Complete Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi'(Remember this is the one).It looks like none of the Devotees of Sri Bhagavan was willing to write a Foreword as they all felt totally Incompetent and inadequate to write a FOREWORD!Sri Bhagavan then suggested that TKS should write the Foreword.TKS was diffident,yet Sri Bhagavan encouraged him to write.TKS did as 'DIRECTED'(Arvind-I am borrowing your latest update here).He wrote the foreword and showed it to Sri Bhagavan.Sri Bhagavan went through it and cleared it and asked TKS to send it to the Office for Publishing.As TKS took a few paces,Sri Bhagavan called him back and asked for the Manuscript and corrected one WORD in a sentence which originally stated-"It is hoped that all those who read this book will attain to Self Realization".Sri Bhagavan correctd the word 'HOPE'(NAMBUDAL) to 'CERTAIN'(THINNAM in Tamil).

Here again Sri Bhagavan has left some GUARANTEES!

S. said...

salutations to all:

the messages posted by arvind and ravi on maneesha's query were wonderful...just as arvind had mentioned, with me too, please condescend with my childish opinions that i keep saying now & then, if they aren't tolerable...i have a slightly different view on this: arvind concluded by saying 'To disagree with all this would be to negate the basic teachings of Sri Bhagavan!'...in a little way, i do disagree...to say 'bhagavan is not the body but the self' or 'And that His Grace is available wherever you might be and at all times' etc. are all 'belief' statements...i find it very hard to relate to such statements unless someone is telling out of their undeniable experience...if there is 'Grace', then thats the one thing i will never beg or plead or even pray...grace, like freedom, is my birthright and bhagavan, or god (assuming there is one) better give it...why should i beg anything from my 'mother'?...

i agree that an unswerving faith in god perhaps is a great help, but still a crutch nonetheless...i also agree that perhaps this crutch is better than the many crutches am subject to in everyday living...yet, if there is a god, who is supposed to be closer than the closest, then something in me simply militates against accepting that god as a crutch... besides my reservations, god ought to be (sounds like a prescription to that thing called god!) gracing me with realization (hope none of you will use bhagavan's brahmastra and ask me 'find out the one who is anguished with god')...but i confess, my choicest of abuses are always reserved against god or 'mother'... :-)

coming to arvind's final paragraph on 'presence', i was reminded of the 'practice of the presence of god' by brother lawrence...my prostrations to those who can really live their life seeing or feeling such a 'presence' in everything and everywhere...but for me, seeing/feeling has got nothing to do with my 'imagining' those things...that will be be like hallucinating within a hallucination...am interested to know what would you have suggested for an agnostic...in a nutshell, bhagavan better 'direct' his grace, or else......... :-)

Ravi said...

S.
"am interested to know what would you have suggested for an agnostic..."
Have you read 'A Search in Secret India'-This is the question that Paul Brunton puts to Master Mahasaya.'M' reply is wondeful.Finally it comes to 'HOLY ASSOCIATION'-Satsangha and that is what Helped.NOT SELF ENQUIRY!

Belief is the basic starting point.We Believe that our 'Mother' is 'Our Mother',our 'Father' is 'our Father';our 'child' is 'our child'. There are cases where the parents did a DNA test and learnt that 'their child' is not 'their biological child' when the child was almost 2 years old!It was heart wrenching for them to swap 'their child' for the 'Biologically born child'.Even here how is one to know that DNA Test is infallible!Belief only!

I recall your essential Problem is to reconcile your FEELINGS and THOUGHT.YOU HAVE PERMITTED Thought to VALIDATE Feelings-whether it is genuine,whether it can last,whether the feeling can be sustained,etc.FEELINGS(even the Genuinely felt,not the sentimental) DO CHANGE!I mean the waxing and waning.This waning may be PAINFUL,so THOUGHT WANTS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.IT TENDS TO STUNT IT.
Having shutout FEELINGS,Thought finds itself inadequate.THERE IS A VOID THAT THOUGHT CANNOT FILL.

We have seen some parents-how they CONTROL every activity of their child.This STUNTS the Child's psyche and Growth.

Sri Ramakrishna says in his Gospel-IF YOU ARE THIRSTY,YOU WILL TAKE CARE NOT TO STIR THE POOL.DRINK FROM IT.

It is not clear from your earlier posts whether you keep in touch with the Gospel on a regular basis;or only when you perchance come across it occassionally.If Later,I suggest that it will be a good idea to read a few pages daily(I Recommend this because you seem to like it.Any other such book is also useful).
One Thing is CLEAR.If YOU CAN DO SELF ENQUIRY(Earnestness is required here) properly,you may not have problem with Faith,surrender etc.YOU WILL HAVE THE NECESSARY EXPERIENCE TO BRIDGE THE GAP.

It will helpful to have the personal guidance of a Master(again involves Faith and Trust!);I do not know if you have come in touch with any-YOUR POSTS HAVE BEEN QUITE IMPERSONAL except for your occassional reference to Sri Ramakrishna.

Salutations and Best Wishes!

Maneesha said...

No offense meant, whatsoever, in my below post.

Arvind and Ravi,
Faith is the word. You simply have to trust that He is, here and now. If you say, “I agree that His Presence is”, there cannot be any if’s and but’s added later on to it. If they are added, it only means that you don’t really mean it when you say “He is, here and now”. I feel if you add if's and but’s or any such qualifications, it is like parents who say “God takes care of everyone” and still worry about safety of their children. If we have complete trust in God that He will keep your children safe no matter what, you would simply not be worried. Such is the faith that is needed/demanded. Else it’s as good as saying “I surrender” and then say “I still do not feel His Grace.” Doesn’t the latter remark above easily contradict the former one? Can the Lord be deceived by such lip services? Doesn’t He see that we are blabbering things without meaning it and demand faith from us? Or rather, are we not deceiving ourselves by lack of faith?

Arvind,
“But it is an empirical fact that it was a special experience for all to sit in the old hall in the physical presence of Sri Bhagavan. These blessed people have written how easily their minds became still and their egos dropped away and sank into the Self.”
I feel if our sadhana has reahced the level to taht of the sadhakas, before they came to Maharshi (and feel peace inside), I am more than sure, we will get the same experience as they did in His physical Presence, if we trust His words that He conitnues to "live" even without the body. I feel its our lack of sadhana that impedes our ability to feel His Presence.

“They have also written that when they left Sri Ramanasramam and went back to their homes to continue their sadhana, they found that their great experiences could not be repeated whatever they tried. Obviously there was something to being physically in Bhagavan’s presence.”
(In the below reply, I assume that my experience is same as others.) Aren’t there times when we feel vichara simply goes on by itself, without much effort, and we feel some silence within ourselves? And then there are times when we simply can’t do it, no matter what? These modes of mind are like cycle, alternating each other. Dont you think what we feel is similar to what they did? Its just that their sadhana was more mature and hence could feel deeper silence. So, again, wavering is on our sadhana, than anything Him not being there.Below I quote from Talks(Talk 310), to support my viewpoint:
“Mr. Greenlees: After leaving this Asramam in October I was aware of Bhagavan’s peace enfolding me for about ten days. All the time while busy in work there was an undercurrent of that peace of unity; it was almost like the dual consciousness while half asleep in a dull lecture. Then it faded out entirely, and the old stupidities came in instead.
Work leaves no time for separate meditation. Is the constant reminder “I am”, trying to feel it while actually at work, enough?
M.: It will become constant when the mind becomes strengthened. Repeated practice strengthens the mind; and such mind is capable of holding on to the current. In that case, engagement in work or no engagement, the current remains unaffected and uninterrupted.”


He has said that peace once found was lost because of lack of sadhana, and not because of “not being in His Presence”. He has never ever said that whatever peace His devotees felt, was ever because of the physical proximity.

Below are two talks that seem contradictory.
Talk 171.
“D.: Is not guidance from Guru necessary?
M.: Are you apart from Guru?
D.: Is proximity helpful?
M.: Do you mean physical proximity? What is the good of it? The
mind alone matters. The mind must be contacted.”

Talk 612.
“D.: If the search has to be made within, is it necessary to be in the
physical proximity of the Master?
M.: It is necessary to do so until all doubts are at an end.”


If its true that Maharshi (which I do believe is true) gave different answers to same question based on the maturity of spiritual sadhana of the questioner, I believe Talk 171 is more apt as ones practice progresses.

As regards to T.K. Sundaresh Iyer’s account, you have presented only partial data here. In the text you have mentioned, the very next sentence of what you have pasted reads, “The idea was that grace was not a mere influence but could be directed with a purpose where it was needed most.” Is a body needed for Grace direct Itself to anyone? Isn’t Grace very own Self? Can’t he “contact” our minds directly? Is the all illuminating Grace in need of aid of these external, insentient eyes to serve a purpose?

“That those who come to Him and sit in His presence get a ‘direct’ look of Grace.”
Mr. Iyer has not said He directs His look as you have pointed here. He simply “directs His Grace”. Is our Lord in need of the gross eyes to direct His Grace to His devotees? Isn’t His Divine Silence enough? Isn’t that Silence shining itself in all of us as the very own Self?

The whole point, I feel, comes down to who you think Bhagavan is. If we do not feel His presence, as I have said many times now, its because our sadhana has not reached the level to feel it; its not waver on His part, on His Presence, but ours. If we have complete faith that He is beyond, beyond anything, He can be felt; here and now - as our internal Guru, as our very Self.

My apologies if my strong words offended anyone. It is not intended to offend or hurt anyone. Again, this is what I feel, and I refuse to think/believe the opposite, especially because The Guru Himself has said it over and again. If we do not trust His words, its our loss. All that is neede is our trust in His words.

Maneesha said...

There have been many typos in my previous post. MS word had not pointed out these. So, I guess its some tech prob here that made the typos... :)

Ravi said...

Maneesha,
As I have said -That both the views are equally valid.
Why are the Great ones born?There is some SUBSTANCE behind the MANIFESTATION which is not the same after WITHDRAWAL.Do not know what?Yet,it has been the experience of many!hard to accept,yet true.
Maneesha,one thing I have learnt is that in these matters,the point as well as Counter point are Valid.All that matters to us is WHAT IS SERVICEABLE!
The ONLY UNCHANGING ENTITY THAT STAYS THE SAME IS THE SELF.

NO NEED FOR ANY DISCLAIMER when you post anything intended for me!

Salutations!

Jupes said...

Greetings, everyone.
Very interesting discussion here. Thanks for all the 'baby prattle' and 'childish opinions'... ;-) I very much appreciate your strength of conviction, Maneesha, and your (apparently) deep faith and trust that Bhagavan is HERE AND NOW as the Self, always. Most inspiring!

I have a question here, since the subject of GRACE has come up. I would ask: What exactly IS Grace and how do we know we are being visited upon by Grace? Is this simply an intuitive feeling, a 'sixth' sense? And, more importantly, is it Grace ONLY if we somehow feel 'good' from it, ONLY if it somehow 'advances' us spiritually, and NOT Grace if there is not some 'positive' result, if we are not somehow 'moved'? For instance, is it Grace when we fall into vichara effortlessly and NOT Grace if we are stuck in thoughts and are struggling to no avail?

I have often thought that on some level EVERYTHING IS GRACE, regardless of how we feel and regardless of the content of our unfolding scripts, and that we perceive it as Grace ONLY if what we perceive is somehow profound, meaningful and 'positive'.

I know that S.'s final sentence was made in jest ("in a nutshell, Bhagavan better 'direct' his Grace, or else....."), but what I am saying here comes mostly out of that jesting. How do we know we are not receiving Grace 100% of the time already?

S. said...

salutations to all:

since i assume, by now, that everybody here is lot more mature than me, hope i will be right if i cease to add 'am sorry if i have offended anyone' :-)

ravi/maneesha/arvind/jupes: i have just a couple of points to say...as always, your comments are a delight to go through...what is faith?...when it is said, 'faith is paramount', i sincerely don't understand what that means...i opine that faith without evidence is no better than superstition... if the seed has been well-examined , the soil tilled well, and fertilizers properly laid, there is a very high probability that there shall be a healthy yield... where is the role of faith here?...the reason why 'vichara' is beautiful is because it doesn't require any thing called faith because, as you all know, i don't need 'faith' to believe that i exist...one may say, 'then, aren't you doing vichara because you believe in it?'...not really... yes, it interests me...it's also true that 'some power' makes me do vichara, and i feel that here is a 'beauty' that is worth giving the best shot...

here is where i subscribe to maneesha's repeated emphasis on the maturity of 'our' sadhana... this is an excellent attitide to learn anything otherwise it won't be much different from the fox who called the grapes sour...but with a subtle yet vital difference: in the sphere of seeking the truth, constantly reminding ourselves of not progressing owing to one's own deficient sadhana is not only being hard on ourselves but also fallacious...this is so because this invariably leads to the thinking (you may deny it is not the case but it will take root if you do this for long) that there is a 'goal' to be reached and that of reaching there is a function of our efforts (calling it 'sadhana' doesn't make it better)...does this mean taking refuge in some good-for-nothing destiny? not at all, any day, i shall champion for 'effort' more than anything else...

david once quoted bhagavan (am not as astute as you folks to give references) that the secret lies in we making our best effort 'as if' we can make an effort and that such effort is within our control; perhaps, it is bhagavan who is 'the' path and 'the' goal... perhaps, grace is the 'means' and the 'end' (prefixed it with 'perhaps' because i don't know, but sort of appeals to me as far 'effort' is concerned)...
['nokkiye karuthimei thaakkiye pakkuvam, aaki nee aandarul arunachala' (Look at me! Think of me! Touch me! Make me fit, ripen
me! Then be my master, govern me, O Arunachala(63, aksharamanamalai)]

whether bhagavan is there or not shouldn't weaken us...assume bhagavan is gone...so what? let us say buddha, sankara, christ all came, experienced 'that' truth, taught it, and went away...presume bhagavan too came and went...does that in anyway undermine his most beautiful life or the even more beautiful teachings?...if there is nothing but the 'self' and that self is here & now, then nothing whatsoever should really matter...
to say 'bhagavan's assurances and re-assurances do matter' is probably weakening and thus may not have anything to do with bhagavan or the self...should i add 'uththistatha, jaagrata, praapya varaannibodhatatha'

lastly, "If we have complete trust in God that He will keep your children safe no matter what, you would simply not be worried. Such is the faith that is needed"...i beg to differ...in the sense that complete trust may not be to say that god will keep your children safe no matter what but instead to know that 'he knows best', which includes safe and unsafe)...one who has surrendered has no need to even say once 'thy will be done' because of plain irrelevance, and simply keeps quiet with no craving or liking for being safe & no fear or aversion for being harmed...

ravi:
it is always so nice to see your references about the kathamrita...
paul brunton's text introduced me to bhagavan...kathamrita is one of those very few texts that i have been given an opportunity to read atleast twice...it may sound surprising to you, but it was kathamrita that made me an agnostic :-)...to read & feel the kathamrita and yet not getting to 'see' my beloved 'mother' (or god, if you will) is an inexplicable misery...can i even convey the anguish of crying for 'mother' and being cast in a state of being wrung like wet towel?... may be, i can't...hence, till i 'see' the mother or 'realize' the self, i shall remain an agnostic

Ravi said...

Jupes,
What is Grace?is it conditional?How is it perceived?
I perceive this as the SUSTAINING Principle that despite our stumblings leads one onwards.This is felt as a Presence,as a Calm,as clarity,as a certitude,deepening of Faith,etc.
At this juncture ,one needs to be extra careful-There is every chance of a WITHDRAWAL,if we revert to ignorant ways of self seeking.(This is a way of Speaking-for the Grace NEVER withdraws,but the CURTAINS THAT WE HAVE CLOSED may not open again for a Long time!)

Sri Aurobindo in 'Synthesis of Yoga' writes:
"     This inner Guide is often veiled at first by the very intensity of our personal effort and by the ego's preoccupation with itself and its aims. As we gain in clarity and the turmoil of egoistic effort gives place to a calmer self-knowledge, we recognise the source of the growing light within us. We recognise it retrospectively as we realise how all our obscure and conflicting movements have been determined towards an end that we only now begin to perceive, how even before our entrance into the path of the Yoga the evolution of our life has been designedly led towards its turning point. For now we begin to understand the sense of our struggles and efforts, successes and failures. At last we are able to seize the meaning of our ordeals and sufferings and can appreciate the help that was given us by all that hurt and resisted and the utility of our very falls and stumblings. "
Salutations!

Ravi said...

S,
You asked about Faith-I will try to explain the link between Belief,Faith and Realization.
Let us say that we had a good rainfall throughout the year(A Boon in a Place like Chennai!).Let us say that We want to dig a Borewell(Again may be a necessity in Chennai!).I NEED TO START WITH BELIEF that Ground water will be available.I NEED to Scout around for Reputed a WATER DIVINER next.He will come with his Instruments and explore for water.He will indicate Where to Dig and approximately to what depth.NOW I HAVE FAITH THAT WATER CAN BE TAPPED if only DIGGING is undertaken.Next I Will arrange for the BORER who will bore at that spot,lay a pipe and fit a motor and OUT GUSHES the water! This is akin to Realization.

The point I was trying to make through this PEDESTRIAN and SILLY story is to delineate the succesive stages in the progression- Belief,Faith and Realization.

S.-I am yet to understand your premise.
1.Are you in need of Help?
2.Are you offering help?
3.Is it only a discussion?

Unable to make out your objective.may be you can be a little more clear on this.As for me,I do have some lighter moments here,but primarily it is to share something which I hope may be helpful and to learn from this sharing.

I am unable to understand your experience with the Gospel.I find that you have looked at it for its EMOTIONAL CONTENT only,not for the priceless gems of PRACTICAL advice that it contains.These things cannot be had for the asking.One has to be patient and Diligent.Like a Farmer who has to till the soil,sow the seeds,water them ,wait for the saplings to grow and ripen before Harvesting.

How do you find Self Enquiry?Is it DOable?Are you satisfied with your understanding and practice of it?IT IS THE PRACTICE that is important.

Wishing you the very Best!

Srikantha said...

David,
Are you still active on this thread?

I am interested in your responses to a few queries on vichara, which was being discussed in the initial part of this thread. :)

Ravi said...

S,
I read and reread what you had to say in your latest post.I enjoyed the point that you made about Buddha,Sankara,...Bhagavan...assume they are not there!...etc.

Just want to place before you this Food for thought-WHETHER FAITH IS REQUIRED FOR SELF ENQUIRY?

'I' is self evident.YES,VERY TRUE.what next?You turn your ATTENTION on 'I'.Why?What is the necessity?Why not just be as YOU ARE?If you say some POWER IS MAKING YOU DO IT-Does it ask for your consent?WHY DID YOU GIVE YOUR CONSENT FOR THIS?
IF IT IS COMPELLING YOU-Did it ever occur to you to EVALUATE THIS CRITICALLY as you have been doing with regard to FAITH,etc?YOU NEED TO EXPLORE THIS SERIOUSLY.

Coming to your claim that you are an AGNOSTIC-Is it really True?From your description about your excruciating PAIN EXPERIENCE ON NOT FINDING 'MOTHER'(SELF),it looks lke this is just plain 'ESCAPISM'.One has to have the Courage to FACE PAIN or in the event of inability to do so,seek ways to mitigate it and may be take it up in a more GRADED fashion.TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE CAUSE OF THIS PAIN.WHY THE INSISTENCE that the DIVINE (or whatever)SHOULD CATER TO ONE'S WHIM AND FANCY,BE AVAILABLE AT ONE'S BECK AND CALL....DROP THIS SELF INDULGENCE(this is what it is!not ASPIRATION in which there will be no DEMAND,only a LETTING GO).

I suggest that you may have to LOOK at some of these incongruencies!
I find that YOU HAVE TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL(Not in a general sense,I am using this in a more specific context)-this needs to be put to CONSTRUCTIVE use.

I have enjoyed reading your mails-it brings a different perspective.Yet,this is not enough,it needs to FLOW and not stagnate.

Wishing you the Very Best!

David Godman said...

Srikantha

I think it would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that I am still active on this thread since I haven't responded to any points raised for over a week. However, I have not given up on it. I intend to return to it and reply to everyone who has asked me a question. Other things have been demanding my time and attention over the last few days.

S. said...

salutations to all:

ravi: i don't know whether my words really convey what i think or feel...let me try:

(i) the inference that there could be water beneath the ground is something we gather from the method of inference, and has little to do with faith...as you know, most scientific discoveries also happen by trial & error...the underlying is always 'let's try this' or 'let's try that'...i still feel that these things have nothing to do with 'faith'...
further, even if i do accept the concept of faith, please note that this is very easily testable in the realm of your example, which is obviously not the case with god.
i would once gain emphasize that 'self-enquiry' is beautiful to me because it doesn't require or demand any faith from me towards anything or anybody

(ii) you had asked:
'1.Are you in need of Help?'
- not really
2.Are you offering help?
- not at all (who am i to help anyone)
3.Is it only a discussion?
- very close...am simply sharing my views...i do not know whether they indeed throw any light :-)

(iii) on your references on the kathamrita: this is a little hard to explain...all i can say is that i very much understand the priceless gems of the kathamrita...
regarding 'patience', let me say this: have you ever seen a drought hit broken land desperately longing for the first drops of water? if i were to to go and tell that broken land to be 'patient' for that rain, could you hazard a guess on what the 'land' may say?
(i leave this to you)

(iv) 'vichara' is very much doable, infact the only thing i can relate to naturally...i hardly ever reflect on whether am satisfied with the 'vichara' i do, because such satisfactions and dissatisfactions are mere responses given by the mind... neither do i bother about the quality of vichara i do because, once again, such notions at best may provide me with a picture of me making some kind of an effort to get to some kind of a goal...

Ravi said...

S,
Expecting Water underground is not INFERENCE-but PAST EXPERIENCE!Hence the BELIEF that there could be Water found.

It moved me deeply to Read your "...should i add 'uththistatha, jaagrata, praapya varaannibodhatatha'".Yes,This is what is Required and How Swami Vivekananda always used this as ROUSING CALL!

Best Wishes!

arvind said...

Many thanks everyone for the wonderful remarks. Ravi, Maneesha, Jupes, S., I have learnt a lot from all your posts.

S.,

I must confess I was initially confused by your writings. But now I think I understand. You are a true blue-blooded agnostic! So let me guess, Huxley, Russel, Ingersoll etc would be your real mentors. You would hold that, the existence or non-existence of God, or the “Ultimate Reality” (or the Self), is not knowable, as we are unable to verify any experience by anything but another subjective experience. The implication of this, of course being, that you would believe any experience only if you can experience it for yourself. Since you cannot experience God or the Self for yourself, you are unable to say whether they exist or not. Only your ‘beingness’ is the one thing known for sure. [But then, what to do with this ‘beingness’ ?]

So that is why you said about Sri Bhagavan in your earlier post:

“ 'And that His Grace is available wherever you might be and at all times' etc. are all 'belief' statements...i find it very hard to relate to such statements unless someone is telling out of their undeniable experience...”

Really, I will not debate the agnostic viewpoint. I am sure with your clearly wonderful intellect you would have worked out all the ‘kinks’ in this philosophy for yourself. But you have asked in your earlier post, “ … am interested to know what would you have suggested for an agnostic”. In all humility let me only say that a philosophy like this needs total commitment. There is no mid-way. So you cannot say that you are an agnostic and still ‘dabble’ in religious writings. Because, according to the agnostic view, they are all false. Not only the religious writings, but all the experiences of Sri Ramakrishna or Sri Bhagavan regarding ‘God’ or the ‘Self’ would necessarily have to be false to you. Or more accurately, you cannot say whether they are true or false.

But if you are still drawn towards religious writings, and towards the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna or Sri Bhagavan, and devotional songs bring tears to your eyes, then maybe agnosticism is not for you and you should give it up.

S., sincerely, forgive me if the foregoing was objectionable or hurtful in any manner.

Ravi said...

Friends,
Just want to explore the Sri Ramakrishna phenomenon in the context of what 'S' had mentioned-THE PARCHED FIELD and THE RAIN DROP-The 'Parched Field ' has no choice!It does not have 'OPTIONS' to exercise!It just has to wait for the First 'Drop of Rain'!

What happened in the case of Sri Ramakrishna?WHEN HE FOUND THE SEPERATION FROM 'THE MOTHER' unbearable,THAT LIFE IS MEANINGLESS WITHOUT THIS 'BREATH OF LIFE',he was prepared to 'END LIFE'!....Just take a second to UNDERSTAND THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS!He who has this GUTS alone can go through the DENSE DARKNESS and arrive at LIGHT!...Sri Ramakrishna called this 'TAMASIC Bhakti'.Even TAMAS in oneself can be PUT TO USE!

For children like us,IT MAY BE NEEDED to play with the DOLLS,REMEMBER THAT THE MOTHER IS IN THE 'KITCHEN'(FAITH) and WHEN WE REALLY CRY(Whether it is real or not SHE KNOWS better)WE MAY SEE HER!

Another thing that I want to share is this-who is Sri Ramakrishna,Who is Sri Bhagavan,Who is X,Y,Z,...etc?IF WE MAP THEM ONE TO ONE TO OUR LIST OF 'HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS'(which is how we may begin, a sort of puppy love!),we find THE CONFLICT!As for me,EACH ONE OF THESE GREAT SOULS represents the INFINITE!-POORNAMADAH POORNAMIDAM POORNATH POORNAMUDACHAYE POORNASYA POORNAMADAYA POORNAMEVA VASISYATHE!SELF =SELF+BHAGAVAN=BHAGAVAN=SELF-BHAGAVAN=SELF!(hope i got my maths right!just wanted to address 'the maneesha post'!)

This is why SRI THYAGARAJA sang 'ENTARU MAHAANUBHAVULU ,ANTHARIKI VANDANAMU'(my salutations to all the GREAT ONES!).

Salutations!

Ravi said...

arvind,
It is not so easy to UNDERSTAND others as it is to JUDGE!Let us not forget that NAREN and JK had this sort of an approach.THAT they managed to resolve the CONFLICT is okay.
I think we OWE it to S to bring out the KINKS in our 'puppy approach'.Thanks very much S!
Salutations!

Ravi said...

Chris,
What you had mentioned about Grace is very true.
Just thought that I will share what my master emphasises over and over again-You do not have to achieve anything NEW.Just get rid of all that is NOT YOU.He further emphasises that HUMAN LIFE SPAN IS MORE THAN SUFFICIENT to do this.
In case we are stuck,it will help to see what is it THAT IS TO BE DROPPED(This may be often what we regard as a trifle).
coming to seeing Light when you go to sleep,I recall that NAREN(Vivekananda)had this experience,It is an interesting story-Sri Ramakrishna knew that Naren was a Nithyasiddha,born perfect,A great Soul.Naren never could accept that he was in any manner different than others.Sri Ramakrishna then asked Naren how he goes to sleep;Naren found this as totally irrelevant.He responded by saying that he falls asleep like anyone else.On being prompted by Sri Ramakrishna ,he said that he sees a point of light that expands and he gets absorbed into this-'Well,that must be the way everyone else should be going to sleep' said Naren.He asked others and found that others were DIFFERENT!
Seeing light and other phenomenon are good signs,but my Master says that one should not Stagnate but move on.(Often it may be a desire to experience these things may be there-we need to move on)
As I said,I am not competent to give you any specific recommendation.
If we are Earnest and humble,HELP will be extended.
Salutations!

arvind said...

Ravi,

Thanks a ton for your post. The bhakti-bhava drips from your words and your regard for Sri Ramakrishna is admirable. You must, sometime, also tell us more about your Master. You have mentioned him several times in your posts.

Just wanted to clarify that I am not making any ‘judgements’ with respect to Agnosticism or towards dear S. I really believe that Agnosticism is a respected philosophical system in its own right and has its own pros and cons as any other system. Huxley, Bertrand Russell etc were great thinkers of their times and have influenced world thought significantly. Why, even the Pope I believe has commented extensively about the philosophy ! And those who are its followers have every right to practice as they wish. No one else has the right to say whether they are doing the right thing or not.

I myself had been confused by S.’s writing in that I had assumed he had used ‘agnostic’ in the generally accepted usage of being an ‘atheist’. I hadn’t realized that he was actually referring to ‘Agnosticism’, which is a different kettle of fish. And all I suggested in my post was that it is necessary to stick very closely to your chosen path. Whatever it may be. And if the philosophy is not working for you, why flog a dead horse ? Find something else which works for you. As you have mentioned, that’s what Sri Naren did. He quit his atheism and embraced Sri Ramakrishna.

Chris said...

Ravi,
Thank you for your generosity and your encouragement. Your comments are very helpful. Your love and devotion and desire to help touch me deeply, and this in itself I experience as a touch of the Grace.
Love to you, Ravi

Anonymous said...

The seeking ends when the seeker ends. When the "I" ceases, Reality is. But you cannot know Reality. You can only be It. You are already That.

Ravi said...

Arvind,
I appreciate your views.May be we can look at what S has pointed out-
" 'And that His Grace is available wherever you might be and at ALL times' etc. are all 'belief' statements...i find it very hard to relate to such statements unless someone is telling out of their undeniable experience..."-is quite understandable.From a Devotee's point of view,this is a Feeling-FEELING IS ALWAYS IN THE PRESENT-This it extrapolates in time and hence that expression!No problem with that as well from that perspective!
I recall the following incident-When Lakshmi,the cow passed away Sri Bhagavan had composed an epitaph which referred to the COW AS HAVING ATTAINED MUKTI.people thought that it was just written for the occasion-just like when someone dies the news item says that he has attained the Lotus Feet of the Lord!A few approached Sri Bhagavan and asked him to clarify on the word 'Vimukthi'.SRI BHAGAVAN SAID THAT IT MEANS THAT LAKSHMI HAS ATTAINED MUKTI!
As I am narrating this I wonder-DID LAKSHMI PRACTICE 'WHO AM I?' or 'I AM BRAHMAN' or any other PRACTICE?She had come to Bhagavan when she was a calf!May be she learnt the 'JUST BE' in Sri Bhagavan's PRESENCE!


S,
"'vichara' is very much doable, infact the only thing i can relate to naturally..."

May Sri Bhagavan's Grace be ever with you.Wish you The very Best.


Salutations to you Friends!

P.S:Kindly excuse all the spelling/grammar and other mistakes.

S. said...

salutations to all:
(sorry folks, the following are not directly related to vichara, just some personal musings that i felt like posting...my apologies if any of you after reading felt this to be a waste of time)

ravi/arvind: thank you for all your warm messages & insightful comments.
i request you to write with the same liberty that you have exercised so far...am an agnostic because am neither sure of god's existence nor its non-existence... perhaps, am an agnostic in the spirit of the buddha, whom i have always loved & respected...from whatever little i have read, in the words of vivekananda, this man among men, who didn't have any cobwebs in him, could love the whole world...what courage? what compassion? (what more can i say?)

arvind also mentioned russell etc. ...unfortunately or fortunately, i value reason above emotion and still have a strong desire to study the works of some great thinkers (orient & occident)...i admire schopenhauer & spinoza as much as sankara & madhva (for me, sankara is more of a great thinker; i don't subscribe much to the plethora of myths that have raised him to cult status... this makes it a lot more easier to criticize sankara and appreciate madhva, wherever the latter did have a logical argument more potent than that of sankara)...

since modern philosophy, primarily after kant, as a discipline got totally demerged from religion, there is a remarkable sincerity in their intellectual quest, which deserves complete respect in my modest opinion... though meagre (as on date), whatever little i have sampled, be it husserlian phenomenology or kierkegaardian existentialism, wittgensteinian investigations or russellian logic, the beauty of the search is unmistakable and the purity of the pursuit is undeniable...

i wholly agree that all these systems are perhaps no more than excursions in 'thought'...all am saying is that for those who evince an interest (like me) in man's fascinating journey, these great works are a worthy read...

let me also clarify that when it comes to 'practice', i hold on to the one thing that am most fond of: self-enquiry :-) arvind had concluded his post with '...that’s what Naren did. He quit his atheism & embraced Ramakrishna...'
all i would like to add is that if i were to be in the presence of a towering inferno like thakur or bhagavan, most probably i wouldn't have been left with even the remnants of this stifling darkness of talk and thought :-)))

Ravi said...

S,
Very interesting to read your thoughts. The Buddha!I completely agree with you.In the whole history of Mankind,there has been only one Buddha!So clear headed and compassionate!Vivekananda was his closest approximation(Why approximation?-He lived only 39 years.The Youthful impetuosity was there!may be if he would have lived longer,the World would have seen the Second Buddha!Notwithstanding this,there were many who were startled by swamiji's close resemblance with The Buddha).
I respect your deep thirst for knowledge;your distrust of Emotion and worship of reason.I do not see any problem there;only that Reason has the ability to pull things down and NOT PUT THINGS TOGETHER. you seem to be aware of this.
I wish to share this wonderful GEM from The Gospel,where Sri Ramakrishna speaks about HOW THERE CAN BE NO COMPROMISE IN TRUTH.(page 312):
'After my vision of the Divine Mother,I prayed to her ,taking a flower in my hands:'Mother,Here is Thy Knowledge and here is Thy ignoranance.Take them both and give me pure Love.Here is Thy Holiness and here is Thy unholiness.Take them both and give me pure love.Here is Thy Good and here is Thy Evil.Take them both and give me pure Love.Here is Thy Righteousness and Here is Thy unRighteousness.Take them both,Mother ,and Give me pure Love.'I MENTIONED ALL THESE,BUT I COULD NOT SAY:'MOTHER,HERE IS THY TRUTH AND HERE IS THY FALSEHOOD.TAKE THEM BOTH'....(now comes the Beauty!)...I GAVE UP EVERYTHING AT HER FEET BUT COULD NOT BRING MYSELF TO GIVE UP TRUTH."

Just think about this wonderful,inspirational Gem !Sri Ramakrishna is asking for PURE LOVE.He is not able to give up TRUTH.
Implication is TRUTH=LOVE.(DEVOTION).
S,you are a devotee,as long as you have this uncompromising quest for TRUTH(not reason alone).Perhaps it is this that is drawing you to Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Bhagavan.
Your Path(If I may call it that way)is as Good as Any!More Importantly YOUR PRACTICE-SELF ENQUIRY FITS LIKE A TEE to your temperament.
SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU!

Wishing you The Very Best!

P.S:Please keep your musings flowing.It helps to clean the dross.

Anonymous said...

I strongly recommend "The Nisargadatta Gita" by Pradeep Apte. It is, probably, the best link so far between the teachings of Ramana and Nisargadatta. Finally, both sages are saying exactly the same, as expected.
Regards

Ravi said...

Anonymous,
Yes,Nisaargadutta Maharaj is a Class Gnani-I have not read the one you have mentioned.I am Reading 'I AM THAT'.Wonderful and Breath Taking!Nothing is complex for the one who ABIDES IN TRUTH;No question ,however Tricky and seemingly inexplicable can pose any Challenge to the ONE WHO KNOWS!
The Way Maharaj disposes them and drives home the point is something like Sanath Jayasurya At his Best!

Quite similiar to Sri Bhagavan,except that there is no danger of the Brahmastra!(Who was not afraid of this Brahmastra-The list includes Kavyakanta Ganapathi Muni,Kapali Sastri,etc.Interesting to note that Sri Bhagavan never used it for Genuine Devotees like Eleanour Pauline Noye!)

Salutations!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ravi. In a world with too much words, it was my feeling that the great ones are using the some pointings. The sense of I Am is exactly the aim of self-enquiry. And, at the end, our essence is prior to the I Am. And, finally, we know that sense of abiding in the self. Simple but it really works, there is understading and peace, and things are more clear.
Good luck and patience!

Ravi said...

Anonymous,
Yes,'I AM', 'JUST BE', 'STAYING WITH 'I'FEELING,-All these expressions mean the same.
This is the aim of Self Enquiry-'Who am I' is the spur to turn the attention back to this source as and when the it drifts elsewhere.

You are right- the MIND is filled to the BRIM with thoughts and ideas and it takes a lot of Unlearning to become SIMPLE!Just to throw all the BAGGAGE and travel lightly!

Salutations!

arvind said...

S.

Thanks for taking the trouble for the detailed reply. Truly, you are a very learned person. One was impressed with the incredible range of philosophers and thinkers you have read and spoken about so knowledgeably. I do believe you would have 'worked-out' the 'Quest' much more than most of us. Sincerely, it is a privilege to have you commenting on the posts herein.

Even though, as you have mentioned, some of these philosophies may be considered ‘excursions in thought’, hey, even this entire world is, after all, an ‘excursion in thought’. And if a philosophy works for someone – then go for it.

And as to my own perplexity as to how a person could be a pucca agnostic and still have devotional manifestations, I will take consolation in this most insightful remark made by David to one of your earlier comments:

“I could never understand how he [Chalam] managed to keep these two ideas in his mind, without one dislodging the other. You seem to have mastered the same trick!”

best wishes

Ravi said...

Arvind,
You have written with a good deal of fine sensitivity.I cannot help noticing the YEARNING FOR MORE in your "And as to my own perplexity as to how a person could be a pucca agnostic and still have DEVOTIONAL manifestations, I will take CONSOLATION in this most insightful remark made by David".

We definitely miss seeing THIS ASPECT of 'S'-There is so much waiting in abeyance!
I do not know much about Chalam-so,I am not in any position to appreciate what David Had mentioned.I do not know whether Chalam had this QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE-the way 'S' has expressed.NAREN had this sort of quest,and He could see the DOWNSIDE of this as well.It was then that he started asking the GREAT RELIGIOUS LEADERS the now famous-'HAVE YOU SEEN GOD?'.

I had not responded to your request regarding my Master-I do not know where to start and how to go about-I am keenly aware of How Swami Vivekananda said once-'In Trying to paint Lord Siva,you end up painting a Monkey!'-Master is an ORDINARY PERSON!Had it been some Swami or Yogi,it would have been easier!
I thought about it-I think it will be better to give a snippet here and there and allow you to piece together the complete picture.

Here is the First Snippet-Master is born in the lineage of Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati.He inherits his love of Tamil and it is a pleasure to listen to his recitation of the Mahakavi's Poems.
Master serves the Finest of Cuisine-THE BUDDHA,,Jesus The Christ,Tiruvalluvar,SANKARA,ANDAAL's Tiruppavai(Gnana perspective!),Ramanuja,Prophet Mohammed,Thayumanavar,Pattinathaar(Tamil sages),Sri Ramakrishna,Omar Khayyam,SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI,SUBHRAMANYA BHARATI(whom he regards as a GREAT SEER POET!He bring out clear evidence!),J KRISHNAMURTI.
The Teachings are a fine Blend from THE BUDDHA,TIRUKKURAL,BHAJA GOVINDAM,NAALADIYAR,TIRUPPAVAI,YOGA VAASISHTAM,TRIPURA RAHASYAM,SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI(One of his Great favourites along with The Buddha).

Master never married,remained a Naishtika Brahmachari,served and retired from some office(I do not know!).He started giving his TALKS for 3 or 4 People who sought his help and it increased to a small crowd(a maximum of may be 100 or so).Master says-"It is not for me to SEEK CROWDS!Nor is it My Intention to SPREAD this teaching!If the thirst is sincere Nature will provide the SUPPORT to whoever and wherever they Be!".

Master does not expect any Formal Protocol-Like Getting up ,doing Namaskar,etc;nor does he permit any RELIGIOUS SYMBOL -Lighting a Lamp,Burning Incense,Distributing Vibhuti,Flowers,etc are a STRICT NO!He is a World citizen.Yet an ORDINARY PERSON.Wears a simple Dhoti and a Kurta,quite Neat .Always Clean Shaven(No Beard ,etc).

He is an out and out GNANI.No quarters for any Devotional Practices!(EMOTION AND AWARENESS ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE-SAGE TG Narayanaswamy)

Enough for now!

May Sri Bhagavan's Blessings be with us!
Salutations!

Mariano said...

Be quiet and know. We need to be sometimes in silence. What to do when all is written?. Peace is found when home is quiet. Words help until they are not necessary. All is well and the destiny is out. Nothing is new below sun, all is written. Feelings are as they are and the best way is for the myself. It's important to know that a new life is possible and that life is full of joy. Onli consider that we are not as we appear to be. In the meantime, I need help, we need help, and the greatest help is from our masters, those who have accomplished that we desire: sat, chit, ananda. It's a time question if time exists. To abide in the feeling of I am, to self-enquire are the first steps for some of ours, grace for some of others, seeking and probably found, depends on the hunger. It is my understanding that all is useful in the correct time. I am grateful to David and to my firends in this seeking because for us and hence for our nearest, something is changing: we are completely changing our vision of this world, as many others in the human history. Self-enquiry, the feeling of I am, Ramana, Nisargadatta, you and me are the same people.
In the present time, Ed Muzika, David, Michael, Langford, David Carse and some others contribute to the general health of human mind.
Regards
Mariano

arvind said...

Ravi,

Many thanks for the kind comments; many more for sharing the information about your Master.

It was a real joy to read. I could clearly feel your great shraddha towards him shining thro’ the narrative. I could also sense your Master’s greatness - in terms of knowledge, his simple and all-inclusive teachings, and particularly his uncomplicated lifestyle. He is certainly not an ordinary person.

Of course I would love to hear more about him, but even if you stop with what you’ve written, I ‘know’ him already, so to speak, and do not need to hear anything more.

Please convey my heartfelt namaskars to him when you meet him next.

best wishes

PS: Chalam’s story is in “Power of the Presence, Vol I” as David has mentioned in his comment.

S. said...

salutations to all:
it was very nice reading ravi's brief note on his master...at heart, am still an 'agnostic', and am writing the following lines with the awareness that they could plausibly belie my claim!

yesterday morning, while i was humming the 'aksharamanamalai', quite spontaneously i remembered all of you when i came to the concluding "arunachalam vaazhi,
anbargalum vaazhi, aksharamanamalai vaazhi" (hope ravi and arvind wouldn't ask 'what was this agnostic doing with bhagavan's marital garland of letters?'!) :-)
my repeated salutations to each and everyone of you...

while i still maintain, given my inclinations, that it is easier for me to relate to 'self-enquiry' than 'self-surrender' (i mean the method), thought of sharing a few things with you:

there are two people whose very name thrills me with inexplicable joy as well as makes me bow down in complete reverence (if only i had had an opportunity to meet them face to face, i can say with confidence that i wouldn't have lifted my head from their feet)... one was a disciple of bhagavan and the other a disciple of thakur (sri ramakrishna)...

am referring to 'muruganar' and 'nag mahashaya'...the extent to which they were self-effacing simply stupefies me...if i were asked to define that most important of all virtues, viz., "humility", i would promptly say 'muruganar' and 'nag mahashaya', the very embodiments of self-surrender (as it is, i don't understand much about 'surrender'; but for muruganar & nagmahashaya, that word would have been totally alien to me)

since most of you are well aware of the literature surrounding bhagavan, i wouldn't say anything more about muruganar here...of course, am also incapable of saying anything about them (my attempt shall be no different from the candle which went about describing the sun!)...with reference to 'nag mahashaya', would simply append these two statements:

(by swami vivekananda): "I have traveled many places in the world, but nowhere have I come across such a great soul as Nag Mahashay; Five minutes in the company of such godly men can change a whole life"

this one is most beautiful (by girish chandra ghosh, another brilliant disciple of thakur):
"Mahamaya fell into a great difficulty in trying to ensnare two persons. Naren (Vivekananda) and Nagmahashaya. As She tried to capture Naren, he became bigger and bigger and at last so big that all Her fetters fell short and She had to give up Her task as hopeless. And when She attempted Her trick on Nagmahashaya, he began to make himself smaller and smaller and at last reduced himself to such a degree of smallness that he easily escaped through the meshes of Her snares."

given that they were totally self-effacing, they rarely wrote anything about themselves...one has to simply gather information about them from several scattered sources...the asramam had recently released a comprehensive 8-volume biography on bhagavan (arunachala's ramana), which has delicious references to muruganar...am currently reading them, and they are delightful...(kanakammal's 'cherished memoirs' has a very nice account about muruganar)

and finally, as you all know bhagavan was very fond of the most beautiful tamizh compositions of the 'nayanmars'(esp., sambandhar, sundarar, appar)...those of you who are interested, please have a look at the scripts (with transliteration) for a few songs at "http://www.geocities.com/nayanmars/Documents.html" (the audio for quite a few of those are available at the 'audio gallery' at "www.shaivam.org")... vallalar swamigal also has a beautiful song on 'tiruvannamalai' (16th song, the 3rd thirumurai of thiruvarutpa), the audio+text of which is available at "www.vallalar.org"

Ravi said...

Arvind,
You GOT me!Yes,I was simply using the term Master used to describe himself to one of the persons who had sought his help.His daughter had leucoderma and he was worried that he was unable to find a suitable match for her.(LIFE throws many such problems and they need to be addressed.'Who am I ' is not going to address issues like these.I am just pointing to the fact how Blessed and lucky some of us are to even be DABBLING with these lofty teachings.)It was while addressing him that master referred himself as ORDINARY PERSON(That man had gone to several Swamijis and Yogis before landing up at master's place).I agree that when you say 'I Know him already';Yes,you got it right!

S.,
There you are atlast!Wear whatever mask you want to.All of us are wearing masks!
Thanks for the Blessings -Anbargal Vaazhi!
REMEMBER-ONE HEMP SMOKER Recognizes ANOTHER!You may relish your Supaari!Thanks for introducing NAG MAHASAYA to the devotees here.For those who would like to read the wonderful life of this HUMILITY incarnate,a Pdf is available for download(forgot the exact site;A google search will help).Just want to add the following wonderful incident from N M's Life-"Nag Mahasaya always used to call himself a Lowly person;whenever he used to be invited for pooja or celebrations,Nag Mahasaya will sit in a remote corner and roll Betel Leaves for the participants.He said that by serving the Devotees he will earn punya;being a lowly person he is unfit to do other things.On one such occasion,NIRANJAN,A disciple of Sri Ramakrishna took Nag Mahasaya to Task saying-'Thakur used to say a man verily becomes what he thinks himself to be;You are always saying that you are a lowly person-You will become one and salvation is not for you'.Nag Mahasaya saluted him and said -'yes,What you say is true;Yet I know I am Lowly;if that be the Truth, how I can think otherwise.BY ADHERING TO TRUTH,I WILL NOT COME TO GRIEF!".Niranjan was gagged by this unpretentious Humility and was forced to retreat.

Thanks very much S.Yes,you do have your freedom to continue being an Agnostic and we will continue to pretend that you are one!
Thanks also for those references to the Nayanmar songs.I will go through the same.
Keep serving these dishes from time to time.

Friend and fellow devotees,
We are making merry in the classroom when the TEACHER(DAVID)is temporarily absent.Thanks for putting up with all the noise.

Salutations!

Ramprax said...

@Ravi:
'The Way Maharaj disposes them and drives home the point is something like Sanath Jayasurya At his Best!'

LOL :D
I haven't read any of the books on Maharaj. But I will pick one up and read just for your Jayasuriya analogy! :)

@David & S:
More free-time for both of you! :)

David Godman said...

Srikantha

'Are you still active on this thread?

I am interested in your responses to a few queries on vichara, which was being discussed in the initial part of this thread. :)'


I have just picked out those queries that seem to need an answer. I will now start replying to them. If there any that I miss, please let me know.

I would just like to say that no threads are ever closed on this blog. If someone decides to ask a question about something I wrote three months ago, that query will end up in my mail box, and I will do my best to answer it. The only constraints are time. I do have a lot of other things to do. Compiling a post might take most of a day, and every morning I get up and find 10-20 new responses in my in box. If you keep tabs on the 'recent comments' facility, you can see if someone has just asked a question about an old post.

Ravi

We are making merry in the classroom when the TEACHER(DAVID)is temporarily absent.Thanks for putting up with all the noise.


This is primarily a thread for readers to talk to each other. I don't care how much noise you make, so long as you remain reasonably on-topic.

David Godman said...

Jupes

Very interesting discussion here. Thanks for all the 'baby prattle' and 'childish opinions'... ;-) I very much appreciate your strength of conviction, Maneesha, and your (apparently) deep faith and trust that Bhagavan is HERE AND NOW as the Self, always. Most inspiring!

I have a question here, since the subject of GRACE has come up. I would ask: What exactly IS Grace and how do we know we are being visited upon by Grace? Is this simply an intuitive feeling, a 'sixth' sense? And, more importantly, is it Grace ONLY if we somehow feel 'good' from it, ONLY if it somehow 'advances' us spiritually, and NOT Grace if there is not some 'positive' result, if we are not somehow 'moved'? For instance, is it Grace when we fall into vichara effortlessly and NOT Grace if we are stuck in thoughts and are struggling to no avail?

I have often thought that on some level EVERYTHING IS GRACE, regardless of how we feel and regardless of the content of our unfolding scripts, and that we perceive it as Grace ONLY if what we perceive is somehow profound, meaningful and 'positive'.



I agree.

People tend to regard grace as something that is given to them, whether they deserve it or not. Grace is, as Bhagavan pointed out, what you are. There is no need to beg for it. To feel it and benefit from it, all you have to do is withdraw your attention from all the things that habitually occupy your attention.

Papaji once said, 'The rose blooms by grace and the thief steals by grace'. Arbitrarily deciding that some things are the result of grace and others not keeps you in the realm of mental judgments.

David Godman said...

Arvind and Maneesha

I enjoyed your exchange on the necessity or not of physical proximity to the Guru. I won't add to it because I think you have, between you, covered all the pro and con points.

When I made the comment that started this discussion, it was not my intention to convey the idea that grace was more available to those who sat with the Guru physically, and that everyone else who was not so lucky has to work harder.

Effort is required when the mind and its outgoing attention is not resting in its source. That, for most of us, is virtually all the time. Silence may claim us once in a while, but as I said in my initial comments, the rest of the time is 'unremitting hard work'.

David Godman said...

Arvind

That He is peering over our shoulder when we are writing something for example, or that he is eating food along with us at the table, or that He is sitting next to us when we are driving to work and so on. This would be virtually similar to trying to hold on to the ‘Self’ during all our activities, but easier. I believe then, if this is done with full faith and devotion, one would find that when one sits down for formal Vichara, it would be just like sitting in His presence in the old hall in the olden days.

I think this is so true. I walk with Bhagavan every day, and I talk to him as well. I tell him what is going on in my life: what I have done, what pending business there is, and so on. I remind him (and myself!) it's His business, and I let him get on with it. I just try to stay out of the way. Having Bhagavan there during everyday life makes it easier to appreciate and be consumed by his peace and silence whenever the opportunity arises.

David Godman said...

Chris

Thanks for your long contribution, and apologies for the delay in responding to it.

You said: 'My question is: how to bring this love to the awareness that comes out of self-inquiry? Doesn’t this love belong in this awareness? Why doesn’t it come naturally for me with the awareness consequent to my doing self-inquiry?'

You don't have to do anything to 'bring' love into your awareness during enquiry. Enquiry is about finding the love that is already there. Be quiet, be still, and you will find that you are love itself.

I am not sure that channelling is such a good idea. Channel your own Self and don't listen to any other voices or opinions.

And don't get carried away by experiences of light. Dwell on the experiencer, not the experience itself.

David Godman said...

Ravi

Yes, How can the efforts of the Ego be successful?-Beautiful point! The Answer to this is "IT CANNOT BE!" Then Why is it that Efforts are called for! The answer to this is that NOT MAKING EFFORTS is worse still!
This is the LOSE-LOSE situation! Then What is it that can be done?


I can't remember where I read it, but I recollect Arthur Osborne saying that enquiry was a win-win situation: either you got enlightened, or you just got peaceful, quiet and happy.

As you say, the ego cannot bring you good results by doing anything. What it can do, though, is stop 'doing' and face the Self. When this happens, the ego is dissolved in the Self.

Ravi said...

David,
Whether it is a WIN-WIN or LOSE-LOSE situation does not depend ON THE METHOD but on the person.There are 2 types of EGO-what is referred to here is the UNRIPE ego-which thinks IT IS SOMEBODY!As Sri Ramakrishna explains-the 'Ripe' ego (the ego of a 'child',or 'disciple',or 'friend'etc) results ALWAYS IN A WIN!WHATEVER THE METHOD!
Just see HOW OUR BIASES ARE DEEP ROOTED!...S!....Where are you?....!!!(Just kidding!)

David Godman said...

Nandu Narasimhan said...
Sorry, a few points by way of continuation.

1. David, when I am doing self-enquiry, after a point, there seems to be two 'me's in me! One is aware of the self-enquiry and the other is either listening to let's say Aksharamanamalai, or even watching a cricket match. Of course this is only for a short period before one of the activities fades into the background. Is this normal - this sense of two 'me's?

There is only one 'I'. You imagine it to be a person occupying a body, decide that this imagination is not good, and decide to end it by trying to identify with the real 'I'. What instrument do you have to do this? The imaginary 'I'. So, the imaginary 'I' goes looking for the real 'I', and while it is conducting its search another 'I' watches the performance, or gets distracted from it by watching some cricket. Now you seem to have at least three of them: the 'I' that is sought; the 'I' that is doing the looking, 'I' that is the observer of the process, and an extra one that occasionally gets bored with the self-enquiry and decides to watch cricket instead.

What to do? You have to start with the mind, the individual 'I', because there is nowhere else to begin. Try to practise a bit of birth control on your proliferating 'I's. If you feel one springing into existence, or notice that it has already been born, withdraw attention from it and try to inhere in the subjective awareness of 'I' or 'I am'. If you end up in any kind of regression, you are looking at an 'I', rather than being the 'I'. If you feel that there is an 'I' watching the enquiry, or being distracted from it, take that to be a sign that you are objectifying your 'I' rather than being absorbed in it. And don't fall into the trap that you are looking 'for' the real 'I'. If you do that, you just set up another object to look at.

Self-enquiry should be about being the 'I', not looking for it or watching it.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Dear David,

Many many thanks for the post clarifying my doubt.

"And don't fall into the trap that you are looking 'for' the real 'I'. If you do that, you just set up another object to look at.

Self-enquiry should be about being the 'I', not looking for it or watching it."

Over the last few days, I picked up some very similar hints to what you mentioned above. From 'Living By The Words Of Bhagavan'! And that has kind of 'quitened' my efforts while doing Self Enquiry.

So you did answer my doubt, some time before you posted it here!

Classic Bhagavan, if you ask me!

Many many thanks.

David Godman said...

Nandu

A slight gap between answering your points. I just went out for an hour or two to shop and get a print out for a cover.

3. Sometimes, when self enquiry becomes a bit of labour (though I find that it is the best method in a busy or noisy environment), I switch over to the method outlined by Annamalai Swami in 'Final Talks' - mentally focus on 'I -I', and ignore all other thoughts. Is this okay,as I feel that it helps keep the 'current' going for a bit longer?

I think this is a good 'plan B' if the enquiry is not going well. In Who am I? Bhagavan says that repeating 'I, I' will take one back to the source, and he repeated the advice to a woman in Day by Day with Bhagavan when she said she was too busy to do self-enquiry properly.

David Godman said...

Nandu

Apropos your five-point list in which you explained how you managed to get your attention onto the 'I' and hold it there.

I think pragmatism is required in enquiry. If you find something that helps you to return to the sense of 'I' and stay there for a while, then do it. Different things work for different people.

David Godman said...

celio leite said...
David,
Its not because I am in your blog, but each day I discover your book "Be as You Are" is the more clear and helpful to "learn" Atma-Vichara.
The almost 240 milion of Brazilian and portuguese people would love have your books translated into the portuguese.
Ramana teachings and devotees are increasing day by day here in Brazil.
We hope your books be soon published here.
Thanks.

I can' take the initiative on this one. If a Portuguese publisher wants to publish the books, it should approach me. I can't do the translations, and I can't do the distribution for non-English books. Someone in Brazil has to decide that this is a viable commercial proposition (if it's a proper publisher) or a devotee has to come forward and do it as an act of seva.

David Godman said...

Murali said...
David,

During your Kannappa temple days, were you able to sit day long in Self Enquiry? did not the vasanas come in the way and make you jump out of our seat, as Bhagavan was mentioning? How did you manage to subside them?

Regards Murali

If your children know that if they pester you long enough for an ice cream, you will give in and buy them one, they will pester you endlessly until you give in. If they know from experience that you don't give in to such campaigns, they will generally leave you alone.

When I used to sit all day meditating, I just told myself, 'I am not going to move except to go to the bathroom and back. I am not going to listen to my mind saying "I am bored" or my body saying "I am uncomfortable".'

Once you have made a firm decision not to give up and not be distracted, and if you stick to it for a while, your subconscious knows that it is pointless to keep tempting you with reasons why you should give up and do something else. Once that happened I found that restlessless subsided by itself.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

David,

Many many thanks for clarifying my doubts.

I needed a bit of 'handholding', as my earlier pracice of Self Enquiry had caused my ego to surface and take my mind off practice, and into too much reading and meaningless theories.

And I got just that here. I am now practising with the intensity of a novice.

Many many thanks again.

Scott Fraundorf said...

More thoughts on Vichara: For me I have intense panic anxiety as well, and I try when I feel in danger, to ask who am I? Find it's source, but I feel like those are the most hard times to practice Enquiry, at the same time when I feel safe, and like everything is O.K, I also feel a lack of motivation to practice. When in danger, i want to be vigilant, when I feel safe, I want to savour it. But I also try to stay at the source. Again in answer to your question about Asperger's. One thing that makes me more focused on Enquiry, or desirous of Self-Realization is that my ego is so obviously non-functional in the 'world', that I totally want to be rid of it. If my ego was more functional in the world, I think I would be less motivated. Another thing is that Enquiry seems to bring out the disastrous flaws in the ego, and make them even more obvious. I don't know what its like for other people, but many others seem to have egos that are useful to them in the 'world', that they can see the payoff in their ego, in successful lives, romantic relationships, knowing how to avoid obvious mistakes and read others. In the end, maybe that would make it all the more painful to give up. I am very attached to my ego, to my desires like anybody else, and it takes extraordinary will power to atleast periodically ask "Who am I?" and seek the source as opposed to the mental habits I'm accostomed. But when my ego, my I thought, my sense of being an individual, has just led to humiliation, big mistakes, obvious social failure compared to others, there's not a whole lot to be attached to. And when I'm attached it's just longing. My desires do not give a sense of hope for their fulfillment. I thought this was a bad thing until I encountered Ramana Maharshi who was the first person I ever read who said that losing hope in the 'world' is good because then you are more likely to seek the source, the Self.

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