Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ajata

A couple of days ago I was asked, in one of the comments to a post: ‘in ajatic terms, is there such a thing as ‘life’ or even ‘Life’?


Ajata means ‘not created’ or ‘not caused’. When the word is used as a prefix in vedantic creation theories, it indicates a philosophical or experiential position that the world was never ‘created’. The classic formulation of this position can be found in Gaudapada’s Mandukya Upanishad Karika, chapter two, verse thirty-two. This is Bhagavan’s Tamil rendering of the Sanskrit verse:

There is no creation, no destruction, no bondage, no longing to be freed from bondage, no striving to be free [from bondage], nor anyone who has attained [freedom from bondage]. Know that this is the ultimate truth.

This rendering appears as ‘Stray verse nine’ in Collected Works and as ‘Bhagavan 28’ in Guru Vachaka Kovai. Variations of this verse can also be found in the Amritabindu Upanishad (verse 10), Atma Upanishad (verse 30) and Vivekachudamani (verse 574).


The ajata doctrine takes the position that since the world was never created, there can be no jivas within it who are striving for or attaining liberation. Though it violates common sense and the experience of the senses, Bhagavan regarded it as ‘the ultimate truth’.


Muruganar has noted that, though Bhagavan taught a variety of theories of creation to devotees who asked him questions on this topic, the only explanation that tallied with his own experience was the ajata one:

Though Guru Ramana, who appeared as God incarnate, expounded numerous doctrines, as befitted the different states and beliefs of the various devotees who sought refuge at his feet, you should know that what we have heard him affirm to intimate devotees in private, as an act of grace, as his own true experience, is only the doctrine of ajata [non-creation]. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 100)

Adi-Sankaracharya generally invoked maya to explain how an unreal world is created within the Self, whereas his Paramaguru, Gaudapada, taught that the world did not exist at all, even as maya. Swami Madhavatirtha, a vedantic scholar, once asked Bhagavan which side of this doctrinal divide he favoured.

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

Na nirodho na chotpattir
Nabaddho na cha sadhakaha
Na mumukshur na vai mukta
Ityesha paramarthata

This verse appears in the second chapter [v. 32, vaithathya prakarana] of Gaudapada’s Karika [a commentary on the Mandukyopanishad]. It means really that there is no creation and no dissolution. There is no bondage, no one doing spiritual practices, no one seeking spiritual liberation, and no one who is liberated. One who is established in the Self sees this by his knowledge of reality. (The Power of the Presence, part one, p. 240)

Though Bhagavan says here that ‘One who is established in the Self sees this [the truth of the ajata position] by his knowledge of reality’, it was not a teaching that he often gave out. Bhagavan himself explained why in this extract from Day by Day with Bhagavan:

The letter went on to say, ‘Ramana Maharshi is an exponent of ajata doctrine of advaita Vedanta. Of course, it is a bit difficult.’

Bhagavan remarked on this, ‘Somebody has told him so. I do not teach only the ajata doctrine. I approve of all schools. The same truth has to be expressed in different ways to suit the capacity of the hearer. The ajata doctrine says, “Nothing exists except the one reality. There is no birth or death, no projection [of the world] or drawing in [of it], no sadhaka, no mumukshu [seeker of liberation], no mukta [liberated one], no bondage, no liberation. The one unity alone exists ever.”

‘To such as find it difficult to grasp this truth and who ask. “How can we ignore this solid world we see all around us?” the dream experience is pointed out and they are told, “All that you see depends on the seer. Apart from the seer, there is no seen.”

‘This is called the drishti-srishti vada, or the argument that one first creates out of his mind and then sees what his mind itself has created.

‘To such as cannot grasp even this and who further argue, “The dream experience is so short, while the world always exists. The dream experience was limited to me. But the world is felt and seen not only by me, but by so many, and we cannot call such a world non-existent,” the argument called srishti-drishti vada is addressed and they are told, “God first created such and such a thing, out of such and such an element and then something else, and so forth.” That alone will satisfy this class. Their mind is otherwise not satisfied and they ask themselves, “How can all geography, all maps, all sciences, stars, planets and the rules governing or relating to them and all knowledge be totally untrue?” To such it is best to say, “Yes. God created all this and so you see it.”’

Dr. M. said, ‘But all these cannot be true; only one doctrine can be true.’

Bhagavan said, ‘All these are only to suit the capacity of the learner. The absolute can only be one.’ (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 15th March, 1946, afternoon)

I began this post by citing a query that appeared in response to something else I had written: ‘in ajatic terms, is there such a thing as ‘life’ or even ‘Life’?

I think the answer to that would be: ‘If the world was never created, where is life going to reside?’ I could also point out that postulating a category such as ‘life’ (or even ‘Life’ with a capital L) implies some sort of dichotomy between animate and inanimate, sentient and insentient. I don’t think that the formless Self can support such distinctions.

I gave a brief reply to Michael, the original questioner, who responded by asking, ‘Are you aware of others who have spoken of this [ajata]?

Yes, I am. Papaji wrote about this extensively in his diary, and I also spoke to him about his views on ajata on a few occasions. Here, for example, is what he wrote in his journal on 6th March 1982:

NO creation,
NO dissolution,
NO bondage,
NO liberation,
NO seeker after liberation,
None liberated:
This is the ultimate Truth.

Absolute non-manifestation
is the only Truth.

Creation indicates an unsatisfied desire on the part of the creator. If the ultimate reality is perfect in itself, then the act of creation can never be predicated on it. (Nothing Ever Happened vol. 3, pp. 217-8)

The emphatic upper case words come from Papaji himself. He begins with a summary of Gaudapada’s classic verse and then elaborates on it in a most interesting way by postulating that creation can never happen because such a process would imply imperfection or incompleteness in the Self. The argument seems to be: creation arises from desire; desire implies incompleteness in the one who has the desire; since the Self is complete, it has no desires; and since it has no desires, creation can never happen.

The corollary of this would be: if you see a world, you have desires; if you have desires, you are ignorant of the Self; if you knew yourself to be Self and Self alone you would have no desires, and in that state there would be no creation. Here is Papaji again elaborating on this chain of logic:

Ignorance gives rise to desires. Desires give rise to the world. When you realise that ignorance itself does not exist, you will discover the illusoriness of your desires. As a result the whole world becomes illusory and non-existent. The world never did exist. If there was no past happening, how then could the desire to have possession of an object arise? If there is no desire, how then could the world be seen as reality? If the desire is ended, you will discover the illusory relationship between the seer and seen. Thus you become the goal where all sufferings end. (Nothing Ever Happened, vol. 3, p. 221)

I think that most devotees of Ramana Maharshi can assimilate the idea that an unreal world is created by the seer of it. This, however, is not ajata; it is drishti-srishti vada. As Bhagavan noted in the quote I gave earlier, this is not the final truth. Ajata, flying in the face of logic, common sense and everyday experience, says very clearly that not even an unreal, illusory projected world has been created. The bald truth, the final truth, is ‘No world has ever been created’.

Maya, the idea that a power within the Self creates and sustains an unreal illusory world, gives a handy and convenient explanation of why an unreal world appears to exist and be real, but ajata rejects this compromise. It sticks firmly to the position that there is no creation and no causality.

Gaudapada declared ‘non-creation’ to be paramartha, the final truth, and Bhagavan endorsed this conclusion, saying that it tallied with his own experience. Papaji too sided with Gaudapada on the issue of whether creation ‘never happened’ or whether it appeared to happen on account of maya:

Somehow, I have to accept Gaudapada’s teaching. And that teaching is ‘Nothing ever existed at all’. This is the teaching which I like. Even Sankara did not agree with him. He started this maya philosophy, the idea that all is an illusion. (Nothing Ever Happened vol. 3, p. 218)

Papaji was fond of saying, ‘Nothing ever happens,’ or ‘Nothing ever happened’. For him this was the ultimate truth, even if it appeared to violate common sense and everyday experience. Bhagavan used this phrase himself in a reply he gave to Swami Madhavatirtha:

…one who is properly established in the Atman knows that nothing happens in this world, and that nothing is ever destroyed. Something is felt to be happening only when we are in the state of pramata, the knower. This state is not one’s real nature. For the jnani who has given up the idea of the knower, nothing ever happens. (The Power of the Presence part one, p. 238)

This is an interesting comment that explains, to some extent, the paradox of ajata. Something can only happen or exist if there is a knower or an experiencer of it. If there is no seer of the world, the world itself is not there, and never was.

It is hard to defend any of this logically or rationally, so don’t expect me to do so in the ‘responses’ section. All I can say is that this is what certain masters have said on this topic, and I can add that they have all said this on the basis of their own direct experience of the Self. That experience does not seem to be governed by the rules of logic.

The issue is complicated even further by their statements that the world still ‘appears’ after realisation, even though the ajata position would seem to indicate that it shouldn’t be there at all. Bhagavan said on several occasions that the world can be taken to be ‘real’ when it is known and experienced to be an indivisible appearance within one’s own Self, and unreal when it is perceived as an object by a seer.

He [Sankara] said that (1) Brahman is real, (2) The universe is unreal, and (3) Brahman is the universe. He did not stop at the second, because the third explains the other two. It signifies that the universe is real if perceived as the Self, and unreal if perceived apart from the Self. (Guru Ramana p. 65)

Papaji gave a very similar explanation in a conversation I had with him in the mid-1990s:

In that place [the silence of the Heart] and in that place alone, one can say, ‘Nothing has ever happened. Nothing has ever existed. The world never came into existence or disappeared from it.’

That place is my real home. It is where I always am. One can say this with authority only when one abides in that ultimate place where nothing has ever happened.

A few weeks ago someone asked me, ‘You say that the world is a projection of the mind, and that you yourself have no mind. If you have no mind, how does the world still appear to you?’

I answered, ‘I don’t see any world, so I don’t need any explanation for its appearance. If I ever see a world in front of me, then I will have to think up an explanation for it.’

That’s one way of answering this question. I could also have said that the world is Brahman, and that everything that is seen is Brahman.

You can see the world as real, as Brahman, or, like the Buddha, you can say that it is not there at all. He never saw anything. Both statements are equally valid.

I can say the world never existed or that the world is Brahman. Both statements are equally true, but this is very hard to understand. The world is real because it is Brahman, not because it appears as names and forms. It is the names and forms that never existed. (Nothing Ever Happened, vol. 3, pp. 223-4)

This elaboration of the points that Bhagavan made in the earlier quote from Guru Ramana gives an indication of how some of the perplexing tenets of ajata can be resolved, at least on an intellectual level. The next quotation is what I wrote as an introduction to some Guru Vachaka Kovai verses that deal with the topic of creation. I included this explanation in a post I made three months ago (http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/05/is-world-real.html), but it is worth repeating here since it dissects some of the terms that are used in Hindu theories of creation:

The question ‘Is the world real?’ is a recurring one in Indian philosophy, and Bhagavan was asked for his views on this topic on many occasions. To understand the context and background of his replies it will be helpful to have a proper understanding of what he meant by the words ‘real’ and ‘world’.

In everyday English the word ‘real’ generally denotes something that can be perceived by the senses. As such, it is a misleading translation of the Sanskrit word ‘sat’, which is often rendered in English as ‘being’ or ‘reality’. Bhagavan, along with many other Indian spiritual teachers, had a completely different definition of reality:

Bhagavan: What is the standard of reality? That alone is real which exists by itself, which reveals itself by itself and which is eternal and unchanging. (Maharshi’s Gospel, p. 61)

In Indian philosophy reality is not determined by perceptibility but by permanence, unchangeability and self-luminosity. This important definition is elaborated on in the dialogue from which the above quotation has been taken. It appears in full as a note to verse 64. As for the word ‘world’, Muruganar points out in his comments to verses 63 and 64 that the Sanskrit word for world, ‘loka’, literally means ‘that which is seen’. The Tamil word for the world, ulagu, is derived from loka and has the same meaning. If one combines this definition of the word ‘world’ with the standard of reality set by Bhagavan, the question, ‘Is the world real?’ becomes an enquiry about the abiding reality of what is perceived: ‘Do things that are perceived have permanence, unchangeability and self-luminosity?’ The answer to that question is clearly ‘no’. The names and forms perceived by a seer do not meet the standard of reality defined by Bhagavan, and as such they are dismissed as ‘unreal’.

According to Bhagavan these names and forms appear in Brahman, the underlying substratum. Brahman does meet the stringent test for reality outlined above since it, and it alone, is permanent, unchanging and self-luminous. If one accepts these definitions, it follows that Brahman is real, whereas the world (the collection of perceived names and forms) is unreal. This formulation, ‘Brahman is real; the world is unreal’ is a standard and recurring statement in vedantic philosophy.

Vedanta is the philosophy that is derived from the Upanishads, the final portions of the Vedas, and the subdivision of it that tallies with Bhagavan’s teachings is known as ‘advaita’, which translates as ‘not two’. ‘Not two’ means, among other things, that there are not two separate entities, Brahman and the world; all is one indivisible whole. This point is important to remember since it is at the crux of the apparently paradoxical statements that Bhagavan made on the nature and reality of the world and its substratum. Since there is nothing that is separate from Brahman, it follows that the names and forms that appear and manifest within it partake of its reality. This means that when the world is known and directly experienced to be a mere appearance in the underlying Brahman, it can be accepted as real, since it is no longer perceived as a separate entity. If one knows oneself to be Brahman, one knows that the world is real because it is indistinguishable from one’s own Self. However, if one merely perceives external names and forms, without experiencing that substratum, those forms have to be dismissed as unreal since they do not meet the strict definition of reality.

Once these terms (‘world’ and ‘real’) are analysed and understood, some of the more perplexing conundrums that characterise advaitic creation theories can be seen in a new light. If a world is ‘seen’, it is created and sustained by the ignorance of the ‘seer’; it is not a creation of the Self. In these circumstances, it is still possible to say that in the Self creation has ‘never happened’. But what of the world that ‘appears’ to the jnani? This may seem to be semantic hair-splitting of an extreme kind, but ‘appearance’ does not mean ‘creation’. Ajata means ‘not caused’ or ‘not created’. It doesn’t necessarily mean ‘not existing at all’. The world of the jnani is an uncaused and uncreated appearance within the Self; the world of the ajnani, on the other hand, is a creation of the mind that sees it.


79 comments:

Murali said...

David,

As you said, these are something to be experienced and cannot be ever rationalised.

Just one point. Is the pronunciation of Ajata like 'A' like 'A'tman, 'ja' like jar (long aa) and 'ta' like in Tamas?

Regards Murali

Karthik said...

Dear David,

There is a tamil translation of Ribhu Gita. The book is available in Sri Ramanashram. There is also a parayana audio of this translation. It runs like continious affirmations and Bagavan has said in my places that mere parayana results in abidance in Self. Towards the end the affirmations are along the lines of the theme of this article.

Regards
Karthik

michael said...

David,
thank you so much for speaking about ajata in such wonderful detail. to my mind, it’s one of the most interesting and important topics. i have some further questions which, in the spirit of discussing ‘the bald truth’, i’d like to frame in a somewhat challenging tone, rather like the one you adopted so successfully with Papaji. i feel that this will allow for a very direct approach which may be useful in addressing these abstract topics. i hope it will remain obvious that i have the deepest regard for you and all of the blog members.
michael

Broken Yogi said...

David,

Thanks for this wonderful exposition of a topic I have thought much about over the years. I have a question about the meaning of the "no-creation" ajata vada dharma, that hinges on the word "creation". I relate this matter to the classic advaita three-part formulation about the world:

1. The world is unreal
2. Only Brahman is real
3. Brahman is the world

My question is, seeing as how the world is understood to be Brahman, if the point of the ajata vada is that the world is "uncreated", if this merely means that the world cannot understood to be "created" because the world is Brahman, and of course Brahman cannot be considered to be created, since Brahman is the Source of all creation?

In other words, when first considering the ajata vada, it seem to imply that there is no world at all, whereas it actually doesn't say that at all, it merely says the world is not created. In other words, I'm asking if this means that the ultimate reality is that the world is "uncreated Brahman", and not a creation separate from Brahman.

I'm in part influenced from recently listening to the unabridged Ribhu Gita being recited in English by Papaji, which is exceptionally long and wonderful, full of nearly endless repetitions of ajata vada ideas, such as there being no separate beings, no others, no world, etc. Listening to this teaching is wholy ecstatic, and yet I did so while doing rather heavy physical work, and it didn't seem that the point of the message was some ascetical world denial, but an assertion that the world is really Brahman, uncreated bliss, not what it seems to be at all. Is this anything like the correct understanding?

Anonymous said...

I remember reading a book by Rajneesh on the Bauls of Bengal.

It seems that the Bauls have a saying - "Kichu hoi ne; Kichu hobe na". The meaning of this Bengali phrase is "Nothing has happened; Nothing will happen".

So, it seems that in other traditions also, this concept is prevalent.

Thank you,
shiv

Broken Yogi said...

David,

I got so excited reading your post that I wrote out my question halfway through. Finishing your post, I realize you pretty well end up cover ing the issues I raised. Although if you have anything more to add, feel free to do so.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

The Crow and the Cocoanut (from Yoga Vasistha, "On Creation")
---------------------------

"Whatever the mind thinks of, that alone it sees. After this, one by one the jīva acquires the sense-organs — the tongue, the eyes, the nose, the sense of touch, etc. In this there is no causal connection between the mind and the senses, but there is the coincidence of the thought and of the manifestation of the sense-organs — just like a crow sits on a palm tree and accidentally the fruit drops from it and it appears that the crow dislodged it!"

---

"When these diverse jivas arise in the infinite space of consciousness, seemingly composed of the elements, into each of the bodies consciousness enters through the aperture of life-force, and thence forms the seed of all bodies, both moving and unmoving. Thence, birth as individuals takes place, each individual being accidentally (like a crow alighting and a cocoanut falling) brought into contact with different potentialities whose expression gives rise to the law of cause and effect, etc., and thence to rise and fall in evolution. Desire alone is thereafter the cause of all this."

---

"Whatever the mind thinks of, the organs of action strive to materialise: hence, again, mind is action. However, mind, intellect, egotism, individualised consciousness, action, fancy, birth and death, latent tendencies, knowledge, effort, memory, the senses, nature, Mājā or illusion, activity and such other words are but words without corresponding reality: the sole reality is the infinite consciousness in which these concepts are conceived to exist. All these concepts have arisen when, by accidental coincidence (the crow dislodging the cocoanut), the infinite consciousness in a moment of self-forgetfulness viewed itself as the object of perception."

---

"The notions of far and near, a moment and eternity, are all hallucinations: in ignorance the real appears to be unreal, and the unreal seems to be real. The individualised consciousness perceives what it thinks it perceives, on account of its conditioning. On account of ignorance, when the notion of egotism arises, at that very moment the delusion of a beginning, a middle and an end also arises. One who is thus deluded thinks that he is an animal and experiences this. All this happens on account of accidental coincidence: just as a crow flies towards a cocoanut palm and as it alights on the tree, a fruit falls down as if the crow dislodged it — though, in fact, the crow did not! Similarly, by pure coincidence and in ignorance, the unreal seems to be real."

.

Anonymous said...

An article at the following site talks about the unreality of this Physical Universe through scientific facts.

the Link

arvind said...

Dear David,

Thank you for the wonderful post on Ajata. I just thought to raise a few points.

“Adi-Sankaracharya generally invoked Maya to explain how an unreal world is created within the Self, whereas his Paramaguru, Gaudapada, taught that the world did not exist at all, even as Maya.”

“[Papaji said] Somehow, I have to accept Gaudapada’s teaching. And that teaching is ‘Nothing ever existed at all’. This is the teaching which I like. Even Sankara did not agree with him. He started this Maya philosophy, the idea that all is an illusion. (Nothing Ever Happened vol. 3, p. 218)”

I believe that the above statements are not entirely accurate. Please allow me to elaborate further.

The above statements give the impression that Sri Gaudapadacharya held a view of Advaita-Vedanta called Ajata whereas Sri Sankara then added on to this the concept of Maya, thus diluting the doctrine of Ajata. This is inaccurate. What Sri Sankara taught was exactly what Sri Gaudapadacharya also taught. Sri Sankara did not start the Maya philosophy. The Ajata-Advaita-Vedanta philosophy including the term Maya existed from ancient times. Sri Gaudapada first collected the teachings into his Karika that’s all. The one verse (II.32) is not the sole verse comprising the teachings of Sri Gaudapada. Sri Gaudapada’s teachings include all that he has stated in the 4 chapters of the Karika. Chapter III in fact has numerous verses describing the nature and role of Maya and how It “creates” an illusory world.

The confusion arises because from around medieval times, Ajata has been taken to mean only what was stated in verse II.32. Whereas Ajata-Advaita-Vedanta is a complete spiritual-philosophical system. It has to be, since it was put together by Sri Gaudapada to explain the entire ‘universe’, so to speak. Verse II.32 explains the viewpoint from only the “Self”. If we stop there, then there is no explanation for what everyone experiences every day in waking – the “world”. If there is anything of the ‘universe’ that a spiritual-philosophy cannot explain, then it fails immediately. So Sri Gaudapada necessarily had to explain how the world is “there”, which he did by using Maya.

Thus Ajata-Advaita-Vedanta has 2 viewpoints, so to speak. If one is in the domain of the Self, then there is nothing, nothing was ever created and so on (verse II.32). And to explain the “world”, which is an empirical experience of everyone in the waking state, the concept of Maya is used. In fact Maya is used only to postulate why in the indivisible sole reality, the “Self”, there should arise a “world”. Since Maya Itself is described as inscrutable, inexpressible and so on, in fact no reason is really ascribed as to “why” the “world” arises. Devotees are told to keep the “why” aside and concentrate on other aspects. And the nature of the world is described by Sri Gaudapada, in Chapter IV of his Karika, as basically identical to a “dream”. In numerous verses, some of which read stunningly like the conversations of Sri Bhagavan with Swami Madhavatirtha, Sri Gaudapada says the nature of the world, is just like a dream for the embodied soul. The reality of the world is exactly the same as that of what we all call a “dream”.

And so to summarize the teachings of Sri Gaudapada we can say - There is nothing at all, no creation, no ‘life’ or ‘Life’ and so on (verse II.32) from the viewpoint of the Self. But there arises in the Self, because of an indeterminable, inexpressible, unexplainable power called Maya, an illusory embodied jiva, and his illusory world. This jiva and this world is as unreal as a dream. When the Jiva “wakes” up to the Self, he and the world disappear as do the characters and objects in a dream on waking up. Thus neither Sri Gaudapada or Sri Sankara or Sri Bhagavan ever accepted directly that the world is “real” or even that Maya is “real” for that matter. Only the Self is real. And as for the world, how much reality do we attribute to our dream when we wake up ? That is exactly the nature of the world.

And that is why Sri Bhagavan also explained the teaching in the round-about way: Brahman is real, world is unreal, Brahman is the world.

[Also, we may keep in mind that the Acharyas & Sri Bhagavan all state that the nature of Maya is such that if a devotee concentrates on trying to decipher It’s secrets, he will simply go round and round in circles. So the advice is to concentrate of the “Self” part of it. Once the Self is realized, then Maya Itself will be understood.]

[As to why Papaji should make the extraordinary statement that Sri Sankara disagreed with Sri Gaudapada and started the “Maya” concept, I believe the answer may lie in the fact that, in the north, in conservative religious families, the basic religious activity is doing formal puja, reciting bhajans, visiting temples and so on. A formal study of the Upanisads and other scriptures is rarely imparted to youngsters. I don’t think Papaji ever got the chance to see the Karika in its entirety. And so his belief is the same as the generally held belief of most people in the north - that Sri Sankara started the Advaita-Vedanta and Maya philosophy. I too held this belief till I grew up and started reading scriptural texts for myself].

David, needless to say that the foregoing is all as per my own beliefs. Please forgive me, David & everyone, if it is found to be way off the mark.

Best wishes

David Godman said...

murali

The word ajata consists of a negative prefix - a - followed by the past passive participle from the root jan, to be born. The second 'a' is long (ajaata) and it literally means 'not having been born'.

michael said...

David,
1. ajata, meaning not-born, is a statement about the status of the world. does it also infer a statement about Brahman, to the effect that it does exist and is real?
2. unlike ajata, is advaita a form of maya vada?
3. is there a difference between Brahman and Self?
4. is it truthful to say, “there is no such thing as life”?
thank you,
michael

David Godman said...

Arvind

Thanks for the explanation. There was lots of stuff in there I didn’t know.

I think that both Bhagavan and Papaji picked on this key verse because it articulated the truth of their own experience. It is possible that some of the other components of Gaudapada’s teachings were not mentioned because they didn’t resonate so well.

Papaji did actually take the trouble to go through T. M. P. Mahadevan’s work on Gaudapada’s Karika, which was originally submitted as his Ph.D thesis in the 1930s. I found this book on Papaji’s bookshelf when I visited him the early 1990s. I included the following letter in Nothing Ever Happened (volume two, pp. 349-51). It was written in 1982 and sent to an Australian devotee. I assume that the two of them had previously been discussing Buddhist ideas since the similarities between Buddhism and Gaudapada are the main points covered in the letter. I checked the letter against the book and discovered that he is quoting or paraphrasing many of Mahadevan’s comments in his remarks.

Dear Raman,

I have just received your letter dated 22nd March. I have recently found a book: Gaudapada, a Study in Early Advaita, by T. M. P. Mahadevan. It is very interesting to have a comparative study between advaita and Buddhism, and in particular between Gaudapada and Buddha. I have culled some extracts from the book, which I am sending to you because we often speak on this topic. We have had several discussions on how they differ. Do you remember when I asked you at Bhumananda Ashram, Sapt Sarovar, ‘What is the difference between Brahman and Sunya?’

These are some of the points that are mentioned in chapter nine.

There has been a persistent challenge levelled against advaita that it is pseudo-Buddhism and its leaders have been characterised by their critics as propagandists for Buddha views under the guise of Hindu orthodoxy. Even the great Sankara has been accused of preaching the Buddha doctrine under the false name of mayavada [the path of maya].’

One of the main grounds on which Sankara is branded as a veiled Buddha is that his philosophical progenitor, Gaudapada, was en rapport with Buddhism. Louis De La Valee Poussin writes, ‘One cannot read the Gaudapada Karika without being struck by the Buddhist character of the leading ideas and of the wording itself’. … Hermann Jacobi holds that Gaudapada has used the very same arguments as the Buddhists to prove the unreality of the external objects of our perceptions, and there is a near relation, amounting to almost identity, between the epistemology of the Sunyavadins [on the one hand] and Gaudapada’s mayavada on the other. Surendranath Gupta believes that there is sufficient evidence in the Karika for thinking that Gaudapada was possibly himself a Buddhist and considered that the teachings of the Upanishads tallied with those of the Buddha. He writes, ‘Gaudapada assimilated all the Buddhist Sunyavada and Vijnanavada teachings, and thought that these held good of the ultimate truth preached by the Upanishads.’

By far the most searching and detailed examination of the question of Gaudapada’s indebtedness to Buddhism has been made by Prof. V. Bhattacharya in the introduction to the Karika … fourth prakarana. It is his view that Gaudapada has accepted and approved the Buddha doctrines and advocated them throughout the Karika. The first evidence that is adduced by him to prove that Gaudapada has borrowed from the Buddha writers [is that Gaudapada] has quoted almost fully, partially or substantially from works of some celebrated Buddhist teachers who flourished between 200 AD and 400 AD. Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Maithreyanatha or Asanga and possibly Yasomitra would seem not only to have supplied Gaudapada with philosophic thoughts to adopt, but also with model verses to follow in the composition of the Karika. The idealistic schools of Buddhism, Vijnanavada and Madhyamika must have appealed to him as sponsoring views very much like his own…

The main thing that Gaudapada teaches in the Karika is the unreality of the world and absolute non-origination (ajata). The former is advocated by Vijnanavadins and the latter is proved by Madhyamikas. Gaudapada has fully utilised these lines of thought and has expressed his complete agreement with their views.

The doctrine that there is no external reality is common [says Bhattacharya] to both Gaudapada and Vijnanavadins. The world, according to both, is a figment of the imagination (kalpita). There is no difference between the world of waking and the world of dreams. Both are samvrita, enclosed within the body. Just as things imagined in the dream are seen inside the body, the objects of the waking world also are inside the body for they are equally the product of imagination. The outside of us is but an illusion.

The external world is citta-spandika, a vibration of the mind. The doctrine of non-origination (ajata) which Gaudapada advocates is essentially a Madhyamika view.

Nagarjuna’s Madhyamakakarika begins with the words ‘anirodham anutpadam’ (there is neither suppression nor origination). This doctrine is accepted by Gaudapada and he commends it to his followers.

The state of mind which is called nirvana by the Buddhists is known as Brahman in Vedanta. This is the summum bonum of both the Buddhists and the Vedantins.

Gaudapada pays homage to Buddha in his works. He also agrees with the Madhyamika conclusion that ajata is the highest truth. All this is possible because the difference between Vedanta and Buddhism is very slight. Buddhism itself owes much to the Upanishads. Such is the view of Professor Bhattacharya.

I will bring the book along with me when I come to Hardwar.

H. W. L. Poonja

I think that this letter demonstrates that Papaji was aware that there was more to Gaudapada than ‘absolute non-manifestation’. He had clearly exposed himself to the other aspects of Gaudapada’s teachings, but somehow they never resonated with him in the same way that the 2:32 Karika verse did. In the same way that Bhagavan would pick out key texts from the Bible, such as ‘I am that I am’ and ‘Be still and know that I am God’ and ignore other parts of the book, I think Papaji picked out this verse (and ignored other verses) because this one statement seemed to resonate perfectly with his own experience. Remember, when Bhagavan was asked whether his teachings tallied with Sankara’s he replied, ‘Bhagavan’s teachings come from his own experience. Others have found that they tally with Sankara’s.’ For the jnani, experience is the touchstone by which philosophical statements are validated. Those that tally with the experience are cherry-picked and frequently cited; the rest are mostly ignored. Both Papaji and Bhagavan picked out this one verse from Gaudapada because they both felt that it was an accurate formulation of paramartha, ultimate truth.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Many thanks David,

In the process of explaining the 'ajata' theory, two things clarify themselves beautifully.

One is a statement by Bhagavan that appears in 'Maharshi's Gospel' - Your duty is not to be this or that.

The second, which was discussed elsewhere, is Papaji's advice about 'effortlessness'.It now falls beautifully into place.

Thanks again.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Dear Karthik,

Regarding your comment on the 'ajata' theory appearing in the Ribhu Gita, I remember reading either in the first or the second chapter, a line that says something to the effect of remaining without sankalpas or vikalpas.

It ties in perfectly with papaji's explanation on 'ajata', where he holds forth so wonderfully on desire.

arvind said...

David,

That’s a fine explanation ! Many thanks for the same.

Thanks too for quoting Papaji’s letter. Though I have “Nothing Ever Happened” with me, I had read it some time ago and did not remember this anecdote.

Incidently, I too believe that the difference between Buddhism and Advaita is wafer thin. Though I cannot comment on whether Sri Gaudapada picked up anything from the Buddhists directly because I do not have that sort of a deep knowledge of the doctrines, my own belief is that both picked up a substantial extent of their tenets from the same very ancient vedic/traditional sources; even though Buddhism was subsequently propounded as being in complete opposition to all such sources.

And really, leaving aside certain doctrinal aspects, the only substantive difference between the two is how the Ultimate is defined, Papaji’s Brahman v/s Sunya question. The Buddhists say that It is a pure nihil, there is just nothing there, not even any “awareness”. Whereas Brahman is stated to be “full” of pure consciousness and pure absolute “awareness”, even though, again, there is nothing there.

Best wishes

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Dear Karthik,

I have tried in vain to get an mp3 of the Ribhu Gita in Tamil. I have the Sanskrit which I purchased from the ashram.

But I somehow love the cadence of the Tamil version, with its faster pace and melody.

Know any place in Delhi where I can get it? Please help me out on this.

Thanks,

Nandu

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

Many problems with statements like "world is unreal" or "world is real" could easily be avoided when we enquire not into the meaning of "world" (and to whom it appears) but into the meaning of "real" versus "unreal".

In daily life the word "real" (like the word "exist") is used in the sense of "absolute reality". In daily life people mean with "the world is real" nothing else then "the world (its objects) is an absolute reality; it lasts for ever". This obviously is a false idea.

In the same way a concept like "it exists not" is false. The meaning of this is: "it vanishes for ever", "it was, but it is no longer". This is a false idea too. Nothing in universe could vanish for ever. In fact all substances in universe are going to be transformed into other substances. Nothing vanishes for ever in the absolute sense of the word.

"Real", "unreal", "exists"", "exists not" are only ideas. It is not so difficult to understand this. A little bit of contemplation shows the unreality of all ideas in the mind.

Ajatavada emphasizes that no thing in universe and the universe itself can have an absolute reality. Because fleeting things can't have any absolute reality. And this takes even further: The subject of concepts like "real", "unreal", "universe", "object", "being", "non being" don't has an absolute reality too. All this are only ideas in the mind and nothing else. And causal relationships between things being sheer mental images are impossible in an absolute sense. Therefore nothing was ever created, caused or dissoluted.

The keen, breathtaking and logical consequence of Ajatavada now is to say: NONEXISTENCE IS AN IDEA. THERE EXISTS NOTHING ELSE THEN PURE BEING (=Self, Absolute reality alone). What we believe to be a cause, an object, a thing, a process of creation, a process of dissolution is nothing else then a concept in the mind.

So what is the meaning of "real" or "unreal" or "world", of "exist" or "exists not"? All this are only mental images. A mental image is a thing I need to think about it. And by thinking about it this thing takes the form of a seeming existence.

This is true even for concepts like "self", "brahman" etc. Although the benefit of this concepts is to point to the indescribable mysterium of reality.

So the sense of "is the word real or unreal" boils down to the statement "does this world exist in an absolute sense"? Or "is there any absolute sense in the meaning of 'exist' or 'exists not'"? The answer is easy. No idea the mind points to could claim any existence in an absolute sense.

There IS life. There IS a world. There IS a universe. There IS man. There IS the person. There ARE animals and anything else. They HAVE absolute reality. But not as the mental images we superimpose on them. Therefore Seshadri Swami bowed to the donkey and said: "This donkey is Brahman!" As a donkey the donkey is "unreal". As indescribable mysterious reality it is "real", it is Brahman.

The problem of understanding the world and consiousness becomes easier when we try to see all things included the seer as sheer mental pictures in universal consciousness - beautiful pictures, but in the end nothing else then pictures. Pictures are changeful, as we all know. Why clinging to individual pictures?

"My life is real" is the truth when "I" and "life" and "my" are meant in the absolute sense of "All is consciousness", "in consciousness that exists as reality what the mind tries to see", "there are no separate things in absolute consciousness, all is one".

"My life is real" isn't the (absolute) truth when we believe to have a life in this country, with this or that government, with this or that specific personality, this or that culture and so on.

The buddhists have this nice picture of "the goldfishes of mental objects swimming in the infinite space of absolut consciousness - being sheer decoration".

Yoga Vasistha speaks of the "garland of universe-perls reflecting each other" (and therefore producing reflecting, beautiful and never ending picures in absolute consciousness).

The problem in general is the use of words like "real": Immediately there arises the need to define the contrary. The same is true for "unreal". This is the malice of the "pairs of opposites". This problem does not arise with a word like "bred", "water", "house". Why not? Because this things have their objects in phyical reality. Whereas things like "unreal" or "real" don't have an object in reality - they are sheer mental images. The problem of mankind is to have developed such a wealth in mental images corresponding to a wealth of concepts that apparently we are hopelessness lost in this world of images.

Richard Wilhelm, the commentator of Tao te King, expresses this fact this matchless way: "We can create words having no counterpart in universe, like 'property'. And this becomes the source of all the greed. Because now we misuse a word not being a sheer description of physical reality any longer but a mental image to strive and to fight for."

If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. THE KINGDOM IS A SPIRIT-LIKE THING, and cannot be got by active doing. He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it.

The course and nature of things is such that: What was in front is now behind; What warmed anon we freezing find. Strength is of weakness oft the spoil; The store in ruins mocks our toil.

Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence.

TTK 29

And besides, my friends, this statement is what I like most in Tao te king:

Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao, earnestly carry it into practice. Scholars of the middle class, when they have heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it. Scholars of the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh greatly at it. If it were not (thus) laughed at, it would not be fit to be the Tao.
TTK 41

What the "world" and the "universe" is has to be contemplated - not discussed. Words could go to the point where we understand to go beyond the words.

.

Ravi said...

David,
I just came across this excerpt from Vivekananda's 'Inspired Talks'-which reflects on the Buddhist-Advaita vedanta position.
"The Buddhists were the most logical agnostics. You can really stop nowhere between nihilism and absolutism. The Buddhists were intellectually all-destroyers, carrying their theory to its ultimate logical issue. The Advaitists also worked out their theory to its logical conclusion and reached the Absolute — one identified Unit Substance out of which all phenomena are being manifested. Both Buddhists and Advaitists have a feeling of identity and non-identity at the same time; one of these feelings must be false, and the other true. The nihilist puts the reality in non-identity, the realist puts the reality in identity; and this is the fight which occupies the whole world. This is the "tug-of-war".
The realist asks, "How does the nihilist get any idea of identity?" How does the revolving light appear a circle? A point of rest alone explains motion. The nihilist can never explain the genesis of the delusion that there is a background; neither can the idealist explain how the One becomes the many. The only explanation must come from beyond the sense-plane; we must rise to the superconscious, to a state entirely beyond sense-perception. That metaphysical power is the further instrument that the idealist alone can use. He can experience the Absolute; the man Vivekananda can resolve himself into the Absolute and then come back to the man again. For him, then the problem is solved and secondarily for others, for he can show the way to others. Thus religion begins where philosophy ends. The "good of the world" will be that what is now superconscious for us will in ages to come be the conscious for all.
JUST MARK THE FINAL SENTENCE IN THIS TALK-This is the seed of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga.

Personally speaking,I have gone through these intellectual ideas(ofcourse they tally with the experience of the Great ones).I tend to agree with Sri Ramakrishna's position that there is no Last word in 'Explaining' Truth.There is no highest position,or the ultimate position,be it sankara or Gaudapada who may have perceived/expounded it.

What seems as a 'Vertical' for the ignorant(one position as higher than the other like Dvaita,Vishishtadvaita,Advaita),becomes 'Horizontal'for the Vijnani.

Salutations!

karthik said...

Dear Nandu Narasimhan,

I bought the audio tape from Sri Ramanashram and I think I have see the tape in some shops in Chennai like Samata book shop and Giri Trading.

Regards
karthik

karthik said...

Dear Nandu Narasimhan,

I bought the Tamil Ribhu Gita audio tape from Sri Ramanashram and I think I have seen the tape in some shops in Chennai like Samata book shop and Giri Trading.

Regards
karthik

Broken Yogi said...

David and Arvind,

Thanks for this further exposition of ajata, and of Papaji's letter. I quite agree with David's take on Ramana and Papaji basing their views on experience, rather than philosophy. In that vein, I'd like to ask about the actual experience of ajata.

I have had exactly one such experience in my life, back when I was a teenager. It occurred during my first meeting with the teacher who was to be my Guru for many years thereafter. I came into a small room with him, very nervous, waiting I thought for the "big moment". I kept chastising myself for being so crassly craving of having "something happen", but before I could control myself he was looking me right in the eye, and it was as if he could see everything I was doing. I felt caught red-handed, and I could hear his inner voice speaking to me, saying, "Well, here we are. I'm looking at you, and you're looking at me, and nothing is hapening." I felt crushed, but then all of a sudden he repeated the words "Nothing is happening!" and it was as if I was suddenly slapped in the face. I saw instantly that nothing was happening, that the universe wasn't happening, that there was nothing happening anywhere, at any time, in any place. The only thing that was real was the Guru, and I was in eternal relationship with the Guru.

Now, the reason I ask the question is that of course that moment of insight didn't amount to permanent realization in my case - far from it. I remained the same idiot afterward that I was beforehand. So I was wondering what is different about such experiences of "nothing happening" from the real thing. Is it merely a matter of it being permanent, or is it altogether different. I know Papaji has said that there is no genuine experience of realization prior to realization, so I was wondering what is different, experientially.

One thing about my experience was that it certainly was not philosophical. It wasn't as if I saw some abstract philosophical point about the universe being "uncreated" or not real or whatever. It simply wasn't happening, and never had happened. I can't quite explain this, because visually, my eyes didn't go blank, and the room didn't disappear. It was simply obvious that none of this was happening, and never had, and never would, and that was just that. Afterwards, my reaction was sort of like, wow, my whole world just fell apart. I felt like I had been utterly and absolutely wrong about everything. But in the moment, there was none of that, because literally, nothing was happening, and there was nothing to be wrong about, no delusions to possibly be concerned about, and no identity to refer to himself. No body, no world, no "life" as we know it. Only the Guru.

Which is my other question. In my experience, the Guru was the only thing "present". Is that only because I was not truly realized, or is there something in the experience of ajata that leaves the Guru untouched as eternal Presence?

Jupes said...

David,
As someone who was raised in a Christian family and brought up in a mostly Christianity society, I am curious if you (or anyone else) knows of any references to ajata-type theory appearing in the Bible. Since the Bible is a big promoter of srishti-drishti vada, I would be surprised if there's anything resembling either of the other theories. But Bhagavan did sometimes mention Biblical passages, as you pointed out in your comments on the letter to Papaji (I am that I am; Be still and know that I am God) and I wonder if He ever spoke of Christian views on creation. I also have to wonder if there actually might be references to ajata-type theory in the Bible but that they are so hidden that no one recognizes them, and/or that they would never be interpretted as such in the first place.

Ravi said...

Ramos,
"There IS life. There IS a world. There IS a universe. There IS man. There IS the person. There ARE animals and anything else. They HAVE absolute reality. But not as the mental images we superimpose on them. Therefore Seshadri Swami bowed to the donkey and said: "This donkey is Brahman!" As a donkey the donkey is "unreal". As indescribable mysterious reality it is "real", it is Brahman"
Ramos,you seem to have thought quite deeply about these things-Especially about what is 'real','unreal',etc-Rather than trying to 'DEFINE'it.The 'Elephant' Narayana parable of Sri Ramakrishna reveals the implication of a 'homogenised'misunderstanding-All is Narayana.As you have rightly pointed out , the implication of 'All','IS' and 'NARAYANA' has to be understood individually as well as collectively.Otherwise,the mind will catch hold of some chimera of a generalisation and miss the essence.
There is a wonderful book by Paul Brunton-It is called 'The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga',where Brunton talks about the mischief that words can cause-A simple word like 'man' brings different 'picture' to different people.In fact Brunton was never satisfied with the 'JUST BE' and was trying to explore the bridge between BEING and BECOMING.This was unfortunately viewed as being 'ungrateful' to Sri Bhagavan!Brunton had the Greatest Love and Respect for his Guru.This is another thing that S.Iyer,to whom Brunton later on turned to was a rigourous and Traditional Vedantist(not clear whether that was backed by direct experience of Truth).Brunton did try to meet Sri Aurobindo,but the later was unavailable for any sort of private interview.
The basic fundamental equation of the 'World is Brahman' is something that is not 'mental',and hence does not lend itself to the mental grasp-'True or False'type of a selection.This is like a multiple choice question with more than one correct answer.
Thanks very much for your reference from the yoga vasishta and the Tao,but I found your thoughts about these things most stimulating.

Namaskar!

michael said...

Broken Yogi,

finally! i've been waiting for someone to relate their experience of what ajata describes. i've had the exact same experience myself on several occasions.

it's a simple, non-negotiable direct insight and i find that my point of view has since begun to invert: since what i saw is more real than i who would doubt it, i'd sooner question that it ended than that it occured.

it's not even that i'm certain of what i saw, but that what revealed itself is Certainty itself.

though not an object, self/guru is the only Thing that exists. its dense, massive existence is profoundly present and could not possibly be mistaken for absence.

reflecting on the sheer extent to which it does exist, and the sheer extent to which the world does not, breaks my mind again and again.

michael

Jupes said...

Broken Yogi,
Absolutely fascinating to read your account of experiencing ajata and to hear your impressions of what was happening--or not happening, I should say. Thanks for sharing it. I, too, am curious about the notion of the Guru being 'present' while you were in a state of 'nothing happening.' I look forward to hearing David's response.

Ravi said...

Broken yogi,
"One thing about my experience was that it certainly was not philosophical. It wasn't as if I saw some abstract philosophical point about the universe being "uncreated" or not real or whatever. It simply wasn't happening, and never had happened. I can't quite explain this, because visually, my eyes didn't go blank, and the room didn't disappear. It was simply obvious that none of this was happening, and never had, and never would, and that was just that."
It is interesting to read about your experience-In the state of Awareness,something like this is experienced-in the sense that ONE remains the 'same' from moment to moment;This is somewhat like in a room a chair is dragged from this corner to the other corner-Substantially the room remains the same,only the position of the chair has changed.This is even experienced if one observes the interval between two thoughts-'Nothing is happening' means that there are no expectations in oneself and hence no up or down,Right or wrong,elation or depression-It is just that the 'psychological time' has come to a standstill,irrespective of the Chronologcal Clock ticking away.
Even in common parlance people ask-What,is there no news?Nothing happening?-What they look for is whether anything has changed that 'INTERESTS' them.
JK is one of the Great teachers that debunked all mystic elements and pitched everything at a common sense ,ACTUAL level.Some of these abstract things are made downright simple if we can truly observe with him.
Yet,there is such an experience when one is totally absorbed into pure awareness that shuts out everything else like in Nirvikalpa Samadhi and this may very well have a 'hangover' type of effect-like for days ,the Boy Naren had to just sit before Food and his Mother had to ask him to Eat;He used to bump himself into some seemingly solid wall to Realise that it s solid,etc.This was after Sri Ramakrishna touched him and all things just vanished!This seems to be a transition route to the state of Sahaja Samadhi.Again the Human Mind treats these states as STATIC STATES,yet this is not true-It is more like a state of Dynamic Equilibrium sort of thing.

Namaskar!

Broken Yogi said...

Jupes,

I'm not aware of anything in the Bible which can be construed as representing ajata, but I wonder if you have ever read or heard of "A Course In Miracles", which purports to be the modern, channelled writings of Jesus. I can't vouch for the authorship, or the almost absurd notion of such a work, but it is nonetheless a very pure work of non-dual teaching, and it most definitely takes the ajata view. In fact, it seems to rework Christian teaching entirely towards the ajata view. For example, it takes the notion of forgiveness as the very heart of Christianity, and yet it redefines forgiveness in ajata form, by saying that true forgiveness means recognizing that nothing wrong was ever done to us, that it was merely an illusion of our own minds, that no crime ever happened, no insult, no injury - knowing that is the only true form of forgiveness.

Likewise it says that the whole universe was never created, and it claims that this is one of the "secret teachings" that Jesus only told a few of his disciples, because it was such a heresy to the Judaic tradition, which claims that the world is the creation of God. Instead, the ACIM "Jesus" claims that the world has not been created at all, except in the mind, and then only as an "escape" from guilt over a separation from God that also never happened. All in all, a most amusing book. I think anyone with a Christian background and an interest in non-dualism should read it.

BTW, I'm wondering if David knows whether any of the usual suspects - Papaji, Nisargadatta, Lakshmana, Annamalai, etc - have ever said anything about ACIM. It seems to be pretty well ignored by most, but you never know.

arvind said...

Dear Jupes,

I believe that some of the “Gnostic” texts may contain references to an Ajata sort of teaching. The scrolls of Nag Hammadi and the Gospel of Thomas for instance. You would know - that some scholars suggest that they contain some of the original teachings of Jesus Christ, from before Constantine the “Great”, the Roman emperor, in 325 CE summoned the Council of Nicaea, “where the will and nature of God were proclaimed and defined for all mankind” [Joseph Campbell].

Heres one, a truly mystical and profound piece from the Gospel of Thomas:

(97) Jesus said: The kingdom of the [Father] is like a woman; carrying a jar full of meal and walking a long way. The handle of the jar broke; the meal poured out behind her on the road. She was unaware, she knew not her loss. When she came into her house, she put down the jar (and) found it empty.

Best wishes

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

The basic fundamental equation of the 'World is Brahman' is something that is not 'mental',and hence does not lend itself to the mental grasp-'True or False'type of a selection.This is like a multiple choice question with more than one correct answer.

Yes, this is the meaning of "this world appearance/reality/being/self has to be contemplated".

I like the approach of italian vedanta teacher Raphael simply saying: "Seeing the world we need to ask: WHAT EXACTLY is this what we are seeing, knowing that it is of a fleeting nature?"

Ajatavada says: The unborn can't become born. The born can't become unborn. Being can't become non being. Non being can't become being. The Infinite can't become the Finite, and the Finite can't become the Unfinite.

So what is the being and the non being around us? The answer is: there don't exist a thing like "non being". All is nothing else then infinite eternal being without beginning, without ending.

What we believe to be "non existent" or "vanishing" is nothing else then the "vanishing" and "non existent" ideas in our minds.

When I look at my wife - WHAT EXACTLY do I see? What do SHE exactly sees? And what do we believe to see? That is the question.

Ravi said...

Ramos,
"When I look at my wife - WHAT EXACTLY do I see? What do SHE exactly sees? And what do we believe to see? That is the question."
Down to earth question!I have to say that I just see a 'person',Not Brahman!In a state of awareness,I look at the person without any expectation,without bringing the 'psychological'memory-not as someone to be dominated or as someone who dominates one-but as a 'PERSON'.This is the actual position.
The seeing 'Brahman' in one's wife is 'theory' as of now.

When not in a state of Awareness-one sees 'wife' and not the 'person'.

arvind said...

Michael Baxter,

Thank you for sharing your “Ajata” experience with us. You have mentioned that you have had such an experience several times. Would be grateful if you would also share with us the sadhana you have been doing to achieve this. Is it by doing Vichara, or is it just “to be”, and thus abide in “Stillness”, as a lot of people here on the blog suggest, or any other sadhana ? Are you following the teachings of Sri Bhagavan or any Guru ? Please forgive the inquisitiveness as coming from a learner, a mumukshu in the game.

Also, would you or Broken Yogi say that you both actually have had a glimpse of the Self ? After all what is there in Ajata itself to see or experience ? It is a theoretical name given to an artificial construct, a state of negation so to speak, which describes an attribute of the Self so to speak, in that, that when one abides in the Self one finds that nothing was ever created or existed and so on. Whereas the Self Itself is described as Pure Universal Consciousness and “Purna”. So the experience itself should be of that of Pure Consciousness ...

Many thanks

அவனடிமை said...

If someone has personally 'tasted' the oneness even for a short while, like Michael and broken yogi believe they have, their words 'could' help the others.

I don't see why anyone else who has not had that 'direct experience' themselves should comment on 'that state'.

Won't it be like blind ending up 'influencing' (if not 'leading') the blind whether it was intended or not?

Quoting from other books and others' experiences, however great and firm those experiences and the experiencers were, is at the best a theorectial exercise and Sri. Bhagavaan strongly suggested devotees to not fall into this trap.

Even the first-person accounts will most likely fall short not because the experience is not true or the experiencer is not capable (for, by definition, 'words and minds cannot describe the in-describable'),

Frogs in a well cannot even fathom the ocean; why would they describe the experience of another frog which actually 'saw' it, other than for self-aggrandizement ?.

Love to all,

Jupes said...

Broken Yogi,
Wow, I'm nearly blown away hearing your comments on A Course in Miracles, having known of that book for many years and having seen it in secondhand stores, on library shelves and the like, but never picking it up or having even an inkling of interest in reading it. Now that you've told me what's in it I have a strong urge to find it. If it is at all credible I'm sure I will like it, having never related to or even comprehended much of what Christianity teaches, aside from the basic teachings of Jesus, many of which have been skewed over time and/or forgotten in day to day life. A big thanks for your comment!

Arvind,
It doesn't surprise me that the Gnostic texts might contain references to something akin to ajata, now that you mention it. I have never read them, aside from snippets quoted here and there. That might be something to pursue as well. And thank you for that very beautiful, profound verse from the Gospel of Thomas. Truly wonderful.

Everyone,
I hope this is not a stupid question, but am I correct in understanding that experiencing ajata, such as described by Broken Yogi and Michael, is precisely an experience of the Self and no more or less than that? If this is not correct then will someone please set this straight? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ajata is the reason for the injunction not to take advaita into the world, the reason for silence.

When someone asks a question, and you say "There is nothing there."

When they ask the time, and you say "There is no time."

And "I saw you walking." No, you saw a body. I am not that."

And "What about......" "It's all in your mind. Without the seer, there is nothing to be seen."

Shhhhh

Ravi said...

avanadiMY,
"I don't see why anyone else who has not had that 'direct experience' themselves should comment on 'that state'.

Won't it be like blind ending up 'influencing' (if not 'leading') the blind whether it was intended or not?

Quoting from other books and others' experiences, however great and firm those experiences and the experiencers were, is at the best a theorectial exercise and Sri. Bhagavaan strongly suggested devotees to not fall into this trap."
Friend,I like the way you have expressed yourself strongly and not 'directed' at anyone in particular.I am the Frog in this case-I have defined the diameter of 'my' well.I hope Broken(integrated) Yogi may have a 'Negating'hold-to express himself.As For Michael,I have not got the wind of what he 'experienced'.
Coming to the 'theoretical' nature of quoting other sources,I understand that it is purely-'theoretical'.Yes,it is not productive to one's Sadhana,but is simply offered for 'mental' consumption only.
"why would they describe the experience of another frog which actually 'saw' it, other than for self-aggrandizement ?."
Thanks for this message-It is the 'GURU' warning me to be careful.

Namskar!

Broken Yogi said...

Ravi,

"It is interesting to read about your experience-In the state of Awareness,something like this is experienced-in the sense that ONE remains the 'same' from moment to moment;This is somewhat like in a room a chair is dragged from this corner to the other corner-Substantially the room remains the same,only the position of the chair has changed.This is even experienced if one observes the interval between two thoughts-'Nothing is happening' means that there are no expectations in oneself and hence no up or down,Right or wrong,elation or depression-It is just that the 'psychological time' has come to a standstill,irrespective of the Chronologcal Clock ticking away."

I can't say whether my experience of ajata was the full or genuine thing, all I can say is that in that experience, which to be honest lasted probably about a minute, there was no meaning whatsoever. I mean, it's not like there was the slightest sense of there being any insight or reference to anything at all in the experience. We can talk about the meanings now, but in the moment, there were none. There was no mind, no thought, no references, no world, no time, no events, no room, no chair, no objects, no subjects, and yet, it wasn't as if I were in some state either. The world didn't disappear, and I didn't enter into any kind of absorbtion or samadhi or anything of the kind. There as no mysticism, no knowledge, no wisdom, no bliss, no lack of bliss. There was no content to it at all. That was the point, that there's no content whatsoever to anything, which is why I gather I simply experienced the simple truth that nothing is happening.

I have to say, that experience was not like a little sense of "emptiness" in the midst of what was happening, which is sort of how I hear people talking about these things. It wasn't like that at all. It was literally clear that nothing was happening, that everything we think is happening is not happening at all, and the appearance that things are happening, is also not happening. We try to interpret the ajata in such a way that it allows us to imagine that something really is happening, in some higher or more profound way than we are aware of, but I don't think that's the point. The truth of ajata, I think, is that nothing is happening, and this is why it has to be the least popular philosophical point of view in the world. You simply can't imagine it or give it any reality unless you actually experience it, and when you do, it doesn't make any sense at all anyway. It certainly didn't make any sense to me then, and it still doesn't. I still go through the day as if things are happening all the time. The memory of that experience certainly gives me pause to consider just how true that is, but functionally speaking, I still act as if things are happening. That they may not be happening at all is simply kind of funny.

Also, my sense was that this is eternal, that for all eternity, nothing is happening. My sense is that regardless of what the rest of us think is going on, none of it is true. I mean none of it. That's what I mean when I said that immediately afterwards, when my mind returned and I thought about it, all I could think of was that I had literally been utterly wrong about absolutely everything. That's pretty much the only "meaning" I can take away from the experience. One could certainly build philosophical ideas about this, but I don't think they actually mean anything in terms of the experience itself, seeing as how none of these thoughts or ideas are actually happening in relation to the experience.

Broken Yogi said...

Jupes,

Glad I could point you to A Course in Miracles. I had the same experience as you. I had heard of it years ago, and dismissed it as some kind of new-agey mumbo jumbo, and never bothered looking into it until a few years ago when someone told me what it was actually about. I think you will definitely enjoy it, although I have to say it's definitely a tradition unto itself. It's not really the same as Advaita, and it's not the same as Christianity, and it's not really just a combo of the two. It's not my main source, but I definitely respect it and have learned a lot from it, and I'm happy to turn others onto it who have an interest in both Christianity and non-dualism. I hope you can find something useful in it.

michael said...

David,

i hope it is not inappropriate to offer some opinions about first-hand-but-temporary experiences of that of which ajata speaks.

in my opinion,

1. yes, i would equate ‘an experience of ajata’ with ‘a glimpse of the self’. it is something which, though technically impossible, undeniably does happen and is unmistakable when it does.

2. no, there is no difference in quality between a temporary glimpse and permanent sahaj. there may not even be a difference in quantity, depending on which language one uses.

3. and yes, such a glimpse definitely and primarily does include something positively present (self/guru), rather than just a negation of the (still perceptible) world.

please forgive the brief phrasing, but it may perhaps be useful to some given the subtlety of the topic.

michael

ps Arvind, my sadhana was and is vichara, that is, reverting to the sense or feeling of i-ness as often as possible, just as David has always suggested. Sri Ramana is my greatest inspiration, although i also love the immediacy of Papaji’s approach. David has been my ‘vichara coach’ for the past few years via e-mails, for which i am truly grateful. he always reminds me not to analyze or dwell too long on any passing experience, even if it is a glimpse of truth.

for what it’s worth, they have all occurred unexpectedly in the midst of normal activity and are never as far away as one might imagine. what is revealed is simplicity itself: there IS a substratum which exists as existence itself and nothing more (this is the positive aspect of the experience), and whatever appears upon it simply lacks the attribute of existence (this is the negative aspect of the experience). that’s about all there is to it. it may not be much, yet it is everything i really need to know. the beauty of such a glimpse is that it simplifies things tremendously.

Broken Yogi said...

Jupes,

"I hope this is not a stupid question, but am I correct in understanding that experiencing ajata, such as described by Broken Yogi and Michael, is precisely an experience of the Self and no more or less than that? If this is not correct then will someone please set this straight? Thanks."

I'm not quite sure how to answer this question. I'm not sure if my experience is "of the Self" or not, in that in the experience, there was also "no self" of any kind. In other words, I had no sense that I was "experiencing the Self". If I was, it was as the Self, rather than of the Self, because I had no sense of anything other than the Guru existing, and that was not a "happening". Maybe that's just a choice of words. To me, the experience was all about "Guru", not about me, or about Self even. I remained in the most ordinary sense of all, not as a someone living and dying, just as eternity itself. I don't even know if it makes much sense for me to talk about it, because my mind just creates ideas about it that weren't there in the experience. It simply didn't occur to me to ask who I was, or even to form a notion about it, because none of that was happening, none of that was even a possibility. I simply was coincident with this eternal Presence of the Guru that is self-evident. If that's the Self, then I guess it was an experience of the Self, but I really wouldn't know how to make the claim or verify it. I don't think the Self sees Itself as "the Self". It's just a way for us to refer to something that is incomprehensible to us in a way that at least points us in the right direction.

அவனடிமை said...

//Sri. Bhagavaan strongly suggested devotees to not fall into this trap. //

An example is verse # 3 of Ulladu Narpadu:

'ulagu mey', 'poy thOtRRam', 'ulagu aRivAm', 'andRu' endRu
'ulagu sugam', 'andRu' endRu konnE uraitthu en ? - ulagu vittu
thannai Orndhu, ondru iRandu thaan atRRu, 'naan' atRRa
an nilai ellaarkkum oppu aam.

.........---- கொன்னே
'உலகு மெய்', 'பொய் தோற்றம்' 'உலகு அறிவு ஆம்' 'அன்று' என்று
'உலகு சுகம்', 'அன்று' என்று உரைத்து என் ? - உலகு விட்டு
தன்னை ஓர்ந்து, ஒன்று இரண்டு தான் அற்று, 'நான்' அற்ற
அந் நிலை எல்லார்க்கும் ஒப்பு ஆம்.

meaning: what is the use in futile discussion such as:
'this world is real',
'no it is not',
'world is knowledge',
'no, it is not',
'it is bliss', 'no, it is not' ?

Leaving the world aside, inquiring into oneself and abiding in the state of Self (where the ego-sense, that is the cause of such discussions does not exist) and where concepts like dvaita and advaita cease, is agreeable to everyone.

Ravi said...

Broken(Integrated)Yogi,
"That's what I mean when I said that immediately afterwards, when my mind returned and I thought about it, all I could think of was that I had literally been utterly wrong about absolutely everything. "
Thanks for your patient,long attempt to describe something which seems to defy 'common' everyday experience.It seems to be more like what the Buddhist's denial!Anyway ,i could just take this much that -what is beyond mind cannot be guessed by the mind.

Namaskar!

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

A Course in Miracles is in my eyes authentic, mystic, nondual experience. Especially the foreword is astonishing and totally in harmony with vedanta saying: "The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference—the dominant ideas, wishes and emotions in our minds. 'Projection makes perception'."

A Course in Miracles perfectly emphasizes DISTINCTION - distinction between the real and the unreal.

Friends, is it a wonder that we tap around like the blinds? When we are definitely not able to realize the truth although it is expounded to us? Aloud and clear? Once someone said: Man wouldn't recognize Jesus except perhaps he has a halo.

Free yourself from this disastrous believe that truth is only that what your mind believes to be the truth. That truth is when people talk about what they believe to be the truth. Free yourself from this believe that truth is in "Ramana", "Vedanta", "Ajata" or anything else like that. Free yourself even from "vicara" - "vicara" is not the truth, it is meant for bloody beginners.

Truth arises when all thoughts are gone. Truth is reality minus our thoughts about reality.

The world is full of people and spiritual groups believing to explore the truth, but in reality they are all living in the frogs well. The critics live in the frogs well, the disciples live in the frogs well, the teachers live in the frogs well.

This is the foreword of A Course in Miracles:

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

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.

This is how A Course in Miracles begins. It makes a fundamental distinction between the real and the unreal; between knowledge and perception. Knowledge is truth, under one law, the law of love or God. Truth is unalterable, eternal, and unambiguous. It can be unrecognized, but it cannot be changed. It applies to everything that God created, and only what He created is real. It is beyond learning because it is beyond time and process. It has no opposite; no beginning and no end. It merely is.

The world of perception, on the other hand, is the world of time, of change, of beginnings and endings. It is based on interpretation, not on facts. It is the world of birth and death, founded on the belief in scarcity, loss, separation, and death. It is learned rather than given, selective in its perceptual emphases, unstable in its functioning, and inaccurate in its interpretations.

From knowledge and perception respectively, two distinct thought systems arise which are opposite in every respect. In the realm of knowledge no thoughts exist apart from God, because God and His Creation share one Will. The world of perception, however, is made by the belief in opposites and separate wills, in perpetual conflict with each other and with God. What perception sees and hears appears to be real because it permits into awareness only what conforms to the wishes of the perceiver. This leads to a world of illusions, a world which needs constant defense precisely because it is not real.

When you have been caught in the world of perception you are caught in a dream. You cannot escape without help, because everything your senses show merely witnesses to the reality of the dream. God has provided the Answer, the only Way out, the true Helper. It is the function of His Voice, His Holy Spirit, to mediate between the two worlds. He can do this because, while on the one hand He knows the truth, on the other He also recognizes our illusions, but without believing in them. It is the Holy Spirit's goal to help us escape from the dream world by teaching us how to reverse our thinking and unlearn our mistakes. Forgiveness is the Holy Spirit's great learning aid in bringing this thought reversal about. However, the Course has its own definition of what forgiveness really is just as it defines the world in its own way.

The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference—the dominant ideas, wishes and emotions in our minds. "Projection makes perception" (Text, p. 445). We look inside first, decide the kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it. We make it true by our interpretations of what it is we are seeing. If we are using perception to justify our own mistakes—our anger, our impulses to attack, our lack of love in whatever form it may take—we will see a world of evil, destruction, malice, envy and despair. All this we must learn to forgive, not because we are being "good" and "charitable," but because what we are seeing is not true. We have distorted the world by our twisted defenses, and are therefore seeing what is not there. As we learn to recognize our perceptual errors, we also learn to look past them or "forgive." At the same time we are forgiving ourselves, looking past our distorted self-concepts to the Self That God created in us and as us.

Sin is defined as "lack of love" (Text, p. 11). Since love is all there is, sin in the sight of the Holy Spirit is a mistake to be corrected, rather than an evil to be punished. Our sense of inadequacy, weakness, and incompletion comes from the strong investment in the "scarcity principle" that governs the whole world of illusions. From that point of view, we seek in others what we feel is wanting in ourselves. We "love" another in order to get something ourselves. That, in fact, is what passes for love in the dream world. There can be no greater mistake than that, for love is incapable of asking for anything.

Only minds can really join, and whom God has joined no man can put asunder (Text, p. 356). It is, however, only at the level of Christ Mind that true union is possible, and has, in fact, never been lost. The "little I" seeks to enhance itself by external approval, external possessions, and external "love." The Self That God created needs nothing. It is forever complete, safe, loved, and loving. It seeks to share rather than to get; to extend rather than project. It has no needs and wants to join with others out of their mutual awareness of abundance.

The special relationships of the world are destructive, selfish, and childishly egocentric. Yet, if given to the Holy Spirit, these relationships can become the holiest things on earth—the miracles that point the way to the return to Heaven. The world uses its special relationships as a final weapon of exclusion and a demonstration of separateness. The Holy Spirit transforms them into perfect lessons in forgiveness and in awakening from the dream. Each one is an opportunity to let perceptions be healed and errors corrected. Each one is another chance to forgive oneself by forgiving the other. And each one becomes still another invitation to the Holy Spirit and to the remembrance of God.

Perception is a function of the body, and therefore represents a limit on awareness. Perception sees through the body's eyes and hears through the body's ears. It evokes the limited responses which the body makes. The body appears to be largely self-motivated and independent, yet it actually responds only to the intentions of the mind. If the mind wants to use it for attack in any form, it becomes prey to sickness, age, and decay. If the mind accepts the Holy Spirit's purpose for it instead, it becomes a useful way of communicating with others, invulnerable as long as it is needed, and to be gently laid by when its use is over. Of itself it is neutral, as is everything in the world of perception. Whether it is used for the goals of the ego or the Holy Spirit depends entirely on what the mind wants.

The opposite of seeing through the body's eyes is the vision of Christ, which reflects strength rather than weakness, unity rather than separation, and love rather than fear. The opposite of hearing through the body's ears is communication through the Voice for God, the Holy Spirit, which abides in each of us. His Voice seems distant and difficult to hear because the ego, which speaks for the little, separated self, seems to be much louder. This is actually reversed. The Holy Spirit speaks with unmistakable clarity and overwhelming appeal. No one who does not choose to identify with the body could possibly be deaf to His messages of release and hope, nor could he fail to accept joyously the vision of Christ in glad exchange for his miserable picture of himself.

Christ's vision is the Holy Spirit's gift, God's alternative to the illusion of separation and to the belief in the reality of sin, guilt, and death. It is the one correction for all errors of perception; the reconciliation of the seeming opposites on which this world is based. Its kindly light shows all things from another point of view, reflecting the thought system that arises from knowledge and making return to God not only possible but inevitable. What was regarded as injustices done to one by someone else, now becomes a call for help and for union. Sin, sickness, and attack are seen as misperceptions calling for remedy through gentleness and love. Defenses are laid down because where there is no attack there is no need for them. Our brothers' needs become our own, because they are taking the journey with us as we go to God. Without us they would lose their way. Without them we could never find our own.

Forgiveness is unknown in Heaven, where the need for it would be inconceivable. However, in this world, forgiveness is a necessary correction for all the mistakes that we have made. To offer forgiveness is the only way for us to have it, for it reflects the law of Heaven that giving and receiving are the same. Heaven is the natural state of all the Sons of God as He created them. Such is their reality forever. It has not changed because it has been forgotten.

Forgiveness is the means by which we will remember. Through forgiveness the thinking of the world is reversed. The forgiven world becomes the gate of Heaven, because by its mercy we can at last forgive ourselves. Holding no one prisoner to guilt, we become free. Acknowledging Christ in all our brothers, we recognize His Presence in ourselves. Forgetting all our misperceptions, and with nothing from the past to hold us back, we can remember God. Beyond this, learning cannot go. When we are ready, God Himself will take the final step in our return to Him.

.

Ravi said...

michael,
"for what it’s worth, they have all occurred unexpectedly in the midst of normal activity and are never as far away as one might imagine. what is revealed is simplicity itself: there IS a substratum which exists as existence itself and nothing more (this is the positive aspect of the experience), and whatever appears upon it simply lacks the attribute of existence (this is the negative aspect of the experience). that’s about all there is to it. it may not be much, yet it is everything i really need to know. the beauty of such a glimpse is that it simplifies things tremendously."
Thanks very much for this very encouraging message.
Namaskar!

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

Don't we forget that what is expressed in this song in kathamrita. To understand we need to become crazy:

Narendra sings another song —

O Mother, make me mad with Thy love (the All-Blissful Mother). What need have I of knowledge or reason? (The All-Blissful Mother, make me mad.)

(O Mother) the wine of Your love makes one mad. O Mother, You steal the hearts of the bhaktas!

Drown me in the sea of Thy love. In Your mad house of the world some laugh, some weep, some dance full of joy.

Jesus, Buddha, Sri Chaitanya, O Mother, are all dead drunk with Thy love. When, O Mother, shall I be blessed by joining their company?

It’s the fair of the mad in heavens, the Guru and the disciple both the same. Who can understand this play of love?

Thou art mad with love. Nay, Thou art the glory of the mad. Mother, make me rich with the wealth of love, this slave is so poor in love.


And another amazing sight after the song! All are mad surcharged with bhava. Shaking their pride of scholarship the pundits (scholars) stand up. They say, “Mother, make me mad with Thy love. What need have I of knowledge or reason?” Vijay is the first to rise from his seat and stands there intoxicated in bhava. After him rises Sri Ramakrishna. He forgets the serious incurable pain of his body in a moment. In front of him is the Doctor. He also stands there. He is not conscious of the patient (Thakur) even. The Younger Narendra is also in the state of bhava-samadhi. So is the case with Latu. The Doctor has been a student of science but he stands there wonder-struck with this amazing scene. He sees that those who are in bhava have no awareness of the outside world. They are all still, motionless. As their bhava subsides some cry and some laugh. It seems as if it were a group of so many drunkards.

.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

3. O Raghava, adopt a comprehensive view,
characterised by the abandonment of all objects of
contemplation, live in your innate Self, liberated even
while alive (jivan-mukta), and thus play your part in the
world.


Yoga Vasistha Sara, 7-3

Broken Yogi said...

Ravi,

"Thanks for your patient,long attempt to describe something which seems to defy 'common' everyday experience.It seems to be more like what the Buddhist's denial!Anyway ,i could just take this much that -what is beyond mind cannot be guessed by the mind."

Yes, it's pretty much futile to try to describe it. One thing I should add, however, is that even if the language used to describe it is "negative", the experience itself is not. Talking about "nothing happening" or "no world, no body, no self" is just a way of trying to make sure we don't confuse it with our ordinary delusions about these things. In other words, there's no sense of any "absence", as if we have "lost" the world, or the mind, or the self, or as if these persist, but are constantly being negated. You can't lose what never existed. What stands out is what is real, which is the "Guru" - at least that's what I call it.

It's the strangest feeling of all, in the sense that it's not strange in the least bit. There's a perceptual field in front of you that clearly doesn't exist at all. There's things happening that clearly aren't happening. By which I mean that even the perception of them happening clearly isn't happening. That makes no sense, I know, and that's the point.

arvind said...

Broken Yogi,

Thank you for all the detailed comments and the sharing of your spiritual experiences. You have mentioned:

“I have had exactly one such experience in my life, back when I was a teenager. It occurred during my first meeting with the teacher who was to be my Guru for many years thereafter … ”

It seems evident from your post that this person was good for you and you had great regard for him. But it seems that after some time he “dropped-away” from being your Guru. Grateful if you would share why that happened, if indeed that is what happened. So then afterwards, did you have another person whom you held as a Guru ?

many thanks

Jupes said...

Thanks to Broken Yogi and Michael for further clarifying on your experiences and for responding to my question about Ajata being an experience of the Self. It's very helpful to hear from both of you on this and I hope that you will not hesitate to say whatever else feels appropriate to share.

When we suddenly found ourselves discussing vichara all those weeks ago, I was thinking, 'yes, we are finally at the heart of things,' but now that this current discussion has arisen it seems that we are really at the heart of things. It's all very stimulating and interesting and I imagine it provokes many questions, thoughts and feelings in all of us. I want to thank everyone for treading softly into this and for the clear understanding that we are discussing something that cannot be described or comprehended.

Clemens, thanks for posting the foreward to A Course in Miracles. That does give a taste of what the book is about. I found it interesting to watch myself having old responses (confusion, wariness?) to some of the wording and am realizing that if I do read the book I will have to come to grips with some of that in order to get through it. Also, there were sentences like, 'The Self that God created needs nothing.' This is non-sensical to me, since the Self was not created, but maybe I can put those things aside if I do read it.

By the way, Clemens, since you quoted so extensively I assume the book is online. Do you have a link for it?

Thanks to everyone!

Broken Yogi said...

Arvind,

"It seems evident from your post that this person was good for you and you had great regard for him. But it seems that after some time he “dropped-away” from being your Guru. Grateful if you would share why that happened, if indeed that is what happened. So then afterwards, did you have another person whom you held as a Guru?"

This is a long story. Suffice it to say that this Guru was indeed a very powerful jnana-yogi with a great deal of experience and wisdom, but after a long association with him I came to the conclusion that contrary to my long-standing views, he was not fully enlightened, and what he claimed about his realization was not actually true and complete, and that even if he was, he was simply not what I needed anymore. This is a very difficult issue to address, how a teacher can act as a vehicle of the Guru, seemingly giving many powerful and genuine experiences and teachings, and yet fall short in the end.

Before I met this fellow, I had already had a powerful spiritual experience of Ramana, and also had apparently met (unknowingly at the time) Papaji, and had another powerful experience as a result. Based on the circumstances of how I met this later Guru, I interpreted it at the time as a result of being led to him by Ramana, and I accepted him as my human Guru with the sense that I needed a living human Guru, and that Ramana would not be sufficient for my needs since he was no longer alive in the body.

After I separated from this Guru a few years ago, I didn't know what would become of me, but somehow I just naturally drifted back into Ramana's fold, and became interested in the practice of self-enquiry. Reading Papaji's autobiography, I also recognized that this was the man I had met back in 1974, in Saanen Switzerland, while attending J. Krishnamurti's talks. I was only sixteen at the time, but he had made a huge impression on me, and afterwards my mind fell into the heart temporarily. In some ways this may have been the more significant encounter than the "ajata" moment I describe here, but at the time I had no idea what had happened or who this man had been. Oddly enough, less than a year ago I had a dream in which I was asked who my Guru was, and I immediately replied "Papaji". So maybe all this is stranger than I can really understand.

In any case, the Guru I mention is not someone held in very high esteem in most circles, but is generally considered a tragic case of spiritual narcissism, and I don't know that I'd disagree with that assessment. Still, there is something genuine at the heart of us all, and it comes through even in the case of many incomplete Gurus and their devotees.

Anonymous said...

Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi's view was that the body and mind are sheaths, an imagination of the mind, superimposed upon yourSelf.

He said that you cannot find your Self in a book, that books are "outside" you and the Self is within. Every direction the mind goes in is the Wrong Direction. He said that EVERYTHING you have learned will have to go - all concepts, ideas, thoughts.

The Atma Vichara begins a churning in the nadis, a withdrawal and disassociation from the unreal sheaths/superimposition. (It's like peeling an onion, layer by layer.)

The pure, silent mind, listening within, becomes aware of the sphurana, throbbing "I" - "I". The atma vichara will dissolve the knot in the heart between the sentient and insentient, then well up and dissolve the mind itself. The dream of I, me, mine in the body is ended. The whole waking life is a dream., including all the books in it.

Broken Yogi said...

Jupes,

one thing to keep in mind regarding A Course In Miracles is that the language is, indeed, quite odd, and takes some getting used to. The foreward is not by the author, but gives at least some taste for the differences between ACIM and Vedanta. It does not use Advaitic terminology such as the "Self", and has it's own set of referents and notions that require understanding on their own terms, and not in relation to other traditional usages and terminology. There's a definite "biblical" flavor to the writing, in that it uses concepts and terms somewhat familiar to the Judeo-Christian tradition, but changes the meanings even of those terms to create its own "reality". There were many times when I was first reading it that I found myself offended and turned off by its language, but I found that if I pushed through it would open up on its own into a whole new way of looking at things that has value in and of itself, rather than as a commmentary on either Biblical or Advaitic views.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

Isn't this wonderful, this passage in "GLIMPSES, As described by FRANK H. HUMPHREYS":

GOD

That one point where all religions meet is the realisation in no mystical sense, but in the most worldly and everyday sense — and the more worldly, everyday and practical the better — the fact that GOD IS EVERYTHING, AND EVERYTHING IS GOD.

From this point the work of the practice of this mental comprehension begins, and all it amounts to is the breaking of a habit. One has to cease calling things “things”, and to call them God; and instead of thinking them to be things, to know them to be God; instead of imagining “existence” to be the only thing possible, to realise that existence is only the creation of the mind (for if there were not existence the mind could not see anything) and that non-existence is a necessity if you are going to postulate existence. The knowledge of things only shows the existence of an organ to cognize. [This is what ajata says: Nothing was ever created or born because "existence" or "non existence" is a creation of the mind. CVR] There are no sounds to the deaf, nothing to see for the blind, and the mind is merely an organ of conception or of appreciation of certain sides of God.

God is infinite, and therefore existence and non-existence are merely component parts. Not that I wish to say God is made up of definite component parts. It is hard to be comprehensible when talking of God. ... True knowledge comes from within and not from without. And true knowledge is not “knowing” but “seeing.”

.

arvind said...

Thank you Broken Yogi for writing so candidly about your former teacher; and Michael for writing about your sadhana.

David,

Taking a cue from your post on Papaji and “Nothing Ever Happened” in the other thread, I thought to ask you about certain issues arising from the “Diaries” chapter in Vol III, which have always bothered me a bit.

It is clear that Papaji struggled with Ajata and world manifestation:

“ … I have something more to do that is not mentioned in any book. So long as there is a very pure intention, there is no end to understanding. There is something more to be done after complete and final realization ….”

“… Yes, there is some barrier. There is something that prevents me from solving a great puzzle …”

“… but can you find out where creation itself came from ? Even the creator, Brahma himself, will disappear one day. Visnu, the maintainer will disappear. And so will Siva, the destroyer. Nothing will be left – no gods and no universe. This is the same nothingness that must have preceded the gods and their creations. My question is, in this absolute nothingness, where did this concept of creation come from ? Who gave this concept to whom ? This is the barrier I am talking about. This is the problem I have never managed to solve. How did the creator create the world from nothingness itself ? And why did he do it ? That is an even more interesting question, because what need was there for a creation at all ? Who decided that a world should be created, that it should be filled with billions of creatures who spend millions of incarnations, moving from form to form until they could finally reach a point where they could understand that there is a possibility to be free of this endless cycle ? Who decided to create so much trouble for the world and all the people in it ?”

“I have been trying for the last 60 years but I cannot solve this mystery. I have never been able to solve this secret …”

“I asked him, ‘Have you solved this problem of manifestation ? Have you worked out where it all comes from ? His answer was a quite reasonable one. He said, ‘To answer your question I need a mind. But to find the answer, I have to go to no-mind. But once I am there, I cant speak about it.’ It didn’t satisfy me. If one doesn’t have a mind, one must have a no-mind, and according to this man, that no-mind understands everything. But it is my experience that in no-mind, there is no understanding at all.”

David, you have quite valiantly tried to explain Papaji’s struggle with Ajata vs manifestation in the book. Few have known him as well as you and one is hoping that ten years on, from when you wrote your comments, you may perhaps have fresh insights into the issues as:

Papaji’s struggle flies in the face of Sri Bhagavan’s repeated averment that after Self-realisation, there are no questions left. Though you have mentioned this as “It didn’t seem to bother the Maharshi as much as it bothers Papaji”, that surely is a massive understatement. It didn’t bother Sri Bhagavan at all. In fact, the problem itself did not exist at all for Sri Bhagavan. And He repeatedly told devotees that it would not exist for them too, when they realized the Self. And in fact, whatever explanations He did give for the existence of the world were all intended to satisfy devotees of various spiritual maturities, completely unable to accept otherwise.

And the same position is taken in every Advaitic scriptural text one can think of, from Sri Bhagavad Gita to any of the Upanisadic texts and so on. And one can’t recall any of the great sages mentioned therein ever expressing anything different from what Sri Bhagavan held.

And to me the most problematic is Papaji’s first statement, “there is something more to be done after complete and final realization”, rather than what that thing itself was specifically. For, having anything to do at all, post Self-realization, flies in the face of Sri Bhagavan’s basic teachings; the “Lazy Ones” & “Panilenuvaadu” ideas.

Grateful for any further thoughts David.

[Folks, lest one has given the impression otherwise from the comments above, one believes that Papaji was a Self-realized person, even though, sadly, one never met him. And the sheer fact alone of his having lived with the physical and actual presence of Sri Krishna continuously, places him in a different orbit altogether. That itself constitutes a state just a whisker away from full “Sayujya” from the bhakti viewpoint; and a state that most of us would give anything to achieve].

Ravi said...

AvanadiMY/Friends,
"meaning: what is the use in futile discussion such as:
'this world is real',
'no it is not',
'world is knowledge',
'no, it is not',
'it is bliss', 'no, it is not' ?

Leaving the world aside, inquiring into oneself and abiding in the state of Self (where the ego-sense, that is the cause of such discussions does not exist) and where concepts like dvaita and advaita cease, is agreeable to everyone."
This is truly the essence of Sadhana/Thanks very much.

Just returned from a Brief visit (with 2 other of my office colleagues-an impromptu one)to Ramanashramam.It was about 19:00 hrs,saturday, when we reached Sri Bhagavan's Samadhi and it was lovely to hear the group singing-Ramana Sadguru,Ramana Sadguru,Ramana Sadguru Rayane(I think it is Andavan Pichi's song)-The males and Females singing alternately,a very very soothing and mellow experience.After spending some time in the Old meditation hall,we proceeded for Giri Pradakshina-I could not help recalling what David had mentioned about an exceptional American devotee who did this daily for 15 years!-How he did not want to come back to witness the changing landscape of the sacred path.It is indeed sad that the march of the so called civilization and urbanisation is ravaging the pristine purity of this sacred place.The tinkling bells of the bullock carts are replaced by the nonstop horns and roaring of the vehicles enroute to Krishnagiri/Bangalore.Lined up along the way are the Ashrams of the various gurus of the present day,each having some real estate investments on this once virgin tract.
The only thing that has maintained its individuality is The Ashramam-This is the saving grace of Sri Bhagavan.
Today morning the Taitriya upanishad Veda Parayana in Sri Bhagavan's Samadhi hall was an inspiring event to remind one that things are the same as when Sri Bhagavan was there in his Physical vehicle.
We visited the samadhis of the animal friends-a mute testimony to the samadarshan of Sri Bhagavan for whom Rocks,plants,animals ,humans were all manifestations of the Self.
We also visited the Arunachaleswara Temple and especially the Pathala Lingeswara temple where Sri Bhagavan remained absorbed in Samadhi.
May sri Bhagavan's Blessings continue to be with us.

Namaskars!

Jupes said...

Ravi,
Absolutely loved hearing of your visit to Sri Ramanasramam. For a few seconds, during and after reading it, I felt transported, as if I was there myself. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I hope that others from this blog who spend time at Sri Arunachala and Ramana's ashram will write about it here also. It is inspiring to hear personal experiences.

Broken Yogi,
I continue to be intrigued by your story and I know that if we were talking one-on-one I'd be asking a zillion questions. Thanks for sharing so openly. Thanks also for explaining about the language used in A Course in Miracles. It certainly helps to hear the things you said, especially that you were, at times, offended but persevered and found what makes the book valuable.

michael said...

regarding Sri Shankara’s three laws of self-knowledge,

each time i have a glimpse of the self, three things are immediately obvious. i’ve come to think of them as the three ‘laws of self-knowledge’, as follows,

1. self is
2. world isn’t
3. having taken the correct measure of the world, one is in a position to know or do anything with it, but doing so would take one away from the self, so it’s better to use this moment only as a reminder to return to the first and second laws.

since we’ve been discussing Sri Shankara’s famous three-part formulation, i’ve noticed that my three points tally well with his (my third law being more explicit) as follows,

1.‘Brahman is real’ = ‘self is’
2.‘the world is unreal’ = ‘world isn’t’
3.‘Brahman is the world’ = (as above)

before attempting to justify these match-ups, i’d like to suggest two ‘a priori’ rules of logic. the first is that lower-numbered laws trump higher-numbered ones and cannot be modified by them. the second is that, since it cannot be modified by a later law, each law is a complete statement. also, for now i use the following terms as synonyms: ‘Brahman’ & ‘self’, ‘world’ & ‘object’, ‘subject’ & ‘consciousness’, and ‘real’ & ‘existing’.

the first two match-ups are obvious, but the third one most likely is not. here, then, are some attempts to show that the two formulations of the third law are indeed equivalent,

• in terms of logic: if a is real and b is unreal and a=b, then either a is not real or b is not unreal or the statement is either false or it transcends our system of logic. assuming the latter, the third law may be viewed as a koan whose purpose is to refer one back to a perspective which transcends the mind.

• in terms of a gap: when Papaji tells us that to say that the world is not real (the second law) is the same as saying that it ‘is real as Brahman’ (the third law), i believe he is presenting us with this koan. one must, as if, step over the gap between fact and fiction in order to embrace such a statement at face value. but Brahman cannot be the world because Brahman is not differentiated while the world is. also, in order to say ‘the world is real as Brahman’, one must assert that the second law is incomplete, which violates both of the a priori rules of logic above. since a shotgun marriage of fact (Brahman) and fiction (world) cannot hope to bear offspring, the only solution is to abandon seeking a comfortable understanding of this statement and instead return to the first and second laws.

• in terms of the gunas: the first law introduces the element ‘self’, and the second law introduces the element ‘object’. while we can and do live with these two elements, we must be careful not to artificially introduce a third one in order to connect them. to say that the world is ‘real as Brahman’ is to create just such a relationship, as this phrase cannot be justified without invoking a third element (‘subject’ or ‘consciousness’) which supposedly has ties to both ‘object’ (via perception) and ‘self’ (via i-ness).

please note that all three laws are discussing only one thing: the attribute of existence, which is as it must be since existence is the only commodity that there is. in the first law, self is said to have this attribute and nothing more. in the second law, the world (while it may have other attributes) is said to lack this essential quality. and in the third law, we are reminded (directly or indirectly) not to seek any knowledge about the world beyond the fact that it lacks the attribute of existence.

in other words, we are advised to cut short the ‘cycle of self-knowledge’ by which we normally become lost in thought (object), revert to the sense of i-ness (subject) and then survive its absorption (in self). we are instead advised to return immediately to the key distinction between existence and non-existence (i.e. to the first and second laws).

i believe that Sir Ramana may have emphasized Sri Shankara’s third statement precisely because of its impact on practice. whereas the first two laws are either theoretical or obvious (depending on one’s point of view), the third law inspires action by rendering the mind useless and thereby initiating the process of self-enquiry.

the three laws thus reduce to three points of view regarding existence. the first law presents the positive point of view and defines ‘self’ as that which has it. the second law presents the negative point of view and defines ‘world’ as that which lacks it. and the third law presents the spur to action and tells us that, since there are no other ways to look at it, we might as well return to the first and second laws.

in closing, i can only offer apologies if i have made things seem complex. my intention is quite the opposite because a glimpse of self truly is a simple and simplifying experience.

David, if you’re reading, i hope you’ll weigh-in soon!

michael

Ravi said...

Jupes,
I do understand/empathize how much you appreciate anything about Sri Bhagavan.As for my brief trip,I only wish that I had atleast a day more-It does take a certain cooling period for one to soak into the spiritual ambience of this Blessed Place.
One thing that I have always observed is that this Giri Circumambulation always serve the purpose of doing an equivalent of Asana & Pranayama-in the sense that after walking a Kilometre or two,The Breathing falls into synch with the steps and the Body loses much of its inertia-This is the most tangible benefit apart from the Spiritual vibrations that may seep into the devotee.
Wishing you the Very Best!

Namaskar!

Ravi said...

Ramos,
"Don't we forget that what is expressed in this song in kathamrita. To understand we need to become crazy:"
Thanks very much Ramos!Truly wonder how you can do the balancing act of Head and Heart.
Namaskar!

Broken Yogi said...

Michael,
"i believe that Sir Ramana may have emphasized Sri Shankara’s third statement precisely because of its impact on practice. whereas the first two laws are either theoretical or obvious (depending on one’s point of view), the third law inspires action by rendering the mind useless and thereby initiating the process of self-enquiry."

David might weigh in on this, but it was my impression that Ramana did not emphasize the third statement "Brahman is the world" in relation to practice, but quite the opposite. Instead, he said that we shouldn't try to bring non-dualism into life. Instead, he emphasized the first two statements for practice, that we should see the world as unreal, and put all our attention on the Self via self-enquiry. He didn't seem to tell people to try to see the world as Brahman, that I'm aware of. Instead, he simply said that once realization dawns, it becomes obvious that the world is Brahman. Prior to that, he seems to say that it is best to see the world as unreal, as a dream of the mind, or, in relation to ajata, "empty". But I haven't heard him telling people to see the world as Brahman as a part of their practice. He just affirms the realization of others who testify to this truth.

The problem here is that the mind simply cannot comprehend what "Brahman is the world" means. The mind works by associations and signifiers, but reducing "Brahman" to a mere signifier risks turning it into an object, even an "eternal" object, and this is precisely the criticism Buddha made of what he says as the "eternalism" error of the Vedic traditions. I think Buddha was right to say that this error can indeed occur if we see the Self as an eternal subject pervading the world as its internal "nature". Simplistic statements like "Brahman is the world" can easily be interpreted by the mind to mean that the world as it appears to us is actually an eternal "Brahman", making the world "real". But the whole point of the statement is actually a continuation of the first statement, that the world is unreal. The world as we know it, as a set of objects, is in fact objectless, empty, "Brahman", incomprehensible to the mind, unnattainable within the world itself, which is merely an unreal state of mind. That is why it cannot be the basis for any practice at all, because all practices, including self-enquiry, are based in the mind. Until the mind/world is known to be unreal, we cannot truly know Brahman as the real, nor can we know Brahman as the world. There's such a thing as putting the cart before the horse.

David Godman said...

Michael and Broken Yogi

I agree that Bhagavan encouraged us to regard the world as unreal because, he said, that was the most useful attitude to have towards it. Bhagavan said that if you think the world is real, your mind will always be moving towards it.

David Godman said...

Arvind

Papaji's struggles with the phenomenon of creation are, as you suggested, highly unusual for a jnani. I attempted to unravel what he was doing in the introduction I wrote to the 'Diaries' chapter. He was not trying to get enlightened, or get a deeper knowledge of the Self; he was instead trying, experientially, to catch the moment when the manifest appeared in the umanifest. He would go back into the unmanifest Self and then attempt to watch the process unfold within himself. I think he was immensely curious about the mechanism of that unfolding, and the fuel that allowed it to produce its end result. He never succeeded, but he found it endlessly fascinating to try.

He told me more than once that there was a constant 'What is it? What is it?' within him that drew him to investigate the creation process. Possibly this was some prarabdha that his body had to go through.

I think there was a sense of inexplicable wonder about it as well. His knowledge of the Self gave him the unshakeable experience that nothing had ever happened, but he also knew that a world appeared in Brahman, as Brahman. Bhagavan's reaction to this was 'How sublime!' Papaji's was to look into the matter to discover the how and the why of this apparent creation.

arvind said...

Hi Folks,

In a post above I had made the remark – “After all what is there in Ajata itself to see or experience ? It is a theoretical name given to an artificial construct, a state of negation so to speak, which describes an attribute of the Self so to speak, in that, that when one abides in the Self one finds that nothing was ever created or existed and so on. Whereas the Self Itself is described as Pure Universal Consciousness and “Purna”. So the experience itself [of a ‘glimpse’ of the Self] should be of that of Pure Consciousness ...”

I must admit that my use of the words “artificial construct” etc bothered me later on. However, just today, one chanced across an interesting article written by Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan in the Mountain Path 1966, Pg 55, entitled “Shankara and Ramana”. In this article Dr. Mahadevan basically avers that Sri Sankara’s and Sri Bhagavan’s teachings are identical. But the learned doctor has also written about Ajata, and thankfully he says essentially the same thing as above.

He writes that verse IV.74 of the Karika clarifies that “the term Ajati also is but an approximation of the truth and not the truth itself; ‘Ajati’ is meaningful only so long as ‘Jati’ carries meaning; and, that is so in the empirical world alone. The absolute truth is that no word can designate or describe the Self. The purpose of the expression ‘Ajati’ is only to make us understand that the Self is not what appears to be born.”

[verse IV.74 of the Karika basically says: that since other schools say that the soul is ‘born’ and it is also empirically felt to be so in the world as such, the advaita viewpoint says that the soul is ‘not-born’; but actually from the viewpoint of the Absolute Reality it is not even ‘not-born’. i.e. IT IS ALSO NOT AJATA].

So ‘Ajata’ itself is but another approximate means to express in words an aspect of something that is essentially inexpressible. The Self Itself is NEITHER JATA NOR AJATA.

-----------

For those who may be interested in the similarity of the teachings of Sri Sankara and Sri Bhagavan, Dr. Mahadevan goes on to say:

[starts]
Not only has Bhagavan Ramana implicitly recognized the identity of his teaching with that of Sankara, but also he has explicitly stated that there is complete identity. Bhagavan has rendered into Tamil, Sankara’s Hymn to Daksinamurti, Atma-Bodha, Vivekachudamani and Drig-drisya-viveka. In the invocatory verses which he has added to the first two of the above-mentioned works, Bhagavan declares:

(1) “That Sankara who came as Dakshinamurti to grant peace to the great ascetics, who revealed his true state of silence, and who has expounded the nature of the Self in this Hymn, abides in me.”

(2) “Is the teacher Sankara, who grants the knowledge of the Self, other than the Self ? Remaining in my heart as the Self, he who utters the Tamil today – who is he other than that one himself ?”
[ends]

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

...from the viewpoint of the Absolute Reality it is not even ‘not-born’. i.e. IT IS ALSO NOT AJATA]. So ‘Ajata’ itself is but another approximate means to express in words an aspect of something that is essentially inexpressible. The Self Itself is NEITHER JATA NOR AJATA....

That's it, arvind. The Self is reality - inexpressible, indescribable, beyond thought, beyond words. What do we see looking at a tree? What is a "tree"? "Tree" is a concept in the mind. What do we see when there is deep sleep, absence of objects? "Nothing" or "no objects are seen" is also a concept in the mind.

Reality belongs to the Self, "ajata" belongs to the mind.

Some words express reality the direct way, others not. "Mine" is not a clear expression of reality but an expression of the mind seeing itself related to something. "Ajata" is a clear expression of reality being mysterious, inexpressible, indescribable, beyond thought, beyond words - unborn, uncaused.

Ajata says: There is nothing else then reality - there is not a thing like "no being". "No being" is a concept of the mind saying: This is, this is not. The mind creates objects in itself, and this objects are coming and going. Reality not. Therefore causes, objects, birth and death, coming and going are to the mind, not to reality.

It is important to understand that ajata don't say: There is neither "being" nor "no being", what means nihilism. It says: "No being" is NOT.

"There is nothing else then being and "no being" don't exist" means: What we see in this outer and inner universe is reality minus our concepts. Changefulness is illusion. Nothing was ever created nor dissoluted. Not in REALITY - but in the mind. The body appears to be born and it appears to die - but in fact there is only a change in form not in substance. Because the substance is consciousness. What is a change in consciousness? It is a change in ideas, nothing else.

The perception of reality as being pure being without any trace of no being except for the mind is an old idea of philosophia perennis - in europe it was Parmenides being the first expressing this in his fragments. This was the reason for Platon calling him "our father":

Wikipedia: "Under the Way of Truth, Parmenides stated that there are two ways of inquiry: that it is, that it is not. He said that the latter argument is never feasible because nothing can not be:

"For never shall this prevail, that things that are not are. (B 7.1)"

Note here the word "inquiry" - it is related to inquiry in vedantic thought in that way that reality has to be found the negative way - you can't say positively what reality is - you only can say what reality is NOT. Therefore the vedantic "not this, not that".

In european philosophy this approach is familiar. Augustinus said the same: "You can't say what God is - you only can say what he is not."

Ajata states further that what is familiar in philosophia perennis: The perception of something is always a perception of reality, because there would be no perception of something not being.

But the question now has to be: WHAT is this in reality what we believe to see?

Ajatavada is explained in Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada carikas.

What is "mind"? Mind is the capability or power of the Self looking at itself. In looking at itself it creates a picture, like the man looking into the mirror. And it is this picture that we normally call "reality".

michael said...

i believe that we are making things harder than they have to be. please allow me to propose the following as a starting point,

1. there are two categories: things that exist and things that don't

2. 'that which exists' and 'self' are synonyms

3. 'that which does not exist' and 'world' are synonyms

4. beyond the fact that it does not exist, no other knowledge about the world should be sought.

5. our only job is to discriminate between that which exists and that which does not, i.e. between self and world

6. if one is certain that he has glimpsed the self, he may make direct comparisons between these two

7. if one is not certain that he has glimpsed the self, he should employ the i-thought, which will lead him to a glimpse of the self

michael said...

i often think about the different shades of language which are used in vedantic discussions. one of their limitations is abviously that, while truth is non-dual, the closest we can come to an expression of it in words is dual, as for example the first two of Sri Shankara's three-part statement to the effect that 1. self exists, and 2. the world does not.

sometimes i wish that there were another shade of vedanta positioned between ajata and advaita. if one were to try to speak the language of strict ajata without violating what it stands for, he wouldn't get very far because only silent self-absorption is truly non-created.

on the other hand, advaita is not realy qualified to express the truth of ajata either, because ajata denies the existence of the world which includes language.

maybe a hybrid language of ajata + advaita (ajaita?) could recognize these problems and somehow navigate between the two languages as if they were the two banks of a river.

my grasp of these languages is probably just strong enough to feel that there is this inevitable problem, but not strong enough to know if there already is such a 'dialect' within the family of vedantic languages.

Ravi said...

Ramos,
"Don't we forget that what is expressed in this song in kathamrita. To understand we need to become crazy:"
Thanks very much Ramos!Truly wonder how you can do the balancing act of Head and Heart.
Namaskar!

Broken Yogi said...

Jupes,

"I hope this is not a stupid question, but am I correct in understanding that experiencing ajata, such as described by Broken Yogi and Michael, is precisely an experience of the Self and no more or less than that? If this is not correct then will someone please set this straight? Thanks."

I'm not quite sure how to answer this question. I'm not sure if my experience is "of the Self" or not, in that in the experience, there was also "no self" of any kind. In other words, I had no sense that I was "experiencing the Self". If I was, it was as the Self, rather than of the Self, because I had no sense of anything other than the Guru existing, and that was not a "happening". Maybe that's just a choice of words. To me, the experience was all about "Guru", not about me, or about Self even. I remained in the most ordinary sense of all, not as a someone living and dying, just as eternity itself. I don't even know if it makes much sense for me to talk about it, because my mind just creates ideas about it that weren't there in the experience. It simply didn't occur to me to ask who I was, or even to form a notion about it, because none of that was happening, none of that was even a possibility. I simply was coincident with this eternal Presence of the Guru that is self-evident. If that's the Self, then I guess it was an experience of the Self, but I really wouldn't know how to make the claim or verify it. I don't think the Self sees Itself as "the Self". It's just a way for us to refer to something that is incomprehensible to us in a way that at least points us in the right direction.

Ravi said...

avanadiMY,
"I don't see why anyone else who has not had that 'direct experience' themselves should comment on 'that state'.

Won't it be like blind ending up 'influencing' (if not 'leading') the blind whether it was intended or not?

Quoting from other books and others' experiences, however great and firm those experiences and the experiencers were, is at the best a theorectial exercise and Sri. Bhagavaan strongly suggested devotees to not fall into this trap."
Friend,I like the way you have expressed yourself strongly and not 'directed' at anyone in particular.I am the Frog in this case-I have defined the diameter of 'my' well.I hope Broken(integrated) Yogi may have a 'Negating'hold-to express himself.As For Michael,I have not got the wind of what he 'experienced'.
Coming to the 'theoretical' nature of quoting other sources,I understand that it is purely-'theoretical'.Yes,it is not productive to one's Sadhana,but is simply offered for 'mental' consumption only.
"why would they describe the experience of another frog which actually 'saw' it, other than for self-aggrandizement ?."
Thanks for this message-It is the 'GURU' warning me to be careful.

Namskar!

அவனடிமை said...

If someone has personally 'tasted' the oneness even for a short while, like Michael and broken yogi believe they have, their words 'could' help the others.

I don't see why anyone else who has not had that 'direct experience' themselves should comment on 'that state'.

Won't it be like blind ending up 'influencing' (if not 'leading') the blind whether it was intended or not?

Quoting from other books and others' experiences, however great and firm those experiences and the experiencers were, is at the best a theorectial exercise and Sri. Bhagavaan strongly suggested devotees to not fall into this trap.

Even the first-person accounts will most likely fall short not because the experience is not true or the experiencer is not capable (for, by definition, 'words and minds cannot describe the in-describable'),

Frogs in a well cannot even fathom the ocean; why would they describe the experience of another frog which actually 'saw' it, other than for self-aggrandizement ?.

Love to all,

Ravi said...

Ramos,
"There IS life. There IS a world. There IS a universe. There IS man. There IS the person. There ARE animals and anything else. They HAVE absolute reality. But not as the mental images we superimpose on them. Therefore Seshadri Swami bowed to the donkey and said: "This donkey is Brahman!" As a donkey the donkey is "unreal". As indescribable mysterious reality it is "real", it is Brahman"
Ramos,you seem to have thought quite deeply about these things-Especially about what is 'real','unreal',etc-Rather than trying to 'DEFINE'it.The 'Elephant' Narayana parable of Sri Ramakrishna reveals the implication of a 'homogenised'misunderstanding-All is Narayana.As you have rightly pointed out , the implication of 'All','IS' and 'NARAYANA' has to be understood individually as well as collectively.Otherwise,the mind will catch hold of some chimera of a generalisation and miss the essence.
There is a wonderful book by Paul Brunton-It is called 'The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga',where Brunton talks about the mischief that words can cause-A simple word like 'man' brings different 'picture' to different people.In fact Brunton was never satisfied with the 'JUST BE' and was trying to explore the bridge between BEING and BECOMING.This was unfortunately viewed as being 'ungrateful' to Sri Bhagavan!Brunton had the Greatest Love and Respect for his Guru.This is another thing that S.Iyer,to whom Brunton later on turned to was a rigourous and Traditional Vedantist(not clear whether that was backed by direct experience of Truth).Brunton did try to meet Sri Aurobindo,but the later was unavailable for any sort of private interview.
The basic fundamental equation of the 'World is Brahman' is something that is not 'mental',and hence does not lend itself to the mental grasp-'True or False'type of a selection.This is like a multiple choice question with more than one correct answer.
Thanks very much for your reference from the yoga vasishta and the Tao,but I found your thoughts about these things most stimulating.

Namaskar!

karthik said...

Dear Nandu Narasimhan,

I bought the audio tape from Sri Ramanashram and I think I have see the tape in some shops in Chennai like Samata book shop and Giri Trading.

Regards
karthik

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Dear Karthik,

I have tried in vain to get an mp3 of the Ribhu Gita in Tamil. I have the Sanskrit which I purchased from the ashram.

But I somehow love the cadence of the Tamil version, with its faster pace and melody.

Know any place in Delhi where I can get it? Please help me out on this.

Thanks,

Nandu

Broken Yogi said...

David,

Thanks for this wonderful exposition of a topic I have thought much about over the years. I have a question about the meaning of the "no-creation" ajata vada dharma, that hinges on the word "creation". I relate this matter to the classic advaita three-part formulation about the world:

1. The world is unreal
2. Only Brahman is real
3. Brahman is the world

My question is, seeing as how the world is understood to be Brahman, if the point of the ajata vada is that the world is "uncreated", if this merely means that the world cannot understood to be "created" because the world is Brahman, and of course Brahman cannot be considered to be created, since Brahman is the Source of all creation?

In other words, when first considering the ajata vada, it seem to imply that there is no world at all, whereas it actually doesn't say that at all, it merely says the world is not created. In other words, I'm asking if this means that the ultimate reality is that the world is "uncreated Brahman", and not a creation separate from Brahman.

I'm in part influenced from recently listening to the unabridged Ribhu Gita being recited in English by Papaji, which is exceptionally long and wonderful, full of nearly endless repetitions of ajata vada ideas, such as there being no separate beings, no others, no world, etc. Listening to this teaching is wholy ecstatic, and yet I did so while doing rather heavy physical work, and it didn't seem that the point of the message was some ascetical world denial, but an assertion that the world is really Brahman, uncreated bliss, not what it seems to be at all. Is this anything like the correct understanding?

Murali said...

David,

As you said, these are something to be experienced and cannot be ever rationalised.

Just one point. Is the pronunciation of Ajata like 'A' like 'A'tman, 'ja' like jar (long aa) and 'ta' like in Tamas?

Regards Murali

Anonymous said...

God without, God within, and God beyond, which is silence.

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

*******************************
Questions of King Milinda
http://archive.org/details/questionsofkingm028266mbp
*******************************
The king said : "What is the root, Nigasena,of past time, and what of present, and what of future time ?

Ignorance. By reason of Ignorance came the Confections, by reason of the Confections consciousness,
by reason of consciousness name-and-form, by reason of name-and-form the six organs of sense l
by reason of them contact, by reason of contact sensation, by reason of sensation thirst, by reason of thirst craving, by reason of craving becoming, by
reason of becoming birth, by reason of birth old age and death, grief, lamentation, sorrow, pain, and despair. Thus is it that the ultimate point in the past of all this time is not apparent.'

2. The king said :
'You say that the ultimate
point of time is not apparent. Give me an illustration
of that/
'Suppose, O king, a man were to plant in the
ground a tiny seed, and that it were to come up as
a shoot, and in due course grow, develope, and
mature until it produced a fruit. And then the man, taking a seed from that fruit, were again to
plant it in the ground, and all should happen as
before. Now would there be any end to this series ?
Certainly not, Sir/

Just so, O king, the ultimate point in the past of the whole of this time is not apparent/
Give me a further illustration/
The hen lays an egg. From the egg comes a
hen. From the hen an egg. Is there any end to this series ?
'No.'
Just so, O king, the ultimate point in the past of
the whole of this time is not apparent/
4 Give me a further illustration/
Then the Elder drew a circle on the ground and asked the king :
' Is there any end to this circle ?
No, it has no end/
4 Well, that is like those circles spoken of by the
Blessed One \ "
By reason of the eye and of forms
there arises sight,when these three come together
there is touch, by reason of touch sensation, by
reason of sensation a longing (Ta#h, thirst), by
reason of the longing action (Karma), and from
action eye is once more produced s
." Now is there
any end to this series ?
No
Then setting out a precisely corresponding circle
of each of the other organs of sense (of the ear,
nose, tongue, body, and mind 1
), he in each case put
the same question. And the reply being always
the same, he concluded :
'Just so, O king, the ultimate point of time in
the past is not apparent.'

Zee said...

*******************************
Questions of King Milinda
http://archive.org/details/questionsofkingm028266mbp
*******************************
3. The king said :
* When you say that the
ultimate point is not apparent, what do you mean
by "ultimate point"?'
1 Of whatsoever time is past. It is the ultimate
point of that, O king, that I speak of/
'
But, if so, when you say that it is not apparent,
do you mean to say that of everything ? Is the
ultimate point of everything unknown ?
'
'
Partly so, and partly not/
' Then which is so, and which not ?
'
'
Formerly, O king, everything in every form,
everything in every mode, was ignorance. It is to
us as if it were not. In reference to that the
ultimate beginning is unknown. But that, which
has not been, becomes ; as soon as it has begun to
become it dissolves away again. In reference to
that the ultimate beginning is known V [52]
'But, reverend Sir, if that which was not, becomes,
and as soon as it has begun to become passes again
away, then surely, being thus cut off at both ends, it
must be entirely destroyed
1
?
'
6
Nay, surely, O king, if it be thus cut off at both
ends, can it not at both ends be made to grow
again
2
?
'
' Yes, it might. But that is not my question.
Could it grow again from the point at which it
was cut off ?
'
'
Certainly.'
1 Give me an illustration.'
Then the Elder repeated the simile of the tree
and the seed, and said that the Skandhas (the constituent
elements of all life, organic and inorganic)
were so many seeds, and the king confessed himself
satisfied.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I just came across this post when I searched 'Ajata'. For a split second recently, abiding in the Self, I saw for the first time that I am crystal-like, completely immobile, although appearances flash in and out like shadows dancing inside of me but I am completely still; rock-like. From that stand-point nothing happens. This seems to correspond with what Nisargadatta speaks about in ‘I am That2’. Please see below.

I am That2
37. Beyond Pain and Pleasure there is Bliss

Nisargadatta Maharaj: The three states rotate as usual -- there is waking and sleeping and waking again, but they do not happen to me. They just happen. To me nothing ever happens. There is something changeless, motionless, immovable, rocklike, unassailable; a solid mass of pure being-consciousness-mind-bliss. I am never out of it. Nothing can take me out of it, no torture, no calamity.
Questioner: Yet, you are conscious!
Maharaj: Yes and no. There is peace -- deep, immense, unshakeable. Events are registered in memory, but are of no importance. I am hardly aware of them.

42. Reality can not be Expressed

Questioner: Were you always like this from the first moment of enlightenment?
Maharaj: The three states rotate as usual -- there is waking and sleeping and waking again, but they do not happen to me. They just happen. To me nothing ever happens. There is something changeless, motionless, immovable, rocklike, unassailable; a solid mass of pure being-consciousness-mind-bliss. I am never out of it. Nothing can take me out of it, no torture, no calamity.
Questioner: Yet, you are conscious!
Maharaj: Yes and no. There is peace -- deep, immense, unshakeable. Events are registered in memory, but are of no importance. I am hardly aware of them.

Sam