Monday, September 1, 2008

Glimpses of the Self

I started to reply to Broken Yogi’s description of an experience he had had, and then decided to make a separate post of it. This is what he said:
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 happening.” 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 realisation prior to realization, so I was wondering what is different, experientially.
First of all, I must say that this sounds like a wonderful experience. I suspect a few readers were thinking to themselves, ‘I wish something like that would happen to me’.

I think quite a few people on the spiritual path have a brief epiphany in which they suddenly become aware, directly, of what is ‘real’ and what is not. The ‘what is not’ turns out to be everything they formerly regarded as ‘real’. As Broken Yogi remarked, Papaji used to say that if an experience comes and goes, it is not an experience of the Self because the Self never comes and goes. However, you could turn that around and say, ‘Since it is mind that comes and goes, when mind is temporarily absent, one gets a glimpse of the underlying Self’. Such experiences may be mediated through a still-existing latent ‘I’-thought, but even so, they are always impressive when they happen.

There is an interesting account by Kunju Swami that sheds some light on this phenomenon. Like Broken Yogi, he had had a wonderful experience in the presence of his Guru, but subsequently lost it. This is his description of what happened:

Because the plague had driven away most of the inhabitants of the town [of Tiruvannamalai], visitors to Sri Bhagavan were very few. I was therefore left alone with Sri Bhagavan for much of the time. While we were together he often used to look at me, and as he did so, I became aware that his eyes had a strange brilliance and fascination in them. Whenever I looked into his eyes for any length of time I saw a bright effulgence. I could not say from where it came but it had the effect of making me forget everything. It was not like sleep for I was fully aware. I was also filled with a strange peace and bliss. After each experience I would come back to my normal physical state with a shudder. This occurred again and again on each of the eighteen days that I stayed with Sri Bhagavan. I was like someone intoxicated. I was absolutely indifferent to everything, had no curiosity to see anything, no desires whatsoever. Whatever activities I did, I did them all in a very mechanical way. So long as I stayed in the presence of Sri Bhagavan, I continued to have these experiences of peace and bliss. Because of the greatness of the presence of Sri Bhagavan I was able to experience the tranquil state of abiding firmly in the Heart.

After experiencing this state for some days the thought occurred to me, ‘Here, in order to join in all the daily routines, I have to interrupt my meditative state. Now that I have this firm experience I could remain uninterruptedly in continuous meditation for days if I stayed at home.’ Furthermore, I felt that it was a sin to eat food from the Guru without doing any service to him in return.

When I conveyed my thoughts to Ramakrishna Swami, I found that he was in complete agreement with me. We informed Sri Bhagavan of our decision and went back to our homes in Kerala. We had decided in advance that when we reached home we would meditate in seclusion, observe silence and be immersed in samadhi. We also decided neither to speak to anyone nor to meet each other.

When I reached home I found that my parents, who had been in a very agitated state because they had no idea where I had gone, were extremely happy to see me. Ramakrishna and I stuck to our resolution by staying in our respective homes and observing silence. My parents did not mind the silence, or anything else that I did. They were quite content merely to have me at home.

As the days passed the meditative state experienced in Sri Bhagavan’s presence steadily declined. I slowly became my old restless self. I did not have any new experiences, nor could I get into samadhi. Only then did I realise how ignorant I had been. I was greatly shaken by this disappointment, but I could not reveal to anyone what had happened. Then, one night, while I was dwelling on my disappointment, Ramakrishna Swami came to my place and revealed that his experience had been the same as mine. We both felt ashamed of our foolishness that led us to believe that we had achieved in a few days the state that aspirants of ancient days attained only after many years of striving in the immediate presence of great sages. By losing the state we had formerly experienced, we also realised fully the greatness of Sri Bhagavan’s presence. Feeling that it would be pointless for us to stay any longer at home, we decided that our only hope was to take refuge in Sri Bhagavan at Tiruvannamalai…

One day, [some time after my return,] while I was doing some work for Sri Bhagavan, I asked him why the experiences I had felt in his presence during my first visit had not continued after my return to Kerala but instead had steadily declined and finally ceased. By way of a reply Sri Bhagavan asked me to read verses eighty-three to ninety-three of Kaivalya Navaneeta, part one, telling me that the answer to my question could be found in those verses. The verses are as follows:

83

On hearing this [instruction from the Master] the disciple, loyal to the instructions of the Master, discarded the five sheaths and the blank [mind], realised the Self as ‘I am Brahman’, went beyond that and remained as perfect being.

84

At the glance of the Master, who was grace incarnate, the worthy disciple sank into the ocean of bliss and merged as the undivided whole, as pure consciousness, free from the body, the organs and all else, with mind made perfect so that he became the true Self, unaware while awake.

85

After the blessed disciple had remained in that state for a long time, his mind gently turned outwards. Then he saw his glorious Master before him. His eyes were filled with tears of joy. He was full of love and fell at the feet of the Master. He rose up, went round the Master with folded hands and spoke to him:

86

‘Lord, you are the reality remaining as my inmost Self, ruling me during all my countless incarnations! Glory to you who have put on an external form in order to instruct me! I do not see how I can repay your grace for having liberated me. Glory! Glory to your holy feet!’

87

The Master beamed on him as he spoke, drew him near and said very lovingly, ‘To stay fixed in the Self, without the three kinds of obstacles obstructing your experience, is the highest return you can render me.’

88

‘My Lord! Can such realisation as has transcended the dual perception of “You” and “I”, and found the Self to be entire and all pervading, fail me at any time?’ The Master replied, ‘The truth that “I am Brahman” is realised from the scriptures or by the grace of the Master, but it cannot be firm in the face of obstruction.

89

‘Ignorance, uncertainty and wrong knowledge are obstacles resulting from long-standing habits in the innumerable incarnations of the past which cause trouble [and make] the fruits of realisation slip away. Therefore root them out by hearing the truth, reasoning and meditation [sravana, manana, nididhyasana].

90

‘Defective realisation will not put an end to bondage. Therefore, devote yourself to hearing the truth, reasoning and meditation and root out ignorance, uncertainty and wrong knowledge.

91

‘Ignorance veils the truth that the Self is Brahman and shows forth multiplicity instead. Uncertainty is the confusion resulting from lack of firm faith in the words of the Master. The illusion that the evanescent world is a reality and that the body is the self is wrong knowledge. So say the sages.

92

‘Hearing the truth is to revert the mind repeatedly to the teaching: “That thou art”. Reasoning is rational investigation of the meaning of the text, as already heard. Meditation is one-pointedness of mind.

93

‘If every day you do these, you will surely gain liberation. The practice must be kept up so long as the sense of knower and knowledge persists. No effort is necessary thereafter. Remaining as pure, eternal consciousness, untainted like the ether and thus liberated while alive, one will live forever as That, after being disembodied also.’

Sri Bhagavan then summarised the verses and explained their meaning to me. During the course of his explanation he remarked, ‘The experience [of the Self] can occur in the presence of the Guru, but it may not last. Doubts will rise again and again and in order to clear them, the disciple should continue to study, think and practise. Sravana, manana and nididhyasana should be done until the distinction between knower, known and knowing no longer arises.’

After Sri Bhagavan had explained all this to me I decided to stay always in his presence and to carry out the practices he prescribed. (The Power of the Presence, part two, pp. 8-13)

* * *

Sravana, manana and nididhyasana comprise the traditional vedantic route to knowledge. Sravana is listening to the Guru’s words, manana is contemplating them and convincing oneself that they are true, and nididhyasana is the practice that results in the direct experience of what they indicate. The implication of Bhagavan’s response to Kunju Swami is that while the presence or power of the Guru may bring about temporary abidance in the Heart, such an experience may not remain firm unless it is followed by contemplating the truth of the Guru’s words and ultimately experiencing them as one’s own reality.
Question: … it is said that Guru kataksham [the glance of the Guru] is like [an elephant] seeing a lion in its dream.

Bhagavan: That is true. If an elephant sees a lion in its dream, it wakes up startled and will not sleep again that day for fear that the lion might appear again in a dream. In the same way in a man’s life, which is also akin to a dream, it is not Guru kataksham alone, but also sravana, manana, nididhyasana etc. that are akin to the sight of a lion in a dream. As they go on getting these dreams they wake up, and again go to bed and by efflux of time they may some day get a lion’s dream called Guru kataksham in an intense manner. They get startled and obtain jnana. Then there will be no more dreams and they will not only be wakeful at all times but will not give room for any dreams of life but will remain alert until that true and real knowledge is obtained. These lion’s dreams are unavoidable and must be experienced. (Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 18th May, 1947)

While I was in Lucknow I was surprised to hear Papaji, who generally did not advocate these traditional forms of practice, give this same advice to a visitor. However, when I questioned him about his remarks later, he began his reply by saying that if one has a direct but temporary experience of the Self, it is more useful and effective to find a true teacher who can help one establish oneself firmly in that state:


David: A couple of months ago a boy came up to you in satsang to tell you about an experience of emptiness he had had when he was ten years old. The experience later wore off. Later that morning, as you were reading the Panchadasi, you read out a verse that stated that one should do sravana, manana and nididhyasana if one wanted to become stabilised in the truth. You stopped and said to the boy, ‘You should have done this when you were ten. If you had done this, the experience would not have left you.’

Papaji: When you get this kind of experience, you should not reactivate the mind by thinking about the truth. If you want it to stick, you should go to a true teacher who has established himself in the truth. Such a teacher will not tell you to do anything else. He will tell you, ‘You don’t have to hear anything from anyone else. There is nothing more you need to do. Stay where you are and be as you are.’

This boy didn’t know what the experience was, nor did he have a competent teacher who could evaluate it for him.

The same thing happened to me when I was six years old. I had a direct experience, but no one was there to tell me, ‘This is the truth. You don’t need anything else.’

Instead, everyone told me, ‘The peace you enjoyed in that state came because of Krishna. If you start worshipping him, he will appear before you and make you happy.

I was already happy but somehow these uninformed people made me do sadhana because they thought that I needed new experiences. Because I had no one who could say with authority, ‘You need nothing else. Stay as you are,’ I ended up spending years looking for external gods.

There has been no change in my understanding, my experience and my conviction since I was six years old. From the age of six till now, when I am over eighty years old, there has been no change, but this truth, this understanding, was not fully revealed to me until I met the Maharshi. This is the role of the true teacher: to show you and tell you that you are already That, and to do it in such an authoritative way that you never doubt his words. Over the last few months I have been reading out books by some of the great teachers of the past. Again and again they say, ‘You are That. You are Brahman. This alone is the truth.’

All the teachers are saying this because they want their students to have the firm conviction that this is the truth, that this is who they truly are. This is the function of the true teacher: to remove your doubt that you are not Brahman and by doing so to allow you to see who you really are. (Nothing Ever Happened, vol. 3, pp. 388-89)
Although Papaji began his reply by appearing to disparage the traditional practices of manana, sravana and nididhyasana, in the second half of his reply he is clearly advocating them since he says that one should go to a true Guru, listen to him proclaim ‘You are That’, and then abide in that state which is being pointed out by the words.

I showed the Kaivalya Navaneeta verses that Bhagavan recommended to Kunju Swami to Papaji and asked him what he thought of the advice they contained. He replied:

Papaji: The disciple should come to the Guru with an open heart. If he does, one word will be enough. But if he doesn’t, you have to give out instructions like these. Somehow the student has to generate a conviction that the Guru’s words are true. (Nothing Ever Happened, vol. 3, p. 391)

Papaji then read out all the verses, commenting on a few of them. At the end of verse 89 he remarked:
Papaji: This is the advice one has to give to those who do not yet have the conviction that they are Brahman. They are advised to stay on with the Guru till the end of their life. There should be no problem with this. What else can you do with this life? You have already gone through millions of incarnations. In those lives you have already done everything that it is possible to do in a body, but you haven’t found out the cause of all these births, and you haven’t found out how to end them. This is something very new for you. Why don’t you stay and get this liberating knowledge? (Nothing Ever Happened, vol. 3, p. 394)
When Papaji had reached the end of the Kaivalya Navaneeta verses, I posed the following questions:
David: After showing these verses to Kunju Swami, the Maharshi said that the practice of sravana, manana and nididhyasana in the Guru’s presence was the most effective way to stabilise in the experience of the Self and eradicate the ignorance, uncertainty and wrong knowledge which might rise to cover it up. Do you approve of this prescription?

Papaji: Yes, I do agree. What he says is what I am also saying here. So I do approve of his prescription.

David: Can an experience of this kind be stabilised by any kind of effort, or does effort cause it to go?

Papaji: It should happen by itself if you listen intently to the teacher, but if it doesn’t happen, then you need absolute effort. Not 50% but 101%. Whatever the teacher says, you have to abide by it. You must not forget anything he says.

He will tell you, ‘You are Atman, you are Brahman, you are Truth Itself’. You must believe him. You must have an unshakeable conviction that his words are true. Until you have that conviction, stay on. Don’t leave till you have it.

This intense determination to succeed is the effort. Don’t give it up. If it doesn’t happen in this life, keep it up in the next life, and the next and the next. One day you have to get it. (Nothing Ever Happened, vol. 3, pp. 396-7)
The phenomenon of gaining and losing experiences of the Self also came up in an interview that Papaji had with Rama Crowell, a Canadian devotee. It includes some interesting advice on how to maintain such experiences:
Rama: Many people come to you, receive this teaching and get a glimpse of it through a direct experience. But the glimpse disappears, maybe because they are not fit to hold on to that teaching. These people then get disappointed.

Papaji: Yes, yes, they get a glimpse of it here, and then they go away fully satisfied to the West. But they come back saying they have lost it on the way.

There was one girl from Vancouver who told me a story like this. There is also a boy here now who said the same thing.

I told the girl, ‘You lost it because you always tried to maintain it. You tried to keep it, therefore you lost it. It is not your father’s property. It is not something that you can keep. Now you have come for a second time.

‘You have had a glimpse. Don’t try to hold on to it. Don’t try to maintain it. It came. Now let it go. It’s not your possession. It’s not an object to be possessed. A glimpse is a glimpse.’

Rama: Would it not be more helpful to equip such a person with the means of holding on to the experience?

Papaji: The best way of equipping oneself is to give up the intention of holding. (Nothing Ever Happened, vol. 3, pp. 389-90)
By claiming the experience – ‘I’ am enlightened – and by holding onto it as something that one ‘has’, one allows the individual ‘I’ to rise again. When this happens, the experience fades and becomes nothing more than a pleasant memory.

While I was in Lucknow I met many people who had had waking up experiences or brief glimpses of the Self while they were attending satsang with Papaji, but in almost all cases they seemed to wear off in the days and weeks that followed. While the Guru’s presence was the key catalyst in making the experience happen, what caused it to go away were the vasanas that had not been destroyed by the experience. This is what Papaji told me when I spoke to him in 1992:

Many people have had temporary glimpses of the Self. Sometimes it happens spontaneously, and it is not uncommon for it to happen in the presence of a realised Master. After these temporary glimpses, the experience goes away because there are still thoughts and latent desires which have not been extinguished. The Self will only accept, consume and totally destroy a mind that is totally free from vasanas. (Nothing Ever Happened, vol. 3, p. 405)
The Lucknow satsangs were characterised by large numbers of people claiming ‘enlightenment’. What is far less well known is that Papaji distinguished between ‘enlightenment’, which he seemed to regard as an experience of the Self that could be lost if it was not guarded properly, and the sahaja state, which was permanent and irreversible. I tried to get to grips with this distinction in the following dialogue that I had with Papaji, but, like many other people who tried to talk to him about this, the results were not entirely satisfactory. I have included a few explanatory comments of my own in italics and in brackets after some of the replies.

David: Three days ago I received a copy of a letter which you wrote to a couple in 1991. You were congratulating them on having waking-up experiences. In your letter you wrote: ‘You have won enlightenment. Now you have to go beyond on the raft of this enlightenment to the unmanifest supreme, turiyatita sahaja samadhi. This can be vaguely translated into English as “spontaneous natural state”.’

Papaji: Turiyatita sahaja samadhi actually cannot be translated into any other language. This is a Sanskrit term which has no equivalent in English. Waking, dreaming and sleeping are the first three states that we all know and experience. ‘Turiya’ means ‘the fourth’. It is the state which underlies and supports the three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping. Beyond this is turiyatita, which means ‘beyond the fourth’. It has no name because it cannot be named. We can call it the transcendent state, or we can loosely translate it as the ‘spontaneous, natural state’. Very few people discover this state. Kabir, Ravidas and Sukdev found it, but very few others know this state directly. Kabir was a weaver, Ravidas was a shoemaker, and Janaka was a king. They had different roles in life, but their state was the same.

What are the indications of this state? In the sahaja state there is no planning. There is no feeling, ‘I have got to do this,’ or ‘I have not got to do that’. Whatever comes is finished and then forgotten. It is not stored in the memory.

David: I would like to ask you some questions about the two states. What is the difference between enlightenment and the state beyond it, which you call sahaja sthiti?

Papaji: Enlightenment is connected with the word ‘light’, which is the opposite of dark. It is seen as the light which banishes darkness. If a man thinks that he is in spiritual darkness, he strives for the light that will banish that darkness. He meditates, he chants the name of God and does tapas until finally this state of enlightenment is revealed to him. Before, he was in darkness; now, through his efforts, he has found the light that banishes the darkness. Before he attained the state of enlightenment, he was in a state of ignorance. This means that enlightenment came at some later time and was not there before. If it was not present before and only appeared later, it is in time, and whatever exists in time is not permanent. At some later time it will disappear. This state which is won by effort will sooner or later disappear. It is not the natural or sahaja state, which is there all the time, and which needs no effort to reveal itself. This is the difference between them. One is attained in time by effort, and is not permanent; the other is there all the time, naturally and effortlessly.

Everyone is in this natural state whether one is aware of it or not. It is only arrogance that prevents one from being aware of it. Everyone thinks, ‘I have done this’, ‘I must do that’. ‘This is mine; that is his.’ Claiming ownership of things that are not yours is arrogance; taking responsibility for things you have not done is arrogance. The man who lives in sahaja sthiti does not live and behave like this. He knows that everything is going on naturally by itself. He claims nothing as his own, not even his thoughts.

When I speak and read, the eyes help me to read and the tongue helps me to speak. The words I speak come out of the mouth, but the tongue itself is not speaking. Where do these words ultimately come from? Nobody thinks about the answer to this question. If the eyes of a dead person are open, that body can’t read, and it can’t speak. So who or what is responsible for sending the light to the eyes to see, and for sending the sound which ends up as talking? Go back and see the source from which everything comes. If you know that source, you will know what this sahaja sthiti is. Everything else is ego. When there is the feeling ‘I am looking’ or ‘I am feeling,’ or ‘I am behaving,’ there is mind, there is ego, and the natural state is covered up. Everything, including this whole world, arises from that source. When you know that source by being that source, then and only then can you say that you are in sahaja sthiti.

[Papaji’s claim here that everything except sahaja sthiti is a state of the ego is an interesting one. This would necessarily include enlightenment experiences or direct experiences of the Self that come and go. Bhagavan endorsed this to some extent when he discussed the sahaja state with S. S. Cohen:

S. S. Cohen: In the ‘Talks’ section of Sat Darshana Bhashya, the ‘I-I’ is referred to as the Absolute Consciousness, yet Bhagavan once told me that any realisation before sahaja nirvikalpa is intellectual… Is the ‘I-I’ consciousness Self-realisation?

Bhagavan: It is a prelude to it: when it becomes permanent, sahaja, it is Self-realisation, liberation. (Guru Ramana, 1974 ed. pp. 81-3)
The context of Bhagavan’s discussion with S. S. Cohen was the distinctions between kevala nirvikalpa samadhi, the ‘I-I’ consciousness and the sahaja state. When he said that all states and experiences prior to the sahaja state were intellectual, Bhagavan seemed to include kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and the ‘I-I’ consciousness in this ‘intellectual’ category.

In the responses to the ‘Ajata posting there was some discussion about whether temporary experiences of the Self could be classed as ‘ajata’, whether an experience of the Self is necessarily an experience of ajata, and so on. If these temporary experiences are, as Bhagavan seems to be saying here, just very subtle states of mind, then I would say that these experiences are not ‘ajata’. For me (and you are all welcome to disagree on this) the experience of ajata cannot be a mediated one. There cannot be a valid ajata experience if it is mediated through a ‘created’ and imaginary entity.


Now back to my discussion with Papaji:]

David: You advised the couple to go from the state of enlightenment to the sahaja state. How is it possible to progress from the former to the latter? Does it happen automatically? Does it happen in all cases, most cases, or only a few? If it only happens in some cases, what prevents the rest from moving on to this final state? If it cannot be done by effort or practice, can it be done merely by attending satsang?

Papaji: It cannot be attained by any effort or practice, nor can it be attained merely by attending satsang. Many people attend this satsang, some for years at a time. But who among then can stand up and honestly proclaim, ‘I am in sahaja sthiti’?

The sahaja state can never come through effort or practice. It cannot be attained because it is there all the time. It neither comes, nor does it go. If you simply keep quiet and let things happen by themselves, you will find that it is that which is present all the time. You are never away from it or apart from it. Whatever is done is done by the supreme power which moves all things. Without that supreme power I could not even lift my hand. The problems start when you think, ‘I am lifting my hand’. Don’t bring in this egotistic idea at all. Let this supreme power take charge of all your activities, and be aware that it is this supreme power alone that is doing them. Don’t ever have the idea that nothing can happen unless you decide to make it happen. This is the kind of relationship that you have to have with this supreme power which is always there. Bow down before that power because she is supreme. Without her the sun could not rise in the morning, nor the moon at night. Nothing can function without this power, but no one is aware of this.

David: You sometimes say that the state of enlightenment is a diamond which must be guarded, protected, and not thrown away. It seems that the diamond of enlightenment can be thrown away, but the sahaja sthiti can never be lost or discarded. Is this correct? If the mind and the individual self have ceased to function in the state of enlightenment, who is there left to guard the experience or throw it away?

Papaji: You can neither retain nor reject the sahaja sthiti because it does not belong to you. It is not yours to lose or dispose of. Nothing belongs to you. When nothing is yours, you have nothing to lose or throw away. If something comes to you, you can keep it, but don’t have the idea that it belongs to you. And when it goes, don’t cry over it. A beautiful thing may come and go, but if the idea of ownership or attachment is not there, neither its coming nor its going will matter to you. In the sahaja sthiti nothing is claimed or rejected. Because these notions are not there, there is never any feeling of gain or loss. It is the ego that keeps accounts of what is gained and what is lost.

Have no thought of gaining or losing; have no thought of ownership; have no notions about time. When all these have gone, there is sahaja sthiti.

David: The following words come from a verse in Tripura Rahasya. Do you have any comments on it?

The glimpse of jnana gained by one whose mind is crowded with dense vasanas accumulated in the past incarnations does not suffice to override one’s deep-rooted ignorance. Such a one is obliged to practise samadhi in successive births for effective and final realisation.
Papaji: The mind of a busy man will be crowded with thoughts. Occasionally, though, he may experience a small gap between the end of one thought and the beginning of the next. If that glimpse comes, it will attract him; it will show him happiness. But it will only be a fleeting glimpse because the vasanas will soon find another way to grab his attention and interest…

[The verse says] ‘Such a one is obliged to practise samadhi in successive births for effective and final realisation’. That is what all the scriptures say: if a man has not completed his work in this life, he has to be reborn in better circumstances in his next life so that he can finish his work or fulfil his desires. I don’t believe this any more. I don’t accept it. Birth, death and rebirth are just ideas created by the mind. Bondage and liberation are just ideas you create to keep yourself busy. Get rid of the idea that birth, death, rebirth, bondage and liberation are real. They are not. They are nothing more than ideas. There are no gods, no demons and no heavens. No one exists; nothing exists. That is the truth. The mind can think about so many things. Why can’t it think about this fundamental truth instead? Nothing ever existed. This, ultimately, is the only truth. Whatever else you read in the scriptures comes from a different perspective, a relative perspective which assumes the reality of ideas such as birth, death, bondage, and so on. I will tell you the bare truth: there is no birth and there is no death, there is no creator and there is no creation. This is now my conviction, my experience.

David: What about your own case? In your last life you went into samadhi many times, but you didn’t attain liberation because your pending vasanas were too strong for you. You still had an unfulfilled desire, so you had to be born again. This is exactly what this verse in Tripura Rahasya is describing.

[On a few occasions Papaji narrated stories of his last life as a yogi who had an ashram on the Tungabadra River, near Sringeri in southern Karnataka. Guided by a dream or a vision, he found his old ashram on one of his South India trips. He said that his samadhi shrine had been washed away by the river, but a temple containing a black Krishna statue that he had installed himself was still there.

During this life he went into samadhi many times, once so deeply that his devotees thought he was dead. One ‘devotee’ decided to check by chipping a hole in the top of his head with a machete. This blow was the actual cause of his death. During that life he had an unfulfilled sexual desire for one of the girls who picked coconuts in his ashram. In his next and final life this girl became his wife.]

Papaji: Yes, this all happened because I listened to the people who talked like this. I listened to the saints, I listened to the elders, I read the books. All these sources told me that I would be reborn if I didn’t attain enlightenment. Because I believed all this, that belief manifested. In that dream world I made for myself out of all my ideas and beliefs, I took another birth. Nowadays I don’t listen to anyone or believe anything anyone tells me. Because I know the truth that nothing has ever happened, I don’t need to listen to or believe in stories like this any more.

David: It seems that the enlightenment state can, by the Guru’s grace, come to anyone at any time, but the final sahaja state only comes to those in whom there are no more pending desires. Do you agree or disagree?

Papaji: ‘The final sahaja state only comes to those in whom there are no more pending desires.’ Do I agree or disagree? [long pause]

[Laughing] I absolutely one hundred percent agree with you. Whenever there is a desire, you are bound. The desire will manifest in front of you, or you yourself will be manifested as that desire…. When there are desires, desires manifest and there is no liberation. Everything and everyone you see around you are manifestations of your desires. When you have no desires, you don’t see anything at all. Try it now and see for yourself. Stop the mind and its desires and see if there is anything left to see.

When there is a desire, the eyes start working and they start seeing things, which become objects of desire. The seer and the seer are maintained by the desire of one for the other. When the desires are not there, there is no seer and nothing to be seen. If there is no desire, you can’t see, you can’t hear, you can’t smell, you can’t taste. Try it, just for a fraction of a second. Let your mind be absolutely absent just for a second and see what happens to all the objects of desire that you used to think were real. This one second will give you happiness and love. It is bliss, perfection, happiness, enlightenment, wisdom. Call it by any name that appeals to you.

Actually, this love, this bliss, has no name at all. It is just emptiness of mind. Nothing is there any more. We arose from emptiness and sooner or later we will return to that emptiness. In the interval between them we think, have desires and suffer the consequences of them. But don’t think, ‘I came from emptiness and sooner or later I will return to that emptiness and be happy’. That will not solve the problem of your present suffering. Instead, have the conviction, ‘I am in emptiness right now. Emptiness is my nature.’ This conviction will be enough to give you bliss, love and freedom. (Nothing Ever Happened, vol. 3, pp. 406-414)

* * *

To complete this post on ‘Glimpses of the Self’ I will give the descriptions of the Self that Saradamma gave prior to her realisation, along with Lakshmana Swamy’s comments on them. The exchanges are from No Mind – I am the Self, pp. 170-72:

She [Saradamma] was still able to talk and Swamy, thinking that her realisation was near, placed a small tape-recorder near her to record her words. Sarada spoke in short, quiet sentences, with frequent pauses as she was overwhelmed by the bliss of the Self.

I have no body. I have no ‘I’. I am not the body. How I am talking I do not know. Some power is talking through me.

Swamy asked her if she was looking and she replied:
Even though I am looking, I am not looking. Where is the ‘I’ to look. When the mind enters the Heart there is no ‘I’ to tell that there is no ‘I’. My ‘I’ is dead.
Swamy then asked her how she was feeling.
My whole body is filled with peace and bliss. I cannot describe it. Everything is filled with peace. The Self is pulling me towards it and I am not able to open my eyes. The whole body is weak.
Swamy remarked, “It is like an elephant entering a weak hut. The hut cannot stand the strain. Is it beyond time and death?”
It is beyond time and death as there is no mind. As the ‘I’ is dead I don’t wish to eat anymore. I am not able to eat. However tasty the food, I cannot eat. I have no desire to eat. Everything is filled with peace and bliss. I am content with my realisation. I have recognised my own Self, so I am content.
Swamy then told her that her ‘I’ was not yet dead and that she had not yet reached the final state. Sarada replied:
As the ‘I’ is dead there is no you.
“Have you no mother or father?” asked Swamy.
No father, no mother, no world. Everything is peace and bliss. Why do I have to eat when there is no ‘I’? The body is inert, it cannot eat. A corpse will not eat. It is like that because the ‘I’ is dead. As I cannot eat, I cannot talk. Who is talking I do not know.
“Then who is talking?” asked Swamy. Sarada remained silent and so Swamy answered his own question. “The Self is talking.” Sarada continued:
Even though I am seeing, I am not seeing. Even though I am talking I am not talking. Whatever I do I am not doing it because the ‘I’ is dead. I have no body. All the nerves are filled with peace and bliss. All is Brahman. All is bliss. In the veins instead of blood, love and bliss are flowing. A great power has entered into me.
Three months before Swamy had told Sarada, “Even though I sleep I am not sleeping”. Sarada remembered this, repeated Swamy’s words and said that she was finally able to understand what he had meant. Sarada continued to talk:
I have no thought of doing anything. I have no fear of death. Before, I feared death, but not anymore. I don’t care about death. I have nothing more to do. I shall give up the body.
Swamy asked her to stay but Sarada answered:
What is death to die now? The body is inert, how can it die? My ‘I’ is dead, what is there left to die? Why then fear death? Swamy then reminded her again that her ‘I’ was not dead and that she was not yet in the final sahaja state.
Swamy then stopped the tape we were listening to and talked a little about the state that Sarada was experiencing when she spoke these words.

“Anyone whose mind completely subsides into the Heart for a short time can talk like an enlightened person. Their experience of the Self is the same as that of a realised person. However, their ‘I’-thought is not dead and it is likely to re-emerge at any time. Such an experience is not the final state because it is not permanent.”

He then played the final portion of Sarada’s comments on her experience.

I am everywhere. I am not the body. I have no body so I have no fear. I am immobile. Whatever I may do I am immobile. I am shining as the Self. Everything is a great void [maha-sunya]. How can I describe the Self in words? It is neither light nor dark. No one can describe what it is. In the past, present and future no one can describe what it is. It is difficult to describe. Self is Self, that is all.

* * *

The final realisation, the definitive extinction of the ‘I’-thought, happened a few minutes after this final comment when Saradamma put her head on Lakshmana Swamy’s feet. Her comments, and Lakshmana Swamy’s remarks on them, are highly interesting in that they indicate it is possible to have what appears to be a full experience of the Self, even though the ‘I’-thought has not been fully extinguished. Saradamma herself was convinced that she had realised the Self, and her description of its characteristics are definitely from the standpoint of the jnani, but Lakshmana Swamy could see that the experience was a temporary one. A few years later Lakshmana Swamy spoke about this phenomenon during one of his morning darshans:


The ‘I’-thought can hide in the Heart for long periods without being destroyed. People in whom this happens are experiencing the Self, but they are not fully realised. They can talk about the Self from their own direct experience of it, and they can even sometimes be a conduit for the power of the Self. If you look at the eyes of such a person, there is no ‘I’ or mind functioning there. The jnani can easily see the ‘I’ or the mind of ordinary people by looking at their eyes, but with these people there is no ‘I’ visible there. However, if you look into the Heart, you can see their ‘I’-thought hiding there, latent and waiting to re-emerge. This state is not liberation because when the body dies, the undestroyed ‘I’-thought will take a new form and identify with a new body.

It is the job of the Guru to find the latent ‘I’ hiding in the Heart and destroy it there through the power of the Self. For Self-realisation to occur, the ‘I’ must die, rather than lie hidden out of sight. When this happens the Self shines in the Heart. This is the true and final state of Self-realisation.
We didn’t have computers in those days, but the hidden ‘I’-thought in the Heart sounds a bit like having a dangerous virus quarantined somewhere on the hard drive. It can still cause trouble if it gets out, but if it is properly contained, it will not be able to make its presence felt in any way.

That concludes today’s offering. I will address another point that Broken Yogi made in my next post.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

David,
There is enormous gratitude here for all your postings. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and understandings with us.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

...However, if you look into the Heart, you can see their ‘I’-thought hiding there, latent and waiting to re-emerge. This state is not liberation because when the body dies, the undestroyed ‘I’-thought will take a new form and identify with a new body....

Yes, that is the point. There is a story in "Living by the Words of Bhagavan" emphasizing this. I can't translate it into English - maybe David could copy this passage into here where I have to quote my german edition:

Nach etwa einer halben Stunde sagte Bhagavan: «Wir sind hier fertig, wir können essen gehen.» Bhagavan hatte sein Mittagessen verschoben; er wollte erst seine Aufgabe mit Sathya Narayana Rao erledigen. Während Bhagavan beim Essen saß, teilte ihm ein Devotee mit, daß Sathya Narayana Rao gestorben sei. Vor seinem Tod habe er noch einmal die Augen geöffnet, gelächelt und die Hand ausgestreckt, um seine beiden Schwestern zu berühren.

Als Bhagavan das hörte, rief er aus: «Aha, der Dieb ist zurückgekommen. Ich dachte, sein Gemüt hätte gänzlich zur Ruhe gefunden. Seine vasanas [Gemütstendenzen und -gewohnheiten] haben sich wieder geregt. Die starke Bindung an seine Schwestern ließ ihn die Hand ausstrecken und sie berühren.»

.

David Godman said...

Clemens Vargas Ramas

I think this is the story:

In 1939 a man called Sathya Narayana Rao was dying in one of the ashram rooms. He was apparently in great pain. A devotee brought news of this to the hall. Bhagavan initially seemed to be uninterested in the matter.

‘What can I do?’ he asked. ‘Am I a doctor?’

However, after a few minutes he got up and went with Krishnaswami to the room where the man was dying. Sathya Narayana Rao was lying on a bed in a small room that was next to the storeroom. Bhagavan sat next to him and put one hand on his head and the other on his Heart-centre. Sathya Narayana Rao had previously been twisting and turning in bed in an attempt to alleviate his pain, but a few seconds after Bhagavan touched him, he quietened down, closed his eyes, and lay still on the bed.

After about half an hour Bhagavan said, ‘We have finished here. We can go and eat.’

Bhagavan had delayed going for lunch because he had wanted to finish his work with Sathya Narayana Rao. While Bhagavan was eating, a devotee came to inform, him that Sathya Narayana Rao had died. However, before he died he had opened his eyes, smiled, and reached out to touch his two sisters.

When Bhagavan heard this he exclaimed, ‘Ah! The thief came back again. I thought that his mind had completely subsided. His vasanas [mental habits and tendencies] came up again. His attachment to his sisters made him reach out and touch them.’

In the case of Palaniswami, Bhagavan said that the ‘I’-thought escaped through the eyes at the moment of death and took another birth. One can assume that something similar happened in this case.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

From: Statutes of the Carthusian Order

Friend,

Whoever you are, whatever led you to this site, welcome.

You will not find anything fashionable, not even a concern for being different.

The goal: Contemplation

Discover the immensity of love (Statutes 35.1)

The only goal of the Carthusian way is CONTEMPLATION, by the power of the Spirit, living as unceasingly as possible in the light of the love of God for us, made manifest in Christ. This implies a purity of heart, or charity: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Mt 5:8) Monastic tradition also calls this goal pure and continuous prayer.

The fruits of contemplation are: liberty, peace, and joy. O Bonitas! O Goodness, was the cry which issued from the heart of St. Bruno. But the unification of the heart and the entrance into the contemplative rest assume a long journey, which our Statutes describe as such:

Whoever perseveres without defiance in the cell and lets himself be taught by it tends to make his entire existence a single and continual prayer. But he may not enter into this rest without going through the test of a difficult battle. It is the austerities to which he applies himself as someone close to the Cross, or the visits of God, coming to test him like gold in the fire. Thus purified by patience, fed and strengthened by studied meditation of Scripture, introduced by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the recesses of his heart, he will thus be able to, not only serve God, but adhere to him. (Statutes 3.2)

All monastic life thus consists of this journey towards the heart and all the meaning of our life is oriented towards this end. It helps the monk unite his life to charity, introducing it to the depths of his heart.

.

Jupes said...

David,
Thanks for this wonderful post. A few questions have come up...

1- Did Kunju Swami fully realize the Self? For some reason I have a sense that he did not, but I don't know why I think that.

2- 'In the responses to the ‘Ajata’ posting there was some discussion about whether temporary experiences of the Self could be classed as ‘ajata’, whether an experience of the Self is necessarily an experience of ajata, and so on. If these temporary experiences are, as Bhagavan seems to be saying here, just very subtle states of mind, then I would say that these experiences are not ‘ajata’. For me (and you are all welcome to disagree on this) the experience of ajata cannot be a mediated one. There cannot be a valid ajata experience if it is mediated through a ‘created’ and imaginary entity.'

If temporary states such as those that have been discussed here are not considered, by you, to be ajata or experiences of the Self, do you consider them at least to be glimpses of ajata or the Self? Based on what you said at the beginning of the post [However, you could turn that around and say, ‘Since it is mind that comes and goes, when mind is temporarily absent, one gets a glimpse of the underlying Self’.], I would imagine that you agree that they are glimpses, especially since that's what this post is all about.

Also, I don't believe you answered the question as to whether ajata is an experience of the Self or vice versa. Maybe this is obvious, but what say you on that?

3- One last thing... I imagine all of us have, at one time or another, experienced what I sometimes refer to as 'altered states', when time seems to stand still and everything around you seems suddenly unreal. I've experienced this when there's been some sort of crisis or emergency. In one case I was at a restaurant with a group of friends and suddenly the guy next to me began choking on a piece of food that had lodged in his wind pipe. He put his hands at his throat to indicate he was choking and a waiter came and did the Heimlich maneuver on him. The whole thing lasted for only a couple of minutes but it seemed like it went on for a very long time, and there was a sense that reality had been drastically distorted. When one is in states like this, is this nothing more than the work of the mind, or could this be considered movement in the direction of the Self, perhaps on some cusp between the mind and a glimpse of the Self, if there is such a thing?

Broken Yogi said...

Thanks so much for such a thorough answer to my question. I just love reading these blog entries of yours. There's a lot of new material you bring out that I hadn't seen before. I particularly feel drawn to this quote from Papaji:

"‘Such a one is obliged to practise samadhi in successive births for effective and final realisation’. That is what all the scriptures say: if a man has not completed his work in this life, he has to be reborn in better circumstances in his next life so that he can finish his work or fulfil his desires. I don’t believe this any more. I don’t accept it. Birth, death and rebirth are just ideas created by the mind. Bondage and liberation are just ideas you create to keep yourself busy. Get rid of the idea that birth, death, rebirth, bondage and liberation are real. They are not. They are nothing more than ideas. There are no gods, no demons and no heavens. No one exists; nothing exists. That is the truth. The mind can think about so many things. Why can’t it think about this fundamental truth instead? Nothing ever existed. This, ultimately, is the only truth. Whatever else you read in the scriptures comes from a different perspective, a relative perspective which assumes the reality of ideas such as birth, death, bondage, and so on. I will tell you the bare truth: there is no birth and there is no death, there is no creator and there is no creation. This is now my conviction, my experience."

Oftentimes I tend to fall into a funk in which I presume myself to be incapable of realization, based on my vasanas, my past, the foolishness of my mind, etc. I tend to fall into this "traditional" mindset that Papaji describes here, in which realization is endlessly put off lifetime after lifetime. It occurs to me that this is the very problem in a nutshell, and that shedding oneself of this notion is the very thing that makes realization possible. If all of these ideas are just "mind", it doesn't have to take so much time and effort. Instead, it takes the opposite.

As your other quotes about the distinction between sahaj and kevala samadhi suggest, "enlightenment" experiences might take time, or fade, but realization is already the case. So one's attention needs to be on present realization, rather than future enlightenment, not holding onto anything, but surrendering to what is already the case.

I'm also quite interested in your quote from Lakshmana about people who seem realized but still have ego, that it's possible for the mind to fall into the heart and not die. You may have been referring to my relationship with the Guru figure who initiated this ajata experience in me, and who I mentioned I later came to conclude was not fully enlightened. This description from Lakshmana helps me understand better what may have been going on in his case, and how he was able to act as a vehicle and even a voice of the Self at times, while still having the vasanas of mind that prevented full realization in his case. Do you have more information about this kind of phenomena among seeming jnanis?

அவனடிமை said...

Wonderful post David. Appreciate your sharing sages' words on Self Knowledge.

Here are just two verses (out of the 11 Kaivalya Navaniitham verses that you presented as quoted by Sri. BhagavAn) in original Tamil (for those who can read/understand Tamil text and for those who cannot read Tamil text, however can understand the sounds of the words/meaning).

These two verses not only indicate an ideal devotee's humility and absolute ego-lessness as he/she gets a glimpse of the Self Knowledge and feels very grateful to the Guru who enabled it but also demonstrates how a true Sadguru handles a disciple and what they expect (or don't expect) out of the relationship.

ஐயனே எனதுள்ளே நின்று
அனந்த.சன் மங்கள் ஆண்ட
மெய்யனே உபதே சிக்க
வெளிவந்த குருவே போற்றி
உய்யவே முத்தி நல்மும்
உதவிக்கு ஓர்.உதவி நாயேன்
செய்யுமாறு ஒன்றும் காணேன்
திருவடி போற்றி போற்றி.

aiyyanE enadhuLLE nindRu
anantha sanmangaL ANda
meyyanE upadhE sikka
veLi.vandha guruvE pOtRRi
uyyavE mutthi nalgum
udhavikku Or.udhavi nAyEn
seyyumARu ondRum kANEn
thiruvadi pOtRRi pOtRRi.
-------- v. 79

சிட்டன் இவ்வாறு கூறத்
தேசிகர் மகிழ்ந்து நோக்கிக்
கிட்டவா என இருத்திக்
கிருபையோடு அருளிச் செய்வார்
துட்டமாம் தடைகள் மூன்றும்
தொடராமல் சொரூப ஞான
நிட்டனாய் இருக்கின் ஈதே
நீ செயும் உதவி ஆமே.

sittan ivvARu kURa'th
thEsikar magizhndhu nOkki
'kitta vA' ena irutthi'k
kirubaiyOdu aruLi'ch seyvAr
thuttamAm thadaigaL mUndRum
thodarAmal sorUba njyAna
nittanAy iukkin iidE
nii seyum udhavi AmE.

-------- v. 80

Meanings in english are in verse #s 86 & 87 within David's original post

Love to all....

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Dear David,

Just have to put this down. This is by far one of the most illuminating posts.

Out of sheer curiosity, I went to youtube and saw one of the videos of Papaji's Satsang talks.

I don't know how to describe this, but something happened as he was saying something on the lines of being without desires for just a fraction of a second.

I will try and put it down as I recollect the experience. It might seem childish and funny, but this is what I felt.

I was thinking that Papaji has a typical Punjabi accent when something went in my head and I saw him as an innocent child, and then I saw images of Ramana talking, till my mind took over and told me that Ramana spoke mainly in Tamil.

How do I describe this? I was and am still sitting in my office, surrounded by people. Nothing distracted me for those thirty or forty seconds. My eyes were wide open watching the video.

Could this, I know it is preposterous, possibly qualify as a glimpse into the Self?

Nandu

Paban said...

Thank u David for all your postings.it really helps.
I have read talks by Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadutta maharaj's ( I am that ). which is wonderful.
I heard that there is a book by Bennett '' long pilgrimage' about his meeting with shivapuri baba whose theaching is 3 dicipline. or right life. if u ever read that book does that also help to encourage into inquery?

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:
It is interesting. I was just reading Talks with Maharshi, and the line that he says, "The way to control the mind is to search for it" That really made sense to me. Because the mind is normally pursuing objects it thinks exists, but if the mind's goal is changed from it's normal objects of desires, intellectual gratification, worries to looking for itself, it won't find anything. I did this, and I get really quiet. It's my learning curve.

Speaking of which in Scientific American, a physicist was claiming that the universe is made of tiny self-assembling triangles, but underneath that there is only emptiness, and infact nothing really exists, kind of on par with what Papaji was claiming. And Papaji's claim that he hoped the driving force behind cellular life would be discovered and he knew they would find only "emptiness".

All those quotes from Papaji, Lakshmana Swami, Saradamma, people's recounting experiences of the Self are very interesting. I can't say whether I've personally had an experience of the Self, just getting quieter, more quiescent, and certainly duality, the body seeming a little less real. Sometimes I even get a more firm conviction of no longer doing anything, even doing Enquiry, just ceasing all efforts as the mind tries to do efforts. The mind of course rebels because my Enquiry isn't proper enough to do it once.

When I was 22 (in 2001), I believe I had an experience of the Self (or could have) where I may have even had a few days to a week of being in something like samadhi, but I don't know whether it's arrogant to presume thats what it was. Not having known about Maharshi, I had no context to put it in, and my temporarily dormant mind really freaked out when it realized there was no returning to it's former state. (although it managed to after years of trying to recover it's own egotistical momentum) I suspect some experiences called schizophrenic arise from this. That that there are glimpses of Self-realization that mark the onset of psychotic breaks, but a mind that can't humbly submit to that state and invents new stories to rationalize heightened awareness. i.e. megalomaniacal delusions

When my mind, that I considered to be me freaked out, time didn't flow in the same rational way, I would lose large portion of hours that seemed to pass in seconds, out of the control of my terrified and besieged ego. I was having pristine and gorgeous hallucenations, visuals with animals and plants that had a much more vivid beauty. In maharshi-speak, probably in that period of a few days to a week where my mind was dormant, I wasn't seeing anything, but when the mind came back auditory and visual stimuli flooded into an awareness in some strange way, and I thought I was perma-tripped from naievely taking a small ammount of hallucenogens from some hippies, for years I was terrified I would lose my mind, because physical reality had lost it's solidity after this experience and seemed dreamlike (nightmare) and menacing. The reason for this experience was that my life seemed so hopeless, that I think I was trying to turn away from everything because it was so fraught with anxiety. Again, back to psychotic break experiences. Nonetheless, I feel without this experience, Maharshi wouldn't have had the same clarity to me.

I'm not trying to arrogantly say that I was almost enlightened or a jnani, because maybe I was far from it, but trying to put this experience in the context of the discussion. Oh yeah, during that period, my mind was really startled and terrified noticing that much of the "external" world was it's own creation. So it was maybe an accidental, and unstable and dangerous glimpse of the Self for an unripe mind.

I have had safer experiences lately that maybe touch on that with Enquiry where I just get quiescent. And I do have moments without thoughts and it doesn't seem tamasic. And then also periods of deep anxiety, and a frightened mind often of external things it suddenly feels vulnerable to. When I started it I tried to do it more forcefully. But lately dropping efforts, and turning away from desires, and seeking the physical location of the mind, so that the mind is seeking itself instead of other things seem to be fruitful as far as quietude. Sorry this was long. Hopefully, not perceived as arrogant. I have no idea how ripe or mature I am. Maybe I'm an arrogant novice with 100 more lifetimes to go if there is such a thing, or maybe I'm destined for Self-Realization in the decade, I suppose these things can't be touched upon by the intellect.

Anonymous said...

I feel that the mind cannot understand/reason out the effects of Atma Vichara: the stopping of the weak mind dispersing itself in a thousand directions, a churning in the nadis, which effects a progressive disassociation from the sheaths of body/mind, an automatic withdrawal further and further inward, the awareness and one-pointed interest in the aham sphurana, the "I" - "I" pulsing, the removal of the superimposed world and body/mind, and the dissolution of the knot in the heart. The bright Light of the Heart shines like a thousand suns, gobbling up the pure, silent mind. The mind has become like the moon during the day, barely discernable. The mind will not destroy itself. The Heart has to do it.

michael said...

on the three languages of vedanta:

[presented by way of example regarding the teaching that there is no such thing as a glimpse of the self]

there are three possibile vedantic interpretations to the teaching that there is no such thing as a glimpse of the self, of which only one has been discussed in this blog so far.

in practicing mananas with respect to this teaching, we may benefit by trying out more than one admissible point of view.

by alternating between the three generic languages of vedanta, we hope to triangulate iteratively toward a working understanding of the teaching, as follows.

in ajatic terms, there is no such thing as a glimpse of the self because the self is never unglimpsed, especially by a non-existent individual. since this statement is closest to the silent truth, i refer to it as "language 1", the language of the self.

in advaitic terms, a non-dual glimpse of the eternal has not ended in time. since this language is an informed but slightly compromised version of the truth, i refer to it as "language 2a", the language that follows the glimpse of the self which occurs briefly at the start of every thought.

in vishishtadvaitic terms, since a time-bound glimpse of the eternal is a contradiction in terms, the person has not glimpsed the self. since this assigns undue merit to the third-person perspective, it is yet further from the truth. i refer to it as "language 2b", the language of thought which is removed from its original clarity and which precedes its reabsorption in the self.

[in vedic terms, non-dual experience of the self is impossible. since this is the furthest from the truth, i refer to it as "language 3", the 'horizontal' language, which neither approaches nor recedes from the self, but merely tracks back and forth between languages 2a and 2b in the relative world. this perspective is not-admissible in a vedantic discussion.]

although not normally noticed, each of these languages is adopted in turn automatically during the life-cycle of each thought, as it waxes and wanes relative to the self.

a recognition that our pattern of interpretation of a teaching (the cyce of self-knowledge at the scale of mananas) unfolds in the same predictible pattern as does any other thought (the same cycle of self-knowledge but at the scale of a single thought) simplifies our introspection and changes it from a primarily content-based experience to a primarily process-based one.

endless repetition of this pattern of process-based thinking ("thinking backwards") gradually relieves us of our fascination with the content of thought.

having reduced the endless variety of content-based thought to a single process-based one, we are now in a position to compare it to the self.

this original-and-final act of discrimination (between what exists and what does not exist) is also automatic and, with endless repetition, leads to increased identification with the self.

(as is usual, the above proposal is presented in language 2a.)

David Godman said...

Jupes

Did Kunju Swami fully realize the Self? For some reason I have a sense that he did not, but I don’t know why I think that.

***

I don’t think so, and more pertinently, I don’t think he did either.

***

You quoted me saying: ‘In the responses to the ‘Ajata’ posting there was some discussion about whether temporary experiences of the Self could be classed as ‘ajata’, whether an experience of the Self is necessarily an experience of ajata, and so on. If these temporary experiences are, as Bhagavan seems to be saying here, just very subtle states of mind, then I would say that these experiences are not ‘ajata’. For me (and you are all welcome to disagree on this) the experience of ajata cannot be a mediated one. There cannot be a valid ajata experience if it is mediated through a ‘created’ and imaginary entity.’

And then you asked:

If temporary states such as those that have been discussed here are not considered, by you, to be ajata or experiences of the Self, do you consider them at least to be glimpses of ajata or the Self? Based on what you said at the beginning of the post [However, you could turn that around and say, ‘Since it is mind that comes and goes, when mind is temporarily absent, one gets a glimpse of the underlying Self’.], I would imagine that you agree that they are glimpses, especially since that’s what this post is all about.

Early in my post I quoted Bhagavan as saying: ‘One who is established in the Self sees this [the truth of the Gaudapada verse] by his knowledge of reality’. I take this to mean that ajata is the final experience of everyone who has realised the Self. I am not convinced that this same ajata experience is fully shared by those who have a temporary glimpse since there is still a latent ‘I’-thought interfering with or possibly even mediating the experience. I can’t really justify this through logic or quotations from Bhagavan; it is my own conclusion.

Then you said: ‘Also, I don’t believe you answered the question as to whether ajata is an experience of the Self or vice versa. Maybe this is obvious, but what say you on that?’

Ajata, says Bhagavan, is the final truth (paramartha) that is experienced when full and complete realisation has happened. You can argue from that (as I did earlier) that anything less than a definitive and irreversible realisation does not result in the true and final ajata state. Again, this is my own conclusion.

***

One last thing... I imagine all of us have, at one time or another, experienced what I sometimes refer to as ‘altered states’, when time seems to stand still and everything around you seems suddenly unreal. I’ve experienced this when there’s been some sort of crisis or emergency. In one case I was at a restaurant with a group of friends and suddenly the guy next to me began choking on a piece of food that had lodged in his wind pipe. He put his hands at his throat to indicate he was choking and a waiter came and did the Heimlich maneuver on him. The whole thing lasted for only a couple of minutes but it seemed like it went on for a very long time, and there was a sense that reality had been drastically distorted. When one is in states like this, is this nothing more than the work of the mind, or could this be considered movement in the direction of the Self, perhaps on some cusp between the mind and a glimpse of the Self, if there is such a thing?

I would say that events such as these are the workings of the mind, not an experience of the absence of mind.

Apologies for the delay in responding to your query.

David Godman said...

I'm also quite interested in your quote from Lakshmana about people who seem realized but still have ego, that it's possible for the mind to fall into the heart and not die. You may have been referring to my relationship with the Guru figure who initiated this ajata experience in me, and who I mentioned I later came to conclude was not fully enlightened. This description from Lakshmana helps me understand better what may have been going on in his case, and how he was able to act as a vehicle and even a voice of the Self at times, while still having the vasanas of mind that prevented full realization in his case. Do you have more information about this kind of phenomena among seeming jnanis?

***

Lakshmana Swamy made this comment about a fairly well-known Guru. When I first went to see him, he was quite free with his assessments of other teachers, but soon afterwards he stopped giving such comments. He said that he didn't want to upset the faith of devotees of particular Gurus, and he didn't want comments he made to reach devotees of other teachers, who might then come and complain to him about what he said. So, respecting his wishes not to offend, I won't say whom he was referring to. I can say, though, that it was not your own ex-teacher that he was talking about.

I only ever heard him say this about one particular teacher, so I can't really draw conclusions on whether this is a common phenomenon or not.

David Godman said...

Nandu

You wrote:

Out of sheer curiosity, I went to youtube and saw one of the videos of Papaji's Satsang talks.

I don't know how to describe this, but something happened as he was saying something on the lines of being without desires for just a fraction of a second.

I will try and put it down as I recollect the experience. It might seem childish and funny, but this is what I felt.

I was thinking that Papaji has a typical Punjabi accent when something went in my head and I saw him as an innocent child, and then I saw images of Ramana talking, till my mind took over and told me that Ramana spoke mainly in Tamil.

How do I describe this? I was and am still sitting in my office, surrounded by people. Nothing distracted me for those thirty or forty seconds. My eyes were wide open watching the video.

Could this, I know it is preposterous, possibly qualify as a glimpse into the Self?

***

There was something about the energy around Papaji that caused some people to have visions. Sometimes they would have a vision of a Hindu God; sometimes they would, like you, see his features change into someone else's. One woman who travelled extensively with him, and who obviously had visionary inclinations, said that she would see visions of 'local' gods and saints when she was in particular places. In Vrindavan, for example, she would see Krishna, while in Europe, if they visited the tombs of famous saints together, she would have visions of that particular saint.

I would not call these events glimpses of the Self. However, it is nice to hear from someone who never met Papaji that this 'visionary energy' can still be felt merely by watching him talk on a video clip.

David Godman said...

Paban

Thank u David for all your postings.it really helps.
I have read talks by Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadutta maharaj's ( I am that ). which is wonderful.
I heard that there is a book by Bennett '' long pilgrimage' about his meeting with shivapuri baba whose theaching is 3 dicipline. or right life. if u ever read that book does that also help to encourage into inquery?

***

I read this book almost thirty years ago and loved it. I don't think enquiry is espoused in that book. If it had been, I probably would have remembered it. I am always on the lookout for hints of enquiry in the words of other teachers.

David Godman said...

Anonymous (9th September)

Thanks for your long and detailed description of your visions and 'no-mind' experiences. This really does sound like an occasion when the mind spontaneously and temporarily dropped into the Self. The subsequent experiences and the odd visions seem to indicate that the mind was nowhere near ready to stay in that place and in that state.

We all think that we want to experience the Self, but if the mind does accidentally drop into that state, it usually panics and tries to run away from it. Deep down, the mind is afraid of its own destruction, and while the everyday intellect might aspire to ego-death, if the mind is ever faced with that imminent possibility, it usually responds fearfully and tries to escape its own destruction.

Papaji used to say that if one has such an experience, one should go to a genuine teacher and have it evaluated and possibly stabilised. But where to find such beings at short notice?

I_for_an_I said...

Dear David,

I had left this on another topic here: "Open thread on Vichara"..i guess it got buried in there somewhere..this may also be useful for those on the inquiry path.

I thank you for your lifetime of selfless effort in spreading the most intimate wisdom of the Jnanis to the ones as me who have received it at the most opportune of times.

I have been practising inquiry for about 3 yrs now after a couple of yrs of other sporadic forms of meditation, and my experiences have been quite physical and psychological in nature accompanied with heavy activity in the chakra centers. This began prior to my visit to Arunachala, but has intensified to quite an extent since. There have been an increase in synchronicities and other external signs as well. During meditation, while the inquiry is on by pulling on the "I"ness, it immediately engages the chakras along the spine into variable bursts of energy and such which lasts almost consistently throughout the period of an hour or so of meditation. It has become a very mechanical process now, and the connection between the "I" and the chakras are obviously direct. As Sri Ramana Maharshi has said, the Kundalini is nothing but the Self.

It has been a tremendously intense experience, along with emotional release, which fits the analogy of "boiling a donut in water" as given by Nisargadatta Maharaj. I was wondering if you have come across any such accounts of physical chakra sensations in inquiry, since most of the experiences i've read about hardly talk about them.

Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

David,
Reading your reply to anonymous' post reminded me of an "experience" that I had last weekend... That day, I somehow got intense concentration to do enquiry. At one point, it got so strong that I wanted to get out of it and "relax". I knew that it was foolish to get out of it. But could just not bear the "pressure" and I let my mind go out. I am not sure what sort of exp it was. Just felt like sharing this with you.

Jupes said...

David,
Thank you for responding to all my questions from Sept 3rd. I was having some confusion about how to characterize Ajata, trying to understand how it relates to the Self, and you have managed to say it in a way that alleviates my confusion. I found this sentence especially useful: 'Ajata, says Bhagavan, is the final truth (paramartha) that is experienced when full and complete realisation has happened.' I know you said something like this in your original post, but apparently I didn't 'get it', within the context in which it was presented.

As always, your posts and comments are a guiding light. Thanks for all of it.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

RE: PAPAJI'S VIDEOS

David wrote - I would not call these events glimpses of the Self. However, it is nice to hear from someone who never met Papaji that this 'visionary energy' can still be felt merely by watching him talk on a video clip.

Interesting that the spontaneous urge to see Papaji's videos came a day after I beseeched Bhagavan to explain some of His teachings so that I could grasp them.

As for Papaji's energy, I am not the only person in my office to have felt them. I immediately forwarded the link to two like-minded colleagues, and both of them told me they felt a calming peace that wasn't exactly coming from what Papaji was saying.

For the record, I have not only not met this Realized Being, but for years have not been able to buy and read 'Nothing Ever Happened'.

In fact, till this experience, I always felt that when I had Bhagavan, there was no need for Papaji.

How stupid the ego, and how easily it submits when it feels a Higher Power!

By the way, I watch and listen to Papaji every day now, and each viewing has an effect that is beyond His words or the moving pictures.

Verily, He is Bhagavan Himself.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:
I should also add, when I had that experience of maybe dropping into the Self at 22, and being unready for it. I didn't know any of this stuff, or have anywhere to turn. And it would have been good if I did, but maybe that wasn't my destiny.

I remember that my mind was operating at a very subdued and blissful level for about a week, and I was able to see all these things I hadn't seen before. And people responded to my state as if it was somewhat sagelike. Someone kissed me on the hand because of the things I was saying, and another person who I kind of had a crush on, said that when I read poetry at an open mike, it felt like electricity was coursing down their spine. (they told me years later) I remember dropping into the Self (maybe), and embarressingly I have to admit it was drug induced, but I think it was because my ego was so fragile from living a life so clumsily. There was 5 minutes where I was immersed in white light, and could not communicate with anyone, but still see everyone, but something about them had a primtive vertebrate quality. When I came out of it, I was fully lucid, and all the things that worried me, no longer seemed real, and it was like I was completely clean, and fresh. But it was probably fairly unstable, and I wasn't Self-Realized. It was like I was existing, at what underlies my normal sense of being an individual entity, and for that brief time I was free, maybe a week and a half. Oddly, no one else had any experience because the salvia was too mild for some reason. And I should add, I was not a recreational user of anything because I didn't fit in well enough. So I think my experience was triggered psychosomatically, by suggestion, and a fragile ego that was barely getting by in the world, all of its efforts frustrated.

But then suddenly I started worrying, when my mom suggested that hallucenogens might be brain damaging. and then everything became extremely "trippy" and frightening. It was the drug I mused, I was somehow permanently tripping. In hindsight, I know it wasn't and it was a psychological reaction. The other people didn't even have an experience. And it was such an extreme panic reaction, kind of like realizing your drowning. No one knew what to do to help me, and I was so scared I couldnt' function. The way everything looked was so preciously beautiful, and terrible at the same time, slow motion. People couldn't understand the problem, because I was lucid. It didnt' go away, and for many years I was in a state of existential despair waiting to lose my mind, and afraid to leave the couch.

I should add that when I freaked out, I went back to the house where I smoked the salvia, I could tell I freaked them out, and they didn't want responsibility. The way my brain was working, I worried about things like would I still remember my parents. They (the hippies who smoked the salvia) also told me a week and a half had gone by, where to me I thought it had only been a day or two ago. So my temporal sense was way out of control. And as I said, the first night after I freaked, out that friend I had a crush on gave me a place to sleep, and bundled me up. And I would notice that in seconds, a half an hour would pass. It was kind of this unstable alternating between tremendous, glorious peace, and terrible frightful, hellish panic alternating every several minutes.

I wasn't hallucenating, but every aspect of reality seemed like a hallucenation, nothing seemed real, people's behavior seemed bizzare, because I was noticing it for the first time. It felt like my brain was painting birds as if they were gorgeous oragami. I could see every detail in the panorama of the Olympian Forest at the same time. I remember telling a friend around that time that I could see so clearly how afraid everybody is. Someone else told me I should be a film-maker, if what I see was so beautiful.

Shortly after, I recklessly, hitchiked South without a sleeping bag, without any plan, because I was in a temporary remission where I was almost O.K with the state that had been awakened. There was a moment where I thought a little about suicide, but reconsidered when I actually witnessed someone kill themselves. Thoughts and imaginations had a tendency to become physically real, which I also found terrifying, and as unbelievable as anyone else would. I was not proud of this accomplishment (siddhi) but frightened of it. The next morning I found their body. And not finding a place to sleep I had slept in a dumster of bundles of wilted flowers.

When I first read about the Realization of Ramana Maharshi when he was 16, how it was unasked for and not the result of practice, there was something in it that so resonated with this experience at the moment I perhaps dropped into the Self, that I was so enamored with Maharshi for so clearly describing "what to do" And that is what I was looking for, someone to tell me what to do. Someone who understood. Of course I was in a counter-culture, there were plenty of hippy-ish people who might say, they understand, that the world isn't real, that I'm painting the world with my imagination. Intellectually, they could go there. But I knew viscerally, they had not experienced what I had, and that if they had, they'd find it much more overwhelming and enveloping then they could imagine.

No one else seemed to understand my problems, whether the worldly ones, why I felt I couldn't function socially (or get a girlfriend), or the 'supernatural' ones, that I just described. It was clear that my experience was different then anyone I had or have ever met in person.

For sure people could empathize with parts of my experience. But I never felt like I truley could relate this experience to others, and have them touch on it. That is why I've become so obsessively devoted to this investigation into the I that is having these experiences. Where is it? And turning back from my myriad desires and fears.

If someone had of just told me, "You're right, the world isn't real, it is all in your head" But not in some pretentious new age hippy way, and if I could tell they knew what they were talking about, I may have surrendered and been O.K with the experience and let it carry me further, maybe even all the way to Self-Realization. It does maybe help having had this experience because I know very clearly about how the mind, that I take to be me, truley doesn't want to die, I'm not living under the illusion that I am going to be cooperative with myself in this endeavor.

Nonetheless, with this Investigation (Enquiry), it feels very fruitful, and my ego is clearly day by day becoming more subdued

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:
It just occured to me that in light of those past experiences. Enquiry, or abiding as "I am" with nothing attached. All of these are preparation.

Because that experience above was not something I had any control over, it just happened, and it was as scarey to my ego as dying. When I came out of it, in the room with the hippies who smoked salvia, I think even though I was very blissful, and my ego was at an extremely subdued level, it was already starting to conceptualize it.

When I freaked out, a week and a half later, it was when the mind was trying to operate like it had previously again, but couldn't because the perceptual world had invaded where the mind had receded. And I don't think my mind ever got the foothold it had before this experience again. The 'practice' that led to that experience was that I taxed the mind way beyond it's limits because I wanted to function like everybody else, with my autistic tendencies, and was struggling to fight off any non-extroverted tendency with Herculean effort, which suggests to me that Enquiry is a process of using the mind to take the mind out of commission by initiating a search for itself instead of the 'external' objects it normally grabs onto.

It creates a vacuum that allows Grace to move in. When I had the experience of I believe dropping into the Self, it was way beyond anything else, because literally although I could see other people, they were completely unreal to me, everything that I had previously taken to be real suddenly became unreal, and it was such an intense experience that the only thing I could do was surrender to it. My mind could not survive it. Obviously it did, but at that moment it completely gave up. When the white light receded that was when my mind had gotten a small foothold again and was able to conceptualize, but at an extremely subdued level. Afterwards, for years, my mind felt on a precipice, it felt it's own extinction looming, and was constantly fighting it off exhaustingly. There were some aftershocks which could have potentially also been experiences of the Self, where I would feel tremendous peace, and then would freak out that even my moms voice on the phone was my own invention, everything is my own invention. There was such a tangible sensation of this, and my mind would rebel terrified. Even if my life sucked, better to know that the physical world is real. Sorry to go on and on about it.

michael said...

"only You, and no-one else
can keep me crawling back.
You know i can't help myself
and so i'm crawling back.
after all You've done to me,
the times You've turned me down,
i'll still be Your clown
because i love You.
i'm crawling back."
(roy orbison)

have you seen It?
the Dark Sun,
the Black Whole,
the Solid Mass of Existence

impossibly dense!
infinitely real!
nothing escapes You,
so nothing is created.

even one glimpse
of Your Profound Presence
changes everything

the Mahavakya does make sense
after all:
SomeThing does exist
(i've seen it),
i do not exist
(it was obvious),
so i am That SomeThing

As the Dark Sun,
I do not need sunlight
to see Myself.
As the Black Whole,
I do not need consciousness
to know Myself.

My self-knowledge is non-dual.
as a Solid Mass of Existence,
I Alone Am.

baxishta said...

in defense of the unhumble -

in science there are two types of error. type 1 is when you claim to have found something that doesn’t exist and type 2 is when you fail to notice something that does. my wife and i use these terms in daily life. for example, if i drive past our destination, i’ve committed a type 1 error. but if i only think that i’ve driven past it, that’s a type 2 error.

in science, they talk about a 95% confidence level of not committing a type 1 error, which (among other things) means that it’s considered 20 times worse to make an unfounded claim than to overlook something. clearly, we do not suffer kindly to liars.

applying these two types of error to one’s report of his experience, we’d say that it’s highly distasteful to to hear someone claim to have glimpsed the self. but what about the possibility that he has done so? wouldn’t it be a shame if, out of misplaced modesty, he did not speak out about it? assuming for a moment that it is possible to glimpse the self, someone has to have done it. why shouldn’t it be this person?

the direct, non-dual experience of self has nothing at all to do with relative life. the worst kind of person may be graced with a glimpse. it has nothing to do with consciousness or life, much less with any personality. from the point of view of the self, it has nothing to do with any attitude toward a tradition or teacher although, from the point of view of the personality, there is almost certain to be a great deal of appreciation.

there is simply no connection between a non-dual fact and a dual fiction.

this complete break between self-knowledge and personality also works the other way. for example, Sri Ramana’s graciousness has nothing to do with his abidance in self. how could it be said to be a reflection or expression of That, when the world which includes his personality does not exist?

by definition, a glimpse of self is beyond doubt. in fact, it is the standard by which other experiences may be judged. one who has had such a glimpse would be less likely to claim that he has seen something with certainty than to claim that what was glimpsed is Certainly itself because, when it is recognized that IT is more real than he who saw it, the identity of the protagonist shifts, and His point-of-view takes precedence.

having said all this, i know two things. i know first-hand that self exists as existence alone. and i know that i do not exist although, warts and all, i somehow continue to function. i’ve decided to take a stand for the bad boys of ajata and say these things, knowing that there is a twenty to one likelihood that i’ll be seen as unhumble at best, and a deluded liar at worst.

and why shouldn’t i speak about it? all i’m claiming is that i’ve had a non-dual experience of self. it is the false languages which would deny this possibility or say that, having passed, it was not real. but reality is real, and the true-but-speakable language, which must exist somewhere beween ajata and advaita (i’m calling it ‘ajaita’), asserts that it is always true. if such a glimpse did occur, then it makes more sense to say that it never ended than that it never happened.

who knows, maybe something good will come of this approach. i’m of the opinion that we all get a tiny glimpse of the self between the end of each thought and the start of another. if it’s just a matter of noticing some of these micro-glimpses, then there could be worse things than having someone say that it’s very possible to do so.

a little conviction in this area can go a long way, but if there is any doubt about what was seen, then it’s best to assume that it was not the real thing. believe me, your best efforts will not be able to erase a valid non-dual experience. after trying and trying to do so, the mind must fail.

in conclusion, type 2 error can be a grave mistake if it causes us to overlook something precious, and this is the best defense of the unhumble.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

This was closest fit as far as a topic this could be described under.

An interesting thing happened in physics class yesterday, before the teacher arrived, a young Indian student, early 20s, came to the end of my table in the auditorium, I looked at him, and he seemed to really notice me and pick up on something.

He sat down next to me, and we kept catching eachother's glance, and then I got shy, and I have to say I was in a more blissful then usual state, more deep in my Inquiry state.

After I failed to return further glances, though admittedly still blissful, and relaxed. He turned his swivel chair toward me, and stared at me a good 4-5 seconds, before getting up, walking briskly down the stairs and skipping out of the auditorium, not to return.

Afterwards, I mused that he looked alot like the young pictures of Maharshi, but even more like the young pictures of Lakshmana Swami when I really thought about. I thought it was odd. I'm pretty sure, something was up, but I don't know what it was. It was a clear sign marker.

I mentioned in another comment, after reading a quote by Lakshmana Swami, ironically on Broken Yogi's blog, I had a really deep experience of peace and bliss overtake me. And as I was walking around Portland trying to surrender to it, after having an expensive food item at a posh coffee house, crossing the street I was in a definitely deep state. I don't want to speculate on whether it was samadhi, but there are occassions where being peaceful, and relatively thoughtless is effortless. As I was crossing the street, a young male person who seemed kind of like a street tuff, almost ran into me, and when I looked at him, he back up startled and exclaimed, "Way smart, way smart, do you, do you, Keep doing what you are doing, keep doing what you are doing." As I walked down the adjacent residential street, he was walking perpendicular, I looked back, and he waved his fists and said it again, in a very ecstatic mood. I had many interpretations of this. There was something in both these cases communicating with me, and encouraging me, call it Maharshi, who knows maybe it was Lakshmana Swami, or even Nome, or something or other, maybe the Self, God, that was in on this. But all I know is although it does prop up my ego a little and give me a hot head, it ultimately gives me encouragement to continue dilligently, to try to surrender.

That is why, I'm all for experiences, but I try to keep in 'mind' (ha, mind, get it, just kidding) that these are experiences, and experiences are what I want to disidentify with, are part of the illusion of maya, duality. But at the same time, when something like this happens, it reminds me how "unreal" what I consider "real" really is. It's a supernatural experience, like seeing corpsese speak. Maybe kind inmature that I actually care about something like that, but also a feeling that a kind, benevolent force is watching over me, and it encourages me that it is safe to surrender, that it will be alright to completely surrender. Ya know, all religions, are based on that, even if there is the organized heirarchy of immature people who like the power, and the rules, not all of which are applicable or helpful, and the concepts of heaven and hell, who knows if they exist? But Jesus, Mohammed, whoever you look to, was saying, Trust, that you can Surrender, and things will be alright, ha, see I'm walking on water...

Another little anecdote on the same topic, I had a feeling that a couple of the people posting on two of the threads, or the same person as two different names, were not Ordinary jivas. But jivanmuktas, jnanis, or just more advanced than I. But I don't want to say anything specific, because I could be very wrong. But that also fit in this category. There was a feeling when I read there comments, and I felt like my whole ego was completely occupied with their words, in a not ordinary way. It also felt like they were the perfect words for my current state. So again, help from above, below, sideways, a creation of my own imagination, who knows? who cares? Interesting phenomena.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I've only had the smallest, puny glances of this, but still worth mentioning.

There have been moments lately, few and far between but also good sign markers, a feeling that I haven't had before.

Something compelling my actions, when I stop claiming to be the doer, there becomes a force kind of moving me. It is like the magnet. The body doing what it is going to do, playing out it's destiny unhindered by my mind for those brief moments. But it clearly shows me that, it seems like the body will just sit there inert if I stop all mental actions, which I'm getting little tiny, glimpses is not true. The actions will go on miraculously, as if the body is doing things on it's own, it's weird.

So part of Inquiry seems to be finding out that it's O.K to completely surrender, that Isvara, Bhagavan, the Self, God, takes care of my own actions, takes care of the World, takes care of circumstances. That it is an illusion to believe that this entity that keep saying, "me, me, me...." really has any significance.

baxishta said...

The urgent experience of ‘I-I’

David,

as i wrote to you some time ago, i’ve had two very clear experiences of aham-sphurana. both occurred during the same night, and in both cases i was awakened from dreamless sleep by a sudden and intense pounding of the spiritual heart, an emphatic assertion of non-dual devotion and another name for the self.

it occurred to me today that this experience may shed some light as to why Bhagavan chose to describe aham-sphurana as ‘I-I’. i’ve read several proposed interpretations, but one thing which i don’t believe has been emphasized enough is the sheer speed and forcefulness with which the second part follows the first. if two very near thunderclaps were to occur almost simultaneously, they would sound like boom-BOOM!, with the second clap echoing the first yet somehow communicating even more urgency and intensity. this is similar to the sudden explosive throb of non-dual devotion.

it is precisely this second throb which proves the first, as when Sri Shankara’s third statement is suddenly seen as not-false, or like the necessary double negative in the word non-dual. the experience of ‘I-I’ is thus a fleeting experience of the mahavakya. while it precedes the stability of sahaj, each instance actually occurs immediately following a micro-glimpse of the self.

if this posting follows the pattern, it will be ignored.

michael

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I had such an intense but brief glimpse of the Self. I was watching a Satsang video for my spiritual teacher and as he was talking, I felt like I blended into the screen and into him, that is the best I can describe it. But that wasn't the glimpse. I did feel weird after it.

But in class, I felt thought, the sense of being an individual blend into the surroundings, and for a brief time, if I inquired Who am I? it would do it again. But then, you know almost out of my control my mind became really active again, in a way.

But I do feel extremely blissful and happy and at peace, but still feel like a distinct individual. There was definitely the feeling that this spiritual teacher was not distinct from me, and at others, like he was more real then me, and at others a feeling of him being an inanimate object, with a white outline. I had the same experience a year and a half ago in his presence.

In a way I felt like there was no way I could do this by myself, no way. It humbled me, how this state is not in my control to bring on. But I do feel like it deepened my state. So then what is Inquiry? This was so much deeper then the mental activity I formerly considered to be Inquiry. I couldn't at this point imagine for one becoming Enlightened, or 2 even progressing spiritually, or even becoming necessarily a better person without some spontaneous grace, or maybe the fact that I decided to watch the video, recognized the greatness in this teacher, these were also promptings of the Self. These are things the intellect will never touch on, and when you've had an experience like this, you can't even pretend it would, and you understand why D.G. would write hagiographies about these people. You are almost better off worshipping them (naturally, not forced) then you are trying to go it alone, practicing what is read in Who am I? However to find a teacher, probably practicing Who am I? is better until that inner prompting brings a guru into a person's presence???? I have no idea.

It did create in me a feeling of this bliss is so intense, so happy, so unalterable, that even something bad not be bad.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Responding to an earlier response by D.G., about how the mind doesn't want to necessarily subside in the Self, and that quoting Papaji if one has such an experience it's best to find a genuine teacher and have it stabilized, but where to find such beings on short notice?

It seems that those beings, the ones that are truly capable of guiding a seeker closer and closer to the Self, their true Self, do manifest when the seeker is ready for them.

When I was 22, and I had the experience but freaked out, I wasn't ready, for a teacher and that is why I didn't find one. When 6 years later, I came into association with a teacher, and the teachings of the Maharshi. I didn't choose to be exposed to these teachings, and it wasn't luck, and I don't think it's luck for anyone of us.

When there is that strong pull to Maharshi's teachings, it is associated with such an unmistakable grace, and it's like you know you were ready to be exposed to those teachings.(even if totally a beginner in relation to them)

The same year I was exposed to Maharshi, I an ardent atheist had just read C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity. I was grappling with an intractable personal problem, and finally inwardly surrendered, though I was an empirical skeptic, to invite Christ into my heart.

Then, I also was practicing vipassana meditation daily. I have a feeling that that act of surrender and the daily meditation opened me up, and then I was ready to be exposed, I had gotten out of the way just enough.

Anonymous said...

http://www.spiritualteachers.org/segal_interview.htm

This reminds me alot of some of the experiences in my twenties, where I did have moments of no-mind alternating with great fear, I was probably less ready for it then this person, but this story is interesting in that like Ramana, she essentially fell deeply into Self-awareness with no prior spiritual practice, and thought that she was mentally ill and went to various therapists, and finally various spiritual teachers including papaji told her that she had achieved Moksha.

ArunachalaHeart said...

Dear David,

Is vision, dream of a deity a vision of the Self?

I have had a few sudden visions (experiences with closed eyes) of Sri Ramakrishna which were filled with power, awe and silence and extreme beauty long ago in college.

I also have seen Sathya Sai Baba many times in my dreams with auspicious signs. Though I must state that I do not know yet whether he is an Avatar.

But recently I had a dream of Arunachala ( that was before I ever set my eyes on the Hill which was on Nov 23 2008) where I found myself roaming the forests of Arunachala which I had never known before and placing my feet on the peak of the mountain with a sudden upsurge of awe and auspiciousness which continued for a few minutes when I woke up abruptly stunned by the dream.

Ten days later I was standing on the holy soil of Tiruvannamalai for the first time.

Does the mind search for the fantastic to accomadate an inflated ego or does the Self as the deity truly give darshan in the waking, dream and deep meditative state.

I remember that Sri Ramakrishna said that there are sadhakas who are liberated due to visions of Godhead in their dreams.

What is the yardstick for measuring the authenticity of such experiences?

Bookworm said...

ArunachalaHeart

You ask:
'Is vision, dream of a deity a vision of the Self?'

........

It is the mind which has visions but the the place it is born from
which is the Heart or Self has no need of visions.

Shravan said...

This blog is one of the most precious treasure I have found on internet. Thanks for all the beautiful postings. I am very very lucky to have access to all these things from comfort of my home.

Gratitude

Maneesha said...

Hi David,

Is there abook where you have noted more of LAxmana Sarma and Saradamma than what you have given here?

David Godman said...

Maneesha

The only material in print is the 'No Mind - I am the Self' book.

David Godman said...

Maneesha

The only material in print is the 'No Mind - I am the Self' book.

Bookworm said...

ArunachalaHeart

You ask:
'Is vision, dream of a deity a vision of the Self?'

........

It is the mind which has visions but the the place it is born from
which is the Heart or Self has no need of visions.

Anonymous said...

http://www.spiritualteachers.org/segal_interview.htm

This reminds me alot of some of the experiences in my twenties, where I did have moments of no-mind alternating with great fear, I was probably less ready for it then this person, but this story is interesting in that like Ramana, she essentially fell deeply into Self-awareness with no prior spiritual practice, and thought that she was mentally ill and went to various therapists, and finally various spiritual teachers including papaji told her that she had achieved Moksha.

michael said...

"only You, and no-one else
can keep me crawling back.
You know i can't help myself
and so i'm crawling back.
after all You've done to me,
the times You've turned me down,
i'll still be Your clown
because i love You.
i'm crawling back."
(roy orbison)

have you seen It?
the Dark Sun,
the Black Whole,
the Solid Mass of Existence

impossibly dense!
infinitely real!
nothing escapes You,
so nothing is created.

even one glimpse
of Your Profound Presence
changes everything

the Mahavakya does make sense
after all:
SomeThing does exist
(i've seen it),
i do not exist
(it was obvious),
so i am That SomeThing

As the Dark Sun,
I do not need sunlight
to see Myself.
As the Black Whole,
I do not need consciousness
to know Myself.

My self-knowledge is non-dual.
as a Solid Mass of Existence,
I Alone Am.

I_for_an_I said...

Dear David,

I had left this on another topic here: "Open thread on Vichara"..i guess it got buried in there somewhere..this may also be useful for those on the inquiry path.

I thank you for your lifetime of selfless effort in spreading the most intimate wisdom of the Jnanis to the ones as me who have received it at the most opportune of times.

I have been practising inquiry for about 3 yrs now after a couple of yrs of other sporadic forms of meditation, and my experiences have been quite physical and psychological in nature accompanied with heavy activity in the chakra centers. This began prior to my visit to Arunachala, but has intensified to quite an extent since. There have been an increase in synchronicities and other external signs as well. During meditation, while the inquiry is on by pulling on the "I"ness, it immediately engages the chakras along the spine into variable bursts of energy and such which lasts almost consistently throughout the period of an hour or so of meditation. It has become a very mechanical process now, and the connection between the "I" and the chakras are obviously direct. As Sri Ramana Maharshi has said, the Kundalini is nothing but the Self.

It has been a tremendously intense experience, along with emotional release, which fits the analogy of "boiling a donut in water" as given by Nisargadatta Maharaj. I was wondering if you have come across any such accounts of physical chakra sensations in inquiry, since most of the experiences i've read about hardly talk about them.

Thanks a lot.

David Godman said...

Paban

Thank u David for all your postings.it really helps.
I have read talks by Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadutta maharaj's ( I am that ). which is wonderful.
I heard that there is a book by Bennett '' long pilgrimage' about his meeting with shivapuri baba whose theaching is 3 dicipline. or right life. if u ever read that book does that also help to encourage into inquery?

***

I read this book almost thirty years ago and loved it. I don't think enquiry is espoused in that book. If it had been, I probably would have remembered it. I am always on the lookout for hints of enquiry in the words of other teachers.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

From: Statutes of the Carthusian Order

Friend,

Whoever you are, whatever led you to this site, welcome.

You will not find anything fashionable, not even a concern for being different.

The goal: Contemplation

Discover the immensity of love (Statutes 35.1)

The only goal of the Carthusian way is CONTEMPLATION, by the power of the Spirit, living as unceasingly as possible in the light of the love of God for us, made manifest in Christ. This implies a purity of heart, or charity: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Mt 5:8) Monastic tradition also calls this goal pure and continuous prayer.

The fruits of contemplation are: liberty, peace, and joy. O Bonitas! O Goodness, was the cry which issued from the heart of St. Bruno. But the unification of the heart and the entrance into the contemplative rest assume a long journey, which our Statutes describe as such:

Whoever perseveres without defiance in the cell and lets himself be taught by it tends to make his entire existence a single and continual prayer. But he may not enter into this rest without going through the test of a difficult battle. It is the austerities to which he applies himself as someone close to the Cross, or the visits of God, coming to test him like gold in the fire. Thus purified by patience, fed and strengthened by studied meditation of Scripture, introduced by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the recesses of his heart, he will thus be able to, not only serve God, but adhere to him. (Statutes 3.2)

All monastic life thus consists of this journey towards the heart and all the meaning of our life is oriented towards this end. It helps the monk unite his life to charity, introducing it to the depths of his heart.

.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

...However, if you look into the Heart, you can see their ‘I’-thought hiding there, latent and waiting to re-emerge. This state is not liberation because when the body dies, the undestroyed ‘I’-thought will take a new form and identify with a new body....

Yes, that is the point. There is a story in "Living by the Words of Bhagavan" emphasizing this. I can't translate it into English - maybe David could copy this passage into here where I have to quote my german edition:

Nach etwa einer halben Stunde sagte Bhagavan: «Wir sind hier fertig, wir können essen gehen.» Bhagavan hatte sein Mittagessen verschoben; er wollte erst seine Aufgabe mit Sathya Narayana Rao erledigen. Während Bhagavan beim Essen saß, teilte ihm ein Devotee mit, daß Sathya Narayana Rao gestorben sei. Vor seinem Tod habe er noch einmal die Augen geöffnet, gelächelt und die Hand ausgestreckt, um seine beiden Schwestern zu berühren.

Als Bhagavan das hörte, rief er aus: «Aha, der Dieb ist zurückgekommen. Ich dachte, sein Gemüt hätte gänzlich zur Ruhe gefunden. Seine vasanas [Gemütstendenzen und -gewohnheiten] haben sich wieder geregt. Die starke Bindung an seine Schwestern ließ ihn die Hand ausstrecken und sie berühren.»

.

Anonymous said...

Quote from "Talks with Ramana Maharishi"
Talk 95.
A question was raised as follows by Maj. A. W. Chadwick:- Mr. Edward Carpenter, a certain mystic, has written in a book that he had Self-Realisation on some occasions and that its effects lasted sometimes afterwards, only to be gradually lost. Whereas Sri Ramana Gita says, “Granthi (knot = bondage), snapped once, is snapped for ever.” In the case of this mystic, the bondage seems to have persisted even after Self-Realisation. How can it be so?
The Master cited Kaivalya as follows:-
The disciple, after realising the all-shining, unitary, unbroken state of Being-Knowledge-Bliss, surrendered himself to the master and humbly prayed to know how he could repay the master’s Grace.
The Master said:
“My reward consists in your permanent unbroken Bliss. Do not slip away from it.”
D.: Having once experienced the Supreme Bliss, how can one stray away from it?
M.: Oh yes! It happens. The predisposition adhering to him from time immemorial will draw him out and so ignorance overtakes him.
D.: What are the obstacles to remaining steady in unbroken Bliss? How can they be overcome?
M.: The obstacles are:
(1) Ignorance which is forgetfulness of one’s pure being.
(2) Doubt which consists in wondering if even the experience was of the Real or of the unreal.
(3) Error which consists in the “I-am-the-body” idea, and thinking that the world is real. These are overcome by hearing the truth, reflection on it and concentration.
The Master continued: Experience is said to be temporary or permanent. The first experience is temporary and by concentration it can become permanent. In the former the bondage is not completely destroyed; it remains subtle and reasserts itself in due course. But in the latter it is destroyed root and branch, never to appear again. The expression yogabhrashta (those who have fallen down from yoga) in Srimad Bhagavad Gita refers to the former class of men.
D.: Is then hearing the Truth meant only for a limited few?
M.: It is of two kinds. The ordinary one is to hear it enunciated and explained by a master. However, the right one is to raise the question for oneself and seek and find the answer in oneself as the unbroken ‘I-I’. To be reflecting on this experience is the second stage. To remain one-pointed in it is the third stage.
D.: Can the temporary experience be called samadhi?
M.: No. It forms part of the third stage.
D.: It looks then as if even hearing the Truth is limited to a very few.
M.: The seekers fall into two classes; kritopasaka and akritopasaka. The former having already overcome his predisposition by steady devotion, his mind thus made pure, has had some kind of experience but does not comprehend it; as soon as he is instructed by a competent master, permanent experience results. The other class of seeker needs great effort to achieve this end. How will the hearing of the Truth, reflection and concentration help him?
They comprise upasana (the nearest approach to Truth) and will end in his Self-Realization.
The fourth stage is the final one of liberation. Even there some distinction is made according to the degree, as
(1) the knower of the Brahman (Brahmavid)
(2) Brahmavid-vara
(3) Brahmavid-varya
(4) Brahmavid-varishta
But all of them are in fact liberated even while alive.

CONTINUED....

Anonymous said...

Quote from "Talks with Ramana Maharishi" CONTINUED…..

Talk 96.
Maj. A. W. Chadwick: Of what nature is the realisation of Westerners who relate that they have had flashes of cosmic consciousness?
M.: It came as a flash and disappeared as such. That which has a beginning must also end. Only when the ever-present consciousness is realised will it be permanent. Consciousness is indeed always with us. Everyone knows ‘I am!’ No one can deny his own being. The man in deep slumber is not aware; while awake he seems to be aware. But it is the same person. There is no change in the one who slept and the one who is now awake. In deep sleep he was not aware of his body; there was no body-consciousness. In the wakeful state he is aware of his body; there is body-consciousness. Therefore the difference lies in the emergence of body-consciousness and not in any change in the Real Consciousness. The body and body-consciousness arise together and sink together. All this amounts to saying that there are no limitations in deep sleep, whereas there are limitations in the waking state. These limitations are the bondage; the feeling ‘The body is I’ is the error. This false sense of ‘I’ must go. The real ‘I’ is always there. It is here and now. It never appears anew and disappears again. That which is must also persist for ever. That which appears anew will also be lost. Compare deep sleep and waking. The body appears in one state but not in the other. Therefore the body will be lost. The consciousness was pre-existent and will survive the body. In fact, there is no one who does not say ‘I am’. The wrong knowledge of ‘I am the body’ is the cause of all the mischief. This wrong knowledge must go. That is Realisation. Realisation is not acquisition of anything new nor it is a new faculty. It is only removal of all camouflage.
Maj. Chadwick: I try to shake off the body.
M.: A man shakes off his clothes and remains alone and free. The Self is unlimited and is not confined to the body. How can the body be shaken off? Where will he leave it? Wherever it is, it is his still.
Maj. Chadwick: (Laughter.)
M.: The ultimate Truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. This is all that need be said. Still, it is a wonder that to teach this simple Truth there should come into being so many religions, creeds, methods and disputes among them and so on! Oh the pity! Oh the pity!
Maj. Chadwick: But people will not be content with simplicity; they want complexity.
M.: Quite so. Because they want something elaborate and attractive and puzzling, so many religions have come into existence and each of them is so complex and each creed in each religion has its own adherents and antagonists.
For example, an ordinary Christian will not be satisfied unless he is told that God is somewhere in the far-off Heavens not to be reached by us unaided. Christ alone knew Him and Christ alone can guide us. Worship Christ and be saved. If told the simple truth - “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” - he is not satisfied and will read complex and far-fetched meanings in such statements. Mature minds alone can grasp the simple Truth in all its nakedness.
Maj. Chadwick later expressed a certain involuntary fear while meditating. He feels the spirit separated from the gross body and the sensation creates a fright.
M.: To whom is the fright? It is all due to the habit of identifying the body with the Self. Repeated experience of separation will make one familiar and the fright will cease.