Saturday, October 25, 2008

Renunciation

A few weeks ago several of our regular contributors were having a discussion in one of the ‘responses’ sections about whether physical renunciation was a prerequisite for progress on the spiritual path. I didn’t contribute much except to say at one point that Bhagavan taught one should ‘renounce the renouncer’, rather than give up particular desires, ways of life, courses of action, and so on. As the debate rumbled on, at some point someone asked me to clarify what Bhagavan had actually taught on this subject. I have therefore, somewhat belatedly, assembled some of Bhagavan’s key teachings on this topic and arranged them under various headings.

Bhagavan taught that true renunciation was giving up interest in and attachment to anything that is not the Self:
Giving up the non-Self is renunciation. Inhering in the Self is jnana or Self-realisation. One is the negative and the other the positive aspect of the same, single truth. (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 2nd January, 1946, afternoon)
According to Bhagavan this is accomplished by giving up erroneous identifications and limitations. This basic theme will come up in all the sections of this post, as will the methods by which this is accomplished: self-enquiry and Self-abidance.

Renouncing the ego

Bhagavan often used terms such as ‘mind’, ‘ego’ and ‘individuality’ interchangeably, particularly when it came to giving them up. If the ego (or any of its synonyms) is renounced, no further renunciation is required. The following three verses from Padamalai (p. 171, vv. 103-105) sum this up quite neatly:
For those who have abandoned their ego mind, what other things besides that [mind] are left that are worthy of being renounced?

Renunciation, glorious and immaculate, is the total extirpation of the impure ego mind.

Only those who have renounced the ego-mind have truly renounced. What have all the others, who may have given up other things, really renounced?

The next three verses (Guru Vachaka Kovai, vv. 837, 500 and 850) emphasise the same point and conclude that it is self-enquiry that produces the true renunciation, which is the abandonment of the individual ‘I’:
For those who have, with great difficulty, accomplished the renunciation of the ego, there is nothing else to renounce.

That which is worth taking up is the self-enquiry that reveals jnana; that which is worth enjoying is the grandeur of the Self; that which is worth renouncing is the ego-mind; that in which it is worth taking refuge, to eliminate sorrow completely, is one’s own source, the Heart.

By becoming the source of all desires, the ego is the doorway to the sorrow of samsara. The extremely heroic and discriminating person first attains through dispassion the total renunciation of desires that arise in the form of ‘I want’. Subsequently, through the Selfward enquiry ‘Who am I?’, he renounces that ego, leaving no trace of it, and attains the bliss of peace, free from anxieties. This is the supreme benefit of dharma.
Renouncing desires

The last verse of the previous section makes the interesting point that desires for external objects have to be renounced ‘through dispassion’ before self-enquiry can accomplish the ultimate renunciation, the renunciation of the ‘I’. The same point is made in Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 764:
Those excellent seekers who have completely renounced desires, realising that more and more afflictions result from them, will attain, through the direct path of self-enquiry that they embark on, the endless and supreme experience of the essence of the Self in the Heart.
Sometimes Bhagavan said (as he did in the last two verses) that desires should be tackled prior to the practice of enquiry, but on other occasions he was equally insistent that self-enquiry, properly performed, was the most effective way of eliminating and renouncing desires. The following two dialogues illustrate this particular approach:
Question: What is the best way of dealing with desires, with a view to getting rid of them – satisfying them or suppressing them?

Bhagavan: If a desire can be got rid of by satisfying it, there will be no harm in satisfying such a desire. But desires generally are not eradicated by satisfaction. Trying to root them out that way is like pouring spirits to quench fire. At the same time, the proper remedy is not forcible suppression, since such repression is bound to react sooner or later into forceful surging up with undesirable consequences. The proper way to get rid of a desire is to find out, ‘Who gets the desire? What is its source?’ When this is found, the desire is rooted out and it will never again emerge or grow. Small desires such as the desire to eat, drink and sleep and attend to calls of nature, though these may also be classed among desires, you can safely satisfy. They will not implant vasanas in your mind, necessitating further birth. Those activities are just necessary to carry on life and are not likely to develop or leave behind vasanas or tendencies. As a general rule, therefore, there is no harm in satisfying a desire where the satisfaction will not lead to further desires by creating vasanas in the mind. (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 12th April, 1946)

Question: How am I to deal with my passions? Am I to check them or satisfy them? If I follow Bhagavan’s method and ask, ‘To whom are these passions?’ they do not seem to die but grow stronger.

Bhagavan: That only shows you are not going about my method properly. The right way is to find out the root of all passions, the source whence they proceed, and get rid of that. If you check the passions, they may get suppressed for the moment, but will appear again. If you satisfy them, they will be satisfied only for the moment and will again crave satisfaction. Satisfying desires and thereby trying to root them out is like trying to quench fire by pouring kerosene oil over it. The only way is to find the root of desire and thus remove it. (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 2nd January, 1946)
The question of how to deal with desire was raised in an earlier post. One reader, Haramurthy, said that it should be effectively tackled by viveka, proper discrimination. Bhagavan himself occasionally took this line himself, suggesting that desires could be tackled, to some extent at least, by cultivating an understanding of what was true and real, and what was not:
Question: How can they [desires] be rendered weaker?

Bhagavan: By knowledge. You know that you are not the mind. The desires are in the mind. Such knowledge helps one to control them.

Question: But they are not controlled in our practical lives.

Bhagavan: Every time you attempt satisfaction of a desire the knowledge comes that it is better to desist. What is your true nature? How can you ever forget it? Waking, dream and sleep are mere phases of the mind. They are not of the Self. You are the witness of these states. Your true nature is found in sleep. (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 12th April, 1946)

Bhagavan: There is room for kama [desire] so long as there is an object apart from the subject, i.e., duality. There can be no desire if there is no object. The state of no-desire is moksha. There is no duality in sleep and also no desire. Whereas there is duality in the waking state and desire also is there. Because of duality a desire arises from the acquisition of the object. That is the outgoing mind, which is the basis of duality and of desire. If one knows that bliss is none other than the Self the mind becomes inward turned. If the Self is gained all the desires are fulfilled. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 502)
However, Bhagavan taught that there are limitations to this approach. Viveka can help one to lose interest in the unreal non-Self, but true desirelessness and true renunciation only occur when one abides in and as the Self:
Only the Self-abidance wherein one shines free of affliction will cut asunder all the bonds engendered by the non-Self. Discrimination [viveka], which differentiates between the unreal and the real that is one’s own nature, is [only] an aid to immaculate desirelessness. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 769)

Question: Has the discrimination between reality and unreality [sat asat vicharana] the efficacy in itself to lead us to the realisation of the one imperishable?

Bhagavan: As propounded by all and realised by all true seekers, fixity in the supreme spirit [Brahmanishta] alone can make us know and realise it. It being of us and in us, any amount of discrimination [vivechana] can lead us only one step forward, by making us renouncers, by goading us to discard the seeming [abhasa] as transitory and to hold fast to the eternal truth and presence alone. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 29)

The best kind of renunciation is remaining in the state in which the mind holds extremely tightly to the swarupa. (Padamalai, p. 170, v. 100)
In the context of Bhagavan’s teachings, the implication of this warning about the limitations of viveka is that it is only through enquiry or surrender that true Self-abidance can be attained. This point is made in Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 415:
Having, through discrimination, distinguished between the supreme [para] and the world [apara], one should, through enquiry and dispassion, attain attachment to para and detachment from apara. Then, with the strength of dispassion thus attained, one should live with one’s heart completely free from the infatuations of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. This alone is the way of life that should be taken up by those who desire to live in the expansive world of true jnana.
Renunciation of ‘I’ and ‘mine’

‘Internal renunciation’ is renunciation of the ego whereas ‘external renunciation’ is giving up possessions. Together they are known as giving up ‘I’ and ‘mine’. It is the former that results in enlightenment.
If you attain perfect mastery of internal renunciation, external renunciation will have no importance. (Padamalai, p. 170, v. 102)
Bhagavan sometimes illustrated the superiority of inner over outer renunciation by telling the story of King Sikhidhvaja who unnecessarily gave up his kingdom and retired to the forest to seek enlightenment:
He [the king] had vairagya [non-attachment] even while ruling his kingdom and could have realised the Self if he had only pushed his vairagya to the point of killing the ego. He did not do it but came to the forest, had a timetable of tapas and yet did not improve even after eighteen years of tapas. He had made himself a victim of his own creation. Chudala [his enlightened wife] advised him to give up the ego and realise the Self, which he did and was liberated.

It is clear from Chudala’s story that vairagya accompanied by ego is of no value, whereas all possessions in the absence of ego do not matter. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 404)
However, Bhagavan would sometimes say that surrendering to God all the objects and ideas that comprise ‘mine’ would also lead to the same goal:
Whatever the means, the destruction of the sense ‘I’ and ‘mine’ is the goal, and as these are interdependent, the destruction of either of them causes the destruction of the other; therefore in order to achieve that state of silence which is beyond thought and word, either the path of knowledge which removes the sense of ‘I’ or the path of devotion which removes the sense of ‘mine’, will suffice. So there is no doubt that the end of the paths of devotion and knowledge is one and the same. (Upadesa Manjari, chapter one, answer 11)
Generally, though, Bhagavan would recommend enquiry even to those who were pursuing union or identity with a form of the divine:
Through delusion the trickster sometimes arrogantly regards the property of the boundless perfect one, the Lord of all, as ‘I’, and at other times, through attachment to it, regards it as ‘mine’. If he [the trickster] enters the Heart, his source, and examines who he is, then where is he to be found?

Abandon your mind unconditionally at the feet of him [Siva] who shares his form with the Lady [Uma]. Then, as the ‘I’ that investigates the false dies away, along with [the concept of] ‘mine’, the powerful Supreme Self will unfold fully and flourish eternally. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, vv. 484, 487)

Renouncing the ‘I am the body’ idea

Identification with the body is, says Bhagavan, just a wrong idea, but it is an association that prevents us from being aware of who we really are. The renunciation of this idea is therefore central to Bhagavan’s teachings:
Question: Why cannot the Self be perceived directly?

Bhagavan: Only the Self is said to be directly perceived [pratyaksha]. Nothing else is said to be pratyaksha. Although we are having this pratyaksha, the thought ‘I am this body’ is veiling it. If we give up this thought, the Atma, which is always within the direct experience of everyone, will shine forth. (Living by the Words of Bhagavan, 2nd ed., pp. 218-19)
This theme appears many times in Bhagavan’s teachings. Here is a sequence of verses from Guru Vachaka Kovai that covers this important aspect of renunciation:
34

The world that associates with us as an appearance of names and forms is as transient as a lightning flash. The faltering understanding ‘I am the body’ is the deceptive device that makes us desire the world as if it were real, [thereby] entrapping us instantaneously in the powerful snare of bondage.

39

In the experience of true knowledge, which is the reality of the Self, this world is merely the beautiful [but illusory] azure-blue colour that appears in the sky. When one becomes confused by the veiling, the ‘I am the body’ delusion, those things that are seen through suttarivu [the consciousness that divides itself into seer and seen] are merely an imaginary appearance.

846

Be aware that the ‘I am the body’ ego is truly the one unique cause of all the sorrows of samsara. Therefore, make genuine, firm and steady efforts to destroy that ego, and desist from making any other kind of effort.

266

Following the destruction of the ‘I am the body’ idea, whatever body it may be, the radiance of being exists forever, free of limitation, without any bondage, shining as the pure expanse. Dwelling in the hearts of all individuated jivas as attribute-free jnana, as wholly the Self, and as non-distinct from them, this radiance of being abides as the all-encompassing supreme power [akila-para-sakti].

348

Having become free from concepts, which are afflicting thoughts, and with the ‘I am the body’ idea completely extinguished, one ends up as the mere eye of grace, the non-dual expanse of consciousness. This is the supremely fulfilling vision of God.

Bhagavan 17

Know that the eradication of the identification with the body is charity, spiritual austerity and ritual sacrifice; it is virtue, divine union and devotion; it is heaven, wealth, peace and truth; it is grace; it is the state of divine silence; it is the deathless death; it is jnana, renunciation, final liberation and bliss.
Renouncing the ‘I am the doer’ idea

According to Bhagavan, it is not actions themselves that should be given up, but the inner feeling that one is doing them:
If total cessation from activity is alone the determining criterion for jnana, then even the inability to act because of leprosy will be a sure indication of jnana! You should know that the state of jnana is the exalted state of remaining without any sense of responsibility in the heart, having renounced both the attraction to, and the revulsion from, the performance of actions. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 1160)
There are two Sanskrit terms that are relevant to this part of the discussion: kartrutva and kartavya. The former denotes the feeling of being the performer of actions that the body undertakes, while the latter denotes the feeling that there are activities that must be done. Here is one verse from Guru Vachaka Kovai and two from Padamalai that summarise the problem and its solution:
Unless one’s connection with individuality is destroyed at its root, one will not become a true jnani, free of the sense of doership [kartrutva]. Even if one attains a supreme and eminent state of tapas that can be marvelled at, one is still only a sadhaka who is qualified to realise the truth. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, v. 122)

The ignoble infatuation kartrutva that associates with you is the confused attitude of mind that regards the instruments [of action and cognition] as ‘you’.

Deeds [karma] are not your enemy, only the sense of doership [kartrutva] is. Therefore, live your life, having completely renounced that enemy. (Padamalai p. 171, vv. 106, 107)
The next sequence of verses, also from Padamalai, stresses the necessity of abandoning kartavya, the idea that there are courses of action that must be pursued:
The notion of duties that need to be done [kartavya] will not cease as long as the sense of doership [kartrutva] exists in the heart.

Why do you become mentally agitated, blindly believing there are things you have to do [kartavya]?

The bondage called ‘duty’ will cease [being known] as a delusion caused by the ego, when the firm knowledge of reality is attained.

A mind that has dissolved in the state of God, and ceased to exist, will not be aware of any activity that needs to be performed because when the ego, which has the idea that it is the performer of actions, has been completely destroyed, the idea that something needs to be accomplished ends.

Those who do not see anything as a duty that has to be done will attain the bliss of peace that yields limitless contentment. (Padamalai, vv. 119-124)
The abandonment of the ‘I am the doer’ idea is not accomplished by giving up certain courses of action, or even all of them, but by enquiry into the nature and origin of the ‘I’ that thinks it is performing the actions:
The truth of karma [activities] is only the realisation of one’s true nature by the enquiry ‘Who is the doer, the “I” who is embarking upon the performance of karma?’ Unless the ego, the performer of action, perishes by enquiring into and knowing [its real nature], the perfect unassailable peace in which all doing has ended will be impossible [to attain].

Prarabdha, like a whirlwind, relentlessly agitates and spins the mind that has shrunk through the ‘I am the body’ idea. However, it cannot stir, even slightly, the limitation-free mind that shines as the extremely clear space of being-consciousness when that ego-impurity [the ‘I am the body’ idea] is destroyed by self-enquiry. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, vv. 703, 698)
Enquiry leads to an unbroken experience of the Self, and it is this culminating experience, rather than the preceding enquiry, that ultimately destroys the ‘I am the body’ belief. Here is a statement from Bhagavan (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 699) on this topic, followed by a brief commentary on it by Muruganar:
O mind, other than meditation which takes the form of the akhandakara vritti [unbroken experience] that shines as the Self, have you discovered any means to burn to ashes the evil ‘I am the doer’ belief that propels and plunges the jiva into the bottom of the ocean of karma? If you have, let me know.

Muruganar: The ‘I am the doer’ belief repeatedly plunges the jiva into the ocean of karma, without allowing it to rise up and reach the shore. By doing this it obstructs the attainment of liberation. It has therefore been described as ‘the evil “I am the doer” belief’. The fire that burns this [belief] to ashes is the fire of jnana that has taken the form of akhandakara vritti. The practice of this vritti burns to destruction the ‘I am the doer’ idea by revealing to the jiva the truth that one’s nature is not to do karma but to shine as mere being. There is no other means to destroy this ‘I am the doer’ belief. This is the implication. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, p. 303)
The end of result of this process is the state of Self-abidance wherein both kartrutva and kartavya are absent:
He whose ego, the veiling, has subsided in swarupa-consciousness, and who has become wholly that forever, will, through the disappearance of the ‘I am the doer’ idea, lose all his personal volition, and he will [then] shine with the blissful state, whose nature is peace, flaring up in his Heart. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 864)
Taking sannyasa

In a Hindu context ‘renouncing the world’ is usually associated with the ritual of ‘taking sannyasa’ – becoming a renunciate monk. The restrictions involved in this lifestyle vary – the different religious orders that are authorised to initiate have slightly different rules – but they would generally include celibacy, leaving home and giving up the ties to one’s family, and, more often than not, living on begged food. According to Bhagavan the true and definitive renunciation of the world is not accomplished through giving up relationships or by ceasing to indulge in activities that are prompted by physical desire; it is instead something that happens when the thought-created externally perceived world ceases to appear in the experience of the Self:
Sankalpa [thought] creates the world. The peace attained on the destruction of sankalpas is the [permanent] destruction of the world. (Padamalai, p. 264, v. 6)

The world is seen distinctly only in the waking and dream states in which sankalpas [thoughts] have emerged. Is it ever seen during sleep, where sankalpas do not emerge even slightly? Sankalpas alone are the material substance of the world. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, v. 29)
It is this more profound form of renunciation that Bhagavan was referring to when he said:
Instead of ruining yourself by clinging, as your refuge, to the utterly false world that appears as a conjuring trick, it is wisdom to renounce it in the mind and remain still, forgetting it and remaining detached from it, like the ripe tamarind fruit that, despite remaining inside its pod, stays separate from it. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 825)
The abandonment of the mechanism through which the perceived world is projected and sustained is quite a different process from the adoption of a lifestyle that restricts one from pursuing certain actions. However, even though most of Bhagavan’s devotees were aware of these teachings on mental renunciation, some still wanted to express their inner desire to renounce by formally taking sannyasa. Bhagavan was asked on many occasions to initiate individual devotees into sannyasa, but he refused every single request. Some devotees who felt compelled to adopt this particular lifestyle, even after being refused an initiation by Bhagavan, went elsewhere to obtain it, but they usually faced some degree of disapproval when they returned to Ramanasramam. Kunju Swami and Maurice Frydman both took the sannyasa initiation elsewhere, after being refused by Bhagavan. Others, such as Papaji, went back to a family life after Bhagavan had refused to initiate them.

When the topic of taking sannyasa was brought up in Bhagavan’s presence, his usual response was that true physical renunciation was something that happened naturally and spontaneously, like a fruit dropping from a tree when it is ripe. He did not approve of people who took a formal decision to renounce their former lifestyles, but he did concede that it was good if physical renunciation happened automatically:
Question: I have a good mind to resign from service and remain constantly with Sri Bhagavan.

Bhagavan: Bhagavan is always with you, in you, and you are yourself Bhagavan. To realise this it is neither necessary to resign your job nor run away from home. Renunciation does not imply apparent divesting of costumes, family ties, home, etc., but renunciation of desires, affection and attachment. There is no need to resign your job, but resign yourself to Him, the bearer of the burden of all. One who renounces desires, etc., actually merges in the world and expands his love to the whole universe. Expansion of love and affection would be a far better term for a true devotee of God than renunciation, for one who renounces the immediate ties actually extends the bonds of affection and love to a wider world beyond the borders of caste, creed and race. A sannyasi who apparently casts away his clothes and leaves his home does not do so out of aversion to his immediate relations but because of the expansion of his love to others around him. When this expansion comes, one does not feel that one is running away from home, but drops from it like ripe fruit from a tree; till then it would be folly to leave one’s home or his job. (Crumbs from his Table, p. 43)
The analogy of the ripened fruit also appears in Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 830, although there Bhagavan qualifies his remarks by saying that such spontaneous renunciation can only take place if personal circumstances are favourable:
Just as a ripened fruit separates effortlessly from the tree and falls, when a sadhaka who is [aiming to] merge his mind in the supreme attains maturity, he will definitely renounce family life as unsalted gruel unless his unfavourable prarabdha stands in the way.
For complete renunciation to take place one must give up all identities except the identification with the formless Self. Giving up one physical identity (‘I am a householder’) and replacing it with another (‘I am a sannyasi’) does not get to the root of the problem of false identification:
Question: Should not a man renounce everything in order that he might get liberation?

Bhagavan: Even better than the man who thinks ‘I have renounced everything’ is the one who does his duty but does not think ‘I do this’ or ‘I am the doer’. Even a sannyasi who thinks ‘I am a sannyasi’ cannot be a true sannyasi, whereas a householder who does not think ‘I am a householder’ is truly a sannyasi. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 530)
Know that not regarding oneself erroneously as being limited to the body and trapped in family bonds is a far superior renunciation to the state wherein one thinks repeatedly within one’s mind: ‘I have truly extricated myself by renouncing all the ties of this world.’ (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 840)
Muruganar made the following comments on this Guru Vachaka Kovai verse:
Thinking, ‘I am a person who has renounced’ is only mental imagination. The state of truth transcends such imagination. Only the state of remaining still, which is the natural state, is true sannyasa, the nature of liberation. It is not thinking repeatedly, ‘I am someone who has renounced samsara’. Therefore, not thinking is a far superior renunciation to thinking. Like the thought, ‘I am caught in bondage’, the thought, ‘I am one who is free from bondage’ indicates the delusion of regarding yourself as being limited to the body. When that delusion is destroyed, along with it, both of these thoughts will cease. Unless the ‘I am the body’ belief is present to some extent, there can be no possibility of having the thought, ‘I have renounced’.

Refer to Ulladu Narpadu, verse 39, where Bhagavan wrote: ‘So long as one thinks “I am in bondage”, thoughts of liberation and bondage will remain. When one sees oneself through the enquiry “Who is the bound one?”, and the Self alone remains, eternally attained and eternally free, will the thought of liberation still remain, where the thought of bondage cannot exist?’
The general supposition amongst most Hindus is that sannyasa demonstrates one’s commitment to following the spiritual path full time, and by extension, somehow makes it easier to meditate and realise the Self. Since Bhagavan taught that inner renunciation was more important than outer renunciation, he did not accept the generally accepted premise that sannyasins were in a better position to realise the Self than householders. I put the following dialogue in one of my recent replies, but it is worth posting again because it shows quite definitely that living a normal life in the world is not, according to Bhagavan, a disadvantage when it comes to making spiritual progress:
When I [Rangan] started to visit Bhagavan regularly at Skandashram, it occurred to me that it would be good if I became a sannyasin [mendicant monk]. I knew that this was a foolish and irresponsible dream because it would leave my family, already in a precarious financial position, with no one to support them. However, the thought would not leave me. One night, while I was lying in my bed at Skandashram, I was unable to sleep because this thought kept recurring so strongly.

As I was turning uneasily in my bed, Bhagavan came to my side and asked me, ‘What is the matter? Are you in pain?’ ‘

Venkataraman, [Bhagavan’s childhood name]’ I replied, ‘I want to adopt sannyasa.’

Bhagavan went away and came back with a copy of Bhakta Vijayam, an anthology of the lives of some famous saints who lived in western India many centuries ago. He opened the book and read out the story in which Saint Vithoba decided to take sannyasa. In the story his son, Jnanadeva, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, gave him the following advice.

‘Wherever you are, whether in worldly society or the forest, the same mind is always with you. It is the same old mind, wherever you reside.’

After reading this out Bhagavan added, ‘You can attain jnana even while you are living in samsara [worldly activities]’.

‘Then why did you become a sannyasin?’ I countered.

‘That was my prarabdha [destiny],’ replied Bhagavan. ‘Life in the family is difficult and painful, no doubt, but it is easier to become a jnani while living as a householder.’ (The Power of the Presence, part one, pp. 6-7)
Conclusion
Peace can never be attained by one who subjects himself to ignorance by embracing the body and the world, regarding them as enduring and beneficial. Equally, suffering or fear will never be experienced by one who renounces this ignorance and reaches the permanent resting place of the ego, the Heart, clinging tenaciously to it like an udumbu lizard, without letting go.

What is it that remains as impossible to renounce after all that can be renounced has been renounced? It is the harvest of bliss, the surging flood, the reality of the Self, shining in the Heart, as the Heart, as that which cannot be renounced. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, vv. 130, 836)

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is your personal experience David? You have more or less led the life of a renunciate monk after you left England..doesn't it help not having to go through the painful grind everyday? Work in the modern world occasionally involves deep mental activity and the momentum of that activity doesn't stop easily after coming back home. Doesn't the life of a renunciate(apart from the superficial acts of wearing saffron robes etc.) help in keeping one's attention on 'I' and take you faster towards the goal of unhinging from the body and world? Thanks for the post..i especially found the concluding verse apt.

David Godman said...

Annamalai Swami mentioned in Living by the Words of Bhagavan that for ten years, while he was working in the ashram, he was not able to carry out Bhagavan's instructions on meditating and working at the same time because, even in his spare time, his head was always full of thoughts about building projects. He was only able to meditate properly, he said, when he gave up his work and moved to Palakottu.

I know what Bhagavan has taught on this matter, but my experience from talking to people who are actively involved in business and family affairs is that very few people manage to have the detachment from work that all teachers seem to speak of.

As for my own case, I really don't know what state my mind would be in if I had to undertake a full agenda of family and work commitments. I haven't worked in the West for more than thirty years, and I have never had to go out and earn money to support a family.

Somebody once asked Annamalai Swami for advice on how to meditate in a big city environment, and he replied, 'How would I know? I have never even been to a big city.'

That's not quite true since I know he went to Chennai a couple of times for medical treatment, but he is still making a valid point: that of not being able to offer advice on something he hasn't personally tried to do himself.

I can't say if I have benefited from my current lifestyle because I don't have an alternative experience to compare it to.

baskar said...

I think we gravitate to the kind of lifestyle that suits us, whether by choice or by chance.

Were we really suited for renunciation, we would drift towards a lifestyle that demands of us far fewer commitments than that an ordinary householder has. Some of these choices would have been consciously made, and some would have been imposed, but the course of our life is like that of a pebble that is washed by the river into the sea.

The choices that are present before us are mostly illusory, especially the spiritual choices. We are what we are. Our occupations have nothing to do with our preoccupations. We can change what we do, but we cannot change our tendencies, we will be driven by them, no matter what our dress is.

I feel that the more spiritual we are, the less occupied we will be, but there could be exceptions. In general, really spiritual people are more to be found among those who have renounced, than among the more numerous householders. But that does not mean that should we renounce our commitments, we would turn spiritual. As long as we feel we have commitments, we would be plagued by them.

But to pursue the kind of self-enquiry that Bhagavan guides us to, whether we are sannyasis or samsaris is not important. We could be scientologists, we could believe in UFO kidnappings, but what matters ultimately is that we turn back to the source of our thoughts/ being.

What happens after that is not in our control, any more than what happened before.

Regards,

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Since I can only speak for myself, and no one else (apologies if this becomes a Cathartic Self-help drama--kidding), I think the question of whether I can function in a big city environment, say Portland Oregon where I live, is a question of whether my obligations are such a deviation from the real nature of my body's abilities. However it seems so far, that the deeper i get into surrender the more I am able to actually be present, and pay attention. So perhaps in a big city environment, is no different then a rural environment, and it doesn't make a difference. Some of the conflicts I've had when my meditatio is repressive, trying to just shut down my mind effortfully. But who is htat who is trying to shut down the mind effortfully. I try to shift up my point of view as much as possible into an effortless thoughtles state as opposed to effortful repression of anything. I've taken approaches such as not having alot of stuff other then homework going on, and wondering about the city aimlessly (no idea where i'm going), as without a sense of decision or doership as possible, and sometimes settle on a coffee shop get a decaf coffee, and scone and slowly work through physics problems, or study neurophysiology. But I don't force it, and my meditation comes first. I say that I'm attempting Inquiry rather then practicing it. In that I get the impression Inquiry is not when enemies are being slayed as they sally forth, but those moments where even a little effortfully I'm abiding as the I with nothing attached, or maybe effortlessly which seems to have. happened a few times, and more and more frequently. I haven't read the post yet, just that funny line Annamalai Swami said about Big Cities. In short and with way too much verbiage it appears that Big City or rural, with work to do, or no work to do are non-issues. Infact being in a city may have the advantage that there are more opportunities to see desires and tendencies for what they are.

Anonymous said...

David, thanks for your reply. I guess it's difficult for most people to do well in the spiritual path when they're neck-deep in business and family affairs because their attention is hardly on Bhagavan's teachings.
I was reading your interview with Rob Sacks on your website and it seemed to me that a deep experience of the Self prompted you to renounce reductionist academia:
"It wasn't that I had found a new set of ideas that I believed in. It was more of an experience in which I was pulled into a state of silence. In that silent space I knew directly and intuitively what Ramana's words were hinting and pointing at."
"It wasn't an intellectual judgement on their irrelevance, it was more of a visceral disgust that physically prevented me from reading more than a few lines."
Now I'm wondering if this is the only scenario in which external renunciation works - if you've had a deep personal experience prior to external renunciation it'll work. If not, external renunciation is unlikely to work because the mind and its vasanas are still present in full force. In Living by the Words of Bhagavan, I remember reading that Annamalai Swami had a deep personal experience in the presence of Bhagavan and soon after decided to move to Palakothu to lead the life of a renunciate.

Haramurthy said...

Excellent differentiation of the specific factors with reference to which one may entertain the notion(s) of [spiritual] renunciation, that is, in view of Bhagavan’s assertions transmitted to us in various forms of source material!
What would we do without your erudition concerning these, David, and your skill of distilling tiny jewels of pertinent insights and balanced reflections of truth from these materials?

From this post on “Renunciation” it was likewise relatively easy for me to perceive that my views as articulated previously seem to fairly closely tally with those David presented above. Especially crucial in this respect was David’s perceptively focussing on the essential necessity of abandoning both kartr[u]tva and kartavya, that is, abandoning both (a) the sense of being the performer of mental&physical activities and (b) the idea that there are courses of actions that must be performed.
Kart.rtva/kartrutva, the sense of being the doer, refers to the ordinary, culturally conditioned, function of an individual’s growing up into a complex psychological system of personal identifications.
Kartavya, usually psychologically linked up with a sense of kartrutva, is obviously mere determined by the specific social context individually inhabited and refers to notions of “what has to be done”, thus to notions of obligation, duty, responsibilty and (from a radically Atmabodha type of spirituality) the whole of a correlated burdensome ballast --- then tending to be likewise carried into more subtle spiritual spheres coloring one’s notions of what one is supposed to perform in terms of spiritual practices in order .... just to be one’s Self.

Thus, the necessity of abandoning both Kartrutva and Kartavya closely corresponds to what has been referred to (and differentiated) by me as psychological forms of renunciation and social forms of renunciation, whereby the psychological and the social naturally are interrelated (although, see in a second, not altogether inseparable).
While the mere formal donning of a new garb, be it that of a monk or a sannyasin, statistically (considering the millions of monks and sannyasins in the past&present) means nothing in terms of spiritual maturity -- thus one certainly shouldn’t be fooled into prematurely imitating a life style imputed with unrewarding promises -- , it may on the other hand be possible, under certain circumstances, to perform the role of a social person (lat. persona = mask) without getting psychologically trapped in it through identifications. Myself having earlier referred to “many examples from literature”, David has alluded above to one of my favorite stories, the one of King Sikhidhvaja and Queen Cudala from the Yogavasishta (generally perhaps better accessible in one of the English translations of the Laghuyogavasishta).
And practically speaking, since the various processes of exhausting multifarious vasanas do usually not come to a stop all at once, most of us are probably quite familiar with social situations where, despite of all psychological disenchantment, the social mask is kept.

On the other hand, when saying: “social renunciation being not restricted to a stereotype and formalised manner of acting, but rather the natural reflection and consequence of psychological forms of renunciation, ...” [”Resonses to Comments ...(Oct 15)]), the implication is closely captured by Bhagavan’s analogy of the ripened fruit, in Guru Vachaka Kovai 830, as quoted by David:
“Just as a ripened fruit separates effortlessly from the tree and falls, when a sadhaka who is [aiming to] merge his mind in the supreme attains maturity, he will definitely renounce family life as unsalted gruel unless his unfavourable prarabdha stands in the way.”

Given that entertaining particular ranges of desire is related to particular forms of psychological identification (these being structured in terms of specific “egos” with associated notions of doership [kartrutva]), it may become intelligible that introducing really profound changes with regard to the phenomenon of one’s consciousness continuously evolving in the form of desires (whatever the particulars) requires a recognition profound enough to address this issue at the very root. What is required is the recognition of one’s Self as ever already fulfilled and as distinct from emotionally unstable, fragmentary psychological identifications with passing moments of consciousness ever on the search for fulfillment (except in sushupta).
This subtle discriminative recognition (call it viveka, prajna, pratyabhijna or what else) has sometimes also been likened to a royal swan’s legendary capacity of drinking only the milk from a milk-water mix of liquid and leaving the water behind.
While this analogy puts emphasis on the difficulty of emulating the paramahamsa, the Samkhya dualistic model --- strictly separating ultimate spirit (purusha) from world-generating psychological nature (prakriti, part of which is ahamkara, the ego) --- perhaps tends to categorically oversimplify the matter when it suggests: just be the purusha recognising the workings of prakriti -- and she, similar to a dancing girl shy about being discovered, will quickly retreat all by herself. Nevertheless, what is indicated with the help of this aesthetic metaphor is that, rather than being enraptured by the repetitive steps of one’s psychological patterns and being lost in identifications with these, one may introduce a renunciate’s momentum of recognition, thus generate an amusing distance to Miss Psyche’s charms -- a distance she tends to find less amusing -- and remind oneself who one is.

Moving in the medium of non-duality naturally requires another metaphorical analogy, such as ....... --- but well, verbosity being on the verge of taking over, let its playfulness be cruelly renounced just when it turns sweetest.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

In response to Haramurthy, it seems that it definitely is in my case easier to don personas --> social masks, for instance dressing teh part of a Portland hipster (subculture in Portland) is easier the less I'm invested in my notions of world and individual, being the doer, and that there are things to be done.

Anon,
On that same note, school also seems to be a hefty obligation and a distraction from meditation. But I am finding, that staying for the most part mentally quiet is perfectly in tune with doing well in school. One thing I find, is it is important to ask, "Who doesn't want to do homework?" Because part of it is rebellion against one circumstance, slaving away at homework, for the one I prefer, sitting alone doing nothing, meditating (attempting Inquiry). So then...It seems important to find out who that is, this illusory person with that preference.

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

Did you know, friends, that St. John of the Cross developed kind of a "science of consciousness" which is similar to vedantic approach? Certainly we need to "look through the words" = to transform his words and their meaning into our own, modern words and meanings. The "Dark Night of the Soul" in my eyes is the eloquent description of what the vedanta or Ramana may call "the removing of the doubt related to your own true nature." It is a treasure house of self enquiry ("self" in the sense of the ego).

Especially of interest is his picture of this "darkness of the soul" as a beam of divine light which is (in an advanced state of the seeker) not reflected by any particles of dust (mental distractions), and which *therefore* is conceived as darkness by the unexperienced seeker! Because we can't see light which is not being reflected by dust (mental impurities).

Dark Night of the Soul from St. John of the Cross

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Broken Yogi said...

Thanks David for this further elucidation of Ramana's teachings on renunciation. I am most impressed with his notion that renunciation, like realization itself, must be totally natural (swarupa), rather than forced upon oneself as some kind of "practice" to combat one's vasanas. I am reminded of Nisargadatta's "Nisarg yoga" or "natural yoga", in which one simply does what comes naturally in the process of investigating the Self. He lived a householder life all the way to the end, in spite of being a clear jnana-master. I assume he had a similar approach to renunciation.

As for the rest of us, the message seems to be to have no concern for one's personal renunciation, but instead to simply devote oneself to the investigation of the Self, and let renunciation come naturally to us in whatever form is appropriate to our karmas.

baskar said...

Dear Clemens Vargas Ramos,

Thanks for the link to dark night of the soul.

Regards,

Rama said...

Hi

This is a very interesting discussion. I am reminded of following statements by Bhagavan Sri Ramana and of by Sri Ramakrishna.

Once when a visitor asked Bhagavan whether he should become a sanyasi? Bhagavan replied " Purpose fulfills itself" and " If you were to be a sanyasi, you would not be asking this question". I guess this clearly tells us Karma is in operation and we are not the director.

However another guidance that came from Sri Ramakrishna was to stay away from family for one, two or three days and then extend for a longer duration to be away from all associations. A plant when sowed has to be protected from goats and other animals. Only when it acquires strength, can we remove the fence around it. I guess we have some practical guidelines from our great sages 1. Not to worry much on this subject 2. To try to shake off attachments for few days or months so that the practice can be strengthened.

Thanks for this wonderful discussion.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

In one of the posts, don't know which one David Godman said that either dispassion or passion are necessary for Realization, but if you are in the middle and don't have enough of either, you won't make it, something to that effect, my best paraphrase.

I just wanted to add a bit of optimisim that in my own experience those both seem to increase through resisting the temptation to think about... Both dispassion about the things I formerly cared about, and passion, an intoxicating bliss that sees only perfection increase, because the obstacles do drop off. I just wanted to add that note, that it isn't an innate quality that I or I'm assuming anybody is born with. By getting the thinking out of the way, both dispassion and devotion naturally become prominent. It's not futile. Nothing in my experiences suggests that it is.

Anonymous said...

@Scott,
'It seems important to find out who that is, this illusory person with that preference.' That's the key, knowing that the person is illusory and losing one's individuality in the Self. Otherwise, there's no way out of suffering. I get the feeling that Advaita is an all or nothing teaching. As long as you remain an individual you see the world, identify yourself are a fragile body, think numerous thoughts, do countless deeds and get submerged in samsara. When the individual is gone, everything goes and yet everything is perfect, within and without. There is no middle ground.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf

@anon
Agreed, it's a paradox. Whether this is illusory or not, it does seem that the obstacles do get cleared, there is progress in a sense by continuously sticking with it, because fears and desires weaken and then clear and then they don't come back. So while ultimately it is all or nothing, I can't just go "ta da, now I'm enlightened", well maybe at some point, but then i was just ready and it was inevitable. But continually staying quiet through all the experiences I slowly detach from being grabbed by them, and end up in the center where the experiences in the world are all peripheral, and the body is not something i'm identified with. lakshmana swami said that there are no levels of realization, which is what I think you are saying, he did admit of levels of practice. And that is something that does seem to happen for me. A deepening of the practice. In that sense I don't think it's all or nothing, but a continual falling by the wayside

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I agree wholeheartedly with anon, that's pretty much the game, the only way out of suffering. That I've got a bad social disability has given me this extra incentive, because I fall on the suffering side of the spectrum far more then the pleasure side. Let me out of here! (kidding)

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf;

Also with how my functionability in the illusory world increases the less i think, it suggests I would be a hyper-functional, successful Jnani. (were I ever to Realize that All-Or-Nothing Advaita State). Whether the meditation has to be so all or nothing, or whether the ego can be scraped away, well it's a mystery that I'll only be able to tell you when I get there, which is here, such is the paradox

Anonymous said...

@Scott,
'lakshmana swami said that there are no levels of realization, which is what I think you are saying, he did admit of levels of practice. And that is something that does seem to happen for me. A deepening of the practice. In that sense I don't think it's all or nothing, but a continual falling by the wayside'
Yes, there are levels of practice. As long as we(as egos) are active in the world, there is bound to be desire, fear, jealousy, greed etc. When there is a push to go for the All(Self), I think a deepening of the practice cannot happen unless the normal worldly activities are given much less importance. Bhagavan: "If sadhana is performed relentlessly, some time or other favourable results will turn up.". On reading this, I thought performing sadhana, of any kind which appeals to us, relentlessly, kinda means that many of the normal worldly activities must become nothing(given no importance).
'Let me out of here!' ha ha..I feel the same way some times and you can guess what side of the spectrum I fall in.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

@Anon
I think that's the idea. I'm trying to do the bare necessity to keep up with school, but give school, or anything else in the world no importance. I have to pull back from worrying about school sometimes, letting the actions go on as much by themselves, trusting that. But more then that pulling from social desires, for connection with specific individuals, those kind of attachments.

Sankarraman said...

I think only Bhghavan's method of self-enquiry is relevant today, as it is free from concepts, and pushes one direct to the Self, inmost core of our being, there being no search for, " That," and equating the essential substratum of, " That," with, " Thou." According to Bhghavan's approach the self is the only datum of experience, all other things, god and brahman included, coming after the self. If we meditate on the Mahavakyas as is the case with the tradition, it would be only a search for some external experience, and not the attributeless self. I think vedanta is only for the scholars, the serious aspirants having to follow the self-enquiry path of Bhghavan.

Sankarraman said...

It is surprising to hear from David Godman that annamalai swamy had had to go to chennai for medical treatment. This is, to my knowledge, not correct. Once a French man sent by post the french currency ( francs) to the address of annamalai swamy as denotion. It was seized by the customs officials and a notice was served to the swamy to show cause as to why action should not be taken under some section for breach of civil law. Annamalai Swamigal was very much perturbed fearing that his vow not to leave the particular limited area in arunachala, might not be fulfilled. He requested me through his attendant to set right the matter by convincing the concerned officials that the whole thing was not the swami's fault, he being an anchorite, not depending on assistance from anybody. Annamalai swamigal had never left arunachala. I had to visit the Reserve Bank of India, Foreign Exchange Department, and the Customs Department of the Union Government, to convince them the correctness of the situation, requesting them to drop the objection. Please verify this.

David Godman said...

Sankarraman

I am not aware of any vow that Annamalai Swami took to remain in Tiruvannamalai. More importantly, I don't think Bhagavan included this restriction when he gave Annamalai Swami the rules he should live by. There are a couple of incidents in his biography where Annamalai Swami speaks of going to temples and shrines that he had heard Bhagavan tell stories about. One of them was not far from Chennai.

I remember this incident you spoke of, but I didn't know you were the one who helped to sort it out with the relevant authorities in Chennai. I remember Sundaram, Annamalai Swami's attendant, being quite worried at the time because if charges had been pressed, they would have been criminal, not civil. It's illegal for anyone in India to receive foreign currency notes from abroad.

I am trying to remember who told me this story. I think it was the devotee who arranged the trip and put him up in his house while he had the treatment. Possibly it was at a hospital that was far enough out of the city for him to say later that he had never visited a big city.

Anyway, thanks from all of us for taking the necessary steps to keep Annamalai Swami out of jail.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

We can make the distinction between renunciation of worldly life, and inner renunciation. But truth is the inner renunciation is so much more intense, and profound I'm sure then the outer renunciation. Everything has to be renounced totally and firmly. I was just reading the Ribhu Gita, basically the notion that the world is real has to be completely discarded, or that I am an individual, those thoughts can't be allowed to arise, if to succeed in this enterprise, evidently, the mind has to be kept completely still,without a ripple going out to nothing, according to teh Ribhu Gita. And all this stuff about Grace, the only person who can make this happen is the one who can make that happen, it can't come from outside. So there can be no half-assed efforts here, no allowance of a little duality. Duality has to be completely eschewed, any thought that goes out to an external world searching out desires, any notion of other individuals, friends families, has to be completely, and utterly rejected. And then Who am I? deeply. Completely obliterating duality. That's what I get from the Ribhu Gita, I cannot imagine a more intense, profound or necessary renunciation then this. It's so much more total then living in the woods, it's a complete destruction of the individual, and his/her life, of there being an outside world, less one that something would be wanted from. And then I'm completely and utterly the Lord's tool, and the actions will go on without volition.

Nandu Narasimhan said...

David,

This is from the initial post by Anonymous asking you about your views.

Bhagavan maintained that it was 'easier for a married man to realise the Self, because the Self is here and now'. One supposes it was in response to the question regarding sanyasa that was always put to Him.

Has Bhagavan ever elaborated on how it is easier? Would be thankful if you can help, for people like me who are married and work in big cities.

Many thanks,

Nandu

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

Vivekachudamani

18. Regarding this, sages have spoken of four means of attainment, which alone being present, the devotion to Brahman succeeds,
and in the absence of which, it fails.

19. First is enumerated discrimination between the Real and the unreal; next comes aversion to the enjoyment of fruits (of one’s
actions) here and hereafter; (next is) the group of six attributes, viz. calmness and the rest; and (last) is clearly the yearning for
Liberation.

20. A firm conviction of the mind to the effect that Brahman is real and the universe unreal, is designated as discrimination (Viveka)
between the Real and the unreal.

21. Vairagya or renunciation is the desire to give up all transitory enjoyments (ranging) from those of an (animate) body to those of
Brahmahood (having already known their defects) from observation, instruction and so forth.

22. The resting of the mind steadfastly on its Goal (viz. Brahman) after having detached itself from manifold sense-objects by
continually observing their defects, is called Shama or calmness.

23. Turning both kinds of sense-organs away from sense-objects and placing them in their respective centres, is called Dama or self-control. The best Uparati or self-withdrawal consists in the mind-function ceasing to be affected by external objects.

24. The bearing of all afflictions without caring to redress them, being free (at the same time) from anxiety or lament on their score,
is called Titiksha or forbearance.

25. Acceptance by firm judgment as true of what the Scriptures and the Guru instruct, is called by sages Shraddha or faith, by
means of which the Reality is perceived.

26. Not the mere indulgence of thought (in curiosity) but the constant concentration of the intellect (or the affirming faculty) on the ever-pure Brahman, is what is called Samadhana or self-settledness.

27. Mumukshuta or yearning for Freedom is the desire to free oneself, by realising one’s true nature, from all bondages from that of egoism to that of the body – bondages superimposed by Ignorance.

28. Even though torpid or mediocre, this yearning for Freedom, through the grace of the Guru, may bear fruit (being developed) by
means of Vairagya (renunciation), Shama (calmness), and so on.

29. In his case, verily, whose renunciation and yearning for Freedom are intense, calmness and the other practices have (really)
their meaning and bear fruit.

30. Where (however) this renunciation and yearning for Freedom are torpid, there calmness and the other practices are as mere
appearances, like water in a desert.

31. Among things conducive to Liberation, devotion (Bhakti) holds the supreme place. The seeking after one’s real nature is
designated as devotion.

.

Sankarraman said...

"Annamalai Swami mentioned in Living by the Words of Bhagavan that for ten years, while he was working in the ashram, he was not able to carry out Bhagavan's instructions on meditating and working at the same time because, even in his spare time, his head was always full of thoughts about building projects. He was only able to meditate properly, he said, when he gave up his work and moved to Palakottu."
Apropos of the above comments reported to have been made by annamalai swamy, I am of opinion that love of external solitude is not possible for all persons, neither sustaining, all of us being driven by our old samskaras to some extrovert glamour or other. Some persons might be in solitude by virtue of some mechanical pursuits being not sensitive to the deeper layers of consciousness. I have seen one swamigal, an attendent of Bhahgvan, who was reported to have remained in silence for twelve years. I didn't notice anything spiritually sensitive in him, he being only intersted in madly consorting with the westerners, trying to seek favour from them. There has to be a holistic approach. It also depends on one's destiny a lot. Like the story told by Ramakrishna of a man attending to a Bhaghavatham discourse, being preoccupied with the pleasures indulged in by his friend in a house of ill-fame, whereas the friend feeling very bad about it and thinking of the exalted state of godhood described in the discourse. Everything in life pursued by the mind is an optical illsuion. As stated by J.K all opposites are only modified continutiy of their counterparts.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

For me, going to school in a big city is tuffer the more my practice is a repression of thought, instead of alert awareness. When it's the alert peaceful awareness, I'm able to absorb alot of information, and participate in school. When I'm fighting the mind, I do have trouble functioning, but it seems like all the Jnanis lived extremely hyper-functional lives, including Maharshi.(who might even do better then me at the classes I'm taking but had better things to do, different destiny)

baskar said...

"Bhagavan maintained that it was 'easier for a married man to realise the Self, because the Self is here and now'. One supposes it was in response to the question regarding sanyasa that was always put to Him."

Easier than for whom?

Is it possible that the married man will realise the Self easier than the Sannyasin?

That would be absurd, and turn the traditional position on its head.

I feel we have to take this statement in the right spirit. I don't know what it is, but here goes mine, for what it is worth:

Bhagavan held that being a married man or a sannyasi is an identification made in the bead. It does not change what we are. We think we are married, or we are sannyasis.

I think even in my particular case, having been married, it would be easier for me to realize the Self in this present state than for me to go and get Sannyasa, which would go against my vasanas, prarabdhas etc., and then try from there. It won't suit me, because I don't belong there.

In the case of bachelors, I think it is easier for them as brahmacharis to realize the self than for them to get married and try from there.

Ultimately all such ashramas are in the mind only and have nothing to do with practice.

For some people family life is destined. They will do better not to do anything out of impulse or some desire and bring emotional turmoil upon themselves.

For some, even the married, sannyasam would be right. They will have no other choice but to walk away from home.

What matters is to practice from where we are, with what we are and be what we are.

Regards,

Nandu Narasimhan said...

Thanks Baskar.

I have been through the same reasoning myself and am in no doubt.

All I wanted was if Bhagavan Himself had spoken more on the 'how' of the statement He made, at other points in time.

One knows that He said something on similar lines to Swami Natanananda, Papaji and to a certain degree to Muruganar.

Would be interesting and illuminating to hear Bhagavan's explanation on the statement. If at all He did elaborate.

But thanks for your explanation.

Nandu

Sankarraman said...

'I think even in my particular case, having been married, it would be easier for me to realize the Self in this present state than for me to go and get Sannyasa, which would go against my vasanas, prarabdhas etc., and then try from there. It won't suit me, because I don't belong there'
With reference to the above remarks of baskar, I should like to state that nothing is a categorical imperative to pursue the spiritual life, be it the married life of that of a mendicant. We have to recall the beautiful statement of Bhghavan that one is free at the level of the Self, all bondage born of prarabdha not being inimical to the realisation of the inner reality which is here and now. The whole problem is centred around the obstinate notion that we are individuals, having to become something else. Somewhere I read in the book, 'Be what you are' that no effort is needed to be in the natural state of one's true being, whereas great effort is needed to become something else. Our misconceptions have been lodged too much in the unconscious, with the result we confuse our personal, illusory, history to do someting with the self. Somewhere J.K has said, when somebody raised the question of no mutation happening in the consciousnes in spite of sincere attempts to follow the art of listening, that one has to be patient, and that patience is timeless whereas impatience creates time. J.K has come down to the level of the ordinary minds to put truth in such simple terms, which is on account of his compassion. Let us be patient and not come to conclusions, being too much overwhelmed by ideas of one having to be enlightened and that there is a future birth, when the present birh itslef may be a fabrication.

umesh said...

Dear David,
What are Bhagavan's teaching on faith ? A bhakta's faith in his guru. What does this mean when one is suffering intensely or in the jaw's of death ? Must this be taken as a test or should it be considered as ordained ? I can see that faith may take out the sting of suffering but I am really confused on this issue. I am aware that if one has totally surrendered to the guru then this question does not arise but most of us are working towards this goal of total surrender. Consider as examples the lady whose wedding whose blessed by Bhagavan or your own close friend Elmira.
thanks & regards

Anonymous said...

David,
Have you renounced this blog? jus kidding..

Clemens Vargas Ramos said...

.

RAVI - where are you? Don't let me alone with all this ignorance!

Salutations to all.
.

Anonymous said...

On renunciation:
"Renunciation is born of contemplation upon the source of peace and happiness. It is born of observation of the facts of life and death, be it objects, wealth, fame, or anything similar. It is born of meditation upon the dreamlike nature of the experience of the world. It is born upon the transitory nature of all things. It is born of the intense yearning to know and be the truth at any cost. It is born of teh comprehension that clinging is worrisome bondage, and detachment is blissful freedom. It is born of the Knowledge of the immediacy of the Truth of the Self. Nondependence of the mind on anything external means to no longer have one's state of mind determined by outer circumstances, such as how many or few one's possessions, whether or not one's desires or fulfilled, or whether or not situations are to one's liking. Even more so, it is the abandonment of seeking happiness externally based upon the clear discernment (discrimination) of the real source of happiness. It is the means for the equanimity called peacefulness. Further, it means the cessation of the projection of the sense of happiness, reality, and identity upon things extraneous to the Self, which is the abode of happiness, one's true identity, and the one Reality. It is the abandonment of the superimpositionof the attributes of unreal things upon the Self. When the mind turns inward in search of true Knowledge, regarding outer so-called knolege just as so much ignorance, the delusive collection of opinions and insubstantial concepts, such is renunciation in Knowledge. Ultimately, this nondependence or renunciation, as it is known in practice, is of the very nature of the space-like, formless Self as realized in Self-Knowledge", Nome from Four Requisites of Realization and Enlightenment.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

It does seem to "me" that there is in some ways an opposite motivation for spiritual practice and functioning well in the world, the social heirarchy. Ultimately the sage may be able to function in whatever context, but all through school, the world is real, you've got to make something of yourself. It's like an opposite, unspiritual motivation that is hammered in. It seems like some of the ripe folks whom fell into samadhi and ultimately became enlightened with relative ease were somehow from the get go never sucked into that, never had their innate generosity tarnished. Specifically, reading about Saradamma on Mathrusrisarada.org inspired this tangent. So I suppose those qualities, humility, honesty, sincerity, earnestness, are extremely valueable assets. before Realization, and after, she was possessed of those in abundance. Looking at that glowing, heart melting smile.

vishy said...

Pranams to all the Devottees.

20 years of association with Guruji Grace helped this being to find out that entrance of Holy temple and there is no way you can escape from this Eternal Love which will engulf one day .Waiting for that moment and every moment .
Live in the present .........

Let there be stars ,moon and Sun in the sky and shine but
Let not this body mistake his identity as taught by Guru and So
Let the Supreme one dance in hearts of every body by which
Let us understand , admire, appreciate and abide in that .

Om Shanthi Om Snathi Om Shanthi

Anonymous said...

Could someone elaborate on the mythical Arunagiri Yogi, who is supposed to be the presiding deity of Tiruvannamalai, being inaccessible to anybody?

silence_speaks said...

Dear David,
:)
Please correct me if i am wrong ...

The renunciation that is born out of understanding that i am the Consciousness and therefore nothing in the external world can touch me ... this is true renunciation.

without this understanding if someone renounces, that is lot of pain... coz he/she feels that the objects make him better and yet are trying to avoid them! that is pain.

Seeing oneself as Consciousness ... one has to show total disinterest in the Result of any action/happenings... just participate in the world with total disinterest: Just the way Sri Ramana went from his home to Arunachala Temple and Lived there ... whether someone gave food or not/ whether someone talked or not ... nothing mattered!

Love!
Silence

David Godman said...

The tradition here is that Siva manifests in three forms: as the mountain of Arunachala, as the lingam in the Arunachaleswarar Temple, and as Arunagiri Yogi, a being who is said to reside under a banyan tree on the north side of Arunachala.

There is no discernible banyan tree on the north side of the mountain, and I know of no one who has seen Arunagiri Yogi in that location. If he is there at all he and the tree would have to exist in a subtle form that was not visible to ordinary physical sight.

There is the famous story of Bhagavan finding a huge banyan tree leaf in a stream bed on the north side of the mountain. He followed the stream, hoping to get a glimpse of the tree that had produced such huge leaves, but was stopped when he was attacked by hornets. This story is occasionally misinterpreted to mean that Bhagavan went looking for Arunagiri Yogi, but all Bhagavan ever said was that he was looking for the tree that produced the big leaves.

Bhagavan told people where he had found the leaf and years later Kunju Swami organised an expedition to retrace Bhagavan's footsteps. It ended in disaster and Bhagavan told him off for attempting the trip.

I have lived here for more than thirty years and in that period I have encountered many people who have gone looking for the tree. All of them failed. However, somewhat surprisingly, I have met several people who knew nothing about the tradition who told me that they encountered a banyan tree in the right area. One person told me that there was a cave nearby and signs of a cooking fire. Of course, when they went back to show other people, none of these things could be found.

I think it is possible that if you go looking for the tree, you don't find it, but if you don't know anything about it, you might stumble across it by accident. No one, though, has ever reported to me that he or she has seen Arunagiri Yogi; only the tree seems to be visible to casual, uninformed visitors.

WoundedKnee said...

I found a copy of Who Am I in a book store back in the seventies. His photo kind of burned into my brain and has remained there. I have had a larger version on the wall for many years. After reading the Gospel many, many times I suddenly understood that the world is a vision rather than anything solid. It was not realization or anything like that but it pretty much brought my seeking to an end. Read through your website and enjoyed it very much.

Anonymous said...

It is very difficult, after reading the teachings of Bhaghavan, or seeing him in person, if one were blessed, to consider anybody other than Bhaghavan as enlightened. Is it because that Ramana is a special kind of Adhikara Purusa synonymous with Iswara Himself, and the rest carrying some tinge of prarbdha even though enlightened, the highest energy of realization not manifesting in their personalities? That is how, I believe, one has to view it. Otherwise, one has to take sides with U.G.Krishnamurthy who calls it a calamity or a myth.

kiran said...

Sri Ramana Maharshi is a great sage and inspires every spiritual aspirant.
For all those people who are searching for a true living master or guru i would like to share my experience about a great sage. I came to know about sri Somanatha Mahrashi.People say that he remained in penance motionless without food and sleep continuously for eleven years in deep forests of srisailam,andhra pradesh and attained a state of Avaduta or poorna yogi like shiridi sai baba.

Any body who has some spiritual progress can feel the powerful spiritual vibrations from this great yogi.
Many people are saying that he guides them internally.He actually talks to them internally during meditation and guides them even if they are in US or UK.
Sri somanatha Maharshiji is not as famous as traditional yoga gurus like ramdevji or ravishankarji because he never comes out except on sundays that too only for one hour.
Anybody who are interested to meet this great sage can check this website www.srism.org

Sankarraman said...

"If a rope ( really ) existed as a consciousness, would it seek someone else- a separate being- to become a snake." The above is the second part of verse no 90 of Guruvachaka Kovai as translated by David. This verse is somewhat involved, what the import is not being very clear. Probably Muruganar means that unlike the rope, consciousness does not have anything to see. The following is an interesting account one finds in the book, " The Method of the Vedanta," by Swamy Satchidanendendra as tranlated by A.J.Alston. "There is, however, this difference between the examples and the thing they illustrate. In the examples, the snake and the rest do not really exist in the rope and the rest. It is simply that the perceiver erroneously supposes that the snake and the rest to be there, and thinks and speaks accordingly.. The case with the thing these examples illustrate, namely illusions in regard to the Self or the Absolute is somewhat different. Here we have a case of practical experience of relation with the Self set up by erroneous knowledge. The difference is that here even the notion that the erroneous knowledge ever belonged to the Self as well as its cancellation, are both seen to belong to the realm of ignorance. In the case of such superimpositions such as as the rope-snake, each superimposition is experienced as a wrong notion. Similarly the superimposition of the not-self onto the Self is also experienced as a wrong notion. But occasional wrong notions such as rope-snake arise and suffer cancellation while the individual knowing subject remains as such. This, however, is not the case with the superimposition of the non-self onto the Self. For the superimposition onto the Self of the notion that it is an individual knowing subject is part of the that general superimposition of the non-self onto the Self. And when that latter superimposition is cancelled, the whole notion of empirical experience is cancelled with it. . One cannot conceive this root superimposition of the non-self onto the Self as having a beginning or end in time. For time itself only comes into existence with this superimposition. And the authorities speak of it as beginningless and endless. And it must not be forgotten that we have already shown that the whole notion of ignorance and enlightenment itself belongs to the realm of ignorance." The idea is that unlike the example cited where there remains to know an individual that there was a mispprehension and subsequently it was known to be wrong, there is no knower in the act of knowledge remaining, to know of anything alien in time as having happened which is like the sunyavada of the Buddha. Saint Thayumanavar says," Since it is Being sole who is or how is one to know it. Like the camphor light being extinguished, there being no remnant, in realization there is no individual to know anything alien, there being the absence of the triads of knower, known and knowledge. In a place Ramana says that the Self does not even have the notion that it knows itself. At the summit of realization knowledge and ignorance are one and the same or it is that they don't exist. Nisargdatta time and again tells that only from ignorance the knowledge, " I am, " has sprung and it will return back to ignorance. This ignorance should not be confused with the term used in the normal parlance. The correct term should be no-knowing.

Sankarraman said...

‘I was taught that prarabdha karma can be exhausted in the dream state, but no new karma can be created there. Karmas that are destined for the body can occasionally be avoided by experiencing them in dreams, but there is no specific pre-destined script for one’s dreams in the way that there is for one’s waking state.’ With reference to the above clarification of David quoting some authority, I wish to state that the unenlightened mind cannot be aware whether some experience is by way of exhaustion of some karmas or further perpetuating it. There is a seeming but not real distinction between the thoughts of Bhaghavan and Upanishads with regard to the distinction between the two states, the Upanishads attributing unreality to the dream state alone. But a careful reading of the Bradhaharanyaka Upanishads makes it clear that the unreality attributed to the dream state is applicable to the entire vignanamaky kosa which means that the waking state is also unreal. We cannot come to any conclusions by comparing the two states as when we make some comparisons, it is from the common ground of the adjunct bound intellect, be it waking or dream. The naive idea that during dream state one is not aware of the waking state whereas the vice versa is true, is also not correct on the same grounds. It is on account of our excessive belief in the drishya not looking for the drik

Sankarraman said...

Friends, I have some important doubt to be clarified regarding the deep sleep state. In Brhadaranyka Upanishad there is a dialogue between Ajasasatru and Gargya as to who wakes up when a man fast asleep is called by his name and is pushed to wake him up. He didn't wake up on being called by his name, that is even though being addressed. From this it was reported in the dialogue that it was proved that the being who was attempted to be conveyed was not Brahman. Gargy identified various manifestations of the individual as Brahman which was denied by Ajathasatru who said, “Is this all; is this all." Bereft of the archaic language of the Upanishads, the gist of the issue is that during the waking state there being the mixing up of the experiencer and the experienced, that is the agent and the experiencer and the organs, they cannot be shown separately to identify as to which is the sole self devoid of objectivity. Hence they go to a sleeping person and address him by his name, which does not wake him. But on being pushed, the individual wakes up. The question raised in the dialogue is as to who, the vital force or something beyond it is the true informing Light, waking up. Since the vital force didn't respond on being addressed by its name, it was concluded as an insentient entity, that is, the one, which doesn't have the self-effulgent light which lights up all illusory phenomena, itself being unknown by the phenomena by virtue of their lack of luminosity, and the fact of the self being non-dual. Then the question arises as to which woke up. It is being concluded that there is this difference between the vital force and the self that whereas the former doesn't sleep, the latter, the relative self, being merged in the vital force, wakes up. Since the self is asleep, its organs do not function, it being absorbed in the vital force. So it does not hear even when its name is being addressed. Further, the point raised is that since the vital force is never asleep, it should be able to hear when being called. It is being concluded that the vital force which is ever awake is not the experiencer in view of its failure to wake up. Then who is the entity that wakes up, is the question raised in the Upanishads.. The denouement is that the entity which awoke when being pushed -blazing force as it were, flashing as it were, and coming from somewhere as it were, rendering the body different from it, endowing it with consciousness, activity, a different look etc- is an entity other than the body and the various entities advocated by Gargya. The doubt I have is that whether an insentient entity like the vital force, which did not wake up, whether in respect of it the idea of being awake or asleep could be predicated since it exists for something else, the true self. What has woken up, according to my understanding, is the relative self, the I thought, spoken of by Bhaghavan, which exists in the waking and dream state and disappears in the deep sleep in avidya, and what exists is the avidya-vritti, the absence of thoughts, the anandamaya kosa, which is also not the Self. The point is that the vital force is an insentient, mechanical force, relatively existing awake unbrokenly. The relative self which exists in the waking and dream state which disappears in avidya in the deep sleep state alone wakes up on being pushed. The true Self also does not wake up since it is beyond the three states. Whereas all these things are explained objectively in the Upanishads with parables, suggesting the idea of the prana functioning in deep sleep state, according to Ramana who explains everything in a highly subjective language, even the prana does not exist in the deep sleep state, the transcendental self sublating all illusory phenomena. Bhaghavan didn't subscribe to the idea, to the extent of my understanding, the existence of prana in deep sleep, it being absent like the other unreal adjuncts. The existence of prana in deep sleep is only from the onlookers' view point. That is why in yoga and saiva schools they posit the fifth state of turiyathitha where prana also dissolves, the body of a yogi becoming a blaze of light, a feat performed by the late Tamil saint Ramalingar known as Vallalar adoringly. But Bhaghavan denying the body here and now, doesn't countenance of the idea of the disappearance of the body on realization, a question posed by many to him. I would like Godman to offer his valuble comments on this aspect since he has extensively studied Bhaghavan and meditated a lot.

Sankarraman said...

I think what Bhaskar says is very appropriate as Maharishi has discountenanced the idea of there being several mahatmas whom people want to flock to; where as there is only one mahatma, that is the inner Self. That is however his transcendental position. However, his declaration of the cow and his mother being enlightened belong to the mystic side which we cannot call into question. However, I feel in the heart of my hearts that Bhaghavan has always the feeling that anybody who dies is attaining only enlightenment since in his vision there is no state of non-self, no individual. We cannot make a simplistic interpretation of the words and actions of a great jnani and a compassionate human being like Ramana. Even if we quote his words that will be coloured by our predilections.

Sankarraman said...

Whereas the traditional vedanta has branded deep sleep as one of ignorance, Bhaghavan says that there is full blaze of the jnana in that state which is interrupted in the waking and dream states. The branding of deep sleep as one of ignorance is, according to Bhaghavan, only by the ego of the waking state which confounds its own absence as the absence of the true Self. In one of the verses in Guruvachaka Kovai, it is said that on account of the identification of the Self with the vignanamaya kosa in the waking state, there is believed to exist deep sleep state, whereas what passes for it is only turiya, the natural state.

Ravi said...

Sankarraman,
" However, I feel in the heart of my hearts that Bhaghavan has always the feeling that anybody who dies is attaining only enlightenment since in his vision there is no state of non-self, no individual. "
Friend,this is not right on clear evidence on several counts.

1.Sri Bhagavan instructed devotees to construct Samadhis only for the souls that attained 'Mukti'.This is for his Mother,Lakshmi The Cow,Mastan Swami.
He did not do the same for Kavyakanta Ganapthi Muni,Echammal,etc.
2.He also declared how Palani swami did not achieve 'Mukti' although he tried the same 'exercise'(sorry,i do not have a better word)on him at the time of Death ,as he did with his Mother.

What David had already mentioned needs to be considered with a greater degree of attention.

I have my personal 'axe' to grind here since Lakshmi is a Great Inspiration for me;whenever I visit Sri Ramanasramam I always look forward to visiting her Samadhi.I may skip visiting Muruganar's Samadhi,but not Lakshmi's!If only we have the Devotion of Lakshmi towards Sri Bhagavan,where will we be!Friend,in my Hagiography this is unique.This suggested to me that Gajendra Moksham may not be all that far fetched or contrived!

Best Regards.

Sankarraman said...

Bhaghavan did act in several mysterious ways appealing to each one in a unique way. So we cannot superimpose our predilections on an exalted personality like Bhaghavan.

Sankarraman said...

Verse 68: Chapter XI of PANCADASI:
" The profusion of bliss ( Anandamaya ), having become concentrated into one mass of consciousnes in the deep sleep, enjoys the reflected bliss of Brahman with the help of modifications ( Vrittis ) reflecting a superabundance of consciousness." The idea conveyed here is that all vrittis, that is modifications of ignorance, but all exept those in the anandamaya sheath, are through Buddhi or through chitta vrittis. Those in the anandamaya are directly concerned in the production of experience, not indirectly through Buddhi vrittis. Hence they alone re called Ajnana vrittis. But Ajnana vrittis with superabundance of consciousness is an expression which seems to involve contradiction. According to Ramana it is not so, for this ignorance, I did not know,' anything, that it self is known directly by the witness without the mediation of the buddhi. The superabundance of bliss is by virtue of the fact that there is no interference, break as it were of the bliss by the intrusion of the buddhi. That is why Bhaghavan is very much vehement in his instruction that the vijnanmayakosa, the buddhi vritti, the I thought, should be tightly held, abandoning its alien elements which usurp the pure buddhi-satva, which if we did in our self-enquiry we would not have the distinction of vijnanamaya and ananda mayakosa, and in one stroke, the unmediated witness will be revealed, not being the object of knowledge, but as the essential Being which is Awareness at once as clarified by Bhaghavan in the benedictory verse of Ulladu Narpathu.

Sankarraman said...

What is the difference between the time of sunset and sunrise, and the one when thought process goes on? Has Ramana dealt with this aspect? I am sure that in various portions in the book, " Talks," one gets this impression. I feel that once the thinking process is stopped there is no time either inner or outer, but the outer clock time is realized once thought comes back. Further, there is no time in sleep, there is one kind of time in the waking state and a totally different kind when we are harassed psychologically. And I also have this doubt that our rebirth need not be in the same objective world as the present one as the world is nothing but the projection of the mind. But this goes against the common sense viewpoint that all of us see the same world. But may it not be that the so called, 'All,' is also the subjective projection of the,' me' and may be that each one of us is seeing a different world confronted with our own projected multiplicity. This seems to the the central theme of Yoga Vasishta endorsed also tacitly by Bhaghavan.

Sankarraman said...

Enlightenment does not pertain to the body or to other aspects of the psycho-physical organism. So it follows as the only remaining alternative that the enlightened one is the the Self, not subject to modifications entering into relation with anything whatever. For the Lord to deny, in the words, " How can such a man kill,?" that the enlightened
One so conceived could enter into action was thus correct.
Though the Self is void of all modification, it is imagined through nescience in the form of non-discrimination from the modifications of the mind to be the perceiver of the sounds and other objects brought before the mind. Similarly, the same Self, which is in reality beyond all changes of state, is called, "enlightened" on account of the discriminative knowledge separating the Self from the not-self, even though such knowledge is only a modification of the mind and illusory in character (AND IMPLIES NO REAL CHANGE OF CHARACTER)" The above startling statement of Sankara should make one ponder over as to what is, " Who am I enquiry." That is not relevant to the impartite Self eternally free, nor to the organs devoid of volition, being a material process. Then who is getting enlightened, what is enlightenment. I think it should be that that the vijnana mayakosa, the I thought, at some timeless point collapses into the pure consciousness. But there is no separate kosa of the intellect also which is only an offshoot of the true Self. All that one has to do is to meditate on the non-volitional nature of the Self, dragging back the intellect into the pure Self. Patanjali calls this discriminating knowledge where there is only a discriminating knowledge knowing the buddhi satva and the purusa for what they are. Even this being an act of the intellect, at some timeless point this discriminating knowledge is also abandoned, not by any kosa, but by the natural process of consummation of the play of the mind. The citta of man is like a millstone. If we put wheat under it, it grinds it into flour; if we put nothing under it, it grinds on until it grinds itself away. When we strip away the I thought of all its ideations and fluctuations, not paying attention to them, but being anchored in the contentless Self, the conditions of the intellect, the I thought, all its workings cease, the I being reduced to absolute State of the Unassociated I. It is like the stick used in the funeral pyre making the flame spread over the body, itself getting engulfed. So after self enquiry, no knowledge should remain even as regards one's having been enlightened since such a psychosis of the mind should not exist. Hence as far as the enlightened person is concerned nothing exists, even that person included. That is why the Buddhists call this sunaya. Saint Pattinathar calls this ultimate sunya or PAZH as against the initial one of the mind-begotten, seeking after the unreal contents. The unwary dualists should confound this as a very dry knowledge, but this is true bliss. In the relative existence we will be prepared to sacrifice all our belongings if deep sleep is ensured
All contents of the world are a detour.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I wrote this letter for my South East Asia anthropology teacher, I thought it was maybe interesting in light of these discussions.

Sorry to bother you again, but I was reading the Hindu ascetism article and how it's
misrepresented in the West, and it really made me think of R.M. Don't worry I'm not
proselytizing, I just find it interesting in light of the discussions. I should also add,
I'm not expert and these are only my interpretations.

"Know that the eradication of the identification with the body is charity, spiritual
austerity and ritual sacrifice; it is virtue, divine union and devotion; it is heaven,
wealth, peace and truth; it is grace; it is the state of divine silence; it is the
deathless death; it is jnana, renunciation, final liberation and bliss." R.M.

All the characteristics associated with renunciation, ascetism, with Maharshi it did not
mean running away from obligations, job, work, etc. He did not even put the same emphasis
on celibacy, and on several occassions questioned it, or said that brahmacharya was not
necessarily being sexually celibate. Although Self-Realization (Jnana) is a desireless
state, without mental desires, because my impression is, all fulfillment is in
identification with Brahman, the Self, within the Advaitic interpretation.

Maharshi is an interesting example because he, and his whole expression of the Advaita
philosophy, were in contrast with Western sterotypes of the "holy man" archetype,
although I have seen some of the more New Agers only being able to see what fits their
stereotypes, a kind of demeaning interpretation but glorified.

He fit some of the obvious sterotypes such as loincloth, waterpot, and stick, but
philosophically, he didn't think the outward display, vows of ascetism were important,
but the disidentification or detachment from the world was. And he did agree that the
world is in a sense an egoic illusion. But he still advised functioning within it, even
being affectionate with family, but being internally detached.

Also within the Maharshi interpretation of Advaita, bhakti, devotion, and Surrender to
God, were seen as being complementary not conflictual with Self-Inquiry (Jnana Yoga),
where the ego and mind are inquired into to see if it actually exists.

I remember Papaji, a supposedly Realized Jnani, devotee of Maharshi, in his autobiography
talking of meeting a Muslim fakir who was also a Jnani (Self-Realized, enlightened, or
had attained Moksha). So both Papaji, and Maharshi did not seem to distinguish that other
religions were infact different from their views of Hinduism, they didn't seem to be very
acknowledging of sectarian differences.

Ravi said...

Scott,
You have truly captured all the points nicely and cogently;importantly in a way that an uninitiated can understand.
Especially this:
"He fit some of the obvious sterotypes such as loincloth, waterpot, and stick, but
philosophically, he didn't think the outward display, vows of ascetism were important,
but the disidentification or detachment from the world was. And he did agree that the
world is in a sense an egoic illusion. But he still advised functioning within it, even
being affectionate with family, but being internally detached."

Best Regards.

who said...

"When that witness itself, which is �I am�, subsides, what remains? With the witness gone, all other things have disappeared too. By the same token, upon the arising of the � I am�, the whole manifestation takes place; these two are not separate, they are one, �I am� is the witness, the entire manifest world is because of this." The above is a quote from the book, " Ultimate Medicine," containing excerpts from the teachings of Nisargadatta. What does he mean by the term, "Witness," the equivalents being, " Beingness and I am," also. Maharaj identifies it with what he calls the, " Food body." Maharaj further says that it is the only capital being the totality of manifestation which will lead one to the Unmanifest which does not know itself. Maharaj says that once the prana departs the, " I AMNESS or BEINGNESS," will be gone for want of a prop. Maharaj makes a threefold distinction in the hierarchy of truth, which is: " Unmanifest, Manifest and the self-identification with the manifest. The self identification with the manifest has got a somatic base according to Maharaj. He says if one remains in the Witness stage, the conciousness will be gone. I find all these mind-boggling unlike the simple teaching of Maharishi. Would someone please clarify the correct position in this regard?

who said...

"A real devotee can only and need only direct his attention to the consciousness in him. 'Incessantly clinging onto one's own real nature is verily termed bhakti. Bhakti for anything other than this is really unworthy of the
name. It may, at the most, be called a fascination as unreal as
the object itself Experience is of two kinds: vastu-tantra [governed by reality]
and kartRRi-tantra [governed by a doer]. All Experiences of duality, including even the yogin's nirvikalpa samAdhi, are kartRRi-tantra. The experience which takes me
straight to my nature or peace and Consciousness, is alone vastu tantra. All Experiences of duality, including even the yogin's nirvikalpa samAdhi, are kartRRi-tantra. Vastu tantra which is atmic is beyond the feeling .karrtii tantra, being mental is capable of being felt, but is fleeting. Mental satisfaction can be derived from both truth and untruth. Vastu tantra is not the result of any activity or inactivity. But the kartrii tantra is always the result of activity, which takes the form of desire, effort and its fulfillment. When the disciple- who is the waking subject- is told by his Guru that even his phenomenal satisfaction is not derived from objects, but that is his own real nature shining in its own glory, his doership ( which is the centre of his Kartrii tantra ) crumbles for ever. Desires no more torment him. Satisfaction is transformed into permanent peace. When this sublime Peace, vastu-tantra, is sought to be brought down to respond to kartRRi-tantra, guided by varying tastes and tendencies, a host of new concepts, religions, objects of pleasure, heavens, and desires begin to appear. Therefore give up your tastes, desires and tendencies-not violently but knowingly, and by knowing more and more deeply that all satisfaction is the expression of your own real nature of peace- you shall be for ever free. The state of Peace in deep sleep is the most familiar experienceof vastu-tantra in daily life. The annihilation of all kartRRi-tantrais the ultimate goal of Vedanta. This establishes vastu-tantra without any positive effort whatever. Look at deep sleep. You have only to give up your attachment to body, senses and mind in the waking and dream states. Immediately, Peace – vastu-tantra- dawns peace permanent and self luminous. Deep sleep comes involuntarily, and without the help of discrimination. Therefore it disappears, after a while. Establish the same state voluntarily and with discrimination. When once you visualize it this way, it will never disappear." The above is a quote from the writings of swamy atmananda, the guru of John Levy and Walter Keers. Ramana also has spoken of these terminologies. So has the traditional vedanta. Vastu is identified with Beingness and Kartu with mental modes. The whole thing amounts to the, " What is, " spoken of by J.K, who denies all psychological opposites and the process of becoming and psychological time and memory. In and behind all these approaches what is the practical technique-technique is a sacrilegious word, sorry- to know the essential being that one is as one feels, that the, " Who am I," enquiry one does, is also an actvity, and not vastu tantra?

Sankarraman said...

With a very great and indefatigable effort I managed to read the tough Tamil text, " OZHIVIL ODUKKAM," with the still tougher commentary of THURAI MANGALAM SIVPRAKASA SWAMIGAL. The text is essentially a Sivasiddhantha based one positing five states of waking, dream, deep sleep, turiya and the great turiyathitha, with the still further subdivisions of each state into the above five. Though the author here and there writes some passages with a vedantic flavour, he is essentially a yogy mistic like Ramalingar. I don't know whether some Tamil scholars have attempted an English translation, which will be a very wonderful thing. We can understand the archaic terminologies only from a Tamil religious teacher or scholar.

Bookworm said...

Sankarraman
You say:
'ver as to what is, " Who am I enquiry." That is not relevant to the impartite Self eternally'

.....

The one who asks the question is not 'who you are'... the Self, Heart or Truth.

Bookworm said...

Who
You say:
'kartRRi-tantra. The experience which takes me
straight to my nature or peace and Consciousness, is alone vastu tantra'

.......

Doesn't Ramana say that YOU are only and nothing but your 'nature'.. Always..
Have only ever Been, will only ever Be and Are Now.

So 'who' is this 'me' that is taken straight back to yourSelf?

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

In my correspondence with the teacher I've been corresponding with for help, one thing I've started to catch onto as far as method, that I don't think I understood is that he seems to focus on when suffering occurs, recognizing the attachments, or misidentifications of Self, happiness with situation, circumstance, body, etc.

That's in my own words. When the attachment is recognized dissolve it. Also recognizing that happiness is "inward", the Self, innate, natural, sahaja. For me, because the advise was directed toward me, it is disadvisable to repress thought, or emotion, or fight with thought or emotion, because it's like trying to push a piece of wood under the water, when you let go, it's going to come up. That made sense, and largely I've done alot of repressive practice, thinking if I hold off thought long enough, that will get deeper. This was a total redirection from that, as if that was all wrong, futile.

Infact almost oppositely let thought, emotion do what it wants, but the moment there is suffering, what is the attachment, to a circumstnace, to the body, and then recognizing that attachment, health, longing for relationship, safety, freedom, whatever the attachment is.

Once it's recognized, dissolve it. I was watching the 65 minute video of Ramana, and letting thought, emotion do what it wants, while dissolving attachments and misidentifications, things become very blissful and dreamlike.

Infact, it becomes almost obvious in a way it wasn't that some sort of repressive concentrated practice is not going to get to the state Ramana is (formless, bodiless, eternally blissful, non-attached), it's just going to beget more of the same, that's why it's good to have a teacher to course correct. Because the repressive, concentrated practice is because I do have attachments, and they manifest as suffering.

It's almost like believing that slaving away at a job for possessions is going to cause happiness. That would be a misidentification, since happiness is innate.

I'm not qualified to give advise, but this is just the progress, understandings that have been occuring to me, so while sinking into letting things in the body, mind and world, transpire the way they want to transpire, when suffering occurs, what is the attachment, and dissolving the attachment. Or the other method, what is the thought looking for, and where is that? in the Self. So these are just different approaches I'm trying on for size.

Ravi said...

who,
"I find all these mind-boggling unlike the simple teaching of Maharishi. Would someone please clarify the correct position in this regard?"

Friend,I found your other post falling into this category.
Truth to tell,there is no "correct" position.All descriptions are lies in as much as they fall way short of the Thing described.

I wish to share this excerpt from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna-Chapter 26,Sunday,August 3,1884-Festival at Adhar's House:
Master teaches M
"The important thing is somehow to cultivate devotion to God and love for Him. What is the use of knowing many things? It is enough to cultivate love of God by following any of the paths. When you have this love, you are sure to attain God. Afterwards, if it is necessary, God will explain everything to you and tell you about the other paths as well. It is enough for you to develop love of God. You have no need of many opinions and discussions. You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Enjoy them to your heart's content. You don't need to count the branches and leaves on the trees. It is wise to follow the attitude of Hanuman: 'I do not know the day of the week, the phase of the moon, or the position of the stars; I only contemplate Rāma.' "

M: "I now desire that my activities may be much reduced and that I may devote myself greatly to God."

MASTER: "Ah! Certainly your desire will be fulfilled. But a Jnāni can live unattached in the world."

M: "True, sir. But one needs special power to lead an unattached life."

MASTER: "That is also true. But perhaps you wanted the worldly life. Krishna had been enshrined in Radha's heart; but Radha wanted to sport with Him in human form. Hence all the episodes of Vrindāvan. Now you should pray to God that your worldly duties may be reduced. And you will achieve the goal if you renounce mentally."

M: "But mental renunciation is prescribed for those who cannot give up the world outwardly. For superior devotees total renunciation is enjoined-both outer and inner."

Sri Ramakrishna was silent a few minutes and then resumed the conversation.

MASTER: "How did you like what I said about renunciation a little while ago?"

M: "Very much, sir."

MASTER: "Tell me, what is the meaning of renunciation?"

M: "Renunciation does not mean simply dispassion for the world. It means dispassion for the world and also longing for God."

MASTER: "You are right. You no doubt need money for your worldly life; but don't worry too much about it. The wise course is to accept what comes of its own accord. Don't take too much trouble to save money. Those who surrender their hearts and souls to God, those who are devoted to Him and have taken refuge in Him, do not worry much about money. As they earn, so they spend. The money comes in one way and goes out the other. This is what the Gitā describes as 'accepting what comes of its own accord'."

Salutations.

Anonymous said...

To Scott:

There is a theme to your comments of trying to reduce suffering through detachment.

I suggest you accept suffering as it arises. Just let it alone. As Nisargadatta Maharaj said, if you are trying to walk through a crowd of people, do you try to confront each person? You would never get through the crowd! Similarly, if you are trying to dig a hole in the earth, do you examine each shovel of dirt as it comes out?'

Don't worry about what you experience or do not experience, whether you are happy or unhappy. Just endeavor to see the thread that runs throughout all experience that is immutable and untouched by experience. It is existence, it is who you are. As your focus stengthens over time, the happiness will emerge automatically.



Good luck.

Anonymous said...

scott fraundorf:

On the same note of ravi saying the descriptions are lies, an old friend visited, and i was wanting to share my adventures with Maharshi and Inquiry, and so eagerly shared it. She is kind of like a best friend of mine, and I could belive that we have been in and out of eachother's lives for many lifetimes.

But when I shared my experiences with Inquiry and Maharshi, she was very knee jerk to certain things i said, and they were all things that I wasn't prepared to defend, because it was where I had strayed even from my own understanding of it. It was clear, that this stuff is so indescribable, and any description makes one concept true more then another, when both sides are just concepts.

I was trying in my best words to describe the Advaita philosophy, but she would react critically to something I said, and I would be like, well, what she is saying is true as well (which is kind of humerous).

I said that one of her fav. spiritual figures/teachers was probably a Gnani, and was in a sense like a guru to her, a brash assumption on my part.

And then to her critical look, I explained that the guru-devotee relationship is not an authoritarian relationship, and infact the guru doesn't tell the devotee what to do. She then said that teacher tells alot of people what to do. And I thought, well Maharshi told alot of people what to do also, so that's not the point.

While Maharshi did tell people what to do around the kitchen? I think. And told Annamalai Swami what to build? (correct me if I'm wrong), he didn't give spiritual orders, but gently guided based on the current understanding. the teacher I correspond with is the same way.

Someone telling me what to think, or do, or how to approach spirituality, would give my ego leverage, but the responses i get give me no such leverage, I feel like my ego doesn't get the wanted validation either for or against taht it's looking for to define itself.

In some ways, maybe looking at my side of this discussion in the most flattering light, maybe something like that occured, I've been getting deeper into bliss (occassionally), and so I didn't really have quite the strong sense of one thing being true over another, and I wondered if she was getting flustered that I wasn't being easy to agree with or disagree with.

The moment she pounced on me, I immediately said that was what I meant, or redefinied my position to be inclusive of hers, because I didn't see what she was saying as in conflict with what I was saying, but she did. It was kind of fun.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Thanks for the advise anonymous. Very good advise.

Ravi said...

Friends,
We were discussing the attainment of Mukti by Lakshmi,The cow and some of us were wondering whether this was just euphemism when Sri Bhagavan said that Lakshmi had attained Mukti.
I wish to share this incident which reveals how Lakshmi was extraordinarily gifted:
Shantamma reports, “Once Lakshmi came into the Hall. She was pregnant at that time. It was after lunch time, when Bhagavan was reading the newspapers. Lakshmi came near and started licking the papers. Bhagavan looked up and said: ‘Wait a little, Lakshmi.’ But Lakshmi went on licking. Bhagavan laid his paper aside, put his hands behind Lakshmi’s horns and his head against hers. Like this they stayed for quite a long time. I stood nearby looking at the wonderful scene. After some ten minutes or so, Bhagavan turned to me and said: ‘Do you know what Lakshmi is doing? She is in samadhi.’ I looked at her and tears were flowing in streams down her broad cheeks. Her breathing had stopped and her eyes were fixed on Bhagavan. After some time Bhagavan changed his position and asked: ‘Lakshmi, how do you feel now?’ Lakshmi moved backwards, as if reluctant to turn her tail towards Bhagavan, walked round the Hall and went out.”

Salutations.

Who said...

When the sastras are vehement that one should have a human birth-that too a male body being a bramhin as asserted by vivekachudamani- how can we accept that some cow has attained mukti? The sastras are full of decry of animal birth, which is said to be not qualified for enlightenment. Why could not this happen in the case of Palani swamy? Is it a case of the sastras containing a lot of hyperboles, creating many concepts and fears in the minds of the individual-which must be so if you look at the impartiality of Bhaghavan- or that we should take it in a different sense, the fact of the cow being conferred mukti by Bhaghavan? It is all too confusing, smacking of some partiality in the matter of getting mukti. The position that self is the only reality, the central theme of Bhaghavan, should alone be relevant, the rest being mystical. It is surprising to digest all this in the face of the statement made by Bhghavan that Kavya Khanda Muni could not have averted another birth.

vishy said...

Separation and reunion both of them controlled by Almighty. Bhagavan's presence was itself a blessing to Cow Lakshmi's .How she was chosen ? No body knows . Deserving one are always given the ultimate freedom. Of course we all know who can guide us , bless us .Very fortunate ones.

He is the greatest yet simplest
He is the noblest yet humblest
He is omnipresent yet no body knows His presence until He reveals.

Om Tat Sat .

Bookworm said...

Who

Maybe one day you will realise that
Ramanas Is and taught only Truth then you won't bother or even care what some old scripture or book says.

unknown said...

There is often this question of the duration for which meditation or enquiry should be done. Of course, the metaphysical position made clear by Maharishi is that as long as the truputi contines, one should make the enquiry. In this connection, I think, that one should make a distinction between practice and understanding; whereas the former is time bound, the latter is a flash of insight. We always have this acquisitive mentality making a possession of understanding, a content of the ego. In this connection, the following answer made by J.K to a questioner is relevant.
Questioner: I find it impossible to be aware all the time.

Krishnamurti: Don't be aware all the time! Just be aware in little bits. Please, there is no being aware all the time - that is a dreadful idea! It is a nightmare, this terrible desire for continuity. Just be aware for one minute, for one second, and in that one second of awareness you can see the whole universe. That is not a poetic phrase. We see things in a flash, in a single moment; but, having seen something, we want to capture, to hold it, give it continuity. That is not being aware at all. When you say, 'I must be aware all the time,' you have made a problem of it, and then you should really find out why you want to be aware all the time. See the greed it implies, the desire to acquire. And to say, 'Well, I am aware all the time,' means nothing.

Anonymous said...

Can the following statement, rather clarification about awareness vis--a-vis effort and non-effort, of J.Krishnamurti, be related to the self-enquiry taught by Bhaghavan?
" Awareness is non-effort.

Does not effort mean a struggle to change what is into what it is not, or what it should be, or what it should become? We are constantly escaping from what is, to transform or modify it. . . .

Only when there is no awareness of exactly what is, then effort to transform takes place. So, effort is non-awareness. Awareness reveals the significance of what is, and the complete acceptance of the significance brings freedom. So, awareness is non-effort; awareness is the perception of what is without distortion. Distortion exists whenever there is effort."

Bookworm said...

Anonymous
The effort is made by the thinking one in you who is unreal and who identifies and perceives itself as body/mind/ego. So really as effort is made by that which is unreal the
effort must also be unreal

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I've really struggled with that in my Inquiry, that the effort in itself is a sort of repression of thought, of the mind, which is clearly not Inquiry. It seems more accurately would be realizing that I'm not the mind, I am not the thinker, I am not in situations, is it me who has a headache, and then also that the mind doesn't really exist, as Bookworm said. The repression is the mind repressing the mind, an endless struggle which then gives me a headache, and this is not Inquiry. It's effort, but not Inquiry. Am I the mind? Am I even the one doing that? Is that struggle my struggle? Only when I'm realized will I see clearly what was helpful, and what was not helpful. The main motivator for practice, is the desire to be free of imagination, suffering, scenarios, an illusion of personhood, but the effort needs to be reconsidered when I'm repressing imagination, suffering, scenarios, an illusion of personhood, rather then looking to see if they are my situations, my suffering, am I the one who suffers? Or am I beyond the suffering of the body/ego/mind? Is this situation my situation? Maybe if I see that none of this has anything to do with me, then Realization will just happen, and the illusion of individuality will cease. In the successful Inquiry account of Nisargadatta (self-knowledge and self-realization, a small booklet at a site dedicated to Robert Adams called itsnotreal.com), he describes very much these processes.

kris said...

Hey guys better discuss about sadhana of abiding in the self than all these things.

For those guys who discuss abt bhakti

Is there god.How do you know?
Has he/she come and said to any person- repeat my name?

People say the path of bhakthi is easy. How can it be.How many people are there whose bhakthi makes one to completely forget the body? Better not to mention some of the pitfalls like
- getting attached to their path
thinking that only my god can give moksha
- a belief that one needs to attain moksha(it can be attained by following only thier path)

On ther hand jnana is easy we just need to clearly understand the below well know words of ramana and try to remain silent as often our mind permits

"The Ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their prarabdhakarma (destiny to be worked out in this life, resulting from the balance-sheet of actions in past lives). Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent."

unknown said...

There is often this question of the duration for which meditation or enquiry should be done. Of course, the metaphysical position made clear by Maharishi is that as long as the truputi contines, one should make the enquiry. In this connection, I think, that one should make a distinction between practice and understanding; whereas the former is time bound, the latter is a flash of insight. We always have this acquisitive mentality making a possession of understanding, a content of the ego. In this connection, the following answer made by J.K to a questioner is relevant.
Questioner: I find it impossible to be aware all the time.

Krishnamurti: Don't be aware all the time! Just be aware in little bits. Please, there is no being aware all the time - that is a dreadful idea! It is a nightmare, this terrible desire for continuity. Just be aware for one minute, for one second, and in that one second of awareness you can see the whole universe. That is not a poetic phrase. We see things in a flash, in a single moment; but, having seen something, we want to capture, to hold it, give it continuity. That is not being aware at all. When you say, 'I must be aware all the time,' you have made a problem of it, and then you should really find out why you want to be aware all the time. See the greed it implies, the desire to acquire. And to say, 'Well, I am aware all the time,' means nothing.

Bookworm said...

Who
You say:
'kartRRi-tantra. The experience which takes me
straight to my nature or peace and Consciousness, is alone vastu tantra'

.......

Doesn't Ramana say that YOU are only and nothing but your 'nature'.. Always..
Have only ever Been, will only ever Be and Are Now.

So 'who' is this 'me' that is taken straight back to yourSelf?

Sankarraman said...

With a very great and indefatigable effort I managed to read the tough Tamil text, " OZHIVIL ODUKKAM," with the still tougher commentary of THURAI MANGALAM SIVPRAKASA SWAMIGAL. The text is essentially a Sivasiddhantha based one positing five states of waking, dream, deep sleep, turiya and the great turiyathitha, with the still further subdivisions of each state into the above five. Though the author here and there writes some passages with a vedantic flavour, he is essentially a yogy mistic like Ramalingar. I don't know whether some Tamil scholars have attempted an English translation, which will be a very wonderful thing. We can understand the archaic terminologies only from a Tamil religious teacher or scholar.

Anonymous said...

scott fraundorf:

On the same note of ravi saying the descriptions are lies, an old friend visited, and i was wanting to share my adventures with Maharshi and Inquiry, and so eagerly shared it. She is kind of like a best friend of mine, and I could belive that we have been in and out of eachother's lives for many lifetimes.

But when I shared my experiences with Inquiry and Maharshi, she was very knee jerk to certain things i said, and they were all things that I wasn't prepared to defend, because it was where I had strayed even from my own understanding of it. It was clear, that this stuff is so indescribable, and any description makes one concept true more then another, when both sides are just concepts.

I was trying in my best words to describe the Advaita philosophy, but she would react critically to something I said, and I would be like, well, what she is saying is true as well (which is kind of humerous).

I said that one of her fav. spiritual figures/teachers was probably a Gnani, and was in a sense like a guru to her, a brash assumption on my part.

And then to her critical look, I explained that the guru-devotee relationship is not an authoritarian relationship, and infact the guru doesn't tell the devotee what to do. She then said that teacher tells alot of people what to do. And I thought, well Maharshi told alot of people what to do also, so that's not the point.

While Maharshi did tell people what to do around the kitchen? I think. And told Annamalai Swami what to build? (correct me if I'm wrong), he didn't give spiritual orders, but gently guided based on the current understanding. the teacher I correspond with is the same way.

Someone telling me what to think, or do, or how to approach spirituality, would give my ego leverage, but the responses i get give me no such leverage, I feel like my ego doesn't get the wanted validation either for or against taht it's looking for to define itself.

In some ways, maybe looking at my side of this discussion in the most flattering light, maybe something like that occured, I've been getting deeper into bliss (occassionally), and so I didn't really have quite the strong sense of one thing being true over another, and I wondered if she was getting flustered that I wasn't being easy to agree with or disagree with.

The moment she pounced on me, I immediately said that was what I meant, or redefinied my position to be inclusive of hers, because I didn't see what she was saying as in conflict with what I was saying, but she did. It was kind of fun.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

I wrote this letter for my South East Asia anthropology teacher, I thought it was maybe interesting in light of these discussions.

Sorry to bother you again, but I was reading the Hindu ascetism article and how it's
misrepresented in the West, and it really made me think of R.M. Don't worry I'm not
proselytizing, I just find it interesting in light of the discussions. I should also add,
I'm not expert and these are only my interpretations.

"Know that the eradication of the identification with the body is charity, spiritual
austerity and ritual sacrifice; it is virtue, divine union and devotion; it is heaven,
wealth, peace and truth; it is grace; it is the state of divine silence; it is the
deathless death; it is jnana, renunciation, final liberation and bliss." R.M.

All the characteristics associated with renunciation, ascetism, with Maharshi it did not
mean running away from obligations, job, work, etc. He did not even put the same emphasis
on celibacy, and on several occassions questioned it, or said that brahmacharya was not
necessarily being sexually celibate. Although Self-Realization (Jnana) is a desireless
state, without mental desires, because my impression is, all fulfillment is in
identification with Brahman, the Self, within the Advaitic interpretation.

Maharshi is an interesting example because he, and his whole expression of the Advaita
philosophy, were in contrast with Western sterotypes of the "holy man" archetype,
although I have seen some of the more New Agers only being able to see what fits their
stereotypes, a kind of demeaning interpretation but glorified.

He fit some of the obvious sterotypes such as loincloth, waterpot, and stick, but
philosophically, he didn't think the outward display, vows of ascetism were important,
but the disidentification or detachment from the world was. And he did agree that the
world is in a sense an egoic illusion. But he still advised functioning within it, even
being affectionate with family, but being internally detached.

Also within the Maharshi interpretation of Advaita, bhakti, devotion, and Surrender to
God, were seen as being complementary not conflictual with Self-Inquiry (Jnana Yoga),
where the ego and mind are inquired into to see if it actually exists.

I remember Papaji, a supposedly Realized Jnani, devotee of Maharshi, in his autobiography
talking of meeting a Muslim fakir who was also a Jnani (Self-Realized, enlightened, or
had attained Moksha). So both Papaji, and Maharshi did not seem to distinguish that other
religions were infact different from their views of Hinduism, they didn't seem to be very
acknowledging of sectarian differences.

Sankarraman said...

Enlightenment does not pertain to the body or to other aspects of the psycho-physical organism. So it follows as the only remaining alternative that the enlightened one is the the Self, not subject to modifications entering into relation with anything whatever. For the Lord to deny, in the words, " How can such a man kill,?" that the enlightened
One so conceived could enter into action was thus correct.
Though the Self is void of all modification, it is imagined through nescience in the form of non-discrimination from the modifications of the mind to be the perceiver of the sounds and other objects brought before the mind. Similarly, the same Self, which is in reality beyond all changes of state, is called, "enlightened" on account of the discriminative knowledge separating the Self from the not-self, even though such knowledge is only a modification of the mind and illusory in character (AND IMPLIES NO REAL CHANGE OF CHARACTER)" The above startling statement of Sankara should make one ponder over as to what is, " Who am I enquiry." That is not relevant to the impartite Self eternally free, nor to the organs devoid of volition, being a material process. Then who is getting enlightened, what is enlightenment. I think it should be that that the vijnana mayakosa, the I thought, at some timeless point collapses into the pure consciousness. But there is no separate kosa of the intellect also which is only an offshoot of the true Self. All that one has to do is to meditate on the non-volitional nature of the Self, dragging back the intellect into the pure Self. Patanjali calls this discriminating knowledge where there is only a discriminating knowledge knowing the buddhi satva and the purusa for what they are. Even this being an act of the intellect, at some timeless point this discriminating knowledge is also abandoned, not by any kosa, but by the natural process of consummation of the play of the mind. The citta of man is like a millstone. If we put wheat under it, it grinds it into flour; if we put nothing under it, it grinds on until it grinds itself away. When we strip away the I thought of all its ideations and fluctuations, not paying attention to them, but being anchored in the contentless Self, the conditions of the intellect, the I thought, all its workings cease, the I being reduced to absolute State of the Unassociated I. It is like the stick used in the funeral pyre making the flame spread over the body, itself getting engulfed. So after self enquiry, no knowledge should remain even as regards one's having been enlightened since such a psychosis of the mind should not exist. Hence as far as the enlightened person is concerned nothing exists, even that person included. That is why the Buddhists call this sunaya. Saint Pattinathar calls this ultimate sunya or PAZH as against the initial one of the mind-begotten, seeking after the unreal contents. The unwary dualists should confound this as a very dry knowledge, but this is true bliss. In the relative existence we will be prepared to sacrifice all our belongings if deep sleep is ensured
All contents of the world are a detour.

Sankarraman said...

What is the difference between the time of sunset and sunrise, and the one when thought process goes on? Has Ramana dealt with this aspect? I am sure that in various portions in the book, " Talks," one gets this impression. I feel that once the thinking process is stopped there is no time either inner or outer, but the outer clock time is realized once thought comes back. Further, there is no time in sleep, there is one kind of time in the waking state and a totally different kind when we are harassed psychologically. And I also have this doubt that our rebirth need not be in the same objective world as the present one as the world is nothing but the projection of the mind. But this goes against the common sense viewpoint that all of us see the same world. But may it not be that the so called, 'All,' is also the subjective projection of the,' me' and may be that each one of us is seeing a different world confronted with our own projected multiplicity. This seems to the the central theme of Yoga Vasishta endorsed also tacitly by Bhaghavan.

Sankarraman said...

Whereas the traditional vedanta has branded deep sleep as one of ignorance, Bhaghavan says that there is full blaze of the jnana in that state which is interrupted in the waking and dream states. The branding of deep sleep as one of ignorance is, according to Bhaghavan, only by the ego of the waking state which confounds its own absence as the absence of the true Self. In one of the verses in Guruvachaka Kovai, it is said that on account of the identification of the Self with the vignanamaya kosa in the waking state, there is believed to exist deep sleep state, whereas what passes for it is only turiya, the natural state.

Anonymous said...

David,
Have you renounced this blog? jus kidding..

Sankarraman said...

"Annamalai Swami mentioned in Living by the Words of Bhagavan that for ten years, while he was working in the ashram, he was not able to carry out Bhagavan's instructions on meditating and working at the same time because, even in his spare time, his head was always full of thoughts about building projects. He was only able to meditate properly, he said, when he gave up his work and moved to Palakottu."
Apropos of the above comments reported to have been made by annamalai swamy, I am of opinion that love of external solitude is not possible for all persons, neither sustaining, all of us being driven by our old samskaras to some extrovert glamour or other. Some persons might be in solitude by virtue of some mechanical pursuits being not sensitive to the deeper layers of consciousness. I have seen one swamigal, an attendent of Bhahgvan, who was reported to have remained in silence for twelve years. I didn't notice anything spiritually sensitive in him, he being only intersted in madly consorting with the westerners, trying to seek favour from them. There has to be a holistic approach. It also depends on one's destiny a lot. Like the story told by Ramakrishna of a man attending to a Bhaghavatham discourse, being preoccupied with the pleasures indulged in by his friend in a house of ill-fame, whereas the friend feeling very bad about it and thinking of the exalted state of godhood described in the discourse. Everything in life pursued by the mind is an optical illsuion. As stated by J.K all opposites are only modified continutiy of their counterparts.

Anonymous said...

@Scott,
'lakshmana swami said that there are no levels of realization, which is what I think you are saying, he did admit of levels of practice. And that is something that does seem to happen for me. A deepening of the practice. In that sense I don't think it's all or nothing, but a continual falling by the wayside'
Yes, there are levels of practice. As long as we(as egos) are active in the world, there is bound to be desire, fear, jealousy, greed etc. When there is a push to go for the All(Self), I think a deepening of the practice cannot happen unless the normal worldly activities are given much less importance. Bhagavan: "If sadhana is performed relentlessly, some time or other favourable results will turn up.". On reading this, I thought performing sadhana, of any kind which appeals to us, relentlessly, kinda means that many of the normal worldly activities must become nothing(given no importance).
'Let me out of here!' ha ha..I feel the same way some times and you can guess what side of the spectrum I fall in.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf

@anon
Agreed, it's a paradox. Whether this is illusory or not, it does seem that the obstacles do get cleared, there is progress in a sense by continuously sticking with it, because fears and desires weaken and then clear and then they don't come back. So while ultimately it is all or nothing, I can't just go "ta da, now I'm enlightened", well maybe at some point, but then i was just ready and it was inevitable. But continually staying quiet through all the experiences I slowly detach from being grabbed by them, and end up in the center where the experiences in the world are all peripheral, and the body is not something i'm identified with. lakshmana swami said that there are no levels of realization, which is what I think you are saying, he did admit of levels of practice. And that is something that does seem to happen for me. A deepening of the practice. In that sense I don't think it's all or nothing, but a continual falling by the wayside

Rama said...

Hi

This is a very interesting discussion. I am reminded of following statements by Bhagavan Sri Ramana and of by Sri Ramakrishna.

Once when a visitor asked Bhagavan whether he should become a sanyasi? Bhagavan replied " Purpose fulfills itself" and " If you were to be a sanyasi, you would not be asking this question". I guess this clearly tells us Karma is in operation and we are not the director.

However another guidance that came from Sri Ramakrishna was to stay away from family for one, two or three days and then extend for a longer duration to be away from all associations. A plant when sowed has to be protected from goats and other animals. Only when it acquires strength, can we remove the fence around it. I guess we have some practical guidelines from our great sages 1. Not to worry much on this subject 2. To try to shake off attachments for few days or months so that the practice can be strengthened.

Thanks for this wonderful discussion.

Anonymous said...

David, thanks for your reply. I guess it's difficult for most people to do well in the spiritual path when they're neck-deep in business and family affairs because their attention is hardly on Bhagavan's teachings.
I was reading your interview with Rob Sacks on your website and it seemed to me that a deep experience of the Self prompted you to renounce reductionist academia:
"It wasn't that I had found a new set of ideas that I believed in. It was more of an experience in which I was pulled into a state of silence. In that silent space I knew directly and intuitively what Ramana's words were hinting and pointing at."
"It wasn't an intellectual judgement on their irrelevance, it was more of a visceral disgust that physically prevented me from reading more than a few lines."
Now I'm wondering if this is the only scenario in which external renunciation works - if you've had a deep personal experience prior to external renunciation it'll work. If not, external renunciation is unlikely to work because the mind and its vasanas are still present in full force. In Living by the Words of Bhagavan, I remember reading that Annamalai Swami had a deep personal experience in the presence of Bhagavan and soon after decided to move to Palakothu to lead the life of a renunciate.

baskar said...

I think we gravitate to the kind of lifestyle that suits us, whether by choice or by chance.

Were we really suited for renunciation, we would drift towards a lifestyle that demands of us far fewer commitments than that an ordinary householder has. Some of these choices would have been consciously made, and some would have been imposed, but the course of our life is like that of a pebble that is washed by the river into the sea.

The choices that are present before us are mostly illusory, especially the spiritual choices. We are what we are. Our occupations have nothing to do with our preoccupations. We can change what we do, but we cannot change our tendencies, we will be driven by them, no matter what our dress is.

I feel that the more spiritual we are, the less occupied we will be, but there could be exceptions. In general, really spiritual people are more to be found among those who have renounced, than among the more numerous householders. But that does not mean that should we renounce our commitments, we would turn spiritual. As long as we feel we have commitments, we would be plagued by them.

But to pursue the kind of self-enquiry that Bhagavan guides us to, whether we are sannyasis or samsaris is not important. We could be scientologists, we could believe in UFO kidnappings, but what matters ultimately is that we turn back to the source of our thoughts/ being.

What happens after that is not in our control, any more than what happened before.

Regards,

Fidarose Isha said...

I am taking deep breaths, after reading Bhagavan's post on Sannyasa. Though, I have lost desires, I am still attached to my family. Its quite a challenge, that having lost the desires, how can one fulfill the desires of one's family. Running away from the family would have solved my problem but the fact remains that I am attached to my family. After reading Bhagavan's post, my determination to be a Sannyasin at Home has grown strong. I will not run. I want to grow as a fully ripened fruit, which falls off the tree, without any effort. Thank you David, for your precious work you are doing.