Non-duality, Self-Realisation and the appearance of the world | Sri Sadhu Om

The following is taken from the wonderful text Sadhanai Saram written by Sri Sadhu Om. My comments are in italiscised red:

Duality only appears due to a lack of self-enquiry:

  1. Know that the world, soul and God have all seemingly come into existence only because of our pramada or slackness in Self-attention.

It is the unreal and illusory ego that sees the (illusory and unreal) world:

  1. The entire universe composed of the five elements, earth, water, fire, air and space, appears only due to our error of mistaking as ‘I’ the ego that rises from Self like a spark rising from fire, and which appears as different from Self whose nature is Being, and as identical with the mind, whose nature is rising.

Self-enquiry ends the ego illusion and duality:

  1. The entire appearance of this world that is seen, including we (the individual or jiva) who see it, is a mere false appearance like a dream. If we keenly scrutinize the source (the real ‘I am’) from which the seeing ego rises, and thereby enter the heart and firmly abide there, the reality will shine forth (and the appearance of the triad – the seer, seeing and object seen – will disappear).

There is no desire or fear in the Self (or in Self-realisation), both of these being due to ignorance/ego or illusion:

  1. If we attain the otherness-free knowledge (ananya jnana), that this world is nothing but our own Self, seen wrongly in our self by our self through our power of imagination, then the delusion of desire for or fear of the world (the objects we see in front of us), will never rise again; and we will merge in and become one with Self. This alone is our natural state.

The formless Self alone exists:

  1. Self alone exists. Except oneself, nothing exists. But if one takes this pure consciousness, which exists and shines as ‘I’ to be the body, every thing will assume a form and appear to exist. If one inquires, “Is this ‘I’ only the body, or is it something else?” and thereby sees the true nature of “I,” every thing will cease to exist. See thus.

A summary and reiteration of what has been stated above:

  1. If you ask, “For what reason is it said, that if one inquires and knows oneself, this entire world would disappear?” The reason is that the result at tained by the inquiry “Who am I?” is the destruction of the unreal individual (jiva), the ego, who is immersed in activity due to his taking the body to be himself. (That is, since the entire world-appearance depends for its seeming existence upon the ego who sees it, and since the ego itself has no real existence of its own, when the real ‘I’ is known, the ego will be found to be truly non-existent; where upon, the world-appearance will vanish, having no one to see it and thereby to give it a seeming exis tence).

The false ‘I’ is the ego, also known as maya. Enquire into the ‘I’, that is, do self-enquiry, and this illusion will vanish, along with the body, the mind and the world. Compare to Revelation Verse 31.

  1. The ‘I’ which cannot shine without being joined with a body-form, is alone the ghost-like ego ‘I’, the great illusion (maya). If one courageously and without fear inquires, “Who is this I?” it will become non-existent, and along with it everything else will cease to exist.

  1. If this ‘I’ the self-rising ego-appearance, is destroyed by the inquiry “Who am I?”, then everything else, which till then appeared only in him (in the mind) but which was seen as if existing outside of him, will cease to exist. The ever-existing Whole or purna, which then shines forth as ‘I-I’ the blissful existence which neither appears nor disappears, is the real Self, the true import of the word ‘I’.

The true Self does not come and go, unlike the body and mind and world:

  1. The ‘I’ which is the Whole, which is the true import of ‘I’, which shines by its own light without appearing due to the functioning of the five sense-knowledges (and disappearing when they cease to function); which is the exalted and ever unleaving experience of Self, and which is the true nature of everyone, alone is the one non-dual reality; it alone is true knowledge.

The true nature of Jnana (knowledge) is simply the Self. The Self is itself the nature of Knowledge.

  1. This true knowledge is not anything other than oneself; it is our own existence-consciousness ‘I am’. Why should we suffer by imagining and seeing the soul [Jiva or ego], world and God in this knowledge? Abiding firmly as mere Being, experience this knowledge correctly; then what thing other than oneself will appear there?

True destruction of maya/duality occurs with destruction of the ego:

  1. The destruction of the entire universe together with the space and other elements that constitute it is not the state of absolute destruction (pralaya). The state in which the wicked ego, which rises in the form of the feeling “This body of flesh is I” (abhimana), drowns in Self and is destroyed entirely, is alone the glorious state of absolute destruction (maha-pralaya).

  1. After being destroyed in the ordinary destruction at the end of an eon (yuga-pralaya), the heaven and earth will appear again at the proper time. The state in which the Fire of Knowledge (Jnanagni), which blazes forth on being ignited as the churning process of investigation “Who am I?” pervades and shines everywhere, having destroyed the feeling, “I am this body” (dehatma-buddhi), is alone the absolute destruction (maha-pralaya); be cause the ego, which is thus destroyed by the Fire of Knowledge (Jnana) will never appear again.

  1. The “I,” which continues to live even after the mind has died (as a result of the above said inquiry “Who am I?”) is indeed the Supreme Reality (Brahman), which alone exists after the universal destruction (pralaya). The mind expanding as everything, having risen from the heart (that is, the mind slipping down from the true state of Brahman due to inadvertence or lack of Self-attention (pramada), and thereby becoming the cause for the creation and sustenance of the false appearance of this en tire universe), is not the state of true power; the mind merging and abiding firmly in Self is alone the true state of supreme power.

Note by Sri Sadhu Om: The supreme and truly divine power is not the power of the mind (maya), which creates and sustains the false appearance of the universe, but is only the power of Self-abidance, which reveals the truth that illusion (maya) is ever non-existent.

The cause of duality and of liberation:

  1. Your appearance as an ego, an individual soul who rises in the form “I am this body,” alone is the root-cause for the appearance of this unreal world. If this root-appearance, the rising of yourself as an individual soul, does not rise even in the least, that state will be the state of liberation, which is completely devoid of the imaginary appearances of the world and God.

  1. If one has the ability to deny oneself and thereby to destroy the rising of the ego in its very source, what other tapas need one perform? The real Self, the source in which the ego thus subsides and dies, alone is the state which is worth to purchase and attain by selling (or renouncing) all the three worlds.

The paths of Devotion and Knowledge – Bhakti vs Jnana | Advaita Vedanta

The following is taken from the wonderful text Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Practice) written by Sri Sadhu Om, a direct devotee of Sri Ramana’s. This text not only gives us the essence of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching, but also directs us to the true Vedanta teachings. The notes are written by Sri Sadhu Om himself. You can download the full text as a PDF using the above link.

Devotion and Knowledge – Bhakti and Jnana

  1. To the extent to which love for God arises in one’s heart, to that extent will one acquire knowledge about Him. And to the extent to which one knows the nature of God, to that extent will the mind gain steadfast love for Him. Thus, knowledge (jnana) will be increased by devotion (bhakti), and devotion (bhakti) will be increased by knowledge (jnana).
  2. By means of our love for God, He will give us more knowledge of Him, and by means of our knowledge of Him, He will give us more love for Him. Therefore, of these two paths, bhakti and jnana, follow that one for which you first gain a liking, because that one path will lead you to follow the other one into the heart.
  3. In the life of an aspirant who is seeking liberation, bhakti and jnana will be experienced as inseparable, like the two sides of one sheet of paper. Hence, each one is equal to the other. They are not two different things, for the true nature of both of them is one and the same; know that bhakti and jnana are merely two names for that one thing.(Garland of Guru’s Sayings (Guru Vachaka Kovai) verses 722, 731)
  4. The state of abiding firmly in Self-alone is wisdom (jnana). Would it be possible to abide thus in Self if one did not have love for Self? Love for Self-alone is bhakti; abiding firmly in Self on account of that love alone is jnana. What difference is there between these two? Discriminate and know this truth. (Maharshi’s Gospel p.24)
  5. If there did not exist the power of gravity, which attracts and pulls everything towards the earth, would anything remain stable on earth? On scrutiny, devotion (bhakti) is found to be similar to the gravitational power of attraction, while the state of wisdom (jnana) is found to be similar to the state of objects remaining stable on earth as a result of that attraction. If either one of these two, the power of attraction or bhakti and the state of abidance or jnana, were absent, the other one would not exist.
  6. An aspirant who practices Self-inquiry, which is the path of jnana, denies his own individuality by knowing, “I, this insignificant ego, am not the doer of any action”; while a devotee denies his own individuality by knowing, “God alone is the doer of all actions.” Thus, since an aspirant who follows either of these two paths refrains from assuming the sense of doership, understand that these two paths are not different even during the time of practice, and follow either of them.
  7. We should not allow our minds to become bewildered and confused by trying to deliberate and decide, “Which of these two, the practice of bhakti or the practice of jnana is the best means for attaining liberation?” For whichever path a liking arises in the heart of a person, for that person that path alone is the best.
  8. According to the strength of habit continuing from former lives, in this life the mind will acquire a liking either for the path of devotion or the direct and unfailing path of Self-inquiry, and will feel that particular path to be the best and most suited to itself. Therefore, follow at least one of these two paths to its very end.

Inquiry Becoming Easy Due to Devotion

  1. When, having wept and wept with intense yearning for a long time, unceasingly thinking of and adoring the Gracious Feet (of the Lord), the mind which rises (as “I am so-and-so”) dissolves and becomes pure, the blemishless Self-inquiry (jnanatmavichara) will become firmly settled (in the heart) and the experience of Self (swarupa-anubhava) will of its own accord arise very easily indeed. – Sri Muruganar

Note: from Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham v.1286

  1. O, you who say, “We have never seen you closing your eyes and practicing Self-abidance (nishtha); tell us, how did you attain the state of inner silence (mauna)?” Understanding the above verse, know the secret of (how to attain the true experience of) God, who is not seen even though one waits closing one’s eyes (for a long time in expectation of seeing His true vision).

Note: the previous verse is the answer to the above question

A testimonial from someone who recently struggled with depression & anxiety

I recently received a lovely testimonial from Michael who unfortunately suffered from anxiety and depression for may years – here it is (below). You can find some other testimonials people have written about me here. If you yourself have found my teachings or writings helpful and would like to write a testimonial, please feel free to submit one via the contact page,

With love

Namaste

Tom

Here is the testimonial from Michael:

I had struggled with depression and anxiety for 30 years of my life. Then I was introduced to spiritual practices and they really helped to improve my life and even cured my depression. I still struggled with anxiety though and wanted to deepen my practice and progress along the Buddhist path. After several years though, it became apparent that I was no longer making progress and I started feeling like spiritual practices were a waste of time. In addition, I started struggling with a health condition that caused me a lot of pain and discomfort and my meditation practice was making it worse.

Then I found Tom. In our first meeting together he pointed out what I had been doing wrong in my practices and set me back on the path in the right direction. Tom is the real thing! In just a few meetings with him I have made more progress than I could have imagined. My anxiety is nearly gone and the pain from my health condition has improved. I am eternally grateful for his kindness, insight, wisdom, vast knowledge, and guidance. Without him I would still be lost.
– Michael, USA

Maya & Ignorance – how and why did they arise and how to remove them? | Sadhana Saram | Sri Sadhu Om

The following verses are taken from the excellent text ‘Sadhanai Saram‘ by Sri Sadhu Om. My (Tom’s) comments are written in italiscised red:

Question: How has ignorance or illusion (maya) come about?

  1. Listen now to the proper reason why, in answer to those people who asked due to bewilderment of thought, “Why has this illusion or phenomenal appearance (maya) come? How has it come?” Lord Ramana did not give a direct reply by telling why or how, but instead said, “See to whom illusion (maya) has come.”

Answer:

  1. He who says that phenomenal existence (maya) has come into being is only you, whereas enlightened Sages (Jnanis), who have attained the great experience of Self, never accept that maya has come or that it now exists. Therefore, you, who assert that maya has come and exists, alone are the one who has the duty to investigate the truth in that assertion in order to prove its validity. Investigate thus.

How to remove this ignorance?

  1. If you first attend to yourself, by investigating within yourself “To whom has this illusory appearance of the world (maya) come? To whom does it exist?” then in the mind that has merged in the state of Silence due to such Self-attention, the truth that you exist as the mere consciousness ‘I am’, devoid of any differentiation, diversity or imagination (vikalpa), will spontaneously reveal itself to you.

Maya never existed, not even as an appearance:

  1. When the truth is known that you, the person who identifies the body as ‘I’, and who raises doubts and asks questions about phenomenal existence (maya), do not exist even in the least, then you will know as a matter of direct experience that in no place, at no time and in no way did phenomenal existence (maya) ever come or exist, and that the existence of the illusory world (maya) cannot be accepted even as a false appearance.

The questioner is itself illusion (maya):

  1. He (the mind) who says that the illusion of phenomenal existence (maya) has come into existence is himself an illusion (maya). Therefore, the one path of Self-attention, which puts an end to the mind, is alone the means that the pure Jnana-Guru, Sri Ramana Bhagavan, has bestowed upon us as the apt medicine to put an end to all the arguments that arise about phenomenal existence (maya).

Instead of asking ‘why is this world as it is?’, etc, we should ask ‘Who am I?’ and discover the Truth-Self:

  1. Even though our Guru has instructed us, “See ‘Who am I’?”, people of dull intellect ask, “Why has this world and the pleasures and pains herein come into existence?” instead of investigating “Who am I?” within themselves; only for such dull-minded people who ask thus, the Guru and the scriptures say, “Ah! That is all illusion (maya).”

Concluding verse in this section:

  1. But since people of pure faith who sincerely engage in the practice of Self-attention as instructed by the Guru, drown in the true consciousness ‘I’ by turning their attention again and again towards the false self (the mind) whenever it rises, to raise any kind of further questions, this talk of maya is not intended for them.

Love and Desire | Teachings for Self-Realisation | Sri Sadhu Om | Sadhanai Saram | Sri Ramana Maharshi

The following is taken from the wonderful text Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Practice) written by Sri Sadhu Om, a direct devotee of Sri Ramana’s. This text not only gives us the essence of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching, but also directs us to the true Vedanta teachings. The notes are written by Sri Sadhu Om himself. You can download the full text as a PDF using the above link.

  1. When by one’s own inexpressible power one imaginarily sees the one real Self as many objects (the soul, world and God) and thinks oneself to be one among those objects, then one’s own natural self-love, which transcends thought, will assume the form of a thought and will appear to oneself, the individual who imagines thus, as desires for those objects, which are seemingly other than oneself.

Note: What is called “love” is truly nothing but the non-dual love (ananya priya), which the real Self has for itself in the state in which it alone exists and shines. And what is called “desire” is nothing but the dual love (anya priya), which springs towards other objects, which are truly not other than Self, in the state in which the one real Self seems to be many objects. Therefore, the only way to put an end to desire is for one, by means of one’s own perfect freedom (brahma-swatantra), to use one’s own inexpressible power to see Self as one and not as many. In order to see Self thus as One, as it ever really is, one must cease attending to the many objects which seem to be other than oneself, and must instead attend only to the first person singular feeling “I”.

  1. Of all things, is not oneself the most beloved? When one limits oneself by imagining oneself to be a body, one sees all these things (the world and God), which are truly nothing but one’s own Self, as objects other than oneself, and hence one has desire for those objects. That desire is only a distorted form of the true self-love that is one’s own very nature.
  2. The love, which one always has for oneself, is not a thought; that supreme love is one’s own real Self that is existence-consciousness-bliss (sat-chitananda). When a wrong knowledge rises in the form of a thought whereby one mistakenly sees the one Self as many objects which are seemingly other than oneself, even the true self-love will become a petty thought in the form of desire.
  3. When self-love, which is not a thought, forsakes its own real nature of mere being and springs towards other things in the form of desires, it becomes ever-moving thoughts. When love remains as the thought-free love for Self instead of becoming thoughts in the form of desires for other things, that state of Self-abidance is true tapas (austerities or severe spiritual discipline).
  4. This original love for Self, which has now become the three desires, will cease to assume the form of thoughts and will remain as supreme bliss only by means of Self-realization, the state in which one sees all the five elements and the entire world constituted by those elements, as not other than oneself.

Note: The three basic human desires are: (1) the desire for relationships (uravu-asai), that is, the desire for relatives, wife, husband, children, friends or any kind of human relationship, whether sensual, emotional or otherwise; (2) the desire for possessions in any form whatsoever (porul-asai); and (3) the desire for praise, that is, the desire for fame, honor, esteem or any kind of appreciation from others (puhazh-asai). The reason for classifying these three desires is explained in more detail in verses 102 to 109 of this text.

  1. The love for happiness is only the love for Self, because Self alone is happiness. But if one imagines that this world, which is nothing but Self, is something other than oneself, then on account of self-love the objects of the world will seem to be objects of pleasure, and hence the love for that Self, which appears as objects other than oneself, will assume the form of desire. This is the great wrong.
  2. When the true knowledge dawns that everything is only “I”, then the extroverted love which desirously springs towards other objects, will remain pervading everywhere in the form of mere Being and will no longer spring towards anything else. The love that thus remains as mere Being, having ceased to move in the form of thoughts, alone is Siva, who is Self.
  3. Since Self is happiness itself, so long as one sees other things, which are in truth only Self (but whose names and forms are a mere appearance), how can one not think that those other things are pleasurable? This alone is the reason why all living beings, beginning with celestial beings and including men and all other creatures, are drowning and burning in the great fire of desires for external objects.
  4. When our true nature of mere being is transformed into the nature of rising as an ego, know that the three real aspects of our nature, namely existence, consciousness and bliss, will seemingly become their opposites, namely non-existence, igno12 A Light on the Teaching of Ramana Maharshi rance and misery, and will thus assume the form of the dyads (the pairs of opposites).
  5. Just as a single ray of white light becomes seven different colors when it passes through a prism, so the single and undivided existenceconsciousness “I am” is seemingly diffracted into the triads (the triputis, or three factors of objective knowledge, namely the knower, the act of knowing and the objects known) when it passes through the petty senses.
  6. When we limit our true nature of undivided existence-consciousness-bliss by wrongly accepting an insignificant body to be “I”, desire arises for those objects of the world that are favorable to this limited “I”, and aversion arises for those objects which are not favorable to it. This desire and aversion are a twofold reflected shadow of our real nature, which is bliss (ananda) or love (priya).

Note: Though in the realm of cause and effect happiness and love appear to be two different things, each being the cause of the other, in the state of Self-knowledge they are realized to be one and the same. That is why existenceconsciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda) is alternatively known as being-luminosity-love, or asti-bhatipriya. When our nature to “be” is mistaken as a nature to “rise,” the bliss aspect of our nature appears as the dyad pleasure and pain, which automatically gives rise to desire and aversion, or likes and dislikes. Thus, likes and dislikes are a two-fold reflection of the bliss or love aspect of our true nature.

(Compare with Letters from Sri Ramanasramam of April 11, 1946 (pp. 55) and Sept. 25, 1947 (pp. 253-4); also with Sri Bhagavan’s Tamil translation of Drik-Drisya Viveka, v. 20).

  1. Likes and dislikes are a dyad which arises as a reflection of bliss (ananda); existence and nonexistence are a two fold appearance assumed by the ever-indestructible existence (sat); knowledge and ignorance are a dyad which arises as a reflection of consciousness (chit); know this truth by abiding as Self, which is existence-consciousness-bliss.
  2. Only by the experience of Self-knowledge will all desires be burnt and destroyed in such a manner that they can never again revive. Nobody has ever overcome the power of desires merely by fighting and struggling for any number of years against the wandering nature of the five senses.
  3. Know that this indeed is the reason why our Father, Guru Ramana, always gave the advice “Know yourself” and unfailingly taught the path of Self-inquiry as the most powerful practice (sadhana), and as the only weapon to destroy all the desires existing within us.

Sense-Pleasures are Worthless | Sri Sadhu Om | Sadhanai Saram | Sri Ramana Maharshi

The following is taken from the wonderful text Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Practice) written by Sri Sadhu Om, a direct devotee of Sri Ramana’s. This text not only gives us the essence of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching, but also directs us to the true Vedanta teachings. The notes are written by Sri Sadhu Om himself. You can download the full text as a PDF using the above link.

What is Worthy to be Desired?

  1. The great wealth that exists in enlightened sages (Jnanis) is only the subtle secret of how to be still, abiding in perfect peace as the mere thoughtfree existence-consciousness “I am.” Therefore, how wretched it will be if one greedily desires to attain from them mere worldly pleasures, such as gold, wealth or fame, which will only make one suffer in delusion.

Sense-Pleasures are Worthless

  1. Instead of eating the fruit that is in your hand, why do you desire to eat the unreal fruit which is seen in a mirror and which is merely a reflection of the fruit in your hand? Is the reflected fruit an object which can be eaten and give real enjoyment? Similarly, instead of drowning deep within the heart by keenly attending to Self and thereby enjoying the bliss of Self which is ever shining there, why do you desire to enjoy the pleasures experienced through the five senses of this perishable body, which are merely an unreal reflection of the true happiness within you?

Endeavor and Result

  1. For those who seek (and make effort to attain) Self, not only Self but also all other benefits will automatically be attained in full. But if one desires and makes effort to attain worldly objects (either through worldly endeavors or through spiritual practices), know that they will be attained only partially and to the extent of one’s endeavor, and that Self will not be attained at all.

The Goal

  1. If we deeply ponder over the natural yearning of all living beings to remove their miseries (through some means or other), it will be decidedly known that the sole aim for which the whole world is striving is only to remain always in perfectly imperishable bliss.
  2. If the people of the world still do not cease making efforts, the conclusion we must come to is, that they have not yet attained perfect happiness, is it not? Whoever among the people has obtained complete contentment and has therefore ceased making any kind of effort is truly one who has attained all that is to be attained.