Yoga Vasistha: HOW CAN IGNORANCE AND EGOTISM ARISE IN THE SELF?

Vasistha: The self ignorantly imagines an egotistic existence, even as if gold, forgetting its goldness, might think it is a ring and weep and wail “Alas, I have lost my goldness”.

Rama: Holy sir, how can this ignorance and egotism arise in the self?

Vasistha: Rama, one should ask questions concerning the reality only, not concerning the unreal. Neither goldless ringness nor limited egotism exists in truth. When the goldsmith sells the ring, he weighs out the gold, for it is gold. If one were to discuss the existence of the ringness in the ring, and the finite form in the infinite consciousness, then one has to compare it with the barren woman’s son.

The existence of the unreal is unreal: it arises in ignorance and vanishes when inquired into. In ignorance one sees silver in the mother-of-pearl, but it cannot serve as silver even for a moment! As long as the truth that it is mother-of-pearl is not seen, the ignorance lasts. Even as one cannot extract oil from sand and even as one can obtain only gold from the ring, there are no two things here in this universe: the one infinite consciousness alone shines in all names and forms.

Such indeed is the nature of this utter ignorance, this delusion and this world-process: without real existence there is this illusory notion of egotism. This egotism does not exist in the infinite self. In the infinite self there is no creator, no creation, no worlds, no heaven, no humans, no demons, no bodies, no elements, no time, no existence and no destruction, no ‘you’, no ‘I’, no self, no that, no truth, no falsehood (none of these), no notion of diversity, no contemplation and no enjoyment. Whatever is, and is known as the universe, is that supreme peace.

There is no beginning, no middle and no end: all is all at all times, beyond the comprehension of the mind and speech. There is no creation. The infinite has never abandoned its infinity. That has never become this. It is like the ocean, but without ocean’s movement. It is self-luminous like the sun, but without activity.

In ignorance, the supreme being is viewed as the object, as the world. Even as space exists in space, one with space, even so what appears to be the creation is Brahman existing in Brahman, as Brahman. The notions of far and near, of diversity, of here and there are as valid as the distance between two objects in a mirror in which a whole city is reflected.

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The essence of the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi

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Here are some quotes of Sri Ramana Maharshi that contain perhaps the essence of his teachings:

The state we call realisation is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything.

Be still. Apart from this the mind has no task to do or thought to think.

If one has realised, he is That which alone is, and which alone has always been. He cannot describe that state. He can only be That. Of course we loosely talk of Self-realisation for want of a better term.

That which is, is peace. All that we need do is to keep quiet.

All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there is no need for endless reading.

Peace is our real nature. We spoil it. What is required is that we cease to spoil it.

For instance, there is space in a hall (room). We are not going to create space anew. We fill up the place with various articles. If we want space, all that we need do is to remove all those articles and we get space. Similarly, if we remove all the rubbish from the mind the peace will become manifest. That which is obstructing the peace must be removed.

Questioner: What is wisdom-insight (jnana-drsti)?
Ramana Maharshi: Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight.

The thought ‘I am the body’ is ignorance.

Gifts, penance (tapas), sacrifice, upright conduct (dharma), self-control (yoga), devotion (bhakti), heaven (the expanse of consciousness), substance (existence), peace, truth, grace, silence, the Supreme State, deathless death, knowledge, renunciation, Liberation, bliss—know that all these are only severance of the I-am-the-body consciousness.

Peace is the only Reality. Mukti or Liberation is our Nature. It is another name for us.

Our wanting mukti is a very funny thing. It is like a man who is in the shade voluntarily leaving the shade, going into the sun, feeling the severity of the heat, making great efforts to get back into the shade, and then rejoicing ‘At last I have reached the shade, how sweet is the shade!’ We are doing exactly the same. We are not different from the Reality. We imagine we are different, i.e., we create the bheda bhava (the feeling of difference) and then undergo great sadhanas to get rid of the bheda bhava and realize the oneness. Why imagine or create the bheda bhava and then destroy it?

Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self. Similarly, in the states of sleep, samadhi and fainting, and when the object desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind becomes inward-turned, and enjoys pure Self-Happiness.

Thus the mind moves without rest alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been going about in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. A wise man stays permanently in the shade. Similarly, the mind of the one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman. The mind of the ignorant, on the contrary, revolves in the world, feeling miserable, and for a little time returns to Brahman to experience happiness. In fact, what is called the world is only thought. When the world disappears, i.e. when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness; and when the world appears, it goes through misery.

It is false to speak of realisation. What is there to realise? The real is as it is, ever. How to realise it? All that is required is this: We have realise the unreal, i.e., regarded as Real what is unreal. We have to give up this attitude. That is all that is required for us to attain Jnana. We are not creating anything new or achieving something which we did not have before. The illustration given in the books is this: We dig a well and create a huge pit. The akasa (space) in the pit or well has not been created by us. We have just removed the earth which was filling the akasa there. The akasa was there, then, and is also there now. Similarly we have simply to throw out all the age-long samskaras (innate tendencies) which are inside us. When all of them have been given up, the Self will shine alone.

Effortless and choiceless awareness is our Real State. If we can attain It or be in It, it is all right. But one cannot reach It without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the agelong vasanas (latent tendencies) carry the mind outwards and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For most people effort is necessary.

Of course, everybody, every book says summa iru (be quiet or still). But it is not easy. That is why all this effort is necessary. Even if you find one who has effortlessly achieved the mouna (silence) or Supreme State indicated by summa iru, you may take it that the effort necessary has already been completed in a previous life. Such effortless and choiceless awareness is reached only after deliberate meditation.

People are afraid that when the ego or the mind is killed, the result may be a mere blank and not happiness. What really happens is that the thinker, the object of thought and thinking all merge into the one Source, which is Consciousness and Bliss itself, and thus that state is neither inert nor blank. I do not understand why people should be afraid of that state in which all thoughts cease to exist and the mind is killed. Every day they experience that state in sleep. There is no mind or thought in sleep. Yet when one rises from sleep one says, ‘I slept happily.’ Sleep is so dear to everyone that no one, prince or beggar, can do without it.

Dhyana [meditation], jnana [knowledge], bhakti [devotional love] and samadhi [meditative absorption] are all names for ourselves, for our Real State. Knowing one’s Self is only being one’s Self, as there is no second existence. This is Self-realisation.

Our Real Nature is Mukti. But we imagine that we are bound and are making strenuous attempts to become free, while we are all the time free. This will be understood only when we reach that stage. We will be surprised that we were frantically trying to attain something which we have always been and are.

An illustration will make this clear: A man goes to sleep in this hall. He dreams he has gone on a world tour, is roaming over hill and dale, forest and country, desert and sea, across various continents and, after many years of weary and strenuous travel, returns to this country, reaches Tiruvannamalai, enters the ashram and walks into the hall. Just at that moment he wakes up and finds he has not moved an inch, but was sleeping where he lay down. He has not returned to the hall after great efforts, but is and always has been in the hall. It is exactly like that. If it is asked, why being free we imagine we are bound, I answer, ‘Why being in the hall did you imagine you were on a world adventure, crossing hill and dale, desert and sea?’ It is all mind or maya.

Those alone who have found out the Real Nature of the ego have seen the Reality. They will have no more doubts or anxieties.

The body is a mental projection. The mind is the ego, and the ego rises from the Self.

The ego can have peace only whenit merges back into its Source, the Self

The moral behind the story of Ashtavakra and Janaka is simply this: The disciple surrenders himself to the Master. That means there is no vestige of individuality retained by the disciple. If the surrender is complete, all sense of individuality is lost and there is no cause for misery. The Eternal Self is only happiness and that is revealed.

The whole of Vedanta is contained in the two Biblical statements ‘I am that I am’ and ‘Be still and know that I am God’.

There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until that is realised, effort is necessary. After tasting such bliss even once, one will repeatedly try to regain it. Having once experienced the bliss of peace, no one would like to be out of it or engage himself otherwise. It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts, as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought.

Any kind of activity does not affect a Jnani. He remains ever in eternal peace.

Ishta Devata (deity of one’s choice) and Guru are aids, very powerful aids on this path. But for an aid to be effective requires your effort also. Your effort is a sine qua non.

As explained in the Gita, sleep is the first obstacle for all sadhakas. The second obstacle is said to be vikshepa, or the sense objects of the world which divert one’s attention. The third is said to be kashaya or thoughts about previous experiences with sense objects. The fourth, ananda (bliss), is also called an obstacle, because in that state a feeling of separation from the source of ananda, making the enjoyer say, ‘I am enjoying ananda,’ is present. Even this has to be surmounted, and the final stage of samadhana or samadhi has to be reached, where one becomes ananda, or One with the Reality, and the duality of enjoyer and enjoyment ceases in the ocean of Satchidananda
[Existence-Consciousness-Bliss] or the Self.

The power of a Jnani’s Self-Realisation is more powerful than all occult powers. To the Jnani there are no others. But what is the highest benefit that can be conferred on ‘others’ as we call them? It is happiness. Happiness is born of peace. Peace can reign only when there is no disturbance by thought. When the mind has been annihilated, there will be perfect peace. As there is no mind, the Jnani cannot be aware of others. But the mere fact of His Self-Realisation is itself enough to make all others peaceful and happy.

Ramana Maharshi: The path to Self Realisation (includes teachings on the Self, the mind, rajas and tamas, vasanas and Samadhi)

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I have selected this talk (talk 141 from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi) as there are so many gems for the seeker of liberation in such a short space. I will try to unpack some of these gems for you and have provided a summary of the teachings at the end. All comments in red are my own and any bold text has been added by myself for emphasis. Ramana’s words are in black.

First Ramana states that objects are nothing but the ‘modes’ or projection of the mind, and that there is a light that illumines these objects. The light he refers to is the light of awareness or consciousness:

Ramana Maharshi: The modes of mind take shape as external objects and the light reflected on the modes illumines the objects. Now neglecting the modes of mind, look for the light illumining them. The mind becomes still and the light remains self-shining. The undulating mind (i.e., the mind associated with rajas = activity and tamas = darkness) is commonly known as the mind. Devoid of rajas and tamas, it is pure and self-shining. This is Self-Realisation. Therefore the mind is said to be the means for it.

Note how densely packed the spiritual discourse is here! First Ramana advises we ignore the objects, or ‘neglect the modes of mind’ as it is put above. Then follows a beautiful line: ‘the mind becomes still and the light remains self-shining’. Here we can see that Ramana is describing the thought-free awareness in which the mind is still but remains awake and aware. Ramana sometimes refers to this state as being called Jagrat Sushupti (click on the link to learn more about what Ramana says about this). 

Ramana then restates the above in a different way and further defines the word ‘mind’. He states the the mind associated with rajas (ie. the active, passionate and grasping mind) or with tamas (ie. the mind afflicted with fear, negativity, depression and lethargy) is what is meant by the word mind. Put more simply, the word ‘mind’ refers to the mind in movement that is either grasping (rajas) or pushing away (tamas). When rajas and tamas are no longer present, or when the mind is still and no longer grasping or pushing away, the mind becomes pure (this is usually known as sattva – for a more in-depth discussion of rajas, tamas and sattva see here). This totally pure mind is no longer the mind as previously defined, as it is now still, and this stillness in which movement of ego (rajas and tamas) no longer occurs is known as Self-Realisation.

The questioner proceeds:

D.: What is moksha (liberation)?

M.: Moksha is to know that you were not born. “Be still and know that I am God.” To be still is not to think. Know, and not think, is the word.

Ramana now indicates that our true nature is never born, unlike the numerous objects we appear to experience including the body-mind that we erroneously take ourselves to be. Ramana then reiterates the basic instruction to still the mind and explains again what this means – not to think. Ramana says ‘know, and not think’. I interpret this word ‘know’ to mean ‘be aware’, which again chimes with the beautiful line in the previous paragraph:’ the mind becomes still and the light remains self-shining’. 

Now Ramana further explains the main points of the teaching and how to attain Realisation:

Jnana, once revealed, takes time to steady itself. The Self is certainly within the direct experience of everyone, but not as one imagines it to be. It is only as it is. This Experience is samadhi. Just as fire remains without scorching against incantations or other devices but scorches otherwise, so also the Self remains veiled by vasanas [habitual egoic tendencies] and reveals itself when there are no vasanas. Owing to the fluctuation of the vasanas, jnana takes time to steady itself. Unsteady jnana is not enough to check rebirths. Jnana cannot remain unshaken side by side with vasanas. True, that in the proximity of a great master, the vasanas will cease to be active, the mind becomes still and samadhi results, similar to fire not scorching because of other devices. Thus the disciple gains true knowledge and right experience in the presence of the master. To remain unshaken in it further efforts are necessary.

Jnana, which literally means knowledge, is a synonym for Self-Realisation in which there is no suffering. Ramana states that even once we have had a glimpse of That Reality, it takes time for Jnana to stabilise or ‘steady itself’.

How can this be? Is not Reality non-dual and ever-present already? Is our True Nature not already one with the Reality and beyond the limitations of body, time and space? If so, how can it take time for Realisation to steady itself and if Reality is already whole and one without a second, and therefore ‘stable in itself’, how can we even dare speak of stabilisation of Reality or Jnana?

Ramana gives us a practical answer: it is due to the habitual egoic tendencies, or vasanas to use the Sanskrit word. Whist these are present, ‘the Self remains veiled’, and the Self only ‘reveals itself when there are no vasanas’. It is because of these habitual vasanas that take time to die down that ‘Jnana takes time to steady itself’. Ramana goes on to emphasise the point: ‘Jnana cannot remain unshaken side by side with vasanas’ he says. Shankara says the same – see here.

If we compare this section with what was said earlier about mind and rajas and tamas, we can see that stilling the mind means the mind being totally devoid of rajas and tamas. When the mind is still in this way, this is the Self. ie. from a practical point of view, when the mind is active, it is called mind, and when still, it is called Self.

This mind, or rajas and tamas, therefore can be seen to be the same as the vasanas described in this section above. In both cases, when the mind is still or with no vasanas, meaning when there is no habitual birth of the ‘I-concept’ (ego) together with  egoic desire and egoic fear, then the Self is automatically realised.

What about the role of the Guru? Ramana here states the mere proximity to the Guru can still the mind and remove the vasanas, thus revealing the Self in Samadhi, giving a true authentic experience of Self to the seeker. However for this Samadhi, which is unsteady, to become steady, Ramana states ‘further efforts are necessary’.

Ramana now tells us more about Samadhi:

He will know it to be his real Being and thus be liberated even while alive. Samadhi with closed eyes is certainly good, but one must go further until it is realised that actionlessness and action are not hostile to each other. Fear of loss of samadhi while one is active is the sign of ignorance. Samadhi must be the natural life of everyone.

Ramana states that the Samadhi in which there is awareness but no objects whatsoever is pleasing and wholesome, but if we fear the intrusion of objects, that is not really the Samadhi he speaks of. The Samadhi Ramana speaks of doesn’t mind the absence or presence of objects, and so activity in daily living is no impediment to this natural Samadhi (Sahaja Samadhi).

There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until it is realised effort is necessary. After tasting such Bliss, even once one will repeatedly try to regain it. Having once experienced the Bliss of Peace no one would like to be out of it or engaged himself otherwise. It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought.

When fully realised, who can talk of effort or lack of effort? The Self is beyond both effort and non-effort, and is also one with effort and non-effort. However, as long as vasanas or mind is present, effort needs to be made. Once one has the taste of the bliss and peace of Samadhi, one desires it. When this desire outweighs the desire for external objects, one naturally makes effort towards Samadhi. One must repeatedly enter into this Samadhi – see here for what Ramana says about this or see here for what Shankara says about Samadhi and the mind. Eventually it becomes an effort not to be in Samadhi, Ramana stating ‘It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought.’

The common man says that he does not know himself; he thinks many thoughts and cannot remain without thinking.

Any kind of activity does not affect a Jnani; his mind remains ever in eternal Peace.

Talks 141

The True State is beyond any kind of activity and thought. It cannot be lost or gained, it can never be defiled and was and is always whole and complete. It is ever-lasting Peace, beyond birth and death. It is all there is.


A Practical Summary:

  1. Allow the mind to become still
  2. When this stillness is firm and one remains fully aware (ie. one does not fall asleep) in daily life it is called Self-Realisation.
  3. One way this can be done is by ignoring objects and when the mind becomes still all we are left with is the luminescent consciousness which is ever pure and undefined. This is our essence or true nature (Swarupa in Sanskrit).
  4. This state is known as Samadhi and is initially temporary due to latent habitual tendencies (vasanas or rajas and tamas) which habitually sprout the ‘I-concept’ along with notions of ‘the world’ and this gives rise to samsara or suffering.
  5. Proximity to a guru can bring about Samadhi and guide us home.
  6. Once Samadhi has been attained and the desire for worldly objects is outweighed, the Self will draw you in by its own blissful power and repeated Samadhi eventually results in the natural state when the vasanas/egoic mind has been obliterated. This is Sahaja Samadhi which is the same as self-realisation or Jnana or what Ramana calls here ‘eternal Peace’.

 

Ramana Maharshi – Deep Sleep and Self-Realisation

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Questioner: Miseries appear in jagrat (waking sate). Why should they appear?

Ramana Maharshi: If you see your Self they will not appear.

Q: If I turn to look who I am I do not find anything.

RM: How did you remain in your sleep? There was no ‘I-thought’ there and you were happy. Whereas there are thoughts flowering in the wake of the root-thought ‘I’ in the jagrat and these hide the inherent happiness. Get rid of these thoughts which are the obstacles to happiness. Your natural state is one of happiness as was evident in your sleep.

Q: I do not know anything of my sleep experience.

RM: But you know that it was happiness. Otherwise you would not be saying “I slept happily”. When there is no thought, no ‘I’, and nothing In fact except yourself, you are happy. That is the whole Truth. This is exactly what is conveyed by the Mahavakya- Tatvamasi (You are That). Find your Self: and then “That” is known.

Q: How is that Brahman?

RM: Why do you want to know of Brahman apart from yourself? The scripture says “You are That”. The Self is intimate to you and you cannot indeed be without the Self. Realise it. That is the Realisation of Brahman also.

Q: But I am unable to do it. I am too weak to realise my Self.

RM: In that case surrender yourself unreservedly and the Higher Power will reveal Itself.

Q: What is unconditional surrender?

RM: If one surrenders oneself there will be no one to ask questions or to be thought of. Either the thoughts are eliminated by holding on to the root-thought ‘I’ or one surrenders oneself unconditionally to the Higher Power. These are the only two ways for Realisation.

Talk 321 – Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

The Self is All/ Self Enquiry in daily life

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Ramana Maharshi: The Self is all. Are you apart from the Self? Or can the work go on without the Self? The Self is universal: so, all actions will go on whether you strain yourself to be engaged in them or not. The work will go on of itself. Thus Krishna told Arjuna that he need not trouble to kill the Kauravas; they were already slain by God. It was not for him to resolve to work and worry himself about it, but to allow his own nature to carry out the will of the higher power.

Q: But the work may suffer if I do not attend to it.

Ramana Maharshi: Attending to the Self means attending to the work. Because you identify yourself with the body, you think that work is done by you. But the body and its activities, including that work, are not apart from the Self. What does it matter whether you attend to the work or not? Suppose you walk from one place to another: you do not attend to the steps you take. Yet you find yourself after a time at your goal. You see how the business of walking goes on without your attending to it. So also with other kinds of work.

Q: It is then like sleep-walking.

Ramana Maharshi: Like somnambulism? Quite so. When a child is fast asleep, his mother feeds him; the child eats the food just as well as when he is fully awake. But the next morning he says to the mother, “Mother, I did not take food last night”. The mother and others know that he did, but he says that he did not; he was not aware. Still the action had gone on.

A traveller in a cart has fallen asleep. The bulls move, stand still or are unyoked during the journey. He does not know these events but finds himself in a different place after he wakes up. He has been blissfully ignorant of the occurrences on the way, but the journey has been finished. Similarly with the Self of a person. The ever-wakeful Self is compared to the traveller asleep in the cart.

The Ultimate or Highest Truth according to the Upanishads

There is a famous verse in the Upanishads that explicitly and specifically proclaims to hold the highest truth.

This verse was considered important enough that it was also incorporated into Shankara’s masterpiece Vivekachudamani and also Gaudapada’s main work, his commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad (the Mandukya Karika).

In fact it is the only verse that I know of that is repeated not only in more than one Upanishad, but is also repeated by the two greatest traditional exponents of Advaita Vedanta (ie. Shankara and Gaudapada) in their subsequent works.

Here is the verse:

There is neither destruction (Nirodha) nor creation (Utpatti), none in bondage (Bandha) and none practicing disciplines (Sadhaka). There is none seeking Liberation (Mumukshu) and none liberated (Mukta). This is the ultimate or highest truth (Paramartha).’

As I said above, this verse is found repeated in the Amritabindu Upanishad in verse 10, in the Atma Upanishad in verse 2.31. It was later incorporated by both Gaudapada (Mandukya Karika 2.32) and Shankara (Vivekachudamani verse 574) in their writings.

What do you think of this verse?

Powerful quotes from Sri Ranjit Maharaj

Sri Ranjit Maharaj was the guru-brother of the more famous Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, that is they had the same guru – Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj. Here are some quotes from Sri Ranjit Maharaj:

The body and the world

Everyone gives value to the world. The realised being, who has gone beyond the world, beyond knowledge, only gives value to zero. When you understand that the world is untrue and that everything is zero, then all that remains is Reality.
 
You reduce yourself to being a body and then you constantly worry for it. Why? By thinking “I am the body”, you have reduced yourself to such a small creature. The body is nothing. It comes from zero and will soon return to zero.
When you lose all love for the illusion, He automatically is there. You get absorbed into Reality because He and you are the same, nothing else. There is no “you” or “self” in Reality. Forget about self. The real understanding is, “I don’t exist.”

The world is nothing but a long dream, take it for granted.

There’s nothing there, so what is there to say? As long as the body is there, he acts, no doubt. He calls his mother “mother”, and his wife “wife”, but still he knows. If somebody asks him, “What is your name?”, he gives his name, but he knows, “I am not this.”

The Master

The master is the greatest illusion because all that he says with full hear and frankness is false. But the false words that the master tells you can make you reach Reality.

The master takes you to that place where there is no one to understand anything. There is no knowledge nor ignorance and so understanding has no meaning. Let everything appear within That, but say that it is not true. There is no need to change anything because it doesn’t exist. When you forget the sense of the world, which is nonsense, then you will know the real sense and Reality opens up to you.

An enlightened person says at once, “One plus two is three! I know!” He says it so strongly. Understanding should come. Master awakens your understanding.
Nobody comes, nobody goes. All is a dream. In a dream you can become a great master, but when you wake up, you come back to your ordinary state. Who has gone there and who has come back? Nothing has happened.
The concept of a “great master” has come upon you, and you have become the “great master”, but when you wake up you feel, “All this is nonsense. How can I be a great master? I know nothing!” Still, in the dream, you were giving lectures and were talking easily about all these things, but when awakening comes, all this knowledge vanishes. It was only a dream.
The so-called sage who says, “I am the reincarnation of God”, doesn’t know Him, doesn’t know Reality. On the contrary, he is the slave of his ego, of illusion. When knowledge itself has no entity, there is no question of all these things.
Thinking that the master has a form is only ignorance. I tell you. When you accept what He tells you then you are always with Him.

The ego

The ego is like the son of a barren woman – it doesn’t exist. It is a false projection of a confused and ignorant mind.

Knowledge & Understanding

Understanding should come, and finally one should see that knowledge is also not true. Forget everything. Knowledge, ignorance . . . all is zero.

Understand this way: that you should be free from ignorance and finally from knowledge, also. Knowledge is the greatest ignorance. Understand this way and forget everything. In that moment, you are He.

First mental understanding is required and after that comes a practical understanding. Intellectual talent is the greatest thing. Without the intellect, one cannot understand. So, you have to understand with the full intellect and then, that knowledge, or that understanding will submerge, because knowledge is a thought. A good thought or a bad thought, both are thoughts. So, knowledge is a golden thorn, and ignorance is an ordinary thorn and both are bondage. Suppose your hands have been put in handcuffs. Maybe they’re iron cuffs or maybe they’re golden, but it’s still bondage. So, both are thorns. One should understand and throw them away. It is very difficult to throw out the knowledge, because ego remains up till knowledge. Knowledge is the ego, nothing else. To erase that knowledge, one should say, “I know nothing.”

Ignorance came by hearing and is dispelled by hearing. By words you have become bound and by words you can be free. Words are false, but their meaning is true. The illusion is needed in order to go beyond it.

The only way

There is only one way to know Reality – forget everything and instantly you are He. Short and sweet. There are no words for Reality. Forget the illusion and He is there. Do everything, but say that it is not true. That is the main point.

A disciple should put a zero on everything, including himself, otherwise he cannot advance. No one wants to put a zero on their self because they fear not being accepted by others. Be mad and do it!

The Ignorance and the wise

An ignorant person always sees the world as true. The realised sage sees the world as not true. That is the difference.

Nothing

When you feel that something can touch you, or harm you, it means that you are in the illusion. How can nothing touch you? Everything in the illusion is nothing.
Why to fear? Nothing is there. Everything is illusion. Keep your mind in that fearless state only. Just as the poisonous tooth is taken out, in the same way, play with the world, play with the illusion, there is no harm. It won’t affect your mind. Live fearlessly; no death, no fear, knowing that “I am that real power.” There is nothing! What will harm you?
In the same way, here we experience many things due to the objectivity of the mind. You see all the objects and immediately believe that they are real. At the moment you realise who you are, you see that everything is nothing. That is the main point. Mind should accept that everything is zero. Once the mind accepts that everything is nothing, then nothing remains and my Self is Truth.

God

The world is full of Him. Nothing is there except Him. What you see is Him.

No matter if you are poor, sitting on a throne or lying in the gutter, still you are always Reality. The outside appearance has nothing to do with who you are. Everyone is He, no matter what state you may be in.

Fearless

For example, when you sleep you dream, and in the dream somebody gives you a slap on the face. You feel the slap and immediately you you wake up to find only pillows. You then realise, “Oh, it was nothing ! Nobody slapped me.” In the dream, somebody kills you, “Ahhh, I am killed!” Then you wake up. “All is false, nobody was there to kill me.” Then your fear goes away. Awakening brings makes you fearless. One should realise that by nature you are fearless. Being fearless, the mind becomes completely naked and you know that nothing is true.

Q. Are we not an individual viewpoint of Cosmic Consciousness?

Q. We are all connected, like buds on a rosebush are all connected. And when a rosebud blooms, we do not state “there is no rosebud, there is no bloom.” And yet, you seem intent on denying the flowering of your own local focal point of consciousness. You are an individual viewpoint for the Cosmic Consciousness (aka Brahma). Like a rosebud, you have bloomed. 

I understand that awakening is unlike an academic or professional accomplishment. It’s not something that you have printed out on a sheepskin and get framed and hang on your wall. It’s not something to brag about. Its not something to check off on your spiritual “bucket list.” But to deny that the mind/body combination known as Tom Das has had his awakening to oneness makes as much sense as denying that a rosebud has opened and is in full bloom. Those Satsangs that you share with the world as part of your Sadhana are you sharing the fragrance of truth. What purpose does denying your awakening have?

Tom: I know it may appear that Tom Das has awakened, etc, but actually Tom Das is just an appearance, nothing. There is no-one here that knows anything, although it may appear that way within the waking dream. The ‘me’ identifies itself & believes itself to be a body-mind entity and projects that identity onto others, and so believes that Tom Das or whoever has ‘woken up’. But this is all part of the apparent dream. I agree there is no point denying the appearance (I do appear to be Tom Das), but it is empty and non-significant with respect to liberation/non-duality. The scriptures have tried to explain this in many ways, I will try to find you a few quotes…Namaste

Here are the quotes I later put together: Ramana Maharshi Quotes: Nobody here/ the jnani is not a person

Q. Are we not simultaneously a person AND everything?

Q. The thing here is… we (Brahma) incarnated on this planet as 7.4 billion people and countless animals and plants and the planet itself. Brahma chose to be us, in different bodies and different personalities and different life stories and ultimately, these bodies and personal identities will end, but while we are incarnated in our current forms, are we not looking for the “middle path” as we make our way through the world? We are individually and collectively Brahma and Atman simultaneously.

I understand and fully comprehend everything that Sri Ramana Maharishi is saying [in these quotes] . But I get the sense that you are inviting people to abandon their egoic sense of self (Atman) in favor of identifying as Brahma. The middle path IMHO is when one can hold both illusions (or ultimate truths depending upon your perspective) in mind simultaneously. When you are at work and a patient or coworker says “Dr. Tom Das” you don’t ignore them or say something confusing like “I am not this body, I am not this name, I am pure conscious awareness disguised in human form” you go ahead and answer to your name. You and other people who have experienced awakening and not ended up in a no-self dissociative state continue to have an ego. It’s how you and everyone else navigates this world. I don’t find it particularly useful to deny the continued existence of this ego.

You ARE Tom Das and simultaneously, you ARE everyone and everything and everywhere and everywhen. I don’t see the Atman / Brahman as an either/or decision. It’s NOT a case of mutually exclusive choices. We can and ideally are a mixture of both. Deny the existence of Tom Das all you want but you will still answer to your name and show up and fulfill your roles in life and at work. Repeated denials that you are Tom Das seem even sillier than an actor on the stage repeatedly telling the audience “I am not really Hamlet.”

Tom: I agree it is not about abandoning one view for another – that is more duality, more ego, more ‘me’. What you have written is also not the middle way, which is about not being attached to any conceptions of self, at least according to Nagarjuna.

The teachings, as I have explained before, are pointers that tend to aim at removing ignorance, not truths.

The view you are advocating is called Vashisthadvaita in the Vedic texts in which multiplicity is acknowledged to co-exist with Brahman, whereas the views coming from myself and Ramana in the above quotes are advaita (no multiplicity) at times and ajata (no creation) at other times.  Traditionally the non-dual teachings proceed from dvaita (duality) to vashisthadvaita, to advaita to ajata, so you will find all 4 types of expressions in the scriptures and from the sages.

Traditionally the non-dual teachings proceed from dvaita (duality) to vashisthadvaita, to advaita to ajata, so you will find all 4 types of expressions in the scriptures and from the sages.

The first 2 of the views (Dvaita and Vashisthadvaita) can be understood by the mind and seem to make sense within the subject-object reality that is imagined to be real by the ‘me’ or ‘ego’. The fact that they are understandable and they do somewhat relieve suffering makes them valuable teachings to the seeker (ego), whereas Advaita and Ajata cannot be comprehended by the mind and makes no sense to the mind which only  can think in terms of subject-object.

If everyone thinks an actor is only Hamlet, and they don’t realise he is an actor playing the role, the teaching ‘I am not Hamlet’ becomes more important, which is why these teachings tend to be emphasised. You could say I appear to be Tom Das, and there is no need to deny this, but in reality there is only the Inexpressible This.

Ramana Maharshi Quotes: Nobody here/ the jnani is not a person

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Often people think that someone wakes up, someone becomes enlightened, that enlightenment somehow belongs to a person. Although this is how it often seems, this is not quite how it works. It may appear that Tom Das or whomever has awakened, etc, but actually Tom Das is just an appearance, nothing.

There is no-one here that knows anything, although it may appear that way within the waking dream.

The  ‘me’ thinks itself to be an individual and projects that individuality onto others. The ‘me’ identifies itself and believes itself to be a body-mind entity and so believes that Tom Das or whoever has ‘woken up’. But this is all part of the apparent dream of ‘me’ (ignorance or ajnana in Sanskrit).

What happens in the appearance is in essence empty and non-significant with respect to liberation/non-duality. The sages and scriptures have tried to explain this in many ways.

Below are a few quotes, all from Ramana Maharshi, where he tries to explain how the Jnani (‘liberated sage’, so to speak) is not a person and there is only That.

In the quotes you will see the words jnani/jnana and ajnani/ajnana. The word jnani (lit. knower) refers to a liberated sage – this is only a term used as a way of expressing non-duality – there is no liberated sage in reality, only in the eyes of the ignorant (ajnani, lit. one who does not know).

The word ajnana means ignorance, and someone who is ignorant is termed an ajnani, what I have called the ‘me’ above. In reality there is no ajnana and no ajnani – that is just how it appears, but the appearance is not real.

Here are the quotes from Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi:


Q: I see you doing things. How can you say that you never perform actions?

Ramana Maharshi: The radio sings and speaks, but if you open it you will find no one inside. Similarly, my existence is like the space; thou this body speaks like the radio, there is no one inside as a doer.

Q: I find this hard to understand. Could you please elaborate on this?

Ramana Maharshi: Various illustrations are given in books to enable us to understand how the jnani can live and act without the mind, although living and acting require the use of the  mind…. It is hard to understand how this is possible…These explanations are for the onlookers who think of the jnani as one with a body and cannot help identifying him with his body.


An ajnani sees someone as a jnani and identifies him with the body. Because he does not know the Self and mistakes his body for the Self, he extends the same mistake to the state of the jnani. The jnani is therefore considered to be the physical frame.


Again since the ajnani, though he is not the doer, imagines himself to be the doer and considers the actions of the body his own, he thinks the jnani to be similarly acting when the body is active.


The jnani sees nothing separate from the Self. The Self is all shining and only pure jnana. So there is no ajnana [ignorance] in his sight.


In the ignorant state one superimposes one’s ignorance on a jnani and mistakes him for a doer.


There is an illustration for this kind of illusion or superimposition. Two friends went to sleep side by side. One of them dreamt that both of them had gone on a long journey and that they had had strange experiences. On waking up he recapitulated them and asked his friend if it was not so. The other one simply ridiculed him saying that it was only his dream and could not affect the other. So it is with the ajnani who superimposes his illusory ideas on others. 


Q: There are said to be sadeha mukta (liberated while still in the body) and videha mukta [liberated at the time of death].

Ramana Maharshi: There is no liberation, and where are muktas [the liberated]?


The Self alone is and nothing else. However it is differentiated owing to ignorance.


The existence of the ego in any form, either in the jnani or ajnani, is itself an experience. But to the ajnani who is deluded into thinking that the waking state and the world are real, the ego also appears to be real. Since he sees the jnani act like other individuals, he feels constrained to posit some notion of individuality with reference to the jnani also.


Q: As the bodies and the selves animating them are everywhere actually observed to be innumerable how can it be said that the Self is only one?

Ramana Maharshi: If the idea `I am the body’ is accepted, the selves are multiple. The state in which this idea vanishes is the Self since in that state there are no other objects.


The reality which shines fully, without misery and without a body


Since the body itself does not exist in the natural outlook of the real Self, but only in the extroverted outlook of the mind which is deluded by the power of illusion, to call Self, the space of consciousness, dehi [the possessor of the body] is wrong.


The jnani knows he is the Self and that nothing, neither his body nor anything else, exists but the Self.


It is false to speak of realization. What is there to realize?


Q: What are the fundamental tests for discovering men of great spirituality, since some are reported to behave like insane people?

Ramana Maharshi: The jnani’s mind is known only to the jnani. One must be a jnani oneself in order to understand another jnani….His words or actions or appearance are no indication of his greatness, for they are ordinarily beyond the comprehension of common people.


Q: You are Bhagavan. So you should know when I shall get jnana. Tell me when I shall be a jnani.

Ramana Maharshi: If I am Bhagavan there is no one besides the Self – therefore no jnani or ajnani.


Coming here, some people do not ask about themselves. They ask: `Does the jivan mukta see the world ? Is he affected by karma? What is liberation after being disembodied ? Is one liberated only after being disembodied or even while alive in the body ? Should the body of the sage resolve itself in light or disappear from view in any other manner? Can he be liberated though the body is left behind as a corpse?’ Their questions are endless. Why worry oneself in so many ways? Does liberation consist in knowing these things?


Actually, the idea of the Self being the witness is only in the mind; it is not the absolute truth of the Self. Witnessing is relative to objects witnessed. Both the witness and his object are mental creations.


Q: How did the knower come?

Ramana Maharshi: On account of the error of perception. In fact the knower and his misperceptions appear simultaneously, and when the knowledge of the Self is obtained, they disappear simultaneously.


Just as in a dream a false knowledge, knower and known rise up, in the waking state the same process operates…Whatever you see happening in the waking state happens only to the knower, and since the knower is unreal, nothing in fact ever happens.