All these ‘spiritual’ experiences such as ‘I had a wonderful experience in which I felt one with everything’ or ‘I felt as if I was Brahman’ or ‘There was a sense of timelessness’, etc, etc, etc…
…All these experiences are more illusion.
Why? All these experiences are for the body-mind that you falsely take yourself to be…these experiences come and go, they appear then disappear, like all experiences.
Are you the body-mind? Is that your primary identity?
…You are not the body-mind!
You are That!
That thou art!
🕉 Tat Twam Asi! 🕉
One learns more and more that no number of objects we experience (this includes worldly objects, people, thoughts, feelings, experiences, praise, adoration, etc) will ever bring lasting satisfaction. These objects (which includes all experiences), each being temporary and limited, will bring only temporary and limited pleasures at best. This pleasure will inevitably end which results in stress and suffering as we try to prevent the ending of our association with the desired objects. So seeking fulfillment in objects results in the perpetuation ofsuffering, and this is learnt over and over again ever more deeply over the course of time.
Simultaneously, we realise that lasting fulfillment only comes from not-seeking, ie. when we are resting as our-Self in the Natural Condition. Again, this insight-realisation deepens and our conviction that this is true grows stronger over time, as we psychologically and spiritually mature.
How quickly we learn this depends on our ability to observe, listen, discern and learn the lessons life is teaching us (this is called Viveka in Sanskrit, often translated as discrimination or discernment, but also can be translated as wisdom).
This natural turning away from gross and subtle objects and dropping away of desire for them is known as dispassion or vairagya in Sanskrit, and this vairagya naturally occurs to spiritual seekers (ie. the ego) as they spiritually mature and internalise these above lessons.
When vairagya becomes fully mature there is just constant abiding as Self. Self is satisfied as Self, not needing pleasure or good feelings from ‘outside’ limited objects. The seeking mind (which is the egoic mind or the functioning of the separate ‘I’ concept), then never emerges and is eventually destroyed through sustained inactivity.
This total Vairagya is where the separate ‘I concept’ never rises and is essentially dead. This is known as destruction of the Mind (Manonasa) or extinction of the vasanas (the habitual egoic tendencies, the extinction of which is called Vasana Kshaya). It is also known as Self-Realisation (Atma Sakshatkara) or Self-Knowledge (Atma Jnana). It is not realisation or knowledge in the traditional sense, as there is not necessarily any knowledge in the mind. Rather it is the non-emergence of egotism (egotism is also known as ignorance or separation, so knowledge is simple the lack of ignorance or the lack of separation). It is also known as Silence (Mauna) or the Absolute (Brahman).
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi gives us a practical definition of Silence here when he states:
‘The Self is that where there is absolutely no “I”-thought. That is called silence [mauna]’ and again he states ‘That state in which the “I”-thought does not rise even in the least is silence [mauna].’
In the same vein Advaita Bodha Deepika states:
‘What is variously described as Knowledge [Jnana], Liberation [Moksha], etc., in the scriptures, is but stillness of mind.’
In the Amritabindu Upanishad it is written:
‘When the mind, with its attachment for sense-objects annihilated, is fully controlled within the heart and thus realises its own essence, then that is the Supreme State (Brahman is gained)’
The Advaitic giant, Sri Gaudapada, (Shankara’s guru’s guru) writes in his Mandukya Karika:
‘The controlled mind is verily the fearless Brahman’ (Chapter 3, verse 35)
Regarding Vairagya and Jnana, in the text ‘Who am I?’, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi writes:
‘Not to desire anything extraneous to oneself constitutes vairagya (dispassion) or nirasa (desirelessness). Not to give up one’s hold on the Self constitutes jnana (knowledge). But really vairagya and jnana are one and the same.’
Later in the same text, ‘Who am I?’, he writes:
‘It is pleasant under the shade of a tree, and scorching in the heat of the sun outside. A person toiling in the sun seeks the cool shade of the tree and is happy under it. After staying there for a while, he moves out again but, unable to bear the merciless heat of the sun, he again seeks the shade. In this way he keeps on moving from shade to sun and sun to shade.
It is an unwise person who acts thus, whereas the wise man never leaves the shade: in the same way the mind of the Enlightened Sage (Jnani) never exists apart from Brahman, the Absolute. The mind of the ignorant, on the other hand, entering into the phenomenal world, suffers pain and anguish; and then, turning for a short while towards Brahman, it experiences happiness. Such is the mind of the ignorant.’
May these teachings, through repeated hearing and contemplation, grow in your hearts and mind and give rise to stillness of mind and eventually Mauna, that is Self-Realisation itself.
May vairagya and viveka grow and blossom into timeless Jnana!
Tat Tvam Asi!
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
Pulling the rug out from under the ego
In my article Roadmap to enlightenment: a (fairly) comprehensive guide to spiritual practices I discuss the inter-relationship between insight and purification and liberation, so I won’t go into that here – please see that article for more information on this, but I would like to comment on one thing I often see in people who attend my meetings or who contact me for 1 to 1 meetings. It’s when the ego has the rug pulled out from underneath it but it still trying to regain its balance, tottering from left to right, sometimes disorientated, sometimes overwhelmed, lacking stability – in short – suffering.
This occurs when the mind is exposed to non-dual insight/knowledge teachings, ie. the radical teachings on no-self/no-person/no-free will, before the mind has achieved a degree of sattva (peace) and stability. When this happens, freedom is seen but the mind’s tendencies are now unleashed as if the ‘foot has been taken off the brake’. All the pre-existing egoic tendencies, previously held in check somewhat by notions of the ego, are now left to roam free, sometimes with riotous consequences.
Now, in a fundamental sense there is no problem in this, but from the point of view of the ego, which is still actually functioning out of habit (ie. the vasanas or egoic habitual tendencies are still at play), this is quite troubling and can be very tumultuous. It can lead to much suffering – both for the seeker and for those around them.
If the ego-mind is stable and sattvic (peaceful) with a health positive self-concept prior to being exposed to the radical non-dual teachings, when the teachings are seen, the sattvic qualities are naturally allowed to express themselves, namely love, peace, happiness, compassion, intelligence, clear thinking, clear seeing.
This was in essence what happened to me. I was lucky in that I had unwittingly spent many years purifying my mind through a combination of spiritual practices from a young age, readings spiritual books, being in a loving relationship and various forms of self-help to name a few factors. Awakening for me was not a difficult or tumultuous process. In retrospect I can see this was the case as my mind was already for the most part sattvic. The awakening was peaceful and gradual, permeated by love and light, so gradual I did not even realise it was happening. It was only when I started sharing this teaching with others that I realised how difficult the awakening process can sometimes be, when I saw how it affected others. Because I had read and studied traditional texts that spoke about about the energies whilst I was seeking, I was able to utilise these teachings for the benefit of those who came to me and my meetings.
If the mind is riddled with tamasic (negative) and rajasic (passionate) energy, addictive vasanas (habitual tendencies) and a negative self-concept, these aspects of the mind can flourish. Depending on the vasanas present, this can sometime cause much suffering. It can result in family/relationship problems, divorce, panic attacks and career and financial issues. Unconscious psychological insecurities that were not previously known can all surface at once leading to a crisis of confidence, disorientation and feeling overwhelmed. Tamasic impulses can increase, rajasic tendencies can increase, addictive tendencies can increase.
The general advice here is to not worry, remain calm and at peace, something that is easier to do if a degree of sattva has already been cultivated and most of the rajasic and tamasic energies have already been somewhat subdued. In time, these vasanas (tendencies) will naturally express themselves. If they are allowed to rise up, be experienced and felt (ie. not suppressed) withoutacting them out, then they will naturally purify themselves in time and the balance of sattva will naturally arise. However, if the vasanas are indulged in, then they may continue indefinitely, and the freedom-realisation may even be lost (apparently). Just knowing this information can make a huge difference (apparently).
It is for this very reason that most traditional approaches stress a period of purification prior to being introduced to the ‘higher’ non-dual teachings. Shankara often advised that seekers purify themselves with devotion to God and developing certain qualities prior to reading/listening to the higher teachings of Vedanta.
But what seeking ego wants to wait? And why should it, right! Most teachings are no longer guarded behind the secret screens of a religious patriarchy and are freely available on YouTube and Facebook, something which is largely good as far as I can see, but it is useful to be aware of the downsides and potential negative consequences.
This article is an excerpt taken from a longer article, click here to read it.
Question: Does ‘awareness’ or ‘consciousness’ have a source, eg. is the actual brain organ the source of all manifestations and sensations? Or is consciousness primary and the ground of existence?
Tom: I don’t know the answer to that question. I only know about ending suffering. When suffering ends, one could say that all there is is consciousness, as this is the undivided experience, but this is only an experiential truth, not a scientific one, and so your actual question remains unanswered.
I wrote an article on this topic while back, feel free to take a look: Is everything really consciousness?
Question: The human mind has been conditioned and brainwashed for thousands of years. Is it possible to free the mind of all psychological fear, and what is the brain’s primary function besides keeping the body alive?
Tom: We could say that there is always an aspect of the mind/ consciousness/ awareness/ ourselves that is untouched by conditioning. This awareness can at times see this conditioning you speak of in action, and then immediately it is already beyond it, and action from ‘this place’ is no longer egoically conditioned, although other types of conditioning such as biological conditioning and language skills remain.
This awareness-wisdom can grow and eventually efface the egoic conditioning completely, which is when we enter into the depths of Silence that is Timeless and Non-dual.
Even though all of this is already ‘That’, it is not fully ‘realised’ and suffering continues until the egoic conditioning is no longer active.
We had a wonderful satsang on Thursday here in the UK. Thank you for those who attended. The teachings I share are not scripted, and I do not really have any fixed teachings of my own, so it is always interesting to me what teachings arise from ‘Tom’s mouth’ through the interaction of seeking energy with non-seeking energy.
Here are some points we discussed and some reflections that I hope you don’t mind if I share with you:
1. Most of the popular spirituality that is on the scene is that which benefits the ‘me’ – ie. it makes the ‘me’ happier and makes the me’s life easier. This is also known as self-improvement, self here referring to the limited identity as body-mind. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this – in fact it is actually quite good – this type of spirituality is limited in that it does not ultimately liberate.
Most of us in the group noted that we all spent a period of time in self-help type activities and we indeed found them helpful, and sometimes still do, but there was a point beyond which self-help was no longer helpful in easing our suffering. So, we left that paradigm behind and eventually stumbled onto non-duality and non-dual teachings/presentations which tackle the cause of suffering at its very root.
2. Teachings that are formulaic are for the ego, at least initially, and these are the ones that are easiest to comprehend and spread ‘en mass’, eg. we can create workshops and write books and teach others easily using formulaic methods. Again, without a genuine insight, these teachings alone do not ultimately liberate.
3. All teachings are eventually to be cast aside, otherwise we are bound to the teaching we carry around with us, and this itself becomes a subtle burden and perpetuates the ‘me’ or ignorance and the resultant suffering continues.
4. Are we not all seeking a deep sense of peace? Or a deep sense of fulfilment in which we are no longer burdened with the travails of life?
5. Do we not, each and every night, find this deep lasting peace in deep dreamless sleep, albeit unconsciously?
6. What does this teach us about the nature of peace and suffering?
7. When the egoic mind is no longer active, peace is all there is.
8. Teachings about awareness and consciousness can be very useful and liberating – but only to a point – these too are dualistic concepts that must be cast aside for liberation to be complete.
9. The mind, which is egoic thought, convinces us that the mind is required for our survival. But is this true?
10. It can be seen directly at some point that this ‘me’ which feels and thinks it is needed to survive is actually an addition that is not required at all. It is fear-based and causes suffering.
11. When the ‘me’ is no longer here, then all division and duality ceases. There is only Oneness. Even this concept of Oneness can be a hurdle – even the concept of Oneness is too complex – it also needs to be let go of when the time is right.
12. Trying to get this is more ‘me’, a subtle form of greed and fear which is trying to make life better for the ‘me’, just like point (1)
13. What is there to say? Can this and need this be put into words at all?
This is simply about the energy of the ‘me’ totally disappearing or collapsing.
And of course it doesn’t matter if that happens or not!
Liberation simply and always already IS as EVERYTHING and NO-THING