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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
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,
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
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?
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.”
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?
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:
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):
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:
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:
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.
Please join us – all are welcome and no prior knowledge is required. We meet online twice every week (every Thursday and Sunday). After the meeting there is an opportunity to stay and connect with other people attending the meeting. To join or find out more please see this link.
Question: I get confused between the idea of Turiya, the so-called 4th state, which is the Self, and the idea of Turiyatita or beyond the 4th state. How can there be something beyond the Absolute Self, the ‘4th’?
Tom: Turiya means the Self. That is the only reality – there is no real ‘beyond turiya’ (turiyatita). First see how Turiya is defined in the Mandukya Upanishad in verse 7 here.
Then note what Bhagavan Sri Ramana says in Guru Vachaka Kovai verse 567:
567. The difference between the first three dense states and the fourth and fifth states are only for those who are not able to immerse and abide firmly in turiya, which shines piercing through the dark ignorance of sleep.
Sadhu Om’s commentary: The import of this verse is that advanced aspirants should know that all states other than turiya which are mentioned in scriptures [i.e. sleep, waking, dream and turiyatita] are unreal.
Tom: Now see further verses from Guru Vachaka Kovai which explain Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching on this subject further:
In Jnanis, who have destroyed the ego, the three states [waking, dream and sleep], which were seen previously, will disappear, and the noble state of turiya [the ‘fourth’] will itself shine gloriously in them as turiyatita [the state transcending the ‘fourth’].
Tom’s comments: ie. the forth state (Turiya) is in fact Turiyatita – they are one and the same. This is stated more explicitly in the next 2 verses:
The state of turiya, which is Self, pure sat-chit, is itself the non-dual turiyatita. Know that the three states are mere [false] appearances, and that Self is the supporting base for them [i.e. the base on which they appear and disappear].
Is it not only if the other three states [waking, dream and sleep] were real that wakeful sleep [jagrat- sushupti], the pure Jnana, would be the fourth? Since those three states are [found to be] unreal in front of turiya, that [turiya] is the only state; know [therefore] that it [turiya] is itself turiyatita.
Using much simpler language, I also explain this type of teaching in a slightly different way that you may find helpful here in this video: