This post follows on from my previous 3 posts relating to the body:
- Do you know for certain that you are the body?
- Are you or are you not the body?
- Why does understanding the body matter?
Seeing this is not always enough
However, for many people simply seeing there is no doer is not enough. Why? Well we have lived our lives for many years with the deeply ingrained belief that we are doers, with the belief that we are the creator of our thoughts and instigators of our actions. This habitual belief is not so easily washed away, and even when seen, it can continue to operate and cause us to suffer.
In vedanta a common methodology used to counteract this is to utilise a concept that opposes and counteracts the ignorance:
‘I am not the body’ is a tool by which one can weed out the ‘I am the body’ notion.
Practice of the knowledge ‘I am not the body’ is a conceptual tool by which one can weed out the belief in ‘I am the body’ concept.
Note that ‘I am not the body’ is a concept. If believed in, ie. if considered to be genuinely true, it would be a belief. You do not have to believe a concept is true in order to benefit from it. You can use the concept either way, whether you believe in it or not.
To be continued in my next post: Integrating the understanding of no-doer
Q: But who sees there is no doer? Isn’t it the ego itself that sees through the illusion of self?
I use the word ‘ego’ to be synonymous with ‘doer’. Because there is a belief in being a doer, there is the notion that ‘I can change this’, ‘I can get somewhere better’, which is the seeking. This seeking is a subtle form of suffering.
When the doer is seen to be false, the seeking starts to collapse, and suffering fades.
To answer your question: who or what sees there is no ego? That which previously saw the ego is that which sees there is no ego. It is never the ego that sees: the ego is a construct of thought, which is always the seen.
The word yoga can be used to describe a series of specific methods which aid and direct the seeker towards the goal of the ending of suffering or of attaining realisation. So let me start by saying something quite obvious: all of the yogas* are practices to be performed or actions to be done. They are therefore meant to be performed by a person who thinks themselves to be a separate doer-entity.
The very existence of the (illusory) separate doer implies a duality – in fact the imagined doer is the essence of duality, the first conceptual step from which all other dualistic notions proceed from. The duality that it sets up is between that of the subject (the doer) and objects (the objects of the world in which actions are done).
The aim of all yogas is, through practice, to facilitate a seeing/realisation that the separate doer-entity is an illusion. And therein lies the apparent paradox. Yoga is action undertaken by the (imaginary) separate doer in order to see through this illusion of doership.
*Traditionally there are several key yogas outlined in the vedic texts, the main ones being Jnana Yoga (yoga of knowledge or understanding), Karma Yoga (yoga of action), Bhakti Yoga (yoga of devotion) and Raja Yoga (the king of yogas).
How yoga works
The essence of yoga
Ramana Maharshi: The 4 paths to freedom (the 4 yogas)
Be what you are…All that is needful is to lose the ego, That what is, is always there. Even now you are That…
…The thought ‘I have not seen’, the expectation to see and the desire of getting something, are all the working of the ego.
You have fallen into the snares of the ego. The ego says all these and not you. Be yourself and nothing more!
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi on non-doership and self-realisation
Ramana Maharshi: Self-inquiry (atma vichara) and doership
Killing the ego is the only thing to accomplish.
Realisation is already there. No attempt is needed to attain realisation. For it is nothing external, nothing new.
It is always and everywhere here and now too.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
Time after time, again and again, Ramana says the only thing needed to do is remove the ego. Reality does not need to be realised, for it is already and always being realised.
Remove the ego, and reality shines by itself, as it always has done.
What is the ego? The ego is the notion of doership.
How to remove the ego? See that the sense of doership is an illusion. It doesn’t exist. There is no doer, there never was a doer, it was all imagined!