Q. Why does Advaita Vedanta more commonly refer to ‘Self’ rather than ‘no-self’?
Tom: it is because the Non-Dual Reality that we Truly Are is only discovered when we turn towards the sense of ‘I’ or ‘I AM’, otherwise known as ‘Self’. This is the single factor that leads to realisation.
The language of the teaching is there to facilitate the method of discovery of the Self that we truly are, and this discovery is Total Liberation.
By stating that we are the Self, we are encouraged to discover this for our self in our own experience, and so turn our attention selfwards, ie. towards the Subject or ‘I AM’. When that Self that we are is discovered, only then do notions of Self or no-self themselves become obsolete.
For those who are interested this is explained in detail in the book The Path of Sri Ramana – Part 1, especially in Chapter 8
Here are 2 verses from Sri Ramana Maharshi (taken from the text Guru Vachaka Kovai):
393.One who has wisely chosen the straight path
Of self-enquiry can never go astray;
For like the bright, clear Sun, the Self
Reveals itself direct to whoso
Turns towards it.
391. Those who do not dive into the Heart
And there confront the Self in the five sheaths hid
Are only students answering out of books
Clever questions raised by books,
And not true seekers of the Self.
Many more verses like this can be found here.
Nonduality means that only you exist.
And I am not speaking of the ‘body-mind’, but That which cannot be put into words, That which you truly are.
Much gratitude to the volunteers who put this video together.
Dealing with deep layers of fear and conditioning
Q: Sometimes when my meditation becomes very deep and I stay with the I Am, there comes a sense of the whole world becoming very dark together with a sense of losing myself into something really bad and dark. My body starts to react strongly as well, and it feels like some kind of primal fear arising.
This video was recorded live during a Satsang meeting with Tom Das and put together by volunteers.
To attend satsang, see here: https://tomdas.com/events.
Q. Why do we seek?
Tom: Because we suffer.
Q. Why do we suffer?
Tom: Because we seek (something different to ‘what is’)
Q. Why do we both suffer and seek?
Tom: Because we take ourself to be a separate vulnerable body-mind entity. So long as we do so we are compelled to both suffer and seek.
Q. Why do we take ourself to be a separate body-mind entity?
Tom: Because we believe our thoughts that tell us so (ie. it is a belief that we are a body-mind entity – note that I call this belief ‘the ego’)
Q. What is the solution?
Tom: The solution is to stop this type of thinking.
Q. How can we do that?
A. We find, perhaps after much trial and error, there is only one essential method that consistently works, and that is to take one’s attention away from objective phenomena and place it upon the first person, the ‘I AM’, the Subject-Self. This practice is called Self-Enquiry. This process is explained in detail in the book The Path of Sri Ramana – Part 1
Q. My mind is too busy for this method
Tom: Then try another preliminary practice such as mantra recitation, devotion, chanting, watching the breath, hatha yoga, etc, as suits you – try another calming practice first – preferably a practice you are drawn to, and then when the mind is calm go straight back to Self-Enquiry.
Q. What about other teachings or methods?
Tom: You will find that other teachings methods (methods other than Self-Enquiry) at most only lead to a temporary effect that comes and goes. Don’t take my word for this, you can find out for yourself.
Q. Why do other methods not work?
Tom: Other methods, which involve attending to objects (gross or subtle objects such as thoughts, feelings, the breath, or other objects) invariably give rise to egoic ‘body-based’ thinking as the ego only survives when it can think of objective phenomena. And when we attend to objective phenomena you will see that the ego always finds a way to rise and ‘take control’ or ‘take the reins’ and posit itself as the true ‘I’.
Q. Isn’t this quite an extreme practice?
Tom: Yes, it is this extreme practice that is required, for most people, for the ego to end.
Q. Doesn’t this practice just perpetuate the separate ego-I?
Tom: No, that too is just another belief, that all practice necessarily perpetuates the ego-I. Try it – with consistent daily application results are quickly seen.
Q. Ok thanks!
Tom: You’re most welcome. Let me know how it goes!