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.
Tom: if there is any sense of individuality whatsoever, then that is ego; if there is any sense or something apart or outside of you, then that is ego; if there is any sense of multiplicity, that is ego; if there is any notion ‘I am the body-mind’, then that is ego. The ego, no matter how refined, is suffering. The ego is the body-mind-world appearance.
In Reality, there has never been any ego, there has never been any duality or multiplicity, there has never been any suffering whatsoever. Reality is only Infinite Love & Bliss, Infinite Being-Consciousness, Formless-Spirit-Bliss.
To realise this one must turn within.
To say ‘there is no ego’ without turning within and dissolving into Reality – that is merely the ego-mind saying ‘there is no ego’.
To say ‘all is One’ without venturing inwards and discovering the Self (by Being That) – that is merely the ego-mind saying ‘all is One’.
In this way (through not turning within, through not inquiring into the Subject-Self) ego-mind-suffering-duality continue.
Hence the instruction to turn within.
The true teachings always emphasise the Subject (Reality or Self) and to turn towards and discover That, whereas false teachings emphasise objects, stating things like ‘all these objects are already That so no need to turn within’ and ‘there already is no ego so no need to turn within for what entity could even turn within?’. So egotism, duality and suffering are perpetuated.
Therefore turn within and discover what you truly are
Why did ignorance arise? Why is there maya or illusion at all? Why do we suffer if we are really the Self? What does Advaita Vedanta say about this? What was Sri Ramana Maharshi’s view? What does Tom think about this? The Law of attraction will also be mentioned and we will also hear a story from the Buddha about this…
Questioner: I have a question, if Ajnanam (ignorance) is removed* that means the whole source of Samsara is removed. In such a case why should the Jnani (realised sage) even have Prarabdha Karma*. That also should not be present right?
Tom: In Truth, there is not even any such thing as a Jnani (meaning a person or body-mind that is ‘realised’) – there is only That Objectless Subject-Self-Brahman. So there is no karma whatsoever for ‘a Jnani’ (a Jnani here meaning the Self). The self has no duality, and no karma. Karma is born of ignorance and is maya, unreal. They are one and the same – karma and ignorance – or one comes from the other. This is also what is taught in the Upanishads (eg. Adhyatma Upanishad) and by Shankara, both in his commentaries and in texts such as Vivekachudamani.
*Removal of ignorance is the same as Self-Realisation, so say the Upanishads, so says Shankara.
**Tom: Prarabdha Karma is the portion of karma that, according to the Vedas, gives rise to the body in the present birth and will play out and determine the specifics of the present life. A simple translation could be ‘destiny’ or ‘what is destined for this life’. The idea of this question is that, for example, if you have ‘been bad’ in the past and have accumulated negative karma as a result, even though you have realised the Self, this negative karma may continue and cause suffering for you even after Self-Realisation. The Upanishads are clear that all karmas and all suffering end upon Self-Realisation, so one need not even fear the negative results of one’s past actions if one realises the Self.
Q. I have a question. If mind guides us while we are awake and in dream, and in sleep we are not conscious (because mind is switched off), doesn’t that imply mind is what we mistake for ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness’?
Tom: Yes, that is correct. We consider ourselves to be awake/conscious in both the waking state and the dream (whilst we are dreaming) and asleep/unconscious in deep sleep.
Actually it is just the mind, ie. ignorance/duality, that is awake in ‘waking’ and dream and we are actually fully conscious in deep sleep – it is just the mind that is ‘asleep’.
This is why the in the Bhagavad Gita verse 2:69 it states: ‘What all [ignorant] beings consider as day is the night of ignorance for the wise, and what all [ignorant] creatures see as night is the day for the introspective sage.’
Tom: Yes, ego-mind-thought must die for realisation to occur. Those who are still attached to the body-mind-world and still take themselves to be the body say otherwise.
Ego is ignorance. Ego is duality. It is the ego that creates/projects the body-mind and world, like in a dream. When ego goes, everything goes, and all that remains is the Self. It cannot be put into words or understood by the mind. In truth ego never existed at all.
Objections to this such as ‘how does the sage function without ego’ only occur in ignorance of taking the sage to be the body and in the presense of ego-ignorance seeing body-mind-world.
The paradox of this cannot be explained in words, but when the mind becomes so completely and utterly still so that time and space and personhood all cease to exist, this ‘Self’ is somehow ‘known without knowing’.