Know well that even performing tapas (spiritual practice) and yoga with the intention ‘I should become an instrument in the hands of the Lord Siva’ is a blemish to complete self-surrender, which is the highest form of being in His service.
(Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 471)
Sri Sadhu Om’s Comments:
Since even the thought ‘I am an instrument in the Lord’s hand’ is a means by which the ego retains its individuality, it is directly opposed to the spirit of complete self-surrender, the ‘I’-lessness. Are there not many good-natured people who engage themselves in prayers, worship, yoga and such virtuous acts with the aim of achieving power from God and doing good to the world as one divinely commissioned? It is exposed here that even such endeavours are egotistical and hence contrary to self-surrender.
Anyone else think that your personality has to be perfect and that every pore of your being has to exude an energy of loving kindness in order for the Freedom that already is to be realised? What a prison!
With respect to seeking enlightenment, what’s wrong with THIS, right now?
Freedom is already totally completely here.
Stop all this worrying and obsessing over the apparent individual and here it is, full and complete. No need to improve the individual or the world. Then things start to right themselves naturally, according to natural law. Not that you care. It’s just the way it is.
No need to judge and evaluate apparent ‘teachers’ – that’s more obsessing about the apparent individual, the individuality you project onto them.
Now there is nothing wrong with desire to improve oneself or the world. It is quite natural in certain circumstances. The desire to change something happens by itself when it happens. It too is Spontaneous Arising, a part of ‘what is’.
Look! See! Notice! All these phenomena are empty of any independent doer-self-entity.
Freedom is already here. What does it feel like? It feels like THIS. No need to seek a new or better experience, although that too is allowed. THIS IS IT.
Annamalai Swami: Bhagavan watched me very closely in the years that I served him in the ashram. One time I went to the Mother’s temple where many people were talking about worldly matters.
Bhagavan called me back, saying, ‘Why should you go to that crowd? Don’t go to crowded places. If you move with the crowd, their vasanas will infect you.’
Bhagavan always encouraged me to live a solitary life and not mix with other people. That was the path he picked for me. Other people got different advice that was equally good for them.
But while he actively discouraged me from socialising, he also discouraged me from sitting quietly and meditating during the years that I was working in the ashram. In this period of my life, if Bhagavan saw me sitting with my eyes closed he would call out to me and give me some work to do.
On one of these occasions he told me,
‘Don’t sit and meditate. It will be enough if you don’t forget that you are the Self. Keep this in your mind all the time while you are working. This sadhana will be enough for you. The real sadhana is not to forget the Self. It is not sitting quietly with one’s eyes closed. You are always the Self. Just don’t forget it.’
Bhagavan’s way does not create a war between the mind and the body. He does not make people sit down and fight the mind with closed eyes. Usually, when you sit in meditation, you are struggling to achieve something, fighting to gain control over the mind. Bhagavan did not advise us to engage in this kind of fight. He told us that there is no need to engage in a war against the mind, because mind does not have any real, fundamental existence. This mind, he said, is nothing but a shadow. He advised me to be continuously aware of the Self while I did the ordinary things of everyday life, and in my case, this was enough.
The above is an excerpt taken from Final Talks by Annamalai Swami, p. 67
The following are adapted from recent Facebooks posts of mine
The body-mind entity can accept, reject or be indifferent to things. This is relative acceptance and is an action that can be performed. Awareness is all-accepting, always embracing ‘what is’. This is total/absolute acceptance and is not something that you can do, but something that can be recognised as already being here.
Awareness cannot accept or reject anything, as it does nothing. It just is: present and aware. All actions occur at the level of the body and mind (and world).
Awareness could be said to unconditonally/choicelessly ‘accept’ everything that occurs within it, in the same way a mirror ‘choicelessly accepts’ the reflection within it.
…but actually, as this example illustrates, the mirror-like awareness is not actually doing anything apart from ‘being itself’.
In the way I speak about this, awareness cannot identify with anything. It is only the mind that identifies with/as the mind.
Or to put it differently, thought imagines it’s a thinker and believes itself.
Awareness is ever-free, just like the mirror in the example above
Through identifying with choiceless awareness/consciousness for sometime, the ego/doer is seen through and no longer identified with. Then the identification as being choiceless awareness/consciousness also can be dropped.
What we are left with is ‘just this’: simple, direct, beyond words. This is the ‘realm beyond verbal teachings’.
Here the apparent duality conceptualised by differentiating (viveka) between that-which-changes (objects) and that which doesn’t change in our experience (the subject, I) is resolved into non-duality.
Q: You say there is no doer, and that this is a key point in your teaching, but who or what sees there is no doer?
Tom: Why do you ask? What do you hope to gain from that question? Do you think that knowing the answer to this question will set you free? Do you think the answer to this question can be found in words? Contemplate on these questions.
It’s easy to say that ‘I see’, or that ‘awareness sees’, but does this really get us anywhere? What is the concept of awareness but another way of verbalising that something is being perceived. When we say ‘awareness sees’ or ‘I am aware’, all we are really saying is that ‘something is seen’. It’s tautology, just a different way of saying the same thing.
Q: So why do so many non-dual teachers prescribe self-inquiry as a method?
Tom: The real point of asking ‘who or what sees’ (ie. self enquiry) is to notice that what we commonly take ourselves to be is actually something that is seen, and is not the seer/doer at all. What we, in ignorance or misapprehension, commonly take to be the subject is actually experienced as an object(s). This is also the point of the awareness teachings, to see through the doer – not to get caught up and identified with a concept of awareness.
We commonly take ourself to be the body-mind apparatus, but it can be seen that the body and mind are both objects that are perceived. The body and mind, as far as our direct experience goes, are parts of our experience, they are parts of ‘the perceived’. There is no evidence that they are perceivers of the experience. (That is not to say that they are not representations of the subject/perceiver within our consciousness, but just that there is no evidence either way).
Q: OK… (pause)
Tom: So, back to your question: what is it that sees?
Here’s the shorter answer: that which sees is that which sees. Why name it? Does naming it mean we know it any better? Are we any the wiser for naming it or calling it ‘awareness’ or ‘consciousness’ or ‘me’ or ‘I’?
Why settle for verbal explanations or spiritual-sounding slogans? Instead question these statements. Don’t get rid of one dogma and replace it with another. Be true to yourself, be true to what you know and your own experience:
Things are seen – that much I know. What sees? – I do not know…
Q: But don’t we need to know exactly what it is that sees?
Tom: No. Not only do we not need to know what sees, we cannot know what sees (as an object). We only know that we see, and not what sees. That is enough. And that’s our actual experience, right? We don’t need to take on a new belief such as the belief that we are awareness. Sure, we are aware. or you could say awareness is here, but we don’t have to go further and say ‘I am awareness’. Let’s just stick to our experience and not pretend to know something that we don’t. As Ramana Maharshi says:
There are a few other aspects to the teachings too, which I’ll quickly summarise for you. I go into more detail on the group meetings, but briefly:
1. We need to stop mistaking certain objects (ie. the appearance of the body-mind organism) for being the subject. That is a key purpose of what I call the ‘awareness teachings’ that are found in Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta and in many schools of Mahayana Buddhism.
2. We need to notice and understand deeply that all objects are transient – they all come and go, and that no object brings lasting satisfaction. As this realisation deepens and takes root, this leads us to naturally turn away from depending on objects as a source of happiness. This leads to our addictive and suffering-causing desires (vasanas) to naturally fall away. Suffering dissolves away and joy naturally rises in its place, rearing its head from time to time as it pleases.
3. We need to see that all objects comes and go spontaneously, including thoughts and actions, and so realise that there is no doer-entity controlling it all. What we call the mind is just a spontaneous succession of thoughts, with no evidence of any entity controlling it. This is the real point of self-enquiry.
As Ramana Maharshi said when a questioner asked him about self-enquiry:
When we see the false to be false, meaning when we see the doer (ego) is an illusion, whatever remains is reality. It just is whatever is. It doesn’t have to be named, known or understood – it’s just what is.
Questioner: There are times when persons and things take a vague, almost transparent form, as in a dream. One ceases to observe them as outside, but passively conscious of their existence, while not actively conscious of any kind of selfhood. There is a deep quietness in the mind.
Is it at such times that one is ready to dive into the Self? Or is this condition unhealthy, the result of self hypnotism? Should it be encouraged as yielding temporary peace?
Ramana Maharshi: There is Consciousness along with quietness in the mind. This is exactly to be aimed at. The fact that the question has formed on this point, without realizing that it is the Self, shows that the state is not steady but casual.
The word ‘diving’ is appropriate when there are outgoing tendencies, and when, therefore, the mind has to be directed and turned within, there is a dip below the surface of externalities. But when quietness prevails without obstructing the Consciousness, where is the need to dive?
Taken from Talks with Ramana Maharshi, Talk 348
The sadhana (spiritual practice) that Bhagawan recommends above is to simply remain quiet (in mind and thought) and also to remain aware.
This is self-knowledge. This is the Self.
When thoughts can come and go without disturbing this essential quality of mind, there is no need to ‘dive’ using the tools of Self Inquiry (ie. the question ‘Who am I?’). With time it may be seen that nothing ever disturbs this ‘peace that passeth all understanding’, and that nothing ever did.
It was always here, fully manifest, right under our noses.
Here is the gateway to Self-knowledge or liberation.
Time and time again I hear from spiritual seekers that they glimpsed the Self, they experienced that ecstasy, but it slipped through their fingers and fell away. Their question to me is how to get it back again. This is the wrong question, this is the wrong way, as it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the path.
Everything that comes can also go. Everything that comes, all experiences that have been attained, are not the Self.
The Self is no particular experience. It is always here, fully manifest, fully evident. Everything that is perceived is It. It is not different from whatever is being perceived to be happening.
Realising that ‘this is It’ is Self-realisation. It is simply seeing what already is the case. When it is seen, there is no desire to reach a new experience, and a seeing that everything happens spontaneously without the presence of a separate doer-entity. Here suffering falls away as the simple truth of no-doer is seen.
Actions, thoughts and desires continue to manifest themselves, spontaneously, but there is nobody doing it, just like the wind blowing or digestion happening. Things happen, no doer.
As long are you are alive, you always are, you always exist. No matter what happens, you are. This knowledge of (your) being is Self-knowledge. It is not something to attain, just something to be ‘acknowledged’. It is not separate from whatever is perceived to be happening. How can this ‘knowledge’ be lost?
“There will come a time when one will have to forget all that one has learned.”
from ‘Who am I’ by Ramana Maharshi
Ultimate truth is simply that which never changes. It is here, now, everywhere and always already in its full glory. It is not separate from whatever is happening or from what is currently being experienced. Ultimate truth does not require you to believe in it or even do anything for it. Just drop all wrong thoughts and whatever remains is It. It cannot be caught in concepts.
The main role of the spiritual path is not to learn about ultimate truth, as it cannot be accumulated, but to discard falsehood. Seeing through false assumptions is what is called ‘spiritual knowledge’. It is not knowledge in the conventional sense at all really.
Conventionally speaking, learning is about accumulation of knowledge, but spiritual learning is more like pruning a hedge or chipping away at a block of stone to reveal a beautiful sculpture beneath. Put simply, spiritual learning is unlearning. Spiritual knowledge is seeing through false ideas.
“The state of Self-realisation, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been. All that is needed is that you give up your realisation of the not-true as true.”
Anything that is learnt as being true is in the realm of relative knowledge. Anything that is learnt can also be forgotten whereas the Ultimate neither comes nor goes. Any statement posited as being true can be questioned and doubted leaving with it the bitter taste of uncertainty.
The Ultimate cannot be conceptualised. Conceptualisation itself relies on the Ultimate for its existence. All statements of truth rely on supporting structures and logic, eg. underpinning scientific or philosophical reasoning. The Ultimate truth stands by itself without needing outside support. It is none other than what you truly are. Look and you shall see.