What does ‘there is no person’ actually mean? (The doer-perceiver split)

Advertisements

Roger Castillo and Tom Das: a Joint Satsang 2018

Please join us for Satsang this week:

A Joint Satsang with Roger Castillo and Tom Das
Thursday 16th August, 7pm
The Druids’s Head Pub, Kingston Upon Thames, UK

For more details see link below. Please RSVP if you would like to attend so we can get an idea of numbers:

Roger Castillo and Tom Das: a Joint Satsang 2018

Thursday, Aug 16, 2018, 7:00 PM

The Druids Head
3 Market Pl, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1JT Kingston Upon Thames, GB

10 Members Attending

Please RSVP here so we can get an idea of numbers Roger Castillo (rogercastillo.org) will be returning this year to join me for a joint Satsang. As always, the focus will be on exploring a genuine freedom in the midst of daily life. Afterwards we will both be in the bar area for a more informal chat. I do hope you can join us. Optional donation: £1…

Check out this Meetup →

The Chandogya Upanishad: Tat Tvam Asi

Upanishad vedanta satsang

Tat Tvam Asi is one of the most famous phrases from the ancient upanishadic texts. But what does it mean?

Tat = that
Tvam = thou or you
Asi = art or are
Tat Tvam Asi = That thou art, or thou art that, or you are that

‘That’ refers to the absolute. ‘You’ normally refers to the limited separate body-mind identity  known in advaita vedanta as the jiva, but in this aphorism from the Upanishads it is implicitly declared, via the word ‘asi’, that you are not the jiva but the absolute.

This phrase, Tat Tvam Asi, is repeatedly uttered by Uddalaka to his son Shvetaketu as recorded in the Chandogya Upanishad, and is considered one of the four Mahavakyas (great utterances) of the Upanishads. Below are just two of the teaching exampes it occurs in, taken from sections twelve and thirteen of the Chandogya Upanishad:

Uddalaka: “Bring me a fruit from the banyan tree.”
Shvetaketu: “Here is one, Father.”
Uddalaka: “Break it open.”
Shvetaketu: “It is broken, Father.”
Uddalaka: “What do you see there?”
Shvetaketu: “These tiny seeds.”
Uddalaka: “Now break one of them open.”
Shvetaketu: “It is broken, Father.”
Uddalaka: “What do you see there?”
Shvetaketu: “Nothing, Father.”
Uddalaka: “My son, you know there is a subtle essence which you do not perceive, but through that essence the truly immense banyan tree exists. Believe it, my son. Everything that exists has its self in that subtle essence. It is Truth. It is the Self, and you, Shvetaketu, are that.”
Shvetaketu: “Please, Father, teach me more.”
Uddalaka: “I will, my son,”

——-

Uddalaka: “Place this salt in water, and come back to me in the morning.”
The son did as he was told.
Uddalaka (in the morning): “Bring me the salt you put in the water last night.”
Shvetaketu (after looking): “Father, I cannot find it.”
Uddalaka: “Of course not; it has dissolved. Now taste the water from the surface. How does it taste?”
Shvetaketu: “It’s salty.”
Uddalaka: “Taste the water from the middle of the bowl. How does it taste?”
Shvetaketu: “It’s salty.”
Uddalaka: “Now taste the water from the bottom. How does it taste?”
Shvetaketu: “It’s salty.”
Uddalaka: “Go, throw it away and come back to me.”
He did so, and returned.
Shvetaketu: “But, father, although I have thrown it away, the salt remains.”
Uddalaka: “Likewise, though you cannot hear or perceive or know the subtle essence, it is here. Everything that exists has its self in that subtle essence. It is Truth. It is the Self, and you, Shvetaketu, are that.”
Shvetaketu: “Please, Father, teach me more.”
Uddalaka: “I will, my son.”

Ramana Maharshi: How to bring spiritual practice into daily life

41k1lywu0sl

Many people find it difficult to engage in spiritual practices during the ups and downs of daily life. In the following dialogue recounted by Devaraja Mudaliar, a questioner asks Ramana Maharshi 5 questions related to this:

Mr. Joshi put five questions. I give below the questions and Sri Bhagavan’s answers:

Question 1: Should I go on asking ‘who am I?’ without answering? Who asks whom? Which bhavana (attitude) should be in the mind at the time of inquiry? What is ‘I’, the Self or the ego?

Answer: In the inquiry Who am I? ‘I’ is the ego. The question really means, ‘what is the source or origin of this ego?’ You need not have any bhavana in the mind. All that is required is, you must give up any bhavana that you are the body, of such and such description, with such and such a name, etc., There is no need to have a bhavana about your real nature. It exists as it always does. It is real and no bhavana.

Question 2: I cannot be always engaged in this inquiry, for I have got other work to do, and when I do such work, I forget this quest.

Answer: When you do other work, do you cease to exist? You always exist. Do you not?

Question 3: Without the sense of doership, – the sense ‘I am of doing’ – work cannot be done.

Answer: It can be done. Work without attachment. Work will go on even better than when you worked with the sense that you were the doer.

Question 4: I don’t understand what work I should do and what not.

 

Answer: Don’t bother. What is destined as work to be done by you in this life, will be done by you, whether you like it or not.

Question 5: Why should I try to realize? I will emerge from this state, as I wake up from a dream. We do not make an attempt to get out of a dream during sleep.

Answer: In a dream, you have no inkling that it is a dream and so you don’t have the duty of trying to get out of it by your own effort. But in this life, you have some intuition, by your sleep experience, by reading and hearing, that this life is something like a dream, and hence the duty is cast on you to make an effort and get out of it. However, who wants you realize the Self if you don’t want it? If you prefer to be in the dream, stay as you are.

With reference to question 4, Mrs. P.C. Desai quoting the Bhagavad Gita asked Bhagavan: If (as Arjuna was told) there is a certain work destined to be done by each and we shall eventually do it however much we do not wish to do it or refuse to do it, is there any freewill?

Bhagavan said: ‘It is true that the work meant to be done by us will be done by us. But it is open to us to be free from the joys and pains, pleasant and unpleasant consequences of the work, not identifying ourselves with the body or that which does the work. If you realize your true nature, and know that it is not you, that does any work, you will be unaffected by the consequences of whatever work the body may be engaged in according to destiny or past karma or divine plan, however you may call it. You are always free and there is no limitation of that freedom.’

(The above excerpt is from Day by Day with Bhagavan, pages 88-90) 

Tom’s Comments:

Here we can distill several key points:

1. You always exist, regardless of whether you are thinking about it or not, regardless of what you are doing.

2. The issue is that you take yourself to be the body-mind and therefore you take yourself to be a doer who has to choose what actions to do and suffer the consequences thereof. Instead relinquish the idea that you are the body-mind, and don’t take yourself to be the doer of any actions or receiver of pleasure/pain.

3. When you don’t take yourself to be the body-mind-doer-receiver, life still continues and the body-mind appearance still is able to fulfil its responsibilities – in fact it becomes more efficient in doing so.

4. Whatever is destined to happen will happen regardless of your desires about this.

5. Effort must be made to cast off the ignorance ‘I am the body-mind-doer-receiver’.

6. You are, in truth, always ever free. You are the Self. Know this and remain naturally unaffected by the life-appearance. In this way sadhana is in no way opposed to daily life.

Om Guru Ramana!

Ramana Maharshi: Is renunciation necessary for Self-realisation?

41k1lywu0sl

Visitor: Is renunciation necessary for Self-realisation?

Bhagavan: Renunciation and realisation are the same. They are different aspects of the same state. Giving up the non-self is renunciation. Inhering in the Self is jnana or Self-realisation. One is the negative and the other the positive aspect of the same, single truth.

Bhakti, jnana, yoga — are different names for Self-realisation or mukti which is our real nature. These appear as the means first. They eventually are the goal.

So long as there is conscious effort required on our part to keep up bhakti, yoga, dhyana, etc., they are the means. When they go on without any effort on our part, we have attained the goal.

There is no realisation to be achieved. The real is ever as it is. What we have done is, we have realised the unreal, i.e., taken for real the unreal. We have to give up that.  That is all that is wanted.

Visitor: How has the unreal come? Can the unreal spring from the real?

Bhagavan: See if it has sprung. There is no such thing as the unreal, from another standpoint.

The Self alone exists. When you try to trace the ego, based on which alone the world and all exist, you find the ego does not exist at all and so also all this creation.

(The above excerpt is from Day by Day with Bhagavan, page 87)

Tom’s comments:

Here in the above passage we find three central facets of Bhagavan Ramana’s teachings.

1. Firstly the non-self must be given up or let go of. By non-self, it is meant everything that is perceived. This includes the entire mental realm of thoughts, feelings and imaginings as well as the so-called physical world of the body and objects – i.e all experiences. This is the way the term is used in classical advaita vedanta. By given up it is meant do not be attached, or let go of all appearances. Allow all to come and go in your being.

Initially this renunciation or letting go is something you do, a practice, or as he states above, ‘the means’. Eventually this becomes natural as the habitual tendency (vasana) to identify with the non-self is dissolved through the practice (sadhana). At this point, when the vasanas have been removed, this is realisation.

2. Secondly Bhagavan then reminds us that realisation is not something to be attained. Realisation is who we are, it is our very nature, it is always and already here, so why do we need to attain that which we already are? (We don’t!). We just have to give up the wrong ideation we have, namely the fixation on the non-self and taking ourself to be the body-mind. When we give up everything, the only thing we lose is our illusions, that which is false. That which is real, the Self, can never be lost, and it is ever-realised.

3. Thirdly, when Bhagavan is asked about how the unreal can come from the real, bhagavan states in reality the unreal never was. The self alone is. Here he briefly describes his teaching of self-enquiry, namely that when you try to find the ego, you cannot find it. He then, in very concise form, states that the appearance of the world is dependent upon the false belief in ego. When the ego cannot be found and has been seen to be non-existent, you also realise that the world too is non-existent, that the entire thing is an illusion. This too is realisation! This too is renunciation of non-self! This too is jnana, bhakti and yoga!

Of note, the first point I mentioned above dealing with removal of vasanas is the purification part of the teaching, in which we let go of non-self or ‘the world’ (including the mind and body) through spiritual sadhana (practice), at least initially. Points two and three refer to what I call the insight aspect of the teachings in which the unreal is seen to be false or non-existent. These two aspects of the teachings go together beautifully, with insight naturally leading to renunciation (letting go of non-self/abiding as self) and sadhana enhancing insight and abiding as self and removing the vasanas (habitual tendencies) towards ignorance (of self) and taking hold of non-self.

 

3 stories of awakening: no path vs sudden path vs gradual paths to enlightenment

Here are 3 stories for you:

Story 1

One morning God wakes up. She realises, non-verbally, intuitively, that she is whole-complete and lives happily ever after.

Story 2

One morning God wakes up. God thinks he is small, separate and vulnerable. This leads him to fear for his survival and desire security and relief from his fear (pleasure).

He meets a friend of his called Spiritual Seeker. Spiritual Seeker tells him to visit Guru.

God visits Guru and Guru says all is well, you are already whole and complete. Separation and the ‘small me’ are illusions.

God resonates with this teaching, intuitively sees what is being pointed at is already the present-reality, and the sense of inadequacy associated with the belief in separation dissolves. God realises that the separation between God, Guru and Life are themselves illusory. There is no teacher or teaching.

He lives happily ever after

Story 3

It is the same as story 2, except for the last line:

Once God’s meeting with Guru ends, due to the force of the momentum of past beliefs which have been so deeply ingrained over a lifetime, God quickly starts to re-believe that he is a separate ‘me’.

Everytime she meets Guru, the ‘me’ temporarily collapses and great relief is experienced, but after sometime the false beliefs keep on rising up. The belief in the false me seems to have a mind of its own, rising up choicelessly, seemingly wreaking havoc and destruction.

Guru gives God some practices for her to do: chanting, devotion, meditation, being still, letting go, relaxing, mindfulness. Guru says pretend everything is an illusion, pretend everything is consciousness, pretend everything is God, have gratitude for everything that comes your way. Be still. Follow your heart and let your heart guide you Home, to Love and Peace.

Over time God’s mind becomes peaceful, happier and less interested in and addicted to thoughts and beliefs. The habitual tendency to believe in a ‘me’ is lessened.

Guru has also all the time has been saying all is well, you are already whole and complete. Separation and the ‘small me’ are illusions.

Now when God is away from Guru, the old beliefs in ‘me’ no longer arise. God sees that all practices are for the illusory ‘me’ and they perpetuate the illusory ‘me’, but they were still part of her apparent journey.

The sense of inadequacy associated with the belief in separation dissolves. God realises that the separation between God, Guru and Life are themselves illusory. There is no teacher or teaching.

She lives happily ever after.

Q. What is the best spiritual practice for a busy mind?

Q. What is the best spiritual practice for a busy mind?

Tom: I don’t know exactly which practice is right for you. That is for you to find out.

What do you feel drawn to?

As we have already spoken about this before, the main thing for you is that you try something for a significant amount of time to see if it has a beneficial effect before dismissing it.

For an especially busy mind I would recommend trying physical exercise, singing, dancing, chanting a mantra, praying and devotion to God/something.

Also stay away from TV/media and adopt a diet that is as plant-based as possible.

These are all suggestions, not directives.

This allows the mind’s positive and negative energies to balance and for peace to arise, which in turn facilitates stillness and deep insight.