Thursday, August 23, 2012



Question by an educated Seeker well-informed on Advaita : I was meditating this morning and was trying to get rid of different thoughts so as to become thoughtless as I did every morning..As a thought strikes I tried to get off it, came to no thought zone for a split second. And then a new one strikes. I did the same.
My doubt is:
Who is it that was trying to move away from different thoughts?
Today I realized that "I" knew that I was moving from one thought to another. Is it another thought that is controlling the other thoughts?
Is this no thought zone one more thought ? But I knew the drift between the thoughts.
Who is perceiving this? Is it a game of the "I-ness" thought?
Lastly, what is meant by "to be in the PRESENT"? How to be in the present "NOW"?

ramesam: Thanks for the question.
You have arrived at the mother of all the questions or rather THE only real QUESTION!!!
but let's go slowly, in the way you posed the doubts. Your words are in blue. My response is in black.

As a thought strikes I tried to get off it,

A thought has arisen. Then you say "I tried to get off". Who or what is this "I"? It is simply another thought! It is a new thought arising and placing itself to be different from the previous thought and calls itself 'a thinker' and says, "I should get rid off thinking."  But is there any difference between the new thought labeling itself "the thinker" and the previous or any other thought? NO.

..... came to no thought zone for split second

The so called no thought zone is also a perception - a thing percieved. Hence it is another ephemeral object. It cannot be the Subject and can never be permanent. All percepts (including thoughts and the  gap between two thoughts) are  objects i.e. finite limited things. They come and go. They do not stay forever.

(There is awareness of a thought, awareness of a gap and then awareness of (another) thought. Notice that That awareness is  the only unchanging common thing to all.  We shall talk about this again. For now, just please make note of this point).

And a new one strikes. I did the same.

Are you not forming a habitual pattern in this process of the so-called 'meditation'? Under the name of meditation, a pattern  is getting established by  you.

You watch a thought arising, you try to get rid of it, then you notice a gap, another thought comes up and you repeat the process. But the good news is you have already observed the game that goes on and the tricks that are being played by the mind.

My doubt is: Who is it that was trying to move from different thoughts?

Obviously it is a "desire" who is trying to move away from the thought that is currently occurring.

But that 'desire' is another thought - it (the desire) might have arisen because of some belief you had or some learning acquired by you in the past or  perhaps you heard someone teaching that you should get rid of thoughts.

Today I realized that "I" knew that I was moving from one to another thought. Is it another thought of controlling the other thoughts?
Is this no thought zone one more thought ? but I knew the drift between the thoughts.

As long as a "you" here knows the thoughts together with the gaps that are going on and is observing them, the three entities of an observer (you), the act of observing and the observed (the thought/gap) continue. This is the triad - triputi. So long as the triad exists, it is obviously a multiplicity (more than one) and it is not Unicity (a-dvaita).

 In True meditation, as JK (J. Krishnamurti) says it so often, the meditator (observer) and the meditated (object) and the act of meditation (action) do not exist as three distinct entities. The meditator, the meditated and the act of meditating become One. That means only "the act of meditating" remains without the conscious awareness of a "me" meditating. (Do NOT make this into some big incomprehensible issue. It is simply the ordinary life we live from moment to moment but without the sense of "I am doing things" (i.e. "doership"). Therefore, living naturally is itself the true "meditation").

Who is perceiving this? Is it a game of the "I ness" thought?

The Unchanging Perceiver is the real You, the Brahman, The Consciousness. Anything observed is a thought. You observe your body. So body is a thought, an ephemeral object. In contrast, The Perceiver can never know or perceive Himself - like your eye can never see itself.  If you want to perceive yourself, You as the Perceiver will be lost in Oneness, as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said, like a salt doll immersing itself in an ocean. The doll can never know the ocean. It dissolves in it and loses its "separateness."

The thought to "get rid" of thoughts, the desire for thought-free gaps are the games of I-thought (chidabhAsa - Sanskrit word to mean a fallacious appearance i.e. I-consciousness or ego).

Lastly, what is meant by "to be in the PRESENT"? How to be in the present "NOW"?

The Perceiver as the real "you" has no desires, no ambitions or concerns and has been observing everything that is going on - thoughts, gaps, wanting to move away from the current thought, wanting to control the thought etc. etc.

That Perceiver is ALWAYS AND ALL THE TIME (ETERNALLY) observing All in the PRESENT. It sees the current thought, the current object. Even if a memory of the past thought arises, that memory is occurring in the PRESENT as a thought!
So the Perceiver IS ALWAYS and ALREADY in the NOW, perceiving in the PRESENT.

You remember the thermometer metaphor. A thermometer can and always will function in the present. It cannot give you the temp of a minute ago or tomorrow's temp. The thermometer has no past or history and memory. It is the mind that has a memory. Like the thermometer, the Real Perceiver is already in the Now. You do not have to do anything about it. In fact, you cannot escape from being in the NOW. You are always in the NOW. YOU ARE THAT NOW!!! You cannot get rid off the now.

When you think about past or a future, it is actually a perception of the past or future image happening in your mind in the Now. If you think of the dinner last night, it is a thought of the dinner (with sambar or curry) occurring now.
As you read each word in this mail, your reading is happening in the Now. You are perceiving in the Now, from moment to moment.

You are that Perceiver. If you see the world, you are the Seer and the world is the mentally perceived object, a thought in the Now. You do not have to do specially any thing in the PRESENT to see the world, hear the hum from the tube-light or the noise from the street. You do not do anything to be present in the now.

The final message of Advaita is "Just stay as that Observer". Let all things arise as they come up - that is the Freedom.

Let there be no desire to change any thing. That is liberation from bondage - attachments, likes-dislikes, happiness-sorrow etc. Abiding in the unconcerned act of observing, without the feel of a "me"  existing somewhere here separate from what is observed is  -  Oneness or Identity with what is observed. Another name for that Identity (with the absence of a separate 'me') is Love.

So the only "To Do thing" is as follows:

First and foremost, the above message that "You" are the unconcerned Perceiver has to be clearly ingested.

Let the understanding be at an intellectual level to start with.

Then realize it experientially by experimenting, i.e. at the level of the body and the senses. You should know that you are not the body (which is perceived by you like you see any other object) but that You are that very Consciousness because of which You are conscious.  Remember constantly that your perceiving is already in the Now. 

Whenever the mind, out of its own old habit, pulls you away from this act of Pure Observing, pure Knowing-Being in the Now, remind yourself again that you are the Perceiver.



Unknown said...

It has become obvious to me that trying to quiet the mind is just more movement of thought. The closest I've ever come to this kind of deliberate suppression is to concentrate on not moving. That is to say, I relax my body and then relax my larynx and then my thoughts start looking like yet another kind of movement. I don't know why this works but sometimes it does. I'm not recommending it, though; it seems like just another gimmick.

I have noticed, though, that when I am in a state of “flow” (or “in the zone,” to use another common expression) the thoughts arise only when necessary. I become that which I'm doing — or at least that's how it appears in retrospect.

The opposite is true, by the way. If, for example, I'm playing the drums and the thought pops up that I must keep the beat, kerpow! I lose the beat. Every time! Thought causes me to drop out of flow. It's so obvious when it happens.

I'm puzzled that I so rarely hear mention of flow in discussions of liberation. I wonder if I'm putting too much emphasis on this phenomenon. It'd be great if it was in some way a viable demonstration of liberation, because most people realize that they do experience flow (once it's pointed out to them).

I welcome any comments about this!

Ramesam Vemuri said...

ramesam said...
Thanks for the interesting observations.

The fact that 'breath' is related to thoughts was understood by the ancient Seers. So they tried to control thought through the control of breath. These exercises are known as "Pranayama", as you may be knowing. But one soon realizes that this is an effortful activity and does not lead to the ultimate Truth.

The Ultimate Truth is the natural position which is total freedom, unchanging with time and as a matter of fact it is beyond space-time dimensions. Advaita teaches that this natural state is Consciousness-Beingness-Happiness. If one "ignores" abiding in this natural state, he experiences 'suffering.'

"Ignorance" here means identifying oneself with an arising thought instead of remaining as the mere 'Witnessor' of the thought. Identification with the arising thought engenders a 'Me.' That 'me-thought' is the 'ego.' The ego then claims certain things witnessed as mine (e.g. body) and certain things as not mine (e.g external world). Continuing this process, the ego gets more and more consolidated. Hence the key for liberation is "non-identification of oneself with the ego thought." That is to stay without ego.

In the "flow" or zone (Mihalay Csikzentmihalyi), at that specific moment, one is not even conscious of one's own self, body, ego etc. The man is one with the activity. There is no separation or separate person claiming 'ownership' of whatever situation that is and 'doership' of whatever actions that go on. This is 'egoless' state. It is a glimpse of Oneness.

One also has a taste of Oneness in deep sleep.

But the most important point to be noted is that this Oneness is NOT an experience because there is absolutely no experiencer. If there is an 'experiencer', i.e. a claimant for the experience, the
individuating 'ego thoguht' has popped up separating the 'person' (the experiencer)to be an entity distinct from the remaining world, thereby creating duality. Duality is suffering.

November 25, 2012 2:39 AM

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

“These exercises are known as "Pranayama", as you may be knowing.”

You can safely assume that I have only faint comprehension of any Sanskrit term. Fortunately, I'm finding your explanations far easier to follow than explanations I've heard in the past. It seems your scientific background has given you practice at explaining complex things in simple terms.

It's such a breath of fresh air (for me)!

“In the "flow" or zone .... is a glimpse of Oneness.”

Ah, yes, that's what I thought.

I find it odd that so rarely do I read about flow as a means by which people can see, as plain as day, that they can glimpse Oneness — and when they do it can be a familiar, ordinary experience rather than some wild supernatural state.

“... this Oneness is NOT an experience because there is absolutely no experiencer ...”

So it seems to me. That's why I said “I become that which I'm doing — or at least that's how it appears in retrospect.” When I'm at one with an activity the kind of cognition that seems tied to “me-ness” pops up only when it is useful as a tool. Then it goes away again.

For example, I might be building something and will measure things in terms of cubits or hand-spans. In such cases I'm using “my” body as a tool but the identification can drop away once the tool has done its job.

Mind you, if the phone rings just as I'm reaching a crucial moment in the activity the “me” can rise up, snarling. The phone call snaps me out of flow and suddenly they're interrupting my project!