Friday, October 19, 2012

Desire for Liberation

Desire for Liberation

Question by Mr. Q-- :  I was going through your blog, it is beautiful. What is the relevance of the methods prescribed by the ancient scriptures in the present day?  Trying to emulate them leads us no where I guess.

ramesam: Thank you for the comment about the Blog.

I am inclined to think the same way as you expressed about our ancient scriptural stipulations / eligibility conditionalities. After all, they were developed to cater to a populace that had no present day informationbase, schooling systems, civic and other facilities and knowledge.  A reasonably educated individual in the present day would have had a mind already trained in the abilities like focusing, unbiased analysis and purposeful inquiry. Even Sankara declared that “Chittasya sudhaye karma.”  So the final message on Truth can be more direct and devoid of the unnecessary burden of mysticism and weightage given to ritualistic procedures.

Mr. Q-- : What I mean to say is that mind is the cause of duality and however refined it may get, it cannot comprehend Non-duality. I have read Mandukya karika of Gaudapada. Undoubtedly it is very bold and forthright. But it speaks from the Absolute state and we are just speculating based on assumptions – sort of indulging in conceptual thinking. I was in the monastic order of an ashram.  Now I am back home and would like to know more.
I have read many books and heard so many people. It has sharpened my intellect but it has not stopped my thinking machine, self-talking or has not dissolved my ‘self.’ I can talk about love, bliss, no mind, no self etc. But that’s my knowledge. When I am ruthlessly honest with myself, I discover how lonely I am craving for love.

ramesam:  Undoubtedly you are at that intensive phase of inquiry that everybody goes through.  You have already sharpened your mind through the various techniques followed by you and I suppose it is ready to take up serious Self-inquiry.
As you are well aware, the real understanding of the Truth is NOT the result of any action - like more meditation, rituals, yoga etc.
The simple message is, you must have heard it, “you are already That which you are seeking.”
The question then comes to the mind: Why do I still feel as if I am missing something? Why is there no full satisfaction?
Well, the answer is: You are That (tat tvam asi).
Putting it in more words:
The nirguna Brahman has the freedom to manifest in any form.
At this moment, It has manifested as that sense of a "lack” – the lacking may be ‘craving for love or feeling of loneliness’.
So that very sense of missing something, absence of satisfaction at this moment is Brahman. You are That only.
It is not that Mr. Q-- is sitting here and he possesses this sense of dissatisfaction. There is no Mr. Q-- at that moment separate from that sense of lack at this moment.

Or let us look at it this way:
That feeling of 'lack' is after all another "thought." You have noticed that thought. Do not own that thought and begin claiming, “It is my feeling.”
Like all thoughts, it will also go away. A new thought will come. Do not hang on to any of the thoughts. Also do not make an effort to push it away or annihilate it. You are not different from that thought at that moment. So you cannot annihilate yourself.
Suppose there is a particular image on the computer screen. Is the image different from the screen? It is the computer screen only appearing as that image at that moment. Next moment there will be a different image. The screen is always there as the base for all images. The screen does not own the image or keep it as its possession. The screen itself does not change - it continues to be itself and also it remains as itself (the screen) in the gaps where the image is not there. The screen does not hold on to any image. It lets all images to appear and also lets them go. You are like the screen. The thoughts, feelings and even the world are like the images on the screen.
A feeling of "lacking something" has appeared as a thought because of some stored information in you (somebody's teaching or some fancy idea about liberation being an ever happy state etc.).  You are trying to obtain that non-existing (unreal) undefined expectation of an "ever-happy aroused state" by pushing away what you are in the "NOW."
By this effort to push away that thought, you are giving more energy to that thought to sustain itself.
Just simply notice that thought which gives you a sense of "lack."
Do not have anything to do with it. Do not even think about it.
Just be aware of it like you are aware of the sounds from the street. And leave at that.
You never bothered yourself what sounds are coming from the street. You do not pay attention to them. You do not stop or desire to change them. Sounds come and go away. So treat the thoughts also similarly.
Just as the sounds have no value, the contents of the thought (good, noble, mean, bad etc.) have no value. You do not have to invite a good thought or get rid of a bad thought. Nothing to invite or reject. Whatever arises at the moment, you are that.

This is an important stage and if this is understood, that is the END of seeking.
(The Posts on Annette Nibley and Conversations with a Living Gaudapada at this Blog deal with this aspect. Please read these two Posts also).

Mr. Q-- : Thanks for writing at length. I agree with what you say about discontent that a spiritual seeker goes through. But in my case I would say I am not at all a spiritual seeker. I have all kinds of mundane tensions, need to earn money to be financially independent. I would like to say that I am more curious than being a seeker. I have observed that the mind uses everything to perpetuate ego.

ramesam:  You are obviously at a turning point in your life - you left the monastic life and looking for a job etc.
The important point is that you see your state very clearly yourself. You are watching your thoughts rather than getting carried away by the thoughts. That is very good.

We need not talk about spirituality. "Seeking" does not mean spirituality.
You said that you were just curious. Curiosity also requires sincere "inquiry."
You also said that you do observe the observer-observed-observing. Who you think is that observer?

You have all these thoughts about yourself, your name, age, desire to settle down, the knowledge gained from your studies at the monastery. Added to these are your feelings, hurts, opinions, doubts, uncertainities etc.
All these are in the mind as thoughts. So the bundle of all these thoughts together define what is known as Mr. Q--.  That makes up your personality. There is nothing wrong with this. It is quite natural to have all such thoughts as long as you have a body.

Now this Mr. Q-- is not happy about all these thoughts. He wants to avoid these thoughts and stop them. But notice that these are another bunch of more thoughts! These thoughts are not different from earlier bunch of thoughts for which we have identified with the name Mr. Q--.
Do you see the funny part? One set of thoughts identify themselves as Mr. Q-- and another set of thoughts now behave as if they are not Mr. Q--. But they are all Mr. Q-- only. They are all together your personality - including bodily needs like food, lust etc.
This bunch of thoughts called Mr. Q-- is seeking now to have a different set of thoughts. It is all a game of thoughts.
So the important thing is not to  identify yourself with any of these thoughts. It is not a question of stopping the thoughts. Thoughts don't stop (except in deep sleep).

But you are watching the thoughts. Be always the watcher and not the thoughts. So remember yourself always as the watcher of thoughts.
I am sure, you know all this verbally. You have to start digesting and assimilating it by practicing. Verbal understanding is not enough. If you understand verbally, it will remain only as another thought. So you have to constantly practice to remember that you are the watcher and not the thought that you watch.
So leave all spirituality. Let this part be clear.

Mr. Q-- :  How about the cause and effect relationship?

ramesam: It will be easy to understand when once the earlier material is clearly grasped – that you are the watcher like the constant unchanging computer screen which appears as one image or another from moment to moment..

You know how a thermometer works. It can measure temperature only at the given moment.
It cannot tell you the temperature that was 5 minutes back or 3 days ago.
It also cannot tell the temperature of tomorrow or one hour after.
It always measures in the 'now.'
Similarly, your consciousness also works always in the "Now."
Consciousness has no past or future.
Even if you think of, say, your meal of yesterday or going to school when you were 5 years old, it is clearly a thought about yesterday or an incident when you were 5 yrs old. It is from the memory of the past.
The memory appears as an image in the mind in the "Now."
Image in the mind now means, it is also a thought.
Even if you think of future, it is also an image - a thought in the mind.
Your consciousness detected the thought about the past or about the future. But the detection is happening in the "Now" - like a thermometer sensing the temperature .
So really speaking, your consciousness did not experience the past or future but it experienced (detected) a thought occurring in the now, in the present moment.
Like the thermometer, your consciousness also does not have a past or future.
Hope it is clear so far.

You know already that you are not your visible physical body.
You know already that you are not your mind. 
You are your Consciousness. And Consciousness can work only in the Now like a thermometer.

If you think that there is a cause that has given raise to an effect, it will always take time for the cause to change into an effect.
The cause will come first and the effect later. So a time period is involved between cause and effect. Like cause in the past, an effect in the present or in the future.
Consciousness does not have past or future. It IS always in the Present Now as explained above. You are your Consciousness. You have no past or future.
How can then Consciousness see any cause that possibly happened in a past -- after all a 'past' does not exist for Consciousness – remember that Consciousness only knows Now, no memory of past for It?

If you 'think' there was a cause and you see the effect now, it is the mind as memory showing an image of the past. You as Consciousness observed the image or thought in the Now.
So when you, Consciousness, have no 'time period', how can there be a cause in the past and its effect coming later?
Only a memory thinks about past and an imagination thinks about the future. And these are all thoughts detected or seen by Consciousness in the Now.
You or your Consciousness is what is in the present. You are always "eternally" in the present.
Life is what is present. Do not live in the past. Living in the past is like living in memory - can you live in memory? You cannot be alive now if you lived in memory only!

Further, Consciousness is all that exists like the computer screen.  The screen is one though there may be many images. We can talk of a relationship only when there are at least two entities. A discussion on the relationship between cause and effect can be there only if these are two existing entities. But multiplicity is an imagination only, imagined by the mind. What really IS is One Consciousness only. There are no causes, effects and relationships. Therefore, we need not talk of a relationship between a non-existing cause and effect.

You may also like to see here where I discussed "causality" in response to another question.


AngieC said...

First and foremost, thank you so much for this blog. It has been most helpful. There is a simple clarity in your writings and explanations that I appreciate tremendously.

I have a few questions which I hope you could kindly help clarify:

1. If we are one consciousness, why is it that this consciousness of a body-mind cannot perceive the perceptions (sensations, feelings and thoughts) of other body-minds?

2. For an unrealized person like myself, how do I start making changes and living my life in accordance with the TRUTH ie. that there is no individual self but only one consciousness? (vis-a-vis the typical life of chasing after career, money, relationships) And is there value in dong that considering that I have not yet "experienced" the TRUTH.

3. If everything (ie. joy, pain, compassion, cruelty, climate change etc) is Brahman, then what is is already perfect. Does that mean that we should just let things be and not try to interfere with anything?

Thank you.

Ramesam Vemuri said...

Beautiful questions, all three of them. They go to the heart of Advaita teaching.

Each of them, perhaps, deserves a Blog post for an answer. The "Comment" format here is not that suitable to respond fully. Hence I shall reply here briefly. I will be happy to answer any further questions, if more explanation is necessary, (if you prefer even by e-mail).
(The "comment" section does not allow more than a fixed number of words. So my reply is divided into two parts).

"1. If we are one consciousness, why is it that this consciousness of a body-mind cannot perceive the perceptions (sensations, feelings and thoughts) of other body-minds?"

Each body and mind is an "object." Object means that which is perceived by Consciousness. So mind is no different from, say, a chair or any other object in your room. Can the 'chair' perceive another chair or object? No. An object cannot perceive another object. Mind is also perceived by "Me" in as much as “I” perceive a chair. This "Me" is One in all. One mind, like the chair, cannot perceive another mind.

For a simile: Imagine yourself standing at the center in a tall Watch-Tower with windows in all the four directions. When you look through different windows, you witness different sceneries. Each window provides its own unique one view. One window cannot show you what the other window sees. Similarly, each body-mind is a window. Consciousness is "You" standing commonly at the center.

You can say that it is not that there are seven billion people looking at one world. It is One Consciousness looking at seven billion worlds. Each individual ‘person’ lives in his/her bubble universe. Like each separate person having his own dreamworld.

"2. For an unrealized person like myself, how do I start making changes and living my life in accordance with the TRUTH ie. that there is no individual self but only one consciousness? (vis-a-vis the typical life of chasing after career, money, relationships) And is there value in dong that considering that I have not yet "experienced" the TRUTH."

Actually it is a fallacy to think that an individual separate 'me' lives in the body. It is "Life" itself living through all body-minds. So the thing to be done is to surrender this separate sense of 'ego' as an ‘offering’ to the One Consciousness. In simple terms it translates to giving up claims of 'ownerhsip' of possessions and 'doership' for actions.

It does not mean you stop acting. It does also not mean you become a doormat either. You will let things happen as they come by without likes or dislikes, without acceptance or rejection, without a desire for one or the other. So you will allow the body-mind whatever they have to do as per the situation unconcerned and unaffected. The body and mind have their own intelligence to protect themselves.

You see you do not do anything for digesting the food you eat or your heart to beat or for the earth to rotate. They just happen without your effort. Thus all living can be ‘effortless.’ [A useful acid test in critical circumstances can be to examine whether the action / decision is coming from ‘ego’ to aggrandize itself or that is the way things are going to anyway happen.]

Regarding the second part of this question, “You” do not have to do specially ‘experience’ Truth. “You” yourself are already the Truth. You (the individual who thinks that I am a separate person) can NEVER experience Truth. It will be like the moth trying to reach the flame. The ‘ego’ just dies.

Ramesam Vemuri said...

Reply Contd from the previous Comment:

“3. If everything (ie. joy, pain, compassion, cruelty, climate change etc) is Brahman, then what is is already perfect. Does that mean that we should just let things be and not try to interfere with anything?”

You are right. All is Brahman. The entire universe is One and is perfect as it is. There are no parts in the universe and it is indivisible. It is the mind which cannot absorb the ‘whole’ at once in one go. Hence it divides the universe into smaller parts to grasp them. It gives distinct names defined by specific shapes to these parts within the overall Oneness.

The mind then begins to qualify the imagined parts as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ from its own perspective of what is useful or a threat to its own survival.

But let me also add that on a full understanding of Oneness (Non-duality), you will automatically do things in a naturally ‘moralistic’ way. When there is no ‘other’ and all is ‘Yourself’ alone, who or what will harm and who what other is there to be harmed?

This has also an implication on Free Will and choice. Choice is there only as long as you think that you are a separate person. When all there is only One, there is nothing ‘else’ to choose from nor there is a chooser.