Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Book on Yogis and Gurus

A Book on Yogis and Gurus

Question:  There is a book in four volumes describing hundreds of Yogis and Gurus living in one of the states of India. Most of them are married and some have even 11 children. But they left their families in pursuit of greater attainment. I think that they have not fulfilled their obligations to their families and my friend feels that they have failed in their ROLE PLAY as father, brother and husband. This question may seem to be not intellectual, but needs an answer if you know. THANKS

ramesam:  Thank you for asking. 
Here's my take:

A. About the Book/author:

1. If the author of the book found some to be yogis out of this immense universe, it appears as though he is using a knife and fork in order to fragment and lift a morsel out of the indivisible One Whole Ocean. The knife cannot cut nor can the fork lift a piece of the ocean (water). Or it is similar to picking up some forms and giving some names to those forms that are considered to be present within one huge cloud. It will not bother the cloud or break it into parts. Will naming one part as wave, another as foam, still another as deep water divide the One immense ocean or affect its Oneness of 'Ocean-ness'?
The knife and fork or labeling the shapes in a cloud are all imaginary filters (or divvying tools) the author is using. The mind creates these filters in order to fragment the Infiniteness into bite-sized things for its own survival. Be aware of these filters and do not be carried away by the story they tell.

2. It is like missing the forest for the trees and branding some trees to be more qualified to be trees than others within that one single forest!

B. About Role Models:

3. If you or your friend found that some (imaginatively divided) parts from within this Immensity did not make the grade, remember that it is you who set some criteria and it is you who is judging the parts to have made the grade or not based on those criteria. In other words, you and your friend are using filters. The filters are your own making.

4. Setting Role Models is like having traffic rules. Can you impose your traffic rules on some birds in a flock  flying in the sky?

5. Is your friend the writer of the script of the drama he is watching to say that one actor has deviated from his script of the role model? How does he know? Or is he watching the drama scripted by somebody else?

C: About the Motive behind your question:

6. Why are you asking this question? Is it not because you feel you are a separate wave sitting somewhere away from the ocean and watching the ocean? Can a single isolated wave (you) be there without the whole ocean? Can a wave exist by itself?

7. And does one wave in the ocean look to learn from or try to imitate another wave? Is there an ideal wave that can be a role model for all the waves in the ocean?

D. In General:

8. The world is one big dream-painting you have projected by yourself. There are different colors in the painting. Can you now, after the painting is done, try to choose one color as more moral than another color? Can red color be a role model for blue?

9. If you are looking for social obligations, societal rules etc., you are looking for assessing and managing relationships, formulating policing mechanisms, and judging behaviors for bestowing rewards and punishments. 

What is the ideal role model relationship between, say, your "back-of-the-neck" to the "calf-muscle-of-the-leg" in your one whole body? Can you dictate any such relationships? Could there be any such relationships at all?

10. To talk of "relationships", there has to be more than one entity to start with.  But there is One only, no second (ekameva advitIyam). Further, your right hand will not pick up a hammer and hit your own face. Because it knows it is all One body. You don't have to tell the right hand. It does not harm the face because it does not consider the face to be separate. It does not need a prior teaching and moral code of conduct. So also you will not need a moral code of conduct when you understand the Oneness. So Morality flows out of this understanding. Morality is not an external imposition.

11.  The so called yogi is as much a flimsy image on the screen as Mr. P or S or ramesam is. Each is a flash. I cannot say one image on the screen of the computer is ideal and the entire screen should be only in the form of that image or color. 

Well, I can say that, then I have the basic screen only - all one color!

12. If one image on the screen separates itself and says all other images should do as per its dictates, does it not show the arrogance of that image to think itself to be the authority?


Let me express a word of my gratitude to you. Right here you played the role of a Guru by asking this question.  Because it triggered an inward look into an issue that gripped my mind for one week and the fresh light of this analysis dissolved the problem! Under these circumstances, how are you any less than a Guru whether named in a book or not?  You have been a Guru !

What "IS" is Consciousness only manifesting in all forms wearing different costumes. The costumes are there a minute and gone the other minute. When we are not in the business of washing, why bother to prepare laundry lists (books) of the costumes? 

Who to divide and into what the indivisible One Whole?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mind Conditioning and Oneness Blessing Demystified by JaLee

Mind Conditioning and Oneness Blessing Demystified
by JaLee

[JaLee had a sudden realization of Peace and Oneness over a decade ago. Not knowing the significance of the blessing she had been thrown into, she went on a spiritual investigation for several years. She summarized her experiential observations in the book “wake up, wake up, Remember Who You Are – A Diary of Spiritual Awakening, Enlightenment, Oneness Recognition, Now Presence & Experiential Non-duality SoufflĂ©~:D” published on 1/11/11 by Rhythm Light Press. She provides therapy services in an acute care hospital and also facilitates a Oneness Blessing circle bimonthly in her North Oak Cliff meditation space. In addition, JaLee periodically works with several other awakening groups and conducts experiential ongoing research for the website:
JaLee resides in Dallas, Texas with her kitty and parrot. I am obliged to her for readily consenting to share the findings of her Oneness travels as a Post at this Blog – ramesam.]

Suddenly realizing the unchanging-peace-that-we-already-are in 2000 left me with more questions than answers about the relative world. I don’t come from any particular lineage or spiritual path, so I’ve been like a kid in a candy shop the past 11 years, researching all things related to spiritual seeking and awakening. I’ve mostly connected with the Non-duality community because its teachings resonate with my internal experiences. I appreciate simple and direct pointing to the unspeakable truth of who we really are.

My criteria for researching spiritual awakening are:
  1. What is the direct experience?
  2. Is there a sense that it is potentially useful? 
Purpose of Spiritual Practice and Mind Conditioning:

During my early years of research, I interviewed others on the purpose of books, meditation, prayers, mantras and precepts. Eventually I concluded that no matter how you package it, all useful practices are designed to relax or exhaust the mind therefore thinning the false veil of separation and fear. It’s believing it to be real or true that causes our collective suffering.

Is your mind conditioning so thick that you believe it is who you really are? Try thinning it. Is it moving so fast, it hides you from who you really are? Try slowing it down. Is it so intense, you cannot hear the silence of who you really are? Try quieting it.  Is it so closed, it continuously tells you lies that you believe, sabotaging your birthright to inner peace? Try opening it. Is it so thick with stagnant smoke, you feel like you are suffocating in the same repeated suffering patterns? Try allowing flow. Of course don’t forget this one: Be as you are right now.

Somewhere along the path, when we have a shift into peace or moments of peace, it’s not because awareness expands—awareness is unchanging. So what is the peace shift about? It’s an effortless, cellular restructuring of thought quality and patterns becoming so infrequent and mild that each thought is viewed as it happens in full realization that these appearances and disappearances belong to no one at all.

Mind Conditioning Impacts Texture and Quality of Experience:

After my initial cellular shift in 2000, my body and mind were on fire in a slow burning blaze which continues even now, 11 years later. Human mind conditioning seems to be the fuel of this fire and as it slowly burns away, more spaciousness is experienced—the unchanging-peace-spaciousness-we-already-are.

Instantly it’s known that there is no problem happening here—conditioning and spaciousness—all is as it is, perfect as it is. There are just different varieties and textures of experience, yet there is nothing to change or get rid of. So imagine my surprise when I came across this kind of brain Reiki called Oneness Blessing (Deeksha).

Of course being passionate about research and sharing, I wondered, “Could Oneness Blessing be a helpful spiritual tool for seekers?” Perhaps it’s more honest to describe my direct experience.

An American Interpretation of Oneness Blessing:

This universal energy transference was re-named Oneness Blessing in 2007 to help Westerners understand the intention of Deeksha more clearly.  “Oneness Blessing” is not describing an act of someone giving someone else enlightenment or the state of oneness—oneness cannot be given or taken away—we are already that. In my experience, the relative energy transmitted in Oneness Blessing appears to serve as a mind whittling tool, allowing the unchanging-peace-oneness-we-already-are, to be more clearly experienced, recognized and realized. This intrinsic oneness realization is the “Blessing”. Other  mind whittling tools with similar intentions include breath meditation, self inquiry, deconstruction inquiry, visualization, mantras, yoga or tantric practices.

Oneness Blessing founders Amma and Bhagavan are from the Hindu culture and reside in India. They are also founders of the Oneness University where thousands train each year. My initial experience with Oneness Blessing began in 2006 when a few locals returned from training in India and began providing it in Dallas, Texas. Oneness Blessing has no dogma or belief system and is not a spiritual path rather it serves as an addition to anyone’s current path.

There are various chanting and visualizations often used to initiate the gathering:

Heart Opening: There might be a close circle during kundalini breath yoga exercises, or chanting the Moola Mantra.

Chakra Opening: Almost always included in the gathering, the Chakra Dhyana is a kundalini chakra activation practice through group chanting, and it reminds me of Western sound healing and chakra balancing or centering work. 

Oneness Blessing Energy Transference: Oneness Blessing feels tangible, intense and potent. Perhaps this is because it targets the brain, and the intention behind it is oneness realization.

Any spontaneous shift of physical healing is commonly considered a miracle or divine grace, regardless of its title or origin. What is the direct experience? Is there a sense that it is potentially useful?

My Direct Experience of Oneness Blessing:

When I first moved to Dallas, Texas in 2006, unfamiliar Hindu culture immersed in the Oneness Blessing presentation provoked me to keep a discerning eye as I attended group sessions occasionally. I felt a healthy amount of skepticism, initially wondering if this was a cult, so I simply observed and experienced.

Sure I experienced spontaneous joy, bliss, tears, giggles and metaphoric visions during the gatherings, it was fun. But I had “been there, done that” and was not impressed that these types of experiences alone could help others realize inner peace. I listened to participants express their own unique experiences and had some sense of, “Oh, this Oneness Blessing seems useful in creating openness, and permeability in the false veil of separation and fear.”

In July, 2011, I received an Email inviting me to train and become a Oneness Blessing provider. Curiosity overcame me. I felt a deep sense of knowing that this was going to be a beautiful energy to share, even if only shared in silence while sitting in a shopping mall. I was in.

The weekend training course was intense and joyful. Besides the usual kundalini chakra practices, it included positive affirmation chanting, relationship and inner child healing with a Oneness twist and many Oneness Blessings received and given throughout. The founders Amma and Bhagavan were not a focus of the training experience. There was no sense of idolizing or worshipping anything. The general group vibe was a sense of openness, unconditional love, joy and gratitude.

Within days following this Oneness Blessing provider initiation, it became apparent to me that although my mind was instantaneously stilled 11 years ago, the slow burning mind conditioning fire had not yet made it to the body memory layers. One of the first conditioning qualities I noticed has disappeared is my obsessive compulsive thought and behavior tendencies. These were shyness, fear of public speaking, over-excitable yet exhausting giddy or nervous full body skin vibration and intense people-pleaser tendencies.

Then I noticed some physical changes. I could not lie on my back during the training course because of lower back pain I’ve had for many months. When I came back home, I began sleeping on my back without pain. My chronic left foot plantar fasciitis made it painful to walk in the mornings, yet this seems to be significantly diminished. My blood pressure dropped 10 points and my colon is working better now.
 I’m not a vegetarian, yet I cook all vegetables for some meals. No one suggested this, it just happened. Also I’ve enjoyed cigarettes and alcohol off and on since my teens, but suddenly both cravings are gone. I did drink a margarita the other night, it was delicious, but its effects were different. It wasn’t bad, it was just sort of neutral yet numbing as if it dulled the present experience. Interesting. 

I don’t know why or how these deep patterns shifted and disappeared. Experientially this has given me a sense that Oneness Blessing somehow relaxes or dissolves layers of mind-body conditioning.

Our unending dream right now is a relative experience. As more conditioning naturally burns away, the body feels easier, lighter, more magical and free. Within this remains deep knowing beyond thought or description, the eternal-peace-oneness-we-already-are.

So based on my direct experience, I do sense that Oneness Blessing is a potentially useful mind-body conditioning whittling tool, and may be a beneficial to some spiritual seekers on the path to realizing irreversible inner peace. If you feel repelled by the idea of it, most likely it’s not for you. If you feel drawn to it, then maybe it would be useful. It’s really that simple. 

More information on Oneness Blessing can be obtained from:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sage Vasishta's Response to Prajnapti's Questions

Sage Vasishta's Response to Prajnapti's Questions
[Yogavaasishta is an authoritative Advaitic scripture of about 32,000 verses divided into six chapters. The last chapter is Nirvana. It comes in two parts – Purva (Book I) and Uttara (Book II).  King Prajnapti, Ruler of the City Ilavati, raises many doubts about Creation and the world that appears to us. These are the sort of questions any one of us would like to ask. Sage Vasishta gives his answers from Sargas 204 to 210 in Book II of the sixth Chapter Nirvana. Presented here is an Extract (adopted with slight modifications) from a forthcoming Book – Yogavaasishta, Chapter VI: Nirvana - Book II by Shri K.V. Krishna Murthy, English Translation by Dr. Vemuri Ramesam. The Questions were posted on 23 Sept 2011.]

Part II: Sage Vasishta's Response to Prajnapti's Questions:

Vasishta:  Oh, King Prajnapti!  These are very interesting questions.  I may not answer your questions sequentially.  However, I shall explain all the points raised by you through a coherent and comprehensive response.  Please follow my presentation attentively.

You have an awareness of a thing ‘being’ present and also a thing ‘not being’ present.   If you carefully look at it, what you have in both cases is awareness.  Awareness is knowledge.

But knowledge has a peculiar quality.  It shows the things in the way it conceives them.  If it strongly feels that a thing ‘is’ there, it will be there.  If it feels strongly it ‘is not’ there, it will not be there.  A good example for this is the dreamscape.  The knowledge within you felt during the period of dreaming that the dream world existed.  Then the dream world attained beingness and showed up.  After a while, the knowledge within you felt that it was not there.  Immediately it disappears.  You call it as waking up.

We can infer from this that ‘is’ and ‘is not’ (a thing being present or not being present) are different forms of knowledge.  What really is in both the cases is knowledge or awareness.

Hence if the knowledge within you feels anywhere anytime that it has a body, there will be a body.  If it feels otherwise, there will not be a body.  When it feels the body is there, the knowledge thinks that it is the body.  It superimposes the qualities of the body on knowledge and the qualities of knowledge on the body.  This is how bodies are generated and maintained.
Your question was on how bodies could be produced in heaven and hell. You can understand that they are born by the process of superimposition by knowledge.

Here is an important point that you may take note of.  When I said knowledge, I do not mean the Supreme Knowledge of Brahman.  Pure Knowledge of Brahman is different from the knowledge that makes aware of your body and senses.  The quality of ‘knowing’ is a property of the knower.  In other words it is his nature.  It exists as an imagination.

Let us consider dreams as an example.  You think at the time of dreaming that you are witnessing some objects which are separate from you.  But the fact is you witness yourself!  That is to say that you are “awaring” yourself.  This sort of ‘knowing’ is your nature.
During your wakeful state also it works the same way.  Certain awareness within you takes the form of your body.  You do not have any body beyond this.  If you understood this clearly, it will answer the first seven of your questions.

In your next question you raised the issue of atheism.  The atheists opine that the body is responsible for awareness.  It implies that consciousness emanates from inert substance.  This is totally unacceptable.  But they come up with a counter question.  If a body is produced from Consciousness as we say, they ask why the body lacks the ability to be aware of things after death.   My answer is as follows:
You are Consciousness-Self.  The dream world originated from you.  Therefore, it has also to be conscious like you.  Why then the inert things like rocks and stones appear in the dream?  The only answer for this question is that you had certain thoughts at the beginning of the dream.  You witness some things that are sentient and some things that are insentient in your dream corresponding to those initial thoughts.  In other words, you yourself appear as inert substance at some places and as conscious substance at other places in the dreamscape based on your initial thoughts.  This is true from your own experience.

Because of the nature of the thought that occurred to Hiranyagarbha at the moment of the beginning of the creation, you find a dead body to be inert.  This is a finding that is only apparently so.  The fact is the entire world is Consciousness just like the total dreamscape is you yourself. What causes your body is also the same thing.  So the argument of the atheist does not stand to reason.  We do not, therefore, support it.

You brought up a new issue of substances with form and without form in your ninth question.  This question does not have a locus.  We have already said that the entire creation was of illusory origin and that there was no solid reason behind creation.

It is in your experience that Consciousness-Self appears as a dream when you are alive. Similarly, after death, Consciousness-Self appears as the higher world.  The unavoidable cycle of wakeful and dream states while living and higher worlds after death go on appearing till one obtains perfect Self-Knowledge.  The effects of good actions, donations, offerings to the dead etc. are also experienced as a part of this illusory cycle.  That is why we declare that scriptures are true only until one is liberated. There is nothing illogical in this proposition. This answers your last question.

The eleventh question of yours concerns the powers of performing miracles by Yogis.  These things happen as per the laws embedded in the initial thought pattern of Hiranyagarbha. That is to say that Hiranyagarbha must have wished for the transformation of things as per the curses and boons of Yogis and a few others.
We do not have to search far from the thought process of Hiranyagarbha to find the cause-effect relationships in the world.  Even the temporary appearance of this non-existent world and its later disappearance is also a part of Hiranyagarbha’s original thoughts.  A poetic way of saying it is: it is creation when Consciousness opens Its eyes; it is dissolution when It closes Its eyes.

King Prajnapti:  Maharishi! If the world appears because of Hiranyagarbha’s thoughts, why would it have to go through periods of dissolution?  When once he thinks of creating, the creation could as well stay put permanently!   

Vasishta:  Dear King!  You yourself conceived the dream world.  But it does not stay permanently.  Why?  It is so because of the nature of your thought.  No purpose is served by looking for the causes of such a thought.  Just as it is your nature in the case of your dreams, it is the nature of Hirnayagarbha’s thoughts to make the worlds disappear during deep sleep, dissolution and Nirvana.  Because of the same reason, fire is hot, water is cool and so on.  This answers your 14th question too.

At the cost of repetition let me say this.  The Ever Existent Pure Consciousness Itself appears as the world.  In other words, what truly exists and what apparently exists is the same.  
That is the nature of Pure Consciousness. You derive the attributes of creation based on this.  This will also bring necessary convergence to the Vedic statements referred by you in your 12th question.

You had several doubts about the results of performing austerities and meditation in your questions from 15th to 18th.  Before going into those issues, you need to know a few basics about piety and impiety. 
Boons and curses, merit and sin and so on work like mutually opposing forces.  The austerities performed by friends and foes also operate on the same principle.  If they are of equal strength, they cancel out each other.  Otherwise their algebraic sum will be the resultant effect.  Sometimes it may so happen that the opposing forces cannot cancel out one another.  Then the individual obtains two bodies in order to experience both the effects simultaneously.  The two bodies may be externally visible or only one of them visible to outsiders and the other visible only to him. 
In a case as described by you where a well-wisher prays for the longevity of an individual’s life and the enemy prays for immediate death, the individual may reap the benefit of his friend’s prayer in his normal body and go through the throes of death in another imaginary body in another imaginary place.

King Prajnapti:  My contention is that it is not possible to get even one body with a definite shape from the formless piety and impiety.  How can you say that not one but even two bodies can be obtained from such conceptual things?

Vasishta: Why two, depending on the situation, even a thousand bodies may be produced!  Are you alone not becoming battalions of armies fighting each other in your dream world?  How can you set any limiting condition of numbers on conceptually generated pure imaginary worlds?

King Prajnapti:  On one hand you argue that the entire world is an illusion.  On the other you argue that the curses and boons, higher worlds etc. are real.  This is very unreasonable!

Vasishta:  If you admit that the world is a mere fantasy, there is no argument!  Not only is this world, the higher world too is an illusion.  Actions, results of actions are also an illusion.  That is in fact the Ultimate Truth!  But your questions are not based on the final Truth.  Your questions are all based on the presumption that the world is real.  Therefore, I respond to you at the same level as if this world, the higher worlds and so on are real. 
Then you counter me saying how can there be so many mutual contradictions within it.  My reply is that the world is like a dream.  It is pure fantasy.  Hence anything may happen within it!  What I said is not untenable.  You will have no confusion if you see things from a correct perspective.

Your 16th question was whether there would be a dozen moons in the sky if a dozen people meditate successfully wishing to be moons.  Suppose two people look at the moon.  Both of them think that they are seeing one and the same moon.  The entire world functions with such a belief.  This is plainly an unsupported assumption and is not the Truth. 
The fact is each person lives in his private world created by his own imagination.  He does not live in a world created by others.  Each to himself!  Though the worlds seem to merge into one another like a hand into a glove, two worlds are never the same.  Their skies are different and so also the moons.
So if a dozen people wish to become the moon, each will become a moon in his own imaginary world.  One will not appear in the sky of the other.  The dozen of them will thus become moons.  We discussed some of these things in the Story of Indavas.
Depending on the strength of his thoughts, each man would become the Hiranyagarbha of his world.  The Indavas did become like that.  You had asked why there should be only one Hiranyagarbha.  There is no particular significance whether it is one or many.  Each person’s world is his fantasy.  It is equivalent to a dream.  If you can understand this, you need not rise this question at all.

Your 17th question regarding the beautiful lady or the next question on the indolent king who wanted to rule the seven islands without leaving his home can also be resolved on the above basis.  The lazy man can create the islands in his imagination sitting right in his room. These matters were discussed in detail earlier in the Story of Leela.
My Dear King!  I covered with this all your questions.  As you may have observed, the underpinning argument for all my replies is that the visible world is just an imagined creation of the only One Thing that exists – Pure Consciousness.  This is the final Truth.  You can understand all the remaining things based on this fact.

King Prajnapti:  Great Sage!  I can appreciate very well what you said.  However, I still have a doubt.  According to you, the embodied entity Hiranyagarbha was born at the beginning of creation because of a thought.  But what we normally find in the world is that we need first a body in order that the consciousness in that body can start conceptualizing a world.  We do not find a consciousness without a body imagining things.  If we apply this observation to the first born Hiranyagarbha, he can begin to imagine the world only after he gets a body.  But a body cannot be there unless there is an imagination as you put it.  How does your theory resolve this conundrum?

Vasishta:  It is not valid to say that Consciousness originates from a body.  Consciousness is prior to creation.  Body is a thing created.  Body is a pure imagined entity.  What has come later cannot be the substrate for the first thing.  Hence it is incorrect to hold that Consciousness is dependent on the body.
You say that Consciousness is expressed only where there is a body and not otherwise.  It is not because Consciousness is absent at other places.  It is rather your inability to cognize Consciousness which is everywhere.  You classify certain objects of your dream as conscious and certain others as inert though it is entirely your Consciousness. It is because you are unable to recognize Consciousness in all the dream objects.  Everything that exists in the dream world or wakeful world, whether inert or conscious, is Consciousness.  Brahman is Consciousness. Hence there is no dependency of one over the other as everything is only One Consciousness.

King Prajnapti:  Sir, you hold that the body of the wakeful state is a form of Consciousness and so also the body in the dream state. Why do you then teach us that the wakeful state body is similar to the dream state body?

Vasishta:  It is just an expression used at the initial stages to make things simple for you to understand.   We have to find an illustration to teach you that the body that is seen, though visible, is unreal and it is none other than Brahman in its true substance.  Your dream body fits that example.  Your dream body is unreal even at the time you are able to see it.  From the substrate point of view, it is you yourself.  Thus there is a similarity between the wakeful state body and the dream state body.
Just as the dream state body in reality is you yourself, the true form of the wakeful state body is Brahman.  The dream body illustrates this point well.  That was all the intent; but it is not to say that the dream state body is different from the wakeful state body.
The Truth is that anything seen appears because of imagination. What appears because of imagination cannot be True.  Hence there is no wakeful state; there is no dream state; there is no deep sleep state; everything is a form of the Consciousness-Space.
If you know Pure Brahman as Pure Brahman, it is Nirvana.  If you do not, it is bondage.  This is the final message!

King Prajnapti:  Maharishi!  My doubts stand cleared by your benevolence!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Prajnapti's Questions on Creation and Appearance of the World

Prajnapti's Questions on Creation and Appearance of the World

[Yogavaasishta is an authoritative Advaitic scripture of about 32,000 verses divided into six chapters. The last chapter is Nirvana. It comes in two parts – Purva (Book I) and Uttara (Book II).  King Prajnapti, Ruler of the City Ilavati, raises many doubts about Creation and the world that appears to us. These are the sort of doubts any one of us would like to ask. Sage Vasishta answers the Questions of the King from Sargas 204 to 210 in Book II of the sixth Chapter Nirvana. Presented here is an Extract (adopted with slight modifications) from a forthcoming Book – Yogavaasishta, Chapter VI: Nirvana - Book II by Shri K.V. Krishna Murthy, English Translation by Dr. Vemuri Ramesam. The Questions are posted here.  The reply of Sage Vasishta will be posted next month.]

Part I: Prajnapti's Questions:

King Prajnapti:  My Lord! The Holiest of saints!  Several doubts have been nagging me for quite some time.  Please listen to my questions and bless me with your answers.
1.            It is said that the Supreme Brahman, inaccessible to the mind and speech alone was present prior to creation.  It is also said that there was nothing else. That being the situation, what was the root cause for triggering the creation? What was the material cause for creation?  What were the enabling causes?  Was there one or more than one material cause?
2.            It is said that there are a multitude of universes.  It is also said that there is a huge variety of them.  Some are said to be in space, some at the center of rocks, some as liquids, some as gas and some as fire.
What is the reason for such diversity? 
3.            Who created these universes, the inhabitants in the universes and the sense organs of the inhabitants?  Who witnesses these worlds?
4.            Vedas speak about both the ritual-oriented action and also Knowledge-oriented pursuit of Brahman.  Therefore it is beholden to us to synthesize both approaches and enunciate a principle.  As per this principle, the cycles of creation and dissolution will go on indefinitely and there is no stopping that. 
Would you agree to that? 
If you agree, we have to accept that the root causation for turning the wheel of creation and dissolution is human thinking because of the famous adage that what you experience follows what you think.
Do you accept it?
5.            If that is granted, such a thought or knowledge can be either permanent or impermanent. If it is impermanent, what is the cause for its impermanency?  We do not have an answer.  If we suppose that the knowledge is permanent, we cannot conceive of changes happening within a permanent thing.
How do you reconcile the two concepts?
6.            Suppose a man is dead.  His body is consigned to flames.  He goes to heaven or hell to reap the fruit of his actions.  He cannot experience the happiness or sorrow unless he is an embodied creature there.  Who will be the parents for the new body in the heaven or hell?   Scriptures are silent on this. 
How could a body be born without any parentage?
7.            We may propose that his sins and merits act as the parents for the new body.  If so it would mean that the formless notions of sin and merit are able to engender physical bodies composed of substances.  But this is impossible.
What then could cause the bodies with a noticeable form?
8.            As a way out of this complication, one can argue that there is really no higher world.  This is the atheistic position.  But there are problems with this concept also.  If we accept that the visible world is real, we may expect a real cause behind it.  That cause could be the higher world.  But from the viewpoint of that world, our world will be the higher world.  Hence one cannot argue against a higher world.  It is also contrary to what the Vedas declare.
9.            I said a while ago that mere concepts having no form could not produce substances having a form.  I am not too sure of it either.  Say a King sits in his capital city.  The people in a remote village under that kingdom are bound by the dictates of the King and suffer the punishment imposed by his orders.  The orders of the King do not have a form.  But the punishment meted out to the people is physically felt by their bodies.  It would mean that the formless order has generated something having a form.
How do you explain this?
10.          The scriptures ordain or prohibit certain things.  Some people faithfully follow the stipulations. Some others do not care. How do these things actually work?
11.          An accomplished Yogi converts a stone column in no time into a golden pillar.
How can that be done?
12.          Vedas contain many mutually contradictory and opposing statements. How do you build a convergence of these diverse declarations?
13.          Sages like you say that the Pure Consciousness changed to Hiranyagarbha first at the beginning of the creation. It is said that the rest of the creation was made by him.  It means that Hiranyagarbha was born from space. Is it your contention that It has such a power because It is not just space but It is Consciousness-Space?
If It has intrinsically such power, why cannot more Hiranyagarbhas be born out of It?
14.          Fire is always hot; water is ever cool and so on within this creation.  We notice such inherent order in all substances.
How did such Laws of Nature get embedded in this creation?
15.          Elders advise that we should perform austerities and meditation to get relieved of such doubts. They speak of austerities and meditation as a means for the fulfillment of any desire.  Suppose a person has a close friend and a sworn enemy.  The friend observes austerities desiring a long life for him.  The enemy performs the austerities with a wish for his immediate death.  Both the friend and enemy are very strong. 
How do their austerities take effect?
16.          In another example, say, a dozen young men of letters are enthralled by the beauty of the moon.  They meditate at the same time with a yearning to become the moon.
If their desire gets fulfilled, do we then see a dozen moons simultaneously in the sky?
17.          Here is another more complex problem.  I know a very beautiful lady.  She practices detachment.  She deserted her house when she was young.  She commenced performance of austerities with a wish to remain unmarried for life.  But a handful eligible youth were captivated by her beauty and fell in love with her.  Each of them began austerities and meditation longing to marry and keep her as his wife.
How will their meditation take effect?
18.          A smart guy meditated rigorously.  His personal God was pleased with the meditation and manifested in front of him.  He requested the God to grant him a boon so that he would be the Emperor for the seven islands till the time of Great Dissolution without having to budge out of his house.
How can the God grant a boon like that?
19.          People make offerings and donations.  They observe the annual death ceremonies.  It is said that such acts yield the fruits in the higher world.  The rationale behind it is given to be that an “invisible” thing is born here and the same invisible thing bestows the rewards in the higher worlds.  The “invisible” thing has no form.  This formless substance is supposed to be admixed with an embodied being having a form and show the result in a different place at a different time in different ways.  Somehow this does not appeal very much.
How do you justify that expectation?

Thursday, August 18, 2011



[A young and learned Seeker raised a question on the experience of Deep Sleep and its significance in knowing the natural state.  I have given a response based on my understanding. Rupert Spira has been extremely kind and gracious to vet the text for correctness of expression. Please feel free to let me know if any part is not clear.
I have slightly edited the write up on 31 Dec 2011 for greater clarity -- ramesam.]

Question:  Deep sleep is considered to be a natural state (swabhAva) -- ATMA SWARUPA which we experience daily. Taittariya Upanishad also says so, can you explain a little more?

ramesam:  Thanks for the question. 
I realize that you already know the answer. But such questions and consequent recapitulations (manana) as a part of mutual discussions between co-seekers are a form of nidhidhyaasana
 and are very much encouraged by scriptures. 
I shall spell out here my understanding in simple words devoid of the dense layers of 'mystique' we come across in the ancient texts.

Every person (whether Realized or not) has an ID (unique name, an identity for functioning in the world). The ID is a sum of the autobiographical memories and the current sensations received through the five senses. The autobiographical memories tell me that I am so and so, my name is such and such, I am a human being, I am a professional, I am trained in a specialty, I aspire for some particular goal etc. The current sensations are interpreted by mental processes to give me a feel of the presence of a body for me 'here' and a world 'out there' for transactions by 'my' body.

The combination of autobiographical memories and the unconscious processing (i.e. processing that goes on without 'my' conscious awareness) of the worldly sensations is usually called 'mind'.  By 'processing' I mean to refer to the interpretation that goes behind every sensation to give a meaning to the sensation.  Without the mental processing, the sensations will have no meaning.  They just remain as some nameless tingling. For example a perception by the eye is seen. The eye does not know what it perceived. A 'color' is ascribed with a name to it (as green/red/blue), a shape is assigned (round, jagged), a fragrance is identified (pleasing or some kind) and finally an identification is done that "I see a flower." Thus the mind is always actively interpreting the sensations from the five senses when we think we are "conscious" and see a world.  We often equate our ‘being aware’ to the presence of such an active mind. 

Now is there a time when the presence of the mind is missed or in other words is there a time when the mind is absent? What happens when the mind is absent? Who or what remains there when the mind and mental processes are not going on?

A time does exist in the day when we do not feel the worldly sensations. It happens during our dreaming (it can be daydreaming or night dreaming - makes no difference). We are not aware of the normal wakeful world external to us and we are lost in our own imaginary dream world. This is the state of "dreaming." During dreaming, sensations from the body or the  external world are not received but the mind is active and the mental processes keep going on.

[If I close my eyes now, all the sights go away and to that extent the mental processes connected with vision are absent.  (Of course, it is not totally true because the mind still sees ‘darkness’). Similarly I may shut down my ears, sense of touch etc.  Even then, the knowledge that I have purposely shut down my senses is present and a stream of thoughts continue to arise as it  happens with deaf, blind etc. people. Therefore, such a shutting down of one or more senses can happen in the wakeful state.  But it is not dreaming.] 

There is another state that occurs naturally when the sensory organs are not active and also the mental processes do not take place. This is the "deep sleep" state that all of us go through. This state comes on its own without any of our effort. I cannot pre-decide that I will be in 'deep sleep' right now or at a specified place or time. I do not have to spend energy or practice any technique to get into 'deep sleep state.' In this 'deep sleep state', my "mind" (= autobiographical memories + mental processes)  is not present. What is there then?

Because the mind is absent, I have no perception of any "object" or a memory of perceiving any object during the deep sleep state.  Even the time factor in statements like "I had a deep sleep from so and so time to so and so time" is a later 'thought'.  The thought about time duration (how long) concerning 'deep sleep' arises now in the current moment of making that statement in a wakeful state. Actual time lapse is not experienced during deep sleep by me. Hence time and space as well are absent during deep sleep. Though autobiographical memories (of a 'me') and mental processes of giving a name and form to the worldly sensations received by my senses are absent, something is alive and continuing all through because after I get up from sleep I say I am happy, I slept soundly. This statement about happiness and having slept soundly has not come from a memory of the experience we had during the deep sleep state.  Who is then making this statement?

The "i" which we normally assume we are, is the symbol or shorthand for our ID - the summation of our autobiographical memories and body sensations. So this "i" which is not the true "I" usurps the property of the ever-existing Awareness and makes a claim for the "happiness" of the deep sleep. So the little “i” says : “i had a good sleep.” In fact the true "I" and 'happiness' are not two different things. It is one and the same.  But the "i" thinks it is different from "I" and feels it has experienced 'happiness' imagining itself to be a separate entity different from happiness. “i” could as well have said that “i” experienced "I" (“I” is another name for Happiness).   But it cannot say so because “i” (a thought) is not outside “I” (= Happiness)!   In other words, there is only (unadulterated) Happiness when “i” is absent. Another name for “i” is ego.  ("I" is called Brahman and "i" is chidabhaasa in the Vednata lingo).  "i" gets generated the moment a thought of a  "me" being separate arises.

Expressing it differently, mind is absent in deep sleep. Therefore, there is no world (because a world arises only when a thought arises and thoughts are what the mind is made up of).  As mind is absent, the small “i” (which is also a thought) is also absent and whatever is there in deep sleep is merely nameless natural state. In other words, a distinct experiencer, the act of experiencing and a separate object to be experienced do not exist. That is to say that there are no multiple things and whatever is present is I which is the same thing as Happiness, the atmaswarupa.  

The so called Direct Path approach asks you to understand this clearly about deep sleep where only Experiencing (or Consciousness = Happiness) exists without any objects or the small "i" and asks you to make an effort to stay in that position as Consciousness. So the key is “deep sleep knowingly.” Atmananda Krishna Menon says that this Direct Path approach is adopted from Aitareya Upanishad. 

Is deep sleep then the be all and end all?:

Mandukya Karika of Gaudapada and traditional advaitins follow a different logic.  They consider 'deep sleep' as one of the transitory states and an unbroken abidance in Consciousness (Brahman) is beyond the deep sleep state.

They point out that deep sleep is also time dependent and hence it is also a state like the dream and wakeful states.  Moreover, they maintain that we continue to non-apprehend Brahman in the deep sleep state.  In the wakeful and dream states we not only non-apprehend Brahman (i.e. do not realize what It Truly Is) but also mis-apprehend (i.e. understand It to be something other than what It really is).  Hence, only the component of taking Brahman to be something other than what It is truly stops during deep sleep but our inability to know the Truth (non-apprehension) continues.  The traditional advaita says that mind is not annihilated in deep sleep but remains dormant and it rises again when we wake up. Some others say that mind sees ‘darkness’ (= ignorance) in deep sleep and therefore, a perceiver continues to exist with ‘ignorance’ being the separate 'object' that is perceived.  Instead of various ‘objects’ veiling the truth as it happens during wakeful state, it is ‘ignorance’ that veils the Truth during deep sleep.  We may appreciate that there is no fundamental difference in these expressions and they say the same thing from different viewpoints about "veiling" the Truth.

Traditional Advaita says that the three states of awake, dream and deep sleep occur as passing phases over an ever existent unchanging background of Consciousness (Reality = Truth) and is called as Turiya. Advaita urges the seeker to understand this Turiya and meld into It his  imaginary "ego." To abide in Turiya unceasingly  is Liberation. If 'A' represents the wakeful state, 'U' represents dream state and 'M' represents deep sleep, the half tone following 'M' and the silence stand for the everlasting Turiya as depicted in Mandukya Upanishad. 

Greg Goode explains well these differences in a recent interview. 
I am quoting Greg below:
Atmananda Krishna Menon regarded deep sleep as a ‘key to the ultimate’ and said that if a student is ready and able to seriously contemplate and investigate deep sleep, then this alone is enough without the need of having to experience or to spend years cultivating Nirvikalpa Samadhi. 
Traditional Advaita Vedanta (of which the Tripura Rahasya is an expression) treats deep sleep as a very subtle covering, but a covering nonetheless. The direct path treats deep sleep as your nature - witnessing awareness with no objects.
These approaches differ, but there are reasons relating to the assumptions in the two sets of teachings.
Tripura Rahasya seeks to posit the mind as the site of awakening - traditional Advaita Vedanta speaks of the "akhanda akara vritti," which is said to be the mental modification that causes awakening. Awakening is definitely said to happen in the mind, being a modification of the mind. So the mind must be active for this to happen.
The direct path is different - awakening is spoken of inspirationally and rhetorically - but it is not seen as a true biographical event, especially one that requires explanation. An awakening event, like any event, would be a phenomenal event. But as such it is a mere appearance in awareness, so it can't be a real, functioning portal through which you transcend phenomenality. From the beginning there was no such need.

Rupert Spira (who also follows direct path approach) explained thus:
We can look at deep sleep from two points of view: 1) from the perspective of the waking state, that is, ‘on waking up,’ and 2) from the point of view of the experience itself.
From the perspective of the waking state, deep sleep appears as a vague memory of a blank nothingness, which apparently lasts for an undetermined period of time. This memory, like all memories, comes in the form of a thought, which, like all thoughts, irrespective of whether they are about the past, present or future, takes place in the ‘now.’
The ‘deep sleep,’ to which the ‘memorising-thought’ refers, is utterly non-existent at the time of the occurrence of the memorising thought. In other words, the only evidence, in the waking state, for the existence of an experience called ‘deep sleep’ comes in the form of a thought.
Thought first imagines deep sleep and, in order to conceive of it in its own language of apparent objectivity, it superimposes onto it the qualities of blankness and duration.
From the point of view of experience itself, which is the only valid point of view, what is known as deep sleep, is simply the presence of Consciousness without the appearance of mind (taking mind here to include all thinking, imagining, sensing and perceiving).
But from the point of view of experience, which means from the point of view of Consciousness, there is no experience of a dark, blank nothingness. Rather, there is only the ‘experience’ of itself, which means only the presence or being of itself. This is neither deep, dark, blank or asleep. It is dimensionless, present, luminous, alive and awake.
The three states of awake, dream and deep sleep could be likened to a film, a document and a screen-saver appearing on a computer screen. The differences are not for the screen, they are for the mind.
Consciousness ‘never’ ceases to be this ‘wide-awakeness.’ The term ‘deep sleep’ is a misinterpretation of the reality of experience from the ignorant point of view of thought, that is, from the point of view that ignores the reality of experience.
The ‘dream’ and ‘waking’ states are two other interpretations or names that the mind gives to the reality of Consciousness, when it (Consciousness or experience) is imagined through the limiting and distorting lens of thought.
When we watch television we say that we are seeing a ‘film,’ the ‘news’ or a ‘documentary.’ Each of these labels is only a different name for the same screen, just as the waking, dreaming and deep sleep states are different names that thought gives to the reality of Consciousness.
For the screen there is always only itself, just as for Consciousness there is only 'knowing-being' itself.
It takes something outside the screen, one who imagines they are not the screen, to see the ‘film,’ the ‘news’ and the ‘documentary,’ just as it takes an imaginary entity who has seemingly separated itself from the seamless totality of experience to apparently see something other than Consciousness.

A Model for Nirvana: (adopted from an article written by me in 2004 at

Body is the ensemble of all the organs and limbs.
Mind is the ensemble of all our thoughts, feelings, ideas, images, emotions, qualia etc.  
[Let us assume mind–body duality in building this model, though neuroscientifically it is not correct because mind is considered to be none other than what the brain does. Still this assumption of mind and body to be different entities does not invalidate the point to be made here by this model.  Please see the figure below.]

There are two entities viz. mind and body.  They can be either in alert or active state or in inert or restful state.  The two entities and the two states can give rise to only four outcomes by combination. 

The four outcomes are:

I – Wakeful State when both mind and body are present and active: 13 - 40 Hz Beta and Gamma waves of the brain in EEG, gives raise to what we call conscious state, interpreting the neural firings in conjunction with sensory inputs to give a meaning to our perception.

II – Dream State when the body is at rest and mind is active:  Dreams happens mostly in REM sleep, Brain as active as in wakeful state, but does not have the benefit of sensory inputs.  Memory reorganization takes place.

III – Deep Sleep when both mind and body are at rest: 0.3 – 3 Hz, Delta waves of the brain in EEG, Neural firing occurs in a few disconnected islands, synaptic activity is reduced, and also reduction in free radical generation. Hence a feeling of rest comes. Toxic material disposed.

IV – What is this possible fourth outcome when body is present and active but mind is not active or totally at rest? 

Does this fourth position also occur as easily as the other three without any special effort on our part?  In this outcome, when the mind and thoughts are absent, a sense of a distinct “individuating me-thought” will be absent and hence no ego will be there.  How does the body then function and what primes its activity? What is it that is present and guiding the body in its activity when the mind is not there?

                   Fig:  The Four Outcomes





[Note: For recent comments (July 2012) on expanding this model to include "sleepwalking" etc., please see:

Further a Series of 17 articles with the title, "The Enigma of Deep Sleep" were posted by me at the Advaita Academy between Nov 2013 to Nov 20154