Friday, December 21, 2012

Inquiring into Compulsion - Is Spirituality too an Addiction?

Inquiring into Compulsion - Is Spirituality too an Addiction?

We are making an exception this month for our Blog Post as 2012 comes to an end. 

Instead of an article as usual, I am presenting a Video Link to an intro on "Compulsion Inquiry" by Scott Kiloby.

Scott needs no introduction to the Non-dual seekers.

I have a widget** appearing regularly on the right hand side of this Blog giving a link to the "Unfindable Inquiry", a sharp tool devised  by him about a year ago to discover to our amazement that there is no "self", a solid 'me' sitting anywhere inside us.

[**  --  The Widget referred to has since been closed by me. The link does not appear anymore.]

As the year 2012 culminates, his message, on how we become slaves to one addiction or other unconsciously, and how our body gets triggered by subliminal signals of our addiction going below the detection limits of our radar, is quite timely.

Yes, spirituality too can be an addiction -  a 'pious' aim anchoring on which we would like to attain that unfettered, unlimited, unbound, and infinite Freedom of who we Truly are. We are not conscious how this 'apparently noble' addiction could itself  be the Trojan horse for the 'ego', the very thing we misidentify with and still keep carrying it in some corner within our body unable to drop it. Scott's device helps expose all such hidden crannies and that very exposure evaporates the ghostly ego.

Compulsion Inquiry (9.5 min):  Click here

A Demo (about 32 min, just posted by Scott (21 Dec 2012)):  Click here

There is also a new Web site just for the inquiries, along with a video demonstration of the UI.

[Some of the links to Scott's site may not be working now as he updated the info and modifed his web site.]


Maybe you had already seen these Audio/Videos; Even so quite worth watching again:

Non-dual Yoga Therapist Ellen Emmet: The Body of Presence - (Video 28 min):

Non-dual Teacher Peter Dziuban (Video 6.5 min): Notice Like An Astronaut:

Non-dual Teacher Rupert Spira:  True Meditation never ends (Audio - about 48 mins):

Professor of Neuroscience Bruce Hood: The Self Illusion ( Video - less than 30 min): 

Actor Thandie Newton:  Tells the story of finding her "otherness" (Video - about 14 min):

Wishing All Our Readers

Seasons Greetings and
Best Wishes For a Happy And Prosperous
New Year

Friday, November 23, 2012

Brain activity during a trance state

Brain activity during a trance state

"Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil analyzed the cerebral blood flow (CBF) of Brazilian mediums during the practice of psychography, described as a form of writing whereby a deceased person or spirit is believed to write through the medium's hand. The new research revealed intriguing findings of decreased brain activity during mediumistic dissociative state which generated complex written content.

Spiritual experiences affect cerebral activity, this is known. But, the cerebral response to mediumship, the practice of supposedly being in communication with, or under the control of the spirit of a deceased person, has received little scientific attention, and from now on new studies should be conducted," says Andrew Newberg, MD, director of Research at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and a nationally-known expert on spirituality and the brain.

The researchers found that the experienced psychographers showed lower levels of activity in the left hippocampus (limbic system), right superior temporal gyrus, and the frontal lobe regions of the left anterior cingulate and right precentral gyrus during psychography compared to their normal (non-trance) writing. The frontal lobe areas are associated with reasoning, planning, generating language, movement, and problem solving, perhaps reflecting an absence of focus, self-awareness and consciousness during psychography, the researchers hypothesize.

Less expert psychographers showed just the opposite-increased levels of CBF in the same frontal areas during psychography compared to normal writing. The difference was significant compared to the experienced mediums. This finding may be related to their more purposeful attempt at performing the psychography. The absence of current mental disorders in the groups is in line with current evidence that dissociative experiences are common in the general population and not necessarily related to mental disorders, especially in religious/spiritual groups. Further research should address criteria for distinguishing between healthy and pathological dissociative expressions in the scope of mediumship."

Full Article at PLOS:

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.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Do "No-thing" by A. Krishnamurthy

Do "No-thing" 
by A. Krishnamurthy

[My close friend and class-fellow during undergrad years, Shri Annapragada Krishnamurthy retired as a Director of the Geological Survey of India. He was a rebel and non-conformist by nature and faced many an ordeal in life and his job. He found solace in the teachings of Chinmayananda and Vedanta and was finally led to his Guru Shri Kamilibaba, a Sufi Mystic who, he believes, guides every step of his journey in life constantly watching and taking care of him. Krishnamurthy follows the Ajativada of Gaudapadacharya and all his doubts on the philosophical part were set at rest by Swami Somanatha Maharishi of Hyderabad.  Krishnamurthy authored the well-received book, "Silent Thunder" published in 2010 and now lives with his wife in Hyderabad, India. He has also a web site with the name Silent Thunder.

Shri Krishnmurthy is a large-hearted and helpful person who readily assumes other's problems as his own and rushes to their aid irrespective of his own delicate health. I am grateful to him for this contribution to be posted at the Blog -- ramesam.]

Do "No-thing" 
by A. Krishnamurthy

The other day I was reading an article in Times of India. In the column narrating spiritual thoughts, a disciple asked his Zen master as to what he will gain after observing severe spiritual practices; the Master replied “Nothing. The disciple was surprised and repeated the question. He got the same reply. So you do all spiritual sadhana, including meditation just to get “Nothing”? The greatest Hindu philosopher Gaudapada, Adi Shankara’s master’s master also emphatically said the final benefit of all spiritual practices is to realize ultimately “Nothing.” 

In the karika 23 of Mandukya Upanishad, Gaudapada says: The sound letter ‘A’ helps the meditator to attain a well developed waking state personality. The meditator on ‘U’ attains a well developed mind and intellect and He who meditates on ‘M’ attains ‘Prajna.’ In the soundlessness after AUM, ‘there is no attainment.'

Let us examine what happens practically. Let the spiritual seeker or the Sadhaka do severe penance, pranayama, and observe other austerities such as keeping quiet (Silence), not eating food or eating less. Ultimately he has to die and his body made up of five elements, Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Space merge with five fundamental elements of Nature. ‘Water goes to water, air to air and earth to earth' is what Christianity tells us. The life spark, technically called as 'Atma' in Sanskrit language as per Sanathana Dharma and now commonly called as 'Self' in English merges with Self. The Self does not gain anything and there is nothing else which can claim any gain. This is the absolute Truth. 

In Prasnopanishad, Yaksha asks Yudhistira “Kim Ascharyam?” For which Yudhistira replies “ Death. Although we see every day people around us die, we feel that death will not come to us.”  Bhagavadgita says that whosever/ whichever takes birth has to die.
So it is certain we gain “Nothing” in the end even if we do every thing/anything either spiritually/or in the materialistic world . So conversely or logically we have to do “Nothing” to gain everything i.e. By gaining which there is nothing else that needs to be gained? This is the crux of Philosophy either in Advaita or Zen. Osho says “Be Nothing; Do Nothing and desire Nothing. You do “Nothing” to gain the ultimate, Self or Atma or whatever name you call it. “Kasmin Bhagavo Vijnathe Sarvamidam Vijnanam Bhavathi (By Knowing which, you know everything).

Now let us examine how to do “Nothing”. This is the most difficult part of a practice. Try to do “Nothing” for at least a day, or an hour! In the Silence you reach Eternal says Jiddu Krishnamurti. In Mandukya Upanishad it is stated : “ Om ityetadakSharam idam sarvam. Ayam Atma Brahma. Soyam Atma Chatushpada.” This ‘ATMA’ is Brahman and all, and is divided into four parts. ‘Jagarita sthana’ means waking stage, about which only western philosophers and even Islamic religion speaks much. Dream state is talked of as unreal and mind imagines the unreal objects. Mind itself takes dual role. Sushipti is the best part of our life as we enjoy as we know nothing except that we slept well. The fourth which encompasses all is the Turiya state, wherein the individual ‘Self’ merges with the vast omnipotent energy, Universal Consciousness or GOD. To attain the Turiya state is called as ‘Nirvana’. Thre is nothing beyond, or before, above or below. 

Only in waking state we have a choice to do any thing or ‘Nothing’. In the waking state, the mind is ever receiving impulses through senses from objects; sounds, tastes feelings etc. Mind is not an organ in the conventional sense. It is not situated in the Brain or any other organ. Brain is a computer coordinating all the body functions. Hence we take that a man is dead only when his Brain is dead. You might have followed the TV News when Puttaparthi Sai Baba was in his last days. Every organ was malfunctioning, but he was kept on Lifeline and declared dead only after his Brain was dead. I read it in Scientific American journal that a team of doctors interested in organ transplantation wait eagerly for the team of doctors attending on the patient to declare that his Brain is dead before they salvage the useful organs.

Mind is only energy at the subatomic level of every single human cell of which there are one hundred billions in all. Matter and Energy are the two sides of the same coin; they are not two distinct entities at the subtlest level. Hans- Peter Duerr, Emeritus President of the Max Planck Institute in Munich, who succeeded Albert Einstein and Werner Heisenberg, realized that there is no matter distinct from energy at the subtlest level. That vast omnipotent energy is the Universal Consciousness (or GOD). We humans are but a tiny bit of that Consciousness, the individual consciousness. (Courtesy : Prof B.M.Hegde )
Coming back to our discussion, we can control our physical actions, but controlling our mind in waking and dream states is next to impossible. Even Lord Krishna agrees that “Asamsayam Mahabaho Manah durnigraham chalam” (No doubt it is difficult to control mind). But Mind is a bundle of thoughts and thoughts arise in calm mental lake, our Manasa sarovar, due to energy disturbances created by impulses received by mind through senses. Gaudapada says that the mind can exist and maintain its personality only if there are objects of perception. He who with discrimination withdraws his entire attention from the external objects and totally rolls of his attention from his body, mind and intellect comes to recognize his own spiritual personality. Swamy Chinmaya says “ On meditating regularly upon the silent aspect of AUM, the individual self meaning the egoistic idea of separativeness in us, gets merged into the divine experience of the All-soul, the Eternal and Immortal.” When you are continuously meditating on AUM, between chanting of one AUM and other, there is a blissful moment of silence however imperceptible it may be. While we are trying to capture the silence between two successive AUMs , our mind and intellect become steady and sharp and single pointed.

Yogis depend on the control of their mind for the knowledge of ‘Self’, fearlessness and peace. Yogi’s method is to sublimate or eliminate ‘thought’ by thought. By thought he empties the thought, controls the mind and maintains that state of ‘Thought less ness.’ in the mind. A Vedantin purifies his mind and controls it by his intellect. Discrimination is the subtle motive force by which Vedantin controls and regulates his mind.

Aum Shanti! Shanti, Shanti

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.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Halloween Advaitamin By Ron Bonilla

Halloween Advaitamin
By Ron Bonilla

[Ron Bonilla lives in Fullerton, a small city in Orange County CA, USA. Even as a young lad of 10-12, he had insights into the ‘inter-connectedness of all beings.’ Perhaps, more accurately, “they were the earliest memories of the beginning of a spiritual quest that took many turns over the years” for him.  Ron was raised Roman Catholic and remained so until his twenties. He later spent decades in one denomination or another never feeling quite comfortable in any of them. After becoming disenchanted with the Eastern Orthodox Church- his last stop in his journey through Christianity, he discovered Advaita/Vedanta. He fell in love with Advaita and “after a few years of reading and self inquiry,” his search ended, after a brief meeting with Robert Wolfe who became a dear friend and mentor.
Ron is a teacher of non-duality and is 63 now; but he still retains a child-like enthusiasm and wit. He started blogging about a year ago mainly to address his family and close friends. The clarity and humor in his short crisp writings are truly enjoyable as he brings out the message of Non-duality through eye-catching descriptions of simple events of life. It is fun to read how he teaches “Tat Tvam Asi” using the misery he had had in an algebra class as a kid and “The absence of a ‘me’” using his experience in an accident he had with an old decrepit swing. Ron’s Blog is Nonduality State Park and Ron will be happy to discuss Non-duality via email, by phone, or in person after making arrangements for such.
I am grateful to Ron for his ready consent to let me reproduce his Blog Post of 30 Oct 2011 here -- ramesam.]

Halloween Advaitamin
By Ron Bonilla

This will be a short little Advaitamin.
I can't remember every Halloween that I participated in as a kid, nor can I remember every costume that I wore. Most of those nights, running from yard to yard yelling "Trick or Treat", have faded from memory.  What hasn't faded is the way Halloween felt; the experience of it: the sights and sounds, jaywalking across streets with a full sack of goodies, the big house with the cheesy scarecrow on the porch, being disappointed when someone gave you raisins instead of candy, being overjoyed when someone gave you a big handful of  chocolates, coming home tired to sort out the nights haul. That was pure fun. That was Halloween.

There is one memory of Halloween that I cherish to this day, and look back at as something almost sacred. It was a completely private experience and, until now, I have never discussed nor shared it with anyone else. It was the moment I put on my mask and looked out through the eye holes. In that moment, awareness arose. In that moment I became aware that "I" was looking out from behind the mask. I was just a kid, but I was present to the moment, experiencing a profound sense of being. I couldn't have explained it like that at the time, but that was how it felt.

Many, many years have gone by since I last wore a Halloween mask. My masks are more subtle now, and I change them from time to time. What hasn't changed is the fact that "I" am still here, looking out from behind the mask. More precisely, what I am is still here, looking out.
Peace be with you,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Essence of Advaita -- A Question-Answer Session - Part 3/3

Essence of Advaita -- A Question-Answer Session - Part 3/3
(Excerpted from Yogavaasishta, Chapter VI: Nirvana, Book - II, Sarga 190)
[Part 1/3       Part 2/3]

Sage Vasishta:  The misery being experienced in a dream will vanish when you wake up.  Similarly, the sorrow of the world will go away with Self-realization.  This is the only method to get rid of the worldly unhappiness.

Rama:  We do not achieve much by equating the dream and wakeful worlds.  How do the objects appearing in dreams or the wakeful world lose their form?
Sage Vasishta:  When you analyze the pros and cons of the dream world after you wake up, you will easily see that even the hardest rocks and mountains in a dream have after all no reality.  Likewise if you investigate in depth from a position of the Knowledge of Truth, you will let go the notion that the worldly objects are real.
Rama:  What does a Jivanmukta who achieved subtle discretion through such an in depth inquiry see?  How does he escape the illusory world?
Sage Vasishta:  The world appears as if it was not there at all to a Jivanmukta in whom the past innate tendencies are annihilated.  The world appears like a hut in ruins or like a castle in the air or like a fading water color painting on the wall.
Rama:  What sort of experience does a Jivanmukta with attenuated impressions get?
Sage Vasishta:  He will gradually obtain the higher stages on the Path of Knowledge.  He will later shed even the remnant impressions and finally achieve Nirvana.
Rama:  The innate tendencies are an accretion from innumerable past births.  How do they get erased in this birth?
Sage Vasishta:  When once you realize the truth of what is, the visible world which has originated in a fantasy will linger like a burnt out seed.  From then on, as the current sufferage (praarabdha) gets expended, even the minimal appearance of the world will fade away.
Rama:  After a Jivanmukta stops perceiving the visible objects as gross things, what steps does he have to take so that the world does not get projected again?  How does he gain permanent peace?
Sage Vasishta:  His mind transforms to Self.  Hence he does not have to struggle to control the mind.  He will have no desire to experience things.  He doesn’t need to do any thing anymore.
Rama:  Though one knows that the world is as empty as the thoughts of an infant, desire for experiencing the worldly objects does not seem to wane.  Even a baby cries if its pet things are broken.  That being the state of the world, how is one to get rid of the temptation?
Sage Vasishta:  Once you know for sure that the thing you are running after is a product of fantasy, you will not regret its loss.  Hence you should first make an effort to develop proper care in discerning unambiguously an imaginary object from the true thing.  With that you will automatically lose interest in experiencing worldly objects and will eventually attain peace.
Rama: The illusion is produced by the mind.  So we have to understand the mind if we have to understand the illusion.  What should we do to know the mind?
Sage Vasishta: Mind is the name of Consciousness (chit) when It has a propensity to be as an object (chetya).
You have to inquire in depth in order to experientially understand this.  Listening to my instruction is itself an inquiry.  The past impressions will be weakened by the teaching.
Rama:  Mind is not exterminated even by rigorous efforts through Yoga.  Past impressions are not extinguished as long as there is an active mind.  In order to achieve eternal Nirvana, mind has to be annulled.  How does this transformation take place?
Sage Vasishta:  The fact of matter is there are no perceivables.  Once this is realized, what does the mind hang on to?  If there is nothing to grasp, mind itself falls off.  In other words, one has to wipe out the percepts.  That means you have to arrive at a state where no ‘thing’ is seen.  This is the only method to achieve a null-mind.
Rama:  How do you deny what is being experienced?  How do you brush it away?
Sage Vasishta:  Look, what is it that is being experienced?  What is being experienced by the ignorant is different from what is experienced by the Knowers of Truth.  There is no ‘beingness’ in the objects experienced by the ignoramus.  There is no name or form to what is experienced by the Knowers of Truth. It is ineffable.  It is Non-dual.
Rama:  What is the quality of the world seen by the ignorant?  Why is it not true?  What is the quality of the world visible to the Knowers of Truth?  And why can’t we express it in words?
Sage Vasishta:  The world that appears to the ignorant has a beginning and an end.  It has an origination and a dissolution (birth and death).   The world of the Knowers of Truth does not have such endpoints.  Because the world has never originated in their view, it has not been there at all!  Hence it is inaccessible for words.
Rama:  How does something that is not born at all come into one’s experience?
Sage Vasishta:  Just like the dreams! 
Rama:  The experiencing in dreams or daydreaming is caused by the impressions acquired from the interactions with things in the wakeful world.
Sage Vasishta:  Do you experience the same object during dreaming as you do in the wakeful state?  Or is it a different one?
Rama:  It is the same thing as in the wakeful state but in the form of impressions.
Sage Vasishta:  Suppose a person had seen his house in a collapsed condition in his dream.  If we go by what you say, his wakeful state house too should be in a collapsed condition.  But it does not happen like that.
Rama:  That is true.  We cannot hold that both are the same!  The dream house is different from the wakeful state house.  Perhaps you intend to say that even the dream house is another manifestation of the Supreme Brahman.  Why then should that Brahman appear in the form of a different world now?
Sage Vasishta:  There is no rule to say that what you have experienced now in the wakeful state has to appear in the dream state.  Things that were experienced as well as things that were not experienced in the wakeful state may appear in the dreams.  Sometimes things that were once experienced may appear as totally new in dreams.  These strange things happen depending upon the sum total of experiences of that individual from the beginning of creation till now.  Because of those experiences, the Supreme Brahman appears now as another world.  If one is habituated to the appearance of the Supreme Brahman, he will see That only even during dreams.
Rama:  I surmise from this discussion that the world comes into being in the same way as the dreams do for one who does not abide as the Supreme Brahman.  But the world possesses us like a devil.  How do we exorcize it?
Sage Vasishta:  Inquire into the reason for the appearance of the dream which is called as wakefulness.  Understand that the effect is not different form the cause.   This is the only technique for you to follow.
Rama:  I wrongly said a while ago that the wakeful state objects are the reason for the dream world.  The real reason for them is the mind.  Hence mind is the cause for the wakeful state objects.
Sage Vasishta:  We have already seen that mind is none other than Consciousness tending to be the percept.  So world in truth is none other than Consciousness. 
Rama:  The non- difference between Brahman and the world is comparable then to the non-difference between a tree and its branch.  Why should we hold that the world does not have beingness at all?  This is also called as ‘difference in non-difference.’  If all the worlds join together, it becomes the collective mind.  You may say that the collective mind is equivalent to the Supreme Brahman.  The individual worlds and the individual minds will be its branches. 
Sage Vasishta:  No, such a proposition does not hold water.  First of all, the world does not have a cause behind it.  You cannot attribute beingness to it.  Hence the world is not created at all!  What seemingly appears as the world is the immortal, ageless Supreme Brahman.  There is no point in conceptualizing parts as stem, branch etc. within something that was never born.
Rama:  Yes, Teacher!  What you say is very true.  The originations and dissolutions, perceiving and experiencing etc. are mere illusions like the Doctrine of Spurious Correlations based on The Crow and the Palm Fruit Metaphor.
Sage Vasishta:  There are three Points of View – the Empirical viewpoint, the Logical viewpoint and the Absolute viewpoint.  Each one is stronger than the other.  I presented an exegesis on the origin of the world from the Logical and Absolute viewpoints.  The Logical viewpoint is based on robust rational principles of inquiry.  Expert Logicians qualified to examining what is perceived through proper means of knowledge (pramANa) value it very highly.  The Absolute viewpoint is respected by the Jivanmuktas who have an immediate direct realization of the Supreme Truth by following the triumvirate of Listening, Reflection and Contemplative Meditation (Shravana, Manana and Nidhidhyaasa).
Adopting these two viewpoints, I explicated the genesis of the world right up to the Supreme Brahman where none of these three viewpoints or the individual entertaining those viewpoints exists.  Even void is absent there and It is free of phantasm).
Rama:  You have put it very aptly, Gurudev!  The world is an illusion when viewed from a logical perspective.  From the stance of Self-Knowledge, it is the Beingness of Brahman!
Sage Vasishta:  True Indeed!  The Supreme Brahman becomes an individual, conducts an inquiry and learns that He Himself is Brahman as well as this world!
Rama:  And that is the surprise!  Prior to the creation and after the dissolution and later during the state of liberation, the Supreme Brahman shines as One.  No quarters (directions) exist at any of those times.  What lamp can illuminate That!
Sage Vasishta:  Yes, yes!  It is quite a mystery!  Vedas also admit as much.
Rama, the illumination of Consciousness you are speaking about is not like the light of Sun and other stars that you see every day.  It is a lamp that illuminates all.  It is the Light of the light.
Consciousness is the witness during the dream state. It is also the objects seen in the dream as well as the act of seeing.  All the three are One.  This is the common experience familiar to every person.  Even then, he is unable to accept when we say that the same one Consciousness appears in the form of a triad – the seer, seen and the act of seeing - during the wakeful state also.  He is surprised when we explain in detail.  Only the ignorant feel this as a surprise but not the Knowers of Truth.
You wondered how Consciousness would have shone when there were no quarters (directions) at the beginning of the creation.  Whether it is the beginning of creation, or during dissolution or in liberation, the objects that are illuminated will be non-existent but not the Illuminator Himself!  That condition is unlike any of the wakeful, dream or deep sleep states.  The lamp of Consciousness that remains then is called Turiya. 
Rama!  Achieve that Turiya!  Ascending on the steps of the Knowledge Path, abide firmly in It and be silent like a statue!  Be in Nirvikalpa Samadhi!  Ignore the evil minded people who talk contrary to this. 
Rama:  Revered Teacher! If one understands the Truth as propounded by you, there is no illusory world.  It was not there in the past.  It is not there now and it will not be there in the future.
[End of Part 3/3.]

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Essence of Advaita -- A Question- Answer Session - Part 2/3

Essence of Advaita -- A Question- Answer Session - Part 2/3
(Excerpted from Yogavaasishta, Chapter VI: Nirvana, Book - II, Sarga 190)

[Part 1/3          Part 3/3]

Sage Vasishta:  What you say will amount to equating Knowledge and the world.  How can the world be then subjected to creation and dissolution?  After all, Pure Knowledge cannot be subjected to creation and dissolution!
Rama:  Let us be clear on one thing.  The creation was not there to start with.  It came about later on.  You say that illusion is the reason for it.  What is the reason for the illusion?
Sage Vasishta:  The question is based on an unsupported assumption on your part!  You presume that the cause-effect relationship is valid and real.  But causal relationships have no reality.  Why do they lack reality?  Because never is there a real cause or a real effect.
What is perceived (chetya), who perceives (chit) and perception (chaitanya) are different forms of your Consciousness-Self. 
Rama:  If what you propose is correct, this purely inert and mechanical gross body becomes the knower (chit).  If so, Ishvar, the source for all Knowledge will be inert.  It is like saying that the log ignites the fire and the fire is being burnt down by the wood!
Sage Vasishta:  No, that’s not what I said!  ‘The seer’ can never be ‘the seen.’  The subject can never become the object.  But the most subtle and salient point is that there is no object, ‘the seen’ at all.  The seer who is Pure Consciousness appears as though It takes the form of the triad – the knower, the known and the knowledge.
Rama:  There got to be at the very beginning of the creation someone or other who was the very first knower of the creation.  There cannot be something ‘known’ in the absence of a ‘knower.’ 
What existed prior to creation was Pure Consciousness alone.  Hence we are forced to admit that It was the first Knower of the first created things.  How was that first ‘known’ substance generated?
Sage Vasishta:  Rama!  If at all we said that there was a ‘seen’ or ‘known’ substance produced at the beginning of creation, you may legitimately question us about its origin.  But that has never been our argument.  We are consistent in our assertion that there has been no legitimate cause behind anything ‘seen’ at the beginning of creation or even later on at anytime.  Hence there is no thing ‘seen.’  Because there has been no thing seen, Consciousness is forever without bondage.  Consciousness cannot be captured in words.
 Rama:  That being so, how was the ‘thought wave’, “I”, born?  How did the knowledge, “I see the world” originate?  How does one have the feeling, “I am alive”?
Sage Vasishta:  You see, there was no cause for the creation even at the very start.  So nothing ever is really born.  The entire creation is only an illusion.  Therefore, what you see is merely an illusion.
Rama:  According to you then, what exists is the Supreme Brahman only.  It cannot be expressed in words.  It does not contain Knowledge.  It has no thing ‘known.’  It is eternal, self-effulgent and unblemished.  To whom does this illusion happen then?  Of what nature is the illusion?
Sage Vasishta:  There is no reason behind the illusion!  Hence there is no illusion at all!  ‘You, me and everything’ are all the superbly serene Supreme Brahman only!
Rama:  Revered Teacher!  I am awfully confused!  I am unable to even formulate my questions.  Obviously I am not fully enlightened.  What misgivings can I place before you?
Sage Vasishta:  Rama!  You are still going by an attempt to establish a sequence of cause-effect relationships.  There has to be a touchstone which can establish the correctness or otherwise of the sequence of causes and effects.  If we examine based on that yardstick, the causes will evaporate.  For example, a doubt is the cause for a question.  The cause for the doubt is ignorance.  If we can get rid of the ignorance, there is no scope for a doubt and the later questions.
So go on, shoot your questions.  When all the questions are resolved, you will automatically land in and be at ease as the Supreme Consciousness.
Rama:  Revered Teacher!  As per your teaching, there is no cause for creation and hence there is no creation.   I could understand that.  To whom did the imaginary division of a knower and the known occur?  How did it occur?
Sage Vasishta:  Rama, you have an intellectual understanding of the matter.  But the understanding is not fully rooted in you for lack of practice.  That is the reason a non-existing illusion has ensnared you.
Rama:  Sir, rephrasing myself then, why is there an absence of practice?  How does the practice take place?  Further the so called practice is also an illusion.  Wherefrom has it come? 
Sage Vasishta:  You asked the question under the assumption that you were ignorant and that state of ignorance was ‘real.’ 
Let us say that your assumption is correct.  But simply because you thought that you were ignorant, the Infiniteness of the Supreme Brahman will not be compromised.  Therefore, even your thoughts on practice are a form of that Supreme Consciousness.  Hence your question does not have any validity.
Rama:  The illusion of the world is eliminated for Jivanmuktas like you.  Even then you think of instructing people like us.  You use words for that purpose.  You also admit something has to be instructed and there is someone to be instructed.  How do all such things happen?
Sage Vasishta:  The whole process of instructing etc. is also Brahman.  The disciple, teacher and instruction are all Brahman.  There is neither bondage nor liberation in the eyes of an enlightened man.
Rama:  You are establishing that illusion of a world is an impossibility taking recourse to logic. Granting that, wherefrom the ignoramus in the world acquire the knowledge of differentiating space, time, action, matter etc. etc.?  How could these different things gain a reality?
Sage Vasishta:  It was because of ignorance only.  There is no other reality than ignorance before obtaining enlightenment (Jivanmukti). 
Rama:  There is no duality or Oneness in the Jivanmukti that you refer to.  In other words, the idea of someone being taught or someone teaching does not arise.  Does the instruction (teaching), taught by a teacher who lacks the ‘quality of teaching’ in him, contain any ‘value as a teaching’?  Can such an instruction lacking the ‘value as a teaching’ within it lead to Nirvana?
Sage Vasishta:  A separate individual (jiva) is the Supreme Brahman not aware of Himself.  The individual realizes that he is Brahman on the Awareness of being Brahman.  So it is Brahman, who is under ignorance.  It is He who receives the instruction in this process.  Because the instruction is being received by Him, it is a teaching.  Thus the instruction becomes one with what is taught and through that it becomes one with the Supreme Brahman.  Hence you cannot state that the instruction lacks the ‘value as a teaching’ in it.  This whole scenario is applicable only in the case of ignorant people.  In the case of enlightened people like us, as you said, an instruction cannot have the ‘value as a teaching.’
Rama:  You used the expression, “enlightened people like us.”  It does show that words like “I”, “we” have significance for them also.  Implicitly it means that they too have the “I”-thought within them.  The only difference is that one cannot say that this “I”-thought is generated in them out of ignorance because they are completely free of ignorance.  In that case we have to agree that the Knowledge in them has become the “I”-thought.  Then we have to admit that the teaching is different from the “I”-thought.  But “I”-thought and the individual (jiva) are the same. How could such a jiva enter you who are totally Consciousness-Self?
Sage Vasishta:  Wind is movement.  Movement is wind.  In the same way, in the case of Jivanmuktas, the Knowledge Itself is “I”-thought.  This “I”-thought and the “I”-thought under ignorance are different.  The “I”-thought of the ignorant people is based on the attachment to the body, senses etc. 
Rama:  So the world of a Jivanmukta is Consciousness as shown by the maxim, ‘the turbulent wave is also the placid ocean.’  It means that the person to be taught, the Guru who teaches and the teaching and other similar triads are all Consciousness. 
Sage Vasishta:  You asked me a little earlier a question about the presence of the ‘value as a teaching’ in the instruction of a Jivanmukta.  You contended that a Jivanmukta lacks within him both the sense of duality and oneness and hence you said that he would not have the sense of separation of a teacher being here and a disciple over there.  Hence you doubted whether the ‘value as a teaching’ will be present in his instruction.
From what you say now, that question loses its locus.  Do not visualize an ocean and a wave to be two separate things.  What is, is One only!  It is Infinite, Serene, Perfect and the most Supreme!  That is Pure Non-duality.  Get a hold on It.
Rama: You said that Pure Knowledge and “I”-thought were like wind and movement in the case of Jivanmuktas like you.  If Pure Non-duality is firmed up, who is it that thinks differently – sometimes as Pure Knowledge and at other times as “I”-thought?  Who is one that experiences this “I”-thought?  There has obviously to be someone to do these things.  If such thoughts of differentiation are unavoidable to Jivanmuktas, what can we speak of the ordinary folk?  Therefore, it looks that an illusion of distinction is inevitable for anyone.  It follows that the illusion of a world is also inescapable.  It would mean that we are necessarily trapped in the cycle of bondage and liberation. 
What then is the advantage of Pure Non-duality?
Sage Vasishta:  Bondage comes only if one takes what is perceived to be true.  Knowers of Truth will not do that.  From their stance, it is Pure Knowledge appearing in different forms.  Hence they are unconcerned with bondage and liberation.
Rama: A black object appears black and a white object appears white in the light of a lamp.  But the lamp itself does not become the black or white object.  Likewise, if various substances are seen because of Pure Knowledge, we have to say that those substances are really there and hence are seen.  So the reality of the objects is established by the instrument of Knowledge.  This is our common experience.  But you postulate that all things get annihilated along with their cause by Knowledge.  How do you justify it?
Sage Vasishta:  We had already demonstrated adopting different approaches that the objects of the world lacked beingness.  We said that there was no cause behind them and hence they did not have beingness.  If such non-existent things are seen, that appearance has to be like the silver in nacre.  Such an appearance will last as long as the illusion lasts.  It cannot survive beyond that.  Knowers of Truth do not suffer from the illusion.  Hence they do not see anything to be external to them. 
Rama:  Let us for the present leave the issue whether the silver in nacre or the dream world etc. are real or unreal.  Misery does come out of them.  Even the illusory world brings suffering.  What is the way to avoid the sorrow?
[Dialog to be continued in Part 3/3.]