Sunday, April 30, 2017

Self-inquiry and Maturity


The devotee: “It is for that, is it not, that Bhagavan says that the best thing to do is to follow the path of Self-enquiry of ‘Who am I’?”

Bhagavan: “Yes; but in the Vasishtam it is mentioned that Vasishta told Rama that the path of Self-enquiry should not be shown to anyone who is not sufficiently qualified. 

In some other books it has been stated that spiritual practices should be done for several births, or for at least twelve years under a Guru. 

As people would be scared away if I said that spiritual practices had to be done for several births, I tell them, ‘You have liberation already within you; you have merely to rid yourselves of exterior things that have come upon you’.

Spiritual practices are for that alone. Even so, the Ancients have not said all this for nothing. If a person is told that he is the Godhead, Brahman itself, and that he is already liberated, he may not do any spiritual practices, thinking that he already has that which is required and does not want anything more. That is why these Vedantic matters should not be told to spiritually undeveloped people (anadhikaris); there is no other reason.” And Bhagavan smiled.

- Letters no 158

(Ramana Maharshi)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Verse from Guru Vachaka Kovai - on self-inquiry


394 Since pramada, forgetfulness of the Self,  is, in truth, 
death, for those who are attempting to attain immortality, transcending the death that frightens one and all, it is essential at all times to destroy pramada, the real nature of death, without giving it the slightest scope to survive

There are therefore no rules to the effect that the jnana-vichara performed to know and attain the immortal Self should be practiced only during specific periods.

Muruganar: 'Attempting to attain' here means making uninterrupted effort, with the entire attention focused on the endeavor one has embarked upon, until it takes one to the goal. 

Bhagavan: "Destruction of mind alone is tapas. This alone is one's duty. One who is doing his own work will not pay attention to anyone else's work. One should never give room for swerving from the thought of the Self. However many duties one may have, at all the other times not meant for performing duties one must perform only self-enquiry.

While standing, sitting and taking food one can do vichara, can one not? If the mind happens to forget the enquiry 'Who am I?' because of vasanas, when it remembers the enquiry, it should try not to lose hold of the enquiry again. 

– Who am I?;  an early draft

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is effort required for self-inquiry and Self-Realization?

From Michael James' blog "Happiness of Being", on the topic of whether effort is required for self-inquiry and self-attentiveness.

Is effort required, as do assert some traditional paths of awakening (e.g. early Buddhism, traditional Advaita Vedanta etc.), or is no effort required for what is already present, as do assert neo-Advaita teachers and some modern proponents of 'nonduality'?

1. We are always self-aware, but we must make effort to be attentively self-aware

We are always self-aware, because self-awareness is our very nature (what we actually are), so we do not need to make any effort to be self-aware. However, though we are always self-aware, we are generally not attentively self-aware, because most of our attention is taken up with being aware of other things, since we find it more interesting and appealing to be aware of other things than to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

This self-negligence or lack of self-attentiveness is what is called pramāda, and it is the root of all our problems, because it is the very nature of the ego and the means by which the ego seems to rise, stand and flourish. Therefore all our efforts should be directed towards being self-attentive and thereby overcoming our pramāda.

~ Michael James