Wednesday, May 28, 2008
the Self that I AM
One has to be extremely careful in advaita as to
what one means by I the Self.
We are so well-entrenched in the false i - even though
it is labeled a i-notion - it is more than a mere
notion or concept that we need to let go of - it is
verily who we are - the i who thinks, talks, eats,
sleeps, dreams, desires, is sad, is happy, plans,
breathes, etc. - this i is our very sense of
individuality, nourished as it has been through
millions of births from beginningless time!
Letting go of one's individuality means dying to one's
self as we now know it, see it, feel it. While our
Masters like Bhagwan Ramana, and many other Seers may
make it look simple, direct, even effortless, I think
there is a grave danger into a seeker falling into a
complacent trap of delving into a comfort zone. There
is nothing more difficult in the world than letting go
of our cherished notional individuality.
Even the Gods fail in this, what to speak of mortals.
Indra, the ruler of the Heavens, how much prowess he
must have had to acquire that status - and yet he
spends hundreds of years after approaching a Guru for
self-knowledge and still finds himself incomplete,
unable to pierce the barriers of his own notionality.
Sage Narada, who has the darshan of Lord Narayana at a
moments wish, and is the Rishi for the devas, who has
completely mastered all the scriptures all the
sciences in the world, has learnt all that is to know,
still approaches Sage Vamana saying I am in a sea of
sorrow for i lack knowledge of the Self. The
Upanishads talk about these instances to point out
just how hard it is to attain Self-realization.
Our teachers out of sheer benevolence so as not to
discourage us from coming to this field, from
rejecting it or shunning it outright do tell us it is
the gain of something already existent, it is a direct
approach, etc - these are in the way of getting the
child to the mountain he needs to climb - you are
almost there - just a little longer, just a little
more...etc...until the seeker has made sufficient
progress to gain a sense of commitment to the journey,
having been fully convinced of the ephemerality of the
world. If after gaining such a commitment, the sheer
magnitude of the task at hand is not appreciated,
there is a real danger of self-effort becoming lax.
Gaining knowledge of the Self is harder than emptying
the entire Ocean drop by drop with a leaf of grass! No
See how the Gita talks and Shankara talks about such a
A Seer views his own body like a corpse - if it were
to shrivel and die it would make not one iota of a
difference to him - what then to speak of any near and
dear ones, if he had any. He views the world as
nothing but a play. He is unconcerned, unattached to
anything, dwelling in his own nature - the entire
riches of the Universe to him are worthless. He is
indifferent to the status of his body and its needs.
IN the words of the GitA - he is totally free from
harsha---from elation; amarsha---intolerance;
bhaya---fear; ca udvegaih---and anxiety of any sort.
It is the rarest treasure - to be found only at the
pinnacle of spiritual perfection, and available only
to that rare person who succeeds in the steepest path
Even spiritual giants like MadhavAcharya and
RamanujAcharya could not get themselves to accept
Advaita - why?? - because advaita demands nothing
short of a complete surrender of one"self" - total
death, annihilation in toto. I give myself up, and I
gain God. They stopped short, preferring the easier
path of proximity - be near Him, enjoy Him, admire
Him, but "i" want to be there too - "i" cannot die -
not so fast, not so soon, not even for the Lord, my
As if this were not enough there is one more paradox
to contend with. Effort is not going to get you this
knowledge either!! It is not a matter of
purusha-tantra but vastu-tantra.
Effort pertains to the self that is notional
Effortlessness pertains to the being, the awareness,
that is Real.
Effort betrays the very veiling of what is effortless
- and yet not "efforting" is in itself a effort that
only veils more.
The reason is the very Ego that makes all these
Efforts is also the Ego that needs to be dissolved so
a vision of the Self, of the Lord be gained. So if i
set out to dissolve this concept of the Ego or my
concepts of the world, God, etc the very i that is
setting to dissolve all this is verily the only i that
needs to be dissolved, it is also the only i that can
get dissolved - everything else - all the neti neti in
the world being part of Ishwara srshti.
So something besides my intellect needs to be involved
in this process. And that something else is Grace -
the Grace of the very Self to which have i the seeker
have a severe longing for, and an undying devotion to.
Self-knowledge is not a matter of repetition - it is
not even a matter of memory. It is not that i have to
keep remembering this fact that "i am brahman" every
single moment of the day. Nor is it a matter of
brainwashed dissociation - "i am not angry - i am
awareness that is illumining the angry mind" - this
kind of conscious thinking or dwelling upon is not
Self-realization. Self-knowledge is also not a matter
of denial, even if be of the non-self. neti neti does
not mean i simply persist in my efforts to deny the
world, or deny my feelings, emotions, - if i go on
denying everything all through my life i will only end
up wasting it away in an ashen sea of nothingness. It
is not about repeatedly proclaiming i am awareness,
nor even is it to arrive at a rationally thought-out
conclusion that i am awareness.
Dissolution of the ego - needs a purified mind and a
focussed intellect - the Ego can only be dissolved in
the fire of knowledge the ocean of devotion - Its
dissolution has to be both total, and irreversible.
in that dissolution alone the Real Self shines forth
on its own accord.
Because my intellect by itself is not adequate in this
task - this is where Shruti comes in, as the only
valid pramAna - it is verily a mirror to mySelf -
since scriptures come in, naturally grammar, logic,
concepts, language, etc all come in to play - So the
various arguments the mind puts forth to reject
self-knowledge are put to rest. At the same time any
comfort zones the mind may slip into in complacency at
a task pre-accomplished are also shaken off.
Constantly is this knowledge stirred into the mind,
every concept churned over and over.
Simply resorting to "who am i?" even in the silent
recesses of your mind, will never be enough. the "i"
asking the question "who am i?" will ever be veiling
the reality of the Self that never has a question to
In the Bhagwan's (Ramana) own words -
Ahami naasha bhaajyaham aham tayaa
Sphurathi Hrut Svayam parama poorna sat
When I-thought or Ego is destroyed,
the pure I shines forth on its own
as the Supreme and perfect (full) Existence.
Bandha Muktyatheetham param sukham
Vindhathi iha jeevah thu daivikah
The Individual Jeeva (who has acquired the knowledge
of the Self) realizes the Divine Lord who is Supreme,
Blissful and beyond both bondage and liberation here
in this world itself.