Author Topic: Sri Ramana's teachings as explained by Michael James  (Read 1213 times)


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Sri Ramana's teachings as explained by Michael James
« on: March 20, 2013, 10:30:41 AM »
Recollecting from his blog:  Only a portion quoted here.  For furhter details please visist the following link.

Pramāda: the first person seems to exist only because we do not attend to it

Second and third persons seem to exist only because we attend to them, whereas the first person seems to exist only because we do not attend to it (or in more technical philosophical terminology, only because of pramāda or self-negligence). This is a fundamental and extremely important difference between the nature of the first person and that of second and third persons, and it is a difference that is not so clearly or emphatically expressed in any scriptural texts or in any of the surviving records of the teachings of any sage prior to Sri Ramana as it is in his written and oral teachings.

This fundamental difference between the first person and second and third persons is one of the crucial reasons why ātma-vicāra (self-investigation or self-attentiveness) is the only means by which we can experience ourself as we really are and thereby destroy the illusion that the mind (the ego or first person) is real.

The reason for this fundamental difference is that the first person is conscious whereas second and third persons are non-conscious. Because they are non-conscious, second and third persons appear to exist only when they are known by the first person, which is the only consciousness that can experience their seeming existence. And because the first person is the consciousness (the subject) that knows or experiences second and third persons (all objects), it appears to exist as such only so long as it is experiencing any of them. If it ceases to experience any of them by attending exclusively to itself, it will cease to be the first person that it now appears to be, and will remain instead as pure non-dual self-conscious being.

Therefore, if we attend to the first person, it will disappear, because it is truly non-existent as such, and when it disappears all second and third persons will disappear along with it, because their seeming existence depends upon its seeming existence.

The practical application of the rope-snake analogy

Just as the imaginary snake will disappear only if we look at it carefully and thereby recognise that it is only a rope, so the false first person will disappear only if we look at it carefully and thereby recognise that it is only the one infinite, indivisible and otherless space of pure self-conscious being, ‘I am’.

Though this analogy of the rope that appears to be a snake was used by many sages before Sri Ramana, the manner in which they applied it did not show that it can be a vital clue to the means by which we can destroy the illusion of the mind, because they generally used it to illustrate that the world (the totality of all third person objects) is illusory, like the snake, and that brahman (the absolute reality, which is our own essential self) is the underlying reality, like the rope.

Though it is true that the world is a figment of our imagination, like the snake, and that brahman is the reality underlying its false appearance, just as the rope is the reality underlying the false appearance of the snake, this application of this analogy fails if we try to extend it further by inferring that just as the snake will be found to be a rope if we look at it carefully, the world will be found to be brahman if we look at it carefully.

No matter how carefully we scrutinise the world or any other second or third person object, their illusory nature and the true nature of their underlying reality will not be revealed, because by attending to them we are sustaining and perpetuating their seeming reality. Their unreality will be revealed only if we scrutinise the first person, the ego, which is the false foundation upon which their seeming existence rests.

We can experience brahman — the ultimate reality that underlies the false appearance of both the first person and all the second and third persons that it experiences — only by looking carefully at the first person, the impostor who poses as ‘I’, which is truly the nature of brahman. Only if we look carefully at this false ‘I’ (which is a confused mixture of the true consciousness ‘I’ with a collection of non-conscious adjuncts, including a physical body and everything associated with it), will we be able to experience our real ‘I’ (which is pure consciousness of being, uncontaminated by any adjuncts).

Sri Ramana’s teachings are a subtle refinement of advaita vēdanta

Thus Sri Ramana’s teachings are a subtle refinement of the ancient philosophy of advaita vēdanta. However, though the refinement that he has given us is very subtle, it is nevertheless extremely valuable, because it enables us to understand both the efficacy and the actual practice of ātma-vicāra so much more clearly than we could by studying any of the earlier texts of advaita vēdanta.

One clear example of the subtle refinement of advaita vēdanta that Sri Ramana has given us lies in the fact that whereas in earlier texts of advaita vēdanta we were taught that everything is brahman (sarvaṁ khalvidaṁ brahma, ‘All this indeed is brahman’, as stated in Chāndogyōpaniṣad 3.14.1), in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Sri Ramana has taught us that everything is actually the ego (அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம், ahandaiyē yāvum ām, ‘The ego indeed is everything’).

It is of course true that everything is ultimately brahman, because brahman is the fundamental reality underlying the false appearance of everything else, but though brahman is the ultimate foundation upon which the seeming reality of everything else rests, the more immediate — the intermediate — foundation upon which everything rests is only the ego, the false first person.

Everything else (all second and third persons) seems to exist only because the ego (the first person) seems to exist, so the ego is the seed, embryo, root and cause of the false appearance of everything else. In other words, the ego is the source and substance of everything else, and everything else is only an expansion of the ego. This is why Sri Ramana emphatically declared, ‘அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandaiyē yāvum ām), ‘The ego indeed is everything’.

If we look carefully at this ego, we will discover that it is actually nothing other than brahman, so brahman is indeed the ultimate reality and substance of everything. But in order for us to experience this truth, it is extremely useful to appreciate the fact that the ego is the essential link — the intermediate foundation — between brahman and everything else, because we can experience brahman as it is only by carefully attending to the ego and not by attending — no matter how carefully — to anything else whatsoever.


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Re: Sri Ramana's teachings as explained by Michael James
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2013, 11:51:01 AM »

Dear Krishnan,

The book "Happiness of the Art of Being" is available at the cost of Rs 360.00.  The book is good excepting for the roundabout
style in which Michael has written the whole book.  His knowledge of Ulladu Narpadu is excellent and half of the said book is
spent on explaining the verses of Ulladu Narpadu.  One has to put up with his style of writing, that is all.

Arunachala Siva.