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Messages - Graham

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121
Find devotees in your area / MOVED: SADHANA...
« on: December 24, 2009, 03:58:49 PM »

122
Operating System and Software Issues / Re: Photoshop CS4
« on: December 23, 2009, 05:03:57 AM »
Am I right in assuming that you want to make your sign 30 feet long by 28 inches tall?

If so, you should make your changes on a smaller version then increase the size afterwards, perhaps one quarter the size. Photoshop CS4 is very good at retaining detail during resize.

You might quite rightly argue that you cannot be sure that the effect will be smooth if you work with a smaller image first, but whichever way you do it, you are limited to the screen render size for preview accuracy.

I would also guess that a 30 foot sign is normally designed to be viewed from a distance, so the output can reflect that.

All versions of Photoshop have file size limitations for rendering, etc.

123
Security Issues / Useful sites for security issues
« on: December 21, 2009, 09:20:21 AM »
The link below takes you to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team website, which lists all of the current vulnerabilities and fixes from reputable software manufacturers.

If you have any doubts about software update warnings that appear on your computer, then go here and check for authenticity.

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team -- http://www.us-cert.gov/current/

Graham

124
Cautionary advice / Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« on: December 16, 2009, 12:10:44 PM »
Yes Nagaraj,

I remember you and wondered where you had gone.

Suffering is an intrinsic part of the process of spiritual maturity. Those who find the world pleasing do not give it up, so suffering is actually God's Grace helping us to turn away from it.

Suffering is only the mind's refusal to accept the inevitable. If we are surrendered to God then there is no suffering, because we accept everything as it is.

This is the most valuable lesson of my 60 years in this world.

125
Cautionary advice / Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« on: December 15, 2009, 05:20:21 AM »
Many devotees get feelings of depression/despair/hopelessness at an apparent lack of progress in their sadhana or meditation. They are often overcome by the trials and tribulations of life and become despondent.

This is normal and to assist those who suffer from these problems I will relate a few incidents in my own life, to show that there is hope even in the darkest of moments.

------

I first came across Bhagavan in 1974 or 1975 after reading 'In Days of Great Peace' by Mouni Sadhu. This book changed my life completely and I became determined to attain Liberation in this lifetime.

For the first few years I engaged in what can only be described as tepid efforts as I sought to understand what exactly it was I was supposed to be doing, during which time I purchased every book published in English by the ashram. I then decided to intensify my practice to the exclusion of all else, apart from that which is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of life.

After two years of this intense sadhana I had many profound and powerful experiences, but none were permanent. Other things happened in my worldly life which at the time appeared to be extremely unhelpful, even disastrous. A period of despair and depression then followed coupled with intense meditation to try and lift it, so intense that I suffered from fits and other debilitating ailments. This continued for some time and throughout this difficult period I prayed intensely for a solution, but none came.

Then one morning whilst in the deepest of depressions, I was pleading with Bhagavan, asking 'what kind of guru are you, that you desert your devotees and leave them helpless?', when suddenly out of the air a voice thundered: "You believe the illusion is real" and then became silent.

Six words that removed the depression in an instant, all doubts dispelled. I spent the remainder of that day laughing at my past stupidity.

This was not the end of sadhana by any means and I continued my practice of meditation but with less strain, not wanting to bring about more fits.

-------------

During the next few years my worldly life collapsed completely and I was left virtually destitute, to the point of having to go out at night to look for money that people might have dropped in the street, so that I could eat.

After eleven years of this worldly struggle, with no apparent progress in meditation, I was again feeling helpless, but remained determined.

At this time an invitation appeared in the post, to attend a concert in Leicester in the UK. I would not normally attend such things, but somehow felt drawn towards it. My daughter and her friend also wanted to go. So I borrowed a friend's car and set out for the concert in good time.

Because of a error we arrived one hour later than the published start of the concert and feared the worst, but to our surprise the group was also late and had not arrived.

Finally, when all was set, we sat down in the large empty venue and the concert began - no-one else came to the concert apart from the daughter of the organiser and a small child. The group played and sang a few songs, but the flute player was especially entrancing and I was told that he was a substitute who had suddenly appeared after the group's regular player had fallen ill just before leaving India.

The concert over, we were all invited to one of the organiser's homes to eat before setting off for our destinations. After food we all shook hands, but when the flutist took my hand, it was like a powerful electric shock, the heart centre vibrated powerfully and opened. I was left in a daze and his radiant smile and slight nod of the head conveyed the reassurance that all was well and my torment was over.

I then set off for home. The group who also left at the same time followed behind me in their minibus towards the motorway. Still in a daze, I became confused about which way to go, at which point the minibus stopped and the flutist leaned out of window and said - 'you go that way', pointing in the right direction.

After arriving home safely I discovered that no-one else had any unusual experiences there.

Years later I asked the organisers of the group if they remembered the flutist, but they say they cannot remember anything about the concert at all.

-----------

Many of the forum members will know of my work with relation to the restoration of Bhagavan's photos. This has been going on in one form or another for seventeen years and many devotees have obtained the restored versions from the ashram.

It has been very hard work, often frustrating, requiring reworking countless times, because as technology advanced errors became apparent that were invisible before. In truth, I was never happy with the results, because badly damaged images required far too many changes to be made to remove the thousands of scratches.

Obtaining accurate prints has also been a source of constant frustration and disappointment in India. So after fourteen years of problems we decided that the only way to get good prints would be to transfer the restored photos to negative and use those to produce consistent photographic prints.

With this view in mind, six months ago I started restoring the photos again with fellow devotee Karthik Venkatasubramanian (the photographer) from Chennai. But this has proven to be something of a disaster for reasons that were beyond us to understand; everything we tried went wrong, including re-scanning the negatives and producing new negatives with various service providers across the world.

To overcome the errors with negative production, we decided that the only way to do this properly would be to obtain an LVT Image Recorder (the machine that creates the negatives) and do the work ourselves, but there is only one of these machines in India and enquiries were made as to its availability. We also tried different scanning methods and still the results were not satisfactory.

We were totally bemused by it all until a few days ago, when in a moment of despair an apparently crazy idea popped into Karthik's head, which forced him to try something that normally he would never contemplate.

This resulted in the successful capturing of images from the original negatives by an unusual method, whereby the majority of scratches, fungus stains and blemishes on the negatives are almost completely removed without any retouching at all, producing sharp and clear images that look as if they were taken yesterday. Experimentation with this method continues.

You can see the results HERE - (I've called it a miracle because that is what it is).

The owner of the LVT in India, also has a very professional instant print set-up and Karthik decided to send some of the digital images to him for test printing. The results from these are perfect, for the first time in fourteen years both photographs of Arunachala and the restored photographs of Bhagavan look exactly as they do on the screen. The owner is also considering the request for the LVT.

There is lot more background to this story, most of it private details, but suffice to say that a very clear and precise thread can be seen throughout this whole sequence of events, that has drawn us inexorably to this point where years of problems are solved in a matter of a few days through what appeared at first sight to be disaster.

As a consequence of this, the entire restoration project has to be started all over again from scratch and all previous work discarded.

Do I regret it, no, of course not. We will simply continue, removing any residual blemishes that this method cannot remove automatically.

Doing all of this work repeatedly over so many years, in addition to my earlier trials and tribulations, has taught me patience, tolerance and fortitude. Furnishing me with the certain knowledge that at the right time, everything comes right by God's grace, according to His plan, not ours.

-----------

The only advice I can give is 'never lose hope and never give in to despair in your efforts to Realize the Self. Meditate when sattva is predominant and when rajas and tamas are predominant, turn to prayer until they pass'.

Above all else, have faith in God and in yourself and it will all come right in the end. Nothing is more certain than that.

-----------

The point of frustration at a lack of progress in meditation remains to be clarified.

Throughout advaitic texts you will find the statement that 'all are already Realised' is repeated over and over again. You will also find the contradictory statements that 'no effort is required to Realise the Self' and 'effort is required'. Both statements are true in the right context.

Repeated and constant effort is required to turn the mind away from the world towards its source, the Self. But it cannot Realise the Self because Self is already Realised.

To expect the mind to Realise the Self is like expecting the 'Role' played by an actor to Realise the actor, or the illusiory snake to Realise the rope. In these cases the actor and the rope are real, the Role the actor plays and snake are illusions.

There are countless projections of ego/mind, but only one Self. The ego/mind is an illusion, it is only a thought, it cannot Realise the Self, it can only surrender to it and be consumed/negated by it. So all efforts to Realise an individual Self will end in frustration and failure, because it is the ego which is trying to become Self-realised, which it can never do - it can however become ego-realised, followed by a complete descent into tamas.

Little more can be said on this point; you have to understand it yourself through practice and apply it.

126
Cautionary advice / The corruption of Satsanga
« on: December 15, 2009, 04:58:19 AM »
The real meaning of Satsang is 'association with the Wise', preferably the Self-realised Sages (Jnani's) who speak only of God and fully practice dharma (righteousness), though Sages who are not yet Self-realised, but live according to the rules of dharma are also considered to be Wise. Association with the wise is said to be the root-cause of all that is good.

Jnani's are dharma personified, they NEVER stray from it, even for a split second. They are identical with God and nothing is beyond them. They know the world to be an illusion and have little or no interest in it. They do not seek to accumulate wealth or property, they are not interested in fame or acquiring followers. They do not advertise nor entice others to advertise for them - God does not need to advertise, He is the soul of everything.

Just before Bhagavan left the body, Chadwick and others approached Him and asked Him how they could repay Him, should they write books, tell the world about Him, etc. He replied "Put my teachings into practice".

Today the word 'satsang' is widely used to promote what can only be described as talking-shops (the opposite of satsang), where self-appointed gurus pontificate about subjects they know little or nothing about, manufacture their own poisoned theories, indulge in cheap psychology and pursue their vices. They also expect you to pay for all of this in every possible way.

It is also widely used for meditation sessions, but this is not true satsang by any stretch of the imagination.

The primary requisite for those seeking self-realisation is the ability to discriminate between that which is useful and that which is useless/harmful in the search. Becoming attached to the wrong person or group can do immeasurable harm, not only in life in general, but can also disturb and even destroy budding faith; it is therefore imperative that caution is exercised in every possible way.

You must carefully weigh up everything that you see and hear. Clear teachings are available from the publications of Sri Ramanasramam and ancient scriptures such as - Tripura Rahasya, The Srimad Bhagavata, Advaita Bodha Deepika, Yoga Vasistha Sara, The Bhagavad Gita, Ribhu Gita, etc. If what you hear is contrary in any way to the essence of these works, then do not return.

People were attracted to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by his purity and simplicity. Measure anyone who promotes themselves as a guru by the conduct of Bhagavan and you will not go wrong. But also bear in mind that it is fairly easy to fake the outer appearance of a jnani, but it is impossible to fake the ananda (peace) or power that was experienced in his presence.

In the late 1990's I saw a website that listed all of the 'known' Jnani's and their so-called 'lineage'. It started with Ramana Maharshi who apparently transferred Self-realisation to H.W.L. Poonja, who in turn (if I remember correctly) tranferred it to 300+ others with lots more to follow. We all fell on the floor with laughter upon reading this ..... what is there to transfer and from whom to whom? If it can be transferred then it was not there in the first place, is not permanent and not worth the effort.

Unfortunately they have not gone away, Tiruvannamalai is plastered with posters advertising these people during the winter months.

God, Guru and Self are one and the same. True satsang is therefore association with the Self and that does not require anyone else.

127
General Discussion / Re: The value of Certificates
« on: December 14, 2009, 07:54:35 PM »
In 1999 or 2000 an email was received at the ashram pointing us to a website which listed all of the purported jnani's in the world, complete with photos. Next to the name was a list of people who had been made into Jnani's by this or that teacher.

I believe the list was 500 names long.

At the top of the list was Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and he only produced one Jnani according to the list .... HWL Poonja

Poonja however was prolific and according to the list (if my memory serves correctly) produced over 300 Jnani's, who in turn produced lots more ... they seem to breed like rabbits these days. In the ashram computer room we all fell on the floor with laughter when we saw the list.

The majority of the Lucknow crowd were easily spotted in those days because they have the same traits - they boil with anger, are incredibly arrogant and generally caused trouble wherever they went in the town, so much so that foreigners were refused accommodation in the town area for several years.

As a footnote, a friend of mine who knew HWL Poonja from the early 1950's, travelled to Lucknow and asked Poonja why he was telling people that they were self-realised when it was patently clear that they were not. He replied "I tell them what they want to hear, then they will go away and leave me alone". My friend was stunned by this remark.

Unfortunately they haven't gone away. They are now busying themselves destroying Advaita.

Whether we like it or not, these false teachers, gurus or whatever it is they call themselves, bring nothing but trouble and by their conduct besmirch the name of Bhagavan by attaching their name to His.

The Lucknow crowd have a lot to answer for and none of it good as far as I can see.

128
General Discussion / Re: The value of Certificates
« on: December 07, 2009, 06:04:11 PM »
Thank you for the links Vladimir

It is a terrible tragedy that happened to those poor people in Russia.

129
General Discussion / The value of Certificates
« on: December 04, 2009, 08:03:43 PM »

A Russian friend came to Tiruvannamalai last week and told me about an Advaitic organisation in Russia which is offering Certificates in guruship, graded according to how many followers you get and of course passing exams.

One of these certified gurus came to Tiruvannamalai last year with five of his followers and visited other gurus here, but declared all of them fake because none of them recognised him as a jnani. Upon his return to Russia, he prepared some mushrooms for himself, his family and followers -- all of them died.

I am also reminded of a group here in Tiruvannamalai, who several years ago were offering certificates of self-realisation.

Now there is the phenomena of silent satsang by telephone and silent satsang via skype.

This is the kind of insanity that has hijacked and corrupted Advaita today.

Misplaced faith is a dangerous thing.

130
Forum advice, news & etiquette / Proposed changes
« on: December 04, 2009, 06:25:12 AM »
After reading many posts and taking into account the views and concerns expressed by members, I propose to add a new board to this forum.

This board will be dedicated to people who are new to Advaita and will be limited to simple clarification of terminology and concepts.

For instance, Nisargadatta Maharaj's apparent use of Awareness/consciousness and Bhagavan's use of the same terms.

This might well be a product of interpretation or translation and as such can cause confusion.

During my years at the ashram it became quite evident that a standard terminology was applied throughout all publications.

Sat-Chit-Ananda translates to Being-Consciousness-Bliss, not Being-Awareness-Bliss. The reason for this is that Awareness cannot exist without Consciousness ... there has to be a Conscious Entity to be aware.

The standard in the ashram books is:

Awareness and Consciousness (capitalized) refer to the higher state or Self
awareness and consciousness (lower-case) refer to the objective realm - the illusory planes or ego

It would be useful if contributors to this forum adopted uniform terminology so as not to confuse others - and indeed themselves.

Your comments are welcome

Graham

131
Find devotees in your area / Cautionary Advice
« on: November 10, 2009, 04:46:07 PM »
This board has been created at the request of a member.

It is probably a good idea, but caution should be exercised when contacting strangers.

Not everyone who visits forums, or attaches themselves to any faith structure is genuine or well-balanced.

Please be careful.

132
Having anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer does not always protect it. I had ZoneAlarm on my system when my computer became infected with a rootkit from a rogue web page - this is sometimes called a drive-by infection

This malware changed my desktop to a huge 'WARNING Your're computer is infected', etc. (deliberate misspelling), destroyed all of my system restore points, changed fonts, etc., etc. The purpose is to scare you into downloading a rogue anti-virus software package, which actually infects your system. The current  rogueware is called "PC AntiSpyware 2010", which has also been distributed in a number of other ways.

This scareware will inform you of multiple infections on your system, none of which are real (apart from itself of course) ... you are then invited to purchase the software for $90, using your credit card details, which the authors will then sell or use to purchase lots of goodies for themselves.

The rootkit is annoying, but can be removed - however your system might become slow/unstable as a result of the changes the rootkit makes.

Below are fully checked links if you need help with malware problems.


1/ The Microsoft page that deals with malware, entitled 'How to tell if your computer is infected with spyware':

http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-IN/Help/cfcec887-20ad-4602-a7a5-306298640dbc1033.mspx


2/ The link to Microsoft's Malware Removal Tool - this is useful, but quite limited in its scope - update it regularly:

http://www.microsoft.com/security/malwareremove/default.aspx


3/ A very useful tool, MalwareBytes' Anti-Malware, this is the free tool I used to clean my own computer when all other paid-for software failed to find it - it found 34 infections and removed them.

http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php

Update:

Malwarebytes now provides a rootkit specific tool called Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit and you can download if from here:

http://www.malwarebytes.org/products/other_tools/

You should also download the software called Chameleon which will force Malwarebytes software to run even if malware tries to prevent it - and most of the worst kinds of malware prevent all antivirus and malware removal tools from working or updating.

These are easy to use and very effective.


4/ If all else fails then go to this forum, where they will take you through every step to a clean computer.

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/



Of course, the best advice is to be careful about what you download, open or even visit, but my own experience proves that careful is not enough.

In the end, after two months of struggling with problems, I reformatted my drive and reinstalled everything - I am sure that we all know how frustrating that can be.

This was a regular occurrence when I was in the ashram computer room and we formulated a very simple solution to it - which today is even easier to implement.

After installing all of the clean software packages, configuring and updating them, we then used Norton Ghost to make a backup of the 'C' drive to an external drive (there are many other programmes out there that will do the same thing). This was then removed and used to 'ghost' the original setup in the event of problems - it took an average of 30 minutes to format and get a system back to full working order.

With the advent of USB drives it is even easier these days to copy the boot drive.

We also made a point of not keeping any data on the 'C' drive, including emails and documents - it is used only for software. This enabled us to format and reload the boot drive without having to scratch our heads to remember if there was any data we forgot to back up before reformatting.

Some malware will totally disable your drives and you won't have the option to backup any data, so I also recommend that you purchase an external drive and always back up your work on a daily basis.

These are very simple and very basic steps that will make life a lot easier in the event of infections or hardware problems.

Graham

Administrator

133
Security Issues / This Board
« on: October 03, 2009, 07:41:34 PM »
Under no circumstances should members click on any links posted in this section of the Forum without first thoroughly checking them out with Google.

I will do my utmost to prevent spammers and other internet scum from having access to the forum, but I cannot watch 24 hours a day - currently there are many dozens of potential spammers banned from this forum and hundreds of IP addresses denied access to all of my sites.

There are also many thousands of sites hosting malware, which is downloaded to your computer as soon as the website page opens - this is particularly true with Internet Explorer, which is specifically targeted by malware creators.

Fake security software and fake online virus/spyware scans are the major culprits in stealing identities and compromising computers, often subverting them into botnets. They succeed by scaring visitors into downloading compromised virus software along with rootkits and other trojans.

Please be careful.

Graham

134
Arunachala / Arunachala Photos On This Site - my mistakes
« on: September 27, 2009, 04:53:59 AM »
The photographs of Arunachala currently available on this site (as of 27th September 2009) are over-saturated with colour and contain too much cyan.

This was due to a problem with monitor calibration last year, something I was not aware of until I purchased a new monitor and calibration tool.

Update November 2009 - 90% of the photos have now been replaced with new and better ones. There are now 129 photos available for download.

Go to http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/arunachala/girivalam/arunachala_girivalam.htm

Graham

135
Current and forthcoming changes / New guidelines for posting Topics
« on: September 14, 2009, 08:40:08 AM »
I have observed some frustration from Members in their submissions and replies to Topics, with particular reference to large numbers of separate Topics on one single theme - i.e. one Topic for each Verse of a long translation.

This tends to make it difficult for visitors to navigate the site and find things of interest to them, especially for those with slower connections.

Rather than restrict the number of Posts, I have decided to move all of the long Translations and Commentaries to a new Board entitled 'Translations and Commentaries by Forum Members'.

Please use this board to post your translations, serialisations and commentaries on long works, leaving the other boards free for single Topics.

The transfer of Topics had already begun and will continue over the next few days - I also have a limited connection here in India, so it takes time.

My thanks

Graham - Administrator

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