Author Topic: Part 1 - Nan Yar? Translated Into English By Micheal James  (Read 1381 times)


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Part 1 - Nan Yar? Translated Into English By Micheal James
« on: June 13, 2010, 11:45:02 AM »
In 1901, when Bhagavan Sri Ramana was just twenty-one years old and was living in a cave on the holy hill Arunachala, a humble and self-effacing devotee named Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai began to visit him and asked him many questions about spiritual philosophy and practice. Sri Ramana, who seldom spoke in those early times, answered most of his questions by writing either on the sandy ground, or on a slate or slips of paper that Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai gave him.

Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai copied many of these questions and answers in a notebook, but for more than twenty years he did not publish them. However in 1923, at the request of other devotees, he published them under the title Nan Yar? (ehd; ahh;?), which means 'Who am I?', or more precisely 'I [am] Who?', in a small booklet containing thirty-two (if I remember correctly, or perhaps it was just thirty) questions and answers.


Since all living beings desire to be always happy [and] devoid of misery, since all [of them] have greatest love only for their own self, and since happiness alone is the cause of love, [in order] to attain that happiness, which is their own [true] nature that they experience daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of the mind, knowing [their own real] self is necessary. For that, jñanavichara [scrutinising our consciousness to know] 'who am I?' alone is the principal means.


Who am I? The sthula deha [the 'gross' or physical body], which is [composed] of the sapta dhatus [the seven constituents, namely chyle, blood, flesh, fat, marrow, bone and semen], is not 'I'. The five jñanendriyas [sense organs], namely the ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose, which individually [and respectively] know the five vishayas [sense 'domains' or types of sense perception], namely sound,touch [texture and other qualities perceived by touch], form [shape, colour and other qualities perceived by sight], taste and smell, are also not 'I'. The five karmendriyas [organs of action],namely the vocal cords, feet [or legs], hands [or arms], anus and genitals, which [respectively] do the five actions, namely speaking, walking, holding [or giving], defecation and [sexual] enjoyment,are also not 'I'. The pancha vayus [the five 'winds', 'vital airs' or metabolic forces], beginning with prana [breath], which perform the five [metabolic] functions, beginning with respiration, are also not 'I'. The mind, which thinks, is also not 'I'. The ignorance [the absence of all dualistic knowledge] that is combined with only vishaya-vasanas [latent inclinations, impulsions, desires, liking or taste for sense perceptions or sense enjoyments] when all sense perceptions and all actions have been severed [as in sleep], is also not 'I'. Having done neti [negation, elimination or denial of whatever is not ourself by thinking] that all the abovesaid things are not 'I', not 'I', the knowledge that [then] stands detached alone is 'I'. The nature of [this] knowledge ['I am'] is sat-chit-ananda [beingconsciousness-bliss].


If [our] mind, which is the cause of all [dualistic, relative or objective] knowledge and of all activity, subsides [becomes still, disappears or ceases to exist], [our] perception of the world will cease. Just as knowledge of the rope, which is the base [that underlies and supports the appearance of the snake], will not arise unless knowledge of the imaginary snake ceases, svarupa-darsana [true experiential knowledge of our own essential nature or real self], which is the base [that underlies and supports the appearance of the world], will not arise unless [our] perception of the world, which is an imagination [or fabrication], ceases.


That which is called 'mind' is an atisaya sakti [an extraordinary or wonderful power] that exists in atma-svarupa [our essential self]. It projects all thoughts [or causes all thoughts to appear]. When [we] see [what remains] having removed [relinquished, discarded, dispelled, erased or destroyed] all [our] thoughts, [we will discover that] solitarily [separate from or independent of thoughts] there is no such thing as 'mind'; therefore thought alone is the svarupa [the 'own form' or basic nature] of [our] mind. Having removed [all our] thoughts, [we will discover that] there is no such thing as 'world' [existing separately or independently] as other [than our thoughts]. In sleep there are no thoughts, [and consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, [and consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out [a] thread from within itself and again draws [it back] into itself, so [our] mind projects [this or some other] world from within itself and again dissolves [it back] into itself. When [our] mind comes out from atma-svarupa [our essential self], the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarupa [our 'own form' or essential self] does not appear [as it really is, that is, as the absolute and infinite non-dual consciousness of just being]; when svarupa appears (shines) [as it really is], the world does not appear. If [we] go on investigating the nature of [our] mind, 'tan' alone will finally appear as [the one underlying reality that we now mistake to be our] mind. That which is [here] called 'tan' [a Tamil reflexive pronoun meaning 'oneself' or 'ourself'] is only atma-svarupa [our own essential self].[Our] mind stands only by always following [conforming or attaching itself to] a gross object [a physical body]; solitarily it does not stand. [Our] mind alone is spoken of as sukshma sarira [our 'subtle body', that is, the subtle form or seed of all the imaginary physical bodies that our mind creates and mistakes to be itself] and as jiva [our 'soul' or individual self].


What rises in this body as 'I', that alone is [our] mind. If [we] investigate in what place the thought 'I' rises first in [our] body, [we] will come to know that [it rises first] in [our] heart [the innermost core of our being]. That alone is the birthplace of [our] mind. Even if [we] remain thinking 'I, I', it will take [us] and leave [us] in that place. Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in [our] mind,the thought 'I' alone is the first thought. Only after this rises do other thoughts rise. Only after the first person appears do the second and third persons appear; without the first person the second and third persons do not exist.


Only by [means of] the investigation 'who am I?' will [our] mind subside [shrink, settle down,become still, disappear or cease to be]; the thought 'who am I?' [that is, the effort we make to attend to our essential being], having destroyed all other thoughts, will itself in the end be destroyed like a corpse-burning stick [that is, a stick that is used to stir a funeral pyre to ensure that the corpse is burnt entirely]. If other thoughts rise, without trying to complete them [we] must investigate to whom they have occurred. However many thoughts rise, what [does it matter]? As soon as each thought appears, if [we] vigilantly investigate to whom it has occurred, 'to me' will be clear [that is,we will be clearly reminded of ourself, to whom each thought occurs]. If [we thus] investigate 'who am I?' [that is, if we turn our attention back towards ourself and keep it fixed firmly, keenly and vigilantly upon our own essential self-conscious being in order to discover what this 'me' really is],[our] mind will return to its birthplace [the innermost core of our being, which is the source from which it arose]; [and since we thereby refrain from attending to it] the thought which had risen will also subside. When [we] practise and practise in this manner, to [our] mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace will increase [that is, by repeatedly practising turning our attention towards our mere being, which is the birthplace of our mind, our mind's ability to remain as mere being will increase]. When [our] subtle mind goes out through the portal of [our] brain and sense organs, gross names and forms [the thoughts or mental images that constitute our mind, and the objects that constitute this world] appear; when it remains in [our] heart [the core of our being],names and forms disappear. Only to [this state of] retaining [our] mind in [our] heart without letting [it] go outwards [is] the name 'ahamukham' ['I-facing' or self-attention] or 'antarmukham' ['inwardfacing' or introversion] [truly applicable]. Only to [the state of] letting [it] go outwards [is] the name 'bahirmukham' ['outward-facing' or extroversion] [truly applicable]. Only when [our] mind remains firmly established in [our] heart in this manner, will [our primal thought] 'I', which is the root [base,foundation or origin] of all thoughts, go [leave, disappear or cease to be], and will [our] ever-existing [real] self alone shine. The place [that is, the state or reality] devoid of even a little [trace] of [our primal] thought 'I' is svarupa [our 'own form' or essential self]. That alone is called 'mauna' [silence]. Only to [this state of] just being [is] the name 'jñana-drishti' ['knowledge-seeing', that is,the experience of true knowledge] [truly applicable]. That [state] which is just being is only [the
state of] making [our] mind to subside [settle down, melt, dissolve, disappear, be absorbed or perish] in atma-svarupa [our own essential self]. Besides [this state of non-dual being], these [states of dualistic knowledge] which are knowing the thoughts of others, knowing the three times [what happened in the past, what is happening now, and what will happen in future], and knowing what is happening in a distant place cannot be jñana-drishti [the experience of true knowledge].


That which actually exists is only atma-svarupa [our own essential self]. The world, soul and God are kalpanaigal [imaginations, mental creations or fabrications] in it [our essential self], like [the imaginary] silver [that we see] in a shell. These three [basic elements of relativity or duality] appear at the same time and disappear at the same time. [Our] svarupa [our 'own form' or essential self] alone is the world; [our] svarupa alone is 'I' [our mind or individual self]; [our] svarupa alone is God; everything is siva-svarupa [our essential self, which is siva, the absolute and only truly existing reality].


To make the mind subside [permanently], there are no adequate means other than vichara [investigation, that is, the art of self-attentive being]. If restrained by other means, the mind will remain as if subsided, [but] will emerge again. Even by pranayama [breath-restraint], the mind will subside; however, [though] the mind remains subsided so long as the breath remains subsided,when the breath emerges [or becomes manifest] it will also emerge and wander under the sway of [its] vasanas [inclinations, impulses or desires]. The birthplace both of the mind and of the prana [the breath or life-force] is one. Thought alone is the svarupa [the 'own form'] of the mind. The thought 'I' alone is the first [or basic] thought of the mind; it alone is the ego. From where the ego arises, from there alone the breath also arises. Therefore when the mind subsides the prana also [subsides], [and] when the prana subsides the mind also subsides. However in sleep, even though the mind has subsided, the breath does not subside. It is arranged thus by the ordinance of God for the purpose of protecting the body, and so that other people do not wonder whether that body has died. When the mind subsides in waking and in samadhi [any of the various types of mental absorption that result from yogic or other forms of spiritual practice], the prana subsides. The prana is said to be the gross form of the mind. Until the time of death the mind keeps the prana in the body, and at the moment the body dies it [the mind] grabs and takes it [the prana] away. Therefore pranayama is just an aid to restrain the mind, but will not bring about mano-nasa [the annihilation of the mind].