Author Topic: Liberation is the Destruction of Mind - John Grimes - M.P. Jan. - Mar. 2009.  (Read 1499 times)

Subramanian.R

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Liberation (moksha), according to Adi Sankara, has been defined in a number of ways. 'Liberation is the attainment of the
Absolute (brahma prapti); liberation is the attainment of the already  attained (praptasya prapti); liberation is remaining
as the Absolute (brahma sthiti); liberation is nothing but the Absolute Itself (brahmaiva hi mukyavastha); liberaton is remaining
as one's own Self (svarupa sthiti) and liberation is the destruction of ignorance /  the mind.  (avidya nasa / mano nasa)
(Sri Brahmasutra Bhashya, 1.1.4; 3.4.52.)

The object of this article concerns this last definition, namely 'why is the destruction of the mind equated with liberation,
why is the destruction of the mind necessary, and, if it is, then how does a sage perceive myriad objects of the world?

There is a saying, 'Never mind, no matter'.  'No mind, never matter.'  Or, as Sri Ramana Maharshi put it, 'Nothing exists except
the one reality.  There is no birth or death, no projection or drawing in, no seeker, no bondage, no liberation.  The One Unity
alone exists'.  (Devaraja Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan, entry dated 15.3.1946.)

According to Sri Ramana, the highest and the supreme truth that words can convey is the 'theory of non origination' (ajatavada)
as originally expounded by Gaudapada.  (See Mandukya Karika. Sri Bhagavan implies that the worlds cannot go beyond the
theory of non origination, which Gaudapada confirms.  It is not as though Sri Bhagavan meant ajata vada to be the ultimate. Ed.)

However, acknoweldging that even this perspective is but an approximation to the truth, a concession to words and concepts,
Gaudapada said, 'Ajati is meaningful only long so long as Jati (birth) carries meaning.  The Absolute Truth is that no word
can designate or describe the Self.  (ibid. iv. 74).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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continues.....

It is a sage's experience that nothing has ever happened because the Self alone exists as the sole unchanging Reality.
However, from the absolute perspective, the (relative) reality of the world is not denied.  A Sage perceives appearances
like anyone else.  However, the Sage does not perceive the appearances of the world of multiplicity as comprised of
separate objects viewed by a separate subject.  An appearance is not necessarily unreal merely because it is an appearance.
The real nature of an appearance, according to the vision of a Sage, is inseparable from the Self and partakes of its reality.
What is 'not real' is to mentally construct an illusory world of separate, inter acting objects.  Sri Bhagavan remarked, 'The world
is unreal if it is perceived by the mind as a collection of discrete objects, and real when it is directly experienced as an appearance
in the Self.'

If 'nothing has ever happened,' if there is no birth or death, the obviously the mind is not real either, and yet, there is  more
to the story.  Sri Bhagavan said, 'The mind is nothing other than the 'I' thought.  The mind and the ego (ahamkara) are one
and the same.' (Sri Bhagavan's letter to Ganapati Muni).  Sri Bhagavan maintained that the 'I' - thought arises from the Self
and will sink back into the Self when its tendency to identify itself with thought-objects ceases.  If one arranges thoughts in
their order of value, the 'I'-thought is of first order, the root or basis of all other thoughts.  Every thought, arises only as
someone's thought and does not exist independently of the ego.  All second and third person thoughts (he, she, you, they,
it, etc.,) do not appear except to the first person 'I'-thought.  Therefore, the entire world of multiplicity, of subjects and objects,
arises only after the first person thought arises.
               

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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continues...

Sri Ramana maintained that the individual self is nothing more than an ever changing thought or idea.  This thought he called
the 'I'-thought.  The mind, which is but a bundle of thoughts, is an illusion that is generated when the rising of 'I'-thought
identifies itself with the body and imagines that he or she is an individual person.  This illusion, that the 'I' is the mind-body
complex, is then sustained by the perpetual stream of thoughts that the mind generates.  The 'I' thought identifies with all
of these thoughts and thus is sustained and maintained by the illusion that the individual self or the mind is a continuous
and real entity.  The mind lives by dividing, distinguishing and discriminating.  It creates knowing subjects distinct from known
objects, and yet, all it creates is nothing but illusions.

In the waking state, the mind functions due to the reflection of Consciousness in it.  The same holds true with regard to the
dream state.  In the deep sleep state, there is no definite knowledge of objects because the mind is not functioning.  Only
Consciousness is present in the deep sleep state and this is demonstrated by an individual's exclamation upon wakingl
'I slept so well that I do not remember anything last night.'

Sri Ramana declared that a person can reverse this process by depriving the 'I' thought of all thoughts and perceptions
that it normally identifies with.  If one can break this false connection between the 'I' thought and all the thoughts that
it identifies with, then the 'I' thought itself will subside and eventually disappear.  Sri Ramana said that the 'I' thought
originates from what He called the Heart.  He said, 'That from which all thoughts of embodied beings issue forth is
called the Heart.  All descriptions of it are only mental concepts.  (Ganapati Muni, Sri Ramana Gita, Ch. 5, Verse 2.)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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continues.....

'Search for the source of the 'I'-thought.  That is all that one has to do.  The universe exists on account of the 'I'-thought.
If that ends there is an end to misery also.  The false 'I' will end only when its source is sought.'  (Talks # 222 & Day by
Day with Bhagavan, Devaraja Mudaliar, entry dated, 08.10.1946.)

The fact is that the mind is only a bundle of thoughts.  How can you extinguish it by the thought of doing so or by a desire?
Your thoughts and desires are part and parcel of the mind.  The mind is simply fattened by the new thoughts rising up. 
Therefore it is foolish to attempt to kill the mind by means of the mind.  The only way of doing it is to find its source and
hold on to it.  The mind will then fade away of its own accord.

If the mind becomes introverted through inquiry into its source, its mental habits or tendencies (vasanas) become extinct.
The light of the Self, Consciousness, falls on the mental habits and produces the phenomenon of reflection that individuals
interpret as thoughts, as the mind.  Thus, when mental habits become extinct, the mind also becomes extinct as it is
absorbed into the light of the Self.  The mind is like a river that ceaselessly flows in the bed of the body.  How can an
ever fluctuating mind make itself steady?  It cannot.  It is the very nature of thoughts to roam.  Thus, one must go beyond
the mind.  One should not think of changing the mind -- it already is changing all the time.  The mind covers the Self like the
clouds that obscure the Sun.  The mind is with its thoughts, is like a thief.  One must constantly watch it, not because you
want anything from it, but because you don't want it to steal attention away from what is Real, Consciousness.

It is not enough to declare that one is not one's body or one's mind.  That is still a thought within the mind. Deciding that one
is not the mind is an activity of the mind.  Experiencing anything is still an experience of the mind.  One must pursue the quest
to its logical conclusion.  Seek the source of thoughts.  Eventually the 'I' thought will go back to its source and become extinct.
Thus, the Upanishadic saying, 'Whence words return along with the mind, not attaining it.'  (Taittiriya Upanishad, 2.4.1.
"yato vacho nivartante aprapya manasa saha."

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
       
     

Subramanian.R

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continues....

Sri Ramana said that an inquiry into the source of the 'I'-thought will render all one's habitual tendencies, (vasanas), extinct.
Thus arises a question, if all one's vasanas are destroyed, why is the mind's dissolution then necessary?  In other words,
isn't the mind nothing other than the entire collection of its vasanas?  The response is that the life of the lower self forms
one type of bondage, i.e. vasanas cause misery directly, but another type of bondage, i.e. the mere sense of duality remains
in the mind.  Thus, not only vasanas, but also the mind must be dissolved.  Secondly, when the mind is dissolved, the effects
of accumulated past actions (prarabdha karma) are also dissolved.  When the mind is dissolved, the recurrence of any vasana
whatsoever is also stopped forever.

Sri Ramana said, 'The ordinary individual lives in the brain unaware of himself in the Heart.  The sage lives in the Heart.
When a sage moves about and deals with men and things, he knows that what he sees is not separate from the one
supreme reality, which he has realized in the Heart, as his own Self, the Real.'  (Kapali Sastri, Sat Darsana Bhashya)

Thus, Sri Ramana, on numerous occcasions says that he 'perceives the appearances', he sees monkeys and people,
chairs and doorways, food and squirrels, all that ordinary people see, but He does not see them as separate, independent
objects, that is the difference. (On another occasion, to other devotees, Sri Ramana would also say, replying from a sage's
perspective: 'You say that the Jnani sees the path, avoids them etc., In whose eyesight is all this, in the Sage's or yours? 
He sees only the Self and all in the Self'.  (Day by Day With Bhagavan, Devaraja Mudaliar entry dated. 6.3.1946.)     

The Upanishad gives an analogy as to how this might be possible.  'The arrowhead of an arrow implanted deeply in the
target will not come out even when pulled. The arrow shaft may come out, but not the tip.  The shaft then is useless.
When the mind is fixed upon Brahman it will never come out.  The sense of sight, etc., may function towards external
objects but they will serve no purpose whatsoever. (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.4.) .  Thus a sage may have his or her
sense organs functioning, but he is not overwhelmed by them.  The sage's mind is always centered on the Self.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         
                   

Subramanian.R

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continues.....

Another way to explain how the sage perceives the world is to invoke he example of the self luminous sun.  When the room
is dark, a lamp is necessary to provide the light, enabling the eyes to perceive objects in it.  But when the sun has risen,
there is no need of a lamp to see the objects.  To see the sun no lamp is necessary, it is enough that one turns one's eyes
towards the self luminous sun.  In a similar way, to see objects, the reflected light of the mind is necessary.  But to a Jnani,
it is not the reflected light of the mind dominated by the ego that illumines the objects.  The essence of the mind is Consciousness.
When the mind is not dominated by the ego, or 'I' thought, then the pure self awareness shines through the mind illuminating
whatever is presented to it.

Sri Bhagavan explained: The Self is the Heart.  The Heart is self luminous.  Light arises from the Heart and reaches the brain,
which is the seat of the mind,  The world is seen with the mind, that is by the reflected light of the Self.  It is perceived with
the aid of the mind.  When the mind is illumined it is aware of the world.  When it is not itself so illumined, it is not aware of
the world.  If the mind is turned in towards the source of light, objective knowledge ceases and Self alone shines forth as the
Heart.  The moon shines by the reflected light of the sun.  When the sun has set, the moon is useful for revealing objects.
When the sun has risen, no one needs the moon, although he pale disc of the moon is visible in the sky.  (Talks # 98.)

What is important to note is that the sage's mind is like the visibility of the moon due to sunlight.  In the sky one can see the
moon and the clouds.  There is no difference in their brilliance and both shine only by the reflected light of the sun.  Like the
moon or clouds, the Jnani's mind is there, but not shining of itself.  This the Jnani is aware of and so even if  'objects' but as
shining appearances of the one indivisible Self.  The Jnani's mind is not beclouded by the 'I' thought, the ego, and thus
what obscures the Self in others, just as clouds obscure the ever present, ever luminous sun, does not obscure a Jnani's
perceptions.

The mind is inert and only appears to work because the current of the Self luminous animates it.  The sage lives in reality
while what  the world the mind perceives is a world of imaginings.  A familiar analogy is that the sage is awake while
most individuals are dreaming. 

The Uddavagita, the quintessence of the Bhagavata Purana, records the lives and behavior of several sages and describes
the Jivanmukta.  'The wise one, even though in the body, is not of it, like a person awakened from a dream.' (Uddava Gita,
XI. ix. 8.)                 

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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continues....

Some people believe that a sage must live  in two states of existence at the same time: the empirical plane and the trans-
empirical plane.  People observe that a sage moves about in the world and observe that the sage sees the same objects
others see, i.e. individuals, tables, chairs, monkeys, etc., It is not as if the sage does not see them.  Thus, they conclude,
since he or she sees both the world and objects therein, as well as the Self, must not he or she dwell on two planes at once?
Sri Ramana replied:  'You say that the Jnani sees the path, treads it, comes across obstacles, avoids them, etc., In whose eyesight
is all this, in the Jnani's or yours?  He sees only the Self and all in the Self.  For instance, you see a reflection in the mirror and the
mirror.  You know the mirror to be the reality and the picture in it a mere reflection.  Is it necessary that in order to see the mirror
we should cease to see the reflection in it?  (Day by Day, Devaraja Mudaliar, entry dated 06.03.1946).  What a wonderful
analogy and yet numerous are the individuals who asked such questions.  Intellectual curiosity is a hard habit to break and
instead of asking what is really important, one's own Self, people ask about others.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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continues..

The Bhagavad Gita gives a description of a Jivan Mukta  -- the person who is liberated while in the physical body. Such a
person is one who has gained steady wisdom; who has transcended the three qualities (gunas); who is free from desires;
who has no sense of agency or enjoyership --- for he or she has ceased to identify with the mind-body organism; who is
beyond the dual extremes of pleasure and pain, heat and cold.  Such individuals are spontaneous expressions of innate
goodness and their very presence is a blessing to the world. (B.G. 5.25).  Merely because the mind has been destroyed it
does not imply that the sage is stupid or inert.  Quite the reverse, the sage is intelligent, aware and sees clearly what is true
and what is false.

Sri Ramana said:

'Coming here, some people do not ask about themselves. They ask, 'Does a Jivanmukta see the world?  Is he affected
by the karma?  What is liberation after being disembodied?  Is one liberated only after being disembodied or even while
alive in the body?  Should the body of the sage resolve itself in light or disappear from view in any other manner?  Can he
be liberated though the body is left behind as a corpse?  --- Their questions are endless.  Why worry oneself in so many ways?
Does liberation consist in knowing all these things?  Therefore, I say to them, 'Leave liberation alone. Is there bondage?
Know this. See yourself first and foremost.'

(Talks No. # 578.)

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.