Author Topic: Enlightenment: The Wonderland of Pristine Simplicity: Swami Tanmayananda*  (Read 5559 times)

Subramanian.R

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(* Saraswati)  (in April-June 2016 issue of Mountain Path)

Illumining the Nature of Pratyabhijna through Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi.

*

Section A - Enlightenment - Getting Around the Word:


Preamble:  Enlightenment!  It is just a word for most of us, is it not?  The technically equivalent Sanskrit
word is PRATYABHIJNA, meaning 'Recognition of the Self'.  But what exactly is it?  Can its true nature
be revealed directly by any number of words, however holy their source?  Yet the very word itself -- depending
upon the maturity of mind and its depth of understanding - conjures myriad images in our minds.
No description of the word Enlightenment is too far fetched in our attempts to elucidate it.  Ironically the
purport of the word Enlightenment is deeply embedded in a variety of traditional descriptions, yet it eludes
our grasp in the domain of words much like trying to balance a dollop of mercury in one's hands.
(Taittiriya Upanishad 2.4.)

True, Enlightenment is 'a state of understanding' (the phrase is used in a highly qualified sense), a
'holistic vision' where Pure Knowledge alone subsists as the ultimate Residue, that survives the dyad of
relative knowledge and ignorance.  (See Sankara's Dasa Sloki.)  It must be emphasized that this is an
'understanding'  which is not arrived at by clever logic or cerebral analysis but only through 'right seeing'
(samyak darsanam), for our modes of knowledge operate with words that verbalize ideas and concepts,
that are often preconditioned and inadequately examined.

There is an exasperating incompetence about words when attempting to reveal the stuff that Enlightenment is
made of.  Are words then useless even for the purpose of gaining some clarity?  Do we have to abandon
them altogether and go for another tool,  Experience, to unlock this tantalizing mystery that hounds committed
seekers?

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 12:39:24 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

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The very word Enlightenment brings about a sense of helplessness in the matter, a sense of bafflement,
sometimes even a sense of acute frightenment* (of losing one's petty little self, i.e. individuality) but for
some flippant, pedantic Vedantins skilled in glib oratory, it is just 'much ado about nothing;  it is after all
a huge joke'.    (* Cohen S.S. Guru Ramana.). Now shall we solve the conundrum of this perplexing word?

The Mystery of Enlightenment:

We shall presently see some relevant quotes from the Maharshi, which upon a casual perusal do not appear
to lead us anywhere.  But wait!  Faith and patience are required in ample measure.  The paradox of Self
Knowledge is that it is declared by the Sastras to be the rarest of all human attainments  (Bhagavad Gita
verse 7.3) and yet sages like Bhagavan and Ashtavakara celebrate it as the simplest of all knowledge and
hence easy to attain, even for the unlettered simpleton.  (See Bhagavan's Atma Vidya Kirtanam)  One wonders
where the catch is and for those indefatigable sadhakas who diligently dedicate their time and energy to the task, they may well wonder what has gone awry in their search.

The Upanishads (Sruti) and the Puranas (Smriti) reconcile the apparent paradox of the opposing assertions,
both of which are true but for different sets of seekers.  (Katha Upanishad Verse 2.1.1. and Lalita Sahasranamam Verse 161.)  For the wise ones (uttama adhikaris)  endowed with inward gaze, Self Knowledge
is easier than recognizing the gooseberry fruit in one's palm.  For the unripe seekers, (manda madhyama
adhikaris) with extroverted mind and senses, it is impossible to attain until they gain fitness to turn their
attention within.  It is then a matter of mental maturity (adhikari bhedah), as Bhagavan cites gunpowder
igniting instantly while charcoal is slow.  (Self Realization - B.V.Narasimha Swami and Major Chadwick's
query in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talks 155.)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

Subramanian.R

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The secret of Self Knowledge (Pratyabhijna) is revealed to us by Bhagavan in disarmingly simple words:
'Reality is simply the loss of the ego.  Destroy the ego by seeking its identity. Because the ego is no
entity, it will automatically vanish and Reality will shine forth by itself.  This is the direct method...
(where) the final question is the only one and it is raised from the very beginning.  No preparatory
Sadhanas are necessary for engaging in this quest. There is no greater mystery than this -- viz,
ourselves being the Reality we seek to gain Reality... It is ridiculous.  A day will dawn when you will
laugh at your past efforts.  That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.... it is a
great game of pretending... We are actually experiencing the Reality only; still, we do not know it.
Is it not a wonder of wonders?'  (Talks 146).           

This seemingly innocuous passage itself needs much annotation to wake up to its transcendent depth.
It is not as simple for us bemused Sadhakas, as Bhagavan Ramana in His compassion makes it appear.
For example, embarking on the sadhana of Vichara marga itself presupposes a great deal of already
accomplished austerities in past lives.  Otherwise even the taste for pursuing this most direct path simply
does not arise!  To understand the moot question 'Who am I? requires maturity and furthermore to feel the
burning question with one's whole being is given only to the blessed few!  When all our past merits bring
us to the feet of a Sadguru like Bhagavan, His Grace alone initiates us into the path of Self Inquiry, which
then obviates earlier sadhanas or at best they are rendered supplementary (gauNam).

In his poignant, seminal book, (Ramana Arunachala) Arthur Osborne recounts how Bhagavan's piercing
look stole into his heart and set up the current of self inquiry (without an iota of volition or even intent
on Osborne's part.),when he providentially returned from the prisoner of war camp in Bangkok at the end
of the second world war.  This is a classic instance of the operation of Grace and, as Osborne rightly says,
Bhagavan's Grace has initiated countless seekers into the path of inquiry through such silent alchemy,
a direct Heart to Heart communion. For exceptionally ripe souls like Sri Muruganar,  Bhagavan's gracious
look was enough to bestow Self Knowledge. (as recorded in Ramana Puianam and Tiruk KaNNokkam in
Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai.)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

     

Subramanian.R

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For Sri Tinnai Swami, Bhagavan needed to utter only one word, 'Iru' (Be), not even His customary
two words 'Summa Iru' (Be Still), which was the celebrated teaching given by Lord Skanda to Saint
Arunagiri Nathar centuries ago in Arunachala Temple.  Sri Tinnai Swami subsequently remained in deep
self absorption (Sahaja Samadhi) the rest of his long life, practically unknown to the world outside radiating
his blessings to a few fortunate ones who were magnetically drawn to sit quietly in his uplifting Presence.

Bhagavan Ramana's Words - A Mighty Heave Towards the Self:

The classic dialogues of Bhagavan with seekers set forth in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi are a perennial
source of inspiration and contemplation (nididhyasanam) for all sincere aspirants (mumukshus).  Here are
a few germane selections in the context of Enlightenment.

'Why do you talk of Realization?  Is there a moment when the Self  is not realized?  There is no moment
when the Self is not nor when the Self is not realized.... Even now you are Self realized." (Talks 280).

" The feeling that I have not realized is the obstruction to realization.  In fact it is already realized...
Ignorance is the obstruction to realization.  Get over this ignorance and all will be well.  The ignorance
is identical with the 'I thought'.  Find its source and it will vanish."  (Talks 197).

" I AM ' is the Realization.  To pursue the clue till Realization is Vichara... But Realization is nothing new
to be acquired.  It is already there, but obstructed by a screen of thoughts.  All our attempts are directed
for lifting this screen and then Realization is revealed... Vichara is the process and the goal also.  'I AM'
is the goal and final Reality. To hold it with effect is Vichara.  When spontaneous and natural, it is
Realization.  (Talks 390).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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"People would not understand the simple bare truth -- the truth of their everyday, ever-present and
eternal experience. That Truth is that of the Self.  Is there anyone not aware of the Self?... Because
they love mystery and not the bare truth, religions pamper them.. Wandering hither and thither you
must return to the Self only.  Then why not abide in the Self even here and now?"  (Talk 145).
"Everyone knows 'I am!'  No one can deny his own being... 'The body is 'I' is the error.  This false sense
of 'I' must go.  The real 'I' is always there. It is here and now.'  (Talks 96).  'Avidya naash alone is Self
Realization.  Self Realization is only owpacharika (i.e only a courtesy).  Realization is only a euphemism
for elimination of ignorance.' (Talks 500).  'Self is always realized. It is now obscured.  When the veil
is removed, the person feels happy at rediscovering the ever realized Self.  The ever present Realization
appears to be a new Realization.'  (Talks 490).

To understand deeply this teaching, we need to understand the setting under which they were enunciated.
Firstly, as Osborne averred Bhagavan was the epitome of pragmatism, as were the great masters Buddha
and Sri Ramakrishna.  Like His illustrious predecessors, the Maharshi too had no use for sterile polemics
and hair splitting semantics.  But whenever the seekers were sincere, erudite scholars themselves,   
He came down to their level and answered them using technical terms (Vedanta Paribahsha) and
invariably illumined their understanding of Sastras, since He spoke directly from His own experience
(Svanubhuti).

Secondly, the teachings in Talks were not delivered as a well arranged discourse to discerning audience
and hence no preparatory foreground or a logical, cohesive development of the topic can be expected
in a  compilation of direct answers to a broad spectrum of temperaments and degrees of maturity.
We do see a measure of bluntness in the direct approach of Bhagavan, reminiscent of the Zen koans.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Understanding Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi:

Therefore, for those with little background in Vedanta Sastras, exposure to Talks with Sri Ramana
Maharshi can be quite bewildering because they come with preconceived erroneous notions of
'doing something all the time' in order 'to attain Enlightenment. From the very outset, Bhagavan
rejects this twin error of 'doing' and 'attaining'  with regard to Enlightenment.  Many masters exhort
their followers to austerities like fasting, mouna vratam and practice of hatha yoga, pranayama, japa
and so on.   Bhagavan said cuttingly that when a seeker already wearied of doing all these sadhanas,
approaches a guru, perplexed as to how to get out of birth-death cycle, to prescribe him further vigorous
do's and don't would be tantamount to prolonging the vicious cycle of karma and such a guru is a Yama
(Lord of Death) himself and not a deliverer from death.  With a touch of humor, He added that such a guru
can be as well called Brahma (Lord of Birth), as he only carries forward the disciple's birth cycles.   
(Talks 601; Guru Vachaka Kovai Verse 271; Ozhivil Odukkam Verse 123).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Bhagavan never enjoined any exclusive or rigorous do's and don'ts  (Vidhi nishedha karma) and nor
did He condemn any of the traditional sadhanas which the seeker was already pursuing. Right from the
beginning, He exhorts us to wake up from the delusion of samsara and bondage by constantly inquiring
as to 'who' is bound and suffering, and 'who is seeking liberation.  The astonishing consistency in Bhagavan's
life and teaching can be appreciated best by seeing that His very first work Nan Yar? opens with these words
and His last composition Ekanma Panchakam also reiterates the same teaching, with an added twist that even
self inquiry is part of His sleep of ignorance -- though it helps one to wake up, just as the sight of a
ferocious line in a nightmare jolts the dreamer into waking state.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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At the Heart of Self Inquiry -- Summa Iru!

That extra twist has the implication that Self Inquiry is also mithya.  We are like the drunken men
wondering about his whereabouts and very identity. Atma Vichara cannot be considered as yet another
'real action' because no karma can release you from Samsara.  However, questioning the very sense
of doership (the karta-bhokta-samsari notion) is to be regarded as above the plane of all actions and it
can be termed as Actionless Action or Supreme Action (as in fast spinning top, the axis remains absolutely
still while intimately sharing the motion of the base).  The purpose of inquiry 'Who am I?' is to silence the
mind and put the seeker in the primal state of Being (summa iru).  In that state of Self abidance, inquiry
itself subsides as it has served the purpose.

When we are sufficiently soaked in the teaching of Talks in an extended period of time, and constantly
reflect upon them in an undercurrent of daily life, there slowly emerges a deeper,m concrete picture
which resolves all spiritual confusions and results in great inner clarity.  In our view, all the preceding
Sadhana is only a preparation to reach this point whence you shift gears.  The practice of Vichara Marga
(called as Maha Yoga by Bhagavan) gets deepened and acquires a focus with pin point sharpness.

Talks is indeed an incomparable treatise of nidhidhyasanam because once you have understood Bhagavan's
teachings, you can pick it up anytime anywhere and read a paragraph here, a Talk there or even a few
lines that you may chance upon in any random page and it has the profound power to sink the mind with
effortless ease into Self abidance.  It is  truly a book for deep meditation.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Section B:  Cracking the Code Word that is ENLIGHTENMENT.  Two Principal Strains in Bhagavan's Talks.

With these remarks we now come to examine what constitutes the recurrent leitmotif of Bhagavan's
teachings in 'Talks' for a number of years which effects a purification of our understanding at a subliminal
level, two basic strands can be discerned in these dialogues.  The first one gives us clarity about what
constitutes Enlightenment;  the second strand elucidates the immense value of Self Inquiry through the
practice of a simulation of deep sleep state while one is awake;  this is a unique methodology (prakriya) of
sadhana recommended by Bhagavan without any reservation as the panacea for all human sufferings (at
any stage of sadhana).  Both of them are indispensable for the success in our 'journey' to Self Realization.
This is summed up in the following words of Sri Bhagavan: 'Unless intellectually known, how to practice it?
Learn it intellectually first, then do not stop with that.  Practice it.' (Talks 40 and 596).

The second major strain in Talks turns the attention of the seekers to the universal experience of deep
sleep where he experiences no bondage or suffering whatsoever and has the recollection of a positive
happiness in the dream less sleep.  As their very substratum this unadulterated Peace straddles all the
three states of our existence (sleep, dream and waking).  Bhagavan advises the seeker to simulate
the deep sleep state in the waking state.  This is the practice of 'Waking Sleep' (Jagrat Sushupti) which
is to drop the mind completely in the seat of meditation but remain totally alert and aware.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                       

Subramanian.R

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Bhagavan assures that when this is sincerely practiced, the power of the Self will eventually take over
and destroy the primal ignorance (mula avidya) lock, stock and barrel.  (Talks 197).  He says this in fact
the essence of self surrender because the very mind is abandoned in favor of the Self.  (Bh. Gita Verse 18.66).
He therefore avers that the paths of inquiry (vichara) and surrender (saranagati) are but two sides of the
same coin.

In summary, the two principal themes could be said to correspond to the 'know-why' and 'know how' of
Vichara Marga respectively.  The 'know why' of Atma Vichara constitutes the first stage in dispelling the
chaotic understanding of the very 'goal' of Realization.  The next final stage involves the methodology or the
'know how' of Self abidance, in other words, the practice of Jagrat Sushupti.

Where Bhagavan Engaged in Semantic Analysis with a Specific Intent:

The 'know why' delineates the path while the 'know how' teaches us to actually walk the path.  These
two constitutes the principal strains that Bhagavan constantly hammers in 'Talks'.  The first one is
indispensable to gain Paroksha Jnanam (indirect/meditate knowledge) whereas the second one confers
Aparoksha Jnanam (direct, immediate knowledge) (This echoes Lord Krishna's assurance to Arjuna
that He would give both indirect and direct knowledge of the Self, verse 7.2)., which alone delivers us
from the bondage of Samsara.  As indicated before, Bhagavan rarely engaged in hair splitting semantic
analysis but when He did so on those few occasions, it was to convey a powerful message to knock out
a fundamental wrong conditioning in the seeker.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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For instance, Bhagavan's words quoted in Section A convey the profound teaching that Realization is not
something to be acquired anew after a strenuous sadhana, for anything which comes afresh is inherently
ephemeral and shall inevitably pass away.  Therefore Bhagavan never accepted the very word 'Realization'
per se of the Self. He avers that the Self is ever real, the Self being the only Reality, one does not have to
make It real or 'real-ize' through sadhana.

He pointed out the word unwittingly sends a wrong message that one has to 'real-ize' the Self or make it
real by one's efforts.  Bhagavan humorously remarked that we have only 'real-ized' the world' meaning
'we have made the unreal world real', while ignoring the ever real Self.  (Day by Day, p.181 of 2011.)

So Bhagavan repeatedly exhorts us to 'unreal-ize' the world and then spontaneously the Self will shine
forth' from the muffled depths of our own being!  In Nan Yar?. He says unless we recognize the world
as a dream like illusion, the true nature of the Self (Svarupa) cannot flash forth within, just as a rope,
cannot be recognized unless we shed the delusion of the snake superimposed on the rope which alone
exists.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Similarly Bhagavan questioned the aptness of the popular word, equivalent to realization in Sanskrit,
'sakashatkaram', because the suffix 'karam' implies actions or 'doing something' to bring about enlightenment.
He said the Self is ever 'sakshat', i.e. manifest and shining all the time and all one has 'do' is to drop the
'karam' or the 'pungency of action'  with regard to Enlightenment.  (Talks 565 and Day by Day pp. 81, 125,
317-18, 328-29.).  Bhagavan said in the practice of Jagrat Sushupti, one merely pays unremitting attention
to the ever pulsating sense of 'I' in order to be eventually swallowed by its limitless expanse and thus be freed
from the limitation of 'I am the body' consciousness.  Such a consummation of the pursuit of Atma Vichara
is truly experiential because it then becomes direct, immediate Knowledge (aparoksha Jnanam).  It is not
gained by mere intellectual mastery of Vedanta Sastra or dazzling oratory or prolonged listening to such
discourses. (Katha Upanishad Verse 1.2.23.  See also Ulladu Narpadu Verse 22.)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Bhagavan Ramana - A Modern Day Uddalaka Maharshi:

The raison d'etre of Bhagavan's teaching is that 'all are already realized' because everyone's quest is
already rooted in the awareness of the already existing Self but the problem merely pertains to the
eradication of the deep seated notion of ignorance that 'one does not know the Self.'  This distinction,
at first sight, appears intriguing and befuddles novitiate minds freshly exposed to Vedanta.  But it is
fundamental paradigm  shift in our perspective, which is indispensable to glide seamlessly into the core
practice of Atma Vichara in its second stage. This is precisely why Bhagavan in jest said to the effect
that we are merely pretending to be unenlightened and that all one has to do therefore is to give up
this game of pretension.  (Talks 146).

To drive home this point, He said our predicament is similar to that of a fish living in the Ganga waters
being scorched by thirst or that water itself feels thirsty. (Talks 217.)  The implication is clearly that ourselves
being the Whole (purna vastu) all the time, we endlessly chasing the mirage of wholeness outside.  The
Upanishadic Sage Uddalaka taught this same message to his son Shevataketu who returned from his
gurukulam after year of Vedic studies (apara vidya), with a puffed up pride of learning. When Uddalaka
punctured his vanity with the query whether he learnt that Knowledge which renders everything else in
the creation known as well,  he simply blinked but candidly admitted his ignorance and surrendered to his
father-cum-guru. He besought him to teach such a Vidya if it really existed!  Then Sage Uddalaka taught
him Sad Vidya (which is Para Vidya) with various examples nine times over through the Mahavakya
TAT TVAM ASI, by which time Shvetaketu was illumined with Aparoksha Jnanam.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
               
 

Subramanian.R

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The great saying YOU ARE THAT declares an already accomplished Truth and does not say that 'You
will become That one day in future after great sadhana'  (i.e. 'Tat Tvam Bhavishyasi'). Bhagavan lived
all His life as the 20th century Uddalaka Maharshi, teaching this single invariable Truth Tat Tvam Asi.
He never countenanced the delusion that realization is a future event or, perfection a latter day attainment,
much less a Utopian dream.  He asserted that the bodilessness (asarirvatvam) of the Self, a synonym for
Mukti is a foregone conclusion.  (Talks 390 and 304) and inquiry is the direct method to destroy the delusion
of dehatma buddhi, which alone amounts to Enlightenment.  (Talks 96).

Unless this is understood deeply, the mind cannot be driven inward towards Self abidance.  Acceptance of this
great teaching with total faith is the first step  because shraddha is a necessary condition, (Bh. Gita V.4.39)
for paving attention to the Self within which is, as we have seen, the second and final step (i.e. the practice
of Jagrat Sushupti.)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
     

Subramanian.R

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As Bhagavan often said, Truth always shines in our Heart with utmost simplicity. shorn of all complexities
that are spun around the ego.  (Talks 96). It is but natural that a Jnani revels in that Wonderland of
ultimate Simplicity, which clothes him with such sublime majesty that shames regal splendor of even an
emperor.  Arthur Osborne put it aptly that even the most beautiful face on earth would appear trivial
besides the sagely benign countenance of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, (Osborne pp. 29-30). for He shone
verily as the embodiment of Satyam Sivam Sundaam.

concluded.

(The next part would appear when the next issue of Mountain Path received.)

Arunachala Siva.