Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 20

Ahami naasha bhaajyaham aham tayaa
Sphurathi Hrut Svayam parama poorna sat

Word meaning
Ahami Naasha bhaaji – When the I-thought (Ego or Ahamkaara) is destroyed,
Hrut – the pure I or Consciousness present in the spiritual heart
Sphurathi – shines forth
Svayam – on its own
Parama Poorna Sat – as the Supreme and perfect Existence.

Sloka meaning
When I-thought or Ego is destroyed, the pure I shines forth on its own as the Supreme and perfect (full) Existence.

The I that is shining now as the father I, mother I, brother I, professional I, lover I is not pure Consciousness. It is “I” attached or associated with the body, the mind and other things. This attached or identified I is called Ahamkaara or Ego.

Until Ego is present, the real I or pure Consciousness cannot be known. Consciousness is unmixed with the body and the mind because it is one without a second and it is the real substratum on which other illusions of body and mind seem to exist. Hence, it is pretty obvious that only when Ego subdues, the Consciousness or real I is known.

Thus, Maharshi says that when the Ego is destroyed or killed, the pure Consciousness shines on its own. Consciousness doesn’t require any other light to prove its existence. It is the light which gives other lights power. It is Consciousness which makes objects visible. It is Consciousness which when shining, the Sun and other sources of light shine. It is Consciousness whose existence makes other objects exist. Thus Maharshi says that Consciousness shines on its own without any external dependency (because Consciousness alone is the ultimate reality – other things are only unreal and illusory appearances in Consciousness).

Maharshi lastly explains the nature of Consciousness or pure I which is realized when Ego is destroyed???
One doubt that can occur to the seeker is that there is no such thing as pure Consciousness. There is only Ego which is attached with objects. When objects vanish, there remains nothing – even “I” disappear as in death. This is how the Buddhist school of Madhyaamaka or Soonyavada tell about the ultimate reality as void. This is not right even according to scriptures and experience. This has been explained by Maharshi through the words “Parama Poorna Sat” – as the Supreme and complete Existence. When the objects are removed or destroyed, it is not void that remains but the Subject remains who was the remover. When everything is negated, the negator still remains. The negator or remover or Subject cannot be negated or removed – it is Self-Existent and is the only thing that is never destroyed. Thus when the Ego is destroyed (meaning when objects are destroyed and the contact with them is destroyed), the pure Consciousness alone remains (without any external objects). This is the state of realization, this is what is experienced in deep sleep. Upanishads proclaim that death is not cessation of existence but is only removal of this body and entering into another world. Sleep (dream) is compared with death by Upanishads. When we dream, we don’t have this gross body but create a new subtle body and enjoy the pleasures in that state. And once dream is over, we return back to this waking world. Similarly after death, another world is attained according to actions & then again the person returns to this earth.

In all these states, I never dies. Pure Consciousness can never be removed or destroyed as it is the Subject and Subject can never be destroyed. Only objects can be destroyed.

Deep sleep is the state which is compared to state of realization. In deep sleep also, there are no objects. But still the Consciousness or I exist. This only shows that even when objects are destroyed, “I” still exist but not as the Ego but as pure Consciousness without any identification or attachment (because in this state there are no external objects to get attached to or get identified with).

Thus, when the Ego is destroyed, the Consciousness alone remains in its natural state of pure and complete Existence. Now, what we experience as I is not perfect as it is attached to limited objects (limited by space and time). As limited nature is there, happiness also will be limited alone – and hence imperfect nature will b e present also. Only when the “I” is realized as not the Ego but as pure Consciousness which is perfect and full Existence or SAT, can one rejoice in the eternal and perfect bliss of the Self or Consciousness.

Here destroying the Ego doesn’t mean to kill the Ego – the Ego can never be killed because it in itself is an illusion only. Illusions can never be killed but their illusoriness or unreal nature is known when their substratum is known. The snake seen in the rope can never be killed but only the rope is known, snake dies by itself (the snake which had no existence at all and just seemed to exist, seems to get killed when the substratum is known). At that time, the person realizes that there never was any snake and there never will be any snake at all.

Similarly, there is no Ego, no world – but only pure Consciousness alone. But somehow due to ignorance, the world seems to exist and Ego seems to have existence (this is the very nature of Brahman or Consciousness – the question how this Ego or ignorance came about is invalid because the Ego never came to exist but only seems to exist and is an illusion. Trying to find out the question or analysis of illusions are useless – the only way to overcome the illusions which seem to exist is to know their substratum and the reality). Since, Ego seems to exist – it must be destroyed through enquiry into its source of Consciousness. At that time, the reality is known that there never was any Ego, there never is any Ego and there never be any Ego at all. Ego is just an illusion seen in Consciousness. Whatever is perceived as Ego and the world are in fact Consciousness alone. When this ultimate reality that “I am Consciousness and the world is nothing but Consciousness alone” is known, then there remains no duality, there remains no likes & dislikes, there remains no sorrow but only eternal bliss inherent in the Self.

This bliss is what everyone is searching here and there. Some people are searching in money, some in power, some in fame, some in women, some in politics, some in religion, some in temples, some in the scriptures. There can be an end to these searches only when the reality is known that the searched object is present in the searcher alone. Thus, happiness which is the ultimate goal of any person is the very nature of Consciousness or the person. This reality has to be known for sorrow and sufferings to end. This reality is to be known to become perfect, complete and for contentment.

The direct and only way to this is enquiring into one’s own nature through the question “Who am I”. When this is enquired, the Ego vanishes as it has no existence at all – and the pure Consciousness shines as its own as Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute.

For this reality to be known, the illusion must vanish. The illusion starts with the Ego or identification alone – thus when Ego is killed, one attains immortality.

Thus Maharshi gave answers to many people as “Die yourself and become immortal”. Here Dying is for the Ego and immortality is knowing that I am Consciousness. It is very well known that when illusion is seen, the reality is not known. When a person sees snake in the rope, he cannot perceive the rope. Similarly when Ego is present, its source and substratum of Consciousness cannot be known. The Ego has to die and then the ultimate reality of Consciousness, one without a second will be realized.

Sri Ramakrishna asked Vivekananda “there is a pot full of nectar and you are fly. How will you drink the nectar???”
Swami Vivekananda answered “I will sit in one end of the pot and drink the nectar”.
Sri Ramakrishna laughed and said “O Fool! The pot is full of immortal nectar, jump into the pot and you will become immortal. Instead of just sitting at one end and getting partial immortality – jump into the pot and become immortal”.

To become immortal, one has to jump into the ocean of Consciousness. A person is the salt doll and when the salt doll jumps into the ocean of Consciousness (which is full of salt), the individuality or Ego is killed – and pure Consciousness or ocean with salt alone remains.

It is upto the individual whether he wants to realize his eternal reality and become immortal – or whether he wants to remain individual and be an enjoyer of sorrow-happiness.

Maharshi tells a story about killing the Ego and becoming immortal (Dying and becoming immortal).

There were two birds sitting in a tree in a forest. A person came to the forest and caught one of the bird and put it in a cage at his home. The bird in the cage was given food regularly – it lived very well thinking that it was happy and free but it was in the bondage of the cage. One day the person was again going to the forest and asked the bird in the cage whether it wanted anything to be conveyed to the other friend in the forest. The cage-bird told “Tell the other bird that I get good food and everything but only I am in a cage”. The person went to the forest and enquired about the other bird. Then he saw the bird and conveyed what the cage-bird had told. The bird in the forest fell down. The person realized that it had died. He went back home and told the news to the cage-bird that the other bird had died. Hearing this, the cage-bird also fell down. The person was very sad and thought that he should not have told the message to the bird in the forest. As he could not keep the dead-bird in the cage, he threw it out. Suddenly, the cage-bird flew up to a tree and said to the person “O Fool!!! I am not dead neither is the bird in the forest dead. The bird in the forest told me to die and become free. I did as told and am now free”.

There is lot of import in the above story. We are all the bird in the cage. We think we are all enjoying in the sensual life in great houses, great cars, great buildings and amidst money, power, women and everything. But we forget that we are staying in the cage of Samsaara of the nature of birth and death. We forget that we have come to this world with nothing and one find day we have to leave everything and go with nothing. We are in bondage of desire, ignorance, likes-dislikes but think we are happy with everything. Once we realize that we are in bondage, we will start thinking like the cage-bird. Then we will get the right person or the Guru to guide us to the ultimate reality. Guru need not be a person at all – the great Upanishads and scriptures are Gurus alone, the words of Mahatmas are Gurus alone. Thus, the Guru will instruct that DIE or kill the Ego and become free. When we, like the cage-bird kill the Ego, the bondage which is illusory vanishes and the person becomes immortal and realizes his real nature of Consciousness.

The bird was never in bondage but only seemed to be in bondage – when the illusory bondage of cage vanished – the bird realized its real nature of Consciousness. Here the story is meant just to tell that the Ego must Die for the person to become immortal. The doubts like the cage was real and hence bondage also is real should not be asked as this drishtaantha or example is not meant for showing the bondage to be unreal. Examples are meant to prove only some specific things and not the complete reality.

Thus, only when the Ego which is an illusion and superimposition on the reality of Consciousness is killed, the ultimate reality of Consciousness is known. Until a person identifies himself with the Ego, he cannot attain eternal bliss because the Ego itself is limited and illusory. Such illusions can never give real eternal bliss as the illusory water in a mirage cannot quench the thirst of a person.

Realizing the ultimate reality that “I am Consciousness, whatever is present is Consciousness alone & there is nothing but Consciousness alone” is the goal of human life which alone can confer eternal bliss and contentment to the person.

All sorrows and sufferings, all needs, all desires are caused out of ignorance of the perfect and content nature of oneself. Thus, these cannot be removed by any external means but only through knowledge, only throwing enquiry into one’s own nature, only through knowing that “I am the Self, I am Consciousness, I am complete, perfect and full”.

In Chandogya Upanishad, Sanatkumara says to Narada
Na alpe sukham asthi, yad bhooma tat sukham.

There is no happiness or bliss in limited things or imperfect things. That which is POORNA or complete, alone has eternal bliss or happiness.

What is BHOOMA?

Yatra na anyat pashyathi, na anyat srunothi, na anyat vijaaneethi, sa bhooma
That is Bhooma, where nothing else is seen, nothing else is heard, nothing else is known.

Bhooma is Consciousness the Subject without any objects – it is the state where no external objects are present. It is the state which has been explained by Maharshi as Consciousness or Heart when Ego and objects are destroyed.

This bliss rejoiced when one’s own nature of pure Consciousness is known is experienced in a small quantity by everyone during deep sleep. In deep sleep, there is only Consciousness or I alone – no objects. Hence, there is pure Bliss which is rejoiced through the state of deep sleep and this enjoying is known after one wakes up and says “I slept happily”. But this experience is also accompanied by ignorance as one says “I did not know anything”. Thus awareness about one’s own real nature of Consciousness and Bliss was not there in deep sleep.

This merging into Consciousness during deep sleep is temporary and not permanent as there was no knowledge when one merged into the state. When awareness is brought or when a person realizes that “I am Consciousness and not Ego which gets identified with other objects”, the Ego gets destroyed and only pure Consciousness remains. At that time, eternal bliss inherent in the Self is realized which is its own very nature.

This realization of one’s own nature is what every person is trying to do knowingly or unknowingly through sensual pleasures and search of happiness in the external illusory world.

Once, this search becomes internal, the mind, the Ego and everything vanishes and the Self shines in its own without any other objects. Then, the real bliss of the Self is rejoiced and experienced.

As the Katha Upanishad proclaims
Yam jnaatva muchyathe janthur amritatvam cha gacchathi
After knowing the Purusha or the Self, the person gets liberated and attains immortality.

Sankara mentions the same meaning of this sloka of Maharshi in Upadesa Sahasri
Aham ithi aatma dheerya cha mama ithi aatmeeya dheerapi
Artha shoonye yada yasya sa atmajno bhavet tadaa
When the “I” or Ahamkaara and MAMA or mine is destroyed in a person, that very moment the person becomes a knower of the Self. Knower of Brahman or Self becomes Brahman itself – here knower means realization that I am the Self and not normal knowing of external objects – knowing just means realizing that I am the Knower.


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