21 November 2014

Eighth Century Advaita with Commentary by Ramana

From the Mandukya Karika--an Eighth Century Advaita Text:

What is changing must always be unreal. This phenomenal world of names and forms is ever changing. Names and forms are subject to decay and death. Hence they are unreal or impermanent. What is constant or permanent must always be Real. The Atman or the Eternal, all-pervading Self ever exists. It pervades all objects like ether. Even if the pot is broken, the ether that is within and without it cannot be destroyed. Similarly, if the bodies and all other objects perish, the Eternal Self that pervades them cannot be destroyed; It is the living Truth and only Reality.

If your assumption is that you are the Self, then thinking is not a problem, it can come and go as it pleases. However, if you think you are the body, then thinking is the only being, the only thing that keeps you away from the brink of the "terrible abyss" of non-being. When the sense of being an individual is transcended, you will know that you are the Self and that your true nature is Being-consciousness-bliss. Being abides in Itself, consciousness knows itself and bliss reposes in itself. The Self alone is.


Ramana Maharshi teaches that the Self is pure Being, a subjective awareness of "I am" which is completely devoid of the feeling "I am this" or "I am that". There are no subjects nor objects in the Self; there is only an awareness of Being. Because this awareness is conscious it is also known as 'consciousness'. The direct experience of this consciousness is, according to Sri Ramana, a state of unbroken happiness and so the term 'bliss' is used to describe it. These three aspects – being, consciousness and bliss – are experienced as a unitary whole and not as separate attributes of the Self. They are inseparable in the same way that wetness, transparency and liquidity are inseparable properties of water. 

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1 comment:

  1. Ed, I have always found myself very influenced by this teaching. Logically it sounds true and after long practice the Self beyond conditions can be found. Abiding in Self does bring happiness and bliss and a sense of completeness or fullness. Desires are gone, which is the buddhist ideal. But are you still human? I am concerned that the bliss you achieve is only your own. We do not effect others in an overt way. We are also in a time where the guru model doesn't seem to be working and enlightenment does not appear to allow instant help to others. Many reject the help or are not ready for it. Once all desires have been conquered what next? Without desire, you can't get motivated to actually help individual people and you can't relate to them.

    Look at Ramana, at first he didn't speak and after that he really never left the ashram. Fortunately it was a time when people could still recognize a deep soul. I am worried this represents the Arhat ideal and not the Bodhisattva ideal. It is almost like you have to postpone enlightenment in order to be of real help in this world. You need to make a sacrifice of it for the sake of others.

    I am concerned about the lure of the teaching you present here. This is a new concern for me because following this teaching brought me bliss but did not help others and my soul won't let me be content with that.

    What do you think?