BACK to SAHAJA AND JIVANMUKTA         Update 02 23 08

Note: My maya-gaia website, evolving since 1997, is a chronicle of my passing all considered opinion
through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi with both an open-mind and healthy skepticism.

Extended References to Ramana Maharshi Foundation of Self Inquiry
and their role in formulating its practice.

Keywords: Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Sahaja Samadhi, Satori, Kensho, cosmic consciousness, siddhis, jivanmukti, jivamukti, tathagata, sataguru, Ramana Maharshi, Ganapati Muni, Ganapati Sastri, John Glenn Friesen.

Extended excerpts from Hindu and Non-Hindu Interpretations of a Jivanmukta by Dr. John Glenn Friesen

In the following, I have excerpted passages from another of Dr. John Glenn Friesen's scholarly and penetrating essays that like his Abhishiktananda again provides an intimate look into the minds of the sage-philosopher of non-dual tradition- in this case those of Ramana Maharshi, his co-sataguru Ganapati Muni, some of his devotees and some biographers. My selection is intended to emphasize the sometimes arbitrary, often self-contradictory and regularly confusing nature of precepts that emanate from both insight and imagination in an ashram environment often saturated with spiritual devotional passion wherein both metaphysical paradigms and mystical accounts arise insulated from challenge or skepticism (A sage never criticizes another sage.) to become codified into legend.

For disciples of a sage such as Ramana- every utterance is taken as an expression of divine truth and what are intellectually conflicting premises are rationalized as appropriate to the stage of development of the disciple. Ramana taught that realization of the Self is not acquired through books, meditation or even samadhi yet in every instance his foundation arose from these very sources. All of his fundamental concepts of self realization are adaptions from a variety of religious texts as cataloged in Dr. Friesen's essay (see excerpts below p 95 to 105). Although Ramana constantly stresses "direct experience" he is referring to self examination- not samadhi- yet his practice is essentially a compilation of precepts extracted from the vedantic, yoga, tantric and buddhist literature he often recommended his disciples read. Certainly there is nothing that detracts from his status as a sage in assembling an adaptive practice for realization. To what extent intellectual extrapolation overlay punctuated episodes of revelation in the historic body of the nondual tradition is always open to question and arises in the credibility of every particular discipline.

Jivanmukta 2006 J. Glenn Friesen

Page 10
This again caused some people to comment that Ramana’s life was really more like a householder than a sannyasi (Narasimha, 127). We see here the conflict between the traditional view that a sannyasi should aim to remove himself from life, and the tantric view of jivanmukti- that one can be liberated in this life. We will later look at this conflict in more detail.

(After his death experience Ramana would go) to the temple in Madurai, "where he would weep, and pray that his experience might become perpetual." I would stand before Isvara, the Controller of the universe and the destinies of all, the Omniscient and Omnipresent, and occasionally pray for the descent of his grace upon me so that my devotion might increase and become perpetual like that of the sixty-three saints (Narasimha, 23).

But the earliest biographer of Ramana, F.H. Humphreys, also gives an account of the method of self-enquiry that is based on argument: You argue your mind out of existence as a separate entity, and the result is that mind and body physically (so to speak) disappear and the only thing that remains is Being, which is at once existence and non-existence, and not explainable in words or ideas.16 There is therefore some doubt as to the nature of Ramana’s experience, the extent of rational argument involved, whether he experienced it at age 12 or 16, and whether Ramana had a sense of his selfhood as something beyond mind or spirit or whether it was identified with mind and spirit.

This emphasis on trance is especially puzzling in view of Ramana’s later teaching that trance is not necessary for enlightenment. In fact, Ramana sometimes opposed the practice of meditation. He says that those who are the most competent seekers take the path of Self-enquiry. The less competent meditate on identity. Those who are even lower practice breath control. And Ramana himself did not teach meditation or breath control.17 Rama!a was opposed to trance in the sense of loss of consciousness. Ramana discouraged meditation, especially meditation leading to trance. Ramana says that trance is a state like drugs: "If you are so anxious for trance any narcotic will bring it about. Drug-habit will be the result and not liberation. There are vasanas in the latent state even in trance. The vasanas must be destroyed." 18 17 Self-Enquiry, pp. 17-38; CW 3-35; Osb 17-47. 18 Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (Tiruvannamalai: Sri Rama!asramam, 1994, first published 1955), 280, para. 317 [‘Talks’]. In this passage, Ramana distinguishes between two kinds of vasanas- those that cause bondage (bandha hetuh) and those that give enjoyment for the wise (bhoga hetuh). The latter do not obstruct realisation. Thus, in his view, not all vasanas need be destroyed.

Vasanas are innate tendencies and the memory of past experiences. In the same passage, Ramana says that trance is only an absence of thoughts. Such a state prevails in sleep. But trance is only temporary in its effects. There is happiness so long as it lasts. After rising from it the old vasanas return. Unless the vasanas are destroyed in sahaja samadhi (effortless samadhi) there is no good of trance. Thus, if you want a trance, go to sleep! Rama!a also says that meditation strengthens the ego instead of liberating from it. "Meditation is possible only if the ego be kept up" (Talks, 145, para. 174). And he says, Who is the meditator? Ask the question first. Remain as the meditator. There is no need to meditate (Talks, 174, para. 205). and Why do you wish to meditate at all? Because you wish to do so you are told Atma samstham manah krtva (fixing the mind in the Self); why do you not remain as you are without meditating? (Talks, 257, para. 294). Instead of seeking a trance state, or nirvikalpa samadhi, Ramana advises us to seek sahaja samadhi. Sahaja means ‘natural.’ And sahaja samadhi is the consciousness of the liberated person who returns to the world. That person does not live out of ego anymore, but lives through Self. Sahaja is also pure consciousness: There is no question of transition from unconsciousness to supreme pure Consciousness. Giving up these two, self-consciousness and unconsciousness, you inhere in the natural Consciousness, that is pure Consciousness.19 Swarnagiri reports that Ramana said that the practitioner of self-enquiry must be on the alert, and must enquire within as to who it is that is having this experience: Failing this enquiry he will go into a long trance or deep sleep (Yoga nidra). Due to the absence of a proper guide at this stage of spiritual practice, many have been deluded and fallen a prey to a false sense of salvation. One must not allow oneself to be overtaken by such spells of stillness of thought: the moment one experiences this, one must revive consciousness 19 Swarnagiri, Ramananda: Crumbs from his Table (Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1995), 41[‘Crumbs’].

This is the point of divergence between the road to salvation and yoga nidra, which is merely prolonged deep sleep. Ramana also says that trance and unconsciousness are only for the mind; they do not affect the Self (Crumbs, 40). He even rejects talk of "killing the mind," since mind is also part of reality: Seeing ice without seeing that it is water is illusion, Maya. Therefore saying things like killing the mind or anything like that also has no meaning, for after all mind also is part and parcel of the Self. Resting in the Self or inhering in the Self is mukti, getting rid of Maya. Maya is not a separate entity (Crumbs, 41). Ramana also opposes any view of meditation as a void. He says, "Absence of thought does not mean a void. There must be one to know the void" (Conscious Immortality, 77). His emphasis is on the Self, and not on the Buddhist emphasis in seeking sunyata [emptiness] in meditation. When we later look at the tantric influences on Ramana, we will see the source of some of the confusion between an emphasis on the importance of trance and the ability of the liberated one to live in the world. 3. Immediate Realization? We have already seen that after his experience at the age of 16, Ramana was not without doubts. He prayed at that time that the experience might be continuous. This seems to imply a concern that he feared it was not permanent.

The first English reports about Ramana were by Frank H. Humphreys, a policeman stationed in India in 1911. Humphreys published the book Glimpses of the Life and

Some of the interesting points in Humphreys’ biography of Rama!a are: a) Humphreys is the first to report Ramana's pivotal enlightenment experience of the Self at the age of 16. This account is used by all future biographers of Ramana. But we must be careful in using this story, for Humphreys says that the story of Ramana’s awakening was not told to him by Ramana himself, but by a disciple or chela (Glimpses, 27). Ramana’s chief disciple at that time was Ganapati Muni, so Muni might be the source of this information.

After his retirement, Humphreys returned to England where he entered a Catholic monastery.23 Chadwick reports an interesting anecdote about Humphreys. Someone in the hall of the ashram said that he had recently seen Humphreys, and that Humphreys had denied receiving any benefit from Ramana’s instruction. Ramana responded with the strong words, "It’s a lie!" (Chadwick, 21).

Paul Brunton confessed that he had used the book A Search in Secret India as a "peg" on which to hang his own ideas: It will therefore be clear to perspicacious readers that I used his name and attainments as a convenient peg upon which to hang an account of what meditation meant to me. The principal reason for this procedure was that it constituted a convenient literary device to secure the attention and hold the interest of western readers, who would naturally give more serious consideration to such a report of the "conversion" of a seemingly hard headed critically-minded Western journalist to yoga.29 26 Brunton, Paul: The Maharshi and his Message: A Selection from A Search in Secret India, 13 th ed. (Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 2002, no date of original publication).

Brunton says that illuminations gained by yoga or by trance states are always temporary ones. Although a trance may produce a feeling of exaltation, this feeling goes away and one must repeat the experience daily. He cites Aurobindo: Trance is a way of escape--the body is made quiet, the physical mind is in a state of torpor, the inner consciousness is left free to go on with its experience. The disadvantage is that trance becomes indispensable and that the problem of the waking consciousness is not solved, it remains imperfect (Hidden Teaching, 27; italics Brunton).

Brunton may also be referring to a hope that he would have received special magical powers or siddhis.

Chadwick says that he asked Rama!a about Richard Bucke’s book Cosmic Consciousness, and about Bucke’s report that illumination comes in a flash.39 Ramana said that that which comes in a flash will disappear in a flash: Actually it is not Self-realization they experience but Cosmic Consciousness where they see all as one, identify themselves with Nature and the Cosmic Heart. In Hinduism this is called Mahat. Here a trace of ego remains even during the experience and a consciousness of the body belonging to the visionary. This false sense of "I" must go entirely, for it is the limitation which serves as bondage (Chadwick, 25). And yet Ramana himself speaks of cosmic consciousness as that which lies behind the ego. In answer to a question from Chadwick, Ramana says that cosmic consciousness pervades even Isvara or the Absolute (Talks, 149; para. 177; March 10, 1936). 39 Richard Maurice Bucke: Cosmic Consciousness New York: E.P. Dutton, 1969, first published 1901). Bucke was a Canadian doctor who in 1901 wrote about a sudden experience of illumination.

And yet Sarma tries to reconcile the teachings of Shankara and Ramanuja regarding maya. Ramanuja says that the world is real and there is no maya. Shankara tells us to find out Reality underlying the ever-changing world. "What is called changefulness by Ramanuja is called illusion by Sankara." (Maha Yoga 203).

Études sur Ramana Maharshi contains a long article by Dr. Sarma K. Lakshman. This is in fact the same person I have referred to as Lakshmana Sarma, and the article is an extract from his book Maha Yoga. Sarma here gives a monistic interpretation of Ramana’s teachings- that there is neither God nor world outside of Self.50 It is Sarma’s view that Ramana only learned this monistic view in later life, although his experience at the age of 16 had given him an experience of the Self.

Monchanin believed that advaita could not account for love (bhakti). Love involves a distinction between beings. According to advaita, love is in the realm of maya. But as soon as we say "God is love," this is to confess a Trinity.80 80 Ibid., pp. 133-135. Harvey Cox makes the same point. Love presupposes genuinely different selves. God and the world are both real, but different, and the relation between them is love. Harvey Cox: Turning East (Simon and Schuster, 1977), 85, 86.

IV. Conflicts and tensions We will look in detail at tantric, neo-Hindu and Christian influences on Ramana. These influences often contradict each other. Each of these influences is also in tension with traditional Hinduism. The first tension to be explored is that between traditional Hinduism and neo-Hinduism, or Hinduism that has been influenced by Western philosophical traditions. The next tension to be explored is that of the Vedanta advaita versus tantra. Ramana has been viewed as an authentic sage of Vedanta Advaita or nondualism. Vedanta Advaita tends to emphasize the importance of liberation from a temporal world of illusion or maya. But Ramana is also regarded as an example of a jivanmukta- one who becomes liberated while still living in this temporal world. This idea of living liberation is a tantric idea. And Ramana himself says that the world has some reality, thus contradicting the Vedantic view of maya as illusion in favour of an idea of maya as the creative power of Shiva.

(Vedantic) scriptures have their origin in the immediate personal experience of "seers" or rishis. Hacker and Halbfass have therefore raised the issue of whether the idea of immediate experience is really more Western than Hindu. But is this emphasis on experience or anubhava found in Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta? Eliot Deutsch has interpreted Shankara in terms of a philosophy of experience.94 But Halbfass says that an emphasis on direct experience, or anubhava is absent in Shankara. Shankara does not base any veridical claims upon personal experiences of his own; he does not even speak about them. The Vedas are his ultimate authority, and particularly the Upanishads.95 92 Even if neo-Hindu ideas of direct experience derive from William James, this does not mean that neo-Hinduism is irrational and subjectivistic. Gadamer’s criticism of direct experience may not apply to James, at least not in the same way that it applies to the Romantics. James does not just invert the priority between rational concept and intuitive experience; he sets out a new epistemology of ‘pure perception.’ And he insists that there is a ‘noetic’ element in immediate experience- it is experienced as a kind of knowing. The criticism of subjectivity may also not apply to James. His theory allows for an experience that is prior to any subject/object division. This rules out any initial subjectivity. Furthermore, James’s view of the self is not individualistic, but extends outwards to the world. It is connected with other human beings and the surrounding environment. James also speaks of this being a trans-personal experience, and therefore one that is not caught by individual subjectivity. The model of immediate experience is currently not in fashion among scholars. However, there has been a renewed interest in James’s ideas of ‘pure perception’. In addition to Barnard, I would refer to Wilber and Krüger. Despite Wilber’s criticism of Romanticism, he defends the idea of immediate experience, using James’s ideas of pure experience. See Ken Wilber: The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad (Boston: Shambhala, 1998), 5, 6.

Aurobindo’s emphasis on experience is significant in view of his influence on Ganapati Muni and Kapali Sastri, who in turn influenced Ramana (see below). Ramana makes many references to the necessity of direct experience. Here are some examples: The intuitive knowledge of the Heart is direct immediate experience. We also see in Ramana the neo-Hindu emphasis that experience is more important than the Vedas. We experience the Self directly through constant meditation (Talks, 114, CW, 217).

Ramana is against philosophy and the intricacies of distinctions (Conscious Immortality, 178). The ultimate Truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. After Realization all intellectual loads are useless burdens and are to be thrown overboard (Teachings, 13, 28). Samadhi transcends thought and speech and cannot be described. You know samadhi only when you are in samadhi (Reflections, 152). Ramana compares the experience to poetry and music. In poetry or music, when you experience bliss, you are plunging into the Self, albeit unconsciously. "If you do so consciously, you call it realization. I want you to dive consciously into the Self, i.e. into the Heart" (Conscious Immortality, 43). And yet to some extent, this experience is not knowledge, since knowledge depends on distinctions. The transcendental state is beyond experience, because it involves dissolution of mind (CW, 33). Reality lies beyond and beyond the triad of knower-knowledge- known (Teachings, 174). Ramana says that we must even give up meditating on Scripture like the Bhagavad Gita: Even books like the Bhagavad Gita and Light on the Path, must be given up to find the Self by looking within.

As for intuitive understanding, a person may laboriously convince himself of the truth to be grasped by intuition, of its function and nature, but the actual intuition is more like feeling and requires practice and personal contact. Mere book learning is not of any great use. After Realization all intellectual loads are useless burdens and are to be thrown overboard. (Teachings, 13; also in Talks, 31) Non-western sources of the idea of direct experience If Ramana uses the word anubhava in the sense of direct experience, does this mean that Ramana was influenced by Western ideas, like other neo-Hindus? It can be argued that Ramana’s emphasis on direct experience does not derive from European influence but rather from Hindu sources that pre-date the European Romantics by many centuries. Halbfass does acknowledge that there are non-traditional advaitic sources that emphasize direct experience and that these sources are independent of any European influence.102 He refers to the "vision" of the Vedic poets, and to the Upanishads, which show an early awareness of the four states of consciousness. These states are: waking, dreaming, sleeping and the fourth state turiya that is beyond the other three states. Non-western sources of the idea of direct experience Another pre-Romantic source of the importance of experience are the poet-saints like Tukaram and others from Maharashtra who glorify personal experience or anubhava. Ramana refers in his teachings to these poet-saints, and to the Tamil poet-saints. There are also traditions in Yoga that emphasize direct experience. One source from these traditions is the Yoga Vasistha. Another work that is popular among yogic practitioners of advaita is the Vivekacudamani, a work that is often attributed to Shankara.

Here we can point out that the Vivekacudamani itself speaks of anubhava. For example, verse 62 states: An illness is not cured just by pronouncing the name of the medicine without drinking it, and you will not be liberated by just pronouncing the word God without direct experience. [anubhava].103 Another Hindu source that emphasizes immediate experience is Kashmir Saivism, which emphasizes consciousness and internality.104 It also pre-dates any possible European Romantic influence. A traditional Hindu source emphasizing experience is the Bhagavad Gita. It refers to Arjuna’s direct experience of Krishna. This vision is said to be one that could not be attained by the Vedas or study (BG 11:48). The Bhagavad Gita also refers to the experience of reaching the Self (BG 6:20). Buddhist traditions also emphasize the experiences and visions of the Buddha. And as Halbfass points out, the very title of the Buddha indicates an event of awakening, a "radical transformation of awareness." Western scholars also see the influence of Buddhism in Hindu works like the Yoga Vasistha. Ramana himself sometimes refers to Buddhist ideas. In view of all these sources, it is unfair to dismiss Ramana’s emphasis on the importance of direct experience as merely based on western ideas, or as merely neo-Hindu. Nevertheless, the western influence must not be disregarded, since Ramana was aware of Vivekananda’s teachings. And Westerners like Major Chadwick and Paul Brunton also influenced Ramana. As we shall see, even Ganapati Muni, one of the most important influences on Ramana, was himself influenced by western ideas of philosophy and 103 Vivekacudamani The Crest Jewel of Wisdom, tr. John H. Richards.

Narasimha says that Ramana shed tears of devotional fervour when 81 he listened to devotional songs or music. He reports Ramana as saying that devotion (bhakti) and realization (jñana) are the same. In bhakti, one dwells on a Personal God that one worships until one loses oneself or merges in Him. In the path of inquiry, one dwells on oneself, which one loves most, and loses oneself or merges in that. In both cases, emotion or personality characterizes the beginning. The end is beyond emotion, thought, will and personality (Narasimha 133). 4. Monism, Advaita and Maya Is traditional Vedanta Advaita monistic? For Shankara, what is important is not personal experience, but overcoming ignorance or avidya of one’s true nature. And for Shankara, once one has overcome ignorance, and realized one’s true nature, then one also realizes that what one thought was real was only illusion or maya. Only Brahman is real. The question arises whether Shankara therefore interprets advaita in a monistic sense. For Shankara the ‘That art thou’ is to be taken in the starkest, clearest sense. It means that the eternal self within the individual is identical with Brahman, the Absolute or Ultimate Reality. This rigorous insistence on the non-dualism between the soul and the divine Reality is paralleled by an equally uncompromising monism in relation to the world.119

The term advaita is negative. It does not imply a monistic ideal, but implies a negation of dualism. That is why the negative expression ‘non-dual’, or ‘not-two’ (advaita), is preferred.123 There are therefore differing views, even by Hindu philosophers, as to whether or not advaita is monistic. If it is not monistic, then it may not be correct to speak of the individual’s identity with Brahman. And if advaita is not monistic, then the ideas of maya and of the unreality of the world may also be reinterpreted. Ramana has inconsistent views of what maya means. Sometimes he takes a thoroughly monistic view of reality, regarding as illusory everything other than the Self. We have seen this in his attitude towards ethics, sometimes arguing that only the Self is real, and that there are no "others." But at other times, Ramana says that the world has a relative reality, and that it is illusory only when it is regarded apart from Brahman: Everything from (the threefold appearance of) Personal God, individual being, and world down to the minutest atom is merely a form of Brahman (CW 250; Osb 160).

Ramana says that both ideas mean the same thing. Maya is not and has no real being. Images in a mirror cannot in any way be real. But the world is real if it is seen as a manifestation of consciousness. "If the world be taken as chit (consciousness), it is always real." In a dialogue with one of his disciples, Ramana refused to speculate regarding dualism and nondualism:

Brunton also influenced Ramana in taking over some of this terminology, such as speaking of the ‘Overself.’ 130 Many of Ramana’s followers (both Hindu and non-Hindu) used Western ideas to interpret Rama!a. Several devotes used the ideas of William James to describe Ramana’s religious experience. Others viewed Ramana’s experience in terms of a dualistic spiritualism, of mind over matter. This spiritualist interpretation appears in the writings of Humphreys and Brunton. Ramana had what is described as a visual photism- a vision of dazzling light suddenly streaming forth and pervading the place. Narasimha (p. 99) refers to William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience in support of such a phenomenon. And yet Ramana discouraged his disciples from seeking such photisms. Ramana says that this experience of a blaze of light is an indication that the mental predispositions (vasanas) are not yet destroyed (Talks, 166). Other disciples asked Ramana about ‘cosmic consciousness’ (Conscious Immortality, 137). Cosmic consciousness is an idea that was made known by Bucke’s book of the same name.131 But Ramana says that it is possible to lose Self-realization after having achieved cosmic consciousness. He says that the vasanas are not destroyed by a flash of cosmic consciousness (Chadwick, 52).

Ramana’s method of "self-enquiry" emphasizes the primacy of direct experience. In his translation of the Vivekacudamani, True liberation can be achieved by Self-enquiry or vichara, and not by book learning (CW, 125). This idea of self-enquiry is itself an idea that derives from the Vivekacudamani. Verse 32 speaks of an inquiry into the reality of one’s own nature. Verse 15 speaks about knowing one’s own nature. Verse 472 is recognition of the supreme truth about one’s self. One of the most important influences on Ramana’s teaching is the Yoga Vasistha, which he first read while he was living in the caves of Arunachala. The Yoga Vasistha was known at least as early as 13th century CE, but may date from as early as the 6th or 7th centuries. Olivier Lacombe dated it in the interval between Gaudap"da and Shankara.135 The Yoga Vasistha is attributed to Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana. Western scholars say that the work is syncretic, with borrowings from Yoga, Samkhya Saiva Siddhanta and Mahayana Buddhism.136 Some have said that it is specifically related to Yogacara Buddhism. Parallels to Yogacara Buddhism are found in its description of mind as a creative force, the negation of the reality of the world and the claim that all appearances proceed from the mind.137 Insofar as the Yoga Vasistha denies the reality of the world, it is inconsistent with Ramana’s understanding of the reality of

the world as set out in the Vivekacudamani. But the Yoga Vasistha also speaks of the power or energy (sakti of infinite consciousness (Yoga Vasistha, 73). This sakti brings into manifestation the infinite variety of beings, from the Creator to the blade of grass; it also sustains these beings (Yoga Vasistha, 193). Sakti is always dynamic and active. The Yoga Vasistha therefore supports the doctrine that the world has some reality. It specifically refers to the world as an object in a mirror that is neither real nor unreal (Yoga Vasistha, 230). Two attitudes are conducive to liberation. One is that "I am the extremely subtle and transcendent self." The other is that "I am all and everything" (Yoga Vasistha, 234). One of the issues that must be addressed in interpreting Ramana’s experience is whether the advaitic experience is necessarily monistic. The Yoga Vasistha lends support to the view that nondualism is different from mere unity or monism. It says that when the mind drops the perception of duality there is neither duality nor unity (Yoga Vasistha, 75). Unity is seen only in opposition to duality. We are to be freed from the conditions known as duality and non-duality (Yoga Vasistha, 209). The all-pervading consciousness is not an object of knowledge; it is beyond the concepts of unity and diversity. It is that "other than which nothing else is "(Yoga Vasistha, 214). Yoga Vasistha also played a role in developing what Fort refers to as "Yogic Advaita" (Fort, 85). Yogic Advaita continued Shankara’s idea that knowledge of the nondual Self brings liberation. It also emphasized certain Buddhist ideas, as well as Yogic practices, such as exerting control of mental states. It urged "destroying the mind." We should destroy the vasanas, mental impressions that are the cause of bondage. The Yoga Vasistha speaks of the state of nirvikalpa samadhi in which "there is no movement of thought." 138 But what is interesting is that when the Yoga Vasistha speaks of a state of nirvikalpa samadhi, there remains a kind of perception. It tells the story of Lila, who enters into nirvikalpa samadhi. It is said that she was in the infinite space of

consciousness, and yet she can see the king, although he cannot see her (Yoga Vasistha, 53, 57). She was on another plane of consciousness. The Yoga Vasistha played a large role in popularizing the idea of the jivanmukta. It says that a liberated person may act in the world. It tells how the sage named Vasistha gives instruction to Rama. Rama becomes enlightened, and returns to rule his kingdom. This is an example of a jivanmukta (one who is liberated in this life). Such a person can lead an active life without incurring any further bondage or karma from one’s actions. Vasistha tells Rama that samadhi is where one realizes the objects of the senses in a state of "not-self" and thus enjoys inner calmness and tranquility at all times. If one can mentally renounce all false identification of the self with objects, one can then live where one likes, either at home or in a mountain-cave. If the mind is at peace and if there is no ego sense, even cities are as void. On the other hand, forests are like cities to him whose heart is full of desires and other evils (Yoga Vasistha, 223). The continuance of perception is probably related to the idea of jivanmukti. For the one who is liberated in this life, certain vasanas remain. But they are pure (Buddha) vasanas that are free from joy and sorrow and cause no further birth. Andrew Fort comments: Even though awake, the mukta’s vasanas and vrttis are at rest. Thus, the liberated being is often described as "asleep while awake": detached and desireless, doing all while doing nothing, having perfect equanimity in activity. When acting with a one-pointed "sleep mind," this being is not a doer and acts without bondage (Fort, 94). Just as in deep sleep one experiences no duality or suffering, so in the vasana-less state, the knower has equanimity and "a kind of coolness within." This is the turiya or fourth state. There is a state beyond even this, called the turiyatita, a nondual "state" beyond great bliss. It is associated with bodiless liberation, which is even higher than liberation in the body. The Yoga Vasistha says that in order to attain liberation, one must abandon the aspect of the mind called the "I" notion, ahamkara, ahambhava (Fort, 920.) Samadhi is specifically said to be the same whether one is engaged in constant action or in contemplation. Thus, it is not limited to a state of trance, since in a trance, one would not be able to be in a state of action. The emphasis is on attaining a state of egolessness:

Knowledge of truth, Lord, is the fire that burns up all hopes and desires as if they are dried blades of grass. That is what is known by the word samadhi in which there is eternal satisfaction, clear perception of what is, egolessness not being subject to the pairs of opposites, freedom from anxiety and from the wish to acquire or to reject ( Yoga Vasistha, 227) In samadhi there is "clear perception of what is." This is not a cessation of consciousness, but a state of egolessness. This egolessness is obtained when one realizes that the light rays are not different from the sun, that the waves are not different from the ocean, that the bracelet is not different from gold, that the sparks are not different from the fire. Someone who has seen this true has an understanding that is said to be unmodified (nirvikalpa). We are to abandon the perception of diversity or objectification and remain established in the nirvikalpa consciousness. Then we do not get enmeshed in the objects.139 It is clear that, like the Vivekacudamani, the Yoga Vasistha was a source for Ramana’s teaching of self-enquiry. According to the Yoga Vasistha, liberation is achieved only by the conquest of the mind by self-enquiry, and specifically the question "Who am I?": What is inquiry? To inquire thus: Who am I? How has this evil of samsara (repetitive history) come into being?" is true inquiry- knowledge of truth arises from such inquiry (Yoga Vasistha, 34) Not everyone enquires into the truth of the self. But the self alone is to be sought, adored and meditated upon (Yoga Vasistha, 194). By this enquiry of self-knowledge, one obtains infinite consciousness. There is no other way of liberation from bondage (Yoga Vasistha, 229). The Yoga Vasistha advises abandoning the aspect of the mind called the "I" notion, ahamkara ahambhava (Fort, 92). There is no liberation as long as one clings to the reality of ‘you’ and ‘I’. We are to rest in the self (Yoga Vasistha, 107). We are warned against taking our stand on concepts and percepts of the mind (Yoga Vasistha, 211). We 139 Yoga Vasistha, 400. Part of this realization is also that the world is unreal. Whatever the self contemplates is materialized on account of the inherent power in consciousness. That materialized thought then shines as if it is independent. Whether this view of unreality is consistent with the view that Brahman permeates everything is open to debate.

Immediate experience is described: "whatever vision arises within oneself, that is immediately experienced. Consciousness (as subject) itself becomes, as it were, the object of knowledge" (Yoga V!)i)tha, 62). You cannot merely verbally deny a dual notion of existence. Such denial itself becomes a further distraction (Yoga Vasistha, 39). We are to become conscious of the self in all states of awareness. We are to be free from egoism, with mind detached as in sleep, pure like the sky, ever untainted. Inwardly cool but outwardly full of fervour, we should act playfully in the world. Ramana also refers to the Yoga Vasistha in Self-Enquiry- in support of his view that we should not search for the Self outside ourselves. It constantly shines as "I-I" within the Heart (CW 6; Osb. 27). Ramana cited the Yoga Vasistha regarding the futility of searching for the Self outside oneself, oblivious of its constantly shining as 'I-I' within the Heart (Osb. 27). Nambiar’s The Guiding Presence of Sri Ramana Maharshi has an appendix of verses from the Yoga V!)i)&ha, selected by Rama!a to describe the state of Jivanmukti. Sarga 18, verses 17-26

Ramana refers to the Ribhu Gita many times, including a reference in his earliest book, Who Am I? Ramana was acquainted with this work from an early date. In 1908, he often gave V. Ramaswamy Iyer the Ribhu Gita to read (Narasimha, 98). Ramana later said that

readings from the Ribhu Gita are as good as samadhi (Narasimha, 208). Narasimha reports that he also read Kaivalya Navaneetha. The Ribhu Gita is an extract from a much longer epic, the Sivarahasya. It tells of the experience of nonduality by the sage known as Ribhu. The focus of the text is on the Self. In order to achieve bliss, one must discard the mind. There is nothing that is not-self (1:11). Verse 24 says that if there is no "you", there is no "I". The Ribhu Gita refers to the heart-space within all beings (1:59). It is also significant in its view of nonduality as something that cannot be conceptualized: 26. But whereas the Ribhu Gita confirms that nonduality cannot be conceptualized, this view of nonduality, as denying that there is in fact anything to see, is inconsistent with the view that Ramana takes from other texts that refer to seeing Brahman in all things. e) The Tripura Rahasya One of the publications still for sale at Ramana’s ashram is the Tripura Rahasya. Its English translation contains the subtitle: "The Mystery Beyond the Trinity." 141 It is unclear who chose this title for the work. It may have been the English disciple of Ramana, Major Chadwick. Chadwick wrote the Foreword to the book. The Tripura Rahasya is a tantric work. It refers to the Supreme Goddess by various names. She is called Tripura, because Her Body consists of three saktis (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva).142 Chadwick says that Ramana considered this as one of the greatest works of advaita and that he often quoted from it. Ramana regretted that it was not available in English.

According to this work, the Pure Self sometimes unfolds itself as the cosmos, and at other times withdraws Itself and remains unmanifest. Therefore cosmos and the Self are only the same, but different modes of the one Reality, which is Consciousness.143 The cosmos is therefore not unreal. It is real in the same way that an image in a mirror is real; the cosmos is a real image of the Self. This book helps to explain Ramana’s view that the world is real, although only insofar as it is dependent on Brahman. The Tripura Rahasya also emphasizes the importance of direct experience. It says, Second-hand knowledge of the Self gathered from books or gurus can never emancipate a man until its truth is rightly investigated and applied to himself; direct Realisation alone will do that. Therefore, follow my advice and realise yourself, turning the mind inward (Tripura Rahasya 18: 89- 90).

Return to Top

2. Jivanmukti Ramana accepted that one could be a jivanmukta, one who is liberated in this world. The one who is liberated in the body is the jivanmukti. Full liberation is only gained after death (in videhamukti). But this idea of jivanmukti allows for the continuing the liberated person to continue functioning within the world of diversity. This idea of jivanmukti is not at all universally accepted within Hinduism. Indeed, as Fort has shown, the entire idea of the jivanmukti probably derives from tantric sources, and is connected with the tantric ideas of the reality of the world, and of maya in terms of the sakti or energy of Shiva.149 The jivanmukta sees Brahman within all things. But there is an inconsistency between the state of kevala (the experience of the aloneness of the atman) and this state of sahaja (seeing Brahman within all things). As Fort says, Vedanta has two ideas of mukti: freedom from samsara and knowledge of Brahman/Atman. The first view, freedom from samsara, is a more negative idea of liberation. It usually requires some form of world renunciation, and some kind of yogic practice; it ends in the perfect isolation (kaivalya)

of the spirit (Fort, 6). This view is also connected with seeing the world as maya in terms of illusion. The second view of liberation is knowledge of Brahman/Atman. In this second view, some Vedantic thought holds that there can be liberation when one is in a body, with the mind and the senses. Even for those who believe in the possibility of jivanmukti, there is a further problem. There are those who argue that the only reason that the jivanmukti can continue to function in the world is because of his or her pr!rabdha karma. This is the karmic energy that continues from before liberation, like the continued spinning of the potter’s wheel. On this view the jivanmukti is not really participating in the world, since the energy of acting in the body comes from the past. However, another opinion is that the jivanmukti is participating in the world out of a mission to save the world or to do good in the world. Fort argues that this second opinion is not found within traditional Hinduism; it is a Western conception (Fort, 13). It may also be linked to the Buddhist idea of the bodhisattva. For those who accept the idea of jivanmukti, it is often unclear what the idea means. If the liberated person has attained to unity with Brahman, how does he or she deal with the diversity of the world? Is the jivanmukta conscious of his or her actions? Are rational distinctions still made after liberation? Is there a distinction between subject and object, between self and others? And what are the jivanmukta’s ethical obligations to others? 3. Tantric view of maya We have already discussed differing views as to whether advaita is monistic. Tantra does not regard the world as totally illusory. Maya is regarded as the creative power of Brahman (or more frequently, of Siva). The world has a relative reality. It is real insofar as it is related to Siva, as the field play of Siva’s creative power or shakti. We have seen how this view of relative reality is supported by the Vivekacudamani. In his translation of the Vivekacudamani, Ramana also refers to the world as having emanated from Brahman:

"Thou are That" because this whole world emanates from Brahman, which alone IS, and is Brahman Itself, just as pots come from clay and are clay itself and indeed are made of clay (CW, 149). But although traditionally ascribed to Shankara, recent scholarship has questioned whether the Vivekacudamani was written by Shankara. And this view of maya as a relative reality is more closely related to tantra. Hacker also comments that the Upanishads speak of the world when not yet unfolded. This is designated as "the unmanifest" (avyakta).150 This view that Brahman emits or emanates the world is not emphasized in Vedanta. Vedanta tends to regard the world as a result of ignorance and illusion. Although Vedanta does acknowledge some reality to the world in its doctrine of anirvacaniya, the emphasis on the full reality of the world as an expression of sakti is more a tantric doctrine. Loy says that both Hindu and Buddhist tantra hold that the ultimate nondual reality possesses two aspects in its fundamental nature- negative and positive, static and dynamic, Siva and Sakti, Prajña and Upaya, Sunyata and karuna. The ultimate goal of tantra is union between these two aspects of the reality. In this union, one realizes the non-dual nature of the self and the not-self.151 Ramana says that tantric advaita admits world, soul, God. There is the Tantric Advaita which admits three fundamentals jagat, jiva, Isvara- world, soul, God. These three are also real. But the reality does not end with them. It extends beyond. That is the Tantric Advaita. The Reality is limitless; the three fundamentals do not exist apart from the Absolute Reality. All agree that Reality is all-pervading. (Talks, 118). 151 Nonduality, 270. Loy refers to the idea of emanation as "a weaker kind of monism." On this view, instead of there being only a monistic One, there is only one type of thing (such as Mind) of which the many particulars are manifestations. It is unclear why he still refers to it as monism, since both the One and its manifestations are real. Why not just refer to it as nondualism? It appears that Loy’s reluctance to refer to emanation as nondualism is that he regards it as a reification of emptiness.

See MY PERSPECTIVE that the term sahaja really defines a supreme integration of a Nirvikalpa Samadhi rather than a higher samadhi experience.




email> smalltownsATusaDOTcom