– written by "Jai", an imaginary individual, and
fortunate student of "
Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi who
for all practical purposes was / is
the Absolute Reality, Brahman,
appearing as a Tamil Sage.
The single Non-Dual Absolute Reality, Brahman alone exists as Existence, infinitely conscious as Consciousness, consisting of complete happiness as Bliss itself. Time, Space individuals / things are illusory.
From the perspective of the apparent individual, "it will all work out" – as Enlightenment, Liberation, Self-Realization. Such may not seem easy or quick, but spiritual practice will hasten the process that can last one or many life-times, each a repeating "dream" with evolving destiny, with ups and downs determined by self-made Karma. Spiritual practice can take many forms, some blended, others simple, more or less direct, more or less preliminary or "final". One role of a Realized Guru lies in guidance in all this, while the seeker experiments with details – whatever works.
Again, from the perspective of the apparent individual, simplifying one's life in accord with what is Good / Wise yields better spiritual growth than themes that are Bad / Foolish. Identifying with Ego – I, Mind, Body, in a World is Foolish. Finding out, as direct experience and conviction, "Who am I ?" is identical with Realization that oneself, that all is Brahman alone.
On the spiritual path, the Good can include the obvious moralities of relieving suffering, and of not causing suffering. This can range from ordinary kindness and love through more distributed group responsibilities like refraining from exploitation, group greed, violence, war, any selfish unfairness, and not supporting other creatures, the environment, and fragile climate. Be they illusory entities like ourselves, yet all creatures deserve well-being. Besides being opposed to the Good and thus the Wise, all such Bad hardens attachment to and mis-identification with the false Ego, the source of all personal suffering.
The ultimate Good, that is God is, according to Ramana Maharshi, "as real as you are" and thus is transcended only with loss of Ego mis-identification. Transitional terms like Meister Eckhart's "God-head", the Buddha-Mind, Tao, and Brahman-with-characteristics are even less dualistic. Ultimately, all definitions, all that is objective is to be transcended. Some traditions begin with surrender of the Ego to and devotional love toward God, and some combine such with Non-Dual Self-Inquiry until the very last. Devotion likewise arises toward the Guru along with faith in his/her teachings.
Self-Knowledge by fathoming the Self-Inquiry "Who am I ?" completes true self-identification with the one true Self, Atman, non-different from Reality, Brahman – undifferentiated, formless, pure Existence-Consciousness-Bliss – ever the case in a timeless, spaceless, dimensionless Absolute Reality.
One analogy to compare the levels of illusory mis-identification, as in the hierarchy: Ego, Mind, Body, and World could be an arithmetic analogy. A full "100%" dis-identification from Ego individuality could be equivalent to "100%" Liberation / Enlightenment. By a roughly linear proportion, some 50% of the one could be 50% of the other. A similar arithmetic analogy applied to mis-identification with Mind might commence with a rating of constituent Thoughts according to just how "binding" they are. Such include the "Bad" as described in commandments, "deadly sins", and comparable schemes in Buddhism and other traditions. On sequence of decreasingly binding Concepts could be Ego > Mind > Body > World. Removing key Concepts carries more weight, marks greater progress than less significant ones. Less fundamental mis-identifications could be gender, ethnic – national, and political identity, age, "race" > socio-economic status and possessions > historical era, an so on. Less weight accrues to less fundamental Concepts. Targeting the more binding ones like Ego, Mind, and Body is "Wise" but all opportunities to lose binding Concepts is well-advised in that such progress weakens their support of more binding Concepts and all binding Concepts represent the one and only cause of true Suffering. The Buddha enumerated categories of Suffering (not simply pain as such) as getting what you don't want, not getting what you want, and even getting what you want because we sense that desired things are in Time and do not last.
Ego-loss is the ultimate goal of Self-Inquiry, but dis-identification with the Mind / Body is almost a proximate guarantee. This dis-identification with Body represents a tipping point toward total inevitable Liberation. Some do not attain dis-identification with the World prior to dis-identification with the Body, but the World too must be relinquished. The terms of all of this analogy may not be found in the all records of spiritual progress, and even some of this essay's analytical – philosophical approach may not mark the spiritual practice of many or most on the spiritual path.
Beyond God, seeking the
"un-qualified" Brahman "with-out characteristics" is the
In between, "qualified" Brahman "with characteristics" and "un-qualified" Non-Dual Brahman "with-out characteristics", some addressed a less anthropomorphic God such as Meister Eckhart's "God-head" or the Tao of Lao Tse. Some dozen major cultures have supported Enlightenment practice through the ages but the majority of current examples now appears in Westernized and other societies inspired by Indian Vedanta, and to a less common extent: Southern Chinese Ch'an Buddhism though such flourished in the past, with the expect changes in terminology. Furthermore, the ancient promise is that no spiritual progress is ever lost. Running out of time this lifetime–dream leads to commencing again in a future lifetime–dream, or illusory reincarnation.
Some centuries ago, the
Anglican bishop George Berkeley followed the lead of Rene Descartes and
reasoned that the World could never be directly known. At best we experience those thoughts known as
Sense Percepts and other thoughts about these.
It is unclear, however, whether
We can return again to Rene Descartes and his two dimensional (2–D) "graph". A simpler starting point could be that integer/positive xy valued graph we call a "map". In fact Descartes' Graph derived from Greek longitude "verticals" and latitude "horizontals" and the fishing net grids before that.
We imagine W-E horizontal
streets crossed in a rectangular array by S-N vertical avenues, with (0th Av,
But should we assume geographical
knowledge for (0th Av,
The point of this scenario is to display the "borrowed" reality of (2,3) by a "reference" assumption. So it is for all Concepts and Percepts regarding the World and so on, all resting on the validity of the dualistic Reference process subsequent to unfounded assumption of real "knowledge" about the primal Ego-notion "I" Origin. Without the arithmetic or the Vedanta-like terminology, Berkeley and Nagarjuna came to a similar conclusion that Concepts and Percepts, and thus the World and the Mind, have no self-established reality, while the Ego-notion "I" Origin is assumed with no support, even though it seems "strengthened" by the Concepts arising from it. Thus, no basis for a World, or an Ego is found.
If I view a "chair" for instance, I assume a 3-D object with a specific form. But each view or image of that chair is taken from a specific direction and distance, and further qualified, all only for an instant, that is: by momentary information of the viewer Percept. If asked to imagine a chair, that Ego–"I" Origin might visualize some slightly aerial view, perhaps from on side or the other. These instantaneous Percepts or Concepts do not a real Object make, do not a real World see. Every moment furnishes the Seer with another View, (an likewise with the other Sense and the Mind), every Seer views only his own World images. All these are Contemplations but they support Meditations and then Realizations, especially regarding the unreal World. The Body consists of World-stuff, matter, and that Body is the Origin Reference for much of the Mind functions, and for the Ego which in turn is a reference, notably for binding Concepts. Questioning "Who am I ?" (not mere repletion but deep subjective fathoming) yields Liberation from the idea that there ever is an Ego–Individual.