[another Annamali Swami note]
for a while, the following will preface all these blogs – so please skip over if seen before]
In order to hint at how serious this Blog is, let the author unequivocally state that the Knowledge here imparted, none of it original, none to be credited to the author, that Knowledge is THE MOST VALUABLE treasure that exists. If hypothetically offered 100 Billion dollars to forgo this Knowledge, that offer or any other would be disregarded in the blink of an eye. Even with all the good that might be accomplished with $100B, this Knowledge is beyond the World & comes from beyond the Mind. This is no hyperbole.
Afterwards, the Self will take care of everything & you won’t have to worry about anything any more. In fact, you won’t be able to, because the Mind that previously did the worrying, the choosing & the discriminating will no longer be there. In that state you won’t need it & you won’t miss it.
[Michael James, Happiness & the Art of Being – comments on atma vichara “Self-Inquiry”]
A few of the terms which Sri Ramana used to describe the practice are “self-attention” atma vichara or “self-abidance” atma nishta. The 2nd word is atma vichara has various Sanskrit meanings, including “pondering, deliberation, consideration, reflection, examination, investigation” & in the Tamil Lexicon, it is defined it both as “\‘deliberation” or “consideration”, in the sense of “unbiased examination with a view to arriving at the Truth” or “investigation”. Therefore the term ātma-vicāra, which Sri Ramana frequently used to describe the practice by which we can attain Self-Knowledge means Self-Investigation or Self-Examination, & denotes the practice of examining, inspecting, or scrutinizing our fundamental & essential consciousness “I am” with a keen & concentrated power of attention.
Though the term ātma-vicāra can best be translated in English as Self-Investigation, Self-Examination, Self-Inspection, Self-Scrutiny, Self-Contemplation, or simply Self-Attention, in most English translations of Sri Ramana’s teachings it has been translated as Self-Inquiry. This choice of the English word Inquiry to translate vicāra has had unfortunate consequences, because it has created an impression in the minds of some people that ātma-vicāra, or the vicāra “Who am I ?” as Sri Ramana often called it, is merely a process of questioning or asking oneself “Who am I ?”
This is clearly a misinterpretation, because in Sanskrit the word vicāra means Inquiry in the sense of Investigation rather than in the sense of Questioning. When Sri Ramana spoke of the vicāra “Who am I ?” he did not intend it to imply that we can attain the Non-Dual experience of true Self-Knowledge simply by asking oneself the question “Who am I ?” The vicāra “Who am I ?” is an Investigation, Examination, or Scrutiny of our fundamental Consciousness “I am” because only by keenly Scrutinizing or Inspecting our Consciousness “I” can we discover who we really are – what this consciousness “I” actually is.
Perception analyzed with Qualified Non-Duality QND could be framed in terms of one interpretation of the Buddhist Skandhas which are traditionally discussed variously in other ways than what follows. The same holds for Dependent Origination which here is simplistically taken to mean: if A requires B for its existence, & B requires A, then by “dependent origination” neither independently or truly exists.
Letting Vision stand in for all the other Senses, with the understanding that the following can be applied to all of them, consider an Object of Visual Perception. That sense mechanism can never contact or verify the Object directly, being initially mediated by the Visual Form of the Object. Furthermore, what would be such a Form without an Object to which it applies, & what could be a Visual Object without the Form. Object & Form here are mutually-defining in the manner of Dependent Origination & thus neither is real in itself.
The Form in turn is detailed by the Perception signals, here light waves, Within Signal we include the entire chain of Neurophysiology to the mysterious point where constitutes primitive Thought & call it all the Perception. Perception & Form also exhibit Dependent Origination with neither independently real.
Interior to perceptual Neurophysiology, at early mental lever, Conceptual category is superimposed as in “this is a chair” – a radical editorial interpretation specific to the Perceiver. Like a biological Genus this generalization identifies the Perception as that of an Object generically identified as “chair” for instance. Concept & Perception exhibit Dependent Origination with neither independently real.
Like a biological species perceptual Discrimination mentally specifies “a red easy chair” for instance. This specification pinpoints somewhat within the Conceptual category, another subjective editorial interpretation. Discrimination & Concept exhibit Dependent Origination with neither independently real.
Finally Sense Thought Cognition registers, associates, & process the specified generalization but Cognition & Discrimination exhibit Dependent Origination with neither independently real. These 5 “skandhas”: Form, Perception, Concept, Discrimination, & Cognition have mediated Visual Perception of the Visual Object with Dependent Origination at the front end as well, between Form & Object. So too at the inner Subject, Dependent Origination applies to the Subject & the Cognition.
Thus 5 “skandhas” or steps in Visual Perception serially link Object & Subject by Dependent Origination with neither independently real. Consciousness illumines all that as an ephemeral reflection without establishing reality to any of it (UQND), or from another view (QND), without separation from any of it. In accord with UQND, Un-Qualified Non-Duality, pure, nondual Consciousness alone exists.
[The above themes & 1600 pages more are freely available as perused or downloaded PDF’s, the sole occupants of a Public Microsoft Skydrive “Public Folder” accessible through www.jpstiga.com ]