NMT (No-Me Teaching) new series 3
Our Existence and our Consciousness of Existence are the same – both are expressed by the single phrase “I exist”. This Existence-Consciousness, “I exist”, is our fundamental experience – the essential Non-Dual Self-Consciousness. All that we know about the World depends on what we think about our self. But our knowledge about this “I” is confused. We all believe “I am the Body”. Thus we identify our Consciousness “I exist” with a particular Body. This identification is the result of a confused and unclear knowledge of the true nature of Consciousness. Our Consciousness “I exist” is not something material, whereas our Body is material.
hat which thus mistakes this Body to be “I” is our Mind. Our Mind comes into existence only by imagining itself to be a Body. In Deep Dreamless Sleep we are unaware of either our Mind or our Body. As soon as we wake up, our Mind rises feeling ‘I am this Body, I am so-and-so’, and only after thus identifying itself as a particular Body does it perceive the external World through the five senses of that Body.
Exactly the same thing happens in Dream – our Mind identifies itself as a particular Body and through the 5 senses of that Dream-Body it perceives a seemingly real and external “World”. When we wake up from a Dream, we understand that the Body we mistook to be “I” and the “World” we mistook to be real and external were both in fact only figments of our Imagination.
Thus from our experience in Dream we all know that our Mind has a wonderful power of Imagination by which it is able to create a Body, to mistake that imaginary Body to be “I”, and through that Body to project a World which, at the time we perceive it, appears to be every bit as real and external to us as the World that we now perceive in this Waking State.
Repeatedly offered direct advice regarding liberating meditation that began with focusing on, questioning, examining, even challenging this Ego “I”, this individual self.
Some more selections from a great Ramana Maharshi desciple:
Though the body is needed for sadhana, one should not identify with it. We should make good use of it, and look after it well, but we should not pay too much attention it.
There are so many thoughts in the Mind. Thought after thought after thought, they never stop. But there is one thought that is continuous, though it is mostly subconscious: “I am the Body.”’ This is the string on which all other thoughts are threaded. Once we identify ourselves with the Body by thinking this thought, Maya follows. It also follows that if we cease to identify ourselves with the body, Maya will not affect us any more. Maya is fundamentally non-existent. Bhagavan [Sri Ramana Maharshi] said that Maya literally means “that which is not”. It is unreal because everything that Maya produces is an outgrowth of a wrong idea. It is a consequence of taking something to be True that is not really True. How can something that is not real produce something that is real ? Something that does not exist cannot be the cause of suffering or of anything else.
Maya may appear to be real, to have a real existence, but this is a false appearance. The truth is: it is not real; it has no existence at all. To get rid of this “I am the body” feeling and of the Maya that is produced by it ? It goes when there is equanimity of outlook that leaves one unaffected by extreme opposites such as happiness and unhappiness, pleasure and pain. Then the idea “I am the body” is no longer present, and Maya is transcended.
By itself, this Body is inert and lifeless. Without the Mind, the Body cannot function. And how does the Mind function ? Through the 5 Senses that the Body provides.
If we want to go beyond the Body, beyond the Mind, we have to understand and fully accept that all the information the Senses provide is not real. Like the mirage that produces an illusory oasis in the desert, the Senses create the impression that there is a real World [RWOT] in front of us that is being perceived by the Mind. The apparent reality of the World is an Illusion. It is merely a misperception. When the Mind perceives a snake where in Reality there is only a rope, this is clearly a case of the Senses projecting an imaginary image onto a Real Substratum. This, on a large scale, is how the unreal appearance of the World is projected by the Mind and the Senses onto the underlying Reality of the Self. Once this happens, we see the Superimposition, the unreal names and forms we have created, and we forget about the Substratum, the reality that underlies them. Many examples are given – if‘ you see a carved wooden elephant, for example, at some point you forget that it is only wood. You see the form of the carving, and your mind gives that form the name “elephant”. While your mind is registering this name and this form, you are no longer registering the object as a block of wood. It is the same when you see jewelry made out of gold. You see a shape, call it a ring or a necklace. and you temporally forget what it is made of.
Self-Inquiry is the process by which attention is put on the Substratum instead of on the names and forms that are habitually imposed on it. Self is the Substratum out of which all things appear to manifest, and the jnani is the one who is continually aware of the Real Substratum. He is never deluded into believing that the names and forms that are perceived by the senses have any real existence. Whatever we see is unreal. It has no more reality than the objects we perceive in our dreams. We think we live in a real, materially substantial World, and that our Minds and Bodies are real entities that move around in it. When the Self is seen and known, all these ideas fade away and one is left with the knowledge: Self alone exists.
Self-Inquiry must be done continuously. It doesn’t work if you regard it as a part-time activity. You may be doing something that doesn’t hold your interest or attention, so you think, “I will do some Self-Inquiry instead”. This is never going to work. You may go 2 steps forward when you practice, but you go 5 steps backward when you stop your practice and go back to your worldly affairs. You must have a lifelong commitment to establish yourself in the Self. Your determination to succeed must be strong and firm, and it should manifest as continuous, not part-time effort. For many lifetimes you have been immersed in Ignorance. You are habituated to it. All your deeply rooted beliefs, all your patterns of behavior reinforce ignorance and strengthen the hold it has over you. This Ignorance is so strong, so deeply enmeshed in all your psychological structures, it takes a massive effort over a long period of time to break free from it. The habits and beliefs that sustain it have to be challenged again and again.
[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 ]