Transcending the Ego goes deeper to more subtle mis–identifications than the obvious outward distortions of Pride, Arrogance, Vanity, Selfishness, & so on. Liberation from the very sense of being an Individual, from the very sense that there ever could be an Individual is more to the point.
Like the ancient teachings of the Vashista & Sage Ribhu, & Shankara, the more contemporary Ramana Maharshi taught dis–identification from the Ego as Atma Vichara, partially translatable as Self-Inquiry. Additional meanings & nuances would be included in terms like Self-Reflection, Self-Examination, Self-Investigation, or Self-Scrutiny of our fundamental & essential awareness “I exist” with concentrated power of attention.
When the illusory Ego–I cannot be found, then related terms like Ramana’s Atma Nishta, Self-Abidance or Shankara’s Sva-svarupa-anusandhana, Self-Attention indicate the Real “I”, Atman that remains in non-objective focus, like unseen Eyes that we know because we are seeing.
As in the 1st pamphlet published that contain containing Shri Ramana’s teachings “Who am I ?” is one indication of the direction of Atma Vichara, purely subjective or, or better yet, non–objective. “Whencc am I ?” or “Where does this sense of I arise ?”, (or not arise, in truth) indicate other aspects of the inner investigation.Since our seeking of Identity, Reality, Happiness is never-ending it can be truly said that all questions really come down to “Who am I ?”
When we attempt to turn our attention away from all objects & towards our fundamental awareness “I”, we are surrendering or denying our individual self, our Ego. At the same time investigating, seeking to find, probing the identity of the ego I, none is found but behind it as it were an all-around the true I the self is the only reality. In that sense Self-Inquiry serve to direct the attention from the objective to the more subjective, & ultimately to the fully “trans–subjective” Reality. More will be said in succeeding installments, but it is sufficient for the moment that we introduce one the several analogies classically used around the topic of Self-Inquiry.
The Analogy of the “Tree Stump Bandit” analogy utilizes the experience of rural country folk in a dangerous region with bandit or attackers of any kind who might be lurking in the dark forest to pounce upon a passerby. Wary of being caught the rural person might barely pick up the outline of tall tree stump, just vaguely in the corner of his eve, in blurry limits of peripheral vision. Glancing obliquely in the dim light, through fear, the rural person cannot clearly see the true nature of the Stump. Glancing obliquely in dulled discrimination & focus, through the Ego, the we cannot clearly see the true nature of the Self.
More light would help the traveler to recognize the Stump for what it is, not a bandit at all. More discriminating awareness would help us to recognize the Self for what it is, with no Ego at all. Reducing fear & attachment to a security that can yet never be guaranteed can attenuate tendencies to hallucinate. Reducing all self-concepts & attachments can further attenuate tendencies to identify the Self as the Ego.
Analyzing the actual likelihood of a bandit’s presence at that time & place can be helpful, to a limited extent. Analyzing the preposterous contradictions inherent in the Ego-idea can be helpful, to a limited extent.
Immediately helpful it would be to face the Stump directly & examine it without oblique peripheral vision. Immediately helpful it would be to directly inquire into the nature of the Ego to recognize its unreality & make it vanish.
Facing the fear, the “bandit” initiates best self-defense & is in the “same direction” needed to recognize the stump. Inquiring into the nature of the Ego initiates release of concepts & is in the “same subjective direction” needed to recognize the Self.
Specifically in term if the Body, looking with blinders, the apparent Body [only a jumble of perceptions of such] is taken, in a “side-long glance” to be a “marker”, a symbol for oneself. But in truth the Body is only an innocent “Tree-Stump”, an inert object. Instead of being the physical actualization of the “Bandit”, the Ego, this Tree-Stump Body is not a real Ego-thief, stealer of Happiness & producer of Suffering.
More light [Consciousness] would help the traveler to recognize the Stump for what it is, not a Bandit at all. More discriminating awareness [Discrimination] helps one to recognize that the Body is not a knower, a “thief”, & to recognize the Self for what it is, with no Ego at all. Inquiring into the nature of the Ego initiates release of concepts & is in the “same subjective direction” needed to recognize the Self.
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:
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“There is no Creation, no Destruction, no Bondage, no longing to be freed from Bondage, no striving for Liberation, nor anyone who has attained Liberation. Know that this to be Ultimate Truth.” – the “no creation” school of Gaudapada, Shankara, Ramana, Nome – Ajata Vada
for very succinct summary of the teaching & practice, see: www.ajatavada.com/