Mind & Happiness 37
Besides describing the means to attain Self-Knowledge by the use of terms that mean “Self-Attention” or “Self-Abidance”, Sri Ramana also described it by terms that mean “Self-Surrender” or “Self-Denial”. By using the latter terms, he affirmed that the ultimate aim of all forms of Dualistic Devotion – devotion to a God who is conceived as other than the devotee – is in fact the Non-Dual State of true Self-Knowledge.
In order to know our True Self, we must give up our identification with the false individual self that we now mistake to be “I”. Therefore, surrendering or denying our personal self – our Mind, which is our confused & distorted Consciousness “I am this Body, a person called so-&-so” – is essential if we are to know our true unadulterated Consciousness “I exist”, which is our Real Self.
Our individual self, which is the limited & distorted Consciousness that we call our “Mind” or “Ego”, & that in theological terminology is called our “soul“, nourishes its seeming existence by attending to things other than itself. When we cease attending to other things, as in sleep, our Mind or individual self subsides, but as soon as we begin to think of other things, it again rises & flourishes. Without thinking of things other than “I”, our Mind cannot stand. Therefore, when we attempt to turn our attention away from all objects & towards our fundamental Consciousness “I”, we are surrendering or denying our individual self, our Mind or Ego. Self-Attention or Self-Abidance is thus the perfect means to attain the state of “Self-Surrender” or “Self-Denial”.
This is why in verse 31 of Vivēkacūḍāmaṇi Sri Adi Sankara defines bhakti or “Devotion” as sva-svarūpa-anusandhāna or “Self-Attention”, the investigation or close inspection of our own true form or essential nature, which is our fundamental Self-Consciousness – our Non-Dual Consciousness of our own Existence, “I am”. Sri Ramana expresses the same truth in verse 15 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ, but at the same Time explains why it is so:
“Since God exists as ātmā [our essential “spirit” or Real Self], ātmaanusandhāna [Self-Investigation, Self-Inspection, or Self-Attention] is parama-īśa-bhakti [Supreme Devotion to God].”
He also expresses a similar idea in the 13th paragraph of his brief treatise Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I ?):
Being completely absorbed in ātma-niṣṭha [Self-Abidance, the State of just Existence as we really are], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than ātma-cintana [the thought of our own Real Self], is giving our self to God. […]”
People who practice Dualistic Devotion believe that the highest form of devotion to God – the purest form of Love – is to surrender our self wholly to Him. In order to surrender themselves to Him, they try to deny themselves by giving up their Attachment to all that they consider as “mine” & in particular by renouncing their own individual will. Thus the ultimate prayer of every true devotee is, “Thy Will be done – not my will, but only Thine”.
However, so long as the Mind exists, it will inevitably have a will of its own. Desire & Attachment are inherent in the Mind, the very fabric of which it is made. Therefore, so long as we feel our self to be an individual “I”, we will also have an individual will, & will feel a sense of Attachment to “mine”. The only way we can surrender our own will & give up all our Attachments is to surrender the Mind that has an individual will & feels Attachment to the Body & other possessions.
Trying to surrender our individual will & sense of “mine” – our desires & Attachments – without actually surrendering our Individuality, our Ego or sense of Existence as a separate “I”, is like cutting the leaves & branches off a tree without cutting its root. Until & unless we cut the root, the branches & leaves will continue sprouting again & again. Similarly, until & unless we surrender our Ego, the root of all our desires & Attachments, all our efforts to give up our desires & Attachments will fail, because they will continue to sprout again & again in one subtle form or another. Therefore Self-Surrender can be complete & final only when our individual self, the limited Consciousness that we call our “Mind” or “Ego”, is surrendered wholly.
So long as we feel that we exist as an Individual who is separate from God, we have not surrendered our self wholly to him. Though we are in truth only the pure, unlimited & non-personal Consciousness “I exist”, which is the spirit or true form of God, we feel that we are separate from Him because we mistake our self to be a limited individual Consciousness that has identified itself with a particular Body.
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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/