ēkātma vastu

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Ramana – Verse 5 of Ēkātma Pañcakam:

“That which always exists is only that ēkātma vastu [the one reality or substance, which is our own true self]. Since the ādi-guru at that time made that vastu to be known [only by] speaking without speaking, say, who can make it known [by] speaking?”

The word ēka means ‘one’, ātma means ‘self’, and vastu is the Sanskrit equivalent of the Tamil word poru, which means the absolute reality, substance or essence. Therefore the ēkātma vastu, which Sri Ramana declares to be eppōdum uḷḷadu, ‘that which always is’, is the one absolute reality or essential substance, which is our own true self. Continue reading

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the supreme word

Silence Tibetan Monk Walking

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“…which is absolute silence”

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My Comment:

As many of you know, I often post onto this blog what it is that I am currently studying for my own practice. I am currently immersing myself in this book:  Happiness and the Art of Being and the following excerpt may be a bit special and not everyone’s interest. If you find it  difficult reading due to all of the original quotes, at the bottom the author summarizes it in fluid language again. Check it out!

This passage is also particular to me since it is due to the term >>vastu<< used here that I was made aware of this book. I had seen Ramana refer to that term elsewhere but only cursorily.  I did a search and came across the term again in this book through books.google.com.

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from: Michael James, Happiness and the Art of Being 

The fact that ‘I’ and ‘am’ are the original and natural names of the absolute reality or God is stated emphatically by Sri Ramana in verses 712, 713, 714 and 715 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai:

“When meypporuḷ [the ‘real substance’, ‘true essence’ or absolute reality], which is called uḷḷam [the ‘heart’ or ‘core’], itself [seemingly] comes out and spreads gradually from the heart as consciousness [that is, when it seems to manifest outwardly as innumerable names and forms, which are actually just imaginary distortions of the one true formless and undivided consciousness ‘I am’, which is that ‘real substance’ itself], among the thousands of [sacred] names that are [attributed] to [this] uḷḷa-poruḷ [the ‘being-essence’ or absolute reality], know that when [we] scrutinise [we will discover that] ‘I’ indeed is the first [the original and foremost].”

“Since [together] with that ‘I’, which was previously [in the above verse] said to be the primary name [of the absolute reality or God], as its meypporuḷ-viḷakkam [the light which is its real essence] it [‘am’] always exists as ‘I am’ [in the heart of each one of us], that name ‘am’ also is [the primary name of the absolute reality or God].”

“Among the many names [attributed to God in all the different religions and languages of this world], which are thousandfold, no name has [such] real beauty [or] is [so] truly appropriate to kaḍavuḷ [God, who is kaḍandu-uḷḷavaṉ, ‘he who exists transcending’], who abides in [our] heart devoid of thought, like this name [‘I’ or ‘am’]. [That is, ‘I’ or ‘am’ is the most beautiful and truly appropriate name of God, because he exists in our heart as our naturally thought-free self-conscious being, ‘I am’.]”

“Among all [the names of God] that are known, only the [original, natural and true] name of God, [which is experienced] as ‘I [am] I’, will thunder [its sole supremacy] to those whose attention is selfward-facing, shining forth as the mauna-parā-vāk [the supreme word, which is absolute silence], filling the space of [their] heart, in which [their] ego has been annihilated.”

When we turn our attention self-wards and thereby experience ourself as we really are, our mind or ego will be annihilated, all duality will disappear, and in the thought-free space of our heart, which is the infinite space of being-consciousness-bliss, only our non-dual self-consciousness ‘I am’ will remain shining clearly in all its pristine purity. Since there is nothing to disturb the perfect peace of this experience of true self-knowledge, and since it reveals its own absolute reality more clearly than any spoken or written words could ever do, Sri Ramana describes it as the mauna-parā-vāk, the ‘supreme word’ or parā-vāk, which is absolute silence or mauna.

The power of the silent clarity of unadulterated self-consciousness to reveal itself as the absolute reality is expressed by Sri Ramana poetically in verse 5 of Ēkātma Pañcakam:

“That which always exists is only that ēkātma vastu [the one reality or substance, which is our own true self]. Since the ādi-guru at that time made that vastu to be known [only by] speaking without speaking, say, who can make it known [by] speaking?”

The word ēka means ‘one’, ātma means ‘self’, and vastu is the Sanskrit equivalent of the Tamil word poruḷ, which means the absolute reality, substance or essence. Therefore the ēkātma vastu, which Sri Ramana declares to be eppōdum uḷḷadu, ‘that which always is’, is the one absolute reality or essential substance, which is our own true self.

In the kaliveṇbā version of Ēkātma Pañcakam Sri Ramana added two more words to qualify uḷḷadu, which means ‘that which is’, namely taṉadu oḷiyāl, which mean ‘by its own light’. Thus he declared not only that the ēkātma vastu is the only thing that always exists, but also that it is ‘that which always exists by its own light’, that is, by its own light of non-dual self-consciousness, ‘I am’.

The compound word ādi-guru means the ‘original guru’, and is a term that denotes Sri Dakshinamurti, a form of God that symbolises the revelation of the absolute reality through silence, which is the ‘supreme word’ or parā-vāk, and which Sri Ramana describes poetically as ‘speaking without speaking’, that is, communicating the truth without thought or spoken words. Since the ēkātma vastu is our own thought-free and therefore absolutely silent self-conscious being, it can only reveal itself by shining within us silently and clearly as ‘I am I’, without the obstruction of any thoughts or words.

source: Michael James, Happiness and the Art of Being, An introduction to the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana PDF p. 266, 267

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Part II: happiness and the art of being

 

 

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My Comment:

In this further excerpt of the introduction to his book, the author includes the details of Ramana’s death experience that led to his realization of his true nature. Reading Ramana’s own words: “Although this body is lying lifeless as a corpse, I know that I am. Unaffected in the least by this death, my being is shining clearly.” it is clear that he saw his completely lifeless body lying on the floor and yet HE WAS: “…my being was shining clearly.” Thus it is clear that our own being is at all times ‘shining clearly’ completely independent of our physical body. It is the other way around: all objects are dependent on this ultimate Subject, which is like space – everywhere and nowhere at all times and not related to time at all. Enjoy!

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Michael James  – a further excerpt from the introduction to the book Happiness and the Art of Being:

All that I write in this book is what I have learnt and understood from the teachings of the sage known as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, who was one such extremely rare being who experienced the truth spontaneously without ever having heard or read anything about it. He spontaneously attained the experience of true self-knowledge one day in July 1896, when he was just a sixteen-year-old schoolboy. That day he was sitting alone in a room in his uncle’s house in the south Indian town of Madurai, when suddenly and with no apparent cause an intense fear of death arose within him. Instead of trying to put this fear out of his mind, as most of us would do, he decided to investigate and discover for himself the truth about death.

‘All right, death has come! What is death? What is it that dies? This body is going to die – let it die.’ Deciding thus, he lay down like a corpse, rigid and without breathing, and turned his mind inwards to discover what death would actually do to him. He later described the truth that dawned upon him at that moment as follows:

‘This body is dead. It will now be taken to the cremation ground, burnt, and reduced to ashes. But with the destruction of this body, am I also destroyed? Is this body really “I”? Although this body is lying lifeless as a corpse, I know that I am. Unaffected in the least by this death, my being is shining clearly. Therefore I am not this body which dies. I am the “I” which is indestructible. Of all things, I alone am the reality. This body is subject to death, but I, who transcend the body, am that which lives eternally. The death that came to this body cannot affect me.’

Although he described his experience of death in so many words, he explained that this truth actually dawned upon him in an instant, not as reasoning or verbalized thoughts, but as a direct experience, without the least action of mind. So intense was his fear and consequent urge to know the truth of death, that without actually thinking anything he turned his attention away from his rigid and lifeless body and towards the innermost core of his being – his essential, unadulterated and non-dual self consciousness ‘I am’. Because his attention was so keenly focused on his consciousness of being, the true nature of that being-consciousness revealed itself as a flash of direct and certain knowledge – knowledge that was so direct and certain that it could never be doubted.

Thus Sri Ramana discovered himself to be the pure transpersonal consciousness ‘I am’, which is the one, unlimited, undivided and non-dual whole, the only existing reality, the source and substance of all things, and the true self of every living being. This knowledge of his real nature destroyed in him for ever the sense of identification with the physical body – the feeling of being an individual person, a separate conscious entity confined within the limits of a particular time and place.

Along with this dawn of non-dual self-knowledge, the truth of everything else became clear to him. By knowing himself to be the infinite spirit, the fundamental consciousness ‘I am’, in which and through which all other things are known, he knew as an immediate experience how those other things appear and disappear in this essential consciousness. Thus he knew without the least doubt that everything that appears and disappears depends for its seeming existence upon this fundamental consciousness, which he knew to be his real self.

When reading some of the recorded accounts of his death experience, people often get the impression that when he lay down like a corpse, Sri Ramana merely simulated the signs of physical death. But he explained on several occasions that he did not merely simulate it, but actually underwent the experience of physical death at that time. Because he fixed his whole attention so firmly and intensely upon his non-dual consciousness of being, not only did his breathing cease, but his heart stopped beating, and all the other biological functions that indicate life also came to a standstill. Thus his body literally lay lifeless for about twenty minutes, until suddenly life surged through it once again, and his heartbeat and breath started to function as normal.

However, though life returned to his physical body, the person who had previously identified that body as ‘I’ was dead, having been destroyed forever by the clear light of true self-knowledge. But though he had died as an individual person, he had thereby been born again as the infinite spirit – the fundamental and unlimited consciousness of being, the non-dual selfconsciousness ‘I am’.

source: Michael James, Happiness and the Art of Being, An introduction to the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana PDF p. 15, 16

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Related post: Part I: happiness and the art of being

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Part I: happiness and the art of being

Chinese Characters – Love And Happiness by Joachim G Pinkawa

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My Comment:

I have been studying the teachings of Ramana since 1980 and they have continually brought me to a deeper and deeper understanding of our true nature. I came across this wonderful book by Michael James, in which he does a masterful job of introducing Ramana’s teaching to lay people – meaning those who may not be familiar with Hindu mythology, Vedanta scriptures and Sanskrit. Below is an excerpt from the introduction of his book.

Continue reading