The Topic from now until the end of February will be Atman-Atma vichAra, Self-Self-inquiry. All bloggers and visitors are invited to post quotations (indicating source), questions or short essays on this topic.
The immutable consciousness that the witness-self is, being reflected in the mind, and apparently limited by it, appears as the ego, the empirical self, which functions as the percipient.
The ego cannot be subjugated by one that takes it to be real. It is just like one’s own shadow. Imagine a man who does not know the truth of his shadow. He sees it following him persistently, and wants to get rid of it. He tries to run away from it, but it still follows him. He digs a deep pit and tries to bury it, filling up the pit; but the shadow comes to the top and again follows him. He can get rid of it only by looking away from it, at himself, the original of the shadow. Then the shadow will not worry him. The seekers of Deliverance are like the man in this parable. They fail to see that the ego is but a shadow of the Self. What they have to do is to turn away from it, towards the Self, of which it is the shadow.
Ramana Maharshi, quoted in Maha Yoga or The Upanishadic Lore in the Light of the Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, K. Lakshmana Sarma, Sri Ramanasramam, 1937. ISBN 978-81-88018-20-8. Buy from Amazon US, Buy from Amazon UK
Once the ego sees that it only seeks what it already knows, that its desires are conditioned and that its true desire is for permanent security and tranquility, it loses its dynamism to find itself in phenomenal things. Then what is behind the desire, the ego, the mind, is revealed. We are left in wonder and all dispersed activity dissolves in this wonderment.
The mind… will re-act from the past (in any situation in life), because whenever it is faced with something in the moment, in the now, in rush all these memories, all these experiences. And whether one likes it or not, it is a purely mechanical process; we may think we are in control, but that is entirely illusory. Thus, there is no fresh response, no appropriate action; it is always the memories and the past experiences that dictate the action, which is therefore not really an action at all but a re-action.
An action should have an actor (kartA). That means there should be someone to claim: “I am doing this”. Only humankind has this sense of agency, though all living beings naturally are active. Man is born as part of nature and lives as part of nature. But he does not realize his being an integral part of nature, and therefore is oblivious of the fact that his ability to know, ability of volition, and ability to do works are merely part of the creative function of nature. Because of this obliviousness he thinks he is the doer of all these actions. Such a man is called vimUDhAtmA (the stupefied one or the stupid). Only such stupid ones have the sense of agency and they alone have karma.
New – Topic of the month
We are beginning a new series (or at least seeing how it goes!)
This will aim to present frequent, specially chosen, short quotations on a different topic each month. Each blogger will aim to post several quotations and will be principally responsible for answering any questions which may arise from his or her post. It is not required that the poster agree with the post!
The title of each post will be of the format ‘Topic name – Post subject’ and will be accompanied by details of the source (‘Book title, author, ISBN’ or ‘teacher who said this and where’). Length of post will be no more than 200 words and sometime only a single sentence. I have generated a new category called ‘Topic of the month’. Please feel free to post comments with further suggestions.
The first topic is ‘Action’ and the first post will follow immediately.