Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Non-Dual Viewpoint on mind, levels, vision

The following is a quote from Sri Lakshmana Swami, a realized devotee of Ramana Maharshi, from "No Mind - I Am The Self; The Lives and Teachings of Sri Lakshmana Swamy and Mathru Sri Sarada", (p.102-3) by David Godman. It seems relavent to many of the discussions here, particularly about the viewpoint of the non-dual realizer.

Question: What are the different stages or levels of the mind that one passes through before realising the Self?

Sri Lakshmana Swami: Mind is only thoughts. The more easily you can be without thoughts, the nearer you are to a direct experience of the Self. To make the mind die you must deprive it of thoughts. The effortless thought-free state is the highest level of practice.

There are no states or degrees of realization, there are only stages of spiritual practice. The final stage of sadhana is this effortless thought-free state. If this state can be maintained, then the "I" will sink into the Self and it will experience the bliss of the Self. These experiences are only temporary; the "I" will continue to reassert itself until the moment of realization. Realization can only happen in this effortless thought-free state, for it is only in this state that the Self can destroy the "I"-thought. The "I"-thought, which is the mind, must die completely before Self-Realization occurs.

Question: How is one to make the mind die?

Sri Lakshmana Swami: The mind can never eliminate itself without the grace of the Self. The mind is afraid of its own death; it will not do anything to endanger its own existence. It is like the theif who poses as a policement in order to catch himself because he ultimately wants to escape. SImilarly with the mind. The mind will engage in sadhana, thinking it wants to destroy itself, but as soon as the mind starts to sink into the Heart, a great fear arises which prevents the mind from completely subsiding. This fear is part of the mind's self-defence mechanism, and you will never overcome it by effort alone. It is because of this that you need the grace of the Guru. When you concentrate on the name and form of the Guru, or try to be without thoughts, the grace of the Guru calms the mind and helps it to overcome the fear which would otherwise prevent it from completely subsiding.

Question: Whyis it necessary for the mind to die?

Sri Lakshmana Swami: The mind must die, there is no other way to realize the Self. Some people say that complete equanimity of mind is Self-Realization, but this is not true. Thius is only a stage one passes through on the way to Self-Realizaiton. Other people say that seeing the Self or God everywhere is Self-Realization, but this is not true either. To see the Self everywhere there must be an "I" who sees, and while that "I" exists the mind will also exist. The jnani does not see anything because the seeing entity in him has died. In the Self, there is no seeing, only being. When the mind still exists one can reach a stage where one can see the whole world as a manifestation of the Self, but when the mind dies, there is no one who sees and no world to be seen.

If you have a mind then the earth, the sky, and the stars will exist, and you will be able to see them. When the mind dies there will be no earth, no sky, no stars, and no world. The world of objects, names, and forms is only the mind, and when the mind dies, the world dies with it. Only the Self then remains.

Seeing everything as the Self gives the impression that the Self is equally distributed everywhere. This is also an idea in the mind. When the mind finally dies you realize that there is no distribution and no everywhere.


Ravi said...

Excellent excerpt, thank you!


nandhi said...

profound and radiant wisdom of oneness that uplifts humanity's consciousness.


Anonymous said...

It is no doubt very attractive to hear such words as 'the mind dying', 'for the self-realized person there is no more sky, earth, etc. and the whole world to be seen' and the like. However, these statements have absolutely no basis in Vedanta as taught by the Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita and Shankaracharya. For, example, in His commentary to the Brahmasutra 4.1.19, Shankara establishes, by concordance and discordance logic, that the self-realized person will, by default, continue to have the vision of duality till the death of the body. After one is taught this by the traditional Acharyas, one finds it completely out of place to hear such things as 'the self-realized no more sees the world, the seer and the seen are no more there, etc.' In fact the entire Bhagavadgita teaching on the sthitaprajna, the man of steady wisdom, is based on the mind as it is set in the worldly scenario. When one hears such assertions as 'the mind dies', etc. they have no bearing on the Scriptural teachings, both explicit and implicit.

In case you have any comments to make on these observations, you are welcome.


Broken Yogi said...


Good to see you here, coming from David's blog.

I suppose your beef is with Lakshmana Swami, not me, but I think you are incorrect, and certainly going to far in stating that these things have absolutely no basis in Vedanta or tradition. Lakshmana is merely stating the viewpoint of the ajata vada, and is confirmed in this by Ramana, who says that while other vadas are meaningful and can be discussed, his own personal experience is only that of the ajata, and that he has no experience of being in a world of objects. So if Lakshmana is wrong about the experience of the Jnani, then so is Ramana.

But I also think you are misreading Shankara and the whole of the Vedantic tradition regarding ajata. Shakara makes it clear that, from the point of view of duality, the jnani continues to function as others, but from the jnani's point of view, there are no objects, no world, but only the Self. Guadapada concurs. I think this is in agreement with the whole of the Vedanta and Upanishads as well.

The distinction here is between the viewpoint of those observing the jnani, and the viewpoint of the jnani himself. We who see things dualistically see the jnani functioning dualistically and seeming to "see" and "experience" the world as we do, only with true freedom. However, from the jnani's point of view, none of that is the case. He is free entirely even from the illusion of a world, while yet seeming to function within it. He recognizes everything as it is, not as objects. So there is no sky, no mind, no birds. He knows there is no "thing" there to see, no world within which it appears. We do not, so we object to this sort of thing. It seems impossible and contradictory, because we are very attached to being bodies in a world. The jnani is not so attached, so he is free of that viewpoint.