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    Back away from the enlightened guy… nothing to see here

    In January of ’06, my wife and and were in Mumbai, India (as if there’s another Mumbai you would confuse it with. “Does he mean Mumbai, Kentucky?”) for a friend’s wedding. And, btw, if you ever hava a chance to go to India I can’t recommend enough going for a wedding put on by a well-to-do Indian family. But that’s another story.

    Knowing that we’d be in Mumbai, a couple of big-time spiritual seeker friends (that is, they’re searching big-time and they’re well-known for doing it) said, “Oh, you must meet Ramesh Balsekar when you’re there… here’s his phone number.”

    Ramesh is a former president of the Bank of India who, for the last 20+ (maybe 30+) years has camped out in a chair in a corner of a room in his million-dollar flat and, at 9:00 am sharp (the only thing that started on time in India) taught/lectured to the mostly-Western seekers who squeeze into the tiny room.

    What does he teach? Well, he’s in the lineage of the Advaita (“not-two”) Vedanta teachers, Ramana Maharshi and Nisagardatta Maharaj, if that means anything to you. If not, perhaps what happened at the very end of the 3-hour meeting will ‘splain it.

    But before I get to that part, I want to tell you how weird it was to be crammed into a tiny room in downtown Mumbai with 30 people — some 1st timers and some who’ve been in the same room every day for months or years — who really wanted something that, they thought would make them happy finally. The weird part wasn’t all the wanting, it was that I’ve been in the exact same room in Boulder, in Santa Fe, in Marin in Boston, in… EVERYWHERE.

    I don’t know why I imagined that with a bona-fide “Indian spiritual teacher” in India would be different than what I’ve seen (and grown weary of) everywhere else I’ve travelled but, oh well, here it was again.

    So check this out. Ramesh starts out by saying, “If you believe that by becoming ‘enlightened’ you will become free of unpleasant experiences or emotions, you’re mistaken. You will not get special powers, your personality will not change to that of a saint, you will not become well-liked or loved, you will not live in some imagined state of bliss. You will get nothing. Nothing.”

    I laughed, thinking of all the times I nodded my head at the idea that spiritual growth or it’s goal, awakening, would give me ALL of what he just described (and how, after no longer nodding at that idea, I was happier than I ever was when I was on “the path” to get, well, happy). But nobody else was laughing. They were all deadly serious, as if they were waiting for Ramesh to become a California teenager and reveal that he was kidding with a big, “NOT!

    But Ramesh wasn’t kidding.

    Why didn’t everyone stand up and leave, I wondered. The only reason I stayed was I was curious to see how he followed this great take-away… and that I had come with someone who I saw was now ready for the teaching about how to get everything Ramesh said you wouldn’t get!

    Okay, so at the one hour mark, someone asked, “How did you come to this realization you have?” Ramesh replied, “Oh, I was born with the understanding of determinism in my blood.”

    I looked around the room again, to see if anyone really heard what he just said. The guy — the “teacher” — just said that he didn’t do anything to become whatever or whoever he is, that he was just born this way. It was his natural tendency, his innate something-or-other. Something that was completely out of his control. Again, I couldn’t for the life of my figure out why half the room didn’t stand up and leave — after all, if he did NOTHING to get what you think you want, why do you think you can do something to get it?

    Well, Ramesh is a pretty funny guy (though I seemed to be the only one laughing at the jokes), so I stuck with it.

    Finally, as things are about to wrap up, I said, “Can I try to sum up what you’ve been saying for the last few hours?” “Certainly,” Ramesh replied staring me down.”

    “Okay, there’s a thing you’re calling ‘enlightenment’ which you describe as the 100% complete conviction and understanding that there is no inherent ‘do-er’ in our life. That we are not the instigators of our thoughts and actions but, instead, we and everything about us is merely an expression of some un-name-able something which is all of existence.”

    He nods. I continue.

    “So, if there is no ‘person’ who is doing any thing, if we are not the causes but, instead, the effects… then there’s nothing we can do to make this understanding/awakening thing happen. No amount of meditating, no amount of spiritual practice, no amount of sitting here with Ramesh Balsekar will guarantee it happening, or accelerate when it happens. And no amount of not practicing or acting ‘non-spiritually’ will keep it away. If it’s going to happen, it’ll happen and if not, then not. And there’s nothing to do be done about it either way.”

    “YES! That’s it,” he laughed… and I laughed with him… but I looked around the room and nobody else was laughing. In fact, they all looked like they were thinking “If I could really understand that point, then that would lead to my enlightenment!”

    Oh, well.

    “If you want something to do while you’re waiting to see if it happens or not, I have something for you,” Ramesh offered to the group. “At the end of the day, sit down and relax — if you need a beer or two to relax, do that. Then think of something you did that day, something you know that you did, something where you know you had control over it… and then examine that carefully.”

    This is very similar to something I teach people to do (something I picked up from my friend Byron Katie). Take a look at all the things you do without any awareness at all? Did you consciously decide to put your arms or legs in that position? And if so, take a look at the thought that preceded your action? Did you make that thought happen? Were you sitting around doing nothing, and think, “Okay, I’ll have the thought about going to get some ice cream in … 5… 4… 3… 2… and NOW!” or did you just notice that you had the thought? Or notice that you must have had the thought because you now find yourself on the way to get some Chunky Monkey?

    If you force yourself to think about an elephant, did you consciously make it exactly that size, that color? Did you plan to put those rough hairs on the elephant’s feet (or had you not even thought about it until I said it, at which point it showed up, fully formed without any effort)?

    “Do this for about 30 minutes each night,” Ramesh suggested. And one day, you’ll be blinded by the total, complete understanding… and it’ll all be done.

    Oh, crap. When push comes to shove, even the guy who spent 3 hours (and 30+ years) saying there’s nothing to do that will get you where you think you want to go, gives something to do to get you there! Hmmm…

    As I was leaving, some of the “regulars” stopped me to say hello. “It was so nice to have you here. To hear someone laughing and bringing your energy; we’re glad you made it.” “Thanks,” I said, “it was fun.”

    “Are you coming back?” they asked.

    I was a bit shocked by the question.

    “Why? Didn’t you hear what he said? It’s all taken care of. No reason to come back or not come back. He’s a nice, smart, funny old guy, but I’m here for a wedding. I’ve got shopping and eating to do.”

    They looked like they kinda got what I was saying but couldn’t quite believe I’d pass up the oppurtunity to hang out with a guy who admits there’s no reason or benefit for hanging out with him.

    In fact, I noticed that while all the seekers where hanging out in the foyer, Ramesh was just wandering around the flat. So, I walked back to say hello and thank him for an entertaining morning. He gave me a big hug, showed me around the place, and we had a picture taken of the two of us. Cute old guy.

    BTW, did you notice the little bombshell Ramesh dropped (and I mentioned) about determinism? That’s his big thing. Not only is there nobody doing anything, but it’s all pre-determined. If you were supposed to become enlightened (or a good golfer, or the one who should be fighting with his spouse over money), then it will happen to you. It’s pre-determined so there’s nothing you can do about it. Once you understand that, he says, there’s on need for guilt or blame or shame because you’re all merely doing what God set you up to do.

    I won’t get into all the problems with this line of thinking, but I will point out 2 simple ones:

    First, if you’re not the one running your life, you don’t need some mega-being who is. Life can unfold with probabilities and chance and randomness just fine. It doesn’t need a universal map that accounts for the position of every particle over all time.

    Related to that is #2: If your life is merely the play of some pre-determined plan, then so are the lives of your parents, and their’s and so on and so on… follow that back long enough and you will either never find an initial cause, a moment that set everything else in motion… or you will conclude that there was one moment, BILLIONS of years ago, when the great Planner in the Sky decided what time this morning you would go to the toilet.

    While I find determinism a bit more close to my actual experience (especially when I notice that I did nothing to have the thought “Time to write about Ramesh now”), it’s also yet another belief I can nod my head at as a way to add some “meaning” to a life that is much more rich, fun, and full of possibilities without this theory.

    87 Responses to “Back away from the enlightened guy… nothing to see here”

    1. Tim Says:

      Mmm. Interesting account Steven. The ‘No-Doer’ thing is a bit of a mind blower. I think Katie summed it up well on one of her recordings ‘Non-Creation – Your Natural State’. Hearing this was the ‘clincher’ for me.

    2. Stacy Clark Says:

      Thank you, Steven. Good reminders and timely. I still forget sometimes. . . a lot.

      Also, I almost never admit to the web site about that book any more, but the one good thing about it is that for the most part, what it says is “you already are and here are some fun things you can do,” at least where I chimed in on that. There were 2 authors, of course.

      Love you thank you love me thank me.
      Stacy

    3. Tim Says:

      Hi Stacy,

      What’s the title of ‘that book’? If you don’t want to say so on this website, would you mind e-mailing me at timothyrowe at gmail dot com ?

      Thanks,
      Tim

    4. Stacy Clark Says:

      Hi Tim,

      *sigh* Either way or both.

      “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Sex Goddess.”

      Stacy

    5. Brian Adler Says:

      I love this post…As I was telling you b4, I see this “process” of being “de-programmed” very analagous to (and not a bit more or less profound) the eventual deprogramming that Evangelicals or other religious “believers” experience…Cest La Vie…

    6. Stacy Says:

      Okay, so a couple of close friends have taken Brahmacharya vows with Swami Vishwananda. I saw them yesterday. It was a pretty good contact high around them. Swami was one of the deepest “contact highs” I’ve ever had. Call it darshan, if you want.

      So, when I’m around others who seemingly, as I understand it have access to Briatic, non-dual consciousness, especially those whose access is hmm… more steady than my own seems to be, well, mine deepens. Isn’t that one of the functions of a teacher?

      Or… what might be the function of a teacher?

      I find it impossible in a certain sense to say we don’t need teachers/gurus/rabbis, whatever we’re calling them in this culture, and at the same time I see that they are another err… drug is the word I used when talking to my roommate this morning. Drug, as in something seemingly outside ourselves that seemingly points us back into ourselves … until we know we are reliably already there?

      Something like that.

      How do I use a teacher without losing myself and thinking “they” “did” “it?”

      I’d love to see a post in answer to this … sort of query. I’m asking and I’m not. I kinda know the answer.

      So, hey teach!

      What is the proper function of a teacher?

      I think there is one. Don’t you? You sit in front of a classroom and teach. Can you tell me more about that?

      Love,
      Stacy Clark
      Boulder, CO

    7. sashen Says:

      Here’s the quickest antidote I know to “the teacher did it” : Take a look around the room and see the number of people for whom the teacher didn’t “do it.” 😉 I have an upcoming post about the success rate of one of the most accomplished teachers in history (let’s just say it’s not good).

      What if it was your presence that brought out in the teacher whatever it was that *seemed* to do it to you? (not saying it’s true, just asking “what if?”).

      What if it the teacher’s “presense” merely gave you the ability to access something that was already available, but you simply hadn’t noticed?

      What if *your story* about the teacher and his/her presence allowed you to find this aspect of yourself?

      Proper function of a teacher? No clue. And, no doubt every seeming teacher (or seeming student) has an answer based on their own agenda.

      For me, since don’t have idea that “my teachings” lead to some imagined future goal, and the only reason I talk to groups of people is that it’s really fun for me to do it and people keep asking me to continue. (If it weren’t fun, or if not-talking were more fun, or if people didn’t ask, it would all be over and I’d get a job at Quizno’s).

      So, when the opportunity to talk to others presents itself, what’s interesting to me is to: a) find the clearest way to communicate a point, or; b) create the highest probability that the other(s) might experience what I’m describing.

      Here’s the real twist: I can’t rely on the feedback of others to let me know if I’ve done it “correctly.” If I’ve done the best I can, the rest is none of my business. And using the feedback from others to determine if I’ve done the best I can is, at best, tricky.

      So, when I’m teaching the Instant Advanced Meditations, I present the instruction in the most lucid manner I can think of at that moment. Some people will be affected, and others not-so-much. Either way, my job the next time is the same: given my understanding in that moment, communicate as clearly and accurately as I can.

      … and then go out for Thai food.

    8. Stacy Says:

      Thank you, Steven. That was fun.

      You mention your Instant Advanced Meditations. When are you going to be teaching that class again?

      Love,
      Stacy

    9. Ron G. Says:

      I do not claim that this settles the determinism debate, but it needs to be pointed out that the “free will” dillema depends upon a preposterous distinction between oneself and the universe. I’m not talking about the sense of separateness or experience of oneness, although those experiences may revolve around the same distinction as it operates unconsciously. No, in plain old ordinary conscous deliberate thinking about the issue, it is absurd to make a distinction between oneself and the universe or reality or even the environment. To do so is to propose that one’s existence depends upon not existing, being distinct from reality. Without that irrational belief, the thought that ones activities are the product of the sum total of the forces and laws of the universe presents no problem whatsoever. You are the universe and the universe is you. There is not a hint of conflict between the doctrine of determinism and your geuine agency. So you can continue making all of your little decisions, and even some big ones, and doing your best to satisfy your desires and observe that it is all the dance of what’s-her-name simultaneously. No problem here folks. Keep it moving.

    10. N K Srinivasan Says:

      Dear Friend,
      Ramesh Balsekar is quite confused….Self-effort is required for realization/nirvana thing—without self-effort one could waste his/her time or go off tangent in life….Self-will is part of any spiritual practice….But since the path is difficult and the methods complex, one cannot say ‘when’ one would reasonably reach the goal…For some ,some critical experience may trigger a thought and the goal may be reached in a few days…for many it may take years—-no guru or saint can fix a time-limit or foresee when a person,his disciple, will attain the goal….much depends on the sincerity of the seeker after Truth or SAT in Indian terminology……In that respect, the end result or the time it takes depends on several factors and is largely unknown[previous latent impressions or samskaras]…”Make your effort—-if you are sincere, the right Guru will be sent to you and in good time you will reach the goal”–this is the Hindu position on this matter…..
      Ramesh, I believe, wants to make it sound simple and easy and effortless, to attract people….If the formal Guru says :”It will normally take 12 years to reach the state of enlightenment’, how many will follow him? The other extreme of some guru’s saying that they take the responsibility for your realization is also equally wrong…Lord Buddha told as final words before leaving the earth: Be a lamp unto yourself” —- no truer words were spoken than this.
      Regards
      Srinivasan Nenmeli K [ Ph D Columbia 1972]

    11. sashen Says:

      Hi N K,

      I’m not going to suggest that Ramesh is correct, but you may notice that your theory can only be proven by hindsight.

      Without a way to measure the seeming obstacles (e.g. samskaras) or the application of the techniques (how can we measure effort, or the depth of one’s meditation?), we have no way to empirically demonstrate whether effort is or isn’t required for any particular attainment.

      AFTER someone lays claim to some attainment, they may say, ”Ah, it was only after X amount of time, or Y amount of effort, or Z amount of clearing karmic effects that I finally got *here*.” But, humans are notoriously bad at identifying causes for complex effects. Perhaps there was some other, overlooked, cause. Perhaps there were non-linear, or random, factors involved.

      Perhaps there were non-reproduceable external conditions involved, so that even had the person relived his/her entire life identically, the same results would not have occurred.

      I’ve never heard anyone say, ”Oh, I’m 1 gram of effort, 2 samskaras, and 3 cheeseburgers away from Nirvana”… and then demonstrated they were correct.

      I agree with the Buddha’s admonition. Often the light from our own lamps reveals gaping logical holes in well-accepted theories.

      -SS

    12. N K Srinivsan Says:

      Hi Sashen,
      I agree with you that most of the spiritual literature is built on hind-sight only—by studying the lives [hagiography] with all facts and fiction mixed up—be it the spirtual attainments of Sri Ramakrishna, Bhagwan Ramana, St theresa of Lisieux, Brother Lawrence or St John of the Cross, Jallauddin Rumi and so on…No one can say ,at the outset, that such a person would become a saint in future or in the next few years….the same is true of so-called self-realized masters in current circulation….It is easy to get self-illusioned and cause illusion among the followers…..

    13. sashen Says:

      Agreed…

      The small number of peoeple you can put on the “attained” list, compared with the vast number of “attempt-ers”, seems like meaningful data in itself 😉

      -S

    14. Norman Mitchell-Babbitt Says:

      Steven, I just came upon your writing and it made me laugh out loud. I gave up on “getting somewhere”. I do enjoy reading the “advaita” stuff. I have a particular love for Nathan Gill, Jan Kersschot, Tony Parsons and Jeff Foster, who all emphasize that it’s not about predestination or no predestination, free will or no free will, and choice or no choice, but there, actually, being “nobody there” to have or not have free will or choice, etc. Something in this apparent “me” whom I still have quite an identified experience of, just loves, loves, and loves not being a solid entity. I no longer believe in spiritualy as “special states”. To me, my fellow office clerks are just as much the “ONE” as myself or Nathan Gill or Jesus or whomever. That’s another aspect of non-duality I love: there is no “holier than thou” and that appearances (hamburgers, noise and cow poo) are none other than the ONE (the silence, vegen food and Ram Dass (no offence to Ram Dass). I also have the crazy idea that everything and everyone as is is “God” incarnate, the “ONE” expressing as Gandhi or Hitler or a toothache and root canal treatment (and I’ve had quite a few root canals, even recently, though I never personally met Gandhi or Hitler–not that I would really would have wanted to). So it all is a farce really, though ingeniously inspired it seems to this non-entity with the name of Norman. To me, the loggers and the “tree-huggers” are both the “ONE”, though I certainly more identify with the “tree-huggers” by far. Liberation is because what is, simply is. So as no-one appearing as someone writing this response to no-one appearing as a number of others reading this response, I bid you all a fond goodbye for now. Blessings!

    15. Avasa Says:

      When the action of seeking ceases to arise there is Oneness.
      No one reamins but the One, the All.
      Nothing that an imagined separate objective figure does is being done by what is believed to be a doer and as such cannot bring about the absence of the concept that it has of itself of its own volition.
      When this that has been worded enlightenment happens the concept of being someone is no more.
      This is and was always, already the case.
      There is nothing to do and no one to not do anything.
      Love Avasa

    16. sashen Says:

      “Oneness” is just a concept.

      “All” is just a concept.

      “Enlightenment” is just a concept.

      “Someone” (whether that someone “is” or “is no more”) is just a concept.

      “Doing” is just a concept.

      Other than that, I TOTALLY agree with you! 😉

      -S

      (Oh, and “Concept” is just a concept.)

    17. shakti Says:

      yup, sashen! it is all a concept what one writes, but i guess if attention does not remain on the verbal level it is possible to see what is pointed by the words isn’it? :-))

      love
      shakti

    18. A Says:

      Hi S,
      I read ur account and views about Ramesh and his teachings during your visit to India. And I agree to a certain extent with you, as you are always left with a question in your mind…If the day of my mmmmm, Enlightment or Realization or Whatever u call it, is predetermined, what to do now and don’t I have any contribution to do today and meanwhile??? Yes, I asked the same to Ramesh last Tuesday (3rd July 2007) and he replied, “Yes”, and further explained me…
      So the Concept of “Cosmic Plan” with the Concept of “Non-doership” without ignoring the Management Gurus of “Giving The Best We Can”…the Understanding lies in getting fine tuned to this Pyramid of Wisdom…How??? Its a matter of personal choice and exploration !!!
      Regards,
      A

    19. sashen Says:

      Hi A,

      LOL … So, it’s all planned and non-personal and determined EXCEPT our choice to get on the ride or not?

      hmmmm….

      😉

    20. biren shah Says:

      [bold]to avasa:[bold]

    21. biren shah Says:

      To Avasa:
      i particularly got caught up with the following words in what you said –
      “When the action of seeking ceases to arise there is Oneness.”

      what i notice is, you say ‘seeking ceases to arise’… which to me, means that it will cease when it will… not by MY will.
      so… enlightenement will happen when it will… not by my WILL…
      in that case, un-enlightenment is as much an experience i am supposed to enjoy, as enlightenment – just as sashen says (am i right, there, ss?)
      and so… then why all this clamour for enlightenment?

      and personally, i love to see the birds and ocean and mountains.
      and if enlightenment will make me and the bird and the mountain a common, same, blob of some non-matter matter… what is left to experience?

      to shakti:
      but if everything IS one… words and there meaning and the roads they point to are all one. so its the same to look at the words or to the moon they point to.
      and if this seeming duality is of this ‘plane’ – the difference in words and the moon they point to… then it tells me that ‘enlightenment’ / oneness is a helpless thing, banking on the power of duality, where it needs words to point at itself.
      no words to point… no moon… no enlightenment.

      yes… i AM using and twisting words…
      to show that with words, we have stories… and only stories.
      they loop back into the loop.
      talk about anything and it is lost – because everything is experience.
      words can generate an experience, yes. but when they talk ‘about’ that experience… words in; experience out.

      don’t you think so?

    22. biren shah Says:

      sorry!
      i thought, i seem convoluted above, and so talking gibberish…
      so this thought came up…
      words, and every tool we have to look ‘outside’ is focus oriented… definitive… like a convex lens.
      have you looked at a long road… it tapers into a point – thats what sight is.
      we have the ability to ‘not hear’ disturbing or background sound…
      words… they define. thtas their work…

      but inside, the feeling sensations are expansive. like a concave lens. look inside and things axpand.
      life is also about expansion. life started as single celled bacteria… expanding into the ever increasing complexity of us humans.

      so. simple theorem of life.
      looking ‘outside’ restricts life… or life-flow, if you will…
      inside… expansion.
      and understanding of life and flow of life.

      i would rather flow with my life where it wants to go, rather than look outside, ‘think’ on my own based on the ‘restrictive’ data… and fight life.
      life wins. everytime.

      its like life is cycling away. i can either sit back and ip a coke and enjoy the ride.
      or i can see where it is flowing/ going, and padle with it.
      but i would not want to look outside, ‘see’ something better and paddle in another direction opposite to where life wants to go.

    23. sashen Says:

      enlightenment/un-enlightenment … same thing. no thing.

    24. Ashish CHole Says:

      I was in mumbai for 2 years…..working with some company…
      There i came to know about Ramesh Balsekar….
      In the month of Jan 07 I happend to be at Ramesh’s Home.
      Ever morning at 9 Am Ramesh use to talk to people….
      I had been there at his home for many times….almost on every weekend…
      It was a Great to listen him…he is now 90 year old…but so kind,humble,funny
      It was a Great Learning….!!!!
      Now i had left Mumbai…
      I am Missing him…

      Missing u Ramesh!!!!

      Ashish Chole
      +91 9923 2627 95

    25. Budd Says:

      “Nothing to do”, action without action, wei wu wei…

      From “Consciousness Speaks”

      Disciple: Isn’t there a paradox in the realization that we have no volition? You see that you don’t have any freedom, yet you feel very free.

      Ramesh Balsekar: “Yes! That is the point! Precisely. It is a paradox, but when the sense of freedom arises with a truly deep conviction, it is enormous, it is fantastic, truly enormous! It doesn’t prevent you from doing anything, it doesn’t prevent you from not doing anything. Actually it is the other way around. You neither do anything nor do you not do anything. What happens is not inaction. It is neither action nor inaction. What happens with that sense of “I am not the doer” is non-volitional non-doing, spontaneous action which is merely witnessed.”

      “As there is no self, there is no transmigration of self, but there are deeds and continued effects of deeds. There are deeds being done, but there is no doer. There is no entity that migrates, no self is transferred from one place to another, but there is a voice attuned there, and the echo of it comes back.”
      Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha

      Or in the words of another great master:

      There is neither creation nor destruction
      Neither destiny nor free will
      Neither path nor achievement
      This is the final truth. – Ramana Maharshi

      And this is all that Balsekar is saying.

    26. sashen Says:

      Ramesh talks to people for about 3 hours every day, and has done so for many, many years.

      He says more than just that 😉

    27. david fields Says:

      actually, to his credit, Ramesh says a whole lot Less than what you obviously think. and he would be the first to agree that life would be a lot more “rich, fun, and full of possibilities” for you, if you just didn’t have any concepts at all. so go ahead, clever one. just for this one day…drop all your concepts. go ahead. just do it…

      hmmm? i wonder what you did wrong…

    28. sashen Says:

      Hi David,

      Since any concept that arises did not happen as a result of some self-generated action, any concept that doesn’t arise, similarly, does not not-arise by self-generated action. So, there’s no one to drop or hold a concept and, therefore, no problem with the seeming arising or seeming lack of arising (which is actually the arising of a thought about a non-arising concept).

      Given all that, I’m not sure who the “you” is that you refer to who could do anything wrong (or right).

    29. Bruce Says:

      “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (90%), the courage to change the things I can (10%), and the wisdom to know the difference.”
      ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

      I don’t think we are all robots. We do have a say, even if it’s only 10%.

    30. sashen Says:

      Grant me the psychic powers to know, in advance, which is the 10%

      😉

    31. david fields Says:

      Hey Steven, thanks for your response. I like your website, by the way. I was having fun with you, is all. I’ve had so much joy with Ramesh over the years. He’s really tried to simply it. There is always and inevitably much contradiction when it comes to language, and our attempts at using it, to point to what is ultimately indescribable. Ramesh does a pretty good job. The agency of doership is dissolved, or seen through, with Understanding. That’s pretty simple. But it’s terribly difficult to really grasp it until it is made, somehow, obvious. The Gita, the Upanishads, Ramana, Buddha, Nisargadatta, they all point to it, but still it gets so confused. Whether it takes effort, or not, or whatever, this idea of nondoership is none-the-less a very tough sell for the mind. Thanks so much for your heart.

    32. sashen Says:

      Hey David,

      Happy to be had fun with 😉

      The non-doer concept is one that people have a tricky time with (I’m not saying it’s true or not; just exploring this aspect).

      In fact, cognitive psych researchers for decades have been doing experiments that lead them to suggest that all our “doing” is happening non-consciously and that conscious thought is merely a reporting (a made up story, often) of what has already happened. They then usually say, “But that suggests we have no free will… and that can’t be true!” (e.g. in “A Mind of It’s Own”)

      One book that does “go all the way,” as it were is “The User Illusion.” The very title suggests that Tor Norretranders, the author, leans in the direction of “there ain’t nobody running this ship, even though it seems like it.”

      All that said, I don’t think the language is that difficult. I think it’s VERY do-able to point to something for which we don’t have a good word or is difficult to pin down with familiar language. The trick is this:

      Don’t take shortcuts. Use a sentence that clearly indicates it’s metaphoric or a pointer rather than resorting to using words that are already loaded with meaning and trying to redefine them.

      For example, Ramesh uses “Consciousness” for “the underlying non-thing that permeates, animates and manifests as all things.”

      Giving it ANY name means you’ll have to correct yourself later and say, “Well, it’s not really a THING.”

      And “consciousness” comes full of connotation that people can’t shake, including their own experience of being self-aware, having moments that are “more” conscious than others, having times we’re un-conscious, feeling that it’s something personal, etc.

      There’s a reason that in Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism there are teachings about referring to the ultimate as “neti, neti, neti” (not this, not this, not this) rather than as any thing. 😉

    33. david fields Says:

      Hey Steven, I hear you about concepts. Some work better than others.

      Consciousness is definitely one of those terms that can be defined in so many different ways. However, i think i get his logic. Ramesh uses “consciousness” as a way of pointing to the one primary source of everything, with the intent of helping us collapse our notions of duality, and thus our judgments. As you know so well, our minds tend to see everything in terms of this or that. Good or bad etc. The idea that everything is consciousness suddenly opens everything up, and a great deal of inner conflict subsides in the seeing, if we can see. But, of course, as a concept, it can’t say everything.

      I think, perhaps, Ramesh steers away from the neti neti concept as his primary tool because it’s so stark. i’ve noticed over the years that he’s certainly willing to drop certain concepts in favor of others that might be more effective. He used to describe the individual as basically nothing more than a computer, or robot. You can imagine how people responded to this! They fought it tooth and nail. And, in a way, it is problematic. Because at least in terms of our experience, we do make creative and novel choices, different in this regard from say, a plant, or an animal. But again, he was pointing to a more basic level. At any rate, he doesn’t use those terms very much anymore. Yet he’s always pointing to the idea that there is nobody to actually do anything. And he tries constantly to get people to really see this for themselves. Buddhism, also, i don’t believe uses neti neti as a pointer. The Buddha does, however, point to the insubstantial nature of the “I”, which is another way of saying “no doer”, or “not this. not that”.

      So, here’s the jist: I think the mind will eventually fight with any idea that threatens its sovereignty. and neti neti, and non doership, both these concepts if seriously addressed, go right into the heart of the matter. Either one can cause us to question the whole issue of just who or what is in charge here. I came upon Ramesh’s teachings after decades of inner work. It was not a big leap in this case to see the insubstantial nature of the “I”. So, you know, one tends to feel gratitude for the instrument that delivers the final blow. Through meditation, and life in general, i was already questioning the whole show. I had, mainly out of curiosity, sat with other Advaita teachers as well. But for the most part, I didn’t find what I would call real clarity. Always, with other teachings, there was the idea that one could actually “do” something to Realize. This simply didn’t jive with my experience. I had done. and done. and done. And I was tired. And I was sensing the futility, at least at this point in the game, of personal effort. After I met Ramesh, and heard what he was saying, I realized that virtually every concept he used, was really not new. It was at the ground of all the great teachings. I had read the Gita for years. And Ashtavakra, which is a beautiful teaching on nonduality. And the Bible. It just so happens that it took sitting with Ramesh to drive the essence of these teachings home.

      By the way, it might have been seeing the “anti-guru blog” that got me to respond here in the first place. And, of course, the fact that you had met Ramesh. I felt like speaking up, and it sounded from the feel of your conversations that we could actually have an interesting dialogue. I also noticed on your site that you’re close to Katie. My wife and I met her once at a bookstore some years back. She also, with just a few pointed sentences to me, caused a great relaxation. It was amazing.

    34. sashen Says:

      When I met Ramesh he was using the robot metaphor… nobody seemed to have a problem with it. And, the point of that metaphor, an his suggested practice, is that our experience is misleading. Yes, we SEEM to make choices, but if we look carefully, the initial thought/impulse leading to those choices is not a conscious event.

      I’m not sure about “the mind will eventually fight with any idea…” Buddhism, both Theravada and Tibetan, lay out very simple, logical arguments for the lack of an existing “I,” or a thing called “mind.” And one can get to the end of, and see the validity of those arguments quite easily and without a fight.

      I do agree that anyone who points out the non-causal nature of something like a new realization or discovery is doing a great service, if for nothing else than to counter our familiar notion that we can volitionally control and create anything and everything we want.

      And, you’re probably right, we *would* have an interesting chat… my number is all over my website 😉

    35. Rajiv Grover Says:

      I came up on your site by accident and smiled as I read through it . I have read Maharaj & Balsekar’s works and find them quite interesting and revealing. However I enjoy your response to them .Keep going , you never the light might shine through you……..

    36. Raja Says:

      Hello there

      i have read his books . And i am a kind of agree with you. i dont think ramesh balsekar has quite got it, this thing with enlightenment. he says a lot of things that does not make any sens.
      I know people that really knows what God is. But not Ramesh.

      Thanks

    37. spider Says:

      steven, interesting website. i see you endorse The Work. don’t you think BK shows some guru-like and cultish behaviour?

    38. sashen Says:

      Hola Spider,

      a) To answer your question accurately (especially with the Yes/No that your question asks for), you’ll have to tell me how you define “guru-like” and “cultish” for me. Lots of different people have lots of different definitions for those concepts… some are so different that the same question could elicit a Yes for one connotation and a No for another.

      b) Self-inquiry in the style of The Work doesn’t require BK, so whatever she or her organization may do is separate from the process of investigating one’s thinking.

      -S

    39. Donna Elaine Says:

      interesting. I’m not sure how i landed on this site but decided to write my little blurb. For me the idea of determinism is as about confusing as the idea of it’s multi-layered alternatives. The mind always wants to seek to know and understand it seems. Programs that are set in genetically are pretty determisitic (not sure if that’s a proper word) other than that i have spent/wasted so many years in pursuit of this ellusive enlightenment and understanding. Just when i get a tidbit of enlightenment i discover that there’s even more blanks. Searching is one of the biggest distractions i’ve known. When i finally discovered to just sit back inside myself and appreciate and be thankful for what i have and feel that thankfulness of spirit within me that’s turned out to be the greatest bliss i’ve known. And i chased the dogs tail all the way around india and elsewhere trying to realize that until i gave up and went inside to feel what i was inside, like Dorothy of the wizard of oz said, I was home all along. No one could teach me to do that. I had spent my life feeling the persuit and feeling the drive of needing something, some answers,,,, needing to maybe walk on water as a goal to enlightenment, or at least turning water into money would have been a good enlightenment indication for me. It all seems so funny now when i look back at it.

      One of the big problems i’ve seen, in hindsight, is that the non-advaita teachers are like any others who offer large amounts of truths peppered with just enough tail chasing tidbits (and in some cases some downright contradictions to their previous statements) that ensure that the seeker will be ever seeking and sufficiently distracted and confused. The idea of being *one* has some truths in it,,, and at the same time there is quite obviously dualism all around. Trying to deny that has often set a person into quite an amount of denial of ‘what is.’ Trying to find the truths behind it all has really only come for me after i stopped searching and started feeling within — feeling a thankful spirit, a joyful appreciative heart and stopping my whining and wishing for things to be other than what they are — or for me to be other than what i am. etc. Now i don’t care if i’m enlightened or not and in doing so i’m more free to actually feel some joy. Isn’t that bliss pursuit supposed to be one of the big goals afterall? It’s a much easier life now.

      Pre-determined versus non-determined? It’s a time wasting irrelevent argument for me, and only relevent in that it has taught me not to waste time over something so irrelevent. These kinds of questions take me out of myself, so to speak, and that is exactly what their designed to do… to keep a person in the dark, out of their own inner spirit of feelings and truths and ever seeking, seeking, seeking.

    40. sashen Says:

      Hi Donna,

      Well, welcome home, Dorothy 😉

    41. Trasi Says:

      Hi all,

      The problem is that Ramesh is really not telling anything other than his own concept of creation enlightenment etc. He says there is no individual doer, only spontaneous action accompanied by a false sense of doership. This gives rise to a sense of reponsibility, guilt etc. for the action performed. Once we realize there is no doer, the sense of guilt vanishes (or is supposed to vanish) accompanioed by a feeling of great relief. He further transfers any residual burden of responsibility on to a hypothetical God who programmed the universe at the start, without proving the existance of such a being.. His notion of Realization thus restricts itself to relief from the complexes people suffer and not from pure physical suffering, sickness and the like.
      This is in conflict with the classical concept of enlightenment (even according to the Buddha), as being freedom from pain and suffering. Anyone who is sincerely seeking enlightenment from the classical standpoint will suddenly feel a sense of relief when told that what s/he is searching for so frantically does not exist and enlightenment consists in knowing there is no one to be enlightened. This sudden sense of relief is itself taken to be realization. In reality therefore, what Ramesh is offering and what the seeker is seeking are different. There is a difference between those who believe they are realized and those who are genuinely realized. These are time tested experiences borne out by several enlightened sages. Any one who is claiming to have a new theory or concept heretofore not discovered is likely to be fallible. I apologize if I ahve hurt the feelings of any genuine seekers or others who might have felt they “Got it”. If you are sincere to yourself and impartially analyze within yourself whether what you have got is the “real thing” and continue to feel so after the analysis, then you could be genuinely enlightened otherwise not.

    42. Bala Says:

      This is Mankind’s problem. We talk a lot about what needs to be felt and experienced. Its immaterial if Ramesh is right or wrong, but can we for a change allow the senses to open up and feel it.

    43. Jeff Says:

      Steven: You obviously don’t “get it”; but the cosmic law probably never intended that you’d be able to understand it, anyway! Nevertheless, it’s too bad that just because you don’t grasp the essence of his message that you find joy in slamming this old “enlightened guy”. Oh well, you probably may even believe that it makes you happy to do so. Good luck! Jeff

    44. sashen Says:

      Hi Jeff,

      I’m fascinated by comments suggesting that I’m “slamming” someone… I’m sure you realize that you would only perceive it that way if you had a differing opinion of Ramesh than the one you think I have. If, for example, you thought Ramesh was a total phony, you would say I was doing something “positive” by “criticizing” him.

      That said, “joy” or “happiness” aren’t experiences I had when I wrote this story, nor when I think about it now. In fact, I find it a bit disappointing, mostly because I was expecting something more than such a simple inconsistency: Nothing to do to get there… now go do this and you’ll get there.

      Not sure what I need luck for, but thanks for your good wishes.

    45. Mira Prabhu Says:

      Hi Steve,

      Pity you had such a negative impression. A lot of Americans in particular seem to have problems understanding that the “guru” tells you what you need to hear. You sound well-informed, and a developed and educated intellect can be the biggest obstacle to getting anything from someone like him. It’s even more of a pity that yuo thought to publish such a view to people who now will never get to see him in person because of your views. Since you are so well-informed, you should know that the chemistry between guru and disciple varies infinitely. Study emptiness in the Tibetan Buddhist Mahayana tradition for instance–we see and hear what we see and hear and invariably get what we deserve. Obviously you didn’t deserve much more that what you did get. And to think that you took the trouble to take someone like him down–to actually warn people away from him–whoa! how about that for arrogance and assumption?

      I am not a disciple of RB, just so you know I have no vested interest. But I did see a video of an interview that a friend (an American and highly educated) had with him. it blew me away and I’ve been studying eastern philosophy for a long, long time. If you can spare the time, between enjoying the flesh pots of Mumbai, do let me know and I will send it on to you. Perhaps, if you are as open as you seem to imply, you might get his deeper message.

      I mean no harm, so please forgive me if I sound harsh. It’s just that the video I watched told me he was a rare being. if you had kept your thoughts to yourself, it might have been better–only the omniscient can see accurately. Meanwhile I see people going ape shit over gurus who have nothing to offer but a slide down to hell.

      With respect and apologies for my bluntness.

      MP

    46. sashen Says:

      Hi Mira,

      How interesting that you thought I had a “negative impression” of Ramesh. Not my experience at all. I like the guy. I was the only one laughing at his jokes. We had a great chat in his bedroom after satsang.

      I just noticed that after 3 hours of “Nothing to do, because nobody is doing it, and nowhere to go, because Enlightenment is not a *thing*,” that he closed with “Now do *this* and it’ll get you *there!*”

      Ironically, the thing he suggested you do is something I’ve been teaching for 8 years (but without the idea that you should do it for any reason), and I enjoyed that common ground as well.

      BTW, I also find it interesting how people think this post is about Ramesh when most of it is about how the STUDENTS seemed to be responding to him and his teaching.

      And even more interesting, to me at least, is that you think I could prevent someone from seeing Ramesh and that this would be a problem. Isn’t his teaching that Consciousness is merely acting through us, so there’s nothing I could do that could be either a hindrance or a benefit to another? (His whole talk the day I was there was about how guilt and pride were meaningless since we aren’t the do-er.)

      And, further, that whether they “get anything” from being with him or not is also out of our hands (let alone whether getting anything has any real value)?

      You say you have no vested interest, but to call me arrogant and assumptive reveals that you do have a pre-set opinion about Ramesh which influenced your opinion about me.

      Imagine that you didn’t already know of Ramesh through the video, or that you saw the video and HATED they guy… you would have posted instead about how right on and insightful I was 😉

      In other words, let’s say I *am* arrogant and assumptive… so what? Does that mean I’m mistaken? Does that mean there was no contradiction? Does that mean that sitting around for months listening to someone say “There’s no reason to sit around here for months” may be worth exploring?

      I have no issue with your “bluntness”, but I find it funny that your whole comment is taking issue with mine 😉

      What of his teaching, or his deeper message, do you think I didn’t get? While I can’t think of any reason I would want to “get” any message, nor can I think of a reason that not getting a message would be any sort of problem, I am curious.

      Thanks,
      Steven

    47. miguel Says:

      The last temptation before my “truth” was indeed Ramesh, as well as J. Krishnamurti, U.G. and Nisargadatta. They all give a good account of the results of self-inquiery, but in my view that is what the brain always does, mimics of its own functioning, mimics of its own homeostasis. My concept is that self-realization gives a two-fold answer, oneness and the “freedom” of pure awareness, or reductionism and scientific determinism. The two expose the non-existence of the fantom in the machine, but the first choice continues the hope of immortality of an essence, though Ramesh and U.G. refuse the delusion of “change to improve” as a social/personal miracle. We indeed are what we were and what we shall be, till evolution changes our brain. Though choiceless awareness does seem to break up the conditioning, it as the same atributes as all the other aspects in us, impermanence. What seems to distinguish “us” from those with less “sensibility”, is the use of the brain hemispheres, in our case, a prevalence of the right one, the side of the why are we here, is there a purpose in life, why do I feel incomplete, e.t.c. We won’t get satisfied until the last answer, the last piece of the puzzle, that will never come. So, why did J. Krishnamurti and many, many others died unhappy? Well, they were expecting a miracle that won’t happen, an overall movement of society towards a new stage, an improvement. Society is what it is, a mass of brains working more or less like a pack of wolfs, movements of tribes, with more and more information being added to those brains. All in all, it´s a matter of stimulus and response, joy and pain, reward and punishment, emotions and sentiments, all explained by biology and neuroscience, till one day they will explain it all. Nevertheless, we do feel true freedom when there is absence of thought, of race, of flags and symbols, of religions, of guilt and shame, of pride and anger. That´s the beauty of Advaita and other oriental philosophies, the beauty of seeing the contents of the brain, not through the thought process, the doer, but through comtemplation, the observer, the witness, even if it is one more illusion created to conceal our mortality and helplessness. So,as Ramesh says, peace of mind is the goal, and that works with the acceptance of what is, including you and the others.

    48. sashen Says:

      When you suddenly stop expending effort (of any sort, even effort to which we’ve become habituated), we get a rush of endorphins… it feels good. Have a thought-free moment and you’ll get a great rush. It’s just simple biochemistry, really. But it’s often confused with what would be called “spiritual realization.”

      Now, granted, those moments can, and often do, give us different perspectives on our experience, but like all experiences, they pass.

      No big deal.

      😉

    49. Y V Chawla Says:

      The human mind is programmed. To understand this fact is the end of the game.
      “No theory, philosophy or technique can lead you to be in that state. At the most, they can take you to the inquiry state, the journey beyond which is exclusive. No book, no teaching can go further. These can feed your inquiry. Once you yourself enquire into your own inner working, the function of the book is over. You take your own path. Till that time, you are simply gratified by books or teachers against your present state which you term as unsatisfactory.”
      Y V Chawla
      http://www.funadmentalexpressions.com

    50. sashen Says:

      If, in fact, things are “programmed”, then the teacher can *DO* nothing. The teacher is merely acting out his/her role and has no special ability to “take you” anywhere.

    51. Surjit Saxena Says:

      It is not the way you, Ramesh, Byron Katie, Tony Parsons, Sailor Bob, John Wheeler, Rajneesh or some upstart satsang nitwit puts it. You guys don’t know what actual SELF Realisation means and neiher do I. Take the case of the sage Raman of Arunachala. In his 16th year the boy Venkataraman had an actual death experince where his sense of individual I died forever. It was permanent. The false I sense never reappeared and he reamained as the supreme Self. Did Ramesh do that? No.

      From that moment on that boy (RAMAN) idnetified himself with the the One Infinite Self or Pure Awareness and nothing else. He never identifed himself with the body or the ego. He lived in the egoless state for 54 years. This has happened to quite a lot of folks in India ( I am sure in the world also). Many of whom are deathly poor and live as ordinary men (few women too) in India with not a care for their bodies. They don’t care for fame, comfort or money. The same thing happened to VenkatRaman. He left his house without any money and lived in the hills on his own for the first few years mostly in the highest state of samadhi (till his death for 54 years). This is no small matter. How many of you can do that?

      Just because you or Ramesh did not have this highest state of samadhi, please don’t ridicule this profound stateless state of turiya. This fellow Ramesh is not a self realised being. So what does he know? Just because you have not had the privilge of this most profound state don’t make it look like it is something to trifle with. It is not as trivial as you make it to be.

      For example when the sage Raman had to have surgey done in his cancareous arm, he adamantly refused to have anaesthesia, because the entire time during surgery he was in his natural state of samadhi. Can any of you do that? Please ask yourselves honestly? Have you people ever had the actual death experince in your lives? I have not. But I have tremendous respect for these sages and also for this most profoundand radical shift called true Self Realisation. Just because you didn’t have this profound experience don’t say it does not happen to the fortunate few. And don’t presume they did not make any effort toward this radical shift in realisation.

    52. sashen Says:

      Ummm…. Surjit, run this by me again: Exactly *why* are we supposed to turn off all of our critical thinking when someone claims to have some special “state” in which they live?

      BTW, I don’t know what “self-realization” means because I have no interest in the concept. But surgery without anesthesia? Actually, I’ve done it a few times and I know of many other normal people who also have. My father was a dentist. He had more than his fair share of patients who went through dental procedures without anesthesia.

      And I hate to split semantic hairs (well, not really), but if someone had “actual death”, it is, by definition, NOT an “experience,” and they would be, well, dead. You might want to do some research into what doctors — not spiritual seekers — do in order to confirm someone’s death; it’s quite an extensive battery of tests (and, FWIW, having a flatline EEG is NOT proof that someone is brain dead since, among other reasons, a standard EEG is measuring a small portion of brain activity.)

      In a related note, you may want to read some of Dr. Antonio Damasio’s books about cognitive neuropsychology. He has reports of many people who have no sense of an individual “I”… there are some specific brain injuries that produce that effect.

      (NOTE: Please read the above sentence carefully. It is NOT saying that anyone who claims to have no sense of “I” has had a brain injury… but if that same effect can be seen as a result of a brain injury, it certainly raises some provocative questions, doncha’ think?)

    53. Surjit Saxena Says:

      Dear Sashen,

      Have you ever faced death face to face my friend? Not many years ago when I used to brag how bold I was to face death, one of these very masters who have conquered death tested my own courage by pressing my face in the Ganges river to prove my own courage. I wilted. I wanted to live. I did not wish to be annhilated. I wanted my own separate precious limited existence however mediocre it is. I did not want to lose my identity. In fact I could not face death. I did not want to lose my bodily existence.

      It is very easy to be a sceptic and always look down on others’ who have actually realised the SELF which is another term for conquering the fear of death. Obviously you have no idea of what the state of real existence is just like I do not. It is not so ordinary as regular body consciousness is as some pseudo advaitists have claimed it is. In your case instead of going about realising your real existence which is the substratum of the 3 states of ignorance which is waking, dreaming and sleep, you would rather prefer to take this waking state as the real deal and then be a blind critic just because it is too ardous a task to find out who you really are.

      There are lot of people who have lost their sense of individual self or “I” feeling but that does not mean they have realised their true nature. An example was Susanne Segal, author of Collision with the Infinite. Instead of simply being an arrogant critic, why don’t you keep an open mind and do some work on your “self” to find out why sages like Sri Ramana and Sri Nisragadatta are so revered.

      Have you taken the trouble to atleast study what they have said? Either you have no interest or don’t care to. So you want to expose them as fakes. For example do you know in what state you were before you were born or in what state you will be after you die? Sages like Sr Ramama and Sri Nissargadatta did and they spent their entire life teaching that, for no greed of money or fame. Just because you met a silly quack like Ramesh Balsekar (who is just a pretender) does not mean you have exposed any myth of enlightnemnet or Self Realisation. That is just your pride taking over your real existence so to speak.

      The reason you are doing all this is because you take the waking state to be the be the be all and end all of existence. Too much scientific analysis is only delving within the boundaries of the mind. Self Realisation is beyond the mind or thought. The world is your projection. What you really are is where the mind and world spring from. So don’t get fooled when the mind poses as the real “I”. Don’t let the servant pose as the king and cover your real existence.

      Just because you have no interest in knowing who you really are does not mean you have to belittle those who wnat to know the answers to questions of enlightenment, etc. First know thyself, if not just let those be who want to know themselves. There is nothing greater than conquering the fear of death or the fear of annhilation. And this Sri Ramana, Sri Nisarga, Buddha, Jesus and many others who were not so famous also did.

    54. Surjit Saxena Says:

      Dear Sashen,

      Do you know the state you were in 1000 days prior to conception? Do you know the state you will be 1 day after you die? Do you know who you really are? Do you know where to you disappear in deep sleep and where from you appear when you emerge from deep sleep? Can you tell why this waking world does not appear to you when you dream or are in deep sleep? Are you not quite happy while you are experiencing deep sleep? Can you honestly say you can die without fear of dying? You are still young and so death is kind of distant to you. But if you are told you will die tomorrow can you face death without fear? These are questions Sri Nisragadatta,Sri Ramana Maharishi and many others could answer from their own knowledge of their true Self. This they patiently explained to those who flocked to them day in and day out. Can you do that?

    55. Surjit Saxena Says:

      Do you know who you really are? If you say you have a body and your name is Sashen, that is not the correct answer. If you say you are not interseted in these questions then you are taking your body to be who you are and the world to be real and that is living in darkness or total ignorance of your real nature.

    56. sashen Says:

      Have I ever “faced death”?

      Well, I was in Tien An Men Square in 1989 and had 6 Chinese soldiers pointing machine guns at my head as they argued about who would pull the trigger. Does that count?

      And, since you seem to use one’s reaction to that situation as a commentary on their person (which I don’t), you may find it interesting to know that I had no fear, was full of compassion and concern for my captors, and the experience was one of the high-points of my life.

      I’ve studied all the people you’ve mentioned quite extensively actually, and while I have criticisms about their logic and reasoning, that’s not relevant for the conversation about THIS post.

      Your interpretation of my beliefs (e.g. I “take the waking state to be the all and end of existence”) is completely inaccurate. In fact, you have no idea what I really believe and have taken my criticism of bad thinking to suggest I have all manner of beliefs which I don’t hold.

      “The truth of who you really are” is a meaningless sales pitch.

      Your questions are a great demonstration of the fact that human beings can formulate meaningless questions and, because we can’t answer them, we assume that the answers are, actually, findable and meaningful.

      The questions only SEEM to make sense because you use the word “YOU” (which we normally think of as a “thing”) instead of the more accurate phrase “sense of personal identity.”

      And, again, you assume that some people have some special knowledge and, therefore, it’s inappropriate to carefully examine their statements, beliefs and logic.

      Even the Buddha suggested that one examine even his own words rather than take them at face value.

      Surjit, you have an intricate Advaita-ish belief system and you assume that anyone you doesn’t agree is arrogant, rude, stupid, ignorant, prideful and narrow-minded (among other things) … and you call ME the one who is belittling others? Hmmmm…

      I’d also recommend another book for you called, “On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not.” It’s not about how your beliefs may be correct or incorrect, but about something much more provocative — that the FEELING OF KNOWING (on which you’re basing much of your belief system) is a non-conscious, uncontrollable and UNRELIABLE tool for determining the truth in any situation.

      If you take in the message in that book you might find yourself in an interesting place — one where you’ve gone past even all the hard-won beliefs you’ve adopted.

      Do you know who YOU are without all the beliefs you’re trying to convince me of, or without all the inaccurate opinions you hold so dear?

    57. Surjit Saxena Says:

      The problem you have is you are mistaking yourself to be your body. You are giving too much importance to your brain which thinks. The intellect can sometimes be the obstacle itself. As long as you take yourself to be the body you will take the this waking state to be real. What you really are is prior to your body or the idea of youself called “me”. What I really am is not my body or my name or the imagined entity called “me”. What is left of all that is what I am. The same with you. This has nothing to do with beliefs. This is an actual fact if you are really ready to look and investigate.

      Forget about me. It is you who are important to yourself. Find out who you are first. Are just a body called Sashen or much more than that? Is that separate entity you call “Me” real or imagined? The first object you see in front of you is your own body. But you don’t take that to be an object but you mistake that to be yourself or the subject. Therein lies the error. Probably you won’t realise it. Maybe some other readers will benefit.

    58. sashen Says:

      Surjit,

      You have no idea what I take myself to be, if anything.

      And you’re confusing “the feeling of knowing” with something factual. Saying, for example, “what is left of all of that is what I am,” is a statement of a belief, a rehashing of a philosophy.

      All that said, your suggestions are great jumping off points for investigation. It seems to me, though, that you’re too quick to land on an answer, and even quicker to assume that you know what I think, without actually asking.

    59. Surjit Saxena Says:

      What I am or what you are can’t be put in words. It just is. It is your natural SELF. When you say yourself, you actually mean that and not the body, your brain, your thoughs, or your person. It is that which you cannot negate. It is effortless, spontaneous Self Awareness. Are you not presently aware? You are just that.

      It is THAT when that thinking mechanism is not there at all. For that to be experienced as it is,
      the I or the self image called “me” has to disappear. It is termed as Pure Awareness, Presence, Existence, Beingness, Consciousness and so on. But those words are not it.

      It is that which is the substartum of the 3 states of waking, dream and sleep. It is called the fourth state or Turiya. But it is not a state. Without THAT the 3 states cannot appear. I am just an appearance in it. It is eternal. It is unborn. It is the Reality. You are that. What I really am is not my body or my name or the imagined entity called “me”. What is left after discarding all these is what I am. The same with you. It is that pure intelligence which is keeping your body alive. Do you have to do anything to keep the blood circulating in your body? Do you have to make an effort or remember to breathe? It is that existence which is aware of your waking, sleeping and dreaming. It is that intelligence which registers everything prior to the emergence of thoughts.

      These are not my opinions. You can test it out for yourself. Look and investigate for yourself.

    60. Surjit Saxena Says:

      Then please tell me who you are? Who do you take yourself to be? If you have investigated or looked into yourself then tell me who you are. I don’t wish to know what you think.

    61. sashen Says:

      First you say “what you are cannot be put into words” and then you ask me to answer, IN WORDS, the question “who are you?”

      You see the contradiction, yes?

      Just because you can put words in order and stick a question mark at the end doesn’t mean you’ve asked a meaningful question, let alone one which has a valid answer.

      You’ve already told me who I am (according to you). Why would I argue or agree with you?

    62. Surjit Saxena Says:

      You are. Do you deny that? Do you deny the fact of your aware presence, being and knowing? You are present and aware. Do you deny that? You do not make an effort to be present and aware. Are you not present and aware naturally? But then your thought comes and says ” I am present and aware. It is that false I you are confusing yourself to be. Don’t be angry. Please investigate this yourself. I am not important and neither are you. The looking is. Once you see this false ownership the thinking mechanism claims for itself then the the game is over with. You are free. Not that you are not free now.

    63. Surjit Saxena Says:

      It does not matter if you cannot put into words as to who are you are. It hardly matters if you disagree. You are(the SELF or Being). That is a fact. Is there not joy in being your SELF, your being, your aware presence, your existence. You are joy itself. Even you can’t deny the joy of your own existence. Your body may change. But you are the unchanging aware presence all through. The belief in the separate me or self is an illusion.

    64. sashen Says:

      If your statement “not that you are not free now” is true (and from the true advaita perspective, it is), then whether one notices the phenomenon of the I-thought or not is irrelevant.

      So, make up your mind (whatever that means): Are beings already free, which means they have no need to investigate the I-thought? Or are they only free after seeing clearly the functioning of the I-thought?

      If it’s the former, then, perfect. It’s all complete, exactly as it is. Some will investigate; some won’t. No matter.

      If it’s the latter, then you’re merely presenting another sales pitch disguised as advaita, where this noticing is presented as important, and the message is that if one has not done it, one is in some way lacking (and, therefore, to fix oneself, one must inquire and investigate).

    65. Surjit Saxena Says:

      There is no sales pitch whatsoever. Why are taking this so seriously? People are free to choose whatever they wish. You use the label advaita, not me. There is neither advaita nor dvaita. There is only the SELF. The SELF is already realised. If it has to be realised in time, that is in the future, then that will be lost also. Some see and it some don’t. No one is superior or inferior. Who is not present and aware? No harm done. Nothing ever happened at all. How can a dream be real? Reincarnation belongs to the lower realm of thought. No entity has ever born or died. People only believe and think they are the emperor’s clothes. Anyway I’ll let you have the last word.

    66. sashen Says:

      Dude, I don’t know who this “we” is, that you’re talking about.

      You’re the one who took this seriously, accusing me of various forms of ignorance, of lack of experience, etc.

      And when I countered each of your contentions, you merely changed tactics… until your last position, which is still pitching a philosophy.

      When it comes to taking things seriously, you clearly missed something that’s usually self-evident about this blog (unless someone is offended by something they think I’ve said), namely, this blog is FUNNY.

      If you think I’ve been taking ANY of this seriously, you have, once again, dramatically misunderstood me.

      To quote my teenage friends: What-e-ver.

    67. Surjit Says:

      I meant to say, why are YOU taking this so seriously? I did not say WE as you will notice. Also you avoided telling me who you really are? If you really wanted to counter me you would told me who you are. You have not countered anything. Do you really know who you are? Anyway who is the I you are referring to? So who is Sashen? If you are so funny as you claim why are you so upset? You do not sound funny at all. I have admitted Surjit is a non entity. It is just a name I use, beacuse it is required by the present system. It has no significance at all. So you can tell me whatever you wish, call me anything you want. There is no one hurting from this side.

    68. sashen Says:

      How weird… I saw a “we” in that sentence when I read it… yet another case of perception being inaccurate and the mind filling in apparent holes. Ah, well.

      Anyway…

      I didn’t “avoid* telling you “who I really am.”

      I have no frame of reference for which the question “Who are you, really?” has any meaning since “I” is not a “thing” that can be defined by any answer, nor is it a no-thing.

      Though, for the fun of saying something (that, I suspect, you won’t like), when I look closely, the most accurate description I’ve found so far of what I notice is: a self-referential awareness that co-arises simultaneously with, and inextricably from, anything seeming-object of awareness — touch, taste, visual image, sound, smell, thought, or I-thought. Though there is neither an actual subject or object in that equation as both “sides” of the equation are equal in every way.

      My prediction is that you’ll respond with “Ah, but who you really are is that in which what you’ve described arises.” (or something along those lines).

      What happened to “I’ll let you have the last word” I wonder? Hmmm….

    69. Surjit Saxena Says:

      I will let you have the last word and the last laught too as promised. The non emergence of the I thought matters a whole lot. If that happens, one is indeed enlightened and no one should back away from such a master (not a guy).

    70. maggie Says:

      om tat shit

    71. miguel Says:

      To do self-inquiry is to know the witness. Who gets to know it? Thought, or the I. But the I cannot be anchored in it, because thought, built by memory and language,contains everything that is exterior to that essence. All fears, hopes, questions, truths, all words are own by thought, and at the same time, totally strange to the witness. The source is detached from the I, and that´s what humans are indeed really searching, but many times get lost in concepts, doubts, debates. They sense the witness in moments of pure thoughtless contemplation, in choiceless awareness, in moments of silence. Only by favoring intuition over reason, silence over words, stillness over action, can you be really centered. Self-realization is real because it’s a question of perceiving your true self, the witness, if you can call it yours or you. But don’t get deluded by concepts of enlightenment, paths or moral codes, that’s all a creation of thought. You have to make choices, decisions, you have to speak, you have to socialize, life unfolds with it’s twists of fate. Emotions and thoughts of all kind will rise. What’s in your grasp is to try to be centered in your realization.Be centered in the witness, remember it as your true core and see every other experience, including the sense of the I and Thought as something exterior and not fundamentally you.

    72. Michel Hupe Says:

      Here it is clear that understanding is not there and has not arrive yet. Is like a Master have said earlier “why would you throw pearls to the pigs, what would they do with it ?”.

    73. sashen Says:

      Michel, I’m fascinated by comments like yours. Rather than addressing the POINT of my post (which is first about the response of students to the “nothing to do and nowhere to go” message and, second, about Ramesh’s contradictory instruction where, after 3 hours of saying “nothing to do and nowhere to go,” he offers something to do to get somewhere), you offer an ad hominem attack without any support for your accusation.

      Suggesting that I’m lacking some understanding has NOTHING to do with the contention of the post unless you offer some specifics regarding what you think is misunderstood.

      Unless I really am lacking understanding and didn’t realize that you were saying Ramesh or those I met in his flat were the ones lacking understanding (though my hunch is that’s not what you intended 😉 )

    74. Elizabeth Anglin Says:

      OK, so we have no-self, with no independent origination.

      But according to dead people, of whom I know many, you will still retain your sense of humour when you are temporarily a non-physical being… and all of this will seem even funnier then.

      The problem is you still won’t know who started the joke.

      Or if you are laughing because the stagehands of pre-determinism are holding up the laugh track audience cue-cards.

    75. sashen Says:

      I like funnier.

    76. rhea singh Says:

      I dont agree with the late Ramesh Balsekar at all.May he attain genuine enlightenment in his subsequent births.

    77. Harold Says:

      I spent ten days with Ramesh and a large group of people in Kovalam, India several years ago. It was my only time in India. I have no interest in gurus but wanted to go, so I went.

      After I returned home to the States I realized that my experience of life was quite different. I felt free, happy, alive for the first time I can recall. It lasted for about 6 months.

      He was a very sweet and generous man. He never asked for money or that anyone become a student while I was there. We paid for our room and food. I recorded everything he said, digitally, but never listened to it subsequently.

      I got what I went for.

    78. Itsie Bitsie Me Says:

      Good stuff. I enjoy your humor and perspective very much. Remesh seems to be a good guy. I felt as though I received a hug as well when you said that he hugged you. I will spare you all the excess masturbatory thought, but I don’t think it is that far off to see this whole universe as an interconnected chemistry of sorts, of which we are all a part of. Free will or not? I think it depends on how you look at it. Everything seems to work in a balance. Opposing forces contradict each other. At the center of the galaxy is a supermassive black hole. I find this comforting. :)

    79. Jimmy Says:

      The person wrote that life’s more rich and meaningful without the theory, but I only think that’s because this person doesn’t quite fully understand the implications of Ramesh’s teaching. If someone finds it abhorrent or disheartening to realize that free will is an illusion, I think it’s only because this person is still defining themself as an ego. If you accept this Hindu philosophical interpretation of the universe, I think it can ultimately be quite liberating to know that everything is predetermined. It means nothing at all is a competition. It means there’s nothing to ‘figure out.’ The whole enterprise of science is merely to assimilate what is, and has always been. There’s nothing really that needs to be done. You can just relax and be unphased by most emotional perturbances of the mind. Of course, if someone strikes you in the face, you’re going to defend yourself. I don’t think it means that you’ll remain stoic if someone pierces a sword through your belly. However, there’s an ol’ zen tale that goes something like that.

      I came to this same conclusion through psychedelics. I started listening to Terence McKenna who advocates 5 dried grams of psilocybin mushrooms or what he calls “effective doses” of psychedelics. I had an opportunity to have this experience, and then for the next year or so I would mull over this experience. I eventually came to this conclusion myself, but I didn’t embrace it, I was forced to it. I had never really examined determinism, and it wasn’t until my psychedelic experience that it even became a consideration. Then, I found the EgoDeath.com website in which Michael Hoffman’s ego death theory is explicated meticulously and aligns itself with Ramesh’s insight, only the means of receiving the insight has to do with imbibing entheogens. Through EgoDeath.com, I was introduced to Ramesh Balsekar.

      I was intrigued that the summation I was coming to through the psychedelic experience is what these mystic sages had been saying all along. According to Ramesh, the Buddha put it like this, “Thou are the experiencer, thou are the doer,” not ‘thou’ as in the ego, but ‘thou’ as in the Brahman, which is the source of all creation in Hinduism. Yogananda Paramahansa also echoed this teaching, he taught that the entire universe is God’s cosmic motion picture, and that individuals are merely actors in the divine play, but one can realize this through intuition, which he believed was the soul’s power to know God.

      In the psychedelic experience, I found this to be true. The body itself is omniscient, but not intellectually omniscient. It’s intuitively omniscient. A sort of intuitive omniscient proprioception takes place at the height of the experience in that the mind’s potential is activated to a higher capacity through the effect the psychedelic has on the synapses. You experience a higher form of consciousness through this, and encounter something that is beyond words. I truly believe that the psychedelic experience and the goal of Hinduism through meditation are one and the same thing. Meditation is speculated to be the natural release of DMT (dimethyltryptamine) which the body produces naturally, and is also the most powerful hallucinogen or psychedelic known to exist. It’s also prevalent in nature and is also believed to be released at death or during a near-death-experience.

    80. sashen Says:

      My issue with determinism is that it implies pre-destiny. It implies that, if you knew the initial conditions you could predict every future outcome.
      And while that may be true, I’m more a fan of what I’ll call “conditionalism.” Everything is conditioned, everything has a cause. The difference, though, is that it allows for some chaos or non-deterministic, non-linear causation. That is, compared to a billiard ball hitting another, where the 2nd ball’s trajectory can be determined by simple math, conditionalism would say that the 2nd ball has a finite but unknowable set of possible trajectories.
      This still doesn’t leave any room for free-will. But it eliminates the incorrect argument that if we had no free will we would suddenly turn into actionless blobs of protoplasm. It leaves you knowing that, while there’s no way to know what will happen next, it’ll happen ;-). Ultimately, it means that nothing changes other than the idea that “you” are doing it (even if it leaves you with a feeling that you are).

    81. Sai Says:

      My Dear Friend,

      Don’t get into jungles of words.Words are very dangerous.According to your culture and bringing up the meaning and perception of words differ from individual to individual.So Bhagwan Ramana Mahrishi always stressed as “Silence is the Best Teacher”.Wordless world is better than jungle of words.A blank books is better than book with jungle of words.Balsekar is not a enlighted person but he is on the way to enlightment.People have so much fascination for Living Gurus and Preacher that when these people don’t reach expectation then they start critise them or back bitting them.There is no difference between me,you and balsekar we all have the same “I” or consciousness or we are your mirror.What is inside you,you will see outside.The problem is inside not outside.

    82. Vinod Says:

      WHO is judging WHO ??? “Silence is indeed the Best Teacher” and thank the SOURCE for Ramesh :-)).

    83. Vinod Says:

      You’ve got to experience THAT to know THAT. Words are not enough :-)

    84. mohana govinda Says:

      a very interesting site i stumbled into fortunately.I had a whale of a time .frankly it was hilarious at some points especially that; om tat shit .end of it all, the icing was that everything will be balanced out by that super-massive black hole lurking around the the corner.Thank you for a great site

    85. Be As You Are Says:

      There is no individual…………there is only consciousness……………where is nonsense shit called enlightenment arises

    86. sashen Says:

      I must admit that anytime someone says “there is no individual,” I want to slap them and see “who” responds. 😉

    87. Danny Says:

      hehehe… sashen Says:
      November 20th, 2012 at 10:59 am

      I must admit that anytime someone says “there is no individual,” I want to slap them and see “who” responds. 😉
      JUST lovely..:)..kiss:)..I love you!!!




     

     

     

     

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