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All Is One–Chapter Two–You

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Chapter Two in All Is One: A Commentary On Sri Vaiyai R. Subramanian’s Ellam Ondre

1. Who are you? Are you this body? If so, why are you not aware of a serpent crawling on it when you are in deep sleep? So then can you be this body? No, certainly not. You must be other than this body.

2. Sometimes in sleep you dream. There you identify yourself with someone. Can you be that one? You cannot be. Otherwise, what becomes of that individual on your waking? You are not he. Furthermore, you are ashamed of having identified yourself with him. Clearly, you are not that particular person. You are the one that stands apart from him.

3. Recall the state of dreamless slumber. What is your state then? Can that be your true nature? Surely you will not subscribe to this belief. Why? Because you are not so foolish as to identify yourself with the massive darkness which obstructs you from knowing the state you are in. Discerned by the intellect from the things around, how can you admit yourself to be the same as ignorance or blank? Or, how can it truly be your real nature? It cannot be. You are the knower who knows that this state remains one of dense darkness veiling your true nature. How can you be that which you have experienced and condemned? Therefore you are not the dark ignorance of deep sleep. You stand apart from this too.

4. When it is said that even this gross body is not you, can you be any other thing which is yet farther away from you? In the same way that you are not this gross body, you are not anything farther from the body, nor the dream person, nor the ignorance of deep sleep. You are distinct from these three states and this world.

5. These three states can be reduced to two conditions only–namely, the one of the subject and object, and the other is the unawareness of the subject itself. The former includes the waking and dream states, whereas the latter represents deep slumber. All your experiences are comprised in these two conditions only. Both of them are foreign to you. Your true nature remains distinct from them.

6. If you ask what that is, it is called turiya, which means the fourth state. Why is this name used? This name is proper because it seems to say the three states of your experience–waking, dream and deep sleep–are foreign to you and your true state is the fourth, which is different from these three. Should the three states, waking, dream and deep sleep, be taken to form one long dream, the fourth state represents the waking from this dream. Thus it is more withdrawn than deep sleep, also more wakeful than the waking state. Therefore your true state is that fourth one which is distinguished from the waking, dream and deep sleep states. You are that only.

7. What is this fourth state? It is knowledge which does not particularize anything. It is not unaware of itself. That is to say, the fourth state is Pure Knowledge which is not conscious of any object, but not unconscious itself. Only he who has realized it even for a trice, has realized the Truth. You are that only.

8. What is there more for him who has gained the fourth state? Practically, it is not possible for anyone to remain forever in that state, that is, the state of no particular knowledge. He who has realized the fourth state later wakes up in this world, but for him this world is not as before. He sees that what he realized as the fourth state shines forth as all this. He will not imagine this world as distinct from that Pure Knowledge. Thus what he saw within, he now sees without in a different form. In the place of the differentiation of old, he is now established in the state of non-differentiation everywhere. Now, he is all. There is nothing distinct from himself. His eyes closed or open, howsoever the things may change, his state remains unchanged. This is the state of Brahman. This is the natural eternal state. You are that ever-true state.

9. There is nothing beyond this state. The words, “inward” and “outward” have no meaning for him. All is one. His body, speech and mind cannot function selfishly. Their workings will be grace for the good of all. The fragmentary “I” is lost forever. His ego can never revive. Therefore he is said to be liberated here and now. He does not live because his body lives, nor does he die because his body dies. He is eternal. There is nothing other than he. You are He.

10. Who is God? He is grace. What is Grace? Awareness without the fragmentary ego. How can one know that there is such a state? Only if one realizes it. The Vedas laud such a one as having realized God and become one with Him. Therefore the greatest good that one can derive from the world and the greatest good which one can render unto it, is to realize this state. In fact, there are no states besides this. They appear in the state of ignorance. For him who knows, there is one state only. You are that.

Commentary

1. Who are you? Are you this body? If so, why are you not aware of a serpent crawling on it when you are in deep sleep? So then can you be this body? No, certainly not. You must be other than this body.

In the same way: Are you aware of the entire range of creation? Are you experiencing yourself at this moment as actually being the entire range of creation–and also even beyond it? Of course not. So just because you are one with Brahman does not mean you are Brahman in the absolute sense. An object that is gold is just an infinitesimal part of the gold of the world. Certainly the object could say, “I am gold,” but it could never say, “I am gold” in the sense of being all the gold of the world. That would be crazy, and a lot of people are crazy–at least speaking and acting so. These are the people that Swami Krishnananda, Secretary of the Divine Life Society, used to call “trained Vedantic thugs.” We must avoid being the same or even giving the impression that we are.

I hope that my insistence on this is not annoying, but this absurd, egoic delusion is being sought after by many, and is being claimed by many, including some who claim to be following Sri Ramana Maharshi who recommended this book. They are like Alan Ginsberg. When he told Swami Sivananda that he was looking for a guru, Sivanandaji said, “You are the guru.” So he came back and told people that Sivananda had declared him the guru of America! They credit their delusions to Sri Ramana, whom they often claim is their guru.

2. Sometimes in sleep you dream. There you identify yourself with someone. Can you be that one? You cannot be. Otherwise, what becomes of that individual on your waking? You are not he. Furthermore, you are ashamed of having identified yourself with him. Clearly, you are not that particular person. You are the one that stands apart from him.

It has almost always been my experience that in dream I am my waking self, though usually in circumstances that were different from the waking state. And occasionally I have dreamed I was someone else. In any dream I have usually known it was a dream. And I think this is not uncommon, for in a way reflects the three possible states of understanding: 1) being completely immersed in a false experience, 2) being only partly immersed in that experience, 3) fully aware that the experience is false and not identifying with it in any manner.

The great need is to be always awake. And that is only possible for an adept yogi. Just thinking or reading about it accomplishes nothing. It is a state of consciousness that anyone can claim, but few really have.

3. Recall the state of dreamless slumber. What is your state then? Can that be your true nature? Surely you will not subscribe to this belief. Why? Because you are not so foolish as to identify yourself with the massive darkness which obstructs you from knowing the state you are in. Discerned by the intellect from the things around, how can you admit yourself to be the same as ignorance or blank? Or, how can it truly be your real nature? It cannot be. You are the knower who knows that this state remains one of dense darkness veiling your true nature. How can you be that which you have experienced and condemned? Therefore you are not the dark ignorance of deep sleep. You stand apart from this too.

Frankly, I always experienced this as a witness. I could have done nothing other, as I never forgot who I was.

I do not believe that anyone thinks of themselves as the experience they are witnessing, though they believe in the reality of the experience. Rather, at that point they do not think of who they are. But that is not forgetting, it is just not considering it relevant at the moment. And deep sleep is not ignorance, only lack of perception and memory. Since this is essential for health of the body, to disdain or somehow condemn it is foolish.

I have never thought that either the dreamless or dreaming states were natural to me, considering that two-thirds of my continuous experience and memory were of the waking state. That I identified with the body and the circumstances in which I found myself, such as my name and relation to the things in my environment, was inevitable, and from that I needed to awaken. Then dream and dreamless would be seen as mirages in my mind–as was my waking state. I used to ponder this when I was three and four years old.

No author or book is infallible, and frankly I consider the wording of this and the previous proposition as bordering on the fatuous, though the eventual conclusions are sound.

4. When it is said that even this gross body is not you, can you be any other thing which is yet farther away from you? In the same way that you are not this gross body, you are not anything farther from the body, nor the dream person, nor the ignorance of deep sleep. You are distinct from these three states and this world.

The author of Ellam Ondre was no doubt Tamil, and what was then called Madras State was the home of the headquarters of the Theosophical Society which considered Sanatana Dharma as the fundamental truth about relative existence and the human being. The Theosophists did not just briefly tip their hats to Sanatana Dharma, they bowed their heads before it and extolled it. Consequently the author did not want to show any disrespect to them. But here he had to mention their unacceptable view about the Self, the essential being of the individual person. They postulated that the real Self was literally high above the body and was connected to it by subtle astral and causal energy bonds, that the Self was never really incarnated at any time. Other Western metaphysicians postulated that the Self was even in another world of its own and only experienced this world as a dream projected from itself. They not only said we were not the body, mind and senses, they said we were not even here at all, but were far, far beyond or above any relative existence at all.

The truth is, we are distinct from the three states of relative consciousness and this world, but we are not separate and outside them. Rather, we are in them as their reality, their very core. Separate from us they cannot exist. Since we ourselves are one with the Being of Brahman, it could not be otherwise.

5. These three states can be reduced to two conditions only–namely, the one of the subject and object, and the other is the unawareness of the subject itself. The former includes the waking and dream states, whereas the latter represents deep slumber. All your experiences are comprised in these two conditions only. Both of them are foreign to you. Your true nature remains distinct from them.

I have no idea why the author did not simply use the terms waking, dreaming and deep sleep as the fundamental three states of the embodied consciousness. But he has pointed out the two essential conditions of those experiencing them: 1) awareness only of the object perceived, and 2) awareness of both the object and the perceiver of the object. And this is a very insightful distillation of the result of these two conditions: remembrance and forgetfulness.

It is only natural that we remember and forget the experiencing of objects throughout our life, but it is the supreme defect to ever for a moment forget our own Self, the experiencer. We are the Self, never the object, and yet we identify with the object and forget and even deny the existence of the Self.

Because of their evanescent character all objects are ultimately unexistent/unreal, and the Self is the sole reality, the only truth. That is why when someone asked Shankara, “What is truth (satya)?” he replied, “There is no truth (satya)–only the Sat.” Knowing this, as a perfected yogi (see The Christ of India), Jesus did not answer Pilate when Pilate asked him “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38).

The third, true/real experience is that of the Self alone, awareness that the experiencing, the experience and the experiencer are at all times ONE. For there is nothing but the One. And that implies that even the conditions of delusion and illusion are projections of our own consciousness and therefore are also part of the One. The idea to rid ourselves of these errors is a mistake. What we need to experience is their essential reality as only consciousness–nothing else. And consciousness by its nature is absolutely unitary: One in essence. This is why the sages have said that all of relative existence is the play of Consciousness. It may be illusion, but it is a real illusion, a projection of Consciousness. Beyond understanding this is becoming It. That we must aspire to. “Therefore be a yogi” (Bhagavad Gita 6:46).

6. If you ask what that is, it is called turiya, which means the fourth state. Why is this name used? This name is proper because it seems to say the three states of your experience–waking, dream and deep sleep–are foreign to you and your true state is the fourth, which is different from these three. Should the three states, waking, dream and deep sleep, be taken to form one long dream, the fourth state represents the waking from this dream. Thus it is more withdrawn than deep sleep, also more wakeful than the waking state.

This encapsulation is a miracle of intelligence and insight. It is so simple and yet so vast that I need to divide it into separate portions that must eventually be reunited into a single realization.

If you ask what that is, it is called turiya, which means the fourth state. Why is this name used? This name is proper because it seems to say the three states of your experience–waking, dream and deep sleep–are foreign to you and your true state is the fourth, which is different from these three. Should the three states, waking, dream and deep sleep, be taken to form one long dream, the fourth state represents the waking from this dream.

This I think is clear to us all at this point in our consideration.

Thus it is more withdrawn than deep sleep, also more wakeful than the waking state.

Now this is extremely important, because we tend to take our own characteristics and assume that perfection is the expansion of them to the maximum scope or intensity. But this is not wisdom. Here we are being told that turiya is far more conscious than our present condition of being awake and conscious, and it is also far deeper, profound and beyond external experience than our present deep sleep state. For in its essence turiya is not an expansion of these conditions, but a transcending of all our three usual states of consciousness.

Therefore your true state is that fourth one which is distinguished from the waking, dream and deep sleep states.

It does not embrace or include these three states, but is beyond them while at the same time being the very basis of their existence/experience.

You are that only.

How easy to say. And how impossible to comprehend, much less attain, for anyone who is not transmuting his consciousness through intense yoga sadhana. In some books attributed to Shankara a disciple asks a question and the teacher explains the answer very thoroughly. Then the disciple immediately launches into a kind of self-eulogy that rapturously goes on and on about how he now has entered into cosmic consciousness and knows himself as the One. Supposedly the teaching itself has liberated him and made him a sage and a siddha. Not likely. That is like claiming indigestion from reading a recipe in a cookbook. Hearing, thinking and believing (and imagining!) is not experiential knowledge.

7. What is this fourth state? It is knowledge which does not particularize anything. It is not unaware of itself. That is to say, the fourth state is Pure Knowledge which is not conscious of any object, but not unconscious itself. Only he who has realized it even for a trice, has realized the Truth. You are that only.

This is absolutely true, but those who have not had at least a mild experience or glimpse of this state cannot even imagine what is meant by this statement. In fact those who try to understand it will most certainly be sure to misunderstand it.

For example, the statement that turiya “does not particularize anything” is thought to mean that the realized person sees everything as the same and makes no distinction between anything. If that was so, he would readily drink poison as freely as he drinks water. He would accept anything no matter how detrimental or destructive. He would be a fool. The author means that he sees that all things are manifestations of the One. But the very fact that the One has made infinite differentiations means that we are to respond to them in different ways even though we realize the underlying unity.

The principle that “Pure Knowledge is not conscious of any object” is thought by the ignorant to mean that the realized individual is less than a newborn infant–for the infant sees various objects through he does not name or classify them. They think that the siddha does not ever experience things, that even though he moves around, speaks to people, answers questions and does various actions he is not aware of it, being somewhere “off in space” alone and aware only of emptiness. I have read incredibly absurd descriptions of what “devotees” thought was the habitual condition or experience of both Ramana Maharshi and Anandamayi Ma. Mere intellectual speculation in relation to these sublime realities can only lead to fantasy. The simple advice Grow Up is thoroughly applicable to such childish egos.

The state of perfect realization is what Vyasa describes in the Bhagavad Gita as: “innermost secret: knowledge of God which is nearer than knowing, open vision direct and instant” (9:1). It cannot be spoken about in any manner except to say that it cannot be spoken about. That is why the Kena Upanishad says: “To whomsoever It [Brahman] is not known, to him It is known: to whomsoever It is known, he does not know. It is not understood by those who understand It; it is understood by those who do not understand it” (2.3). The interpretive translation by Prabhavananda make this clear: “He truly knows Brahman who knows him as beyond knowledge; he who thinks that he knows, knows not. The ignorant think that Brahman is known, but the wise know him to be beyond knowledge.”

In other words: “He who knows tells it not; he who tells knows it not.” If we do not make these words a realization rather than a philosophical maxim or speculation we have missed the idea altogether. For often the words of the wise about the highest matters sound absurd, but that is only because our experiences and thinking has heretofore been utterly absurd. So in the context of our absurdity truth appears absurd. This is the terrible illusion and blindness of the unawake individual.

8. What is there more for him who has gained the fourth state? Practically, it is not possible for anyone to remain forever in that state, that is, the state of no particular knowledge. He who has realized the fourth state later wakes up in this world, but for him this world is not as before. He sees that what he realized as the fourth state, shines forth as all this. He will not imagine this world as distinct from that Pure Knowledge. Thus what he saw within, he now sees without in a different form. In the place of the differentiation of old, he is now established in the state of non-differentiation everywhere. Now, he is all. There is nothing distinct from himself. His eyes closed or open, howsoever the things may change, his state remains unchanged. This is the state of Brahman. This is the natural eternal state. You are that ever-true state.

This is also a miracle of clarity and illumined reason. Let us look at it in pieces.

What is there more for him who has gained the fourth state?

Nothing.

Practically, it is not possible for anyone to remain forever in that state, that is, the state of no particular knowledge.

It is not possible in this world, though in higher worlds it is the only possible permanent state. That is why in meditation the yogi clearly perceives all spiritual realities and their implications, but when he leaves meditation he comes down to a lower plane of experience and knows he cannot act in accordance with his insights because what he perceived in meditation, even though in the body, is inapplicable to the mundane life of the mundane world. But he does not forget what he has perceived.

He who has realized the fourth state later wakes up in this world, but for him this world is not as before.

I remember a man speaking of his spiritual awakening and saying, “To me the whole world was different. But then I realized the truth: the world was the same, but I was different.” Rather simple, really.

He sees that what he realized as the fourth state, shines forth as all this.

The world has not become turiya, it always was turiya. But that had to be directly seen and comprehended (realized). And from now on the awakened sees that all is turiya, including himself. It always was.

He will not imagine this world as distinct from that Pure Knowledge. Thus what he saw within, he now sees without in a different form. In the place of the differentiation of old, he is now established in the state of non-differentiation everywhere. Now, he is all. There is nothing distinct from himself. His eyes closed or open, howsoever the things may change, his state remains unchanged. This is the state of Brahman. This is the natural eternal state. You are that ever-true state.

What is more wonderful, more thrilling than this glorious truth? Sri Sanatana Dharma: Ki Jai!!!

9. There is nothing beyond this state. The words, “inward” and “outward” have no meaning for him. All is one. His body, speech and mind cannot function selfishly. Their workings will be grace for the good of all. The fragmentary “I” is lost forever. His ego can never revive. Therefore he is said to be liberated here and now. He does not live because his body lives, nor does he die because his body dies. He is eternal. There is nothing other than he. You are He.
10. Who is God? He is grace. What is Grace? Awareness without the fragmentary ego. How can one know that there is such a state? Only if one realizes it. The Vedas laud such a one as having realized God and become one with Him. Therefore the greatest good that one can derive from the world and the greatest good which one can render unto it, is to realize this state. In fact, there are no states besides this. They appear in the state of ignorance. For him who knows, there is one state only. You are that.

I dare not touch these two sublime and awesome statements with words of mine. They are perfect and complete.

***

Next: Chapter Three–God

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Chapters in All Is One: A Commentary On Sri Vaiyai R. Subramanian’s Ellam Ondre:

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