|What Am I? Galen Sharp
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#1519 ~ Sunday, August 10, 2003 ~ Editor: Gloria Lee Viorica Weissman ~ Million Paths
Annamalai Swami, a lifelong devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi, was absorbed in his Master on November 9, 1995. He was 89-years-old. The Swami's remarkable story was edited by David Godman and published in 1994 by the Sri Annamalai Swami Ashram Trust.
Annamalai Swami came to the Maharshi in 1928 and, at the Sage's behest, undertook the supervision in the construction of the Goshala (cow shed), Dining Hall, Dispensary and various other projects. In the mid-1940s, Bhagavan instructed him to leave the ashram and engage in intense sadhana. He would then occasionally meet the Maharshi on his walks, but never again in the fifty years that followed did he reenter Sri Ramanasramam, preferring to live a quiet, austere life in Palakottu. His small ashram borders the western boundary of Sri Ramanasramam and he was well known to many devotees and visitors to Tiruvannamalai.
In the passage below, excerpted from Living By the Words Of Bhagavan, Annamalai Swami relates the incidents preceding his departure from Sri Ramanasramam.
* * *
MY days as an ashram worker were coming to a close, although I didn't realize it at the time. In retrospect I can remember only one small incident which indicated that Bhagavan knew that my time in the ashram was coming to an end.
I was doing some digging with a crowbar when Bhagavan came and asked me, "Did you decide to do this work yourself or did Chinnaswami ask you to do it ?"
I told him that Chinnaswami had asked me to do it. Bhagavan was not very pleased.
"So, he has given you work. So, he has given you work. Why is he giving you work like this?"
A little later Yogi Ramiah remarked to Bhagavan, "Annamalai Swami is working very hard. His body has become very weak. You should give him some rest."
Bhagavan agreed with him. "Yes, we have to give him some rest. We have to give freedom to him."
A few days later I went to Bhagavan's bathroom to help him with his morning bath. Madhava Swami and I gave him the usual oil bath and massage.
When the bath was over Madhava Swami asked a question: "Bhagavan, the people who take ganja lehiyam [an ayurvedic preparation whose principal ingredient is cannabis] experience some kind of ananda [bliss]. What is the nature of this ananda ? Is it the same ananda that the scriptures speak of?"
"Eating this ganja is a very bad habit," replied Bhagavan. Then, laughing loudly, he came over to me, hugged me and called out, "Ananda! Ananda! This is how these ganja-taking people behave!"
It was not a brief hug. Madhava Swami told me later that he held me tightly for about two minutes. After the first few seconds I completely lost awareness of my body and the world. Initially, there was a feeling of happiness and bliss, but this soon gave way to a state in which there were no feelings and no experiences. I did not lose consciousness, I just ceased to be aware of anything that was going on around me. I remained in this state for about fifteen minutes. When I recovered my usual world-consciousness I was standing alone in the bathroom. Madhava Swami and Bhagavan had long since departed for breakfast. I had not seen them open the door and leave, nor had I heard the breakfast bell.
This experience completely changed my life. As soon as I recovered normal consciousness I knew that my working life at Sri Ramanasramam had come to an end. I knew that henceforth I would be living outside the ashram and spending most of my time in meditation. There was a rule that only those who worked for the ashram could live there full-time. Those who wanted to spend their time in meditation had to live somewhere else. I thus knew that I would have to leave the ashram and fend for myself, but the thought of losing my regular meals and my room never troubled me.
I made a belated appearance in the dining room to eat my last breakfast. As soon as I had finished eating I went up onto the hill to look for Bhagavan. I found him sitting on a big rock.
"I have decided to leave the ashram," I said. "I want to go to Palakottu to live alone and meditate."
"Ah! Very good! Very good! Very good!" exclaimed Bhagavan.
The decision clearly had his approval. How could it be otherwise since it was Bhagavan himself who gave me the experience which precipitated the decision?
After getting Bhagavan's permission I packed my possessions and locked my room. I also locked all the other places that were in my charge.
I took the bunch of keys to Chinnaswami and told him, "I have decided to go and live in Palakottu. Please take these keys and keep them."
Chinnaswami was, quite naturally, very surprised. "Why are you leaving?" he asked. "You have constructed all these buildings. You have done so much here. How can you go after doing all this work? Where will you sleep? How will you eat? You will have many troubles because you have no way of supporting yourself. Don't go, stay here."
I told him that I would not change my mind. I also tried to give him the keys but he refused to accept them. I didn't want another argument with him so I just handed over the keys to Subramaniam, who was also in the office, and left.
It was an abrupt change in my life. Within a few hours of having the experience I was walking to Palakottu, knowing full well that I had left all of my old working life behind me.
~ Monks_ Mystics
Tao is within us; Tao surrounds us.
Part of it may be sensed,
And is called manifestation.
Part of it is unseen,
And is called void.
To be with Tao is harmony.
To be separate is disaster.
To act with Tao, observe and follow.
To know Tao, be still and look within.
Tao is within us; we are Tao. It is also outside of us; it
is all the known universe. All that we can know of
ourselves and our universe cannot account for all that is
Tao. What we know is merely the outer manifestation of Tao.
The ultimate Tao is called absolute. We cannot know it
directly because it has no definition, references, or
names. Our normal minds are incapable of perceiving where
there is no contrast. Yet it is precisely this colorless
infinity that is the underlying reality to this life.
The only way to fathom it is to remove our sense of division
from it. In essence, we must plunge into the mystery
itself. Only then will we know peace.
photo by Al Larus
fourth Immeasurable, Equanimity (upeksha), your love may
become possessive. A summer breeze can be very refreshing, but if we try
to put it in a tin can so we can have it entirely for ourselves the
breeze will die. Our beloved is the same. He is like a cloud, a breeze,
a flower. If you imprison him in a tin can, he will die. Yet many
people do just that. They rob their loved one of his liberty, until he
can no longer be himself. That is not loving; it is destroying. You say
you love her, but if you do not understand her aspirations, her needs,
her difficulties, she is in a prison called love. True love allows you
to preserve your freedom and the freedom of your beloved. That is true
~Thich Nhat Hanh
From the book, "The Heart of The Buddha's Teaching," published by
Blessings to all. May peace and peace and peace be everywhere.
"Puffin" photo by Al Larus
"....The Buddha says, through Avalokiteshavara, anything that you're
clinging to, anything that you now currently believe to be so, such as
egolessness, or the Four Noble Truths, or the description of no-self -
anything that you currently believe in, it's not that.
"In other words, the Buddhist teachings are progressive stages in
"Having taught groundlessness, the Buddha teaches even all of that, if
you believe in it as a belief system, will block you from understanding
the truth - if you cling to anything, it will block your understanding
the truth. Even clinging to the words of the Buddha will be a major
obstacle if you hold onto them and make them something solid and use
them as ground under your feet."
From a very fine verbal teaching (above is edited) on The Heart Sutra,
from the web page,
http://www.shambhala.org/teachers/pema/heartsutra12.html link no longer active
May all beings be happy. May they be free from suffering. May they be at peace.
Joyce Short~ Advaita to Zen
Jean Klein: In accepting a situation we are completely free. Accepting unfolds in beingness. In accepting a situation we accept the situation in our completeness. Accepting is not in the mind; I would say it is beyond the mind, because the mind can never accept. In accepting it is not the situation we emphasize, we emphasize the accepting itself. This brings us complete freedom, openness. It is only in accepting a situation that we see what the situation is, what the facts are. Then action comes out of the situation, out of the facts. The decision to act doesn't go through the mind. It is spontaneous. In the accepting position, there is no volition, because when there is accepting there is no place for an ego, for an "I". Q: When we are caught up in a situation, how do we make the shift from being caught up to being in attention? It seems that we need volition to make an effort to get out of the situation in which we are caught up, and if we make a effort we get caught up in effort and volition. Klein: But you must not try to get out of the situation, because your trying will just replace the situation. You are then bound as before. Accepting the situation is the nearest you can do. That is the beginning! Q: But at that moment I don't know what accepting looks like. Klein: It's not psychological accepting, it is functional accepting. It is accepting in the way a scientist accepts the facts of the problem to be resolved. When you accept the facts in this way, you will find yourself out of the situation. You will be in the accepting feeling, not in what you accept, the object, the situation. Accepting means accepting every fact, every perception that comes to you. It means accepting your reactions as part of the facts. Then see how the accepting acts on you. How do you feel this accepting? Is there a freedom you experience? An openness... Klein: Yes, openness... Q: And that's what you're looking for, this openness? So do you find that you were not looking for a solution as such, the solution is almost a side effect of the welcoming? You discover that it was the accepting, the welcoming, you were looking for? Klein: Absolutely. From: Transmission of the Flame Jean Klein
Gill Eardley ~ Rumi-Hafiz
Rainer Maria Rilke
Whoever grasps the thousand contradictions of his life,
pulls them together into a single image, that man, joyful
and thankful, drives the rioters out of the palace,
becomes celebratory in a different way, and you are the guest
whom he receives on the quiet evenings.
You are the second person in his solitude,
the tranquil hub of his talking with himself;
and every circle he draws around you
lifts him out of time on those compass legs.
Translated by Robert Bly
Allspirit Website: http://www.allspirit.co.uk
Gill Eardley ~ Allspirit Inspiration
Thoughts on the Love of God
.... Creatures speak in sounds. The word of God is silence.
The secret word of God's love can be nothing but silence.
Christ is the silence of God. There is no tree like the cross.
No harmony like the silence of God. The Pythagoreans knew
this harmony in the endless silence that surrounds the stars.
Necessity, here below, is the resonance of God's silence.
Our soul makes constant noise, but it has a silent place we
never hear. When the silence of God enters us, pierces our
soul and joins its silent secret place, then God is our treasure
and our heart. And space opens before us like a fruit that
breaks in two. Then we see the universe from a point beyond
Translated by Carol Cosman
Quoted in 'The Soul is Here for its Own Joy'
Ed. Robert Bly
"Seacoast" photo by Al Larus
Joyce Short & Skogen ~ Advaita to Zen
A dialogue about existence and emptiness
see is a concealer-truth, taken by ignorance to exist the way it
appears, but actually appearing in one way and existing in
Hi Ho O Noble One,
S: I have split this out because, it seems to me that, it can be
misunderstood as, if there is differenciation, a distinction existing and
J: Well, you know how Buddhadharma goes, yes and no, perhaps, it depends.
Or, whatever it is is the manifestation of intrinsic wisdom.
S: What do you mean exactly with:...but actually appearing in one way and
existing in another? It seems to me, we have different understandings
concerning the concept, the term, "existence".
J: In Buddhism, everything is method, soteriology. If I were to state
something IS something I may get stuck in eternalism. If I were to state
something is NOT, I may get stuck in nihilism. Anything one can say is
relative because of the Law. And then how anyone sees or experiences
appearances is relative to what stage of insight is unfolding relative to
seeing the ultimate nature of mind. So then we would have to take the view
of whatever yana or school; whether it is a method of renunciation,
transformation or Mahamudra/Dzogchen which is neither of these; it isn't a
So in terms of terms, you would have to keep on your Buddhist hat (I've read
the masters of Advaita but not having ever met an authentic teacher of this
tradition I can't say I have a clue) and we could explore from whatever view
is of interest. Generally in Buddhadharma one is working with attachment,
the belief in a substantive "I" (me and mine) and there are hundreds
(84,000?) of ways to tackle this. Perhaps one could say that there is no
substantive existence to ever changing impermanent phenomena, these are like
a mirage and neither appear nor disappear. And Vasubhandu sets up one view
and then shoots it down with the next - also fun. What one is left with is
the point and unfortunately words will not do so one is left with
Someone mentioned gradual versus sudden awakening, I had just come across
this a few days ago when reading but couldn't find it again. But I didn't
want the Tibetan method of analysis to be dismissed based on a belief. We
tend to feel that direct sense perception is the only valid means to
experience reality with clarity; or as an old Zennie I used to believe this.
But there is also another way of incontrovertably discovering what is true -
one opens oneself up to inferential cognition as a way of realizing the
unseen/Emptiness. One might believe that inference involves discursiveness
but an actual inferential cognition isn't talkative, not like reading a book
and mulling over the words. But it is a specific training like any
liberational strategy. Even within my limited capacity it is fun, quite
playful, doable and beneficial for cutting through solidity but not really
the interest of this list. So, am reluctant to follow (the thread I started)
heh - never can learn to look befoer I leap.
S: My point: everything which exists, can appear or not in the field of our
consciousness. At the moment we create a gestalt, a form, a concept, we
project backwards and create empirical reality. But, we need the
conceptualisation to (re)cognice. If we don't (re)cognice, we can't speak
about existence or non-existence of something. And that's, in my opinion,
the underlying message of the terminus tecnicus "Emptiness" in Buddhism,
i.e. there is no ultimate "reality", we can't speak about what reality IS,
because it neither is nor is not. We can only speak about the empirical form
of reality, we have access to and approximate to "*That*" by negations and
not by affirmations.
J: Yes, I'd agree to a point, is, is not, neither is nor is not. But you
can be a Via Negativa or a Via Positiva and using method correctly arrive at
the same (no) place and comprehend fully and clearly. Hey HO! This long
thin nobbly musclely thing with a hoof on the end isn't a camel after all.
S: The term "existence" belongs to to the empirical reality. The Gestalt,
the apparition of something, can vary but, there is no ultimate,
transcendental "existence" (no God, in the conventional sense). What I would
say is, that there is nothing which appears in some way but exists in
another. There is a (re)cognition or not. We can modify and alter our ways
to (re)cognice, to apprehend, to comprehend, but existence will always be
correlated to apparition...with other words, we can't say if something
exists or not without (re)cognizing an apparition and the way we (as human
J: You've been boning up on Dzogchen? LOL! THis method is probably the
most compassionate way of dealing with afflictions. (INMO) And then there
is recognizing recognition...
S: is the result of an phylo-and ontogenetic evolution. How every single
individual apprehends the phenomenical reality is again a not isolated
process, it is too a dependently originated function. We experience our
inhabitation in that empirical reality as in time and space circumscribed,
and that has under evolutionary aspects a big value and meaning.
J: Well, now we have contemporary scientist talking to medieval girlie -
smile. Hell realm beings experience a river as a river of fire; hungry ghost
experience as a river of pus, human beings: "O what a lovely river" -
reality as we know it whatever it is is mind created so one busys oneself
with the question of the nature of mind and talks a lot about Nothing. The
Big Picture of Interdependent Origination is quite evolutionary when
applied. Kind of Macro and Micro.
S: It is just simply perfect in itself, no matter what happens, the show
goes on (with or without humans), the only ones who looks for beginnings and
endings are we and that's ok, too (it's part of the show, I guess:)
J: I'm with you on the perfect part...an unceasing display, everything with
the same taste, and one day the final appeasing of all ta.nhaa or craving.
S: And the whole is a strange dream!
J: Yes indeedy. Speaking of dreams, last night I had one of my once every
ten years dream of space ships arriving on our planet. Quite vivid.
Something is going to happen, (but something is always happening) or I
shouldn't have eaten that bit of cheese before bed. As I ponder the dream I
recall that people were invited to go travelling. One group was afraid to
go along into the unknown and another was packing their bags. And I think:
hey! the kids are finally grown, I've done my bit, I'm gonna go too. LOL!
Reminds me of a bit from a Rilke Poem...something like: "...leave your house
which you know so well, your house is the last before the infinite".
Always delightful to chat!!! Thanks for the free consult.
"Lace Curtain Window" photo by Al Larus
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|What Am I? Galen Sharp