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#2707- Monday, January 22, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz 

Nondual Highlights





Divine Andy writes to tell us of a new website by Michael James:


Happiness is Our Essential Being


Happiness lies deep within us, in the very core of our being. Happiness does not exist in
any external object, but only in us, who are the consciousness that experiences
happiness. Though we seem to derive happiness from external objects or experiences, the
happiness that we thus enjoy in fact arises from within us.


Whatever turmoil our mind may be in, in the centre of our being there always exists a
state of perfect peace and joy, like the calm in the eye of a storm. Desire and fear
agitate our mind, and obscure from its vision the happiness that always exists within it.
When a desire is satisfied, or the cause of a fear is removed, the surface agitation of
our mind subsides, and in that temporary calm our mind enjoys a taste of its own innate


Happiness is thus a state of being – a state in which our mind's habitual agitation is
calmed. The activity of our mind disturbs it from its calm state of just being, and
causes it to lose sight of its own innermost happiness. To enjoy happiness, therefore,
all our mind need do is to cease all activity, returning calmly to its natural state of
inactive being, as it does daily in deep sleep.


True happiness is therefore the happiness of just being, which is the perfect and
absolute happiness that in mystical literature is known as 'beatitude'. This true
happiness of being is also described as "the peace of God, which passeth all
understanding", because it is experienced in full only in the perfectly peaceful state of
just being, which is the state in which all mental activity has subsided in the clarity
of unobstructed self-consciousness. That is, since it can be experienced perfectly only
in the state in which we are conscious merely of our own essential being and not of any
thoughts or objects, true happiness or peace is beyond all mental comprehension.


Not only does happiness exist within us – it is in fact our true nature, our essential
being. The transient happiness that we seem to derive from external experiences, but
which actually arises only from within ourself, is in reality nothing other than our own
essential being. The more clearly we are conscious of our own essential being, the more
deeply and intensely do we experience happiness.


The degree of happiness that we experience at any moment is directly proportionate to the
degree of clarity with which we are then conscious of our true and essential being.
Therefore happiness is not only our essential being, but is also our consciousness of our
being. In fact, since we are the consciousness that experiences our own being as 'I am',
we are both being and consciousness. In other words, our essential being is
consciousness, or more precisely it is self-consciousness – consciousness that knows
itself clearly as 'I am'. Therefore, since our unobstructed consciousness of our own
being is experienced by us as happiness, in our essential nature we are non-dual being,
consciousness and happiness.


The rising and subsequent activity of our mind distracts our attention away from our
essential being, thereby clouding our natural clarity of self-consciousness and obscuring
our awareness of the happiness that we really are. Therefore so long as our mind is
extroverted, attending to anything other than our own essential being, we can never
experience perfect, permanent and unqualified happiness. To experience true and eternal
happiness, we must attain the experience of true self-knowledge, that is, perfectly clear
consciousness of our own essential being.


In order to experience such true self-knowledge, we must withdraw our attention from
everything other than ourself, and focus it wholly and exclusively upon our own essential
being, which we always experience in the form of our fundamental consciousness – our
primary knowledge 'I am'.


Until and unless we attend to our innermost self in this manner, we cannot know who or
what we really are, and unless we thereby experience a clear and certain knowledge of
what we really are, we cannot be certain about the reality or validity of any knowledge
that we may appear to have about other things. All our knowledge about the world and God
– about science, religion, philosophy, physics, cosmology, psychology, theology or any
other branch of human knowledge – is open to serious doubt so long as our knowledge about
ourself – the consciousness by which all those other things are known – is confused and


Therefore, if we wish to experience permanent and unqualified happiness, or to attain
knowledge about which we can be absolutely certain, we must focus our whole attention
keenly upon ourself, our fundamental consciousness of our own essential being, 'I am', in
order to ascertain who or what we really are.


Such in brief is the simple but profound truth revealed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana.


The philosophy, science and art of true self-knowledge


The philosophy of Sri Ramana derives solely from his experience of true, absolute and
non-dual self-knowledge, an experience that transcends all thought, both rational and
irrational. However, since we imagine the existence of duality, multiplicity and
relativity, we seem to lack the non-dual and absolute knowledge of our own essential
self-conscious being that Sri Ramana experienced as his natural state. Therefore he
presented his philosophy to us in terms of a rational and logical analysis of our present
experience of ourself as a finite individual consciousness, in order to enable us to be
firmly convinced of the absolute reality that underlies this finite consciousness that we
now mistake to be ourself.


However, the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramana are not only a rational philosophy, but
are also a precise science and art. He intended his philosophy to serve only as the
theoretical foundation upon which we should practice the empirical science of
self-investigation, which is the art of abiding firmly and steadily in our natural state
of keenly self-attentive and therefore perfectly thought-free being.


The practice of 'self-enquiry' or self-scrutiny


A Sanskrit term that was often used, both by Sri Ramana and by other more ancient sages
such as Sri Adi Sankara, to describe this empirical practice of self-investigation or
self-attentiveness is atma-vichara, which is often loosely translated in English as
'self-enquiry' or 'self-inquiry'. However, rather than 'enquiry', the word vichara can be
more accurately translated as 'examination' or 'investigation'. Therefore the term
atma-vichara really means 'self-investigation' or 'self-examination', and denotes the
simple practice of examining, inspecting or scrutinising our fundamental and essential
consciousness of our own being, 'I am', with a keen and concentrated power of attention.


Sri Ramana also referred to this empirical practice of self-investigation,
self-examination, self-inspection, self-scrutiny, self-attention or self-attentiveness as
the vichara 'who am I?' However, when he described it thus, he did not mean that it is a
process of questioning ourself 'who am I?' either verbally or mentally. What he intended
us to understand by this term is that this practice is a keenly attentive examination or
scrutiny of our basic consciousness of our own being, which we always experience as 'I
am', in order to discover the true nature of this 'I', our essential being or 'am'-ness.


The aim of this website


This website is dedicated to exploring in depth the philosophy, science and art of true
self-knowledge, particularly as taught by Bhagavan Sri Ramana.


At present the principal resource offered on this website is an e-book entitled Happiness
and the Art of Being, and subtitled A layman's introduction to the philosophy and
practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, which is available for free
download through the webpage Happiness and the Art of Being. In future, however, I hope
to enhance the content of this website, adding to it more e-books, translations of all
the original writings of Sri Ramana, together with detailed explanations and
commentaries, and a selection of articles discussing various aspects of his teachings.


I have created this website as a service to all those who are interested in the
philosophy, science and art of true self-knowledge, and particularly to all those who
sincerely wish to practise the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramana. Therefore, if you would
like to assist me in this service, please pass on information about this website to your
friends or to anyone else you know who might be interested in this subject.


Thank you for visiting this website. I hope that you may be benefited by reading what is
written in it, and that it may encourage and help you to practise the simple yet very
profound teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana.


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