Turn the lights on

A few days ago I quoted this statement by Annamalai Swami: You stumble around in the darkness of your mind, not knowing that you have a torch in your hand. That light is the light of the Self. Switch it on and leave it on and you will never stumble again. (From Annamalai Swami: Final […]

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What is suffering?

This thing we call suffering — what is it, really? We hate it so much that we take it for granted. Taken to extremes it’s a state in which we wish we didn’t exist. But even if that’s true it doesn’t answer the question. Can we use suffering as a gateway? As a target for […]

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The Endless Search for the MacGuffin

Even the simplest creatures move toward food. For example, the cuddly little organism in the picture above, Escherichia coli, a bacterium that lives in our intestines, swims toward sugar. I do pretty much the same thing every time I happen to see a container of ice cream. Not all living things can control their movements, […]

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The greatest miracle

Pain hurts. This is the greatest miracle we know of. If this sounds strange, please read on. I picked pain for my example rather than sound or sight or blueness or impatience or orgasm or affection or a billion other phenomena which are equally miraculous only because English happens to have a peculiar word, ‘hurt’, […]

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General anesthesia and Advaita Vedanta

It is sometimes said that Advaita Vedanta began with Gaudapada’s commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad. It is from this Upanishad and commentary that we get the doctrine of the three states (waking, dream, and sleep) and turiya, the fourth. Whether Advaita really began with Gaudapada’s commentary, I don’t know. I’m not an intellectual historian. But […]

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Neti neti

A friend of a friend studied French by reciting sentences like these: ‘Buenos días’ is not French. ‘அறிவே நான்’ is not French. ‘Ausgezeichnet’ is not French. ‘夫妻肺片’ is not French. And so on. He worked hard at it but his French was always awful. That’s neti neti. If you don’t know anything about neti neti, […]

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A hint concerning Self-enquiry

The main tool we use for Self-enquiry, at least in the early stages, is attention. In this context the word ‘attention’ means the deliberate, volitional choice of what is evident. When attention succeeds, we become or remain aware of the object of attention. The reason I’m analyzing this common word in microscopic detail is that […]

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Are animals conscious?

People sometimes doubt that animals are conscious. Here’s some evidence about parrots. According to these two articles, parrots eat sap from opium poppies until they are so stoned they fall out of trees. International Business Times Daily Mirror Why do parrots do this? Probably because they like the way it feels. In order to enjoy […]

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