For the last couple of days I’ve been trying to start posting again after a hiatus because several people asked me to. I’m having a lot of trouble because the only thing that interests me nowadays is Self-realization and I’m not Self-realized so I can’t write about it.
When I say “Self-realization” I mean Ramana’s state.
Why can’t I write about it? Because I’ve always tried to follow a rule on this blog of writing only about things that I know firsthand from experience. I haven’t always stuck to that rule but I’ve tried. To break that rule would be like opening Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi without washing my hands first.
This is why many posts on this site are about spiritual topics other than Self-realization. Such topics involve phenomena. Mental states. Objects. Things of which we are aware.
The series of posts about destroying vasanas is an example. They are based on my experiences (also some of my close friends’ experiences), and I think they contain valuable information for seekers, but they are not about Self-realization.
I seem to have run out of interest in topics of that kind. Nowadays all I care about is Self-realization.
I just looked back at all the posts on this blog for the last four years and I’m struck by how false a picture they present of what I’m interested in and how I pass my time. In fact almost the only thing I’m interested in is Self-realization, and this has been increasingly true for years. My guide in that pursuit since 1999 has been Sri Ramana Maharshi. Does this blog strike you as belonging to an obsessed follower of Ramana who tries to practice Self-enquiry during every waking minute? I suspect it doesn’t. Judging by the contents of this blog, I probably appear to be mainly interested in vasanas, kundalini, energy channels in the body, telepathy, dualistic experiences of God, siddhis, etc. There’s nothing wrong with those topics. All of them interested me at the time and some of them can probably be valuable to seekers. But they were always a sideshow for me and now I’ve lost interest in the sideshow.
If you’re wondering where this post is going, I am too.
39 thoughts to “My thoughts about this blog”
this is Riccardo.
I personally always felt that all you are interested in was Self-Realization/Enlightenment. All the rest seemed complementary to that.
Also, I think that as most blogs go, it’s useful to have posts focused on topics which are a bit more distant from the main focus, although related, because they allow many more people to be driven in and then to talk to them about Self-Realization.
Thanks for telling me your impression. I agree with you about occasional posts that diverge a bit from the main topic. In addition to the reason you give, I’ll add that they make the blog more interesting, at least sometimes. I’m glad you’re still here.
Yes – quite correct. The blog does not give the impression of single-minded efforts in self enquiry based on Ramana’s Teachings. None the less, over the years there have been posts that are very valuable for my practice. and although I do not know you, I feel the spirit of companionship with a fellow mad practitioner. I deeply love the talks by Swami Atmananda Udsain; his satsangs he runs from time to time are all investigations of Ramana’s teachings. A rare gem: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUsyCJ1X8ZVHiq60MmBdMvw
I feel the same way about you (spirit of companionship) based on the little bit I’ve read about you on your website (I can see the URL in your email address on the WordPress control panel for this blog). We have some commonalities of interest and outlook. Thanks for holding up the mirror to the blog and for posting the link to Swami Atmananda Udsain’s Youtube channel. I listened to two of his talks and enjoyed them. I’m glad you’re still here.
I think I did share with you a description of the intense self enquiry phase (https://www.quora.com/What-is-your-experience-with-self-enquiry/answer/Louise-Sterling) which is more interesting than the website. This was followed by 10 years of desert: no capacity to kindle the intense burning desire into flame (and without this practice is lifeless and impossible); and the hardest, the absence of grace/bliss which had been an always present companion. For years, I felt bereft, like Rumi in the desert searching for the Beloved. Then later a dropping into deep acceptance, which ironically becomes a gate. I wonder now if the desert is part of the “journey” – I sometimes feel like a pear on the pear tree — naturally ripening and that will one day fall off the tree. Or a piece of wood drying next to the fire …. In the last year or so, the practice is becoming intense again at times, like a deep conversation with a friend you haven’t seen in years.
Anyway, please don’t close the blog or stop writing. ” How to Stop Thoughts” is one of the best contemporary guides, and I have it saved on a browser tab and have shared it often with people who are struggling with this. There is also a wider synergy you may not always see, e.g. the vasana series popped up when I was digging deep into how to remove the vasanas in one of the my periods of frustration in the desert. Would love to hear more about how you are practicing now, what the texts or practice instructions are that you use, what the heart is whispering …
All the love
I don’t think I’ve seen that article before. I don’t remember it — maybe that’s because my memory is deteriorating — but even more convincing, I’m sure that if I had seen it, I would have asked your permission to reprint it on Realization.org. It’s exactly the kind of article I used to look for (with little success) to reprint during the years I put a lot of energy into that website. Maybe I should ask you now even though I’ve almost given up working on Realization.org in recent years.
From my point of view, the fact that your article comes to me today is very timely. I think it confirms what I said in two other comments on this page, that I haven’t been making enough of an effort.
I also want to think about your idea of a desert. Maybe I’ve been in a desert since about 2016 or 2018. I need to reread your article more carefully. If so I may have gotten there in a different way from you. I think I got spoiled from 1985 until then. Until then, everything fell into place effortlessly. Not painlessly but effortlessly. I never learned to make intense efforts except very occasionally in brief bursts.
Thank you Louise.
I can’t find the email, but a few years back I shared it (how?, why?, who knows? and you did ask me if u could post it. You were away for a few months and very busy I think, so it slipped away. You are very welcome.
I haven’t looked at realisation.org in a while, but had a look and remember why I loved it. Because you list the people I had absolute conviction were full realized e.g. Chogyal Namkhai Norbu (fortunate to have the introduction to the nature of mind) with him in person in Cape Town a long time ago), I trusted the people you listed that I did not know, like Dada Gavand whose three talks I have listened to countless times.
The site is a shortcut path through the jungle of nonsense to direct path teachings for those who are seriously looking.
P.S. to Louise: Thank you for the last paragraph. I will follow your advice about the blog.
P.P.S. to Louise: Your comment and article and my answers have set off an intense wave of love/energy. “love/energy” is misleading but I have to use some words or other so there they are. I haven’t felt this way in a while. Experiences like this used to be much more common, so yeah, desert. The last time I remember feeling this way was about half a year ago when I read Mother Teresa’s letters to her confessor. It was like a hole opened in my chest and the universe poured in and the universe was love. Now there’s no sense of structure to it.
Fascinating. A while after posting that comment, I also had a wave of profound, immense, indescribable love/energy washing over and through. Like you, this used to be an almost daily experience – especially in moments of surrender, compassion for others and in the presence of truth. This totally disappeared in the desert, but in the past year, washes through and obliterates me every now and then.
While I was aware of that intense love/energy, I had a feeling that you were experiencing it at that same time.
These experiences used to be more common for me too. “Especially in moments of surrender, compassion for others and in the presence of truth.” Yep.
Louise, I don’t know you but I just came to know a little about you through the quora link to your post. You articulated word for word a lot of my own experience. I thank you for penning it down as I could have never verbalized it as well as you did. A few things resonated exceptionally well –
1. directing minds tendencies to seek distractions towards reading pointers by Nisargdutta, Ramana and others.
2. Being in awe and brought to tears by simple things of life (leaf, somebody’s actions/face etc)
3. The sense of self/tendencies of mind-body coming back and this feeling of not completely done
I wanted to say this here so Freddie also know what wonderful sangha he has created here. If not for Freddie’s blog – perhaps I would have never read your wonderful and resonant post. Thank you both.
Point taken. Thanks Metta. Maybe I should sit back for a while and let everybody else talk. I just want to say I also like When Fear Falls Away very much. It’s one of the best descriptions of enlightenment I’ve seen.
Thank you Metta. It means a lot to hear you resonated and that you travelled a similar path. Would love to chat sometime about your experience and how you have worked with the “sense of self/tendencies of mind-body coming back and this feeling of not completely done” and whether this is shifting for you. Extremely tough; the only solace is the old christian mystics who report something similar, but otherwise it is not much desribed.
I agree about the wonderful sangha – Freddie’s post has opened up this community of serious practitioners in love with this practice and commited to self-realization. I wonder why we haven’t all chatted before …
Thanks Louise, On this – my experience has been a slow and systematic watching. It feels like a gradual weeding out process in a garden. During seemingly busy day to day life, these loops/vasanas make appearance in form of intense emotions/reactions where it seems I’m on auto-pilot/unconscious. I then watch with detached awareness and it usually ties back to a belief/story from past my mind just formed. It then falls away pretty much on its own. If it doesn’t (e.g. I see that loop make an appearance again) then perhaps it means I didnt get to root of it.
For example, a lot of my recent vasanas/loops are related to triggering a feeling of being coerced to do something. It formed in my childhood/youth due to cultural/conditioning of those around me. I am seeing the sting or pull of this trigger lessening. It still occurs but I don’t just go auto-pilot and act out very easily. That has been a relief.
What is fascinating to me is, (in reading through Nisargdutta’s books and Jean Dunn’s journals) – the possibility of just dropping this whole ‘rooting out all vasanas/weeding out process’ altogether. It is the mind-body’s business and when I’m not even the mind-body then why care about what mind-body does. It’s some pattern I also see in Poonjaji’s message too. There is no eventual state this mind-body should be in. It’s just good as is and will do what is needed too (and perhaps that is trying to root out vasanas systematically).
What do you mean by christian mystics who report something similar? what do they report?
Thanks for describing your process with the vasanas.
St John of the Cross, the 16th century catholic mystic wrote the classic book: The Dark Night of the Soul, which has become part of the catholic mythology of the “journey back to God”. There are actually two dark nights and this article explains them quite well. https://cac.org/daily-meditations/the-dark-nights-2020-10-22/
Catholic mystic Bernadette Roberts also talks about them in her video talks. I wouldn’t worry about it; unless of course you are hugely drawn to this or dying and desperate in the desert. There is a lot of nonsense about dark nights on the web, so if you are interested, stick to the classic texts.
I think it would still be valuable to talk about what sticks with you about Ramana, and what you feel are your obstacles. I’m sure many could relate, or would be exposed to new ideas, or might have something useful to share.
[Scroll down to see Freddie’s reply]
I am just a newbie but it almost seems what you are describing is an ego driving thing. A while ago I read something about “we will never get to a point when we are done” and another one, a Zen master also said “…enlightenment is capable of endless enlargement.”. You helped me tremendously, after reading one of your articles my meditation went to a new level. Again, just food for thought. I like to follow my own path and it is about enjoying the journey, helping people but again just an opinion, I am not right or wrong, just the way I choose to live my life.
Newbie, oldbie, it’s all good. 🙂
When you say ego driving thing, do you mean a desire to be the best or the highest for no other reason than it’s the best or highest, like a billionaire who wants to own the largest yacht in the world? In this case, Self-realization in the Ramana-ian sense of that word, Self-realization is a sort of ultimate, and maybe the desire for the world’s biggest yacht is part of my motivation, but the ego disappears forever in Self-realization and doesn’t participate in it. So if I understand you correctly and if you’re right, that wish would be a good thing in this case. That desire would be a desire that leads to its own destruction.
As for the two quotes, not everybody who talks about enlightenment is talking about the same thing. That’s why I’m being careful here to say “Ramana’s state.”
I’m very glad to hear that I helped you. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Thanks for writing.
Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll think about them carefully. I think maybe you’ve given me an idea about something I would feel comfortable doing with the blog.
As all sages will always say regarding being a guide for other : only a sage can guide properly, others are like the blind leading the blind. Some people might think this blog help them, but in fact this feeling is an ego trap, once again. Ego just feels reassured by reading some spiritual stuff, nothing more. All feelings like “I am making progress”, “my meditation is good”, “This book is a very good one”… etc, all this are just thoughts, thoughts, again and again !
This post shows you are on the right path because there is humility in it.
Let us follow Ramana’s simple advice till the very end my friend !
Arunachala shiva !
I think you’re right but only if we make clear that we’re talking about Self-realization and people who want Self-realization. Somebody wrote to me today by email, somebody who has been writing to me for years, who used to be greatly troubled by painful thoughts. He has told me (and told me again today) that he has been helped considerably by articles that I wrote. He suffers less now. I don’t think he’s deluded when he says he suffers less. As far as I know, I didn’t help him attain liberation — but what he wanted was relief from suffering in the mental sphere. Is relief from suffering in the mind without value?
Nevertheless, as I wrote above, my interests have turned exclusively toward liberation and I agree with you completely that I don’t want to write about that. Your comment has made me think that maybe I should shut the blog down.
Thank you for writing, my friend.
Freddie, I would love to read more about what is in the way of you reaching ‘Ramana’s state’. I’m also not clear on how you define Ramana’s state, do you think it is definable? or is it absence of something that equates to what he has.
As always, I admire your earnestness and truthfulness to your direct experience.
I’m not sure but I think what’s holding me back is lack of desire. I think (maybe I’m wrong) I got to the point about seven years ago where I knew experientially what I need to do — I “know” a state or states that if I hold myself there through willpower, the rest will happen. But I don’t do it.
I don’t think I’m qualified to try to describe Ramana’s state. That’s why I define “realization” by pointing to “Ramana’s state” instead of trying to describe it in words. I’ll just say that I think it’s more radical than what many seekers (including many people who regard themselves as awake and enlightened) imagine is possible. One of the greatest benefits I got from reading the Ramana literature is that it convinced me that something is possible which otherwise I would never have imagined. If you want to read an attempt at describing it, his own writings (maybe Ulladu Narpadu) or Muruganar’s Guru Vachaka Kovai might be your best bet.
One of the reasons I started writing again is your comment from a few weeks ago. So yes it mattered. 🙂
I’m glad you’re still here.
Thank you for the compliment. The older I get, the more it seems like being honest is the easiest thing to do. Why bother to be dishonest? It’s extra work. 🙂
P.S. Also isn’t there a spark of joy in being honest especially when the ego wants to say something different? There’s a sense of overruling what’s bad and going with what’s good.
Yes, this resonates with my experience as well, Freddie. Two books I came across (When fear falls away and Michael Singers two recent books) verbalized some simple and easy to put to practice instructions for me. That supercharged my practice very much along with your article about vasanas (and my subsequent research on practical ways to implement it to my own life).
I discovered, whenever formal meditation was hard to do – it was always some loop/vasana calling my attention to plainly see and untangle a chronic belief. It helped me to leave aside formal meditation and make that loop/thought be the object of observation with detached awareness; and in doing that – I could dissolve it (rather it dissolved itself). Along with it also came a sense of attenuation in burning desire for liberation (I didn’t see it that way though, it was seeking for something i didn’t fully understand) as it appeared to me that it was my own aversion to not look at what was in front of my wanting my gentle attention.
Since then, I’ve been trying to honor and understand whatever intense desire comes up and what message it is trying to convey. It takes gentle persistence because the first few formations tend to be fluff obscuring the root of what was at hand.
So – I’m just reiterating how valuable your and others writing of their own personal and earnest experiences and journeys are.
I’ve always enjoyed your posts about energy and telepathy. I’m curious, what do you think is your obstacle to self-realization?
I’m glad you enjoyed those posts. I enjoyed writing them and I enjoyed (or found interesting) the experiences they describe. The energy stuff seems to have run to completion about two years ago . I never went looking for it, it just happened. Well that’s not true, I did yoga for three days to get it going. I wouldn’t try to talk anybody out of pursuing that kind of experience but nowadays it seems to me like a weak substitute for something more fundamental that I can experience directly, so why bother.
I think my main obstacle is lack of intensity of practice caused by insufficient desire.
Thanks for writing.
I would question that. The desire for realization can eventually become a barrier to realization. It seems good in the beginning because it motivates practice, discipline, awareness, clearing vasanas etc. But it also reinforces the idea that liberation is a future state to be attained through willpower.
Most awakening accounts I have read involve a prolonged period of intense practices, which somehow exhaust the seeking drive and allow the practitioner to see that what they thought they were seeking was actually always already here. Ramana also alludes to this:
‘It is false to speak of realization. What is there to realize? The real is as it is always. We are not creating anything new or achieving something which we did not have before … Liberation is our very nature. We are that. The very fact that we wish for liberation shows that freedom from all bondage is our real nature. It is not to be freshly acquired. All that is necessary is to get rid of the false notion that we are bound. When we achieve that, there will be no desire or thought of any sort. So long as one desires liberation, so long, you may take it, one is in bondage.’
It’s the same problem with having “spiritual idols”. They are inspiring, but they also reinforce the idea that realization is a state which they have and you don’t. Again, it’s always already here in one’s own immediate experience. Anything which leads you to think that it’s a state to be attained in the future is an obstacle.
Obviously I don’t know you Freddie, but it seems that you have been seeking and practicing for a long time, and have cleared up a lot of your personal stuff. If anyone is ready for realization, it should be you …
I’m not sure but I think maybe we’ve been miscommunicating for a while because I think maybe I’m already “awake” in the way you use that word, and that when I say “Ramana’s state” or “Self-realization” you think I’m talking about being awake in that sense while I think I’m talking about something else.
I’ve always believed that Liberation is the permanent ongoing recognizing of that which really is now and forever.
A little over twenty years ago, soon after liberation became my main interest, I had a glimpse in which my mind disappeared for several hours. One of the things I noticed is that from the point of view of that state, nothing had happened. (I shouldn’t call it a state; something that always is, unchanged, is not a state.) But from the ordinary point of view, which was absent, an utterly astonishing and unimaginable change had taken place.
Because of those two viewpoints, I think a seeming paradox sometimes appears when we talk about Liberation.
From that day forward, if not earlier, it has been impossible — George, I really mean impossible, that experience seared itself into my brain to such an extent that I was unable to do sadhana for several years afterward because I had seen so clearly that mental activities are a veil over what is — for me to imagine that Liberation is the attainment of anything that doesn’t already exist. And yet, seemingly-paradoxically, it can make sense from a certain point of view to talk about “attaining” that non-state which already always exists.
I think the Ramana quote you provided can be misleading to people who aren’t familiar with the works he wrote himself like
Who Am I? and Ulladu Narpadu. It comes from a collection of paraphrases of statements Ramana made extemporaneously which were recorded by a man named A. Devaraja Mudaliar. A lot of the Ramana quotes that circulate on the Internet have that sort of provenance. This particular collection is probably more accurate than most because Ramana checked it before publication, and because Mudaliar was exceptionally capable and careful, but still, I think quotes of this kind can be misleading for the following reason.
Ramana loved to say things as simply as possible. When such statements are taken in isolation, apart from his written works where the full nuance and weirdness and radical nature of his views are fully expressed, it’s easy to assume they mean something that Ramana didn’t intend.
With regard to our conversation here, the crux of that quote, it seems to me, lies in the words “All that is necessary is to get rid of the false notion that we are bound.” It’s easy to assume that “get rid of the false notion” is something simple, like changing a belief. I don’t think he meant that.
I’m handicapped as I write this reply because I don’t feel qualified to say what Ramana really did mean. I realize that this idea I have that I shouldn’t try to describe Ramana’s views is peculiar, but it’s there. For me to paraphrase his views would feel like sacrilege to me. I’d rather point people at Who Am I? and Ulladu Narpadu.
Perhaps A Ramana Devotee will consider jumping in here.
Here’s another quote from Ramana (like the one you provided, it’s not from his writings, it’s from a book called Sat-Darshana Bhashya by Kapali Sasriar):
I’m sorry, I misunderstood, I thought you were still looking for something.
Thanks for the clarification on authorship, it explains those passages which seem to objectify a self or a state.
Maybe this is a good way to say it: I want I to get replaced permanently by Ramana’s state. I’m not in Ramana’s state.
I smiled with empathy when I read about your inner conflicts writing about something you still haven’t gained. The need to practice what you preach is very relatable but I do believe one can write about his awakening process (including esoteric subjects) and still get enlightened. Wayne Wirs comes to mind. (read about him on your blog). It might prolong the process but if you enjoy writing then so what?
I had ample experiences in the spiritual Luna park over the years (kundalini, o.b.e, nada, 1111, white light, oneness) but a memory of a drunken night in a bar more than ten years ago did it for me the most.
Apparently I suffered from a severe alcohol poisoning, I was losing consciousness, drifting in and out. I had to leave the bar and went to sit in the back alley. I felt so bad, I struggled to stay alive.
Then a recurring command was heard in my head: “Come back to yourself! Come back!.” Like Aldous Huxley’s parrot calling “Attention”. Come back! Come back!
I knew exactly what that meant. We all do. It’s so obvious, familiar and recognizable no words are needed. There were no words racing through my mind while I was trying to stay conscious.
Little by little I regained consciousness until I completely came back to my senses.
In hindsight I realized that that night was my first encounter with my real self.
There’s nothing mystical, spiritual, holy or religious about it, about being conscious or aware or alive, we all know what it means and how it feels but we imagine we’re a person who needs to understand this and therein lies the problem.
Today I’m more dedicated to self realization, like yourself. Stilling my eyes as if they’re looking from behind or looking through something helps me a lot. I read in Paul Brunton’s book ‘A search in secret India’ about Ramana not blinking – bingo!
I used to fake it till I made it, now it comes naturally and effortlessly. But it’s not about the eyes as it is about being aware that I’m looking through them, that there’s awareness. It’s similar by nature to Michael Langford’s a.w.a method who got inspired by Ramana Maharshi.
Your blog is a gem Freddie, one of the best on the web, the only one I still keep checking now and then. I hope it stays around a bit more..
All the best,
That’s an extremely interesting account. It’s amazing what’s coming out in this thread. Your last paragraph would boggle my mind if I were thinking right now, lol. 🙂 Thanks.
Freddie said: ‘Maybe this is a good way to say it: I want I to get replaced permanently by Ramana’s state. I’m not in Ramana’s state.’
Why would you want to be in a different state from the one you are already in?
Liberation is no longer wanting to be in a different state …
Freddie, I keep coming back to your note on wanting “ramana’s state” and your feeling of not wanting/able to put in words.
what I gather from his teachings and Nisargadutta’s teachings is – body/mind/consciousness is always operating in sponteneity – for gyanis and agyani’s alike (perhaps agyani’s just believe it’s not spontaneous and is being operated by them as a distinct person). What a person’s body/mind does/feel/act – is all uncaused and caused (when used ‘prarabdha karma’ as seeming cause). Perhaps, for Ramana and others at his level – it’s just the conditions that were available that manifested in what they say/do/teach. What this body/mind/consciousness then does (realization, no realization, illusion, no illusion) shouldn’t be something we should bother with, no (because our true essence is something prior to body/mind/consciousness)? But then, it is both valid and invalid statement at the same time. It’s valid for when the right situations present and invalid when the right situations aren’t present. And perhaps, it is the right thing to do for the seeking minds as those are the right situations orchestrating things perfectly.
I like how Karl Renz put it in one of his videos – it’s (referring to “realization”) absolutely real until you see that it is unreal.
As you can see, I’m rambling with myself here, but dropped this stream here as it kept on churning in my mind these past few weeks and was seeking some release.
I’ve stopped trying to think about what this state is like. I don’t think my thinking apparatus can handle that task. 🙂
Ramana says that after Realization we are happy all the time. I’m looking forward to that. 🙂