Do thoughts cease at least at Self-realization?
Didi, you said in your previous post that “Nothing is going to change by following the spiritual path not even your mind’s noise”. But Ramana Maharshi session you read out the quote where he said “The degree of the absence of thoughts is the measure of your progress towards Self-realization”. These seem contradictory. Please help reconcile.
Ramana Maharshi still doesn’t mean that you will reach a state where there are zero thoughts while still living in your body-mind and involved in your daily routine [not referring to closed-eyed Samadhi which is a temporary cessation].
Even as an Enlightened being, you will have a sensation arise which says ‘I am hungry’ or ‘I am thirsty. The thought may not be in English but simply as a sensation that draws you towards the food and water. That sensation is a suggestion of the existence of the mind.
That zeroness of mind that you talk about is simply temporary cessation of mind as in Samadhi or it is naturally possible only at the Death of the body-mind complex. Even that is uncertain whether the mind will have zero thoughts or not after death as nobody has ever returned to confirm this after they died 🙂
Then what does Ramana Maharshi mean by the degree of absence of thought?
- As you progress closer to Self-Realization, you recognize that:
- Thoughts are not mine.
- Knowing is the only possibility.
- Thinking is not in my hands. I am not the Thinker at all. [Advaita level III – Ajaata vaad].
- As you recognize thoughts are not mine, you stop associating with thoughts. The ownership of thought drops. So what Maharshi meant is the degree of absence of ownership of thoughts is the measure of your progress towards Self-realization.
Then the next stage of Exploration and Investigation begins:
- When I am not the thinker and simply the witness of the mind, then I cannot increase or decrease my thoughts.
- If I cannot decrease my thoughts then how can thoughts reduce? It’s not possible.
- All that is happening by recognizing that I am the witness and not the thought itself is that I stop associating with them as ‘my thoughts’.
- Now I don’t take thoughts personally. For e.g. When you see a stranger on the road criticizing or insulting you, you don’t take it personally.
Thus a final realization happens: Oh! All that happens, in reality, is that the degree of the absence of ownership of thoughts and ownership of actions increases until you finally hit the last milestone of Self-realization.
It is akin to you saying in the morning, that the tiger in the dream was simply an illusion. You will say at Self-realization that the entire dream world is simply an illusion including the ‘mineness’ of thoughts and actions.
When you recognize experientially that all thoughts are simply an illusion, then a shift happens. You understand that ‘the thoughts even though present are actually absent as MY thoughts’. A clarity shines through where you see it as the dreamer’s mind projecting the entire dream world including the thoughts.
Reminder, an illusion is never present, it only appears to be. Thoughts are not present, they simply appear to be, like a mirage. How can a mirage be increased or reduced?
#AtmaNirvriti #AtmanandaKrishnaMenon #AdvaitaVedanta #Non-duality #Nisargadatta Maharaj #Ramana Maharshi
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Thank you very much Didi for answering this question so beautifully. And also a big thank to the person who raised this question, because I also had this question. I am blessed to have you as my Guru. I love you. There is no way I can thank you enough. Because what you have given me a new true birth.