Translation andthe Vichara
Hi. This is going to be published in The Prosperos Newsletter, that's why it looks so formal. Thought you might enjoy it anyway. Much Love, Ben
Translation and the Vichara
By Ben Gilberti, H.W.,M.
The vichara is the primal, wordless and direct experience of the reality that Translation so clearly points to with precise words and thought. But the longer one practices the vichara, the more Translation becomes experientially real in addition to being certainly true. While the vichara is more powerful than Translation, it eventually empowers Translation to focus the vichara in specific applications not possible to the vichara alone. So they mutually and exponentially enhance each other's scope, depth and effectiveness.
But none of that can happen over night. The full evidence of all those discoveries was the result of 18 months of consistent practice.
The practice I'm talking about is technically called "Ramana Maharshi's Self-Inquiry or Vichara." But though there are many who are trying to teach it, I've found that John Sherman is the only one who doesn't mess it up with misconceptions that render it impotent and worthless.
The practice itself is simple. And here it is outlined it in nine simple points. Though simple, they're each one true, precise, proven, essential, and important:
1. There's no need to change or avoid changing anything else you're doing.
2. The only problem there is, is a false belief about what you are.
3. The only solution that will work, is to see the truth of what you are.
4. There's no need to understand what you falsely believe yourself to be, nor is it possible to do so.
5. This false belief is entirely unconscious and cannot be seen.
6. There's nothing you can do that can rid you of this false belief, other than directly seeing for yourself the truth of what you are this is so important. It's not seeing what you've been taught is the truth of what you are. It's directly seeing for yourself the truth of what you are. There's a big difference.
Let me ask you something. Do you need to be taught the flavor of watermelon in order to be able to taste it? Well neither do you need to be taught about reality in order to be able to experience it. We've been led to believe we only can taste what we're taught. That's not true. The only way to experience what's real is to taste it for yourself on your own. So beyond all you've been taught about Truth, beyond all the magnificent watermelon teachings, what you want to do is intimately meet what you actually are, because that's what Truth actually is.
7. All that you can know for sure about yourself is that you are here. All the rest is conjecture. This is just like Translation's axiomatic major premise, just in a more directly experiential form. Instead of thinking Truth is that which is so, you notice you are that which is here.
8. So to practice the vichara you just direct your attention to your hereness, presence, or being - and see for yourself how it's so simple, obvious, certain, continuous, changeless and permanent.
9. As you continue to consistently practice the vichara, over time, false belief will dissolve, suffering will stop, intuition will increase, drama will weaken, problems will diminish, falseness will vanish, and your life will relax into peace, harmony and ease. I know because that's what happened to me. Plus, my Translations now say less, mean more, and work better.
Yet I still keep listening to John Sherman's teachings because they continue to further clarify and deepen my understanding and experience, both of the practice and the context within which if functions. Hundreds of hours of John's teachings are available for download free of charge from his websites. Here are the links: http://www.riverganga.org and http://johnsherman.org
Shifting gears a bit, let me share with you something that helped me to have a clearer experience of "this feeling of presence that is always the same." It's something that John mentions, yet he doesn't elaborate on it as extensively as I wish to do now.
I was wanting to test this for myself, to experience whether this feeling of presence was truly always the same. I sensed that it was, but I wanted to make the discovery for myself. So I proceeded to do the following: I would lie on my bed and scan every conceivable event in my life that I could think of, trying to conjure up as wide a variety of events as possible. I dug up events involving fear, guilt, suffering, meanness, praise, success, cruelty, pride, love, trauma, pleasure, happiness, joy, achievement, failure, tragedy, contentment, lust, hatred, grief, delight, shyness, discomfort, passion, shame, illness, cowardice, arrogance, skill, deceit, events of that nature.
It was fun to see that no matter how wonderful or horrible each memory happened to be, the feeling of presence was unquestionably there, completely unperturbed and always identical regardless of my age or the nature of the drama involved.
For instance, there was one scene, as a young child, where I was terribly humiliated and severely punished because I had done something that seriously injured a cousin with whom I was playing. I remembered that memory as something quite awful. But now it was simply fun to notice the feeling of presence that was perfectly intact in that little kid's awareness. And, at the same time, I was still aware of the whole drama as I always remembered it, only now I was totally free and unaffected by it.
I also found it helpful to alternate between distant memories and my current, present self. In so doing I found it encouraging and fortifying to see how clear it was that there truly is a sense of self that's exactly the same in five-year-old-Ben as in 59-year-old-Ben, and that this permanent, changeless, and untouched sense of self most certainly is the truth of what I am.
One thing that surprised me was that I enjoyed doing this as much as I did. I thought it was going to be something I'd have to discipline myself to work at. Instead I found the practice to be extremely interesting, lots of fun, very easy, and gently energizing in a way I don't yet understand.
Thus I recommend you test this for yourself. It's a good way to discover a greater depth in your experience of the vichara. No matter what you've experienced or when; no matter what you've ever thought, felt or done; no matter what has ever happened to you, test it and see. The one thing that will always remain the same for you throughout is this feeling of presence that's always the same.
Finally, I want to tell you how I came to an interesting realization one day. Here's what happened:
As I continued to practice the vichara, and more and more realized that my existence was certain, and that the fact I exist is really the only thing that's certain, and that in fact there really is nothing more certain than the fact that I exist --- one day it suddenly hit me:
Since there's nothing more certain than the fact I exist, then the fact I exist is the only thing I can possibly be, and hence most certainly has to be what I am. So beyond the mere fact I exist, is the singular fact that existence itself is what I actually am. I don't just exist; I'm existence itself. More than just present; I am presence itself. I'm not something that's being; being is what I am.
In closing let me say this. It is possible for a good photograph of a watermelon to arouse enough interest to motivate a person to go ahead and actually taste the real thing. But even though I've tried my passionate best to make this essay the most beautiful and mouthwatering watermelon photo you ever did see, remember that it still can't do more than suck pathetically in comparison to the real taste that can only come from your own direct practice.