Sunday, April 28, 2013

Five Motives Revisited

"...the subtle link that joins the five senses to what is core to the living flesh, the living cloud, the living ocean of love liberated from time." (Lorca)

I just stumbled on Ramana Maharshi's method of "self-inquiry". Listening to Ram Dass's explanation of the method (which I found on You Tube), I was struck by what he calls "the five organs of motion". It reminded me of a question I asked (and tried to answer) last year. Are there five discrete motives just as there are five discrete senses?

Ramana appears* to have taught a method by which you gradually realize that you are not your body and not your mind either. You go through the "organs of perception" (the senses) and the organs of motion (what I call, perhaps a bit clumsily, "motives") one at a time. The senses are, of course, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch, and the relevant organs are, just as obviously, eyes, ears, tongue (sometimes this is "mouth"), nose, and skin.

Now, Ramana teaches that the organs of motion are the hands, feet, tongue (sometimes this is "throat"), sphincter and genitalia. My attempt to itemize the motives was speech, song, impulse (pushing/pulling), grasp (holding), and locomotion (moving around). I wasn't quite happy with it at the time (especially the idea of distinguishing song from speech at this level.) Ramana's organs give me another approach.

Feet: motion
Hands: grasp
(pushing can be understood as the combination of holding and moving)
Tongue: speech
Sphincter: waste
Genitals: sex

I like this way of analyzing the body. Remember that (in the Pangrammaticon) the senses are organized around the "mind", and the motives are organized around the "heart". Ramana's method moves on to the autonomic functions: "I am not the five internal organs: the organs of respiration, digestion, excretion, circulation, perspiration." It seems to me that before getting to the "thought" that must be denied at the end, one might say, "I am not this heart. I am not this mind. Or, perhaps that is precisely what I would deny.

I am not sure that I believe in the "I-I", the realization that I am nothing. I believe in a kind of samadhi that is perhaps worldless but nonetheless articulate. Parts joined together in a system.

*Appearances can be deceiving. It seems Dass was merely propagating a standard misconception about Ramana's method. (This is what happens when you try to glean an understanding of spirituality from the internet!). Apparently (!) what I'm talking about here is the "neti neti" method of self-inquiry, which Ramana rejected.

[Update: but much of it can be found in his Who Am I?:

'Who am I?' The physical body, composed of the seven dhatus, is not 'I'. The five sense organs… and the five types of perception known through the senses… are not 'I'. The five parts of the body which act… and their functions… are not 'I'. The five vital airs such as prana, which perform the five vital functions such as respiration, are not 'I'. Even the mind that thinks is not 'I'. In the state of deep sleep vishaya vasanas remain. Devoid of sensory knowledge and activity, even this [state] is not 'I'. After negating all of the above as 'not I, not I', the knowledge that alone remains is itself 'I'. The nature of knowledge is sat-chit-ananda [being-consciousness-bliss].

[Note: "The five parts of the body that act are the mouth, the legs, the hands, the anus, and the genitals and their functions are speaking, walking, giving, excreting and enjoying."]]

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