Happiness and the Art of Being: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Practice of the Spiritual Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana (英語) ペーパーバック – 2012/3/30
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Happiness is our true nature, our essential being. The transient happiness that we seem to derive from external experiences actually arises only from within ourself, and is experienced by us due to the temporary calming of our mind that occurs whenever any of our desires are fulfilled. So long as our mind is extroverted, attending to anything other than our own essential self-conscious being, we can never experience perfect, permanent and unqualified happiness. To experience true and eternal happiness, we must attain the experience of true self-knowledge - that is, absolutely clear consciousness of our own essential being, 'I am'. Such is the truth revealed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana.
The philosophy of Sri Ramana derives solely from his experience of true, absolute, non-dual self-knowledge, an experience that transcends all thought, both rational and irrational. However, since we imagine the existence of duality, multiplicity and relativity, we seem to lack the non-dual and absolute knowledge of our own essential self-conscious being that Sri Ramana experienced as his natural state. Therefore he presented his philosophy to us in terms of a rational and logical analysis of our present experience of ourself as a finite individual consciousness, in order to enable us to be firmly convinced of the absolute reality that underlies and supports this finite consciousness that we now mistake to be ourself.
However, the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramana are not only a rational philosophy, but are also a precise science and art. He intended his philosophy to serve only as the theoretical foundation upon which we should practise the empirical science of self-investigation (atma-vicara), which is the art of keenly self-attentive and therefore perfectly thought-free being.
This book, Happiness and the Art of Being, is an in-depth exploration of both the philosophy and the practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana. Though it is intended primarily to be an introduction to his teachings, it is not a brief one, because in a clear and simple manner it provides a very detailed and deep insight into their core. Therefore though it has been written with the intention that it should be easily understood even by readers who have no previous acquaintance with any form of spiritual philosophy, it should also be useful to readers who already have a good understanding of his teachings.
Like the aim of his teachings, the aim of this book is to prompt each one of us to think more deeply about the reality of all that we as a seemingly limited individual consciousness experience and know, to help us to understand that the only absolute reality in our entire experience of duality and relativity is our fundamental consciousness of our own essential being, 'I am', and thereby to reinforce our love and effort to attend keenly and exclusively to this essential self-consciousness 'I am' in order to discover its true nature.
The author of this book, Michael James, spent more than eight years studying the original Tamil writings of Sri Ramana and of his foremost disciple, Sri Muruganar, in minute detail under the clear guidance of another close disciple, Sri Sadhu Om. Therefore the central focus of this book is on the teachings of Sri Ramana as expressed in his own original writings, and hence it contains accurate and carefully worded translations by the author of the whole of Sri Ramana's prose treatise Nan Yar? (Who am I?) and of most of the verses of his philosophical poems such as Upadesa Undiyar, Ulladu Narpadu, Ekatma Pancakam, Anma-Viddai and Upadesa Tanippakkal.
This second print edition is a slightly revised version of the first print edition, and contains a detailed glossary.
For more information about Sri Ramana and his teachings, please visit the author's website: happinessofbeing.com.
Michael James spent more than eight years studying the original Tamil writings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana and his foremost disciple, Sri Muruganar, in minute detail under the clear guidance of another close disciple, Sri Sadhu Om, and since the passing away of Sri Sadhu Om in 1985 he has continued to study, practise, translate and write about the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramana. In all his writings on the teachings of Sri Ramana, Michael focuses on their actual practice, which is atma-vicara (self-investigation or self-enquiry), a state of simple self-attentiveness - clear and calm contemplation upon our fundamental consciousness of being, 'I am' (which is also sometimes described in more devotional terms as the practice of complete self-surrender). While describing and discussing this practice, Michael also discusses its philosophical basis, explaining the rationale for seeking to experience true self-knowledge - perfectly clear consciousness of what we essentially are. Together with Sri Sadhu Om, Michael translated into English most of the original Tamil writings of Sri Ramana, and also 'Guru Vacaka Kovai', which is the most comprehensive and reliable collection of the sayings of Sri Ramana, recorded in 1255 Tamil verses composed by Sri Muruganar, with an additional 42 verses composed by Sri Ramana himself. Their translations of these works, which include detailed word-for-word meanings of most of the original verses composed by Sri Ramana, and their translations of many of Sri Sadhu Om's own Tamil verses, have been published in several volumes. In addition to his translations, Michael has written 'Happiness and the Art of Being', which is a detailed introduction to the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, and which contains accurate and carefully worded translations by the author of the whole of Sri Ramana's prose treatise 'Nan Yar?' (Who am I?) and of most of the verses of his philosophical poems such as 'Upadesa Undiyar', 'Ulladu Narpadu', 'Ekatma Pancakam', 'Anma-Viddai' and 'Upadesa Tanippakkal'. For more information about Michael's translations and writings on the teachings of Sri Ramana, please visit his website and blog: www.happinessofbeing.com www.happinessofbeing.blogspot.com
Sri Ramana's original works are quoted throughout the book with excellent commentaries. For example, Michael James has presented all the twenty paragraphs of the original essay version of Sri Ramana's 'Nan Yar?' or 'Who am I?' in different parts of the book with detailed commentary for each paragraph of 'Nan Yar?' Such a detailed commentary of 'Nan Yar?' is not available anywhere else. He seems to have mastered classical Tamil and it shows in his translation and commentary of 'Nan Yar'.
The final chapters deal with the technique of self-enquiry and will be very useful for serious practitioners of self-enquiry (atma-vichara).
Those who prefer a more concise discussion of Bhagavan Ramana's teachings can read Sri Sadhu Om's Path of Sri Ramana, Part 1. Both books follow similar pattern of discussion. (It should be noted here that Michael James spent more than eight years with Sri Sadhu Om who was a direct disciple of Bhagavan Ramana and also a close associate of Sri Ramana's foremost disciple, Sri Muruganar.) However, as mentioned above, 'Happiness and the Art of Being' also contains detailed commentary of Sri Ramana's original works like 'Nan Yar?' Personally, I enjoyed both the books and feel each has its own flavor.
Strongly recommend this book to any sincere student of Self-Enquiry (or Atma Vichara).