Ramana Maharshi : The means that make one qualified for enquiry are meditation, yoga, etc. One should gain proficiency in these through graded practice, and thus secure a stream of mental modes that is natural and helpful. When the mind that has in this manner become ripe, listens to the present enquiry, it will at once realize its true nature which is the Self, and remain in perfect peace, without deviating from that state. To a mind which has not become ripe, immediate realization and peace are hard to gain through listening to enquiry. Yet, if one practices the means for mind-control for some time, peace of mind can be obtained eventually.
Ramana Maharshi : Not if you keep the idea always before you, that it is not your work. At first effort is needed to remind yourself of it, but later on it becomes natural and continuous. The work will go on of its own accord and your peace will remain undisturbed.
Meditation is your true nature. You call it meditation now, because there are other thoughts distracting you. When these thoughts are dispelled, you remain alone – that is, in the state of meditation, free from thoughts; and that is your real nature, which you are now trying to realise by keeping away other thoughts. Such keeping away of other thoughts is now called ‘meditation’. But when the practice becomes firm, your real nature shows itself as true meditation.
Ramana Maharshi : Well, that is all right so far as the mind goes. Your process is only mental. Actually all the scriptures mention this process only in order to guide the seeker to the Truth. The Truth cannot be directly indicated; that is why this mental process is used.
You see, he who eliminates all the ‘not-I’ cannot eliminate the ‘I’. In order to be able to say ‘I am not this’ or ‘I am That’, there must be the ‘I’ to say it. This ‘I’ is only the ego, or the ‘I’-thought. After the rising up of this ‘I’-thought, all other thoughts arise. The ‘I’-thought is therefore the root thought. If the root is pulled out, all the rest is uprooted at the same time.Therefore seek the root ‘I’; question yourself: ‘Who am I?’; find out the source of the ‘I’. Then all these problems will vanish and the pure Self alone will remain. Devotee : But how am I to do it?
Ramana Maharshi : The ‘I’ is always there, whether in deep sleep, in dream or in the waking state. The one who sleeps is the same as the one who is now speaking. There is always the feeling of ‘I’. If it were not so you would have to deny your existence. But you do not. You say: ‘I am’. Find out who is.
Devotee: I still do not understand. You say the ‘I’ is now the false ‘I’. How am I to eliminate this wrong ‘I’? Ramana Maharshi : You need not eliminate any false ‘I’. How can ‘I’ eliminate itself? All that you need do is to find out its origin and stay there. Your effort can extend only so far. Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach It.Ramana Maharshi - Meditation is initiated and sustained by a conscious effort of the mind. When such effort entirely subsides, it is called samadhi.
If you can keep still without engaging in any other pursuits, well and good. But if that cannot be done, what is the use of remaining inactive only with regard to realisation? So long as you are obliged to be active, do not give up the attempt to realise the Self.
Meditation is a fight. As soon as you begin meditation, other thoughts will crowd together, gather force and try to overwhelm the single thought to which you try to hold. This thought must gradually gain strength by repeated practice. When it has grown strong, the other thoughts will be put to flight. This is the battle always going on in meditation.
So long as the ego lasts, effort is necessary. When the ego ceases to exist, actions become spontaneous. No one succeeds without effort. Mind control is not your birthright. The few who succeed owe their success to their perseverence.
A young man from Colombo, Ceylon, said to Bhagavan: J. Krishnamurthi teaches the method of effortless and choiceless awareness as distinct from that of deliberate concentration. Would Sri Bhagavan be pleased to explain how best to practise meditation and what form the object of meditation should take?
Ramana Maharshi : Effortless and choiceless awareness is our real nature. If we can attain that state and abide in it, that is all right. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the age-old vasanas (inherent tendencies) turn the mind outwards to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inwards and that, for most people, requires effort.
Of course, every teacher and every book tells the aspirant to keep quiet, but it is not easy to do so. That is why all this effort is necessary. Even if we find somebody who has achieved this supreme state of stillness, you may take it that the necessary effort had already been made in a previous life. So effortless and choiceless awareness is attained only after deliberate meditation.That meditation can take whatever form most appeals to you. See what helps you to keep out all other thoughts and adopt that for your meditation.
Ramana Maharshi : What is meditation? It is the suspension of thoughts. You are perturbed by thoughts which rush one after another. Hold on to one thought so that others are expelled. Continuous practice gives the necessary strength of mind to engage in meditation.
Meditation differs according to the degree of advancement of the seeker. If one is fit for it one can hold directly to the thinker; and the thinker will automatically sink into his source, which is Pure Consciousness. If one cannot directly hold on to the thinker, one must meditate on God; and in due course the same individual will have become sufficiently pure to hold on to the thinker and sink into the absolute Being. In case the path of worship was chosen, he demanded absolute surrender.
Ramana Maharshi : It is done by practice and dispassion and it succeeds only gradually. The mind, having been so long a cow accustomed to graze stealthily on others' estates, is not easily confined to her stall. However much her keeper tempts her with luscious grass and fine fodder, she refuses the first time. Then she takes a bit, but her innate tendency to stray away asserts itself and she slips away. On being repeatedly tempted by the owner, she accustoms herself to the stall until finally, even if let loose, she does not stray away. Similarly with the mind. If once it finds its inner happiness it will not wander outward.
at any rate, I feel some pain in the back and front of the chest. This is stated to be a test by God. Will Bhagavan explain this and say if it is true? Ramana Maharshi : There is no Bhagavan outside you and no test is therefore instituted. What you believe to be a test or a new disease resulting from spiritual practices is really the strain that is now brought to play upon your nerves and the five senses. The mind which was hitherto operating through the nadis [nerves] to sense external objects, maintaining a link between itself and the organs of perception, is now required to withdraw from the link' and this action of withdrawal naturally causes a strain, a sprain or a snap attendant with pain.
Some people call this a disease and some call it a test of God. All these pains will go if you continue your meditation, bestowing your thought solely on understanding your Self or on Self-realization. There is no greater remedy than this continuous yoga or union with God or atman. Pain is inevitable as a result of discarding the vasanas [mental tendencies] which you have had for so long.
Question : Suppose there is some disturbance during meditation, such as mosquito bites. Should one persist in meditation and try to bear the bites and ignore the interruption, or drive the mosquitoes away and then continue the meditation?
Ramana Maharshi : You must do as you find most convenient. You will not attain mukti simply because you drive them away. The thing is to attain one-pointedness and then to attain mano-nasa [destruction of the mind]. Whether you do this by putting up with the mosquito bites or driving the mosquitoes away is left to you. If you are completely absorbed in your meditation you will not know that the mosquitoes are biting you. Till you attain that stage why should you not drive them away?
Ramana Maharshi : What is `hours' again? It is a concept. Each question of yours is prompted by a thought. Whenever a thought arises, do not be carried away by it. You become aware of the body when you forget the Self. But can you forget the Self ? Being the Self how can you forget it ?
There must be two selves for one to forget the other. It is absurd. So the Self is not depressed, nor is it imperfect. It is ever happy. The contrary feeling is a mere thought which has actually no stamina in it. Be rid of thoughts. Why should one attempt meditation? Being the Self one remains always realized. Only be free from thoughts.
You think that your health does not permit your meditation. This depression must be traced to its origin. The origin is the wrong identification of the body with the Self. The disease is not of the Self, it is of the body. But the body does not come and tell you that it is possessed by the disease. It is you who say so. Why ? Because you have wrongly identified yourself with the body. The body itself is a thought. Be as you really are. There is no reason to be depressed.
Ramana Maharshi : `I am that I am.' `I am' is God, not thinking `I am God.' Realize `I am' and do not think `I am.' `Know I am God,' it is said, and not `Think I am God.`
All talk of surrender is like pinching brown sugar from a brown sugar image of Lord Ganesa and offering it as naivedya [food offering] to the same Lord Ganesa. You say you offer your body, soul and all possessions to God. Were they yours that you could offer them?
At best, you can only say, `I falsely imagined till now that all these which are yours were mine. Now I realize they are yours. I shall no more act as if they are mine.' This knowledge that there is nothing but God or Self, that I and mine don't exist and that only the Self exists, is jnana. Thus there is no difference between bhakti and jnana. Bhakti is jnana mata or the mother of jnana.
Ramana Maharshi : The Heart is not physical. Meditation should not be on the right or the left. Meditation should be on the Self. Everyone knows `I am'. Who is the `I'? It will be neither within nor without, neither on the right nor on the left. `I am' - that is all. Leave alone the idea of right and left. They pertain to the body. The Heart is the Self. Realize it and then you will see for yourself. There is no need to know where and what the Heart is. It will do its work if you engage in the quest for the Self.
and not any separate ‘I’ thought. Ramana Maharshi - Whether the nominative case, which is the first case, appears or not, the sentences in which the other cases appear have as their basis the first case.
Similarly, all the thoughts that appear in the Heart have as their basis the egoity which is the first mental mode ‘I’, the cognition of the form ‘I am the body’; thus, it is the rise of egoity that is the cause and source of the rise of all other thoughts; therefore, if the self-conceit of the form of egoity which is the root of the illusory tree of samsara (bondage consisting of transmigration) is destroyed, all other thoughts will perish completely like an uprooted tree.
Whatever thoughts arise as obstacles to one’s sadhana (spiritual discipline), the mind should not be allowed to go in their direction, but should be made to rest in one’s Self which is the Atman; one should remain as witness to whatever happens, adopting the attitude ‘Let whatever strange things happen, happen; let us see!’ This should be one’s practice.
In other words, one should not identify oneself with appearances; one should never relinquish one’s Self. This is the proper means for destruction of the mind (manonasa) which is of the nature of seeing the body as Self, and which is the cause of all the aforesaid obstacles. This method which easily destroys egoity deserves to be called devotion (bhakti), meditation (dhyana), concentration (yoga), and knowledge (jnana).
Because God remains of the nature of the Self, shining as ‘I’ in the Heart, because the scriptures declare that thought itself is bondage, the best discipline is to stay quiescent without ever forgetting Him (God, the Self), after resolving in Him the mind which is of the form of the ‘Ithought’, no matter by what means. This is the conclusive teaching of the scriptures.
Ramana Maharshi : Concentrate on that one whom you like best. If a single thought prevails, all other thoughts are put off and finally eradicated. So long as diversity prevails there are bad thoughts. When the object of love prevails only good thoughts hold the field. Therefore hold on to one thought only. Dhyana is the chief practice.
A little later Sri Bhagavan continued: Dhyana means fight. As soon as you begin meditation other thoughts will crowd together, gather force and try to sink the single thought to which you try to hold. The good thought must gradually gain strength by repeated practice. After it has grown strong the other thoughts will be put to flight. This is the battle royal always taking place in meditation. One wants to rid oneself of misery. It requires peace of mind, which means absence of perturbation owing to all kinds of thoughts. Peace of mind is brought about by dhyana alone.
Later Sri Bhagavan continued: When dhyana is well established it cannot be given up. It will go
on automatically even when you are engaged in work, play or enjoyment. It will persist in sleep too. Dhyana must become so deep-rooted that it will be natural to one.
Question : Is not japa necessary? Ramana Maharshi : Is dhyana not vak (speech)? Why is japa necessary for it? If dhyana is gained there is no need for anything else.
Ramana Maharshi : A vow is only a vow. It may help dhyana to some extent. But what is the good of keeping the mouth closed and letting the mind run riot. If the mind be engaged in dhyana, where is the need for speech? Nothing is as good as dhyana. Should one take to action with a vow of silence, where is the good of the vow?
Ramana Maharshi : Both amount to the same. Those unfit for investigation must practise meditation. In meditation the aspirant forgetting himself meditates `I am Brahman' or `I am Siva' and by this method holds on to Brahman or Siva. This will ultimately end with the residual awareness of Brahman or Siva as being. He will then realize that this is pure being, that is, the Self. He who engages in investigation starts by holding on to himself, and by asking himself `Who am I?' the Self becomes clear to him.
Mentally imagining oneself to be the supreme reality, which shines as existence-Consciousness-bliss, is meditation. Fixing the mind in the Self so that the unreal seed of delusion will die is enquiry.
Whoever meditates upon the Self in whatever bhava [mental image] attains it only in that image. Those peaceful ones who remain quiet without any such bhava attain the noble and unqualified state of kaivalya, the formless state of the Self.
Ramana Maharshi : For the beginner meditation on a form is more easy and agreeable. Practice of it leads to self-enquiry which consists in sifting the reality from unreality. What is the use of holding on to truth when you are filled with antagonistic factors?
Self-enquiry directly leads to realization by removing the obstacles which make you think that the Self is not already realized. Meditation differs according to the degree of advancement of the seeker. If one is fit for it one might directly hold on to the thinker, and the thinker will then automatically sink into his source, pure consciousness.
If one cannot directly hold on to the thinker one must meditate on God and in due course the same individual will have become sufficiently pure to hold on to the thinker and to sink into absolute being.
Meditation is possible only if the ego is kept up. There is the ego and the object meditated upon. The method is therefore indirect because the Self is only one. Seeking the ego, that is its source, the ego disappears. What is left over is the Self. This method is the direct one.