Does the World Say that it Exists? – Ramana Maharshi

 

Ramana_Maharshi_faceDr. Bernhard Bey, an American Chemist who had interested himself in Vedanta for the last twenty years, now in India, came on a visit to the Master. He asked: “How is abhyasa to be made? I am trying to find the Light.” (He himself explained abhyasa as concentration = one-pointedness of mind.)

The Master asked, what was his abhyasa till now.

The visitor said he concentrated on the nasal base, but his mind wandered.

M.: Is there a mind?

Another devotee gently put in: The mind is only a collection of thoughts.

M.: To whom are the thoughts? If you try to locate the mind, the mind vanishes and the Self alone remains. Being alone, there can be no one-pointedness or otherwise.

D.: It is so difficult to understand this. If something concrete is said, it can be readily grasped. Japa, dhyana, etc., are more concrete.

M.: ‘Who am I?’ is the best japa.

What could be more concrete than the Self? It is within each one’s experience every moment. Why should he try to catch anything outside, leaving out the Self? Let each one try to find out the known Self instead of searching for the unknown something beyond.

D.: Where shall I meditate on the Atman? I mean in which part of the body?

M.: The Self should manifest itself. That is all that is wanted.

A devotee gently added: On the right of the chest, there is the Heart, the seat of the Atman.

Another devotee: The illumination is in that centre when the Self is realised.

M.: Quite so.

D.: How to turn the mind away from the world?

M.: Is there the world? I mean apart from the Self? Does the world say that it exists? It is you who say that there is a world. Find out the Self who says it.

-Ramana Maharshi

From Talks with Ramana Maharshi, Talk 81, 15th October, 1935

 

All a Bunch of Hogwash

robert-adamsYou have heard it said that you are your own worst enemy and this is true, you are your own worst enemy. Why? Because you live in a universe of light and bliss and yet you’re not seeing or feeling this light or bliss. You’re feeling something else. You’re seeing something else. And in your erroneous thinking you believe and feel if only things were going this way I would be so happy. This is an illusion. It really makes no difference which way things are going the only thing that matters is how you react to things that are moving along in your life. That is the only thing that matters. How you react to every situation that comes into your life. You begin by learning to leave the world alone. Have no feelings for or against. What do I mean by this, “Have no feelings for or against?” How would you be able to function? Yet there is truth in this statement.

As an example, you know the elections are coming up. Some of you like Clinton. Some of you like Bush. Some of you like Perot. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with this as long as you do not become emotional over it. As long as you do not become wild and feel it in your heart and begin to stick up for your rights. Telling everybody how good your man is and how bad the other party is, do you see what I’m saying? You’re not supposed to do nothing really, if you’re working with this world. You can get involved in the world but not mentally. That’s the secret. Physically you will do something, go out and vote if you like. Join the Peace Corp, protest, do whatever you like but mentally realize that it’s all a bunch of hogwash. In your mind be completely free. This is the way to live in this world.

-Robert Adams

From Satsang of Oct. 22, 1992

The Mind is Not Your Friend – Robert Adams

Robert: Some of you look so serious. This is not a serious satsang, it’s a lot of fun, feel happy. Happiness is your real nature. You might as well get used to it, it’s going to overtake you whether you like it or not.

I want you to ask yourself a question: Why am I here at satsang? Why did I come here? Did you come to observe the speaker? To compare him to other speakers? Most of you have gone to so many meetings, you’re totally confused. Going to meetings for some of you is like going to the movies. You ask, “What’s playing this week?” The same way you ask, “Who’s speaking this week?” But, some of you never do anything about it. You listen to the message and then you go home and then you say, “Well wasn’t he or she an eloquent speaker, that was great! What are we going to do now? Let’s go bowling. Let’s go watch TV” And you forget all about the meeting until next time.

Some of you have been going to meetings for thirty years or more. What have you accomplished? You have read every book that has been written. Where are you? Are you happy? Are you liberated? Are you free? Ask yourself.

What we offer here, is absolutely nothing, no thing. It’s all in the invisible. It all has to do with consciousness and consciousness is your real nature. It’s really what you are. When you identify with consciousness, you become your real Self. When you don’t, you’re a part of humanity, struggling, trying to become free.

In order to understand the body-mind phenomena, that you are not the body-mind, you first have to understand what the mind is. What is the mind? It is merely a conglomeration of energy, of thoughts, thoughts about the past and the future. That’s all the mind is. The mind is not your friend. But you can use the mind to accomplish many things. We’ve all been programmed, brainwashed. It started, when you were in your mother’s womb. All of her feelings, all of her negation or positiveness, all of her energy was transferred into you. Not only that, but you have samskaras, past life tendencies, fears, prejudices that also go into your subconscious before you were born.

When you come out into the world, you’re put in your crib and you pick up the vibrations of your house, people fighting, parents hitting each other, loving each other, all that goes into your subconscious mind and makes up you. When you’re at the age when you walk you go outside and play with some friends and your environment soaks into your subconscious mind. Then you go to school, you go to church, temple, synagogue and all those teachings go into your subconscious. Then you grow up you get a job, have a family and here you are. You’re a product of preconceived ideas, of concepts. But is that really you? It’s you as long as you believe it’s you.

When you get tired of playing games, something within you gives you a push.  That’s called the inner guru. It pushes you from within and something outside leads you to the right person, to the right book, to the right environment that you have to be, because you have given up playing games. In other words you’ve become tired of the world and you want liberation. Wanting liberation is very funny to me. It’s like a person taking a shower saying, “I want to get wet.” Liberation is your very nature, you have to wake up to it, to realize it’s you. So you are a conglomeration of thoughts, of energy, that has programmed you since you were a baby. And here you are. So, now that you’re here and you know how you’ve been programmed, what are you going to do about it?

But let’s talk a little bit about the mind a little more. If you know about the mind, you will know what you have to get rid of. The mind doesn’t really exist. But you’ve been programmed to believe that the mind is an entity, that it does exist. Therefore you have to play this game, getting rid of the mind. Let’s see again how the mind works. Let us compare the mind to the earth.

A farmer has two seeds. One is of Nightshade, a deadly poison and the other is of corn. The seeds are thoughts. The farmer plants both seeds. And once the seeds are planted, the earth has no alternative but to grow in abundance, whatever has been planted. In the same way, when you accept certain thoughts, your mind grows those thoughts until they become your experience. And this is why you have the problems that you’ve got today. You have created them yourself.

Take another example. Have you ever planted seeds? Sure you have, some of you have. Say a farmer plants a rose seed, a tulip seed, a carrot seed and let us imagine that these seeds are like us. They can think and talk like humans. And the rose seed says to itself, “look at that beautiful rose, they say that I will grow into a rose. I will become a rose.

But that sounds impossible. How can I ever be a beautiful rose like that. It’s virtually impossible for me to do that.” By that very thought the seeds would stagnate and not grow. The carrot seed says the same thing, “I’m just a nothing, a nobody, how can I ever grow into a beautiful carrot?” By that very thought the seed would stagnate.

In the same way I say to you, “You are absolute reality. You are Brahman, infinite awareness, consciousness.” But you say, “How can that be? That sounds impossible. I’m just a lowly person, I’m nobody important.” And you keep identifying with your body and your mind. As long as you identify with your body and your mind, the lord of karma, Ishvara, becomes your Master. And you’re under the jurisdiction of the Lord of Karma. Therefore you keep coming back again and again to this earth. And then you become sort of earth bound, until you become totally free. But you have to do this by yourself. You have to practice certain techniques.

Somebody asked me just recently, “You say that consciousness, reality, is like a screen and the body, the world are all images on the screen.” And the question is “Since I believe I’m an image, can I change my image to a better one?” In other words, as long as you believe that you’re an image and you are not consciousness, can you improve your lot? Can you improve your lifestyle and change your image?

Now, that is up to the lord of karma. As most of you know everything has been preordained, determined before you took up your body. But you have certain freedom, depending on your karma. And the question really is, “Can you make a sick body well? Can you make a poor person rich? Can you make a depressed person happy?” You’re working at a mind level when you do this. You’re not going to the ultimate truth, but you’re working from your mind. And you can never find freedom and liberation by working from your mind.

As an example: Let’s say for instance, you manipulate you mind enough and you’ve got cancer. You’ve been working on yourself for fifteen years. You use imaging techniques, you use mind control. You imagine that the white blood corpuscles are attacking the cancer and you finally heal yourself of cancer. You get written up in the “National Inquirer.” You appear on “Phil Donahue.” And you feel great and proud of yourself, you’ve healed yourself of cancer. Next month you’re crossing the street, a truck hits you and you’re dead. That’s what happens through mind manipulation.

Let’s take another case. You’re working on yourself to become rich. You take the proper real estate courses. You learn business administration. You use mind control. And after twenty years you become a multimillionaire. You get married and have three children. Then your wife and children get killed in an automobile accident. Somebody kidnaps you and holds you for ransom. And you have to pay out ten million dollars. And you’re back where you started from.

What I’m trying to say is, working with the mind is not the answer. We bypass the mind. We realize the mind is not our friend. The idea is to annihilate the mind. To annihilate thought. How we do this? Through the method of Jnana Marga, through the method of vichara, self-inquiry, this is the fastest method to liberate you from confusion and ignorance.

When you have a problem, when you have some sort of confusion. You simply ask yourself the question, “To whom does this come? Who has this problem? Or who has this karma?” And pretty soon the answer will come by itself, “I do.” Then you further ask, “From where does this I come from? What is the source of I?” You abide in the I, you hold onto the I. You start to use a meditation called, “I-I,” You simply abide in the I as long as you can. And you follow the I thread into your spiritual heart. You say to yourself, “I, I, I, I, I, I.” You remember that everything in the world is attached to I. Isn’t it?

Think of all the times in your life you’ve said, “I. I feel sick. I feel depressed. I feel happy. I feel out of sorts.” Who is this I that you’re talking about? Is it your body? It can’t be your body. Because when you sleep and you wake up you say, “I slept.” When you dream, you wake up you say, “I dreamt.” And when you’re awake you say, “I’m awake.” To whom are you referring when you say, “I?”

Find out, go within, ask yourself, “Who am I? Where did I come from?” But never answer, just pose the question, “What is this source of I?” and one day you will realize that I does not exist. When you follow I to the source, one day there will be like a big explosion and you will see myriads of light particles all around you. You will then realize that the whole universe is nothing but a bunch of light particles. Yet this is not the answer. For where did the light particles come from? They come from no thing, from nothing. And nothing is consciousness.

Consciousness is like space. It has no shape. Yet it takes the shape of every creation. It appears to take the shape of the world, of people. Everything is consciousness. Consciousness is like a chalkboard. And the objects of the world are like images on the chalkboard. You can draw any image that you like. You can draw an Indian. You can draw two people fighting. Two people making love. And then you erase it and draw something else. But the chalkboard never changes. The chalkboard is always the same. So it is with you. You go through all kinds of experiences. But the realization is that you are not the experiences you’re going through. You are consciousness, that is your real nature. Think about that.

My real nature to you.

I am not a preacher, nor a philosopher. I am not a minister nor a lecturer. I can only share with you the way that I feel. When I use the word, “I-am,” I-am referring to all of you. I-am is another word for God, the first name of God. Another word for consciousness, omnipresence is I-am. I feel that I-am not the body nor the mind. I am absolute awareness.  I am ultimate oneness. I-am infinite intelligence, nirvana, emptiness, I-am that I-am. I am sat-chit-ananda. I am parabrahman. I was never born and I can never die. I Am That I Am.

The world is a product of my imagination. I see the world as consciousness. I see the reality, perfection, peace, love, happiness. This is the real Self and nothing else exists.

(silence)

Welcome to satsang. Satsang is where we sit around and rejoice in each other. And if there are any questions you wish to ask feel free to do so. If you wish to make a statement or say anything you like, this is the time to do it. For you don’t expect me to keep talking do you? Feel free to ask any question about the spiritual path, or about anything else.

SL: Robert, I know that when we try to meditate or just clear our minds, you said that we could do it by asking the “I” question. Someone also mentioned before about clearing the mind by just trying to listen is that also another way?

R: It makes no difference what method you use to clear your mind. The idea is to make your mind quiescent. To make your mind still and calm. When your mind is still and calm you solve the problem. All the methods, self-inquiry, breath control, yoga, everything is to quiet the mind. Use whatever method suits you. You can become the witness to your thoughts. You can watch your thoughts as they go by. When you become the witness and you do not interfere with the thought process, the thoughts automatically begin to weaken by themselves, until they dissipate entirely.

You can ask yourself, “To whom comes these thoughts?” Whatever method you use is fine. But by all means do something to still the mind. And again when the mind is still and quiet, everything will take care of itself. The secret is to quiet the mind. Your real nature is self-realization. When the mind is stilled, you just return to your real nature, to what you always were.

SL: Earlier you said that, something was the fastest path to self-realization? That versus what?

R: Versus anything. It has been proven that vichara is the fastest path to awaken. Vichara means self-inquiry. By inquiring within yourself and finding the source of your existence, your body-mind disappears. And you become your Self once again. But it’s not for everyone. Most people seem to have some kind of difficulty. Then you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, and do whatever helps you. Breath control, mantras, japa, repetition of Gods name, everything brings you to the top. But by all means do something.

This is why I share these various methods of meditation with you. If you get tired of one you can use another one. If you practice something will give eventually. Something will happen to the one who practices.

-Robert Adams

robert-adams

From the Collected Works of Robert Adams, transcript #15, 14th October, 1990

Saradamma’s Realization

SaradammaThe next morning she [Saradamma] came out of samadhi with a strong awareness that her ‘I’-thought was still existing. She remembered the peace of the previous day and night when she had been in samadhi, with the ‘I’-thought temporarily gone, and she decided to see if she could enter the same state again. She closed her eyes and within a few minutes her ‘I’- thought subsided into the Heart and she went back into samadhi again. The ‘I’-thought emerged from the Heart several times during the day, but each time it subsided Sarada was convinced that she had realised the Self. She was still able to talk and Swamy, thinking that her realisation was near, placed a small tape- recorder near her to record her words. Sarada spoke in short, quiet sentences, with frequent pauses as she was overwhelmed by the bliss of the Self.

‘I have no body. I have no “I”. I am not the body. How I am talking, I do not know. Some power is talking through me.’

Swamy asked her if she was looking, and she replied: ‘Even though I am looking, I am not looking. Where is the “I” to look. When the mind enters the Heart, there is no “I” to tell that there is no “I”. My “I” is dead.’

Swamy then asked her how she was feeling. ‘My whole body is filled with peace and bliss. I cannot describe it. Everything is filled with peace. The Self is pulling me towards it and I am not able to open my eyes. The whole body is weak.’

Swamy remarked, ‘It is like an elephant entering a weak hut. The hut cannot stand the strain. Is it beyond time and death?’

‘It is beyond time and death as there is no mind. As the “I” is dead I don’t wish to eat anymore. I am not able to eat. However tasty the food I cannot eat. I have no desire to eat. Everything is filled with peace and bliss. I am content with my realisation. I have recognised my own Self, so I am content.’ Swamy then told her that her “I” was not yet dead and that she had not yet reached the final state. Sarada replied: ‘As the “I” is dead, there is no you.’

‘Have you no mother or father?’ asked Swamy. ‘No father, no mother, no world. Everything is peace and bliss. Why do I have to eat when there is no “I”? The body is inert; it cannot eat. A corpse will not eat. It is like that because the “I” is dead. As I cannot eat, I cannot talk. Who is talking, I do not know.’

‘Then who is talking?’ asked Swamy. Sarada remained silent, and so Swamy answered his own question. ‘The Self is talking.’

Sarada continued: ‘Even though I am seeing, I am not seeing. Even though I am talking, I am not talking. Whatever I do I am not doing it because the “I” is dead. I have no body. All the nerves are filled with peace and bliss. All is Brahman . All is bliss. In the veins instead of blood, love and bliss are flowing. A great power has entered into me.’

Three months before Swamy had told Sarada, ‘Even though I sleep I am not sleeping’. Sarada remembered this, repeated Swamy’s words and said that she was finally able to understand what he had meant. Sarada continued to talk: ‘I have no thought of doing anything. I have no fear of death. Before, I feared death, but not anymore. I don’t care about death. I have nothing more to do. I shall give up the body.’

Swamy asked her to stay but Sarada answered: ‘What is death to die now? The body is inert, how can it die? My “I” is dead, what is there left to die? Why then fear death?’

Swamy then reminded her that her ‘I’ was not dead and that she was not yet in the final sahaja state. Swamy then stopped the tape we were listening to and talked a little about the state that Sarada was experiencing when she spoke these words.

‘Anyone whose mind completely subsides into the Heart for a short time can talk like an enlightened person. Their experience of the Self is the same as that of a realised person. However, their “I”-thought is not dead and it is likely to re-emerge at any time. Such an experience is not the final state because it is not permanent.’

He then played the final portion of Sarada’s comments on her experience.

‘I am everywhere. I am not the body. I have no body so I have no fear. I am immobile. Whatever I may do, I am immobile. I am shining as the Self. Everything is a great void [maha- sunya]. How can I describe the Self in words? It is neither light nor dark. No one can describe what it is. In the past, present and future no one can describe what it is. It is difficult to describe. Self is Self, that is all.’

Throughout that day Sarada’s mind kept sinking into the Self, but on each occasion it came out again. At 4 p.m. the “I”-thought went from the Heart to the brain and started to bang against the inside of her skull. Sarada said later that it was like an axe trying to split her head open from the inside. Since she was not able to bear the pain she came forward, took Swamy’s hand and placed it on her head. The “I”-thought went back to the Heart, but again it was only a temporary subsidence, Three minutes later it rose again and once again started to bang against the inside of her skull. Sarada came forward, placed her head on Swamy’s feet and a few seconds later the “I”-thought returned to its source and died forever.

With her “I”-thought permanently gone, Sarada had realised the Self. Swamy says that in the final few minutes her “I”-thought was trying to escape and take birth again, and that had he not been present, the “I”-thought would have killed her and escaped.

[…]

Saradamma: People look at Swamy and me and think that realization must be relatively easy to achieve because we both realized the Self in a short time. However, we are exceptions. It is rare for someone to have the determination and dispassion that Swamy had during his sadhana, and it is equally rare for a devotee to be as God-intoxicated as I was.

Complete surrender or earnest self-enquiry can only be effectively practiced by advanced devotees. Even Ramana Maharshi sometimes said that self-enquiry was for ripe souls only.

Most people need a long period of purification to get their minds pure enough for total surrender or effective self-enquiry. Devotees ask for grace to realize the Self, but most devotees are nowhere near ready for realization; if they were given a large amount of grace the shock would kill them. For most people a preliminary period of mind purification, such as can be produced by japa or pranayama will be most useful.

From  No Mind,  I Am the Self, David Godman

 

The following can be seen at http://mathrusrisarada.org/

Sri Sarada was given the name Mathru Sri Sarada by Bhagavan Sri Lakshmana Swamy when Sri Sarada realised her self. Mathru means mother. Mathru Sri Sarada realised her self through her intense love and surrender to Bhagavan, thus becoming one with him. The book, No Mind, I am the Self, contains details about them.

Brief Life Sketch (based on No Mind, I am the Self):

Ramanadham, Saradamma’s father, was a childhood friend of Lakshmana Swamy. However, they lost touch of each other after their college days. Ramanadham and his wife, Bhanumathy, were devotees of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Therefore, when Saradamma was born in 1959, they named her after Sarada Ma, wife of Sri Ramakrishna.

Though initially healthy, Saradamma was afflicted with many ailments as a child, thereby losing her good health and her light complexion. Saradamma had a curiously ascetic nature, not caring for good clothes or food. Many people mistook her for a servant because of her dark complexion and poor clothes. Saradamma was indifferent to such views. Young Saradamma also had a very generous disposition.

Ramanadham, on becoming aware that his childhood friend had become a great yogi, started visiting Lakshmana Swamy for the annual and eventually bi-annual darshans. Lakshmana Swamy became more accessible in 1972 but it was not until 1974 that Saradamma started visiting Lakshmana Swamy regularly. Lakshmana Swamy’s face would light up with a big smile whenever he looked at her. He recognised her as an advanced devotee who was capable of realising her self.

Saradamma started having dreams of Lakshmana Swamy after each darshan. Shortly, Saradamma started to meditate on Swamy’s form and accepted him as her Guru. Within a year, the frequency with which Saradamma had Lakshmana Swamy’s darshan increased. During this time, apart from going to school, Saradamma would spend her evenings and weekends with Lakshmana Swamy. Eventually, she was spending so much time thinking about Lakshmana Swamy that her studies suffered. Saradamma’s education ended when she was in her 8th standard. Recognizing her devotion and love for him, Lakshmana Swamy informally adopted Saradamma as his daughter.

Details about the period between 1975 and 1978 are sketchy since Saradamma had stopped maintaining her diary by then. Lakshmana Swamy’s mother, jealous of Saradamma’s increasing prominence, harassed her in numerous ways. Lakshmana Swamy also tested Saradamma’s devotion and faith many times. During this time, Saradamma would do japa or meditate on Lakshmana Swamy’s form for up to 20 hours a day. In the remaining four hours she would be dreaming about him.

The holy mountain, Arunachala, has had a significant positive influence on Saradamma’s spiritual progress. During her third visit to Arunachala, as Lakshmana Swamy, Saradamma and other devotees were sitting on its slopes; Lakshmana Swamy looked and smiled at Saradamma. Saradamma lost thought and body consciousness. During the next few days, whenever Saradamma looked at Lakshmana Swamy during darshan she would go into the same state.

On returning back to Gudur, Saradamma resumed her meditation. She discovered that she could enter into the thought free state whenever she was in the presence of Lakshmana Swamy. During all these years, Lakshmana Swamy tried a few times to persuade Saradamma to do self-inquiry. However, self-inquiry had no attraction for Saradamma. Her path was that of surrender.

It was at Bangalore, where Saradamma had gone to help her sister, that Saradamma had her first experience of Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This was in October of 1978. The last few weeks of her stay there were spent in either a thought-free state or Samadhi.

Saradamma returned back to Gudur on the 16th of December, 1978. The next day, Saradamma went to the Ashramam and sat before Lakshmana Swamy. She went back into a thought-free state and eventually into Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi. She remained so all day and night. The next day, Lakshmana Swamy, realising that she was close to self-realisation, recorded her words using a tape recorder. Her ‘I’ thought repeatedly sank into her heart, but every time it came back up into her brain, banging against her skull causing intense pain. Saradamma unable to bear this pain took Lakshmana Swamy’s hand and placed it on her head. This made her ‘I’ thought go back into the heart. Three minutes later it again came back causing similar pain. Saradamma placed her head on Lakshmana Swamy’s feet, upon which her ‘I’ thought returned to its source and died forever. Saradamma had realised her self permanently on 18th December 1978.

Lakshmana Swamy gave Saradamma a new name Mathru Sri Sarada. Mathru means mother and Sri is a common Hindu honorific. Initially, Saradamma wanted to give up her body; however, Lakshmana Swamy wanted her to retain it, since sincere devotees would be benefited by her bodily presence. The next one year was a struggle for Lakshmana Swamy to keep Saradamma alive. She would lose body consciousness and withdraw into the self almost daily. She was also not interested in the outside world. Lakshmana Swamy was able to keep her interested in the world by making her play with dolls. In the next phase, Saradamma spent the whole day playing with dolls. People would not believe that she was a Jnani, but she did not care. Jnanis do not care for name or fame.

Slowly, over the years, Saradamma has taken up the role of catering to devotees’ needs. Now-a-days, it is she who interacts with devotees, Lakshmana Swamy having become more reserved. While neither of them is available to the general public, Saradamma occasionally gives darshan to some devotees.

Self-Enquiry – Ramana Maharshi

 

Disciple: Master! What is the means to gain the state of eternal bliss, ever devoid of misery?

Master: Apart from the statement in the Veda that wherever there is body there is misery, this is also the direct experience of all people; therefore, one should enquire into one’s true nature which is ever bodiless, and one should remain as such. This is the means to gaining that state.

D: What is meant by saying that one should enquire into one’s true nature and understand it?

M: Experiences such as “I went; I came; I was; I did” come naturally to everyone. From these experiences, does it not appear that the consciousness “I” is the subject of those various acts?
Enquiry into the true nature of that consciousness, and remaining as oneself is the way to understand, through enquiry, one’s true nature.

D: How is one to enquire: “Who am I?”

M: Actions such as ‘going’ and ‘coming’ belong only to the body. And so, when one says “I went, I came”, it amounts to saying that the body is “I”. But, can the body be said to be the consciousness “I”, since the body was not before it was born, is made up of the five elements, is non-existent in the state of deep sleep, and becomes a corpse when dead? Can this body which is inert like a log of wood be said to shine as “I” “I”? Therefore, the “I” consciousness which at first arises in respect of the body is referred to variously as self-conceit (tarbodham), egoity (ahankara), nescience (avidya), maya, impurity (mala), and individual soul (jiva) . Can we remain without enquiring into this? Is it not for our redemption through enquiry that all the scriptures declare that the destruction of “self-conceit” is release (mukti)? Therefore, making the corpse-body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word “I”, one should enquire keenly thus: “Now, what is it that rises as ‘I’”. Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form ‘I’ ‘I’. That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared. If one remains quiescent without abandoning that (experience), the egoity, the individual sense, of the form ‘I am the body’ will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, viz. the ‘I’- form also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor.* The great sages and scriptures declare that this alone is release.

D: When one enquires into the root of ‘self-conceit’ which is of the form ‘I’, all sorts of different thoughts without number seem to rise; and not any separate ‘I’ thought.

M: 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 ‘I’-thought, no matter by what means. This is the conclusive teaching of the Scriptures.

*i.e., without leaving any sediment.

-Ramana Maharshi

From Self – Enquiry (Vicharasangraham) of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

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Only One Real Choice – Annamalai Swami

Question:  Bhagavan (Ramana Maharshi) once remarked that free will is non-existent, that all our activities are predetermined and that our only real choice is either to identify with the body that is performing the actions or with the underlying Self in which the body appears.

Someone once said to him: ‘If I drop this fan, will that be an act that has always been destined to happen in this moment?’

And Bhagavan replied, ‘It will be a predestined act’.

I assume that these predestined acts are all ordained by God, and that as a consequence, nothing happens that is not God’s will, because we, as individuals, have no power to deviate from God’s ordained script.

A question arises out of this. If I remember the Self, is this God’s will? And if I forget to remember at a certain moment, is this also God’s will?

Or, taking my own case, if I make an effort to listen to the sound ‘I-I, is this God’s will, or is it individual effort?

Annamalai Swami:  Forgetfulness of the Self happens because of non-enquiry. So I say, ‘Remove the forgetfulness through enquiry’. Forgetfulness or non-forgetfulness is not a part of your destiny. It is something you can choose from moment to moment. That is what Bhagavan said. He said that you have the freedom either to identify with the body and its activities, and in doing so forget the Self, or you can identify with the Self and have the understanding that the body is performing its predestined activities, animated and sustained by the power of the Self.

If you have an oil lamp and you forget to put oil in it, the light goes out. It was your forgetfulness and your lack of vigilance that caused the light to go out. Your thoughts were elsewhere. They were not on tending the lamp.

In every moment you only have one real choice: to be aware of the Self or to identify with the body and the mind. If you choose the latter course, don’t blame God or God’s will, or predestination. God did not make you forget the Self. You yourself are making that choice every second of your life.

-Annamalai Swami

From Final Talks, page 38

Discrimination – Annamalai Swami

Question:  ‘All is one’ may be the truth, but one can’t treat everything in the world equally. In daily life one still has to discriminate and make distinctions.

Annamalai Swami:  I once went for a walk near the housing board buildings [government flats that were built in the 1970s about 300 metres from Annamalai Swami’s ashram]. There was a sewage trench on one side of the building. I could smell the stench of the sewage even though I was a long way away. I stayed away from it because I didn’t want to be nauseated by the bad smell.

In circumstances such as these you don’t say, ‘All is one. Everything is the Self,’ and paddle through the sewage. The knowledge ‘everything is the Self’ may be there, but that doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself in dangerous or health-threatening places.

When you have become one with the Self, a great power takes you over and runs your life for you. It looks after your body; it puts you in the right place at the right time; it makes you say the right things to the people you meet. This power takes you over so completely, you no longer have any ability to decide or discriminate. The ego that thinks, ‘I must do this,’ or ‘I should not do that,’ is no longer there. The Self simply animates you and makes you do all the things that need to be done.

If you are not in this state, then use your discrimination wisely. You can choose to sit in a flower garden and enjoy the scent of the blooms, or you can go down to that trench I told you about and make yourself sick by inhaling the fumes there.

So, while you still have an ego, and the power of discrimination that goes with it, use it to inhale the fragrance that you find in the presence of an enlightened being. If you spend time in the proximity of a jnani, his peace will sink into you to such an extent that you will find yourself in a state of peace. If, instead, you choose to spend all your time with people whose minds are always full of bad thoughts, their mental energy and vibrations will start to seep into you.

I tell you regularly, ‘You are the Self. Everything is the Self.’ If this is not your experience, pretending that ‘all is one’ may get you into trouble. Advaita may be the ultimate experience, but it is not something that mind that still sees distinctions can practice.

Electricity is a useful form of energy, but it is also potentially harmful. Use it wisely. Don’t put your finger in the socket, thinking ‘all is one’. You need a body that is in good working order in order to realise the Self. Realising the Self is the only useful and worthy activity in this life, so keep the body in good repair till that goal is achieved. Afterwards, the Self will take care of everything and you won’t have to worry about anything anymore. In fact, you won’t be able to because the mind that previously did the worrying, the choosing and the discriminating will no longer be there. In that state you won’t need it and you won’t miss it.

-Annamalai Swami

From Final Talks, pages 27-28