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.


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


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

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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

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 (Vichara Sangraham) of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

Here you can download a PDF of the entire book.

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

The Ultimate Happiness: A Conversation with Robert Adams

This article was published In the Fall Issue of Inner Directions, 1995.

Robert Adams: There is one thing I can tell you for sure. All is well. Everything is unfolding as it should. I can tell you that truly nothing is wrong anywhere. If you think you have a problem, that’s the mistake — thinking you have a problem. As soon as you stop thinking, everything will go right.
Questioner: Isn’t everything going right while you are thinking?
R: Yes, but you don’t know it. Some of us don’t think it is, saying, “I’ve got a problem,” or “I’m involved in some-thing I can’t handle which is bigger than I am,” or “Some-thing hurts me,” or “I feel anger.” But I can assure you, there is nothing wrong! All that you have to do is watch yourself. As soon as your mind starts thinking past your nose, grab it — not your nose, but your thoughts. You can grab your nose too if you want (laughter). Grasp your thoughts with your mind, and put a stop to them any way you can, either by observing the thoughts or by practicing self-enquiry and asking to whom they occur. Whatever you need to do, do not allow yourself to think. If your mind does not think, you will be exceedingly happy. You will have unalloyed happiness.
Some people ask me, “Robert, why don’t you just speak the highest truth all the time?” Some others tell me to speak in such a way that they can understand what I am talking about (laughter). So that is the dilemma. I do whatever I have to do. I plan nothing. Everything is extemporaneous. I have no rehearsals.
A man called me yesterday telling me he had been practicing for two weeks, took a seminar and paid seven hundred dollars, and is still not realized. I get calls like this all the time. What you say determines the answer I give you. But there is a standard answer. Think of the question, “When will I become self-realized?” Before I answer this one, I usually ask, “Please tell me what do you mean by `I’?” Then I further ask, “What do you mean by `Self-realization’?” They usually become silent, so I finally ask, “Who do you think the `I’ is? Who wants to become Self-realized?”
If you can’t do anything else, surrender to consciousness. By surrender, I mean surrender your ego, your problems, your emotions, your fears, your frustrations and anger. Give it all up. Say, “Take it, consciousness!”
Do not get carried away by your emotions. Stop in the middle and watch. Watch your emotions ruling you. Watch your fears controlling you. Watch your anger arise. Do not try to stop it, just watch and observe. Look intelligently and realize who it is that is getting angry. It is not you. It is not even your ego because there is no ego. It is not your body because there is no body. It is not your mind because there is no mind. Therefore, what is making you angry? Nothing.
I was talking about all the phone calls I’ve been receiving. People still ask what I think about this or that teacher, this or that person, or why shouldn’t they go to see other teachers as well? I really don’t know what to say. You have to do what you have to do. I can tell you that the more people you consult, the more confused you’ll become. I don’t care if you never come back here again because I am not looking for anything.
If you do find a teacher that you seem to have an affinity for, you should stick around for a while. If you run from teacher to teacher, you will become totally confused. Every teacher has his place. You will be attracted to the person you have to be with for as long as necessary. It depends on where your consciousness is.
Q: Robert, throughout the spiritual literature there are distinctions made between a gradual path and instantaneous enlightenment. A lot of this stuff about passing through stages — I can’t relate to it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
R: What can’t you relate to?
Q: Just the idea that you pass through one stage to the next stage.
R: This is for the person who is striving. The truth is there is nothing to pass through. It appears that some people, who need to understand these things and research them for themselves, will be helped to see where they are coming from. Perhaps you don’t need it.
Q: The state of happiness you talk about I would not call happiness. The state seems far above happiness. Happiness as the opposite of sadness.
R: You are right.
Q: Sadness could even come into that state you are I and it would only be something that was passing through with no identification.
R: You are right. As an example, I can cry at a funeral but I realize who is crying. I can have sadness if I want to but I am never really sad.
Q: The state of non-attached mind, that’s really the closest thing to it, isn’t it?
R: That’s true. I am looking for words to describe things. More importantly, there is always total happiness. It is not human happiness. For most people to be happy, there has to be a person, place, or thing involved in their happiness. In true happiness, there are no things involved. It’s a natural state. You will abide in that state forever.
Q: From the standpoint of practice, I have noticed that no matter what state arises, the problem is whether I am willing to let this go. Is it important for me to stay in my emotional state? The answer is that there is nothing you can do anyway as it comes and goes.
R: Act as if there is something you can do, even though there is nothing you can do. If you were passing a starving man in the room, don’t think there is nothing you can do. Give him a piece of bread.
Q: But in that state of mind arising, emotions arising, perceptions arising, there is nothing you can do.
R: Except watch. Just watch. Just observe. Another thing to consider is this: if you were here as a visitor, having only one meeting with me, and you would never see me again, I would expound the highest truth to you and take off. You would say how great that is. But when I see you twice a week or more, I begin to know you quite well, and everything I say is to help you grow because that is what is needed at that time, since I’m going to be with you again. To people who were with Ramana Maharshi as devotees, he didn’t expound absolute truth to them all the time. He would talk to them like an ordinary person. He would inquire about their welfare, their health, about their problems, and he would give them practical advice. He wouldn’t say, “Nothing matters because nothing exists.” They had problems. So he would talk to them in a practical manner.
Q: If we don’t see progress within ourselves and see we are continually getting upset, we shouldn’t let that bother us?
R: Keep observing, keep watching, keep focusing on the Self, and there will be nobody to ask who is bothered or who is not bothered. You only ask such a question when your attention is more on the bothering than it is on the Self. If you change your attention to the Self, see what happens.
Q: The question is, is that gradual?
R: For some people. It depends on how much time you give to it.
Q: We can’t just turn our emotions off. When I go to work sometimes, I find such an intensity there, with people snapping at each other, I get caught up in it. Of course I become aware, usually after the fact, asking myself, “will this disappear gradually by abiding in myself, or will I someday suddenly awaken?”
R: In the morning, when you first open your eyes, that’s the time to work on yourself. Ask yourself, “Who am I? How did I get here?” Reconcile yourself with yourself. If you do that upon first waking up, the whole day will be good, without these problems. Just don’t go straight to work. Get up an hour early if you have to. See yourself for what you are, and realize the truth. Focus on the self. Ask yourself, “Who Am I?” and wait. Concentrate on the source of “I Am,” or say to your-self, “I Am, I Am,” and then go to work. Then you will see changes. You will build up a power that you will carry with yourself all day long.
Q: To follow that “I” to its source, to find the “I” by self-enquiry and abide in it seems to mean non-existence, statelessness.
R: Don’t worry about being non-existent. Simply observe the “I,” and watch it going into the heart.
Q: It is not so much a following then, but that it happens by itself?
R: It happens by itself.
Q: When I contemplate “I Am,” does it mean that already I am the Self?
R: Yes it does.
Q: Robert, it’s because we have the concept we are not the Self that we miss the fact that we are abiding in the Self all the time. As Ramesh Balsekar has said, we only have the doubt we are not the Self, but the truth is we have always been it.
R: Exactly. When we don’t see that, we go through all these troubles and play all these games, until we realize we are the Self. Then that is it.
Q: If we don’t have the Self and are saying, “I am it,” what is to keep that from becoming a parrot-like repetition?
R: It doesn’t become a parrot-like repetition if you do it with your breath. When you inhale, say “I.” When you exhale, say “Am.” A subtle change of energy takes place within the Self, and you will become more peaceful, calm, and soon you will lose all identification with your body and mind. You will remain as “I Am.”
Q: Robert, when we do self-enquiry, actually that is the beginning step to find the “I.” When we develop a sense of abiding in the “I,” there isn’t much need of enquiry because we go straight to the abidance.
R: Self-enquiry has no beginning. If you practice “Who Am I,” it sounds simple, but is very powerful. Only say, “Who Am I?” then pause, then say it again, “Who Am I?” Never answer the question. Just keep repeating “Who Am I?” Eventually, something will happen.
Q: I’m asking, if you develop a sense of self-abidance, you can watch states come and go, watch identification with the ego, and then self-enquiry is not necessary if you can go directly to that.
R: If you are abiding in the Self, there is no ego to watch — there is only the Self. You watch the ego with the mind, not with the Self. If you abide in the Self, there is nothing else. You are finished. You’re cooked. Everything else is of the mind. When I say abide in the Self, I mean for-get everything and be yourself. There is nothing else to know at that point.



The ‘Spiritual I’ – Lucy Cornelssen

There is another rather harmless mistake which happens regularly to beginners. Many of them are blessed with various glimpses of the higher life, which they have entered. These carry the stamp of a genuine change of consciousness, and of course the sadhaka is happy, and convinced that he has made real progress. There is no harm in it, because he soon has to face the fact that his ‘experience’ is fading away, never to return. When this happens again and again, he learns to understand these sparks as what they are, glimpses from another dimension which want to teach him to discriminate between, the different dimensions but which also lure him on in his spiritual endeavour. They only become a pitfall, when he, by vanity or impatience, gets stuck in one of them, taking it for final Realisation. Then his further progress is blocked.

The mark by which this pitfall is recognised is ‘I’ have realised… This ‘I’ can only be a ‘wrong I’, because it is not the ‘I’ that realises.

The duty of the sadhaka is to watch himself ceaselessly; he has to know what is going on within himself. There is a serious risk in doing this only when he looks too much at others. When he does, his ‘personal I’ at once makes comparisons; and the result will be: ‘I am holier than thou’.

With this idea he gives his ‘personal I’ a strong chance to develop into a ‘spiritual I’, which is much worse than his original quite ordinary ‘I’, strengthened by all his previous spiritual effort. The result is a spiritual pride, the worse the more advanced the sadhaka has become, because his attainments, serve only to confirm his ‘right’ to be proud of his success. But even if he perceives the gentle Voice from within, warning him against this trend going on in him and reminding him of the secret of real ‘attainment’, silent humility, and even if he is quite prepared to accept the warning, there is still the risk that the cunning ego now is concealing itself behind his pride in his humility!

There is only one remedy against these and all other pitfalls on the Path to Realisation: Alert Awareness, relentlessly focusing on the treacherous ego…I.

Luckily the sadhaka is not left alone in his secret struggle against himself on his lonesome journey towards his high destination. How could he ever reach It. Were It not already within himself? And It never fails to send signals of warning when the traveller is nearing a pitfall or has even been caught by one due to inadvertance.

His is a journey like that in fairy-tales, when the hero has to go through many adventures, to fight against many enemies and even demons, to win the princess at the end. The further he proceeds, the mightier the obstacles.

The most cunning pitfall on the path of the sadhaka is the last one, hidden in Realisation Itself.

The first Revelation of the Self is temporary. “Jnana, once revealed, needs time to steady itself.” (Talks, 141).

The danger is not in the sliding back; it is natural to most sadhakas and is met quite naturally by continuing one’s practice faithfully, which in its turn will lead to further Revelations of the Self until finally there is no sadhaka left, but the Self only.

If, on the other hand, the sadhaka tries to ‘hold on’ to that first Revelation, in spite of his Inner Guide warning him, (Who is holding on?), then the ego…I slinks again in where the Self is veiled again and distorts the Revelation of the Self into the cry of victory: ‘I have realised!’ Blindfolded by the Bliss of the final ‘success’ (‘whose success?’) he never stops to scrutinize his condition and thus never finds out the truth: That he became a yogabhrastha, one who has fallen out of his yoga, his ‘union’.

The new and definitive disguise of his ego…I is ‘the Guru’, and this last and most powerful pitfall never releases him, because he never recognises that he is its victim.

There are nowadays many whose Guru-pitfall caught them even much earlier on their path.

-Lucy Cornelssen

Excerpt From Hunting the ‘I’, Obstacles and Pitfalls, pages 38-40

Two related posts can be found at Awakening Before Enlightenment and  Enlightenment, Before, During and After.

Overcoming The Ghost – Lucy Cornelssen

So what can we do?

There is only one way to overcome the ghost…to watch it. Do not fight, do not resist. Only try to watch it, quietly but ceaselessly. In other words, develop an unconcerned witness consciousness towards men, things and happenings without, but particularly towards yourself within. It means to carry on the calmness of the mind gained in your meditation to cover your whole day. You will distinctly feel it as an undercurrent of peace and detachment.

Of course, as soon as you succeed, the ghost-‘I’ will immediately try to hide itself in this witness-consciousness at the feeling ‘I am the witness’. This again is only a thought. But to be the witness without any I-consciousness is the pure mind at the threshold of Reality.

While following the transformation of your personal ‘I’ into the impersonal ‘witnessing’, you cut at the root of all your ‘personal’ shortcomings, vices and weaknesses, your passions and evil habits, because the root of all this unpleasant ‘you’ is just that personal ‘I’. Try to imagine yourself in the mood of the ‘unconcerned witness’ described above, and you will see that in that state it is impossible to think or act in a negative way, because in that mood you are, though only momentarily, beyond the personal ‘I’. Your sadhana is to keep yourself permanently in the state of ‘detached witnessing’ of all and everything, including the personal ‘I’ when and wherever it should try to raise its head.

In the silent Light of being witnessed it cannot survive. Such ‘witnessing’ will soon grow into pure Awareness, aware only of Itself.

In the words of Ramana Maharshi: “The Truth is that the Self is constant and un-intermittent Awareness.” (Talks, 454).

And in another context: “The essence of mind is only Awareness or Consciousness. When the ego, however, dominates it it functions as the reasoning, thinking or sensing faculty. The cosmic mind being not limited by the ego, has nothing separate from itself and therefore is only aware. This is what the Bible means by ‘I am that I AM’.” (Talks, 188).

-Lucy Cornelssen

Excerpt from Hunting The ‘I’, Meditation, pages 31-32

Till the Self reveals Himself – Lakshmana Sarma

The first step in the Quest of the real Self is to understand that Self is not the body — physical or mental. The reason for this is two-fold. On the one hand the body is unconscious and hence cannot be the self, finite or otherwise. On the other hand we are sure that the Self — whatever it may be — can exist without a body. We know that this is so in sleep. Few people can even imagine the possibility of the Self ceasing to exist during sleep. Those that do so are the over sophisticated ones; their perplexity on this point is dealt with in a long talk given by the Sage to a doubter, which will be given later. Thus the ego itself is a proof that we exist. We are not the ego; we are That from which the ego takes its rise. That must be found by seeking the Source of the ego. Revelation tells us that if and when we find that Source, we shall find not only the Self, but also the Reality that underlies the world-appearance; and this will be the case, because the Self and the Reality are one and the same.

The ego is thus seen to be the arch-deceiver, the true Satan or Ahriman. He is the only enemy of God and man. He is the enemy of right knowledge. He is the inventor of murder and lying. He is the cosmic Macbeth, who is constantly murdering Peace, which is true Happiness. He is the impostor who has usurped the seat of the real Self. Therefore he is debarred from entrance into the State of Deliverance, the Kingdom of Heaven that is in us, taught by Jesus.

The Sage has told us that the ego is all the evil there is, while egolessness is all the good there is. From the ego, which is ignorance, proceed all the evils that beset life. All that is good and worthy of reverent cultivation belongs to egolessness.

Apart from the ego there is neither death nor rebirth. This vicious circle of deaths and rebirths is sustained only by the primary ignorance which is the ego. The ego itself is death, because he is the negation of the Truth, which is Life. He must not only be dethroned, but must be put to death. For there is no safety so long as he survives.

The ego must become considerably attenuated for the teaching of the Sages to be understood. This is clear from the following utterance of the Sage. He was explaining the true inwardness of the current notion that a disciple must, after finding a Guru, remain with him for a long time, serving him faithfully, and surrender himself utterly to the Guru, and that the latter would then teach him the great secret, ‘Thou art That.’ The Sage explained it as follows: “The true meaning of what is here called surrender is the complete wearing away of the ego-sense, which is individuality. And this is a necessary condition for the disciple being able to receive the teaching; for if there be no surrender in this sense, the teaching is sure to be misunderstood. Even with the limited egoism that now exists, man is liable to outbreaks of fury, to be tyrannical, fanatical and so on. What will he not do, if he be told that he himself is that Great Being? He would not understand that teaching in its true sense, but would take it to mean that his individual soul, the ego, is that Great Being. This is not at all the true sense of the teaching, because the ego is simply non-existent.”

The true meaning of the teaching is that though the soul as such is a non-entity, there is in it an element of reality, namely the light of consciousness proceeding from the real Self, and experienced by us as ‘I am’. This light of consciousness does not belong to the soul; it belongs to the Self, the Reality, It must therefore be surrendered to Him. When that surrender is complete, then that Self alone will remain. And if individuality be thus lost, it is well lost. For this loss of individuality is not a loss. It is the loss of the greatest of all losses, the loss of the self; it is therefore the highest of all possible gains, the gain of the real Self. The effect of this surrender is thus described in the ancient lore: “As the rivers flowing into the ocean, and therein losing name and form, become one with the ocean, so does the Sage, losing name and form, become one with the Supreme Being, who is the transcendental Reality.”

Even leaving aside the truth that the ego is unreal, it has to be said that what the Sage has lost is just a mathematical zero, while what he has gained is the Infinite Reality. This is expressed by the Sage as follows — in one of his hymns to Arunachala: “What profit hast thou got, O Arunachala, taking me — of no worth here and hereafter — in exchange for Thyself, the greatest of all gains?”

This surrender to the real Self, to become final and perfect, needs to be effected by the Quest of the real Self in the manner taught in a later chapter. And since surrender is the culmination of devotion, the seeker of Deliverance needs to cherish devotion to the real Self. When this devotion becomes perfect, then it will be possible to enter on and persist in the Quest till success is won — till the real Self reveals Himself.

By “WHO” (Lakshmana Sarma)

Excerpted from Maha Yoga, Chapter Six, The Soul

You can download a PDF file of the entire book here:

Attainment (Arudha) – Ramana Maharshi

1. What is the state of attainment of knowledge?

It is firm and effortless abidance in the Self in which the mind which has become one with the Self does not subsequently emerge again at any time. That is, just as everyone usually and naturally has the idea, ‘I am not a goat nor a cow nor any other animal but a human’, when he thinks of his body, so also when he has the idea ‘I am not the principles (tattwas) beginning with the body and ending with sound (nada), but the Self which is existence, consciousness and bliss, the innate self-consciousness (atma prajna)’, he is said to have attained firm knowledge.

2. To which of the seven stages of knowledge (jnana bhoomikas)1 does the sage (jnani) belong?

He belongs to the fourth stage.

1 The seven jnana bhoomikas are:

(i). subheccha (the desire for enlightenment).

(ii). vicharana (enquiry).

(iii). tanumanasa (tenuous mind).

(iv). satwapatti (self-realization).

(v). asamsakti (non-attachment).

(vi). padarthabhavana (non-perception of objects).

(vii). turyaga (transcendence).

Those who have attained the last four bhoomikas are called brahmavid, brahmavidvara, brahmavidvariya and brahmavidvaristha respectively.

3. If that is so why have three more stages superior to it been distinguished?

The marks of the stages four to seven are based upon the experiences of the realized person (jivanmukta). They are not states of knowledge and release. So far as knowledge and release are concerned no distinction whatever is made in these four stages.

4. As liberation is common to all, why is the varistha (lit., the most excellent) alone praised excessively?

So far as the varistha’s common experience of bliss is concerned, he is extolled only because of the special merit acquired by him in his previous births, which is the cause of it.

5. As there is no one who does not desire to experience constant bliss what is the reason why all sages (jnanis) do not attain the state of varistha?

It is not to be attained by mere desire or effort. Karma (prarabdha) is its cause. As the ego dies along with its cause even in the fourth stage (bhoomika), what agent is there beyond that stage to desire anything or to make efforts? So long as they make efforts, they will not be sages (jnanis). Do the sacred texts (srutis) which specially mention the varistha say that the other three are unenlightened persons?

6. As some sacred texts say that the supreme state is that in which the sense organs and the mind are completely destroyed, how can that state be compatible with the experience of the body and the senses?

If that were so there would not be any difference between that state and the state of deep sleep. Further, how can it be said to be the natural state when it exists at one time and not at another? This happens, as stated before, to some persons according to their karma (prarabdha) for some time or till death. It cannot properly be regarded as the final state. If it could, it would mean that all great souls and the Lord, who were the authors of the Vedantic works (jnana granthas) and the Vedas, were unenlightened persons. If the supreme state is that in which neither the senses nor the mind exists and not the state in which they exist, how can it be the perfect state (paripurnam)? As karma alone is responsible for the activity or inactivity of the sages, great souls have declared the state of sahaja nirvikalpa (the natural state without concepts) alone to be the ultimate state.

7. What is the difference between ordinary sleep and waking sleep (jagrat sushupti)?

In ordinary sleep there are not only no thoughts but also no awareness. In waking sleep there is awareness alone. That is why it is called awake while sleeping, that is, the sleep in which there is awareness.

8. Why is the Self-described both as the fourth state (turiya) and beyond the fourth state (turiyatita)?

Turiya means that which is the fourth. The experiencers (jivas) of the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep, known as visva, taijasa and prajna, who wander successively in these three states, are not the Self. It is with the object of making this clear, namely that the Self is that which is different from them, and which is the witness of these states, that it is called the fourth (turiya). When this is known, the three experiencers disappear and the idea that the Self is a witness, that it is the fourth, also disappears. That is why the Self is described as beyond the fourth (turiyatita).

9. What is the benefit derived by the sage from the sacred books (srutis)?

The sage who is the embodiment of the truths mentioned in the scriptures has no use for them.

10. Is there any connection between the attainment of supernatural powers (siddhis) and liberation (mukti)?

Enlightened enquiry alone leads to liberation. Supernatural powers are all illusory appearances created by the power of maya (mayashakti). Self-realization which is permanent is the only true accomplishment (siddhi). Accomplishments which appear and disappear, being the effect of maya, cannot be real. They are accomplished with the object of enjoying fame, pleasures, etc. They come unsought to some persons through their karma. Know that union with Brahman is the real aim of all accomplishments. This is also the state of liberation (aikya mukti) known as union (sayujya).

11. If this is the nature of liberation (moksha) why do some scriptures connect it with the body and say that the individual soul can attain liberation only when it does not leave the body?

It is only if bondage is real that liberation and the nature of its experiences have to be considered. So far as the Self (Purusha) is concerned it has really no bondage in any of the four states. As bondage is merely a verbal assumption according to the emphatic proclamation of the Vedanta system, how can the question of liberation, which depends upon the question of bondage, arise when there is no bondage? Without knowing this truth, to enquire into the nature of bondage and liberation, is like enquiring into the nonexistent height, colour, etc., of a barren woman’s son or the horns of a hare.

12. If that is so, do not the descriptions of bondage and release found in the scriptures become irrelevant and untrue?

No, they do not. On the contrary, the delusion of bondage fabricated by ignorance from time immemorial can be removed only by knowledge, and for this purpose the term ‘liberation’ (mukti) has been usually accepted. That is all. The fact that the characteristics of liberation are described in different ways proves that they are imaginary.

13. If that is so, are not all efforts such as study (lit., hearing) reflection, etc., useless?

No, they are not. The firm conviction that there is neither bondage nor liberation is the supreme purpose of all efforts. As this purpose of seeing boldly, through direct experience, that bondage and liberation do not exist, cannot be achieved except with the aid of the aforesaid practices, these efforts are useful.

14. Is there any authority for saying that there is neither bondage nor liberation?

This is decided on the strength of experience and not merely on the strength of the scriptures.

15. If it is experienced how is it experienced?

‘Bondage’ and ‘liberation’ are mere linguistic terms. They have no reality of their own. Therefore, they cannot function of their own accord. It is necessary to accept the existence of some basic thing of which they are the modifications. If one enquires, ‘for whom is there bondage and liberation?’ it will be seen, ‘they are for me’. If one enquires, ‘Who am I?’, one will see that there is no such thing as the ‘I’. It will then be as clear as an amalaka fruit in one’s hand that what remains is one’s real being. As this truth will be naturally and clearly experienced by those who leave aside mere verbal discussions and enquire into themselves inwardly, there is no doubt that all realized persons uniformly see neither bondage nor liberation so far as the true Self is concerned.

16. If truly there is neither bondage nor liberation what is the reason for the actual experience of joys and sorrows.

They appear to be real only when one turns aside from one’s real nature. They do not really exist.

17. Is it possible for everyone to know directly without doubt what exactly is one’s true nature?

Undoubtedly it is possible.

18. How?

It is the experience of everyone that even in the states of deep sleep, fainting, etc., when the entire universe, moving and stationary, beginning with earth and ending with the unmanifested (prakriti), disappear, he does not disappear. Therefore, the state of pure being which is common to all, and which is always experienced directly by everybody is one’s true nature. The conclusion is that all experiences in the enlightened as well as the ignorant state, which may be described by newer and newer words, are opposed to one’s real nature.

-Ramana Maharshi

From Collected Works, Spiritual Instruction, Chapter four

The entire book can be downloaded from Ramana Maharshi downloadable books.

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