Ramana Maharshi's work

Gems from Bhagavan


GOD WILL BEAR WHATEVER BURDENS WE PUT on Him. All things are being carried on by the omnipotent power of a Supreme God. Instead of submitting ourselves to It, why should we always be planning, ‘We should do this or that’. Knowing that the train carries all the load, why should we, travelling therein, suffer by carrying our small bundle on our heads, instead of leaving it on the train and being happy. The story of Ashtavakra teaches that in order to experience Brahma Jnana all that is necessary is to surrender yourself completely to the Guru, to give up your notion of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. If these are surrendered, what remains is the Reality. There are two ways of achieving surrender. One is looking into the source of the ‘I’ and merging into that source. The other is feeling, ‘I am helpless myself, God alone is all powerful, and except by throwing myself completely on Him, there is no other means of safety for me’; and thus gradually developing the conviction that God alone exists and the ego does not count. Both methods lead to the same goal. Complete surrender is another name for jnana or liberation. Bhakti is not different from mukti. Bhakti is being as the Self. One is always That. He realizes It by the means he adopts. What is bhakti? To think of God. That means only one thought prevails to the exclusion of all other thoughts. That thought is 19 of God, which is the Self, or it is the self surrendered unto God. When He has taken you up, nothing else will assail you. The absence of thought is bhakti. It is also mukti. Bhakti is Jnana Mata, i.e., the mother of jnana. It is asked, why all this creation is so full of sorrow and evil. All one can say is that it is God’s will, which is inscrutable. No motive, no desire, no end to achieve can be attributed to that infinite, all-wise and all-powerful Being. God is untouched by activities which take place in His presence. There is no meaning in attributing responsibility and motive to the One, before it became many. But God’s will for the prescribed course of events is a good solution for the vexed question of free-will. If the mind is worried over what befalls us, or what has been committed or omitted by us, it is wise to give up the sense of responsibility and free-will, by regarding ourselves as the ordained instruments of the All-Wise and the All-Powerful, to do and suffer as He pleases. Then He bears all the burdens and gives us peace. A Maharani told Bhagavan, ‘I am blessed with everything that a human being would like to have’. Her Highness’s voice choked. Controlling herself she continued slowly, ‘I have all that I want, a human being may want… but… but… I do not have peace of mind. Something prevents it. Probably my destiny’. There was silence for a while. Then Bhagavan spoke in his usual sweet manner: ‘All right, you have said what you wished to say. Well, what is destiny? There is no destiny. Surrender, and all will be well. Throw all responsibility on God and do not bear the burden yourself. What can destiny do to you then?’ Devotee: Surrender is impossible. Bhagavan: Yes, complete surrender is impossible. Partial surrender is certainly possible for all. In course of time that will lead to complete surrender. Well, if surrender is impossible 20 what can be done? There is no peace of mind. You are helpless to bring it about. It can be done only by surrender. D: Partial surrender — well, can it undo destiny? B: Oh yes, it can. D: Is not destiny due to past karma? B: If one has surrendered to God, God will look to it. D: That being God’s dispensation, how does God undo it? B: All are in Him only. To a devotee who was praying that she should have more frequent visions of Siva, Bhagavan said, “Surrender to Him and abide by His Will, whether He appears or disappears; await His pleasure. If you ask Him to do as you like it is not surrender but command to God. You cannot have Him obey you and yet think you have surrendered. He knows what is best and when and how to do it. His is the burden. You have no longer any cares. All your cares are His. Such is surrender. That is bhakti.”


THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DREAM and the waking state except that the dream is short and the waking long. Both are the result of the mind. Our real state is called turiya, which is beyond the waking, dream and sleep states. The Self alone exists and remains as It is. The three states owe their existence to avichara (non-enquiry), and enquiry puts an end to them. However much one may explain, this fact will not become clear until one attains Self-realization, and wonders how he was blind to the self-evident and only existence for so long. All that we see is a dream, whether we see it in the dream state or waking state. On account of some arbitrary standards about the duration of the experience and so on, we call one experience a dream and another waking experience. With reference to Reality both the experiences are unreal. A man might have an experience such as getting anugraha (grace) in his dream, and the effects and influence of it on his entire subsequent life may be so profound and abiding, that one cannot call it unreal – whilst calling real some trifling incident in the waking life that just flits by, which is casual, of no consequence and is soon forgotten. Once I had an experience, a vision or a dream, whatever you may call it. I and some others, including Chadwick, had a walk on the hill. Returning, we were walking along a huge street with 22 great buildings on either side. Pointing out the street and the buildings, I asked Chadwick and others, whether anybody could say that what we were seeing was a dream, and they all replied, ‘Which fool will say so?’ We then walked along, entered the hall and the vision or dream ceased, or I woke up. What are we to call this? Just before waking up from sleep, there is a very brief state, free from thought. That should be made permanent. In dreamless sleep there is no world, no ego and no unhappiness, but the Self remains. In the waking state there are all of these. Yet there is the Self. One has only to remove the transitory happenings in order to realize the ever-present beatitude of the Self. Your nature is bliss. Find that on which all the rest are superimposed and you then remain as the pure Self. In sleep there is no space or time. They are concepts, which arise after the ‘I-thought’ has arisen. You are beyond time and space. The ‘I-thought’ is the limited ‘I’. The real ‘I’ is unlimited, universal, beyond time and space. Just while rising from sleep and before seeing the objective world, there is state of awareness which is your Pure Self. That must be known.


I HAVE NOT SAID THAT A GURU IS NOT NECESSARY. But a Guru need not always be in human form. First a person thinks that he is inferior and that there is a superior, all-knowing, all powerful God who controls his own and the world’s destiny and worships him or does bhakti. When he reaches a certain stage and becomes fit for enlightenment, the same God whom he was worshipping comes as Guru and leads him onward. That Guru comes only to tell him, ‘That God is within yourself. Dive within and realize’. God, Guru and the Self are the same. Realization is the result of the Master’s (Guru’s) grace, more than teachings, lectures, meditations, etc. They are only secondary aids, whereas the former is the primary and essential cause. Guru’s grace is always there. You imagine it to be something somewhere high up in the sky, far away and which has to descend. It is really inside you in your Heart, and the moment, by any of the methods, you effect subsidence or merger of the mind into its source, the grace rushes forth, spouting as from a spring from within you. Contact with jnanis is good. They will work through silence. A Guru is not the physical form. Hence His contact remains even after the physical form of the Guru vanishes. After your bhakti to God has matured you, God comes in the shape of a Guru and from outside pushes your mind inside, 24 while being inside as Self He draws you there from within. Such a Guru is needed generally, though not for very rare and advanced souls. One can go to another Guru after one’s Guru passes away. But after all, Gurus are one, as none of them are the form. Mental contact is always the best. Satsangh means association with Sat or Reality. One who knows or has realized Sat is also regarded as Sat. Such association is absolutely necessary for all. Sankara has said, “In all the three worlds there is no boat like satsangh to carry one safely across the ocean of births and deaths.” Guru not being physical, His contact will continue after His form vanishes. If one Jnani exists in the world, His influence will be felt by or benefit all people in the world, and not simply His immediate disciples. As described in Vedanta Chudamani, all the people in the world can be put under four categories: The Guru’s disciples, bhaktas, those who are indifferent to Him and those who are hostile to Him. All these will be benefited by the existence of the Jnani — each in his own way and to various degrees. From the book, Divine Grace Through Total Self-Surrender by D.C. Desai, Bhagavan read out the following quotations by Paul Brunton for our benefit: Divine Grace is a manifestation of the cosmic free will in operation. It can alter the course of events in a mysterious manner through its own unknown laws, which are superior to all natural laws, and can modify the latter by interaction. It is the most powerful force in the universe. It descends and acts only when it is invoked by total selfsurrender. It acts from within, because God resides in the Heart of all beings. Its whisper can be heard only in a mind purified by self-surrender and prayer. 25 Rationalists laugh at it, and atheists scorn it, but it exists. It is a descent of God into the soul’s zone of awareness. It is a visitation of force unexpected and unpredictable. It is a voice spoken out of cosmic silence – It is ‘Cosmic Will which can perform authentic miracles under its own laws’. In truth, God and the Guru are not different. Just as the prey which has fallen into the jaws of a tiger has no escape, so those who have come within the ambit of the Guru’s gracious look will be saved by the Guru and will not get lost; yet, each one should by his own effort pursue the path shown by God or Guru and gain release. Each seeker after God should be allowed to go his own way, the way for which he alone may be built (meant). It will not do to convert him to another path by violence. The Guru will go with the disciple in his own path and then gradually turn him onto the Supreme path at the ripe moment. Suppose a car is going at top speed. To stop it at once or to turn it at once would be attended with disastrous consequences.


THE STATE WE CALL REALIZATION IS SIMPLY being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything. If one has realized, he is That which alone is, and which alone has always been. He cannot describe that state. He can only be That. Of course we loosely talk of Self-realization for want of a better term. That which is, is peace. All that we need do is to keep quiet. Peace is our real nature. We spoil it. What is required is that we cease to spoil it. For instance, there is space in a hall (room). We are not going to create space anew. We fill up the place with various articles. If we want space, all that we need do is to remove all those articles and we get space. Similarly, if we remove all the rubbish from the mind the peace will become manifest. That which is obstructing the peace must be removed. Peace is the only Reality. Mukti or Liberation is our Nature. It is another name for us. Our wanting mukti is a very funny thing. It is like a man who is in the shade voluntarily leaving the shade, going into the sun, feeling the severity of the heat, making great efforts to get back into the shade, and then rejoicing ‘At last I have reached the shade, how sweet is the shade!’ We are doing exactly the same. We are not different from the Reality. We imagine we are different, i.e., we create the bheda bhava (the feeling of difference) and then undergo great sadhanas to get rid of the 27 bheda bhava and realize the oneness. Why imagine or create the bheda bhava and then destroy it? It is false to speak of realization. What is there to realize? The real is as it is, ever. How to realize it? All that is required is this: We have realized the unreal, i.e., regarded as Real what is unreal. We have to give up this attitude. That is all that is required for us to attain Jnana. We are not creating anything new or achieving something which we did not have before. The illustration given in the books is this: We dig a well and create a huge pit. The akasa (space) in the pit or well has not been created by us. We have just removed the earth which was filling the akasa there. The akasa was there, then, and is also there now. Similarly we have simply to throw out all the age-long samskaras (innate tendencies) which are inside us. When all of them have been given up, the Self will shine alone. Effortless and choiceless awareness is our Real State. If we can attain It or be in It, it is all right. But one cannot reach It without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the agelong vasanas (latent tendencies) carry the mind outwards and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For most people effort is necessary. Of course, everybody, every book says  (summa iru – be quiet or still). But it is not easy. That is why all this effort is necessary. Even if you find one who has effortlessly achieved the mouna (silence) or Supreme State indicated by , you may take it that the effort necessary has already been completed in a previous life. Such effortless and choiceless awareness is reached only after deliberate meditation. The books no doubt speak of sravana (hearing), manana (reflection), nididhyasana (one-pointed concentration), samadhi and sakshatkaram (Realization). We are always the sakshat (Real) and what is there for one to attain (karam) after that? 28 We call this world sakshat or pratyaksha (directly present). What is changing, what appears and disappears, what is not sakshat, we regard as sakshat. We are always, and nothing can be more directly present than we, and about that we say we have to attain sakshatkaram after all these sadhanas. Nothing can be more strange than this. The Self is not attained by doing anything other than remaining still and being as we are. We say that what we see with the eyes alone is pratyaksha. There must first be the seer before anything could be seen. You are yourself the eye that sees,  (andhamilakann) the ‘Infinite Eye’ referred to in UlladuNarpadu (Reality in Forty Verses). People are afraid that when the ego or the mind is killed, the result may be a mere blank and not happiness. What really happens is that the thinker, the object of thought and thinking all merge into the one Source, which is Consciousness and Bliss itself, and thus that state is neither inert nor blank. I do not understand why people should be afraid of that state in which all thoughts cease to exist and the mind is killed. Every day they experience that state in sleep. There is no mind or thought in sleep. Yet when one rises from sleep one says, ‘I slept happily.’ Sleep is so dear to everyone that no one, prince or beggar, can do without it. When we have vikalpas (false concepts) and are trying to give them up, i.e. when we are still not perfected, but have to make conscious effort to keep the mind one-pointed or free from thought, it is Nirvikalpa Samadhi. When through practice we are always in that state, not going into samadhi and coming out again, that is the sahaja (natural) state. In sahaja one always sees oneself. He sees the jagat (world) as swarupa (Reality) or Brahmakara (form of Brahman). Eventually, what was once the 29 means becomes itself the goal, whatever method one follows. Dhyana (meditation), jnana, bhakti and samadhi are all names for ourselves, for our Real State. Knowing one’s Self is only being one’s Self, as there is no second existence. This is Self-realization. You may go on reading any number of books on Vedanta. They can only tell you ‘Realize the Self’. The Self cannot be found in books. You have to find it for yourself in yourself. The Lord whose home is the interior of the Heart-Lotus and who shines there as ‘I’ is extolled as the Lord of the Cave. If by force of practice the feeling ‘I am He, I am the Lord of the Cave’(Guhesa) becomes firmly established, as firmly as your present notion that you are the ego is established in the body, and thus you stand forth as the Lord of the Cave, the illusion that you are the perishable body will vanish like darkness before the rising sun. The true karma, yoga, bhakti or jnana consists in finding out who it is that does the karma, or seeks reunion through yoga, or feels separation from his Lord, or is in ignorance. All these do not exist without the ‘I’. So to remain as the ‘I’ is the Truth. If we regard ourselves as the doers of action we shall also be the enjoyers of the fruits of such action. If by enquiring who does these actions one realizes one’s Self, the sense that one is the doer vanishes and with it all the three kinds of karma (viz. sanchita, agamya and prarabdha). This is the state of eternal Mukti or Liberation. Our Real Nature is Mukti. But we imagine that we are bound and are making strenuous attempts to become free, while we are all the time free. This will be understood only when we reach that stage. We will be surprised that we were frantically trying to attain something which we have always been and are. An illustration will make this clear: A man goes to sleep in this 30 hall. He dreams he has gone on a world tour, is roaming over hill and dale, forest and country, desert and sea, across various continents and, after many years of weary and strenuous travel, returns to this country, reaches Tiruvannamalai, enters the ashram and walks into the hall. Just at that moment he wakes up and finds he has not moved an inch, but was sleeping where he lay down. He has not returned to the hall after great efforts, but is and always has been in the hall. It is exactly like that. If it is asked, why being free we imagine we are bound, I answer, ‘Why being in the hall did you imagine you were on a world adventure, crossing hill and dale, desert and sea?’ It is all mind or maya. The dyads or the pairs of opposites, such as pleasure and pain, and the triads, or such differences as the knower, the known, and the process of knowing, depend on one thing – the ego. When one seeks for that thing in the Heart and finds out its Real Nature they will vanish. Those alone who have found out the Real Nature of the ego have seen the Reality. They will have no more doubts or anxieties. There is no knowledge apart from ignorance, and no ignorance apart from knowledge. That alone is jnana or real knowledge, which when enquiring to whom this knowledge or ignorance arises, reaches that Source which is the Self. The thought ‘I am the body’ is ignorance. That the body is not apart from the Self is knowledge. The body is a mental projection. The mind is the ego, and the ego rises from the Self. The body thought is distracting and strays away from the Self. For whom is the body or birth? Not for the Self, the Spirit. It is for the non-self which imagines itself separate from the Self. So long as there is the sense of separation there will be afflicting thoughts. If the original source is regained and the sense of separation ends, there is peace. A stone picked up from 31 its place and thrown up into the sky has no rest till it comes back to earth. The waters of the sea evaporating and rising into the sky as clouds find no rest till they come back as rain, and finally rush back to the sea. The ego can have peace only when it merges back into its Source, the Self. Seeing God in any form and speaking to Him is as real as your own reality. In other words, when you identify yourself with the body in the waking state, you see gross objects; when in the subtle body (the mental plane) as in dream, you see objects equally subtle; in the absence of all identification, as in dreamless sleep, you see nothing. The objects seen, bear a relation to the state of the seer. The same applies to visions of gods. By long practice, the figure of God as meditated upon appears in dream and may later appear even in the waking state. There was a saint by the name Nam Dev. He could see, talk and play with Vithoba, the God of Pandharpur. God had to teach him that that was not enough, and one must press on further and realize the Self where seer and seen are one. Vision of Siva: Vision is always of an object. That implies the existence of a subject. The value of the vision is the same as that of the seer. The nature of the vision is on the same plane as that of the seer. Appearance implies disappearance as well. Whatever appears must also disappear. A vision can never be eternal. But Siva is eternal. Viswarupa darshan (vision of the cosmic form) and Viswatmadarhsan (vision of the universal self) are the same. Such darshan is not by eyesight or in any gross fashion. As there is only Being, without a second, anything seen cannot be real. That is the truth. The moral behind the story of Ashtavakra and Janaka is simply this: The disciple surrenders himself to the Master. That means there is no vestige of individuality retained by the 32 disciple. If the surrender is complete, all sense of individuality is lost and there is no cause for misery. The Eternal Self is only happiness and that is revealed. The whole of Vedanta is contained in the two Biblical statements ‘I am that I am’ and ‘Be still and know that I am God’. There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until that is realized, effort is necessary. After tasting such bliss even once, one will repeatedly try to regain it. Having once experienced the bliss of peace, no one would like to be out of it or engage himself otherwise. It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts, as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought. Any kind of activity does not affect a Jnani. He remains ever in eternal peace. Ishta Devata (deity of one’s choice) and Guru are aids, very powerful aids on this path. But for an aid to be effective requires your effort also. Your effort is a sine qua non. It is you who should see the sun. Can spectacles and the sun see for you? You yourself have to see your True Nature. Not much aid is required for doing it. First one sees the Self as objects, then one sees the Self as void, and then one sees the Self as the Self; only in this last case is there no seeing because seeing is becoming. The more we control thought, activity and food, the more we will be able to control sleep. But moderation ought to be the rule for the sadhak (aspirant), as explained in the Gita. As explained in the Gita, sleep is the first obstacle for all sadhakas. The second obstacle is said to be vikshepa, or the sense objects of the world which divert one’s attention. The third is said to be kashaya or thoughts about previous experiences with sense objects. The fourth, ananda (bliss), is also called an obstacle, because in that state a feeling of separation from the source of 33 ananda, making the enjoyer say, ‘I am enjoying ananda,’ is present. Even this has to be surmounted, and the final stage of samadhana or samadhi has to be reached, where one becomes ananda, or One with the Reality, and the duality of enjoyer and enjoyment ceases in the ocean of Satchidananda (ExistenceConsciousness-Bliss) or the Self. The power of a Jnani’s Self-Realization is more powerful than all occult powers. To the Jnani there are no others. But what is the highest benefit that can be conferred on ‘others’ as we call them? It is happiness. Happiness is born of peace. Peace can reign only when there is no disturbance by thought. When the mind has been annihilated, there will be perfect peace. As there is no mind, the Jnani cannot be aware of others. But the mere fact of His Self-Realization is itself enough to make all others peaceful and happy. The following extract from a letter of the poet Tennyson to B. P. Blood was read out in Bhagavan’s presence: ‘… a kind of waking trance I have frequently had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone. This has generally come upon me through repeating my own name two or three times to myself, silently, till all at once, as it were out of the intensity of consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being; and this not a confused state but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, the weirdest of the weirdest, utterly beyond words, where death was an almost laughable impossibility, the loss ofpersonality (if so it were) seeming no extinction but the only true life’. Bhagavan said, ‘That state is called abidance in the Self.’

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We are all leaves, flowers
And fruits
On the different religion-branches
Of the birthless and deathless

(Sri Chinmoy)

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