The following excerpt is from Chapter 7 of the above book:
Annamalai Swami: Enquire ‘Who am I?’ or ‘What is my real nature?’ The nature of the Self is nothing but peace. If you are not aware of that peace, it means that you are identifying with something that is not the Self. As long as you hear, taste and smell things, you identify with the body. When the perceptions and the perceiver of them vanish, you become aware of the peace that is there all the time.
If you are not aware of that peace, it means that you are identifying with something that is not the Self.
Q: I hear the sound. Then I ask myself who is hearing the sound, and the answer is ‘I’. What happens next depends on where I am. If I am in Swami’s presence or in the meditation hall at Sri Ramanasramam, I feel the presence of the Self and the bliss of peace, but when I am away from Swami, it is not easy.
AS: You need not hold on to That because you are That all the time. That is enough. You are That. How can you hold on to That, or feel separate from it, or try to get it back, or lose it? If That is your real nature, how can you pretend that you are nearer to it in two places and separate from it when you are somewhere else?
How can you hold on to That, or feel separate from it, or try to get it back, or lose it?
Q: I have the experience of That with Swami, but I don’t have the same experience when I am away from him. This is definitely my experience, so I don’t really understand what you are telling me.
AS: Your understanding or your lack of it does not affect the truth of what I am saying. You are That. See who you are and there will be nothing obstructing the experience of this fact.
Q: I still say I see who I am when I am near Swami. When I am away from him, I can remember it as a fact, but it is not my direct experience.
AS: This is because you identify with your body and your mind. Your mind is making you believe that a certain experience can only happen when you are in a particular place. Give up this identification and you will find that the Self is everywhere. You will see it, know it and be it wherever you go. Everything is Swami including you yourself.
Question: How do I give up identification with the body, particularly when I am not in front of Swami? I keep practicing, but I don’t have that experience.
AS: Meditate ‘I am the Self’. If you do this, the idea that you are the body will go. ‘I am the Self’ is still an idea, and as such, it belongs in maya, along with all other ideas. But you can begin to conquer maya by giving up utterly wrong ideas that bind you and cause you trouble. How to do this? Replace them with ideas that are a better reflection of the truth, and which are helpful in leading you towards that truth. If you want to cut iron, you use another piece of iron.
But you can begin to conquer maya by giving up utterly wrong ideas that bind you and cause you trouble. How to do this? Replace them with ideas that are a better reflection of the truth…
In battle, if someone shoots an arrow at you, you shoot one back. In maya, if the arrow of a bad idea comes speeding towards you, dodge it. Don’t let it stick to you of you will end up in pain. Then, in retaliation, fire back the arrow of ‘I am the Self’ at the place where the wrong idea came from.
Sadhana is a battlefield. You have to be vigilant. Don’t take delivery of wrong beliefs and don’t identify with the incoming thoughts that will give you pain and suffering. But if these things start happening to you, fight back by affirming, ‘I am the Self; I am the Self; I am the Self’. These affirmations will lessen the power of the ‘I am the body’ arrows and eventually they will armour-plate you so successfully, the ‘I am the body’ thoughts that come your way will no longer have the power to touch you, affect you or make you suffer.
Don’t take delivery of wrong beliefs and don’t identify with the incoming thoughts that will give you pain and suffering…fight back by affirming, ‘I am the Self; I am the Self; I am the Self’.
This fight all takes place within maya because in reality you are peace and peace alone. But while you are suffering in maya you can use these thoughts as a means of ultimately conquering it.