The following is taken from Chapter 14 of Conscious Immortality and is instructive about the path to complete liberation. As often is the case with Ramana’s writings, there is much packed into each phrase. My comments have been interspersed in blue italics, and I pray you find these to be of assistance. If they are not, please feel free to ignore them:
“The Self is like a powerful hidden magnet within us. It draws us gradually to itself, though we imagine we are going to it of our own accord.
Tom: we imagine that we are seeking, whereas actually we are being moved by the Self, as is everything else likewise being orchestrated by Oneness. Next the basic teaching is given in concise form:
“When we are near enough, it puts an end to our other activities, makes us still, and then swallows up our own personal current, thus killing our personality. It overwhelms the intellect and over floods the whole being.
Tom: the teaching goes like this: first we naturally drop and turn away from outer (egoic) activities as we realise that we no longer need them. Then we become still. Lastly after having been still for some time, our personhood is ‘swallowed up’ by the self. Then all that remains is fullness, the Self. That’s all there ever was.
“We think we are meditating upon it and developing towards it, whereas the truth is that we are as iron filings and it is the Atman-magnet that is pulling us towards itself. Thus the process of finding Self is a form of Divine Magnetism.
Tom: again the notion of personal doership is being undercut here – we are all but puppets of the Lord. We take ourselves to be the orchestrator of our actions, whereas we are His instruments playing His song. So does this mean that we do not have to practice?
“It is necessary to practise meditation frequently and regularly until the condition induced becomes habitual and permanent throughout the day. Therefore meditate.
You lost sight of the bliss because your meditative attitude had not become natural and because of the recurrence of vasanas. When you become habitually reflective, the enjoyment of spiritual beatitude becomes a matter of natural experience.
Tom: Ramana instructs us to practice meditation regularly, so that the meditative attitude becomes the predominant habitual way of being. How to meditate? This will be explained below:
“It is not by a single realisation that “I am not the body but the Atman” that the goal is reached. Do we become high in position by once seeing a king? One must constantly enter into samadhi and realise one’s Self, and completely blot out the old vasanas and the mind, before it becomes the Self.
Tom: here Ramana makes a central point. It is often mistakenly thought that realising who you are is a one time affair. However here Ramana emphasises that this realisation alone is insufficient for true liberation to dawn. One must time and time again sink into Samadhi and remove the habitual tendencies (vasanas) that cause us to identify as a finite body-mind entity. This simple but essential teaching is often side-stepped by those who would like the fruits of liberation without the need to actually practice and drive out the vasanas/habitual ignorance.
The example that one cannot become a king simply by seeing a king is cited by Ramana. This example is reminiscent of that given in Chapter 7 of Advaita Bodha Deepika, one of Ramana’s favourite texts, where it is repeatedly told that mere knowledge of the king by a beggar does not transform the beggar into a king. Similarly, the jiva is not so easily transformed into the Self, so to speak, by simply knowing of the Self. So, how can the jiva be ‘transformed into the Self’? Ramana will enlighten us:
“If you keep to the thought of the Self, and be intently watching for it then even that one thought which is used as a focus in concentration will disappear and you will BE, the true Self. Meditation on Self is our natural state.
Only because we find it hard do we imagine it to be an arbitrary and extraordinary state. We are all unnatural.
The mind resting in the Self is its natural condition, but instead of that our minds are resting in outward objects. After the expulsion of name and form (nama-rupa) which compose the external world, and by dwelling on existence-knowledge-bliss (sat-chit-ananda), take care to prevent the re-entry into the mind of the expelled name and form.
Tom: here the essence of spiritual practice is given: we are to rest as the self. How to do that? We are to not rest in outward objects, we are to pay no attention to name and form (nama-rupa) and instead dwell on awareness-consciousness-Being-Bliss, which is our own true nature. This is simply Self abiding as Self, or Being being Being.
We are to take care not to allow the mind to again shoot outwards into the world and dwell on the forms (that it itself projects).
We are to cultivate thought of this Self, and eventually this thought too will disappear and all that will be left is Self without any trace of jiva or the idea that I am a limited body-mind entity.