Vasistha: The self ignorantly imagines an egotistic existence, even as if gold, forgetting its goldness, might think it is a ring and weep and wail “Alas, I have lost my goldness”.
Rama: Holy sir, how can this ignorance and egotism arise in the self?
Vasistha: Rama, one should ask questions concerning the reality only, not concerning the unreal. Neither goldless ringness nor limited egotism exists in truth. When the goldsmith sells the ring, he weighs out the gold, for it is gold. If one were to discuss the existence of the ringness in the ring, and the finite form in the infinite consciousness, then one has to compare it with the barren woman’s son.
The existence of the unreal is unreal: it arises in ignorance and vanishes when inquired into. In ignorance one sees silver in the mother-of-pearl, but it cannot serve as silver even for a moment! As long as the truth that it is mother-of-pearl is not seen, the ignorance lasts. Even as one cannot extract oil from sand and even as one can obtain only gold from the ring, there are no two things here in this universe: the one infinite consciousness alone shines in all names and forms.
Such indeed is the nature of this utter ignorance, this delusion and this world-process: without real existence there is this illusory notion of egotism. This egotism does not exist in the infinite self. In the infinite self there is no creator, no creation, no worlds, no heaven, no humans, no demons, no bodies, no elements, no time, no existence and no destruction, no ‘you’, no ‘I’, no self, no that, no truth, no falsehood (none of these), no notion of diversity, no contemplation and no enjoyment. Whatever is, and is known as the universe, is that supreme peace.
There is no beginning, no middle and no end: all is all at all times, beyond the comprehension of the mind and speech. There is no creation. The infinite has never abandoned its infinity. That has never become this. It is like the ocean, but without ocean’s movement. It is self-luminous like the sun, but without activity.
In ignorance, the supreme being is viewed as the object, as the world. Even as space exists in space, one with space, even so what appears to be the creation is Brahman existing in Brahman, as Brahman. The notions of far and near, of diversity, of here and there are as valid as the distance between two objects in a mirror in which a whole city is reflected.
Here are some quotes of Sri Ramana Maharshi that contain perhaps the essence of his teachings:
The state we call realisation is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything.
Be still. Apart from this the mind has no task to do or thought to think.
If one has realised, 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-realisation for want of a better term.
That which is, is peace. All that we need do is to keep quiet.
All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there is no need for endless reading.
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.
Questioner: What is wisdom-insight (jnana-drsti)?
Ramana Maharshi: Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight.
The thought ‘I am the body’ is ignorance.
Gifts, penance (tapas), sacrifice, upright conduct (dharma), self-control (yoga), devotion (bhakti), heaven (the expanse of consciousness), substance (existence), peace, truth, grace, silence, the Supreme State, deathless death, knowledge, renunciation, Liberation, bliss—know that all these are only severance of the I-am-the-body consciousness.
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 bheda bhava and realize the oneness. Why imagine or create the bheda bhava and then destroy it?
Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self. Similarly, in the states of sleep, samadhi and fainting, and when the object desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind becomes inward-turned, and enjoys pure Self-Happiness.
Thus the mind moves without rest alternately going out of the Self and returning to it. Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been going about in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back into the shade is a fool. A wise man stays permanently in the shade. Similarly, the mind of the one who knows the truth does not leave Brahman. The mind of the ignorant, on the contrary, revolves in the world, feeling miserable, and for a little time returns to Brahman to experience happiness. In fact, what is called the world is only thought. When the world disappears, i.e. when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness; and when the world appears, it goes through misery.
It is false to speak of realisation. What is there to realise? The real is as it is, ever. How to realise it? All that is required is this: We have realise 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 summa iru, 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.
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.
Dhyana [meditation], jnana [knowledge], bhakti [devotional love] and samadhi [meditative absorption] 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-realisation.
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 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.
Those alone who have found out the Real Nature of the ego have seen the Reality. They will have no more doubts or anxieties.
The body is a mental projection. The mind is the ego, and the ego rises from the Self.
The ego can have peace only whenit merges back into its Source, the Self
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 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 realised, 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.
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 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
[Existence-Consciousness-Bliss] or the Self.
The power of a Jnani’s Self-Realisation 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-Realisation is itself enough to make all others peaceful and happy.
Jiddu Krishnamurti was ‘discovered’ as a young child in 1909 by the Theosophical Society, and was groomed to be the vehicle for the soon to arrive World Teacher. In 1911 the Order of the Star in the East was created by the Theosophical Society to prepare the world for the coming of this World Teacher, and J Krishnamurti was instituted as its leader. Some years later, on August 3rd 1929, Krishnamurti renounced his role as the World Teacher and disbanded the organisation by making the following speech before 3000 members of the Order. Here is the speech in full:
We are going to discuss this morning the dissolution of the Order of the Star. Many people will be delighted, and others will be rather sad. It is a question neither for rejoicing nor for sadness, because it is inevitable, as I am going to explain. “You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, “What did that man pick up?” “He picked up a piece of Truth,” said the devil. “That is a very bad business for you, then,” said his friend. “Oh, not at all,” the devil replied, “I am going to let him organize it.”
I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others. This is what everyone throughout the world is attempting to do. Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented. Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley. If you would attain to the mountain-top you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices.
So that is the first reason, from my point of view, why the Order of the Star should be dissolved. In spite of this, you will probably form other Orders, you will continue to belong to other organizations searching for Truth. I do not want to belong to any organization of a spiritual kind, please understand this. I would make use of an organization which would take me to London, for example; this is quite a different kind of organization, merely mechanical, like the post or the telegraph. I would use a motor car or a steamship to travel, these are only physical mechanisms which have nothing whatever to do with spirituality. Again, I maintain that no organization can lead man to spirituality.
If an organization be created for this purpose, it becomes a crutch, a weakness, a bondage, and must cripple the individual, and prevent him from growing, from establishing his uniqueness, which lies in the discovery for himself of that absolute, unconditioned Truth. So that is another reason why I have decided, as I happen to be the Head of the Order, to dissolve it. No one has persuaded me to this decision. “This is no magnificent deed, because I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies. Then you will naturally ask me why I go the world over, continually speaking. I will tell you for what reason I do this: not because I desire a following, not because I desire a special group of special disciples. (How men love to be different from their fellow-men, however ridiculous, absurd and trivial their distinctions may be! I do not want to encourage that absurdity.) I have no disciples, no apostles, either on earth or in the realm of spirituality. “Nor is it the lure of money, nor the desire to live a comfortable life, which attracts me. If I wanted to lead a comfortable life I would not come to a Camp or live in a damp country! I am speaking frankly because I want this settled once and for all. I do not want these childish discussions year after year.
One newspaper reporter, who interviewed me, considered it a magnificent act to dissolve an organization in which there were thousands and thousands of members. To him it was a great act because, he said: “What will you do afterwards, how will you live? You will have no following, people will no longer listen to you.” If there are only five people who will listen, who will live, who have their faces turned towards eternity, it will be sufficient. Of what use is it to have thousands who do not understand, who are fully embalmed in prejudice, who do not want the new, but would rather translate the new to suit their own sterile, stagnant selves? If I speak strongly, please do not misunderstand me, it is not through lack of compassion. If you go to a surgeon for an operation, is it not kindness on his part to operate even if he cause you pain? So, in like manner, if I speak straightly, it is not through lack of real affection–on the contrary.
As I have said, I have only one purpose: to make man free, to urge him towards freedom, to help him to break away from all limitations, for that alone will give him eternal happiness, will give him the unconditioned realization of the self.
Because I am free, unconditioned, whole–not the part, not the relative, but the whole Truth that is eternal–I desire those, who seek to understand me to be free; not to follow me, not to make out of me a cage which will become a religion, a sect. Rather should they be free from all fears–from the fear of religion, from the fear of salvation, from the fear of spirituality, from the fear of love, from the fear of death, from the fear of life itself. As an artist paints a picture because he takes delight in that painting, because it is his self-expression, his glory, his well-being, so I do this and not because I want anything from anyone. “You are accustomed to authority, or to the atmosphere of authority, which you think will lead you to spirituality. You think and hope that another can, by his extraordinary powers–a miracle–transport you to this realm of eternal freedom which is Happiness. Your whole outlook on life is based on that authority.
You have listened to me for three years now, without any change taking place except in the few. Now analyze what I am saying, be critical, so that you may understand thoroughly, fundamentally. When you look for an authority to lead you to spirituality, you are bound automatically to build an organization around that authority. By the very creation of that organization, which, you think, will help this authority to lead you to spirituality, you are held in a cage.
If I talk frankly, please remember that I do so, not out of harshness, not out of cruelty, not out of the enthusiasm of my purpose, but because I want you to understand what I am saying. That is the reason why you are here, and it would be a waste of time if I did not explain clearly, decisively, my point of view. “For eighteen years you have been preparing for this event, for the Coming of the World Teacher. For eighteen years you have organized, you have looked for someone who would give a new delight to your hearts and minds, who would transform your whole life, who would give you a new understanding; for someone who would raise you to a new plane of life, who would give you a new encouragement, who would set you free–and now look what is happening! Consider, reason with yourselves, and discover in what way that belief has made you different–not with the superficial difference of the wearing of a badge, which is trivial, absurd. In what manner has such a belief swept away all the unessential things of life? That is the only way to judge: in what way are you freer, greater, more dangerous to every Society which is based on the false and the unessential? In what way have the members of this organization of the Star become different? “As I said, you have been preparing for eighteen years for me. I do not care if you believe that I am the World–Teacher or not. That is of very little importance. Since you belong to the organization of the Order of the Star, you have given your sympathy, your energy, acknowledging that Krishnamurti is the World–Teacher– partially or wholly: wholly for those who are really seeking, only partially for those who are satisfied with their own half-truths.
You have been preparing for eighteen years, and look how many difficulties there are in the way of your understanding, how many complications, how many trivial things. Your prejudices, your fears, your authorities, your churches new and old–all these, I maintain, are a barrier to understanding. I cannot make myself clearer than this. I do not want you to agree with me, I do not want you to follow me, I want you to understand what I am saying. “This understanding is necessary because your belief has not transformed you but only complicated you, and because you are not willing to face things as they are. You want to have your own gods–new gods instead of the old, new religions instead of the old, new forms instead of the old–all equally valueless, all barriers, all limitations, all crutches. Instead of old spiritual distinctions you have new spiritual distinctions, instead of old worships you have new worships. You are all depending for your spirituality on someone else, for your happiness on someone else, for your enlightenment on someone else; and although you have been preparing for me for eighteen years, when I say all these things are unnecessary, when I say that you must put them all away and look within yourselves for the enlightenment, for the glory, for the purification, and for the incorruptibility of the self, not one of you is willing to do it. There may be a few, but very, very few. So why have an organization?
Why have false, hypocritical people following me, the embodiment of Truth? Please remember that I am not saying something harsh or unkind, but we have reached a situation when you must face things as they are. I said last year that I would not compromise. Very few listened to me then. This year I have made it absolutely clear. I do not know how many thousands throughout the world–members of the Order–have been preparing for me for eighteen years, and yet now they are not willing to listen unconditionally, wholly, to what I say.
As I said before, my purpose is to make men unconditionally free, for I maintain that the only spirituality is the incorruptibility of the self which is eternal, is the harmony between reason and love. This is the absolute, unconditioned Truth which is Life itself. I want therefore to set man free, rejoicing as the bird in the clear sky, unburdened, independent, ecstatic in that freedom . And I, for whom you have been preparing for eighteen years, now say that you must be free of all these things, free from your complications, your entanglements. For this you need not have an organization based on spiritual belief. Why have an organization for five or ten people in the world who understand, who are struggling, who have put aside all trivial things? And for the weak people, there can be no organization to help them to find the Truth, because Truth is in everyone; it is not far, it is not near; it is eternally there.
Organizations cannot make you free. No man from outside can make you free; nor can organized worship, nor the immolation of yourselves for a cause, make you free; nor can forming yourselves into an organization, nor throwing yourselves into works, make you free. You use a typewriter to write letters, but you do not put it on an altar and worship it. But that is what you are doing when organizations become your chief concern.
How many members are there in it?” That is the first question I am asked by all newspaper reporters. “How many followers have you? By their number we shall judge whether what you say is true or false.” I do not know how many there are. I am not concerned with that. As I said, if there were even one man who had been set free, that were enough.
Again, you have the idea that only certain people hold the key to the Kingdom of Happiness. No one holds it. No one has the authority to hold that key. That key is your own self, and in the development and the purification and in the incorruptibility of that self alone is the Kingdom of Eternity.
So you will see how absurd is the whole structure that you have built, looking for external help, depending on others for your comfort, for your happiness, for your strength. These can only be found within yourselves.
You are accustomed to being told how far you have advanced, what is your spiritual status. How childish! Who but yourself can tell you if you are beautiful or ugly within? Who but yourself can tell you if you are incorruptible? You are not serious in these things.
But those who really desire to understand, who are looking to find that which is eternal, without beginning and without an end, will walk together with a greater intensity, will be a danger to everything that is unessential, to unrealities, to shadows. And they will concentrate, they will become the flame, because they understand. Such a body we must create, and that is my purpose. Because of that real understanding there will be true friendship. Because of that true friendship–which you do not seem to know–there will be real cooperation on the part of each one. And this not because of authority, not because of salvation, not because of immolation for a cause, but because you really understand, and hence are capable of living in the eternal. This is a greater thing than all pleasure, than all sacrifice.
So these are some of the reasons why, after careful consideration for two years, I have made this decision. It is not from a momentary impulse. I have not been persuaded to it by anyone. I am not persuaded in such things. For two years I have been thinking about this, slowly, carefully, patiently, and I have now decided to disband the Order, as I happen to be its Head. You can form other organizations and expect someone else. With that I am not concerned, nor with creating new cages, new decorations for those cages. My only concern is to set men absolutely, unconditionally free.
You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket.
The friend said to the devil, “What did that man pick up?”
“He picked up a piece of Truth,” said the devil.
“That is a very bad business for you, then,” said his friend.
“Oh, not at all,” the devil replied, “I am going to let him organize it.”
This joke was taken from one of Jiddu Krishnamurti’s seminal speeches when he disbanded the Order of the Star, an organisation that was created by the Theosophical Society in 1911 to make way for the next World Teacher – ie. J. Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti rejected this messianic role and gave a speech entitled ‘Truth is a Pathless land’ an in doing so he dissolved the Order of the Star in front of its 3000 members.
Question: Does ‘awareness’ or ‘consciousness’ have a source, eg. is the actual brain organ the source of all manifestations and sensations? Or is consciousness primary and the ground of existence?
Tom: I don’t know the answer to that question. I only know about ending suffering. When suffering ends, one could say that all there is is consciousness, as this is the undivided experience, but this is only an experiential truth, not a scientific one, and so your actual question remains unanswered.
I wrote an article on this topic while back, feel free to take a look: Is everything really consciousness?
I have selected this talk (talk 141 from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi) as there are so many gems for the seeker of liberation in such a short space. I will try to unpack some of these gems for you and have provided a summary of the teachings at the end. All comments in red are my own and any bold text has been added by myself for emphasis. Ramana’s words are in black.
First Ramana states that objects are nothing but the ‘modes’ or projection of the mind, and that there is a light that illumines these objects. The light he refers to is the light of awareness or consciousness:
Ramana Maharshi: The modes of mind take shape as external objects and the light reflected on the modes illumines the objects. Now neglecting the modes of mind, look for the light illumining them. The mind becomes still and the light remains self-shining. The undulating mind (i.e., the mind associated with rajas = activity and tamas = darkness) is commonly known as the mind. Devoid of rajas and tamas, it is pure and self-shining. This is Self-Realisation. Therefore the mind is said to be the means for it.
Note how densely packed the spiritual discourse is here! First Ramana advises we ignore the objects, or ‘neglect the modes of mind’ as it is put above. Then follows a beautiful line: ‘the mind becomes still and the light remains self-shining’. Here we can see that Ramana is describing the thought-free awareness in which the mind is still but remains awake and aware. Ramana sometimes refers to this state as being called Jagrat Sushupti (click on the link to learn more about what Ramana says about this).
Ramana then restates the above in a different way and further defines the word ‘mind’. He states the the mind associated with rajas (ie. the active, passionate and grasping mind) or with tamas (ie. the mind afflicted with fear, negativity, depression and lethargy) is what is meant by the word mind. Put more simply, the word ‘mind’ refers to the mind in movement that is either grasping (rajas) or pushing away (tamas). When rajas and tamas are no longer present, or when the mind is still and no longer grasping or pushing away, the mind becomes pure (this is usually known as sattva – for a more in-depth discussion of rajas, tamas and sattva see here). This totally pure mind is no longer the mind as previously defined, as it is now still, and this stillness in which movement of ego (rajas and tamas) no longer occurs is known as Self-Realisation.
The questioner proceeds:
D.: What is moksha (liberation)?
M.: Moksha is to know that you were not born. “Be still and know that I am God.” To be still is not to think. Know, and not think, is the word.
Ramana now indicates that our true nature is never born, unlike the numerous objects we appear to experience including the body-mind that we erroneously take ourselves to be. Ramana then reiterates the basic instruction to still the mind and explains again what this means – not to think. Ramana says ‘know, and not think’. I interpret this word ‘know’ to mean ‘be aware’, which again chimes with the beautiful line in the previous paragraph:’ the mind becomes still and the light remains self-shining’.
Now Ramana further explains the main points of the teaching and how to attain Realisation:
Jnana, once revealed, takes time to steady itself. The Self is certainly within the direct experience of everyone, but not as one imagines it to be. It is only as it is. This Experience is samadhi. Just as fire remains without scorching against incantations or other devices but scorches otherwise, so also the Self remains veiled by vasanas [habitual egoic tendencies] and reveals itself when there are no vasanas. Owing to the fluctuation of the vasanas, jnana takes time to steady itself. Unsteady jnana is not enough to check rebirths. Jnana cannot remain unshaken side by side with vasanas. True, that in the proximity of a great master, the vasanas will cease to be active, the mind becomes still and samadhi results, similar to fire not scorching because of other devices. Thus the disciple gains true knowledge and right experience in the presence of the master. To remain unshaken in it further efforts are necessary.
Jnana, which literally means knowledge, is a synonym for Self-Realisation in which there is no suffering. Ramana states that even once we have had a glimpse of That Reality, it takes time for Jnana to stabilise or ‘steady itself’.
How can this be? Is not Reality non-dual and ever-present already? Is our True Nature not already one with the Reality and beyond the limitations of body, time and space? If so, how can it take time for Realisation to steady itself and if Reality is already whole and one without a second, and therefore ‘stable in itself’, how can we even dare speak of stabilisation of Reality or Jnana?
Ramana gives us a practical answer: it is due to the habitual egoic tendencies, or vasanas to use the Sanskrit word. Whist these are present, ‘the Self remains veiled’, and the Self only ‘reveals itself when there are no vasanas’. It is because of these habitual vasanas that take time to die down that ‘Jnana takes time to steady itself’. Ramana goes on to emphasise the point: ‘Jnana cannot remain unshaken side by side with vasanas’ he says. Shankara says the same – see here.
If we compare this section with what was said earlier about mind and rajas and tamas, we can see that stilling the mind means the mind being totally devoid of rajas and tamas. When the mind is still in this way, this is the Self. ie. from a practical point of view, when the mind is active, it is called mind, and when still, it is called Self.
This mind, or rajas and tamas, therefore can be seen to be the same as the vasanas described in this section above. In both cases, when the mind is still or with no vasanas, meaning when there is no habitual birth of the ‘I-concept’ (ego) together with egoic desire and egoic fear, then the Self is automatically realised.
What about the role of the Guru? Ramana here states the mere proximity to the Guru can still the mind and remove the vasanas, thus revealing the Self in Samadhi, giving a true authentic experience of Self to the seeker. However for this Samadhi, which is unsteady, to become steady, Ramana states ‘further efforts are necessary’.
Ramana now tells us more about Samadhi:
He will know it to be his real Being and thus be liberated even while alive. Samadhi with closed eyes is certainly good, but one must go further until it is realised that actionlessness and action are not hostile to each other. Fear of loss of samadhi while one is active is the sign of ignorance. Samadhi must be the natural life of everyone.
Ramana states that the Samadhi in which there is awareness but no objects whatsoever is pleasing and wholesome, but if we fear the intrusion of objects, that is not really the Samadhi he speaks of. The Samadhi Ramana speaks of doesn’t mind the absence or presence of objects, and so activity in daily living is no impediment to this natural Samadhi (Sahaja Samadhi).
There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness. Until it is realised 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 engaged himself otherwise. It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought.
When fully realised, who can talk of effort or lack of effort? The Self is beyond both effort and non-effort, and is also one with effort and non-effort. However, as long as vasanas or mind is present, effort needs to be made. Once one has the taste of the bliss and peace of Samadhi, one desires it. When this desire outweighs the desire for external objects, one naturally makes effort towards Samadhi. One must repeatedly enter into this Samadhi – see here for what Ramana says about this or see here for what Shankara says about Samadhi and the mind. Eventually it becomes an effort not to be in Samadhi, Ramana stating ‘It is as difficult for a Jnani to engage in thoughts as it is for an ajnani to be free from thought.’
The common man says that he does not know himself; he thinks many thoughts and cannot remain without thinking.
Any kind of activity does not affect a Jnani; his mind remains ever in eternal Peace.
The True State is beyond any kind of activity and thought. It cannot be lost or gained, it can never be defiled and was and is always whole and complete. It is ever-lasting Peace, beyond birth and death. It is all there is.
Question: The human mind has been conditioned and brainwashed for thousands of years. Is it possible to free the mind of all psychological fear, and what is the brain’s primary function besides keeping the body alive?
Tom: We could say that there is always an aspect of the mind/ consciousness/ awareness/ ourselves that is untouched by conditioning. This awareness can at times see this conditioning you speak of in action, and then immediately it is already beyond it, and action from ‘this place’ is no longer egoically conditioned, although other types of conditioning such as biological conditioning and language skills remain.
This awareness-wisdom can grow and eventually efface the egoic conditioning completely, which is when we enter into the depths of Silence that is Timeless and Non-dual.
Even though all of this is already ‘That’, it is not fully ‘realised’ and suffering continues until the egoic conditioning is no longer active.
We had a wonderful satsang on Thursday here in the UK. Thank you for those who attended. The teachings I share are not scripted, and I do not really have any fixed teachings of my own, so it is always interesting to me what teachings arise from ‘Tom’s mouth’ through the interaction of seeking energy with non-seeking energy.
Here are some points we discussed and some reflections that I hope you don’t mind if I share with you:
1. Most of the popular spirituality that is on the scene is that which benefits the ‘me’ – ie. it makes the ‘me’ happier and makes the me’s life easier. This is also known as self-improvement, self here referring to the limited identity as body-mind. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this – in fact it is actually quite good – this type of spirituality is limited in that it does not ultimately liberate.
Most of us in the group noted that we all spent a period of time in self-help type activities and we indeed found them helpful, and sometimes still do, but there was a point beyond which self-help was no longer helpful in easing our suffering. So, we left that paradigm behind and eventually stumbled onto non-duality and non-dual teachings/presentations which tackle the cause of suffering at its very root.
2. Teachings that are formulaic are for the ego, at least initially, and these are the ones that are easiest to comprehend and spread ‘en mass’, eg. we can create workshops and write books and teach others easily using formulaic methods. Again, without a genuine insight, these teachings alone do not ultimately liberate.
3. All teachings are eventually to be cast aside, otherwise we are bound to the teaching we carry around with us, and this itself becomes a subtle burden and perpetuates the ‘me’ or ignorance and the resultant suffering continues.
4. Are we not all seeking a deep sense of peace? Or a deep sense of fulfilment in which we are no longer burdened with the travails of life?
5. Do we not, each and every night, find this deep lasting peace in deep dreamless sleep, albeit unconsciously?
6. What does this teach us about the nature of peace and suffering?
7. When the egoic mind is no longer active, peace is all there is.
8. Teachings about awareness and consciousness can be very useful and liberating – but only to a point – these too are dualistic concepts that must be cast aside for liberation to be complete.
9. The mind, which is egoic thought, convinces us that the mind is required for our survival. But is this true?
10. It can be seen directly at some point that this ‘me’ which feels and thinks it is needed to survive is actually an addition that is not required at all. It is fear-based and causes suffering.
11. When the ‘me’ is no longer here, then all division and duality ceases. There is only Oneness. Even this concept of Oneness can be a hurdle – even the concept of Oneness is too complex – it also needs to be let go of when the time is right.
12. Trying to get this is more ‘me’, a subtle form of greed and fear which is trying to make life better for the ‘me’, just like point (1)
13. What is there to say? Can this and need this be put into words at all?
This is simply about the energy of the ‘me’ totally disappearing or collapsing.
And of course it doesn’t matter if that happens or not!
Liberation simply and always already IS as EVERYTHING and NO-THING