Tomorrow, on Monday 28th Nov 2022, I will holding an online session hosted by the Teachers of God Foundation on the topic of ‘living realisation in the midst of everyday life’.
To find out more and register, please see here (please note this is an affiliate link).
The following teaching verses on how to live a truly authentic life are taken from the text Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Garland of Guru’s sayings, you can download the entire text here). According to Sri Ramana Ashram, as explained in the foreward of the book ‘…[Guru Vachaka Kovai] provides the most precise, systematic and authoritative exposition of Sri Bhagavan’s teaching, explaining step by step the theory, the practice and the experience of jnana, the Truth supreme which is Being as Life Eternal, Pure Awareness, Perfect Bliss. Thus, the most comprehensive collection of the Maharshi’s sayings is Guru Vachaka Kovai…’
Chapter 40: Authentic Living
1089 Life you desire. But how to live
You know not. Thinking that this sinking
Deep in this void, vain, illusive
Waking-dream is ‘life’, you proudly
Claim you ‘live’. Pierce this illusion,
Go, grasp the Truth, eternal life.
Tom: Bhagavan Sri Ramana gives a radical interpretation as to what true authentic living actually is. Thinking this world to be real and living in it in this way is not authentic living at all. People who proudly strut about the world proclaiming how authentic their life is are merely dabbling in ego and illusion, so says the Ever-Living-Sage. What is authentic living then? Let us see what Bhagavan says in the following verses:
1090 Shun anger and desire; destroy
Illusions false that cause confusion,
Behave at all times with detachment
Calm. This is authentic living.
To this hold fast.
Tom: What should we hold fast to? Let us see:
1091 Abiding as Self-being, living
A life that is a steady flow
Unhindered of true love welling up
In the heart, this is the bright, joyous
Sivahood, which ends forever
The inveterate, false, deceitful ego.
Tom: we should know by now that all of Bhagavan Ramana’s teaching point to turning within to attain Self-Knowledge, to discover that which we truly are, which is the same as being that which you truly are. Here we are specifically advised to shun anger and desire, be calm and detached, and turn within to discover our true radiant being as Being, Self, Love. The discovery of what we truly are ends this false deceitful ego as well as the ‘void and illusive’ waking-dream.
1092 The seers who have placed at Siva’s Feet
All their life’s burdens and now live
Lives sublime of calm detachment
And shine in radiant purity,
They alone possess true beauty,
They alone enjoy true bliss.
Tom: Surrender life’s burdens to Shiva, the Self Supreme
1093 That Heart which truly knows the Self
Is full of love whence Bliss supreme
Wells up forever. There desire,
And its shadow, sorrow, have no place.
Such a life whose nature pure,
From Being flows serenely calm.
Tom: with self-knowledge, desire and sorrow naturally fall away, there being no ‘place’ for them to sustain themselves and exist. Here is the next verse Sri Ramana makes the teaching especially clear. What is authentic living? It is simply to Be or Abide As the Self.
1094 The only goal worth seeking is
The bliss supreme of Self-Awareness.
Constant remembering and abiding
As That within the heart amounts
To plenitude of life.
Tom: Sri Ramana drives the point home that living a worldly life in the waking dream, which is a false illusion, is not at all the truly authentic life at all. Rather it is maya, illusion, with all its suffering and seeming-separation.
1095 Such a life of Grace alone
Is life lived in full, real Being.
This worldly life of false phenomena
Full of fear is sinking deeper
In illusion, not authentic living.
Tom: In the next verse that which was previously implied but not stated is now stated: the senses are turned within, no longer seeing the world, no longer interested in that which is not at all real or existent.
1096 Those whose five senses turn no longer
Towards the world which once seemed real,
Those who have learned to live without
Their minds being moved by the illusive
Universe of forms, they need
Perform no penance.
Tom: Revelling only in the Self Supreme, total Bliss, Love and Peace. This is the only authentic life – eternal life.
!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!
There is a quote I often see attributed to Sri Ramana Maharshi as follows:
‘There is neither creation nor destruction, neither destiny nor free will, neither path nor achievement. This is the final truth.’
This verse is actually a mistranslation of a verse that is found in several vedanta scriptures including two Upanishads, the writings of Gaudapada and in Shankara’s writings too. Here is how the verse appears in these texts:
‘There is neither destruction (Nirodha) nor creation (Utpatti), none in bondage (Bandha) and none practicing disciplines (Sadhaka). There is none seeking Liberation (Mumukshu) and none liberated (Mukta). This is the ultimate or highest truth (Paramartha).’
Sri Ramana Maharshi did himself write a version of this verse, which has been captured in verse B28 in Guru Vachaka Kovai (it can be found after verse 1227), which reads as follows:
There is no creation, no destruction.
None bound, none seeking, striving,
Gaining freedom. Know that this
Is the Truth supreme.
As far as I can tell, the mistranslated version of the text, which erroneously refers to destiny and free will, was popularised by Ramesh Balsekar and itself was a quotation from a book by Wei Wu Wei called ‘The Open Secret’. Ramesh often placed prominence on the concepts of destiny and free will in his teachings, so perhaps this was why he gravitated towards this version (ie. mistranslation) of the verse?
Admittedly the verses are not all too different from each other, but they are different nonetheless. I’ll let you decide on the significance of these differences for yourself.
For the next 3 Mondays I’ll be holding 3 sessions with Teachers of God Foundation all on the end of suffering.
You can find out more details and register here (please note this is an affiliate link):
Here is the theme of this week’s class: