Aparokshanubhuti by Shankara (with brief explanatory notes)

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Aparokshanubhuti 

[Aparoksha = direct; Anubhuti = experience]

By Adi Sankaracharya (788-82 CE)

Translated by Swami Vimuktananda, this version edited by Tom Das

Swami Vimuktananda: Shankara discusses the identity of the individual Self and the universal Self through the direct experience of the highest Truth.

Tom: the original text has no subheadings – I have added these. My brief comments and annotations are in square brackets. I have added bold type for emphasis of what I feel are key points. Occasionally I have removed some verses or I have changed the order of some verses where I have felt this makes sense thematically. I hope these additions are of benefit for sincere seekers of liberation.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

INITIAL VERSES

  1. I bow down to Him – to Sri Hari (the destroyer of ignorance), the Supreme Bliss, the First Teacher, Ishwara, the All-pervading One and the Cause of all Lokas (the universe).
  1. Herein is expounded (the means of attaining to) Aparokshanubhuti (Self-Realization) for the acquisition of final liberation. Only the pure in heart should constantly and with all effort meditate upon the truth herein taught.

FOUR PRELIMINARY QUALIFICATIONS 

(Sadhana Chatushtaya)

[Q. Who is ‘pure in heart’?
A: He who has the 4 qualifications listed below
Q: How to become ‘pure in heart’?
A: Devotion to God, renunciation and karma yoga as per verse 3]

  1. The four preliminary qualifications (the means to the attainment of knowledge), such as Vairagya (dispassion) and the like, are acquired by men by propitiating [gaining favour of] Hari (the Lord), through austerities and the performance of duties pertaining to their social order and stage in life.
  1. The indifference with which one treats the excreta of a crow – such an indifference to all objects of enjoyment from the realm of Brahma to this world (in view of their perishable nature), is verily called pure [1] Vairagya.
  1. Atman (the seer) in itself is alone permanent, the seen is opposed to it (ie., transient) – such a settled conviction is truly known as [2] discrimination [Viveka].

[[3] The 6 treasures]

  1. Abandonment of desires at all times is called [3i] Shama and restraint of the external functions of the organs is called [3ii] Dama.
  1. Turning away completely from all sense-objects is the height of [3iii] Uparati, and patient endurance of all sorrow or pain is known as [3iv] Titiksha which is conducive to happiness.
  1. Implicit faith in the words of the Vedas and the teachers (who interpret them) is known as (3v) Shraddha, and concentration of the mind on the only object Sat (i.e., Brahman) is regarded as [3vi] Samadhana.
  1. When and how shall I, O Lord, be free from the bonds of this world (i.e., births and deaths) – such a burning desire is called [4] Mumukshuta.
  1. Only that person who is in possession of the said qualification (as means to Knowledge) should constantly reflect with a view to attaining Knowledge, desiring his own good.

VICHARA SUMMARISED

  1. Knowledge is not brought about by any other means than Vichara [inquiry], just as an object is nowhere perceived (seen) without the help of light.

[Question]

  1. Who am I ? How is this (world) created ? Who is its creator ? Of what material is this (world) made ? This is the way of that Vichara (enquiry).

[Answer – what I am not, neti-neti, via negativa]

  1. I am neither the body, a combination of the (five) elements (of matter), nor am I an aggregate of the senses; I am something different from these. This is the way of that Vichara.

[The philosophical paradigm: all phenomena is a creation of thoughts/ignorance:]

  1. Everything is produced by ignorance, and dissolves in the wake of Knowledge. The various thoughts must be the creator. Such is this Vichara.

[All is Brahman, what I am, via positiva]

  1. The material (cause) of these two (i.e., ignorance and thought) is the One (without a second), subtle (not apprehended by the senses) and unchanging Sat (Existence), just as the earth is the material (cause) of the pot and the like. This is the way of that Vichara.

[What I am – I am Brahman]

  1. As I am also the One, the Subtle, the Knower, the Witness, the Ever-Existent, and the Unchanging, so there is no doubt that I am “That” (i.e., Brahman). Such is this enquiry.

ATMAN (The Self)

  1. Atman is verily one and without parts, whereas the body consists of many parts; and yet the people see (confound) these two as one ! What else can be called ignorance but this? [repeating refrain]
  1. Atman is all consciousness and holy, the body is all flesh and impure; and yet, etc.,
  1. Atman is the (supreme) Illuminator and purity itself; the body is said to be of the nature of darkness; and yet, etc.,
  1. Atman is eternal, since it is Existence itself; the body is transient, as it is non-existence in essence; and yet etc.,
  1. How strange is it that a person ignorantly rests contented with the idea that he is the body, while he knows it as something belonging to him (and therefore apart from him) even as a person who sees a pot (knows it as apart from him) !

I AM BRAHMAN

  1. I am verily Brahman, being equanimous, quiescent, and by nature absolute Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss. I am not the body which is non-existence itself. This is called true Knowledge by the wise. [repeating refrain]
  1. I am without any change, without any form, free from all blemish and decay. I am not, etc.,
  1. I am not subjected to any disease, I am beyond all comprehension, free from all alternatives and all-pervading. I am not, etc.,
  1. I am without any attribute or activity, I am eternal, ever free, and imperishable. I am not, etc.,
  1. I am free from all impurity, I am immovable, unlimited, holy, undecaying, and immortal. I am not, etc.,

IGNORANCE

  1. O you ignorant one ! Why do you assert the blissful, ever-existent Atman, which resides in your own body [ie. is your essence] and is (evidently) different from it, which is known as Purusha [The Person] and is established (by the Shruti as identical with Brahman), to be absolutely non-existent?

[ie. Why do you say ‘There is no Atman/Self’?]

  1. O you ignorant one ! Try to know, with the help of [1] Shruti and [2] reasoning, your own Self, Purusha, which is different from the body, (not a void but) the very form of existence, and very difficult for persons like you to realize.

[This will be explained below]

1. REASONING

  1. The Supreme (Purusha) known as “I” (ego) is but one, whereas the gross bodies are many. So how can this body be Purusha?
  1. “I” (ego) is well established as the subject of perception whereas the body is the object. This is learnt from the fact that when we speak of the body we say, “This is mine.” So how can this body be Purusha?
  1. It is a fact of direct experience that the “I” (Atman) is without any change, whereas the body is always undergoing changes. So how can this body be Purusha?
  1. Even the subtle body [ie. mind] consists of many parts and is unstable. It is also an object of perception, is changeable, limited and non-existent by nature. So how can this be the Purusha?
  1. The immutable Atman, the substratum of the ego, is thus different from these two bodies [ie. gross and subtle bodies], and is the Purusha, the Ishwara (the Lord of all), the Self of all; It is present in every form and yet transcends them all.

2. SHRUTI

[Shruti literally means ‘heard’ or ‘that which is heard’, and refers to revealed scripture, the highest form of scripture in Vedic tradition, and the examples are the Vedas and Upanishads. Traditionally Shruti is not of human origin but of Divine origin, as opposed to Smriti or ‘remembered’, which comes from the minds of human beings. This text, not being the Vedas or Upanishads would be considered to be Smriti. Most epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita are all Smriti scriptures]

  1. Wise men have ascertained the (real) nature of Purusha from that Shruti text, “(There is nothing) higher than He (Purusha),” etc. So how can this body be Purusha ?
  1. Again the Shruti has declared in the Purusha Sukta that “All this is verily the Purusha”. So how can this body be Purusha ?
  1. So also it is said in Brihadaranyaka that “The Purusha is completely unattached”. How can this body wherein inhere innumerable impurities be the Purusha ?
  1. There again it is clearly stated that “the Purusha is self-illumined”. So how can the body which is inert (insentient) and illumined by an external agent be the Purusha ?
  1. Moreover, the Karma-kanda also declares that the Atman is different from the body and permanent, as it endures even after the fall of the body and reaps the fruits of actions (done in this life).
  1. The Shruti in the form of the Brihadaranyaka has declared that this Atman, which is the Self of all, is verily Brahman.

ADVAITA

[So far we have discerned the difference between Self and Not-Self (ie. the phenomenal world including the body and mind). Now we see this too is an artificial duality and now the focus is on Advaita, or non-duality:]

  1. Thus the view that the body is the Atman has been denounced by the enunciation of the difference between the Atman and the body. Now is clearly stated the unreality of the difference between the two.
  1. No division in Consciousness is admissible at any time as it is always one and the same. Even the individuality of the Jiva must be known as false, like the delusion of a snake in a rope.
  1. As through the ignorance of the real nature of the rope the very rope appears in an instant as a snake, so also does pure Consciousness appear in the form of the phenomenal universe without undergoing any change.
  1. There exists no other material cause of this phenomenal universe except Brahman. Hence this whole universe is but Brahman and nothing else.
  1. From such declaration (of the Shruti) as “All this is Atman”, it follows that the idea of the pervaded and the pervading is illusory. This supreme truth being realized, where is the room for any distinction between the cause and the effect?

[The Mahavakya or great saying ‘Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma’ or ‘All this is Brahman’ is taken from the Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.1]

  1. Certainly the Shruti has directly denied manifoldness in Brahman. The non-dual cause being an established fact, how could the phenomenal universe be different from It ?
  1. Moreover, the Shruti has condemned (the belief in variety) in the words, “The person who”, being deceived by Maya, “sees variety in this (Brahman), goes from death to death”.
  1. Inasmuch as all beings are born of Brahman, the supreme Atman, they must be understood to be verily Brahman.
  1. The Shruti has clearly declared that Brahman alone is the substratum of all varieties of names, forms and actions.
  1. Just as a thing made of gold ever has the nature of gold, so also a being born of Brahman has always the nature of Brahman.
  1. Just as a jar is all earth, so also is the body all consciousness. The division, therefore, into the Self and non-Self is made by the ignorant to no purpose.

SUFFERING

  1. Fear is attributed to the ignorant one who rests after making even the slightest distinction between the Jivatman and the Paramatman.

[ie. duality causes fear]

  1. When duality appears through ignorance, one sees another; but when everything becomes identified with the Atman, one does not perceive another even in the least.
  1. In that state when one realizes all as identified with the Atman, there arises neither delusion nor sorrow, in consequence of the absence of duality.

[ie. lack of duailty, or nonduality, removes suffering]

THE THREE STATES

[ie. The 3 states change, they come and go, and so are without any enduring essence, as opposed to Atman]

  1. This world, though an object of our daily experience and serving all practical purposes, is, like the dream world, of the nature of non-existence, inasmuch as it is contradicted the next moment.
  1. The dream (experience) is unreal in waking, whereas the waking (experience) is absent in dream. Both, however, are non-existent in deep sleep which, again, is not experienced in either.
  1. Thus all the three states are unreal inasmuch as they are the creation of the three Gunas [ie. tamas, rajas, sattva]; but their witness (the reality behind them) is, beyond all Gunas, eternal, one, and is Consciousness itself.

ILLUSION

[The illusion of duality: the illusion of the individual person or Jiva, the illusion of the manifold universe]

  1. Just as (after the illusion has gone) one is no more deluded to see a jar in earth or silver [irridescence] in the nacre [mother of pearl], so does one no more see Jiva in Brahman when the latter is realized (as one’s own self).
  1. Just as earth is described as a jar, gold as an ear-ring, and a nacre as silver, so is Brahman described as Jiva.
  1. Just as blueness in the sky, water in the mirage, and a human figure in a post (are but illusory), so is the universe in Atman.
  1. Just as the appearance of a ghost in an empty place, of a castle in the air, and of a second moon in the sky (is illusory), so is the appearance of the universe in Brahman.
  1. Just as it is water that appears as ripples and waves, or again it is copper, that appears in the form of vessel so it is Atman that appears as the whole universe.
  1. Just as it is earth that appears under the name of a jar, or it is threads that appear under the name of a cloth, so it is Atman that appears under the name of the universe. This Atman is to be known by negating the names.

MITHYA

  1. Just as there ever exist the relation of cause and effect between earth and a jar, so does the same relation exist between Brahman and the phenomenal world; this has been established here on the strength of scriptural texts and reasoning.

METAPHORS FOR ILLUSION

(YOU ARE NOT THE BODY!)

[Note: If I think I am the body, then this is taking the Self (myself) to be the body]

  1. Just as a rope is imagined to be a snake and a nacre to be a piece of silver, so is the Atman determined to be the body by an ignorant person. [repeating refrain]
  1. Just as earth is thought of as a jar (made of it) and threads as a cloth, so is Atman, etc.,
  1. Just as gold is thought of as an ear-ring and water as waves, so is the Atman, etc.,
  1. Just as the stump of a tree is mistaken for a human figure and a mirage for water, so is the Atman, etc.,
  1. Just as a mass of wood work is thought of as a house and iron as a sword, so is the Atman, etc.,
  1. Just as one sees the illusion of a tree on account of water, so does a person on account of ignorance see Atman as the body.
  1. Just as to a person going in a boat everything appears to be in motion, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as to a person suffering from a defect (jaundice) white things appear as yellow, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as to a person with defective eyes everything appears to be defective, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as a firebrand, through mere rotation, appears circular like the sun, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as all things that are really large appear to be very small owing to great distance, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as all objects that are very small appear to be large when viewed through lenses, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as a surface of glass is mistaken for water, or vice versa, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as a person imagines a jewel in fire or vice versa, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as when clouds move, the moon appears to be in motion, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as a person through confusion loses all distinction between the different points of the compass, so does one, etc.,
  1. Just as the moon (when reflected) in water appears to one as unsteady, so does one, etc.,

THE END OF IGNORANCE

  1. Thus, through ignorance, arises in Atman the delusion of the body, which, again, through Self-realization, disappears in the supreme Atman.
  1. When the whole universe, movable and immovable, is known to be Atman, and thus the existence of everything else is negated, where is then any room to say that the body is Atman?
  1. O enlightened one, pass your time always contemplating on Atman while you are experiencing all the results of Prarabdha [Fate or destiny]; for it ill becomes you to feel distressed.

PRARABDHA KARMA 

  1. The theory one hears of from the scripture, that Prarabdha does not lose its hold upon one even after the origination of the knowledge of Atman, is now being refuted.
  1. After the origination of the knowledge of Reality, Prarabdha verily ceases to exist, inasmuch as the body and the like become non-existent; just as a dream does not exist on waking.
  1. Just as the body in a dream is superimposed (and therefore illusory), so is also this body. How could there be any birth of the superimposed (body), and in the absence of birth (of the body) where is the room for that (i.e., Prarabdha) at all ?
  1. The Vedanta texts declare ignorance to be verily the material (cause) of the phenomenal world just as earth is of a jar. That (ignorance) being destroyed, where can the universe subsist ?
  1. Just as a person out of confusion perceives only the snake leaving aside the rope, so does an ignorant person see only the phenomenal world without knowing the reality.
  1. The real nature of the rope being known, the appearance of the snake no longer persists; so the substratum being known, the phenomenal world disappears completely.
  1. The body also being within the phenomenal world (and therefore unreal), how could Prarabdha exist ? It is, therefore, for the understanding of the ignorant alone that the Shruti speaks of Prarabdha.
  1. “And all the actions [Karmas] of a man perish when he realizes that (Atman) which is both the higher and the lower”. Here the clear use of the plural by the Shruti is to negate Prarabdha as well.
  1. If the ignorant still arbitrarily maintain this, they will not only involve themselves into two absurdities but will also run the risk of forgoing the Vedantic conclusion. So one should accept those Shrutis alone from which proceeds true knowledge.

FIFTEEN STEPS TO MEDITATION & LIBERATION

  1. Now, for the attainment of the aforesaid (knowledge), I shall expound the fifteen steps by the help of which one should practice profound meditation at all times.

[The need for practice]

  1. The Atman that is absolute existence and knowledge cannot be realized without constant practice. So one seeking after knowledge should long meditate upon Brahman for the attainment of the desired goal.

102-103. The steps, in order, are described as follows: the control of the senses, the control of the mind, renunciation, silence, space, time, posture [asana], the restraining root (Mulabandha), the equipoise of the body, the firmness of vision, the control of the vital forces, the withdrawal of the mind, concentration, self-contemplation and complete absorption. 

[These above stages are similar to and include the classical 8 stages of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga. Shankara will redefine these steps in the next few verses giving them a non-dual spin]

  1. The restraint of all the senses by means of such knowledge as “All this is Brahman” is rightly called Yama, which should be practiced again and again.

[Yama or self-control is usually defined as being ethical, truthful, not stealing, etc]

  1. The continuous flow of only one kind of thought to the exclusion of all other thoughts, is called Niyama [discipline], which is verily the supreme bliss and is regularly practiced by the wise.

[The one kind of thought are those of the Mahavakyas such as ‘I am Brahman’, etc]

[Niyama, or discipline usually includes virtuous habits to externally and inwardly cleanse the body and mind respectively]

  1. The abandonment of the illusory universe by realizing it as the all-conscious Atman is the real renunciation honored by the great, since it is of the nature of immediate liberation.

[as in verse 104, the underlying method utilised is the realisation that ‘All is Brahman-Atman’. The emphasis is on a shift of perspective rather than just taking yourself to be the body-mind and renouncing objects from that ignorant perspective]

  1. The wise should always be one with that Silence wherefrom words together with the mind turn back without reaching it, but which is attainable by the Yogins.

[The Silence refers to the Self, Atman/Brahman, which is what we are. ‘Mind turns back without reaching it’ refers to Taittiriya Upanishad II.9]

108-109. Who can describe That (i.e., Brahman) whence words turn away ? (So silence is inevitable while describing Brahman). Or if the phenomenal world were to be described, even that is beyond words. This, to give an alternate definition, may also be termed silence known among the sages as congenital. The observance of silence by restraining speech, on the other hand, is ordained by the teachers of Brahman for the ignorant.

[True Silence is Self-Knowledge and not mere cessation of speech]

  1. That solitude is known as space, wherein the universe does not exist in the beginning, end or middle, but whereby it is pervaded at all times.

[True solitude is Self-Knowledge, in which there is only One without a Second, the implication is that solitude is not the mere retiring to a forest in seclusion]

  1. The non-dual (Brahman) that is bliss indivisible is denoted by the word ‘time’, since it brings into existence, in the twinkling of an eye all beings from Brahman downwards.
  1. One should known that as real posture in which the meditation on Brahman flows spontaneously and unceasingly, and not any other that destroys one’s happiness.

[Shankara’s humour that the true Yogic asana/posture are not mere contortions of body that ‘destroy one’s happiness’ but meditation upon Brahman]

  1. That which is well known as the origin of all beings and the support of the whole universe, which is immutable and in which the enlightened are completely merged … that alone is known as Siddhasana [a seated meditation pose] (eternal Brahman).
  1. That (Brahman) which is the root of all existence and on which the restraint of the mind is based is called the restraining root (Mulabandha) which should always be adopted since it is fit for Raja-yogins.
  1. Absorption in the uniform Brahman should be known as the equipoise of the limbs (Dehasamya). Otherwise mere straightening of the body like that of a dried-up tree is no equipoise.
  1. Converting the ordinary vision into one of knowledge one should view the world as Brahman itself. That is the noblest vision, and not that which is directed to the tip of the nose.
  1. Or, one should direct one’s vision to That alone where all distinction of the seer, sight, and the seen ceases and not to the tip of the nose.
  1. The restraint of all modifications of the mind by regarding all mental states like the Chitta as Brahman alone, is called Pranayama.

119-120. The negation of the phenomenal world is known as Rechaka (breathing out), the thought, “I am verily Brahman”, is called Puraka (breathing in), and the steadiness of that thought thereafter is called Kumbhaka (restraining the breath). This is the real course of Pranayama for the enlightened, whereas the ignorant only torture the nose [more humour from Shankara here].

  1. The absorption of the mind in the Supreme Consciousness by realizing Atman in all objects is known as Pratyahara (withdrawal of the mind) which should be practiced by the seekers after liberation.
  1. The steadiness of the mind through realization of Brahman wherever the mind goes, is known as the supreme Dharana (concentration).
  1. Remaining independent of everything as a result of the unassailable thought, “I am verily Brahman”, is well known by the word Dhyana (meditation), and is productive of supreme bliss.
  1. The complete forgetfulness of all thought by first making it changeless and then identifying it with Brahman is called Samadhi known also as knowledge.

[The method is to make thought changeless, which means to only have one thought such as ‘I am Brahman’ as per verses 119 and 123, and then to realise this thought as nothing else but Brahman or Atman (self), and then forget all thought. Shankara equates this Samadhi with Knowledge]

THE FRUIT OF PRACTICE

  1. The aspirant should carefully practice this (meditation) that reveals his natural bliss until, being under his full control, it arises spontaneously, in an instant when called into action.
  1. Then he, the best among Yogis having attained to perfection, becomes free from all practices. The real nature of such a man never becomes an object of the mind or speech.

OBSTACLES

127-128. While practicing Samadhi there appear unavoidably many obstacles, such as lack of inquiry, idleness, desire for sense-pleasure, sleep, dullness, distraction, tasting of joy, and the sense of blankness. One desiring the knowledge of Brahman should slowly get rid of such innumerable obstacles.

ENCOURAGEMENT AND A WARNING

  1. While thinking of an object the mind verily identifies itself with that, and while thinking of a void it really becomes blank, whereas by the thought of Brahman it attains to perfection. So one should constantly think of (Brahman to attain) perfection.
  1. Those who give up this supremely purifying thought of Brahman, live in vain and are on the same level with beasts.
  1. Blessed indeed are those virtuous persons who at first have this consciousness of Brahman and then develop it more and more. They are respected everywhere.

[Against the intellectual approach:]

  1. Only those in whom this consciousness (of Brahman) being ever present grows into maturity, attain to the state of ever-existent Brahman; and not others who merely deal with words.
  1. Also those persons who are only clever in discussing about Brahman but have no realization, and are very much attached to worldly pleasures, are born and die again and again in consequence of their ignorance.
  1. The aspirants after Brahman should not remain a single moment without the thought of Brahman, just like Brahma, Sanaka, Suka and others.

ANALYSIS OF ‘CAUSE’ AND ‘EFFECT’

  1. The nature of the cause inheres in the effect and not vice versa; so through reasoning it is found that in the absence of the effect, the cause, as such also disappears.

[Cause and effect refers to karma and the phenomenal world. When this world is removed, only Brahman remains:]

  1. Then that pure reality (Brahman) which is beyond speech alone remains. This should be understood again and again verily through the illustration of earth and the pot.

[ie. When the pot is destroyed, the earth from which it is made remains]

  1. In this way alone there arises in the pure-minded a state of awareness (of Brahman), which is afterwards merged into Brahman.
  1. One should first look for the cause by the negative method and then find it by the positive method, as ever inherent in the effect.

[Here the cause is Brahman and the effect is the world, ie. by removing all objects from perception through meditation (negative method 1) or by negating all objects of perception as being not-self (negative method 2) the Self should be discovered, but then the Self should be seen being in All Objects (positive method)]

  1. One should verily see the cause in the effect, and then dismiss the effect altogether. What then remains, the sage himself becomes.
  1. A person who meditates upon a thing with great assiduity and firm conviction, becomes that very thing. This may be understood from the illustration of the wasp and the worm.

UNITY OF FORMLESS AND FORM

  1. The wise should always think with great care of the invisible, the visible, and everything else, as his own Self which is consciousness itself.
  1. Having reduced the visible [objects of perception] to the invisible [formless Brahman], the wise should think of the universe as one with Brahman. Thus alone will he abide in eternal felicity with mind full of consciousness and bliss.
  1. Thus has been described Raja-Yoga consisting of these steps (mentioned above). With this is to be combined Hatha-Yoga for (the benefit of) those whose worldly desires are partially attenuated.

[The above described Raja Yoga is purely mental, having been stripped of the more external practices. Therefore for those whose minds have not been purified, the external and physical aspects of yoga, denoted here as Hatha Yoga, should also be performed]

  1. For those whose mind is completely purified this (Raja-Yoga) alone is productive of perfection. Purity of the mind, again, is speedily accessible to those who are devoted to the teacher and the Deity.

[Devotion to and faith in Guru and God are recommended methods of purification of mind. When the mind is sufficiently pure, then Shankara’s form of Raja Yoga on the mental levels alone leads directly to liberation]

Zen (Ch’an) Master Hui Hai: Q. What method must we practice in order to attain liberation?

 

dazhu_huihai

Hui Hai was one of the great Ch’an (Zen) masters from the 8th Century CE. This excerpt is taken from Hui Hai’s Text on the Importance of Sudden Enlightenment, Dialogue 2:

Question: what method must we practice in order to attain liberation?

Answer: It can be attained only through the gate of sudden illumination (or sudden enlightenment).

Q: What is a sudden illumination?

A: ‘Sudden’ means instantaneously ridding yourselves of deluded thoughts’. ‘Illumination’ or ‘Enlightenment’ means the realisation that illumination is not something to be attained.

[Tom – This can also be translated as ‘Enlightenment’ means the realisation there is no ‘Enlightenment’ to attain, there is nothing to attain’. Compare this with : ‘The benefit of this Light of Supreme Truth is the understanding that there is not the least thing such as ‘attainment’, since the Supreme Self is the Ever-Attained One Whole.’ Sri Ramana Maharshi,Guru Vachaka Kovai, Verse 8]

Q: From where do we start this practice?

A: You must start from the the beginning, the fundamental root.

Q: And what is that?

A: Mind is the fundamental root.

Q: How can this be known?

A: The Lankavatara Sutra says:

‘When mental processes (hsin) arise, then do all phenomena (dharmas) spring forth; and when mental processes cease, then do all dharmas cease likewise.’

[Tom – compare: ‘If the ego rises, all else will also rise; if it subsides all else will also subside.’ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?]

The Vimalakirti Sutra says:

‘Those desiring to attain the Pure Land’ must first purify their own minds, for the purification of mind is the purity of the Buddha Land.’

The Sutra of the Doctrine Bequeathed by the Buddha says:

‘Just by mind control, all things become possible.’

[Tom – compare: ‘If only the mind is kept under control, what matters it where one may happen to be?’ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?‘]

In another sutra it says:

‘Sages seek from [their own] mind, not from the Buddhas; fools seek from the Buddhas instead of seeking from [their own] mind.’

and

‘The Wise regulate their minds rather than their body; fools regulate their body rather than their minds.’

The Sutra of the Names of the Buddha states:

‘Evil/sin springs forth from the mind, and by the mind is evil/sin overcome.’

[Tom – compare ‘…man’s bondage is caused by the mind, and Liberation too is caused by that alone.’ Shankara, Vivekachudamani verse 172]

Thus, we may know that all good and evil proceed from our minds and that mind is therefore the fundamental root. If you desire liberation, you must first know all about the root, mind. Unless you can penetrate to this truth, all your efforts will be vain; for, while you are still seeking something from forms external to yourselves, you will never attain.

The Dhyana Paramita Sutra says:

‘For as long as you direct your search to the forms around you, you will not attain your goal even after aeon upon aeon; whereas, by contemplating your inner awareness, you can achieve Buddhahood in a single flash of thought.’

[Tom – compare: ‘Let people quote the Scriptures and sacrifice to the gods, let them perform rituals and worship the deities, but there is no Liberation without the realisation of one’s identity with the Atman, no, not even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahmas put together.’ Shankara, Vivekachudamani verse 6]

Q: By what means is the root-practice to be performed?

A: Only by sitting in meditation, for it is accomplished by Dhyana (Ch’an) and Samadhi (Ting). The Dhyana-Paramita Sutra says:

‘Dhyana and Samadhi are essential to the search for the sacred knowledge of the Buddhas; for, without these, the deluded thoughts remain in confusion and tumult, and the roots of goodness suffer damage.’

Q: Please describe Dhyana and Samadhi.

A: When wrong thinking does not arise, that is Dhyana.

When you sit and see your original nature, that is Samadhi, for indeed that original nature is your eternal unborn mind. In Samadhi, there is the natural situational response of no-mind, and the ‘eight winds’ do not function.

The ‘eight winds’ are gain and loss, calumny and eulogy, praise and blame, sorrow and joy. By practising in this way, even ordinary people may enter the state of Buddhahood. How can that be so? The Sutra of the Bodhisattva-Precepts says:

‘All beings who observe the Buddha-precept thereby enter Buddhahood.’

There are those who in this way have crossed over to the other shore and attained liberation, transcending the six rafts (the six Paramitas), and freeing themselves from the three worlds (greed, anger and delusion). The great power of the ‘Enlightened Ones’ is the infinite power of the Honoured, the Courageous, the ‘Conqueror’!

Q: During deep meditation peace is there all the time. But otherwise it comes and goes…I want to have the direct experience of the peace that never comes and goes | Annamalai Swami

 

annamalai swami final talks

Question: During deep meditation peace is there all the time. But there is still a feeling that peace is something that can come and go. I know that this is just an idea, but I want to eliminate this idea and have the direct experience of the peace that never comes and goes.

Bhagavan says, ‘You are always the Self. It is just your notion that you are not the Self that has to be got rid of.’ How does this happen?

Annamalai Swami: The Self is peace and happiness. Realizing peace and happiness within you is the true realization of the Self. You cannot distinguish between peace, happiness and the Self. They are not separate aspects. You have this idea that peace and happiness is within you, so you make some effort to find it there, but at the moment it is still only an idea for you.

The Self is peace and happiness...You cannot distinguish between peace, happiness and the Self.

So, ask yourself, ‘To whom does this idea come? Who has this idea?’

You must pursue this line if you want to have the idea replaced by the experience. Peace is not an idea, nor is it something that comes and goes. We are always That. So, remain as That. You have no birth and no death, no bondage and no freedom. It is perpetual peace, and it is free from all ideas.

The ‘I am the body” idea is what is concealing it. This is what has to go.

The ‘I am the body” idea is what is concealing it. This is what has to go.

Question: So the notion of being the body and the mind comes back and covers the experience?

Annamalai Swami: Yes, yes. This idea, ‘I am the body’ is not there during sleep. Everyone enjoys sleeping, and the reason we enjoy it is because there are no thoughts there. It is the thoughts that arise that cause us all our trouble. There is no separate entity during sleep because no thought has arisen to create the image of one.

When waking comes, this first rising thought, ‘I am the body,’ brings separation, doubts, and confusion. If you can be without it in the waking state there will be the knowledge, ‘I am Ramana, I am Arunachala. Everything is myself.’

…this first rising thought, ‘I am the body,’ brings separation, doubts, and confusion. If you can be without it in the waking state there will be the knowledge…

Rama, Krishna, etc., are all you. It is just this limiting ‘I am the body’ thought that keeps this knowledge, this awareness from you.

In the waking state, the jnani has no limiting thoughts, no ego that identifies with a name and a form. His state is crystal clear. Ramana Bhagavan had no ego, no limiting thoughts, which is why he knew himself to be this peace, this happiness.

Ramana Bhagavan had no ego, no limiting thoughts, which is why he knew himself to be this peace, this happiness

The above excerpt is taken from Annamalai Swami Final Talks, Chapter 14

Annamalai Swami – How to abide as the Self and perform Self-Inquiry (Atma Vichara)

annamalai swami final talks

Annamalai Swami spent nearly 10 years of his life attending to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, listening to Ramana’s teachings and bathing in Ramana’s Silent Presence. He himself attained self-realisation and we in turn are blessed to receive these teachings from him.

I present these excepts for the benefit of all who are earnestly seeking and highly recommend you buy this text to support the editor who enabled these teachings to be shared with us all.

Annamalai Swami Ch 18 1Annamalai Swami Ch 18 2Annamalai Swami Ch 18 3Annamalai Swami Ch 18 4Annamalai Swami Ch 18 5Annamalai Swami Ch 18 6Annamalai Swami Ch 18 7Annamalai Swami Ch 18 8

In Ramana Maharshi’s own words: How to do Self Enquiry | Self Enquiry in daily life| Atma Vichara |

I have taken and arranged the following quotes from Ramana Maharshi’s two works Who Am I? (Nan Yar?) and Self Enquiry (Vichara Sangraham) with a focus on Self Enquiry and how to actually put the method into practice.

In order to do this, we will also look at some of the underpinning theory and also some practical points as to how this can be put into practice in daily life. Bold type and headings have been added by myself

Best wishes

Tom

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Enquiry is the way

Ramana Maharshi: As all living beings desire to be happy always, without misery, as in the case of everyone there is observed supreme love for one’s self, and as happiness alone is the cause for love, in order to gain that happiness which is one’s nature and which is experienced in the state of deep sleep where there is no mind, one should know one’s self. For that, the path of knowledge, the inquiry of the form ‘Who am I?’, is the principal means.

Disciple: Master! What is the means to gain the state of eternal bliss, ever devoid of misery?

Ramana Maharshi: Apart from the statement in the Veda that wherever there is body there is misery, this is also the direct experience of all people; therefore, one should enquire into one’s true nature which is ever bodiless, and one should remain as such. This is the means to gaining that state.

Disciple: What is meant by saying that one should enquire into one’s true nature and understand it?

Ramana Maharshi: Experiences such as “I went; I came; I was; I did” come naturally to everyone. From these experiences, does it not appear that the consciousness ‘I’ is the subject of those various acts? Enquiry into the true nature of that consciousness, and remaining as oneself is the way to understand, through enquiry, one’s true nature

How to perform Self-Enquiry – The Theory

Disciple: How is one to enquire: ‘Who am I?’

Ramana Maharshi: Actions such as ‘going’ and ‘coming’ belong only to the body. And so, when one says “I went, I came”, it amounts to saying that the body is ‘I’.

But, can the body be said to be the consciousness ‘I’, since the body was not before it was born, is made up of the five elements, is non-existent in the state of deep sleep, and becomes a corpse when dead? Can this body which is inert like a log of wood be said to shine as ‘I-I’? Therefore, the ‘I’ consciousness which at first arises in respect of the body is referred to variously as self-conceit (tarbodham), egoity (ahankara), nescience (avidya), maya, impurity (mala), and individual soul (jiva) .

Can we remain without enquiring into this? Is it not for our redemption through enquiry that all the scriptures declare that the destruction of ‘self-conceit’ is release (mukti)?

Disciple. Who am I ?

Ramana Maharshi: The gross body which is composed of the seven humours (dhatus), I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz. the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, viz. sound, touch, colour, taste, and odour, I am not; the five cognitive senseorgans, viz. the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functioning’s, I am not.

Disciple. If I am none of these, then who am I?

Ramana Maharshi: After negating all of the above-mentioned as ‘not this’, ‘not this’, that Awareness which alone remains – that I am

Disciple: What is the nature of the Self?

Ramana Maharshi: What exists in truth is the Self alone. The world, the individual soul, and God are appearances in it. like silver in mother-of-pearl, these three appear at the same time, and disappear at the same time. The Self is that where there is absolutely no ‘I’ thought. That is called ‘Silence’ The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is ‘I’; the Self itself is God; all is Siva, the Self.

Disciple: Is it not possible for God and the Guru to effect the release of a soul?

Ramana Maharshi: God and the Guru will only show the way to release; they will not by themselves take the soul to the state of release.

Disciple: Is it any use reading books for those who long for release?

Ramana Maharshi: 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.

In order to quieten the mind one has only to inquire within oneself what one’s Self is; how could this search be done in books? One should know one’s Self with one’s own eye of wisdom. The Self is within the five sheaths; but books are outside them. Since the Self has to be inquired into by discarding the five sheaths, it is futile to search for it in books. There will come a time when one will have to forget all that one has learned.

How to perform Self-Enquiry – The Method

Therefore, making the corpse-body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word ‘I’, one should enquire keenly thus: ‘Now, what is it that rises as ‘I’’. Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form ‘I’ ‘I’. That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared. If one remains quiescent without abandoning that (experience), the egoity, the individual sense, of the form ‘I am the body’ will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, viz. the ‘I’-form also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor [ie. without leaving any sediment]. The great sages and scriptures declare that this alone is release.

Disciple: How will the mind become quiescent?

Ramana Maharshi: By the inquiry ‘Who am I?’. The thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.

Disciple What is the means for constantly holding on to the thought ‘Who am I?’

Ramana Maharshi: When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire: ‘To whom do they arise?’ It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, ‘To whom has this thought arisen?’. The answer that would emerge would be ‘To me’. Thereupon if one inquires ‘Who am I?’, the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will become quiescent.

With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source.

When the mind that is subtle goes out through the brain and the sense-organs, the gross names and forms appear; when it stays in the heart, the names and forms disappear. Not letting the mind go out, but retaining it in the Heart is what is called ‘inwardness’ (antarmukha). Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known as ‘externalisation’ (bahir-mukha).

Thus, when the mind stays in the Heart, the ‘I’ which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine.

Whatever one does, one should do without the egoity ‘I’. If one acts in that way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva (God).

Even if one thinks constantly ‘I’ ‘I’, one will be led to that place.

The mind should not be allowed to wander towards worldly objects and what concerns other people.

The world should be considered like a dream.

Disciple: How long should inquiry be practised?

Ramana Maharshi: As long as there are impressions of objects in the mind, so long the inquiry ‘Who am I?’ is required.

As thoughts arise they should be destroyed then and there in the very place of their origin, through inquiry.

If one resorts to contemplation of the Self unintermittently, until the Self is gained, that alone would do. As long as there are enemies within the fortress, they will continue to sally forth; if they are destroyed as they emerge, the fortress will fall into our hands.

But thoughts still arise…

Disciple: When one enquires into the root of ‘self conceit’ which is of the form ‘I’, all sorts of different thoughts without number seem to rise; and not any separate ‘I’ thought.

Ramana Maharshi: …Whatever thoughts arise as obstacles to one’s sadhana (spiritual discipline) – the mind should not be allowed to go in their direction, but should be made to rest in one’s self which is the Atman; one should remain as witness to whatever happens, adopting the attitude ‘Let whatever strange things happen, happen; let us see!’ This should be one’s practice. In other words, one should not identify oneself with appearances; one should never relinquish one’s self.

This is the proper means for destruction of the mind (manonasa) which is of the nature of seeing the body as self, and which is the cause of all the aforesaid obstacles.

This method which easily destroys egoity deserves to be called devotion (bhakti), meditation (dhyana), concentration (yoga), and knowledge (jnana).

Disciple: The residual impressions (thoughts) of objects appear wending like the waves of an ocean. When will all of them get destroyed?

Ramana Maharshi: As the meditation on the Self rises higher and higher, the thoughts will get destroyed.

Disciple: Is it possible for the residual impressions of objects that come from beginningless time, as it were, to be resolved, and for one to remain as the pure Self?

Ramana Maharshi: Without yielding to the doubt “Is it possible, or not?”, one should persistently hold on to the meditation on the Self. Even if one be a great sinner, one should not worry and weep “O! I am a sinner, how can I be saved?”; one should completely renounce the thought “I am a sinner”; and concentrate keenly on meditation on the Self; then, one would surely succeed.

Disciple: Are there no other means for making the mind quiescent?

Ramana Maharshi: Other than inquiry, there are no adequate means. If through other means it is sought to control the mind, the mind will appear to be controlled, but will again go forth. Through the control of breath also, the mind will become quiescent; but it will be quiescent only so long as the breath remains controlled, and when the breath resumes the mind also will again start moving and will wander as impelled by residual impressions.

Can we do enquiry in daily life in the world?

Disciple: Is the aforesaid Self-experience possible, even in the state of empirical existence, for the mind which has to perform functions in accordance with its prarabdha (the past karma which has begun to fructify)?

Ramana Maharshi: A Brahmin may play various parts in a drama; yet the thought that he is a Brahmin does not leave his mind. Similarly, when one is engaged in various empirical acts there should be the firm conviction “I am the Self”, without allowing the false idea “I am the body, etc.” to rise.

If the mind should stray away from its state, then immediately one should enquire, “Oh! Oh! We are not the body etc.! Who are we?” and thus one should reinstate the mind in that (pure) state. The enquiry ‘Who am I?’ is the principal means to the removal of all misery and the attainment of the supreme bliss. When in this manner the mind becomes quiescent in its own state, Self-experience arises of its own accord, without any hindrance. Thereafter sensory pleasures and pains will not affect the mind. All (phenomena) will appear then, without attachment, like a dream. Never forgetting one’s plenary Self-experience is real bhakti (devotion), yoga (mind-control), jnana (knowledge) and all other austerities. Thus say the sages.

Disciple: When there is activity in regard to works, we are neither the agents of those works nor their enjoyers. The activity is of the three instruments (i.e., the mind, speech, and body). Could we remain (unattached) thinking thus?

Ramana Maharshi: After the mind has been made to stay in the Self which is its Deity, and has been rendered indifferent to empirical matters because it does not stray away from the Self, how can the mind think as mentioned above? Do not such thoughts constitute bondage? When such thoughts arise due to residual impressions (vasanas), one should restrain the mind from flowing that way, endeavour to retain it in the Self-state, and make it turn indifferent to empirical matters. One should not give room in the mind for such thoughts as: “Is this good? Or, is that good? Can this be done? Or, can that be done?” One should be vigilant even before such thoughts arise and make the mind stay in its native state. If any little room is given, such a (disturbed) mind will do harm to us while posing as our friend; like the foe appearing to be a friend, it will topple us down.

Is it not because one forgets one’s Self that such thoughts arise and cause more and more evil? While it is true that to think through discrimination, “I do not do anything; all actions are performed by the instruments”, is a means to prevent the mind from flowing along thought vasanas, does it not also follow that only if the mind flows along thought vasanas that it must be restrained through discrimination as stated before?

Can the mind that remains in the Self-state think as ‘I’ and as ‘I behave empirically thus and thus’? In all manner of ways possible one should endeavour gradually not to forget one’s (true) Self that is God. If that is accomplished, all will be accomplished. The mind should not be directed to any other matter. Even though one may perform, like a mad person, the actions that are the result of prarabdha-karma, one should retain the mind in the Self-state without letting the thought ‘I do’ arise. Have not countless bhaktas (devotees) performed their numerous empirical functions with an attitude of indifference?

Is there any way of adoring the Supreme which is all,
except by abiding firmly as that!

Om Tat Sat

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Ramana Maharshi: some gems from Who Am I? (Nan Yar) | Be still | Silence

Here are some quotes I have arranged by theme: they are all taken from Ramana Maharshi’s masterpiece Who Am I? (Nan Yar? in Tamil).

It is a short text and should ideally be read in full. You can find a version on this website here which is truer to the original Ramana himself wrote and where I have also introduced the text more fully, and you can find another version from Ramanashramam here, from where the quotes below were taken.

Throughout you can see that the emphasis is on stilling the mind to bring about Self-Realisation. The method for doing this is Self-Enquiry. See if you can see all the different ways that Ramana points to making the mind still in each of his answers. The Bold Type Headings are my own additions and my comments are in italicised red.

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How can I attain realisation? By removing the world and making the mind still.

Q. When will the realization of the Self be gained?
A. When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer.

Q. Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is there?
A. There will not be.

Q. When will the world which is the object seen be removed?
A. When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition’s and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.

Tom: Ramana is stating that realisation appears when the mind is still. Many people avoid these kinds of teachings which advocate turning away from the world, and give various seemingly logical reasons for this philosophical stance (note that it is a philosophical stance for the most part, based on logical reasoning, belief and a certain ideology), but for most people, without prolonged stillness of mind, egotism finds a way to perpetuate itself and suffering, separation and ignorance also continue.

Breath control, mantra, devotional practice are aids but are not the true practice.

Like the practice of breath-control, meditation on the forms of God, repetition of mantras, restriction on food, etc., are but aids for rendering the mind quiescent.

Through meditation on the forms of God and through repetition of mantras, the mind becomes one-pointed.

Just as when a chain is given to an elephant to hold in its trunk it will go along grasping the chain and nothing else, so also when the mind is occupied with a name or form it will grasp that alone.

Why make the mind one-pointed?

When the mind expands in the form of countless thoughts, each thought becomes weak; but as thoughts get resolved the mind becomes one-pointed and strong; for such a mind Self-inquiry will become easy.

Tom: Note that here Ramana defines a strong and weak mind: a strong mind is one that is one-pointed, a weak mind is one that is not one-pointed, ie. a scattered mind. It is a strong one-pointed mind that can undergo self-enquiry effectively for most. Therefore the practices above such as breath control, devotion and mantra practice can form a spiritual foundation for those who are not able to effectively perform self-enquiry straight away.

But thoughts keep on coming. Will thoughts ever end? 

Q. The residual impressions (thoughts) of objects appear unending like the waves of an ocean. When will all of them get destroyed?
A. As the meditation on the Self rises higher and higher, the thoughts will get destroyed.

Q. Is it possible for the residual impressions of objects that come from beginningless time, as it were, to be resolved, and for one to remain as the pure Self?
A. Without yielding to the doubt “Is it possible, or not?”, one should persistently hold on to the meditation on the Self. Even if one be a great sinner, one should not worry and weep “O! I am a sinner, how can I be saved?”; one should completely renounce the thought “I am a sinner”; and concentrate keenly on meditation on the Self; then, one would surely succeed.

Tom: To worry about whether or not thoughts can end is itself a thought and so is moving away from stillness of mind. See how tricky the mind is?

What about my worldly problems and other people?

The mind should not be allowed to wander towards worldly objects and what concerns other people.

However bad other people may be, one should bear no hatred for them.

Tom: Again, the above teachings are all about the mind becoming still.

What about desire and hatred?

Both desire and hatred should be eschewed.

Tom: Hatred and desire are more agitations of the mind.

How can I stop worrying about worldly affairs? 

Whatever burdens are thrown on God, He bears them. Since the supreme power of God makes all things move, why should we, without submitting ourselves to it, constantly worry ourselves with thoughts as to what should be done and how, and what should not be done and how not? We know that the train carries all loads, so after getting on it why should we carry our small luggage on our head to our discomfort, instead of putting it down in the train and feeling at ease?

Tom: One solution for an agitated mind is to have faith in the Supreme God, for the mind that trusts and has faith in God naturally becomes still. This is made clearer in the next quote.

Is there room for devotion and surrender on this path?

He who gives himself up to the Self that is God is the most excellent devotee. Giving one’s self up to God means remaining constantly in the Self without giving room for the rise of any thoughts other than that of the Self.

Tom: ie. be still. If you do have thoughts, they should only be about the Self, meaning the mind is strong and one-pointed, as referenced in an earlier quote above.

Maybe I should find a guru who will help me? Perhaps I need their grace or transmission?

God and the Guru will only show the way to release; they will not by themselves take the soul to the state of release.

Each one should by his own effort pursue the path shown by God or Guru and gain release.

Tom: The Guru only tells you to be still. Seeking a Guru is entering more delusion/illusion/ignorance and merely perpetuates ignorance and mental agitation/movement. See how skilfully Ramana steers us away from this mistake? This same teaching is also given at the start of Shankara’s Vivekachudamani.

Which scriptures and books will help me on this path?

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.

Where in the world can I find lasting happiness and fulfillment?

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.

Tom: Seeking happiness in the world or in objects is more mental agitation. Ceasing to do this is making the mind still. This is elaborated upon and emphasised in the next two quotes.

How does a wise one act?

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.

What about Spiritual Knowledge (Jnana) or Wisdom?

Q. What is wisdom-insight (jnana-drsti)?
A. Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight.

Q. What is the relation between desirelessness and wisdom?
A. Desirelessness is wisdom. The two are not different; they are the same. Desirelessness is refraining from turning the mind towards any object. Wisdom means the appearance of no object.


SOME CONCLUDING WORDS:

Tom: Gratitude to Sri Ramana for his teachings that skilfully and in numerous ways tell us to still the mind. Bhagavan Ramana writes:

‘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.’

If you are not able to take up self-enquiry and still the mind, take up the auxiliary practices at once and devote yourself fully to them. Bhagavan Ramana writes:

‘Through meditation on the forms of God and through repetition of mantras, the mind becomes one-pointed…the mind becomes one-pointed and strong; for such a mind Self-inquiry will become easy.’

So devote yourself to God, devote yourself to Sri Ramana, chant the mantra with unceasing and unending devotion, and then go deep deep into stillness wielding the question ‘Who am I?’ as your weapon of choice, eventually letting go of this weapon too, drowning in Effulgent Grace in the formless form of Realisation. Bhagavan Ramana writes:

‘By the inquiry ‘Who am I?’. The thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.’

Om Tat Sat

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The Essence of the Ribhu Gita

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PREFACE

The Ribhu Gita forms the sixth section of the Sanskrit work known as Siva Rahasya. It is the teachings of Lord Siva in Mount Kailas to His devotee Ribhu, from whom the Gita derives its name.

The Tamil version is a free translation of the original Sanskrit text, consisting of 1,924 verses of such scintillating brilliance that Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi recommended its recital as a strong support for spiritual sadhana. He used to say that the recital itself leads to spontaneous abidance in the Self.

The book presented herewith consists of 122 verses from the original Tamil work, being a free translation into English prose, conveying the essence of the original, rather than a mere mechanical word for word translation.

Benedictory verses

To Siva

1. Salutations to the Supreme Lord Siva, the pure Awareness in the sky of consciousness in the Heart, by meditation on whom, Ganesa, Guha, Mother-Sakti who is the embodiment of Siva’s Grace, and myriads of Devas, saints and devotees have attained their cherished goals. (Chapter 1, Verse 1).

To Nataraja

2. From the sky of consciousness of the Heart springs forth the dancer Nataraja with his blissful consort Freedom, to the delectation of his devotees who are thus liberated forever. Unto that Ananda Natesa do we render our devout salutations. (Ch.1, v.2)

To Ardhanareeswara

3. Unto that Form whose left half is the Mother of all manifestation and whose right half is the Father of the same, the jingle of the gems enclosed within the hollow golden anklet of whose foot is the source of all scriptures, and whose three eyes (Fire, Sun and Moon) are the illuminants of the universe, to that Form be our devout salutations. May that divine Form ever be our protection. (Ch.1, v.3)

To Siva, Sakti, Vinayaka and Shanmukha

4. Salutations to Siva, the Lord of the universe of infinite power, to Sat-Chit-Ananda-Sakti, the Mother of the universe, to Vinayaka the dispeller of all impediments to freedom, and to Shanmukha the Sat-Guru, who dispenses to his worthy devotees the divine wisdom of Siva-Self leading to salvation. (Ch.1, v.4)

THE ESSENCE OF THE RIBHU GITA

The following verses constitute the teachings of Siva to Ribhu, who in turn transmits those teachings to his disciple Nidhaga Rishi. The treatise goes by the name Ribhu Gita.

5. The universe was neither born, nor maintained, nor dissolved; this is the plain truth. The basic screen of pure Being-Awareness-Stillness devoid of all the moving shadow pictures of name and form of the universe is the sole, eternal Existence. (Ch.2, v.33)

6. Some may argue that this universe of duality (multiple existences) is a factual second reality, clearly seen by the senses operated by the mind. But then, are the senses anything apart from the mind? Can they function without the support of the mind in which they are imbedded? What is this mind except a bundle of thoughts? What are thoughts except evanescent ripples in the still, limitless ocean of pure Being-Awareness-Self, which is the sole Existence without a second? (Ch. 2, v.34)

7. The existence of the illusion of silver in mother of pearl is not a reality apart from the reality of mother of pearl, which is the basic reality. The illusion of the universe is based on the mind, which again is an illusion based on the still Awareness-Being-Self. (Ch.2, v.35)

8. In the unitary, undifferentiated still ocean of Existence-Awareness-Self, body, senses, mind, intellect and jivas (embodied souls) are nothing but evanescent ripples not apart from that sole Self. (Ch.4, v.6)

9. The universe of name and form, the embodied creatures and their creator, mind, desire, Karma (action), misery and everything other than the Self, are merely thought formations projected by the powers of the Self on its screen — Self. (Ch.5, v.25)

10. The state of firm abidance in that thought-free alert Awareness-Self, constitutes integral perfection, yoga, wisdom, Moksha, Sahaja Samadhi, the state of Siva and the state of Atman-Self, which scriptures proclaim by the title of Brahman. (Ch.5, v.26)

11. There never was a mind nor any of its countless forms like world, jivas, etc. There isn’t the least doubt that all these are the form of the eternally undifferentiable Supreme Brahman-Self. This is the Truth. The one who hears this great secret diligently and understands completely, abides as Brahman-Self (Ch.5, v.28)

Greatness of Videha Mukta

12. With all objective knowledge banished, with no trace of thought or nescience, with all the three states of waking, dream and sleep wiped out, with all thought of death and birth abolished, and ever established in the spontaneous blissful state of Brahman-Self, the condition of the Videha Mukta cannot be conceived, and much less expressed in words. (Ch.5, v.39)

13. The continued repetition of ‘I am Self-Brahman’ constitutes the sole mantra-japa leading to Mukti (Liberation). All other mantra-japas connected with diverse gods should be firmly eschewed, as they aim at mundane objectives other than the Self. All other mantra-japas always entangle one inextricably in the bondage of worldly enjoyments. (Ch.6, v.37)

Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self Siva and His worship

14. On the eternal and infinite screen of Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self Siva, by His own power, Sakti is projected as the moving shadow picture of the universe in manifestation and into that again it is absorbed in dissolution.

All luminaries like the sun, moon, fire, stars and lightning derive their luminosity as a gracious gift from the Sakti inherent in that screen of Self-Siva only. Though bright in themselves, they can only obscure and cannot reveal the Siva-Screen which they cover up.

Out of fear of that Siva, their creator, Devas and Asuras (gods and demons) are ever alertly engaged in their ordained duties.

That Siva must be meditated upon and realised to be the Self, by making the restless mind stay still and alert after it has been adequately restrained, and completely prevented from the pursuit of sense objects, namely, the shadow pictures on the screen of the Self. All shadow pictures removed, what remains is pure Awareness, the spotlessly effulgent screen. Thus, Siva reveals Himself spontaneously as the sole eternal Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self, the very essence of the nature of the worshipper. (Ch.7, v.35)

The Jivan Mukta

15. The Jivan Mukta is a person liberated during his lifetime, who continues to have consciousness of the body and the world (as Brahman) along with his firm abidance in his Siva-Self. He ever abides in the blissful peace of Sat-Chit-Ananda. He is poised rock-firm in the conviction that he is not the body, and that his Being is the sole existence, the sole alert-awareness-bliss of Siva-Self Supreme. (Ch.8, v.1)

16. The Jivan Mukta has his consciousness completely dissolved beyond recognition in his Brahman-Self. Eternally alone in his Self, he is ever lost in the enjoyment of the bliss of his Brahman-Self. (Ch.8, v.25).

The Videha Mukta

17. The Videha Mukta [The term literally means the ‘disembodied-liberated person’] is free from the least trace of thought; he abides all alone in his effulgent pure-Awareness-. He is the matured adept, who at the moment of death, abides as the pure Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self. Figuratively the term means mature liberated being who, while still alive, abides as the pure Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self without awareness of body and the world around him. Self in intense unbroken bliss, totally oblivious of limited forms, in a state of Maha-Mounam (stillness of body, speech and mind). (Ch.9, v.1)

18. He is the pure embodiment of Sat-Chit-Ananda, all pervasive as ether, infinite as the sky, all alert with Awareness, spontaneously abiding as the perfect Brahman-Self in a state of still, unbroken, peaceful bliss. (Ch.9, v.15)

19. There is not an atom apart from the Self, which is the integral undifferentiated perfection of whole Being. Soul, world and Creator are inseparable from the Self. The reality of these is the reality of the Self only. (Ch.10, v.34)

20. All ignorance and illusion, all objects inert and living, all beings and non-beings, all the five elements, all the diverse worlds, all bodies and the lives that arise in them, not being apart from Brahman-Self, are Brahman-Self only. Existence alone is, for even non-existence acquires meaning only in Existence. Simply put, everything exists always as Brahman-Self only. (Ch.12, v.2)

21. All objective knowledge, all thought forms, all visible objects, all things heard, all questions and answers, all the food consumed and all other illusions, not being apart from the Self, should be regarded as Brahman-Self only. (Ch.13, v.2)

22. Therefore one should practise the habit of regarding everything as Brahman-Self only; until all thought of things other than the Self is lost. This condition once achieved, one should not give room for any thought and should ever abide in Maha-Mounam (peace of total stillness). (Ch.14, v.38)

23. Anything seen as other than Brahman-Self is bound to cause fear and trouble. Therefore, it behoves one to stick to the single attitude that everything sensed is Brahman-Self alone. In due course even this one thought must be given up, in order to abide firmly in the free undisturbed blissful state of the sole Brahman-Self. (Ch.15, v.5)

24. The total discarding of the mind is alone victory, achievement, bliss, yoga, wisdom and liberation. The sacrifice of the mind is, in fact, the totality of all sacred sacrifices. (Ch.15, v.7)

25. The firm denial of the existence of the mind and the firm belief in the existence of Brahman-Self, is the sure way to the conquest of mind, leading to the experience of the sole effulgent Self. (Ch.15, v.11)

26. If one gives the slightest room for the thought that the mind exists, pure Awareness itself will vibrate as the ruffled mind, which is the parent of all trouble and illusions. Therefore, one should ever abide in the conviction that there is no mind, and that the pure Awareness-Self is the sole Existence. This is the easy way to conquer the mind with all its vagaries. (Ch.15, v.12)

27. There is no such thing as the troublesome mind, no world of names and forms, not the least bit of ego. All these are nothing but the perfect Brahman-Self, which I am. In this conviction one should abide firmly, until one achieves the state of sleepless-sleep which is alert-peace-eternal. (Ch.16, v.7)

The True Samadhi

28. To hold on to the conviction born of Self-enquiry that “I am no doubt the Screen — Brahman-Self, and the world picture thereon, though evanescent, is no doubt ‘I am Self’ only”, and to abide still and blissful in that conviction is the acme of all sadhanas, like divine worship, charitable gifts, spiritual austerities, mantra-japa and samadhi as well. (Ch.16, v.41)

29. The Self alone is the spontaneous self effulgent Awareness; that alone is eternal bliss; that alone is Existence everlasting; that alone is all embracing perfection, the sole Godhead without a rival and the sole primordial stuff of the Universe. In the conviction born of this experience, one should ever abide, as the sole I AM, the Supreme Self. (Ch.17, v.29)

Sahaja Samadhi

30. Remaining alertly aware and thought-free, with a still mind devoid of differentiation of Self and non-Self even while being engaged in the activities of worldly life, is called the state of Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi (the natural state of abidance in the Self when all differentiation has ceased). This is called Akhandakara vritti, the ‘I’ of infinite perfection as contrasted with the ‘I am the body’ notion of those who have not realised the Self. (Ch.18, v.40)

Maturing of Sahaja Samadhi

31. Abidance in Sahaja Samadhi is the hallmark of a Jivan Mukta. With progressive development towards this state, an intensity of blissful peace is attained, leading on to the four successive stages of perfection in samadhi. Nothing short of this Sahaja Samadhi will be of any avail in destroying the fearsome cycle of births and deaths. (Ch.18, v.41)

32. That realised person who abides in the Brahman-Self, and has lost all feelings of differentiation of self and non-self, is the Jnani or Mukta Purusha. Such a Jnani is rare to find even by searching among millions of people. If one has the lucky opportunity of getting his darshan (personal view and contact) one attains purification from all his sins, and what is more, such a person’s ego gets liquidated at once. (Ch.19, v.10)

33. Darshan of the matured Jnani constitutes the acme of purification of baths taken in sacred waters, divine worship, mantra-japa, spiritual austerities, charitable acts and devotional worship of Lord Siva Himself. To find and to gain access to the sacred presence of such a Jnani is the luckiest of opportunities that one could ever obtain in this world. (Ch.19, v.11)

34. Worshipful service rendered unto such a Jnani-SatGuru quickens one’s spiritual wisdom to attain the bliss of jivan mukti. If continued further, it bestows on the disciple even the status of videha mukti. Therefore, if one is keen on being released from bondage into the freedom of mukti, the one infallible means of achieving that aim is the loving and worshipful service of the Jnani-Sat-Guru. (Ch.19, v.13)

35. Firmly established in the Self, undisturbed by the least ripple of thought, as still as an idol of stone or wood, dissolved completely in Brahman-Self, even as water is in milk, with awareness devoid of all impurities of thought and drowsiness, standing clear as the pure sky, the grandeur of the Jnani’s nishta (firm stance in the Self) defies thought and expression. (Ch.19, v.21)

The sine qua non of Mukti is Siva’s grace

36. That in which the whole universe is born and into which it is absorbed in dissolution, is the Siva-Self. Devoted worship of and meditation on that Siva-Self of pure Consciousness alone will attract Siva’s Grace, which is indispensable for liberation. (Ch.19, v.60)

37. Those engaged in the pursuit of knowledge of the Brahman-Self, happening to get involved in the mundane pleasures of sex, should regard such pleasures as merely faint shadows of the bliss of the Self. They should never even dream of worldly pleasures. (Ch.20, v.45)

38. As the Self is Sat, meditative contact with the Self is the true Sat Sanga (association with sadhus who abide in the Self). As Brahman-Self is the highest, association with the Self is Mahat Sanga (highest association). (Ch.21, v.28)

39. The sadhaka practising meditation on the Self, should always think firmly that all diversities of soul, world and creator are the undifferentiated Brahman-Self only. By practice, his consciousness is freed from thoughts, after which he should give up the above thought also and abide always in the thought-free state of the Self (Ch.21, v.39)

40. Abidance in the state of thought-free alert Awareness, is the state of mukti beyond thought and expression. The emergence of thought is the bondage of untold suffering. Abidance in the Self is the true non-dual samadhi, and that alone leads one to the eternal bliss of mukti. (Ch.21, v.41)

41. The great illusions: maya (associated with God Iswara), avidya (associated with individual souls), mind and jivas (souls), world and its creator, all names and forms, and all mental conceptions are nothing but the Self. One should ever abide in this conviction. (Ch.22, v.23)

42. All worlds and creatures are only thought forms. They are nothing but the mind, which is a bundle of thoughts, which again are nothing more than ripples in the still ocean of Awareness-Self, and certainly nothing apart from that Self. Therefore, one should abide in the firm conviction that all objects are only I Am Self-Brahman. (Ch.22, v.24)

43. There are no such things as achieved objectives and the efforts leading to them, association with the wise or the ignorant, efforts of learning and knowledge acquired, acts of enquiry and practice, the learner or the learned, and any goals achieved. What exists is only Brahman, the effulgent Awareness-Self. (Ch.23, v.10)

44. One should be firm in the conviction that there are no charitable acts, sacred waters and kshetras (pilgrim centres), no loss or gain and no loser or gainer, no karma, bhakti and wisdom, and no knower or known. All these thought-forms are bound to be dissolved and lost in the Brahman-Self, which is the sole existence. (Ch.23, v.11)

45. The bhavana* ‘I-am-Brahman-Self’ swiftly takes one to mukti. As the continued reading of the texts generating that bhavana, takes the aspirant unerringly to the goal, he should always dwell on the written words dealing with the Brahman-Self. (Ch.24, v.27)

46. The illusion that one is the body and that the world is the basic reality has remained soaked over a long, long time, and cannot be got rid of by the casual reading and mere understanding of the truth. The basic illusion can be effaced only by a long and unremitting practice of the bhavana that all this is ‘I-am-Brahman-Self’. (Ch.24, v.28)

47. Everything is only a concoction of time, space and energy. All else is the trite talk of people who dislike the effort of sadhana which takes them to the Self. This talk is based on their dense ignorance of the Self. Only by persistent practice and experience of sadhana, can one arrive at the truth that all concepts of souls, world, and the cause thereof are just evanescent shadows on the screen of Siva-Self-Brahman. (Ch.24, v.31)

48. There is never such a thing as conception of names and forms, no such thing as the conceiving mind, no such thing as a person lost in samsara, and no such things as the world and its creator. Everything that is seen to exist must be realised to be no other than the sole, pure Awareness-Being-Brahman-Self. (Ch.25, v.8)

Everything is Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self only

49. Whatever is found to exist is Sat (Existence) only. Whatever is pleasurable is Ananda (Bliss) only. One should ever abide in the bedrock bhavana of Sat-Chit-Ananda. Never for once should one slip, even inadvertently, into the disastrous bhavana that one is the body and that the world is real. (Ch.25, v.12)

50. One should abide in the rock-firm bhavana that ‘Everything is only Brahman-Self and I am that Brahman-Self’. By this bhavana all thought movements and nescience will disappear, resulting in the eternal abidance in the sole Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self. (Ch.25, v.14)

Verses 51 to 60 herein deal with practice of ‘Abedha Nishta or Atma Nishta’ — non-dual state or abidance in the Self

51.By abiding in the Self, the wandering mind is reduced to perfect stillness after being freed from all nescience and thought currents. It gets lost in the Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self in the same way that water is lost when mixed with milk. This unitary state of abidance in the Self is called Atma Nishta by the wise who have attained perfection. (Ch.26, v.2)

‘Sahaja Nishta’ or The Natural State

52. Having realised that the world picture on the screen-Self is evanescent and essentially non-existent, one should ever remain still and blissful in the firm conviction of ever being the sole Brahman-Self only. This conviction should be maintained even while functioning as an individual in the world of name and form. This matured state of abidance in the Self is called Sahaja Nishta (the Natural State). (Ch.26, v.3)

53. In that blissful Self wherein there is no action of body, speech and mind, no virtuous or sinful karma (action) and the fruits thereof, one should remain still, eschewing the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.7)

54. In that Self wherein there is neither conceiver nor conception of the world of names and forms, one should remain blissfully still, eschewing the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.8)

55. In that Self wherein desire, anger, covetousness, confusion, bigotry and envy are all absent; in that Self wherein there is no thought of bondage or release, one should abide blissfully still, eschewing the least ripple of thought. (Ch.26, v.13)

56. Firmly abiding in the Self one acquires the totality of all knowledge and achieves the successful completion of all endeavours and duties. In that state one should abide blissful and still, eschewing the least ripple of thought. (Ch.26, v.25).

57. Mind merged completely in the Self, one becomes a lord without rival-steeped in bliss beyond compare. In that state one should abide still, free from the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.28)

58. I am that Self which is integral existence-awareness-bliss, the sole impartite Brahman-Self. Firm in the conviction born of this experience, one should abide still, free from the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.29)

59. In the conviction that ‘I am the Self’ in which no thought, ego, desire, mind or confusion can exist one should abide still, free from trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.31)

60. The firm faith of being the Self is sufficient to dispel all thought and establish one in Brahman-Self. In due course of this practice, even the thought involved in that faith fades away leading to the spontaneous effulgence of the Self. If a person hearkens to this teaching and practises the faith, even if he is a great sinner, he is washed clean of all his sins and is established in Brahman-Self. (Ch.26, v.42)

61. There is certainly no such thing as mind with its constituents of thought and thought forms of objects. In this conviction one should ever abide still and at peace, in the state of thought-free alert Awareness-Self which endures after all sadhanas and its rigours have exhausted themselves in Brahman-Self. (Ch.27, v.29)

62. Having gained the experience that there is no creator, no maya, no duality, and no objects at all, and that pure Awareness-Self alone exists, one should ever remain still and peaceful in that state of Selfhood. (Ch.27, v.34)

63. If a person gives heed to these teachings he would certainly gain the grace of Lord Siva and attain the state of Selfhood even though he is immersed in the dense darkness of nescience which could not be banished by the glare of a million suns. (Ch.27, v.43)

64. Why waste words? This is the truth in a nutshell. Only those who have earned the Grace of our Lord Siva by long devotional worship will get the rare opportunity of reading this scriptural text which leads to the bliss of peace everlasting in Brahman-Self. (Ch.27, v.44)

65. Only that Jnani who teaches ‘Thou art the thoughtfree, alertly aware, absolutely still, ever blissful, intensely peaceful, unqualified Brahman-Self’, is the true Sat Guru, and others are not. (Ch.28, v.28)

66. Unbroken abidance in the state of alert awareness, unruffled by thoughts, is Self-realization. That is at once the spotless jivan mukti and the magnificent videha mukti. This state is easily attainable only for those who have earned the divine Grace of Siva by deep devotion to Him, and not for others. What is stated here is the import in a nutshell of the message of that charming crest jewel of the Vedas known as the Upanishads. (Ch.29, v.37)

67. Those who give heed to this message and abide in accordance with it will forthwith attain mukti (liberation). They will not suffer from the least particle of affliction; they will enjoy a bliss far greater than the bliss attained from this and all other worlds; they and their environments will be filled with the plenitude of auspicious events. Totally free from all trace of fear, they will never again enter the cycle of births and deaths. They will become the immutable Brahman-Self. All this we swear is the truth beyond doubt. By our Lord Siva, again and again we swear that this is the fundamental truth. (Ch.29, v.40)

68. That state of still, pure, effulgent awareness is moksha, the state beyond compare. Those who maintain an unbroken abidance in that supreme state will never more be touched by suffering or confusion, and will be absolved from all duties. Such duties if any will somehow be completed without any volition on their part. They will eternally abide as the sole supreme Self. (Ch.30, v.31)

In all the 13 verses of Chapter 32, the term bhavana is to be understood as faith or firm belief in ‘Aham Brahmam’ (I am the Self)

69. By the persistent and continued bhavana of ‘I am the Brahman-Self’ all thoughts and feelings of differentiation of Self and non-Self will drop off and permanent abidance in Brahman-Self will be achieved. This bhavana is possible only for those with a keen inquiring mind intent on knowing the Self and not for those who are indifferent about Self-knowledge. (Ch.32, v.18)

70. Ignorance and indifference in regard to the enquiry of the truth about one-self is the store house of nescience and trouble, blocking the view of the Self, and creating in a split second all sorts of illusions and harassment of mental worry. Non-enquiry renders bhavana impossible. (Ch.32, v.19)

71. In short, non-enquiry will steep one for ever in the ocean of samsara (earthly suffering). There is no greater enemy for one than non-enquiry. Therefore, this habit must be overcome in order to fix the mind in the bhavana which leads to abidance in the Self. (Ch.32, v.20)

72. Enquiry should be made this wise: With the kind help of the Sat Guru one should enquire ‘Who am I? what is this world? what is the reality behind all these?’ (Ch.32, v.21)

73. Staying in the company of sadhus (those engaged in the pursuit and enjoyment of the bliss of the Sat-Self) and respectfully questioning the Sat-Guru-Jnani, one should first make oneself clear about the objective to be obtained. This is an important aspect of the enquiry. After thus making sure of the objective, one must firmly abide in that objective of sole Brahman-Self until the Self is unmistakably experienced. (Ch.32, v.22)

74. The conscious introspective concentration of Self enquiry (‘Who am I’?) kills all thoughts and destroys the dense darkness of nescience; it effaces all worry; it illuminates the intellect with the radiance of pure awareness; it wipes out all conceptual confusions; it fixes one in Siva-Self; it transforms a host of impending disasters into auspicious events; and lastly, it destroys the ego-mind utterly with all its afflictions. (Ch.32, v.24)

75. Only by those strong willed persons who make earnest and persistent Self-enquiry will the turbulent mind be controlled and fixed still in the practice of firm bhavana. In due course all thoughts and nescience will disappear, yielding place to the effulgent Awareness-Self of mukti. (Ch.32, v.26)

76. One should relentlessly pursue Self-enquiry until all conceptual forms of creature, world and creator merge and disappear in the pure thought-free, alert Awareness-Self, enabling one to abide in that bhavana of the experience, ‘I am the Brahman-Self’. (Ch.32, v.27)

77. It is only the mind which appear as the world and bondage; there is no world other than the mind. On enquiry this mind turns out to be nothing more than a group of ripples (thoughts) in the still ocean of pure Awareness-Siva-Self. I am that Siva-Self only and there is nothing apart from me, one should ever abide in the conviction born of this experience. (Ch.32, v.33)

78. There is no world apart from the mind. What appears as the world is only the mind. If this mind is investigated, it turns out to be nothing more than a bundle of thoughts based on the primary thought of ‘I am the body’ called the ego. If this ego — I is enquired into and its identity searched, it gets swallowed up without a trace in the pure Awareness-Being-Siva-Self. One should maintain this firm bhavana ‘I am Self-Siva’ until that state of being the Siva-Self — becomes the spontaneous experience free from the effort of bhavana. (Ch.32, v.34)

79. In me, the pure Awareness-Self, the universe is born, maintained and dissolved as the mind. Therefore, there are no mind and thought forms of objects apart from me the Self. In this firm experience one should ever abide. (Ch.32, v.35)

80. One should ever abide as pure Siva-Self by the firm experience that there are no thought forms of creature, world and creator apart from the mind which is just an array of ripples in me the still ocean of pure Awareness-Self and therefore I am the sole Being Siva-Self only. (Ch.32, v.36)

81. Even as the world, seen in my dream, is not apart from me but only my creation, even so, the world of the waking state is only a creation made by me and seen by me in the medium of my pure Awareness-Self. In this experience one should firmly abide. (Ch.32, v.37)

82. The rock-firm conviction of ‘I am the Self ‘ is the sure mark of firm abidance in the Self. Abidance in that conviction under all conditions is, true divine worship, meditation on God, incantation of mantras, practice of right conduct in life, contemplation, integral yoga, wisdom of the Self and moksha as well. (Ch.33, v.16)

83. Whatever appears as maya, creator, creature, mind, world, names and forms are the pure Brahman-Self only and not apart from that Self. (Ch.34, v.15)

84. Steady abidance in the rock-firm conviction born of the experience of ‘I am the Self’, is the greatest yoga, total dissolution of the mind, true renunciation, true wisdom, and jivan mukti as well. (Ch.34, v.46)

85. Whatever names and forms are seen by me in my dream are not anything apart from me. Even so, this world seen by me in my waking state is not anything apart from me, the Awareness-Self that I am. The wise one should give up all differentiation of Self and non-Self, and abide as pure Self only. (Ch.35, v.23)

86. If this world of the waking state is not evanescent in its nature, whatever is seen in the waking state must be seen during sleep also. Since I as pure Self exist alone and always, there is no room for thought of non-Self-world. I-Self-Brahman is the sole Existence. (Ch.35, v.24)

87. No world exists during the absence of the mind, and there is no mind apart from my awareness. So, mind and world are nothing apart from the Self, and I am ever that sole Existence-Awareness-Brahman-Self. The wise one should abolish all thought of differentiation of self and non-Self. (Ch.35, v.25)

88. I see neither mind nor world during my sleep. In my dream there is mind with its creation, the dream world. The dream world is falsified in my waking state. But I-Self exist always. Arguing thus, one must give up all differentiation of self and non-Self, and ever abide firmly as the thought-free alert Awareness-Self-Brahman. (Ch.35, v.26)

89. All diversities of world, mind, maya (confusing power of Brahman), wakefulness, dream, sleep, talk of you and me are evanescent, and yet, not apart from the Self. Thus wise one should give up all thought of Self and non-Self and abide as Self only. (Ch.35, v.27)

90. In dim light the illusion of a serpent is seen in a rope, and this serpent is nothing but the rope. Even so all illusion of non-Self exists in the Self only. Thus wise one should give up all thought of Self and non-Self and ever abide firmly in the peace of the Self. (Ch.35, v.28)

91. In the wisdom of integral experience, I am the nondual, transcendental, motionless, peaceful, bondagefreedom-notion-free, sky of pure consciousness only. With this experience one should reject all differentiation of Self and non-Self and ever abide firmly in the peace of Brahman-Self. (Ch.35, v.33)

92. One should give up all hatha yogic practices like breath control, all religious dogmas and their diverse sadhanas 19 and be ever satisfied in simple abidance as the Self only. (Ch.35, v.38)

93. Only those who contemplate on Lord Siva-Self, the pure supporting screen of all manifestation, gain the pure experience of sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi. Apart from this devotion to Lord Siva (the Pure-Alert-Awareness-Self ) there are no other means leading to liberation. (Ch.35, v.44)

94. The non-dual sole being existing in deep sleep conjures up a world in the dream state. Even so, the shadow world conjured up in the waking state is the work of the power, inherent in one’s own Brahman-Self. Abiding firmly in the experience of pure Brahman-Self, one finds that the mind and all its confabulations are lost forever. (Ch.36, v.25)

95. One should remain firm in the conviction ‘I am the Self’ and reject all thoughts like ‘I am this body’ and ‘This world is real’. If one maintains this habit unremittingly, this false belief will drop away even as a flower held in the hand slips away when one falls into deep slumber. (Ch.37, v.33)

96. One is solely responsible for one’s own liberation or bondage, since the choice of destroying the restless mind or allowing it to roam at large rests with that one only. Therefore, one should conquer the restless mind by steady abidance in the pure thought-free Alert-Awareness-Self only. This steady abidance is moksha. (Ch.38, v.7)

97. You are the sole supreme Godhead, the Self. There is nothing apart from you. This, we declare to be the ultimate truth after a complete analysis of all the scriptures. By the holy feet of Siva, we swear this to be the truth beyond all doubt. By the feet of the Sat Guru, we swear again that this is the truth declared by the Upanishads. (Ch.38, v.9)

98. All charitable gifts, all pilgrimages to sacred places, all sorts of mantra-japa and worship of diverse gods must be firmly given up in favour of steady practice of the teachings of this book only. (Ch.38, v.24)

99. All yogic practices, all philosophic pursuits, all devotional exercises, and all faiths and beliefs should be abandoned. One should confine oneself to practice of the teachings of this book only. (Ch.38, v.25)

100. By the sole practice of the teachings of this book, all confusion and ignorance will be destroyed. Firm abidance in the Self will be the positive result. With the fusion of the wisdom and peaceful bliss in the Self, mukti will be attained. (Ch.38, v.29)

101. Only when all sins are washed off by the practice of virtues running through many lives, one gets the rare opportunity of securing this treatise and practising its tenets. By the feet of Lord Siva we declare that only those whose cycle of births and deaths has come to an end with this life will ever get this treatise in their hands and practise its teachings. (Ch.38, v.40)

Verses 102 to 121

These 20 verses contain the declarations of the disciple Nidaga before his teacher Ribhu, expressing the spiritual achievements secured by him by the grace of his teacher, and expressions of his gratitude to his teacher, Ribhu.

102. O My Lord Sat Guru! By thy grace I have, in a split second, shed all sense of differentiation of Self and non-Self; I have attained the certainty that all is Brahman and I am that Brahman-Self; I have become settled in the eternal bliss of Brahman-Self. (Ch.39, v.7)

103. I am verily the Sat-Chit-Ananda-Brahman-Self. I am the eternal undisturbed peace devoid of name and form. I am the flawless integral whole of all existence. Firmly I am settled in my sole Brahman-Self. (Ch.40, v.10)

104. Oh! I have become Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Mahesa, Sadasiva, Parameswara and his spouse Parvati, Vinayaka, Subrahmanya, cohorts of sides hosts (Siva ganas) and devotees of Lord Siva, all rolled into one! (Ch.41, v.-15)

105. I am myself all the devas (celestials beings) and asuras (denizens of the nether world), Indra the Chief of the devas, the Lord of the eight cardinal directions, the community of sages, the swarm of rakshasas (demons), and in fact, the denizens of this and all other worlds. (Ch.41, v.16)

106. I have become the five elements, multitudinous worlds scattered in the skies, all existing things and their histories, all the Vedas, and all the diversities of name and form. (Ch.41, v.17)

107. At one stroke I have become the bodies, senses, and souls owning them, the mind, intellect, intuition, ego, the primal nescience and the restless commotion of spirit, and in short all that is seen and known. (Ch.41, v.19)

108. That gracious person who gives these teachings is no doubt the embodiment of Lord Parameswara, His Devi Parvati, Vinayaka and God Shanmukha all rolled into one. (Ch.4, v.5)

109. He is again, Nandikeswara, Dattatreya, Dakshinamurti, and in short, the Supreme Lord Siva Himself (Ch.42, v.6)

110. After being duly initiated into these teachings by the Sat Guru, the disciple must, as long as life lasts in him, provide his teacher liberally with money, food, clothing and shelter and loving devotion. This is the sine qua non for the disciple’s mukti. (Ch.43, v.11)

111. Further, he should adorn his forehead and body with vibhuti (sacred ash) in the prescribed manner, as this use of vibhuti alone will entitle him to Lord Siva’s grace which removes all impediments to salvation. (Ch.43 v.12)

112. The habitual smearing of the body with vibhuti is called pasupatha vratham (austerity in devotion to Siva). This practice quickens the attainment of Self-knowledge. O Lord Sat Guru! By this practice I earned the merit for arriving at thy holy feet which have led me to salvation. (Ch.43, v.13)

113. I am ever the eternal, pure, all knowing, free, unshakeable, non-dual, integral Self. This is the firm conviction of the experience of the jivan mukta in the Self. (Ch.43, v.28)

114. That mature Jnani who is lost in the maha mounam (total stillness) of the pure effulgent Awareness-Brahman-Self, devoid of the least trace of nescience, totally devoid of all consciousness of the body and its three states of waking, dream and sleep, devoid of all distinctions of name and form and devoid of any thought of bondage or freedom is a videha mukta. (Ch.43, v.29)

115. Thou hast, O Lord Sat Guru, taken me across the boundless ocean of samsara in the boat of Self-knowledge. To me, floundering in the misery of the belief that ‘I am the body’ thou hast taught that ‘I am the Brahman-Self’ and vouchsafed to me the bliss of all embracing Awareness-Being. To thee, I render these devout salutations. (Ch.44, v.16)

116. Salutations to thee, my Lord Sat Guru! Thou hast destroyed my illusion that I am the body and that the world is apart from me and is real. Thou hast given me the experience of my own Brahman-Self. Thou hast destroyed my wrong belief that karma (action) is the road to salvation, and showing that knowledge alone could make one free. Thou hast given me my salvation in the Self (Ch.44, v.17)

117. To that divine Grace-embodied, to that Omnipresence beyond compare, to that Siva-Self Sat Guru, I render devout salutation. (Ch.44, v.18)

118. To that Sat Guru who is the core of my Self, who destroyed my nescience by the gift of Awareness-Self, to that embodiment of Self-knowledge, do I offer these salutations. (Ch.44, v.19)

119. Salutations to the Sat Guru who is the embodiment of undisturbed peace, without attributes, eternal purity, all 23 pervasive infinite sky of consciousness and integral perfection (Ch.44, v.20)

Note:-The following verses 120 and 121 contain Ribhu’s exhortation to Nidaga.

120. In reply to the words of Nidaga, Ribhu replies thus: O my son! You are now no doubt firmly settled in the bliss of Brahman-Self, having been freed from all illusion and nescience. All the same, as abundant precaution, until you attain videha mukti you must assiduously practise continued abidance in the Self. (Ch.44, v.22)

121. Aspirants of Self-knowledge will find their success accelerated by practical bodily worship of Siva. Living in a Siva kshetra (neighbourhood of Siva Temple) they should offer worship to Siva Maha Lingam, wearing the sacred vibhuthi and rudraksha (garland of a specified sort of beads), and repeating the name of Siva with loving devotion. (Ch.44, v.39)

122. Benedictory Verse offering salutations to Siva-Self.

Salutations to Sat-Chit-Ananda-Siva-Self!
Salutations to that Peace undisturbed, the Self!
Salutations to that integral Perfection, the Self!
Salutations to that Effulgent-Awareness, the Self!
Salutations to that blemish-free Self without attributes!
Salutations to that indivisible Unity, the Self!
Salutations to that pure sky of consciousness, the Self!
Salutations to that supreme integral Existence, the Self!
(Ch.44, v.51)

 

Nisarga Yoga explained (Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teachings summarised)

Nisargadatta Maharaj

The following text is a summary of Nisargadatta Maharaj’s teaching and was written by Maurice Frydman, the translator and editor of ‘I Am That’, Nisargadatta’s most widely read work. The text was entitled ‘Nisarga Yoga’ which, as Maurice Frydman explains below, means ‘the easy or natural yoga’, and it was originally published as an appendix to ‘I Am That’.

The text below is essentially the same as how it was originally published except for my addition of bold type for emphasis of what I felt were key points for a seeker of liberation.

I have also made a compilation of direct quotes from Nisargadatta Maharaj which fully explains his method for the discerning reader.

Wishing you peace and realisation

Tom


In the humble abode of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, but for the electric lights and the noises of the street traffic, one would not know in which period of human history one dwells. There is an atmosphere of timelessness about his tiny room; the subjects discussed are timeless – valid for all times; the way they are expounded and examined is also timeless; the centuries, millennia and yugas fall off and one deals with matters immensely ancient and eternally new.

The discussions held and teachings given would have been the same ten thousand years ago and will be the same ten thousand years hence. There will always be conscious beings wondering about the fact of their being conscious and enquiring into its cause and aim. Whence am I? Who am I? Whither am I? Such questions have no beginning and no end. And it is crucial to know the answers, for without a full understanding of oneself, both in time and in timelessness, life is but a dream, imposed on us by powers we do not know, for purposes we cannot grasp.

Maharaj is not a learned. There is no erudition behind his homely Marathi; authorities he does not quote, scriptures are rarely mentioned; the astonishingly rich spiritual heritage of India is implicit in him rather than explicit. No rich Ashram was ever built around him and most of his followers are humble working people cherishing the opportunity of spending an hour with him from time to time.

Simplicity and humility are the keynotes of his life and teachings; physically and inwardly he never takes the higher seat; the essence of being on which he talks, he sees in others as clearly as he sees it in himself. He admits that while he is aware of it, others are not yet, but this difference is temporary and of little importance, except to the mind and its ever-changing content. When asked about his Yoga, he says he has none to offer, no system to propound, no theology, cosmology, psychology or philosophy. He knows the real nature – his own and his listeners’ – and he points it out. The listener cannot see it because he cannot see the obvious, simply and directly. All he knows, he knows with his mind, stimulated with the senses. That the mind is a sense in itself, he does not even suspect.

The Nisarga Yoga, the ‘natural’ Yoga of Maharaj, is disconcertingly simple – the mind, which is all becoming, must recognise and penetrate its own being, not as being this or that, here or there, then or now, but just as timeless being.

This timeless being is the source of both life and consciousness. In terms of time, space and causation it is all-powerful, being the causeless cause; all-pervading, eternal, in the sense of being beginningless, endless and ever-present. Uncaused, it is free; all-pervading, it knows; undivided, it is happy. It lives, it loves, and it has endless fun, shaping and re-shaping the universe. Every man has it, every man is it, but not all know themselves as they are, and therefore identify themselves with the name and shape of their bodies and the contents of their consciousness.

To rectify this misunderstanding of one’s reality, the only way is to take full cognisance of the ways of one’s mind and to turn it into an instrument of self-discovery. The mind was originally a tool in the struggle for biological survival. It had to learn the laws and ways of Nature working hand-in-hand can raise life to a higher level. But, in the process the mind acquired the art of symbolic thinking and communication, the art and skill of language. Words became important. Ideas and abstractions acquired an appearance of reality, the conceptual replaced the real, with the result that man now lives in a verbal world, crowded with words and dominated by words.

Obviously, for dealing with things and people words are exceedingly useful. But they make us live in a world totally symbolic and, therefore, unreal. To break out from this prison of the verbal mind into reality, one must be able to shift one’s focus from the word to what it refers to, the thing itself.

The most commonly used word and most pregnant with feelings, and ideas is the word ‘I’. Mind tends to include in it anything and everything, the body as well as the Absolute. In practice it stands as a pointer to an experience which is direct, immediate and immensely significant. To be, and to know that one is, is most important. And to be of interest, a thing must be related to one’s conscious existence, which is the focal point of every desire and fear. For, the ultimate aim of every desire is to enhance and intensify this sense of existence, while all fear is, in its essence, the fear of self-extinction.

To delve into the sense of ‘I’ – so real and vital – in order to reach its source is the core of Nisarga Yoga. Not being continuous, the sense of ‘I’ must have a source from which it flows and to which it returns. This timeless source of conscious being is what Maharaj calls the self-nature, self-being, swarupa.

As to the methods of realising one’s supreme identity with self-being, Maharaj is peculiarly non-committal. He says that each has his own way to reality, and that there can be no general rule. But, for all the gateway to reality, by whatever road one arrives to it, is the sense of ‘I am’. It is through grasping the full import of the ‘I am’, and going beyond it to its source, that one can realise the supreme state, which is also the primordial and the ultimate. The difference between the beginning and the end lies only in the mind. When the mind is dark or turbulent, the source is not perceived. When it is clear and luminous, it becomes a faithful reflection of the source. The source is always the same – beyond darkness and light, beyond life and death, beyond the conscious and the unconscious.

This dwelling on the sense ‘I am’ is the simple, easy and natural Yoga, the Nisarga Yoga. There is no secrecy in it and no dependence; no preparation is required and no initiation. Whoever is puzzled by his very existence as a conscious being and earnestly wants to find his own source, can grasp the ever-present sense of ‘I am’ and dwell on it assiduously and patiently, till the clouds obscuring the mind dissolve and the heart of being is seen in all its glory.

The Nisarga Yoga, when persevered in and brought to its fruition, results in one becoming conscious and active in what one always was unconsciously and passively. There is no difference in kind – only in manner – the difference between a lump of gold and a glorious ornament shaped out of it. Life goes on, but it is spontaneous and free, meaningful and happy.

Maharaj most lucidly describes this natural, spontaneous state, but as the man born blind cannot visualise light and colours, so is the unenlightened mind unable to give meaning to such descriptions. Expressions like dispassionate happiness, affectionate detachment, timelessness and causelessness of things and being – they all sound strange and cause no response. Intuitively we feel they have a deep meaning, and they even create in us a strange longing for the ineffable, a forerunner of things to come, but that is all. As Maharaj puts it: words are pointers, they show the direction but they will not come along with us. Truth is the fruit of earnest action, words merely point the way.

Maurice Frydman


Ramana Maharshi – Upadesa Saram (with brief explanatory notes) | The Essence of the Teachings

In Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s Upadesa Saram (The Essence of Instruction), we have in concise form all we need to know in order to attain liberation in this life. The teaching is densely packed in, making the teaching all the sweeter for the ripe seeker of Truth.

Here you will find universal teachings for enlightenment, the true Vedanta.

I have made some comments (in italicised red) which hopefully make the teachings clearer, but have attempted to keep these to a minimum so the actual force, beauty and true meaning of the text is not diluted and lost amidst my verbiage .

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

 

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1. कर्तुराज्ञया प्राप्यते फलम् ।
कर्म किं परं कर्म तज्जडम् ॥ १॥

kartur ājñyayā prāpyate phalaṃ
karma kiṃ paraṃ karma tajjaḍam

  1. Action yields fruit,
    For so the Lord ordains it.
    How can action be the Lord?
    It is insentient.

Cause and effect (‘action’ and ‘fruit’ respectively, or karma) is essentially a mechanical process, insentient, subject to change, and not at all the Divine. Put differently, the world of cause and effect is not, in essence, the Self or the Lord. The world of cause and effect, or karma, is all non-Self.

2. कृतिमहोदधौ पतनकारणम् ।
फलमशाश्वतं गतिनिरोधकम् ॥ २॥

kṛti-maho-dadhau patana-kāraṇam
phalama-śaśvataṃ gati-nirodhakam

2. The fruit of action passes.
But action leaves behind
Seed of further action
Leading to an endless ocean of action;
Not at all to moksha.

This here is a very important verse. All actions are limited, and therefore give rise to limited effects. These effects then in turn become the cause for another limited effect, and so on. Limited actions cannot give rise to That, in which there are no limits, so no limited actions can lead to Moksha. The unstated implication is THAT which we are looking for -The Absolute, Brahman, call IT what you will – THAT is already fully and completely here –  no action is required to attain the Self, as we are already THAT. Delving around in the world of objects and cause and effect will not lead to Liberation, which already IS.

3. ईश्वरार्पितं नेच्छया कृतम् ।
चित्तशोधकं मुक्तिसाधकम् ॥ ३॥

īśvarārpitaṃ necchayā kṛtam
citta-śodhakaṃ mukti-sādhakam

3. Disinterested action
Surrendered to the Lord
Purifies the mind and points
The way to moksha.

Becoming increasingly disinterested in things that happen in the world, carrying out your social and ethical duties whilst surrendering all to Him – this is conducive to Liberation.

4. कायवाङ्मनः कार्यमुत्तमम् ।
पूजनं जपश्चिन्तनं क्रमात् ॥ ४॥

kāya-vāṅ-manaḥ kāryam-uttamam
pūjanaṃ japa-ścintanaṃ kramāt

4. This is certain:
Worship, praise and meditation,
Being work of body, speech and mind,
Are steps for orderly ascent.

Bhagavan gives us a hierarchy of spiritual practices, starting with worship (which utilises the body), then going to use praise (which utilises speech), and then to the higher practice of meditation (which utilises the mind).

We are not to greedily jump straight to meditation as it is the higher practice, unless we are naturally ripe for this, but to start where we are for ‘orderly ascent’. In the next few verses Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi will explain these practices to us in greater detail:

5. जगत ईशधी युक्तसेवनम् ।
अष्टमूर्तिभृद्देवपूजनम् ॥ ५॥

jagata īśadhī yukta sevanaṃ
aśṭa-mūrti bhṛd deva-pūjanam

5. Ether, fire, air, water, earth,
Sun, moon and living beings
Worship of these,
Regarded all as forms of His,
Is perfect worship of the Lord.

Worship of God can be worship of Him in any form, as long as we realise that the object itself is not Him, but just a divine expression of Him.

6. उत्तमस्तवादुच्चमन्दतः ।
चित्तजं जपध्यानमुत्तमम् ॥ ६॥

uttama-stavād-ucca-mandataḥ
cittajaṃ japa dhyānam uttamam

6. Better than hymns of praise
Is repetition of the Name;
Better low-voiced than loud,
But best of all
Is meditation in the mind.

The practice becomes, in time, increasingly subtle, starting from coarser practices involving the body and then speech, to subtler practices of the mind, as per verse 4.

7. आज्यधारया स्रोतसा समम् ।
सरलचिन्तनं विरलतः परम् ॥ ७॥

ajya-dhāraya srotasā samam
sarala cintanaṃ viralataḥ param

7. Better than spells of meditation
Is one continuous current,
Steady as a stream,
Or downward flow of oil.

Over time, meditation should move from the sporadic to the continuous. A wonderful traditional metaphor of a continuous current of a river or a steady stream of oil as it is poured is used so there is no mistake as to what this means: continuous meditation means continuous meditation. What what exactly is this meditation, and how can it be done? Worry not! Bhagavan will explain all to us in later verses. How lucky we are to have these beautiful teachings of His!

8. भेदभावनात् सोऽहमित्यसौ ।
भावनाऽभिदा पावनी मता ॥ ८॥

bheda-bhāvanāt so’hamityasau
bhavana’bhidā pāvanī matā

8. Better than viewing Him as Other,
Indeed the noblest attitude of all,
Is to hold Him as the ‘I’ within,
The very ‘I’.

A key part of the teachings is this – to realise that all is non-separate from Him. Furthermore, He is none other that the essence of You, the ‘I’ within. In earlier verses such as 5 and 6 it may be thought that God is an entity external to you. However here it is made clear that you are not praising a divine entity that is separate from your Being. All this is implied in verses 20 and 23, and more clearly stated in verse 26.

The next verse also continues this same theme, but going one step further, the form of devotion and worship becoming ever more subtle and direct:

9. भावशून्यसद्भावसुस्थितिः ।
भावनाबलाद्भक्तिरुत्तमा ॥ ९॥

bhāva śūnyasad bhāva susthitiḥ
bhāvanā-balād bhaktir-uttamā

9. Abidance in pure being
Transcending thought through love intense
Is the very essence
Of supreme devotion.

10. हृत्स्थले मनः स्वस्थता क्रिया ।
भक्तियोगबोधाश्च निश्चितम् ॥ १०॥

hṛtsthale manaḥ svasthatā kriyā
bhakti yoga bodhaśca niścitam

10. Absorption in the heart of being,
Whence we sprang,
Is the path of action, of devotion,
Of union and of knowledge.

For the more intellectually inclined, this verse can be illuminating. Bhagavan is stating here, in line with the Upanishads (eg. Amritabindu Upanishad verses 2-5) and Bhagavad Gita (eg Chapter 5 verse 4), that all the main yogas are, at this stage in the practice, essentially one and the same.

Abiding as the Self IS the path of action, abiding as the Self IS Devotion, abiding as the Self IS Yoga (‘union’), abiding as the Self IS Knowledge.

Amritabindu Upanishad, verse 5: ‘The mind should be prevented from functioning, until it dissolves itself in the heart. This is Jnana, this is Dhyana, the rest is all mere concoction of untruth.’

Bhagavad Gita 5.4: ‘Only the ignorant say that the yoga of knowledge and the yoga of devotional action are different, wise people do not. One who is perfectly established in one, obtains the result of both.’

11. वायुरोधनाल्लीयते मनः ।
जालपक्षिवद्रोधसाधनम् ॥ ११॥

vayu-rodhanāl līyate manaḥ
jāla-pakṣivat rodha-sādhanam

11. Holding the breath controls the mind,
A bird caught in a net.
Breath-regulation helps
Absorption in the heart.

A key teaching that regulation of the breath is a useful aid to Abiding as Self. The invitation is to take up this advice an incorporate it into your practice.

12. चित्तवायवश्चित्क्रियायुताः ।
शाखयोर्द्वयी शक्तिमूलका ॥ १२॥

citta-vāyavaś cit-kriyāyutāḥ
śā khayor-dvayi śakti-mūlakā

12. Mind and breath (as thought and action)
Fork out like two branches.
But both spring
From a single root.

Both the mind and breath or actions, in fact all phenomena, arise from a single Source. The implication is that finding the source of the mind can also be done by finding the source of the breath.

13. लयविनाशने उभयरोधने ।
लयगतं पुनर्भवति नो मृतम् ॥ १३॥

laya vinaśane ubhaya-rodhane
laya-gataṃ punar bhavati no mṛtam

13. Absorption is of two sorts;
Submergence and destruction.
Mind submerged rises again;
Dead, it revives no more.

The implication is that death of mind is the goal, rather than just a mere temporary quiescence of mind. Next the method by which the mind can be killed is given:

14. प्राणबन्धनाल्लीनमानसम् ।
एकचिन्तनान्नाशमेत्यदः ॥ १४॥

prāṇa-bandhanāt līna-mānasam
eka-cintanāt nāśametyadaḥ

14. Breath controlled and thought restrained,
The mind turned one-way inward
Fades and dies.

Why kill the mind? It is through killing the mind that one abides as the Self and returns to one’s own ‘natural being’, which is without action:

15. नष्टमानसोत्कृष्टयोगिनः ।
कृत्यमस्ति किं स्वस्थितिं यतः ॥ १५॥

naṣta-manasot-kṛṣṭa yoginaḥ
kṛtyam asti kiṃ svasthitiṃ yataḥ

15. Mind extinct, the mighty seer
Returns to his own natural being
And has no action to perform.

Yoga Vasishta, one of Ramana’s favourite traditional texts, says ‘Supreme Bliss cannot be experienced through contact of the senses with their objects. The supreme state is that in which the mind is annihilated through one-pointed enquiry.’ and elsewhere it also states ‘Every moving or unmoving thing whatsoever is only an object visualised by the mind. When the mind is annihilated, duality (i.e. multiplicity) is not perceived.’


Now we are half-way through the text. The essential teaching has already been given and the text could end here. However, in the second half further elucidation and clarification will be lovingly dispensed:


16. दृश्यवारितं चित्तमात्मनः ।
चित्त्वदर्शनं तत्त्वदर्शनम् ॥ १६॥

dṛśya-vāritaṃ citta-mātmanaḥ
citva-darśanaṃ tattva darśanam

16. It is true wisdom
For the mind to turn away
From outer objects and behold
Its own effulgent form.

What is true wisdom? It is for the mind to turn away from all objects and phenomena and abide as the Self.

Some confusion may arise as to how the mind, the nature of which is thought (verse 18), can behold it’s ‘own effulgent form’. When the mind is turn outward, occupied with objects such as thoughts, feelings, the body and the outer world of objects, it is called the mind. When the mind is no longer occupied with these things, it is none other than the Self.

Ramana states In Day by Day with Bhagavan: ‘The mind turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards, it becomes the ego and all the world’

Yoga Vasishta states: ‘Consciousness which is undivided imagines to itself desirable objects and runs after them. It is then known as the mind.’ and also elsewhere states: ‘After knowing that by which you know this (world) turn the mind inward and then you will see clearly (i.e. realize) the effulgence of the Self.’ and elsewhere states: ‘O Rama, the mind has, by its own activity, bound itself; when it is calm it is free.’

17. मानसं तु किं मार्गणे कृते ।
नैव मानसं मार्ग आर्जवात् ॥ १७॥

mānasaṃ tu kiṃ mārgaṇe kṛte
naiva mānasaṃ mārge ārjavāt

17. When unceasingly the mind
Scans its own form
There is nothing of the kind.
For every one
This path direct is open.

Another key verse here. The insight here is that the mind is not a real entity, just an imagined one. When searched for, it cannot be found as a distinct entity. What a wonderful and essential teaching is presented here! It is further expounded on in the next two verses:

18. वृत्तयस्त्वहं वृत्तिमाश्रिताः ।
वृत्तयो मनो विद्ध्यहं मनः ॥ १८॥

vṛttayastvahaṃ vṛtti-maśritaḥ
vṛttayo mano viddhayahaṃ manaḥ

18. Thoughts alone make up the mind;
And of all thoughts the ‘I’ thought is the root.
What is called mind is but the notion ‘I’.

The mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts, and it is founded upon the I-concept. The concept of a separate ‘me’ or ‘I’ is the mind.

19. अहमयं कुतो भवति चिन्वतः ।
अयि पतत्यहं निजविचारणम् ॥ १९॥

ahamayaṃ kuto bhavati cinvataḥ
ayi patatyahaṃ nijavicāraṇam

19. When one turns within and searches
Whence this ‘I’ thought arises,
The shamed ‘I’ vanishes –
And wisdom’s quest begins.

The above verse states this is but the beginning of self-enquiry, ‘the quest’. How do we proceed after we have searched for the source of the I-concept and found it to be non-existent? Let us see:

20. अहमि नाशभाज्यहमहंतया ।
स्फुरति हृत्स्वयं परमपूर्णसत् ॥ २०॥

ahami nāśa-bhā-jyahama-hantaya
sphurati hṛt-svayaṃ parama-pūrṇa-sat

20. Where this ‘I’ notion faded
Now there as I–I, arises
The One, the very Self,
The Infinite.

The Self is defined as that in which there is no I-concept, no concept of a ‘me’. This can only be realised non-verbally through practice and direct experience.

21. इदमहं पदाऽभिख्यमन्वहम् ।
अहमिलीनकेऽप्यलयसत्तया ॥ २१॥

idamaham padā’bhikhya-manvaham
aham-ilīnake’pyalaya sattyā

21. Of the term, ‘I’, the permanent import
Is That. For even in deep sleep
Where we have no sense of ‘I’
We do not cease to be.

A pointer here that what is known as ‘I’ is actually none other than THAT, ie. God or the Absolute, the Infinite – the Self. Ramana states in Who Am I? (Nan Yar?) ‘By a steady and continuous investigation into the nature of the mind, the mind is transformed into That to which ‘I’ refers; and that is in fact the Self’

Even in deep sleep, whilst there is no I-concept, we still exist do we not? This gives us a clue as to our True Essential Nature (True Self).

22. विग्रहेन्द्रियप्राणधीतमः ।
नाहमेकसत्तज्जडं ह्यसत् ॥ २२॥

vigrah-endriya prāṇa-dhītamaḥ
nāhameka-sat tajjaḍam hyasat

22. Body, senses, mind, breath, sleep –
All insentient and unreal –
Cannot be ‘I’,
‘I’ who am the Real.

Rather late on in the text Ramana introduces to us the teaching of discerning the Self from the non-Self (Viveka, or Atma-anatma-viveka). The essence of what we are, which does not change, which is ever-present and ‘Real’, cannot be that which changes and that which has no consciousness of its own (ie. ‘insentient’). The real is that which illuminates the unreal, ie. is consciousness or sentient.

23. सत्त्वभासिका चित्क्ववेतरा ।
सत्तया हि चिच्चित्तया ह्यहम् ॥ २३॥

sattva-bhāsika citkva vetarā
sattyā hi cit cittayā hyaham

23. For knowing That which is
There is no other knower.
Hence Being is Awareness;
And we all are Awareness.

Awareness needs no second light to illuminate it. Indeed there is no second thing apart from the Self that can know the Self, for the Self is One and All, and there is nothing outside of or apart from it. We may need a light source to illuminate a common everyday object in darkness, but the sun needs no secondary light source to be seen. It is self-shining. Similarly the Self is self-shining. It needs no other to know itself. To know the Self, THAT, is not really a knowing in that there is no second object to be known (for the Self is non-dual), but ‘knowing the Self’ really is just BEING the Self, or BEING AWARENESS.

24. ईशजीवयोर्वेषधीभिदा ।
सत्स्वभावतो वस्तु केवलम् ॥ २४॥

īśa-jīvayor veṣa-dhī-bhidā
sat-svabhāvato vastu kevalam

24. In the nature of their being
Creature and creator are in substance one.
They differ only
In adjuncts and awareness.

Ramana makes some clarifications here so we are clear on what is being said. He is stating that the nature of the individual or jiva (ie. ‘creature’ which is actually a translation of jiva) is the same as the essential nature of God or Ishvara (‘creator’, which is a translation of Isa or Isvara, ie. the Lord). The difference is only in the phenomenal appearance, but both are in essence BEING-AWARENESS. This reasoning is taken further in the next verse:

25. वेषहानतः स्वात्मदर्शनम् ।
ईशदर्शनं स्वात्मरूपतः ॥ २५॥

veṣa-hānataḥ svātma-darśanam
īśa-darśanaṃ svātma-rūpataḥ

25. Seeing oneself free of all attributes
Is to see the Lord,
For He shines ever as the pure Self.

Therefore, if you ‘see’ yourself devoid of all phenomena and ‘attributes’, which means to be aware but to be devoid of thoughts, feelings, body and worldly objects, then you are seeing your essential nature, which is to see God (Isa or Ishvara). Your essential nature is Him. Remember, the word seeing doesn’t mean you are seeing something, for there is no duality here. Ramana, out of his love and compassion for us, tells us as follows:

26. आत्मसंस्थितिः स्वात्मदर्शनम् ।
आत्मनिर्द्वयादात्मनिष्ठता ॥ २६॥

ātma-saṃsthitiḥ svātma-darśanam
ātma-nirdvayād ātma-niṣṭhatā

26. To know the Self is but to be the Self,
For it is non-dual.
In such knowledge
One abides as that.

He reminds us that this is not a dualistic knowing (of objects), but just BEING THAT. The word ‘know’ is just a dualistic phrase used, dualistic as it implies a knower and something that is known, whereas here there is no knower or known, just BEING-AWARENESS. Ramana continues to make it clear for us:

27. ज्ञानवर्जिताऽज्ञानहीनचित् ।
ज्ञानमस्ति किं ज्ञातुमन्तरम् ॥ २७॥

jñāna-varjitā-jñana-hina cit
jñānam-asti kiṃ jñātum-antaram

27. That is true knowledge which transcends
Both knowledge and ignorance,
For in pure knowledge
Is no object to be known.

True Knowledge is simply a synonym for the Self, and there are no objects in the Self or apart from the Self. There is only the Self. 

The Amritabindu Upanishad says, in verse 4: ‘The mind severed from all connection with sensual objects, and prevented from functioning out, awakes into the light of the heart, and finds the highest condition.’

28. किं स्वरूपमित्यात्मदर्शने ।
अव्ययाऽभवाऽऽपूर्णचित्सुखम् ॥ २८॥

kiṃ svarūpamit-yātma darśane
avyayābhavā” pūrṇa-cit sukham

28. Having known one’s nature one abides
As being with no beginning and no end
In unbroken consciousness and bliss.

Importantly, this state is to be ‘abided in’, for want of better wording, meaning that we are not to be attracted to sense-objects and become involved with thoughts and feelings and things (ie. the world) and so give birth to the mind (see verse 16 and commentary), but to remain in Truth as Truth, as BEING-AWARENESS (sat-chit) devoid of any objects, which is known as BLISS (written as sukha here, which means happiness in Sanskrit, often called ananda, which also means happiness.)

29. बन्धमुक्त्यतीतं परं सुखम् ।
विन्दतीह जीवस्तु दैविकः ॥ २९॥

bandha muktyatītaṃ paraṃ sukham
vindatīhajī vastu daivikaḥ

29. Beyond bondage and release,
Is steadfastness
In service of the Lord.

Again, like in verse 28, verse 29 implies a continuance in remaining in this stateless state which is transcendent to both liberation and bondage, which are both to do with phenomenal existence. In verse 28 the language of knowledge is used, ‘Having known one’s nature…’. here in verse 29 the language of devotion is used. In verses 1 and 2 Ramana has hinted that the world of insentient objects is not the way, and in verse 10 Ramana has already told us that true devotion and true knowledge are simply to abide as sat-chit-ananda devoid of adjuncts or phenomena. This is written here poetically as ‘steadfast service of the Lord’. Continue to abide as the Self, That which is beyond dualities of liberation and bondage, That in which there is no change, That which is the nature of ‘unbroken Consciousness and Bliss’ (verse 28).

30. अहमपेतकं निजविभानकम् ।
महदिदंतपो रमनवागियम् ॥ ३०॥

aham-apetakaṃ nija-vibhānakam
mahadidaṃ tapo ramaṇa vāgiyam

30. All ego gone,
Living as that alone
Is penance good for growth,
Sings Ramana, the Self.

Remaining as the Self, that in which there is no ego, is the only way to Moksha. It is the culmination of the path of devotion, knowledge, yoga and action. It is both the highest Knowledge and highest Devotion and also beyond knowledge and devotion.

To abide as the Self that is of the nature sat-chit-sukha, until the ego is destroyed, never to arise again (cf. verses 13-15) is Moksha (liberation) itself.

So sings Guru Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

 

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

Ramana Maharshi: How to meditate ‘nothing is as good as meditation’

Ramana smiling

The following is taken from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk 371. My comments are interspersed in red italics, any bold text has been added by me for emphasis:

The first part of this talk is about the path of yoga:

There was a group of three middle-aged Andhras on a visit to Sri Bhagavan. One of them kneeled and asked: I am performing hatha yoga, namely basti, dhauti, neti, etc. I find a blood vessel hardened in the ankle. Is it a result of Yoga?

Ramana Maharshi: The blood-vessel would have hardened under any circumstances. It does not trouble you as much now as it would otherwise. Hatha yoga is a cleaning process. It also helps peace of mind, after leading you to pranayama.

First Bhagavan Ramana states that Hatha yoga has likely been beneficial to the questioner. Ramana has also hinted that it is a purification or ‘cleaning’ process which helps the mind to become peaceful, and is but one of several steps towards liberation. The questioner continues, asking about pranayama or the yogic practice of controlling the breath:

Questioner: May I do pranayama? Is it useful?

Ramana Maharshi: Pranayama is an aid for the control of mind. Only you should not stop with pranayama. You must proceed further to pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. Full results are reaped finally.

Make no mistake, Ramana is stating that pranayama, or formal control of the breath, is a useful practice. He states it is helpful for controlling the mind, but one must not stop there but should proceed to pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (the presence of vivid awareness without thoughts or other mental impressions arising). Practitioners of yoga will recognise that this sequence represents the final four stages of yoga as prescribed by Patanjali the Yoga Sutras in which eight stages are outlined and prescribed. Ramana is essentially stating that he is in agreement here with Patanjali, emphasising this with the final part of his statement ‘full results are reaped finally’.

Now Ramana is asked about how to overcome negative mental tendencies:

Another of the group asked: How are lust, anger, acquisitiveness, confusion, pride and jealousy overcome?

Ramana Maharshi: By dhyana.

Questioner: What is dhyana?

Ramana Maharshi: Dhyana is holding on to a single thought and putting off all other thoughts.

Dhyana is a sanskrit word that is usually translated as ‘meditation’. Ramana, at least here in this passage, is clear: dhyana, or meditation, is the way. Traditionally the last three of Patanjali’s eight limbs or stages of yoga are grouped together: dharana (concentration) is when the mind is trained to become one-pointed and an object of choice is concentrated on. Dhyana (meditation) is when this concentration intensifies and remains unbroken. Lastly Samadhi is when this concentration intensifies and the object of concentration is dropped, so that all that remains is a vivid-free-spacious-awareness in which the notion of ‘I’ and ‘other’ or the subject-object duality is no longer present.

Now Ramana is asked about the technique of meditation:

Questioner: What is to be meditated upon?

Ramana Maharshi: Anything that you prefer.

Questioner: Siva, Vishnu, and Gayatri are said to be equally efficacious. Which should I meditate upon?

Ramana Maharshi: Any one you like best. They are all equal in their effect. But you should stick to one.

The key point here is that one should meditate. Specifically, this means one should, according to Sri Bhagavan Ramana, concentrate on an object of choice. What the object is matters not, just choose something that you like the most, and then stick to it (Siva, Vishnu and Gayatri are traditional objects of meditation). Ramana has already told us above that pranayama and pratyahara are useful aids to this meditation, but that we should then proceed to the real heart of yoga: meditation.

How exactly should this be done, and why/how does this work?

Questioner: How to meditate?

Ramana Maharshi: Concentrate on that one whom you like best. If a single thought prevails, all other thoughts are put off and finally eradicated. So long as diversity prevails there are bad thoughts. When the object of love prevails only good thoughts hold the field. Therefore hold on to one thought only. Dhyana is the chief practice.

Ramana is emphasising one-pointedness of mind.

A little later Sri Bhagavan continued: Dhyana means fight. As soon as you begin meditation other thoughts will crowd together, gather force and try to sink the single thought to which you try to hold. The good thought must gradually gain strength by repeated practice. After it has grown strong the other thoughts will be put to flight.

This is the battle royal always taking place in meditation. One wants to rid oneself of misery. It requires peace of mind, which means absence of perturbation owing to all kinds of thoughts. Peace of mind is brought about by dhyana alone.

Questioner: What is the need then for pranayama?

Ramana Maharshi: Pranayama is meant for one who cannot directly control the thoughts. It serves as a brake to a car. But one should not stop with it, as I said before, but must proceed to pratyahara, dharana and dhyana. After the fruition of dhyana, the mind will come under control even in the absence of pranayama. The asanas (postures) help pranayama, which helps dhyana in its turn, and peace of mind results. Here is the purpose of hatha yoga.

Here above, Bhagavan Ramana has in brief outlined both the technique of yoga and its mechanism of action. If one wants to end suffering, one needs peace of mind (bolded text above). How to achieve peace of mind? Ramana states that the only way is through dhyana, or sustained concentration (also bolded text above).

The earlier of the eight steps of yoga, such as those dealing with yogic physical exercises and postures (asana) and breath control (pranayama) are important and helpful aids to attain the higher goal of meditation. Initially these earlier stages are required, but later on they are no longer required.

So, what happens as our dhyana strengthens?

Later Sri Bhagavan continued:
When dhyana is well established it cannot be given up. It will go on automatically even when you are engaged in work, play or enjoyment. It will persist in sleep too. Dhyana must become so deep-rooted that it will be natural to one.

Many people ask how can one combine spiritual practice with daily life. Bhagavan Ramana has indirectly answered this question above: through regular formal practice of dhyana, the beneficial effects spill over into both active daily life and also even during sleep. The Dhyana must become deeply rooted in our hearts and minds.

Now the questioner, having heard both the essential method of yoga, namely dhyana, and also heard about the aids to attaining dhyana, namely asana, pranayama and pratyahara – the questioner still seems to have some doubts which are posed in the next three questions:

Questioner: What rite or action is necessary for the development of dhyana?

Ramana Maharshi: Dhyana is itself the action, the rite and the effort. It is the most intense and potent of all. No other effort is necessary.

This question is about rituals – what rituals and efforts are required. Ramana says the ritual and effort required is that of dhyana. Just get on and start. Another doubt:

Questioner: Is not japa necessary?

Ramana Maharshi: Is dhyana not vak (speech)? Why is japa necessary for it? If dhyana is gained there is no need for anything else.

Japa refers to the verbal repetition of a sound or phrase, like mantra repetition. Again, Ramana directs the questioner to just stick to dhyana.

Questioner: Is not a vow of silence helpful?

Ramana Maharshi: A vow is only a vow. It may help dhyana to some extent. But what is the good of keeping the mouth closed and letting the mind run riot. If the mind be engaged in dhyana, where is the need for speech? Nothing is as good as dhyana. Should one take to action with a vow of silence, where is the good of the vow?

Seemingly infinite in his patience, Ramana continues to direct the questioner away from potential superficialities and towards the key message: ie. the need to get on  and practice dhyana. He emphatially states ‘nothing is as good as dhyana’. May a vow of silence be helpul? Certainly. Better still is to practice meditation, dhyana.

Now the questioner turns to the path of knowledge, or jnana-marga (jnana means knowledge, marga means path). There is a mistaken view amongst some that jnana-marga does not require meditation, which is why I suspect the questioner has asked this question, even though the scriptures in jnana-marga clearly indicate the need for meditation:

Questioner: What is jnana-marga?

Ramana Maharshi: I have been saying it for so long. What is jnana? Jnana means realisation of the Truth. It is done by dhyana. Dhyana helps you to hold on to Truth to the exclusion of all thoughts.

For such a long time now Ramana, together with the vedic scriptures, has stated that dhyana is the means to jnana, or realisation of truth. If this is true, then what about all the Gods?

Questioner: Why are there so many Gods mentioned?

Ramana Maharshi: The body is only one. Still, how many functions are performed by it? The source of all the functions is only one. It is in the same way with the Gods also.

Just as a single body performs a variety of functions, so the One Being appears to expresses itself as many things and processes, including all the many gods.

Now, why does one suffer?

Questioner: Why does a man suffer misery?

Ramana Maharshi: Misery is due to multifarious thoughts. If the thoughts are unified and centred on a single item there is no misery, but happiness is the result. Then, even the thought, “I do something” is absent; nor will there be an eye on the fruit of action.

Continuing on the same theme of dhyana, ie. making the mind one-pointed and remaining there, Ramana states this is the way to end suffering. Suffering is caused by the multitude of thoughts, but a one-pointed mind leads to happiness and peace. When the mind is one-pointed to the exclusion of all other thoughts, the notion of personal doership, itself a thought/concept, is abandoned, as is the attachment to outcomes of actions (‘fruit of action’).

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om