Question: Am I the Subject, or am I beyond both subject and object? Some teachers will say, ‘you are not the object, nor are you the subject, you are beyond that which is both.’ Could you explain please?
Tom: The essential teaching is that You – the Absolute, the Self, the Divine – You are beyond all objects, that is, you are beyond body-mind-world.
If a teaching says what you are is beyond both subject and object, then subject refers to the body-mind and object refers to the world, and you are That Pure Consciousness which is beyond both.
If a teaching states you are the Pure Subject beyond all phenomenal objects, then You refers to Pure Consciousness beyond all objects, ie. body-mind-world.
Don’t forget the purpose of the teaching is not to have merely an intellectual understanding of the above, but to turn your attention selfwards and abide as the Self, for this is the key/clue that leads to self-realisation – otherwise it is just theoretical talk.
Q. Don’t these traditional Vedanta teachings create an artificial duality where there actually is none? Why turn away from the world towards an apparent ‘True Self’? Why create this duality in the first place? All is already one!
Tom: For most, the ego-mind keeps on habitually coming back, causing suffering and perpetuating the illusion of duality until one finally turns to Self-Enquiry and Abides as the Self. You can say ‘all is one’, or ‘this is it already’, or ‘there is no duality’, but usually it is just the ego-mind saying that (ie. it is only on the level of concepts and belief) and so suffering and the illusion of duality continue. The infinite-love-bliss of the Self is not ‘experienced’ or ‘known’.
How to remove the illusion of separation, so it, and the resultant suffering never returns? The only way I know is to abide as the pure consciousness within. This is the teaching of the Vedanta scriptures and of all effective and true spiritual teachings that I have come across.
For most, unless this is done, suffering and peace alternate, which is itself suffering.
The purpose of Satsang/teachers/teachings is only for you to turn within and Be what You already Are. Other than that, no teacher or teaching is required.
‘The seat of Realisation is within and the seeker cannot find it as an object outside him. That seat is bliss and is the core of all beings. Hence it is called the Heart. The only useful purpose of the present birth is to turn within and realise it. There is nothing else to do.’
Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk no. 219
The symbol Om represents the Self, the eternal Truth Within
Some people, when they hear of the true teachings of Self-Enquiry, they attend to it straight away and realise the Self, the eternal happiness and bliss that is devoid of misery and suffering, the Kingdom of Heaven that is found within.
Others spend time roaming and suffering in the arid desert of other ways (or ‘non-ways’) and teachings first, teachings that pertain to gross and subtle objects (ie body, mind and world, thoughts, feelings, experiences, knowledge, etc). Only later do they realise that despite all their knowledge and insights and experiences, despite their proclamations of oneness, etc, their suffering still continues, and maybe they then find the motivation to try something else and turn within.
OBJECTION: WHY TURN WITHIN? ISN’T THAT DUALISTIC?
Q .But if all is one or non-dual, why turn within at all? Is this not creating an artificial duality between the inner and the outer, and do not all practices strengthen the ego?
A. Because only then is suffering removed and the bliss of the self realised. Without this practice of turning within, suffering continues. See this for yourself in your own experience – has your suffering ended? If not, turn within and abide as the Self. Suffering is the hallmark of ego/ignorance.
WHY IS THIS THE CASE?
Q.Why is it so?
A. Because without this specific practice, objects are continually attended to, and this nurtures the notion ‘I am a body-mind entity living in a world’. Or rather it doesn’t attack or destroy this ignorance, which is deep rooted, habitual and strong (seemingly). The habitual ignorance ‘I am the separate body-mind entity’ continues to intermittently rise and cause suffering. Out of habit, ignorance continues, and with it suffering too.
‘The ego-thief pretends to be the policeman who catches the thief’.
Without this practice of attending to the Self or pure consciousness within, ignorance and suffering both continue, in spite of superficial proclamations such as ‘all is one’ or ‘nothing needs to change’. Similarly, other practices which involve attending to gross or subtle objects also do not sever this ignorance, although they may weaken it (or strengthen it).
OBJECTION: DOES THIS PRACTICE NOT STRENGTHEN THE EGO?
A. This is the only practice that does not strengthen the ego. All practices, except Self-Enquiry or Self-Attention, need the identity ‘I am the body-mind’, ie. the ego, to practice them. In Self-Enquiry it is not accepted that you are the body-mind from the outset.
The mind, when attending to gross and subtle objects, is called the mind. When this same mind attends to the Subject, itself, it is no longer the mind but is simply Consciousness or Awareness Being Consciousness or Awareness, ie. Self Being Self. (Ramana Maharshi states In Day by Day with Bhagavan: ‘The mind turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards, it becomes the ego and all the world’. The traditional Advaita text Yoga Vasishta states: ‘Consciousness, which is undivided, imagines to itself desirable objects and runs after them. It is then known as the mind.’ )
This practice, unlike all others, is not a doing (ie. not an act by the body-mind entity), but BEING SELF.
It is only through BEING SELF and not through attending to various gross and subtle objects that the egoic vasanas/ignorance can be rooted out and suffering ended at its source. See for yourself how suffering continues otherwise, how without this practice the ego continues itself.
A TRUE TEACHING
This is why Sri Ramana Maharshi taught this teaching. This is why Shankara taught this teaching. This is why Buddha taught this teaching. This is why Krishna and Vasishta taught this teaching. This is why Shiva taught this teaching. Why else has this teaching been taught for millennia?
Hence this is the true teaching of Vedanta that has been handed down, generation to generation, for millennia, and it is the true teaching of all genuine and effective spiritual paths.
My gratitude to Sri Ramana Maharshi for revitalising this ancient teaching, purifying it of all dross and superstition and making it easily accessible for all.
DO NOT ALLOW THOUGHT/THE EGO TO PHILOSOPHISE THIS TEACHING AWAY
Discover this yourself, not with intellectualising or philosophising, but by trying and seeing for yourself. Do not reject this teaching saying – ‘all is already one’, or ‘what is needed to be yourself?’ or ‘This is It, already – what practice is required and for who?’. This is the ego’s way of avoiding its own destruction. You will know this is the case as suffering is the sign of the ego. Are you still suffering? If so, attend to the Self, the pure consciousness, the subject, within. If you do not, suffering will continue until you do.
Sri Ramana Maharshi states:
‘The seat of Realisation is within and the seeker cannot find it as an object outside him. That seat is bliss and is the core of all beings. Hence it is called the Heart. The only useful purpose of the present birth is to turn within and realise it. There is nothing else to do.’ (Talks 219)
JUST A LITTLE PRACTICE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Whilst practice gradually increases over time an infiltrates into your entire being and all of the three states (waking, dreaming, deep sleep), even a small amount of practice, even when NOT performed with great skill, leads to immense reduction in suffering and egotism. What may take years through mental philosophising is cut through quickly with devoted practice. This will build your faith in the teachings and take you home.
So start small and allow the momentum to gradually build, like a snowflake becoming an avalanche.
Another quote from Sri Ramana Maharshi, this time from the Sri Ramana Gita, a small text that outlines the entire teaching of Ramana in concise form:
Q. What in brief is the means to know one’s own real nature? What is the effort that can bring about the sublime inner vision?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Strenuously withdrawing all thoughts from sense objects, one should remain fixed in steady, non-objective [ie. subjective] enquiry. This, in brief, is the means of knowing one’s own real nature; this effort alone bring about the sublime inner vision.
Sri Ramana Gita, Chapter 3, verses 4-6
Here are some other quotes for you:
🕉Om Guru Ramana 🕉
‘The path of Sri Ramana is meant for anyone who craves for happiness…’
These texts, written by Sri Sadhu Om, himself a direct devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi, clearly, unambiguously and thoroughly explain the path to Self-Realisation, which is the extinguishment of suffering, as taught by Sri Ramana Maharshi.
- Part one focuses on Self-Enquiry (the path of knowledge or Jnana), which is the principal path for liberation/Moksha.
- Part two focuses on Self-Surrender (the path of Bhakti or love/ devotion).
Together these texts summarise the entire Vedanta path, and are consistent with the Vedanta scriptures, but the teachings are arranged practically for those with a genuine yearning for liberation and not just philosophical study.
Sri Sadhu Om (1922-1985), sometimes known as Sri Sadhu Om Swamigal, spent 4 years with Sri Ramana Maharshi from 1946 until Ramana’s death in 1950. He was regarded by many other direct devotees as both Self-Realised and an authority on Ramana Maharshi’s teachings.
We are indeed fortunate to have these clear and precise teachings to hand!
All we have to do is understand them and put them into practice!
Click on the links below to download these precious texts, and then put them into practice:
“We should not run after the world; we should not look outwards at the world, we should look inwards at Self. Those sannyasis who run after the world achieve neither the world nor Self (God). If we try to chase after our shadow, we will never catch it; but if we go towards the sun, our shadow will automatically come running behind us.
Those sannyasis who are always attending to the world with the aim of teaching the world became spoilt in the end. . . No Sage (jnani) who ever came on earth was the product of an ashramam, math or any such institution. Each one of them stood alone and realized the Truth by himself.
There is no rule that a man can attain true knowledge (jnana) only by becoming an inmate of a religious institution. Therefore, in the name of service to the world, let no one cheat himself and retard his spiritual progress by forming foundations and associations and by preaching, shouting slogans and running magazines”
~ Sri Sadhu Om
The entire path is also explained in more concise form in Ramana Maharshi’s text ‘Who Am I?’ (Nar Yar?)
It is widely accepted that the text Guru Vachaka Kovai presents the most precise, systematic and authoritative exposition of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings; following my previous post, here are some more verses for you:
Why do people call me learned?
What is the mark of real learning?
Learning that all garnered knowledge
Of things is empty ignorance
And that true knowledge is the search
For the Knower.
He, who by questing inward for
The Knower, has destroyed the ego
And transcended so-called knowledge,
Abides as the Self. He alone
Is a true knower, not one who has
Not seen the Self and therefore has
An ego still.
Those who, learning to forget
Completely all objective knowledge,
Turn inward firmly and see clearly
The Truth, abide serene. Those who
Try to recall forgotten things
Pine bewildered, fretting over
The following are sayings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, taken from the text Guru Vachaka Kovai which is widely accepted as the most precise, systematic and authoritative exposition of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings:
O worldly folk who long for and run after
An endless series of unenduring things
’Tis wisdom true to seek and know
That one thing, on knowing which
All other things will cease to be.
For those who see with insight keen
The subtle Truth, what is there to gain
From knowledge of gross material things?
What the imperishable inner sense
Perceives surpasses far the sight
Seen by the corporeal eye.
Knowing aright the nature of the Self
And abandoning the non-self as void,
Unreal, is wisdom true.
All other knowledge is ignorance,
And not wisdom.