Advaita Vedanta – all thoughts must go! The need to still the mind and end all thinking according to the Upanishads and Shankara’s commentaries | Nirvikalpa Samadhi

There are so many verses both in the Upanishads and in Shankara’s commentaries which state that all thoughts must be extinguished for liberation to occur. Here are some of these verses (and there are many many more!):

(Note I have not included the numerous verses from Shankara’s text called Vivekachudamani which repeatedly advocates the thoughtless state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi which can be found in a separate post here)

When the five organs of perception become still, together with the mind, and the intellect ceases to be active: that is called the Supreme State [Brahma-Vidya or Self Knowledge]
~Katha Upanishad 2.3.10

Shankara’s commentary on this above verse (Katha Upanishad, verse 2.3.10) states the following:

‘At the time when the five senses…, together with the mind…, which is now no longer functioning and thinking, are at rest in the Self alone, after turning away from objects, and with the intellect…no longer engaging with its functioning, that they call the highest state [Brahma-Vidya or Self-Knowledge].’

This is reminiscent of the Amritabindu Upanishad and also of the Adhyatma Upanishad, both of which are considered to be traditional Upanishads in the Advaita Vedanta/ Jnana tradition:

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. 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.
~ Amritabindu Upanishad

The knot of the ignorance in the heart is broken completely only when one sees his Self as secondless through Nirvikalpa Samadhi
~Adhyatama Upanishad 1.17

Gaudapada writes in verse 3.38 of his Mandukya Karika:

There can be no acceptance or rejection where all mentation stops. Then knowledge is established in the Self and is unborn, and it becomes homogenous

Shankara’s commentary on this verse 3.38 is as follows:

…therefore there is no rejection or acceptance in It, where thought does not exist. That is to say, how can there be rejection or acceptance where no mentation is possible in the absence of the mind? As soon as there comes the realisation of the Truth that is the Self, then, in the absence of any object, knowledge (Jnanam) is established in the Self, like the heat of fire in fire. It is then birthless (ajati) and becomes homogenous.

‘…when the mind becomes quiescent and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman
~ Gaudapada, Mandukya Upanishad Karika 3.46

Shankara clarifies this further in his commentary on Mandukya Karika 3.46:

‘When the mind brought under discipline by the above-mentioned methods, does not fall into the oblivion of deep sleep, nor is distracted by external objects, that is to say, when the mind becomes quiescent like the flame of a light kept in a windless place; or when the mind does not appear in the form of an object – when the mind is endowed with these characteristics, it verily becomes one with Brahman.’

Anandagiri, a 13th century commentator on Shankara’s works, confirms this in his comments on Karika 3.46:
‘The external objects are nothing but the activities of the mind itself.’

So we can see that mind activity and external objects are one and the same, and that samadhi is devoid of both

The knowers of Brahman say that absolute Jnanam, knowledge, which is akalpakam [devoid of thoughts], and is therefore ajam, birthless…
~ Shankara’s commentary on Gaudapada Karika 3.33

This duality as a whole, that is mano-drsyam, perceived by the mind; is nothing but the mind, which is itself imagined – this is the proposition [Tom: ie. meaning of the verse]. For duality endures so long as the mind does, and disappears with the disappearance of the mind.
~ Shankara’s commentary on Gaudapada Karika 3.31

It has been said that when the mind is divested of ideation by virtue of the realisation of Truth that is Brahman, and when there is an absence of external objects (of perception), it becomes tranquil, controlled, and withdrawn, like fire that has no fuel. And it has further been said that when the mind thus ceases to be mind, duality also disappears.
~ Shankara’s commentary on Gaudapada Karika 3.33

‘The controlled mind is verily the fearless Brahman
~Gaudapada Karika 3.35

On p.149 of The Method of Vedanta by SSS, SSS quotes from Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita to explain in more detail the method of Nididhyasana, as follows:

‘That yoga should certainly be practised with resolute mind. Giving up without exception all desires that come from individual, will, restraining the sense-organs on every side through the mind, one should gradually withdraw from all activity, with will and intellect firmly controlled; keeping the mind fixed on the Self, one should not think of anything. Wherever the fickle mind wanders, one should bring it back and fix it on the Self alone, under firm control. Supreme joy comes to such a yogi, whose mind is at perfect peace, whose lusts have subsided, who is sinless and who has become the Absolute.’

I thought I would end with Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi’s view of the scriptures and their purpose:

All the jnana scriptures that teach the way to redemption proclaim in unison that restraining and stilling the mind is the best means for liberation. This is also emphasised by jnanis. If, after a certain amount of study, one knows this to be the inner purport of the scriptures, one should then direct ones whole effort towards that [practice]. What is the use of continuously studying more and more scriptures without doing this?
~Sri Ramana Maharshi, Guru Vachaka Kovai verse 141

Also see:

How can the Jnani (sage) function with NO THOUGHTS? Sri Ramana Maharshi

Does stillness of mind lead to liberation?

The ‘ultimate means’ to liberation

Just through Being Still

Be still.

Just be still.

Gently,

Without force,

Allow all thoughts to subside,

In their own time,

So that only Stillness (Subject-Self-Consciousness) remains.


All doubts, confusions and questions

Will gently fade away effortlessly,

By themselves,

Just through Being Still.


Have faith in your Self-Nature

(Or Guru or God),

Know you are One and All,

And armed with this Knowing-Faith-Intuition,

Surrender,

And Be Still


Once one starts to gain experience in Being Still/turning within,

All teachings that do not encourage stillness or turning within

To discover the Pure Subject-Self/Divine Essence,

Are seen to be utterly superficial, egoic

And of the nature of delusion.


The Simple Being

That is your own True Self or True Nature

(Also known by more grandiose terms

Such as ‘Ultimate Truth’ or ‘Thoughtless Reality’ or ‘God’)

Will be revealed as simply your own Being

Or Isness

Devoid of objective arisings,

Just through Being Still.


‘You’ will discover your own True Self,

which is naturally devoid of arising objective phenomena,

just through Being Still.


Suffering will slips away of its own accord,

there being nowhere for it to attach itself to,

just through Being Still.


Bliss overflows
Infinity Dawns,
Eternity Rises,
Consuming all:
One is thrust into Eternal Life-Joy-Bliss,
One with Source (‘The Father’)

Just through Being Still


All duality is destroyed,
And with it suffering and egoity also disappear,
As the many waters of duality,
Flow into the Ocean of Unity,
(That is my Beloved Guru Bhagavan Sri Ramana,
Who is Grace,
Oneness itself)

Just through Being Still


Without Being Still,
(Also known as Self-Enquiry, Self-Surrender, Abiding as Self,
Being with God, Being with Guru, Residing in The Heart,
Turning Within, Awareness Watching Awareness, Self-Attention,
Parabhakti, Samadhi, Meditation,
Yoga, Devotion, Loving Self/God
Nididhyasana, Silence, Just Being),
Without this Sadhana (Spiritual Practice),
Know that ego-duality-confusion-suffering-samsara will continue potentially forever until the practice is undertaken.

Therefore,
Be Still.


For those who find themselves unable to practice thus,

Contemplate deeply upon this:

What will bring Eternal Joy-Peace-Happiness-Bliss?

Attending to/paying attention to that which changes (ie. various objects that arise and fall)

Or paying attention to that which never changes (the Subject-Consciousness-Self)?

Contemplating thus,

Know that attending to objects/maya simply leads to more objects/maya,

And thus more ego & suffering.

Contemplate this deeply.

Contemplating deeply, and knowing thus,
Discover what You Are:
Abide as the Self,
And Be Still.


Therefore

Be still.

Just be still.

Gently,

Without force,

Allow all thoughts to subside,

In their own time,

So that only Stillness (Subject-Self-Consciousness) remains.

❤️🙏❤️

What does it mean to ‘be still’? Sri Ramana Maharshi

Now it is true that Sri Ramana often said that we should ‘be still’ and that this is the practice, but what did he mean by ‘be still’? If we read and examine Sri Ramana’s written work ‘Who Am I?’, we will see what Sri Ramana means when he says ‘be still’ or ‘keep quiet’. Note that we can trust the teachings in ‘Who Am I?’ as an authentic rendition of Sri Ramana’s teachings as they were written by Sri Ramana himself.

Let us see: the first time we come across the notion of quieting the mind in ‘Who Am I?’ is as follows:

‘When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition’s and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.’

Now on the face of it this is quite a strange statement for Sri Ramana to make: that the world will disappear when the mind is still. Clearly, when Sri Ramana states that the mind is to be quiet, he is perhaps using these words in a different way to how they are normally used. How can it be that when the mind becomes quiet the world disappears?

Well earlier in ‘Who Am I?’ Sri Ramana explains that it is the mind is a power that creates or projects the entire body, mind and world, so to ‘be quiet’ means not just to still the ordinary thinking mind, but to still this world-projecting power, ie. to remove all of Maya. Ramana repeats this, see here, also from ‘Who Am I?’:

Question: When will the realization of the Self be gained?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer

Question: Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is there?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: There will not be.

I have a video here which explains the importance of this teaching. It fundamentally explains why some teachings are liberating and others are not:

Whilst some teachings may encourage us to still the mind, Sri Ramana is emphasising removing the entire body-mind-world from our consciousness. We can see that Sri Ramana’s teaching is far more extreme than many others – it is this extreme teaching that is needed to remove ignorance and realise the Self.

Sri Ramana emphasises Self-Enquiry as the only sadhana that will lead us to Liberation. Again, Sri Ramana’s teaching is more narrow and prescriptive in this way, as he maintains that Self-Enquiry is the only way. Let us see what else Sri Ramana writes in ‘Who Am I?’:

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

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Other than inquiry [Vichara; Self-Enquiry], there are no adequate means.

We can see that Sri Ramana is stating that sadhana or self-enquiry is essential to make the mind quiet, so that when Sri Ramana is asking us to ‘be still’ or ‘keep quiet’, he is actually asking us to do Self-Enquiry.


The above post is excerpted from a longer post entitled Is Papaji’s teaching the same as Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching?

Be still and know YOURSELF

After a brief introduction, Tom guides us into a gentle practice: we’re invited to quieten the mind and to be still.

Then, when we are ready, we can very gently turn within and know the Self.

This video was recorded live during an online meeting

Ramana Maharshi – Summa Irru (Be Still)

ramana maharshi eyes of grace

!Om Guru Ramana!

In this video below, the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi have been arranged and presented for deep contemplation. Each quote is repeated twice to increase the impact. If you like this type of video and would like me to make some more, or if you have any feedback for future video offerings, please let me know.

To hear the quotes, see the video below, to read the quotes, please see the text beneath the video.

Here are the quotes:

Be still. Apart from this the mind has no task to do or thought to think
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 773

If you remain still, without paying attention to this, without paying attention to that, and without paying attention to anything at all, you will, simply through your powerful attention to being, become the reality, the vast eye, the unbounded space of consciousness.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 647

Because that state is taught by silence, and also because it is attained by remaining in silence, it is called silence. The sage is in silence always, even when he speaks.
Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, verse 539

Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the scriptures may be, they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is more vast and emphatic than all the scriptures put together.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 398

There is no reaching the Self. If the Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not now and here, but that it should be got anew. What is got afresh will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So, I say, the Self is not reached. You are the Self; you are already That.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 251

When one remains without thinking one understands another by means of the universal language of silence.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 243

There is a state when words cease and silence prevails
Maharshi’s Gospel, page 14

O foolish mind who is suffering due to the desire for the petty pleasures of this world and of the next, if you remain quiet [i.e. without desire] you will certainly attain that State of Bliss which surely transcends the pleasures of these two.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 379

None can confront and overcome the mind. Ignore it, then, as something false and unreal. Know the Self-Awareness as the real ground and stand firm rooted in it. Then the mind’s movements will gradually subside. If the noise of thoughts rising incessantly within does not subside, the ineffable state of silence will not be revealed.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 921

When one refrains from looking out and noting outward objects, and instead abides within the Heart in Self-Awareness, the ego disappears. The pure silence that then shines forth is the goal of Knowledge.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 1194

The end of pain, the bliss of peace results from egoless awareness, and not at all from verbal wisdom.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 532

Having become free from concepts, which are afflicting thoughts, and with the ‘I am the body’ idea completely extinguished, one ends up as the mere eye of grace, the non-dual expanse of consciousness. This is the supremely fulfilling vision of God
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 348

Having restrained the deceitful senses, and having abandoned mental concepts, you should stand aloof in your real nature. In that state of Self-Abidance in which you remain firmly established in the consciousness of the Heart, Sivam will reveal itself.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 349

The true vision of reality that is free from veiling ignorance is the state in which one shines in the Heart as the ocean of bliss, the inundation of grace. In the mauna experience that surges there as wholly Self, and which is impossible to think about, not a trace of grief or discontent exists for the jiva.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 350

Though that state of being the real Self is called the state of knowledge, it is one in which there is none of the three: the knower, the object known, and the act of knowing. That being the case, what does one know there, by what means, and who is there to know? It must be understood that knowledge is just a name for the state of being the Self.
Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, verse 40

Except for the one who has completely cut the tie of desires, the false appearance [that he is a suffering jiva] will not cease. Therefore, without any hesitation, one should cut even the desire for the great Divine Happiness.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 378

There is a two-fold ignorance, named as knowledge and ignorance, which is experienced by those not aware of the real Self. This pair is unreal just like all else.
Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, verse 276

“In that state doubts do not arise since the sage is ever firm in his awareness of the true Self. There he remains without affirmations and vacillations, immersed in the depths of peace, the mind having become extinct.”
Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, verse 569

!Om Guru Ramana!