Love and Desire | Teachings for Self-Realisation | Sri Sadhu Om | Sadhanai Saram | Sri Ramana Maharshi

The following is taken from the wonderful text Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Practice) written by Sri Sadhu Om, a direct devotee of Sri Ramana’s. This text not only gives us the essence of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching, but also directs us to the true Vedanta teachings. The notes are written by Sri Sadhu Om himself. You can download the full text as a PDF using the above link.

  1. When by one’s own inexpressible power one imaginarily sees the one real Self as many objects (the soul, world and God) and thinks oneself to be one among those objects, then one’s own natural self-love, which transcends thought, will assume the form of a thought and will appear to oneself, the individual who imagines thus, as desires for those objects, which are seemingly other than oneself.

Note: What is called “love” is truly nothing but the non-dual love (ananya priya), which the real Self has for itself in the state in which it alone exists and shines. And what is called “desire” is nothing but the dual love (anya priya), which springs towards other objects, which are truly not other than Self, in the state in which the one real Self seems to be many objects. Therefore, the only way to put an end to desire is for one, by means of one’s own perfect freedom (brahma-swatantra), to use one’s own inexpressible power to see Self as one and not as many. In order to see Self thus as One, as it ever really is, one must cease attending to the many objects which seem to be other than oneself, and must instead attend only to the first person singular feeling “I”.

  1. Of all things, is not oneself the most beloved? When one limits oneself by imagining oneself to be a body, one sees all these things (the world and God), which are truly nothing but one’s own Self, as objects other than oneself, and hence one has desire for those objects. That desire is only a distorted form of the true self-love that is one’s own very nature.
  2. The love, which one always has for oneself, is not a thought; that supreme love is one’s own real Self that is existence-consciousness-bliss (sat-chitananda). When a wrong knowledge rises in the form of a thought whereby one mistakenly sees the one Self as many objects which are seemingly other than oneself, even the true self-love will become a petty thought in the form of desire.
  3. When self-love, which is not a thought, forsakes its own real nature of mere being and springs towards other things in the form of desires, it becomes ever-moving thoughts. When love remains as the thought-free love for Self instead of becoming thoughts in the form of desires for other things, that state of Self-abidance is true tapas (austerities or severe spiritual discipline).
  4. This original love for Self, which has now become the three desires, will cease to assume the form of thoughts and will remain as supreme bliss only by means of Self-realization, the state in which one sees all the five elements and the entire world constituted by those elements, as not other than oneself.

Note: The three basic human desires are: (1) the desire for relationships (uravu-asai), that is, the desire for relatives, wife, husband, children, friends or any kind of human relationship, whether sensual, emotional or otherwise; (2) the desire for possessions in any form whatsoever (porul-asai); and (3) the desire for praise, that is, the desire for fame, honor, esteem or any kind of appreciation from others (puhazh-asai). The reason for classifying these three desires is explained in more detail in verses 102 to 109 of this text.

  1. The love for happiness is only the love for Self, because Self alone is happiness. But if one imagines that this world, which is nothing but Self, is something other than oneself, then on account of self-love the objects of the world will seem to be objects of pleasure, and hence the love for that Self, which appears as objects other than oneself, will assume the form of desire. This is the great wrong.
  2. When the true knowledge dawns that everything is only “I”, then the extroverted love which desirously springs towards other objects, will remain pervading everywhere in the form of mere Being and will no longer spring towards anything else. The love that thus remains as mere Being, having ceased to move in the form of thoughts, alone is Siva, who is Self.
  3. Since Self is happiness itself, so long as one sees other things, which are in truth only Self (but whose names and forms are a mere appearance), how can one not think that those other things are pleasurable? This alone is the reason why all living beings, beginning with celestial beings and including men and all other creatures, are drowning and burning in the great fire of desires for external objects.
  4. When our true nature of mere being is transformed into the nature of rising as an ego, know that the three real aspects of our nature, namely existence, consciousness and bliss, will seemingly become their opposites, namely non-existence, igno12 A Light on the Teaching of Ramana Maharshi rance and misery, and will thus assume the form of the dyads (the pairs of opposites).
  5. Just as a single ray of white light becomes seven different colors when it passes through a prism, so the single and undivided existenceconsciousness “I am” is seemingly diffracted into the triads (the triputis, or three factors of objective knowledge, namely the knower, the act of knowing and the objects known) when it passes through the petty senses.
  6. When we limit our true nature of undivided existence-consciousness-bliss by wrongly accepting an insignificant body to be “I”, desire arises for those objects of the world that are favorable to this limited “I”, and aversion arises for those objects which are not favorable to it. This desire and aversion are a twofold reflected shadow of our real nature, which is bliss (ananda) or love (priya).

Note: Though in the realm of cause and effect happiness and love appear to be two different things, each being the cause of the other, in the state of Self-knowledge they are realized to be one and the same. That is why existenceconsciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda) is alternatively known as being-luminosity-love, or asti-bhatipriya. When our nature to “be” is mistaken as a nature to “rise,” the bliss aspect of our nature appears as the dyad pleasure and pain, which automatically gives rise to desire and aversion, or likes and dislikes. Thus, likes and dislikes are a two-fold reflection of the bliss or love aspect of our true nature.

(Compare with Letters from Sri Ramanasramam of April 11, 1946 (pp. 55) and Sept. 25, 1947 (pp. 253-4); also with Sri Bhagavan’s Tamil translation of Drik-Drisya Viveka, v. 20).

  1. Likes and dislikes are a dyad which arises as a reflection of bliss (ananda); existence and nonexistence are a two fold appearance assumed by the ever-indestructible existence (sat); knowledge and ignorance are a dyad which arises as a reflection of consciousness (chit); know this truth by abiding as Self, which is existence-consciousness-bliss.
  2. Only by the experience of Self-knowledge will all desires be burnt and destroyed in such a manner that they can never again revive. Nobody has ever overcome the power of desires merely by fighting and struggling for any number of years against the wandering nature of the five senses.
  3. Know that this indeed is the reason why our Father, Guru Ramana, always gave the advice “Know yourself” and unfailingly taught the path of Self-inquiry as the most powerful practice (sadhana), and as the only weapon to destroy all the desires existing within us.

What are Dhyana and Samadhi (Zen/Chan Master Hui Neng, Platform Sutra) | Ramana Maharshi

The following is excerpted from The Sutra of Hui Neng (also known as the Platform Sutra), Chapter 5 entitled ‘On Dhyana’. My comments are interspersed in italicised red:

Learned Audience, what are Dhyana and Samadhi? Dhyana means to be free from attachment to all outer objects, and Samadhi means to attain inner peace. If we are attached to outer objects, our inner mind will be perturbed.

Tom: we can see Hui Neng has succinctly defined both Dhyana and Samadhi. In the next line he is essentially saying that these two are one and the same, in that when there is no attachment (ie. Dhyana), there will also be peace (ie. Samadhi):

When we are free from attachment to all outer objects, the mind will be in peace.

Tom: See if you can see the parallel with Sri Ramana Maharshi stating in ‘Who Am I?’:

‘Not to desire anything extraneous to oneself constitutes vairagya (dispassion) or nirasa (desirelessness). Not to give up one’s hold on the Self constitutes jnana (knowledge). But really vairagya and jnana are one and the same.’

Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure, and the reason why we are perturbed is because we allow ourselves to be carried away by the circumstances we are in.

He who is able to keep his mind unperturbed, irrespective of circumstances, has attained Samadhi.

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

In the above two lines Hui Neng hints that your True Nature, or what Hui Neng refers to as Essence of Mind, is already ‘unperturbed’, and essentially is always undisturbed and ‘pure’. Realisation of this naturally leads to Freedom:

To be free from attachment to all outer objects is Dhyana, and to attain inner peace is Samadhi. When we are in a position to deal with Dhyana and to keep our inner mind in Samadhi, then we are said to have attained Dhyana and Samadhi. The Bodhisattva Sila Sutra says, “Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure.” Learned Audience, let us realize this for ourselves at all times. Let us train ourselves, practice it by ourselves, and attain Buddhahood by our own effort.

The Truth of Vedanta (Ramana Maharshi, Guru Vachaka Kovai)

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In the text Guru Vachaka Kovai are recorded some of the most important teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Here are verses 148 and 149 which come under the heading ‘The Truth of Vedanta’ in the text. I have also included commentary from Sri Sadhu Om, a direct disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s:

The Truth of Vedanta

148. Those who know nothing but sense-pleasure,
To ruin and destruction doomed,
Resent transcendence of the senses
And call this fresh and fruitful wisdom
Dry Vedanta!

Tom’s comments: many seekers often resent the idea of turning away from sense pleasures, saying this is a dry or repressive path that is ‘anti-life’. Here Ramana calls this path ‘fresh and fruitful’ instead!

149. The experience of Vedanta comes
Only to those who are utterly
Without desire. Far, far it is
From those who still retain desires.
For such the penance is prescribed
Of longing for the Lord who knows
No desire, so as to end
Forever all desire.

Commentary from Sri Sadhu Om:

The term Vedanta is commonly understood to mean a particular system of philosophy, but its true meaning is the experience of Jnana which is gained as the conclusion [anta] of the Vedas.

The desire for sense objects, which are all 2nd or 3rd persons, is directly opposed to the desire for God, and so it is quite clear that God is not merely one among the many 2nd and 3rd personal objects, but that He must be the Reality of the 1st person. Therefore, we should understand that discarding all desires for 2nd and 3rd personal objects and having love for Self alone is the true devotion towards God.

Verse B 13 [which comes after verse 731] also asserts this same point.

731. The way of knowledge and the way of love
Are interwoven close. Don’t tear
Asunder these inseparables.
But practise both together holding
In the heart the two as one.

SRI BHAGAVAN 13: Meditation on the Self
Is devotion to the Lord
Supreme, since He abides as this,
Our very Self.

What is the relationship between Desire and Realisation?

ramana escape the tricks of maya

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi states in his text ‘Who am I?’:

Question 26. What is the relation between desirelessness (nirasa) and wisdom (jnana)?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: 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. In other words, not seeking what is other than the Self is detachment or desirelessness; not leaving the Self is wisdom.

The above was taken from the question and answer version of ‘Who am I?’. Note that the Sanskrit word Jnana, literally meaning knowledge or wisdom, is a synonym for Self-Realisation when used in spiritual texts. In the alternate essay version of ‘Who am I?’, which is the version Ramana wrote himself, the same essential teachings are given but phrased slightly differently. Here is this particular teaching from the essay version:

Not attending to what-is-other (anya, that is, to any second or third person object) is non-attachment (vairagya) or desirelessness (nirasa); not leaving Self is knowledge (jnana). In truth, these two (desirelessness and knowledge) are one and the same.

In Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk number 502, Ramana states the following:

There is room for kama (desire) so long as there is an object apart from the subject (i.e., duality). There can be no desire if there is no object. The state of no-desire is moksha.

In Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 149, Ramana States:

149. The non-dual experience will only be attained by those who have completely given up desires. For those with desires, it is far, far away. Hence it is proper for those with desires to direct their desires towards God, who is desireless, so that through desire for God the desires that arise through the delusion that objects exist and are different from oneself will become extinct.

In verses 378-9 Ramana states:

378. 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.
379. 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.

As always, Ramana’s teachings are in line with the traditional Vedanta texts such as the writing of Shankara and the Upanishads. I have written some other posts that demonstrate this point, see below:

DESIRE, DISPASSION & LIBERATION with quotes from The Upanishads

Shankara: How to Meditate for Self-Realisation| Vivekachuhdamani

Does stillness of mind lead to liberation?