Do not consider yourself to be limited

Do not consider yourself in essence to be limited

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

Here are some quotes I have arranged by theme 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

What about desire and hatred?

Both desire and hatred should be eschewed.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.


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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Jiddu Krishnamurti: The First and Last Freedom

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I’ve put together some quotes from The First And Last Freedom written by J. Krishnamurti.  My first introduction to the teachings of J. Krishnamurti were through a book called The First Krishnamurti Reader which I read as a teenager, and the first few chapters of this book were lifted straight from The First and Last Freedom. Reading this book subsequently propelled me to zealously consume almost all the writings of ‘K’ I could find!  (Perhaps I had not read it carefully enough!)

Here I have chosen quotes that I felt summarised much of what he was trying to get across. Of course, the quotes are very concise, so take your time with them – do not speed read this if you want to ‘get’ what they are pointing at – ie. the very absence of ‘you’.

Best wishes

Tom

——

It is only if you are aware of inward insufficiency and live with it without escape, accepting it wholly, that you will discover an extraordinary tranquillity, a tranquillity which is not put together, made up, but a tranquillity which comes with understanding of what is. Only in that state of tranquillity is there creative being.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

Truth is not something to be gained. Love cannot come to those who have a desire to hold on to it, or who like to become identified with it. Surely such things come when the mind does not seek, when the mind is completely quiet, no longer creating movements and beliefs upon which it can depend, or from which it derives a certain strength, which is an indication of self-deception. It is only when the mind understands this whole process of desire that it can be still. Only then is the mind not in movement to be or not to be; then only is there the possibility of a state in which there is no deception of any kind.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

Thus regeneration is only possible in the present, not in the future, not tomorrow. A man who relies on time as a means through which he can gain happiness or realise truth or God is merely deceiving himself; he is living in ignorance and therefore in conflict. A man who sees that time is not the way out of our difficulty and who is therefore free from the false, such a man naturally has the intention to understand; therefore his mind is quiet spontaneously, without compulsion, without practice. When the mind is still, tranquil, not seeking any answer or any solution, neither resisting nor avoiding – it is only then that there can be a regeneration, because then the mind is capable of perceiving what is true; and it is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

A mind that would be in a state in which the new can take place – whether it be the truth, whether it be God, or what you will – must surely cease to acquire, to gather; it must put aside all knowledge. A mind burdened with knowledge cannot possibly understand, surely, that which is real, which is not measurable.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

We do not have to seek truth. Truth is not something far away. It is the truth about the mind, truth about its activities from moment to moment. If we are aware of this moment-to-moment truth, of this whole process of time, that awareness releases consciousness or the energy which is intelligence, love. So long as the mind uses consciousness as self-activity, time comes into being with all its miseries, with all its conflicts, with all its mischief, its purposive deceptions; and it is only when the mind, understanding this total process, ceases, that love can be.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

Love is not of the self. Self cannot recognise love. You say ”I love; but then, in the very saying of it, in the very experiencing of it, love is not. But, when you know love, self is not. When there is love, self is not.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

Truth, God or what you will, is not something to be experienced, for the experiencer is the result of time, the result of memory, of the past, and so long as there is the experiencer there cannot be reality. There is reality only when the mind is completely free from the analyser, from the experiencer and the experienced. Then you will find the answer, then you will see that the change comes without your asking, that the state of creative emptiness is not a thing to be cultivated – it is there, it comes darkly, without any invitation; only in that state is there a possibility of renewal, newness, revolution.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

The Self is All/ Self Enquiry in daily life

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Ramana Maharshi: The Self is all. Are you apart from the Self? Or can the work go on without the Self? The Self is universal: so, all actions will go on whether you strain yourself to be engaged in them or not. The work will go on of itself. Thus Krishna told Arjuna that he need not trouble to kill the Kauravas; they were already slain by God. It was not for him to resolve to work and worry himself about it, but to allow his own nature to carry out the will of the higher power.

Q: But the work may suffer if I do not attend to it.

Ramana Maharshi: Attending to the Self means attending to the work. Because you identify yourself with the body, you think that work is done by you. But the body and its activities, including that work, are not apart from the Self. What does it matter whether you attend to the work or not? Suppose you walk from one place to another: you do not attend to the steps you take. Yet you find yourself after a time at your goal. You see how the business of walking goes on without your attending to it. So also with other kinds of work.

Q: It is then like sleep-walking.

Ramana Maharshi: Like somnambulism? Quite so. When a child is fast asleep, his mother feeds him; the child eats the food just as well as when he is fully awake. But the next morning he says to the mother, “Mother, I did not take food last night”. The mother and others know that he did, but he says that he did not; he was not aware. Still the action had gone on.

A traveller in a cart has fallen asleep. The bulls move, stand still or are unyoked during the journey. He does not know these events but finds himself in a different place after he wakes up. He has been blissfully ignorant of the occurrences on the way, but the journey has been finished. Similarly with the Self of a person. The ever-wakeful Self is compared to the traveller asleep in the cart.

Q. Are we not an individual viewpoint of Cosmic Consciousness?

Q. We are all connected, like buds on a rosebush are all connected. And when a rosebud blooms, we do not state “there is no rosebud, there is no bloom.” And yet, you seem intent on denying the flowering of your own local focal point of consciousness. You are an individual viewpoint for the Cosmic Consciousness (aka Brahma). Like a rosebud, you have bloomed. 

I understand that awakening is unlike an academic or professional accomplishment. It’s not something that you have printed out on a sheepskin and get framed and hang on your wall. It’s not something to brag about. Its not something to check off on your spiritual “bucket list.” But to deny that the mind/body combination known as Tom Das has had his awakening to oneness makes as much sense as denying that a rosebud has opened and is in full bloom. Those Satsangs that you share with the world as part of your Sadhana are you sharing the fragrance of truth. What purpose does denying your awakening have?

Tom: I know it may appear that Tom Das has awakened, etc, but actually Tom Das is just an appearance, nothing. There is no-one here that knows anything, although it may appear that way within the waking dream. The ‘me’ identifies itself & believes itself to be a body-mind entity and projects that identity onto others, and so believes that Tom Das or whoever has ‘woken up’. But this is all part of the apparent dream. I agree there is no point denying the appearance (I do appear to be Tom Das), but it is empty and non-significant with respect to liberation/non-duality. The scriptures have tried to explain this in many ways, I will try to find you a few quotes…Namaste

Here are the quotes I later put together: Ramana Maharshi Quotes: Nobody here/ the jnani is not a person

Happy Easter/ In Christ I Trust

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In Christ I Trust

He is with me

Always

Always with me

My Constant Companion

Love Abound

Gazing at me

With constant Loving Gaze

Watching over me

Guiding me

My Counsellor

In times of need

A Joyous Reminder

In times of joy

My Love

My Life

My God

Everywhere

Everything

Divine Oneness

Divine Presence

My love to You

My love to You

My adorations to You

How I love You so

How I love You

My Gratitude to You

Forevermore.

Amen.