Here are some verse from Guru Vachaka Kovai, perhaps the most comprehensive and accurate record of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s spoken teachings. I have used this version which contains comments from Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James. Much gratitude to them for making this wonderful text available. My comments are in italicised red:
71. Just as the goat’s beard wanders and wags for nothing, people roam about merrily but in vain, doing Karmas for the fulfillment of their worldly desires, while despising the disciplines [followed by aspirants] which lead to eternal Moksha in Self. Ah, what a pitiable spectacle is the condition of these worldly people!
Tom: Ramana states that people engaged in worldy actions (karmas; the work karma literally means ‘action’ in Sanskrit, often used to denote cause and effect, here just refers to action) are to be pitied, and notes the irony that those who are ignorant shun the very practice (ie. self enquiry) that leads to eternal Moksha (liberation)
72. Longing for a tiny grain of pleasure, people toil so hard using the mind to plough the field of the five senses, but they never wish for the flood of Bliss which is the fruit that comes by ploughing the Heart, the Source of the mind, with [simple] Self-attention. Ah, what a wonder!
Tom: Simple self-attention is all that is needed instead of chasing all these pleasures which not only takes so much effort, but also causes so much suffering.
73. The moon-like jiva [the mind], ever wedded to the sun-like Self, should always remain in her home, the Heart; to forsake the Bliss of Self and go astray for worldly pleasures, is like the madness of a wife who spoils her precious chastity.
Tom: note the seeker’s job here is to discern the teaching rather than be side-tracked by whether or not this verse is politically correct in today’s social landscape. Ramana equates seeking wordly pleasures with infidelity. Instead we are to remain faithful to ourselves and abide as the Self in the Heart.
74. Only when the world’s allurement is lost will true Liberation be possible [and its allurement cannot be lost unless it is found to be unreal]. Hence, to try to foist reality upon this world is to be just like an infatuated lover who tries to foist chastity upon a prostitute.
Sadhu Om: A lover foists chastity upon a prostitute only because of his infatuation with her, and similarly some schools of thought argue and try to insist upon the world’s reality, only because of their immense desire for the enjoyment of this world. Therefore Liberation, which is the fruit of desirelessness, is absolutely impossible for them.
75. Only for the mad folk who are deluded, mistaking this fictitious world as a fact, and not for the Jnani, is there anything to revel in except Brahman, which is Consciousness.
Tom: There is only Consciousness
76. Will those who are rooted in the Knowledge of Truth stray to worldly ways? Is it not the base and weak nature of animals that descends to the sensual pleasures of this unreal world?
77. If you ask, “What is the benefit of sacrificing the innumerable sensual pleasures and retaining mere Consciousness?”, [we reply that] the fruit of Jnana is the eternal and unbroken experience of the Bliss of Self.
Sadhu Om: Any experience of worldly pleasure is small and interrupted, whereas the Bliss of Self attained through Jnana is eternal and unbroken, and is therefore the greatest benefit.
78. Truly there is not the least happiness in any single worldly objects, so how then is the foolish mind deluded into thinking that happiness comes from them?
79. Fools are now so proud and happy of the wealth and pleasure of this world, which may at any time abandon them in disappointment and distress.
80. Suffering from the heat of the three-fold desires, all living beings wander in the empty and arid desert of this dream-world, which is created by the whirl of past tendencies. The shade of the Bodhi-tree which can completely cool this heat is only Self, which shines as Turiya [the fourth state].
Michael James: The three-fold desires are for women, wealth and fame.
Tom: do not wander into the arid desert of the world, or ‘dream-world’ as is written above, instead be still, abide as the Self, That which you already are in your very Being.
Know Me as That which resides in your heart,
Know Me as the Source of all Bliss:
-Meditate on Me,
-Be with Me.
I will straighten you out,
Make you whole;
I will descend into you,
and pervading your body,
I will fill you with light, warmth and love,
Thus replenishing you from within,
Inside to out.
Do not extend the tentacles of your desire
outwards towards wordly things,
But come to Me
Within your heart.
Surrendering unto Me,
Allow My Bliss to fill you up.
Over and over again,
Allow My Bliss to fill you up.
(This question is continued from a prior post: Responsibility: if there is no doer and no-self…then what about responsibility?)
Question: OK, you mentioned total forgiveness? That’s confused me. Why do you say that?
Tom: Well everything is just unconditionally accepted, choicelessly. That’s just the way things are. Whatever happens is whatever happens, and in that sense it is totally accepted regardless of what the body-mind thinks of it.
You could say our naturally awareness accepts and ’embraces’ everything within that happens within our awareness. In that sense there is constantly total forgiveness, or total love, not the emotional love or forgiveness, though these phenomena tend to arise more frequently, but the choiceless acceptance/love/forgiveness of whatever is happening.
(Continued from a previous post: Responsibility: if there is no doer and no-self, and if there no nobody here doing anything, then what about responsibility?)
Question: You mentioned earlier that the heart opens? That sounds rather fluffy and vague to me – what does it mean?
Tom: Yes, I know, it’s a bit of a vague term, but I like it! What I call heart opening is not the same as Freedom – it’s important to realise that – but there is a relationship between the two. The heart can open to a large extent without Freedom being realised, and conversely Freedom can be realised and the heart not be open. However the heart can only really fully open when Freedom has been realised, and by that I mean when the notion and sense of doership has been seen through and seen to be false.
So what is heart opening? Well it happens differently with different people, depending on their conditioning, but essentially it is an openness of the emotional centre and a tendency towards feeling open, loving, peaceful and joyous.
Question: What do you mean by ‘openness of the emotional centre’?
Tom: I mean a willingness to feel one’s feelings, really feel what you’re feeling. When this happens, when we allow feelings to come and go, over time our emotions start to balance out and a feeling of wellbeing and love can start to naturally emerge.
We start to feel happier, more grateful, more loving, kinder, and more considerate. A sense of wellbeing becomes our norm. These are the characteristics of an open heart, a loving heart, and as I said, it can occur before of after enlightenment (realising Freedom), or not at all.
Q: Does that mean that you become unconditionally loving all the time?
Good question. Of course, like all subtle objects (such as emotions, feelings and mental states), emotional love and compassion also come and go. This is quite natural. You are not necessarily loving 100% of the time, far from it! You remain thoroughly human: you can get irritated by relatively superficial things, you may feel grumpy if you haven’t had enough sleep, but the tendency is more towards those loving emotions.
You see in Freedom it doesn’t matter: you are not trying to be loving or kind, you are not trying to open the heart. It’s something that can’t be forced, and the heart is naturally more open at some times compared to at other times. That is fine, and that’s just how it goes. Sometimes it’s good for the heart to be closed. But, when it’s safe to do so, we can allow ourselves to feel whatever we are feeling, not pushing ourselves, not forcing our heart open or becoming overly sentimental, but by just being real with who we are at this moment in time.
This willingness to feel is a form of fearlessness. We are unafraid to feel, we are unafraid to feel unhappy, we are unafraid to feel even fear. When we are essentially unafraid of our feelings, we start to become extraordinarily sensitive. Lots of emotions and feelings can flood in, feelings we may have held back and suppressed for many years. Energetically and emotionally this can be a time of great ups and downs in our ‘spiritual-emotional’ journey.
Our emotional apparatus, over time, becomes more sensitive and we learn who we are on an emotional level. Over time our emotions start to balance our and come into alignment with the body and the world. At this point we can learn to better trust our emotions as a source of intelligence and allow them to guide us in our actions and relationships.
Q: Did you say that heart opening can come before or after Enlightenment? (To be continued in a future post)
Q: I’ve noticed that I often feel less than I did before, for example I care less about some things now (To be continued in a future post)
Ask a thousand questions,
Receive a thousand answers,
The real answer is not in words:
It’s the Presence that always is.
Thoughts want to know what real,
Want to have it all figured out,
One day it’s all seen through,
What’s left is the Presence that always is.
When you can, stop. Allow silence to gently fill you up,
Feel it bloom and grow within your heart,
That warm glow, that inner light, infiltrating everything,
The Presence that always is.
Feelings come and go,
Sometimes flowing, sometimes sticky,
‘Embrace them with’, ‘allow them to merge into’,
The Presence that always is.
Deep within your heart,
Presence emanates and embraces,
The sacred heart within and without, embracing all,
The Presence that always is.
The totality of experience,
‘Body’, ‘mind’ and ‘world’,
Everything that is happening or has ever happened,
Is just this Presence that always is.
Who am I…? Presence is here
Silence…Presence is here
Preoccupied with thought and deed…Presence is here
Hurt and afraid…The Presence that always is.
Life and laughter…Presence is here
Tears and pain…Presence is here
Not sure what going on? Presence is here
Now what do I do? ……………………
See also I AM