Here in a series of verses taken from Shankara’s masterpice Vivekachudamani, the Self is described and the basic technique of meditation is given. We can see we are to meditate upon ourselves as being Brahman, which is eternal, ever-present, timeless, beyond all names and forms and devoid of names and forms. It is the Source of all. It is unmoving, like the ocean without any waves. It, being formless, cannot be known by the intellect or sense organs. It is unmoving, unchanging, causeless, non-dual, needs no other support and has no parts or components.
254. That which is beyond caste and creed, family and lineage; devoid of name and form, merit and demerit; transcending space, time and sense-object – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
255. That Supreme Brahman which is beyond the range of all speech, but accessible to the eye of pure illumination; which is pure, the Embodiment of Knowledge, the beginningless entity – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
256. That which is untouched by the sixfold wave; meditated upon by the Yogi’s heart, but not grasped by the sense-organs; which the Buddhi [intellect] cannot know; and which is unimpeachable – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
257. That which is the substratum of the universe with its various subdivisions, which are all creations of delusion; which Itself has no other support; which is distinct from the gross and subtle; which has no parts, and has verily no exemplar – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
258. That which is free from birth, growth, development, waste, disease and death; which is indestructible; which is the cause of the projection, maintenance and dissolution of the universe – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
259. That which is free from differentiation; whose essence is never non-existent; which is unmoved like the ocean without waves; the ever-free; of indivisible Form – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
260. That which, though One only, is the cause of the many; which refutes all other causes, but is Itself without cause; distinct from Maya and its effect, the universe; and independent – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
261. That which is free from duality; which is infinite and indestructible; distinct from the universe and Maya, supreme, eternal; which is undying Bliss; taintless – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
262. That Reality which (though One) appears variously owing to delusion, taking on names and forms, attributes and changes, Itself always unchanged, like gold in its modifications – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
263. That beyond which there is nothing; which shines even above Maya, which again is superior to its effect, the universe; the inmost Self of all, free from differentiation; the Real Self, the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; infinite and immutable – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
The above excerpt was taken from the post: Shankara: How to Meditate for Self-Realisation
This is a wonderful book that clearly shows the way to liberation and also nicely points out some of the many ways the ego tries to preserve itself. Its tone may not be for everyone, but it is well worth the time to read and put into practice.
The author has made this text freely available online but I encourage you to buy the latest edition of the book yourself in paperback to support the author of this text.
Click on the link below to download the book in PDF format.
There are several other books from the same author, all of which are also worth exploring, including the following titles:
-The Seven Steps To Awakening
-The Importance of Practice and Effort
Q. Why turn within at all? Nonduality as I have experienced it is the actual disappearance of what is considered within and without. One seamless blending.
Tom: It’s fairly easy for many to realise there is no real within or without, ie. that what we consider inner, such as the mind and thoughts, are non-separate from the supposed outer world. It is all one movement. But it is usually the mind that realises this, in combination with some kind of a genuine seeing.
However these teachings I share here are to end suffering. Most people interested in non-duality do realise on some level the false dividing line between self and other (ie. inner and outer), but suffering still continues due to the habitual egoic tendencies (vasanas).
Basically, the false identity as the ego-mind entity remains intact at a deeper level, and the essential notion of individuality still survives and is believed in despite the ego-mind saying ‘all is one’ or ‘this is it’ or ‘there is already no ego’ or ‘there is already no duality’.
Without turning inward first, it ends up being the ego-mind proclaiming ‘there is no inner/outer’ or ‘all is one’, etc.
After turning inwards, it is then eventually seen that there is no inner/outer, but it is not the ego that sees this and co-opts this, but it is merely the absence of the ego which is itself the illusion of separation.
It is for this reason practice is almost always required – to end duality at its root and not just on a superficial level. Otherwise the ego-mind, and suffering, both continue.
For a more in-depth understanding of the path to liberation/moksha, please see here: The Path of Sri Ramana
Tom: When I was a teenager, I had my first conscious ‘awakening experience’ whilst reading ‘The Only Revolution’ by Jiddu Krishnamurti (Click here to download the full text as a PDF file; I was actually reading the second Krishnamurti Reader, of which the Only Revolution comprises the first section).
After this initial awakening experience, I spent many years trying to chase this experience and recreate it, and in doing so read almost every single thing written by J Krishnamurti over the next few years. For some reason, I was not able to see what he was pointing at!
I still think The Only Revolution is one of the best of his works – here are some excerpts taken from the first few chapters, with bold type added by myself for emphasis:
Truth is never in the past. The truth of the past is the ashes of memory; memory is of time, and in the dead ashes of yesterday there is no truth. Truth is a living thing, not within the field of time.
When man is free, without any motive of fear, of envy or of sorrow, then only is the mind naturally peaceful and still. Then it can see not only the truth in daily life from moment to moment but also go beyond all perception; and therefore there is the ending of the observer and the observed, and duality ceases.
But beyond all this, and not related to this struggle, this vanity and despair, there is – and this is not a theory – a stream that has no beginning and no end; a measureless movement that the mind can never capture.
When you hear this, sir, obviously you are going to make a theory of it, and if you like this new theory you will propagate it. But what you propagate is not the truth. The truth is only when you are free from the ache, anxiety and aggression which now fill your heart and mind. When you see all this and when you come upon that benediction called love, then you will know the truth of what is being said.
Why do you want a theory at all, and why do you postulate any belief? This constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear – fear of everyday life, fear of sorrow, fear of death and of the utter meaninglessness of life. Seeing all this you invent a theory and the more cunning and erudite the theory the more weight it has. And after two thousand or ten thousand years of propaganda that theory invariably and foolishly becomes “the truth”.
But if you do not postulate any dogma, then you are face to face with what actually is. The “what is”, is thought, pleasure, sorrow and the fear of death.
When you understand the structure of your daily living – with its competition, greed, ambition and the search for power – then you will see not only the absurdity of theories, saviours and gurus, but you may find an ending to sorrow, an ending to the whole structure which thought has put together.
The penetration into and the understanding of this structure is meditation.
Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end. The mind can never be made innocent through experience.
It is the negation of experience that brings about that positive state of innocency which cannot be cultivated by thought. Thought is never innocent. Meditation is the ending of thought, not by the meditator, for the meditator is the meditation. If there is no meditation, then you are like a blind man in a world of great beauty, light and colour.
Wander by the seashore and let this meditative quality come upon you. If it does, don’t pursue it. What you pursue will be the memory of what it was – and what was is the death of what is. Or when you wander among the hills, let everything tell you the beauty and the pain of life, so that you awaken to your own sorrow and to the ending of it. Meditation is the root, the plant, the flower and the fruit. It is words that divide the fruit, the flower, the plant and the root. In this separation action does not bring about goodness: virtue is the total perception.
You can’t find God; there is no way to it. Man has invented many paths, many religions, many beliefs, saviours and teachers whom he thinks will help him to find the bliss that is not passing. The misery of search is that it leads to some fancy of the mind, to some vision which the mind has projected and measured by things known. The love which he seeks is destroyed by the way of his life. You cannot have a gun in one hand and God in the other.
God is only a symbol, a word, that has really lost its meaning, for the churches and places of worship have destroyed it. Of course, if you don’t believe in God you are like the believer; both suffer and go through the sorrow of a short and vain life; and the bitterness of every day makes life a meaningless thing.
Reality is not at the end of the stream of thought, and the empty heart is filled by the words of thought. We become very clever, inventing new philosophies, and then there is the bitterness of their failure. We have invented theories about how to reach the ultimate, and the devotee goes to the temple and loses himself in the imaginations of his own mind. The monk and the saint do not find that reality for both are part of a tradition, of a culture, that accepts them as being saints and monks.
The dove has flown away, and the beauty of the mountain of cloud is upon the land – and truth is there, where you never look.
Meditation is not the repetition of the word, nor the experiencing of a vision, nor the cultivating of silence. The bead and the word do quieten the chattering mind, but this is a form of self-hypnosis. You might as well take a pill.
Meditation is not wrapping yourself in a pattern of thought, in the enchantment of pleasure. Meditation has no beginning, and therefore it has no end.
If you say: “I will begin today to control my thoughts, to sit quietly in the meditative posture, to breathe regularly” – then you are caught in the tricks with which one deceives oneself. Meditation is not a matter of being absorbed in some grandiose idea or image: that only quietens one for the moment, as a child absorbed by a toy is for the time being quiet. But as soon as the toy ceases to be of interest, the restlessness and the mischief begin again.
Meditation is not the pursuit of an invisible path leading to some imagined bliss. The meditative mind is seeing – watching, listening, without the word, without comment, without opinion – attentive to the movement of life in all its relationships throughout the day. And at night, when the whole organism is at rest, the meditative mind has no dreams for it has been awake all day. It is only the indolent who have dreams; only the half-asleep who need the intimation of their own states. But as the mind watches, listens to the movement of life, the outer and the inner, to such a mind comes a silence that is not put together by thought.
It is not a silence which the observer can experience. If he does experience it and recognise it, it is no longer silence. The silence of the meditative mind is not within the borders of recognition, for this silence has no frontier. There is only silence – in which the space of division ceases.
Meditation is the unfolding of the new. The new is beyond and above the repetitious past – and meditation is the ending of this repetition. The death that meditation brings about is the immortality of the new. The new is not within the area of thought, and meditation is the silence of thought.
Meditation is not an achievement, nor is it the capture of a vision, nor the excitement of sensation. It is like the river, not to be tamed, swiftly running and overflowing its banks. It is the music without sound; it cannot be domesticated and made use of. It is the silence in which the observer has ceased from the very beginning.
Has it ever happened to you, naturally, to find yourself in a state where thought is totally absent? In that state are you conscious of yourself as the thinker, the observer, the experiencer?
Thought is the response of memory, and the bundle of memories is the thinker. When there is no thought is there the “me” at all, about whom we make so much fuss and noise?
We are not talking of a person in amnesia, or of one who is day-dreaming or controlling thought to silence it, but of a mind that is fully awake, fully alert. If there is no thought and no word, isn’t the mind in a different dimension altogether?
There is the silence of the mind which is never touched by any noise, by any thought or by the passing wind of experience. It is this silence that is innocent, and so endless. When there is this silence of the mind action springs from it, and this action does not cause confusion or misery.
The meditation of a mind that is utterly silent is the benediction that man is ever seeking.
Again, sir, you have come back to the question of something that is timeless, which is beyond thought. What is beyond thought is innocence, and thought, do what it will, can never touch it, for thought is always old.
It is innocency, like love, that is deathless, but for that to exist the mind must be free of the thousand yesterdays with their memories. And freedom is a state in which there is no hate, no violence, no brutality. Without putting away all these things how can we ask what immortality is, what love is, what truth is?
If you deliberately take an attitude, a posture, in order to meditate, then it becomes a plaything, a toy of the mind. If you determine to extricate yourself from the confusion and the misery of life, then it becomes an experience of imagination – and this is not meditation. The conscious mind or the unconscious mind must have no part in it; they must not even be aware of the extent and beauty of meditation – if they are, then you might just as well go and buy a romantic novel.
In the total attention of meditation there is no knowing, no recognition, nor the remembrance of something that has happened. Time and thought have entirely come to an end, for they are the centre which limits its own vision.
At the moment of light, thought withers away, and the conscious effort to experience and the remembrance of it, is the word that has been. And the word is never the actual. At that moment – which is not of time – the ultimate is the immediate, but that ultimate has no symbol, is of no person, of no god.
Meditation is not the mere experiencing of something beyond everyday thought and feeling nor is it the pursuit of visions and delights. An immature and squalid little mind can and does have visions of expanding consciousness, and experiences which it recognises according to its own conditioning. This immaturity may be greatly capable of making itself successful in this world and achieving fame and notoriety. The gurus whom it follows are of the same quality and state. Meditation does not belong to such as these. It is not for the seeker, for the seeker finds what he wants, and the comfort he derives from it is the morality of his own fears.
Do what he will, the man of belief and dogma cannot enter into the realm of meditation. To meditate, freedom is necessary. It is not meditation first and freedom afterwards; freedom – the total denial of social morality and values – is the first movement of meditation.
It is not a public affair where many can join in and offer prayers. It stands alone, and is always beyond the borders of social conduct. For truth is not in the things of thought or in what thought has put together and calls truth. The complete negation of this whole structure of thought is the positive of meditation.
Sleep is as important as keeping awake, perhaps more so. If during the day-time the mind is watchful, self-recollected, observing the inward and outward movement of life, then at night meditation comes as a benediction.
The mind wakes up, and out of the depth of silence there is the enchantment of meditation, which no imagination or flight of fancy can ever bring about. It happens without the mind ever inviting it: it comes into being out of the tranquillity of consciousness – not within it but outside of it, not in the periphery of thought but beyond the reaches of thought. So there is no memory of it, for remembrance is always of the past, and meditation is not the resurrection of the past.
It happens out of the fullness of the heart and not out of intellectual brightness and capacity. It may happen night after night, but each time, if you are so blessed, it is new – not new in being different from old, but new without the background of the old, new in its diversity and changeless change.
So sleep becomes a thing of extraordinary importance, not the sleep of exhaustion, not the sleep brought about through drugs and physical satisfaction, but a sleep that is as light and quick as the body is sensitive. And the body is made sensitive through alertness. Sometimes meditation is as light as a breeze that passes by; at other times its depth is beyond all measure. But if the mind holds one or the other as a remembrance to be indulged in, then the ecstasy of meditation comes to an end.
It is important never to possess or desire possession of it. The quality of possessiveness must never enter into meditation, for meditation has no root, nor any substance which the mind can hold.
A reminder that online Satsang is every Sunday at 3pm BST and every Thursday at 8pm BST (UK time). See here for details.
Tom: the following text is from Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 21st May 1947. In the first part Ramana will tell us the basic theory. In the second part he will tell us how to realise this truth for ourselves:
Yesterday morning at 8 o’clock, Dr. Syed who is a worker for Arya Vignana Sangha and one of the disciples of Bhagavan, came here for Bhagavan’s darshan and asked “Bhagavan says the whole world is the swarupa of Atma. If so, why do we find so many troubles in this world?”
Tom: Swarupa, literally meaning form of the self (Swa = self; rupa = form), usually is translated as ‘essential nature’ or ‘true nature’. Atma or Atman means Self. The questioner above is therefore asking about the true nature of the Self – “if all is Atma Swarupa, then why all this trouble in the world?”
With a face indicating pleasure, Bhagavan replied “That is called Maya. In Vedanta Chintamani, that Maya has been described in five ways. One by name Nijaguna Yogi wrote that book in Canarese. Vedanta has been so well dealt with in it, it can be said to be an authority on the Vedanta language.
There is a Tamil translation. The five names of Maya are, Tamas, Maya, Moham, Avidya and Anitya.
Tamas is that which hides the knowledge of life.
Maya is that which is responsible for making one who is the form of the world appear different from it.
Moha is that which makes a different one look real: sukti rajata bhranthi — creating an illusion that mother-of-pearl is made of silver.
Avidya is that which spoils Vidya (learning).
Anitya is transient, that which is different from what is permanent and real.
On account of these five Mayas troubles appear in the Atma like the cinema pictures on the screen. Only to remove this Maya it is said that the whole world is mithya (unreal).
Atman is like the screen. Just as you come to know that the pictures that are shown are dependent on the screen and do not exist otherwise, so also, until one is able to know by Self-enquiry that the world that is visible is not different from Atma, it has to be said that this is all mithya.
But once the reality is known, the whole universe will appear as Atma only. Hence the very people who said the world is unreal, have subsequently said that it is only Atma swarupa. After all, it is the outlook that is important. If the outlook changes, the troubles of the world will not worry us. Are the waves different from the ocean?
Why do the waves occur at all? If asked, what reply can we give? The troubles in the world also are like that. Waves come and go. If it is found out that they are not different from Atma this worry will not exist.”
Tom: How many times have we heard the above metaphor about the movie and the screen? But do we truly understand? Are we truly free? The questioner therefore asks the following:
That devotee said in a plaintive tone, “However often Bhagavan teaches us, we are not able to understand.”
“People say that they are not able to know the Atma that is all-pervading. What can I do? Even the smallest child says, ‘I exist. I do; and this is mine’. So, everyone understands that the thing ‘I’ is always existent. It is only when that ‘I’ is there, the feeling is there that you are the body, he is Venkanna, this is Ramanna and the like. To know that the one that is always visible is one’s own self, is it necessary to search with a candle? To say that we do not know the Atma swarupa which is not different but which is in one’s own self is like saying ‘I do not know myself ’,” said Bhagavan.
Tom: Ramana above is stating that the Self is always realised – it is the knowledge ‘I am’. Everyone knows they exist! This is self-knowledge or self-realisation! However the problem is when you identify as being the body the trouble starts. Now the questioner has figured out the path laid out before him, and Ramana confirms the way forwards in order to secure removal of this wrong identification with the body. There is no need to gain self-knowledge, just to remove wrong identification (ignorance):
“That means that those who by sravana (hearing) and manana (repeating within oneself) become enlightened and look upon the whole visible world as full of Maya, will ultimately find the real swarupa by nididhyasana [meditation],” said the devotee.
“Yes, that is it. Nidi means swarupa; nididhyasana is the act of intensely concentrating on the swarupa with the help of sravana and manana of the words of the Guru. That means to meditate on that with undeflected zeal. After meditating for a long time, he merges in it. Then it shines as itself. That is always there. There will be no troubles of this sort if one can see the thing as it is. Why so many questions to see one’s own self that is always there?” said Bhagavan.
!Om Guru Ramana!
The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi have been arranged and presented here 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. Please see below to read the quotes.
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