Here we will see how a clear teaching is given and then distorted by the mind, only for Bhagavan Sri Ramana to make clear the essential teaching again in order to keep us on the clear and direct path. The following passage is taken from Day by Day with Bhagavan, page 193, recounting events from 10th April 1946:
Dr. Masalavala gave Bhagavan a letter addressed to him by a friend of his. Bhagavan perused it. Some portions of it were not cogent. With other portions there could be no quarrel.
The letter said that all is contained in asti (sat), bhati (chit), priya (ananda), nam and rup, that the first three constitute reality, and the rest the fleeting and unreal; that jnana consists in seeing only the reality and not the nam-rup, that the first three constitute aham and the next two constitute idam (this).
Tom: we can see here the teaching of ‘nama, rupa, sat, chit, ananda’. ‘Nama’ means name, ‘rupa’ means form, ‘sat’ means being or reality or truth, ‘chit’ means consciousness or knowingness and ‘ananda’ means happiness or bliss. Note that here the word ‘priya’ (which means beloved) is used instead of the more commonly used ‘ananda’,
The first two of these, nama-rupa (name and form) constitute the entire observable world of objects, including trees, cars, people, buildings (ie. gross objects), but also subtle objects such as thoughts, feelings, emotions, spiritual experiences, dreams, visions, etc, etc. These objects, gross and subtle, come and go, and together can be considered to be Maya (illusion).
The latter three, sat-chit-ananda, refers to the Self, the Unchanging Ever-Present Reality, the Pure Consciousness that you are. The text clearly states that Jnana (knowledge, ie. spiritual knowledge or liberation) consists of seeing only Reality and not nama-rupa, ie to remove objects and abide only as Self.
In the next line Ramana agrees that sat-chit-ananda refers to ‘aham’, aham meaning ‘I’, as the true ‘I’ is the Self, and nama-rupa refers to ‘idam’, idam meaning ‘this’, referring to all perceived phenomena, ie. all objects, gross or subtle:
Bhagavan agreed and said, “‘I’ and ‘this’ between them exhaust everything.” The letter also said that seeing Brahman alone in everything and everywhere is jnanottara bhakti. With reference to this, Bhagavan said, “This is a matter of mere words, whether you call the stage of seeing only Brahman, jnanottara bhakti or bhakti-uttara jnana.
Tom: Jnanottara bhakti means ‘Bhakti (love), which is higher than Jnana (knowledge)’. This term is often used by schools of vedanta that prefer Bhakti and state that Bhakti is superior to Jnana (knowledge). Bhakti-uttara Jnana means the opposite, namely ‘Jnana which is higher than Bhakti’. Ramana here makes it clear that this is all just linguistic juggling, implying that there is no need to quibble about which is higher, Jnana or Bhakti. In fact they are, ultimately, one and the same.
In reality, saying ‘We must see Brahman in everything and everywhere’ is also not quite correct. Only that stage is final, where there is no seeing, where there is no time or space. There will be no seer, seeing and an object to see. What exists then is only the infinite eye.”
Tom: many teachers state that we should see everything as Brahman and Brahman in everything, and this is true Jnana or Liberation. Here Sri Ramana corrects this mistaken view, stating that we must eventually go beyond this too and renounce name and form in order to discover and abide as the pure Self, devoid of objects, devoid even of notions or perception of time and space. That is which there are no triads of object, subject or seeing. In that ‘place’, there is only the Self and no objective universe whatsoever. Nama and Rupa are completely removed, as per the original teaching stated above.
This is where our sadhana should take us!
We should not get off the sadhana train at an earlier stop thinking we have reached the destination!
In Who Am I? Ramana is asked the following:
Question: How long should inquiry be practised?
Sri Ramana: As long as there are impressions of objects in the mind, so long the inquiry ‘Who am I?’ is required
Let us give thanks to Sri Ramana’s teachings that point out the direct path and encourage us not to leave the sadhana early and remain caught and bound in Maya’s clutches!
To learn more about this path please see:
Question: Are there levels or stages of Realisation?
Tom: Realisation is one, there are no degrees of realisation, it has no levels. There is no really such thing as realisation. The whole point of the teachings are just to get us to abide as the Self, to turn within, to be. Not to be this or that, just TO BE. And when you realise the Self, it is just Self being the Self. You realise this has always been realised.
You don’t even realise in words, that’s just the way it has always been. It appears in ignorance that there are different levels of realisation. You can say Ramana is more realised than someone else, but there is no Ramana who is realised really. The body-mind doesn’t attain liberation. It is just Self-being the Self. There can be degrees of insight, but that is all on a level of ignorance.
Ramana said that Realisation is one, there are only levels of ignorance. So you can have thick dense ignorance and you can have very fine subtle ignorance. And thick dense ignorance will cause much more suffering, much more delusion, much more distortion than the fine silky veil of ignorance that is barely there.
The distorting capacity of the small subtle ignorance is very small. There is minimal distortion there, minimal suffering, but it’s still ignorance. When our suffering gets less and less, it gets finer and finer. Subjectively to that person, it’s still suffering. If someone else is looking at that person, he/she could think they have a great life, but from their point of view, they are still suffering.
The above conversation was transcribed by a volunteer from a live Satsang meeting with Tom Das. If you are interested in joining, please see www.tomdas.com/events
Here are four quotes of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj that conveys the essence of his teachings. They are all taken from the book I Am That. Read them several times, contemplate what he is trying to convey, and put the teachings into practice.
For more detailed explanations of the entire path to liberation see this link – I recommend you read and study the two texts found here and put them into practice: The Path of Sri Ramana
Suffering: our predicament
Ever-obsessed with the transient*, we suffer. Ever-involved with that which changes*, the Self remains (seemingly) covered** and unrealised, and so we, taking ourselves to be a separate body-mind entity, remain in bondage and illusion and continue to suffer and feel confused.
Our True Nature
What you truly are has never suffered, has never undergone change, has never been confused and never been subject to birth, death, illusion or delusion. It is beyond both happiness/peace and suffering/sorrow. It is that pure consciousness ‘within’, it is That which you truly are.
How to Attain Liberation (Moksha)
Release yourself from this suffering and destroy ignorance in its totality by turning away from transient things and attending to your Self, that Pure Consciousness which is You. Turn your attention to That Which You Are and in doing this Be What You Are. Know the Knower, attend to the Seer, that is, Be Your Self and abide as such, until illusion/suffering/ignorance/doubt is no more.
Why This Practice is Necessary
For most, without this sadhana (spiritual practice), ignorance will continue to rise up again and again due to the strength of the habitual tendencies (vasanas) to identify as a separate body-mind entity, and so confusion and suffering will continue as will the seeking and various doubts.
See here for why other ways tend not to work.
So Attend to what You Are, Be what You Are, Abide as the Self until ego/maya/ignorance/delusion is no more 🙏
OBJECTIONS: Turn within? Really?
For objections that the mind throws our way, please see the following posts:
Q. Isn’t it unhealthy and inhumane to turn away from the world? This kind of denial hasn’t worked for me. Integration is working.
Q. Why turn within? Nonduality as I have experienced it is the actual disappearance of what is considered within and without, one seamless blending
Q. Doesn’t the notion of ‘turning within’ to find yourself create an artificial duality? All is already one!
*’the transient’ or ‘that which changes’ refers to the body, mind (thoughts, feelings, imaginings, experiences, conceptual knowledge) and the world, also known as Maya or illusion.
**for practice purposes of the teaching, in this context it is said that the Self is covered by Maya, as this is how it seems to the suffering seeker of truth and liberation. This aspect of the teaching has a practical orientation and places instruction on the path to liberation above mere conceptual/intellectual notions such as ‘the Self is never covered’, etc. These intellectual notions are are often used by the ego to avoid spiritual practice and liberation, which is the ending of egotism, and perpetuate ignorance-ego-suffering.
***the True Self is symbolised by the symbol ‘Om’, the Pure Consciousness within, that which is beyond name, form, description, conceptualisation, knowledge or experience. It is beyond both suffering and happiness/peace. It is also the meaning of the terms ‘true knowledge’ (Jnana) and ‘direct experience’ (Aparokshanubhuti), Bliss (Ananda) and Peace (Shanti), and Non-Duality (Advaita). It is what is signified in the Mandukya Upanishad as Turiya or AUM
This first link, The Path of Sri Ramana, contains detailed descriptions and explanations of the entire path in an easy to read way. I recommend you read, study and put into practice these two texts:
Q. What in brief is the means to know one’s own real nature? What is the effort that can bring about the sublime inner vision?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Strenuously withdrawing all thoughts from sense objects, one should remain fixed in steady, non-objective [ie. subjective] enquiry. This, in brief, is the means of knowing one’s own real nature; this effort alone bring about the sublime inner vision.
Sri Ramana Gita, Chapter 3, verses 4-6
If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.
Ramana Maharshi, Maharshi’s Gospel
The Upanishads and Vedanta
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.
When the mind…remains unshakable and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.
The controlled mind is verily the fearless Brahman.
When the mind, after realising the knowledge that Atman alone
is real, becomes free from imaginations and therefore does not
cognise anything, for want of objects to be cognised, it ceases
to be the mind.
Dwelling on external objects will only increase evil propensities, so wisely recognising this fact, one should abandon external objects and and constantly attend to one’s true nature within, the Atman [the Self].
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 [Brahman]
Be absorbed, through samadhi, in the eternal Brahman.
The Self alone is to be meditated upon.
The following are sayings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, taken from the text Guru Vachaka Kovai which is widely accepted as the most precise, systematic and authoritative exposition of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings:
O worldly folk who long for and run after
An endless series of unenduring things
’Tis wisdom true to seek and know
That one thing, on knowing which
All other things will cease to be.
For those who see with insight keen
The subtle Truth, what is there to gain
From knowledge of gross material things?
What the imperishable inner sense
Perceives surpasses far the sight
Seen by the corporeal eye.
Knowing aright the nature of the Self
And abandoning the non-self as void,
Unreal, is wisdom true.
All other knowledge is ignorance,
And not wisdom.