The importance of spiritual practice to attain liberation | Sri Ramana Maharshi | Sri Shankara

The following is from a text written by Shankara called Vivekachudamani, as translated by Sri Ramana Maharshi. We will see the following points being made:

  1. Merely stating ‘I am Brahman’ does not in itself lead to liberation. Similarly we can infer that by mere affirmation of other similar spiritual slogans such as saying ‘I am free’ or ‘I am already the Self’ or ‘there is no ego/self’ or ‘all is already one’, etc, mere affirmation of these does not lead to liberation.
  2. In order to attain liberation, ignorance must be removed and the Self must directly be experienced.
  3. Similarly, merely by hearing the truth ‘I am Brahman’ , liberation is not (usually) attained
  4. One must first hear the truth from someone who has experienced the truth first-hand (for only they will be able to tell you the way to truth)
  5. Then one must meditate upon the truth heard and experience the truth directly though constant meditation.
  6. Unless this practice is carried out, maya (aka ignorance) will not be removed and liberation will not be attained.
  7. Every effort must be made to root out ignorance for liberation to result

‘Just as a person’s sickness is not removed without taking medicine, so too his state of bondage is not removed by scriptural texts such as “I am Brahman” without his own direct experience of the Self. One does not become a king by merely saying, “I am a king”, without destroying one’s enemies and obtaining the reality of power.

Similarly, one does not obtain liberation as Brahman Itself by merely repeating the scriptural text “I am Brahman”, without destroying the duality caused by ignorance and directly experiencing the Self.

‘A treasure trove hidden under the ground is not obtained by merely hearing about it, but only by being told by a friend who knows it, and then digging and removing the slab that hides it and taking it out from below the ground.

Similarly, one must hear about one’s true state from a Guru who knows Brahman, and then meditate upon It and experience It directly through constant meditation.

‘Without this, the true form of one’s own Self, that is hidden by maya [“that which is not”], cannot be realised through mere argumentation. Therefore, those who are wise themselves make every effort to remove the bondage of individual existence and obtain liberation, just as they would to get rid of some disease.’

Also see: Sri Ramana Maharshi: the necessity of Meditation

Just through Being Still

Be still.

Just be still.

Gently,

Without force,

Allow all thoughts to subside,

In their own time,

So that only Stillness (Subject-Self-Consciousness) remains.


All doubts, confusions and questions

Will gently fade away effortlessly,

By themselves,

Just through Being Still.


Have faith in your Self-Nature

(Or Guru or God),

Know you are One and All,

And armed with this Knowing-Faith-Intuition,

Surrender,

And Be Still


Once one starts to gain experience in Being Still/turning within,

All teachings that do not encourage stillness or turning within

To discover the Pure Subject-Self/Divine Essence,

Are seen to be utterly superficial, egoic

And of the nature of delusion.


The Simple Being

That is your own True Self or True Nature

(Also known by more grandiose terms

Such as ‘Ultimate Truth’ or ‘Thoughtless Reality’ or ‘God’)

Will be revealed as simply your own Being

Or Isness

Devoid of objective arisings,

Just through Being Still.


‘You’ will discover your own True Self,

which is naturally devoid of arising objective phenomena,

just through Being Still.


Suffering will slips away of its own accord,

there being nowhere for it to attach itself to,

just through Being Still.


Bliss overflows
Infinity Dawns,
Eternity Rises,
Consuming all:
One is thrust into Eternal Life-Joy-Bliss,
One with Source (‘The Father’)

Just through Being Still


All duality is destroyed,
And with it suffering and egoity also disappear,
As the many waters of duality,
Flow into the Ocean of Unity,
(That is my Beloved Guru Bhagavan Sri Ramana,
Who is Grace,
Oneness itself)

Just through Being Still


Without Being Still,
(Also known as Self-Enquiry, Self-Surrender, Abiding as Self,
Being with God, Being with Guru, Residing in The Heart,
Turning Within, Awareness Watching Awareness, Self-Attention,
Parabhakti, Samadhi, Meditation,
Yoga, Devotion, Loving Self/God
Nididhyasana, Silence, Just Being),
Without this Sadhana (Spiritual Practice),
Know that ego-duality-confusion-suffering-samsara will continue potentially forever until the practice is undertaken.

Therefore,
Be Still.


For those who find themselves unable to practice thus,

Contemplate deeply upon this:

What will bring Eternal Joy-Peace-Happiness-Bliss?

Attending to/paying attention to that which changes (ie. various objects that arise and fall)

Or paying attention to that which never changes (the Subject-Consciousness-Self)?

Contemplating thus,

Know that attending to objects/maya simply leads to more objects/maya,

And thus more ego & suffering.

Contemplate this deeply.

Contemplating deeply, and knowing thus,
Discover what You Are:
Abide as the Self,
And Be Still.


Therefore

Be still.

Just be still.

Gently,

Without force,

Allow all thoughts to subside,

In their own time,

So that only Stillness (Subject-Self-Consciousness) remains.

❤️🙏❤️

Why is Self-Enquiry sometimes so difficult to practice? | Sadhana | Sri Sadhu Om | Sadhanai Saram

242. When we are lacking in earnestness or faith (sraddha), whatever practice (sadhana) we may take to will appear to be equally difficult. But if our earnestness is firm and one-pointed, no sadhana will be felt to be difficult, and without any aid we will be able to remain firmly established in the state of Self-abidance.

243. Where there is a will, there is a way. That is, if a sincere liking to attain something arises in one’s heart, a path whereby one can attain it will also be found, and because of that liking one’s mind will unceasingly seek the goal until it is attained. Only when the liking to attain that goal does not truly arise in one’s heart, will one experience difficulty in the practice (sadhana) or means adopted to attain it. Know that this is the secret underlying all methods of practice.

244. To the extent to which one approaches and lives close to true devotees, to that extent will the liking arise in one’s heart to attain salvation, the real goal of human life. By having more and more association with such true devotees, that liking will gradually increase until finally one will attain salvation by abiding firmly in Self.

The above are verses from the wonderfully clarifying text Sadhanai Saram, written by Sri Sadhu Om, a direct devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. You can read the full text here.

I have not written any commentary on the above verses as hopefully the meaning of the verses are self-evident, and any lack of clarity can hopefully be remedied by simply reading the verses more slowly and reflecting upon them.

Why do I feel anxiety when practising mindfulness? Why don’t I enjoy meditating? The 3 Gunas explained

Many people find meditation and mindfulness difficult and sometimes it can even make them feel more anxious? Why is this? Tom explains why this can occur, using the teaching of the three gunas (Tamas, Rajas and Sattva).

With devotion to Sri Ramana Maharshi

For more on this teaching see here: https://tomdas.com/2019/02/18/the-three-energies-three-gunas/

This video was recorded live during a Satsang meeting with Tom Das and put together by volunteers.

To attend satsang, see here: https://tomdas.com/events.

For guided meditations see the ‘guided meditation’ playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/c/TomDasNonduality/playlist

For recommended reading for liberation see here: https://tomdas.com/2020/10/19/recommended-reading-books-for-enlightenment-liberation-and-self-realisation/

To book a 1 to 1 session with Tom see here: https://tomdas.com/nondual-spiritual-counsellor/

Both thought and trying to get rid of thought are illusory mirages of separation

Objection:
The assumption that thought is an actual thing and that thought has a source, arises only in the realm of imaginary separation. There is, by definition, no way to determining the imaginary source of an imaginary thing.

Tom:
Whilst it is true that thought is ultimately an illusion, and trying to get rid of thought is also more of the same illusion, there is a logical flaw in this objection, as follows: thoughts may be imaginary, but that does not mean their source is imaginary. Fiction or imagination can have a real source. The teaching is to locate that Source (the Self) and abide there in Pure Being, which is devoid of thought, until the tendency to imagine duality (ie. thought) ceases.

Here are two quotes to illustrate the above points, one from Sri Shankara, and one from Sri Ramana:

The binding, and the getting rid of bondage, are both mirages. The belief that bondage of the Real, is, and the belief that it has ceased, are both mere things of thought

~Sri Shankara, Vivekachudamani verses 571 and 572

All doubts will cease only when the doubter and his source have been found. There is no use removing doubts. If we clear one doubt, another doubt will arise and there will be no end of doubts.

~Sri Ramana Maharshi, Day by Day with Bhagavan

How can any enquiry initiated by the ego reveal the ego’s own unreality? Sri Ramana Maharshi

Devotee: How can any enquiry initiated by the ego reveal its own unreality?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The ego’s phenomenal existence is transcended when you dive into the Source wherefrom arises the aham-vritti [I-concept].

D: But is not the aham-vritti only one of the three forms in which the ego manifests itself? Yoga Vasishtha and other ancient texts describe the ego as having a threefold form.

M: It is so. The ego is described as having three bodies, the gross, the subtle and the causal, but that is only for the purposes of analytical exposition. If the method of enquiry were to depend on the ego’s form, you may take it that any enquiry would become altogether impossible, because the forms the ego may assume are legion. Therefore, for purposes of jnana vichara, you have to proceed on the basis that the ego has but one form, namely that of aham-vritti.

D: But it may prove inadequate for realizing jnana.

M: Self-enquiry by following the clue of aham-vritti is just like the dog tracing its master by his scent. The master may be at some distant, unknown place, but that does not at all stand in the way of the dog tracing him. The master’s scent is an infallible clue for the animal, and nothing else, such as the dress he wears, or his build and stature etc, counts. The dog holds on to that scent undistractedly while searching for him, and finally it succeeds in tracing him.

The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Maharshi’s Gospel. Chapter VI ‘AHAM AND AHAM-VRITTI’

If ‘all is already one’, why is a practice required?

84. Because the true Self is eternally perfect awareness-love-bliss and eternally free of all suffering, some people think there is no need for spiritual practice. Such a notion is an ego preservation strategy. The purpose of practice is not to gain the true Self. The purpose of practice is to remove the illusion of a body, a world, suffering, etc. so that what remains is only the eternal experience of the True Self.

85. In other words, those who have let the ego trick them into thinking there is no need for spiritual practice, because the True Self is eternally free of suffering, etc., are still having the experience of suffering, a body, a world, etc. Thus their experience is not consistent with their concept that the True Self is eternally free of suffering and perfectly blissful. This is an example of intellectual ‘spirituality’. This is an example of people confusing a journey through concepts, ideas, beliefs and opinions with an authentic spiritual journey. Practice leads to the direct experience of Infinite-Eternal-Awareness-Love-Bliss

86. A journey through spiritual concepts, ideas, beliefs, teachings and opinions is a journey through illusions.

87. Practice is what is essential. It must not be a spiritual practice that is creaed by the ego for the purpose of preserving the ego.

88. With the Awareness Watching Awareness Method, the practice is the progress. The habit has been developed of always looking outward towards the seen. The Awareness Watching Awareness Method reverses this. Every time a thought arises, or the tendency to look outward, the attention is taken away from the thought and turned towards the seer.

89. Thus with the Awareness Watching Awareness Method a new habit is developed and the practice is the progress…

The above is an excerpt from the book The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford. You can download a copy of the entire book here.