Ramana Maharshi: remaining quiet and aware is the state of mind to aim at

Ramana Maharshi sitting

Questioner:  There are times when persons and things take a vague, almost transparent form, as in a dream. One ceases to observe them as outside, but passively conscious of their existence, while not actively conscious of any kind of selfhood.  There is a deep quietness in the mind.

Is it at such times that one is ready to dive into the Self? Or is this condition unhealthy, the result of self hypnotism? Should it be encouraged as yielding temporary peace?

Ramana Maharshi:  There is Consciousness along with quietness in the mind.  This is exactly to be aimed at.  The fact that the question has formed on this point, without realizing that it is the Self, shows that the state is not steady but casual.

The word ‘diving’ is appropriate when there are outgoing tendencies, and when, therefore, the mind has to be directed and turned within, there is a dip below the surface of externalities.  But when quietness prevails without obstructing the Consciousness, where is the need to dive?

Taken from Talks with Ramana Maharshi, Talk 348


Tom’s comments:

The sadhana (spiritual practice) that Bhagawan recommends above is to simply remain quiet (in mind and thought) and also to remain aware.

This is self-knowledge. This is the Self.

When thoughts can come and go without disturbing this essential quality of mind, there is no need to ‘dive’ using the tools of Self Inquiry (ie. the question ‘Who am I?’). With time it may be seen that nothing ever disturbs this ‘peace that passeth all understanding’, and that nothing ever did.

It was always here, fully manifest, right under our noses.

Here is the gateway to Self-knowledge or liberation.

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Poetry: no way to talk about this

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When this is seen,
It is seen there are so many ways to talk about this,
So many ways to guide others to this,
So many helpful ways,
– yet all of them false.

Ultimately,
All ways are false,
All descriptions are false.
The Truth cannot be contained in words:
The best teaching is whatever works.

No self, True self, or just Self?
Freedom, Enlightenment or Bliss?
Emptiness, Fullness, or Infinite?
Personal, impersonal, or no story at all?
Duality, non-duality? Both, neither?

All can be helpful concepts pointing the way,
None are THE SACRED TRUTH.

The proverbial finger points at the moon,
Don’t cling to the finger!

 

Ramana Maharshi: To remain as you are, without question or doubt, is your natural state

Ramana reclining

To remain as you are, without question or doubt, is your natural state
Ramana Maharshi

This is still an instruction for the spiritual seeker: ‘to remain as you are’.

With liberation, questions and doubts are irrelevant, as the natural state is simply whatever is. Nothing can obstruct it. It is always here and manifests as whatever is arising. It can never be obstructed and is always in plain sight.

However for the seeker, ie. the person that takes themselves to be the author of their thoughts and actions, the instruction to remain as you are and not worry about or get entangled with thoughts, questions and doubts, is one of the highest and most refined spiritual teachings available.

Be still, forget all concept of who you are, notice things as they happen. Regardless of what is happening, you know that you are, never what you are, only that you are.

When the mind and its concepts are no longer being believed, what use is there to talk of separation or no separation, self or no-self?

Poetry: the all knowing ego

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The ego thinks it has all the ‘answers’,
Thinks it knows exactly how the enlightenment game works,
Thinks it knows which practice is best,
All its concepts lined up.

Of course it has no clue.

Pride means it pretends to know what it doesn’t,
Clinging to what it hopes will work,
According to its limited understanding.

Who can blame it?

My advice: realise first, talk later.

Humility and realisation

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An important part of the teaching is to realise the limits of our ability to know or understand things. Often we think we know or understand things only to later find that we were deluding ourselves. The very ideas we think we know to be true are the same ones that keep us trapped and prevent realisation occurring.

The very ideas we think we know to be true are the same ones that keep us trapped and prevent realisation occurring.

Remember that realisation does not mean arriving at a new understanding: it is actually the realisation that the beliefs we held about ourself, specifically the ‘I am the doer’ belief, do not have the evidence required to support them. If we just follow the evidence, we will not make claims that are unjustified, and we preserve our humility and integrity. Any understanding we subsequently develop will have strong foundations.

Being humble just means not pretending to know something that you don’t. Similarly if you think you know something but are not completely sure, it means admitting that uncertainty. In that space of doubt, there is room for something true to emerge and be seen. In acknowledging the limitations and assumptions of our thought processes we are entering into what is actual and true.

In that space of doubt, there is room for something true to emerge and be seen.

To put it differently, humility is a form of honesty, and it is this being completely honest with ourselves that forms a firm foundation from which this teaching can take root, grow and thrive.

 

Spiritual Materialism

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So many spiritual seekers start off on the wrong footing, so many spiritual teachings pander to the ego. If your main aim on the spiritual path is to gain super-powers, be permanently in a state of heightened bliss or to be the next great spiritual teacher, then you are primarily interested in accumulation and possession and perhaps not as deeply interested in truth as you may think. You should know this is the ego’s desire and the spiritual path you walk is not a genuine one.

So, first ask yourself honestly – do you want truth or pleasure? You may want both, but which one do you want more? If your perception is distorted by ego and desire, then the spiritual path you are attracted to will be similarly distorted. We get the spiritual teachings we deserve.

We get the spiritual teachings we deserve.

There is nothing wrong with seeking happiness of course. It is through suffering and seeking an end to suffering that most of us become spiritually inclined in the first place. But if we are clouded by our desires and insecurities then we become susceptible to false beliefs, magical thinking, exploitation and corrupt spiritual teachings. This ‘spirituality’ is in fact another form of materialism or hedonism in a different guise: the ego is still at play.

If you can see all of this, then you already know that you are apart from it. What is it that sees? Who are you at your innermost core? All that you have accumulated will pass away: pleasure, pain, psychic powers, fame, charisma and transcendental experiences. All are finite and transient. None of them are the Eternal.

The Eternal already is. Nothing is not It.

 

Ramana Maharshi: the essence of realisation

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Killing the ego is the only thing to accomplish.

Realisation is already there. No attempt is needed to attain realisation. For it is nothing external, nothing new.

It is always and everywhere here and now too.

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
Talk 174

Tom’s comments:

Time after time, again and again, Ramana says the only thing needed to do is remove the ego. Reality does not need to be realised, for it is already and always being realised.

Remove the ego, and reality shines by itself, as it always has done.

What is the ego? The ego is the notion of doership.

How to remove the ego? See that the sense of doership is an illusion. It doesn’t exist. There is no doer, there never was a doer, it was all imagined!

 

Annamalai Swami: I see who I am when I am near Swami. When I am away from him, I can remember it as a fact, but it is not my direct experience

annamalai swami final talks

The following excerpt is from Chapter 7 of the above book:

Annamalai Swami: Enquire ‘Who am I?’ or ‘What is my real nature?’ The nature of the Self is nothing but peace. If you are not aware of that peace, it means that you are identifying with something that is not the Self. As long as you hear, taste and smell things, you identify with the body. When the perceptions and the perceiver of them vanish, you become aware of the peace that is there all the time.

If you are not aware of that peace, it means that you are identifying with something that is not the Self.

Q: I hear the sound. Then I ask myself who is hearing the sound, and the answer is ‘I’. What happens next depends on where I am. If I am in Swami’s presence or in the meditation hall at Sri Ramanasramam, I feel the presence of the Self and the bliss of peace, but when I am away from Swami, it is not easy.

AS: You need not hold on to That because you are That all the time. That is enough. You are That. How can you hold on to That, or feel separate from it, or try to get it back, or lose it? If That is your real nature, how can you pretend that you are nearer to it in two places and separate from it when you are somewhere else?

How can you hold on to That, or feel separate from it, or try to get it back, or lose it?

Q: I have the experience of That with Swami, but I don’t have the same experience when I am away from him. This is definitely my experience, so I don’t really understand what you are telling me.

AS: Your understanding or your lack of it does not affect the truth of what I am saying. You are That. See who you are and there will be nothing obstructing the experience of this fact.

Q: I still say I see who I am when I am near Swami. When I am away from him, I can remember it as a fact, but it is not my direct experience.

AS: This is because you identify with your body and your mind. Your mind is making you believe that a certain experience can only happen when you are in a particular place. Give up this identification and you will find that the Self is everywhere. You will see it, know it and be it wherever you go. Everything is Swami including you yourself.

Question: How do I give up identification with the body, particularly when I am not in front of Swami? I keep practicing, but I don’t have that experience.

AS: Meditate ‘I am the Self’. If you do this, the idea that you are the body will go. ‘I am the Self’ is still an idea, and as such, it belongs in maya, along with all other ideas. But you can begin to conquer maya by giving up utterly wrong ideas that bind you and cause you trouble. How to do this? Replace them with ideas that are a better reflection of the truth, and which are helpful in leading you towards that truth. If you want to cut iron, you use another piece of iron.

But you can begin to conquer maya by giving up utterly wrong ideas that bind you and cause you trouble. How to do this? Replace them with ideas that are a better reflection of the truth…

In battle, if someone shoots an arrow at you, you shoot one back. In maya, if the arrow of a bad idea comes speeding towards you, dodge it. Don’t let it stick to you of you will end up in pain. Then, in retaliation, fire back the arrow of ‘I am the Self’ at the place where the wrong idea came from.

Sadhana is a battlefield. You have to be vigilant. Don’t take delivery of wrong beliefs and don’t identify with the incoming thoughts that will give you pain and suffering. But if these things start happening to you, fight back by affirming, ‘I am the Self; I am the Self; I am the Self’. These affirmations will lessen the power of the ‘I am the body’ arrows and eventually they will armour-plate you so successfully, the ‘I am the body’ thoughts that come your way will no longer have the power to touch you, affect you or make you suffer.

Don’t take delivery of wrong beliefs and don’t identify with the incoming thoughts that will give you pain and suffering…fight back by affirming, ‘I am the Self; I am the Self; I am the Self’.

This fight all takes place within maya because in reality you are peace and peace alone. But while you are suffering in maya you can use these thoughts as a means of ultimately conquering it.