From the Teachings of
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
Translation by Dr. T. M. P. MAHADEVAN
from the original in Tamil titled ‘Nan Yar?’
“It was at this point in my imagined psycho-spiritual development that I lost myself. To compound the irony, before going to sleep that night in October 1985, I’d actually done a ‘self-remembering’ exercise for precisely the opposite purpose – to centre my energies in such a firm and clear sense of self that it would continue into the dreaming process instead of getting lost in it, thereby giving me a lucid dream in which I was aware of dreaming. I went off dutifully repeating the words “I am, I am, I am, …”, a la Sri Ramana Maharshi, and was more than a little astonished to awaken some hours later, laughing because the pundits had got it wrong: the truth was much more like “I am not.” I was emerging from a state of consciousness without any I or self at all, a state that can only be described as pure consciousness. I can’t even say I experienced it, because there was no experiencer and nothing to experience.”
QUESTIONS TO AND COMMENTS BY SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI:
What is the path of inquiry for understanding the nature of the mind?
That which rises as ‘I’ in this body is the mind. If one inquires as to where in the body the thought ‘I’ rises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. That is the place of the mind’s origin. Even if one thinks constantly ‘I’ ‘I’, one will be led to that place. Of all the thoughts that arise in the mind, the ‘I’ thought is the first. It is only after the rise of this that the other thoughts arise. It is after the appearance of the first personal pronoun that the second and third personal pronouns appear; without the first personal pronoun there will not be the second and third.
How will the mind become quiescent?
By the inquiry ‘Who am I?’. The thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.
What is the means for constantly holding on to the thought ‘Who am I?’
When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire: ‘To whom do they arise?’ It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, “To whom has this thought arisen?”. The answer that would emerge would be “To me”. Thereupon if one inquires “Who am I?”, the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will become quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source. When the mind that is subtle goes out through the brain and the sense-organs, the gross names and forms appear; when it stays in the heart, the names and forms disappear. Not letting the mind go out, but retaining it in the Heart is what is called “inwardness” (antar-mukha). Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known as “externalisation” (bahir-mukha). Thus, when the mind stays in the Heart, the ‘I’ which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine. Whatever one does, one should do without the egoity “I”. If one acts in that way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva (God).
Are there no other means for making the mind quiescent?
Other than inquiry, there are no adequate means. If through other means it is sought to control the mind, the mind will appear to be controlled, but will again go forth. Through the control of breath also, the mind will become quiescent; but it will be quiescent only so long as the breath remains controlled, and when the breath resumes the mind also will again start moving and will wander as impelled by residual impressions. The source is the same for both mind and breath. Thought, indeed, is the nature of the mind. The thought “I” is the first thought of the mind; and that is egoity. It is from that whence egoity originates that breath also originates. Therefore, when the mind becomes quiescent, the breath is controlled, and when the breath is controlled the mind becomes quiescent. But in deep sleep, although the mind becomes quiescent, the breath does not stop. This is because of the will of God, so that the body may be preserved and other people may not be under the impression that it is dead. In the state of waking and in Samadhi, when the mind becomes quiescent the breath is controlled. Breath is the gross form of mind. Till the time of death, the mind keeps breath in the body; and when the body dies the mind takes the breath along with it. Therefore, the exercise of breath-control is only an aid for rendering the mind quiescent (manonigraha); it will not destroy the mind (manonasa).
Like the practice of breath-control, meditation on the forms of God, repetition of Mantras, restriction on food, etc., are but aids for rendering the mind quiescent.
In 1938 Mercedes De Acosta visited the ashrama of Sri Ramana. While there she entered into an on and off discourse with the Maharshi. In her book Here Lies the Heart (1960), she writes the following regarding some of that discourse:
“I asked him how to pray for other people. He answered, ‘If you are abiding within the Self, there are no other people. You and I are the same. When I pray for you I pray for myself and when I pray for myself I pray for you. Real prayer is to abide within the Self. This is the Meaning of Tat Twam Asi — I Am Thou. There can be no separation in the Self. There is no need for prayer for yourself or any person other than to abide within the Self.’
“I said, ‘Bhagavan, you say that I am to take up the Search for the Self by Atman Vichara, asking myself the question Who Am I? I say I ask Who Are You?‘
“Bhagavan answered, “When you know the Self, the ‘I’ ‘You’ ‘He’ and ‘She’ disappear. They merge together in pure Consciousness.”
Interestingly enough, during her visit De Acosta met a man by the name of Guy Hague who was staying at the Ramana Ashram at the same time. Hague is often mentioned as being the real life role model for Larry Darrell, the main character on a spiritual quest for Enlightenment in the book by famed British author and playwright William Somerset Maugham, titled The Razor’s Edge. In the book Darrell meditates and studies under an Indian holy man Maugham calls Shri Ganesha that closely resembles Sri Ramana.
(From the works of: SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI)