Bhagavan once said to me: The one who limits the Self by believing himself to be the body and the mind has ‘killed’ his own Self. For killing the Self he has to be punished. The punishment is birth and death and continuous misery.
Q.: Is the ending of misery determined by prarabdha karma, or can we bring it nearer by personal effort?
Annamalai Swami: The misery comes to an end only by realizing the Self, not by any other means.
Q: Can this happen at any time?
AS: Here and now you are already the Self. You don’t need time to realize it, all you need is correct understanding. Each moment you identify yourself with the body and the mind, you are going in the direction of ego and misery. The moment you give up that identification, you are moving towards your real Self, towards happiness.
Q: … If I try to generate this feeling ‘I am the Self’’ it will not be the real thing. It will be just another idea in the mind. Can thinking about this idea really help me?
AS: When I say, ‘Meditate on the Self’ I am asking you to be the Self, not think about it. Be aware of what remains when thoughts stop. Be aware of the consciousness that is the origin of all your thoughts. Be that consciousness. Feel that this is what you really are. If you do this you are meditating on the Self. But if you cannot stabilize in that consciousness because your vasanas are too strong and too active, it is beneficial to hold onto the thought, ‘I am the Self; I am everything.’ If you meditate in this way you will not be cooperating with the vasanas that are blocking your Self-awareness. If you don’t cooperate with them, sooner or later they are bound to leave you.
If this method doesn’t appeal to you, then just watch the mind with full attention. Whenever the mind wanders, become aware of it. See how thoughts connect with each other and watch how this ghost called mind catches hold of all your thoughts, saying, ‘This is my thought.‘ Watch the ways of the mind without identifying with them in any way. If you give your mind your full, detached attention, you begin to understand the futility of all mental activities. Watch the mind wandering here and there, seeking out useless and unnecessary things or ideas, which will ultimately only create misery for itself. Watching the mind gives us a knowledge of its inner processes. It gives us an incentive to stay detached from all our thoughts. Ultimately, if we try hard enough, it gives us the ability to remain as consciousness, unaffected by transient thoughts.
– ‘Living by the Words of Bhagavan’, p. 283