Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi     483 posts


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Search for the source of the ‘I’-thought. That is all that one has to do. The universe exists on account of the ‘I’-thought (the false ‘I’). If that ends there is an end to misery also. The false ‘I’ will end only when its source is sought.

Again people often ask how the mind is controlled. I say to them, ‘Show me the mind and then you will know what to do.’ The fact is that the mind is only a bundle of thoughts. How can you extinguish it by the thought of doing so or by a desire? Your thoughts and desires are part and parcel of the mind. The mind is simply fattened by new thoughts rising up. Therefore it is foolish to attempt to kill the mind by means of the mind. The only way of doing it is to find its source and hold on to it. The mind will then fade away of its own accord. Yoga teaches Chitta Vritti Nirodha (control of the activities of the mind). But I say Atma Vichara (self-investigation). This is the practical way. Chitta Vritti Nirodha is brought about in sleep, swoon, or by starvation. As soon as the cause is withdrawn there is a recrudescence of thoughts. Of what use is it then? In the state of stupor there is peace and no misery. But misery recurs when the stupor is removed. So nirodha (control) is useless and cannot be of lasting benefit.

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Question : What about diet?
Ramana Maharshi : Food affects the mind. For the practice of any kind of yoga, vegetarianism is absolutely necessary since it makes the mind more sattvic [pure and harmonious].

Question : Could one receive spiritual illumination while eating flesh foods?
Ramana Maharshi : Yes, but abandon them gradually and accustom yourself to sattvic foods. However, once you have attained illumination it will make less difference what you eat, as, on a great fire, it is immaterial what fuel is added.

Question : We Europeans are accustomed to a particular diet and a change of diet affects the health and weakens the mind. Is it not necessary to keep up one's physical health?
Ramana Maharshi : Quite necessary. The weaker the body the stronger the mind grows.

Question : In the absence of our usual diet our health suffers and the mind loses strength.
Ramana Maharshi : What do you mean by strength of mind?

Question : The power to eliminate worldly attachment.
Ramana Maharshi : The quality of food influences the mind. The mind feeds on the food consumed.

Question : Really! Then how can Europeans adjust themselves to sattvic food only?
Ramana Maharshi : Habit is only adjustment to the environment. It is the mind that matters. The fact is that the mind has been trained to think certain foods tasty and good. The food material is to be had both in vegetarian and non-vegetarian diet equally well. But the mind desires such food as it is accustomed to and considers tasty.

Question : Are there restrictions for the realized man with regard to food?
Ramana Maharshi : No. He is steady and not influenced by the food he takes.

Question: Is it not killing life to prepare meat diet?
Ramana Maharshi : Ahimsa [non-violence] stands foremost in the code of discipline for the yogis.

Question : Even plants have life.
Ramana Maharshi : So too the slabs you sit on!

Question : May we gradually get ourselves accustomed to vegetarian food?
Ramana Maharshi : Yes. That is the way.

Question : Is it harmless to continue smoking?
Ramana Maharshi : No, for tobacco is a poison. It is better to do without it. It is good that you have given up smoking. Men are enslaved by tobacco and cannot give it up. But tobacco only gives a temporary stimulation to which there must be a reaction with craving for more. It is also not good for meditation practice.

Question : Do you recommend that meat and alcoholic drinks be given up?
Ramana Maharshi : It is advisable to give them up because this abstention is a useful aid for beginners. The difficulty in surrendering them does not arise because they are really necessary, but merely because we have become inured by custom and habit to them.

Question : Generally speaking, what are the rules of conduct which an aspirant should follow?
Ramana Maharshi : Moderation in food, moderation in sleep and moderation in speech.

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Ramana Maharshi on Obstacles on the Path

Question : When I try to be without all thoughts, I pass into sleep. What should I do about it?
Ramana Maharshi : Once you go to sleep you can do nothing in that state. But while you are awake, try to keep away all thoughts. Why think about sleep? Even that is a thought, is it not? If you are able to be without any thought while you are awake, that is enough. When you pass into sleep the state which you were in before falling asleep will continue when you wake up. You will continue from where you left off when you fell into slumber. So long as there are thoughts of activity there will also be sleep. Thought and sleep are counterparts of one and the same thing.

We should not sleep too much or go without it altogether, but sleep only moderately. To prevent too much sleep, we must try and have no thoughts or chalana [movement of the mind], we must eat only sattvic food and that only in moderate measure, and not indulge in too much physical activity. The more we control thought, activity and food the more we shall be able to control sleep.

But moderation ought to be the rule, as explained in the Gita, for the seeker on the path. Sleep is the first obstacle, as explained in the books, for all sadhaks. The second obstacle is said to be vikshepa or the sense objects of the world which divert one's attention. The third is said to be kashaya or thoughts in the mind about previous experiences with sense objects. The fourth, ananda [bliss], is also called an obstacle, because in that state a feeling of separation from the source of ananda, enabling the enjoyer to say `I am enjoying ananda', is present.

Even this has to be surmounted. The final stage of samadhi has to be reached in which one becomes ananda or one with reality. In this state the duality of enjoyer and enjoyment ceases in the ocean of sat-chit-ananda or the Self.

Question : So one should not try to perpetuate blissful or ecstatic states?
Ramana Maharshi : The final obstacle in meditation is ecstasy; you feel great bliss and happiness and want to stay in that ecstasy. Do not yield to it but pass on to the next stage which is great calm. The calm is higher than ecstasy and it merges into samadhi.

Successful samadhi causes a waking sleep state to supervene. In that state you know that you are always consciousness, for consciousness is your nature. Actually, one is always in samadhi but one does not know it. To know it all one has to do is to remove the obstacles.

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The attempts to destroy the ego or the mind through Sadhanas (spiritual practices) other than Atma-Vichara (self-enquiry) is just like the thief pretending to be a policeman to catch the thief, that is, himself. Atma-Vichara alone can reveal the truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists, and enable one to realise the pure, undifferentiated being of the Self or the absolute.

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Sri Ramana Maharshi: Attention to one’s own Self, which is ever shining as ‘I’, the one undivided and pure reality, is the only raft with which the individual, who is deluded by thinking ‘I am the body’, can cross the ocean of unending births.

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Reality is simply the loss of ego. Destroy the ego by seeking its identity. Because the ego is no entity it will automatically vanish and reality will shine forth by itself. This is the direct method, whereas all other methods are done only by retaining the ego. In those paths there arise so many doubts and the eternal question ‘Who am I?’ remains to be tackled finally. But in this method the final question is the only one and it is raised from the beginning. No Sadhanas are necessary for engaging in this quest.

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Bhagavan explains the difference between jnana-yoga (path of knowledge) and dhyana-yoga (path of meditation) thus: jnana is like subduing a self-willed bull by coaxing it with the help of a sheaf of green grass, while dhyana is like controlling it by using force. Just as there are eight limbs for dhyana-yoga, there are eight for jnana-yoga. The limbs of the latter are more proximate to the final stage than those of the former. For instance, while the pranayama of technical yoga consists in regulating and restraining breath, the pranayama that is a limb of jnana relates to rejecting the name-and-form world which is non-real and realizing the Real which is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

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Fixing their minds on psychic centres suchas the Sahasrara (the thousand petalled lotus Chakra), yogis remainany lengths of time without awareness of their bodies. As long asthis state continues, they appear to be immersed in some kind of joy.But when the mind, which has become tranquil emerges and becomesactive again it resumes its worldly thoughts. It is thereforenecessary to train it with the help of practices like Dhyana(meditation) whenever it becomes externalised. It will then attain astate in which there is neither subsistence nor emergence.Question:It is said that the Sakti manifests itself in five phases, tenphases, a hundred phases and a thousand phases. Which is true?SriRamana Maharshi: Sakti has only one phase. If it is said to manifestitself in several phases, it is only a way of speaking. The Sakti isonly one. Question: How to churn up the Nadis (psychic nerves) sothat the Kundalini may go up the Sushumna?Sri Ramana Maharshi: Thoughthe Yogi may have his methods of breath control for his object, theJnani's method is only that of enquiry. When by this method the mindis merged in the Self, the Sakti or Kundalini, which is not apartfrom the Self, rises automatically.The Yogis attach the highestimportance to sending the Kundalini up to the Sahasrara, the braincentre or the thousand petalled lotus. They point out the scripturalstatement that the life current enters the body through thefontanelle and argue that, Viyoga (separation) having come about thatway, yoga (union) must also be effected in the reverse way. Therefore,they say, we must, by yoga practice, gather up the Pranas (vitalforce) and enter the fontanelle for the consummation of yoga. TheJnanis on the other hand point out that the yogi assumes theexistence of the body and its separateness from the Self. Only ifthis standpoint of separateness is adopted can the yogi advise effortfor reunion by the practice of yoga.In fact the body is in the mindwhich has the brain for its seat. That the brain functions by lightborrowed from another source is admitted by the yogis themselves intheir fontanelle theory. The Jnani further argues: if the light isborrowed it must come from its native source. Go to the source directand do not depend on borrowed sources. That source is the Heart, theSelf.The Self does not come from anywhere else and enter the bodythrough the crown of the head. It is as it is, ever sparkling, eversteady, unmoving and unchanging. The individual confines himself tothe limits of the changeful body or of the mind which derives itsexistence from the unchanging Self. All that is necessary is to giveup this mistaken identity, and that done, the ever shining Self willbe seen to be the single non-dual reality.If one concentrates on theSahasrara there is no doubt that the ecstasy of Samadhi ensues. TheVasanas, that is the latent mental tendencies, are not howeverdestroyed. The yogi is therefore bound to wake up from the Samadhibecause release from bondage has not yet been accomplished. He muststill try to eradicate the Vasanas inherent in him so that they ceaseto disturb the peace of his Samadhi. So he passes down from theSahasrara to the Heart through what is called the Jivanadi, which isonly a continuation of the Sushumna. The Sushumna is thus a curve. Itstarts from the lowest Chakra, rises through the spinal cord to thebrain and from there bends down and ends in the Heart. When the yogihas reached the Heart, the Samadhi becomes permanent. Thus we seethat the Heart is the final centre.[Note: Commentary by David Godman:Sri Ramana Maharshi never advised his devotees to parctise KundaliniYoga since he regarded it as being both potentially dangerous andunnecessary. He accepted the existence of the Kundalini power and theChakras but he said that even if the Kundalini reached the Sahsrara itwould not result in realisation. For final realisation, he said, theKundalini must go beyond the Sahasrara, down another Nadi (psychicnerve) he called Amritanadi (also called the Paranadi or Jivanadi)and into the Heart-centre on the right hand side of the chest. Sincehe maintained that self-enquiry would automatically send theKundalini to the Heart-centre, he taught that separate yoga exerciseswere unnecessary.The practitioners of Kundalini Yoga concentrate onpsychic centres (Chakras) in the body in order to generate aspiritual power they call Kundalini. The aim of this practice is toforce the Kundalini up the psychic channel (the Sushumna) which runsfrom the base of the spine to the brain. The Kundalini Yogi believesthat when this power reaches the Sahasrara (the highest Chakralocated in the brain), Self-realisation will result.Sri RamanaMaharshi taught that the Self is reached by the search for the originof the ego and by diving into the Heart. This is the direct method ofSelf-realisation. One who adopts it need not worry about Nadis, thebrain centre (Sahasrara), the Sushumna, the Paranadi, the Kundalini,Pranayama or the six centres(Chakras)

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Who is the Adhikari, i.e., the person competent to launch on this Atma Vichara, the Self-quest? Can anyone judge for himself if he has the necessary competency?

Maharshi: He whose mind has been purified through upasana [worship] and other means or by merit acquired in past lives, who perceives the imperfections of the body and sense-objects, and feels utter distaste whenever his mind has to function among sense-objects and who realises that the body is impermanent, he is said to be a fit person for self-enquiry.

By these two signs, that is by a sense of the transitoriness of the body and by non-attachment to sense-objects, one’s own fitness for self-enquiry can be known. (Sri Ramana Gita, chapter 7, verses 8, 9, 10, 11)

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SELF-ENQUIRY

Bhagavan: To ask the mind to kill the mind is like making thethief the policeman. He will go with you and pretend to catch... See Morethe thief, but nothing will be gained. So, you must turn inwardand see where the mind rises from and then it will cease toexist. B.: Of course, we are employing the mind. It is well knownand admitted that only with the help of the mind, can the mindbe killed. But instead of setting about saying there is a mindand I want to kill it, you begin to seek its source, and then youfind it does not exist at all. The mind turned outwards results inthoughts and objects. Turned inwards it becomes itself the Self.

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Q: What is the dif f erence between meditation [dhyana] and
investigation [vichara]?
A: Both amount to the same. Those unfit for investigation
must practise meditation. In meditation the aspirant forgetting
himself meditates 'I am Brahman' or 'I am Siva' and by this
method holds on to Brahman or Siva. This will ultimately end
with the residual awareness of Brahman or Siva as being. He will
then realise that this is pure being, that is, the Self.
He who engages in investigation starts by holding on to
himself, and by asking himself 'Who am I?' the Self becomes clear
to him.4
Mentally imagining oneself to be the supreme reality, which
shines as existence-conscious ness-bliss, is meditation. Fixing the
mind in the Self so that the unreal seed of delusion will die is
enquiry.
Whoever meditates upon the Self in whatever bhava [mental
image] attains it only in that image. Those
peaceful ones who
remain quiet without any such bhava attam the noble and
unqualified state of kaivalya, the formless state of the Self.
Q: Meditation is more direct than mvesttgatton because the
former holds on to the truth whereas the latter sifts the truth from
the untruth.
A: For the beginner meditation on a form is more easy and
agreeable. Practice of it leads to self-enquiry which consists in
sifting the reality from unreality. .
What is the use of holding on to truth when you are filled with
antagonistic factors? . . .
Self-enquiry directly leads to realIsation by removmg the
obstacles which make you think that the Self is not already
realised.6
Meditation differs according to the degree of advancement of
the seeker. If one is fit for it one might directly hold on to the
thinker, and the thinker will then automatically sink into his
source, pure consciousness. . .
If one cannot directly hold on to the thmker one must meditate
on God and in due course the same individual will have become
sufficiently pure to hold on to the thinker and to sink into
absolute being? . .
Meditation is possible only if the ego IS kept up. There IS the
ego and the object meditated upon. The method IS therefore
ndirect because the Self is only one. Seekmg the ego, that IS Its
source, the ego disappears. What is left over is the Self. This
method is the direct one.


From the Book "Be as You Are" The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
page 116.

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Jnana is given neither from outside nor from another person. It can be realised by each and everyone in his own Heart. The jnana Guru of everyone is only the Supreme Self that is always revealing its own truth in every Heart through the being-conciousness 'I am, I am.' The granting of true knowledge by him is initiation into jnana. The grace of the Guru is only that Self-awareness that is one's own true nature. It is the inner conciousness by which he is unceasingly revealing his existence. This divine upadesa is always going on naturally in everyone.

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All metaphysical discussion is profitless unless it causes us to seek within the Self for the true reality. All controversies about creation, the nature of the universe, evolution, the purpose of God, etc., are useless. They are not conducive to our true happiness. People try to find out about things which are outside of them before they try to find out “Who am I?” Only by the latter means can happiness be gained.

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Correcting oneself is correcting the whole world. The sun is simply bright. It does not correct anyone. Because it shines, the whole world is full of light. Transforming yourself is a means of giving light to the whole world.

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Mind is consciousness which has put on limitations. You are originally unlimited and perfect. Later you take on limitations and become the mind.

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