Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi     716 posts


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CONSTANT MEDITATION

As for happiness, it is one's essential nature. All suffering and misery pertain only to the body. If you do not identify yourself with the body, then the problem is not there.
Remember that the next breath may be your last and focus all your energies on self-enquiry.

Unless your spiritual practices are constant and steady, the tendency for action or inaction will gain the upper hand. You should, by effort counter these tendencies and try to remain in a state of equilibrium.
In such a state, there is only peace and perfect contentment. As the spells of equilibrium increase through constant meditation, then, happiness is felt more and more.

— N.N.Rajan, ‘More Talks With Ramana Maharshi’ p. 103

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YOU ARE THAT WHICH NEVER MOVES

One day Bhagavan was looking at me intently and said:
“It looks as if you are still hankering
after meditation.”

I replied: “What have I got except endless work in the kitchen?”

Bhagavan said with deep feeling:
“Your hands may do the work but your mind can remain still. You are that which never moves. Realize that and you will find that work is not a strain. But as long as you think that you are the body and that the work is done by you, you will feel your life to be an endless toil.
In fact it is the mind that toils, not the body. Even if your body keeps quiet, will your mind keep quiet too?
Even in sleep the mind is busy with its dreams.”

I replied : “Yes, Swami, it is as natural for you to know that you are not your body as it is for us to think that we are the body.... Why can’t I remember always that I am not the body?”

“Because you haven’t had enough of it.”
He smiled.

—from Ramana Smriti.
The Maharshi.
MAR/APR 2002 VOL. 12, NO. 2

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THE JNANI AND THE SIDDHA

One day, while speaking about hatha yoga and related subjects, Sri Bhagavan narrated the following story from Prabhulingalila, a well-known Tamil work by the Sage Sivaprakasa Swamigal.

PRABHULINGA, THE FOUNDER of the Lingayat sect (now mostly prevalent in Karnataka State only), was touring the land for the uplift of the spiritually minded. He met the famous Yogi Gorakhnath in Gokarnam (a famous place of Hindu pilgrimage on the west coast of India). The yogi welcomed him respectfully, but was however, proudly conscious of his own extraordinary powers over the elements. He considered his guest more or less his equal, expressed pleasure at meeting him, and upon greeting him, asked who he was.

Prabhulinga replied that only the One who had destroyed his ego, root and branch, and who had thereby realized himself could know who he was, and wondered what he could say to a non-entity, a person, who clung to his perishable body.

Gorakhnath, who identified his body as himself, replied, “That person alone who has gained the immortality of the body, by the favor of Siva and consumption of gulikas (medicinal herbs), will never die.
Therefore one who had not gained such immortality dies.”

Prabhulinga remarked that knowledge consists in realizing one’s Self and not in immortalizing the body and went on to explain at length that the body cannot be the real Self. However, Gorakhnath could not be persuaded and would not budge an inch from his ground; he proudly challenged Prabhulinga to try cutting his body, handing him a long, bright and sharp sword. When the sword struck the body of Gorakhnath, it caused him no injury but was itself blunted.

Prabhulinga feigned surprise, and asked Gorakhnath to try cutting his body. At first Gorakhnath hesitated to do so saying that Prabhulinga would die. But when Prabhulinga insisted, he took up the sword and tried to cut his body. To the great surprise of Gorakhnath, the sword passed easily through the body of Prabhulinga without affecting it in any way. It was as if the sword was passing through empty space!

Only then was Gorakhnath, the Siddha, ready to acknowledge the superiority of Prabhulinga, the Jnani. Thus his pride was humbled, and he prayed to Prabhulinga, to teach him the truth. Prabhulinga then expounded Brahma vidya to Gorakhnath as follows: “Gorakhnath, do not think your body to be your Self. Seek the In-dweller (the cave-dweller) and you will once for all rid yourself of the disease of birth and death. The cave is your heart only, the In-dweller thereof is called God and I am That.”

Spiritual Stories as told by Ramana Maharshi

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The entire Universe is condensed in the body, and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the whole Universe.

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DHARMA

Q: What is the fruit of one’s life?

Bhagavan: If a person understands that he must conduct himself according to the true principles of life, that itself is the fruit of great tapas (spiritual practice) done in his previous life. Those who do not think in this way are merely wasting their time.

— Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 246

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GANDHI'S VISIT TO ARUNACHALA

ANNAMALAI SWAMI REMEMBERED
ASHRAM LIFE,
part 5

Gandhi's visit

In the 1930s Mahatma Gandhi came to Tiruvannamalai to make a political speech. Since the organizers had selected a piece of open ground about 400 yards from the ashram as the location for the event, many people in the ashram had hopes that the Mahatma would also pay a call on Bhagavan.

When the day of the speech came, I, along with many other devotees, waited at the ashram gate in the hope of catching a glimpse of Gandhi as he drove past. When he finally passed us he was very easy to spot because he was being driven to the meeting in an open car. Rajagopalachari, a leading Congress politician who had organized this South Indian speaking tour, was sitting next to Gandhi in the car. As the car was moving very slowly I ran alongside it and saluted Gandhi by putting my palms together above my head. To my astonishment and delight Gandhi returned my greeting by making the same gesture. The car stopped for a few moments near the ashram gate but it started again when Rajagopalachari gestured to the driver that he should drive on and not enter the ashram.

Rajagopalachari later became chief minister of the Madras Presidency, a region that included most of South India. After independence he became the first Indian to hold the office of Governor-general.

One of the ashram's residents, T.K. Sundaresa lyer, went to the meeting and presented Gandhi with two books: Aksharamanamdlai and Ramana Sannidhi Murai. As he was presenting the books he quoted a verse from Aksharamanamalai: '0 Arunachala! Gem of awareness, shining in all creatures low or high, destroy the meanness in my heart.' Gandhi auctioned the books and gave the proceeds to a harijan welfare fund.

Aksharamanamalai is a long poem by Bhagavan in praise of Arunachala. Ramana Sannidhi Murai, written by Muruganar, is a collection of poems which praise Bhagavan.

After the meeting was over I went to the hall and told Bhagavan the story of how Gandhi had greeted me on the road. I also mentioned that Rajagopalachari had made the driver go straight to the meeting, thus denying Gandhi a chance to make^a brief visit to the ashram. Bhagavan replied with a very interesting comment.

'Gandhi would like to come here but Rajagopalachari was worried about the consequences. Because he knows that Gandhi is an advanced soul, he fears that he might go into samadhi here and forget all about politics. That is why-he gestured to the driver to drive on.'

A few days later, when Gandhi was in Madras, Krishnaswami went to see him and managed to get an interview with him. When he introduced himself to Gandhi as a resident of Sri Ramanasramam, Gandhi remarked, 'l would love to come and see Bhagavan but I don't know when the time will come'.

One or two of Bhagavan's devotees who attended Gandhi's meeting have reported that Gandhi did make a serious attempt to visit Bhagavan. He cut his speech, which was originally scheduled for ten minutes, to about five minutes in the hope of using the extra time to make a quick visit to the ashram. However, Rajagopalachari, who had a long-standing dislike of Bhagavan, dissuaded him from making the visit. After a few minutes discussion during which Rajagopalachari made it quite clear that he was completely opposed to the visit, Gandhi backed down and allowed himself to be driven to the next political meeting.

Rajagopalachari openly expressed his disapproval of Bhagavan. When one of Bhagavan's devotees called Amritanatha Yatendra once paid a call on Gandhi, Gandhi made a few polite inquiries about Bhagavan.

Rajagopalachari, who was also present, turned to Nehru, the future Prime Minister, and said, 'What is the point of sitting in a cave in a kaupina [loincloth] when the country has so many problems and Gandhi is being put in jail for struggling for independence?' Gandhi turned to him and put his finger to his lips to indicate that he should not criticize in this way.

Although Gandhi continued to express an interest in seeing Bhagavan, he never came to Tiruvannamalai again.

— Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 101

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ANNAMALAI SWAMI REMEMBERED
ASHRAM LIFE,
part 4

Bhagavan would also occasionally get angry with other ashram workers if they deliberately disobeyed him. There was an office worker called Mauni Srinivasa Rao who once incurred Bhagavan's displeasure by trying to override his instructions. One of Mauni Srinivasa Rao's jobs was to draft replies to all the spiritual queries which came to the ashram by post. These first drafts would be shown to Bhagavan, who would then scrutinize them and make all necessary corrections. On one occasion,

Mauni Srinivasa Rao refused to accept that Bhagavan's corrections were definitive. He corrected Bhagavan's alterations and sent the letter back to the hall. Bhagavan went through the letter for the second time, deleting all the corrections which had been added by Mauni Srinivasa Rao. When the letter went back to the office, Mauni

Srinivasa Rao again altered some of Bhagavan's corrections. He brought the new draft to the hall and tried to get Bhagavan to read it, but Bhagavan refused even to look at it.

Instead, he threw the letter at Mauni Srinivasa Rao and said, very angrily, 'You do what you like!'

Sometimes Bhagavan showed his displeasure in more subtle ways. One night, after the evening meal, there was a big quarrel in the dining room which resulted in Subramaniam Swami hitting Krishnaswami in the face. Krishnaswami immediately went and complained to Bhagavan but Bhagavan appeared to take no interest in the matter.

Someone had paid for a big bhiksha for the following day, which meant a lot of work for everyone in the kitchen. Ordinarily, Bhagavan would have come to the kitchen at 3 a.m. to help Subramaniam to cut the vegetables but that morning he remained in the hall and made Subramaniam do all the work by himself. Subramaniam spent the first two hours wondering why Bhagavan was late but eventually he realized that he was being punished for attacking Krishnaswami. Bhagavan confirmed his theory by refusing to talk to him, or even look at him, for the rest of that day. Although Subramaniam worked full-time in the ashram, it was well-known that he had little interest in the spiritual life. Once, while Bhagavan was talking to me in the hall about the unreality of the world; Subramaniam Swami came in and listened for a while. After a few minutes, he interrupted by saying, 'How to make the world disappear from the mind?

Bhagavan, knowing that he had no real interest in spiritual matters, responded to his query by saying, 'Go and swallow a ball of ganja [cannabis]. That will make the world disappear.' And then he carried on talking to me.

Bhagavan always discouraged people from taking ganja but in this case, his flippant reply was rather appropriate. Both Subramaniam and his father were ganja users and neither of them had any serious interest in spiritual matters.

— Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 99

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A CINEMA SHOW

The body thought is a distraction from the Self. For whom is the body or birth? It is not for the Self, the spirit. It is for the non-self which imagines itself separate.
Just as a miser keeps his treasures always to himself and never parts with them, so the Self safeguards the vasanas in that which is closest to itself, i.e. within the Heart.

The Heart radiates vitality to the brain and thus causes it to function. The vasanas are enclosed in the Heart in their subtlest form and later projected on the brain, which reflects them with high magnification.

This is how the world is made to go on and this is why the world is nothing more than a cinema show.

— Conscious Immortality

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Weaning His Child

Annamalai Swami was born in 1905, November 14th and came to Sri Ramana in 1929 after leaving his family and home. Bhagavan was his god and guru who guided him day after day. Soon he was asked to supervise the constructions of all the main buildings that were started at that time. Besides being a strenuous task in itself – he was allowed to have an umbrella and sandals – Bhagavan used the constellation for a training ground for Annamalai and Bhagavan’s brother Chinnaswami, who was called the ‘sarvadhikari’ which means ‘Ruler over all’. The ashram needed a manager that could assert himself and many were afraid of his strict ways. Throughout his years of service, Bhagavan arranged it in such a way that Chinnaswami’s plans were changed by Annamalai Swami. After instructing him very detailed, Bhagavan always ended: ‘If Chinnaswami comes and argues with you about this plan, don’t tell him that I asked you to work like this. Pretend that you are doing it on your own authority.’ Of course, this led each time to a big clash.

After serving in this challenging way for more than a decade Bhagavan embraced Annamalai seemingly in jest. This triggered a deep experience of the Self and ended the working phase in the ashram for him. He moved to Palakottu, as sadhu-colony close by and began an intensive meditative life that finally culminated in the realization of the Self. The following touching narration tells how Bhagavan severed the outer relationship between them.

‘These nightly visits were a special time for me. Whenever I visited him Bhagavan would always talk to me with a lot of love and affection. Unfortunately, as I was soon to discover, this period of my life was drawing to a close.

A few days later, when I entered the hall, Bhagavan covered his head and face with a dhoti and refused to look at me. This was very unusual. He normally greeted me with a few friendly words whenever I entered the hall. He behaved in exactly the same way on the two nights that followed.

On the third day, I asked him, ‘Why is Bhagavan covering his face like a Muslim woman every time I come into the hall? Does this mean that I should not come anymore?’

Bhagavan replied, rather cynically, ‘I am just behaving like Siva. Why are you talking to me?’

The first sentence of Bhagavan’s answer is a literal translation of a phrase which has the more general meaning, ‘I am sitting here, just minding my own business.’
I took this to be an indication that Bhagavan didn’t want me to come to see him anymore. I walked out of the hall and stood under a tree. After some time Bhagavan called me back into the hall. I noticed that there was no one else there at the time.
‘Are you an atheist who has no belief in God?’ asked Bhagavan.

I was too puzzled to make a reply.

‘If one has no faith in God,’ Bhagavan eventually continued, ‘one will commit a lot of sins and be miserable. But you, you are a mature devotee. When the mind has attained maturity, in that mature state, if one thinks that one is separate from God, one will fall into the same state as an atheist who has no belief in God.

‘You are a mature sadhaka [spiritual seeker]. It is not necessary for you to come here anymore. Stay in Palakottu and do your meditation there. Try to efface the notion that you are different from God.’

I left the ashram and never went back again. Although my room is only about 200 yards from the ashram gate, I have not visited the ashram once since that fateful day in the 1940s.

About twenty days later, as Bhagavan was walking in Palakottu, he came up to me, smiled and said,
‘I have come for your darshan’. I was quite shocked to hear Bhagavan speak like this even though I knew he was joking.

When I asked him for an explanation he said, ‘You have obeyed my words. You are living simply and humbly as I have taught. Is this not great?’

Though Bhagavan had asked me not to come to the ashram any more, I still thought that I had the freedom to talk to him when he visited Palakottu. Bhagavan disabused me of this notion shortly afterwards when I went to see him while he was walking on the hill.

He turned to me and said, ‘You are happier than I. What you had to give you have given. What I had to give I have given. Why are you still coming to see me?’
These were his last words to me. I obeyed his instructions and never approached him again. I still had Bhagavan’s darshan when he came on his daily walk to Palakottu but we never spoke to each other again. If we met accidentally he would walk past me, without acknowledging my presence.

Bhagavan had once told me: ‘Do not cling to the form of the Guru, for this will perish; do not cling to his feet for his attendants will stop you. The true Bhagavan resides in your Heart as your own Self. This is who I truly am.’

By severing the personal link between us, Bhagavan was trying to make me aware of him as he really is. Bhagavan had frequently told me that I should not attach a name and form to the Self or regard it in any way as a personal being.

Bhagavan gave me his grace and then severed the personal relationship between us. The bond of love and devotion was not separated; it was just restricted to the mind and the heart.

When Bhagavan became very sick at the end of the 1940s I was sorely tempted to visit him. I never succumbed because I knew that Bhagavan had instructed to stay away from his outer presence. Some people who were not aware of what Bhagavan had had told me (criticized this):

‘Annamalai Swami served Bhagavan for a long time’, they said, ‘but he is not coming to see Bhagavan now that Bhagavan is seriously ill.’

Bhagavan remarked, ‘He is the one who is not causing any trouble.’

Then he added, ‘You people are here but your minds are elsewhere. He is elsewhere but his mind is here. ‘

In the years that followed I tried to remain in contact with the real Bhagavan, the Bhagavan who exists eternally in the heart.’

- Living by the words of Bhagavan

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ANNAMALAI SWAMI REMEMBERED

Ashram Animals, part 8

Bhagavan's compassion towards animals did not extend to all the members of the insect kingdom, for he seemed quite happy to permit insects to be killed if they were causing a nuisance.

One morning, for example, shortly before lunch, Bhagavan noticed that a large number of black ants were entering the hall through the drainage hole.
Indian stone or cement floors are regularly washed with water. In such rooms, there will be a small drainage hole, about an inch in diameter, at the junction of one of the walls and the floor. Many floors are slightly tilted so that water naturally drains towards this hole.

Turning to me Bhagavan said, 'Find out where these ants are coming from. If there is a nest in there, block up the exit so that the ants cannot come into the hall. You must do this work quickly because all the devotees will be coming back at 3 p.m.'

I prized out the flagstone that the drainage hole was on. As I pulled the stone out of the wall (a few inches of it were embedded there) I saw a large colony of black ants living in a hole behind it. The ants reacted to their discovery by pouring out into the hall.

Some of them even started to swarm over Bhagavan's sofa. There were so many on the floor around my feet that I couldn't have taken a step without killing some of them. Bhagavan noticed that I had been immobilized by my fear of unnecessarily killing any ants.

'Why are you just standing there and looking at them?' asked
Bhagavan. 'You must clop ip the hole before the devotees come back. Tell me what you need to finish the job properly. Whatever you need—mud, water, bricks—tell me and I shall bring it for you.'

As I was much too worried about killing some of the ants to give Bhagavan an answer, Bhagavan repeated his offer: Tell me what you want and I shall go and fetch it for you. Shall I bring some broken bricks and a little cement?'

This time I managed to explain my inactivity.

'There are ants everywhere, Bhagavan. I cannot move or do any work without killing some of them.'

Bhagavan dismissed my excuse. 'What is sin?' he asked. 'Is it you who are doing this? You are doing something that is for the good of everyone. If you give up the idea "I am doing this," then you will not have any trouble. This is not something that you have decided to do yourself. You are only doing this because I am asking you to do it.'

Bhagavan could sense that I was still reluctant to tread on any of the ants so he tried a different approach.

'In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna asked Arjuna to kill his enemies. When Arjuna hesitated Krishna explained that he had already decided that these people were to die. Arjuna would be merely the tool which would carry out the divine will. Likewise, because I am telling you to do this work, no papam [the karmic consequences of performing immoral acts] will come to you.'

When Bhagavan had given me this assurance I filled in the hole with bricks and cement. Many ants died in the process.

I discovered later that Bhagavan generally discouraged devotees from killing insects unless they were causing, or about to cause, injury or suffering to people or animals. However, if they were causing a problem, he had no compunction about killing them. I once saw Bhagavan take unni [blood-sucking insects] off one of the ashram dogs and kill them by throwing them into the burning charcoal in his kumutti.

A devotee who was watching asked, 'Is it not a sin to kill insects like this?'
Ramaswami Pillai, who used to take insects off dogs and kill them in the same way, justified the activity by telling a story about Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
'It seems,' he said, 'that one of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's devotees was wondering whether it was as a sin to kill bedbugs. He went to ask Sri Ramakrishna about this. When he got there he found Sri Ramakrishna killing the bedbugs in his own bed. The devotee's question was thus answered by a direct demonstration.'

Bhagavan did not answer the questioner himself, but when Ramaswami Pillai had completed his story he nodded his head and said 'Yes'.

On another occasion, when a visitor maintained that one should not kill any kind of insect life, Bhagavan replied, 'If you cook and cut vegetables, you cannot avoid killing a few insects. If you think that killing worms is a sin, then you cannot eat vegetables.'
If Bhagavan saw people deliberately killing harmless insects he would usually show some sign of disapproval. One day, for example a small brahmin boy came to the hall and began to catch and kill flies just to amuse himself. He would clap his hands together and squash the flies between his palms.

Bhagavan told him, 'Don't attack the flies like this. It is a sin.' Unperturbed, the boy replied with what he thought was a teIling counter-argument: 'You have killed a six-feet-long tiger and you are sitting on the skin. Is this not also a sin?'

Bhagavan laughed and let the matter drop.

Other people occasionally asked Bhagavan why he chose to sit on a tiger skin. Most of them felt that he was condoning the killing of tigers by sitting on their skins.

Bhagavan would usually reply that the skins had come to the ashram us unsolicited gifts and that he had not asked that any tigers be killed on his behalf.

Bhagavan strongly opposed the killing of all the higher lifeforms. He gave orders that even snakes and scorpions should not be killed in the ashram. The general rule seemed to be: insects could be killed if they were causing pain or were potentially harmful, but all higher forms of life, including dangerous and poisonous animals, were sacrosanct.

— Living by the words of Bhagavan, p. 93 ff.

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THE UNIVERSE EXISTS WITHIN THE SELF

Q: What is existence?

M: It is subject to birth and decay in order to remind us that it is not our true state.
The universe exists within the Self. Therefore it is real, but only because it obtains its reality from the Self. We call it unreal, however, to indicate its changing appearance and transient form, whereas we call the Self real because it is changeless.
After realization, the body and all else does not appear different from the Self.

— Conscious Immortality

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People call me Maharshi and treat me like this.
But I do not see myself as a Maharshi.
On the other hand, everyone is a Maharshi for me.
— Talks 258

"To the ordinary man, even Buddha is ordinary.
But to a Buddha, everyone is a Buddha."
— The 6th Zen Patriarch Hui Neng

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The more we control thought, activity and food, the more we will be able to control sleep. But moderation ought to be the rule for the sadhak (aspirant), as explained in the Gita.

As explained in the Gita, sleep is the first obstacle for all sadhakas.
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 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, and the final stage of samadhana or samadhi has to be reached, where one becomes ananda, or One with the Reality, and the duality of enjoyer and enjoyment ceases
in the ocean of Satchidananda
(Existence-Consciousness-Bliss)
or the Self.

— The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharishi summarized by A. DEVARAJA MUDALIAR as a book: GEMS FROM BHAGAVAN.
Chapter VIII. SELF-REALIZATIO

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Having once experienced the bliss of peace no one wants to be out of it or engage in any other activity.

— Be as you are

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While doing the work Sri Bhagavan had a way of teaching the highest wisdom through homely, casual remarks.
One night, when a vegetable grown in England was being cut, a worker remarked, 'How nice it would be if this vegetable could be grown in our ashram garden!'
At once Sri Bhagavan retorted, saying, 'Where do you think it was grown? That was also our garden. Otherwise how could we get it? Indeed, all the gardens in the world are our ashram gardens.'

One morning, at around 3 a.m., we were all with Sri Bhagavan in the grinding room. I was called away and told that some people were waiting for me near he hall. I found that they were a party of women and children from Nayudupet. They were starting to go round the hill and wanted Sri Bhagavan's darshan and blessings. I curtly told them that it was impossible to see Sri Bhagavan at that hour, and I went back into the kitchen. Sri Bhagavan asked me who had called me away.

When he heard my story he said, 'Poor people! Why should they go away disappointed? Tell them to come to the back door and I shall meet them there.'
I informed them and they ran there. Sri Bhagavan stood on the doorstep, with no attendant in the way. The whole party fell at his feet, kissed them and bathed them with their tears. In short, they seemed to loot and plunder his grace while he looked on, beaming with benignity. I envied the good luck of the party and realized the full force of calling Sri Bhagavan karuna purna sudhabdhi [the nectarous ocean of grace].

Sri Bhagavan would mostly refuse when people asked if they could offer their services in be kitchen or in other areas where it was possible to have personal contact with him, so we knew how lucky we were to be allowed to work with him in the kitchen. A few days later Rao Bahadur A. S. Krishna Rao, a veteran lawyer and statesman of Nellore, came for Sri Bhagavan's darshan. After relating all the details of his career, he said that his one remaining desire was to do service at the feet of great souls like Maharshi and to attain salvation. He prayed for Sri Bhagavan's advice and guidance.

Sri Bhagavan told him, 'What service can you do at your age? You need not go out and do anything. Just cling steadfastly to the thought, "I must attain salvation", and that itself will lead you to salvation.'

— The Power of the Presence, III, p. 149 ff
G.V. SUBBARAMAYYA,
part 35

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SELF-REMEMBRANCE

Remembering the Self, one’s real nature, without faltering even slightly, is the eminent victory of true jnana.

With your consciousness hold fast to and never abandon the substratum, your real nature, the Supreme that can neither be held nor relinquished.

Is the Self something far away that you have to touch? The higher Self exists as one but it is only your thoughts that make you feel it is not.

You can neither think about it nor forget it.

Other than the thought of the Self, any other thought you may associate with is a mere mental construct, foreign to that Self.

Thinking of the Self is to abide as that tranquil consciousness. Padam, the true swarupa, can neither be remembered nor forgotten.

The Self is self-luminous without darkness and light and is the reality which is self-manifest. Therefore, one should not think of it as this or that.

All such thoughts would only end in bondage. The purport of meditation on the Self is to make the mind take the ‘form’ of the Self. In the middle of the heart-cave is the pure Brahman directly manifest as the Self in the form of ‘I-I’. Can there be greater ignorance than to think of It in manifold ways, without knowing it as aforementioned?

— Padamalai

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ANNAMALAI SWAMI REMEMBERED
Ashram Food, part 5

Echammal

Bhagavan had an ulterior motive in trying to prevent Echammal from bringing food. Although she was a good devotee, she was a very bad cook. Her standard offering of rice and dhal would always be under-cooked, and more often than not it would be permeated with rancid ghee [clarified butter]. Each day she would present this rather unappetizing mixture to Bhagavan in the form of a compressed ball. It was usually so under-cooked that Bhagavan often had difficulty in breaking it down into pieces that were small enough to swallow. About an hour after eating this food Bhagavan would have digestion problems. He would rub his stomach and make loud groaning noises.

If anyone asked him what the trouble was he would say, 'It is my destiny to suffer like this'.

The attendants tried many times to persuade Echammal to cook her food properly, and to use fresh instead of rancid ghee, but she never paid any attention. Bhagavan himself asked her on several occasions to stop bringing this food but she was a stubborn woman who rarely listened to anyone. 'If you force me to stop,' she told Bhagavan, 'I will commit suicide. Then my death will be your responsibility.'

Bhagavan accepted defeat. 'What can I do?' he asked. 'It must be my destiny to eat this food.'

Although Bhagavan requested Echammal to stop bringing food on several occasions, he was not in favor of issuing a formal ban.

When Chinnaswami once forbade her from bringing food, in the interests of Bhagavan's health, Bhagavan refused to enter the dining room when the bell for the midday meal was rung. He never gave any reason but the devotees soon surmised that he was protesting against the ban on Echammal. Echammal by this time had gone back to town, so a delegation of devotees was despatched to fetch her. At first, she was unwilling to come, since she was still angry with the ashram management, but when it was pointed out to her that Bhagavan would probably starve unless she came in person, she agreed to come and break the impasse. When she requested Bhagavan to go to the dining room and eat, he got up and went for his meal. No one in the previous hour had managed to persuade him to move from the old hall. After this incident, Echamma's serving rights were never challenged again.

Echammal continued to serve food but Bhagavan would always look at her in a very disapproving way whenever she approached him in the dining room.

- Living by the words of Bhagavan, p. 74

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REALIZATION IS NOT CONCEPTUAL
Q.: It is possible that I have unwittingly already Realized, but do not realize that fact, so to speak?
Bhagavan: Impossible.
Q.: What does the practice of vichara feel like whilst one is actually engaged in it?
B.: Go on seeing, "What is this 'me'?'. But doing it intellectually is not the right way.
Q.: All mental activity does involve the intellect.
B.: Yes. This is cessation of mental activity. Realization is not 'you' attaining to some exalted state. Realization is the irreversible death of 'you'.
Q.: You mean death of the ego: for I am the Self, and cannot die.
B.: It is precisely this wretched misunderstanding that causes so many sadhakas to go astray.
Q.: I don't understand.
B.: You are the ego until the ego has been destroyed. What is the use of intellectually denying the existence of the ego while still remaining as it? Why falsely arrogate yourself to the status of being the Heart? Is it the Heart who is talking to me now?
Q.: Am I not the Self?
B.: Whose self are you?
Q.: I am the Self of myself.
B.: Is there, or is there not, in you an intermediary entity subsisting on thought forms?
Q.: Yes. Thoughts come. But they are not apart from the Self: that is what I tell myself.
B.: No, that is not the way.
Q.: What am I doing wrong? Please tell me.
B.: You are still operating on the plane of the intellect.
Q.: Tell me how I can get past it.
B.: 'I' cannot get past it. 'I' is 'it'.
Q.: So I should learn to overcome myself?
B.: No. Learn to subside into the actual Self.
Q.: But how?
B.: Resign yourself to pure Subjective Consciousness.
Q.: Effort is needed to remain in that state. There is the one that makes the effort, his presence is unavoidable.
B.: Yes; the aham-vritti can only be further and further attenuated, but can never be completely destroyed by effort because the one making that effort still remains.
However, when a certain critical radius of introversion is reached, the Heart reaches over and pulls you inside, finishing the job. In order for this to happen, however, the aham-vritti should be reduced into a single, infinitesimal, dimension-bereft point. The aham-vritti can finally be torpefied into this point-like form only by means of deploying a Sadhana in which the one making the effort is the same as that in relation to which the effort is made. There is only one such Sadhana: Who am I?.
'I' is not merely a thought. It is a deeply entrenched idea, which thus requires a deep incision to uproot. Therefore, the wisest thing for one to do is to catch hold of this foundational thought, the 'I'-thought, and vivisect it - what is this "me"? - giving thereby no chance to other thoughts to distract one. There lies the true value of the vichara and its efficacy in getting rid of the mind.

— Aham Sphurana

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WITNESSING IS NOT VICHARA - VICHARA IS THE FINAL DOOR

Q.: So, as respects Bhagavan's method of remaining as Subjective Consciousness, I am supposed to witness without entertaining the notion that I am witnessing - is that right?

B.: Who is that one who remains as Subjective Consciousness? Is Subjective Consciousness proclaiming that he is going to remain as Subjective Consciousness? You see the absurdity of it.

So, your task is not to remain as Subjective Consciousness; your task is to keep yourself out of the way so that Subjective Consciousness remains merely as Itself without getting impeded by you.

As for witnessing, there is nothing to witness. IT IS. Simple Being.

When ideas create modifications in consciousness, which is the essence or substance of the mind, another idea made of the same substance is used as a tool with which to crush (annihilate) all other ideas; finally, this tool is also destroyed. That is why the example of the stick used to stir the burning funeral pyre is furnished.

Q.: So merely watching (observing) consciousness with a placid, thought-free mind is not a sadhana that suffices to destroy the mind and bestow Realization?

B.: If the aspirant is unremittingly sincere in its pursuit, the practice that you mention will in due course by itself cause sufficient introversion of mind to empower (facilitate) the mind to become ready for successfully investigating 'Who am I?'. However, it is erroneous to imagine that the two practices are one and the same, or even similar.

Q.: But they both aim at ensuring that the sadhaka remains attending to mere consciousness; how can they be distinct from each other?

B.: The act of attending to pure Subjective Consciousness alone still involves that one who undertakes such Sadhana. WHO IS HE?

Q.: But there is also that one who investigates 'Who am I?'.

B.: He is both the subject and object of his investigation.
That is why in the end, everybody must come only through this gate before reaching the citadel of the Heart. Who am I? is the only Sadhana which is such that the one making it is the same as the one in relation to whom it is made.

The snake must bite its own tail. Otherwise, he will not die. Neophytes who complain that 'Who am I?' is not working are given the suggestion that they should watch the thought 'I', or that they should remain attending to Subjective Consciousness alone. Still less mature souls are told to repeat 'I', 'I' mentally, together with simultaneously concentrating on the sense of personality associated with 'I', that is to say with the mental concept of 'myself'. Those who are not able to do even this should do pranayama, japa, moorthy-dhyana, or hatha-yoga. None of these practices, however, could possibly serve as a substitute for vichara, nor is it meaningful to confuse any of them with vichara or to imagine any of them to be the same as vichara.

Vichara is the final door. The 'I' attends to himself, not to his Self. The ego attends to the ego and to nothing else; that is vichara. Attending to Subjective Consciousness, while it is a method having its beneficial use, is certainly NOT the same as vichara.

- Aham Sphurana

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G.V. SUBBARAMAYYA,
part 15

During Christmas, when I again visited the ashram, I asked Sri Bhagavan what he had thought on reading my telegram. He merely said, 'Yes, I read your message and also noted that the clock was then striking seven'.
I persisted, asking, 'Bhagavan, did you not think that you must do something to save the child?'

Sri Bhagavan's reply was immediate and direct: 'Even the thought to save the child is a sankalpa [an act of will or intention] and one who has any sankalpa is no jnani. In fact, such thinking is unnecessary. The moment a jnani's eye falls upon a thing, there starts a 'divine, automatic action, which itself leads to the highest good.'
The conversation was all in Telugu except the phrase 'divine, automatic action' which Sri Bhagavan himself uttered in English. The morning before I left, Dr Syed, philosophy professor of Allahabad University, put a question:
'Bhagavan, what is the purpose of creation?'

Usually, Bhagavan gave his replies in Telugu, Tamil or Malayalam and then got them interpreted. This time Sri Bhagavan spoke directly in English.
He put a counter question: 'Can the eye see itself?'
Dr Syed replied, 'Of course not. It can see everything else, but not itself.'
Then Sri Bhagavan asked, 'But what if it wants to see itself?' Dr Syed paused and thought for a while before answering, 'It can see itself only if it is reflected in a mirror'.

Sri Bhagavan seized the answer and commented. 'That is it! Creation is the mirror for the eye to see itself.'

I intervened at this point and asked whether Bhagavan meant e-y-e or 'I'. Sri Bhagavan said that we could take it figuratively as e-y-e and literally as 'I'.
Several years later, when a visitor asked the same question:
'What is the purpose of creation?' - Sri Bhagavan replied, 'To know the inquirer is the purpose. The different theories of creation are due to the different stages of mind of their authors.'

- The Power of the Presence, III

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ELEVEN VERSES TO SRI ARUNACHALA

1.

Now that by Thy grace Thou hast claimed me,
what will become of me unless Thou manifest Thyself to me, and I, yearning wistfully for Thee,
and harassed by the darkness of the world, and lost?
Oh love, in the shape of Arunachala,
can the lotus blossom without sight of the sun?
Thou art the sun of suns;
Thou causest grace to well up in abundance
and pour forth as a stream!

2.

Arunachala, Thou form of grace itself!
Once having claimed me, loveless though I be,
how canst Thou let me now be lost,
and fail to fill me so with love
that I must pine for Thee unceasingly
and melt within like wax over the fire?
Oh nectar springing up in the Heart of devotees!
Haven of my refuge!
Let Thy pleasure be mine,
for that way lies my joy,
Lord of my life!

3.

Drawing me with the cords of Thy grace,
although I had not even dimly thought of Thee,
Thou didst decide to kill me outright.
How then has one so weak as I offended Thee
that Thou dost leave the task unfinished?
Why dost Thou torture me thus,
keeping me suspended between life and death?
Oh, Arunachala! Fulfill Thy wish,
and long survive me all alone,
Oh Lord!

4.

What did it profit Thee to choose out, me,
from all those struggling in samsara,
to rescue my helpless self from being lost
and hold me at Thy feet?
Lord of the ocean of grace!
Even to think of Thee puts me to shame.
Long mayst Thou live!
I bow my head to Thee and bless Thee!

5.

Lord! Thou didst capture me by stealth
and all these days hast held me at Thy feet!
Lord! Thou hast made me to stand with hanging head,
dumb like an image when asked what is Thy nature.
Lord! Deign to ease me in my weariness,
struggling like a deer that is trapped.
Lord Arunachala! What can be Thy will?
Yet who am I to comprehend Thee?

6.

Lord of my life! I am ever at Thy feet,
like a frog which clings to the stem of the lotus;
make me instead a honeybee which from the blossom of the Heart
sucks the sweet honey of Pure Consciousness;
then shall I have deliverance.
If I am lost while clinging to Thy lotus feet,
it will be for Thee a standing column of ignominy, Oh blazing pillar of light, called Arunachala!
Oh, wide expanse of grace,
more subtle than ether!

7.

Oh pure one! If the five elements, the living beings and every manifest thing is nothing but Thy all-embracing Light, how then can I (alone) be separate from Thee? Since Thou shinest in the Heart, a single expanse without duality, how then can I come forth distinct therefrom? Show Thyself planting Thy lotus feet upon the head of the ego as it emerges!
8. Thou hast withheld from me all knowledge of gradual attainment
while living in the world, and set me at peace;
such care indeed is blissful and not painful to anyone,
for death in life is truly glorious.
Grant me, wasteful and mad for Thee,
the sovereign remedy of clinging to Thy Feet!

9.

Oh Transcendent!
I am the first of those who have not the supreme wisdom
to clasp Thy feet in freedom from attachment.
Ordain Thou that my burden be transferred to Thee
and my freewill effaced, for what indeed can be a burden
to the sustainer of the universe?
Lord Supreme! I have had enough of the fruits
of carrying the burden of this world
upon my head, parted from Thee.
Arunachala, Supreme Self!
Think no more to keep me
at a distance from Thy feet!

10.

I have discovered a new thing!
This hill, the lodestone of lives,
arrests the movements of anyone
who so much as thinks of it,
draws him face to face with it,
and fixes him motionless like itself,
to feed upon his soul thus ripened.
What a wonder is this!
Oh souls! beware of It and live!
Such a destroyer of lives
is this magnificent Arunachala,
which shines within the Heart!

11.

How many are there who have been ruined like me
for thinking this hill to be the supreme?
Oh men who, disgusted with this life of intense misery,
seek a means of giving up the body,
there is on earth a rare drug which,
without actually killing him,
will annihilate anyone who so much as thinks of it.
Know that it is none other than this Arunachala!

- Collected Works
ELEVEN VERSES TO SRI ARUNACHALA

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BHAGAVAN ON SELF-INQUIRY AND VISIONS

Bhagavan: All that is needed is to give up thinking of objects other than the Self. Meditation is not so much thinking of the Self as giving up thinking of the not-Self. When you give up thinking of outward objects and prevent your mind from going outwards and turn it inward and fix it in the Self, the Self alone will remain.
At this point, K.M. Jivrajani interposed, “Has one necessarily to pass through the stage of seeing occult visions before attaining Self-realization?”
Bhagavan: Why do you bother about visions and whether they come or not?
K.M. Jivrajani: I don’t. I only want to know so that I shan’t be disappointed if I don’t have them.
Bhagavan: Visions are not a necessary stage. To some they come and to others, they don’t, but whether they come or not you always exist and you must stick to that.
K.M. Jivrajani: I sometimes concentrate on the brain center and sometimes on the heart — not always on the same center. Is that wrong?
Bhagavan: Wherever you concentrate and on whatever center there must be a 'you' to concentrate, and that is what you must concentrate on. Different people concentrate on different centers, not only the brain and the heart but also the space between the eyebrows, the tip of the nose, the tip of the tongue, the lowermost chakra, and even external objects. Such concentration may lead to a sort of laya in which you will feel a certain bliss, but care must be taken not to lose the thought ‘I Am’ in all this. You never cease to exist in all these experiences.
K.M. Jivrajani: That is to say that I must be a witness?
Bhagavan: Talking of the ‘witness’ should not lead to the idea that there is a witness and something else apart from him that he is witnessing. The ‘witness’ really means the light that illumines the seer, the seen and the process of seeing. Before, during, and after the triads of seer, seen and seeing, the illumination exists. It alone exists always.
Again today a visitor put questions: I do not understand how to make the inquiry ‘Who am I?’
Bhagavan: Find out whence the ‘I’ arises. Self-inquiry does not mean argument or reasoning such as goes on when you say, “I am not this body, I am not the senses,” etc.: all that may also help but it is not the inquiry. Watch and find out where in the body the ‘I’ arises and fix your mind on that.

18. and 19.4.46, Day by Day with Bhagavan

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SRI BHAGAVAN SPEAKS ABOUT HUMILITY:

The power of humility, which bestows immortality, is the foremost among powers that are hard to attain. Since the only benefit of learning and other similar virtues is the attainment of humility, humility alone is the real ornament of the sages. It is the storehouse of all other virtues and is therefore extolled as the wealth of divine grace. Although it is a characteristic befitting wise people in general, it is especially indispensable for sadhus.

Since attaining greatness is impossible for anyone except by humility, all the disciplines of conduct such as yama and niyama, which are prescribed specifically for aspirants on the spiritual path, have as their aim only the attainment of humility. Humility is indeed the hallmark of the destruction of the ego. Because of this, humility is especially extolled by sadhus themselves as the code of conduct befitting them.

Moreover, for those who are residing at Arunachala, it is indispensable in every way. Arunachala is the sacred place where even the embodiments of God, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shakti, humbly subsided. Since it has the power to humble even those who would not be humbled, those who do not humbly subside at Arunachala will surely not attain that redeeming virtue anywhere else.

The Supreme Lord, who is the highest of the high, shines unrivaled and unsurpassed only because he remains the humblest of the humble. When the divine virtue of humility is necessary even for the Supreme Lord, who is totally independent, is it necessary to emphasize that it is absolutely indispensable for sadhus who do not have such independence? Therefore, just as in their inner life, in their outer life also sadhus should possess complete and perfect humility. It is not that humility is necessary only for devotees of the Lord; even for the Lord, it is the characteristic virtue.

- Sri Ramana Darsanam, Taken from http://davidgodman.org/interviews/al4.shtml

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KRISHNA BHIKSHU, part 17

EXPLOITATION DOES NOT PAY OFF

Many people went to Bhagavan not to get advice about their sadhana but to get help for their personal problems. These might include a lack of money or health or some family problem that needed to be resolved.

Bhagavan would never say, 'I will help you,' or 'I will solve your problem'. He would just listen quietly and do nothing. But, somehow, many people found that problems would disappear or be resolved satisfactorily if Bhagavan had been informed about them. He said when he was asked about this, that there was a divine force that automatically took care of all the problems that were placed before him, and that he himself was not personally involved in the resolution of any of these situations. Since this 'Divine force' had a very high success rate, many people brought their personal problems to Bhagavan.

Most people would only approach Bhagavan for help if there was a dire emergency in their lives, but other people expected him to manage all aspects of their lives. Bhagavan himself told us about one such man who corresponded with him while he was still living on the hill.

A postcard arrived, addressed to Bhagavan, in which the sender wrote: 'I am a poor elementary school teacher. My mother is old and my salary is so small, I cannot look after her properly. Kindly see that I get a raise.'

Bhagavan laughed and said, 'Well, why not?'

Another card came after some time in which he wrote: 'By your grace, my salary was increased. Now there is a vacancy in a higher grade. If I am given this promotion, I shall earn more and make my mother very happy.'

Bhagavan had a good laugh and said, 'Good'.

The next card arrived a few days later: 'My mother is bedridden and there is nobody to nurse her. If I could get married, my wife would look after her. But I am a poor man. Who will give me his daughter in marriage? And where will I get the money for expenses? Bhagavan may kindly arrange.' Bhagavan laughed again and said, 'Well, let it be so'.

After some months another postcard came: 'By your kindness, I was married quite easily. My wife is already with me. My mother wants a grandchild before she dies. Please provide.'

'Why not?' said Bhagavan.

A few months passed before the next card arrived: 'My wife gave birth to a child, but she has no milk for it. I cannot afford milk for the baby. Please get me another promotion.'

The next message came more quickly: 'I got a promotion and a salary increment. The child is doing well. I owe everything to your kindness.'

Bhagavan remarked, 'What have I done? It is his good karma that all goes well with him.'

Eventually, the man's good fortune ran out.

The next card said: 'Mother died. She worshipped you before her death.'

Bhagavan said nothing.

A month later another card arrived: 'Swami, my child has died.'

Bhagavan expressed his regrets but made no further comments.
Some time passed before the next card came: 'My wife is pregnant again.'

This apparent good news was canceled out by the next card:

'My wife gave birth to a child. Both died.'

'Ram, Ram,' said Bhagavan. 'Everything seems to be over.'

But there was more to come. The final card in this bizarre series ran:.'Due to family trouble, my work was very irregular and I was dismissed. I am completely destitute now.'

Bhagavan sighed deeply and commented, 'All that came has gone. Only his Self remained with him. It is always like this. When all goes, only the Self remains.'

- The Power of the Presence, III

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BRAHMASTHRAM (DIVINE WEAPON)
Yesterday or the day before, a boy of about 18 years of age came here on a cycle from some place. After sitting in the hall for a quarter of an hour, he went to Bhagavan and asked, “After crossing Omkar [the sound of Om], where to merge?”
With a smile, Bhagavan said, “Oh, is that so? Wherefrom did you come now? Where will you go? What is it you want to know? Who really are you? If you first tell me who you are, you can then question me about Omkar.”
“I do not know that even,” said the boy.
Then Bhagavan said, “You know for certain that you are existent. How are you existent? Where really were you before? What exactly is your body? First, find that out. When you know all that, you can ask me questions if you still have any doubts. Why should we worry where Omkar merges, and after it merges why worry about what comes next when it ceases to exist? Where do you merge ultimately? How do you come back? If you first find out your state and your movements, we can think of the rest.”
When Bhagavan said all this, the boy could not give any reply and so went away after bowing before Bhagavan. What other brahmasthram (divine weapon) is there against a questioner? If only that weapon is used, the questioner is silenced.
You may ask, “Who gave the name of ‘brahmasthram’ to the stock reply of Bhagavan, ‘Find out who you are?’ ”
Two or three years back, when a sannyasi boasted about having read all books on religious matters and began asking Bhagavan all sorts of questions, he repeatedly gave the same answer, “Find out who you are.”
When the sannyasi persisted in his meaningless questions and arguments, Bhagavan in a firm tone asked him, “You have been asking me so many questions and entering into so many arguments. Why don’t you reply to my questions and then argue? Who you are? First, answer my question. Then I will give you a suitable reply. Tell me first who it is that is arguing.” He could not reply, and so went away.
Sometime later, I developed this idea and wrote five verses on ‘Divya Asthram’ and showed them to Bhagavan, when he said, “Long ago when Nayana (Ganapati Muni) was here, Kapali also used to be here. If they wanted to ask me anything, they would fold their hands first and say, ‘Swami, Swami, if you will promise not to brandish your brahmasthram, I will ask a question.’ If during conversation the words ‘Who are you?’ escaped my lips, he used to say, ‘So you have fired your brahmasthram. What more can I say?’ They called it brahmasthram and you are calling it ‘Divya Asthram’ ”
After that, I too started using the word brahmasthram. Really, who is not humbled by that asthram?

– Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 22nd January, 1946

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Rather than wasting one's life by racing around seeking sense pleasures and dancing with the intoxication of them, the wiser course is to seek, through consciousness, one's real nature and live merged in it, obtaining the ultimate benefit in the Heart.

You people who go flying like birds to one holy Siva shrine after another, not realizing that Siva is dwelling within you! Supreme Sivam is the consciousness that has subsided and focused itself, without the slightest movement, in the Heart.

Rather than allowing the mind to spread outwards, like the sail of a ship, to be ruined by the strong winds of the objects of sense, it is wisdom to dive deep and enter the Heart in order to attain the state of stillness, and [there] be like an anchor that sinks deep and lies settled on the broad ocean's bed.

— Guru Vachaka Kovai 188 - 191

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