Sanyasam and Detachment

January 6, 2013 Comments Off on Sanyasam and Detachment

Devotee.: Is it necessary to take sannyasa (a vow of renunciation) in order to attain Self-realisation?

Bhagavan: ‘Sannyasa’ means renouncing one’s individuality, not shaving one’s head and putting on ochre robes. A man may be a householder but if he does not think he is one he is a sannyasin.On the other hand, he may wear ochre robes and wander about,but so long as he thinks he is a sannyasin he is not one. To think about one’s renunciation defeats the purpose of renouncing.

What do you mean by ‘taking sannyasa’? Do you think it means leaving your home or wearing robes of a certain colour? Wherever you go, even if you fly up into the air, will your mind not go with you? Or, can you leave it behind you and go without it?

Why should your occupation or duties in life interfere with your spiritual effort?

For instance, there is a difference between your activities at home and in the office. In your office activities, you are detached and so long as you do your duty you do not care what happens or whether it results in gain or loss to the employer.

Your duties at home, on the other hand,are performed with attachment and you are all the time anxious whether they will bring advantage to you and your family. But it is possible to perform all the activities of life with detachment and regard only the Self as real. It is wrong to suppose that if one is fixed in the Self, one’s duties in life will not be properly performed. It is like an actor.

He dresses and acts and even feels the part he is playing, but he knows really that he is not that character but someone else in real life. In the same way, why should the body consciousness or the feeling ‘I-am-the-body’ disturb you, once you know for certain that you are not the body but the Self?

Nothing that the body does should shake you from abidance in the Self. Such abidance will never interfere with the proper and effective discharge of whatever duties the body has any more than an actor’s being aware of his real status in life interferes with his acting a part on the stage.

– Ramana Maharshi

Source: The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words Edited by ARTHUR OSBORNE


How long is the interval between death and re-birth?

November 21, 2012 Comments Off on How long is the interval between death and re-birth?

D.: How long is the interval between death and re-birth?
B.: It may be long or short, but a Realised Man undergoes no such change; he merges into the Infinite Being, as is said in the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad. Some say that those who, after death, take the path of light are not re-born; whereas those who take the path of darkness are born after they have reaped their karma (self-made destiny) in their subtle bodies.
If a man’s merits and demerits are equal, he is re-born immediately on earth; if the merits outweigh the demerits, his subtle body goes first to heaven, while if the demerits outweigh the merits it goes first to hell. But in either case he is later re-born on earth. All this is described in the scriptures, but in fact there is neither birth nor death; one simply remains what one really is. That only is the truth.
Again, he would explain in terms of God’s mercy.
B.: God in His mercy withholds this knowledge from people. If they knew that they had been virtuous they would grow proud, and in the other case they would be despondent. Both are bad. It is enough to know the Self.
He did, however, refer sometimes to a person’s preparedness or maturity as being due to the achievements of a previous incarnation.
A competent person who has already, perhaps in a previous incarnation, qualified himself realises the truth and abides in peace as soon as he hears it told to him just once, whereas one who is not so qualified has to pass through the various stages
before attaining samadhi (direct, pure consciousness of being).
That is to say that a lifetime may be regarded as a day’s journey upon the pilgrimage to Self-realisation. How far from the goal one starts depends on the effort or lack of effort made on the previous days; how far forward one advances depends on the effort of today.
A Science lecturer from a university asked whether the intellect survives a man’s death and was told:
“Why think of death? Consider what happens in your sleep.What is your experience of that?”
D.: But sleep is transient, whereas death is not.
B.: Sleep is intermediate between two waking states, and in the same way death is intermediate between two births. Both are transient.
D.: I mean when the spirit is disembodied, does it carry the intellect with it?
B.: The spirit is not disembodied; the bodies differ. If not a gross body it will be a subtle one, as in sleep, dream or day-dream.
Source: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own words by Arthur Osborne, Chapter Three

Be silent yourself

January 31, 2012 Comments Off on Be silent yourself

Be silent yourself; that will induce silence in others. Do not fall into the habit of shouting, talking loudly or for long. Reduce contacts to the minimum. Carry with you an atmosphere of quiet contemplation, wherever you happen to be. There are some who live in a perpetual tornado of noise. Whether they are in an exhibition, a fair, a hotel, a temple or even in Prashanthi Nilayam; their wagging tongues do not stop. Such people will not proceed far on the Godward path. There are others who relish disputes and arguments; they are never content with obvious facts; they must create doubts where none existed before, and shake faith. They dispute whether Rama is superior to Krishna, or whether Krishna is a fuller incarnation of Godhead! These thoughts are not helpful either, for a spiritual aspirant. Winnow the real from the apparent. Look inward for the kerne l, the meaning and purpose of life.

– Divine Discourse, Jan 30, 1965.

– Bhagavan sathya sai baba

Choice of Merit and Demerit after death

December 22, 2011 Comments Off on Choice of Merit and Demerit after death

Bhagavan,  indeed,  discouraged  preoccupation  with  such questions since they merely distract one from the real task of realising the Self here and now.

Devotee (D).: They say that we have the choice of enjoying merit or demerit after our death, that it depends on our choice which comes. Is that so?

Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharshi (B): Why raise questions of what happens after death? Why ask whether you were born, whether you are reaping the fruits of your past karma, and so on? You will not raise such questions in a little while when you fall asleep. Why? Are you a different person now from the one you are when asleep? No, you are not. Find out why such questions do not occur to you when you are asleep.

On  occasion,  however,  Bhagavan  did  admit  of  a  lower, contingent point of view for those who could not hold to the doctrine of pure non-dualism.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna first says to Arjuna in Chapter II, that no one was born and then in Chapter IV, ‘there have been numerous incarnations both of you and me. I know them but you do not.’ Which of these two statements is true? The teaching varies according to the understanding of the listener. When  Arjuna  said  that  he  would  not  fight  against  his relatives and elders in order to kill them and gain the kingdom, Sri Krishna said: ‘Not that these, you or I, were not before, are not now, nor will be hereafter. None was born, none has died, nor will it be so hereafter’. He further developed this theme, saying that he had given instructions to the Sun and through him to Ikshvaku; and Arjuna queried how that could be, since he had been born only a few years back, while they lived ages ago. Then Sri Krishna saw his point of view and said: ‘Yes, there
have been many incarnations of me and you. I know them all but you do not.’

Such statements appear contradictory, but they are true according to the viewpoint of the questioner. Christ also said “Before Abraham was, I am.”

Just as in dreams, you wake up after several new experiences, so after death another body is found.

Just as rivers lose their individuality when they discharge their waters into the ocean, and yet the waters evaporate and return as rain on the hills and back again through the rivers to the ocean, so also individuals lose their individuality when they go to sleep but return again according to their previous innate tendencies. Similarly, in death also, being is not lost.

D.: How can that be?

B.: See how a tree grows again when its branches are cut off.  So  long  as  the  life  source  is  not  destroyed,  it  will  grow. Similarly, latent potentialities withdraw into the heart at death but do not perish. That is how beings are re-born.

Nevertheless, from the higher viewpoint he would say:

In truth there is neither seed nor tree, there is only Being.

– Source: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own words by Arthur Osborne, Chapter Three, From: Isn’t our personality beginningless?

Suffering ~Ramana Maharshi

October 4, 2011 Comments Off on Suffering ~Ramana Maharshi

428275_383442048340252_849985577_nLater the Yogi (Yogananda) asked: How is the spiritual uplift of the people to be effected? What are the instructions to be given them?

Maharshi: They differ according to the temperaments of the individuals and according to the spiritual ripeness of their minds. There cannot be any instruction en masse.
D.: Why does God permit suffering in the world? Should He not with His omnipotence do away with it at one stroke and ordain the universal realisation of God?

Maharshi: Suffering is the way for Realisation of God.
D.: Should He not ordain differently?

Maharshi: It is the way.
D.: Are Yoga, religion, etc., antidotes to suffering?

Maharshi: They help you to overcome suffering.

D.: Why should there be suffering?

Maharshi: Who suffers? What is suffering?

No answer! Finally the Yogi rose up, prayed for Sri Bhagavan’ s blessings for his own work and expressed great regret for his hasty return. He looked very sincere and devoted and even emotional.


How did the ego arise?

June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Devotee (D).: How did the ego arise?

Here is a question that gives rise to endless philosophizing, but Bhagavan, holding rigorously to the truth of non-duality, refused to admit its existence.

Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharshi (B).: There is no ego. If there were, you would have to admit of two selves in you. Therefore there is no ignorance. If you enquire into the Self, ignorance, which is already non-existent, will be found not to exist and you will say that it has fled.

Sometimes it seemed to the listener that absence of thought must mean a mere blank, and therefore Bhagavan specifically guarded against this.

Absence of thought does not mean a blank. There must be someone to be aware of that blank. Knowledge and ignorance pertain only to the mind and are in duality, but the Self is beyond them both. It is pure Light. There is no need for one Self to see another. There are no two selves. What is not the Self is mere non-self and cannot see the Self. The Self has no sight or hearing; it lies beyond them, all alone, as pure Consciousness.

Bhagavan often cited man’s continued existence during deep, dreamless sleep as a proof that he exists independent of the ego and the body-sense. He also referred to the state of deep sleep as a body-free and ego-free state.

D.: I don’t know whether the Self is different from the ego.

B.: In what state were you in deep sleep?

D.: I don’t know.

B.: Who doesn’t know? The waking self? But you don’t deny that you existed while in deep sleep?

D.: I was and am, but I don’t know who was in deep sleep.

B.: Exactly. The waking man says that he did not know anything in the state of deep sleep. Now he sees objects and knows that he exists but in deep sleep there were no objects and no spectator. And yet the same person who is speaking now existed in deep sleep also. What is the difference between the two states? There are objects and the play of the senses now, while in deep sleep there were not. A new entity, the ego, has arisen. It acts through the senses, sees objects, confuses itself with the body and claims to be the Self. In reality, what was in deep sleep continues to be now also. The Self is changeless. It is the ego which has come between. That which rises and sets is the ego. That which remains changeless is the Self.

Such examples sometimes gave rise to the mistaken idea that the state of Realisation or abidance in the Self which Bhagavan prescribed was a state of nescience like physical sleep and therefore he guarded against this idea also.

B.: Waking, dream and sleep are mere phases of the mind, not of the Self. The Self is the witness of these three states. Your true nature exists in sleep.

D.: But we are advised not to fall asleep during meditation.

B.: It is stupor which you must guard against. That sleep which alternates with waking is not the true sleep. That waking which alternates with sleep is not the true waking. Are you awake now? No. What you have to do is to wake up to your true state. You should neither fall into false sleep nor remain falsely awake.

B.: Though present even in sleep, the Self is not then perceived. It cannot be known in sleep straightaway. It must first be realized in the waking state for it is our true nature underlying all the three states. Effort must be made in the waking state and the Self realized here and now. It will then be understood to be the continuous Self uninterrupted by the alteration of waking, dream and deep sleep.

In fact, one name for the true state of realised being is the ‘Fourth State’ existing eternally beyond the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. It is compared with the state of deep sleep since, like this, it is formless and non-dual; however, as the above quotation shows, it is far from being the same. In the Fourth State the ego merges in Consciousness, as in sleep it does in unconsciousness.

In nothing did Bhagavan show more clearly that theory has to be adapted to the understanding of the seeker than in the question of death and re-birth. For those who were capable of grasping pure, non-dual theory, he explained merely that the question does not arise, for if the ego has no real existence, now, it has none after death either.

Source: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own words by Arthur Osborne, Chapter 3.

If You Eat Just What Is Necessary, Ailments Will Be Avoided

June 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ramana Maharshi Says If You Eat Just What Is Necessary, Ailments Will Be Avoided

22nd October, 1947

Bhagavan’s body has become much reduced of late and some of the devotees have been saying that it is due to his not taking enough of nourishing food. Having heard this a Bengali lady brought some pieces of guava sprinkled with salt and chilly powder, and said beseechingly, “Bhagavan, you are getting very thin; it is good to eat fruit like this. Please accept my humble offering.”

Bhagavan said with a smile, “Who is it that is thinner? You or I?”

She said it was Bhagavan.

Bhagavan: “That is nice. Who exactly has grown thin will be known if the weight is taken. If you like, you may eat those fruits every day yourself. Why this for me? It is all right; you have brought them to day, but please do not bring them again.”

So saying, Bhagavan took a few pieces and said to his attendants, “See how lean she is! Please give her several of these pieces and distribute the rest to the others.”

One of those who could venture to talk to Bhagavan more freely said, “Bhagavan, you have recently very much reduced the amount of food you take daily. It’s not good.”

“Oho!” said Bhagavan. “Who told you that? I am taking whatever I require. What good would there be in my taking more food and getting fat? By getting fat, do you know how many ailments one suffers? The more you eat, the greater will grow the strength of the ailment. If you eat just what is necessary, ailments will be avoided.”

“Why have you given up taking even pepper-water and buttermilk?” said another devotee.

“You enquire why?” said Bhagavan. “If you observe what is being done when the meals are served, you yourself will understand. Buttermilk is brought into the dining hall in big buckets with large ladles. When taking out the buttermilk for serving me, the ladle is full, but when the same is served to the very next person, the ladle is only half full. When I saw that, I got disgusted and felt that I myself should not take any more than half a ladleful.”

“Why not at least take fruit juice?” said the devotee.

“So this has started again!” said Bhagavan. “Everyone says the same thing. How will all that be possible for me?”

“What do you mean, Bhagavan? We get quite a lot of fruit. Why say that it is impossible? You yourself have stated that what is offered voluntarily can be accepted.”

“So that is it!” said Bhagavan. “If I did say that such offerings could be accepted, did that mean that the people around could be ignored?”

“True,” said the devotee, “but quite a lot of fruit is received; it can be distributed to the others too.”

“All is very well,” said Bhagavan, “but where have we the wherewithal to give them all? The fruit is shown here to the Swami as an offering, a naivedya, and then taken away. It is kept locked in the store room. The keys are in the charge of the store-keeper. Who will go and ask him? In the same way, the various articles here are in the custody of someone or other; I have none. This is the result of being a spiritual
preceptor!” said Bhagavan smiling.

It seems that some fifteen days back, someone brought some green pepper. Bhagavan had that pepper, some myrobalams, acetic acid, salt and other ingredients mixed,ground and made into little pills.Today Sivanandan came in to enquire whether he could get the pills for Bhagavan, as they are supposed to be good against phlegm and Bhagavan had been using them now and then during the cold weather.

As Sivanandan had not enquired about them all these fifteen days and is doing it only now, Bhagavan said with a laugh,“I see, you have now remembered about them. Yes, yes, you have been waiting to see whether I would ask for them, and thereby test me. Were I to ask, you would say, ‘What is this? Swami has begun to ask about everything and is worrying us’. What am I to do? They feel that if they but salute me once, I should thereafter do everything they want. People say that spiritual preceptorship (swamitvam), is a matter for happiness.But see, this is what it is to be a spiritual preceptor.Would it not be good if a book is written on spiritual preceptorship?”

“Bhagavan is saying something unusual,” said a devotee.

Bhagavan replying with a smile, said, “What is there unusual about it? It is all true. ‘Swami is seated on a sofa with a soft mattress spread on it. What is there for him to worry about?’ That is what people think. But do they know about our troubles? That is why I say that it would be good for a big book to be written on spiritual preceptorship.

If all the things that have happened here during the last years had been written in the form of a book, it would be as big as the Mahabharatham! Anyone who cares to write it, may do so even now!” he said.

“Who would write all that?” said a devotee.

“Why not?” said Bhagavan. “If a book recording these events is written, all people will then know that spiritual preceptorship consists in saying, ‘Yes, yes,’ and ‘All right, all right’. What is the difficulty in writing about it?”

So saying, Bhagavan looked at me and with a laugh said, “Why? If you like, you can write it!”

Source: Letters from Sri Ramanasramam VOLUMES I, II & Letters from and Recollections of Sri Ramanasramam By SURI NAGAMMA Translated by D. S. SASTRI

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