If one poses some fundamental questions, which go to the root of one’s life, then and then only will one be aware how ignorant one is about himself and life giving inputs. Let us consider a series of questions that will bring this to light. Have I enquired about the purpose of life? Have I enquired into the nature of my mind ? Have I observed the daily miracle of deep sleep, which is a must for a fatigued mind? Have I observed that in deep sleep I am free from thoughts, yet happy and in repose? Have I enquired about the meaning of this daily sitting and raising of the mind? Have I considered an escape route from the obsessive pressure of congestion of the thoughts? Has my ceaseless activity for enjoyment borne fruit? An honest answers to all these questions can only be ‘NO’. Why? Because one has never found the time to take a break and to enquire about himself.
Ramana’s teachings may be summarized in one phrase, ‘Knowledge about the Heart’, termed ‘Dahara-Vidya’. In holistic meditation, based on this knowledge, which is the knowledge about the true subject, the purpose of meditation is to be in constant touch with the divine current in one’s own heart. This path has been termed by Ramana as “The Straight Path”.
If one pays attention one would realize that firm the consciousness “I am’ is there and then there is an almost simultaneous add on of ‘so-and-so’, a particular name and form. The ‘I’ would therefore be made up of two parts, ‘I am’, which is a consciousness and a limitation, or identification of the ‘I am’ with ‘so and so’, which is the cause of being bound by time and space. Such limitation is not there in deep sleep.
When this thought ridden ‘I’ is silent, as in deep sleep, or f one is able to consciously relate to the heart, the true subject that is sporting as ‘I’-‘I’ in the heart shines forth.
On this path, Ramana is the constant guru and companion protecting one from the distractions of an un-understood mind. He cheers and restores one’s faith in the search for the discovery of truth. Till the need for effort ceases, the unfailing practice of self-enquire and steadfast faith in the guidance of Sadguru Ramana is a must. The obstacles to the perception of ever-existent truth would fade away if one would experience the natural joy and abide in it savouring its perennial inherent bliss.
The colossal ignorance
If one poses some fundamental questions, which go to the root of one’s life, then and then only will one be aware how ignorant one is about himself and life giving inputs. Let us consider a series of questions that will bring this to light. Have I enquired about the purpose of life? Have I enquired into the nature of my mind? Have I observed the daily miracle of deep sleep, which is a must for a fatigued mind? Have I observed that in deep sleep I am free from thoughts, yet happy and in repose? Have I enquired about the meaning of this daily setting and raising of the mind? Have I considered an escape route from the obsessive pressure of congestion of the thoughts? Has my ceaseless activity for enjoyment borne fruit? An honest answer to all these questions can only be ‘NO’. Why? Because one has never found the time to take a break and to enquire about oneself, about the routinisation of life, about the see-saw of enjoyment and sorrow, about the possibility of a silent and peaceful mind. Therefore is it not time for one to steal time, to reflect and find the answers for oneself?
Knowledge about the Spiritual Heart — Subjective Knowledge
Holistic Meditation turns the searchlight of enquiry on all these issues. Through such an enquiry, one’s life would be transformed. Ramana’s teachings may be summarised in one word, ‘Knowledge about the Heart’, termed ‘Dahara-Vidya’. In holistic meditation, based on this knowledge, which is the knowledge about the true subject, the purpose of meditation is to be in constant touch with the divine current in one’s own heart. This path has been termed by Ramana as “THE STRAIGHT PATH”. A definite location in the physical body is given and the means to and need for returning consciously to this source are repeatedly stressed by him. This is because the entire energy source is located in the heart, which is the true subject. In Ramana’s words, “the story of the universe begins and ends here”.
Ramana himself takes us step by step through this knowledge, which may be termed as subjective knowledge, in contrast to objective knowledge, with which one is so familiar. This knowledge is a unitary knowledge about the perceiver, about the individual, to whom the whole world, God and relationships relate.
The steps towards understanding
The key to understand this lies in the state of deep sleep. In that state, there is no individual and there are no thoughts. It is a state of peace, but only recalled on waking. It is an indirect experience of the truth, and has to be the starting point of enquiry. However, the individual nascent in deep sleep wakes up because of and with thoughts. Here, if one pays attention the first thought to rise would be ‘I am’, and a simultaneous add on ‘so-and-so’, a particular name and form. The ‘I’ would therefore be made up of two parts, ‘I am’ which is consciousness, and a limitation or identification of the ‘I am’ with ‘so-and-so’, which is the cause of being bound by time and space. Such limitation is not there in deep sleep. The next point, which would arise if one is observant to the continuous movement of thought, is that the entire movement is caused by the shifting attention of the individual, to whom all thoughts relate equally and essentially. One would also see that notwithstanding this, the identity keeps changing so fast that the one to whom it relates and his significance is lost sight of. Attention needed on the centre, the individual, gets hijacked by the over crowding of thoughts. No attention is paid or can be paid to the individual to understand his true nature.
One lives now as multiple identities. There is an identity for medical insurance, an identity for credit card, an identity for your club membership, and so on. Therefore Ramana points out that this individual is born of forms and keeps changing his forms. The only way of tracking down this ego-ghost would be to enquire about its reality.
Enquiry about the individual
The enquiry starts by going into the question whether this ‘I’, which is made up of two parts as seen earlier, is the real ‘I’ or the true subject ‘I’ that is sporting as ‘I’-’I’ in the heart. This question has to be posed and the answer has to be found by oneself. For this ‘I’, which arose on waking from deep sleep, has made one believe that it is the Self or the ‘I’ because one lives in the world of this ‘I’ for twenty two out of twenty four hours. This time frame deceives one into believing that it is the true subject. Here Ramana points out that while there cannot be two ‘l’s, the real and false, the ‘I’ of the waking state cannot be the real ‘I’, because it ceases to exist in deep sleep. However, the true subject, the fullness of consciousness, springing forth in the heart shines without a break even when the so-called ‘I’ is non-existent.
The ‘How’ of the Straight Path — Self-enquiry
The truth about the subject would be revealed if the obstacles to perception are removed. The real obstacle lies in the fact that one has allowed the spirit of enquiry, which has to be focused on the nature of the mind, to become dormant. This has to be rekindled, for in it is the great power of the mind itself, which enables one to be rid of the false and to be aware of the truth. It does not require much emphasis to state that both knowledge and ignorance cannot coexist. The pseudo ‘I’ must be perceived as the ‘imposter’ in order that truth may shine forth and for one to discover it.
Tools of Self-Enquiry
Ramana stresses the need for self-enquiry, an enquiry in which the mind’s power is turned back from constant distraction caused by preoccupation with one’s own thoughts. A mind is usually weak and splintered by the multiple division of the power of the mind in the form of thoughts. The first step therefore is to unify the mind to enable attention on the mind’s centre, the ‘I’. For this, the essential tool in the armory of Ramana is the enquiry, ‘Who am ‘I’?’ Though clothed in the form of a question, one is not to attempt any answer, because the true answer would be in experiencing the results from the initiation of such an enquiry. This question enables the shifting of attention from thoughts, back to their centre. Gradually one is able to cling to the ‘I’ after which alone a further enquiry is possible to get rid of the whirlpool of thoughts.
When attention is continuously focused on the mind’s centre by vigilant attention, which prevents a movement away from it, the second tool in Ramana’s armoury, ‘Whence am ‘I’?’ would come into operation. The mind that has now become single-focused and powerful can pose the question, ‘Whence am ‘I’?’ This would push the mind back to its place of origin. Here it is necessary to point out that Ramana uses the word ‘origin of the mind’, for the thinker and his thoughts were not there in deep sleep. They originate from the place identified by Ramana, on the basis of his own enlightenment, as the Spiritual Heart. Each day, the mind merges into the heart, subsides into it only to rise again on waking. When the mind is uni-focused in the waking state, the gravitational pull of the spiritual heart is such that it merges the mind at the source. When the mind is thus silent, simultaneously the true subject shines forth as ‘l’-’l’, as the ceaseless throb of ‘I’, the fullness of consciousness. The mind would then be silent, unified and potent, as the single source of energy. Ramana gives the analogies of a river merging in the ocean and that of birds flying high during the day only to return to their earthly perch in a particular tree by dusk.
Thinking without the mind
The enquiry is revolutionary in its consequence and its logical implications. For, it means that the individual mind, which is an interloper, is not required because the power to think is not in it and it is not self-conscious. Its consciousness is derived from the true subject. Therefore one need not fear the discovery of the truth, for, this fragmented mind of the individual is redundant and superfluous. The fear which has been expressed and which holds one back from taking to enquiry to the logical extent will be found to be without substance. Ramana’s assurance to Paul Brunton that, “One would have not lost himself, rather he would have found himself”, would be reassuring.
One might say, when the mind is merged in the heart one would have returned to his home. Why? Because each individual’s perception of the world and all his relationships is only mental. When the mind is merged in the heart as a result of self-enquiry, it is filled with the fullness of consciousness and one would have truly returned home, for the mind has arisen from that place. Beginning with a shifting of the focus to the individual, away from self made divisions, and by being focused on essential questions, one’s nomadic life would have ended in the discovery of joy, of the home, the heart.
Ramana, the guide and the companion
Spiritual life and the constant attentive life to be consciously related to the divine source in the heart, may make one feel lonely. For, one is surrounded and suffocated in a world of topsy-turvy value and its endless chasing of ‘enjoyment’ outside of oneself. Then one finds Ramana, the guru, is a constant friend, a companion who consoles and who prevents one from falling into depression. One notices that he cheers and restores one’s faith in the search and the discovery of the truth. One can also usefully remember that “His grace is there in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end”. There is no definition for grace. It’s the experience of the presence of the divine force, felt by the earnest and vigilant seeker of self knowledge. There is n gainsaying the fact that one has to learn constantly on the perennial flow of grace of Ramana. By his unfailing guidance, he alone can rescue one from the ghost like grip of multiple identifications of a mind whose nature is not considered.
The Disciple’s Commitment
While it is undoubtedly true that the important force is the grace of Sadguru Ramana, since one is steeped in ignorance by foisting reality on the individual mind, effort on his part through the unfailing practice of self-enquiry and steadfast faith in the guidance of Sadguru Ramana is a must. Gradually the need for effort weakens as, by well-directed practice of the straight path, the longing grows to be free from all thoughts and bringing limitations.
Gradually one would be experiencing, to begin with intermittently, the joy of the natural state. It is totally independent of anyone else or any circumstance and is accessible through staedfastpractice of source-attention made possible by the holistic meditation. This very experience would be drawing one repeatedly back to the heart until one is steadily immersed in the bliss of being.
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