We of the western world have mostly come to regard the mind, mental activity, as the highest possible experience of reality. True, a few mystics here and there have uttered vague hints as to modes of existence surpassing the functioning of the mind, but even a Boehme, a Swedenborg, speedily loses himself in a symbolism which leaves the reader nonplussed. Western mystics fly away from us into the empyrean: but the Eastern stands by us to the end, expanding in minute detail the supremely difficult theme of how to acquire liberation from the shackles of the flesh. The East has wisdom and is willing to teach if we will hearken.
One of the chief reasons why the whole quest is so difficult from the Western viewpoint is just this: the mind must be used both to illuminate the path and to destroy itself, once this purpose is effected.
To say with the Maharshi in the treatise that "knowledge of diverse objects is ignorance" is to go in the opposite direction to all the teaching we have had from childhood. It is an immense statement and asks elaborate proof if it is to convince. But the mind, here as elsewhere, is our only instrument available for achieving this proof and the first point to realize is that the mind is quite ready and willing to do so, if we will allow it. The mind is like a mirror, ready to reflect whatever is put before it with perfect indifference as to its truth or falsity.
In the twentieth verse of this treatise many readers will be reminded of an utterance of Jesus in the New Testament, though Jesus is neither so explicit nor so scientific as the Maharshi, perhaps because he was addressing an audience that would not have comprehended the basic truth the "God is none other than the Self." Therefore Jesus uses his own name instead of the Self and so satisfies those simple minds with an external object for their worship. But as the Maharshi says here: "the empirical ego falls a prey to the Infinite."
Verse twenty-three contains a profoundly significant statement: "It is not the body which proclaims itself as "I." Every baby knows that it is not I when it first becomes aware and talks of "baby wants this, baby wants that." Then its elders, far less wise than baby, come and tell baby that baby's body is baby's self, and, hearing nothing but this on all sides, baby becomes more and more convinced of this falsehood, until having attained what are called "years of discretion" the baby now a grown man is ready to trounce and denounce anyone who is so bold as to affirm that the body is not the Self, from the bellyband inwards.
Why is this? Because, as explained in verse twenty-four and following verses, there arises what the Indians call the jiva and we, for want of a single word, the individual soul. It has no reality but is potent as an illusion, ensnaring all who have not been enlightened, in the cycle of births and deaths. Even among those who have been enlightened this illusion is apt to persist is some of its many forms, varying in mode with each person.
The Maharshi tells us in verse twenty-eight and following verses what to do in order to divest ourselves of the illusion of the individual soul. The reader should especially note, in verse thirty-two, the advice given to aspirants to cease thinking "That I am" without at once realizing the Self and inhering therein.
The doctrine of karma is accepted in this treatise for those who remain bound in the trammels of the body, a bondage which endures just so long as a man considers himself bound.
Finally, in verse forty, the whole fabric of form and formlessness is hurled to the ground and utterly destroyed with the statement that such thoughts are due to the empirical ego or 'individual soul". Once we have divested ourselves of this false notion, that is the end of our troubles: Salvation has been found. "Therefore, realize yourself."
Such is the message of the Maharshi and such is Reality, and such are we all, as soon as we know. But the word 'knowledge' is deceptive as used among us in the West and often denotes mere lip-service without any realisation, or at best imperfect realisation. Once the path is found it must be followed to the end - which is also the middle and the beginning.
Back of the Book
Ulladu Narpadu was composed by Bhagavan Ramana is 1928. it is the clearest exposition of the Master describing the goal of human existence and the path that an earnest seeker must tread to attain it.
Truth Revealed. Published in 1935. is the first English translation of this treatise, and we can be certain that Sri Ramana carefully scrutinized each verse, word by word.
All those seeking illumination and immortality should stop all outer activity. Sit down and ponder over the means to enlightenment revealed by the Master in this concise scripture.
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