Friday, January 20, 2012

From ‘Day by Day with Bhagavan’ from the diary of A. Devaraja Mudaliar

……..the seen regarded as an independent entity, independent of the Self, is unreal. The seen is not different from the seer. What exists is the one Self, not a seer and a seen. The seen regarded as the Self is real.

“We have to contend against age long samskaras. They will all go. Only, they go comparatively soon in the case of those who have already made sadhana in the past, and late in the case of the others.”

……he [Bhagavan] told me he feels that pain …….i.e. it was a passing and faint experience like that in a dream. These are clues to the sort of life Bhagavan leads in our midst, seeming to act and move and feel as we do, but really living in a world of his own where the things we experience don’t exist.

Desai: How to churn up the nadis, so that the kundalini may go up the sushumna?

Bhagavan: Though the yogi may have his methods of breath control, pranayama, mudras etc.…….the jnani’s method is only that of enquiry. When by this method the mind is merged in the Self, the Self, it's sakti or kundalini, rises automatically.

As for sadhana, there are many methods. You may do vichara, asking yourself ‘Who am I?’ or, if that does not appeal to you, you may do dhyana ‘I am Brahman’ or otherwise, or you may concentrate on a mantra or name in japa. The object is to make the mind one-pointed, to concentrate it on one thought and thus exclude our many thoughts, and if we do this, eventually even the one thought will go and the mind will get extinguished in it's source.

Bhagavan: The thing is to kill the mind somehow. Those who have not the strength to follow the enquiry method are advised pranayama as a help to control the mind. And pranayama is of two kinds, one of controlling and regulating the breath and the other of simply watching the breath.

Mr. Prasad ….asked whether, for controlling breath, the regular pranayama is not better in which 1:4:2 proportion for breathing in, retaining, and breathing out is prescribed. Bhagavan replied, “All those proportions, sometimes regulated not by counting but by uttering mantras, etc. are aids for controlling the mind. That is all. Watching the breath is also one form of pranayama. Retaining breath, etc. is more violent and may be harmful in some cases e.g. when there is no proper Guru to guide the sadhak at every step and stage. But merely watching the breath is easy and involves no risk.”

……To enquire ‘Who am I?’ really means trying to find out the source of the ego or the ‘I’ thought. You are not to think of other thoughts, such as ‘I am not this body, etc.’ Seeking the source of ‘I’ serves as a means of getting rid of all other thoughts…….keep the attention fixed on finding out the source of the ‘I’ thought, by asking (as each thought arises) to whom the thought arises and if the answer is ‘I get the thought’ by asking further who is this ‘I’ and whence it's source?

…….what are the steps by which I could achieve surrender.

Bhagavan: There are two ways; one is looking into the source of ‘I’ and merging into that source. The other is feeling “I am helpless by myself, God alone is all-powerful and except throwing myself completely on him, there is no other means of safety for me,” and thus gradually developing the conviction that God alone exists and the ego does not count. Both methods lead to the same goal.

Bhagavan also says, ‘Contact with great men, exalted souls, is one efficacious means of realizing one’s true being.’

Visitor: …… What am I to do when the mind strays in various directions during dhyana?

Bhagavan: Simply draw the mind back each time it strays and fix it in dhyana. There is no other way.

…… each thought arises, ask yourself: “To whom is this thought?” The answer will be, “to me”; then hold on to that “me”.

………about Tennyson ……… a letter to B. P. Blood …… “…….a kind of waking trance I have frequently had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone. This has generally come upon me through repeating my own name two or three times to myself, silently, till all at once, as it were out of the intensity of consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being: and this not a confused state but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, the weirdest of the weirdest, utterly beyond words, where death was an almost laughable impossibility, the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction but the only true life.”

Bhagavan said, “That state is called abidance in the Self.”

Bhagavan: No learning or knowledge of scriptures is necessary to know the Self, as no man requires a mirror to see himself. All knowledge is required only to be given up eventually as not-Self. Nor is household work or cares with children necessarily an obstacle. If you can do nothing more, at least continue saying ‘I, I’ to yourself mentally all the time, as advises in Who am I?, whatever work you may be doing and whether you are sitting, standing or walking. ‘I’ is the name of God. It is the first and greatest of all mantras. Even OM is second to it.

Bhagavan: The more you get fixed in the Self, the more other thoughts will drop off by themselves. The mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts, and the I-thought is the root of all of them. When you see who this ‘I’ is and whence it proceeds all thoughts get merged in the Self.

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.

Bhagavan …… : All you have to do is to give up being aware of other things, that is of the not-Self. If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains, and that is the Self.”

Bhagavan said, “It is not true that birth as a man is necessarily the highest, and that one must attain realization only from being a man. Even an animal can attain Self-realisation.”

The Self is not attained by doing anything, but remaining still and being as we are.”

A visitor ……asked Bhagavan whether by doing annual ceremonies, etc. to the dead, we can confer any benefit on them. To this Bhagavan replied, “Yes. It all depends on one’s belief. ………They will receive benefit thought they are reborn several times and there is an agency to look after all this. Of course, Jnana marga does not say all this.”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

From ‘Notes from a Small room’ by Ruskin Bond

Happiness is as elusive as a butterfly, and you must never pursue it. If you stay very still, it might come and settle on your hand. But only briefly. Savour those precious moments, for they will not come your way very often.

Contentment is easier to attain. The best example is the small ginger cat who arrives on the balcony every afternoon, to curl up in the sun and slumber peacefully for a couple of hours. There’s nothing like an afternoon siesta to help mind and body recuperate from the stress and toil of a busy morning.

From ‘Sri Ramana Leela. A biography of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi’ by ‘Telugu original: Sri Krishna Bhikshu. Edited and translated by Pingali Surya Sundaram’

‘The Ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their past deeds – their prarabdhakarma. Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen – try how hard you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to stop it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is for one to be silent.’

“Rama! This enquiry into the Self or ‘Who am I?’ is the fire which burns up the seeds of the evil tree which is the mind.”

- Yoga Vasishta

“If you enquire and observe where this I-thought arises from, the mind gets absorbed in it. This is tapas. While performing mantra japa if you enquire and observe where the sound of the mantra arises from, the mind gets absorbed in it. This is tapas.”

A devotee once asked Bhagavan whether it was possible for a human being to be re-born as an animal. Bhagavan’s reply was “Why not? Do we not have Lakshmi? (the cow)

May 19, 1922 ….. was her (Bhagavan’s mother’s) last day; everyone could sense the impending end that day ………. After the violent gasps (urdhva-swasa) began, Bhagavan placed his right hand on her heaving heart and the left one on her head. He looked at her intently. The day passed that way. Subsequently Bhagavan himself narrated what had happened thus:

The latent tendencies and thoughts which are the cause of future births flared up. She had just then lost consciousness of the external world. Hence in the subtle world her subtle body was witnessing scene after scene of what was to happen. By this sequence of experiences, the soul went through the future births and travelled towards the highest.

Bhagavan pointed out that according to chapter 13 of Ramana Gita the body of one who attained mukti was to be buried and not cremated.

Bhagavan also said that the grace of the guru operates only at the final stages of sadhana. Though the world is not beheld by the sadhaka in the last stages, due to the persistence of vasanas the Self is not experienced and it is at this stage that the grace of the guru, which really is the grace of the atma, works and bestows the Ultimate. It is the same thing that is mentioned in the Kathopanishad.

Bhagavan himself said that several celestial bodies (devatas) surrounded siddha-purushas and that whatever was to be accomplished was done by those devatas.

Sundaresa Iyer once wrote a lyric where he said “Grace flows from Bhagavan.” Bhagavan corrected it saying, “It is not so. It should read – “Grace is made to flow.”

……. asked him if chanting the Gayatri mechanically had any use. Bhagavan told him, “Chanting mechanically also is useful. …….”

In the case of worship of the One with form Bhagavan also, like acharyas of the past, approved of bhakti and said that uninterrupted meditation was better than meditation in spells.

Another doubt expressed was how could one who had transcended the three states experience deep sleep. The reply was, “It is the body that sleeps and wakes up. The I is always there as a witness.”

Bhagavan pointed out ….. that he lived “simultaneously in twenty lokas in twenty bodies. The bodies keep coming and going. Who is to keep track of which body is coming or which is going? The important thing is to abide in the Self and not to observe the changes in the bodies.”

Even if they are in their respective lokas, devatas possess all powers and depending on the intensity of a bhakta’s prayers can appear anytime. At Sivasakti kshetras, which are places of deliverance, it is easy to invoke them and feel their presence. ……. It is therefore easy to invoke him at Arunachala – that is not to say that this cannot be done at other places but this depends almost entirely on the strength of the prayers of devotees. On the other hand, at Arunachala, owing to the favourableness of the kshetra it becomes easier. This is especially true of the spot of Ramanasramam where Ramana spent over two decades.

Once Bhagavan revealed that Arunagiri had a vast interior in which even an army battalion could stay and that several yogis performed tapas there.

Several people who perform japa of the Skanda mantra while thinking of Bhagavan obtain very beneficial results.

Monday, January 9, 2012

From ‘Powen Pen and Patronage. Media, Culture and the Marathi Society’ by Aroon Tikekar

The concept of intellectualization refers to the inculcation, assimilation and adherence to reason, rationality and progressive ideas including the scientific development. For any intellectualized society varied and enriched social and cultural activity is an essential condition. This, in other words, means not only giving preference to the societal intellectual attainment, but also denoting an acceptance and admittance of plurality of ideas. Intellectualizing a society means the willing participation in various debates and discussions in an attempt to assess and evaluate the veracity and efficacy of traditionally held opinions and beliefs. This still further means the evaluation and revaluation of a living tradition from time to time. Intellectualizing a society also means the acceptance of the belief that social change is desired and that such a change is possible to achieve through human endeavour. It means increasing socio-cultural and political awareness by creating a public space for everyone in the society with a view to making one ultimately a responsible and concerned citizen of the society. Even philanthropy for the public cause is part of that intellectualizing process. Such awareness in the end results in creating and strengthening a civil society through previously established as well as newly created associations and organizations and thus, leading the society into becoming a civil society with a civic culture. A civil society with a civic culture generally results in the blossoming of public life in all it's aspects.

From ‘Heart is they Name, Oh Lord. Moments of Silence with Ramana Maharshi’. Published by Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai

The thought ‘Who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts,
and like a stick used for stirring the burning pyre,
it will itself in the end get destroyed.
there will arise

The Self is that where there
is absolutely no ‘I-thought’.
That is called Silence.
The Self itself is the world;
the Self itself is ‘I’;
the Self itself is God;
all is Siva, the Self.

All that is required
to realize the Self
to be still.
What can be easier than that?

There is a state beyond our efforts or effortlessness.
Until it is realized effort is necessary.
After tasting such Bliss even once
one will repeatedly try to regain it

Christ is the ego.
The cross is the body.
When the ego is crucified,
and it perishes,
what survives is
the Absolute Being,
and this glorious survival is called

Be what you are.
There is nothing to come down or become manifest
All that is needed is to lose the ego.
What do you wait for?
The thought ‘I have not seen’, the expectation to see and
the desire to get something, are all the working of the ego.
To think is not your real nature.

In darkness a man imagines
there is something by his side.
If he looks closely the ghost is not to be seen
but some dark object, a tree or post, etc.;
if he does not look closely
the ghost strikes terror in the person
So also with the ego.
It is an intangible link between the body and Pure Consciousness.
It is not real.
So long as one does not look closely
it continues to give trouble.
But when one looks for it,
it is found not to exist.

“How is the ego to be destroyed?”
This question is a sure way to cherish the ego and not to kill it.
Can the ego ever agree to kill itself?
If you seek the ego
you will find it does not exist.
That is the way to destroy it

The whole of Vedanta is contained
in the two biblical statements
‘I am that I am’
‘Be still and know that I am God’.

From ‘The Lamp is Lit. Leaves from a Journal’ by Ruskin Bond

Even today, surrounded by loved ones, I am often conscious of being alone. Every man is an island, no matter how hard he tries to paddle away. A woman may often have the comfort of a child feeding at her breast; men grow up insecure.

Punjabis like their tea with lots of milk and sugar – so much so that I often wonder why they bother to add any tea.

Blessed is the house upon whose walls
The shade of an old tree softly falls …
I remember those lines of Granny’s

… Granny wasn’t really alone. All the same, she was glad to have me. She didn’t enjoy cooking for herself, she said; she had to cook for someone. And although the cat and the dog and sometimes Uncle Ken appreciated her efforts, a good cook likes to have a boy to feed, because boys are adventurous and ready to try the most unusual dishes.

Mexican proverb: ‘Oh to do nothing, and then to rest.’

If mice could roar
And elephants soar
And trees grow up in the sky;
If tigers could dine
On biscuits and wine,
And the fattest of men could fly!
If pebbles could sing
and bells never ring
And teachers were lost in the post;
If a tortoise could run,
And losses be won,
And bullies be buttered on toast;
If a song brought a shower,
And a gun grew a flower,
This world would be nicer than most!

‘I enjoy life,’ said Seneca, ‘because I am ready to leave it.’

From ‘Scenes from a writer's life. A Memoir’ by Ruskin Bond

Shakespeare …

This above all, to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou can’st not then be false to any man.

The pure, the bright, the beautiful,
That stirred our hearts in youth,
The impulse to a wordless prayer,
The dreams of love and truth;
The longings after something lost,
The spirit’s yearning cry,
The striving after better hopes …
These things can never die!
- Sarah Doudney

‘No Somi, I’m too lazy to get dressed now. Sit and talk.’

I am becoming too lazy for anything.

Perhaps I am rotting here, perhaps the West will do me good. I have achieved nothing. I have achieved nothing but happiness.

But I must not give way to ambition, else I shall lose that happiness. One day there will come a time of rush and work and worry, and then I shall long for this peace, this idleness, this present.

I must not forget how to be lazy. Dear Reader, nearly fifty years on I’m still very lazy