Saturday, March 23, 2013

From ‘Be As You Are. The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.’ Edited by David Godman

…..the peace of mind which permeates the saint’s atmosphere is the only means by which the seeker understands the greatness of the saint.

His words or actions or appearance are no indication of his greatness, for they are ordinarily beyond the comprehension of common people.

Worshipping the formless reality by unknown thought is the best kind of worship. But when one is not fit for such formless worship of God, worship of form alone is suitable.

Q: What are the marks of a real teacher [sadguru]?

A: Steady abidance in the Self, looking at all with an equal eye unshakeable courage at all times, in all places and circumstances

This flow of power from the Guru can be received by anyone whose attention is focused on the Self or on the form of the Guru; distance is no impediment to its efficacy. This attention is often called sat-sanga, which literally means ‘association with being’. Sri Ramana wholeheartedly encouraged this practice and frequently said that it was the most efficient way of bringing about a direct experience of the Self. …..He said that the most important element in sat-sanga was the mental connection with the Guru; sat-sanga takes place not only in his presence but whenever and wherever one thinks of him.

Q: How can silence be so powerful?

A: A realized one sends out waves of spiritual influence which draw many people towards him. Yet he may sit in a cave and maintain complete silence. We may listen to lectures upon truth and come away with hardly any grasp of the subject, but to come into contact with a realized one, though he speaks nothing, will give much more grasp of the subject. He never needs to go out among the public.

Meditation is sticking to one thought. That single thought keeps away other thoughts. Distraction of mind is a sign of its weakness. By constant meditation it gains strength, that is to say, the weakness of fugitive thought gives place to the enduring background free from thought. This expense devoid of thought is the Self. Mind in purity is the Self.

He did ….speak highly of the practice of nama-japa (the continuous repetition of God’s name) and he often advocated it as a useful aid for those who were following the path of surrender…… In its early stages the repetition of the name of God is only an exercise in concentration and meditation, but with continued practice a stage is reached in which the repetition proceeds effortlessly, automatically and continuously. This stage is not reached by concentration alone but only by completely surrendering to the deity whose name is being repeated.

The only physical changes he ever sanctioned were dietary. He accepted the prevailing Hindu theory of diet which claimed that the type of food consumed affected the quantity and quality of one’s thoughts and he recommended a moderate intake of vegetarian food as the most useful aid to spiritual practice.

If a man has a strong desire for the higher life then the sex tendency will subside.

…..accustom yourself to sattvic foods. However, once you have attained illumination it will make less difference what you eat, as, on a great fire, it is immaterial what fuel is added.

Q: Even plants have life.

A: So too the slabs you sit on!

…..tobacco is a poison……also not good for meditation practice.

Sri Ramana never advised his devotees to practice kundalini yoga since he regarded it as being both potentially dangerous and unnecessary. He accepted the existence of the kundalini power and the chakras but he said that even if the kundalini reached the sahasrara it would not result in realization. For final realization, he said, the kundalini must go beyond the sahasrara, down another nadi (psychic nerve) he called amritanadi (also called the paranadi or jivanadi) and into the Heart-centre on the right-hand side of the chest. Since he maintained that self-enquiry would automatically send the kundalini to the Heart-centre, he taught that separate yoga exercises were unnecessary.

Sri Ramana tended to play down the importance of most spiritual experiences and if they were reported to him he would usually stress that it was more important to be aware of the experiencer than to indulge in or analyse the experience.

….sleep only moderately. To prevent too much sleep, we must try and have not thoughts or chalana [movement of the mind], we must eat only sattvic food and that only in moderate measure, and not indulge in too much physical activity. The more we control thought, activity and food the more we shall be able to control sleep …. Sleep is the first obstacle, as explained in all books, for all sadhaks.

Q: ….signs….of…progress towards Self-Realisation?

A: The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts and the degree of concentration on a single thought are the measures to gauge the progress.

Q: Is the individual capable of spiritual progress in an animal body?

A: Not impossible, though it is exceedingly rare. 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.

…following classification which was used by Sri Ramana is common to many Hindu schools of thought:

1 Sanchita karma The store of karmic debts accumulated from previous births

2 Prarabdha karma That part of one’s sanchita karma which must be worked out in the present life. Because the law of karma implies determinism in human activities, prarabdha is often translated as destiny.

3 Agami karma New karma accumulated in the present lifetime which is carried forward into future lives

Sri Ramana accepted the validity of the laws of karma but said that they were only applicable as long as a person imagined that he was separate from the Self. ….He occasionally even said that every act and experience in a person’s life is determined at birth and that the only freedom one has to realize that there is no one acting and no one experiencing. However, once one realizes the Self there is no one left to experience the consequences of actions and so the whole structure of karmic laws then becomes redundant

Whatever this body is to do and whatever experiences it is to pass through was already decided when it came into existence.

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