What is surging joy? Something that wells up limitlessly, spontaneously from within. Can we think of this flood tide of happiness as being outside of ourselves? As something we can catch hold of, find or purchase? It is not possible because it is our natural state, our very being, says Sri Ramana.
We have merely forgotten, moved away from the exhilaration of that natural bliss. Why? Because of the constant externalisatin of the mind. To counter this, to turn the mind inward, Sri Ramana gives the infallible weapon of self-enquiry. Through this attention is focused once more on the source, on the perennial spring of joy. Then that takes over. The inundation of bliss ‘Swallows’ one entirely, says Ramana.
In this book DR. Sarada explores the technique of Self-Enquiry and its practical implications. She is the editor of the monthly, “The Ramana Way’. Her writing is marked by an intuitive understanding of Ramana’s teaching and a sure touch in her capacity to communicate it with clarity. She has presented several papers on the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi and regularly gives talks and conducts workshops on his works. Here she highlights Sri Ramana’s unique approach to other methods as well. The various traditional paths to Self-Knowledge also find new meaning in Ramana’s teaching.
The moon is born anew every month, trees in every spring. Yet really, the moon is never ‘new’ but the same old moon going
through the same old phase of waxing once more through the bright
fortnight dissolving into the dark, once more to appear and be called new’. Trees are not new in spring, only bedecked with fresh gay blooms and soft green leaves. There is really no ending and no beginning, the day never ends, it only moves into another part of the world, night never falls suddenly, only flows in from elsewhere.
Yet to see nothing as new is only to be caught in the routine
of habit. For there is a great miracle in the dawning of day, in the
budding of trees, in the spreading of night and birth of the moon.
There is perhaps, no birth in fact, but in experience there is a
glorious birth, and what is ever existent wondrously comes into
existence once more. Such is the birth of the birth less, the coming
of Bhagavan Sri Ramana in his enchanting human form. Bhagavan
was not ‘born’ on the 30th of December, 1879, as there can be no birth’ for the infinite. But, as we know him now, as the immaculate beauty of Ramana, he was ‘born’ on that holy Punarvasu day a hundred and fifteen years ago.
And why was he born? Why did he infinite freshly don the human garb? Only to give Itself anew :o humankind, no, to all beings; human and other.
And this new way in which Truth has revealed itself is the ‘Ramana Way’. Sri Ramana has not taught a ‘new Truth’ (for Truth is neither new nor old, it always is), but has forged a new way of approaching the Truth. This way is not ‘new’ as opposed to the old’ and yet, it is ‘new’ in that it differs from the ‘old’. The ‘new’ eaves on the mango tree are not different in structure or nature from the old. They do not begin to resemble peepul leaves, they continue to be mango leaves, but they are not the old leaves. The waters of an old river are ever new. If they were not, they would stagnate and decay. It is the renewal of the old as the new which makes for life. The Self is hailed both as ‘ancient’ and as ‘ever
new’. That which ever is, continuously renews itself and reveals itself in the immediacy and relevance of the now.
The newness of the Ramana way lies in its relevance to our current manner of living and approach to things, its aptness to the needs and responsiveness of our time. Bhagavan Ramana’s teachings are eminently relevant to the crucial business of living in the current context.
The special emphasis of Sri Ramana is on natural happiness. He never tires of pointing out that happiness is our own nature, which is why we seek it so persistently, at all times, consciously or unconsciously. What prevents our being aware of this flood of happiness, this surging joy, is simply the fact that we are out of tune with it. Having forgotten our true nature, we identify ourselves with a limited entity, a name and form which alone we take to be our self. The magic revival of Self-awareness will occur when we are rid of the false notion, the illusion that we are limited.
Here we find Sri Ramana’s unique path of self-enquiry which leads us directly to Self-awareness. We are directed to examine the nature of the mind and upon doing so we find that i has two aspects. One consists of the crowd of thoughts that are ever changing, ever moving. There is the other, the continuous element in the mind which is the ‘I’ - thought. Every other thought depends for its existence on the attention of the ‘I’, every thought exists only in association with the ‘I’. The ‘I’- thought also appears to be equally dependent on other thoughts, for throughout our waking and dream experinces we are plagued by the continuous rush of thoughts. However, the very fact that thoughts are changing but the ‘l’-thought is continuous implies that it exists when one thought goes and another comes, that is, it exists even in the gap between thoughts. Hence, it is really independent of thoughts and. only due to force of habit clings to them. Sri Ramana says that if we cut at the root of this habit through self- enquiry then the ‘I’- thought will be isolated. If we question the very validity of the ‘l’-thought with the query ‘Who am I?’, it will have no locus-standi to associate itself with other thoughts. What happens then? As the ‘I’- thought
cannot take pointed scrutiny it will shrink back into its source, the Self. One may wonder how we can say that the ‘I’ rises from the Self, that the Self is its source. This is evident to us through the daily experience of deep sleep when the ‘l’-thought is absent, when there is no consciousness of identity, but existence is untramelled. That is why we are able to recall the peace of sleep on waking. It is also on waking that we become conscious once more of the name and form. The identity, the ‘l’-thought rises again. Thus we infer that the ‘l’—thought merges into the Self in deep sleep and rises on waking. To experience this merger consciously is the purpose of self-enquiry.
What happens when, through enquiry, the ‘I’ is merged in the source, the Self? Does it imply a cessation of thinking, will it result in a void? Far from it. Sri Ramana describes it as an inundation of bliss. One is ‘swallowed alive’ as it were, he says, but then one becomes or is the very bliss that swallows one. It is like the river merging in the sea and dancing as the sea. It is surging joy. Thus one comes full circle from the seeking of happiness to experiencing
The other factor which Sri Ramana highlights is the immediacy of the experience. Since happiness is natural, since it is the kingdom of heaven that lies within, it must be here and now. It is not something to be created, or reached after death or even attained in the normal sense of the word. It is ever present. All effort is merely’ to rid ourselves of the notion that we are apart from this bliss, that we are limited and mortal. The significance of self-enquiry
lies in turning attention Selfward, in breaking the habitual
dependence on thought and identity. However, along with the
enquiry, while seeking one must remember not to distance Self-knowledge and put it away as a goal to be reached in some distant future. One must seek always with the faith that it is ever available. Finally, then, even the process of seeking would cease, attention alone would remain. The Self would reveal itself. All things would be bathed in a glorious freshness, all would dance with surging joy.
This book therefore, commences with the search for happiness. It addresses itself to those who will not be satisfied with thinkers but desire the highest, only infinite bliss, nothing less. For, this is the promise which Sri Ramana holds before us. The next step, then is to travel the path. It is the royal-path of self enquiry lighted by Sri Ramana’s ever-present Grace. Still our habitual limitations create many ups and downs along the way. We are sometimes even travel –weary and have to recall the Sadguru’s great love and revive strength to pursue the path. We would do well at such times to remind ourselves of the great treasure that lies in store. Indeed, we would do better to dwell on its immediacy. This is done in the second section of the book by exploring Sri Ramana’s declaration that the present is the only time, by understanding the implications of this statement and the wonder it reveals. The third section of the book dwells on Sri Ramana’s composition ‘Arunachala Pancharatnam’. What is presented is not so much a direct explanation or commentary on the work, as a delving into its implication for practice. Whatever Sri Ramana has said or composed carries great practical import. Thus the way in which these verses become an integral part of our everyday lives, the response they rouse in us and now we apply it in varied ways to our spiritual practice is dealt with.
The approach throughout is of one who seeks to thread the path. It deals, thus, with problems which one experiences and how Sri Ramana’s teachings and his unfailing grace keep one on the path. Doubtless, then, his legacy will be ours too, the legacy of surging joy.
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