Ramana stresses that unless one consciously destroy the mind through vigilant self-enquiry, one’s mind is bound to be on his trail. This truth is repeatedly dined in the face of the deafening sound of falsehood and illusion. What do all one’s trivial values add up to? What is one’s balance sheet at the end of each and every day, or should one say each and every moment, which we have lived in vain.
In this context, one has to look at Bhagavan Raman’s very first guidance as a universal guru. The disciple was Gambhiram Seshier and the year 1990, Ramana told him, “Can the body, which is insentient as a piece of wood, shine and function as ‘I’? NO. Therefore, lay aside this insentient body as though it were truly a corpse. Do not even murmur ‘I’, but enquire keenly within what it is that now shines within the heart as ‘I’. Underlying the unceasing flow of varied thoughts, there arises the continuous, unbroken awareness, silent and spontaneous, as ‘I-I’ in the Heart. If one catches hold of it and remains still, it will completely annihilate the sense of ‘I’ in the body and will itself disappear as a fire of burning camphor.
Sarada puts this gently but insistently in all her articles, covered in this book. In Sarada’s writings, there is an underlying depth, which pins one to this essence rather than to be content with a sip or two of it.
This is the first English publication of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi Research centre. We are glad that the grace of Sadguru Ramana has made it possible to place this special offering at his feet with gratitude.
Is one’s span of life from birth to death or are there many births and deaths in the course of eighteen to twenty hours each day? What about the rest of the time? For this period there is no mind, fro there is only the silence of deep sleep when there is neither the thinkers nor his thoughts. All the desires, fears, ambitions which one cherishes and keep feeding on, have been lulled when they are forced to rest.
There is a kick-start on walking for memory pushes one into the ‘deep ocean of endless action’ resulting from greed, ambition and an insatiable appetite for enjoyment. Or should one say, one wakes up because of this Kick-start? Many such questions are posed by Sarada, in her , ‘Letter to a Friend’, in which she makes quiet fun of our unquestioning assumption of continuity in face of the reality, which would state one in the face, if only one enquires.
What one calls life is a series of relationships based on attachment. What about their fate. There is a flying start to all of them. Then there is routinisation, which is a beginning of decay, when one find it hard to give time for it. The fire of the relationship, which is the nature of particularized love, would have been allowed to die for the fire would not have been stoked. It dies often unnoticed. The form of it would continue but it warmth would have ended.
The essentially brittle nature of all one’s relationship may also be a play of circumstances, when associations would end without any choice. With how many of our classmates and college-mates are we in touch though they were close to us at that time? Life drills one apart.
On the top of all this, here is lure of money, which enslaves one to its demands on ‘precious time’ or is one using a wrong phase in calling time ‘Precious’? In a life that is mortgaged to enslavement to grinding jobs that offer huge take home packets, where is the room to be alone with oneself? There is no scope for being associated with the divine and enjoying the company of those who once upon a time were very endearing. One’s life is so empty and one is often afraid to be with himself, just by himself.
Sarada laughs at the way that one assumes the body’s continuity when there is second mutation of its cells and a visible change from childhood to teenage, youth to middle-age and old-age, or one might say, the ‘seven stages’ of man, to which Shakespeare refers.
As for the mind, its capacity too grows and decays from vigour to dementation, which would be shown by a C.T. scan. Unfortunately, there is no death for the mind unlike the body, which is buried or cremated at the end of a time span.
Ramana stresses that unless one consciously destroy the mind through vigilant self-enquiry, one’s mind is bound to be on his trail Jarvis on that of the Count of Monte Cristo. Death of the body says Ramana, is not the death of the mind, for it is a past with its memories hurts and enjoyments. The seeds of memory are there as our present misery, a strong expression indeed. The language is for emphasis and just to awaken one form the slumber of ignorance of one’s true nature. Sarada puts this gently but insistently in all her articles, covered in this book. This truth is repeatedly dinned in the face of deafening sound of falsehood and illusion. We do all one’s trivial values add up to? What is one’s balance sheet at the end of each and every day, or should one say each and every moment, which we have lived in vain.
In this context, one has to look at Bhagavan Ramana’s very first guidance as a universal guru. The disciple was Gambhiram Seshier and the year 1900, Ramana told him, “Can the body, which is insentient as a piece of wood, shine and function as ‘I’? No. Therefore, lay aside this insentient body as though it were truly a corpse. Do not even murmur ‘I’, but enquire keenly within what it is that now shines within the heart as ‘I’ underlying the unceasing flow of varied thoughts, there arises the continuous, unbroken awareness, silent and spontaneous, as ‘I-I’ in the Heart. If one catches hold of it and remains still, it will completely annihilate the sense of ‘I’ in the body, and will itself disappear as a fire of burning camphor.
Are we ready for this life-giving enquiry? Or as Sarada pointedly asks, are we ready only with another set of levels to classify and codify, as one does to even Ramana’s teachings? As Sarada points out, this is one more device of ego-based mind to perpetuate itself and for shutting out knowledge about oneself. In this failure to enquire and using this convenient escape, a whiff of the ‘cool southern breeze of truth’ is shut out. Sarada therefore draws one’s attention to Ramana’s emphasis on knowledge of the subject, about the primacy of the perceiver, the centre of al perception.
In Sarada’s writings, there is an underlying depth, which pins one to the essence rather than to be content with a sip or two of it. She asks “I want to leave a mark behind’, ‘I want to make a name’. A name where? A name that the waves will sing of or the breeze will carry across the skies? A name that the leaves will whisper to each other? A name that one can read in the inner layer of the earth when it is dug up? A name that shines in every heart? Or a name that others will read in the obituaries perhaps in films, in magazines, at most in biographies and history books? And to those who read, it will be just that, no more than a name. And this ‘other’, this name is the motive, he purpose of our lives. What are we proving and to whom?”
In his ‘Marital Garland of Letters’, Ramana prays to his guru, Arunachala, “to render him naked and then ornament him, with grace”. This is the basic theme of Sarada’s ‘The Real Birthday’. Does one know about this constant concern about he body, its unsaid preferences and prejudices and above all its ‘unfailing judgment of others? Who is ‘I’ around which one’s world is built? Would one like to ask this question or it is too dangerous even to think about it?
From the ‘Introduction’ to the ‘Wonderous Vigilance’, each article is a gem in itself. When they have been strung together as a book, they have the special aroma of Ramana’s grace.
This is Sarada’s book after ‘Surgng Joy’, which was published many years ago. It whets one’s appetite and makes one ask for more.
This is the first English publication of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi Research Centre. We are glad that the grace of Sadguru Ramana has made it possible to place this special offering at his feet with gratitude.
What would we hope to gain form a study and practice of the Raman way – greater peace, control of the mind, a balanced life? Are we disturbed by the sorrows that haunt our life, returning every now and then? Do the travails of those around perturb us. Do we dream of a happy world for ourselves and for everyone else too? Do we believe that we have some answers but need to look for more? Perhaps life would be better if one could control our own mind, do what needs to be done, not pay attention to disturbing thoughts, stay focused, calm, and so on. Surely there must be some means to get rid of the various problems that keep plaguing us. Where does the answer lie? Do we believe in happiness, in the possibility of joy of an altogether different dimensions than what we have seen to be possible so far? Are we looking for this boundless, surging joy? Has our search for happiness brought us here?
Or it is a certain emptiness, a hunting for greater meaning in life? Do we feel there is something more to life than meets the eye? In the midst of our numerous achievements, in spite of crossing many milestones, having realized some of our dreams and looking forward to the fulfillment of other dreams, do we still feel deep down in our heart, that this is not the whole story? There must be something more to life than work and entertainment, something more than achievement and failure, something that is the absolute achievement. Perhaps, we wonder a something that even defies death? Re we here to discover the purpose of life? Or are we simply eager to know more about ourselves? Does something tell us time and again that we do not really know who we are, not wholly in any case? Do we wonder about the nature of our mind, the relationship of the mind to the body? Do we wish to delve into ourselves, to explore our total potential? Would we like to know what is the essential ‘I’ in the midst of so many things about ourselves that keep changing? Our bodies, our thoughts, our attitudes, our relationships, everything is moving, changing. What is it that gives continuity and coherence to it all? Is it the spirit of enquiry about the Self that has made us enter this domain.
There seem to be three basic goals that bring us to self enquiry.
1. Search for happiness (or for greater happiness than that known at present.
2. Search for the purpose of life.
3. Search for the truth about the Self (or the seeking of Self-knowledge).
In effect are not al of us seeking all these goals? Can any of us truly say that we have attained all the joy we seek, that our cup of happiness is full and overflowing? Do we envisage ourselves feeling so anywhere in the near future? Can we think of a time when we will say, ‘All hat I wished to get, have got. All that I sought to attain I have attained. There is nothing further to be done’? Even suppose we do get hundred-fold the wealth and fame that we had ever dreamt of, would we cry a halt to our seeking? Even after having love and laugher fill our lives do we stop asking for more? No, Why not? Because we are seeking, ever seeking that happiness whose promise seems ever-fresh yet unknown, unseen, hidden perhaps in some mysterious land. Where? Where does that joy lie, having tested of which everything will be permeated with bliss? We are seeking, seeking it in all that we do and do not do, in ways known and unknown even do ourselves, of which we are hardly conscious. And this seeking when it begins to reveal itself takes the form of the questions, why am I doing whatever I am doing? What is the meaning of my existence? When thus we begin to enquire into life’s purpose, it naturally leads us to the question of who we really are. After all, it is my life, it is I who live. How can I except to understand life or its goal without understanding the one who lives?
For, unless we believe and understand that self enquiry has a crucial role to play in our lives we will not allow it to exercise its transforming influence. Unless there is a yearning, perhaps as yet undefined, to reach beyond our routine, robotic existence, it is near impossible to get out of the clutches of habitual living. Yes, there must be a longing, alonging for the fullness of joy, for the fullness of joy, for the fullness of love, for the fullness of life that makes us simply step out of the conveyor belt and start walking, then jumping perhaps, dancing, floating if we cannot look without and wonder, look within and love, then the bounties of self-enquiry may well be lost on us. So it is important, very important to recognize that self-enquiry could mean in our lives. But this is not enough. We must not only know ‘Why self-enquiry?’ But also understand ‘What is self1enquiry?
Very obviously self-enquiry is an enquiry into the nature of the self. It is paying attention, total attention to the very essence of what we call ‘I’. This means that we have firstly to identify what this essence is and then allow attention to remain with it and then allow attention to remain with it. In order to do so let us examine what we already know, or think we know, about ourselves. Simple. I am my name, my form or body that I primarily take to be myself. I am my mind, the faculty that enables me to be conscious, to think to feel. I am my various ideas, my likes and dislikes, my goals and ambitions, my many loves, my pet hates, my overriding passions, my values. Oh! All that I call my ‘personality’ I have taken to be ‘I’. Yet, in all these what is essentially ‘I’? Is ‘I’ any one of these? Or is it a conglomeration of all these put together which ceases to exist in the absence of any of the factors? Let us examine each aspect to see how essential it is to our sense of ‘I’.
First, the name. If one is the name why say ‘My name?’ Why say ‘I am attached to it’, I will not change it? That implies the personality of a change, does it not? Once changed, we do not say, ‘I have changed’. We only say, I have changed my name’. Not so with the body, one may argue. When there is change in the body we say, ‘I have changed’. However, if one is the body, how come one perceives the body’s experiences and recognizes them as apart from oneself, ‘I feel pain’ not ‘I am pain’, ‘I feel hunger’, not ‘I am hunger’. The body’s experiences are those that I am associated with, attached to, but not ‘I’ myself. Same with the mind. ‘I have thoughts’, ‘I have feelings’, not ‘I am thoughts’, not ‘I am feelings’, not ‘I am love’ only ‘I love’ or ‘I am in love’. Yes it is always association, which is only taken to be identity. Besides, I am any one of my feelings, why am I not that always? Why do other feelings also come and go or co-exist? Then, I am different people at different times or many people at one time.
When we have thus examined our sense of ‘I’ we come to a point of recognizing that all we have taken to be ourselves is merely that, ‘taken to be I’, not ‘I’. ‘I’ is not this or that but what has continuously been taking itself to be ‘this’ or ‘that’. What is this ‘I’? Who am I really? When this question stares us in the face, not as a theoretical, abstract theme that we have heard somewhere and vaguely believe in but as a real issue, then the seed of enquiry has been shown. The longing to discover our true nature can no more be cast aside. Then alone are we actually ready to take an intent look at our self. We are prepared to dive deep, ignoring thoughts and fixing our entire attention on the ‘thinker’, on that which has the power to think and which has the power to be aware of thoughts, of their rising, their setting and their passing. We are prepared t dive deeper still, holding attention on the thinker, going to the very source of the thinker, which Bhagavan Ramana calls the ‘Heart’. Such is the wonderous vigilance of self-enquiry that merges us in the perfect clarity of Supreme Consciousness. If even once we take this plunge into the Heart then its pull draws us back to itself constantly, until we are unwaveringly established in the Heart Kingdom, the Kingdom of surging joy, of boundless love.
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