Courtesy & Copyright Ramana Maharishi Center for Learning
Introduction (Courtesy & Copyright Ramana Maharishi Center for Learning)
Bhagavan Ramana has been answering questions of a vast variety of persons in different stages of spiritual evolution and varied backgrounds for five decades from 1900. His accessibility at all times to one and all has made it possible for the seekers to freely express their problems and seek solutions for them from Ramana. Can you guess how many questions he would have answered? Your guess is like to be wrong. It is more than thirty thousand questions! Unparalleled, isn’t it?
Consequently if one reads the dialogues, which Ramana had with innumerable seekers, in “Ramana Gita”, “Talks”, “Day by Day”, “More Talks” and so on, one would have covered the whole gamut of human problems on the spiritual path. One does not have to look elsewhere. Friends I have reproduced sixty-two of the one hundred questions that appear in the book. For your convenience the piece is divided into four chapters –
1. Japa, Samadhi - 19 questions.
2. Self – Realization - 15 questions.
3. Guru, Rebirth - 14 questions.
4. General - 14 questions.
Japa, Control of Mind, Samadhi
Japa / Tapas / Meditation
10. What is the effect of Japas or Mantras?
Diversion. The mind is a channel, a swift current of thoughts. A mantra is a bund or dam put up in the way of this current to divert the water where it is needed.
11. Some years ago I had been initiated into two mantras and was enjoined to repeat them a minimum number of times each day. I have been doing it punctiliously. But now after entering the Ashram, I have no mind to do it. I fear the consequences of the non-observance of the instructions of my initiation. I am making a clear breast of my default to Bhagavan.
(Smiled and said) Just because you have done so much japa its merit brought you here. Why should you now fear when you are enjoying the fruits of your japa?
12. What is the relationship between vichara, self-enquiry and repetition of sacred syllables, mantra japa?
Vichara itself is mantra, japa, tapas, sacrifice and yoga.
• Does it mean that for those practicing vichara it is unnecessary to repeat mantras?
Vichara is the source, the essence of all mantras. All that it means is that one should not be attached to the mantra as such. It does not preclude it.
16. Vedantic texts, particularly the ‘Vichara sangraham’ recommends fasting strongly, please clarify.
They do not mean that you should abstain from eating food, or drinking water. All that is meant is that without causing hardships to the body one should eat limited quantities of food conducive to meditation.
17. How am I to rise above my present animals existence? My own efforts in that direction have proved futile. I am convinced that it is only a superior might that can transform me. And that is what has brought me here.
You are right. It is only on the awakening of a power mightier than the senses and the mind that these can be subdued. If you awaken and nurture the growth of that power within you, everything else will be conquered. One should maintain the current of meditation uninterrupted. Moderation in food and similar restraints will be helpful in maintaining the inner poise.
18. What is the use of mind yearning for meditation? Here it is only kitchen work.
Let the hands and legs do the job. You are not the hands or legs. You are the unmoving one. Problems will be endless so long as one is not aware of it. If you identify yourself with the body you are bound to dualities. Work would appear difficult. Even if we free ourselves from work will the mind cease to wander? It does not let you even sleep in peace. It keeps wandering as in dreams.
21. ‘What must I do to avoid sleep during my meditation?’
‘Meditators must not work too much, nor should they fill their stomachs with excessive food. The more one fills the stomach, the lower one’s mental state becomes. If the stomach is mostly empty, one will go higher spiritually; One should not tighten the strings of the vina either too much or too little. The body must be kept like that. ‘Likewise with sleep. One third of the night has been allotted for sleep. That is, one must go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 2 a.m. One should not sleep during day time. There is another system also. One should get up whenever one wakes up and one should sleep whenever sleep comes. But one should not think, “I slept” or “I woke up”. Then he quoted verse 33 of Devikalottara: The mind often strays into reveries or falls asleep. Be vigilant and turn it into its pristine state again and again.
22. While practicing meditation I find some pain in the back and in front of the chest. This is stated to be the test by God. Will Bhagavan explain this and say if it is true?
What you believe to be a test is really the strain in that is now brought to play on the nerves and the five senses. The mind which was hitherto operating through the nadis to sense the external objects is now required to withdraw. This withdrawal naturally causes strain. It would go, if you would continue with your meditation bestowing your attention solely on understanding your self. There is no greater remedy than this continuous yoga.
Control of Mind
24. “Whichever way one turns, one finds that the mind has to be subdued. We are told it has to be controlled, Can this really be done when on the one hand the mind is an entity not easily grasped and on the other one continues to have worldly worries?”
“Him. A person who has never seen an ocean must make a trip to it to know about it. Standing there before the huge expanse of water, this person may wish to bathe in the sea. Of what use is it if, seeing the roaring and rolling of the waves, he were to just stand there thinking, ‘I shall wait for all this to subside. When it does, I shall enter it for a quest bath just as in the pond back home? He has to realize either by himself or by being told, that the ocean is restlessness and that it has been so from the moment of creation and will continue likewise till Pralaya (destruction). He will then resolve to learn to bathe in it, as it is. He may wade into it by and by, and perhaps, through prior instruction, learn to duck under a wave and let it pass over him. He would naturally hold his breath, While doing so, soon he would be skilled enough to duck, at a stretch, wave after wave, and thus achieve the purpose of bathing without coming to grief. The ocean may go on and though in it, he is free from its grip”. Bhagavan then added, after a pause, “So too here”.
25. When I am engaged in enquiry as to the source from which ‘I’ springs I arrive at a stage of stillness of mind. The experience is pleasing. I have no thought of any kind and there is emptiness or blankness. Should I continue this practice?
Such a condition is called manolaya or temporary stillness of thought. As soon as it ceases, thoughts, old and new, rush in as usual. It will never end. The practitioner must therefore be ever on the alert and enquire within as to who has this experience, who is aware of its pleasantness? Failing this enquiry he would fall into a long trance.
26. Sometimes, after stillness of thoughts intervenes, I used to hear some sounds like what is heard near a rolling mill or a whistle.
Ask who hears the sound? Repeat the question now and then.
27. I have not learnt to control my mind. So I intend to seek life in solitude in North India and want Sri Bhagavan’s grace.
You have come all the way to Tiruvannamalai for solitude and that too in the immediate presence and vicinity of Ramana Bhagavan, yet you do not appear to have obtained mental quiet; now you want to go elsewhere and from there you will desire to go to some other place. At this rate there will be no end to your travels. You do not realize that it is your mind, which drives you in this manner. Control your mind first and you will be happy wherever you are. One must attempt to get to the very bottom from which thought springs and roots out thought, desire and mind.
29. If solitude and abandonment is not required, where was the necessity for Bhagavan to come here in the seventeenth year?
If the same force that took this (meaning himself) here, should take you also out of your home by all means let it, but there is no use deserting your home by an effort of your own. You duty lies in practice, continuous practice of self-enquiry.
• Why did Bhagavan leave Skandasramam?
The same sakti which brought me from Madurai to Tiruvannamalai got me down here from the hill. I had no sankalpa whatsoever
Samadhi (Super Conscious State)
30. What is samadhi?
When the mind is in communion with the Self in ignorance, it is called nidra (sleep). Involution in a conscious or wakeful state is samadhi. Samadhi is continuous inherence in the Self in a waking state. Nidra or sleep is also inherence in the Self but in an unconscious state. In sahaja samadhi the communion is continuous.
31. What are kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi?
The involution of the mind in the Self, but without its destruction, is kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. There are four obstacles in this namely: (i) vacillation of min, (ii) life breath or prana, (iii) body, and (iv) drishti. In kevala nirvikalpa samadhi one is not free from vasanas and does not, therefore, attain mukti. Only after the samskaras have been destroyed can one attain salvation.
32. Then what is the samadhi you speak of?
In yoga the term samadhi refers to some kind of trance and there are various kinds of it. But the samadhi I speak of is different. It is sahaja samadhi. For, here you have samadhana, you remain calm and comprehend even while you are active; you realise that you are moved by the deeper Real Self within. You have no worries, no anxieties, no cares. For here you come to realize that there is nothing belonging to you, the ego. And everything is done by something with which you get into conscious union.
• When can one practice sahaja samadhi?
Even from the beginning. Even though one practices kevala nirvikalpa samadhi for years together, if one has not rooted out the vasanas, he will not attain salvation.
33. If this is sahaja samadhi and the most desirable condition, is there no need for nirvikalpa samadhi?
The nirvikalpa samadhi of Raja Yoga may have its use. But in jnana this sahaja sthiti or sahaja nishta itself is the nirvikalpa state. For in this state the mind is free from doubts. It is sure of the truth. It feels the presence of the Real. Even when it is active, it knows it is active in the reality, the self, the supreme being.
34. How can action which is subdued in samadhi emerge and continue to function?
The all-pervading infinite self brings about the actions. They are performed through the senses and limbs. The man’s ego is doing nothing. It is also incapable of doing anything. When an author is writing he is so absorbed in his ideas that he forgets he is writing with a pen with his own hand. He is unaware of his body. Once the consciousness dawns that he is the person that is writing it, that it is his hand and his pen that writes it, the flow of his ideas is arrested. He comes down from the self-absorption and becomes aware of his pen, the hand and so is not able to write. The pen, the hand, etc. are inanimate objects and the power of the self-alone is capable of giving life to them and making them work.
The results of one’s actions do not affect the self. The lightning and thunder produced on account of the clash of clouds in the sky do not affect the sky. If we realize that we are part and parcel of the atomic force there would be no reason why we should falter or get confused.
35. How does a person of steady knowledge’ know that he is one such? Is it because of the awareness of fullness of his knowledge? Or is it because of cessation of objective awareness?
In the firm natural state, through the silence of the mind free of all tendencies, the knower knows himself as such, without any doubt.