#1961 - Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Nondual Highlights Issue #1961 Tuesday, October 26, 2004 Editor: Mark
Editors note: I hope you folks don't mind too much. I'm a bit further along in my move than I expected, so I decided to do the Tuesday HL after all. I'm outta here tomorrow at 2:00. Hope to see you soon.
A small bird passing through
The shiver in the leaves
oh nameless one
I rise and run when coffee's done
The green mile
heading into twilight
Inside the pockets
of this jacket
Dry leaves and eagle down,
some seeds for spring,
a matchbox with two beads
Apart from this ,
no rules, no strings
I'm not awake, I'm not asleep
Just in to deep, it seems My eyes are closed, my love
without a net for dreams.
- Photos and poem by Al Larus
He is now as he was. To many he said: "You are not the body." We see now that he was not the body. In his bodys lifetime, as now, guidance came to all who turned to him, whether they could approach him physically or not; now, as in his bodys lifetime, it radiates with peculiar force from his Ashram at the foot of Arunachala.
"People say I am leaving," he said just before the bodys death. "Where could I go? I am here." Not "I shall be here" but "I am here". He is here in the eternal here and now; he is here in each ones heart; he is here also in his Ashram at Tiruvannamalai.
He inaugurated a new path independent of formal rites and initiation to suit the conditions of our age when true guidance is hard to find in any of the orthodox channels and when traditional forms of living do not fit into the pattern of life. It would have been a poor gift if it had been for his lifetime only. He is the Guru now as he was. Those many who never saw him in the body find his guidance no less powerful than we who did. Therefore it is not necessary for any successor to give initiation in his name. The initiation was silent and formless, as it still is; the guidance was straight to the heart, bypassing words and thought. Understanding is needed, and courage and devotion; the path is there and the Guide to lead and support you to the Goal.
How can he perform the act of guiding aspirants if he has become one with Universal Being, theorists ask. He has not. He already was one with Universal Being. Every one is; it is only a question of realizing it, and he had realized the Oneness before death already. He himself confirmed that there is no difference between Realization before death and after.
The Self is what you are, whether Muslim or Christian no less than Hindu. Therefore he turns people inwards to the Self, to the quest of the Self, making no distinction among religions.
Books and scriptures teach that the quest must be undertaken and the ego dissolved. Once this has been understood, why study them interminably? Therefore he did not speak often or unprompted on theory. Did Christ or Buddha? About practice he spoke gladly.
Powers are useless, often an impediment. Any desire, even for powers that are considered higher, indicates that there is still someone who desires. It is that someone who is to be traced out and dissolved
Only for our sake the Guru appears outwardly; he is the Self in the heart. But because the impure mind misinterprets messages, the instructions are received outwardly to be followed inwardly.
What is Ramana? When he joined in singing Ramana Sad-Guru he pointed to his body and said "Do you think this is Ramana?"
"In the recesses of the lotus-shaped heart of all, from Vishnu downwards, there shines the Absolute Consciousness, which is the same as Arunachala or Ramana. When the mind melts with love of Him and reaches the inmost recess of the Heart where He dwells as the Beloved, the subtle eye of pure intellect opens and He reveals Himself as Pure Consciousness."
But how, it may be asked, is one to know that one has been taken up by Ramana Maharshi and become his disciple now that he is no longer here in the body to confirm it? The same problem existed in his lifetime also. He very seldom confirmed in words having given initiation. It was to be understood. And then also there were some who failed to understand. As I explained in my last editorial, the time for rigid formalism, whether of initiation or of the path into which one is initiated, is past. The new trend required to meet the conditions of our times, did not, as I pointed out there, begin with the Maharshi. He brought it to completion, but it started as far back as the 19th Century. Sai Baba, who lived at the turn of the century, also gave no formal initiation. Sri Lahiri Mahasaya, who died in 1895, so simplified Kriya Yoga as to make it accessible to householders also, and even to non-Hindus. In the Maharshis lifetime, as now, his initiation came without ritual, whether through a potent, intense look or in a dream or some other way. Now, as then, people just know that the Maharshi is their Guru, that he has taken them up and that Grace flows to them from him.
And what then? People who turn to the path require some method, some discipline, some technique. It has been sufficiently explained in The Mountain Path that not all the Maharshis disciples, even in his lifetime, followed the path of Self-enquiry. In particular, readers who wish for confirmation of this are referred to The Maharshi and the Path of Devotion by A. Devaraja Mudaliar in our issue of October 1964 and A Chakra at Sri Ramanasramam by Krishna Bhikshu in that of April 1965. His Grace supports his devotees on whatever path they follow, whether there be in it more of devotion or knowledge or action, whether fortified by ritual or not, whether within the framework of any religion or not. And if any change becomes advisable, if any forms or techniques or methods are outgrown and cease to be helpful, some indication will come. Guidance will not fail.
Having said this, however, the opposite side of the medal also should be shown. That is, that the method which Bhagavan always recommended in the first place, which he spoke of as the most simple and direct and put first in all his teaching was Self-enquiry. It follows, therefore, that such of his devotees as can practise it should.
Some people have got a false idea that Selfenquiry is a coldly intellectual method. There is no such thing. Intellectual understanding may be helpful up to a point on ones quest, but it cannot be the quest. I am not this body; I am not the thoughts may be a useful preliminary to the enquiry but it cannot be the enquiry. The enquiry is not a mental investigation such as a psychologist might indulge in. It is not a probing into the faculties, urges, memories or tendencies of ones conscious or subconscious mind, but a quest of the pure I-amness that lies behind all these.
It consists of turning the mind inwards to the sense of being, the feeling of I-am. Therefore it is not verbal. Who am I? is not a mantra. Its repetition might perhaps help to steady the mind in the early stages but can be of little use really. One hint that Bhagavan gave was that consciousness should not be centered in the head but in the spiritual heart at the right side of the chest, because it is not a question of thinking but of feeling and being. That does not mean thinking about the spiritual heart or meditating on it. When you want to see you dont think about your eyes, you just use them; so also with the heart. It is not necessary to locate it exactly any more than it is to locate your eyes in a mirror before you can see with them. What is wanted is to have the experience, not to argue about it. This about the heart is only a hint, but a very useful one.
A man is made up of acting, thinking and being. Being underlies the other two because you cant act or think unless you first are; but it is usually so covered over by them that it is not perceived. It can be compared to a cinema screen and they to the pictures projected on it. It is the screen that supports the pictures and yet it is so covered over by them that it is not perceived. Only very rarely, for a flash, one is aware of just being and feels it as pure, spontaneous, causeless happiness. It is also pure, thought-free consciousness. The purpose of enquiry is to make one aware of being at will, and for longer and longer periods.
This means that although the term meditation is conventionally used for Self-enquiry, it is not meditation as the dictionary defines it. Meditation requires an object, something to meditate on, whereas in enquiry there is only the subject. You are not looking for anything new, anything outside yourself, but simply concentrating on being, on your self, on the pure I am of you. It is not thinking but suspending thoughts while retaining consciousness.
Normally when you stop thinking you go to sleep; and when one first begins enquiry the mind often does try to do so. An attack of overwhelming sleepiness comes over you; but as soon as you stop the enquiry and turn to some other occupation of the mind it passes, thereby showing that it was not real tiredness but just an instinctive resistance to thought-free consciousness. One simply has to fight it.
Thoughts themselves are a far more persistent obstruction. They rush into the mind in an unending stream. You drive them out and others slip in from behind. You think you are free from these and before you notice you are indulging others. The only way is persistence. Constant alertness. Not to get carried away by thoughts. To see them aloofly like clouds passing over a clear sky and ask: What is this thought? Who did it come to? To me, but who am I? And so you bring your mind back to enquiry. The mind is likened to a monkey rushing from tree to tree, ever restless, never content to be still. It has to be checked from its restlessness and held firmly to enquiry.
But it is not only the wandering nature of the mind and the unending succession of thoughts that is the obstruction; it is also the ego-drive behind many of the thoughts. This gives them power and makes them far harder to dispel. You may convince yourself doctrinally that there is no ego and have occasional brief glimpses of the being-consciousness which is unruffled happiness when the ego is in fact absent; but you are drawn to this girl or want to impress this friend or dominate this group; you resent this criticism or feel slighted by this person; you feel insecure in your job, cling to your possessions, hanker after money or power: and all of these are affirmations of the ego which you believe not to exist. So long as they exist, it does. If there is no ego who can feel anger or desire, resentment or frustration?
This means that enquiry is not merely a cold investigation but a battle. Every path is, in every religion. The ego, or apparent ego, has to be destroyed. That is the one essential common to all of them. The only difference is how to do it. There are paths which set you attacking the various vices individually - lust, arrogance and so on, and cultivating the opposing virtues; but Self-enquiry is more direct. Such methods are like lopping the branches off a tree: so long as the roots and trunk remain, fresh ones will grow. Selfenquiry aims at uprooting the tree itself. If the ego is deprived of one outlet - say if it is forced to celibacy - others will develop - say gluttony or vanity. But if the ego itself is dissolved the vices in which it found expression will collapse like deflated balloons. But it is constant warfare until the ego really is dissolved.
This is what Self-enquiry is aiming at. It does not teach one any more theory or doctrine. It is quite possible to know all the doctrine that is necessary before you start- "Simply that being is and you are That". What it does, after a certain amount of practice, is to bring increasingly frequent and lengthy experience of pure timeless being which is also pure awareness and unruffled happiness. This is not mental, and yet the mind is aware of it. It is not physical, and yet it is felt physically as a vibration or a waveless calm. Once awakened it begins to appear spontaneously even when you are not meditating, or to subsist as an undercurrent to whatever you are doing, to the routine of life, while you are talking, even while thinking.
This is important with regard to method. It explains why Bhagavan preferred his devotees to follow the quest in the life of the world. Sitting daily in meditation is useful, in most cases, indispensable; but it is not enough. So far as possible fixed times should be set aside for it, since the mind accustoms itself to them, just as it does with physical functions like eating and sleeping, and responds more readily. For people who are bound by professional and domestic obligations, just after waking in the morning and before going to sleep at night are excellent times. But apart from that Bhagavan would tell people to practise enquiry always, to ask themselves Who is doing this? to engage in activity without the I-am-the-doer illusion. Keeping up this attitude of mind throughout the days activities is equivalent to remaining alert, to welcoming the sense of being whenever it comes. Constant alertness and remembering is necessary when not meditating no less than concentration when remembering. At first there will be frequent forgetting: that also has to be combated. The current of awareness has to be cultivated and fostered. It is very seldom that there is achievement without effort.
This is the path that Bhagavan laid down. It is independent both of forms and doctrines. It requires no ritual. It can be followed invisibly by the housewife or shopkeeper no less than the monk or yogi. The Grace of Bhagavan is available to all who turn to him, but it is those who strive on this path that utilize it the most fully and the most wisely. It is an unfailing support and an inexhaustible treasure for them.
- Editorial by Arthur Osborne in the January, 1966 Mountain Path, posted to MillionPaths by Viorica Weissman
The rocks [in a Zen Garden] represent a frog jumping into the pond. It is said the effect of the jump is a wave that goes out and, if strong enough, the wave will come back to push the frog out of the water again. This is used as a metaphor for our intentional actions. If we act strongly, with a heart that bears no selfish desires or anger, our actions create far more powerful effects that will eventually return to support us.
All things have an ultimate nature. A real existence that ordinary people's minds are unprepared to see. For example, when ordinary people see something, they immediately classify and label that thing. They are unable to make sense of reality without this process. This conceptualization process is based on our subjective experiences and always causes gross distortions.
Let's say you knew a creature that had just arrived on earth. The creature doesn't understand male and female, so you explain the differences including that, on average, women are shorter than men. The creature can't make subtle distinctions like generally and on average, so every time he sees a short person he assumes it's a woman. From an enlightened master's point of view, we are as stupid as the creature, constantly making incorrect assumptions about the world because of our limited system of thought.
It is as if we look at the rock, but only see the rings around the rock. Knowing where the rings are is useful information. The rings tell us a lot about the rock's size shape and location, but it is very far from seeing the rock directly. Similarly, ordinary perception is useful in day to day life, but is a poor second to seeing reality directly."
- posted to DailyDharma
Our true nature is not limited ... it is like the vast ocean. ... When we touch Supreme Consciousness through meditation, then we are boundless, we are everywhere, we are eternal.
- Amma Karunamayi
Attachment Decreases with Meditation
Many times I complained to Bhagavan that I was not making any appreciable progress, bemoaning the persistence of desires. Bhagavan replied making light of my trouble:
"It will all go, all in time. You need not worry. The more dhyana (meditation) one performs the more will these desires fall away."
The Lifelights Network Launches in Honor of Sri Swami Satchidananda's 90th Birth Anniversary
"If you want peace, forget yourself. Think of the benefit of others first. `How can I serve you? How can I make you comfortable?` That's the way it should be. Giving brings harmony. Love and give, love and give. Think of the other person first. With this kind of attitude the whole world will be a fantastic place."
- Sri Gurudev, H. H. Sri Swami Satchidananda
Lifelights is a network of people around the world who have felt their lives enriched, inspired, and changed for the better by the teachings and service of one of the greatest peacemakers and humanitarians in the world, H. H. Sri Swami Satchidananda.
We invite you to join this network by anonymously offering actions or services to anyone on the 22nd of each month (in honor of Sri Gurudev's day of birth). It's a way to contribute to our communities and the world while expressing our gratitude to our beloved Gurudev, who inspires and enriches our lives beyond measure.
How can you be part of the Lifelights Network?
There are only four requirements:
- The act brings some benefit to someone;
- The act brings no harm to anyone;
- The service is done anonymously; and
- The service is offered as a loving tribute in the name of
Sri Swami Satchidananda.
If you would like, you may leave a card with your gift or service. These special wallet-sized cards are available - at no charge - by request (send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Lifelights c/o Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville, Buckingham, Virginia 23921. Outside the USA, send an email request to the address below). The card explains to the recipient that he or she has just received an anonymous act of kindness inspired by the service of Sri Gurudev and his teachings of selfless love and service.
We know that many of you offer acts of kindness on a regular basis. The idea of the Lifelights Network is to inspire people to think of and perform acts of kindness on the 22nd, whether they utilize the cards or not, in special honor and remembrance of Sri Gurudev.
We would like to keep a comprehensive list of as many of these acts of kindness as possible so we can spread the light, love, and inspiration. We invite you to send us ideas you've had and how you've implemented them. We will post these on the "Friends of Yogaville" Web site (www.friendsofyogaville.org) without identifying your name or address.
We do not solicit and do not accept any donations. If you want to give, please spread love and light by joining the Lifelights Network and offering random acts of kindness and service where you live and beyond!
- posted to meditationsocietyofamerica by Bob Rose