11545The solution to the root problem all spiritual seekers face
- Oct 31, 2003At the Ramana Maharshi group
Joe asked a question
regarding breathing exercises
mentioned by Sri Ramana Maharshi
in the book Self-Inquiry.
Because the answer to Joe's question
contains the solution
to the root problem,
that all spiritual seekers face,
it is being posted here:
I do not know who wrote the preface to Self-inquiry
in the 1996 sixth revised addition of the book
"The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi".
It may have been Professor K. Swaminathan,
or T.K. Jayaraman or Michael James.
Whoever it was, they demonstrated good insight into
Sri Ramana's teachings and also a good insight into
the danger of the ego misusing the teachings
found in the book Self-inquiry.
Here is that preface:
"Self-inquiry is the first work the Maharshi ever
wrote. It was written about 1901, that is, when he
was a sage (jnani) in perfect realization of the Self,
in the resplendent bliss of divine knowledge.
At that time he was living in Virupaksha cave on the
hill of Arunachala. A number of disciples had already
gathered round him. Although he had not actually
taken a vow of silence, he seldom spoke, and so wrote
his replies to certain questions put to him by
Gambhiram Seshayya, one of the earliest devotees.
The latter copied them in his diary. After his death
this diary was obtained from his brother; the
questions and answers were edited by Natanananda and
published with Bhagavan's approval under the name of
Vichara Sangraham, or Self-inquiry. Subsequently they
were changed into the form of an essay. The original
form has been adopted in the present work.
There is no youthfulness or immaturity in the work.
The Master wrote with the authority of full spiritual
knowledge, just as in his later years. Like all his
expositions, verbal as well as written, this is
concerned with practical questions of the path to
realization of the Self, never with barren theory.
However, it does differ from the later exposistions in
one important respect: that is, that it describes not
only the path of Self-inquiry but others also;
meditation on one's identity with the Self and a yogic
path based on breath-control. He himself prescribed
only Self-inquiry or submission to the Guru. He would
say: 'There are two ways; ask yourself 'Who am I?' or
Why did he include the mention of less direct and more
elaborate methods in this first exposition? The
obvious contingent reason is that the disciple for who
it was written had been reading books about these
various methods and asked questions about them.
Perhaps also, in a wider sense, it is appropriate that
there should first be a general exposition of various
methods before lifelong instruction in that which is
prescribed. Certainly the other methods, although
described, are scarely recommended.
The breath-control that is described is, of course,
not mere physical exercise. It is the spiritual
significance of the exercise that makes it an
elaborate science. 'Science' is indeed the right word
for it, for it is a traditional Indian science of
self-purification. This makes it abstruse for the
Western reader who has no previous grounding in it,
especially as, like all sciences, it has its technical
vocabulary which does not permit adequate translation
without lengthy notes. One has to remember that in
writing this exposition the Maharshi knew that he
could count on a technical knowledge of the science in
question in the person for whom he wrote. The
consolation for Westerner readers is to remember that
he neither recommended nor prescribed this path and in
his later works scarcely mentioned it. It is not
necessary for them to learn its technicalities."
Although the above preface to Self-inquiry answers
your question Joe, one can actually go much further
into all this.
This brings up the whole question of other methods
either on their own or as aids to self-inquiry.
There are people like Sri Sadhu Om and like whoever
wrote the above preface to self-inquiry and like me
who know that Sri Ramana did not advocate any aids to
self-inquiry or any methods other than self-inquiry.
There are many others who have studied the teachings
of Sri Ramana Maharshi who are under the mistaken
impression that he advocated practicing methods other
than self-inquiry either on their own
or as aids to self-inquiry.
A great source to discover how these misconceptions
arose is the book the Path of Sri Ramana, Part 1.
In that book Sri Sadhu Om goes into great detail
explaining how these misconceptions arose.
He talks about other methods including pranyama.
I think the pranyama is mentioned in chapter 8,
but maybe it is chapter 7.
You can look it up for yourself,
but I will summarize the basic idea that Sri Sadhu Om
is conveying about pranayama from my memory:
Self-attention itself will stop the breath.
It is a mistake, an error to try any sort of breathing
exercise because this will result in second person
attention. Even to wonder "has my breath stopped or
not?" would lead to the error of second person
Sri Sadhu Om goes into far more detail than that and
he of course quotes Sri Ramana in the process.
You can find the links to read Chapter 7 and Chapter 8
of the book "The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One" on the
Direct Path Links Directory.
This is the link to the Direct Path Links Directory:
You can join the Yahoo group Path of Sri Ramana, Part
one and read the rest of the book, but you will have
to wait a long time at the rate
it is being posted there.
You could also buy the book if you are interested.
It is not an accident that I placed the book
Self-enquiry under the Seventh Ring Teachings, which
are now the final ring of teachings on the Direct Path
Links Directory. You can see why by reading the
preface to Self-enquiry above or by reading
"The Path of Sri Ramana, part one.
For those of you who wonder
what I mean by Seventh Ring,
Joe made a comment at the atma vichara group
about all the links on the
Direct Path Links Directory.
I began thinking about that and realized
that there were way to many links
listed under that general category
because some of the teachings were not equal
as far as their directness is concerned,
and some of them that were equal in content
were not equal in clarity of communication.
Therefore, I placed the links in 7 different
categories calling them rings.
The idea being that if objects are orbiting the sun
(the Self) then the object with the closest orbit
is the first ring.
So the First Ring teachings
are those that are most direct
and most clearly communicated
in the most condensed form.
If one reads the preface above and the
"Path of Sri Ramana, part one, one can see the
rationale for placing a book like Self-inquiry
in the seventh ring, the ring that is the least direct
of all the rings listed on the
Direct Path links Directory.
Now, a good question to ask is,
why do some people who study Sri Ramana's teachings
think he advocated methods other than Self-inquiry
or aids to Self-inquiry
and others such as the author of the above preface
and Sri Sadhu Om and myself know that he did not?
I will briefly explain the main reasons here:
#1. Because Sri Ramana did speak on the subject of
other methods and aids.
If one just leaves it there
and does not examine what he said more closely
and what the questioner was asking
when Sri Ramana spoke on those methods,
then one might come to the conclusion
that Sri Ramana advocated methods
other than Self-inquiry or aids to self-inquiry.
The following quote by Sri Muruganar from the Garland
of Guru's (Sri Ramana Maharshi's) Sayings
will help greatly to clarify this matter.
Please read the following quote over and over
reflecting on each line slowly:
1106. "The sage's pure mind
which beholds as a mere witness the whole world
is like a mirror which reflects
the foolish thoughts that come before him
and these thoughts are then mistaken to be his."
How does one disinguish which words
spoken by Sri Ramana are a reflection of
the foolish thoughts of the questioner
and which are the Teachings of Sri Ramana?
Soon I am going to start a new Yahoo group for the
purpose of answering that question.
I will take one of the Talks, begining with the first
talk, from the book "Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi"
and demonstrate exactly how to distinguish the
reflection of the foolish thoughts of the questioner
from Sri Ramana's teachings.
I will go through the entire book continuing that
demonstration. However, some people will probably
learn how to do it from just one
or two or three Talks.
I will post an announcement here
after I create that group.
#2. Because of the ego's desire
to preserve its imaginary self.
If we go to the source of the reason
it is the ego's desire to preserve its imaginary self.
If a person is of the spiritual level of maturity that
the ego still wishes to preserve its imaginary self,
then that ego will focus on those aspects of the
teachings that are not direct and that are only a
reflection of the foolish thoughts of the questioner.
Almost all humans are on
the level of spiritual maturity or ripeness,
in which the ego's primary aim
is to preserve its imaginary self.
This also applies to
most of the people who study Sri Ramana's teaching.
Therefore the ego only pretends to be
interested in its own end
and the ego sabotages the study of
Sri Ramana's teachings, thus making them ineffective.
One way to sabotage the study is to focus on those
aspects of the words spoken or written by Sri Ramana
that are really just the
reflection of the foolish thoughts of the questioner,
as Sri Murganar points out in the saying quoted above.
Thus a person might even study Sri Ramana's teachings
for 10 or 40 or 60 years,
and still at the end of 60 years
be focussing on those words spoken by Sri Ramana
that are the reflection of
the foolish thoughts of the questioner.
If one does not become aware of
the desire of the ego to preserve itself
and the tricks it uses to acheive that end,
then one's spiritual task is doomed to failure.
It may be that most people are not aware
that the ego is just playing tricks on them
when they focus on aspects of the teachings
that are not direct and therefore are just the
reflection of the foolish thoughts of the questioner.
It may be that most people are not aware
that it was only the tricks of the ego
and their level of spiritual maturity that lead them
to focus on something other than Self-inquiry.
If someone does become aware of this,
how can one stop the ego from using these tricks?
The answer is by increasing the intensity of
the desire for liberation.
How does one increase the desire for liberation?
By reflecting on the choice of
either ending the ego or not ending the ego
and looking at the consequences of each.
How does one look at the consequences?
By reading descriptions of the experience of
liberation. On the Direct Path Links Directory you
can find a link where you can read Sri Ramana
(Sri Ramana Experience) which is Sri Muruganar's
description of the experience of liberation.
Read it everyday to see what it means to end the ego.
That is looking at
the positive consequences of ending the ego.
The other means is facing the negative.
Facing what it means not to end the ego.
That is looking at all the things humans beings
usually block out that are negative about human
existence. They block it out by looking at only one
tiny aspect at a time, but not all of it.
The murders, the rapes, the tortures, the lying, the
conning, the cheating, 15,000 wars in the last five
thousand years and what each person went through in
those wars, disease, death.
And to reflect on what it will mean
to have to repeat it all over and over
for a hundred million more lifetimes.
One need only face the negative upon rare occaisions,
when facing the positive was not enough
and the ego flares up again.
One of these days I will create a much larger list
than that, but this gives the general idea.
If one does a good job of facing the negative
consequence of not ending the ego
and the positive consequence of ending the ego,
then the choice is made and
even the ego can see the great need for its own end.
The ego will need to be reminded and therefore it is
good to read the descriptions of liberation everyday.
Then the ego preservation strategies either die down
or become far less prevalent.
Then one can see the Direct Path.
Then one's focus will be on the Direct Path.
Then one begins the practice of the Direct Path.
As far as how to do that
and how to turn the mind inward,
one will find that in the First Ring Teachings
on the Direct Path links Drectory.
In order to make it easier to see
what quotes should be reflected on everyday, soon I
will start a yahoo group with First Ring quotes.
Do you Yahoo!?
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