Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ramana on Surrender

D: Does not total or complete surrender require that one should not have left even the desire for liberation or God?

Bhagavan: Complete surrender does require that you have no desire of your own. You must be satisfied with whatever God gives you and that means having no desires of one's own. 

D: Now that I am satisfied on that point, I want to know what the steps are by which I could achieve surrender. 

Bhagavan: There are two ways. One is looking into the source of 'I' and merging into that source. The other is the feeling 'I am helpless by myself; God alone is all powerful and except by throwing myself completely on him, there is no other means of safety for me.' By this method one gradually develops the conviction that God alone exists and that the ego does not count. Both methods lead to the same goal. Complete surrender is another name for jnana or liberation. 

David Godman:
Sri Ramana occasionally encouraged his devotees to give him all their problems. That is to say, to tell him about them, and then forget about them. One of his persistent images or metaphors was of a passenger on a train who insists on carrying his luggage on his own head instead of putting it on the floor and relaxing. The idea behind this is that God is running the world and looking after all its activities and problems. If we take some of these problems on our own heads, we just inflict unnecessary suffering on ourselves. Sri Ramana is telling us that God is driving the train that constitutes our life on this earth. We can sit down and relax with the knowledge that he is taking us to our destination, and not interfere, or we can imagine that we are responsible for it all. We can pace up and down the aisles of the train with 100lbs on our head if we want to. It's our choice. 

When devotees surrendered their problems to Sri Ramana, it was the same as surrendering them to God. They were submitting to the same divine authority, surrendering to a living manifestation of that same power. Here are some statements that Sri Ramana made on this subject. Each sentence was originally recorded by Muruganar in Tamil verse:
  • My devotees have the qualifications to rejoice abundantly, like children of an emperor.
  • Abandon the drama [of the world] and seek the Self within. Remaining within, I will protect you, [ensuring] that no harm befalls you. 
  • If you inquire and know me, the indweller, in that state there will be no reason for you to worry about the world. 
  • For the cruel disease of burning samsara to end, the correct regimen is to entrust all your burdens on me. 
  • In order that your needless anxieties cease, make sure that all your burdens are placed on me through the brave act of depending totally on grace. 
  • If you completely surrender all your responsibilities to me, I will accept them as mine and manage them.
  • When bearing the entire burden remains my responsibility, why do you have any worries?
  • Long ago you offered your body, possessions and soul to me, making them mine, so why do you still regard these things as 'I' and 'mine' and associate yourself with them? 
  • Seek my grace within the Heart. I will drive away your darkness and show you the light. This is my responsibility. 

When people surrendered completely to him, he was more than happy to manage their lives for them. Just about everyone discovered that when she surrendered the burden of responsibility for her life to Sri Ramana, problems diminished or went away completely. 

(David Godman)

Ramana on necessity of humility

Sri Ramana Darsanam:

The power of humility, which bestows immortality, is the foremost among powers that are hard to attain. Since the only benefit of learning and other similar virtues is the attainment of humility, humility alone is the real ornament of the sages. It is the storehouse of all other virtues and is therefore extolled as the wealth of divine grace. Although it is a characteristic befitting wise people in general, it is especially indispensable for sadhus. 
Since attaining greatness is impossible for anyone except by humility, all the disciplines of conduct such as yama and niyama, which are prescribed specifically for aspirants on the spiritual path, have as their aim only the attainment of humility. Humility is indeed the hallmark of the destruction of the ego. Because of this, humility is especially extolled by sadhus themselves as the code of conduct befitting them. 
Moreover, for those who are residing at Arunachala, it is indispensable in every way. Arunachala is the sacred place where even the embodiments of God, Brahma, Vishnu and Sakti, humbly subsided. Since it has the power to humble even those who would not be humbled, those who do not humbly subside at Arunachala will surely not attain that redeeming virtue anywhere else. The Supreme Lord, who is the highest of the high, shines unrivalled and unsurpassed only because he remains the humblest of the humble. When the divine virtue of humility is necessary even for the Supreme Lord, who is totally independent, is it necessary to emphasize that it is absolutely indispensable for sadhus who do not have such independence? Therefore, just as in their inner life, in their outer life also sadhus should possess complete and perfect humility. It is not that humility is necessary only for devotees of the Lord; even for the Lord it is the characteristic virtue. 

One's greatness increases to the extent that one becomes humble. The reason why God is supreme to such an extent that the whole universe bows to Him is His sublime state of humility in which the deluded ego never rises unknowingly. 

Is it not on account of His behaving so humbly, as one ever in the service of every creature, that God stands worthy of all the glorious worships ever performed by all the worlds? By seeing Himself in all, by being humble even to devotees who bow to everyone, and by naturally remaining at such a pinnacle of humility that nothing can be humbler than Himself, the state of being supreme has come to the Lord.

David Godman:
All this may sound very eccentric unless one understands that humility equates with egolessness, rather than with a kind of 'nice' or socially acceptable behavior. God is God because he is utterly egoless, utterly humble, and not because He is omnipotent or omniscient.

Monday, April 9, 2012

David Godman explains Self enquiry

Sri Ramana taught that the individual self is an unreal, imaginary entity that persists because we never properly investigate its true nature. The sense of 'I', the feeling of being a particular person who inhabits a particular body, only persists because we continuously identify ourselves with thoughts, beliefs, emotions, objects, and so on. The 'I' never stands alone by itself; it always exists in association: 'I am John,' 'I am angry,' 'I am a lawyer,' 'I am a woman,' etc. These identifications are automatic and unconscious. We don't make them through volition on a moment-to-moment basis. They are just the unchallenged assumptions that lie behind all our experiences and habits. Sri Ramana asks us to disentangle ourselves from all these associations by putting full attention on the subject 'I', and in doing so, prevent it from attaching itself to any ideas, beliefs, thoughts and emotions that come its way. 

     The classic way of doing this is to start with some experienced feeling or thought. I may be thinking about what I am going to eat for dinner, for example. So, I ask myself, 'Who is anticipating dinner?' and the answer, whether you express it or not, is 'I am'. Then you ask yourself, 'Who am I? Who or what is this ''I'' that is waiting for its next meal?' This is not an invitation to undertake an intellectual analysis of what is going on in the mind; it is instead a device for transferring attention from the object of thought - the forthcoming dinner - to the subject, the person who is having that particular thought. In that moment simply abide as the 'I' itself and try to experience subjectively what it is when it is shorn of all identifications and associations with things and thoughts. It will be a fleeting moment for most people because it is the nature of the mind to keep itself busy. You will soon find yourself in a new train of thought, a new series of associations. Each time this happens, ask yourself, 'Who is daydreaming?' 'Who is worried about her doctor's bill?' 'Who is thinking about the weather?' and so on. The answer in each case will be 'I'. Hold onto that experience of the unassociated 'I' for as long as you can. Watch how it arises, and, more importantly, watch where it subsides to when there are no thoughts to engage with. 
This is the next stage of the inquiry. If you can isolate the feeling of 'I' from all the things that it habitually attaches itself to, you will discover that it starts to disappear. As it subsides and becomes more and more attenuated, one begins to experience the emanations of peace and joy that are, in reality, your own natural state. You don't normally experience these because your busy mind keeps them covered up, but they are there all the time, and when you begin to switch the mind off, that's what you experience. 
It's a kind of mental archaeology. The gold, the treasure, the inherent happiness of your own true state, is in there, waiting for you, but you don't look for it. You are not even aware of it, because all you see, all you know, are the layers that have accumulated on top of it. Your digging tool is this continuous awareness of 'I'. It takes you away from the thoughts, and back to your real Self, which is peace and happiness. Sri Ramana once compared this process to a dog that holds onto the scent of its master in order to track him down. Following the unattached 'I' will take you home, back to the place where no individual 'I' has ever existed.

    This is self-inquiry, and this is the method by which it should be practiced. Hold on to the sense of 'I', and whenever you get distracted by other things revert to it again. I should mention that this was not something that Sri Ramana said should be done as a meditation practice. It is something that should be going on inside you all the time, irrespective of what the body is doing. 

     Though Sri Ramana said that this was the most effective tool for realizing the Self, it must be said that very few people actually achieved this goal. For most of us the mind is just too stubborn to be overcome by this or any other technique. However, the effort put into self-inquiry is never wasted. In fact, it's a win-win situation for most people; either you get enlightened, or you just get peaceful and happy.

Friday, April 6, 2012

David Godman: I asked, 'I have been doing self-enquiry, trying to keep attention on the inner feeling of "I", for several years, but no matter how intensively I try to do it, I don't find that my attention stays on the "I" for more than a few seconds. There doesn't seem to be an improvement in my ability to keep my attention on this inner feeling of "I". Do the periods of being aware of the "I" have to get longer and longer until they become more or less continuous?'

Nisargadatta: No, just having the strong urge to seek this "I" and investigate it is enough. Don't worry about how well or how long you are holding onto it. The strong desire to know the "I" will keep taking you back to it when your attention strays. If something is important to you, it keeps coming up in your mind. If knowing the "I" is important to you, you will find yourself going back to it again and again.'