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Ramana Maharishi

Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge.

Part One


"The ego is the source of thought. It creates the body and the world and it makes you think you are a householder.

If you renounce you will only substitute the thought of renunciation for that of household and the environment of the jungle for that of the home. But the mental obstacles are always there for you. They even increase greatly in the new surroundings. It is no help to change the environment. The one obstacle is the mind and it must be overcome whether in the home or the jungle. If you can do it in the jungle why not in the home? Therefore why change the environment? Your efforts can be made even now, whatever be the environment."

He also explained that it is not the work done that is an obstacle to sadhana but only the attitude of mind in which it is done, and that it is possible to continue one's normal avocation only without attachment. "The feeling 'I work' is the obstacle," he said in Maharshi's Gospel ; "ask yourself who works. Remember who you are. Then the work will not bind you. It will go on auromatically." In Day by Day with Bhagavan by Devaraja Mudaliar a fuller explanation is recorded.

"It is possible to perform all the activities of life with detachment and regard only the self as real. It is wrong to suppose that if one is fixed in the Self one's duties in life will not be properly performed. It is like an actor. He dresses and acts and even feels the part he is playing, but he knows really that he is not that character but someone else in real life. In the same way, why should the body-consciousness or the feeling 'I-am-the-body' disturb you once you know for certain that you are not the body but the Self? Nothing that the body does should shake you from abidance in the Self. Such abidance will never interfere with the proper and effective discharge of whatever duties the body has, any more than the actor's being aware of his real sttus in life interferes with his acting a part on the stage."

Just as meditation or remembrance, whichever one calls it, does not impair the work done, so also work done does not impair meditation. Sri Bhagavan explained this clearly in a conversation with Paul Brunton.

Bh. The life of action need not be renounced. If you meditate for an hour or two each day you can then carry on with you duties. If you meditate in the right manner, then the current of mind induced will continue to flow even in the midst of your work. It is as though there were two ways of expressing the same idea; the same line which you take in meditation will be expressed in your activities.

P.B. What will be the result of doing that?

Bh. As you go on you will find that your attitude towards people, events and objects will gradually change. Your actions will tend to follow your meditation of their own accord. A man should surrender the personal selfishness which binds him to this worls. Giving up the false self is the true renunciation.

P.B. How is it possible to become selfless while leading a life of wordly activity?

Bh. There is no conflict between work and wisdom.

P.B. Do you mean that one can continue all the old activities, in ones's profession, for instance, and at the same time get Enlightened?

Bh. Why not? But in that case one will not think that it is the old personality which is doing the work because one's consciousness will gradually become transformed until it enters in That which is beyond the little self.

Many were puzzled at first by the injunction to work with detachment and wondered whether their work really could be carried on efficiently in such a way. And yet they had before them the example of Sri Bhagavan himself, for whatever he did was meticulously accurate, whether correcting proofs or binding a book, whether preparing food or cutting and polishing a coconut-shell spoon. And in fact, even before the I-am-the-doer illusion has been dissipated, an aloof attitude to work does not impair but enhance efficiency, so long as it is combined with conscientiousness, for it does not imply indifference to the quality of the woek done but only non-intrusion of ego into it; and it is the intrusion of ego that causes both friction and inefficiency. If all people were to perform their work simply because it is work, without vanity or self-interest, exploitation would cease, effort would be righty directed, co-ordination would replace rivalry, and most of the world's problems would be solved. That the efficiency of the work done would not suffer is apparent if one remembers that the ages of faith in every religion have produced the most exquisite art, whether in Gothic cathedral or in mosque, whether Hindu sculpture or Taoist painting, by artists who regarded themselves as instruments and preferred to remain anonymous. Examples can be drawn from other professions also. A doctor works more efficiently when he is unemotional and his own interests are not at stake. Even in games, fortune favours one who is unconcerned.



Sadhana = Spiritual quest or path. The technique of spiritual effort.


Extract From:

Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge

Arthur Osborne

Rider Publishers


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