Wisdom and Action (No. 1): By V. Ganesan
This is the first part of three ‘sharings’ from Ganesan, at his house in Tiruvannamalai.
Today is the Happy Christmas day – 25th December,2008 !
When I opened the computer, the glorious, serene and the saintly picture of JESUS CHRIST blossomed before me, with the following powerful words written beneath Him :
“ TRUST in the Lord, with your Heart; and,
Don’t lean on your own understanding.
In all things acknowledge Him, and
He shall direct your way. ”
—– PROVERBS 3:5. 6
I felt blessed !
The Great Master: JESUS CHRIST thus was “directing” me the way of what with and how I should commence the ‘Morning Sharing’ with fellow-seekers !
In our last session, we quoted FOUR varied sayings of the Great Master : BHAGAVAN RAMANA, on which the mode of sharing would be taking place for a few more sessions. They are :
(1) In 1936, Paul Brunton asked the Maharshi : “Can a man of the world [ viz., one who is involved in worldly activities ] practice this Jnana Marga – Wisdom Path ? “
Sri Bhagavan’s cryptic answer was : “There is no contradiction between Work and Wisdom.”
(2) On another occasion, Sri Bhagavan said : “ The only purpose of life is to realize the SELF. All other activities are waste of time.“
(3) Yet another affirmative statement of Sri Bhagavan is : “ If one identifies oneself with the body, ‘Karma ’ [ destiny ] is inevitable
and unavoidable [ which means, one is ever bound, one is ever in bondage ]. If one’s attention is turned inwards, one is always free. One is ever a Free Man.”
(4) When asked whether his teachings could be put in one word,
Sri Bhagavan answered : “ATTENTION” [ “Unar ” ]
* * * * * * * * * * * *
For clarity in spiritual striving, Sages and Saints of yore had conveniently classified the approach to spiritual attainment into four branches : ‘Jnana’ , ‘Bhakti’, ‘Yoga’ and ‘Karma’ . The “Bhagavad Gita” deals elaborately on all the four methods. Sri Bhagavan also refers to these four paths in his original composition : “Upadesa Sara” . However, Sri Bhagavan’s ‘Direct Teaching ’ is “ To turn the outgoing mind inwards and merge it in the Inner Reality .” Any theory which gave emphasis on the ‘mind’ to move out or go outwards, Sri Bhagavan warned the seeker to be vigilant. He said : “ Constant vigilance is the price a seeker has to pay. ”
In that light, it is interesting to observe that Bhagavan gave greater importance only to TWO of the four methods : ‘JNANA’ and ‘KARMA’ . He further elucidated the reason for doing so. He said that ‘Bhakti’ and ‘Yoga’ are included, imbued into ‘Jnana’ and ‘Karma’.
Attention turned outwards is “KARMA” which is body-based and mind-based [ ‘Destiny’ ] .
Attention turned inwards is “JNANA” which is “Attention paying attention to Attention” [ “Ulladu Unar ” ] .
When one identifies with the body, one is bound by rules, regulations, do’s and don’t’s – that is ‘Karma’ . They are unavoidable if one is the body only. Sri Bhagavan raises the question : “Are you only the body ?”
Body is perceptible in the waking; and, vaguely and differently in the dreaming; and, totally absent in the deep sleep state. But, the inward awareness of “ I AM ” is continuous and uninterrupted.
Body is there, temporarily. Awareness is ever there !
Am I the body only ? The mind only ? Or, am I the awareness ? WHO AM I ? Vichara [ Enquiry ] results. Vichara takes one to the inner depths of Truth – to the threshold of TRUTH itself. All other methods are mind based. Vichara transcends mind. When Paul Brunton reported thus to Sri Bhagavan : “ I have been acquainting myself with the various teachings in India before coming to you.
Every one of them preaches the same truth. You also say the same. So, how is your teaching different from the others ?” Sri Bhagavan replied : “All other teachings are based on the ‘mind’ . Mine does not. It transcends the mind.”
Every spiritual practice is based on body & mind and thus only secondary — including meditation. Vichara alone transcends all borders of conditionings.
Listen to Bhagavan Ramana :
“ Devotee: Will Vichara alone do even in the absence of meditation ?
Sri Bhagavan : Vichara is the practice and the Goal also. “ I AM “ is the Goal and the final Reality. To hold to It with effort is ‘Vichara’ [practice] . When spontaneous and natural It is Realization [Goal] . “
— “TALKS” , No.390
The two paths that Sri Bhagavan emphasized are JNANA and KARMA. He classified them in unmistakable terms as well, which can be grasped from the following dialogue with a devotee :
“ Devotee : What is Aham Sphurana (shining) ?
Sri Bhagavan : Aham, Aham = “I AM” , “I AM” is the SELF. Aham Idam = ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ is the ego. Shining [ ‘I AM’ ] is there always. The ego [ body-mind ] is transitory. When the “I AM” is kept up as “I AM” alone it is SELF.
When it flies out at a tangent and says ‘this’ or ‘that’, it is the ego. “
— “TALKS” , No.363
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now, let us go back to the last session, in a brief way :
In verses 26 & 27 of the Supplement to the Forty Verses [ Ulladu Narpadu ] Bhagavan translated the instruction given to Sri Rama by his preceptor, Sage Vasishta. The theme is the right relations between awareness and heroic action. In 1944 when the proofs of the third edition of Ulladu Narpadu was being corrected in Bhagavan’s presence, some of the English Professors who had accompanied Prof.K. Swaminathan, found fault with the introductory note by the author, Lakshmana Sarma [ “Who” ] :
“To the question how the sadhaka [aspirant] is to behave in the world till he succeeds in attaining Wisdom, the answer is given in the two following verses, taken from the Yoga Vasishta. “
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Verse 26 : Supplement to the Forty Verses on Reality :
“ Having understood, i.e., by consciously experiencing the various states – like, the waking, dreaming and the deep sleep – and yet always holding firmly at Heart to the Supreme State of Inner Silence, play your part, O Hero, ever in the world. Having thus realized the Inner Silence of the Heart as the underlying Truth behind all forms of appearances, never swerve from it. Thus, play your allotted part in the world, O Hero, acting as though attached to them all ! “
Verse 27 :
“ Outwardly pretending to have enthusiasm and delight, excitement and aversion, initiative, effort and perseverance, yet without any inner attachment at all, play, O Hero, in the world. Thus, releasing oneself from all forms of bondage [attachment ] and having equanimity of mind, act outwardly, in all situations, in accordance with the part one is endowed with, play your part as ordained, O Hero, in the world. “
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now, the Professors pointed out to Sri Bhagavan the obvious absurdity of Sarma’s suggestion that Sri Rama – Incarnation of Lord Vishnu – a Self-Realized great soul — needed this teaching.
“Who has these doubts ?” enquired Sri Bhagavan. “Prof. K. Swaminathan !” said some one. The cool bright beam of the Maharshi’s glance of grace pierced through the entire being of Prof. K. Swaminathan. Sri Bhagavan said smiling : “ Look ! It is for you” [ Paar, Unakkuttaan ! ]
The “you” refers not only to Prof.Swaminathan, but so vibrantly to every one of us ! Remember, some time back, we shared how one of the Saints that I had met, had asked me to read “The Bhagavad Gita ” and actively guided me by saying : “To truly understand the import of this great spiritual masterpiece, one should read it assuming oneself to be Lord Krishna and never by identifying oneself with Arjuna !”
Likewise, one should read these two verses from the standpoint of Jnana [ Wisdom ] and never from the viewpoint of Karma. Notice how the verse begins : “ Having understood……and always holding constantly, firmly in the Heart to the Supreme State of Inner Silence, the “I AM ” ” . As a trapeze act in a circus, one is advised to keep a perfect balance between the outward and inward in one’s activities — a coherent unison — which can successfully be effected by one turning within and not having attachments to actions done.
How to do it ? Allow things to happen as it is. Do not “react” , just “act”. The Higher Power will make things happen “through” you and not “by” you. Give up the attitude of “by me”, at all times and under all circumstances ! The Vedas declare : “ Be a channel for the ‘White Light’ [ Higher Power ] to pass through.”
Look at the lives of Great Masters like the Buddha, Jesus Christ and Ramana Maharshi. How did they live ? Were they lazy ? Were they not more active than any one of us ? Was there not perfect correlation between what they taught and how they lived that very teaching themselves ? On the very first day of his arrival at Arunachala, the sixteen year old youth Ramana, declared : “THY WILL BE DONE”. Never after that there was there any ‘action’ done by himself ! “The same Higher Power which brought me from Madurai to here, has brought me from Skandashram to Sri Ramanasramam,” was Sri Bhagavan’s reply to a query: “Is it not ‘you’ who decided to climb down from Skandashram to here in 1922 ?”
In our own lifetime, we saw how Yogi Ramsuratkumar lived; very actively, yet, totally resigned to the Higher Power, which he chose to address as “Father” . Quite often he used to repeat : “This beggar died at the holy feet of his Guru in 1952.” “Yogi Ramsuratkumar is not this beggar’s name – it is Father’s Holy Name. Chant three times : ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar’ ; my Father will rush to you and help you.” When Yogiji performed remarkable ‘miracles’
for me, as he had done to his innumerable devotees, and I attributed them to him, his invariable response, every time, was : “This dirty beggar knows nothing, does nothing Ganesha. It is Father ! Out of His abundant Grace and Compassion, He responds forthwith whenever His holy name is thus called.” After a few moments of silence, he would add : “Father alone exists here, there and everywhere. Nothing else. Nobody else. It is Father, Father,
Father alone ! ” “ ‘Yogi Ramsuratkumar’ is not this beggar’s name, Ganesha ! It is Father’s Sacred Name ! You know there is the “1008 Names of Lord Vishnu” which all Hindus chant – like that, this Name is also only Father’s Name !”
Plunge within and recognize the Higher Power guiding you and operating ‘through’ you. Giving up the falsehood of “by me” and holding firmly to the truth of Higher Power working “through me”, is to be “newly reborn”. The purport and significance of our celebrating the birthdays of Sages and Saints – like, our celebrating today the Birthday of the Great Master JESUS CHRIST, as “Christmas” – is to remind to ourselves that one has to be reborn to the truth : “God’s living in me and is operating through me” and to dying to the falsehood : “actions are done by a ‘me’ .” Jesus Christ said : “By dying one lives” . Die to the past and the future and live in the NOW !
Be reborn anew by dying to the age-old attachments to Karma [destiny]. Sri Bhagavan said : “ If you say that there is Karma [ prarabdha karma ] , there is Karma. If you say that there is no Prarabdha Karma, take it for certain, there is no Prarabdha Karma. ”
One is ever the SELF ; never either the body nor the mind ! Be a “Hero ” by diving within and being the SELF !
V. Ganesan Bio
Born in 1936, up to the age of 14 years old, Ganesan grew up in the presence and proximity of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. His sacred memory of the Great Master is rich in its content; and, even at that tender age he could see Sri Ramana as the greatest compassionate human being.
On April 14, 1950 – the day the Great Master chose to leave the body – the adolescent Ganesan stood near the entrance to the room where Sri Ramana was lying and was fortunate to witness the brilliant flash of Light that later moved towards the top of the Holy Hill – Arunachala.
Ganesan obtained a Master’s Degree in Philosophy; and, then came to stay permanently at “Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai” – the sacred abode of Sri Ramana Maharshi – taking care of the Old Devotees of Sri Ramana. He did it as his sole sadhana (spiritual practice). In that way, he collected the reminiscences of Sri Maharshi from those Old Devotees which have never before been recorded.
His close contacts with sages and saints, including Swami Ramdas, Mother Krishnabai, J. Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Yogi Ramsuratkumar, he says, have deepened and widened his understanding of the ‘Direct Teaching’ of the Maharshi. However, he feels himself to be an insignificant ‘dust’ at the Holy Feet of Bhagavan Ramana.
He has traveled widely and spread the ‘Direct Teaching’ of Sri Ramana Maharshi, in its pristine purity, wherever he was invited to give talks.
He has authored a few books on the life and teaching of Bhagavan Ramana. Among others, “Purushothama Ramana”, “Be the Self”, “Moments Remembered”, “Direct Teaching of Bhagavan Ramana” and “Practising Self-Enquiry” , are very popular.
At the veranda of his cottage – “Ananda Ramana” – he meets earnest seekers, every Monday and Thursday, between 9.30 and 11 a.m., sharing with them the spiritual treasure entrusted with him by all these holy and sacred souls.