This posting is from a series of ‘sharings’ given by V Ganesan in the winter of 2008/2009 in Tiruvannamalai.
How to give up the “me” ? Even to contemplate on its being given up, poses us with an enormous hurdle. No theoretical methods, postulated throughout the past centuries seem to have helped us, at all. The only solution to this Herculean problem, perhaps, lies on a practical, experiential approach to it.
Who will guide us with a direct and simple, yet natural experience-oriented practical solution to the dissolution of the “me” ? Most assuredly, Bhagavan Ramana has already solved the insoluble conundrum !
ANNAMALAI SWAMI had elicited it from the Great Guru, Bhagavan Ramana ; and, years later, he shared it with fellow-seekers. Annamalai Swami came to Sri Bhagavan in 1928 and was made an attendant to the Master. Noticing the potentiality in him as a hard worker, he was entrusted with the supervision of all important construction projects of the then growing up ‘Sri Ramanasramam’ . He did it with an exemplary zeal, under the direct stewardship of Sri Bhagavan, for ten years — from 1928 to 1938.
In 1938, he had a great spiritual awakening through an embrace of him by Sri Bhagavan.** That totally changed him. Then on, he wanted to dedicate his whole time in meditation and contemplation. He sought the guidance of the Master. He approved of his living alone outside the Ashram. Sri Bhagavan encouraged him to construct a dwelling at the adjacent ‘Palakottu’, helping him with practical advices during the construction. Bhagavan gave a few personal advices, as well; for instance, not to move out towards the southern side of his tenement, but should wander about only towards the north, at the foot of the Hill. Annamalai Swami studiously put that instruction into daily practice to its very letter – he had not stepped into the road, which lay on the southern side, the rest of his life ! He had not also moved out of Arunachala, even for a single day !
In Annamalai Swami’s own words : “I went to Bhagavan’s bathroom to help him with his morning bath. Madhava Swami and I gave him the usual oil bath and massage. When the bath was over, Madhava Swami asked a question : ‘ Bhagavan ! The people who take Ganja Lehiyam [ an Ayurvedic medicine whose principal ingredient is cannabis ] experience some kind of Ananda [ bliss ] . What is the nature of this Ananda ? Is it the same Ananda the scriptures speak of ? Bhagavan replied: “Eating this Ganja is a very bad habit”. Then, laughing loudly, he came over to me, hugged me and called out : Ananda ! Ananda ! This is how these Ganja-taking people behave ! It was not a brief hug. After the first few seconds I completely lost all awareness of my body and the world. Initially, there was a feeling of bliss and happiness, but this soon gave way to a state in which there were no feelings and no experiences. I did not lose consciousness, I just ceased to be aware of anything that was going on around me…..This experience completely changed my life. As soon as I regained normal consciousness I knew that my working life at the Ashram had come to an end.”
Sri Bhagavan told him to lead a quiet, reclusive life and to meditate continuously on the Self. After many years of arduous and unremitting effort, he was able to stabilize himself in Self-Awareness, uninterruptedly and with effortless ease. Annamalai Swami pleaded with the Maharshi as how to give up the ‘me’ . He used the term ‘the little self’ instead of the ‘me’ . The Master not only gave him an answer but also totally eradicated the ‘me’ in him. This is well brought out through a dialogue a Westerner had had with Annamalai Swami, long after the Master had dropped the body.
Question : What is the easiest way to be free of ‘the little self ’ ?
Annamalai Swami : Stop identifying with it. If you can convince yourself, ‘This little self is not really me ’ , it will just disappear.
Q : But, how to do this ?
AS : The ‘little self’ is something which only appears to be real. If you understand that it has no real existence it will disappear, leaving behind it the experience of the real and only Self. Understand that it has no real existence and it will stop troubling you.
Consciousness is universal. There is no limitation or ‘little self’ in it. It is only when we identify ourselves with and limit ourselves to the body and the mind that this false self is born. If, through enquiry, you go to the Source of this ‘little self’ , you find that it dissolves into nothingness.
Q : But, I am very accustomed to feel ‘ I am this little self ’ . I cannot break this habit merely by thinking ‘ I am not this little self ’ .
AS : This ‘little self’ will give way to the real Self only when you meditate constantly. You cannot wish it away with a few stray thoughts. Try to remember the analogy of the rope which looks like a snake in twilight. If you see the rope as a snake, the real nature of the rope is hidden from you. If you see only the rope, the snake is not there. Not only that, you know that there never was a snake there. When you have that clear and correct perception that the snake never at any time existed, the question of how to kill the snake disappears. Apply this analogy to the ‘little self’ that you are worrying about. If you can understand that this ‘little self’ never at any time had any existence outside your imagination, you will not be concerned about ways and means of getting rid of it.
* * * * * * *
Bhagavan Ramana clearly points out that there is only one way not to be affected by the miseries caused by the ‘me’ :
Talks No.532 :
Devotee : Is there no way of escape from the miseries of the world ?
Maharshi : There is only one way and that consists in not losing sight of one’s Self, under any circumstances.
To enquire “Who Am I ?” is the only remedy for all the ills of the world. It is also perfect Bliss.
Why has Sri Bhagavan been consistent in insisting on one experiencing the Self ?
Talks No.536 :
“The person soaked in the “I-am-the-body” idea is the greatest sinner and he is a suicide. The experience of “I-am-the-Self” is the highest virtue. Even a moment’s dhyana to that effect is enough to destroy all the stored up age-old tendencies [ sanchita karma ] . It works like the Sun before whom darkness is dispelled. If one remains always in dhyana , can any sin, however heinous it be, survive his dhyana ? ”
Bhagavan Ramana not only explained why one should do dhyana but also insisted that one should constantly be in touch with one’s Self.
Talks No.540 :
Once Annamalai Swami asked : There is more pleasure in dhyana than in sensual enjoyments. Yet, the mind runs after the latter and does not seek the former. Why is it so ?
M : Pleasure or pain are aspects of the mind only. Our essential nature is happiness. But we have forgotten the Self and imagine that the body or the mind is the Self. It is that wrong identity that gives rise to misery. What is to be done ? This vasana [tendencies] is very ancient and has continued for innumerable past births. Hence it has grown strong. That must go before the essential nature, viz., happiness, asserts itself.
Talks No.541 :
A certain visitor asked Sri Bhagavan : There is so much misery in the world because wicked men abound in the world. How can one find happiness here ?
M : All are gurus to us. The wicked say by their evil deeds, ‘ Do not come near me ’ . The good are always good. So then, all persons are like gurus to us.
Should one not run away to solitude to obtain peace ?
Talks No.542 :
Annamalai Swami asked : I often desire to live in solitude where I can find all I want with ease, so that I may devote all my time to meditation only. Is such a desire good or bad ?
M : Such thoughts will bestow a janma (another birth) for their fulfillment. What does it matter where and how you are placed ? The essential point is that the mind must always remain in its source. There is nothing external which is not also internal. The mind is all. If the mind is active, even solitude becomes like a market place. There is no use closing your eyes. Close the mental eye and all will be right. The world is not external to you. The good persons will not care to make plans previous to their actions. Why so ? For, God who has sent us into the world has His own plan that will certainly work itself out.
In the day-to-day working, one generally experiences that doing good to others one suffers. On the other hand, one doing wicked deeds enjoys happy environments and success. How is it ? This is a common doubt, to all !
Talks No.546 :
Annamalai Swami asked : A person does something good but he sometimes suffers pain even in his right activities. Another does something wicked but is also happy. Why should it be so ?
Maharshi : Pain or pleasure is the result of past karma (past actions) and not of the present karma. Pain and pleasure alternate with each other. One must suffer or enjoy them patiently without being carried away by them. One must try to hold on to the Self. When one is active one should not care for the results and must not be swayed by the pain or pleasure met with occasionally. He who is indifferent to pain or pleasure can alone be happy.
Why did Sri Bhagavan repeatedly emphasize the efficacy of “Self-enquiry” ?
Talks No.551 :
A man asked Sri Bhagavan : “How is it that Atma Vidya is said to be the easiest ?”
M : Any other vidya (learning) requires a knower, knowledge and the object to be known; whereas this does not require any of them. It is the Self. Can anything be so obvious as that ? Hence it is the easiest. All that you need do is to enquire, “Who Am I ?”.
A man’s true name is Mukti (Liberation) .
The topic chosen for this session’s “Sharing” is entitled : “All Is One” . What is the significance ? “All Is One” is an old Tamil publication commended by Sri Bhagavan. This tiny book incorporates ideas of immense use to spiritual aspirants, at every level and of any faith. Sri Bhagavan himself had gone through it and given chapter headings for the benefit of seekers. He told Annamalai Swami to read it “if he desired Moksha (Emancipation) ” .
In our next session, we will further deal with it, perhaps, bringing out the worth and greatness of the work.
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.