Three Methods for Self Realization: By Sri Ramana Maharshi
Bhagavan Ramana explained the three approaches or methods to strengthen Self-Inquiry and gain Self-Realization.
1. Destroy the power of mind by seeking it. When the mind is examined its activities cease automatically.
2. Looking for the source of mind is another method. The source may be said to be God or Self or Consciousness.
3. Concentrating on one thought, all other thoughts disappear; finally that thought also disappears. It is necessary to be aware while controlling thoughts, otherwise it will lead to sleep.
TALKS with Sri Ramana Maharshi: No. 345
I’d say that there are 2 ways to arrive ‘Home’.
One- through Self Realization
and the other:
To find that one Guru, you trust completely – and SURRENDER!!
Complete Surrender to your Inner Divinity (sometimes manifested externally as a Guru) will also take you HOME!! 🙂
Enjoy the journey!!! 🙂
There are many steps to the ultimate self realisation. Thought control is only part of step 1. We must always be aware of the fact that the body, soul and mind are to be trained simultaneously, for otherwise it would be impossible to gain and maintain the magic equipoise.
The Mystery is self-revealing. In other words, the further you progress, the more self-evident it becomes where you must yet go.
There are four distinct mental exercises in Step One. The very first exercise of the mental training is the simplest of all. Simply sit down, close your eyes and observe your mind. The only actual work required here is to accustom yourself to being an uninvolved observer of your own mind. Just watch and let whatever happens happen without getting involved in any way. Don’t even judge what’s happening and especially don’t try to make anything happen. Just let it be whatever it’s going to be and observe. Simple as that. No different really than watching a bird fly across the sky or a car drive past. You, the observer, are separate from what you observe.
One possible repercussion of detached observation of your own mind is that all those busy, relatively pointless thoughts that usually fill your mind might slow to a trickle. However, this must not be seen as a goal to be strived for. If it happens then so be it, but don’t try to make your thoughts slow down. Just observe, without intervention.
Lack of intervention or involvement is what denotes passive observation and learning this skill of separating yourself from your own surface mind is the goal of the first exercise. It is so simple and rudimentary that after one week of practice you should easily be able to passively observe your mind for at least 10 minutes without once becoming involved in what you observe.
The second mental exercise is equally simple but only if you’ve mastered the first. This exercise is very similar to the Buddhist practice of “mindfulness” in which you simply keep your attention focused upon what you are physically doing in the present moment instead of involving yourself with the surface mind chatter. Since the subject of mind chatter is your emotional reaction to past events, thoughts, feelings, etc., involvement with your mind chatter naturally shifts your awareness away from what you are physically doing in the present moment. So in this exercise you are simply ignoring the mind chatter as you learned in the first exercise and now, instead of observing your mind, you are focusing your attention upon what you are physically doing.
The main difference here is that you are actively participating with your awareness instead of passively observing. However, since you are not devoting the major portion of your awareness to your mind chatter, the quantity and indeed the quality of your attention focused upon the present moment will seem unusually sharp and powerful compared to “normal”.
Now it can take a lifetime to reach a consistent Zen-like state wherein you are always absolutely rooted in the present moment, but that is not, I repeat, not what is expected here in Step One. All that is required is a “certain skill” in this exercise. This means that you must have become accustomed to actively participating with your awareness and be able to focus your attention where you want it and keep it there for several minutes at a time. That is the Step One goal for this exercise and this should take you a week or less of effort to achieve. Nonetheless, it is one of the exercises that should be practiced for the rest of your life and thus improved upon over time.
The third mental exercise is a natural extension of the second, namely the focusing of your attention upon a specific internal idea or train of thoughts instead of an external activity. This means that you turn your awareness inward once again and while ignoring the mind chatter, you focus all of your attention upon a pre-chosen idea. The only difference really between this exercise and the last is what your attention is focused upon. You are using and exercising the exact same ability, namely your ability to focus your attention where you want it and keep it there for, in this case, at least 10 minutes uninterrupted. Again, this should take no more than a week or two at the most to achieve.
Now, in this context of each successive exercise being an extension of what is learned from the previous exercise, the fourth mental exercise of Step One is equally simple. This is the fabled emptiness or vacancy of mind. Here, the attention is shifted completely away from its involvement with thoughts and thinking and is focused instead upon the peaceful silence that exists in the absence of thought.
You will by this point have experienced the fact that between the closing of one thought and the arrival of the next thought a deep silence is perceived. This empty silence is the focus of the fourth mental exercise. Of course the maintaining of this focus upon emptiness requires that you completely detach yourself from any thoughts that might arise within your mind, similar to the detachment you achieved in the first mental exercise, and also like in the first exercise, you must passively observe the emptiness without any expectation. Within two weeks you should have become so accustomed to focusing in upon this emptiness that you can maintain an empty mind for at least 10 minutes without interruption.
Like the second exercise of mindfulness, the emptiness of mind exercise must be pursued beyond Step One and deepened through continual practice. It is a very important state of awareness and Being in regard to initiation that must be cultivated with dedication. In fact, its continued deepening was assumed in the exercises of all future Steps. In other words, if you don’t maintain its practice and go ever deeper into the internal silence, future exercises will be impossible to master. Nonetheless, all that is required in Step One is that you be able to maintain your focus upon the emptiness to the exclusion of all else for at least 10 minutes.
At the very most, it should take no more than 6 weeks to master these four simple mental exercises to the required degree for Step One.