“Whether you make dhyana of God or of Self, it is immaterial. The goal is the same. But you cannot escape the Self. You want to see God in all, but not in yourself? If all are God, are you not included in that all?” Sri Ramana speaking in Talk 254 (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi).
Devotee: Is the Universal Soul (Paramatma) always different from us?
Sri Ramana: That is the common belief, but it is wrong. Think of Him as not different from you, and then you achieve identity of Self with God. (Talk 31).
The basic tenet of Advaita-Vedanta is that our original nature, the nature of the Self, is Sat-Chit-Ananda-Nityam-Purnum. Sat means Existence. Chit refers to Consciousness. Ananda means Bliss. Nityam mean Eternal. Purnum means whole or complete.
These are not qualities of the Self but its very nature as One monolithic whole. The Self is One without a second, A Mass of Conscious Bliss that is Eternal and Whole. When we experience the Self, we see that the ancient sages were very precise in describing our nature. It is unmistakable and leaves no room for any thought or doubt. Sages teach us that what comes and goes is not our true nature. What is transient has no permanent power or hold on us.
Although we view our personality as made up of mental traits and thoughts, Advaita teaches us that even our mind and thoughts are transient as they are constantly undergoing change. If our identity is based on mental fluctuations, suffering is the natural result.
Sri Ramana, the Sage of Arunachala, taught that through reflection, introspection, and self- inquiry, we can see through our mental conditioning, be free of it, and go beyond it.
Then we see that what comes and goes is not our nature.
Here is a conversation with Sri Ramana and a visitor to illustrate this point.
A visitor said: “I suffer from worries without end; there is no peace for me…” Sri Ramana asked: “Do these worries affect you in sleep?” The visitor admitted that they did not.
Sri Ramana asked him again: “Are you the very same man now, or are you different from him that slept without any worry?”
The visitor said, “Yes, I am the same person.”
Sri Ramana then said: “Then surely those worries do not belong to you. It is your own fault if you assume that they are yours.” (From Maha Yoga by K. Lakshmana Sarma).
Ramana Maharshi often spoke about the true nature of solitude. He has explained a number of times that silence, peace, and solitude are not a function of our environment but our mental state. Indeed solitude is in the mind and not to be found somewhere outside.
The feeling/awareness of one’s existence manifests through the mind as “I”. Hence we say, I do this, I do that, I am a doctor, I am a sanaysi, I am a householder, I am a student, I am a husband, I am a wife, etc.
Bhagavan Ramana’s teaching is to quietly bring attention to this sense of “I” by asking “Kohum”.
If one gains company of pure hearted, good people in life, one gains everything. In yogic psychology, such an association is known as “Satsang”.
At a practical level, Satsang refers to Spiritual Fellowship or company of others on the spiritual path. Satsang is a Sanskrit term and is made of two words, “Sat” and “Sang”.
Sat means “Truth”. Sat also means “Essence”. Sat also means “Existence”. Sang means to “Be With” or “Embraced By” or “In Company of”.
Combining Sat and Sang, we get Satsang, which means “In the company of or embraced by Truth or the Universal Existence”.
What is spiritual wisdom other than being gentle and easy with oneself and others in awareness?
Gain and loss, pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, are threads of life.
Life lived in awareness is the only meditation.
Our talents and strengths do not raise us above anyone. Our shortcomings do not diminish our original nature. That is just how it is.
Sages see action and inaction, speech and silence to be the same. So there is no need to struggle.
To simply be aware of oneself as pure and clear being is the true meditation.
The steadiness of awareness and balance is a gift of grace. It is the blessing of love that springs forth from the heart of sages.
In the company of good and wise people who know the nature of reality, the ego gradually loses its hold and pure awareness reveals itself as the eternal presence.
That is the real meditation.
Without a calm mind, one cannot experience the ultimate reality, the underlying oneness, as one’s own Self.
Spiritual practices (prayer, meditation, deep breathing, yoga) have value because they remove the agitation of the mind.
A peaceful mind, steady in awareness, can understand the purest teaching at the most subtle level.
Therefore the practical advice of the sages is to not bother anyone and not be bothered by others.
To reach the highest state and to know one’s own Heart as the Self, one has to become absolutely indifferent to both external and internal perceptions.
Sri Ramana used to say that wherever we go, we take our mind with us. Therefore, regardless of our circumstances, we have to create the mental atmosphere of satsang (company of the Self). Bhagavan’s teaching is that serenity is a state of mind and not our circumstances.
Sri Ramana says, “Solitude is in the mind of a man. One might be in the thick of the world and yet maintain perfect serenity of mind; such a person is always in solitude. Another may stay in the forest, but still be unable to control his mind. He cannot be said to be in solitude. Solitude is an attitude of the mind ; a man attached to the things of life cannot get solitude, wherever he may be. A detached man is always in solitude”.
Photo art is from Eden Kailash FB page.