Anda di halaman 1dari 5

LivingtheInspirationofSriRamanaMaharshi

AdialoguebetweenDavidGodmanandMaalok,anIndianacademicnowteachinginAmerica
Page1

SriRamanaMaharshi
Maalok:RamanaMaharshihashadalastinginfluenceonyourlife.Forthoseofuswhodon'tknowmuchabouttheMaharshi,couldyoupleasesharesomeofthesalient
aspectsofhislifethathaveinfluencedyoudeeply.
David:Abouttwoorthreetimesayearsomeoneasksmethisquestion,'SummarizeRamanaMaharshi'slifeandteachingsinafewwordsforpeoplewhoknowlittleornothing
abouthim'.It'salwayshardtoknowwheretostartwithaquestionlikethis.
LetmesayfirstthatRamanaMaharshiwasoneofthemosthighlyregardedandwidelyrespectedspiritualfiguresthattwentiethcenturyIndiaproduced.Ican'tthinkofany
othercandidatewhoisaspersistentlyheldouttobeanexampleofallthatisbestintheHinduspiritualtradition.Everyonerevereshimastheperfectexampleofwhatatrue
saintandsageoughttobe.
Howdidthiscomeabout?WhilehewasstillinhisteensSriRamanaunderwentaremarkable,spontaneousexperienceinwhichhisindividualitydied,leavinghiminastate
inwhichhefoundhistrueidentitytobetheSelf,theimmanentandtranscendentsubstratum.Itwasapermanentawakeningthatwastrulyremarkablebecausehehadnot
previouslyhadanyinterestinspiritualmatters.Helefthisfamilyhomeafewweekslater,withouttellinganyonewherehewasgoing,andspenttheremainderofhislifeatthe
footofArunachala,aholymountainandpilgrimagecenterthatisabout120milessouthwestofChennai.
Afterafewyearsthereaperiodinwhichhewaslargelyoblivioustotheworldandhisbodyhebegantoattractdevoteesbecausetherewasaspiritualradianceemanating
fromhimthatmanypeoplearoundhimexperiencedaspeaceorhappiness.This,Ithink,isthesecretofhissubsequentfameandpopularity.Hedidn'tgetareputationforbeing
a great sage because of what he did or said. It came about because people, who arrived at his ashram with all kinds of questions and doubts, suddenly found themselves
becomingquiet,peacefulandhappyinhispresence.Therewasacontinuous,benignflowofenergycomingoffhimthatsomehowevaporatedthementalanxietiesandbusy
mindsofthepeoplewhocametoseehim.Hedidn'taskpeopletocome.Peoplejustcameoftheirownaccord.A19thcenturyAmericanauthoroncewrotethatifyouinventa
bettermousetrap,evenifyoutrytohideyourselfinthewoods,peoplewillbeatapathtoyourdoor.PeoplebeatapathtoSriRamana'sdoorformanyyearshelivedinvery
inaccessibleplacesbecausehehadsomethingfarbetterthananimprovedmousetraptoofferhehadanaturalabilitytoinducepeaceinthepeoplearoundhim.

Letmeexpandonthisbecausethisisthekeytounderstandingbothhisstateandtheeffecthehadonotherpeople.Whenhehadhisfinalexperienceattheageofsixteen,his
mind,hissenseofbeinganindividualpersonvanishedforever,leavinghiminastateofunassailablepeace.Herealizedandunderstoodthatthiswasnotsomenewexperience
that was mediated by and through his 'I', his sense of being an individual person. It was, instead, his natural state, something that is there all the time, but which is only
experiencedwhenthemindanditsperpetualbusynessisabsent.Byabidinginthisnaturalandeffortlessstateofinnersilencehesomehowchargeduptheatmospherearound
him with a healing, quietening energy. People who came to see him spontaneously became happy, peaceful and quiet. Why? Because Sri Ramana himself was effortlessly
broadcastinghisownexperienceofhappiness,peaceandquietudeinsuchawaythatthosepeoplewhowerearoundhimgotaninnertaste,aninnerflavorofthisnaturalstate
thatisinherenttoallofus.Ishouldsaythatthispowerwasnotrestrictedtohisphysicalvicinity,althoughitdidseemtobestrongerthere.Peoplewhomerelythoughtabout
himwherevertheyhappenedtobediscoveredthattheycouldexperiencesomethingofthispeacesimplythroughhavingthismentalcontactwithhim.
So,havinggiventhatbackground,Icannowanswerthequestion:'WhowasRamanaMaharshiandwhatwerehisteachings?'
SriRamanaMaharshiwasalivingembodimentofpeaceandhappinessandhis'teachings'weretheemanationsofthatstatewhichhelpedotherpeopletofindandexperience
theirowninnerhappinessandpeace.
Ifallthissoundsalittleabstract,letmetellyouastorythatwaspassedontomebyArthurOsborne'sdaughter.Inthe1940stheirhousewasakindofdormitoryforallthe
strayforeignerswhocouldn'tfindanywhereelsetostaynearSriRamana'sashram.Amiserable,crabbywomenappearedoneevening,havingbeensentbytheashram.Theyput
herup,gaveherbreakfastandsentherofftoseeSriRamanathenextmorning.Shecamebackatlunchtimelookingabsolutelyradiant.Shewasglowingwithhappiness.The
wholefamilywaswaitingtohearthestoryofwhathappened,butsheneversaidanythingabouthervisittotheashram.Everyoneinthehousewasexpectingsomedramatic
story:'Helookedatmeandthishappened,'or'IaskedaquestionandthenIhadthisgreatexperience.'Asthelunchplateswerebeingclearedaway,herhostscouldnotcontain
theircuriosityanylonger.
'Whathappened?'askedoneofthem.'WhatdidBhagavandotoyou?Whatdidhesaytoyou?'
Thewomanlookedmostsurprised.'Hedidn'tdoanything.Hedidn'tsayanythingtome.Ijustsatthereforthewholemorningandthencamebackforlunch.'
Shehadbeenjustonenewpersonsittinginacrowdofpeople,butthepowercomingoffSriRamanahadbeenenoughtowashawayalifetimeofdepression,leavingherwith
atasteofwhatlayunderneathit:herowninherent,naturalhappinessandpeace.
SriRamanaknewthattransformationssuchastheseweregoingonaroundhimallthetime,butheneveracceptedresponsibilityforthem.Hewouldneversay,'Itransformed
thiswoman'.Whenhewasaskedabouttheeffecthewashavingonpeople,hewouldsometimessaythatbycontinuouslyabidinginhisownnaturalstateofpeace,asannidhi,a
powerfulpresence,wassomehowcreatedthatautomaticallytookcareofthementalproblemsofthepeoplewhovisitedhim.Byabidinginsilenceassilence,thisenergyfield
wascreated,afieldthatmiraculouslytransformedthepeoplearoundhim.
Youroriginalquestionwas,'WhyhasRamanaMaharshiinfluencedmesomuch?'Theansweris,'IcameintohissannidhiandthroughitscatalyticactivityIdiscoveredmy
ownpeace,myownhappiness.'
Maalok:IfsomebodywantstostartpracticingtheteachingsofRamanaMaharshi,whereandhowshouldtheystart?
David:Thisisanotherclassicquestion:'WhatshouldIdo?'However,thequestionitselfismisconceived.Itisbasedontheerroneousassumptionthathappinessandpeaceare
statesthatcanbeexperiencedbystriving,byeffort.Thebusymindcoversupthepeaceandthesilencethatisyourownnaturalstate,soifyouputthemindingearanduseitto
pursuesomespiritualgoal,youareusuallytakingitawayfromthepeace,nottowardsit.Thisisahardconceptformanypeopletograsp.
PeoplefoundtheirowninnerpeaceinSriRamana'spresencebecausetheydidn'tinterferewiththeenergythatwaseradicatingtheirminds,theirsenseofbeingaparticular
personwhohasideas,beliefs,andsoon.ThetruepracticeofSriRamana'steachingsisremainingquiet,remaininginastateofinnermentalquiescencethatallowsthepowerof
SriRamanatoseepintoyourheartandtransformyou.ThiscanbesummarizedinoneofSriRamana'sclassiccomments:'Justkeepquiet.Bhagavanwilldotherest.'
Ifyouusethephrase'practicingtheteachings,'thefollowingsequenceisassumed:thatSriRamanaspeaksofsomegoalthathastobeattained,thathegivesyousomeroute,
somepractice,toreachthatgoal,andthatyouthenuseyourmindtovigorouslymovetowardsthatgoal.Themindwantstobeinchargeofthisoperation.Itwantstolistento
theGuru,understandwhatisrequired,andthenuseitselftomoveintheprescribeddirection.Allthisiswrong.Mindisnotthevehicleoneusestocarryouttheteachingsitis,
instead,theobstaclethatpreventsonefromdirectlyexperiencingthem.Theonlyuseful,productivethingthemindcandoisdisappear.
SriRamanahimselfalwayssaidthathistrueteachingsweregivenoutinsilence.Thosewhowerereceptivetothemweretheoneswhocouldgetoutofthewaymentally,

allowingSriRamana'ssilentemanationstoworkonthem.InthebenedictoryversetohisphilosophicalpoemUlladuNarpaduSriRamanawrote,andIparaphrasealittle:'Who
canmeditateonthatwhichaloneexists.Onecannotmeditateonitbecauseoneisnotapartfromit.Onecanonlybeit.'ThisistheessenceofSriRamana'steachings.'Bewhat
youareandremainasyouarewithouthavinganythoughts.Don'ttrytomeditateontheSelf,onGod.Justabidesilentlyatthesourceofthemindandyouwillexperiencethat
youareGod,thatyouaretheSelf.'
Maalok:DidtheMaharshigivesomeguidelinesonthekindoflifeoneshouldlead?Activitiesthatwouldhelpspiritualquests?Imeanmundanethingssuchaseating,
sleeping,drinking,talking,family,marriage,sexuality,etc.
David:Ithinkthekeywordhereis'moderation'.Onseveraloccasionshesaidthatmoderationineating,sleepingandspeakingwerethebestaidstosadhana.Hedidn'tapprove
oforencourageexcessofanykind.Hedidn't,forexample,encouragepeopletotakevowsofsilence.Heusedtosay,'Ifyoucan'tkeepyourmindstill,whatisthepointof
keepingyourtonguestill?'
Thoughheencourageddevoteestolivedecent,uprightlives,heneverimposedrigorousmoralcodesonthem.Hewashappyifdevoteestooktobrahmacharyanaturally,but
he didn't see much point in suppressing sexual desires. Someone once told him that in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the men and the women slept separately, even if they were
married.Hisresponsewas,'Whatisthepointofsleepingseparatelyifthedesiresarestillthere?'Ifpeoplewhohaddesiresandwantedtogetridofthemcametohimforadvice,
hewouldusuallysaythatmeditationwouldmakethemlosetheirstrength.AccordingtoSriRamana,youdon'tgetridofdesiresbysuppressingthem,orbynotindulgingin
them,yougetridofthembyputtingyourattentionontheSelf.
Hedidn'tlookdownonpeoplewhoweremarriedaspeoplewhohadsuccumbedtotheirdesires.HeoncetoldRangan,oneofhismarrieddevotees,thatitwaseasiertorealize
theSelfasahouseholderthanasasannyasin.
SriRamanadidn'tthinkthatrenouncinghabitsorpossessionswasverybeneficial.Instead,heaskedpeopletogototherootoftheproblemandrenouncetheideathatthey
wereindividualpeopleoccupyingbodies.Hewouldsometimessaythatevenifyougiveupyourjob,yourfamilyandallyourresponsibilitiesandgotoacaveandmeditate,
youstillhavetotakeyourmindwithyou.Whilethatmindisstillthere,exercisingitstyranny,youhaven'treallyrenouncedanythingthatwilldoyouanygoodinthelong
term.
Maalok: When the topic of Ramana Maharshi's teachings comes up, most people think of selfinquiry, the practice of asking oneself 'Who am I?' You haven't even
mentionedthis.
David:I'mlayingthefoundation,astheysayincourt.I'mtryingtoputitinaproperperspective.PeoplecametoSriRamanawiththestandardseekers'question:'WhatdoI
havetodotogetenlightened?'OneofhisstandardreplieswastheTamilphrase'Summairu'.'Summa'means'quiet'or'still'and'iru'istheimperativeofboththeverbtobeand
theverbtostay.So,youcantranslatethisas'Bequiet,'Bestill,'Stayquiet,''Remainstill,'andsoon.Thiswashisprimaryadvice.
However,heknewthatmostpeoplecouldn'tnaturallystayquiet.Ifsuchpeopleaskedforamethod,atechnique,hewouldoftenrecommendapracticeknownasselfinquiry.
Thisisprobablywhatheismostfamousfor.Tounderstandwhatitis,howitworks,andhowitistobepracticed,IneedtodigressalittleintoSriRamana'sviewsonthenature
ofthemind.
SriRamanataughtthattheindividualselfisanunreal,imaginaryentitythatpersistsbecauseweneverproperlyinvestigateitstruenature.Thesenseof'I',thefeelingofbeing
aparticularpersonwhoinhabitsaparticularbody,onlypersistsbecausewecontinuouslyidentifyourselveswiththoughts,beliefs,emotions,objects,andsoon.The'I'never
standsalonebyitselfitalwaysexistsinassociation:'IamJohn,''Iamangry,''Iamalawyer,''Iamawoman,'etc.Theseidentificationsareautomaticandunconscious.Wedon't
makethemthroughvolitiononamomenttomomentbasis.Theyarejusttheunchallengedassumptionsthatliebehindallourexperiencesandhabits.SriRamanaasksusto
disentangleourselvesfromalltheseassociationsbyputtingfullattentiononthesubject'I',andindoingso,preventitfromattachingitselftoanyideas,beliefs,thoughtsand
emotionsthatcomeitsway.
Theclassicwayofdoingthisistostartwithsomeexperiencedfeelingorthought.ImaybethinkingaboutwhatIamgoingtoeatfordinner,forexample.So,Iaskmyself,
'Whoisanticipatingdinner?'andtheanswer,whetheryouexpressitornot,is'Iam'.Thenyouaskyourself,'WhoamI?Whoorwhatisthis''I''thatiswaitingforitsnextmeal?'
Thisisnotaninvitationtoundertakeanintellectualanalysisofwhatisgoingonintheminditisinsteadadevicefortransferringattentionfromtheobjectofthoughtthe

forthcomingdinnertothesubject,thepersonwhoishavingthatparticularthought.Inthatmomentsimplyabideasthe'I'itselfandtrytoexperiencesubjectivelywhatitis
whenitisshornofallidentificationsandassociationswiththingsandthoughts.Itwillbeafleetingmomentformostpeoplebecauseitisthenatureofthemindtokeepitself
busy.Youwillsoonfindyourselfinanewtrainofthought,anewseriesofassociations.Eachtimethishappens,askyourself,'Whoisdaydreaming?''Whoisworriedabouther
doctor'sbill?''Whoisthinkingabouttheweather?'andsoon.Theanswerineachcasewillbe'I'.Holdontothatexperienceoftheunassociated'I'foraslongasyoucan.Watch
howitarises,and,moreimportantly,watchwhereitsubsidestowhentherearenothoughtstoengagewith.
Thisisthenextstageoftheinquiry.Ifyoucanisolatethefeelingof'I'fromallthethingsthatithabituallyattachesitselfto,youwilldiscoverthatitstartstodisappear.Asit
subsidesandbecomesmoreandmoreattenuated,onebeginstoexperiencetheemanationsofpeaceandjoythatare,inreality,yourownnaturalstate.Youdon'tnormally
experiencethesebecauseyourbusymindkeepsthemcoveredup,buttheyarethereallthetime,andwhenyoubegintoswitchthemindoff,that'swhatyouexperience.
It'sakindofmentalarchaeology.Thegold,thetreasure,theinherenthappinessofyourowntruestate,isinthere,waitingforyou,butyoudon'tlookforit.Youarenoteven
awareofit,becauseallyousee,allyouknow,arethelayersthathaveaccumulatedontopofit.Yourdiggingtoolisthiscontinuousawarenessof'I'.Ittakesyouawayfromthe
thoughts,andbacktoyourrealSelf,whichispeaceandhappiness.SriRamanaoncecomparedthisprocesstoadogthatholdsontothescentofitsmasterinordertotrackhim
down.Followingtheunattached'I'willtakeyouhome,backtotheplacewherenoindividual'I'haseverexisted.
Thisisselfinquiry,andthisisthemethodbywhichitshouldbepracticed.Holdontothesenseof'I',andwheneveryougetdistractedbyotherthingsreverttoitagain.I
shouldmentionthatthiswasnotsomethingthatSriRamanasaidshouldbedoneasameditationpractice.Itissomethingthatshouldbegoingoninsideyouallthetime,
irrespectiveofwhatthebodyisdoing.
ThoughSriRamanasaidthatthiswasthemosteffectivetoolforrealizingtheSelf,itmustbesaidthatveryfewpeopleactuallyachievedthisgoal.Formostofusthemindis
justtoostubborntobeovercomebythisoranyothertechnique.However,theeffortputintoselfinquiryisneverwasted.Infact,it'sawinwinsituationformostpeopleeither
yougetenlightened,oryoujustgetpeacefulandhappy.
Maalok:ListeningtoyouranswerabovethatveryfewpeopleachievedthegoalofSelfrealizationevenwhenpracticingselfenquirypeoplecouldbediscouragedto
eventry.PerhapsinthiscontextitwouldbehelpfulforyoutoelaborateonwhatismeantbycompleteSelfrealization?IsSelfrealizationdifficultorrare?Isitrare
becausepeopledon'tpracticeselfinquiryproperly?
David: Selfrealization is the definitive ending of the experience of the individual 'I'. It is a permanent state of knowing awareness, that contains, inherent within it, the
understandingthatone'strueidentityisthesubstratumoutofwhichtheworldandallitsnamesandformsappear.Manypeoplehavebriefglimpsesofthisreality,butlosethem
whenthemind,theindividual'I'reassertsitself.Ibelievethatthepermanenteradicationofthissenseofbeinganindividualpersonisarareevent,althoughIknowmanypeople
whowoulddisagreewithmeonthissubject.
IonceaskedNisargadattaMaharajwhysomepeople,suchasRamanaMaharshi,realizedtheselfveryquicklythroughasingleactofselfinquiry,whereasothersspentfifty
yearsmeditatingandfailedtoreachthesamestate.IwascurioustohearhisanswerbecauseIknewthatatthisstageofhisteachingcareerhewaspersistentlymaintainingthat
reincarnationdidnothappen.Thismeantthathecouldn'tsaythatpeoplesuchasSriRamanaarrivedinthisworldwithanadvantageoverotherpeoplewhomightnothave
doneasmuchmeditationintheirpreviouslives.
Inhisreplyhesaidthatsomepeoplewerebornwithapure'chemical'andsomewerenot.Ithinkhegotthe'chemical'analogyfromthelayerofchemicalsthatcoatsafilm.
FromwhatIgatheredtalkingtohim,weareallissuedwithafilmforourlife,thatistosay,amoreorlesspredeterminedscriptthatplaysitselfoutasourlives.Thequalityof
thechemicalisdeterminedbyacomingtogetherofallsortsoffactorsthataremostlyprevalentatthetimeofconception:ourparents'genes,astrologicalconfigurations,the
environmentweareduetobebroughtupinwereafewthathenamed.ThosewhohavethegoodlucktobeissuedwithagoodchemicalrealizetheSelf,andthosewhohavea
badordirtychemicalneverdo,irrespectiveofhowmuchtheytry.
WhenIcommentedthatthisallsoundedverydeterministic,andthattheredidn'tseemtobemuchpointinspiritualeffortifthequalityofourissuedchemicaldetermined
whetherornotwegotenlightenedornot,hesaidthatsomepeoplecameintotheworldwithachemicalthatwasonlyveryslightlyimpure.Thesepeople,hesaid,couldrealize
theSelfbyassociatingwitharealizedteacherandbyhavingastrongandearnestdesiretoknowandbethetruth.Inthisparticularmodel,thepeoplewhomeditateordoself
inquiryforyearswithoutsuccessarenotnecessarilydoingitwronglyorbadly,theyaresimplyintheunfortunatemajoritywhosechemicalissoimpure,noamountofeffortwill
clarifyit.Andsincethereisnoreincarnation,theeffortthesepeoplemakeisnotcarriedforwardintofuturelives.

IfoundthisuniquemodelIhaveneverheardorreadaboutthistheoryanywhereelsetobequiteperplexing.IntheyearsthatIwasgoingtoseeNisargadattaMaharaj,the
frontcoverofIAmThat,hisownbookofteachings,containedadetailedstatementbyhimonhowreincarnationtookplace.Yet,duringthelastyearsofhislife,Ineveronce
heardhimadmitthatreincarnationwastrue,orsaythateffortormaturityinonelifecouldbecarriedforwardintoanother.
ThedisciplesofSriRamanaIhavebeenwith,suchasLakshmanaSwamyandPapaji,haveallsaidthatspiritualeffortinpastlivesiscarriedforward,makingitpossiblefor
enlightenmenttohappenrelativelyquicklyinthefinalbirth.WhenIaskedLakshmanaSwamywhyhehadrealizedtheSelfsoquicklyinthislife,hesaidthathehadfinished
hisworkinpreviouslives,andPapajisaidhehadmemoriesofbeingayogiinSouthIndiainhispreviouslife.
SriRamananevertalkedabouthispreviouslives,althoughhedidconcedeoncethathemusthavehadaGuruinsomeotherlife.Ipersonallyfeelthathecompletedallhis
spiritualworkinsomeotherbodyandarrivedinhisfinalbirthinastateofsuchutterpurityandreadinessthatenlightenmentcametohimvirtuallyunaskedwhilehewasstill
inhisteens.
Ithinkpeopleneedtotakealongtermviewwhentheytaketoselfinquiryoranyotherpractice.It'snotbadtothinkofenlightenmentassomethingthatmightoccuratany
moment,infactIthinkit'salaudableattitudetohave,butatthesametimeoneshouldnotbedisappointedifitdoesn'thappen.Formanypeople,askingoneself'WhoamI?'is
chippingawayatamountainofignoranceandmentalconditioning.Itmaybearfruitinthislife,butifitdoesn't,thebenefitswillbecarriedforwardtosomeotherincarnation.
Meanwhile,thepractice,ifitiscarriedoutregularly,willgiveyouenoughpeaceandquiettojustifytheinvestmentoftimeandenergyyouputintoit,hereandnow.