Self-Enquiry

(Vicharasangraham)

Sri Ramana Maharshi

(1879-1950)

Ramana

Questions 11 -20

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11

D: Is Self-experience possible for the mind, whose nature is constant change?

M: Since sattva-guna [a] (the constituent of prakriti which makes for purity, intelligence, etc.) is the nature of mind, and since the mind is pure and undefiled like ether, what is called mind is, in truth, of the nature of knowledge. When it stays in that natural (i.e. pure) state, it has not even the name "mind". It is only the erroneous knowledge which mistakes one for another that is called mind.

What was (originally) the pure sattva mind, of the nature of pure knowledge, forgets its knowledge-nature on account of nescience, gets transformed into the world under the influence of tamo-guna (i.e. the constituent ofprakriti which makes for dullness, inertness, etc.), being under the influence of rajo-guna (i.e. the constituent of prakriti which makes for activity, passions, etc.), imagines "I am the body, etc.; the world is real", it acquires the consequent merit and demerit through attachment, aversion, etc., and, through the residual impressions (vasanas) thereof, attains birth and death.

But the mind, which has got rid of its defilement (sin) through action without attachment performed in many past lives, listens to the teaching of scripture from a true guru, reflects on its meaning, and meditates in order to gain the natural state of the mental mode of the form of the Self, i.e. of the form "I am Brahman" which is the result of the continued contemplation of Brahman. Thus will be removed the mind's transformation into the world in the aspect of tamo-guna, and its roving therein in the aspect of rajo-guna.

When this removal takes place the mind becomes subtle and unmoving. It is only by the mind that is impure and is under the influence of rajas and tamas that Reality (i.e. the Self) which is very subtle and unchanging cannot be experienced; just as a piece of fine silk cloth cannot be stitched with a heavy crowbar, or as the details of subtle objects cannot be distinguished by the light of a lamp flame that flickers in the wind. But in the pure mind that has been rendered subtle and unmoving by the meditation described above, the Self-bliss (i.e. Brahman) will become manifest. As without mind there cannot be experience, it is possible for the purified mind endowed with the extremely subtle mode (vritti) to experience the Self-bliss, by remaining in that form (i.e. in the form of Brahman). Then, that one's self is of the nature of Brahman will be clearly experienced.

12

D: Is the aforesaid Self-experience possible, even in the state of empirical existence, for the mind which has to perform functions in accordance with its prarabdha [b] (the past karma which has begun to fructify)?

[b. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prarabdha_karma ]

M: A Brahmin may play various parts in a drama; yet the thought that he is a Brahmin does not leave his mind. Similarly, when one is engaged in various empirical acts there should be the firm conviction "I am the Self', without allowing the false idea "I am the body, etc." to rise. If the mind should stray away from its state, then immediately one should enquire, "Oh! Oh! We are not the body etc.! Who are we?" and thus one should reinstate the mind in that (pure) state.

The enquiry "Who am I?" is the principal means to the removal of all misery and the attainment of the supreme bliss. When in this manner the mind becomes quiescent in its own state, Self-experience arises of its own accord, without any hindrance. Thereafter sensory pleasures and pains will not affect the mind. All (phenomena) will appear then, without attachment, like a dream. Never forgetting one's plenary Self-experience is real bhakti (devotion), yoga (mind-control), jnana (knowledge) and all other austerities. Thus say the sages.

13

D: When there is activity in regard to works, we are neither the agents of those works nor their enjoyers. The activity is of the three instruments. (I.e., the mind, speech, and body.) Could we remain unattached thinking thus?

M: After the mind has been made to stay in the Self which is its Deity, and has been rendered indifferent to empirical matters because it does not stray away from the Self, how can the mind think as mentioned above? Do not such thoughts constitute bondage? When such thoughts arise due to residual impressions (vasanas), one should restrain the mind from flowing that way, endeavour to retain it in the Self-state, and make it turn indifferent to empirical matters.

One should not give room in the mind for such thoughts as: "Is this good? Or, is that good? Can this be done? Or, can that be done?" One should be vigilant even before such thoughts arise and make the mind stay in its native state. If any little room is given, such a (disturbed) mind will do harm to us while posing as our friend; like the foe appearing to be a friend, it will topple us down.

Is it not because one forgets one's Self that such thoughts arise and cause more and more evil? While it is true that to think through discrimination, "I do not do anything; all actions are performed by the instruments", is a means to prevent the mind from flowing along thought vasanas, does it not also follow that only if the mind flows along thought vasanas that it must be restrained through discrimination as stated before?

Can the mind that remains in the Self-state think as "I", and as "I" behave empirically thus and thus? In all manner of ways possible, one should endeavour gradually not to forget one's (true) Self that is God. If that is accomplished, all will be accomplished. The mind should not be directed to any other matter. Even though one may perform, like a mad person, the actions that are the result of prarabdha-karma, one should retain the mind in the Self-state without letting the thought "I do" arise. Have not countless bhaktas (devotees) performed their numerous empirical functions with an attitude of indifference?

14

D: What is the real purpose of sannyasa (renunciation)?

M: Sannyasa is only the renunciation of the "I" thought, and not the rejection of the external objects.

He who has renounced (the "I" thought) thus remains the same whether he is alone or in the midst of the extensive samsara (empirical world). Just as when the mind is concentrated on some object, it does not observe other things even though they may be proximate, so also, although the sage may perform any number of empirical acts, in reality he performs nothing; because he makes the mind rest in the Self without letting the "I" thought arise. Even as in a dream one appears to fall head downwards, while in reality one is unmoving, so also the ignorant person – i.e., the person for whom the "I" thought has not ceased – although he remains alone in constant meditation, is in fact one who performs all empirical actions. [3] Thus the wise ones have said.

15

D: The mind, sense-organs, etc., have the ability to perceive; yet why are they regarded as perceived objects?

M:  [Refers to the following table]

Drik
(Knower)
Drisya
(Known object)
1. The Seer Pot (i.e. the seen object)
——— Further ———
2. The eye organ Body, Pot, etc.
3. The sense of sight The eye organ
4. The mind The sense of sight
5. The individual soul The mind
6. Consciousness (the Self) The individual soul

As shown in the above scheme, since we, the consciousness, know all objects, we are said to be drik (knower). The categories ending with pot are the objects seen, since they are what are known. In the table of "knowledge–ignorance" (i.e. knower–known) given above, among the knowers and objects of knowledge, it is seen that one is knower in relation to another; yet, since that one is object in relation to another, none of those categories is, in reality, the knower.

Although we are said to be the "knower" because we know all, and not the "known" because we are not known by anything else, we are said to be the "knower" only in relation to the known objects. In truth, however, what is called the "known" is not apart from us. And so we are the Reality that transcends those two (the knower and the known). All the others fall within the knower-known categories.

16

D: How do egoity, soul, self, and Brahman come to be identified?

M:  [Refers to the following table]

The example The exemplified
1. The iron-ball Egoity
2. The heated iron-ball The soul which appears as a superimposition on the Self
3. The fire that is in the heated iron-ball The light of consciousness; i.e., the immutable Brahman which shines in the soul in everybody
4. The flame of fire which remains as one The all pervading Brahman which remains as one

From the examples given above, it will be clear how egoity, soul, witness, and All-witness come to be identified.

Just as in the wax-lump that is with the smith, numerous and varied metal-particles lie included and all of them appear to be one wax-lump—so also in deep sleep the gross and subtle bodies of all the individual souls are included in the cosmic maya which is nescience, of the nature of sheer darkness; and since the souls are resolved in the Self becoming one with it, they see everywhere darkness alone. From the darkness of sleep, the subtle body, viz. egoity, and from that (egoity) the gross body arise respectively.

Even as the egoity arises, it appears superimposed on the nature of the Self, like the heated iron-ball. Thus, without the soul (jiva) which is the mind or egoity that is conjoined with the Consciousness-light, there is no witness of the soul, viz. the Self, and without the Self there is no Brahman that is the All-witness.

Just as when the iron ball is beaten into various shapes by the smith, the fire that is in it does not change thereby in any manner, even so the soul may be involved in ever so many experiences and undergo pleasures and pains; and yet the Self-light that is in it does not change in the least thereby, and like the ether it is the all-pervasive pure knowledge that is one, and it shines in the heart as Brahman.

17

D: How is one to know that in the heart the Self itself shines as Brahman?

M: Just as the elemental ether within the flame of a lamp is known to fill without any difference and without any limit both the inside and the outside of the flame, so also the knowledge-ether that is within the Self-light in the heart, fills without any difference and without any limit both the inside and the outside of that Self-light. This is what is referred to as Brahman.

18

D: How do the three states of experience, the three bodies, etc., which are imaginations, appear in the Self-light which is one, impartite and self-luminous? Even if they should appear, how is one to know that the Self alone remains ever unmoving?

M:  [Refers to the following diagram and table]

Illumination by the Lamp

Flame illustration
The example The exemplified
1) The Lamp The Self
2) The door Sleep
3) The door-step Mahat-tattva
4) The inner wall Nescience, or the causal body
5) The mirror The egoity
6) The windows The five cognitive sense-organs.
7) The inner chamber Deep sleep in which the causal body is manifest
8) The middle chamber Dream in which the subtle body is manifest
9) The outer court Waking state in which the gross body is manifest

The Self which is the lamp (1) shines of its own accord in the inner chamber, i.e., the causal body (7) that is endowed with nescience as the inner wall (4) and sleep as the door (2). When by the vital principle as conditioned by time, karma, etc., the sleep-door is opened, there occurs a reflection of the Self in the egoity-mirror (5) that is placed next to the door-step – Mahat-tattva. The egoity-mirror thus illumines the middle chamber, i.e., the dream state (8), and, through the windows which are the five cognitive sense-organs (6), the outer court, i.e., the waking state. When, again, by the vital principle as conditioned by time, karma, etc., the sleep-door gets shut, the egoity ceases along with waking and dream, and the Self alone ever shines. The example just given explains how the Self is unmoving, how there is difference between the Self and the egoity and how the three states of experience, the three bodies, etc., appear.

19

D: Although I have listened to the explanation of the characteristics of enquiry in such great detail, my mind has not gained even a little peace. What is the reason for this?

M: The reason is the absence of strength or one-pointedness of the mind.

20

D: What is the reason for the absence of mental strength?

M: The means that make one qualified for enquiry are meditation, yoga, etc. One should gain proficiency in these through graded practice, and thus secure a stream of mental modes that is natural and helpful. When the mind that has in this manner become ripe, listens to the present enquiry, it will at once realize its true nature which is the Self, and remain in perfect peace, without deviating from that state. To a mind which has not become ripe, immediate realization and peace are hard to gain through listening to enquiry. Yet, if one practices the means for mind-control for some time, peace of mind can be obtained eventually.

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