God, Guru and Grace: Shri Ramana Maharshi

“Paul Brunton found that the Maharshi’s way of helping others was by an unobtrusive, silent and steady outpouring of healing vibrations into troubled souls, a mysterious telepathic process for which science will one day be required to account.”

All those who seriously ponder upon the question “Who am I?” have invariably heard of Shri Ramana Maharshi. The unassuming spiritual master, who propounded one of the most simplest theories of knowing the self. The method of self-enquiry.

“He simply puts forward a way of self-analysis, which can be practised irrespective of any ancient or modern theories and beliefs which one may hold, a way that will finally lead man to true self-understanding.” – says an ardent follower.

Here is a conversation between Ramana and a seeker, where Ramana establishes that God, Guru and Grace are one and the same thing, They are all the single quintessence found dwelling deep within the seeker’s own heart.


Grace

D.: Is not Grace the gift of the Guru?

M.: God, Grace and Guru are all synonymous and also eternal and immanent. Is not the Self already within? Is it for the Guru to bestow It by his look? If a Guru thinks so, he does not deserve the name.

The books say that there are so many kinds of initiations – by hand, by touch, by eyes and by mind. They also say that the Guru makes some rites with fire, water, japa, mantras, etc., and call such fantastic performances Initiation, as if the disciple becomes ripe only after such processes are gone through by the Guru.

If the individual is sought he is nowhere to be found. Such is the Guru. Such is Dakshinamurti. What did he do? He was silent; the disciples appeared before him. He maintained silence; the doubts of the disciples were dispelled, which means that they lost their individual identities. That is wisdom  and not all the verbiage usually associated with it.

Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the scripttures may be, they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is vaster and more emphatic than all the scriptures put together. These questions arise because of the feeling, that having been here so long, heard so much, exerted so hard, one has not gained anything. The work proceeding within is not apparent. In fact the Guru is always within you.

D.: Does Bhagavan give initiation?

M.: Silence is the best and the most potent Initiation. That was practiced by Sri Dakshinamurti. Touch, look, etc., are all of a lower order. Silence changes the hearts of all. There is no Guru and no disciple. The ignorant confounds his body with the Self and so he takes the other’s body for the Guru. But does the Guru think his body to be the Self? He has transcended the body. There are no differences for Him. So the ignorant cannot appreciate the standpoint of Guru and of disciple.

D.: Vivekananda has also said that silence is the loudest form of prayer.

M.: It is so, for the seeker’s silence Guru’s silence is the loudest instruction. It is also Grace in its highest form. All other initiations, e.g., touch, look are derived from silence. They are therefore secondary. Silence is the primary form. If the Guru is silent the seeker’s mind gets purified by itself.

Later, a passage from the Yoga Vasishtha was read out before Sri Bhagavan, indicating initiation by look and initiation by touch.

Sri Bhagavan observed: Dakshinamurti observed silence when the disciples approached Him. That is the highest form of initiation. It includes the other forms. There must be subject-object relationship established in the other initiation. First the subject must emanate and then the object. Unless these two are there how is the one to look at the other or touch him? Initiation by silence is the most perfect; it comprises looking, touching and teaching. It will purify the individual in every way and establish him in the Reality.

D: “Can anyone get any benefit by repeating sacred syllables (mantras) picked up casually?

M.: “No. He must be competent and initiated in such mantras.” Maharshi illustrated this by the following story: A King visited his Premier in his residence. There he was told that the Premier was engaged in repetition of sacred syllables. The King waited for him and, on meeting him, asked what the words were. The Premier said that it was the holiest of all, Gayatri. The King desired to be initiated by the Premier. But the Premier confessed his inability to initiate him. Therefore the King learned it from someone else, and meeting the Minister later he repeated the Gayatri and wanted to know if it was right. The Minister said that the mantra was correct, but it was not proper for him to say it. When pressed for an explanation, the Minister called to a page close by and ordered him to take hold of the King. The order was not obeyed. The order was often repeated, and still not obeyed. The King flew into a rage and ordered the same man to hold the Minister, and it was immediately done. The Minister laughed and said that the incident was the explanation required by the King. “How?” asked the King. The Minister replied, “The order was the same and the executor also, but the authority was different. When I ordered, the effect was nil, whereas, when you ordered, there was immediate effect. Similarly with mantras.”

Mr. MacIver had an interview with Sri Bhagavan and spoke about initiation.

Sri Bhagavan asked: What is this initiation? After a pause, He continued, “Initiation is of various kinds, by word, by sight, by touch and so forth.”

D.: Bhagavan’s is silent initiation, is it not?

M.: Yes, this the highest form of initiation.

D.: Is it applicable to the path of enquiry only?

M.: All the different paths are included in the path of enquiry.

After a pause Sri Bhagavan spoke to the effect that people who come here are brought by some mysterious Power which will look to their needs. The conversation practically ended with this.

D. How is the Guru found?

M. God, who is immanent, in His grace takes pity on the loving devotee and manifests Himself according to the devotee’s development. The devotee thinks that He is a man and expects a relationship as between two physical bodies. But the Guru, who is God or the Self incarnate, works from within, helps the man to see the error of his ways and guides him in the right path until he realizes the Self within.

D. What should the devotee do then?

M. He has only to act up to the words of the Master and work within. The Master is both ‘within’ and ‘without’, so He creates conditions to drive you inward and at the same time prepares the ‘interior’ to drag you to the Centre. Thus He gives a push from ‘without’ and exerts a pull from ‘within’, so that you may be fixed at the Centre.

D. What is guru’s grace? How does it lead to Self-realization?

M. Guru is the Self…. Sometimes in his life a man becomes dissatisfied with it, and, not content with what he has, he seeks the satisfaction of his desires, through prayer to God etc. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain His grace than to satisfy his worldly desires. Then, God’s grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a guru and appears to the devotee, teaches him the Truth and, moreover, purifies his mind by association. The devotee’s mind gains strength and is then able to turn inward. By meditation it is further purified and it remains still without the least ripple. That calm expanse is the Self.

The Guru is both ‘external’ and ‘internal’. From the ‘exterior’ he gives a push to the mind to turn inward; from the ‘interior’ He pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quieting of the mind. That is guru’s grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self.

You think that the world can be conquered by your own efforts. When you are frustrated externally and are driven inwards, you feel ‘Oh! There is a Power higher than man!’

The ego is like a very powerful elephant which cannot be brought under control by any less powerful than a lion, which, in this instance, is no other than the Guru, Whose very look makes the elephant-like ego tremble and die.

You will know in due course that your glory lies where you cease to exist. In order to gain that State, you should surrender yourself. Then the Master sees that you are in a fit state to receive guidance, and He guides you.

D. How can I obtain Grace?

M. Grace is the Self. That also is not to be acquired: you only need to know that it exists.

The sun is brightness only. It does not see darkness. Yet you speak of darkness fleeing on the sun’s approach. So also the devotee’s ignorance, like the phantom of darkness vanishes at the look of the Guru. You are surrounded by sunlight; yet if you would see the sun, you must turn in its direction and look at it. So also Grace is found by the proper approach you make, though it is here and now.

D. Cannot Grace hasten ripeness in the seeker?

M. Leave it all to the Master. Surrender to Him without reserve.

One of two things must be done : either surrender yourself, because you realize your inability and need a higher power to help you; or investigate into the cause of misery, go into the Source and so merge in the Self. Either way, you will be free from misery. God or Guru never forsakes the devotee who has surrendered himself.

The main type of instruction given by Ramana Maharshi was silence, as it was with Dakshinamurthy of old. Divine bliss permeated those who sat around him. In this silence the doubts of his devotees were cleared and their questions were either answered or faded away, ceasing to exist. This silence was, and is, a dynamic force, eternal and universal in nature.


Advertisements

5 Reasons why Running is as good as Meditation

I consider, running to be as powerful as meditation, I would say it is the best form of active Zen meditation.

1. All Running needs is our body and some determination

 All that we need for running, is a completely operational body (all limbs intact) and some initial determination to counter any inertia or laziness. A treadmill is not necessary, nor is a professional running track.

Although running outdoors has its own advantages, we can even run on one spot, inside our house, without having to wear any running shoes or gear.

2. Running improves circulation, improves health and improves mental health

Running utilizes 16 different muscles of the body, classified under 3 types of muscles (primary, supporting and auxiliary). It is a powerful exercise to boost blood circulation to the body and to the brain. The Cerebral Blood Flow constitutes 15% of the blood flow to the entire body.

Our blood carries all the nutrition in an assimilable to each cell of our body. Our skin, organs, muscles, cartilages, bones, tissues, membranes, nerves, and tendons, are made up of cells. When these cells are nourished, our body is nourished. Toxins and free-radicals are duly flushed out. The body is healthy. A healthy body is free from distractions. The mind within the healthy body is less distracted and more focused. A mind focused on a singular objective is a mind in meditation.

3. When Running the focus automatically shifts on breathing

It is noticed that when we run regularly, our breathing becomes regulated and deeper, our concentration shifts towards breathing and fills the lungs to their designated capacity. In spiritual practices, regulation of breath is a precondition to further advancement. Is it not meditation then, to have the mind and body together watching the inflow and outflow of breath? Inhaling through the nose twice and exhaling through the mouth twice in the same like letting out steam, helps establish a rhythmic pattern while running. This pattern helps build repetition and establish a mantra like effect on the mind.

4. Running exercises both the left and right brain

The human brain is divided into two distinct cerebral hemispheres. Due to contralateral (criss-cross) wiring of nerves, the right hemisphere of the brain, controls the muscles in the left side of our body and the left hemisphere of the brain controls the muscles in the right side of our body. Running is among a few other exercises which coordinate both the right and left major limbs and muscles of the body, thus employing both hemispheres equally, for a prolonged duration. This is just the physiological advantage. The esoteric advantage is that, the Ida and Pingala naadis (energy meridians), start clearing and get equal attention, thus facilitating a faster spiritual growth.

5. Running elevates Serotonin and Dopamine activities in the brain

Serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine is a hormone in the pineal gland, the digestive tract, the central nervous system, and blood platelets. A hormone is a substance our body produces that regulates and controls the activity of certain cells or organs.

Dopamine in the brain,  functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine systems, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior.

Some sources say that prince Gautama, after he renounced all worldly possessions, he went on to meditate beneath a tree. For his daily meal he had a bowl of freshly condensed milk and rice for seven consecutive days. On the seventh day the consumption of pure milk induced high levels of serotonin and dopamine in his brain. This catapulted him instantly in a very deep state of trance, following which he attained enlightenment, becoming the Buddha!

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we can neither vouch for the purity of the milk nor the rice. We do not often practice strict penances, limiting our meals to rice and milk only.

Irrespective of whether we want our lives to model the Buddha’s or not, when we run, we elevate the serotonin and dopamine levels in our brain, promoting healthier brain and body activity. In the esoteric sense, the brain of a person in a meditative trance is shown to have maintained optimal levels of serotonin and dopamine.

There are other exercises that are equally good, but they require additional accessories (skipping), or need a certain space and facility (swimming), or place a heavy premium on body nutrients and hormones (sex).

How much should we run?

It is always safe to exercise within our physical capacities. Studies reveal that running for 30-40 minutes at a pace of 4-5 kmph, 3-4 times a day promotes optimal health.

Why run and not walk?

A walk if brisk or fast is permissive, however, running is a more engaging for the mind and body, because of the kines-thesis and dynamism involved.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

The Zen koan of the sound of one hand clap, by Hakuin Ekaku is very simple to understand. In fact it is so integral to our existence that it has been there all along, but we have never bothered to really listen.

Ofcourse it is something to be experienced, and one cannot be articulate enough to describe it in its entirety, and all that. Let us assume that we all know how to clap and we all more or less can relate to the sound of two hands clapping.

Let us come back to it later. Now, haven’t we all been deeply involved in listening to a song that we like.So deeply involved that we could not possibly think of the world, not even ourselves?

Now what if I got as deeply engrossed as that, say, when I am listening to the sound of my teeth chewing food, or water falling on my head during a bath, or my fingers touching the keyboard while I type this post, or the listening to the sound of my breath leave my nostrils. What if I was deeply engrossed every time I sense using my eyes, hands, ears, mouth and nose, so much so that I suddenly realize, that these are not really five different senses, its just one sense. A deeper faculty of observation that employs the bodies organs to feel or sense.

What if I suddenly realize, that it is my nature to observe. Further, when I am deeply engrossed in the observation there is nothing else but the observation. When I am listening to the music, there is only the music. There is no me. I am also the music. The listener and the listened are one. The observer and the observed are one. There are no two hands, there is just one hand.

In effect, when the hands are folded and palms touch each other, without making a sound, it is also a prayer. The highest form of prayer is absolute silence. Silence of thoughts.

 

Soul Karri Recipe: Nirvana

What you are and what you have is the best place to start. Objectively access the persona that your name means and put it in a box clled EGO component and paint it black to signify darkness, creator, or use your imagination and call it a black hole…”a hole in a heart shaped box”. It retains all the past till this moment. Dont take the mind for granted, treat her with respect, you got to know she’s a sensitive kind. Tell her you love her with your life. If you believe i know you will find, a finger and a ring that sets in your eyes.
Then magic happens. With no lingering past and the mind comfortable that it is squeezed into a blackhole and all of it has come to naught… the future too dissolves. Welcome to paradise UVWXY
I am the alpha and the omega.

Ramsai Karri

Every body knows it …

” It lies beyond the extremities of repetition”

It is there in me. Living itself out. It has built you and it has built me. It shows as if everything not me, is you. Why has it done that? It got bored of the stillness and it wanted to play. How can it resist seeing itself play? It becomes me. What is it playing with? It becomes you. What is the play? You and Me, Me and you.
Repetition, choiceless-ness, realization, enlightenment are complex synonyms of the play. The antonym is it.