Monday, June 30, 2008

A Rose-Petal A Day at Thy Blessed Feet

Daily I'll scatter rose-petals before
Thy blessed Feet;
Each petal just a thought. I have no more
To render Thee in homage. It is mete
That it should be like this, for all's already Thine,
There's nothing more is mine.

And as these petals one by one do drop,
Whose perfume-sweetness lasts but for a day,
I will not stop
Asking myself repeatedly this way:
"Who thinks that he now acts?" and "Who am I?"
And so like this I'll try
To plumb the depths of Being, diving deep
Beyond the realms of thought to waking-sleep,
Where naught is and yet All.
For this the lesson, sitting in Thy Hall,
That I have learnt. And yet above
This seeming dry philosophy I find
A deeper lesson in The boundless Love
That spreads beyond all measured realms of mind.

My giving is a gain,
It will not be in vain.
For every thought I one by one discard
Will grow another feather in the wings
That carry me to Freedom. Tho' 'tis hard
What I would not accomplish, 'tis of things
That must be done, it seems, in spite of me;
My will I have surrendered unto Thee.

All that is left to me is just to pray
That many years will be added to the term
That Thou wilt spend below.
For Thou in truth art my sole staff and stay,
Holding to which my purpose is more firm,
And when Thou goest I would also go.
Bound ever to Thy Feet how can I fail?
O Ramana, my Guru, hail, all hail!

~ Sadhu Arunachala (Major A. W. Chadwick)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I will always be with you.

I have been a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi for over 55 years. I was in my early twenties when I first had His darshan. The event is still fresh in my memory not because I was at that age so mature, which I was not, but because of a very remarkable incident I saw on that occasion.

I went to the Ramana Ashrama in the early forties when the Second World War was at its peak and our own independence movement was also at its maximum intensity. I am not certain about the date or the month of my visit; it may have been December or January. I remember the season was quite cool. The summit of the holy mountain Arunachala was shrouded in dense mist and clouds. The morning air was crisp and pleasant.

It was in the original small hall, that is remembered by the early devotees with justifiable fondness, that I first saw Sri Bhagavan seated on a raised platform. A cast-iron charcoal brazier was radiating a comfortable warmth, and a pleasing aroma of the incense thrown into it at regular intervals was pervading the entire hall. About thirty people, comprised of men, women and a few young boys were seated on the floor facing Sri Bhagavan. None spoke or even whispered between themselves. What struck me was, no one showed even an inclination to talk. Some were meditating with closed eyes. The silence was definitely not an imposed one.

Sri Bhagavan, his body luminous like burnished gold, was sparsely clad in his usual kaupinam and a small towel across his chest. He appeared to be occasionally dozing off and had to steady his head often. He frequently stretched his palms over the fire and massaged his long fingers. In spite of his apparent dozing, his eyes did not look drowsy. On the contrary, they were extraordinarily bright and alert. He was not looking at anybody in particular, nor were his eyes roaming about the hall in idle curiosity. Although my first impression was not a very uplifting one, I felt I was in the presence of an extremely affable person with a lot of natural grace, at perfect ease and without any pretension whatsoever. I was, however, aware of an effortless peace in the hall.

I saw a white-skinned boy, a foreigner, of about ten years sitting a couple of feet to my left. Next to him was a white man, presumably his father. Further to my left, beyond the central aisle, was a white woman, whom I thought was the boy's mother. I then saw Sri Bhagavan's eyes alight on the boy for a brief minute. I thought it was just a casual look. The boy was all the time looking at Sri Bhagavan with a sort of fixation, as if on the verge of asking a question. But, no! He broke into tears. A cascade of tears came gushing out of his eyes. They were not tears of pain, for his face was radiant with joy. In temples, I have seen adults shedding tears in ecstasy, and had myself experienced that type of joyous outpouring on hearing a beautiful hymn or a moving melody, but I had never seen a ten-year-old boy from a far-off land exhibiting this type of beautiful expression in an extremely quiet and serene atmosphere. I could see that Sri Bhagavan's glance, though only resting on him for a brief moment, had opened in the boy's heart a veritable reservoir of pure joy.

I did not feel a remorse for my lack of receptivity that I ought to have felt. But I felt most fortunate to see a boy not even half my age showing such an alert sensitivity. The flat feeling I had experienced earlier was washed away by the joyous tears of another; I really felt blessed in an indirect way. Direct or indirect, blessing is blessing. Whenever I recall this incident, it creates a feeling of being very near to something truly Divine. Of course, I have had my own share of Sri Bhagavan's grace in my later years. I have also had some ever-fresh visions which I dare not devalue as creations of a fevered imagination for they have strengthened my faith in Sri Bhagavan. Some of them occurred decades after Sri Bhagavan's Mahanirvana. They have been firm confirmations of his continued Presence and reassurances of his immortal words, "They say I am going! Where can I go? I am always here!"

Now, returning to that first day at the Ashrama, I learned that the boy had come along with his parents, both of them Theosophists. The Theosophical Society's world convention is usually held at their international headquarters at Adyar, Madras in December-January. Some of the people from foreign countries choose to visit Sri Ramanasramam at that time. The boy's parents arranged a trip to Tiruvannamalai, but he stoutly refused to go with them, as he was not in tune with conditions in India which can never be adequate when compared with the posh amenities of his native Australia. However, he changed his mind at the last moment and did make the trip. Within an hour of his face-to-face meeting with Sri Bhagavan, his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness. He shed tears for quite some time and later said to his mother, "I am so happy. I don't want to leave his presence. I want to be always with him!" His mother was most upset. She pleaded with Sri Bhagavan, "Swami, please release my son! He is our only child. We will be miserable without him." Sri Bhagavan smiled at her and said, "Release him? I am not keeping him tied up. He is a mature soul. A mere spark has ignited his spiritual fire." So, that casual look was a spark of tremendous power. Turning to the boy, He said, "Go with your parents. I will always be with you." He spoke in Tamil throughout, but the boy understood him fully. He bowed to Sri Bhagavan and reluctantly left with his parents, immensely rich with the newly-found spiritual treasure.

~ Sri C.R. Rajamani (from a talk given at the April 25, 1998 Aradhana program at Arunachala Ashrama in New York City)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The way of knowledge and the way of love
Are interwoven close. Don't tear
Asunder those inseparables.
But practise both together holding
In the heart the two as one.

~ Guru Vachaka Kovai (Translated from the Tamil by Prof. K. Swaminathan)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rather than worrying about the fact that we are still not able to experience even a tenuous undercurrent of self-remembrance or self-consciousness at all times, in all states and in the midst of all our activities, we should concentrate just on being clearly self-conscious now, at this very moment. We cannot know our real timeless self either in the past or in the future, or even in the passage of time, but only now, in this precise present moment.

Past and future are both only thoughts that occur in the present, as is the passing of time itself, so any thought about any moment or period of time other than the precise present moment will distract our attention away from our own ever-present self-conscious being, ‘I am’. Therefore ignoring all thought of the past or future, we should concentrate only on being uninterruptedly — unforgettingly or pramada-lessly — self-attentive now, at this present moment. If we diligently take care to be undistractedly self-attentive now, our love to be clearly self-conscious at this present moment will spill over into each coming present moment, and thus due to our perseverant effort to be self-attentive at each present moment, the strength, depth, clarity and persistence of our self-attentiveness will steadily and surely increase.

The experience of absolutely clear self-knowledge will dawn in just a single moment — that is, a single moment of completely uninterrupted self-attentiveness — and that single moment is available to us at each and every moment. Therefore our aim at any moment should not be to be uninterruptedly self-attentive for a certain period of time, or even for all time to come, but should only be to be uninterruptedly self-attentive — wholly and exclusively self-conscious — now, at this very moment.

Now there is no other moment that matters. This present moment is the only moment that is now available for us to experience ourself as we really are. Therefore forgetting every other moment, let us just be wholly and uninterruptedly self-attentive now. That is, let us forget about any pramada that might interrupt our self-attentiveness at some other moment, and instead just be vigilant at this very moment to concentrate our entire attention on our present self-consciousness, thereby preventing it from being interrupted now by even the least momentary pramada or self-negligence.

Only if we thus cultivate the love and habit to be vigilantly self-attentive at each given present moment, thereby excluding any thought of what might happen at some other moment, will our self-attentiveness eventually blossom into the true experience of perpetually uninterrupted — absolutely pramada-free — clear self-consciousness, which is eternally our own real nature, ‘I am’.

~ Michael James

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Self-Knowledge (Atma-Vidya)

A devotee once wrote on a slip of paper that Self-knowledge
is the easiest thing, since one already is the Self, and
handed it to Bhagavan, asking him to write a poem on the
subject. Bhagavan responded with the following poem:

Lo, very easy is Self-Knowledge,
Lo, very easy indeed.

Even for the most infirm
So real is the Self
That compared with it the amlak
In one's hand appears a mere illusion.

True, strong, fresh for ever stands
The Self. From this in truth spring forth
The phantom body and phantom world.
When this delusion is destroyed
And not a speck remains,
The Sun of Self shines bright and real
In the vast Heart-expanse.
Darkness dies, afflictions end,
And bliss wells up.

The thought `I am the body' is the thread
On which are strung together various thoughts.
Questing within, enquiring `Who am I?
And whence this thought?' all other thoughts
Vanish. And as 'I', 'I' within the Heart-cave
The Self shines of its own accord.
Such Self-awareness is the only Heaven,
This stillness, this abode of bliss.

Of what avail is knowing things
Other than the Self? And the Self being known,
What other thing is there to know?
That one light that shines as many selves,
Seeing this Self within
As Awareness' lightning flash;
The play of Grace; the ego's death;
The blossoming of bliss.

For loosening karma's bonds and ending births,
This path is easier than all other paths.
Abide in stillness, without any stir
Of tongue, mind, body. And behold
The effulgence of the Self within;
The experience of Eternity; absence
Of all fear; the ocean vast of Bliss.

Annamalai the Self, the Eye
Behind the eye of mind which sees
The eye and all the other senses
Which know the sky and other elements,
The Being which contains, reveals, perceives
The inner sky that shines within the Heart.
When the mind free of thought turns inward,
Annamalai appears as my own Self.
True, Grace is needed; Love is added.
Bliss wells up.

(Translated by Prof. K. Swaminathan)

~ from Collected Works

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sivam-Sundaram (Bliss and Beauty)

The wife of the Zamindar of Peddapavani, a frequent visitor to the Ashram, came with her children last month.

She stayed for a month and went away a couple of days ago. One evening, after Veda Parayana, she approached Bhagavan and said, “Sometime back Bhagavan gave me darshan in my dream and gave me upadesa. After that, I realised my Self, but it is not steady. What should I do?”

Bhagavan: (amused) “Where has it gone without being steady? Who is it that is not steady?”

Zamindarini: “That (realisation) is not steady.”

Bhagavan: “Where has it gone without being steady.”

Zamindarini: “That experience which I had does not remain steady because of bodily ailment and family worries.”

Bhagavan: “I see. Say so. Those that come, come. Those that go, go. We remain as we are.”

Zamindarini: “You must bestow on me the strength to remain as I am.”

Bhagavan: “You have realised the Self, have you not? If that is so, all the others disappear of their own accord.”

Zamindarini: “But they have not disappeared.”

Bhagavan (smiling): “I see. They will disappear. Vasanas have for a long time built their nests within. If we realise that they are there, they will disappear gradually.”

Zamindarini: “Bhagavan must bestow on me the strength to make them disappear.”

Bhagavan: “We will see.”

The next day about the same time she stood humbly in the presence of Bhagavan and said, “Bhagavan, it is not possible for a married woman to stay on in the presence of
the Guru for any length of time, can she?”

Bhagavan: “The Guru is where one is.”

Zamindarini: (still unconvinced) “Should one look upon the whole world as Brahman or should one look upon one’s own Self as the most important?”

Bhagavan: “We exist. And the world is Brahman itself. What then is there to look upon as Brahman?”

She was taken aback and stood still. Whereupon Bhagavan looked at her compassionately and explained further: “As you know we undoubtedly exist. The world also exists as Brahman. That being so, what is there that one could see as Brahman? We should make our vision as the all-pervading Brahman. Ancients say, ‘Drishtim jnanamayim kritva pasyeth brahmamayam jagat’. The world is as we see it. If we see it as material, it is material. If we see it as Brahman, it is Brahman. That is why we must change our outlook. Can you see the picture in a film without the screen? If we remain as we are, everything adjusts itself to that attitude.”

Overjoyed at this and fully satisfied, she came out and sat on the step on the verandah which is opposite to Bhagavan’s couch. Bhagavan was sitting on the couch in his characteristic pose, silent as usual and with a smile on his face. Looking at the radiant face of Bhagavan, she said involuntarily, “Ah! How beautiful Bhagavan is!”

A devotee who heard the exclamation approached Bhagavan and said, “She is saying how beautiful Bhagavan is.”

With a slight nod of his head Bhagavan said, “Sivam Sundaram”. See how pregnant with meaning that expression is?

~ Letters from Sri Ramanasramam (20th September, 1949)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Devotee: God is perfect. Why did He create the world imperfect? The work shares the nature of the author. But here it is not so.

Sri Bhagavan: Who is it that raises the question?

D.: I - the individual.

M.: Are you apart from God that you ask this question?
So long as you consider yourself the body you see the world as external. The imperfections appear to you. God is perfection. His work also is perfection. But you see it as imperfection because of your wrong identification.

D.: Why did the Self manifest as this miserable world?

M.: In order that you might seek it. Your eyes cannot see themselves. Place a mirror before them and they see themselves. Similarly with the creation. "See yourself first and then see the whole world as the Self."

D.: So it amounts to this - that I should always look within.

M.: Yes.

D.: Should I not see the world at all?

M.: You are not instructed to shut your eyes from the world. You are only to "see yourself first and then see the whole world as the Self". If you consider yourself as the body the world appears to be external. If you are the Self the world appears as Brahman.

~ Talk 272, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

Monday, June 23, 2008

The quest itself is the result of Grace.

Once the delusion that we are the body is gone, there will only be joy, says Sri Bhagavan. We are not able to experience Grace all the time because of our desires and expectations. It can be experienced only when our desires cease. Grace is always there but it becomes manifest when the mind merges in the Self, either through surrender or through meditation.

God's very nature, says Sri Bhagavan, is Grace and this can be experienced at all times only when a person surrenders. A person who surrenders accepts everything as His will. He does not consider anything as good or bad, success or failure. After surrender, there is no individual will. In this state, which is the result of Grace, one feels Grace all the time.

"Grace manifests itself when the quest for the Self begins. The quest itself is the result of Grace. There is not a single moment when Grace is not operating in us. Grace is beyond time and space. Grace is always there. It is the beginning, middle and end. Grace is the Self," says Sri Bhagavan.

~ K. Subrahmanian, The Uniqueness of Sri Bhagavan

Sunday, June 22, 2008

such was his concern

Here we shall mention an incident that took place when Venkataraman's only sister Alamelu was a little girl. Being the only female child, she was pampered by the family. It is said that she used to cry to see her grandfather living in Pasalai, a village a few kilometres from Tiruchuzhi. Once she was taken there she at once would want to go back to her mother. Sometimes Venkataraman would accompany her. While returning seeing his sister's tender feet getting blisters walking on the rough path, Venkataraman would cut off the wild vines growing on the way side and tie round her little feet which will serve as slippers. Such was his concern for his sister.

~ Arunachala's Ramana, Volume I

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Yes, there is hope, there is hope."

In the year 1907 I went to Tiruvannamalai to have darshan of Bhagavan. I climbed up to the Virupaksha cave. In order to safeguard Bhagavan from the intruding pilgrims of the Kartikai festival, one Krishnayya kept guard at the gate of the cave. So I had to wait outside till Bhagavan came out. He soon came out and went away without even glancing at me. I followed and overtook him. He stopped and looked at me. Words poured out of my mouth, "I am suffering, beset with many diseases. Have mercy on me". He replied, "I am neither a physician nor a magician. What can I do or tell you". Anguish welled up from the depths of my heart, and I said, "I came because I heard of your greatness. Will not my good luck be as great"? He looked at me for a long moment and said, "Go home, have courage. No harm will come to you". And he waved his hand in a peculiar way. Somehow it gave me hope.

Soon I settled at Tiruvannamalai and thus began my daily visits to Bhagavan, sometimes staying for the night with him. One day Bhagavan was sitting all alone in front of Virupaksha cave. A strange emotion got hold of me and I asked him in English, "My Lord, Jesus and other great souls have come down to earth to save sinners like me. Is there hope for me"? Bhagavan seemed moved by my cry of distress. He came closer and said in a quiet voice, "Yes, there is hope, there is hope."

When I returned home a song welled up in my mind and I wrote it down. Since then I wrote songs by Bhagavan's grace. When I brought my first song to Bhagavan and recited it before him, he gave me some instructions in prosody and illustrated them with examples from great Telugu poets. Since them I wrote songs and poems without much thought or effort all the years until Bhagavan's samadhi. Then the spring dried up, for it was not a gift I brought with me. It was all His grace.

~ M. V. Ramaswami Iyer, Ramana Smriti

Friday, June 20, 2008

He who dedicates his mind to Thee, and seeing Thee, always beholds the universe as Thy figure, he who at all times glorifies Thee and loves Thee as none other than the Self, he is the master without rival, being one with Thee, O Arunachala! And Lost in Thy Bliss.

~ Arunachala Pancharatna, verse 5

Thursday, June 19, 2008

never alone

Just as the stems, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit of a tree will continue sprouting so long as its root survives, so our vasanas, desires and thoughts will continue rising and distracting us away from our self-attentiveness so long as their root, our mind, survives. Therefore Sri Ramana begins the eleventh paragraph of Nan Yar? by saying:

As long as vishaya-vasanas exist in [our] mind, so long nanar ennum vicharanai [the investigation ‘who am I?’] is necessary. As and when thoughts arise, then and there it is necessary [for us] to annihilate them all by vicharanai [investigation, that is, self-investigation or keen and vigilant self-attentiveness] in the very place from which they arise. ...

Until we achieve by our persistent practice of atma-vicharanai — self-investigation, self-scrutiny or self-attentiveness — sufficient maturity to be willing and able to surrender our mind entirely in the absolute clarity of pure self-consciousness, we will continue to be distracted by our thoughts, which we form in our mind due to the driving force of our own vishaya-vasanas, our desires to think of and experience things that appear to be other than ourself. Therefore the struggle between our svatma-bhakti — our love just to be and to know only our own real self — and our vasanas or outward-going desires will continue in us until our mind is completely destroyed by the clear light of true self-knowledge.

Therefore, though we should always aim to maintain an unbroken continuity of self-attentiveness or self-remembrance, and thereby to sink deep into our own self-conscious being, ‘I am’, in practice our attempts to do so will often fail, and we will therefore repeatedly succumb to the powerful attraction of our desires and consequent thoughts. However, we should not be disheartened by our repeated failure to be constantly self-attentive, but should just calmly persevere in our efforts to restore our self-attentiveness whenever we find that we have lost our hold on it.

This constant struggle between self-attentiveness and pramada — self-negligence or self-forgetfulness — is the nature of true sadhana or spiritual practice, so calm, patient and steady perseverance is required to win this battle. However many times and however frequently we may fall from our natural state of serene self-conscious being, we should rise again and try our best to stand firm in it.

In this long inner warfare we are never alone, because the grace of our sadguru, Sri Ramana, is always shining peacefully in our heart as ‘I am’, giving us all the subtle help and support that we need in our earnest efforts to return to his real presence by sinking into the innermost depth of our own clearly self-conscious being, which is his own true form. As we strive to turn wholly selfwards, the powerful attraction of his grace is always drawing us inwards, waiting to consume us entirely whenever we are ready to yield ourself completely to him.

~ Michael James,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ramana Lives

Nearly 20 years ago some questions were raised about the continuous presence of Sri Bhagavan in the Ashram. The tangible and convincing answer has been the steadily increasing stream of devotees who have found what they longed for in the Ashram during all these years. Nevertheless, since Sadhu Arunachala's logic only reinforces the experience of many others, we have pleasure in re-producing the following article from the Call Divine of January 1953. -- Editor

Undoubtedly the same peace is to be had at Tiruvannamalai as in the old days when Bhagavan's physical body was still with us. Some people declare that they find it is even stronger now than formerly, they had been distracted by his form, and now that that distraction is no longer there they enjoy, undisturbed, the bliss of his amazing aura. Did he not himself say during those last sad days: "You say I am going to die. Die! I shall be more alive than ever". And so it is.

But there are still a number who declare that he is dead, that there is no use coming to the Ashram and sitting besides an empty tomb. "No doubt there are psychic vibrations", they admit reluctantly, "but those you can find in any holy place. No, it is no use remaining there, the initial impetus having been given you, you must go off in search of a living guru. Living guru, indeed! Is he not now and ever most living?

But let us examine their argument. It is something like this. Bhagavan having left his body has become absorbed in the Infinite. (You don't mean to pretend that he is still bound to a corpse, do you?) So, except for certain sentimental attachments there is no use remaining in the Ashram or even visiting it. If you do go you may feel certain vibrations, the back-wash, so to speak, of the past, but these are useless for Sadhana, or useful only as a preliminary step which will lead you on to a "living guru". But for anybody with any pretense to advancement, it is useless. There's an end of it.

But like so many plausible arguments it is entirely false, for even these people have admitted Bhagavan to be a Jivan-Mukta, one who is already and finally released from ego. And how often did he not say: "You think I am the body, this corpse that I have to bear about. That is where you are wrong. I am universal" You see, he was "universal", even before he apparently left the body.

The whole mistake simply lies, in the interpretation they put on the word Jivan-Mukta; or in what they think a Jnani really is and how he functions. When it is found that a Jivan-Mukta is already absorbed in the Infinite and that, for him, the apparent change he undergoes is no change at all, there should be no more misapprehension. There is no further step for a Jnani to take, he lost all sense of doership or association with a particular body when he finally knew himself to be a Jnani. The physical death is only just a happening in the myriad strange happenings in Maya. He was in no way limited to a body while it was functioning. It was there, one might almost say, for us. We needed something that we could see, somebody who could speak to us. Now we must get along without the comfort of the physical presence, but it does not mean that Bhagavan has gone anywhere. Indeed, as he said himself: "Where could I go? I am always here".

While he was in the body his body acted as a visible centre for concentration, as a point to focus at, something tangible, which drew the disciples to it. Yet he never was the body even then, he was and knew he was the eternal Atman alone. So now what is more appropriate than that the place in which he lived so long and which is so permeated with his presence should now serve as this centre for concentration? But to think for one moment that Bhagavan Ramana has dispersed, just blown away in thin air, is stupidity. How could anybody who knew him talk like this? "He has become absorbed in the Infinite, become in fact the Infinite," would reply, "for now he is everywhere, not just at a point, in Madras". But as I said this is no argument. He was always the and denied his being in the body. The situation is exactly the same, except that now we longer have his embodied form before us. But there is still his Ashram and the Samadhi where that sacred body is enshrined.

Theoretically, I suppose, there never any need to seek him in Tiruvannamalai, even when he was functioning through a body, except for the well-known rule that a Guru necessary. Yet, we felt the need, and flocking there knew the benefit. Today we can still do the same.

But in the old days he spoke, gave verbal instructions. Now that can happen no more. But to how few did he actually ever speak? How many thousands just came with their minds and sat before him silently and went away without a word? How many came with their minds bursting with questions and in his presence found all the questions self-answered? All this is still possible.

Still, too, can we sit in front of the Samadhi and receive the most potent vibrations, get answers to our unasked questions, comfort and encouragement when needed.

To what after all did all his spoken instructions amount? "There is only one Self. You are that".
Amplifying slightly it becomes: there is nothing to do, nothing to seek. There is only a false identification with limitation to discard that is done by concentration on the Eternal Witness, the One behind all phenomena. Know who you are and there is no more to know. You cannot be the eternally changing body, you witness that; you cannot the senses that observe and contact, you use them; you cannot be the mind which reasons, that is only a tool; you cannot even be the named individual, because that has its changes of childhood, youth and old age, it is born and it dies, it ceases in deep sleep, it takes entirely new forms and names in various births, you are a witness of that too. But we know, each one of us, that there is a permanent "I" behind all these fun functions and changes. If we would only concentrate on that instead of on the apparent world, we should have no more worries or problems.

Any further additions to these teachings were purely given as a sop to the ever inquisitive mind which wants to know, to probe into the future, but is never satisfied, for as soon as one doubt is cleared there is another waiting to pop up and take its place. Moreover, how is it ever possible to clear doubts intellectually? For the moment we may be satisfied, then we forget the arguments, or remember another on our side of the question which we forgot to pose. Bhagavan knowing this spoke little. "Silence is best!" he would say. And here once more are we led back to the Ashram where the same silence can be found, the same presence, the same inspiration, and the same all-absorbing peace.

~ Sadhu Arunachala (Major Chadwick), The Mountain Path, Vol. 19, No. IV, October 1982

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We Cannot Decide

There has never been a beauty like yours.
Your face, your eyes, your presence.

We cannot decide which we love most,
your gracefulness or your generosity.

I came with many knots in my heart,
like the magician's rope.

You undid them all at once.
I see now the splendor of the student
and that of the teacher's art.

Love and this body sit inside your presence,
one demolished, the other drunk.

We smile. We weep, tree limbs
turning sere, then light green.

Any power that comes through us is you.
Any wish. What does a rock know of April?

It is better to ask the flowery grass,
the jasmine, and the redbud branch.

~ Rumi: Bridge to the Soul

Monday, June 16, 2008

Physical Supports of Grace

Whether explained in terms of radiation or not, Grace does emanate from a physical support. Is it imagination? If Bhagavan had been asked he might have agreed that it is but only in the sense that the whole world including one's own body, is imagination. It is as real as the mind that questions its reality.

Some, however, have wondered whether it is legitimate to use physical supports of Grace on such a direct and purely spiritual path as that enjoined by Bhagavan. It was with some such doubt that an English devotee who has never yet been able to come to Tiruvannamalai wrote to me asking for some object, such as a small stone, from near the tomb but felt that his request might be inappropriate. It. was quite appropriate. Although he taught the purely direct and spiritual path of vichara, Bhagavan never discouraged any from observing the rites of their religion or from using any physical supports so long as they were helpful. The path he taught was universal; it included devotion and disinterested activity as well as knowledge. Indeed his devotional hymns to Arunachala are a constant support to the devotees. His very coming there was a recognition of the physical manifestation of Grace, since Arunachala has been through the ages the supreme centre of silent initiation, of Siva manifested as Dakshinamurthy, teaching in silence. No one could be more insistent on its actual sanctity. He said: "Mount Kailas is the abode of Siva but Arunachala is Siva Himself." He saw the sacred hill as the form assumed by pure Spirit for the support and guidance of men. Now that the physical body of Bhagavan -- the most precious of all physical supports of Grace -- has been withdrawn from us, the Hill emits power and Grace for his devotees even more than before.

When I was asked for some token from the hill I was able, fortunately, to quote the approval of Bhagavan in a similar case. Once when he was walking on the hill he said to Dr. T. N. Krishnaswami who was with him: "Some devotee from a far-off land has asked for a stone to be taken from the most holy part of the hill and sent to him. He thinks that some part of the hill alone is holy. he does not know that the whole hill is Arunachala; he does not know that Arunachala Himself is the hill." And picking up a small stone, he added; "I sent him a stone like this."

Bhagavan would sometimes give a devotee some object as a vehicle of Grace, but very seldom, as he had normally nothing to give. In his youthful years he would sometimes cut a stick from the hill, fashion it into a staff for walking and give it to somebody. Sometimes also he would touch an object that was shown to him and give it back. When I left for Madras and showed him the lifesize portrait of him that I was taking with me he held it in his hands before giving it back and said: "He is taking Swami with him!"

It may not be inappropriate to end this article with the strange story of how I received a shoe-horn from him. We were sitting outside the hall. Bhagavan was reclining on his usual couch. There was a sudden clatter and we saw that a metal shoe-horn had fallen to the ground near the couch. How it came to fall there no one could say - there was no breeze and no monkeys or squirrels were playing about. The attendant gave it to Bhagavan who examined it and began demonstrating its use as a spoon. I was sitting in the front row and explained its use as a shoehorn. Bhagavan who did not like anything to be wasted asked me whether I would like it. And so I received a gift from him who had nothing to give; from the Divine Giver who had all to give!

~ Arthur Osborne, The Mountain Path

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"I do nothing."
This is the nectar of faith,
So drink and be happy!

Know you are one,
Pure awareness.

With the fire of this conviction,
Burn down the forest of ignorance.

Free yourself from sorrow,
And be happy.

Be happy!
For you are joy, unbounded joy.

You are awareness itself.

~ The Ashtavakra Gita (translation by Thomas Byrom)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All these doubts that are troubling you arise simply because you are enmeshed in the 'I am the body' thought and all the confusing consequences that it brings. It is more productive to keep the awareness 'I am the Self' than to be analysing the usefulness of effort. Sadhana, effort and practice, and any ideas you may have about them, are concepts that can only arise when you believe that you are not the Self, and when you believe that you have to do something to reach the Self.

~ Annamalai Swami, Final Talks

Monday, June 9, 2008

Your swarupa is Absolute Reality. You are not the person you identify with. The person who goes to sleep and wakes up, goes through experiences, worries, thinks, frets, sometimes happy, sometimes sad. That is not you. No longer think of yourself as that person. When you get up in the morning, take a deep breath and realize the truth about yourself. First thing upon awakening you can say to yourself, I Am Brahman. I Am the Imperishable Self. Bullets cannot kill me. Fire cannot burn me. Water cannot drown me. I Am That. And rejoice in your True Self. Feel the happiness in your Heart. Feel your Reality, in the stillness, in the quietness, when there is no mind, no thoughts, no words. Who are you then? You just are.

~ Robert Adams, Silence of the Heart

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The true form of the Guru can only be known if one realises, through the grace of the Guru, one's own real form.

Do not imprison the true form of the Guru within a cage but seek inwardly and realise it to be the formless, omnipresent expanse of consciousness.

~ Padamalai, verses 1 & 2 from the chapter The Guru

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I want to let you in on a little secret. There are no problems. There are no problems. There never were any problems, there are no problems today, and there never will be any problems. Problems just mean the world isn't turning the way you want it to. But in truth, there are no problems. Everything is unfolding as it should. Everything is right. You have to forget about yourself and expand your consciousness until you become the whole universe. The Reality in back of the universe is Pure Awareness. It has no problems. And you are That.

~ Robert Adams, Silence of the Heart

Thursday, June 5, 2008

'Bhagavan, I have been coming here for the past several years but still there has been no progress. I am just as bad a sinner as before,' moaned a devotee. Bhagavan advised, "There are no milestones in this path. How can you be sure as to how far you have travelled? Why don't you follow the first class passenger? He informs the guard about his destination, closes the door and sleeps soundly. That is all that he need do. The guard will wake him up at the correct station.'

~ from Krishna Bikshu's account in Unforgettable Years, translated and edited by A. R. Natarajan

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ramana! Ramana! Ramana!

“I was 21, my son was just six months old, when there developed some painful growth in my neck. The local doctors at Tanjore could not effect a cure for this. I was then taken to Cuddalore, where my father lived. Cuddalore had a bigger hospital, and I was examined there. They diagnosed the growth to be a tumor that had to be immediately operated and removed. However, the tumor was in such a place that the surgery was very risky. The surgeon said that there was every risk of injuring some nerve, which might affect the brain itself… But there was no option and I was admitted to the hospital for surgery. Surprisingly, I wasn’t worried. Although my son was just six months, and my life was a serious question mark, I wasn’t feeling any sense of depression arising out of attachment to my child, nor any other worry. Somehow, I was not perturbed at all. I just submitted myself to whatever was asked of me.

On the day of the surgery, I was lying down on the operating table, when the doctor came to administer anesthesia… He asked me to count one-two-three etc to calm the mind as it slipped into unconsciousness. But instead of doing that, I started saying ‘Ramana! Ramana! Ramana!’ Quite involuntarily. It is not that I wanted to pray to him. It just happened that I spoke his name … And then I had a ’special’ experience… I was walking, my hands cupped in front of me, seeking Ramana, taking his name, walking towards him… And I slipped into unconsciousness…

The operation was completed. And as I emerged from unconsciousness, to the utter surprise of all people around me, I woke up with a feeling of great joy. This joy lasted for a long while after the surgery….

My mother asked me about it… And I told her the reason.

Sometime during the surgery, I had a vivid experience. In that experience, I was a small baby. And Bhagavan was holding me. Head to toe, I fitted within the cup of his two hands. And he was looking at me with great love…It was exhilarating… It was that joy that I woke up with…”

~ Pankajamma, describing her experiences with Bhagavan Ramana to gkamesh. Please see this or this.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

This body is a temple, and God is seated inside you. But you are not going to see him because you are always going outside. Because you are not aware of God inside, you run after other, outside things. This human body, this temple that has been given to you, is a very rare birth. If you reject it and the opportunities it gives to you, it will be a tremendous loss. You don't know when these circumstances will be given to you again. Nobody knows. You don't know if this desire for liberation will ever come to you again.

~ Papaji, The Fire of Freedom, Edited by David Godman

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Fire of Devotion

With reference to a devotee’s account of the miraculous appearance of sugar candy and almonds, which dropped into the hands of some ladies in a trance, Bhagavan replied, “We hear of so many things. There are certain sects which work for such things. But who sees or gets them? You must see that. In the Periyapuranam a similar occurrence is mentioned.”

Karaikal Ammaiyar was a great devotee of Lord Siva and a poetess, many of whose verses are still preserved. She was the wife of a rich merchant of Karaikal, whose name was Paramadattan (meaning ‘one endowed with heavenly gifts’). Her own name was Punithavathiyar (meaning ‘the pure one’). She was very devout, and especially eager to entertain all devotees of Lord Siva that came to her door. One day her husband received from some persons who had come to him on business a present of two mangoes of a very superior variety which he sent home to his wife. Soon afterwards, a holy devotee came to her house as a mendicant. Since she had no cooked food ready to offer him except some boiled rice, she gave him one of the aforesaid mangoes along with the rice.

At noon her husband returned and after having his meal ate the remaining mango. It pleased him so much that he said to his wife, “There were two, bring me the other.” She went away in dismay, but remembering that the Lord to whose servant she had given the fruit, never deserts those who serve Him, she offered a mental prayer, and straightaway found a mango in her hand, which she took to her husband. Being a divine gift, it was of incomparable sweetness, so he asked her, “Where did you obtain this?”

She hesitated at first to reveal the wonder that had taken place on her behalf, but thinking that she ought to hide nothing from her husband, she told him everything. He gave no credence to her words, but roughly replied, “If that is so, get me another like it.” She went away and said in her heart to God, “If You do not give me one more fruit, my word will have no weight!” Immediately she found another fruit in her hand. She brought this fruit to her husband but as soon as he took it, it disappeared. Wondering at this strange happening, he concluded that his wife must be a divine being and therefore decided that he should no longer live with her. However, he revealed this decision to no one.

One day he quietly hired a ship on which he placed a great deal of his wealth, and then on an auspicious day, worshipped the god of the sea. With sailors and a skilful captain, he set sail for another country where, by trading his merchandise he accumulated a fortune. After some time he returned and came to another city in the Pandiyan kingdom, where he married a merchant’s daughter and lived in great luxury. A daughter was born to him, whom he named Punithavathi after his first wife, with whom he had feared to remain but for whom he retained great reverence.

After a while, his return and prosperity became known to his friends in Karaikal, who resolved to compel him to receive again his first wife, their kinswoman, whom he had deserted. They accordingly proceeded to his new residence, carrying with them in a litter his saintly spouse, Karaikal Ammaiyar. When he heard that she had arrived and was halting in a grove outside the town, he was seized with great awe. He proceeded with his second wife and daughter to where, she was camping – surrounded by her relatives. He prostrated before her with profoundest reverence, saying, “Your slave is happy here and prosperous through your blessings. To my daughter I have given your sacred name, and I constantly adore you as my tutelary goddess!” Poor Punithavathiyar was utterly confounded by this salutation and worship, and so took refuge among her relatives, who all asked with wonder, “Why is this madman worshipping his own wife?” To this Paramadattan replied, “I myself saw her work a miracle, so I know that she is no daughter of the human race, but a divine being. Therefore I have separated myself from her, and I worship her as my tutelary deity and have dedicated my daughter to her”. Hearing this, Punithavathiyar pondered over it and prayed within herself to Siva, the Supreme Lord, saying, “O Lord, this is my husband’s belief. So take away from me the beauty that I have till now cherished only for his sake. Remove from me this burden of flesh, and give to me the form and features of those who always attend on Thee, and praise Thee.”

Immediately, by the grace of God, her flesh dried up and she became a skeleton, becoming one of Siva’s hosts whom the earth and the heaven hold in reverence. Then the gods sent down a rain of flowers, heavenly minstrels resounded, and her relatives paid obeisance to her and departed in awe. Having thus assumed the form of a skeleton, she lived in the wild jungle of Alankadu, and through the inspiration of God she sang several sacred poems, which are sung even to this day. After some time there came upon her an irresistible desire to see the sacred Mount Kailas, so with great speed she travelled northwards till she arrived at the foot of the Mountain. Considering that it was not right to tread on the Holy Mountain by foot, she began to climb it with her feet in the air and with only her head touching the ground.

The goddess Uma, Siva’s consort, saw her ascending in this manner and said to Her Lord, “Who is this that approaches in this strange fashion, a gaunt skeleton sustained only by the power of love?” Lord Siva replied, “She is Karaikal Ammaiyar, and she has obtained this form by her prayers.” When She drew near, He addressed her with words of love, calling her ‘Amma’ (Mother), a name which she bears ever since. As soon as she heard the word she fell at His feet and exclaimed, “Father!” Siva then said to her, “What boon do you wish to ask from me?” She replied, “O Lord, grant undying love and infinite blessedness to me, Your slave. I would be glad never to be born on earth again, but If I must be so born, grant me at least that I may never, in any form or at any time forget You, my Lord; and when You perform Your sacred mystic dance, may I stand in rapture at Your feet and sing Your praise”.

The Lord replied, “In Alankadu you shall see my dance, and with rapture you shall sing.” Then the holy Karaikal Ammaiyar returned to Alankadu, still covering the distance on her head, and there she beheld the Lord’s sacred dance, and sang her renowned lyrics in His praise.

Karaikal Ammaiyar’s devotional hymns form sixth part of Thirumurai.

~ Spiritual Stories As Told by Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sunday, June 1, 2008

You should be capable of making use of even the dust, while at the same you should should also be ready to reject the entire cosmos as mere dust.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi (Arunachala's Ramana - Boundless Ocean of Grace, Volume 1)