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Nondual Highlights Issue #1857 Tuesday, July 13, 2004 Editor: Mark
Knowledge is conventional and borrowed
when its owner is annoyed
by people who aren't fascinated by it.
Since it was learned as a bait for popularity,
and not for enlightenment,
the seeker of religious knowledge
is no better than the seeker of worldly knowledge.
He seeks to please the vulgar and the noble,
rather than to attain freedom from this world.
Like a mouse he has burrowed in every direction;
afraid of the light, he prefers to work in the darkness.
- Mathnawi II:2429-2433 Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski Rumi: Daylight, Threshold Books, 1994, posted on Sunlight
- Image by Al Larus
Questions come up of Sadhana (spiritual practice) and how to achieve Realization. These show our quest for Self and the intuition that something lies behind the personality. Sri Ramana used to say that all deep thinking people are fascinated by the nature of consciousness. By deep thinking, Sri Ramana did not mean necessarily intellectual people but those who had become aware of the mystery of life, the riddle of perception and consciousness.
So yes, one should do Sadhana. Whatever mode of practice people brought to Sri Ramana (Japa, Kirtan, meditation, pranayama, moderation in food), the sage would encourage them to continue with that. And if one was (is) a mature yogi, Sri Ramana may look him directly in the eye and ask, "what is it that you conceive Sadhana to be?"
I conceive Sadhana to be.....I conceive Sadhana to be......I conceive Sadhana to be..........
So the "I" conceives Sadhana to be......can you see clearly, ...."I" conceives Sadhana to be...What truth can be expected from this "I" when it goes outwards and conceptualizes such and such about sadhana.
This is why Sri Ramana would often ask, "Who is this "I" that conceives such and such." Go to the heart of the matter. Whatever Sadhana you do, who is doing it? What is the source of this doing?
When Ganapati Muni fell to young Ramana's feet and told him that he had done countless mantras and asked him the meaning of "Tapas", what did Sri Ramana say? He said something like... if you watch from where the mantra arises (as you are doing it) and abide in that, that is "Tapas".
Love to all
- Harsh Luther on NondualitySalon
How The Maharshi Came To Me
By Chhaganlal V. Yogi
WHAT DOES SRI BHAGAVAN mean to me? After many years of experiencing his grace I can now reply, "He is everything to me. He is my Guru and my God." I can say this with confidence because, had I not had the good fortune of seeing him and thereafter getting into closer contact with him, I would have been still groping in the dark. I would still have been a doubting Thomas.
How did it all begin? When I was eighteen I read a lot of books by Swami Vivekananda and Swami Rama Tirtha. This reading generated a desire in me that I should also become a sannyasin, like the authors of these books. Their writings also implanted in me the ideal of plain living, high thinking, and a life dedicated to spiritual matters. Somehow, my desire to become a sannyasin was never fulfilled, but the ideal of a dedicated life made a deeper and deeper impression on my mind. At the age of twenty I had the good fortune of contacting Mahatma Gandhi. His ideals won my heart and for several years I faithfully tried to put them into practice.
I was doing my duty to the best of my ability and leading, as best I could, a pure and dedicated life until the age of thirty-eight. Around that time scepticism began to assail me and my mind became a home for all kinds of doubts. I began to doubt the ideals of Gandhiji; I began to doubt sadhus and sannyasins; I doubted religion, and I even began to doubt the existence of God.
It was in this darkest period of my life that I first heard of Sri Ramana Maharshi. At that time I seemed to be heading swiftly towards total scepticism. The world appeared to me to be full of injustice, cruelty, greed, hate and other evils, the existence of which logically led me to a strong disbelief in God. For, I argued, did He truly exist, could anything dark or evil ever have flourished? Doubt upon doubt assailed me like dark shadows which dogged my footsteps. I had, as a consequence, lost whatever little reverence I might have had for sadhus and sannyasins. I found myself slowly but surely losing my interest in religion. The very word itself eventually became a synonym in my mind for a clever ruse to delude the credulity of the world. In short, I began to live a life lacking optimism and faith. I was not happy in my disbelief, for my mind took on the aspect of turbulent waters, and I felt that all around me there was raging a scorching fire which seemed to burn up my very entrails.
One day, while travelling as usual on the train to the office, I happened to meet a friend who had spent over a decade in Europe and America. I hadn't met him for quite a long time and sometimes used to wonder where he had disappeared to. In answer to a query about his recent activities he said that he had been to Sri Ramanasramam and immediately launched into a description of what went on there. While he was trying to describe to me his experience of the darshan of Sri Bhagavan he drew out from his pocket a small packet which he extended to me. I wondered what it contained. He explained that it contained something extremely precious - some vibhuti, holy ashes brought from the ashram. He insisted on my accepting them. His kind invitation did not interest me in the least. On the other hand, it amused me.
I said scornfully, "Pardon me, but I think that all this sort of thing is mere sham and humbug, so I trust you will not misunderstand me if I refuse to accept."
He then argued that by refusing his gift, I was not merely insulting him, I was also insulting the vibhuti.
I thought that this was rather comical, but to placate him I replied, "Well, if that be so, to please you I will take a pinch of these ashes on the condition that you will allow me to do whatever I like with them."
Unsuspectingly, he nodded his head in assent and passed the packet over to me. A smile appeared on his lips as he watched me take a pinch out of it. This smile was the preface to a zealous exposition on Sri Bhagavan and his miraculous greatness. While he was lost in his missionary enthusiasm, I surreptitiously let the ashes fall onto the floor of the compartment. To be quite frank, it was a relief when my friend had concluded what I had then considered to be a puerile and unnecessary lecture. At the end of it I remarked, "I have an utter contempt for these so-called saints."
My friend refused to give up. He insisted on impressing on me that Sri Ramana Maharshi was not a 'so-called' saint, but an authentic sage acknowledged as such by great savants all over the world. He suggested that for my own benefit I read about him in some of the available literature. To start me off he gave me a book entitled Sri Maharshi, which had been written by Sri Kamath, the editor of The Sunday Times in Madras.
I must confess that despite my prejudices the book evoked in me an interest in Sri Bhagavan. After completing this small book, I was sufficiently curious to borrow another book about him from a different friend. It was the second edition of Self-Realisation, the earliest full-length biography of Sri Bhagavan. From then on, my interest grew without my being aware of it. A little later I felt compelled to write to Sri Ramanasramam to ask for all the literature on Sri Bhagavan that was available in English. As I began to study it with great avidity, I found that my outlook on life began to undergo a subtle transformation, but only a partial one. At the back of my mind there still lurked a heavy doubt, resembling a cloud, that stained the gathering illumination. My old scepticism did not wish to yield place so easily to this new faith, which was apparently being inculcated in my mind. My scepticism tried to challenge my new faith by arguing, "So many books are wonderful to read, but their authors, more often than not, are not as wonderful to know. It is possible for men to teach truths which they are unable to live themselves. What, then, is the use of books, however wonderful?"
To counter this doubt I decided to correspond directly with Sri Bhagavan. Over the next few months I wrote several letters to him, all of which were answered by his ashram with a rare punctuality. However, although they breathed the teachings of the Master, they hardly gave me a glimpse into the nature of the daily life lived by him. Because of this I began to be haunted by a desire to visit the ashram to see for myself what went on there. To fulfil that desire I paid my first visit to Sri Ramanasramam in the Christmas holiday of 1938.
At first I was terribly disappointed because nothing seemed to strike me in the way I had expected. I found Sri Bhagavan seated on a couch, as quiet and unmoving as a statue. His presence did not seem to emanate anything unusual, and I was very disappointed to discover that he displayed no interest in me at all. I had expected warmth and intimacy, but unfortunately I seemed to be in the presence of someone who lacked both.
From morning till evening I sat waiting to catch a glimpse of his grace, of his interest in me, a stranger who had come all the way from Bombay, but I evoked no response. Sri Bhagavan merely seemed cold and unaffected. After pinning such hopes on him, his apparent lack of interest nearly broke my heart. Eventually, I decided to leave the ashram, knowing full well that if I did, I would be more sceptical and hard-headed that before.
The Veda Parayana was chanted every evening in Sri Bhagavan's presence. It was considered to be one of the most attractive items in the daily program of the ashram, but in my depressed state it fell flat on my ears. It was the evening of the day that I had decided to leave. The sun was setting like a sad farewell, spreading a darkness over both the hill and my heart. The gloom deepened until the neighbourhood disappeared into the blackness of the night. In my sensitive state the electric light which was switched on in the hall seemed like a living wound on the body of the darkness. My mind, which was deeply tormented, felt that the psychic atmosphere in the hall was stuffy and choking. Unable to bear it any longer, I walked outside to get a breath of fresh air. A young man called Gopalan came up to me and asked me where I had come from.
"Bombay," I replied.
He asked me if I had been introduced to the Master, and when I replied that I had not, he was most surprised. He immediately led me to the office, introduced me to the Sarvadhikari and then proceeded with me to the hall where he introduced me to Sri Bhagavan. When he heard my name Sri Bhagavan's eyes turned to me, looked straight into mine and twinkled like stars. With a smile beaming with grace he asked me if I were a Gujerati. I replied that I was. Immediately he sent for a copy of the Gujerati translation by Sri Kishorelal Mashruwala of Upadesa Saram, a few copies of which had only just arrived. He then asked me to chant the Gujerati verses from the book.
"But I am not a singer," I answered, hesitating to begin. But when it became clear that I was expected to perform, I got over my initial hesitation and began to chant verses from the book. I had sung about fifteen when the bell for the evening meal rang. All the time I was chanting I could feel Sri Bhagavan keenly observing me. It seemed that the light of his eyes was suffusing my consciousness, even without my being conscious of it. His silent gaze brought about a subtle but definite transformation in me. The darkness, which a few minutes before had seemed heavy and unbearable, gradually lightened and melted into a glow of well-being. My erstwhile sadness completely disappeared, leaving in my heart an inexplicable emotion of joy. My limbs appeared to have been washed in an ocean-tide of freedom.
That evening I sat close to Sri Bhagavan in the dining room. In my exalted state the food I ate seemed to have an unusual and unearthly taste. I quite literally felt that I was participating in some heavenly meal in the direct presence of God. After having such an experience I, of course, abandoned all thought of leaving the ashram that night. I stayed on for three days longer in order to widen the sacred and extraordinary experience which had already begun, an experience of divine grace which I felt would lead me in the direction of spiritual liberation.
During the three days of my stay in the proximity of the Divine Master, I found my whole outlook entirely changed. After that short period I could find little evidence of my old self, a self which had been tied down with all kinds of preconceptions and prejudices. I felt that I had lost the chains which bind the eyes of true vision. I became aware that the whole texture of my mind had undergone a change. The colours of the world seemed different, and even the ordinary daylight took on an ethereal aspect. I began to see the foolishness and the futility of turning my gaze only on the dark side of life.
In those few days Sri Bhagavan, the divine magician, opened up for me a strange new world of illumination, hope and joy. I felt that his presence on earth alone constituted sufficient proof that humanity, suffering and wounded because of its obstinate ignorance, could be uplifted and saved. For the first time I fully understood the significance of 'darshan'.
While I lay in bed in the guest room of the ashram, the encounter which had taken place on the train in Bombay replayed itself in my mind. I recalled the blind audacity which had prompted me to drop the thrice-holy vibhuti in contempt onto the floor of the railway carriage. Today, even one speck of such vibhuti is a treasure to me.
"O Master," I thought to myself, "what a miracle of transformation! Why did it take half a lifetime before I could meet you? Half a lifetime of blundering, of failing and falling. But I suppose, my Master, that you would say that time is a mental concept. For I feel that in your sight your bhaktas have, throughout all time, always been with you and near you. As these thoughts were passing through my mind, I slowly fell into a deep sleep. The next morning I arose in a rejuvenated state; there was a new vigour in my limbs and an awareness that my heart was permeated with light. On the third day of my visit I sadly took leave of Sri Bhagavan. I was still human enough, still caught in the sense of time and space, for the parting to leave me with a feeling of aching and emptiness in the heart. But there was no despair. Something assured me that I would be returning to the feet of the Master sooner than I could imagine.
My intuition turned out to be correct. In the following years repeated visits seemed to be miraculously and easily arranged by the Master. He seemed to know that I felt an occasional need to be close to him physically. In the years that followed, each succeeding visit deepened the light within, toned up my nerves and suffused my senses with an increasing experience of exhilaration.
In 1945 I decided to wind up my printing press in Bombay in order to go and settle at Sri Ramanasramam. I had no pre-arranged plan for closing down my business; I merely relied on Sri Bhagavan. And he in turn responded to my devout prayer.
In the early hours of the morning, while I was still in my bed and only half awake, I saw a vision in which Sri Bhagavan appeared before me. By his side stood a gentleman whom I recognised as a friend of mine. He had neither been to the ashram nor had he ever exhibited any faith in Sri Bhagavan or me:
Bhagavan: You want to sell your press, don't you?
Me: Yes, Bhagavan, but I must find a buyer.
Bhagavan: (showing my friend standing by his side) Here is the buyer. He will buy your press, so sell it to him.
Me: Since Sri Bhagavan has been kind enough to show me the buyer, may he also favour me by stating the amount at which I should execute the sale?
Sri Bhagavan then showed me five figures on the opposite wall which were shining like a neon sign. The amount indicated to me was quite reasonable, neither low or exorbitant.
Sri Bhagavan and my friend then disappeared from my sight and the vision ended. By itself the vision was astonishing enough, but there was more to come. When I entered my press that day at 11 a.m., my friend from the vision was waiting there for me. Of course, he had come to see me about some other work and had no idea that he had been singled out as a prospective buyer. Feeling that Sri Bhagavan had sent him to me, I told him about the vision that had come to me a few hours before. He listened to me very attentively. When I had finished my tale he simply commented, "I will buy your press at the price indicated by your Guru."
There was no limit to my joy. My desire to sell was fulfilled by his grace and the sale was completed in less than a minute...
- part of a response to Harsha's post by Lady Joyce also on NDS
Don't look for help
from someone other than yourself.
The remedy for your wound
is the wound itself.
Entering the wound,
looking with love
this screaming guest,
to the light show,
the wound disappears
into pure openess.
"Take me to the limit
take me to the top
don't ever let me stop.
Oh my Master
you take me there faster
than I can go..."
- From an Osho's commune song
- both posted by Marifa on AdyashantiSatsang
your images of winter
I see against your sky.
I understand the wounds
That have not healed in you.
Because God and love
Have yet to become real enough
To allow you to forgive
You still listen to an old alley song
That brings your body pain;
Now chain your ears
To His pacing drum and flute.
Fix your eyes upon
The magnificent arch of His brow
And allows this universe to expand.
Your hands, feet, and heart are wise
And want to know the warmth
Of a Perfect One's circle.
A true saint
Is an earth in eternal spring.
Inside the veins of a petal
On a blooming redbud tree
Are hidden worlds
Where Hafiz sometimes
I will spread
A Persian carpet there
Woven with light.
We can drink wine
From a gourd I hollowed
And dried on the roof of my house.
I will bring bread I have kneaded
That contains my own
And cheese from a calf I raised.
My love for your Master is such
You can just lean back
And I will feed you
Your wounds of love can only heal
When you can forgive
- Hafiz, posted to AdyshantiSatsang by Robert O'Hearn
Be like an astute business man:
make stillness your criterion for testing
the value of everything, and choose
always what contributes to it.
- from Philokalia I, contributed to MillionPaths by Gabriele Ebert
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