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Feb. 27, 2022

Wisdom of the Mystics: Ramana Maharshi

Wisdom of the Mystics: Ramana Maharshi

In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the wisdom of a particular wisdom named Sri Ramana Maharshi. His simple yet direct teachings have inspired myself and many on the path of self-enquiry to discover who am I! For 'Who am I?' is the most fundamental question of existence and Sri Ramana gives us the answers that will help in our search.

In this episode, I go through some quotes of Sri Ramana Maharshi and give my thoughts on them. If you would like me to speak of a particular mystic - let me know.

The quotes that I discuss are from this book that you can get on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3hnQPaF

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Hello and welcome to The Bearded Mystic Podcast. And I'm your host Rahul N Singh, thank you for joining today and for taking out the time to either watch or listen to this podcast episode. Today, we're going to be continuing on with the wisdom of the mystics series. If you remember last month we looked at Osho or also known as. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. And we looked into his teachings and some quotes and we explored them. Today we'd be looking at the great mystic Sage from Arunachala, named Shri Ramana Maharishi. Now Ramana Maharshi is an amazing mystic that has a lot of depth. And to be fair, his teachings are not easily understood, even though his expression is incredibly simple. But if you've been following this podcast for a while, this should be an interesting one for you because this is going to the heart of non-duality and it doesn't ask us for our preparation. It just requires our attention and our devotion to actually go forward with understanding this Ultimate Reality. We'll be looking at some of the teachings of Ramana Maharshi from the book 'Be As You Are', that was written by David Godman. So as we explore these teachings, I really ask for Shri Ramana Maharshi to bless us with the understanding that we can truly truly honor his words today. And I'm really looking forward to this. I know it's the second episode, but really it doesn't matter who is number one, number two, number three, they all have a part to play in our spiritual journey. And they all have certain teachings that we need to explore and learn from. The first quote that we be looking at is there is no one who does not say 'I am.' the wrong knowledge of I am the body is the cause of all mischief, this wrong knowledge must go. That is realization. Realization is not acquisition of anything new, nor is it a new faculty. It is only removal of our camouflage. The ultimate truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. This is all that needs to be said. Now, just look at the incredible simplicity here. What Shri Ramana is telling us is how to really live in the realization and discover that that is our natural, pristine state. It is not something that we have to attain or acquire or buy or purchase. It's none of those things. You don't have to do a course or go through some rituals to get there. This understanding can be simply attained by just understanding who we really are. Now in the very first line Shri Ramana there says that 'there is no one who does not say I am.' Now think about it whenever we do something, whenever we say something, we say. I am Rahul Singh. I am twent- 34 years old. Forgot my age. I am male. I am such and such. I am married. Now I'm just adding a label to I am. So what is really this I am and what Ramana Maharshi turns to us and says that, well, you're not this body. Think about it. If you're not the body, then you're not going to be the mind either because the mind is housed in the body. What Ramana really says simply is that when you think you are the body, that's where all ignorance begins from and really ignorance is just a veil that needs to be lifted. Understanding that we're not this body, we get rid of the wrong knowledge of what we are. We get rid of the wrong association of who we really are. Now Ramana makes very clear that realization is not the acquisition of something new. A lot of us think that 'oh enlightenment is a new happening occurring to us', but how can it be a new happening? When there is only Pure Consciousness when there's only the Ultimate Reality, then what new is being attained? Nothing new. In fact, we're getting rid of things. We're not acquiring anything. We getting rid of wrong understanding. We're not acquiring a new understanding. We're actually just discovering what we've always been and will always be. So this Ultimate Truth is really simple. There's nothing complicated about this to understand. If we can understand this, we can go far in our spiritual journey. But this is a problem, getting rid of the thought of 'I am the body' or the understanding of I am the body, the knowledge of I'm the body, the identification is difficult because we've always been told we are this body. We're reminded about this all the time. Whether we are in the family, whether we are out and about and we're buying things, why are we buying things? For the body. For example, when you go grocery shopping, now that's a necessity for the body. That is fine. But if we do, if we think that whatever food. I take, I become that. That's the wrong understanding. I know there's some gurus that turn around and say, your body is the accumulation of food, which if you look at the body, it's right, but that is still not who you are. You're more than that. And Shri Ramana says that this is not a new faculty. It's not like suddenly you get a new faculty of intellect or intelligence. None of that. You simply have all this already. You just have to be open to understanding this. Shri Ramana's message is very simple. How much of it we want to really attain or understand is really up to us and it's really down to us whether we want to. But it's very easy for us to remain in ignorance because like I said in other podcast episodes, we love to complicate things. We love to complicate matters of spirituality, but really spirituality is very easy. If you just follow this one quote from Ramana Maharshi, there is no reason why you cannot attain enlightenment. It really is for you. The second quote. At this level of the teaching, there is no question of effort or practice. All that is required is an understanding that the Self is not a goal to be attained. It is merely the awareness that prevails when all limiting ideas about the not self have been discarded. So the not self meaning the body, the mind, karmas, our conditioning, all of those things. Now, if you look at this quote very carefully, Ramana Maharshi's telling us about the teaching of the 'Self only is'. That's the ultimate teaching of Ramana Maharshi. The title of the book is 'be as you are.' Why is that the name of the book? That is the central teaching of Shri Ramana Maharshi is 'be as you are!' Be who you really are. Now, everything that you're told that you are is merely something that has been imposed upon you. Your name, your gender, all these things that you identify with, your age, all of those things have been imposed upon you and they create the ego. Therefore, what is the ego? The wrong identification. The ego then believes that it is the body. It is the mind. It is all those things that you identify and label yourself with. Ramana Maharshi says you don't need to put any effort in, you don't have to practice anything to be your True Self, to be as you are! Brahman, Pure Consciousness. You just have to be. There's no question of effort. There's no need for practice. Now that does not mean that we are not to do any practice or we're not to put in any effort. What Ramana Maharshi's talking about is yes in the beginning, you may have to acquire to do some effort, but once you have realized who you really are, there shouldn't be any effort to go back or to be in that understanding. So it's really from that level that he's talking upon. Now, all that is required is an understanding that the Self is not a goal to be attained. If it was a goal to be attained, that means that it's something separate to you. Shri Ramana Maharshi gets rid of this false understanding that there is separation between us and Brahman or the Atman and Brahman. In fact, that's the only thing that remains is Pure Consciousness, this Ultimate Reality. As he mentions it is merely the awareness that prevails when all limiting ideas about the non-self have been discarded. So this is through the process of neti, neti, not this, not this. When we continuously remove those ideas of what we're not. Now, if we know that the Self is Pure Consciousness, then we have to get rid of everything that is before Pure Consciousness, that appears before Pure Consciousness or the objects that appear against Pure Consciousness. We have to discard all of those limiting ideas and beliefs and labels and get to Pure Consciousness. That is the journey that we need to take and that's all that Shri Ramana Maharshi is really talking about. So it's very simple thing. Just get rid of those ideas, discard those ideas, remove them from your life, practice 'That' first. And ultimately when you get to that Awareness, it will be unbreakable for you. You will always be in that state of understanding. Now, there's an interesting thing here when Shri Ramana says 'the Self is not a goal to be attained.' The other thing before that is, it's so we understand that we don't create another identity that we are the Self. The Self does not need to say 'I am the self.' Right. If there's only the Self, what is the Self going to be declaring Itself to? Nobody. There's no need to. This needs to be understood. Also it's not a goal to be attained because if you say we will attain when we become the Self, then that means that we are not the Self. You are the Self. You cannot become the Self. You have to understand that you are the Self. So this little nuance in language, we do need to really understand and really practice until we correct our language. With understanding, we will then correct our language too. The third quote. Brahm Gyana is not a knowledge to be acquired, so that acquiring it one may obtain happiness. It is one's ignorant outlook that one should give up. The Self you seek to know is truly yourself. So let's break this up. This is a very deep, yet simple teaching. Brahm Gyana is not a knowledge to be acquired. We know that Gyana means knowledge. We know Brahm means Brahman, this Ultimate Reality. The knowledge of this Ultimate Reality is not a knowledge to be acquired. You don't have to gain it. You don't have to go to Guru to get this knowledge. All the Guru does is say, this is what You are. Yeah, this is the only thing that is. That's the only form of knowledge they give. A projection of knowledge that they give. But it's not something you gain. Yeah. Because it's to understand that you're already this, so it's not something you acquire. Again, the repetition of this is because we've fed always 'you need to find enlightenment. You need to find God.' You know, there's a saying. I went searching for God and only found myself. This is literally what Shri Ramana's teaching is about. And then what Shri Ramana says here is even deeper. It says, okay, we established that it's not knowledge to be acquired. Then he says, 'so that acquiring it one may obtain happiness.' Because normally we think, oh yeah, if we attain Brahm Gyana, if we get Brahm Gyana, if we are able to approach a guru and get that knowledge, then we will get happiness. Shri Ramana says tha you can be happy now by knowing that you are the Self, by understanding that you've always been the Self. This is what we really need to understand here. And he makes sure that we understand even more when he says 'it is one's ignorant outlook that one should give up.' Why should you give up and what are you giving yourself up to? You can't give up. The reason for that is that ultimately, if you are the Self, no matter what you do in life, you would end up looking for that True Self. You'll be looking for Brahman. Even our desires. The reason why we go for desires is so we can exhaust them. Why? So we can go back to who we are. That's ultimately why we do things and why we desire things. Ultimately it comes back to this point. ' The Self you seek to know is truly yourself.' You don't need to go anywhere and run away somewhere. You can understand this right here and now. It's very interesting because a lot of people when they listen to this teaching, that's why you have Neo-Advaita. And Neo-Advaita will tell you why there's no one here to practice. There's no story. There's no practice, there's no scripture. There's no Self. There's no 'This'. That's not what Shri Ramana message is all about. His true message really is, is to bring you back to that direct realization. To get you to that direct understanding. To allow you to understand that you've always had access to this. Shri Ramana is showing you that the door that you walk through every day is the door that you're looking for. So the Self you seek to know is truly yourself. So don't go through the wrong understanding that you need to know something separate to you. You ought to know your True Self. Your True Self is everything. Your True Self is Brahman. The fourth quote. The truth of oneself alone is worthy to be scrutinized and known. Taking it as a target of one's attention one should keenly know it in the heart. This knowledge of oneself will be revealed only to the consciousness, which is silent, clear, and free from the activity of the agitated and suffering mind. Know that the consciousness, which always shines in the heart as the formless Self 'I', and which is known by one's being still without thinking about anything as existent or non-existent alone is the perfect reality. This is a deep quote. Again, like everything Shri Ramana talks about, it's always to the point and it's repeated why? Because we need to really understand it. We are so engrossed in wrong understanding that it's going to take so much repetition to get us back to who we really are. So in this quote, Shri Ramana says 'the Truth of Oneself alone is worthy to be scrutinized and known.' We need to have that practice. Now, it's the only practice worth going for. Now what's this thing that needs to be scrutinized and known - who we really are. How do we get there? How can we approach it? How can we get to that place? Those are the things that we need to do. This is the one thing that needs to be known. Everything else in life can happen accordingly, but we need to make sure that this practice is everything that we do. He continues to say 'taking it as a target of one's attention, once you keenly know it in the heart.' Now it seems here that Shri Ramana is telling us to practice something. But again, what's going to happen is once we realize what we are and we directly go towards it, we understand that actually, we don't need to practice it. We don't have to sit every day and try to get to the Self. We don't need to try to get there. We are already it. So what Ramana Maharshi has done is taken the Upanishads, taken the Bhagavad Gita, Ashtavakra Gita and made it known for us, made it a direct realization, a direct path for us and this is what he's done. A lot of people may turn around and say, Shri Ramana never gave the traditional teaching. And that there is ways where he has deviated away from the traditional teaching of Advaita Vedanta. I disagree. I think he went to the heart of Advaita Vedanta and the heart of Adi Shankara Ji's teachings and gave them to us and simplified it, so we can understand it in today's modern day and age. And that's ultimately what a Sage does is bring the teaching to today's time. There's no need to talk about something from thousands of years ago or hundreds of years ago when it will not be applicable to today. And Shri Ramana really does that. What he's saying now is taking it as a target of one's attention, seems like a practice, but really it's bringing us back directly in touch with who we really are. So we need to bring it to one's attention - what the True Self is. That needs to be everything we need to do. So whatever is not our Self, we need to scrutinize it and then know that it is not our True Self. It is not consciousness. 'One needs to keenly know it in the heart.' What he means there, that knowledge needs to be centered within us. It needs to be understood. It needs to be totally our own presence. It needs to be totally owned by us because it is us. Yeah. We need to know it completely. This is what Shri Ramana means by 'keenly know in the heart.' Basically the mind should not have an iota or speck of doubt that it is something else. 'This knowledge of oneself will be revealed only to the consciousness, which is silent, clear, and free from the activity of the agitated and suffering mind.' How do we calm down this agitated and suffering mind? By bringing ourselves back to that direct understanding of who we really are. Scrutinizing that false knowledge that we have about who we think we are. So this knowledge is only revealed to us by ourselves when we are silent, clear, and free. So for that, we need to calm our minds down. And that is by concentrating on who we are. That's what we need to do. 'Know that the consciousness, which always shines in the heart as the Formless Self 'I' and which is known by one's being still without thinking about anything as existent or non-existent alone is the perfect reality.' So know that this formless self is the perfect reality, the ultimate reality, and that it's always shining in the heart. It's always there. It doesn't disappear with time. It doesn't disappear in space. It's always there and it's not existent nor non-existent. It's beyond these definitions. So this is how we can understand. So we need to know this and become it. Quote number five. 'To see God is to be God. There is no all apart from God for him to pervade.' I'm going to go through each line probably a bit carefully now, because this is a long quote. 'To see God is to be God, there is no all apart from God, for him to pervade, he alone is. God is required for Sadhana.' What we need to understand is in order for us to see God, we have to be God. There should not be a separation. There should not be a duality attitude between God and me, you and God. There can only be God. And then Shri Ramana very carefully look at the thought here. 'There is no all apart from God for him to pervade.' Think about this. There is no all apart from God. The manifestations that we see this infinite manifestations that we perceive through our senses. This is nothing but Consciousness, all that is just a projection upon Consciousness. We often think during neti, neti, we get rid of everything, but we keep the subtle element of space Akash. And we think that this pervades everywhere. What Shri Ramana is doing is bringing this everywhere in to... in here. This is what he's doing. So you directly go to it rather than spread out to it. Instead, Shri Ramana's saying don't spread out, enter in. This is what he's doing. When it's centered within you, remember from the previous quote, this is why he's talking about. 'But the end of the sadhana, even in bhakti marg, the path of devotion is attained only after complete surrender. What does it mean? Except that effacement of the ego results in Self remaining as it has always been?' So what that means here is that at the end of the practice, the Sadhana, even in devotion. In devotion, we are told to surrender to God, but the only way to do that is to surrender. Surrender to that wisdom, surrender to yourself with Your Self. That's what you need to do. And it's only done when we get rid of the ego, we have to surrender the ego, bring ego to the forefront and say that the Ultimate Reality only is. Let the ego discover that it does not exist. It's just a projection against consciousness. It's needed to live in the day-to-day reality. We need the ego, but it is not one's identity. That's the difference. We don't identify with the ego. We now identify with Brahman, the True Self. 'Whatever path one may choose, the 'I' is inescapable. The 'I' that does the nishkam karma, the motiveless acts.' Nishkam meaning without any motive, without any selfishness, without any element of doership. So whatever path one chooses this 'I' is inescapable. 'I' meaning Brahman. The true understanding of what 'I' is, when we get rid of, I am the body, I'm the mind when we understand we are not these things. I am not space. I am not the planets. I am not the earth. What remains is 'I'. Even 'am' disappears. Why? Because 'I am', will need some thing to follow as a label. But 'I' does not need 'am'. 'I' can be as it is because 'I' is the Self. Everything that the 'I' says it is, is just a content of 'I', but it is not 'I', the capital 'I'. See the 'I' as the Self, the Formless Self. 'The 'I' that pines for joining the Lord, from whom it feels it has been separated. The 'I' that feels it has slipped from its real nature and so on.' So Shri Ramana Maharshi's telling us that when we think we are separate from this 'I', when this 'I' thinks it is something else and is separate from God, from the Lord. And pines to join, to have union with this One, that person has slipped from their true nature. Once this 'I' has united with the Lord, only the Lord will remain. The ego will understand it has no light that shines forth from it. The Light was always from the Lord, from Brahman. 'So the source of this 'I' must be found out, then all questions will be solved. To really get rid of our questions and doubts. We have to go to the source of what this 'I' is. That is the key. Quote six. 'Guru is the Self. Sometimes in his life, a man becomes dissatisfied and not content with what he has. He seeks to satisfaction of his desires through prayer to God. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain his grace and to satisfy his worldly desires. Then God's grace begins to manifest. God takes a form of a guru and appears to the devotee, teaching 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 inwards. From the interior, he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quietening of the mind. That is Guru's Grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self.' So let me put it in another way. There is no difference between Pure Consciousness. There's no difference between the guru that shows you what Pure Consciousness is. And also YOU, you are also Pure Consciousness. So I read the quote fully, and to be honest, I don't think I need to elaborate much more on the quote. But what Shri Ramana Maharshi's talking about is people like us, who may be beginning on our journey, we want to know more. We are not satisfied with worldly desires anymore. We don't constantly need things anymore. Our wants we know aren't going to fulfill us. So we want to know who we really are. We feel there's a hankering within to know who we really are. We don't feel fulfilled with life and what life is offering to us. We know there's something more. So then, because of that, you could say Pure Consciousness Itself looks for ways in which we can approach our own Self. Pure consciousness creates that journey in which we turn inwards towards our own Self, which is this Pure Consciousness. And the guru is not someone that you meet and then that's it. You get the knowledge and you go. The guru is also within you. Once you met the guru once and you sincerely got the knowledge that you need, that Brahm Gyana that we've been talking about in the previous quotes, once you've received that, then the Guru should be within. Then you don't need to keep seeking the Guru. In fact, the guru will even refuse to be your master at that point. The guru will make you, his friend or her friend. Why? Because it's in friendship, that one truly understands the other. Then all separation dissolves away. And when there is a complete union, then only the outer appearance looks like friendship, but within there is a oneness. So see the inner guru. and let that inner Guru, that Gyana, that wisdom bring your mind to quieten down and allow the Self to illuminate. As it always has been. Discover the illumination that is continuously there, continuously here, the guru shows this. I can say this for my own self, that my guru has done that for me. My guru showed me how to be aware of this one, how to be aware of this Formless and then my Guru from within allow that knowledge to take its place. Then the inner guru gets rid of all that separation, like a square drawn on a piece of paper. The guru gets rid of that square. So that pure white paper is seen. You get rid of the boundary, you get rid of the edge and that's what the guru does. The guru is the eraser of everything that you're not. The Guru erases it all, the Guru is the wisdom, utilize that wisdom within and that will take you there. Quote number seven. 'A man might've performed many karmas in his previous births. A few of these alone will be chosen for this birth and he will have to enjoy their fruits in this birth. It is something like a slide show where the projectionist picks a few slides to be exhibited at a performance. The remaining slides being reserved for another performance or this karma can be destroyed by acquiring knowledge of the Self. The different karmas are the slides, karmas being the results of past experiences. And the mind is a projector. The projector must be destroyed so that there would be no further reflection and no further births and deaths.' The mind, meaning the ego. But you can see this as a series of films. For example, you have The Lord Of The Rings. There were three movies, three parts to it, but you can choose to either watch the three movies on three different days, or you can watch the three movies in one day. Likewise with all your karmas, you can leave them either in this life or be, can spread them out for another time for another lifetime. But once we understand what this ego is that it's only projecting the results of our karmas and that is all just a projection, then we can understand what our True Self is. When we get rid of that projection. Then once you understand the Formless Self, then how can that acquire any karma? How can any karma be performed onto it? The Formless Self will acquire no karma nor really be effected by any of your previous karmas. The body may go through it. The mind may have to face it, but the self that you are will not that Awareness, that Pure consciousness will not be affected. That is the key to understanding this quote. So enjoy the fruit of this action right now. Think about it. The fact that you're listening to this. The fact that I'm looking and recording this podcast, talking about Shri Ramana Maharshi's great words of wisdom. That's a beautiful fruit, beautiful karma, whether you're listening, whether I'm speaking, understanding it. It's all karma, it's all the fruits, but just remember the one that is not touched by the fruits. That is who we really are. Quote number eight, the final one. And this is sometimes, you know, I'm asked this question that what is Ganesh ji, what is Hanuman ji, why do you have many gods and goddesses in Hinduism? Shri Ramana answers this question. 'Shiva, Ganapati and other deities like Brahma (the Creative Principle) exists from a human standpoint. That is to say, if you consider your personal self as real, then they also exist. Just as a government has its high executive officers to carry on the government. So has the creator. But from the standpoint of the Self, all these gods are. Illusory and must themselves merge into the one reality. So this is the understanding of Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahman. Saguna Brahman is the Formless, the Ultimate Reality with attributes. Nirguna Brahman is the one without attributes, the Ultimate Reality without any attributes. So all these things exists from a human standpoint, we feel there's a creator, we feel this is sustainer. We feel there's someone that gives us good luck, we feel there's someone that gives us strength, all these things we may say they exist on that point. But here Shri Ramana Maharshi makes it very simple. That from the standpoint of the Self, these don't exist because only the Self is. But if you believe in these things, it's because you believe you're a human being and you believe there's something more. But there isn't something more nor is there something less. There is only is-ness. There is only what simply is, and that's the Truth and we must merge into that One Reality. These devis and devtas will also merge into the One Reality. In fact, it is said that these devis and devtas that enjoy heaven, these beings that enjoy heaven, they have to come back onto the earth to attain mukti, to attain moksha. They all seek and they all desire to merge into Brahman, to understand that they are Brahman. And this is only available via the human birth according to what the scripture say. And Shri Ramana is making that very clear. So I hope you've enjoyed this episode. There's been so much to grasp and understand. There's so much to contemplate upon. And you need to think about these things. You may have questions after this. You can explore those questions within. So think about them. Think about these quotes and try to understand who you really are. Then you're living the message that's been given by Shri Ramana Maharshi, the great Sage. The Sage that has really influenced a lot of the Non-Dual circles in the west and we owe him our gratitude. I pray onto Shri Ramana that we understand his teachings and Be As You Are. Just to remind you a new episode is uploaded every Sunday. And you can follow me on social media to keep getting updates on new episodes on The Bearded Mystic reacts. The details are in the show notes and the video description below. If you would like to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast, there are a number of ways you can do so. You can utilize Patreon and get extra content. Or you can check other ways where you can support and you can check my link tree account in the show notes and video description below to see how you can do that. Also if you would like to subscribe to the monthly Bearded Mystic Newsletter, the link is in the video description and show notes below. Please rate and review the podcast. It'd be greatly appreciated. If you would like to stay in contact, you can join The Bearded Mystic Podcast Discord channel, the link is in the video description and show notes below. Thank you very much for listening. Aum Shanti, Shanti, Shanti Aum Peace, Peace, peace.