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Meditation questions

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Sri Ramana Maharshi

Excerpts from his Spiritual Teachings

• Question. How can I control the mind?

• M. There is no mind to control if the Self is realized. The Self shines forth when the mind vanishes. In the realized man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone exists. For, the mind, body and world are not separate from the Self; and they cannot remain apart from the Self. Can they be other than the Self? When aware of the Self why should one worry about these shadows? How do they affect the Self?


• Question. If the mind is merely a shadow how then is one to know

the Self?

• M. The Self is the Heart, self-luminous. Illumination arises from the Heart and reaches the brain, which is the seat of the mind. The world is seen with the mind; so you see the world by the reflected light of the Self; The world is perceived by an act of the mind. When the mind is illumined it is aware of the world; when it is not so illumined, it is not aware of the world.

If the mind is turned in, towards the Source of illumination, objective knowledge ceases, and the Self alone shines as the Heart.

The moon shines by reflecting the light of the sun. When the sun has set, the moon is useful for displaying objects. When the sun has risen no one needs the moon, though its disc is visible in the sky. So it is with the mind and the Heart. The mind is made useful by its reflected light. It is used for seeing objects. When turned inwards, it merges into the Source of illumination which shines by Itself and the mind is then like the moon in the day-time. When it is dark, a lamp is necessary to give light. But when the sun has arisen, there is no need for the lamp; the objects are visible. And to see the sun no lamp is necessary, it is enough if you turn your eyes towards the -self-luminous sun. Similarly with the mind, to see the objects the light reflected from the mind is necessary. To see the Heart it is enough that the mind is turned towards it. Then the mind does not count and the Heart is self-effulgent.


• Question. Is a set meditation necessary for strengthening the mind?

• M. Not, if you keep the idea always before you, that it is not your work. At first, effort is needed to remind yourself of it, but later on it becomes natural and continuous. The work will go on of its own accord, and your peace will remain undisturbed.

Meditation is your true nature. You call it meditation now, because there are other thoughts distracting you. When these thoughts are dispelled, you remain alone—

that is, in the state of meditation free from thoughts; and that is your real nature, which you are now trying to gain by keeping away other thoughts. Such keeping away of other thoughts is now called meditation. But when the practice becomes firm, the real nature shows itself as true meditation.


• Question. Other thoughts arise more forcibly when one attempts meditation!

• M. Yes, all kinds of thought arise in meditation. That is only right; for what lies hidden in you is brought out. Unless it rises up, how can it be destroyed ? Thoughts rise up spontaneously, as it were, but only to be extinguished in due course, thus strengthening the mind.


• Question. How can the rebellious mind be made calm and tranquil ?

• M. Either see its source so that it may disappear, or surrender yourself so that it may be struck down. Self-surrender is the same as Self-knowledge, and either of them necessarily implies self-control. The ego submits only when it recognizes the Higher Power.


• Question. How can I escape from samsara which seems to be the real cause for making the mind restless? Is not renunciation an effective means to realize tranquility of mind ?

• M. Samsara is only in your mind. The world does not speak out saying, 'Here I am, the world'. If it did so, it would be ever there, making its presence felt by you even in your sleep. Since, however, it is not there in sleep, it is impermanent. Being impermanent, it lacks substance. Having no reality apart from the Self it is easily subdued by the Self. The Self alone is permanent. Renunciation is the non-identification of the Self with the not-Self. When the ignorance which identifies the Self with not-Self is removed, not-Self ceases to exist, and that is true renunciation.


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