Question: One can have a temporary experience of the Self, the underlying reality, but then it goes away. Can you offer any guidance on how to stabilise in that state?

 

Annamalai Swami: A lamp that is lit may blow out if the wind is strong. If you want to see it again, you have to relight it. But Self is not like this. It is not a flame that can be blown out by the passing winds of thoughts and desires. It is always bright, always shining, always there. If you are not aware of it, it means that you have put a curtain or a veil in front of it that blocks your view. Self does not hide itself behind a curtain. You are the one who puts the curtain there by believing in ideas that are not true. If the curtain parts and then closes again, it means that you are still believing in wrong ideas. If you have eradicated them completely, they will not reappear. While these ideas are covering up the Self, you still need to do constant sadhana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, going back to your question, the Self does not need to stabilise itself. It is full and complete in itself. The mind can be stabilised or destabilised, but not the Self.

 

Question: By constant sadhana, do you mean self-enquiry?

 

Annamalai Swami: Yes. By strength of practice, by doing this sadhana, this veil will be removed completely. There will be no further hindrances. You can go to the top of Arunachala, but if you are not alert, if you are not paying attention, you may slip and end up at Easanya Math [a Hindu institution at the base of the hill].

 

You have to make an enormous effort to realise the Self. It is very easy to stop on the way and fall back into ignorance. At any moment you can fall back. You have to make a strong determined effort to remain on the peak when you first reach it, but eventually a time will come when you are fully established in the Self. When that happens, you cannot fall. You have reached your destination and no further efforts are required. Until that moment comes, constant sadhana is required.

 

Question: Is it important to have a Guru at this stage, this period when constant effort is required?

 

Annamalai Swami: Yes. The Guru guides you and tells you that what you have done is not enough. If you are filling a bucket with water, you can always add more if there is still space. But when it is completely full, full to overflowing, it is pointless to add even a single drop. You may think that you have done enough, and you may believe that your bucket is full, but the Guru is in a better position to see that there is still a space, and that more water needs to be added. Don’t rely on your own judgement in this matter. The state you have reached may seem to be complete and final, but if the Guru says, ‘You need more sadhana,’ trust him and carry on with your efforts.

 

Bhagavan often used to say, ‘The physical Guru is outside, telling you what to do and pushing you into the Self. The inner Guru, the Self within, simultaneously pulls you towards itself.’

 

Once you have become established in the inner Guru, the Self, the distinction between Guru and disciple disappears. In that state you no longer need the help of any Guru. You are That, the Self.

 

Until the river reaches the ocean it is obliged to keep on flowing, but when it arrives at the ocean, it becomes ocean and the flow stops. The water of the river originally came from the ocean. As it flows, it is merely making its way back to its source. When you meditate or do sadhana, you are flowing back to the source from which you came. After you have reached that source, you discover that everything that exists – world, Guru, mind – is one. No differences or distinctions arise there.

 

Non-duality is jnana; duality is samsara. If you can give up duality, Brahman alone remains, and you know yourself to be that Brahman, but to make this discovery continuous meditation is required. Don’t allocate periods of time for this. Don’t regard it as something that you do when you sit with your eyes closed. This meditation has to be continuous. Do it while you are eating, walking, and even talking. It has to be continued all the time.

Annamalai Swami sitting in Palakottu

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Annamalai Swami sitting in Palakottu

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Annamalai Swami.jpg
Annamalai Swami.jpg

Annamalai Swami sitting on a rock near Palakottu

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Annamalai Swami sitting in Palakottu

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The slide show comprises images of Annamalai Swami taken during the last few years of his life.

Annamalai Swami teaching in his room in the early 1990s, the era when these dialogues took place.

David Godman Books

 

Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings