Question: And so rejection of thoughts is not necessary?
Bhagavan: No. It may be necessary for a time or for some. You fancy that there is no end if one goes on rejecting every thought when it rises. It is not true; there is an end. If you are vigilant and make a stern effort to reject every thought when it rises, you will soon find that you are going deeper and deeper into your own inner self. At that level it is not necessary to make an effort to reject thoughts.
Question: Then it is possible to be without effort, without strain. Bhagavan: Not only that, it is impossible for you to make an effort beyond a certain extent.
Question: I want to be further enlightened. Should I try to make no effort at all?
Bhagavan: Here it is impossible for you to be without effort. When you go deeper, it is impossible for you to make any effort. If the mind becomes introverted through enquiry into the source of aham-vritti [the ‘I’-thought], the vasanas [latent desires] become extinct. The light of the Self falls on the vasanas and produces the phenomenon of reflection we call the mind. Thus, when the vasanas become extinct the mind also disappears, being absorbed into the light of the one reality, the Heart. This is the sum and substance of all that an aspirant needs to know. What is imperatively required of him is an earnest and one-pointed enquiry into the source of the aham-vritti.
Question: How should a beginner start this practice?
Bhagavan: The mind will subside only by means of the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ The thought ‘Who am I?’, destroying all other thoughts, will itself finally be destroyed like the stick used for stirring the funeral pyre. If other thoughts rise one should, without attempting to complete them, enquire ‘To whom did they rise?’ What does it matter however many thoughts rise? At the very moment that each thought rises, if one vigilantly enquires ‘To whom did this rise?’, it will be known ‘To me’. If one then enquires ‘Who am I?’, the mind will turn back to its source [the Self] and the thought which had risen will also subside. By repeatedly practising thus, the power of the mind to abide in its source increases.
Although tendencies towards sense-objects [vishaya vasanas], which have been recurring down the ages, rise in countless numbers like the waves of the ocean, they will all perish as meditation on one’s nature becomes more and more intense. Without giving room even to the doubting thought, ‘Is it possible to destroy all these tendencies [vasanas] and to remain as Self alone?’, one should persistently cling fast to self-attention.
As long as there are tendencies towards sense-objects in the mind, the enquiry ‘Who am I ?’ is necessary. As and when thoughts rise, one should annihilate all of them through enquiry then and there in their very place of origin. Not attending to what-is-other [anya] is non-attachment [vairagya] or desirelessness [nirasa]. Not leaving Self is knowledge [jnana]. In truth, these two [desirelessness and knowledge] are one and the same. Just as a pearl-diver, tying a stone to his waist, dives into the sea and takes the pearl lying at the bottom, so everyone, diving deep within himself with non-attachment, can attain the pearl of Self. If one resorts uninterruptedly to remembrance of one’s real nature [swarupasmarana] until one attains Self, that alone will be sufficient.
Enquiring ‘Who am I that is in bondage?’ and knowing one’s real nature [swarupa] alone is liberation. Always keeping the mind fixed in Self alone is called ‘self-enquiry’, whereas meditation [dhyana] is thinking oneself to be the absolute [Brahman], which is existence-consciousness-bliss [sat-chit-ananda].
Question: The yogis say that one must renounce this world and go off into secluded jungles if one wishes to find the truth.
Bhagavan: The life of action need not be renounced. If you meditate for an hour or two every day, you can then carry on with your duties. If you meditate in the right manner, then the current of mind induced will continue to flow even in the midst of your work. It is as though there were two ways of expressing the same idea; the same line which you take in meditation will be expressed in your activities.
Question: What will be the result of doing that?
Bhagavan: As you go on, you will find that your attitude towards people, events and objects gradually changes. Your actions will tend to follow your meditations of their own accord.
Question: Then you do not agree with the yogis?
Bhagavan: A man should surrender the personal selfishness which binds him to this world. Giving up the false self is the true renunciation.
Question: How is it possible to become selfless while leading a life of worldly activity?
Bhagavan: There is no conflict between work and wisdom.
Question: Do you mean that one can continue all the old activities in one’s profession, for instance, and at the same time get enlightenment?
Bhagavan: Why not? But in that case one will not think that it is the old personality which is doing the work, because one’s consciousness will gradually become transferred until it is centered in that which is beyond the little self.
David Godman Books
Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings