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In the sequence of questions and answers that begins with the query about gold ornaments we have a typical response from Sri Maharshi. Although he would sometimes give detailed replies to questions of a philosophical nature, at other times he would try to divert the questioner’s attention away from theoretical matters and instead talk about the Self, the impediments that prevented one from being aware of it, and the means by which a devotee could make himself aware of his own, inherent real nature. In the following sequence of questions and answers we see the Maharshi expounding on these practical topics. The first few questions about Self-knowledge were asked by a Gujarati visitor, the remainder by the other visitors.
Q: In order to make an effective effort for Self-knowledge, does one have to reduce other activities or not?
M: The Self has no relationship with either activity or non-activity. The Self remains as it is by its own sakti. Think of that.
Q: How to get Self-knowledge?
M: To whom does this question occur? You should think of him.
Q: Is mula prakritti [the seed or root out of which all material things evolve] the form of consciousness?
Q: Is lower prakritti [matter] inert?
M: It appears to be inert. In reality there is only one essence and that is why everything is consciousness only.
Q: As a tree grows out of a seed, likewise does multiplicity come from the one?
M: When you realise the one, the many will not be seen.
Q: Then how did multiplicity come into being?
M: It is because of delusion that it is seen like that.
Q: How did delusion occur?
M: To whom does this question arise? Think of that.
Q: How to do that?
M: The delusion that has come by wrong thinking will go by correct thinking.
Q: What is the thing called jivatma [individual self]?
M: To whom does this question occur? Think of that, meaning, think of who you are. And by thinking of what you really are, all the difficulties will be removed.
Q: In one of your books it is written that the mind should be annihilated. How to do this work?
M: It will be easy to destroy the mind if one knows the real nature of the mind.
Q: Is the remembrance of past samskaras [the ingrained habits of the mind that cause it to behave in a particular way] called ‘mind’?
M: The samskaras and the results of those samskaras are not real. During sleep they go away.
Q: How to control such a mind?
M: Except for enquiry into the self, there is no way that the mind can be destroyed.
Q: How to meditate?
M: Being aware of the Self is the real meditation. When the mind gives up its habit of choosing and deciding, it turns towards its own real nature. At that time it gets into the established state. When the ego gets more powerful, entry into this state does not take place.
Q: Should we be patriotic and should we not serve our country?
M: First be what you are. Therein lies all truth and happiness. While trying to become someone else, the ahankara gets in. You think that the world will be conquered by your power, but when you turn inwards towards the Self, you will know that a higher power is working everywhere.
Q: Does God bestow grace on jivas or not?
M: However much you remember God, God remembers you much more.
Q: Why does God allow so much injustice to go on and why is there so much insufficiency among us?
M: Go to God and ask him about it.
Q: I cannot go there to him.
M: If you cannot go to him, how to ask the question? Weak people do not get liberation.
Q: What I cannot see with my eyes I do not believe in. God is not seen by me, so I do not believe in him.
M: I cannot see your brains. So what is wrong if I believe that you have no brains?
David Godman Books
Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings
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