(An unpublished conversation of Ramana Maharishi with Paul Brunton.)
Q: Why is it sometimes I find concentration on the Self so easy, and at other times hopelessly difficult?
Ramana Maharishi [RM]: Because of vasanas. But really it is easy, since we are the Self. All we have to do is to remember that. We keep on forgetting it, and thus think we are this body, or this ego. If the will and desire to remember Self are strong enough, they will eventually overcome vasanas. There must be a great battle going on inwardly all the time until Self is realised. This battle is symbolically spoken of in scriptural writings as the fight between God and Satan. In our sruti [revealed scripture] it is a Mahabharata war, where the asuras represent our bad thoughts and the devas our elevating ones.
Q: How can one quicken this coming of realisation?
RM: As one strives to know the true ‘I’ the attachment to objects, the bad and degrading thoughts gradually drop off. The more one does not forget the Self, the more do elevating qualities become ours. Realisation will come eventually.
Q: Why does an Upanishad say, “He whom the Atman chooses, to him alone does It reveal Itself, not to others?” Does not this seem arbitrary?
RM: No. It is correct. It chooses those only who devote themselves to It, who become Its devotees. Such It draws them inwards to Itself. One must turn inward to find the Atman. He who thinks of It, It will draw to Itself.
All such thoughts as Attainment is hard’ or ‘Self realisation is far from me’, or ‘I have got many difficulties to overcome to know the Reality’, should be given up, as they are obstacles; they are created by this false self, ego. They are untrue. Do not doubt that you are the Reality; live in that understanding. Never question it by referring your realisation of it to some future time. It is because people are victimised and hypnotised by such false thoughts that the-Gita says that few out of millions realise the Self.
The order of asramas [four stages of life] was established as a general principle, i.e. to regulate the gradual development of the ordinary run of humanity. But in the case of one highly mature and fully ripe for Atma vichara there is no graduated development. In this case jnana vichara, i.e. the Self enquiry and the blooming of jnana, are immediate and quick.
Q: Am I worthy to be a devotee?
RM: Everyone can be a devotee. Spiritual food is common to all and never denied to anyone.
To a despondent devotee: The quest must be made: ‘Who is despondent?’ It is the phantom of the ego which falls a prey to such thoughts. In sleep the person is not afflicted. Sleep state is the normal one. Quest and find out. Does one not find some kind of Peace in meditation? That is the sign of progress, that peace will be deeper and more prolonged with continued practice, it will also lead to the goal.
In as much as you say that you are ignorant, you are wise and it makes your way easier for the removal of ignorance. Is he a mad man who says that he is mad? Control of desire and meditation are interdependent. They must go on side by side. Abhyas and vairagya bring about the result. Vairagya is to check the mind being projected out; abhyas is to keep it turned inward. There is the struggle between control and meditation. It is going on constantly within. Meditation will in due course be successful.
If you seek God with your whole heart, then you may be assured that Grace of God is also seeking you.
Q: When we fall from the path what is to be done?
RM: It will come all right in the end. There is the steady determination that gets you on your feet again after a downfall or break. Gradually the obstacles get weaker and your current stronger. Everything comes right in the end. Steady determination is the thing required.
[RM]: The tendencies distract me. Can they be cast off?
RM: Yes. Others have done so. Therefore believe it. They did so because they believed they could. It can be done by concentration on That which is free from predispositions, and yet is their core. If the longing is there, realisation will be forced even if you do not want it.
[RM]: Is it necessary to develop qualities?
RM: It is only for beginners that they are told to develop different qualities. For the advanced it is enough to look into their nature. This is the direct method. In the other paths there is the ego involved. This alone answers the question of what the ego is. Yoga Vasistha says that the quest ‘Who Am I’ is the axe which laid to the roots of the ego, destroys it.
[RM]: I fear that it is no easy thing to reach that ultimate goal.
RM: Why stultify yourself by fear or concern for the success or failure of your course. Push on.
Give yourself up to deep meditation. Throw away all other considerations of life. The calculative life will not be crowned with spiritual success.
Yes, complete surrender is impossible in the beginning. Partial surrender is certainly possible for all; in course of time that will lead to complete surrender) Well, if partial surrender be impossible what can be done? There is then no peace of mind. You are helpless to brings it about. It can be done only by surrender.
In fact there may not be found any single individual in the world possessing all the qualities in perfection necessary for a mumukshu [mature soul] as mentioned in the Yoga Sutras etc. Still pursuit of Atmajnana should not be abandoned. Everyone is the Self by aparoksha [immediate or direct knowledge!, although he is not aware, but identifies the Self with the body and feels miserable.
Whenever you get that thought of difficulty, dispose of it altogether by trying to find out whence it arises?
[RM]: Can I realise the Self? It looks so difficult.
RM: You are already the Self. Therefore realisation is for everyone. Realisation knows no difference in the aspirants. This very doubt if I can realise or the feeling I have not realised, are the obstacles. Be free from these also.
[RM]: Nevertheless unless I have the experience, how can I be free from these conflicting thoughts?
RM: These are also in the mind. They are there because you have identified yourself with the body. If this false identity drops away, ignorance will vanish and truth be revealed.
[RM]: Do you accept the parable of Jesus where the woman seeks for the lost coin till it is found?
RM: Why not? In that parable we know God seeks after souls. His Grace is always available for human soul. Only man must accept It. You know the sun shines. If you shut your eyes and say there is no sun, that is your fault, not the sun’s. If Grace of God is not realised by you, it does not mean that God is unwilling but that you have not surrendered yourself completely to Him. God is Grace.
According to your pakkuvam [state of development, preparedness, ripeness] you will realise Grace.
Courtesy: ‘Conscious Immortality,’ Paul Brunton and Munagala Venkataramiah, Mountain Path, Vol. 0, No. 2, AprilJune 2013.