Friday, 9 August 2013


Once in the 1940s, I was sitting outside the hall with many devotees. Bhagavan was reclining on a couch. A group of learned pandits was discussing passages from the Upanishads with great enthusiasm and profundity. All, including Bhagavan, appeared to be attentively listening to the interesting discussion when, all of a sudden, Bhagavan rose from the couch, walked some distance and stood before a villager who was standing looking lowly with palms joined. All eyes turned to Bhagavan and the villager who was standing at a distance. They appeared to be conversing. Soon Bhagavan returned to his couch and the discussion was resumed.

Being curious to know why Bhagavan had to go out to meet a villager, I slipped away from the discussion and caught up with the villager before he left the Ashram. He told me that Bhagavan was asking why I was standing so far and also asked my name, about my village, what I did,
and about my family etc. I enquired, “Did you ask him anything?”

The villager replied, “When I asked him how I could earn his blessings, he asked whether there was a temple in my village and the name of the temple deity. When I told him the deity’s name, he said, go on repeating the name of the deity and you would receive all the blessings needed.”
I came back to Bhagavan’s presence, but lost all interest in the discussions. I felt that the simple humility and devotion of a peasant had evoked a far greater response from our Master than any amount of learning. I then decided that though a scholar by profession, I should always remain a humble, ignorant peasant at heart and pray for Bhagavan’s grace and blessings.’’
                                                                         – Prof Swaminathan

Many seekers primarily believe in spiritual concepts without much practical experience of how to meet their own mind. Although ‘Shravana’, hearing the teachings, is needed very much at the beginning, it becomes a hindrance even if it is not followed by experiential knowledge. To sit down and cultivate a silent, receptive mind state is the actual training needed.

I had the good fortune to be able to attend a six months course when I was twenty-two which was like a sheltered environment enabling me - in the company of other meditators - to sink into silence more and more as the days and weeks went by. It is not only a pleasant experience to sit down day after day and meet your own mind, but as you get quieter the inner confidence and the stability grow as well. All kinds of states appear, some very still and refined. Also a clearing out of hidden mental tensions will happen, and all can change quickly, like a spring weather changing from rain to sunshine back and forth. It becomes very obvious that no state remains, no bliss stays, as no suffering does as well.

Sri  Ramana said:

“To be in one’s natural state on the subsidence of thoughts is bliss; if that bliss be transient, arising and setting... then it is only the sheath of bliss (anandamaya kosha), not the pure Self. What is needed is to fix the attention on the pure ‘I’ after the subsidence of all thoughts and not to lose hold of it. This has to be described as an extremely subtle thought; else it cannot be spoken of at all, since it is no other than the Real Self. Who is to speak of it, to whom and how?”                                                Talks 624

“Effort is necessary so long as thoughts are promiscuous. Because you are with other thoughts, you call the continuity of a single thought, meditation or dhyana. If that dhyana becomes effortless it will be found to be your real nature. “                                                                                              Talks 328

“Dhyana is the chief practice.
A little later Sri Bhagavan continued:
Dhyana means fight. As soon as you begin meditation other thoughts will crowd together, gather force and try to sink the single thought to which you try to hold. The good thought must gradually gain strength by repeated practice. After it has grown strong the other thoughts will be put to flight.
This is the battle royal always taking place in meditation.
One wants to rid oneself of misery. It requires peace of mind, which means absence of perturbation owing to all kinds of thoughts.
Peace of mind is brought about by dhyana alone.”
                                                                                                                 Talks 371

“Give yourself up to deep meditation. Throw away all other considerations of life. The calculative life will not be crowned with spiritual success.”
                                                                                                   Conscious Immortality

After this long time retreat I came back home in a very light and joyful frame of mind, which stayed on for quite a while afterwards. In the deepest core of my heart was a renewed trust in a natural inner goodness of life, similar to what children radiate and what attracts us, like a lost innocence of our own past. Although no mind condition is permanent, trust and confidence are growing from meeting life with this inner lightness in a natural way.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Brahman in the Heart - Dahara Vidya of Chandogya Upanishad


According to an old Hindu legend there was a time when all men and women were gods, but they so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief god, decided to take away from men and women and hide it where they would never again find it. Where to hide it became the big question.

When the lesser gods were called in council to consider this question, they said, “We will bury man’s divinity deep in the earth.” But Brahma said, “No, that will not do, for man will dig deep down into the earth and find it.” Then they said, we will sink his divinity into the deepest ocean.” But again Brahma replied, “No, not out there, for man will learn to devise a way to dive into the deepest waters, will search out the ocean bed, and will find it.”

Then the lesser gods said, “We will take it to the top of the mountain and there hide it.” But again Brahma replied, “No, for man will eventually climb every high mountain on earth. He will be sure some day to find it and take it up again for himself.” Then the lesser gods gave up and concluded, “We do not know where to hide it, for it seems there is no place on earth or in the sea that man will not eventually reach.”

Then Brahma said, “Here is what we will do with man’s divinity. We will hide it deep down within man himself, for there he will never look”!

Arunachala - the Holy Mountain
Photo by Reinhard Jung

This story shows how little we explore ourselves and not surprisingly how little we know ourselves in spite of living several decades in this world. Swami Krishnananda in his commentary on Chhandogya Upanishad quotes from the Upanishad that in the deepest recess of our own heart, there is a great secret. Nothing can be a greater mystery than our own Self, because everything else can be investigated into using the senses and mind but not the Self, as it is always the subject never the object. Our Self hides within itself, the miracles of the whole creation. This Heart is the pivot of every kind of activity, whether internal or external.


In the eighth and final chapter of Chhandogya Upanishad is mentioned Dahara Vidya which is a method of Upasana where the sadhaka concentrates on 'Brahman'(the Universal Self) in the cave of the Heart.

The first verse:
"Harih om. atha yad-idam asmin brahma-pure daharam pundarikam vesma, daharo'smin antarakasah, tasmin yad-antah, tad-anvestavyam, tad-vava vijijnasitavyam."

"In  this city of Brahman, there is a small lotus, (as) a palace; therein is the small Akasa. And what is in that is to be sought after, to be understood."
The second and third verses:
"Tam ced-bruyuh, yad-idam asmin brahma-pure daharam pundarikam vesma, daharo'smin antarakasah, kim tadatra vidyate yad-anvestayam, yad-vava vijijnasitavyam iti."

"Sa bruyat, yavan va ayam akasah, tavan eso'ntarhrdaya akasah ubhe asmin dyava-prthivi antar-eva samahite, ubhav-agnis'ca vayus-ca surya-candramasav-ubhau, vidyun-naksatrani yac-casyehasti yac-ca nasti sarvam tadasmin samahitam iti."

"If they should say to him: "Now, with regard to the abode, the small lotus, in this city of Brahman and the small akasa within it−what is there in it that is to be sought after and what is there that one should desire to understand?"

Then he (the teacher) should say: "As far as, verily, this great akasa extends, so far extends the akasa within the heart. Both heaven and earth are contained within it, both fire and air, both sun and moon, both lightning and stars; and whatever belongs to him (i.e. the embodied creature) in this world and whatever does not, all that is contained within it (i.e.the akasa in the heart)."
                                                                              - Adhyaya VIII, Khanda I, Chandogya Upanishad

Arunachala - the Holy Mountain
Photo by Reinhard Jung

Swami Krishnananda's commentary elaborates on the Upanishadic teacher's reply -
“You ask me what is inside this little space. I tell you that everything is inside here,” says the teacher. It is like a speck of sunlight. Though it may look like a speck, it contains constitutionally everything that is in the orb of the sun. Similarly, that which is in this little space can magnify itself to any extent. It is an emblem of the cosmic secret. Whatever is the extent of this vast space that is outside, that is the extent of this little space in our own heart also. So, one should not be under the impression that it is little in an arithmetical sense. It is little in a different sense altogether. It is not physically small. It is not a little handful of space. It is really as expansive and as extensive as this universal ether that we see outside. The whole of the heaven and the whole earth can be found inside this little space. The principles of the five elements,—earth, water, fire, air and ether—and whatever you see outside, is all present here in this little ether. The sun and the moon and also the stars can be seen inside this very heart of ours. They have a corresponding emissary planted in our own heart. We need not look up to the sun outside. He is inside our heart and he shines in the same way as he is seen outside in outer space. Even the lightning and the thunder that are seen outside are taking place inside our heart. Everything that happens in any manner, even the littlest thing, takes place here inside. Whatever we see in the outside world and whatever we cannot see in the outside world—all those things are inside our heart.


The Heart or Hridayam appears in Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi's teachings extensively.

D: Sri Bhagavan speaks of the heart as the seat of Consciousness and as identical with the Self. What
does the heart exactly signify?
M: The question about the heart arises because you are interested in seeking the source of consciousness.
To all deep thinking minds, the enquiry about the ‘I’ and its nature has an irresistible fascination. Call it by any name, God, Self, the heart or the seat of Consciousness, it is all the same. The point to be grasped is this, that Heart means the very core of one’s being, the Centre, without which there is nothing whatever.
D: But Sri Bhagavan has specified a particular place for the heart within the physical body, that it is in the
chest, two digits to the right from the median.
M: Yes, that is the centre of spiritual experience according to the testimony of Sages. This spiritual heart-centre is quite different from the bloodpropelling, muscular organ known by the same name.The spiritual heart-centre is not an organ of the body. All that you can say of the heart is that it is the very core of your being. That with which you are really identical (as the word in Sanskrit literally means), whether you are awake, asleep or dreaming, whether you are engaged in work or immersed in samadhi.

                                                                                                                              - Maharshi's Gospel

Bhagavan's Eka Sloki which appears in Sri Ramana Gita refers to Brahman in the cave of the Heart.

"Hridaya Kuhara Madhye Kevalam BrahmaMaatram
Hyahamahamiti Saakshaat Aatma Rupenena Bhati
Hridi Visha Manasa Svam Chinvata Majjata Va
Pavanachalana Rodhat Aatmanishto Bhavatvam"

Brahman is glowing lustrously in the middle of the cave
of the Heart in the shape of the Self, always proclaiming
‘I am, I am’. Become an Atmanishta, a Self-realised person,
either by making the mind absorbed in the search of the
Self or by making the mind drown itself through control
of the breath.

The entire universe is condensed in the body and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the whole universe. This world is not other than the mind, the mind is not other than the Heart; that is the whole truth.

The source is a point without any dimensions. It expands as the cosmos on the one hand and as Infinite bliss on the other. That point is the pivot. From it a single vasana starts and expands as the experiencer (`I'), the experience and the experienced (the world).

To Rama who questioned Vasishta: `Which is that big mirror in which all these are mere reflections? What is the heart of all souls or creatures in this universe?' Vasishta replied: `All creatures in this universe have two kinds of hearts — one to be taken note of and the other ignored. Hear their respective traits: The one to be ignored is the physical organ called the heart which is situated in the chest as a part of the perishable body. The one to be taken note of is the Heart which is of the nature of consciousness. It is both inside and outside (us) and has neither an inside nor an outside.'

This is the really important Heart. It is the mirror which holds all reflections. It is the basis and source of all objects and all kinds of wealth. Therefore, it is only that Consciousness, which is the Heart of all, not that organ - a small part of the body, which is insentient like a stone, and perishable. So one can achieve the eradication of all desires and control of breath, by the practice of merging the mind in the Heart, which is Pure Consciousness.

- Gems from Bhagavan

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


In Sri Ramana's teachings there is a clear water divide between the absolute Self and the mind.

All mental forces are like a house of cards that support each other forming a kind of mental balance. In the center of the mind there is that which is called ego, a supposed entity like a prison guard checking all prisoners, the thoughts. The ego is formed during our whole life and acts or rather re-acts from memory coming from pleasant or unpleasant occurrences.When the manipulating and controlling power of the ego does not hold, the  so-called 'balance' of the person is believed to be in danger.

  Here the practical aspects of Bhagavan's teachings have their starting point. If this center starts to observe instead of to manipulate, if we are aware of all objects including foremost all mental objects, the mind settles down. Mostly it will be a pleasant relaxing experience - as long as the ego doesn't feel threatened regarding its imagined independency and dominance.

Ramana Maharshi - Fear comes off the ego

If memories or emotions rise that are painful or cause fear, anger, dullness or similar emotions, the ego-mind, the will-power, will start to react as it always does. It will try to evade, or overcome or fight them. The meditator will want to get up and do something else to not feel them. Or he or she will project these emotions on someone or something outside and try to fight them in that relationship.

This is the start of the 'second class' in spiritual training. All those that merely want to enjoy some relaxation will break off, while those that have a genuine yearning for Truth will develop strength and persistence. Also those that are still stuck in the first class and merely want to enjoy some devotional feelings will be left behind at this point. They may not be clear that all devotional feelings are as fleeting as all else.

In that case the mind has won and kept its ego-'balance', shielding the awareness from unpleasant feelings.

If there is greater intuition of the preciousness of true silence and its peace, perhaps after many break-ups like described before, the courage to stay on will grow. Because true silence is not afraid, it even grows when challenged like that. In as much it is aware of its spaciousness it has also room for all kinds of mental activities and finds more and more freedom in this true equanimity.

Still, the ego may not give in and bring even deeper issues, stronger fears for instance. If the enquiry is kept up, the awareness can be discriminated from all of them:

''To whom does this belong?''

''Do I see this, or am I this?''

This makes it clear immediately that we are only looking at something, the awareness itself can never be an object of perception, whatever it may be, a physical tension, an emotion, a memory etc.

In the story of Buddha's enlightenment the devil, Mara, always the essence of ego, of duality - in the Christian Symbolism therefore with two horns - tempts this power of equanimity through sending his beautiful daughters. The Buddha to be tapped the earth as a sign of his solidity and could not be moved. After this the final enlightenment experience opened up.

In the famous death experience of Sri Ramana the fear of death stood out prominently, but the power of his insight and the surrender to the Self was much too strong and so he went beyond the realm of death once for all.

Concluding we can summarize that all emotions are testing our maturity. As long as we re-act we are caught in the old and learned patterns. In as much as we can remain as awareness by all means, the power of the emotional mind gives way for the Self.

(By all means: we may later discuss many possible ways of assisting the development.)

Meditation is your true nature now. You call it meditation, because there are other thoughts distracting you. When these thoughts are dispelled, you remain alone, i.e., in the state of meditation free from thoughts; and that is your real nature which you are now attempting to gain by keeping away other thoughts. Such keeping away of other thoughts is now called meditation. When the practice becomes firm, the real nature shows itself as the true meditation.
Other thoughts arise more forcibly when you attempt meditation.

There was immediately a chorus of questions by a few others.

Sri Maharshi continued: Yes, all kinds of thoughts arise in meditation. It is but right. What lies hidden in you is brought out. Unless they rise up how can they be destroyed? They therefore rise up spontaneously in order to be extinguished in due course, thus to strengthen the mind.          
                                                                                                                                   - Talks 310

Monday, 5 August 2013


A great Tibetan yogi with a big heart - he did a lot for monks and lay people; also had deep realizations as this poem indicates too. One well-known work of his i enjoyed is called 'The Flight of the Garuda', talking about Dzogchen practice, especially Treckchö

One day, to refresh my spirits, I walked to a summit of the Machen Range and, relaxing my mind completely,
I looked around in all directions. My mind opened up, becoming clearer and clearer.
I sat, keeping my back straight, and looked straight ahead into the infinite expanse of the sky.
My mind blended with the sky, becoming indistinguishable from it.
Completely at rest in the natural state of mind—empty, luminous, without taking things as real -
I sang this song, in a state like space, an unlimited, transparent, all-pervading expanse:
Without a center, without a border, The luminous expanse of awareness that encompasses all -
This vivid, bright vastness:
Natural, primordial presence.

Without an inside, without an outside,
Awareness arisen of itself, wide as the sky,

Beyond "size", beyond "direction"
beyond "limits" -

'This utter, complete openness:
Space, inseparable from awareness.

Within that birthless, wide-open expanse of space,
Phenomena appear - like rainbows, utterly transparent.
Pure and impure realms,
Buddhas and sendent beings,
Are seen, brilliant and distinct.

As far as sky pervades, so does awareness.
As far as awareness extends, so does absolute space.

Sky, awareness, absolute space,
Indistinguishably intermixed:
Immense, infinitely vast
The ground of samsara,
The ground of nirvana.
To remain, day and night, in this state -
To enter this state easily—
this is joy -


In this state,
You must simply remain:
Resting loosely -
Letting yourself open -
Attaining dharmakaya -
Letting nlrmanakaya come to pass -


Then, I rested one-pointedly in the evenness of a sky-like emptiness.
All mental wildness and dullness, gross and subtle, vanished naturally, like clouds vanishing in the sky.
Like the sun shining in a clear autumn sky, luminous emptiness that is the true nature of mind was laid bare.
In a state without center, without limits, empty like space, all phenom-forms and sounds—were present in spontaneity, vivid as the sun, moon, planets and stars. Mind and phenomena blended completely in a single taste.
Friend and enemy—no difference; gold and stone—no difference;
this life and the next—no difference;
mind and sky—no difference.
Having seen this for myself,
I was ready to sit among the glorious sky-like yogins.

From 'The Life of Shabkar' 

Shabkar - the Great Tibetan Yogi

No one succeeds without effort ...

D.: What is to be our sadhana?

M.: Sadhana for the sadhaka is the sahaja of the siddha. Sahaja is the original state, so that sadhana amounts to the removal of the obstacles to the realization of this abiding truth.

D.: Is concentration of mind one of the sadhanas?

M.: Concentration is not thinking one thing. It is, on the other hand, putting off all other thoughts which obstruct the vision of our true nature. All our efforts are only directed to lifting the veil of ignorance. Now it appears difficult to quell the thoughts. In the regenerate state it will be found more difficult to call in thoughts. For are there things to think of? There is only the Self. Thoughts can function only if there are objects. But there are no objects. How can thoughts arise at all?
The habit makes us believe that it is difficult to cease thinking. If the error is found out, one would not be fool enough to exert oneself unnecessarily by way of thinking.

D.: How can the rebellious mind be brought under control?

M.: Either seek its source so that it may disappear or surrender that it may be struck down.

D.: But the mind slips away from our control.

M.: Be it so. Do not think of it. When you recollect yourself bring it back and turn it inward. That is enough.

No one succeeds without effort. Mind control is not one’s birthright. The successful few owe their success to their perseverance.

A passenger in a train keeps his load on the head by his own folly. Let him put it down: he will find the load reaches the destination all the same. Similarly, let us not pose as the doers, but resign ourselves to the guiding Power.

- Talks 398

Effort is one of the most misunderstood terms. What it means is persistence, circumspection, honesty, active engagement, love for truth, mindfulness - all qualities that are brought about through sadhana only. They are awakened qualities of 'the state of mind called beautiful'. Bhagavan was always very practical. A mere intellectual or philosophical statement is like a menu at best. If it motivates this kind of dedication to meet our restlessness, moods and different mind states it has done its job. We do not want to eat the menu but the food. Only taking time to practice self-enquiry or some preliminary technique can lead to silence.

And only silence is the basis for effective enquiry.

Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Bhagavan as seen by Paul Brunton

Ramana Maharshi - As seen by Paul Brunton

"I study him intently and gradually come to see in him the child of a remote Past, when the discovery of spiritual truth was reckoned of no less value than is the discovery of a gold mine to-day. It dawns upon me with increasing force that in this quiet and obscure corner of South India, I have been led to one of the last of India's spiritual supermen. The serene figure of this living sage brings the legendary figures of his country's ancient Rishees nearer to me. One senses that the most wonderful part of this man is withheld. His deepest soul, which one instinctively recognizes as being loaded with rich wisdom, eludes one. At times he still remains curiously aloof, and at other times the kindly benediction of his interior grace binds me to him with hoops of steel. I learn to submit to the enigma of his personality, and to accept him as I find him.

But if, humanly speaking, he is well insulated against outside contacts, whoever discovers the requisite Ariadne's thread can walk the inner path leading to spiritual contact with him. And I like him greatly because he is so simple and modest, when an atmosphere of authentic greatness lies so palpably around him; because he makes no claims to occult powers and hierophantic knowledge to impress the mystery loving nature of his countrymen; and because he is so totally without any traces of pretension that he strongly resists every effort to canonize him during his lifetime.

Ramana Maharshi - As seen by Paul Brunton

It seems to me that the presence of men like the Maharishee ensures the continuity down history of a divine message from regions not easily accessible to us all. It seems to me, further, that one must accept the fact that such a sage comes to reveal something to us, not to argue anything with us. At any rate, his teachings make a strong appeal to me for his personal attitude and practical method, when understood, are quite scientific in their way. He brings in no supernatural power and demands no blind religious faith. The sublime spirituality of the Maharishee's atmosphere and the rational self-questioning of his philosophy find but a faint echo in yonder temple.

Even the word " God " is rarely on his lips. He avoids the dark and debatable waters of wizardry, in which so many promising voyages have ended in shipwreck. He simply puts forward a way of self-analysis, which can be practised irrespective of any ancient or modern theories and beliefs which one may hold, a way that will finally lead man to true self-understanding"

~ Paul Brunton, A Search In Secret India