The Forum dedicated to Arunachala and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

Forum rules, notices and proposed changes => Cautionary advice => Topic started by: Graham on December 15, 2009, 05:20:21 AM

Title: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on December 15, 2009, 05:20:21 AM
Many devotees get feelings of depression/despair/hopelessness at an apparent lack of progress in their sadhana or meditation. They are often overcome by the trials and tribulations of life and become despondent.

This is normal and to assist those who suffer from these problems I will relate a few incidents in my own life, to show that there is hope even in the darkest of moments.

------

I first came across Bhagavan in 1974 or 1975 after reading 'In Days of Great Peace' by Mouni Sadhu. This book changed my life completely and I became determined to attain Liberation in this lifetime.

For the first few years I engaged in what can only be described as tepid efforts as I sought to understand what exactly it was I was supposed to be doing, during which time I purchased every book published in English by the ashram. I then decided to intensify my practice to the exclusion of all else, apart from that which is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of life.

After two years of this intense sadhana I had many profound and powerful experiences, but none were permanent. Other things happened in my worldly life which at the time appeared to be extremely unhelpful, even disastrous. A period of despair and depression then followed coupled with intense meditation to try and lift it, so intense that I suffered from fits and other debilitating ailments. This continued for some time and throughout this difficult period I prayed intensely for a solution, but none came.

Then one morning whilst in the deepest of depressions, I was pleading with Bhagavan, asking 'what kind of guru are you, that you desert your devotees and leave them helpless?', when suddenly out of the air a voice thundered: "You believe the illusion is real" and then became silent.

Six words that removed the depression in an instant, all doubts dispelled. I spent the remainder of that day laughing at my past stupidity.

This was not the end of sadhana by any means and I continued my practice of meditation but with less strain, not wanting to bring about more fits.

-------------

During the next few years my worldly life collapsed completely and I was left virtually destitute, to the point of having to go out at night to look for money that people might have dropped in the street, so that I could eat.

After eleven years of this worldly struggle, with no apparent progress in meditation, I was again feeling helpless, but remained determined.

At this time an invitation appeared in the post, to attend a concert in Leicester in the UK. I would not normally attend such things, but somehow felt drawn towards it. My daughter and her friend also wanted to go. So I borrowed a friend's car and set out for the concert in good time.

Because of a error we arrived one hour later than the published start of the concert and feared the worst, but to our surprise the group was also late and had not arrived.

Finally, when all was set, we sat down in the large empty venue and the concert began - no-one else came to the concert apart from the daughter of the organiser and a small child. The group played and sang a few songs, but the flute player was especially entrancing and I was told that he was a substitute who had suddenly appeared after the group's regular player had fallen ill just before leaving India.

The concert over, we were all invited to one of the organiser's homes to eat before setting off for our destinations. After food we all shook hands, but when the flutist took my hand, it was like a powerful electric shock, the heart centre vibrated powerfully and opened. I was left in a daze and his radiant smile and slight nod of the head conveyed the reassurance that all was well and my torment was over.

I then set off for home. The group who also left at the same time followed behind me in their minibus towards the motorway. Still in a daze, I became confused about which way to go, at which point the minibus stopped and the flutist leaned out of window and said - 'you go that way', pointing in the right direction.

After arriving home safely I discovered that no-one else had any unusual experiences there.

Years later I asked the organisers of the group if they remembered the flutist, but they say they cannot remember anything about the concert at all.

-----------

Many of the forum members will know of my work with relation to the restoration of Bhagavan's photos. This has been going on in one form or another for seventeen years and many devotees have obtained the restored versions from the ashram.

It has been very hard work, often frustrating, requiring reworking countless times, because as technology advanced errors became apparent that were invisible before. In truth, I was never happy with the results, because badly damaged images required far too many changes to be made to remove the thousands of scratches.

Obtaining accurate prints has also been a source of constant frustration and disappointment in India. So after fourteen years of problems we decided that the only way to get good prints would be to transfer the restored photos to negative and use those to produce consistent photographic prints.

With this view in mind, six months ago I started restoring the photos again with fellow devotee Karthik Venkatasubramanian (the photographer) from Chennai. But this has proven to be something of a disaster for reasons that were beyond us to understand; everything we tried went wrong, including re-scanning the negatives and producing new negatives with various service providers across the world.

To overcome the errors with negative production, we decided that the only way to do this properly would be to obtain an LVT Image Recorder (the machine that creates the negatives) and do the work ourselves, but there is only one of these machines in India and enquiries were made as to its availability. We also tried different scanning methods and still the results were not satisfactory.

We were totally bemused by it all until a few days ago, when in a moment of despair an apparently crazy idea popped into Karthik's head, which forced him to try something that normally he would never contemplate.

This resulted in the successful capturing of images from the original negatives by an unusual method, whereby the majority of scratches, fungus stains and blemishes on the negatives are almost completely removed without any retouching at all, producing sharp and clear images that look as if they were taken yesterday. Experimentation with this method continues.

You can see the results HERE (http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/photos/photo_miracle.htm) - (I've called it a miracle because that is what it is).

The owner of the LVT in India, also has a very professional instant print set-up and Karthik decided to send some of the digital images to him for test printing. The results from these are perfect, for the first time in fourteen years both photographs of Arunachala and the restored photographs of Bhagavan look exactly as they do on the screen. The owner is also considering the request for the LVT.

There is lot more background to this story, most of it private details, but suffice to say that a very clear and precise thread can be seen throughout this whole sequence of events, that has drawn us inexorably to this point where years of problems are solved in a matter of a few days through what appeared at first sight to be disaster.

As a consequence of this, the entire restoration project has to be started all over again from scratch and all previous work discarded.

Do I regret it, no, of course not. We will simply continue, removing any residual blemishes that this method cannot remove automatically.

Doing all of this work repeatedly over so many years, in addition to my earlier trials and tribulations, has taught me patience, tolerance and fortitude. Furnishing me with the certain knowledge that at the right time, everything comes right by God's grace, according to His plan, not ours.

-----------

The only advice I can give is 'never lose hope and never give in to despair in your efforts to Realize the Self. Meditate when sattva is predominant and when rajas and tamas are predominant, turn to prayer until they pass'.

Above all else, have faith in God and in yourself and it will all come right in the end. Nothing is more certain than that.

-----------

The point of frustration at a lack of progress in meditation remains to be clarified.

Throughout advaitic texts you will find the statement that 'all are already Realised' is repeated over and over again. You will also find the contradictory statements that 'no effort is required to Realise the Self' and 'effort is required'. Both statements are true in the right context.

Repeated and constant effort is required to turn the mind away from the world towards its source, the Self. But it cannot Realise the Self because Self is already Realised.

To expect the mind to Realise the Self is like expecting the 'Role' played by an actor to Realise the actor, or the illusiory snake to Realise the rope. In these cases the actor and the rope are real, the Role the actor plays and snake are illusions.

There are countless projections of ego/mind, but only one Self. The ego/mind is an illusion, it is only a thought, it cannot Realise the Self, it can only surrender to it and be consumed/negated by it. So all efforts to Realise an individual Self will end in frustration and failure, because it is the ego which is trying to become Self-realised, which it can never do - it can however become ego-realised, followed by a complete descent into tamas.

Little more can be said on this point; you have to understand it yourself through practice and apply it.
Title: Gratitude
Post by: Nagaraj on December 15, 2009, 09:37:16 PM
Dear Graham

I don't know if you remember me, but I was a member in this Forum for some time and then due to some reasons, I did not strike in chord here in this place and I had the urge to move out of this forum as I felt this is not a right place for discussions etc... but then still I used to check this forum each day several times and read all the articles posted by fellow devotees and I took my share of cake where ever I found it in various posts.

But today, now, as usual I visited the forum to see updates in posts and I saw 2 posts from you and I don't know why or for what reason, I again felt a strong urge within me to become part of this forum. I felt so strongly withing me the genuine-ity in your todays posts! some kind of chord struck within me and here I am!

I went through all your struggle by reading couple minutes your posts. Sometimes what we believe as pains actually end up being our extreme contentment, but we just mistake the process as suffering. I cry in front of Sri Ramana Maharshi out of pain of not being able to have been during his physical presence. there will be a lot of pain in my heart, unbearable yet it is so pleasing, blissful. I want that pain again and again.

I had decided I am never going to be part of any forums or discussions, but here I am without any agenda or with any views and with any intentions to posts various threads or to discuss or clarify doubts but simply present!

I would like to show deep gratitude for your services. I have revolved around your room doors (websites) for long hours. you and your team gave me a doorway to everything of Sri Ramana Maharshi who is everything to me. Thank you.

Nagaraj
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on December 16, 2009, 12:10:44 PM
Yes Nagaraj,

I remember you and wondered where you had gone.

Suffering is an intrinsic part of the process of spiritual maturity. Those who find the world pleasing do not give it up, so suffering is actually God's Grace helping us to turn away from it.

Suffering is only the mind's refusal to accept the inevitable. If we are surrendered to God then there is no suffering, because we accept everything as it is.

This is the most valuable lesson of my 60 years in this world.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Akira on February 08, 2010, 04:05:55 PM
Thank you for sharing your experience, Graham. It has encouraged me a lot.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: amiatall on February 11, 2010, 01:18:16 PM
Thank you for the work on photos. And for this place where there are no borders for internationality.
Thank you for letting His will to work through you.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Akira on March 19, 2010, 12:14:50 PM
The concert over, we were all invited to one of the organiser's homes to eat before setting off for our destinations. After food we all shook hands, but when the flutist took my hand, it was like a powerful electric shock, the heart centre vibrated powerfully and opened. I was left in a daze and his radiant smile and slight nod of the head conveyed the reassurance that all was well and my torment was over.

Dear Graham,

You said that the heart centre vibrated and opened.
I have never had this kind of blessed experience.
Is the Heart centre you mentioned on(or in) the right side of the chest as Bhagavan explained?
Once it opened, it is open permanently?
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Subramanian.R on March 20, 2010, 10:24:41 AM
In Bhagavan's experience, He calls it Nadi-mathanam, where the nerves
are all churned. You feel that everything is over and you are going to
become a bag of rotten potatoes.  If the sadhana is genuine, this ends
up in a clear experience of the Absolute.  Then you be still and "it is
the birds that sing."  This nerve racking is also called Siva Sakti Natanam,
the dance of Sakti, before she takes you to Siva.  This happens in Aham
Sphurti. The I thought becomes I consciousness and then I-I.  Aham-Aham.

Arunachala Siva.
   
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on April 24, 2010, 06:55:03 PM
The heart-centre is the Self. It is not in the body, the body is an appearance in It, however there is a sensation, an appearance of it to the right of the chest, but not as you imagine it to be. The experience is without body, yet with it. Very hard to describe.

But like so many experiences, and I have had many, it is just an experience. Self-realisation is the end of experiences.

I will take this opportunity to clarify a profound mistake in publications. Bhagavan 'never' told anyone to concentrate on the right side of the chest, on the contrary, he told Annamalai Swami that he would never realise the self by doing that.

This mistake was created by a group of influential people in the 1950's here in Tiruvannamalai, who were unclear about what Bhagavan meant by concentrate on the heart and they decided that he meant concentrate on the right side of the chest - completely wrong!

Simple logic should clarify this - in order to concentrate on the right side of the chest there has to be a body as the starting point, the body is a projection of the mind which arises from consciousness, body-consciousness is the obstacle, so how can the obstacle overcome the obstacle. It is a vicious circle.

The heart centre is both the seat of dark ignorance and the Self - two sides of the same coin.

Graham
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: nsuresh on October 25, 2010, 07:17:13 AM
Dear Graham,
Thanks for accepting me into these forums.  Your advice regarding praying during periods of Rajas and tamas and practicing self-enquiry when Sattva is domiant is very appropriate.  Although to some extent we can control the states of mind using pure saatvic diet, breathing exercise etc, past tendencies control the three states of mind.  So one needs to have a plan of action for the three states.
Please continue to share your experiences and advice with other aspirants.
At Bhagavan's holy feet,
Suresh
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Katy on June 03, 2013, 12:17:51 AM
Dear Graham,

Thank you for accepting me to this forum. Depression, despair and hopelessness are something I have found on this path. It is very comforting to see this is expected some times on this path. I remember the day I realized that the 'I' that started this quest (ego) must die to allow the real Self to be seen. I went through a time of depression wondering how this would happen, and also why I had even started such a quest. I asked why me? Why should my I die when others arnt bothered by such things and just get on with life. I soon realized this was just self pity.  Sometimes it feels like Bhagavan has almost left me, that Im making no progress or even going backwards, but I tell myself he is always there within even in these times of hopelessness. I know once Bhagavan has shown us his grace he will never let us go, it is just remembering this in times of trouble. Your post is of great help, many thanks. Katy
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on June 03, 2013, 04:35:32 AM
Dear Katy,

The ego cannot realise the Self, it is this failed effort that brings about depression.

It is like the character played by an actor trying to realise (become) the actor as an independent entity.

All effort - and effort IS required - should be directed at holding onto your awareness of Being whenever possible to the exclusion of all else, including the effort itself (not thinking about it, but just being aware). This is real self-enquiry and brings the right results in the end.

Best wishes

Graham
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Katy on June 03, 2013, 01:39:52 PM
Dear Graham,

Thank you! May I say that is one of the most perfect explanations as to why a seeker can fall into depression. That it is the failed effort by the ego and that its like a character in a play trying to become an actual entity! Its exactly right, I tryed all sorts of paths before I found Bhagavan and they all ended in getting nowhere and depressed. It was the ego trying all those paths which is why the Self was never realized from them. It is a step in the right direction to realize the ego is doing this, to stand back and be aware of its many subtle ways of diverting us off the path. Even when Id found Bhagavan my ego kept trying to go down other paths, Id keep getting e mails from new age sites Id subscribed to ages ago, and I could feel my ego wanting to join the live blog or ascension course or whatever,  but I did not allow the ego to divert me this time. Bhagavan IS the way and I thank you for putting this issue in such an understandable way.

Many thanks Katy
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: swayam on June 03, 2013, 04:45:17 PM
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Dear Graham

Just for my satisfaction, Thanks a TON for sharing your hardships(?...!)

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Alma Gentil on August 24, 2013, 06:31:26 PM
Dear Sri Graham,

Also thank you for accepting me to this Forum. It is wonderful to read these dialogues, to feel very in contact with persons that also love Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and His teachings.
Bhagavan permitted me to visit Ramanashram last August.2012, one year ago. Never in my life thought it possible to such a travel, from Portugal to India, for all reasons. But… “the way was opened” for me.
Visiting this Forum means “to recharge the batteries, so to speak”. I have stopped in many “Topics” of this Forum, mentally writing my gratitude, but in this one, started by You in December.2009, I dare to start my “Newby”:

1-   I have acquired at Ramanashram Library a collection in 2 Volumes of Ramana Maharshi Photos – 2 big-size and so marvellous volumes! I believe this wonderful work is the same you are mentioning here in this Topic. I couldn’t bring in my luggage all the books I wished I could bring. These 2 Volumes of Bhagavan Photos were destined to a friend that introduced me to the Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, as an expression of my deep gratitude. So, I present my deep gratitude also to You, for making this possible, through Your brilliant work.

2-   I am perplexed about the following explanation, when you mention the “mistake”:


"Posted by: Graham
« on: April 24, 2010, 06:55:03 PM » Insert Quote
 The heart-centre is the Self. It is not in the body, the body is an appearance in It, however there is a sensation, an appearance of it to the right of the chest, but not as you imagine it to be. The experience is without body, yet with it. Very hard to describe.
But like so many experiences, and I have had many, it is just an experience. Self-realisation is the end of experiences.
I will take this opportunity to clarify a profound mistake in publications. Bhagavan 'never' told anyone to concentrate on the right side of the chest, on the contrary, he told Annamalai Swami that he would never realise the self by doing that.
This mistake was created by a group of influential people in the 1950's here in Tiruvannamalai, who were unclear about what Bhagavan meant by concentrate on the heart and they decided that he meant concentrate on the right side of the chest - completely wrong!
Simple logic should clarify this - in order to concentrate on the right side of the chest there has to be a body as the starting point, the body is a projection of the mind which arises from consciousness, body-consciousness is the obstacle, so how can the obstacle overcome the obstacle. It is a vicious circle.
The heart centre is both the seat of dark ignorance and the Self - two sides of the same coin."



I am practicing like this, I always effort myself to maintain concentration on the right side of the chest, the spiritual centre, inquiring “who am I?”.
Perhaps this part of my path is only the ‘starting point’.
I understood the "sadhana" like that from the book "The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi – 1972 – Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, Índia – Shambhala Publications Inc." (offered to my friend by a sadhu, at Ramanshram; an offer, in India, of a copy translated into Portuguese). And also from "Gems from Bhagavan – Selected by A. Devaraja Mudaliar".

Sometimes I hold in that centre Bhagavan beautiful face and intense look. I feel love and gratitude, and secure, and I know that I don’t have to do anything, just trust Him and everything is in its right place. As It Is.  I sometimes have this strange feeling that millions of my words wouldn’t be able to explain, but one simple Bhagavan phrase cleared it for me:

“He is concentrating on the reflection and complains that he cannot see the original.”

This phrase is mentioned in the Topic Re: Our Bhagavan-Stories
« Reply #241 on: August 07, 2013


I understand that in Your above simple lines You already explain what You mean, and I think it is clear to me, but how should I do my practice then?
Or my practice is what I do, I think, I feel, because I’m thinking on my Guru ALL the time. He is my permanent thought, really the substratum of all other thoughts. I Am In Love.
Please be so kind to elucidate me.


I began to prepare this “Reply” yesterday afternoon. I cried in my bed when I went to sleep, feeling such emptiness, as if a possible change or finishing in my “beloved” sadhana could be the sinking of all the process. I realized that I’m attached to it. Tonight I had a dream and now I only remember the sense of a phrase: - accept what comes to you, all has a purpose.

Early this morning, I went to meditate with a friend at her house. When we finished, down stairs I came across a baby bird struggling on the ground unable to fly. I snuggled the baby bird in my hand, feeling its heart beat so fast, and after a while it stopped struggling. I caressed it with lips, stroke it with soft finger, sent life-giving beams, just like Bhagavan did. We tried to put some water into his beak. He became peaceful for a while. Suddenly he struggled again trying to fly but life-force has failed, and closed his eyes. I couldn’t feel his heart beat anymore.

which is the purpose????

“Only when we realise that it is we who clothe the formless Arunachala with form - because we view it with the eyes of the body - that we shall begin to search within our hearts for the formless Reality which that form veils. Until then, we shall not penetrate and understand this miracle.”


3-   Since last June.13 I am building a Blog http://textomeditativo.blogspot.pt, where I am posting meditative texts, but always in Portuguese. I am translating and including texts from the Forum, mentioning there its Source, completed with the respective Link, so that visitors are able to consult the Forum immediately by clicking. For instance: ‘CAN A CRACKED EGG BE HATCHED?’ 
http://textomeditativo.blogspot.pt/2013/08/pode-um-ovo-partido-ser-chocado.html


Om Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi Om - Arunachala Shiva
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on August 28, 2013, 07:20:25 AM
Dear Alma,

It is a mistake because you are concentrating on an object - a product of the mind - and not on the subject 'You'.

The heart-centre is neither in nor out of the body, so how can you concentrate on it?

The atma-spurana is a sensation that appears in the body, it is witnessed by the mind, which is a projection of the Self that arises through that heart-centre.

Bhagavan was very clear about this and you have already detailed one of His responses in your reply - “He is concentrating on the reflection and complains that he cannot see the original.”

This really is the most simple of things, but the mind doesn't like simple, it wants to 'think' and confuse matters, and that is its power.

The 'reflection' is the mind/ego/body complex and the 'original' is the witness, the witness is 'you', the one who is concentrating.

Why go on this circuitous route to find yourself who are always present in the beginning, middle and end. You are always aware of 'you', but your awareness of 'you' is broken up continuously by thoughts about objects.

The heart-centre is 'you' and that is what you are to concentrate on at every possible moment, until such time as self-awareness becomes permanent.

There is nothing difficult about this, the difficult part is breaking the habit of countless lifetimes by turning your attention away from the world to the witness of the world.

Graham

Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Alma Gentil on August 31, 2013, 11:29:35 PM
Dear Sri Graham,

Namaste
Thank you so much for clarifying in such a simple manner this profound teaching.
I bow to You Who realized the Inner Guru as tought by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, and now, through You, my understanding and practice have evolved drastically.
I do not force myself as before to maintain attention in the right-side of the chest; that was also causing body pains. Now, I just concentrate on doing Vichara, recognise the diminishing current of thoughts, until I begin to feel a very delicate stillness. The Heart-Centre That Is ‘I’, as You mention in Your reply.

"Heart is Thy Name, Oh Lord"
I also had been told, but I had not yet realized!

Om Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi Om – Arunachala Shiva
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on September 02, 2013, 09:10:35 PM
Dear Alma,

Bhagavan was very clear on all these points, but sometimes the point is missed - I missed it for years during my early efforts, expecting something complex instead of simple. I have merely repeated what he said.

You might also want to read this page on the main site which offers more clarification on this subject.

http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/articles/article_self_enquiry.htm (http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/articles/article_self_enquiry.htm)

Graham

Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Alma Gentil on September 07, 2013, 08:22:46 PM
Dear Sri Graham,

Thank You for showing me the page "Self Inquiry".
I feel I'm being helped.
I am Grateful.


Om Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi Om – Arunachala Shiva
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Anand on September 08, 2013, 10:34:16 PM
Graham Sir,
In your article on self enquiry, you have started with concentrating on the awareness.Can you eloborate on that - i.e some practical ways to get hold of that awareness -so that we know we are going about it the right way.THis is critical for us who are in our  forties since we do not have too much time to learn or unlearn and we need your help in this.
In the same context, please also share with us your way of how you resorted to  concurrent self enquiry .I had a measure of success in terms of looking for the source of the mantra and saying "I" , "I" but the success seems to be short lived and in fact some reason , I have become depressed, since the experience of peace could not be repeated.That is why, I am also looking for other means of self enquiry .
Secondly can you share with us some other practical  things that we could try to ward of depression in the course of our sadhana and which is also caused by the play of the gunas.
Finally economically we are going through trying times.In our workplace, things could be pretty torturous since everyone seems to be a victim of circumstances .There seem to be analysis , reviews ,questioning and the pain seems to percolate much beyond working hours into the core of our being . The pain is real though perhaps fallling in the realm of maya.Can you share with us some insight as to how to retain the peace , spirituality and also how to hold onto the awareness .
Thanks ,Anand Sundaram.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on September 09, 2013, 07:02:02 AM
Dear Anand,

For the first few years of practice I made no progress (according to my perspective) and put it down to my inability to concentrate long enough to make any headway.

I read somewhere that just three minutes of absolute concentration is sufficient to perform self-enquiry successfully, so set about disciplining the mind.

To do this I dismantled a wall clock with a continuous smooth-running second hand and mounted the motor behind a 24 inch square of pure white laminate, I made a second hand from the same material, glued it on to the second hand spindle and put a black dot at the end of it.

I would then spend one hour per day focussing on the dot to the exclusion of all else, including the idea of focussing, until such time as I could concentrate for two minutes without any thought arising.

This took several months, but once progress was made past the 20 second period it accelerated.

The practice I then used for self-enquiry was to touch my forehead for a moment then concentrate on that spot, become aware of who was watching, then gently turn my attention to myself without thought of any kind and want to know who I am - this is the difficult part to understand, but can best be described like this:

If you look into the distance at some object that is not too clear and want to know what it is, you generally do not look at the object and keep repeating 'what is it', 'what is it' (though that might arise), what you do is to focus your attention on it in order to see it, accompanied by the silent desire to know. That is how you should perform self-enquiry.

As Bhagavan says, the moment you concentrate on the 'I' it disappears, but there is a witness to its disappearance and that it the one you concentrate on again (gently), and so on until seer and seen are one indivisible whole - there is no object/witness only Being.

I found that intense and sincere prayer (like that of a small child) was a great help in times of depression and despair. It is the mind which is the problem, it doesn't like being disciplined and doesn't want to surrender. It wants to become self-realized and all powerful, but it can never be that because it is the obstacle.

Don't worry, the mind rebelling is a sign of progress.

Graham
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Ravi.N on September 09, 2013, 09:24:00 AM
Graham,
Wonderful post-simplicity,earnestness and diligence in practice.Thanks very much.

Namaskar
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Anand on September 09, 2013, 10:53:59 AM
Thanks Graham Sir.
I would also like you to share how you practiced concurrent self enquiry .
Thanks,Anand .
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on September 09, 2013, 02:38:15 PM
Dear All,

I gave up all practices except intense prayer during that period, because any failure would bring about a lack of confidence and undermine the purpose of the exercise.

The unchained mind is the enemy and also the only tool that you have for success. One step at a time is best.

Graham
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Ravi.N on September 09, 2013, 04:40:15 PM
Anand Sundaram/Friends,

An excerpt from Brother Lawrence 'Practice of the Presence of God':
"Men invent means and methods of coming at God's love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God's presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?"

For Brother Lawrence, "common business," no matter how mundane or routine, could be a medium of God's love. The sacredness or worldly status of a task mattered less than motivation behind it. "Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God."

Brother Lawrence felt having a proper heart about tasks made every detail of his life possess surpassing value. "I began to live as if there were no one save God and me in the world." Brother Lawrence felt that he cooked meals, ran errands, scrubbed pots, and endured the scorn of the world alongside God. One of his most famous sayings refers to his kitchen:

"The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament."

What our Brother is telling us is what we in india call 'smarana'-Practising the Presence of God.Prayer is the most direct and potent way to get connected.Once connected,smarana or continual dwelling on this presence is to be guarded.

Quote
"Live in the world but, in order to realize God, hold fast to His Lotus Feet with one hand and with the other do your duties. When you get a respite from your duties, cling to God's Lotus Feet with both hands-live in solitude and meditate on Him and serve Him ceaselessly."
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

If the need for this is deeply felt and understood,that itself will show the way.The 'How' of the mind is a poor substitute for this and will not work.
Prayer is a very potent channel for tapping deep into the Presence of God. 

Namaskar.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Ravi.N on September 09, 2013, 04:53:41 PM
Friends,
An excerpt from The gospel of Sri Ramakrishna on Prayer:

Yearning for God
"One must be restless for God. If a son clamours persistently for his share of the property, his parents consult with each other and give it to him even though he is a minor. God will certainly listen to your prayers if you feel restless for Him. Since He has begotten us, surely we can claim our inheritance from Him. He is our own Father, our own Mother. We can force our demand on Him.
Sri Ramakrishna taught the devotees how to call on the Divine Mother.

Master's prayer to the Divine Mother
MASTER: "I used to pray to Her in this way: 'O Mother! O Blissful One! Reveal Thyself to me. Thou must!' Again, I would say to Her: 'O Lord of the lowly! O Lord of the universe! Surely I am not outside Thy universe. I am bereft of knowledge. I am without discipline. I have no devotion. I know nothing. Thou must be gracious and reveal Thyself to me.' "
Thus the Master taught the devotees how to pray. They were deeply touched. Tears filled Mahimacharan's eyes.

This sort of  prayer,simple and direct from the depth of one's heart is very potent and will put us in touch with the presence of god-Peace and Love.We may then receive all the guidance and understanding as necessary.
Namaskar.

Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Nagaraj on September 09, 2013, 05:10:42 PM
Master's prayer to the Divine Mother
MASTER: "I used to pray to Her in this way: 'O Mother! O Blissful One! Reveal Thyself to me. Thou must!' Again, I would say to Her: 'O Lord of the lowly! O Lord of the universe! Surely I am not outside Thy universe. I am bereft of knowledge. I am without discipline. I have no devotion. I know nothing. Thou must be gracious and reveal Thyself to me.' "

Just random thoughts...

Sri Ravi,  what do we do in self enquiry is to keep enquiring about the source of every 'i' thought that originates, now, here, in such a prayer, aren't we directly ignoring the very 'i' itself and looking at the source of it and praying to Her in utter helplessness? by ignoring the 'i' thought, the attention is dirrected to that Source in the form of The Mother, Lord of the Universe(i thought)....

so, in my little experience, it is the very same, instead of allowing the 'i' to persist, and again looking to the source of that 'i' the process is directed upon the very source itself.

why not sing a song and continue the enquiry? and at the same time, those who engage in just the prayer, are also practicing the very same enquiry.

i meant to observe that, even logically, there isn't a another method at all. there is just one way, just one way! people call it differently.

Definitely two people see the same elephant differently, but yet it is the same elephant, and it is the same seeing!

--
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Nagaraj on September 09, 2013, 05:18:44 PM
Again to quote from one of your past -

அறிந்து அடங்குதல் ஞானம் .அடங்கி அறிதல் பக்தி -

aRindhu adangudhal jnaanam;adangi aRidhal bhakti-i.e

to know and subside(in Self or God)is jnana ;
to subside and know is Bhakti.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: silentgreen on September 09, 2013, 05:27:13 PM
There are few things in the prayer of Ramakrishna: the words themselves, helplessness and simplicity and intensity.

While similar words can be got from elsewhere, the intensity and simplicity behind it can only be captured to some extent by contemplating on Sri Ramakrishna praying before the Divine Mother.

A solitude coupled with such intensity and simplicity is a most potent way of spiritual progress.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Nagaraj on September 09, 2013, 05:51:05 PM
Dear Silentgreen,

that lamentations of utter helplessness simply makes the reltionship between the ego 'i' and the Supreme 'I' beautiful, ins't it? A good King is one, who is able to forgive his opponent when it is captured, by not killing him.

I remember a shloka here:

अनायासेन मरणं विनादैन्येन जीवनं
देहि मे क्रिपय शम्भो त्वयि भक्तिं अचन्चलं


anAyAsena maraNaM vinAdainyena jIvanaM
dehi me kripaya shambho tvayi bhaktiM achanchalaM

We in our tradition, have the word सायुज्यम् instead of the word मरणं as some felt maranam is not auspicious to use in prayer, and they replaced it with sAyujyam, however both mean the same in deeper sense.

अनायासेन सायुज्यम् विनादैन्येन जीवनं
देहि मे क्रिपय शम्भो त्वयि भक्तिं अचन्चलं


anAyAsena - AyAsa means trouble, stress, fatigue etc. anAyAsa is
the opposite of that. anAyAsena means without trouble, or pain

maraNaM - death
sAyujyam - communion/merging
vinA dainyena - dainya is poverty. vinA means without. vinAdainyena
is without poverty

jIvanaM - life

dehi me - grant to me

kripaya  - out of compassion

shambho/Vishno - addressing shambhU/Vishno - shiva - one who is the source of
happiness

tyayi - in you

bhaktiM - devotion

achanchalaM - Unwavering.

What a beautiful prayer indeed. anAyAsena sAyujyam/maraNaM - Give us a trouble free, stress free, painless communion, merging.

Even Ego has to be destroyed, but here lays the beauty of Sanatana Dharma, it prays for a painless, merging.

--
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: silentgreen on September 09, 2013, 06:31:46 PM
Dear Nagaraj,

Yes, correct.
The person doing the sadhana has a faint glimmer of the Supreme I deep within. He wants to merge with it.

That is why Sri Ramakrishna prayed:
Oh Mother Divine! I want no honour from men, I want no pleasures of flesh, only let my soul flow into Thee as the permanent confluence of the Ganges and the Jamuna.

The sadhaka cannot control the merging which is controlled by the Grace of God. The sadhaka can only pray with longing for the grace to dawn.  Self-Enquiry in essence is itself a prayer with longing, fine-grained in essence and directed inwards.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Nagaraj on September 09, 2013, 07:07:11 PM
Self-Enquiry in essence is itself a prayer with longing, fine-grained in essence and directed inwards.

Just, such a beautiful observation!
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Ravi.N on September 09, 2013, 10:41:10 PM
Nagaraj/Silentgreen/Friends,
I thought of posting it in the Rough Note Book Thread but then decided that i will post it here.This is to emphasize that Prayer and devotional singing,chanting the Divine name with Faith and Devotion -all these have tremendous potency and cannot be overlooked by any devotee however advanced.For the simple ,childlike soul,nothing more is needed.Whatever has to unfold will happen.

Quote
so, in my little experience, it is the very same, instead of allowing the 'i' to persist, and again looking to the source of that 'i' the process is directed upon the very source itself.
why not sing a song and continue the enquiry? and at the same time, those who engage in just the prayer, are also practicing the very same enquiry.

Yes indeed.This is the Natural Progression or deepening that Sri Bhagavan has expounded in the Upadesa saram.Unfortunately it is misinterpreted by some-as if those are preparatory or auxiliary,indirect means- involving subject and Object and that only self-enquiry is the perfect Nondual approach and so on and so forth.I do not subscribe to this later view.I view it as a progressive inward turning of the mind,becoming subtler and subtler as it sheds its Gross aspect,until the attention is folded back  towards the source of the 'i' thought,where the 'i' is disassociated from objects-Like what sri Bhagavan has mentioned as tracing the scent of the Master.This Scent is known and yet unknown!If it is totally unknown,one  cannot seek it and find it;if it is totally known one need not seek it in the first place!

coming to what Nagaraj has mentioned in the above quote regarding singing a song and continuin enquiry,this is how Sri Ramakrishna explains it,as usual in his inimitable way.An excerpt from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:

Quote
"What Brahman is cannot be described. Speech stops there. In the kirtan the singers at first sing: 'My Nitai dances like a mata hati.' As they become more and more ecstatic, they can hardly utter the whole sentence. They sing only: 'Hati! Hati!' As their mood deepens they sing only: 'Ha! Ha!' At last they cannot sing even that; they become completely unconscious."
As the Master spoke these words, he himself became transfixed in samadhi. He was standing.
Regaining consciousness of the world, he said, "That which is beyond both kshara and akshara cannot be described."
The devotees sat in silence.


Yes,I agree as silentgreen has rightly mentioned that Contemplating on Sri Ramakrishna(his life) is just the right thing to do to imbibe the spirit of that simple yet potent Prayer.This is the reason why we chant the Hymns of the Great ones.It carries the spirit and power of the Great one who composed it.We have Lord Jesus 'Lord's Prayer'.The simpler the Prayer,the easier it is for us to tune ourselves.

Namaskar.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Anand on September 15, 2013, 06:30:13 PM
Dear Graham Sir,
THis refers to your article on self enquiry .Else where I have asked some additional clarification and here I am requesting something additional.In the article ,you have mentioned various stages of self enquiry with particular importance given to the retaining of self attention even in the midst of different experiences during the practice.
What happens if in this lifetime we are unable to reach upto the last stage or for that matter ,what if we just about climb the ladder?Kindly revert on this.
Elsewhere we have agreed that the Lord always uplifts us and we commence from where we lift off?But it would be reassuring if there are some  words from Bhagavan also on this. Has someone asked Bhagavan about this and has he replied on this.
Thanks,Anand Sundaram.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on September 18, 2013, 05:12:26 AM
Dear Anand,

Bhagavan did state that 'no effort in the pursuit of self-realization is wasted', but so far I have been unable to find the reference.

From the Uddhave Gita in the Srimad Bhagavatham

XXVIII

Truth is One Only

Recapitulating the teaching of the Absolute, Krishna affirms that considering the existence of only one substance - Paramatman or Supreme Self - manifesting as Purusha and Prakriti, the seeker must desist from praising or condemning the actions and dispositions of others, which will make him fall in the delusion of duality and thus defeat his own purpose of attaining the oneness of the Self. In the world of duality where everything is false, unreal like a mirage, an echo, a reflection, the discrimination between good and bad does not arise, although it somehow affects the jivas. The one substance is both the creator and the created, the protector and the protected, the destroyer and the destroyed. The triputi (triad of percipient, percept, and perception) is the product of illusion, and thus does not exist. The knower of this truth as taught by the Lord, neither extols nor reviles anyone, but goes about unattached like the sun.

Uddhava declares that only two principles are involved in the person who suffers transmigration, soul and body, neither of which is capable of rebirth. The latter, he argues, disintegrates at death, and stands no chance of revival; the former is deathless, and, therefore, likewise cannot be reborn. Yet births and deaths are real. Who is it, he asks Krishna, who undergoes them (if neither the body nor the soul is reborn)?

The Lord answers:

“Notwithstanding the fact that the phenomena do not at all exist, yet so long as the contact between the unillumined jiva and the senses continues, transmigration does not cease. So long as the dreamer continues to be deluded by the dream objects, he continues to suffer dream sorrow, although this does not exist (but as sensations in him), and ceases when he becomes enlightened on waking. Grief, fear, birth and death affect the deluded part of the dreamer, the ego, and not his being or Self. True knowledge consists in distinguishing the Self, which is real, from the not-Self, which is unreal. By the means spoken of before and by the Grace of a perfect Master, this distinction is clearly perceived, and the body is completely rejected as the non-Self. Just as space is not affected by the elements : fire, water, earth, etc., of which it is the container, so is the imperishable, all-containing Being not affected by the gunas. Efforts must be made to shun the not-Self until supreme bhakti cuts down rajas, the active qualities which are responsible for the illusion. Just as the disease that has not been radically cured is likely to recur again and again and afflicts its sufferer, so does the mind that teems with libidinous and karmic propensities bring about the fall of him who has not attained perfection in yoga (full Jnana). Imperfect yogis who fall from the path due to relationship with a family, disciples, etc., will in a future life, resume their yogic efforts at the point of interruption of their present endeavours, but will never take again to action. The unregenerate perform action till the last moment of their life, and are paid back in transient pleasure and pain, but the regenerate, though seated in a body remain actionless, their thirst for enjoyment having been slaked by the bliss of Self-realisation. Being permanently established in the Self, they take no heed of the actions of the body, nor do they take for real the objects that fall within the ranges of their perception, no more than an awakened man concedes reality to the objects he has perceived in a dream. The body which has so far been identified with one’s own Self, dear Uddhava, and which is actually the product of the gunas and karma, now completely disappears in the light of Self-knowledge : not so the Self which can be neither perceived nor rejected (for the repudiator would still be the sentient Self itself, which remains as the absolute residuum). Just as the light of the sun dispels the darkness from the eye and reveals what has already been present but unseen, so does the realisation of Me dispel the darkness of the mind and reveal the Self, which has all along been invisibly present as the source of all experiences, the senses and speech, and which is self-luminous, beyond the reach of reason, words, births, time and space. The notion of differences in the absolute Self is entirely a delusion, for none exists other than itself. The claim of an irrefutable duality made by some arrogant dualists is utterly senseless.

“There are those who practise sense-control and manage to keep the body strong and youthful and take to the practice of yoga with the view of acquiring siddhis. The wise look askance at them and at their futile endeavour to preserve a body which is as perishable as a fruit on a tree.


This is the reassurance for all of us who set out upon this path.

Graham
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: deepa on September 18, 2013, 08:27:43 AM

Sri. Graham and Anand,
There is a similar answer in BG chapter 6. (quoted below)

However, I think Bhagawan did not encourage thinking too much about this.. I am not able to find the actual quotes, sorry.
I think his response was something like "yes, nothing goes waste, but why start analyzing "if you fail"." I got the impression that Bhagawan did not want too much discussion on next births, etc.

Pls correct me if I have imagined this..
Deepa


BG chapter 6 (relevant shlokas) -

arjuna uvaacha
    ayatih shraddhayopeto  yogaacchalitamaanasah
    apraapya yogasamsiddhim kaam gatim  krishna gacchati  // 6.37 //

Arjuna  said
    He  who is endowed with faith, but not with self-control, and whose mind wanders  away from Yoga - to what end does he go, O Krishna, having failed to attain  perfection in Yoga?

kacchinnobhayavibhrashtash  chhinnaabhramiva nashyati
    apratishtho mahaabaaho vimoodho  brahmanah pathi  // 6.38 //

Fallen  from both, does he not, O Mighty Armed, perish like a rent cloud, supportless  and deluded in the path of Brahman?


sri bhagavaan uvaacha
    paartha naiveha naamutra vinaashastasya  vidyate
    nahi kalyaankrit kaschid durgatim taatagacchati  // 6.40 //

Sri  Bhagavan said
    O  Partha, there is no destruction for him either in this world, or in the next  world; none verily, who does good, O My Son, ever comes to grief.

praapya punyakritaam lokaanushitwaa  shaashwateeh samaah
    shucheenaam shreemataaam gehe  yogabhrashto'bhijaayate  // 6.41 //

He  who has fallen from Yoga goes to the world of the righteous and having lived there  for long years, he is born again in the house of the pure and the prosperous.

athavaa yoginaameva kule bhavati  dheemataam
    etaddhi durlabhataram loke janma yadeedrisham  // 6.42 //

Or  he is born in a family of yogis rich in wisdom; verily such a birth is very  difficult to obtain in this world.

tatra tam buddhisamyogam labhate  paurvadehikam
    yatate cha tato bhooyah samsiddhau  kurunandana // 6.43 //

There  he comes in touch with the knowledge acquired in his former body and strives  more than before for perfection, O Son of the Kurus.

poorvaabhyaasena tenaiva hriyate  hyavasho'pi sah
    jijnaasurapi yogasya  shabdabrahmaativartate  // 6.44 //

By  that former practice alone he is borne on in spite of himself.  Even he who merely wishes to know Yoga goes  beyond the world of Vedic rites.

prayatnaadyatamaanastu yogee  samshuddhakilbishah
    aneka janma samsiddhastato yaati paraam  gatim  // 6.45 //

But  the Yogi, who strives diligently, purified from sins and perfected through many  births, attains the Supreme Goal.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Anand on January 19, 2014, 05:38:51 PM
Dear friends,
While I would like Graham Sir to respond to this particularly, I would like others also to revert.
In all posts when any member expresses despondency on his method of sadhana or lack of progress , members particularly here say dont worry Bhagavan will take care.
This  wording of the assurance has always been a bit perplexing for  me ,since Bhagavan is no more in the flesh .I think this is to be understood as the supreme Brahman is overseeing our progress and the supreme is none other than and no different than the Bhagavan who was in the flesh from 1879 -1950.Or is it that ,Bhagavan who existed in the flesh from 1879 - 1950 is now bodiless but still exists as the Bhagavan of old blessing and guiding all those who take his name or remember him - whileat the same time being no different from the Supreme Brahman that makes all things move . I will be happy if you can revert  independently along with of course our beloved  Graham Sir as to how to understand this statement.
Thanks ,
Anand Sundaram.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: drsundaram on January 19, 2014, 07:15:12 PM
mr graham
though very very belated i happened  to go thro your replies  for the topics mentioned in the subject column.i am really indebted to you to see th clarity  in your replies.
thank you so much
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on January 21, 2014, 02:26:45 PM
Dear Anand,

You are of course right, words are easy, actions are not so easy, especially when they fly in the face of worldly experiences, doubt and apparent obstacles.

As far as I can remember Bhagavan never told anyone to have faith in Him specifically, He told them to trust Bhagavan, meaning God, Brahman, Self. Primarily because He did not identify with the body and 'is the Self of all', exactly the same as you are in truth.

Having faith in something unknown is difficult to maintain and sometimes leads to fanaticism or failure in the absence of proof, but the Self is known to everyone and Bhagavan pointed everyone to that alone. There cannot be any absence of proof in That.

Let us take my own case; I pursued this course of sadhana because something inside me compelled it. Even when I faced obstacles and setbacks I still returned, perhaps a little bruised, but nevertheless I returned with more determination each time and easily overcame new obstacles as my strength and determination grew - this is the sole purpose of failure, to nurture strength.

Does this sound familiar? It is the case with the majority of persistent devotees.

Who is guiding/compelling this? The answer is the Self, the tiger wants its prey and won't let go until it succeeds.

Self is the guru and the goal. Bhagavan Ramana simply pointed the way - He said in reply to a devotee complaining about lack of progress "I have shown the way, the rest is up to you".

If you consider Bhagavan Ramana as a body, living or dead, then you have failed to understand Him. To honour Him and everything He exemplified you have to follow his teaching with trust and faith, and to understand that He was and is the Eternal Brahman.

He left behind instructions on how to realize the Self and all you have to do is to hold on to that awareness whenever possible until the goal is reached, but that is difficult because the mind does not want to remember.

I have read somewhere that all it takes is three minutes of absolute concentration on the Self to become self-realized - for the mind to merge into its source. Three minutes only - there are 1,440 in a day, 525,600 in a year and 36,792,000 in an average 70 year lifetime (excluding leap-years), yet we can't find three continuous minutes to concentrate on the self uninterruptedly.

I spent years practicing and getting nowhere until I accepted that I lacked the concentration required. So I took up the practice of concentration until I had the requisite ability and then pursued enquiry again.

I used a method recommended by Mouni Sadhu in his book Concentration. I created a device from a broken electric alarm clock. I mounted the tiny motor on the back of a piece of white mica 18 inches square, and fitted a white mica pointer to the second hand spindle. I put a black dot at the end of the pointer and used it to concentrate on until I succeeded in holding on to the black dot for minutes on end, not allowing any thought to enter my mind, not even that of watching the dot as it smoothly made its way around the face.

It took several months of effort to reach this goal, practicing for one hour per day. The strain at first was quite high, but I learned to do it without strain and from that point onwards there was daily progress.

Once I passed the one minute point it became easier and progress after that was rapid.


Just as a carpenter or engineer needs tools, so do we, and our tools are faith in God-Guru-Self, concentration and effort.

The alternative is to remain fully ego-realized by giving up the quest, but for genuine seekers that is not an option.

Graham
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Ravi.N on January 21, 2014, 09:35:47 PM
Anand Sundaram,
What is your question?How do you view Bhagavan?As a Man?As Guru?As God?As Self?
One more question-How do you view Arunachala?As mere Rock?As God?As Self?
We will share our views later.
Namaskar.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Anand on January 21, 2014, 10:07:27 PM
Dear Graham Sir,
Thanks for reverting .
Dear Ravi Sir,
I view Arunachala as the physical manifestation of the supreme Brahman .
As far as Bhagavan is concerned ,I would like to view him as an  avatar of the supreme Brahman or Arunachala who wanted to demonstrate the path of self enquiry for the benefit of posterity by living and enacting the same as any human being.
Moreover I would like to believe that  Bhagavan out   of his infinite mercy and compassion in some mysterious way still exists within the realms of Brahman as a perfected Siddha who raises to emancipation those who turn to him and also shows the path of enquiry to souls who are ripe for that.
Thanks,
Anand Sundaram.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Ravi.N on January 22, 2014, 03:56:15 AM
Anand Sundaram,
Here is an excerpt from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:

"Once Rama asked Hanuman, 'How do you look on Me?' And Hanuman replied: 'O Rama,as long as I have the feeling of "I", I see that Thou art the whole and I am a part; Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant. But when, O Rama, I have the knowledge of Truth, then I realize that Thou art I and I am Thou.'

"The relationship of master and servant is the proper one. Since this 'I' must remain, let the rascal be God's servant.

Evil of "I"and "mine"

"'I' and 'mine' - these constitute ignorance. 'My house', 'my wealth', 'my learning', 'my possessions' - the attitude that prompts one to say such things comes of ignorance. On the contrary, the attitude born of Knowledge is: 'O God, Thou art the Master, and all these things belong to Thee. House, family, children, attendants, friends, are Thine.'

The above teaching wraps up everything about how a devotee views his Ishta,Guru ,God,Self.Truth is one only.A devotee of Sri Bhagavan following the path of self Enquiry or surrender will have the faith that whatever Truth or Shakti that manifested as Sri Ramana Bhagavan is Eternal and the Presence(sannidhi)of the Guru is Eternal-and that this presence is available to all those who open their Heart in Trust ,Faith and a spirit of surrender.The Name and Form of Bhagavan is inseperable from that presence for such a one and he derives all the Guidance and power of the presence by worshipping the form and remembering the name.
A devotee of Shirdi Baba will feel the same thing about sai Baba.A devotee of Lord Sri Krishna will say the same thing about Lord Sri Krishna.All this is valid,as long as there is  genuine devotion.
This very thing becomes a problem when seized by the mind and its penchant for self Gratification,it is turned into fanaticism as Graham had mentioned.
Quote
Having faith in something unknown is difficult to maintain and sometimes leads to fanaticism or failure in the absence of proof
The Genuine Sadhaka knows that Guru is one and only one-Be it Sai Baba Or Ramana Bhagavan or Kanchi Mahaswami.He does not seek to elevate one over the other in a narrow sectarian way.It is quite understandable that one form appeals to him more than others but this is just on account of his own predeliction or disposition.

I wish to add that the Guru not only points to the Truth but he also gives the shakti to tread the path.Ofcourse the devotee has to put in the required self effort.

There is a wonderful chapted called 'Four aids' from Sri Aurobindo's 'Synthesis of Yoga' which covers all these aspects.You may like to look up this post:

http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/forum/index.php?topic=7216.msg32818#msg32818 (http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/forum/index.php?topic=7216.msg32818#msg32818)

Namaskar.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Graham on January 22, 2014, 06:35:45 AM
Dear All,

I see that my previous response has caused some consternation. This is a difficult area and offence can easily be caused according to the perceptions of the reader. I was reluctant to reply for that very reason and now see some need for clarification of my statements regarding my perceptions.

There are three ways, karma-marga, bhakti-marga and jnana-marga.

Karma-marga requires maintenance of the idea of duality throughout life. Bhakti-marga requires it until the devotee surrenders fully and merges into the object of his devotion, whilst Jnana-marga starts with bhakti and duality, but in the end even that has to be given up.

There are innumerable methods of combining the three and each seeker will adapt according to their capabilities or needs.

The question arises whether Jnana-marga is disrespectful to the guru by discarding duality completely. My answer is that it is not, quite the reverse, because it is true surrender, viewing everything as only One, including the viewer - this does not remove the necessity of maintaining duality until the stage is reached when it can be discarded completely, nor does it imply disregarding the guru.

However, when pursuing jnana-marga I personally feel that it is very important not to confuse the satguru with the body or form, because that is a handle upon which the ego will seize and prevent any real progress on that particular path.

Bhagavan said, "when the devotee turns inwards the work of the outer guru is over and the inner guru (true guru) takes over" (paraphrased).

Yet even in the last stage of Jnana-marga there remains the final surrender to the highest power to make it complete.

So all three paths require surrender.

As to the efficacy of any method, I would recommend everyone to read and re-read the 'Vidya Gita' in Tripura Rahasya.

Graham
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: atmavichar100 on January 22, 2014, 09:21:26 AM
(https://m.ak.fbcdn.net/sphotos-b.ak/hphotos-ak-prn1/923050_631554550239868_362285079_n.jpg)
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Parthasarathi on July 27, 2014, 02:00:35 PM
Though it is now quite late-since the thread began in 2009- I would like to express my deep gratitude to Graham.  Since I first joined the Forum about 1 year ago, I have returned to this thread, especially his original post, time and again, whenever I have found myself once again in doubt & despair.  I am sure over the years there will be many others like me who will draw reassurance and comfort from this, in what must always ultimately be a lonely & often heart-breaking struggle.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: ksksat27 on July 29, 2014, 08:02:45 PM
"what must always ultimately be a lonely & often heart-breaking struggle."

Dear partha

these words carry deep meaning.

can you kindly open a thread in general discussion on Sadhana, difficulties.  You seem to be very practical and I may get inspiration from your experience.
Title: Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
Post by: Parthasarathi on September 11, 2014, 05:01:11 PM
Dear ksksat-ji,

Namaste, and thank you for very much for your kind response, which I have seen only just now!  I am extremely sorry for the late response- it is because I don't visit the forum very regularly.  Thank you for your kind words.  But I am afraid I am by no means in a position to inspire anyone, except perhaps to be more earnest & patient than me! 

For inspiration, I believe seekers could find no better example than the many sincere and long-time devotees who have given their lives to the path of self enquiry- many of them are documented so well in the books published by the ashrama at various times ( e.g., Ramana Periya Purana).  I myself am always drawn to the lives of devotees for inspiration and encouragement. Here in our Forum we are fortunate to have Sri Graham & so many others.  It might perhaps be useful if they could be persuaded to share their struggles & experiences in a thread-  although I feel most of them are likely to prefer remaining in the background.   Though the struggle can seem so lonely, yet it is surely of some comfort to remember that many have walked this path successfully, and are doing so even now.  I think that is why satsanga like this Forum is such a boon to us. 

Regards,
Partha