Author Topic: Meditation and Self Enquiry  (Read 1698 times)


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Meditation and Self Enquiry
« on: January 20, 2009, 11:39:43 AM »
In dealing with the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, one occasionally comes across pieces of advice, which seem to contradict each other.
To recognize the real meaning of such apparent inconsistencies, one has to keep in mind one main principle of the sage.  He never discouraged the visitor in his own spiritual endeavour, whatever the outer form may be.  Because he knew that the sincere seeker after Truth, is always guided from within, and that his inclinations to particular practices not only indicate the degree of his spiritual maturity, but at the same time, in most cases, are also means best suited for the person concerned. He never advised a questioner to drop whatever practice he had followed up to that point. He only showed, if necessary how to make it more effective.

When he stressed again and again the superiority of investigation compared with all other methods, he was not motivated by any kind of bigotry, but did it because there is a very important reason behind it, rocklike, insurmountable; all other methods of 'sadhana' have to keep the personal 'I' to be practised; 'vichara', the investigation into this 'I', is the best possible method to remove it.

Meditation, as a yoga practice, almost a parlour game nowadays, was also the foremost among the subjects about which questions were put before Ramana Maharshi.  His answers point, as usual, to the way already mentioned.... how to make it more effective.

The purpose of meditation is known.  Quieting the restlessness of the mind, also the method, fixing the attention on one thought only, until finally this thought also vanishes. Ramana Maharshi's interpretation of meditation is different.  "Meditation is your true state... 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 true meditation."  (Talks 310)

Meditation differs according to the degree of advancement of the seeker.  If one is fit for it, one might directly hold the thinker, and the thinker will automatically sink into his source, namely Pure Consciounsness.  If one cannot directly hold the thinker, one must meditate on God.  And in due course, the same individual will have
become sufficiently pure to hold the thinker and sink into the Absolute Be-ing. (Talks 453)

The natural consequence of this answer would be:

"What then is the difference between meditation and investigation?"

The answer is:

"Both amount to the same.  Those unfit for investigation must practice meditation.  In this practice the aspirant forgetting himself meditates "I am Brahman". or " I am Siva"; thus he continues to hold on to Brahman or Siva; this will ultimately end in the residual  Being as Brahman or Siva, which he will realize to be the Pure Being... the Self."

"He who engages in investigation starts holding on to himself asks "Who am I?" and the Self becomes clear to him (Talks 172)

Here we have one of the abovementioned 'contradictions'.  Though seemingly undermining such meditation by this method of enquiry,  Ramana Maharshi himself recommends meditation on "I am Brahman".  But at the same time his answer contains the clue to the method, showing to convert meditation into self enquiry: "Forgetting himself...."

(Source: Hunting the 'I'. Lucy Cornelssen. Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai.)

Arunachala Siva.