Author Topic: Ramana Maharshi tells practising japa and dhyana may be an indirect aid towards  (Read 1829 times)


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Let us suppose a man buys a cow and for various reasons keeps it tied up in another man’s shed for quite some days. When the owner one day tries to bring the cow to its own shed after it has become accustomed – through force of habit (abhyasa bala) – to its former surroundings, will it come to its own place and keep quiet? No, it will run back to the other man’s shed.So any intelligent farmer buying a new cow will train it to remain in its own shed by tying it only there. Similarly. aspirants who have developed mental strength by concentrating on second and third person objects (which are other than Self) struggle and find it difficult even to understand what Self-attention – knowing one’s own existence – is, and how to take the feeling of one’s own existence as the target ! It is often said, “Let me first gain strength of mind by training it in other practices, and then let me take to Self-enquiry”; but it is the experience of anyone who has trained his mind in other practices over a long period of time that such a mind is still weaker to turn Self wards than even an ordinary mind untrained in any other practice.

“When the truth is such,why did Sri Bhagavan say in ‘ Who am I’,’ By meditation upon forms of God (murti-dhyana) and by repetition of sacred words (mantra-japa), thoughts subside more and more, and for the mind which thus gains one-pointedness and strength, Self-enquiry will easily be attained’? Therefore, will not Self-enquiry become easy for those who do japa or dhyana ?”

We should scrutinize deeply what is actually meant in the work ‘Who am I?’. Since the perpetually wandering mind expands into innumerable thoughts, each thought becomes extremely weak. Just as when an iron chain is given to the restless trunk of an elephant, the elephant will cling fast only to that and will not do any mischief with its trunk, so if the mind is trained to hold on to anyone of the names or forms of God, it will gain one-pointedness, that is,the strength to cling to one thing only. In this way, the mind merely loses the nature of branching out into many thoughts.

Though through japa and dhyana the mind achieves the strength not to branch out into many thoughts and thereby become weak, it is still dwelling only upon a second person. Thus the practice of japa or dhyana develops the power of the mind to cling with great attachment only to one second person or another. In this way, the second great impediment, namely the inability to turn the mind from second persons to the first person is unknowingly increased. Therefore, when such a mind is to turn Selfwards, it will find it to be a very difficult task. This is the truth we have to learn from the personal experience of Sri Ganapati Muni. Let us now explain with a simile how acquiring the power of one-pointedness of mind through such practices as japa and dhyana becomes a great obstacle to Self-attention.

Let us suppose that a certain man has decided to go by cycle from Tiruvannamalai to Vellore, a town fifty miles north of Tiruvannamalai, but does not know the art of cycling. If he trains himself to cycle by practising along the road leading to Tirukoilur, a town twenty miles south of Tiruvannamalai, after many hours he will have learnt the skill of cycling. But he will now be twenty miles south of Tiruvannamalai, that is, seventy miles away from Vellore,his destination. So will he not now have to make far more effort and waste far more time in order to reach Vellore? Instead of this, if he had from the very beginning started to train himself to cycle by practising along the road towards Vellore, after the same number of hours he would have travelled twenty miles closer to Vellore. Besides. since he would have learnt the skill of cycling by that time, he could have easily completed the remaining thirty miles and reached his destination without undue expenditure of time and effort.

Since the practice of japa or dhyana prevents the mind from branching out into various thoughts pertaining to sense-objects and thereby becoming weak, Sri Bhagavan said in ‘Who am I?’ that they give strength to the mind. But He said so taking into consideration only one benefit,namely that of saving the mind from the calamity of branching out into innumerable thoughts caused by the tendencies towards sense-objects (vishaya-vasanas).
Moreover, the strength mentioned thereby, Sri Bhagavan is not that strength which is required for Self-enquiry and which He had mentioned earlier in the work ‘Who am I?’ when He wrote, “By repeatedly practising thus, the strength of the mind to abide (or dwell) in its source increases”. It is only a strength to dwell upon an object other than Self, that is, upon a second person.

The help towards success in Self-enquiry which is derived from japa and dhyana is similar to the help in reaching Vellore which is gained by learning cycling along the road to Tirukoilur, for just as in the long run practising cycling on the road to Tirukoilur may be an indirect aid towards reaching Vellore, so in the long run practising japa and dhyana may be an indirect aid towards attaining Self.Likewise, the hindrance towards success in Self-enquiry which is created by japa and dhyana is similar to the hindrance which is created by learning cycling along the road to Tirukoilur, for, just as practising cycling on the road to Tirukoilur takes the man far away from his destination, so practising japa and dhyana hinders one by taking one far away from Self.

Source: The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 book