Author Topic: Diving into the Heart - Alan Jacobs - Mountain Path, July-Sept. 2008.  (Read 2449 times)

Subramanian.R

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Just as the pearl diver ties to a stone to his waist, sinks to the bottom of the sea and there takes the pearls, so each one
of us should be endowed with non attachment, dive within himself and obtain the Self Pearl.  (Who am I?)

*

The first clear statement pointing to the practice of Diving into the Heart appears in Sri Bhagavan's second written work entitled,
Who am I? composed in 1901 and it is thus the chosen quotation of the seminal work quoted at the head of this topic.

Sri Ramana used different metaphors and phraseology to describe this practice, which forms one of the key approaches to
Self Inquiry, but the metaphor of the "Pearl of the Great Price", pointing to Liberation, is one also used by Jesus Christ and is
often found in the poetry of Jala-al-din Rumi, and other Sufi mystics. 

It is however, in the Ramana Gita that we see the essence of this practice.  In 1915, Ganapati Muni and his disciples asked
Sri Bhagavan a series of questions.  The second verse in chapter two has become immortalized by Sri Ramana Himself, with
the answer which is popularly named the Eka Sloki.

In the inmost core, the Heart
Shines as Brahman alone,
As 'I-I', the Self aware.
Enter deep into the Heart
By search of the Self, or diving deep,
With breath under check.
Thus abide ever in Atman.

Of over three hundred verses in the Ramana Gita, all questions and answers were transcribed by the Muni into Sanskrit
verse, with exception of this one which was composed metrically by Sri Bhagavan Himself in Sanskrit.   This was His
first composition in that language, rather than in Tamizh.  In the Supplement to Forty Verses (1928) it was repeated by
Sri Bhagavan, but now in Tamizh.

In the center of the Heart Cave
There shines alone
The one Brahman as 'I-I', the Atman.
Reach the Heart
By diving deep in quest of the Self
Or by controlling the mind
With the breath,
And stay established in the Atman.                           


contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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continues....

In the following verse 3 of Ramana Gita, the Muni writes, "This verse is the utterance of Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi
Himself and is the essence of the Upanishads and Vedanta.  He that fully understands this verse, has no room for any
doubts whatsoever.:  (Ramana Gita, ch. 2, verse 3).

Then in verse 47 of Marital Garland of Letters (Akshara Mana Malai), Sri Bhagavan writes, "Let me by Thy Grace, dive into
Thy Self, wherein merge only those divested of their minds and thus made pure, Arunachala!"

In two verses in Forty Verses on Reality, composed by Sri Bhagavan we read:

Controlling the speech and breath, and diving deep within oneself -- like one who, to find a thing that has fallen into water,
dives deep down -- one must seek out the source whence the aspiring ego springs. 

Cease all talk of "I" and search with inward diving mind whence the thought of "I" springs up.  This is the way of wisdom.
To think instead, "I am not this, but That I am", is helpful in the search but it is not the search itself."

S.S. Cohen, makes the cogent point, in his commentary on Verse 28.  "Deep diving is a metaphor that implies salvaging the
ego from the depths of ignorance into which it has fallen, not amateurishly, but very expertly and unremittingly, or else
success will be sporadic and even doubtful."  (Commentary on Forty Verses, from Ramana Sankara and The Forty Verses,
by S.S. Cohen, Watkins Publications, London, 2002).

contd.,

Arunachala 'Siva.                       

Subramanian.R

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continues....

However, Kapali Sastriar's commentary on these verses 30 & 31 in the Sat Darshana Bhashya is exhaustive, inspiring and
powerful, also gives directions.  On page 26 of this same book, in one of the introductory chapters, entitled 'On  Sadhana
and Siddhi' he writes:  It throws the whole being into a consuming fire as it were, takes hold of the life's breath which is lost
in the bodily feeling, and separating it from the bodily grip, enters into the Heart... such is the real Jijnasa, the genuine earnest
desire and search for the Self.

Before moving onto the actual approach and experience of this great practice, it is necessary to point out that there are
numerous references to the Divine Plunging in the celebrated Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi in Talks Nos. 252 and 616 during
which Sri Bhagavan says, 'The aim of the seeker must be to drain away the vasanas from the heart and let not the reflecting
medium obstruct the Light of Eternal Consciousness.  This is achieved by the search  for the origin of the Ego and by Diving
into the Heart.  This is the direct method for Self Realization.....'

It is however, in Padamalai, that the riches haul for aspiring Pearl Diver may be found. (Padamalai, Ed. David Godman).
To give but one example, from the admirable Padamalai, all of Muruganar's Guru Vachaka Kovai verse 46 is given in which
he quotes Ramana as having commented, 'Put aside completely extensive Vedas and Agamas because their true benefit
is getting established in the inquiry of diving within oneself......'  (ibid p. 210, no. 34).

So we see the extent that Sri Bhagavan repeatedly points to the importance of this practice over and over again.  To cap it
all, we find the Eka Sloki was mounted during Bhagavan's life time, obviously with His consent, above His ornate marble couch
in the New Hall, where the verse is engraved in gold Sanskrit letters on a tablet of polished black marble !

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                   

Subramanian.R

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continues....

Before discussing the practice, from my own experience, from all I have read, and discussed with other devotees, it is necessary
to point out that it is only one of the different approaches to atma vichara, given by Sri Ramana to suit the dispositions of different
seekers, according to their temperaments and  maturity.

In my own case, I found it difficult, like many other western seekers, to maintain the attention needed for self inquiry approaches
initially prescribed in Who am I? but when I came across Diving Into the Heart, it was a revelation as here was a radical practice,
I could pursue, by stopping my restless mind through breath control and regulation.  I have been enjoying this form of Self inquiry
for some years and have great faith and personal evidence in its efficacy.  In my enthusiasm I even composed a long narrative
poem , published privately called The Pearl Fishers , which describes the practice.  Of course, Sri Ramana's long essay Self Inquiry
at the beginning of His Collected Works summarizes the different approaches and the necessary, optional support practices,
including regulation of breath,  (Verses 21-26) and in chapter six of Sri Ramana Gita, and chapter 2, verse 4 of Spiritual Instruction.
Here they are expanded as aids for necessary mind control. 

Each practitioner of Self Inquiry will be drawn to that which he finds the easier and appeals to him most.  Some even have
several arrows in their atma vichara quiver with Aum as their bow.  When however, we come to Diving Into the Heart, there is
a useful treatise called The Technique of Maha Yoga by Sri N.R. Narayana Iyer, which describes his own practice of Diving into the
Heart, enjoyed by this earnest sadhaka. (The Technique of Maha Yoga).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                     

Subramanian.R

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continues.....

Briefly this short work summarizes in general terms, his own experience and understanding of Self Inquiry and support
practices in the first twenty six pages.  But on page 26, he leads one into his own personal sadhana of Diving into the
Heart,    He then quotes in section 10 of Chapter 7 called The Locus of the Self, the famed question from the Supplement
to Forty Verses, 'Two digits to the right of the center chest is the Heart like a lotus bud.  Breath, mind and the Light of
Consciousness originate from here.  (The Technique of Maha Yoga, N.R. Narayana Iyer, page  28). There are many supporting
passages in the Ramana Literature where Sri Bhagavan indubitably affirms this location from His own direct experience. 
However, in Talks # 131, Sri Ramana states, 'Of course there is also practice of meditation on the heart center.  It is only
a practice and not an investigation.  Only the one who meditates on the heart can remain aware, when the mind ceases to
be active and remains still......" 

From this statement, as a practitioner of Diving or Plunging I have deduced, along with the trusted and advanced devotees
in Sri Ramanasramam, with whom I have discussed the question, that the right side of chest MUST NOT be seen as an object
to be focused on, but merely as a doorway or portal in which one can enter to commence the search for the source of the
I-thought.

The point of entry may be found as the author of The Technique of Maha Yoga writes, and Sri Ramana suggests too, 'Watch
the movement of the breath.... and observe where breath rises and sinks inside the chest....'  As in Upadesa Saram, and else
where, Sri Bhagavan writes:

Mind and Breath (as thought and action)
Fork out like two branches.
Both spring
From a single root.  *  (* Verse 12). 

Earnest practitioners of Diving invariably find, as I have, that the Locus where a palpitation can often be felt is on the
right side of the chest, where Sri Bhagavan Himself affirms it to be..

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               
 

Subramanian.R

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continues....

Now regarding breath control and breath regulation, the Eka Sloki clearly states that is as an option.  Diving can be practiced
with or without restraint of breath.  We once held an Internet Discussion Group called atma vichara, with over two hundred
subscribing members, world wide.  Many reported that 'as soon as they approached the door-way of Heart, with devotion
and attention, the sacredness of the inner shrine automatically made the mind go quiet, and breath regulation was therefore
unnecessary for them.'

Many practitioners, however, especially those like me, with the usual Western rajasic, restless mind, find breath restraint
invaluable.  Although breath control is summarized in Self Inquiry from verses, 21-25, it is more fully detailed by Sri Bhagavan
in His answer to the Muni and his disciples in Chapter 6 of Sri Ramana Gita called 'Mind Control'.  Sri Ramana's approach to this
practice is very simple, and is not the extensive pranayama which needs the supervision of competent teacher.  One clear
demonstration of full inhalation, retention and exhalation would be adequate. In Verse 6, Sri Bhagavan does not recommend
Hatha Yoga as an additional aid for those disposed towards this health giving and purification practice, which would include
some pranayama.  Many like me, find it a valuable support practice for atma vichara.  Here a competent teacher is essential
at the beginning.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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In the Verse 7 we are asked to breathe out fully (rechaka) with the necessary time required, and then fully inhale for another
unit of the same time, (puraka). Then the kumbhaka or retention may be held for four counts of the time taken for inhalation.
(Ramana Gita Verse 7). It is during this period of holding the breath, that I find is the best time to Plunge or Dive into the
Heart by entering the portal on the right side of the chest, using focused attention. Like the laser beam, from chakra between
the eyebrows, to penetrate as deeply as one can, searching for the source of 'I' thought; until one is forced to fully exhale, with
a full diaphragmatic bhasika, which, more effectively, expels residual thought and vrittis.

This differs from the approach of the Technique of Maha Yoga where he recommends, 'Slowly exhale and watch the exhalation
movement in the chest.  With the sinking movement in the chest dive into the Heart.  (The Technique of Maha Yoga).  Here I
assume he is relying on the pranic force to enter the Heart, with focused attention.   But I find focused attention issuing from
chakra or pineal gland, between the eye brows, seems to me to be far more powerful and would include the Pranic Force on
exhalation as well.  But obviously as in all matters of sadhana it is for each sadhak to find his own most effective way which
is most amenable for him, guided by Sadguru within his own Heart.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

           

Subramanian.R

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continues....

Another interesting suggestion made to me is to strengthen the dive mentally visualizing a Yantra and then diving with
full attention into the bindu (point) of the Heart, thus utilizing the power of Tantra. 

Chapter 9 of Sri Ramana Gita in which the great Eka Sloki first appeared has a whole explanation of the granthi bhedam
or severance of the knot.  In Verse 3, Sri  Ramana states that the association of the Self with the body is called granthi (knot).
It is my intuitive feeling that Sri Bhagavan's powerful sword of Diving into the Heart will eventually cut this identification
with the body-mind and sever the ganglion knot.  A full explanation of granthi bhedam can also be found in Spiritual
Instruction, Verse 12.

Finally there is the question of posture and here Sri Bhagavan is very clear when He writes in Verse 27 of Self Inquiry, 'Of
the eighty four main postures of siddha is the most excellent".  This is when the left heel is placed over the genital area
and the right heel over that.

Narayana Iyer warns that this process of dedicated Diving into the Heart may take a number of years, and this writer
fully agrees with it from his own experience, also over many years.  One assumes it depends on he skill employed in the
practice of concentrated probing, with devotion, and the force of attention available, and the strength of the occlusions
and vasanas resisting expulsion, as well as the gunas active at that time.  Obviously it will differ with each sadhak, and
no Plunge or Dive, in the search of the source of 'I'-thought can ever be exactly the same for everyone at any one time.

continued...

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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continues.....

I find that each Dive is different in quality depending on the force of attention gathered, like an artist preparing to draw
an object, or a mathematician concentrating on a difficult problem, or gazing into the wick of a lit candle.  Or visualizing
a Yanta.  In some cases one feels one strikes a wall, or a sheath, and the attention cannot penetrate.  But invariably
one finds one can penetrate deeper and deeper until one reaches the abyss when one can go no further.  Then on the
exhalation a great deal of residual thought or vrittis are expelled.

The more zeal, and determination one devotedly feels, that this is a most urgent and vital and necessary effort one can
make, the deeper it goes.  One is is immediately detached from any identification previously agitating the mind.  I find it
quite easy, to commence  the day with three or four dives, and then the opportunity or energy to proceed may happen
another three or four times during the day.

There is, however considerable grace involved, as this practice churns the nadis (subtle nerves), and the nervous system
would be over-strained if achievement was too sudden.  If there is a strain on the nadis, Sri Bhagavan says 'That with persistence
all will come right in the end.'  (Crumbs from His Table).  This is expanded in the valuable chapter on "Problems and Experiences"
in David Godman's excellent anthology Be As You Are. 

Patience must be exercised for its ripeness and maturity to fructify, and then grace mercifully chooses the right moment for
appropriate glimpses of the real Self, in all its magnificence, as a forerunner to Realization, when no further sadhana is
needed.  There is, however, from my own experience, no doubt that the practice, whenever it is applied, gracefully weakens
identification with troublesome thoughts.  One notices vasanas coming out.  Also pulsations are often felt on the right side of
the chest, where a niche can be found in which one may rest for sitting in silent meditation.  Again, however, every heroic
adventure into deep sea pearl fishing will be different, for each sadhak, and unique according to his own endeavor.

continued...

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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continues.....

A baffling  question arises, however, if when reaching the bottom of the abyss with concentrated attention, nothing is
discovered, and the space probed seems empty.  Wise, experienced devotees in Sri Ramanasramam with whom I have
discussed this question inform me that as long as the practice is still done from the mind, nothing should be expected.
But if at a certain point, after earnest and regular persistence in the practice, the inquiry moves into the Heart through
Grace, then Atma vichara spontaneously arises, and one is drawn into the Heart, where the source of 'I'-thought may
be eventually found with necessary release.  I have found this happens to me occasionally but I have not reached the
stage where it becomes frequent or permanent.

I sincerely hope that this practice may be a great help for some devotees, as it is for me, especially for those who find
other approaches too difficult because of lack of necessary yogic preparation, concentration practice, or inability to
control the mind, even using mantra japa.

There is no doubt that the implication of the Maharshi's repetition of this practice, in His own writings and Talks, is of
major significance.  It is as if our Ramana Sad Guru appears and tells us:  Dive within the Heart and realize the Self !

concluded.