Crumbs From His Table
By Ramanananda Swarnagiri
5th Edition, 1981
I issued on the first occasion, a brief report containing the main instructions only and not the illustrative stories, as I hoped that the taste of a few crumbs would alone be sufficient to induce the readers to seek the bread of life itself at His hands, and serve my ambition to create such an interest in Him and His teachings. Since the issue of that leaflet however, I have been urged by some of my friends and others to issue if possible a more detailed account of my experiences, and more especially of Sri Bhagavan's teachings, and I am therefore issuing this now to satisfy their very sincere demand and to enable others, who have not had the opportunity of reading the first edition of the book, to do so now.
8 - Control of Mind vs. Destruction of Mind
D: When I am engaged in enquiry as to the source from which the 'I' springs, I arrive at a stage of stillness of mind beyond which I find myself unable to proceed further. I have no thought of any kind and there is an emptiness. a blankness. A mild light pervades and I feel that it is myself bodiless. I have neither cognition nor vision of body and form. The experience lasts nearly half an hour and is pleasing. Would I be correct in concluding that all that was necessary to secure eternal happiness (i.e. freedom or salvation or whatever one calls it) was to continue the practice till this experience could be maintained for hours, days and months together?
B: This does not mean salvation; such a condition is termed manolaya or temporary stillness of thought. Manolaya means concentration, temporarily arresting the movement of thoughts; as soon as this concentration ceases, thoughts, old and new, rush in as usual and even though this temporary lulling of mind should last a thousand years it will never lead to total destruction of thought, which is what is called salvation or liberation from birth and death. The practicer must therefore be ever on the alert and enquire within as to who has this experience, who realises its pleasantness. Failing this enquiry he will go into a long trance or deep sleep (Yoga nidra). Due to the absence of a proper guide at this stage of spiritual practice many have been delude and fallen a prey to a false sense of salvation and only a few have, either by the merit of good acts in their previous births, or by extreme grace, been enables to reach the goal safely.
Sadhakas (seekers) rarely understand the difference between this temporary stilling of the mind (manolaya) and permanent destruction of thoughts (manonasa). In manolaya there is temporary subsidence of thought-waves, and, though this temporary period may even last for a thousand years, thoughts, which are thus temporarily stilled, rise up as soon as the manolaya ceases. One must therefore, watch one's spiritual progress carefully. One must not allow oneself to be overtaken by such spells of stillness of thought: the moment one experiences this, one must revive consciousness and enquire within as to who it is who experiences this stillness. While not allowing any thoughts to intrude, he must not, at the same time, be overtaken by this deep sleep (Yoga nidra) or Self-hypnotism. Though this is a sign of progress towards the goal, yet it is also the point where the divergence between the road to salvation and Yoga nidra takes place. The easy way, the direct way, the shortest cut to salvation is the Enquiry method. By such enquiry, you will drive the thought force deeper till it reaches its source and merges therein. It is then that you will have the response from within and find that you rest there, destroying all thoughts, once and for all.
This temporary stilling of thought comes automatically in the usual course of one's practice and it is a clear sign of one's progress but the danger of it lies in mistaking it for the final goal of spiritual practice and being thus deceived. It is exactly here that a spiritual guide is necessary and he saves a lot of the spiritual aspirant's time and energy which would otherwise be fruitlessly wasted.
The writer now realised that it was to get this important lesson at the right point of his progress, that he was taken, even unknown to himself and against his will to Sri Ramana, through the intervention of his superior. He had come exactly to the position where the road bifurcates, one side leading to destruction of thought (salvation) and the other to Yoga nidra (prolonged deep sleep). A way-shower or a road sign-post was necessary at this stage and the way-shower must necessarily be in the shape of a personal Guru, a realized soul, and perhaps by sheer acts of merit in his past birth and no ''known special merit'' of his own in this birth, he was brought before such a realized soul, in the person of Sri Ramana, to obtain these instructions from him, failing which he would have been probably groping in the same manner as the sage on the banks of the Ganges, in the story narrated above.
11 - Dream, Sleep and Samadhi
D: What is Maya? Illusion?
B: Seeing ice without seeing that it is water is illusion, Maya. Therefore saying things like killing the mind or anything like that also has no meaning, for after all mind also is part and parcel of the Self. Resting in the Self or inhering in the Self is mukti, getting rid of Maya. Maya is not a separate entity. Absence of light is called darkness, so also absence of Knowledge, Illumination etc., is called ignorance, illusion or Maya.
D: What is samadhi?
B: When the mind is in communion with the Self in darkness, it is called nidra (sleep) i.e. the involution of the mind in ignorance. Involution in a conscious or wakeful state is called samadhi. Samadhi is continuous inherence in the Self in a waking state. Nidra or sleep is also inherence in the Self but in an unconscious state. In sahaja samadhi the communion is continuous.
D: What are kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi?
B: The involution of the mind in the Self, but without its destruction, is kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. There are four obstacles in this, namely, vacillation of:
ii. life breath or prana
In kevala nirvikalpa samadhi one is not free from vasanas and does not, therefore, attain mukti. Only after the samskaras have been destroyed can one attain salvation.
D: When can one practice sahaja samadhi?
B: Even from the beginning. Even though one practices kevala nirvikalpa samadhi for years together, if one has not rooted out the vasanas, he will not attain salvation.
13 - Some Surprising Incidents
One day when all the visitors went to the dining hall for the midday meal a Brahmin youth was ejected from there. At the sight of this the writer felt disinclined to sit down for his meal; however he consoled himself and took his food. He was, however, so badly upset by the incident that he did not take any of the prasadham (small gifts of eatables frequently distributed at the Asramam, after having been presented to Sri Bhagavan and a small quantity thereof accepted by Him) given to him later that day. At about 3 p.m., a monkey came and sat opposite to him in the Hall, and he attempted to give it all the prasadham so far collected. Sri Bhagavan, looking at him, remarked that if he fed that one fellow hundreds of other idlers would pour into the Asramam and it would be converted from a place of retreat for sadhakas, Jnanis and Yogis, to an idlers asylum. Anyone connecting such a plain remark as this with the writer's mental attitude cannot but conclude that Bhagavan wanted to convey consolation to his disturbed mind and convince him that He has destined everything for everybody, and it was utterly useless for him to identify himself with such miseries and worry himself in vain over His actions.
2. The writer was about to put a question to Sri Bhagavan and just as he began doing so, Sri Bhagavan answered him by referring him to page 73, para 2 of Mr. Brunton's ''Secret Path'' and remarked that, as stated therein, speech only beclouded argument and disturbed the silent communication of thought.
3. Sri Bhagavan was correcting and aiding some youngsters of not more than ten years of age in memorising His Sanskrit verses 'Upadesa Saram' and the writer was laughing, so to say, up his sleeve, at the futility of coaching these youngsters who could not understand the A, B, C of this highly metaphysical poetry. Without the utterance of a single word, Sri Bhagavan turned to him and remarked that though these children might not understand the meaning of these poems then, yet they could be of immense help to them, and would be recalled with great relief and pleasure, when they came up of age and were in difficulties.
15 - Conclusion
There are several more anectodes, of an instructive character which have not been recorded herein for fear of enlarging this volume; and, as Sri Bhagavan is very sparing of his words. It would really be a hard task to collect voluminous material, however long one might attend the Asramam and however eager one may be to collect all that falls from His lips; so if any aspirant has been stirred by the few episodes and conversations, which have been recorded here, the writer can only invite him in the words of the author of the Katha Upanishad (III - 14) to :-
Awake! Arise! (and) Seek the Great One,
Sri Ramana, the Great,
Taste the bread of life at His hands,
And obtain wisdom.
OM TAT SAT