Monday, May 24, 2010
The practice of self-inquiry (Atma-vichara in Sanskrit) is the most important meditation practice in the Vedantic tradition. It is the primary method through which Self-realization-the realization of our true nature beyond mind and body-is achieved. Sage Ribhu said in Ribhu Gita “Only by those strong willed persons who make earnest and persistent Self-enquiry will the turbulent mind be controlled and fixed still in the practice of firm bhavana. In due course all thoughts and nescience will disappear, yielding place to the effulgent Awareness-Self of mukti.” In Yoga Vashista sage Vashista said to Rama, “O Rama, this enquiry into the Self of the nature or 'Who Am I?' is the fire which burns up the seeds of the evil tree which is the mind”.
Self-enquiry finds prominent place in the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharishi. Ramana Maharishi says “Barring fruitful self-enquiry there is, for real mind control, no other spiritual practice whatsoever. The mind may seem to be controlled by other methods, but after a while it will spring up again. If without wasting time one starts and keeps up steady self-enquiry, one’s life becomes at once ennobled, and there wells up within one’s heart a sea of bliss supreme”.
The process of Self-enquiry can be explained in a few words. To practice it you need only trace the root of your thoughts back to the I-thought, from which all other thoughts arise. This is initiated by the question "Who am I?". By asking, "Who am I?" our thought current naturally gets focused on the search for the true Self and we forget about all other concerns and worries of the mind.
However, Self-enquiry does not consist of merely repeating the question "Who am I?" over and over again in our minds, which is only a tiring mental exercise. It means holding to the search for the true Self in all that one does. It requires that we have a real and fundamental doubt about who we are, through which we can reject all outer identifications. It is as if one had amnesia and didn't know who one was and had to give full attention to the matter before anything else could be done.
Self-enquiry is an enquiry that requires one's entire energy and attention. It requires a full and one-pointed concentration, not interrupted by the intrusion of other thoughts. The thought current naturally moves back to the Self to the extent that we do not preoccupy our minds with outside stimulation. The problem is that the senses present us with so many distractions that it is difficult to look within. Self-enquiry means to constantly question and reverse this process of extroversion by seeking out the origin of our awareness and energy in the heart.
The truth is that we don't know who we really are, because we never properly investigate our true nature. The sense of 'I', the feeling of being a particular person who inhabits a particular body, only persists because we continuously identify ourselves with thoughts, beliefs, emotions, objects, and so on. The 'I' never stands alone by itself; it always exists in association: 'I am Rama,' 'I am a lawyer,' 'I am a woman,' 'I am angry,' etc. These identifications are automatic and unconscious. They are just the unchallenged assumptions that lie behind all our experiences and habits
Sri Ramana Maharshi maintained that this tendency towards self-limiting identifications could be checked by trying to separate the subject ‘I’ from the objects of thought which it identified with. Since the individual ‘I’-thought cannot exist without an object, if attention is focused on the subjective feeling of ‘I’ or ‘I am’ with such intensity that the thoughts ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ do not arise, then the individual ‘I’ will be unable to connect with objects. If this awareness of ‘I’ is sustained, the individual ‘I’ (the ‘I’-thought) will disappear and in its place there will be a direct experience of the Self. This constant attention to the inner awareness of ‘I’ or ‘I am’ was called self-enquiry (vichara) by Sri Ramana Maharshi and he constantly recommended it as the most efficient and direct way of discovering the unreality of the ‘I’-thought.
So what we call our Self is but some thought, emotion or sensation that we are temporarily identified with and that is constantly changing. Our lives are shrouded in ignorance about our true nature, springing from the most basic feelings that we have, especially our bodily identity. We are not the body. Rather, the body is a vehicle in which our true Self is obscured. As long as we don't question this process of self-identification we must come to sorrow and remain in darkness and confusion.
The true Self is not only beyond human distinctions, it is beyond all divisions of time and space, name and form, birth and death. Self-inquiry leads us ultimately to the Absolute in which the phenomenal world becomes little more than a mirage of the mind and senses. It goes far beyond the discovery of some greater self, or any human or creative potential, to what is beyond all limitations. In the process we expand our sense of self to include the entire universe.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
If someone says that you are one of the wealthiest persons in this world will you agree? If the answer is "No" please read this and rethink your answer. I came across the passage in the net and it made me think a lot. Read and think.
The True Wealth
Imagine you lost a limb. How much money are you willing to pay to get it back?
Now, imagine you lost your sight, or your sense of hearing. How much money are you willing to pay to have it back?
Imagine you developed a terminal disease. How much money are you willing to give up for it to go away?
Think of a living person whom you love very much. This person could be a family member, a romantic partner, or just a friend. Imagine this person left you. Again, how much money are you willing to part with for him or her to return?
Imagine someone came along with a special machine, zapped your brain, and suddenly, ALL your memories - good, bad and neutral - are gone. Again, whats the amount of money you would forfeit to get your memories back?
Think of anything else which means a lot to you. Imagine it went away. And then ask yourself how much money you would part with to have it back.
Now, if you still have some or all of the above things in your life, aren't you a very wealthy person?
"True wealth is measured by what you have, not what you don't have or what you have lost."
"There’s none so poor as he who knows not the joy of what he has."
Thursday, May 13, 2010
“What does the doctor say?” my wife asked.
I couldn’t answer her. My heart was heavy with boundless sorrow.
But my twelve years old son Arun said calmly, “Doctor says I probably have six months to live”. Saying this he went away unable to see our tears. That night we wept endlessly….
Our world shattered into bits. Arun was our only son. He was very bright, loving and intelligent. He was everything any parents could pray for. We were the happiest family in the world. Then our son became sick. He had Leukemia. It was in his bloodstream and eventually it went into his bone marrow. The disease was in the last stage.
Next morning he came to me. “Dad, can you do me a favour?”
“Anything son…. Anything on this earth” I couldn’t hold back my tears.
“I want you and mom stop crying and let my remaining time here a happy one” His eyes, glued to mine, were pleading.
Hearing the words we cried more for sometime. But finally his message made sense to us. Even though it would be the hardest task for us we determined to do that. Wiping her tears my wife asked, “Tell my child, what will make you happy?”
“Be with me. Let us talk. Let us play cards. Let us go to some beautiful place…..”
We did as he requested. We stayed with him till he was exhausted with sleep. We talked to him like we never talked previously. He told about his school friends, teachers, what he thought about the world…. No one could describe the love that we shared that night. We became one, united in the true meaning of love.
Days passed with great speed. We played cards, carom board and watched TV together….
One day he looked at his precious playthings thoughtfully. “Dad, why do people go on accumulating things, money, properties when they very well know that they can’t take them to the other world?”
I had no answer. Death can be a great tutor, but not to all.
We went to Ooty and stayed there a few days. The days were really memorable forever to remain printed in our hearts. We treasured each living moment with our son.
In Ooty a beggar boy of about six years old came to us asked for money. The boy looked very innocent. Arun looked at him kindly. We asked the boy about his parents. He said that he lost them in a recent road accident and he had no one else to look after him.
“Dad you are going to lose me. This boy already lost his parents. Why can’t you take him and give him a better life…”
We didn’t know what to say. But our son insisted. We couldn’t say no to him. When we returned from Ooty, Anand, the beggar boy, came with us.
We sent the boy to a local school. Arun treated him like a brother. The boy began to call him brother and us Dad and Mom. He became a part of our family. The boy quickly developed a special loving bond with our son. They played together and talked a lot.
One day when they were alone Arun asked Anand, “Will you look after our parents nicely in their old age?”
Tearfully Anand answered, “I promise brother….” We overheard them and wept uncontrollably.
The dreaded disease eventually wore him down. He grew quite ill. Sometimes there was a faraway look in his eyes. One night after the thoughtful silence Arun said to me, “After my death please donate my organs, Dad”. Holding back my tears I nodded. Next morning he died. Anand wept more than us.
Many people received his body tissues. Two people who could not see before began to see thanks to his eyes. His vital organs like heart, liver, kidneys were now functioning in other people’s bodies and made a huge difference in their lives.
One of the hardest lessons to learn from death is that life must go on. Though our grief was great we tried to focus on the rainbows instead of the rain. Because that was the greatest lesson we learnt from our son.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
If we wish to see a beautiful world we need not wait for a mahatma for the task. Everyone of us have the seeds of power to change the world as we like. We can sow the powerful seeds and see magnificent results. Ella Wheeler Wilcox explains the process of changing the world beautifully. Read the poem to get the inspiration and do something everyday to create a better world.
Do you wish the world were better?
Let me tell you what to do:
Set a watch upon your actions,
Keep them always straight and true;
Rid your mind of selfish motives;
Let your thoughts be clean and high.
You can make a little Eden
Of the sphere you occupy.
Do you wish the world were wiser?
Well, suppose you make a start,
By accumulating wisdom
In the scrapbook of your heart:
Do not waste one page on folly;
Live to learn, and learn to live.
If you want to give men knowledge
You must get it, ere you give.
Do you wish the world were happy?
Then remember day by day
Just to scatter seeds of kindness
As you pass along the way;
For the pleasures of the many
May be ofttimes traced to one,
As the hand that plants an acorn
Shelters armies from the sun.
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox