6th July, 1935
A high officer asked: If juniors are promoted over oneself the mind is perturbed. Will the enquiry, `Who am I??' help the man to soothe the mind under such circumstances?
Maharshi: Yes. Quite so. The enquiry `Who am I?' turns the mind inward and makes it calm.
D.: I have faith in murti dhyana (worship of form). Will it not help me to gain jnana?
Maharshi: Surely it will. Upasana helps concentration of mind. Then the mind is free from other thoughts and is full of the meditated form. The mind becomes it - and thus quite pure. Then think who is the worshipper. The answer is `I', i.e., the Self. So the Self is gained ultimately. The present difficulty is that the man thinks that he is the doer. But it is a mistake. It is the Higher Power which does everything and the man is only a tool. If he accepts that position he is free from troubles; otherwise he courts them. Take for instance, the figure in a gopuram (temple tower), where it is made to appear to bear the burden of the tower on its shoulders. Its posture and look are a picture of great strain while bearing the very heavy burden of the tower. But think. The tower is built on the earth and it rests on its foundations. The figure (like Atlas bearing the earth) is a part of the tower, but is made to look as if it bore the tower. Is it not funny? So is the man who takes on himself the sense of doing. Then the Malayalam version of Ulladu Narpadu was read out by a devotee for the benefit of the visitor. After hearing it, he asked: What about the reference to duality in practice and unity at the end?
Maharshi: Some people think that one must begin practice with dualistic idea.
It refers to them. They say that there is God; the man must worship and meditate; ultimately the jiva merges into God. Others say that the Supreme Being and the jiva are always apart and never merge into each other. Howsoever it may be at the end, let us not trouble ourselves about it now. All are agreed that the jiva IS. Let the man find out the jiva, i.e., his Self. Then there will be time to find out if the Self should merge in the Supreme, is a part thereof, or remains different from it. Let us not forestall the conclusion. Keep an open mind, dive within and find out the Self. The truth will itself dawn upon you. Why should you determine beforehand if the finality is unity absolute or qualified, or duality? There is no meaning in it. The ascertainment is now made by logic and by intellect. The intellect derives light from the Self (the Higher Power). How can the reflected and partial light of the intellect envisage the whole and the original Light? The intellect cannot reach the Self and how can it ascertain its nature? Such is the significance of the reference.
D.: One of the stanzas says that the scriptures so scrupulously studied in the earlier stages are ultimately of no use. At what stage do they become useless?
Maharshi: When their essence is realised. The scriptures are useful to indicate the existence of the Higher Power (the Self) and the way to gain it. Their essence is that much only. When that is assimilated the rest is useless. But they are voluminous, adapted to the development of the seeker. As one rising up in the scale finds the regions one has passed to be only steps to the higher stage, and so on, the steps ascended become purvapaksha successively until the goal is gained. When the goal is reached it remains alone, and all the rest becomes useless. That is how the sastras become useless. We read so much. Do we remember all that we read? But have we forgotten the essentials? The essential soaks in the mind and the rest is forgotten. So it is with the sastras. The fact is that the man considers himself limited and there arises the trouble. The idea is wrong. He can see it for himself. In sleep there was no world, no ego (no limited self), and no trouble. Something wakes up from that happy state and says `I'. To that ego the world appears. Being a speck in the world he wants more and gets into trouble. How happy he was before the rising of the ego! Only the rise of the ego is the cause of the present trouble. Let him trace the ego to its source and he will reach that undifferentiated happy state which is sleepless sleep. The Self remains ever the same, here and now. There is nothing more to be gained. Because the limitations have wrongly been assumed there is the need to transcend them.
TENTH MAN: It is like the ten ignorant fools who forded a stream and on reaching the other shore counted themselves to be nine only. They grew anxious and grieved over the loss of the unknown tenth man. A wayfarer, on ascertaining the cause of their grief, counted them all and found them to be ten. But each one of them had counted the others leaving himself out. The wayfarer gave each in succession a blow telling them to count the blows. They counted ten and were satisfied. The moral is that the tenth man was not got anew. He was all along there, but ignorance caused grief to all of them.
LOST NECKLACE: Again, a woman wore a necklace round her neck but forgot it. She began to search for it and made enquiries. A friend of hers, finding out what she was looking for, pointed out the necklace round the seeker's neck. She felt it with her hands and was happy. Did she get the necklace anew? Here again ignorance caused grief and knowledge happiness. Similarly also with the man and the Self. There is nothing to be gained anew. Ignorance of the Self is the cause of the present misery; knowledge of the Self brings about happiness.
Moreover, if anything is to be got anew it implies its previous absence. What remained once absent might vanish again. So there would be no permanency in salvation. Salvation is permanent because the Self is here and now and eternal. Thus the man's efforts are directed towards the removal of ignorance. Wisdom seems to dawn, though it is natural and ever present. The visitor, while taking leave, saluted the master, and said, "It is said that the victim in the tiger's mouth is gone for ever." The reference is to a passage in Who am I? where it is stated that a disciple can never revert to the world after he has once fallen into the field of the Guru's gracious look as surely as the prey in the tiger's jaws cannot escape.
(Photo of Bhagavan is copyright Sri Ramanasramam)
Talk 62 Talk 64