forestofemptiness

Ramana's Path of Inquiry and Surrender

Recommended Posts

Interesting video of Michael James laying down Ramana Maharshi via Sri Sadhu Om., with both the path of inquiry and the path of surrender. I always was skeptical of some of the claim (i.e. the slept well), but the way Michael presents it here is great. There is also a transcript because the audio is poor, but I prefer to hear it orally.

 

https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2020/05/self-investigation-as-way-to-love.html

 

Quote

But if this body were actually ourself, we couldn’t be aware of ourself without being aware of this body. But in dream we are aware of ourself, but instead of being aware of ourself as this body, we’re aware of ourself as some other body. The general belief we have is that when we are dreaming, our body is asleep on a bed, and we are imagining some other body, some other world. So in dream we have no awareness of this body at all, but we are aware of ourself. So since we’re aware of ourself without being aware of this body, this body cannot be what we actually are.

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...btw we can be aware of what we apparently are and still make use of that.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just finished re-reading the Path of Sri Ramana Part One by Sadhu Om. I read it initially 12-13 years ago.

 

The strangest thing is that I have a fairly vivid memory of my first reading. In many ways, the ideas are the same. But ideas that I thought were important then seemed like sidelines now (i.e. the talk about the three digits to the right of the heart), and the parts I thought weren't central were very central (like relaxing and surrendering). It has given me a deep insight into karmic vision--- same book, same person (so to speak), two completely different takes. If old me and new me met here on this forum, we would certainly have a great deal of disagreement. 

 

My take then for most of Ramana's teachings was that the purpose was to fix and anchor on a feeling or sensation of "I am." This must be because of the cross-contamination from people who took bits and pieces of Ramana's teachings and fashioned them according to their own karmic vision. Reading it now, it jumps out at me how much of it is about not grasping and releasing fixation on phenomenon, all phenomenon. 

 

Just telling stories now, but I think the problem with Bhagavan's teachings it that they are quite advanced, and most students who encounter them encounter them too early. There is a fine line between profound and profane. 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 
 
 
1
20 hours ago, forestofemptiness said:

I just finished re-reading the Path of Sri Ramana Part One by Sadhu Om. I read it initially 12-13 years ago.

 

The strangest thing is that I have a fairly vivid memory of my first reading. In many ways, the ideas are the same. But ideas that I thought were important then seemed like sidelines now (i.e. the talk about the three digits to the right of the heart), and the parts I thought weren't central were very central (like relaxing and surrendering). It has given me a deep insight into karmic vision--- same book, same person (so to speak), two completely different takes. If old me and new me met here on this forum, we would certainly have a great deal of disagreement. 

I have theorized that as practitioners there are two mindsets/levels of qualification. The first one is the neophyte mindset, where we need a 'framework' to give our practice a structure, and the framework must provide 'methods' that are like rungs of a ladder, wherein, we can climb up towards the 'goal' (whatever that might be). 

 

 The second one comes after a period of maturation, where our minds have been purified with the methods of the first category, and we are now able to directly recognize the truth, and 'viveka' ( the ability to discern between real and unreal) has awakened in the mind. This mindset does not need a framework or methods, and we are able to see beyond the methods. The goal too will have changed in such a situation. 

 

 
 
 
1
20 hours ago, forestofemptiness said:

 

My take then for most of Ramana's teachings was that the purpose was to fix and anchor on a feeling or sensation of "I am." This must be because of the cross-contamination from people who took bits and pieces of Ramana's teachings and fashioned them according to their own karmic vision. Reading it now, it jumps out at me how much of it is about not grasping and releasing fixation on phenomenon, all phenomenon. 

 Ramana didn't ask people to fixate on the "I am" sensation at all (at least based on what I understand). He did ask to seek the source of the "I am" sensation (Whence does the "I-I" arise?). That was his method. Nisargadatta Maharaj's "I am that" book prescribes to meditate on the "I am" feeling. 

I agree with your summary. In order to find the source of this "I am", one has to relinquish the grasp on all phenomena. 

20 hours ago, forestofemptiness said:

 

Just telling stories now, but I think the problem with Bhagavan's teachings it that they are quite advanced, and most students who encounter them encounter them too early. There is a fine line between profound and profane. 

Yes. When I first started reading Advaita vedanta, I couldn't understand anything. I put aside my lofty ideals and stuck with Taijiquan and Yoga/meditation. After 15 years, when I picked up the same material, it made complete sense to me. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interestingly, Michael James says that when he give up the ego, we obtain "eternal sleep." I heard Swami Dayananda make a similar statement, and there is a similar statement among some Theravada Buddhists (i.e. nirvana as cessation). Do you believe that the end state of a jnani is like deep, blissful, objectless sleep? 

 

For me, it seems a bit "all Shiva, no Shakti."

 

 

5 hours ago, dwai said:

 Ramana didn't ask people to fixate on the "I am" sensation at all (at least based on what I understand). He did ask to seek the source of the "I am" sensation (Whence does the "I-I" arise?). That was his method. Nisargadatta Maharaj's "I am that" book prescribes to meditate on the "I am" feeling. 

 

Yes, I probably confounded them. I confound a lot of teachings. I am always amazed when I discover something, but it is something that the teacher has been repeating over and over. And I think: why didn't I just listen in the first place? :lol:

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

Interestingly, Michael James says that when he give up the ego, we obtain "eternal sleep." I heard Swami Dayananda make a similar statement, and there is a similar statement among some Theravada Buddhists (i.e. nirvana as cessation). Do you believe that the end state of a jnani is like deep, blissful, objectless sleep? 

 

For me, it seems a bit "all Shiva, no Shakti."

I don’t agree that the end state for a jñāni is blankness of deep sleep :) 

 

There is deep stillness for sure. Many people misunderstand bliss too, imho. It is not a “blissed our/ecstatic” state. It is more correct to say “completeness” — nothing is missing, nothing can add to it, nor take away from it. Contentment, no striving for or away from anything. Ramana Maharishi used to say (and I paraphrase) “let what comes come, let what goes go”. 

47 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

Yes, I probably confounded them. I confound a lot of teachings. I am always amazed when I discover something, but it is something that the teacher has been repeating over and over. And I think: why didn't I just listen in the first place? :lol:

Same here :) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, forestofemptiness said:

Do you believe that the end state of a jnani is like deep, blissful, objectless sleep? 

You no longer have "emotions" (5 skhanda/koshas) But whatever you experience still has 'meaning' to you. In sleep nothing has meaning. You're in zombie mode essentially. Because everything is devoid of anything tranquil that hits deep. Well in the real life outside this afterlife of ours, stuff still has meaning. It's just heavily grounded inwards.

IMO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/8/2020 at 6:14 PM, forestofemptiness said:

But ideas that I thought were important then seemed like sidelines now (i.e. the talk about the three digits to the right of the heart),

Something I remembered just now. I too spent time simply resting the mind in the spiritual heart. After a while, one night while I was doing that, I noticed a movement from outside into the heart. The mind flowed back into the heart. And what remained was awareness. After that, I am able to enter deep silence and stillness simply by resting the mind in the heart. So there is certainly something to be said about the practice for settling the mind, clearing it up, etc. IIRC he also recommended resting the mind on the chakra above the crown (outside the physical body).

 

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/07/meditation-on-heart-centre.html

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sadhu Om comes down fairly strong against the practice, although he does say it may potentially be useful. His point is that using a phenomenal object (i.e. second/third person objects-- or objects of the senses and thoughts) trains the mind in its usual habit of fixating into objects. He says one should train concentration on the first person. 

 

When I first started, I trained quite a bit in hard concentration. This meant trying to limit one's attention to one point, usually a specific object (usually the breath). I found that this did lead to a certain inflexibility of the mind, and created lots of tension that took me many years to work out. I also felt very strongly that "I" was in the head, specifically behind the eyes. Again, it took a long time to refine this and dissolve the boundaries (an ongoing process). 

 

It is almost like trying to view the background by focusing on objects. What needs to happen, in my mind, is that the focus needs to be soft and open. 

 

1 hour ago, dwai said:

Something I remembered just now. I too spent time simply resting the mind in the spiritual heart. After a while, one night while I was doing that, I noticed a movement from outside into the heart. The mind flowed back into the heart. And what remained was awareness. After that, I am able to enter deep silence and stillness simply by resting the mind in the heart. So there is certainly something to be said about the practice for settling the mind, clearing it up, etc. IIRC he also recommended resting the mind on the chakra above the crown (outside the physical body).

 

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/07/meditation-on-heart-centre.html

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 
 
 
 
33 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

Sadhu Om comes down fairly strong against the practice, although he does say it may potentially be useful. His point is that using a phenomenal object (i.e. second/third person objects-- or objects of the senses and thoughts) trains the mind in its usual habit of fixating into objects. He says one should train concentration on the first person. 

I can see that as a potential pitfall. But then anything is. The truth of the matter is that Self-inquiry cannot be done by people with turbulent and/or scattered minds. So a method to settle the mind is useful for most of us. 

 
 
 
 
33 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

When I first started, I trained quite a bit in hard concentration. This meant trying to limit one's attention to one point, usually a specific object (usually the breath). I found that this did lead to a certain inflexibility of the mind, and created lots of tension that took me many years to work out. I also felt very strongly that "I" was in the head, specifically behind the eyes. Again, it took a long time to refine this and dissolve the boundaries (an ongoing process). 

 

It is almost like trying to view the background by focusing on objects. What needs to happen, in my mind, is that the focus needs to be soft and open. 

 I find that is to be the case for almost all meditation. Force is not a good idea. The explanation I was given was that the mind has to be cajoled and led gently to the task of meditation rather than whipping it into submission. :) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can go extreme on either end--- too tight, or too loose. 

 

Reading Sri Sadhu Om, Swami Annamalai, and some of Ramana's writings, they seem pretty intent that one can (and should) only use self-inquiry. They don't seem to advocate first stilling the mind (i.e. like in some Buddhist traditions). Of course, Ramana was something of an exception since he was not classically trained in Vedanta. 

 

Swami Annamalai:
 

 

Quote

 

Q: Many people find self-enquiry very difficult. Even most of Bhagavan’s devotees seem to follow a bhakti path. If one cannot do enquiry successfully, should one first purify the mind with japa?

 

AS: No. If you have some interest in the path of self-enquiry, you should follow it even if you feel that you are not very good at it. If you want to do self-enquiry effectively and properly you should stick to that method alone. Other methods may be good in their own right, but they are not good as preparations for self-enquiry. If you are serious about becoming a good violin player, you take lessons from a good teacher and practise as much as you can. If you encounter some difficulties, you don’t switch to the nadaswaram [a type of clarinet) for a few months. You stay with your chosen instrument and you keep practising until you get it right. The best preparation for self-enquiry is self-enquiry.

 

 

 

20 hours ago, dwai said:

I can see that as a potential pitfall. But then anything is. The truth of the matter is that Self-inquiry cannot be done by people with turbulent and/or scattered minds. So a method to settle the mind is useful for most of us. 

 I find that is to be the case for almost all meditation. Force is not a good idea. The explanation I was given was that the mind has to be cajoled and led gently to the task of meditation rather than whipping it into submission. :) 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 6/10/2020 at 6:08 PM, dwai said:

Something I remembered just now. I too spent time simply resting the mind in the spiritual heart. After a while, one night while I was doing that, I noticed a movement from outside into the heart. The mind flowed back into the heart. And what remained was awareness. After that, I am able to enter deep silence and stillness simply by resting the mind in the heart. So there is certainly something to be said about the practice for settling the mind, clearing it up, etc. IIRC he also recommended resting the mind on the chakra above the crown (outside the physical body).

 

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/07/meditation-on-heart-centre.html

 

That is fantastic. What I've read is that the I-thought (I am the body, or I am the ego) thought shoots up from the spiritual heart (or the heart on the right) into the brain. It is what gives you the sense that you are located behind your eyes. A major turning point in doing self-inquiry is when you are able to push back the I-thought into the heart and keep it rested there. The I-thought is like a parasite, it needs to cling to other thoughts in order to continue the illusion of separateness/duality. If you continue the practice to the point that you are able to stabilize yourself completely in the heart, the I-thought dissolves in there and you become a jnani.

 

I've only started inquiry recently but I've been struggling a bit to rest the mind into spiritual heart. How were you able to do that and how do you know when that happens?

 

Based on my experience and reading, for practitioners seeking to practice this method:

1. As it has been mentioned earlier in the thread, you need to have a lower density of thoughts or be able to drop them relentlessly to isolate the I-thought or I-am-the-ego/I-am-the-body thought. Practice other techniques until you get to this point.

2. You need to be able to relinquish or surrender any interest in thoughts of any kind that arise during your practice - whether it be doubts and confusions about the practice.

3. You need to be able to open up your heart and love yourself fully in order to prevent the kind of resistance that the I-thought shows during practice. The more negative emotions you have about yourself, the more power to the I-thought.

4. This technique is opposite to the ones which are about concentration i.e. focus on objects. You pull your attention back to the subject or who the experiencer is.

Edited by Sleepy Panda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Sleepy Panda said:

 

That is fantastic. What I've read is that the I-thought (I am the body, or I am the ego) thought shoots up from the spiritual heart (or the heart on the right) into the brain. It is what gives you the sense that you are located behind your eyes. A major turning point in doing self-inquiry is when you are able to push back the I-thought into the heart and keep it rested there.

It can’t be done by force. 

4 hours ago, Sleepy Panda said:

The I-thought is like a parasite, it needs to cling to other thoughts in order to continue the illusion of separateness/duality.

I can understand why it feels like that. But it is not a parasite. Duality is an illusion. The key is to realize this. The I-thought is the root of the mind. It’s not an enemy or a disease. It is the gateway between the world of objects and the nondual Self. 

4 hours ago, Sleepy Panda said:


If you continue the practice to the point that you are able to stabilize yourself completely in the heart, the I-thought dissolves in there and you become a jnani.

 

I've only started inquiry recently but I've been struggling a bit to rest the mind into spiritual heart. How were you able to do that and how do you know when that happens?

It takes patience and gentleness. Just have nothing better to do but rest your mind on the spiritual heart. It’s easy when you spend time inquiring about who you are without thinking. Can you tell who you are without thinking? That is the key. 

4 hours ago, Sleepy Panda said:

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, the sense of being behind the eyes was a habit of mind due to a few things. For example, we tend to locate a focal point from our line of sight to a point behind behind the eyes in our skull. It is an imaginary point. There is a good exercise here to demonstrate:

 

 

 

14 hours ago, Sleepy Panda said:

 

That is fantastic. What I've read is that the I-thought (I am the body, or I am the ego) thought shoots up from the spiritual heart (or the heart on the right) into the brain. It is what gives you the sense that you are located behind your eyes. A major turning point in doing self-inquiry is when you are able to push back the I-thought into the heart and keep it rested there. The I-thought is like a parasite, it needs to cling to other thoughts in order to continue the illusion of separateness/duality. If you continue the practice to the point that you are able to stabilize yourself completely in the heart, the I-thought dissolves in there and you become a jnani.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to the links shared in this thread and the useful feedback I received, I was able to make progress on my self-inquiry today. It was not as much self-inquiry as it was self-abidance since I don't generally need to go through the process of questioning in order to locate my presence, it is something I can do without mental thoughts. For a moment, the whole world disappeared and it was just I, enclosed in some black orb. After sometime, it seemed like the spiritual heart was engulfing everything around me like a black hole and its presence was expanding to immerse everything into me. The body's boundaries disappeared and everything was just presence.

 

Maybe I can post futures updates on this practice to my journal.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you doing energy practices also? If so, I'd advise some caution as this kind of practice can kick them into high gear. 

 

14 hours ago, Sleepy Panda said:

Thanks to the links shared in this thread and the useful feedback I received, I was able to make progress on my self-inquiry today. It was not as much self-inquiry as it was self-abidance since I don't generally need to go through the process of questioning in order to locate my presence, it is something I can do without mental thoughts. For a moment, the whole world disappeared and it was just I, enclosed in some black orb. After sometime, it seemed like the spiritual heart was engulfing everything around me like a black hole and its presence was expanding to immerse everything into me. The body's boundaries disappeared and everything was just presence.

 

Maybe I can post futures updates on this practice to my journal.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey @forestofemptiness I practice Zhan Zhuang and abdominal breathing in the morning while I do self-inquiry in the night. Is that what you mean by energetic practices?

 

I would've thought that self-inquiry is quite harmless as a practice because it simply involves relaxing into the being and no kind of special breathing, concentration or visualization.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. I'm not saying that self-enquiry is not a safe practice, but it sometimes causes the subtle body practices to kick into high gear (in my experience--- even sometimes without subtle body practice). Your description reminded me of experiences I've had, which were also accompanied by other signs of destabilization, so I thought I'd put it out there. 

 

2 hours ago, Sleepy Panda said:

Hey @forestofemptiness I practice Zhan Zhuang and abdominal breathing in the morning while I do self-inquiry in the night. Is that what you mean by energetic practices?

 

I would've thought that self-inquiry is quite harmless as a practice because it simply involves relaxing into the being and no kind of special breathing, concentration or visualization.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

On 6/17/2020 at 3:28 AM, forestofemptiness said:

Yes. I'm not saying that self-enquiry is not a safe practice, but it sometimes causes the subtle body practices to kick into high gear (in my experience--- even sometimes without subtle body practice). Your description reminded me of experiences I've had, which were also accompanied by other signs of destabilization, so I thought I'd put it out there. 

 

 

 

Thanks for the heads-up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites