Bhagavan would never admit that differences in mode of expression or formulation of doctrine between the various religions signified real contradiction, since the Truth to which
they point is One and Immutable.
D.: Is the Buddhist view that there is no continuous entity answering to the idea of the individual soul right or not? Is this consistent with the Hindu doctrine of a reincarnating ego? Is the soul a continuous entity which reincarnates again and again, according to the Hindu doctrine, or is it a mere conglomeration of mental tendencies?
B.: The real Self is continuous and unaffected. The reincarnating ego belongs to a lower plane, that of thought. It is transcended by Self-realisation.
Reincarnations are due to a spurious offshoot of Being and are therefore denied by the Buddhists. The human state is due to a mingling of the sentient with the insentient.
Sometimes it was not a question of reincarnation but grieving over the death of a loved one. A lady who had come from North India asked Bhagavan whether it was possible to know
the posthumous state of an individual.
B.: It is possible, but why try. Such facts are only as real as the person who seeks them.
L.: The birth of a person and his life and death are real to us.
B.: Because you wrongly identify yourself with the body, you think of the other also as a body. Neither you nor he is the body.
L.: But from my own level of understanding, I regard myself and my son as real.
B.: The birth of the 'I'-thought is a person's birth and its death is his death. After the 'I'-thought has arisen, the wrong identification with the body rises. Identifying yourself with the body makes you falsely identify others also with their bodies. Just as your body was born and grows and will die, so you think the other also was born, grew and died. Did you think of your son before he was born? The thought came after his birth and continues even after his death. He is your son only in so far as you think of him. Where has he gone? To the source from which he sprang. So long as you continue to exist, he does too. But if you cease to identify yourself with the body and realise the true Self, this confusion will vanish. You are eternal and others also will be found to be eternal. Until this is realised there will always be grief due to false values which are caused by wrong knowledge and wrong identification.
On the death of King George V, two devotees were discussing the matter in the hall and seemed upset.
Bhagavan said: What is it to you who dies or is lost? Die yourself and be lost, becoming one with the Self of all (on the ego's extinction).
And finally, about the importance of death. Religions stress the importance of the frame of mind in which a person dies and his last thoughts at death. But Bhagavan reminded people that it is necessary to be well prepared beforehand; if not, undesirable tendencies will rise up at death, too powerful to be controlled.
D.: Even if I cannot realise in my lifetime, let me at least not forget on my death-bed. Let me have a glimpse of Reality at least at the moment of death, so that it may stand me in good stead in the future.
B.: It is said in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter VIII, that whatever is a person's last thought at death determines his next birth. But it is necessary to experience Reality now, in this life, in order to experience it at death. Consider whether this present moment is any different from the last one at death and try to be in the desired state.
Source: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own words by Arthur Osborne, Chapter Two.