Monday, October 8, 2012

Sri Ramana Maharshi on Suffering and Grief

One of the problems about which Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (B) was often asked was suffering. The questions were usually personal rather than academic,  since  it  was  often  the  experience  of  grief  which drove people to seek solace from him. The real solace came as a silent influence, but he did also answer theoretical questions. The usual answer was to bid the questioner find out who it is that suffers, just as he would bid the doubter find who it is that doubts; for the Self is beyond suffering as it is beyond doubt. Sometimes, however, on a more contingent level, he would point out that whatever makes a person dissatisfied with his state of ignorance and turns him to the quest of the Self is beneficial and that it is often suffering which is the means of doing this.

B.: The Bliss of Self is always yours and you will find it if you seek it earnestly. The cause of your misery is not in your outer life; it is in you, as your ego. You impose limitations on yourself and then make a vain struggle to transcend them. All unhappiness is due to the ego. With it comes all your trouble. What does it avail you to attribute the cause of misery to the happenings of life when that cause is really within you? What happiness can you get from things extraneous to yourself? When you get it, how long will it last?

If you would deny the ego and scorch it by ignoring it, you would be free. If you accept it, it will impose limitations on you  and  throw  you  into  a  vain  struggle  to  transcend  them. That was how the 'thief' sought to ruin King Janaka.

To  be  the  Self  that  you  really  are  is  the  only  means  to realise the Bliss that is ever yours.

A very devoted and simple devotee had lost his only son, a child of three. The next day he arrived at the Asramam with his family.  Referring  to  them  Bhagavan  said:  "Training  of  mind helps one to bear sorrows and bereavements with courage; but the loss of one's children is said to be the worst of all griefs. Grief  only  exists  as  long  as  one  considers  oneself  to  have  a definite form; if the form is transcended, one knows the One Self  to  be  eternal. There  is  neither  death  nor  birth. What  is born is only the body and this is the creation of the ego. But the ego  is  not  ordinarily  perceived  without  the  body  and  so  is identified with it. It is thought that matters. Let the sensible man consider whether he knew his body while in deep sleep. Why, then, does he feel it in the waking state? Although the body was not felt in sleep, did not the Self exist? What was his state when in deep sleep and what is it now when awake? What is  the  difference?  The  ego  rises  up  and  that  is  waking. 
Simultaneously thoughts arise. Find out who has the thoughts. Where do they come from? They must arise from the conscious self. Apprehending this even vaguely helps towards the extinction of the ego. The realisation of the One Infinite Existence becomes possible. In that state there are no individuals but only Eternal Being. Hence there is no thought of death or grieving.

"If a man thinks that he is born he cannot escape the fear of death. Let him find out whether he was ever born or whether the Self takes birth. He will discover that the Self always exists and that the body which is born resolves itself into thought, and that the emergence of thought is the root of all mischief. Find where thought comes from, and then you will abide in the ever-present inmost Self and be free from the idea of birth and fear of death."

D.: If some one we love dies, it causes grief. Should we avoid such grief by either loving all alike or not loving at all?

B.: If someone we love dies, it causes grief to the one who continues living. The way to get rid of grief is not to continue living. Kill the griever, and who will then remain to grieve? The ego must die. That is the only way. The two alternatives you suggest amount to the same. When all are realised to be the one Self, who is there to love or hate?

Source: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own words by Arthur Osborne, Chapter Two, section Suffering

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