Friday, September 26, 2014

Alas, I am a sinner, how shall I attain liberation?

D: devotee
B: Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
Arthur Osborne's comments in Italics

Sin and evil of every kind are the result of egoism unrestrained by consideration for the injury caused to others or the deleterious effect on the sinner’s own character. Religions guard against them by moral and disciplinary codes and emotional appeals, seeking to keep the ego within bounds and prevent its trespassing into forbidden places. However, a spiritual path that is so radical and direct as to deny the ego itself does not need to attend specifically to the various excesses of egoism. All egoism has to be renounced. Therefore, non-duality turns the attack of the ego itself, not on its specific manifestations.

However sinful a person may be, if he would stop wailing inconsolably: ‘Alas, I am a sinner: how shall I attain liberation?’ and, casting away even the thought that he is a sinner, if he would zealously carry on meditation on the Self, he would most assuredly get reformed.

Similarly, a discipline which aims at transcending thought completely, in realisation of the super-rational Self, does not need to inveigh specifically against evil thoughts. All thoughts are distractions. An European lady asked whether good thoughts were not helpful in seeking Realisation, at any rate in the early stages, like the lower rungs of the ladder and was told:

Yes, insofar as they keep off bad thoughts; but they themselves must disappear before the state of Realisation.

Because the quality of purity (Sattva) is the real nature of the mind, clearness like that of the unclouded sky is the characteristic of the mind-expanse. Being stirred up by the quality of activity (rajas) the mind becomes restless and, influenced by darkness (tamas), manifests as the physical world. The mind thus becoming
restless on the one hand and appearing as solid matter on the other, the Real is not discerned. Just as fine silk threads cannot be woven with the use of a heavy iron shuttle, or the delicate shades of a work of art be distinguished in the light of a lamp flickering in the wind, so is Realisation of Truth impossible with the mind rendered gross by darkness (tamas) and restless by activity (rajas). Because truth is exceedingly subtle and serene. Mind will be cleared of its impurities only by a desireless performance of duties during several births,
getting a worthy Master, learning from him and incessantly practising meditation on the Supreme. The transformation of the mind into the world of inert matter due to the quality of darkness (tamas) and its restlessness due to the quality of activity (rajas) will cease. Then the mind regains its subtlety and composure. The Bliss of the Self can manifest only in a mind rendered subtle and steady by assiduous meditation. He who experiences that Bliss is liberated even while still alive.

(Adapted from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi and Self Enquiry)

He did, of course, insist on the need for purity. Sometimes a visitor would complain that he was too weak to resist his lower tendencies and would simply be told to try harder. According to his temperament he might be told to find who it is that has the lower tendencies, or to trust in God.

D.: I am a sinner and do not perform any religious duties. Shall I have a painful rebirth because of that?

B.: Why do you say you are a sinner? Faith in God is enough to save you from rebirth. Cast all your burden on Him. In the Tiruvachakam it is said: ‘Though I am worse than a dog, You have graciously undertaken to protect me. The delusion of death and birth is maintained by You. Is it for me to sit and judge? Am I the Lord here? Almighty God, it is for You to roll me through many bodies, or keep me fixed at Your feet.’
Therefore have faith and that will save you.

D.: There is more pleasure in meditation than in sensual enjoyment and yet the mind seeks the latter and not the former. Why is that?

B.: Pleasure and pain are only aspects of the mind. Our essential nature is happiness, but we have forgotten the Self and imagine that the body or the mind is the Self. It is this wrong identification that gives rise to misery. What is to be done? This tendency is very deep-rooted and has continued for many past births and so has grown strong. It will have to go before the essential nature, which is happiness, can be realised. And above all, not to create new vasanas or latent tendencies.

D.: Swami, how can the grip of the ego be loosened?

B.: By not adding new vasanas (bad habits) to it.

If the objective reality of the world be an illusion then the evil in it is also an illusion and the remedy is to turn inwards to the Reality of the Self. An American visitor, the secretary of Swami Yogananda, asked why there are good and evil in the world and was told:

They are relative terms. There must be a subject to know the good and evil. That subject is the ego. It ends in the Self. Or, you can say that the source of the ego is God. This definition is probably more definite and understandable for you.

Source: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own words - Arthur Osborne


rightwinger said...

Thanks for directing me to this website. Yes, it is a treasure trove for those in pursuit of indian spirituality.

went thru your current article on ramana maharishi. I have a very different view on the core issue of sinners and liberation.

i believe God is indifferent.
he is a higher state of consciousness , and perhaps the only qualification required is a still mind under the full control of oneself. This much can be inferred from even the Gita .

righteousness though desirable for a peaceful organized evolution and for good of soceity is not mandatory for connecting to God. I realized this the hard way thru personal experience. This world is a connected world of indeterminate consequences. Karma is mechanical causation. Kindnesses, compassion, honesty, integrity, character, competence no more matter nor relevant in this world of growing irreverence. The neutrality of God has damned righteousness. Sin and peity no more matter.

Indiaspirituality Amrut said...


Thank you for visiting Indiaspirituality and thanks for your comments. Staying Neutral is difficult unless you have developed more of sattva guNa. Hence in each of prakaraNa grantha-s Adi Sankara gives pre-requisites - 4 qualifications are necessary to walk on spiritual path.

Else things will be difficult. God has nothing to do with out merits and sins, but he gives us fruits.

In todays life, one cannot stick to 100% rightousness. What matters is that does any of the worldly issues disturb your meditation.

Hari OM

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