In the first two verses, we saw that Shri Ramana criticizes karma as incapable of giving us what we really want in our life, which is permanent peace and security called as param, which is in other words, freedom from limitation. Then in verse 3, 4, 5 Shri Ramana, shows that karma is not totally useless. It is capable of giving us antah-karana shuddhi, when there is the attitude of karma-yoga in the form of ishvara-arpitam karma, and the attitude of prasada-buddhi - the attitude gracious acceptance of all life-situations, pleasant and unpleasant, knowing them to be coming from the Lord as the giver of all results of actions. The main aim of karma-yoga being gaining mastery over one's ways of thinking.
We saw before that when there is mastery over one’s mind we find ourselves:-
1.Comfortable with our self and the world.
2. We enjoy a non-reactive mind and therefore growing degrees of calmness and cheerfulness.
3. We become less and less emotionally dependent on the world for our sense of well-being – this is because, we are no longer bound by our raga-devsha.
4. Consequently our desire for self-knowledge grows and we are able to spend more and more time and energy for our sadhanas and for study.
In verse 6 Shri Ramana touched on meditation or upasana in the form of silent japa. We saw that upasana is defined as a flow of thoughts centered on the Lord, undistracted by dissimilar thoughts. Shri Ramana compared this flow of thoughts in verse 7, to the continuous flow of a thick viscous fluid like ghee poured from one vessel to another. So initially an effort is required to get a continuous flow of thoughts and later on with practice, the upasana will be effortless like the flow of a river.
Upasana upon the Lord does involve duality initially. Because the one who is meditating, being the created, is different from the Lord, the creator. So for the meditator, the Lord is sarvajna, sarvashaktiman, sarvavyapi and therefore infinitely superior to the meditator.
Thus in this kind of upasana also called as bheda upasana the basic attitude is ‘I am different from the Lord’. So one takes oneself to be limited to the body-mind and one is unable to see the identity of oneself with the Lord. Thus one is a devotee meditator, who looks upon Lord as separate from oneself as one’s well-wisher, support, guide, protector. This kind of meditation will give the drhsta-phalla of steadiness of mind and purification of mine. It will also give the adrshta phalla of punya, the Lord’s Grace. For this type of bheda upasana the Lord can be invoked in any form and prayed to in any language. It is indeed noble and auspicious to mediate on the Lord in this manner.
However if the Lord is considered to be basically different from oneself, then one can never be free from one’s sense of limitation. Thus in verse 8 Shri Ramana says :-
bhaavanaabhida paavani mataa
Instead of meditating with an attitude of duality (such as ‘I am different from the Lord’) the non-dual vision ‘He I am’ is purifying.
Thus one needs to progress from bheda upasana to abheda upasana. How to progress? Firstly one can have full reverential trust in the fact revealed by the Scriptures that Lord and I are not different - there is oneness between the Lord and I. One has deep love for the Lord, and one can’t bear to be separate from the Lord. So the attitude is of wanting oneness and one fuses with the Lord through bhakti in meditation. Eventually the grace earned through meditation, will lead you to a teacher who will unfold the oneness.
Shri Ramana points out that this attitude of oneness with the Lord is better than an attitude of being separate from the Lord.
The vision of the scriptures is “so’ham” which means ‘He I am’. How can this be so? That is unfolded in the teaching.
In Bhagavad-Gita and Tattvabodha we saw that the Lord is the conscious being, who is the intelligent cause as the creator, and who is the material cause of the universe as the very isness or existence of space and time and everything in space and time. That sat or isness is the fundamental material out of which everything is manifest. The universe is an effect and being an effect, the cause pervades the universe in a two-fold way – as the intelligence,as the all-knowledge that manifests as all the laws of cause and effect that pervades this universe of energy and matter. Scientists have also begun to understand oneness of the universe (saguna brahman). Here is what a scientist Gregg Braden writes;” We are not separate objects floating around in empty space, but part of an undulating, pulsing, multidimensional; uni-being organism from the realm of all suns and planets down to the sub-atomic quantum level. All vibrating together at various frequencies, transmitting, absorbing, digesting, reflecting, radiating light and energy, endlessly held together by this invisible yet omnipresent force of consciousness.” The same scientist writes again “All things are interconnected through consciousness from the farthest reaches of outer space the macrocosm, to the farthest reaches of inner space, the microcosm and quantum physics – all are reflections of one thing.”
Our scriptures point out again and again that this Consciousness, the Lord, pervades the body-mind as the very intelligence that makes it what its is. The very same consciousness pervades the body-mind as the very fundamental material of isness or existence. Skin is, bone is, flesh is, muscle is, gland is, cell is – It is the isness or sat taking on different forms as skin, bone flesh, muscle, gland etc., – as feelings, thoughts, sensation, ego – as the diverse universe of sentient beings and insentient objects. When the Lord is everything in this universe, the body-mind in reality, belongs to the Lord. So where shall I put my ‘I’?
Who am I? Body, sense-organs, prana, mind, intellect, ahankara, the world – all these are objects of my knowledge. I am the subject, the one who knows them. In myself, I am simple conscious being. Space and time are in my awareness. The universe is in my awareness. My mind is in my consciousness. The intellect is in my awareness. Every thought, feeling, activity, sensation.... every experience of waking, dream and even deep sleep – are all in my awareness-consciousness. All these are objects of my consciousness. They come up, to go, in my consciousness. All these experiences are in time. Whereas the witnessing consciousness-awareness that I am, is always there. I am the fundamental consciousness, the fundamental level of existence who is not in time. This unchanging ever-present consciousness that I am, is the Lord – so’ham. He Indeed I am. When taught like this, we can directly see it and know it.
However our notions are very strong. And the so’ham meditation first as an upasana in which I recognize that the body-mind cannot be separate from the Lord. Later in nidhidhyasana, I recognize that the fundamental consciousness that I am is indeed the Lord.
Shri Ramana points out that this abheda meditation is paavani mata - that which is considered most sacred because it is based on truth and it free you forever from the sense of limitation that one has.
As Upasana, instead of invoking the Lord on a deity outside, one invokes the Lord within oneself because the Lord is all-pervading. In Upasana one must see the fact that the Lord pervades one’s body and mind being the nimitta-upadana karana. This kind of an upasana prepare you for self-knowledge.
It is worth noting that Taittiriya Upanishad says ‘uta antaram kurute atha tasya bhayam bhavati’ - if one makes even the slightest difference between oneself and the Lord, one is fearful. Shastra consistently points out that where there is a belief in duality, there is the sense of limitations and so naturally there is either desire to complete oneself, or fear. Meditation on the identity between the Lord and I, on the other hand is paavani – most sacred as it destroys the sense of incompleteness therefore eventually destroys the greatest of fears mrtyu bhayam.
Some people object to the attitude of non-duality saying that if I become God how can I love Him? Is God really another object whom I can love, like I love my parents and family? Shastra very practically points out that in reality we love only our self. How so? We love others because they are instrumental in bringing out the sense of purnata, they bring out the pleased self in us. So what we love is really only our own pleased self. Husband loves his wife because she brings out his pleased self. So in love, in reality, there is no second thing. Not understanding this the person says ‘how can I love God if I become God’.
Love for the Lord is the most exalted love – it is called parama prema- in parama prema you cannot keep yourself separate from the Lord. You realize that the Lord is infinite – totally limitless – so how can the Lord exclude you? If Lord is separate how can the Lord be infinite? Can the limitless Lord be separate from the world? Can the limitless Lord be separate from ‘I’?
Proper enquiry will help you understand first that even as an individual , identified with the body-mind complex, you cannot be separate from the Lord. The next level of appreciation of the Lord is recognizing that as self-revealing, self-evident Consciousness, I am indeed He. This is real bhakti where there is no duality possible. I simply fuses into the Lord.
This happens when the ahankara, the false-I, surrenders its notional ownership of the body-mind complex. Without self-knowledge, we take ourselves to be distinct entities separate from the Lord. As a distinct entity I become an individual devotee of the Lord.
But the point is am I really a distinct entity separate from Bhagavan? As we saw earlier, my body,my mind, my intellect, all are included in the universe, which is the Lord. So I can never be separate from the Lord.
The only way I can be separate is through ignorance and ignorance born thinking and behaviour.
This understanding that everything belongs to the Lord is surrendering one’s notional ownership of everything including the body-mind. This is real bhakti. This is advaita bhakti.
Thus in the knowledge ‘I am the Lord – so’hum – there is no separation. Now is there a difference between bhakti and knowledge? Seeking knowledge of the Lord is also bhakti – not just puja japa etc. It is indeed most auspicious assimilating this advaita bhakti – hich we will see further in the next sessions.
Om Tat Sat