Then there is the importance of paying attention to the centre, to the me. This only means that whenever there is a mental movement, wherever there is the formation of thought clouds, before they gather momentum they have to be arrested. They need to be stopped at the hustling. This is done by questioning for whom these thoughts arise. Such questioning would bring back the attention from the thoughts to the thinker.
This is the first but essential step in warding off thought formations and for preventing their build up. Being off the mental movement enables one to stay with the ‘I” - thought. The moment this happens, the mind turns inwards. For the mind rises from the Self, the Consciousness. When the connection with thoughts is severed, it falls back into its source. In fact in the Ramana Way the emphasis is not so much on the content of the mind, though we begin with it to explain the nature of the mind, as with the source of thought. Once there is success in turning the mind back and in exposing it to the light of the Self, the mind is restored to its pristine purity and quietness. The process of getting back to the source was once explained by Ramana to his attendant Rangaswami. A nest was built above Bhagavan’s couch by a squirrel. A cat had eaten the mother of the young squirrels and the responsibility for their care was taken over by Bhagavan. Each time a young squirrel came out of the nest, Ramana would put it back into the nest so that it may be safe there. For there was danger outside which the young ones did not realize. Bhagavan’s purpose was to make the squirrels enjoy staying within. Just then Rangaswami asked, “What is the path for keeping inward?” Ramana replied, “It is exactly the same as what I am doing now.” Pushing back the mind to its source, the heart, is the purpose of spiritual practice so that the mind may taste the happiness and peace which is its essential nature.
But if peace and happiness is only the end product, if one does not have the experience of that state along the way, as one keeps at practice, one is likely to lose interest. The absence of an experience of different dimension would make one fall back on known ways of assuming that pleasure comes from objects. Ramana assures that one does not need to have a patient or a long wait. Even though the process of transformation is gradual one begins to feel the fresh inner joy fairly early. Ramana told Humphreys as far back as 1911 that even if he were to meditate, rightly, for about ten to fifteen minutes a day, in a couple of months there would be a change in mental attitudes. One would acquire power, always as a background, to deal more harmoniously with others, with ideas and events. Nothing would be overwhelming and things would be seen in the right perspective.
There are also some tests which would be the barometers of change. Firstly, in our ‘loveless heart’ seeds of love would have been sown. There would be a growing expansion of the heart in compassion, in fellow-feeling and love for those around us. All things which eat into love like judgments, jealousies and the like would wane. Then there would be a general feeling of well being, an exhilaration in everything, a true zest in whatever we are involved in. Freed from the cramping effects of an overcrowded mind, one would live immersed in peace and joy.
A.R.Natarajan Founder President, Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, Bangalore