No meditation on an object is helpful. You must learn to realize that the subject and object are one. In meditating on an object, whether concrete or abstract, you are destroying the sense of oneness and creating duality.
In the rainy season the sun plays hide and seek. This is more noticeable in a coastal place. When one looks at one’s spiritual practice, one can clearly discern this light and shadow, the success and failure of it, not only generally but also each day within a span of hours. There is the meditative mood, the lazy languish, and hectic activity. This is only natural as each mood corresponds to the prevalent mental mode. So, as long as we remain within the confines of the mind, so long as one’s spiritual practice is mind-oriented, the progress towards Self-awareness is bound to be tardy and slow. It would be a losing battle in the daily war one wages against the intruding thoughts which keep flooding out the chosen single thought. Meditation remains as a flickering flame, exposed to the winds of thought.
Ramana traces this malaise to our divisive approach to meditation. The Self is one. The moment you introduce the division of a separate subject, the individual, then your attention is also divided. The duality of subject, object, the pairs of opposites automatically come in. The unity of a holistic approach alone can be the medicine, the cure for this.
While making this position clear, Ramana does not discourage those who prefer to do so, by natural inclination or long habit, from continuing to pursue the sadhana they are used to. It may be mantra japa, yoga or ritualistic practice. He would remark that ‘When a car is travelling at great speed applying the brake suddenly would not do’. The accident of loss of faith in one’s practice without switching over to the direct path could take place. The problem is really that of exposing one to the truth without treading on one’s pet ideas and predilections.
While considering the relative merits of spiritual practices one has to remember as a constant undercurrent the escapable fact of life’s transience. Does one know his date in karma’s calendar? The quit notice on the exhaustion of this body’s karma may come at any time. How much time do we really have? Even assuming that we are destined to live for the Vedic span of hundred years, is not much of it lost in work-a-day schedules, ill health, old age, infirmities and so on? So one cannot afford to travel by indirect, long-winded routes, or lose ground due to detours and by-lanes on the way.
This inescapable fact should provide the compelling motivation for ‘non-objective meditation’ and give the energy and drive to pursue such a path with vigour and steadfastness. In such meditation from A to Z the attention is on the subject, on the meditator, it is the process of holding on to the thinker by questioning his identity and questing for his source. By this search a mortal blow is dealt to the subtlety of the ego and the elusive ways of the mind. Because this enquiry goes to the very root of the ego’s existence.
Preliminary skirmishes against thought intrusions and infiltrations may be there initially or for sometime. But once we learn to cling to the mind’s core then we are away from this mental movement. We would be holding on to the consciousness in the mind which is the scent for leading us to its place of origin, the heart, the Self.
It would also be seen that in this way the means and the goal merge. For the attention is only on the subject, which leads to the discovery of the one Self, shining within, without and everyone. One becomes aware that nothing exists apart from it, be it the individual, the world or God. Firm confidence in Ramana’s teaching and his guidance enables one to find out that all this is not Greek and Latin but is as simple as ‘a goose-berry in the palm of one’s hand’.
Every rule has its exception. In the spiritual path the exception is that duality is permitted in relation to the Sadguru. So one is welcome to think of Ramana’s purifying name, be lost in the breathtaking beauty of his form and live in the salubrious peace flowing from practicing Ramana’s presence.
It is for the individual himself to experiment and discover what is the best means for him to link himself to Ramana. It may be reading his books, singing his praise and so on, or it may well be a combination of all these.
There is little doubt that in this there is the division between the devotee, the disciple, and the Sadguru, the subject ‘I’ and the object. Yet it is the one division which will in time cut at the root of the very division on which it is based. So the scriptures say and Ramana confirms. What happens is that imperceptibly, the division between the two is lost in the union resulting from growing surrender until there is the awareness that he alone exists, eternal, imperishable, as the One.
Can there be doubt that it is some rare penance, done by us or our ancestors in the past, which has brought us to Ramana? Therefore is not a duty cast on us to ponder whether we should continue on the beaten track, in our good old ways? Should we not let Ramana be a vital influence on our sadhana by working at non-objective meditation?
A.R.Natarajan Founder President, Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, Bangalore
We have the opportunity of freeing ourselves from the frontiers of the mind, from its joys and sorrows, from its stifling limitations, if only our faith keeps us on Ramana’s track of self-enquiry. But we allow ourselves to be tricked out of it by our mind.
One is reminded of the case of Sikhidwaja, who filled with dispassion renounced his kingdom, his wife and family and chose many years of solitude and suffering a forest. In the end he was made wise by his wife Chudala who convinced him that if only he had pushed home his dispassion to its logical extreme by finding out to whom it related, he would have discovered the truth years earlier.
Are we wisher than the king in this story? How far are we getting in spite of our well meaning sacrifices, in spite of our earnestness? Where is the freedom and bliss of the vastness of heart’s space? Our trust in him has brought us to Ramana.
The breakthrough is just there for the asking. Truth is beckoning us. Are we going to miss out on it in this life also?