"Plain Words" – 3
[The "guest" instructor this time is the great Maharshi disciple Annamalai Swami:]
Continuous attentiveness will only come with long practice. If you are truly watchful, each thought will dissolve at the moment that it appears. But to reach this level of disassociation you must have no attachments at all. If you have the slightest interest in any particular thought, it will evade your attentiveness, connect with other thoughts, and take over your mind for a few seconds. This will happen more easily if you are accustomed to reacting emotionally to a particular thought. This "little self" will only give way to the real Self if you meditate constantly.
You cannot wish it away with a few stray thoughts. Try to remember the analogy of the rope which looks like a snake in the twilight. If you see the rope as a snake, the real nature of the rope is hidden from you. If you only see the rope, the snake is not there.
When you have that clear and correct perception that the snake never at any time existed, the question of how to kill the snake disappears. Apply this analogy to the "little self" that you are worrying about. If you can understand that this "little self" never at any time had any existence outside your imagination, you will not be concerned about ways and means of getting rid of it. Don't make the mistake of imagining that there is some goal to be reached or attained.
If you think like this you will start looking for methods to practice and people to help you.
This just perpetuates the problem you are trying to end. Instead, cultivate the strong awareness, "I am the Self. I am That. I am Brahman [impersonal Absolute Reality]. I am everything". You don't need any methods to get rid of the wrong ideas you have about yourself. All you have to do is stop believing them. The best way to do this is to replace them with ideas which more accurately reflect the real sate of affairs. If you think and meditate "I am the Self", it will do you a lot of more good than thinking, "I am the "little self". How can I get rid of this "little self" ? If you desire to gain a proper understanding of your real nature is intense enough, help
will automatically come. If you want to generate an awareness of your real nature you will be immeasurably helped by having contact with a jnani [realized being]. The power and Grace which a jnani radiates quiet the mind and automatically eliminate the wrong ideas you have about yourself. You can make progress by having satang [association] of a realized Guru and by constant spiritual practice. The Guru cannot do everything for you.
If you want to give up the limiting habits of many lifetimes, you must practice constantly. Most people take the appearance of the snake in the rope to be reality. Acting on their misperceptions they think up many different ways of killing the snake. They can never
succeed in getting rid of the snake until they give up the idea that there is a snake there at all. People who want to kill or control the mind have the same problem: they imagine that there is a mind which needs to be controlled and take drastic steps to beat it into
submission. If, instead, they generated the understanding that there is no such thing as the mind, all there problems would come to an end. You must generate the conviction, "I am the all-pervasive consciousness in which all bodies and minds in the world are appearing and disappearing.
I am that consciousness which remains unchanged and unaffected by these appearances and disappearances". Stabilize yourself in that conviction. That is all you need
to do. Bhagavan [Ramana Maharshi] once told a story about a man who wanted to bury his own shadow in a deep pit. He dug the pit and stood in such a position that his shadow was on the bottom of it. The man then tried to bury it by covering it with earth. Each time he threw some soil in the hole the shadow appeared on top of it. Of course, he never succeeded in burying the shadow. Many people behave like this when they meditate. They take the mind to be real, try to fight it and kill it, and always fail. These fights against the mind are all mental activities which strengthen the mind instead of weakening it.
If you want to get rid of the mind, all you have to do is understand that it is "not me". Cultivate the awareness "I am the immanent consciousness". When that understanding becomes firm, the non-existent mind will not trouble you. Every time you go to sleep you have the experience of being without a mind. You cannot deny
that you exist while you are asleep and you cannot deny that your mind is not functioning while you are in dreamless sleep. This daily experience should convince you that it is possible to continue your existence without a mind. Of course, you do not have the full experience of consciousness while you are asleep, but if you think about what happens during his state you should come to understand that your existence, the continuity of your Being, is in no way dependent on your mind or your identification with it.
When the mind reappears every morning you instantly jump to the conclusion "This is the real me". If you reflect on this proposition for some time you will see how absurd it is. If what you really are only exists when the mind is present, you have to accept that you didn't exist while you were asleep. No one will accept such an absurd conclusion. If you analyze your alternating states you will discover that it is your direct experience that you exist whether you are awake or asleep. You will also discover that the mind only becomes active while you are waking or dreaming. From these simple daily experiences it should be easy to understand that the mind \is something that comes and goes. Your existence is not wiped out each time the mind ceases to function.
I am not telling you some philosophical theory; I am telling you something that you can validate by direct experience in any twenty-four hour period of your life. Take these facts, which you can discover by directly experiencing them, and investigate them a little more. When the mind appears every morning don't jump to the usual conclusion,
"This is me; these thoughts are mine." Instead, watch these thoughts come and go without identifying with them in any way. If you can resist the impulse to claim each and every
thought as your own, you will come to a startling conclusion: you will discover that you are the consciousness in which the thoughts appear and disappear. You are allowed to run free.
Like the snake which appears in the rope, you will discover that the mind is only an illusion which appears through ignorance or misperception. You want some experience which will convince you that what I am saying is true. You can have that experience if you give up your life-long habit of inventing an "I" which claims all thoughts as "mine". Be conscious of yourself as consciousness alone, watch all the thoughts come and go. Come to the conclusion, by direct experience, that you are really consciousness itself, not its ephemeral contents. Clouds come and go in the sky but the appearance and disappearance of the clouds doesn't affect the sky. Your real nature is like the sky, like space. Just remain like the sky and let thought-clouds come and go. If you cultivate this attitude of indifference towards the mind, gradually you will cease to identify yourself with it. Whenever obstacles come on the path, think of them as "not me". Cultivate the attitude that the real you is beyond the reach of all troubles and obstacles. There are no obstacles for the Self. If you can remember that you always are the Self, obstacles will be of no importance. Only when one starts to do meditation that one becomes aware of the different ways that the mind causes us trouble. This is very true. But one should not worry about any of the obstacles or fear them. One should merely regard them as being not me. They can only cause you trouble while you think that they are your problems.
The obstructing vasanas [remembered thught tendencies] may look like a large mountain which obstructs your progress. Don't be intimidated by the size. It is not a mountain of rock, it is a mountain of camphor. If you light one corner of it with the flame of discriminative attention, it will all burn to nothing. Stand back from the mountain of problems, refuse to acknowledge that they are yours, and they will dissolve and disappear before your eyes. Don't be deluded by your thoughts and vasanas. They are always trying to trick you into believing that you are a real person, that the world is real, and that all your problems are real. Don't fight them; just ignore them. Don't accept delivery of all the wrong ideas that keep coming to you. Establish yourself in the conviction that you are the Self and that nothing can stick to you or affect you. Once you have that conviction you will find that you automatically ignore the habits of the mind. When the rejection of mental activities becomes continuous and automatic, you will begin to have the experience of the Self.
If you see two strangers quarrelling in the distance you do not give much attention to them because you know that the dispute is none of your business. Treat the contents of your mind in the same way. Instead of filling your mind with thoughts and then organizing fights between them, pay no attention to the mind at all. Rest quietly in the feeling of "I am", which is consciousness, and cultivate the attitude that all thoughts, all perceptions are "not me". When you have learned to regard your mind as a distant stranger, you will not pay any attention to all the obstacles it keeps inventing for you.
Mental problems feed on the attention that you give them. The more you worry about them, the stronger they become. If you ignore them, they lose their power and finally vanish. When maya [Illusion] is totally inactive, that is, when the identity with the body and the mind has been dropped, there is an awareness of consciousness, of Being. When one is established in that state there is no body, no mind and no world. These three things are just ideas which are brought into an apparent existence when maya is present and active. When maya is active, the sole effective way to dissolve it is the path shown by Bhagavan.
One must do Self-enquiry and discriminate between what is real and what is unreal. It is the power of maya which makes us believe in the reality of things which have no reality outside our imagination. If you ask, "What are these imaginary things?" the answer is, "Everything that is not the formless Self". The Self alone is real; everything else is a figment of our imagination. It is not helpful to enquire why there is maya and how it operates. If you are in a boat which is leaking, you don't waste time asking whether the hole was made by an Italian, a Frenchman or an Indian. You just plug the leak. Don't worry about where maya comes from.
Put all your energy into escaping from its effect. If you try to investigate the origin of maya with your mind you are doomed to fail because any answer you come up with will be a maya answer. If you want to understand how maya operates and originates you should establish yourself in the Self, the one place where you can be free of it, and then watch how it takes you over each time you fail to keep your attention there.
[The above themes & 1600 pages more are freely available as perused or downloaded PDF’s, the sole occupants of a Public Microsoft Skydrive “Public Folder” accessible through www.jpstiga.com ]