Miscellaneous Q & A





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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

Miscellaneous  Q  &  A

Click on underlined words to open paragraph

Question: Should I retire from Business and
take to reading books on Vedanta?

Question: "What do you think about social reform?"

Question: "What is the relationship between
society and its members?

About Sri Ramana Maharshi

The Astonishing Spiritual Powers of Sri Ramana Maharshi

Life in the world

Question,:"I have no more pleasure in my family. There remains nothing for me to do there. I have done what had to be done, and now there are grandsons and grand-daughters in the house. Should I remain there or should I leave it and go away?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: "You should stay just where you are now. But where are you now? Are you in the house or is the house in you? Is there any house apart from you? If you become established in your own place, you will find that all things have merged into you and such questions will become unnecessary."

Question: "Then it seems I am to remain at home?"

Sri Ramana: "You are to remain in your true state."

Question: "Should I retire from Business and take to reading books on vedanta?"

Sri Ramana,: "If objects have an independent existence, that is if they exist somewhere apart from you, then it may be possible for you to retire from them. But they do not. They owe their existence to you, to your thought, so where can you retire from them? As for reading books on Vedanta, you can go on reading any number but they can only tell you to realise the Self within you. The Self cannot be found in books. You have to find it for yourself in yourself."

Question: "How can a householder who is constantly engaged in the active discharge of his domestic duties, which should naturally impel him to still greater activity, obtain the supreme peace of withdrawal and freedom from the urge to such activity even while thus busily engaged?"

Sri Ramana; "It is only to the spectator that the enlightened householder seems to be occupied with his domestic duties; for even though apparently engaged in domestic duties, he is not really engaged in any activity at all. His outer activity does not prevent him from realising the perfect peace of withdrawal, and he is free from the restless urge to activity even in the midst of his activities."

Question: "What is the significance of the life of a spiritually minded householder who has to devote all his time merely to earning a living and supporting his family and what mutual benefit do they get?"

Sri Ramana: "The discharge of his duties by a householder such as this, who works for the support of his family, quite unmindful of his own physical comforts in life, should be regarded as selfless service rendered to his family, whose needs it is his destiny to meet. It may, however, be asked what benefit such a householder derives from the family. The answer is that there is no benefit for him from the family as such, since he has made the discharge of his duties to them a means of spiritual training and since he finally obtains perfect contentment by realising the supreme Bliss of liberation , which is the ultimate goal of every path and the supreme reward. He therefore stands in need of nothing from the members of his family or from his family life."

Question: "Is solitude necessary for a sannyasin(monk)?"

Sri Ramana: "Solitude is in the mind of a man. One man may be in the thick of the world and yet maintain perfect serenity of mind. Such a person is always in solitude. Another may live in the forest but still be unable to control his mind. He cannot be said to be in solitude. Solitude is an attitude of the mind. A man attached to the things of life cannot get solitude, wherever he may be, whereas a detached man is always in solitude."

Question: "Is a vow of silence useful?"

Sri Ramana: "The inner silence is self-surrender. And that means living without the sense of ego."

Question: "How does activity help? Doesn't it simply increase the already heavy load upon us that we have to get rid of?"

Sri Ramana: "Action performed unselfishly purifies the mind and helps it to fix itself in meditation."

Question: "But suppose we were to meditate constantly without activity?"

Sri Ramana: "Try and see. Your latent tendencies (vasanas) will not let you. Meditation only comes gradually with the gradual weakening of the vasanas by the grace of the Guru."

Question: "What are the distinctive characteristics of a Guru by which one can recognise him?"

Sri Ramana: "The Guru is one who at all times abides in the profound depths of the Self. He never sees any difference between himself and others and is quite free from the idea that he is the Enlightened or the Liberated One, while those around him are in bondage or the darkness of ignorance. His self-possession can never be shaken under any circumstances and he is never perturbed."

Question: "What is the Grace of the Guru?"

Sri Ramana: "The Guru is the Self. At sometime a man grows dissatisfied with his life and, not content with what he has, seeks the satisfaction of his desires through prayer to God. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain His Grace than to satisfy worldly desires. Then God's Grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a Guru and appears to the devotee, teaches him the Truth and, moreover, purifies his mind by association with him. The devotee's mind thus gains strength and is then able to turn inward. By meditation it is further purified until it remains calm without the least ripple. That calm Expanse is the Self.

The Guru is both outer and inner. From outside he gives a push to the mind to turn inward while from inside he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in quieting it. That is the Grace of the Guru. There is no difference between God, Guru and Self."

Question: "Can fasting help towards Realisation?"

Sri Ramana: "Yes, but it is only a temporary help. It is mental fasting that is the real aid. Fasting is not an end in itself. There must be spiritual development at the same time. Absolute fasting weakens the mind too and leaves you without sufficient strength for the spiritual quest. Therefore eat in moderation and continue the quest."

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Question: "What do you think about social reform?"

Sri Ramana: "Self-reform automatically results in social reform. Attend to self-reform and social reform will take care of itself."

Question: "What is the relationship between society and its members?

Question: "What is the relationship between Society and its members?"

Sri Ramana: "The Society consisting of followers of their respective customs may be likened to the body, and its members to the limbs. Just as a limb subserves the good of the body, so a member contributes to the good of the Society, and prospers.

One should always so function in mind, speech and body as to promote the good of Society and also wake up one's own people to do likewise.

One should first organise one's group to be helpful to Society, and then build up its prosperity with a view to advance the prosperity of the entire Society."

Question: "Some wise people extol peace, others extol power. Which of these two qualities is better for the well-being of Society?"

Sri Ramana: "Peace is for the purification of one's own mind, and power is for the progress of Society. The Society should first be elevated by means of power, and then peace established."

Question: "What is the supreme goal on Earth to be reached by the totality of men in every society?"

Sri Ramana: "Fraternity through equality is the supreme
goal to be reached by the totality of men in every society. Fraternity brings about supreme peace to mankind and then would the whole world shine as a single house-hold."

A dialogue

Sri Ramana: "Now, I will ask you a question. When a man gets into a train, where does he put his luggage?"

Devotee: "Either in the luggage compartment or in the luggage van.

Sri Ramana: "He doesn't carry it on his head or in his lap while on the train?"

Devotee: "Only a foolish would do so."

Sri Ramana: "It is a thousand times more foolish to bear your own burden once you have undertaken the spiritual quest, whether by the path of knowledge or devotion."

Devotee: "But can I relinquish all my responsibilities. all my

Sri Ramana: "You remember the temple tower? There are many statues on it, aren't there? Well, there are four big ones at the base, one at each corner. Have you seen them?"

Devotee: "Yes."

Sri Ramana: "Well, I tell you that the huge tower is supported by these four statues.

Devotee: "How is that possible? What does Bhagawan mean?"

Sri Ramana: "I mean that to say that is no more foolish than saying that you bear all the cares, burdens and responsibilities of life. The Lord of the universe bears the whole burden. You only imagine that you do. You can hand over all your burdens to Him. Whatever you have to do, you will be made an instrument for doing it at the right time. Do not imagine that you cannot do it unless you have the desire to. It is not desire that gives you the necessary strength. The strength is the Lord's."

About Sri Ramana Maharshi
By Kurt Friedrichs

Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) was one of the greatest spiritual teachers of modern-day India. At the age of seventeen he attained a profound experience of the true Self without the guidance of a Guru and thereafter remained conscious of his identity with the Absolute (Brahman) at all times. After some years of silent seclusion he finally began to reply to the questions put to him by spiritual seekers all over the world.

He followed no particular traditional system of teaching, but rather spoke directly from his own experience of non-duality. Ramana Maharshi wrote very little; his teachings took the form of conversations with visitors seeking his guidance(as transcribed by followers). The transcribed conversations of Ramana Maharshi are known among spiritual seekers the world over and prized for their great inspirational power, which transcends all religious differences.

At the age of seventeen Ramana suddenly had an experience of death one day in which he realised that the body dies but the consciousness is not touched by death. "I" am immortal consciousness. "All these," he later reported, "were no idle speculations. They went through me like a powerful , living truth that I experienced directly, almost without thinking. ' I ' [the true I or Self ] was reality, the only reality in this momentary state. All conscious activity that was related to my body flowed into this ' I '. From that moment, all attention was drawn as if by powerful magic to the ' I ' or the Self. The fear of death was permanently extinguished. From this time on I remained fully absorbed in the 'Self '. "

The Astonishing Spiritual Powers
of Sri Ramana Maharshi

From the book "The Secret Life of plants"
by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird

In South India, Alick McInnes, a Scottish scientist, witnessed the strange spectacle of Sri Ramana Maharshi on his evening walk. Within seconds of his leaving his house, cattle tied up in stalls in the village half a mile away would struggle to get out of their ties. When released, they careered along the road to accompany the old man on his walk, followed by all the dogs and children of the village. Before the procession had gone far, wild animals and even snakes joined it from the jungle. Thousands of birds appeared, almost blotting out the sky. There were tiny tits, huge kites, heavy-winged vultures and other birds of prey, all flying in harmony around the Maharshi on his walk. When he returned to his room, said McInnes, all the birds, animals and children would quietly disappear.

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