Yoga
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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

YOGA


(Raja-Yoga) The Yoga of Meditation

"Raja-Yoga is the raja (the king) of Yogas, and as a sign of royalty it is often spoken of as YOGA  without any further qualification or designation. Although Raja-Yoga is self-sufficient in its own sphere, it also plays the part of a preparatory school to the supreme Yoga of Knowledge" -Romain Rolland

A brief introduction to the Path of Yoga

The Path of Yoga
From The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sections CCXXXIX and CCXL
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

[Note: What is the path of Yoga? Sage Vyasa  provides
the definition of the word 'YOGA' as follows:]

The uniting together of Intellect and Mind, and all the Senses, and the all pervading Soul is said to be Knowledge of the foremost kind.

[Vyasa further explains the path of Yoga:]
That Knowledge should be acquired (through the preceptor's aid) by one that is of a tranquil disposition, that has mastered his senses, that is capable (by meditation) of turning his gaze on the Soul, that takes a pleasure in such meditation, that is endued with intelligence and pure in acts. One should seek to acquire this Knowledge by abandoning those five impediments of Yoga which are known to the wise, viz., desire, wrath, cupidity, fear and sleep.

[Note: The following texts from The Mahabharata cover the subject matters that appear in The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5 called ‘The Yoga of Renunciation of Action’ and Chapter 6 called ‘The Yoga of Meditation’. Some of these Shlokas (verses) from the Gita are reproduced below after the text from The Mahabharata].

The Path of Yoga
The text from The Mahabharata in detail:

Suka, (the son of Vyasa) said: By what means does one possessed of wisdom, conversant with the Vedas, observant of sacrifices, endued with wisdom, and free from malice, succeed in attaining to Brahman (The Supreme Reality) which is incapable of being apprehended by either direct evidence or inference, and unsusceptible of being indicated by the Vedas? Asked by me, tell me by what means is Brahman to be apprehended?

Is it by penance, by Brahmacharya (celibacy), by renunciation of everything, by intelligence, by the aid of the Sankhya philosophy, or by Yoga? By what means and what kind of singleness of purpose be attained by men, with respect to both, viz., the mind and the senses?

The doctrine of knowledge as expounded in the Sankhya system

Vyasa said: No man ever attains to success by means other than the acquisition of knowledge, the practice of penance, the subjugation of the senses, and renunciation of everything. [Note: The commentator points out that by these four words the four modes of life are indicated].

The great entities (elements), five in number, represent the first or initial creation of the Self-born. They have been very largely placed in embodied creatures included in the world of life. The bodies of all embodied creatures are derived from earth. The humours are from water. Their eyes are said to be derived from light. Prana, Apana and the three other vital breaths have the air for their refuge. And lastly, all unoccupied apertures within them (such as the nostrils, the cavities of the ears, etc.) are of space. In the feet of all living creatures is Vishnu. In their arms is Indra. Within the stomach is Agni (digestive fire) desirous of eating. In the ears are the points of the horizon (or the compass) representing the sense of hearing. In the tongue is speech which is Saraswati (goddess of speech).

The ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose forming the fifth, are said to be the sense of knowledge. These exist for the purposes of apprehension of their respective objects. Sound, touch, form, taste and scent forming the fifth, are the objects of the five senses. These should always be regarded as separate from (or independent of) the senses.

Like the charioteer setting his well-broken steeds along the paths he pleases, the mind sets the senses (along directions it pleases). The mind, in its turn, is employed by the knowledge sitting in the heart. The mind is the lord of all these senses in respect of employing them in their functions and guiding or restraining them. Similarly, the knowledge is the lord of the mind (in employing, and guiding or restraining it). The senses, the objects of the senses, the attributes of those objects represented by the word nature, knowledge, mind, the vital breaths, and Jiva (the embodied soul) dwell in the bodies of all embodied creatures.

Primordial Nature is the refuge of the knowledge Which exists only in the form of a sound.

The Soul also is not the refuge of the knowledge.
It is Desire that creates the knowledge.

The body, within which the knowledge dwells, has no real existence. The body therefore, is not the refuge of the knowledge.Primordial Nature (Prakriti) having the three attributes of Goodness, Passion and Darkness (Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas), is the refuge of the knowledge which exists only in the form of a sound. [Pranavah or AUM or OM]. The Soul also is not the refuge of the knowledge. It is Desire that creates the knowledge. Desire, however, never creates the attributes. The man of wisdom, capable of subduing his senses, beholds the seventeenth, viz., the Soul, as surrounded by six and ten attributes, in his own knowledge by the aid of the mind. The Soul cannot be beheld with the aid of the eye or with that of all the senses. Transcending all, the Soul becomes visible by only the light of the mind’s lamp. Divested of the properties of sound and touch and form, without taste and scent, indestructible and without a body (either gross or subtile) and without senses, it is nevertheless beheld within the body.

Unmanifest and supreme, it dwells in all mortal bodies.Following the lead of the preceptor and the Vedas, he who beholds it hereafter becomes Brahman’s self. They that are possessed of wisdom look with an equal eye upon a brahmana (Priest) possessed of knowledge and disciples, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a chandala. Transcending all things, the Soul dwells in all creatures mobile and immobile. Indeed, all things are pervaded by it. When a living creature beholds his own Soul in all things, and all things in his own Soul, he is said to attain to Brahman (The Supreme Being). One occupies that much of the Supreme Soul as is commensurate with what is occupied in one’s own soul by Vedic sound. He that can always realise the identity of all things with his own self certainly attains to immortality. The very gods are stupefied in the track of that trackless man who constitutes himself the soul of all creatures, who is engaged in the good of all beings, and who desire to attain to Brahman (the Supreme Being) which is the final refuge of all things.
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The Yoga doctrine
The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCXL
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Vyasa said: O excellent son, asked by thee, I have told thee truly what the answer to thy question should be according to the doctrine of knowledge as expounded in the Sankhya system. Listen now to me as I expound to thee all that should be done (for the same end) according to the Yoga doctrine.

The uniting together of Intellect and Mind, and all the Senses, and the all pervading Soul is said to be knowledge of the foremost kind. That knowledge should be acquired (through the preceptor’s aid) by one that is of a tranquil disposition, that has mastered his senses, that is capable (by meditation) of turning his gaze on the Soul, that takes a pleasure in such meditation, that is endued with intelligence and pure in acts.
One should seek to acquire this Knowledge by abandoning those five impediments of Yoga which are known to the wise, viz., desire, wrath, cupidity, fear and sleep.

Wrath is conquered with tranquillity of disposition. Desire is conquered by giving up all purposes. By reflecting with the aid of the understanding upon topics worthy of reflection, one endued with patience succeeds in abandoning sleep. By steady endurance one should restrain one’s organs of generation and the stomach (from unworthy or sinful indulgence). One should protect one’s hands and feet by using one’s eyes. One should protect one’s eyes and ears by the aid of one’s mind, one’s mind and speech by one’s acts. One should avoid fear by heedfulness, and pride by waiting upon the wise. Subduing procrastination, one should, by these means, subdue these impediments of Yoga.

One should pay one’s adorations to fire and the brahmanas (priests), and one should bow one’s head to the deities. One should avoid all kinds of inauspicious discourse, and speech that is fraught with malice, and words that are painful to other minds. …

Meditation, study, gift, truth, modesty, simplicity, forgiveness, purity of body, purity of conduct, subjugation of the senses, these enhance one’s energy, which when enhanced destroys one’s sins. By behaving equally towards all creatures and by living in contentment upon what is acquired easily and without effort, one attains to the fruition of all one’s objects and succeeds in obtaining knowledge.

Cleansed of all sins, endued with energy, abstemious in diet, with senses under complete control, one should, after having subdued both desire and wrath, seek to attain to Brahman. Firmly uniting the senses and the mind (having drawn them away from all external objects) with gaze fixed inwards, one should, in the still hours of evening, or in those before dawn, place one’s mind upon the knowledge. If even one of the five senses of a human being be kept unrestrained, all his wisdom may be seen to escape through it like water through an unstopped hole at the bottom of a leather bag. The mind in the first instance should be sought to be restrained by the Yogi after the manner of a fisherman seeking at the outset to render that one among the fish powerless from which there is the greatest danger to his nets.

Having first subdued the mind, the Yogi should then proceed to subdue his ears, then his eyes, then his tongue, and then his nose. Having restrained them, he should fix them on the mind. Then withdrawing the mind from all purposes, he should fix it on the knowledge.Indeed, having restrained the five senses, the Yogi should fix them on the mind. When these with the mind for the sixth become concentrated in the knowledge, and thus concentrated remain steady and untroubled, then Brahman becomes perceptible like a smokeless fire of blazing flames or the Sun of effulgent radiance. Indeed, one then beholds in oneself one’s soul like lightning fire in the skies.Everything then appears in it and it appears in everything in consequence of its infinitude. Those high-souled Brahmanas that are possessed of wisdom, that are endued with fortitude, that are possessed of high knowledge, and that are engaged in the good of all creatures, succeed in beholding it.

Engaged in the observance of austere vows, the Yogi who conducts himself thus for six months, seated by himself on an isolated spot, succeeds in attaining to an equality with the Indestructible. Annihilation, extension, power to present varied aspects in the same person or body, celestial scents, and sounds, and sights, the most agreeable sensations of taste and touch, pleasurable sensations of coolness and warmth, equality with the wind [Foot-note by the commentator and translator: Equality with the wind means speed of motion, power to disappear at will, and capacity to move through the skies. (Super natural powers known as ‘Siddhis’)]. Capability of understanding (by inward light) the meaning of scriptures and every work of genius, companionship of celestial damsels; acquiring all these by Yoga the Yogi should disregard them and merge them all in the knowledge.

[Note: By the practice of Yoga all these are capable of being acquired or attained. But then the Yogi who suffers himself to be led away by those valuable possessions is said to fall in hell, for the enjoyment of this kind is nothing but hell compared to the high object for which Yogis should strive].

Restraining speech and the senses one should practise Yoga during the hours after dusk, the hours before dawn, and at dawn of day, seated on a mountain summit, or at the foot of a goodly tree, or with a tree before him.

[Note: Chaitya trees or Peepul trees are sacred and large trees which stand firm on their roots and about which all round of each tree a platform of earth is raised. " In front of a tree" probably implying ‘under the shade of its spreading branches’].

Restraining all the senses within the heart, one should with faculties concentrated think of the Eternal and Indestructible like a man of the world thinking of wealth and other valuable possessions. One should never, while practising Yoga, withdraw one’s mind from it. One should with devotion betake oneself to those means by which one may succeed in restraining the mind that is very restless. One should never permit oneself to fall away from it. With the senses and the mind withdrawn from everything else, the Yogi (for practice) should betake himself to empty caves of mountains, to temples consecrated to the deities, and to empty houses or apartments, for living there. One should not associate with another in either speech, act or thought. Disregarding all things, and eating very abstemiously, the Yogi should look with an equal eye upon objects acquired or lost. One should behave after the same manner towards one that praises and one that censures him. He should not seek the good or the evil of one or the other. He should not rejoice at an acquisition or suffer anxiety when he meets with failure or loss. Of uniform behaviour towards all beings, he should imitate the wind

[Note: "Imitate the wind" by becoming unattached to all things].

Unto one whose mind is thus turned to itself, who leads a life of purity, and who casts an equal eye upon all things,- indeed, unto one who is ever engaged in Yoga thus for even six months,- Brahman as represented by sound appears very vividly. [Note: Refer to pages "Gayatri" and "Krishna’s flute" See the column on the left].

[Also refer to The Bhagavad Gita, Ch.6, Verse 8:
The Yogi who is satisfied with the knowledge and wisdom (of the Self), who has conquered the senses, and to whom a clod of earth, a piece of stone and gold are the same, is said to be harmonised (i.e., is said to have attained Nirvikalpa Samadhi).]

Beholding all men afflicted with anxiety (on account of earning wealth and comfort), the Yogi should view a clod of earth, a piece of stone, and a lump of gold with an equal eye. Indeed, he should withdraw himself from this path (of earning wealth), cherishing an aversion for it, and never suffer himself to be stupefied. Even if a person happens to belong to the inferior order, even if one happens to be a woman, both of them, by following in the track indicated above, will surely attain to the highest end.

[Note by the scholar and translator: The inferior order here referred to is, of course, the Sudra order. The Commentator points out that whereas only the three superior orders (Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya) are regarded to be eligible for the study of Sankhya and for inculcation of such Srutis as Tattwamasi (That Thou Art), here sage Vyasa lays down that as regards the Yoga path, all are eligible to betake themselves to it]. [ Refer also to Bhagavad Gita, Ch.9, Verse 32: "For taking refuge in Me, they also, O Arjuna, who may be of a sinful birth, women, vaisyas as well as sudras- attain the Supreme goal"].

He that has subdued his mind beholds in his own self, by the aid of his own knowledge the Uncreate, the Eternal Brahman,- That, viz., which cannot be attained except by fixed senses,- That which is subtiler than the most subtile, and grosser than the most gross, and which is Emancipation’s self.

[Note: ‘ Fixed senses ‘ i.e., when the senses are fixed on the mind and the mind on the understanding. Ajaram (a word in the original Sanskrit text) is immutable or unchanging or that in which there is no change for the worse or for the better. By subtility is indicated the incapacity of being apprehended, and by ‘Mahattaram’(Sanskrit) is meant infinity].

By ascertaining from the mouths of preceptors and by themselves reflecting with their minds

Upon these words of the great and high-souled Rishis spoken so properly, persons possessed of wisdom attain to that equality (about which the scriptures say) with Brahman himself, till, indeed, the time when the universal dissolution comes that swallows up all existent beings.
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From The Bhagavad Gita
Explanations based on the writings of Swami Shivananda
The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

Selected verses from The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5 called
"The Yoga of Renunciation of Action"

The Blessed Lord said :

Verse 3 : He should be known as a perpetual sanyasi (renunciate) who neither hates nor desires, O mighty-armed Arjuna, he is easily set free from bondage.

Verse 6: But renunciation is hard to attain without Yoga; the Yoga-harmonised sage quickly goes to Brahman (The Supreme Being).

Verse 13: Mentally renouncing all actions and self-controlled, the embodied one rests happily in the nine-gated city, neither acting nor causing others (body and senses) to act.

Verse 15: The Lord takes neither the demerit nor even the merit of any; knowledge is enveloped by ignorance, thereby beings are deluded.

[Note: Man is bound when he identifies himself with Nature (Prakriti or Maya) and its effects –body, mind, prana or the life breaths and senses. He attains freedom or moksha (liberation) when he identifies himself with the immortal, "actionless" Self that dwells within his heart.]

Verse 17: Their intellect absorbed in That (Supreme Being), their self being That, established in That, with That for their supreme goal, they go whence there is no return, their sins dispelled by knowledge.

Verse 18: Sages look with an equal eye on a Brahmin endowed with learning and humility, on a cow, on an elephant, and even on a dog and an outcaste.

[Note: The brahmana (brahmin or priest) is Sattwic. The cow is Rajasic. The elephant, the dog and the outcaste are Tamasic. The sage sees in all of them the one homogeneous immortal Self Who is not affected by the three gunas (Sattwa, Rajas & Tamas) and their tendencies.]

Verse 20: Resting in Brahman (The Supreme Being), with steady intellect and undeluded, the knower of Brahman neither rejoices on obtaining what is pleasant nor grieves on obtaining what is unpleasant.

Verse 21: With the self unattached to external contacts he finds happiness in the Self; with the self engaged in the meditation of Brahman he attains to the endless happiness.

[Note: If you want to enjoy the imperishable happiness of the Self within, you will have to withdraw the senses from their respective objects and plunge yourself in deep meditation on the Self within.]

Verse 24: He who is happy within, who rejoices within, and who is illumined within, that Yogi attains absolute freedom or moksha, himself becoming Brahman.

Verse 25; The sages obtain absolute freedom or moksha- they whose sins have been destroyed, whose dualities (perception of dualities or experience of the pairs of opposites e.g. happiness-unhappiness) are torn asunder, who are self-controlled, and intent on the welfare of all beings.

Verse 26: Absolute freedom (or Brahmic bliss) exists on all sides for those self-controlled ascetics who are free from desire and anger, who have controlled their thoughts, and who have realised the self.

Verse 27 : Shutting out all external contacts and fixing the gaze between the eyebrows, equalising the outgoing and incoming breaths moving within the nostrils.

[Note: Bhrumadya drsti or gazing between the two eyebrows where the psychic centre known as the Ajna Chakra is situated. The mind becomes steady when the breath becomes rhythmical.]

Verse 28 : With the senses, the mind and the intellect (ever) controlled, having liberation as his supreme goal, free from desire, fear and anger – the sage is verily liberated for ever.
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Selected verses from The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6 called

The Yoga of Meditation

The Blessed Lord said:

Verse 2: Do thou, O Arjuna, know Yoga to be that which they call renunciation; no one verily becomes a Yogi who has not renounced thoughts.

[Note: The Lord eulogises Karma Yoga (Yoga of Action) here because it is the means or an external aid to Dhyana Yoga (Yoga of Meditation). It leads to the Yoga of Meditation in due course. No devotee of action who has not renounced the thought of the fruit of his actions can become a Yogi of steady mind. The thought of the fruits will certainly make the mind unsteady. In order to encourage the practice of Karma Yoga (Yoga of Action), it is stated here that Karma Yoga is sanyasa.]

Verse 3: For a sage who wishes to attain to Yoga, action is said to be the means; for the same sage who has attained to Yoga, inaction (quiescence) is said to be the means.

[Note: For a man who cannot practise meditation for a long time and who is not able to keep his mind steady in meditation, action is a means to get himself enthroned in Yoga. Action purifies his mind and makes the mind fit for the practice of steady meditation. Action leads to steady concentration and meditation. For the sage who is enthroned in Yoga, renunciation of actions is said to be the means. The more perfectly he abstains from actions the more steady his mind is, and the more peaceful he is, the more easily and thoroughly does his mind get fixed in the Self.]

Verse 4: When a man is not attached to the sense-objects or to actions, having renounced all thoughts, then he is said to have attained to Yoga.

[Note: Renunciation of thoughts implies that all desires and all actions should be renounced, because all desires are born of thoughts. "Whatever a man desires, that he wills; And whatever he wills, that he does."- From The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 4.4.5.]

Verse 5: Let a man lift himself by his own Self alone, let him not lower himself ; for this self alone is the friend of oneself and this self alone is the enemy of oneself.

[Note: The lower mind or the impure mind (asuddha manas) is your real enemy because it binds you to the samsara (making you worldly-minded), and the higher mind or the Sattwic mind, the pure mind (suddha manas) is your real friend, because it helps you in the attainment of moksha.]

Verse 6: The self is the friend of the self for him who has conquered himself by the self, but to the unconquered self, this self stands in the position of the enemy like the (external) foe.

[Note: Conquer the lower mind through the higher mind. The lower mind is your enemy. The higher mind is your friend. The lower mind is filled with Rajas and Tamas (passion and darkness). The higher mind is filled with Sattwa or purity.]

Verse 7: The Supreme Self of him who is self-controlled and peaceful is balanced in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, as also in honour and dishonour.

[Note: The self-controlled Yogi is not affected by the pairs of opposites : cold and heat implying comforts and discomforts at the physical level, pleasure and pain refer to emotions at the level of the mind, and honour and dishonour implying the faculty of understanding at the intellectual level.]

Verse 9 : He who is of the same mind to the good-hearted, friends, enemies, the indifferent, the neutral, the hateful, the relatives, the righteous and the unrighteous, excels.

[Note: Such equal minded Yogi has equal vision.]

Verse 10 : Let the Yogi try constantly to keep the mind steady, remaining in solitude, alone, with the mind and the body controlled, and free from hope and greed.

[Note: If you are well established in the practice of pratyahara, sama and dama (withdrawal of the senses, control of mind and the body respectively), if you have the senses under your full control, you can find perfect solitude and peace even in the most crowded and noisy place of a big city. If the senses are turbulent, if you have not got the power to withdraw them, you will have no peace of mind even in a solitary cave of the Himalayas.]

Verse 11 & 12 : In a clean spot, having established a firm seat of his own, neither too high nor too low, made of a cloth, a skin (tiger skin or deer skin) and kusha-grass, one over the other, there, having made the mind one-pointed, with the actions of the mind and the senses controlled, let him, seated on the seat, practise Yoga for the purification of the self.

Verse 13 : Let him firmly hold his body, head and neck erect and still, gazing at the tip of his nose, without looking around.

[Note : Though the gaze is directed towards the tip of the nose when the eyes are half closed and the eyeballs are steady, the mind should be fixed only on the Self. Gazing at the tip of the nose will soon bring about concentration of the mind.]

Verse 14 : Serene minded, fearless, firm in the vow of a brahmachari (celibate), having controlled the mind, thinking of Me, and balanced in mind, let him sit, having Me as his supreme goal.

Verse 15 : Thus always keeping the mind balanced, the Yogi, with the mind controlled, attains to the peace abiding in Me, which culminates in liberation.

Verse 16 : Verily Yoga is not possible for him who eats too much, nor for him who does not eat at all, nor for him who sleeps too much nor for him who is (always) awake, O Arjuna.

Verse 17 : Yoga becomes the destroyer of pain for him who is moderate in eating and recreation (such as walking etc.), who is moderate in exertion in action, who is moderate in sleep and wakefulness.

Verse 19 : As a lamp placed in a windless spot does not flicker- to such is compared the Yogi of controlled mind, practising Yoga in the Self (or absorbed in the Yoga of the Self).

Verse 29 : With the mind harmonised by Yoga he sees the Self abiding in all beings and all beings in the Self; he sees the same everywhere.

Verse 31: He who, being established in unity, worships Me, who dwells in all beings, that Yogi abides in Me, whatever may be his mode of living.

[Note: Scriptures tell of a person named Sadana who lived in God though he was a butcher, because his mind was ever fixed at the lotus feet of the Lord.]

Arjuna said:

Verse 33 & 34 : This Yoga of equanimity taught by Thee, O Lord, I do not see its steady continuance, because of the restlessness of the mind.

The mind verily is restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding, O Krishna : I deem it as difficult to control it as to control the wind.

The Blessed Lord said :

Verse 35 & 36 : Undoubtedly, O mighty armed Arjuna, the mind is difficult to control and restless; but by practice and by dispassion it may be restrained.

I think Yoga is hard to be attained by one of uncontrolled self, but the self-controlled and striving one can attain to it by the proper means.

Arjuna said:

Verse 37 : He who is unable to control himself though he has the faith, and whose mind wanders away from Yoga, what end does he, having failed to attain perfection in Yoga meet, O Krishna?

[Note: He has faith in the efficacy of Yoga but he is not able to control the senses and the mind. He has no concentration of mind. Having failed to achieve perfection in Yoga, i.e., Self-realisation or the knowledge of the Self, what path will he tread, and what end will such a man meet?]

The Blessed Lord said:

Verses 40, 41,42, 43 & 44 :

O Arjuna, neither in this world, nor in the next world is there destruction for him; none, verily, who does good ever comes to grief.

Having attained to the worlds of the righteous and having dwelt there for everlasting years, he who fell from Yoga is reborn in a house of the pure and wealthy.

Or he is born in a family of even the wise Yogis; verily a birth like this is very difficult to obtain in this world.

There he comes in touch with the knowledge acquired in his former body and strives more than before for perfection.

By that very former practice he is borne on in spite of himself. Even he who merely wishes to know Yoga goes beyond the Brahmic world.

Verse 45 : But the Yogi who strives with assiduity, purified of sins and perfected gradually through many births, reaches the highest goal.
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Book titled "How to know God": The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. A rational and psychological explanation of yoga. It will especially appeal to those who want religion to make sense.
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From The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
The following text is reproduced from our Page 'Self-enquiry'

Question: In turning the mind inwards, are we not still employing the mind?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Of course we are employing the mind. It is well known and admitted that only with the help of the mind can the mind be killed. But instead of setting about saying there is a mind, and I want to kill it, begin to seek the source of the mind, and you find the mind does not exist at all. The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self.

Question: Even so, I do not understand. ‘I’, you say, is the wrong ‘I’ now. How to eliminate the wrong ‘I’?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You need not eliminate the wrong ‘I’. How can ‘I’ eliminate itself? All that you need to do is to find out its origin and abide there. Your efforts can extend only thus far. Then the beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach it.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The yogi tries to drive his mind to the goal, as a cowherd drives a bull with a stick, but on this path the seeker coaxes the bull by holding out a handful of grass.

Question: How is that done?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You have to ask yourself the question ‘Who am I?’ This investigation will lead in the end to the discovery of something within you, which is behind the mind. Solve that great problem and you will solve all other problems.

Again people often ask how the mind is controlled. I say to them, ‘Show me the mind and then you will know what to do.’ The fact is that the mind is only a bundle of thoughts. How can you extinguish it by the thought of doing so or by a desire? Your thoughts and desires are part and parcel of the mind. The mind is simply fattened by new thoughts rising up. Therefore it is foolish to attempt to kill the mind by means of the mind. The only way of doing it is to find its source and hold on to it. The mind will then fade away of its own accord. Yoga teaches Chitta Vritti Nirodha (control of the activities of the mind). But I say Atma Vichara (self-investigation). This is the practical way. Chitta Vritti Nirodha is brought about in sleep, swoon, or by starvation. As soon as the cause is withdrawn there is a recrudescence of thoughts. Of what use is it then? In the state of stupor there is peace and no misery. But misery recurs when the stupor is removed. So nirodha (control) is useless and cannot be of lasting benefit.

How then can the benefit be made lasting? It is by finding the cause of misery. Misery is due to the perception of objects. If they are not there, there will no contingent thoughts and so misery is wiped off. ‘How will objects cease to be?’ is the next question. The srutis (scriptures) and the sages say that the objects are only mental creations. They have no substantive being. Investigate the matter and ascertain the truth of the statement. The result will be the conclusion that the objective world is in the subjective consciousness. The Self is thus the only reality, which permeates and also envelops the world. Since there is no duality, no thoughts will arise to disturb your peace. This is realisation of the Self. The Self is eternal and so also is realisation.

Abhyasa (spiritual practice) consists in withdrawal within the Self every time you are disturbed by thought. It is not concentration or destruction of the mind but withdrawal into the Self.
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Related articles:
Sankhya versus Yoga
Raja Yoga
Gita
Meditation

Direct Path
Self-enquiry
God
Self-Atma

The Nature of Reality
Consciousness-the three states


Self-realisation
Emancipation

Freedom and Bondage
Gita for Children
Mind
Karma Yoga

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