Ramana Vs. Patanjali: Self-Inquiry Alone Yields Liberation

In this morning teaching, Shunyamurti reads from Padamalai, some of Sri Ramana’s comments on yoga. Shunyamurti explains that by yoga, Ramana didn’t just mean asanas and pranayamas, he included in that the yoga of Patanjali. Patanjali states that the goal of yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind. But Ramana indicates very strongly that should not be your goal—that should be the byproduct of your goal. Get ready for Dharma Combat: Ramana vs. Patanjali



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Full Transcript

I thought I would read a little more from Padamalai, some of Sri Ramana’s comments on yoga—meaning for him, hatha yoga—and on page 235 Ramana declares, “The attainment of hatha yoga is a defective accomplishment, since it can be lost. But for the one who has attained gyana yoga, the perfect accomplishment, there is never any loss.”

Later on that page, he says, “For those who are attempting to know their real nature, the pure consciousness, through the grace of the Lord, the method of pranayama is also a deluding attachment.”


But by “hatha yoga”, Ramana didn’t just mean asanas and pranayamas, he included in that the yoga of Patanjali. Patanjali begins his famous yoga sutras with the definition of yoga as chitta vritti nirodha—meaning that the goal of yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind. But Ramana indicates very strongly that should not be your goal—that should be the byproduct of your goal. You cannot desire to control your mind because that requires the use of the mind. The very instrument you want to transcend cannot be used for the purpose; therefore, the attempt to control the movements of the mind will backfire, will keep one always in a state of wanting control, and control cannot be maintained—it will be lost—whether it’s physical control, or emotional control, or mental control.


So, the only goal that works is the goal of realization of the Self, that has no interest in thoughts or emotions or in desire or fear. So Bhagavan states, “People often ask how the mind is to be 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 to do so? Your thoughts and desires are part-and-parcel of the mind. Your mind is simply fattened by new thoughts rising up.” Whether they are thoughts of controlling it, or thoughts simply of getting caught up in its fantasies.


“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 abide as that. The mind will then fade away of its own accord. Patanjali in the yoga sutras teaches chitta vritti nirodha, but I say atma vichara. This is the only practical way. Chitta vritti nirodha is brought about in sleep or in fainting or coma or by”—he says “starvation”; I think he means a long fast—“yes, you can achieve it temporarily, but as soon as the cause is withdrawn there is recrudescence of thoughts. So what use is it? In the state of stupor there is peace and no misery.”

I would add in the use of certain drugs there are times when the mind will stop, but when the drug wares off the mind comes back just as it was before.


“So the misery recurs when these temporary alterations of states of consciousness are removed or they wear off. So therefore, the attempt of nirodha, or control, of the mind is useless, and cannot be of lasting benefit.”

The only way that one can achieve lasting benefit, or lasting liberation, is to understand that the mind is a delusion. To understand that no benefit comes through desire.

Instead of remaining in blissful Self-abidance as that which one is, what’s the point of thinking “I am this”, “I am that”, “I am Brahman, I am Shiva”—whatever—use of mantras, he says, is a ridiculous waste of time. Once you stop repeating the mantra, the ego-mind will return. There has to be abidance in the Self that is already always liberated, always silent, always the Zero Point, always present behind the mind that’s trying to figure everything out.


So Bhagavan says, “If everything is perceived as the one consciousness alone, there will not even be the tiniest amount of yearning in your mind.” OK, so here is the key—realize that everything that arises is consciousness. But that consciousness itself never arises, never appears—it contains but does not identify with any thought, and has no desire, no yearning. And so, to realize yourself as pure consciousness is sufficient. All the sanskaras of the ego will fall away by themselves, naturally, without fighting, without technique required, without striving, without any psychological digging into the mind’s fantasies, into its past traumas or even past lives—you don’t need to do any of that because the ego is not real, and nor are the past lives. The Self doesn’t even have a current life, let alone past lives.


So, a questioner says, “How can desires be made to be weaker?” And Bhagavan says, “Only by knowledge. You know that you are not the mind, the desires are only in the mind. Such knowledge itself is all that needs to control desires. And you know that every time you attempt satisfaction of a desire, the knowledge comes that it is better to desist from the desire.”


If you think, “Oh well I’ll just have one more slice of this or that, one more experience of this or that, then it’ll be OK”—but it’s not OK—it just strengthens the desire for more, and there may be a temporary respite but the sanskara becomes even stronger.

So, what is your true nature? That’s what you must arrive at.


“Waking, dream and sleep are mere phases of the mind, they are not of the Self. You are the witness of these changing states. Your true nature is known best in deep sleep, but you can put the mind to sleep while you are awake, just learning to realize that witness state that is beyond all other states of consciousness, and is always present.”

“So there is room for kama, desire, only as long as there is an object separate from the subject.” In other words, duality. “There can be no desire if there is duality.” No object. “The state of no desire is moksha, liberation. There is no duality in sleep, and also no desire. Whereas there is duality in the ego’s waking state, and desire is also there. Because of duality a desire arises for the acquisition of the object. That is the outgoing mind of the ego, which is the basis of duality and of desire. If one knows that bliss is none other than the Self, then the mind becomes inward turned. If the Self is gained, all desires are fulfilled.”


Because all desire is only for the bliss of the Self, but because of ignorance that bliss is projected on objects. Once you realize there are no objects, all objects are fantasy objects, even if they’re physical, what you’ve projected into them that makes you desire them is fantasy. They have no intrinsic worth. Not one object has any intrinsic worth, including your own body. Once that is recognized, all desire falls away. The only valuable possession is consciousness itself, and the more consciousness is purified of desire for objects, the more one has achieved a closeness to liberation, until there is no desire at all because not even the I-thought arises. And in that ultimate and absolute silence of the Self, all addiction to sense experience drops away.


So, the enduring realization of Truth is not possible until one is completely united with the Self.


Most of the rest of it is just what happens when your mind gets so dull that you identify with the body, and then the realization of what Ramana’s talking about even becomes too slippery to be held in the consciousness. “Therefore,” he concludes that, “purity of mind is indispensable for any kind of spiritual practice. It possesses an eminence of the highest order. The greatness of chitta shuddhi, purity of mind, is that it is the mother of all virtuous conduct. Realizing this, examine your mind every day.”


So, this leads to the understanding that the more one follows the dharma, and follows it without any resistances, the mind melts—its hardness, its rigidity of identification and desire falls away—and one wants the more subtle realizations of deep understanding, and the deep joy that comes from that realization that cannot be lost.


This is grace. And once one has had a taste of that grace, then the desire for the disgrace of objects, of lust, of attachment, of identification with the physical body and the plane of material objects, will completely be given away, let go, and one will never return to such a limited state of consciousness—because one will simply have outgrown it—and one doesn’t go back from a mature state of realization to an immature state of ego- consciousness.


“Unless the destruction of all the vasanas, all the sanskaras, is accomplished, it will not be possible. Even for Ishvara himself to bestow upon you the state of liberation.”

So, nothing short of liberation itself will bring liberation. But that liberation is already always an intrinsic part of Self-realization. No effort needs to be gained. Effort needs to be let go. Because you are the Self already here and now.

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