"The very first step in understanding what this is all about is giving up the concept of an active, volitional 'I' as a separate entity and accepting the passive role of perceiving and functioning as a process." - Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Thursday, November 2, 2017

You are Rama, I am Rama

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

You are Rama, I am Rama 

Different types of people come to Maharaj with different motives. Usually he asks a new visitor to tell him something about himself — his family background, his business or profession, length of the period he has been interested in spiritual quest, the kind of Sadhana, he has done and the specific reasons for his visit. Maharaj's intention, obviously, is to find out in what way and by what approach he could help each visitor personally, and, at the same time, ensure that the dialogue would also enlighten the other visitors. 

Most of the visitors state briefly the required facts about themselves, and many of them say they had read his book I Am That and had ever since desired to sit at his feet and listen to him. In such cases, Maharaj would smile and nod his head. If anyone wanted to ask specific questions, Maharaj would ask him to sit closer so that the dialogue could be carried on more easily. Those who had no questions would be expected to sit further back. 

Once when the session was about to begin two middle-aged gentlemen walked in, paid their respects to Maharaj, and sat down. One of them told Maharaj that he was a senior Government Official and that he had no particular interest in spiritual matters. He had come there only to introduce his brother who was deeply interested. After introducing his companion as his brother the gentleman left. 

Then the brother took over and told Maharaj that he had had a Guru for many years but that he had passed away. He had received from the Gurua Nama Mantra and was told that its repetition, as often as possible, was the best Sadhana, and he was following his Guru's instructions. He said that he had now reached a stage where he believed that everything was Rama and Rama was in everything, and that he had attained through this Sadhana a peace and joy not possible to be described in words. All this was stated by him in a manner as if he was making a great revelation for the benefit of the audience before him, including Maharaj himself. After this narration he looked round to see what effect it had created on the listeners. Then, with a complacent self-satisfaction he sat, eyes closed and smiling to himself. 

Maharaj, serene and silent to all appearances, but with a sparkling glint in his eyes that the regular callers knew well, asked this visitor politely if he could be of help to him in any way. In answer, the gentleman, waving his right arm in a gesture of resignation, said that he did not want anything from anybody and that he had come to see Maharaj only because several people had pressed him to attend at least one session of his talks — and here he was! 

Maharaj then asked the visitor if there was any specific purpose of his Sadhana and what did he hope to achieve from it, if anything? 

Visitor: When I sit in meditation, I often get lovely visions of my beloved Lord Rama and I am engulfed in bliss.

M: And when you are not in meditation?

V: I think of the Lord and see him in everyone and everything. (Maharaj listened to the answer with an expression of amusement and again there was the familiar glint in his eyes. We the regular visitors knew what was coming, for the glint often precedes Maharaj's verbal sally he sometimes makes to deflate hollow presumptions and destroy illusions. His lips formed into a question.)

M: And what do you mean by Rama?

V: I don't understand the question. Rama is Rama.

M: When you see Rama in me, Rama in a dog and Rama in a flower, what exactly do you mean by Rama? And how exactly do you see Rama? In his traditional pose with a string-bow on his shoulder, and arrows in his quiver?

V: (Rather confused) Yes, I think so.

M: And the peace and joy that you feel when you sit in meditation and get visions of Rama, would it be something like the peace and joy one would feel when, after a long and tiring walk in the scorching sun, one is able to rest under the shade of a spreading tree, enjoy the breeze that is blowing and drink some cool water?

V: You cannot really compare the two, because one is physical and the other is, I would say, mental or psychic.

M: In any case, would your sadhana enable you to have a clear understanding of your true nature?

V: What is the use of such a discussion? Rama is God and I am only a poor human who has surrendered himself to Rama.

M: Surrender is very good and effective sadhana by itself. But we must very clearly understand what 'surrender' really means, though that is a separate subject by itself. Are you aware that Rama, though a prince by birth, was only an ordinary human being like you, who did not become a god until he was duly initiated and instructed in knowledge by the sage Vasishtha? And what was the teaching which Vasishtha imparted to the young Rama? Was it not Atma-Jnana, the knowledge of the Self, the knowledge of one's true nature?

I would suggest that you throw away all the illusory concepts you have collected over the years, and begin with your own self. Think along these lines: What is my true nature? What is the 'capital' I am born with and which has remained - faithful and unchanged - with me from the moment I had the knowledge that I exist? How did I acquire this body-construct along with the prana (vital force) and the consciousness which gives me the sense of presence? How long will all this last? What was 'I' before this body came into being, and what will 'I' be after this body disintegrates? Who was really 'born' and who will 'die'? What am 'I'? It was such knowledge which turned Rama from a human being into a God.

By this time, the visitor had realized that something was very much wanting in the sadhana, as he had practised it, without ever giving serious thought to the ultimate aim of his spiritual quest. He gave up his pretentious pose of being an enlightened person, and very humbly requested Maharaj for permission to visit him again during the few days he would be staying in Bombay. Maharaj lovingly told him that the sincerity and keenness of his desire to visit him was all the permission that was necessary.

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सर्वभूताधिवासं यद्भूतेषु च वसत्यपि।
सर्वानुग्राहकत्वेन तद्स्म्यहं वासुदेवः॥

That in whom reside all beings and who resides in all beings,
who is the giver of grace to all, the Supreme Soul of the universe, the limitless being:
I AM THAT. -- Amritabindu Upanishad