Speaking to the Living by Ramana Group

Speaking to the Living by Ramana Group

Recently, I spoke with a Ramana group online, even though I’m not in that lineage. They were interested in hearing how this process unfolded, making this more like the BATGAP interview.

In the first part, I summarized the unfolding here. Then I responded to a wide range of questions.

On YouTube

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  1. s

    Delight to watch you handle these interviews so gently David.
    I’ve been practicing self inquiry as suggested by Ramana Maharshi for the last 13 years, admittedly on and off since life threw up some necessary challenges for several years. I have to say my experience of it has changed and grown over the years. it may have started off as a heady process, but has grown to being easy, effortless, alert, allowing, the very thing you talk of.
    in fact i find Ramana’s teachings are highly misunderstood. When read as a whole in the context of one’s practice it becomes clear in time. He said inquiry and surrender are not different although initially it may seem so. He also said there is no one to surrender and it happens bit by bit. Sadhu Om, who was with him defines Self inquiry as Self attention, no different from I AM or just being or as Ramana said ‘Be as you are’ which can also be misunderstood.
    Inquiry is a broad investigation as Ramana said, both, into the not-self or phantom ego with its tendencies, questioning assumptions, beliefs as they come up and also abiding in Self, or as i understand, culturing Samadhi as you call it.
    The question ‘who am i’ was never meant to be answered by the mind, he made that clear. it is just a pointing device like a koan, providing orientation, disinterest in thoughts and even bringing up alertness. He suggested we ‘drop the mind into the heart’, spoke about the kundalini coming down through the amrit nadi into the spiritual heart, stillness is surrender. Also, pointers to later stages: being beyond sat and asat, chit and achit, anand and ananda, neither acceptance nor rejection. We can also take tips from his life at the ashram. Yes, renunciate as was his style, but he encouraged ashramites to cook as he did himself, read the newspapers, had a huge clock ticking in the hall, respected rituals and even consecrated the Mothers temple which was built on Vedic principles. ….. can go on and on. When i first visited Ramanasramam, i was wondering what these rituals and devotion have to do with inquiry, but then later even though i have my preferences, it seems all inclusive, something for everyone! Each has its place, each has its emphasis at a certain stage, each is to be celebrated and enjoyed when it shows up. All so wonderful and allowing.
    I find no dissonance between effortless meditation and self inquiry any more. They are the same.
    Thank you for all the maps and frameworks and very subtle points you provide so easily thru limited language. This helps the sadhana including the understanding of whatever shows up in daily life. Being a bit head driven myself really appreciate all your writings even if my experience is so very limited. It gives me a map of stages if they arise, what not to fall into, a clear and detailed perspective on what shows up, the wonderment of this creation ‘game’, the magic of life, and above all great enjoyment to even read about this stuff! Cant thank David/Ramana/Grace enough!

    1. Hi S
      Beautiful. Yes, inquiry is much more effective when the right thing is inquiring. 🙂
      As I mention in the talk, the key in Yoga is samadhi. This is what develops presence so that we can actually inquire properly. This is known as the royal road.

      I’ve heard that the popular translations were not authorized. I chuckled at one of the opening quotes as one of the words was clearly off.

      It is the nature of the mind to ‘figure out’ whatever it’s presented with. Conclusions that are not informed by direct experience are often erroneous, a little or a lot. It’s one of the processes post-awakening – seeing through the various “stories” the mind has made. When inquiry is mind-made, we develop stories and a philosophy rather than presence. This may satisfy the mind but that construct can actually be a barrier to opening.

      Much of modern advaita is dismissive of devotion but opening the heart is a key part of a full unfolding. Many sages have made that clear.

      We tend to fall into various things on the path. But having pointers helps us see and get out of them. Occasionally, we may avoid them altogether. But so often we learn by experiencing, not by something we read. It’s always easier in retrospect. 🙂

  2. s

    one more point about destiny since the interview began with a quote from Ramana Maharshi. He also said as long as we think we are the body, the question of destiny and free will arises and what is past is seemingly destined. he also said there is always choice to step back into Self at every opportunity. As all teachings are, they may sound paradoxical, but can be held lightly, sometimes destiny helps acceptance of facts, and sometimes choice seems to arise especially when there is relaxing into awareness. but then rigidity falls away and the questions seems to be of no interest. One single quote from a teaching misrepresents Ramana’s teachings and i just thought it essential to put it in context of the whole of it and also of the experience of it as it changes. One of my triggers.

    1. The perception of choice and destiny or free will vs determinism vary at different points in our development. Essentially, it’s a perspective. Someone who feels a victim is at the mercy of fate. Someone empowered feels they have control. Someone Self-Realized is the observer, not the doer or chooser. And so forth.

      In a practical way, we can say our choices of the past are our destiny in the present. Our choices in the present are our future destiny. From here, the difference between free will and determinism is simply time.

      But ultimately, these are 2 sides of one wholeness and are simultaneously true. We are the experiencer, experiencing destiny. Yet we are also the driver of experiences, the cosmic chooser. They are one.

  3. Guru

    There is this feeling that there are practices for awakening. As you said rightly awakening awakens to itself through body mind. I am so familiar with stages you talk about GC,UC. Normally people are not aware of these. But there is possibility of ending up at intellectual level. It is good that these things are being discussed openly.

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