A most essential question
What convergence is there between the journey of the ascetic Tibetan yogi Milarepa and that of the little-known great French mystic of the Seventeenth Century, Madame Guyon ? between Ramana Maharshi and the famous sufi Al-Hallaj ? What is the common denominator between these extraordinary beings who, in such apparently dissimilar ways, climbed the rungs leading to the ultimate realization ? Is it not a question of the greatest importance, to conjecture about what is essential and what is of incidental value, about what is truly the core of a practice and what relates to a cultural context and epoch ?
Whatever their creed or race, and no matter where they happen to be, when a group of people are assembled together, listening to the sublime harmonies and wonderful orchestral “colors” of a great symphonic work secretly imparting to them an ineffable truth through expressions of elevated sentiments, the minds, thoughts, and feelings of all are then united in one silent communion. At that exalted hour, words have lost all their meaning.
Edward Salim Michael The Law of Attention chap 41
A total absence of worldly pride and arrogance, harmlessness, a candid soul, a tolerant, long-suffering and benignant heart, purity of mind and body, tranquil firmness and steadfastness, self-control and a masterful government of the lower nature and the heart’s worship given to the Teacher.
A firm removal of the natural being’s attraction to the objects of the senses, a radical freedom from egoism. absence of clinging to the attachment and absorption of family and home, a keen perception of the defective nature of the ordinary life of physical man with its aimless and painful subjection to birth and death and disease and age, a constant equalness to all pleasant or unpleasant happenings.
A meditative mind turned towards solitude and away from the vain noise of crowds and the assemblies of men, a philosophic perception of the true sense and large principles of existence, a tranquil continuity of inner spiritual knowledge and light, the Yoga of an unswerving devotion, love of God, the heart’s deep and constant adoration of the universal and eternal Presence; that is declared to be the knowledge; all against it is ignorance.
The essential condition for the attainment of this supreme goal is the complete absence of the ego-sense. Self-control and self-discipline are the means. Yoga also signifies union with and absorption in the immortal Reality. A steady, persevering, and concentrated effort and struggle alone can lead the aspirant to the realization of the Godhead. So long as man is hankering after the pleasures of the senses, his progress on the path is slow and erratic. He must be undaunted in his endeavor and determined in his purpose. He must leave no stone unturned to subdue and eventually eradicate the impure passions of his heart and mind. A purified and enlightened bud-dhi can alone entitle the sadhaha to enter the kingdom of eternity.
Yoga is not a thing to be merely talked about, read in books, and heard through others. Yoga is for practice in life.
Swami Ramdas – Presence of Ram
The Reality that came to me is profound and hard to see or understand because it is beyond the sphere of thinking. It is sublime and unequaled but subtle and only to be found by the dedicated. Majjhima Nikaya
Just as space reaches everywhere, without discrimination, just so the immaculate element, which in its essential nature is mind, is present in all. Visuddhi Magga
The truth is noble and sweet; the truth can free you from all ills. There is no savior in the world like the Truth.
Have confidence in the Truth, even though you may not be able to understand it, even though its sweetness has a bitter edge, even though at first you may shrink from it. Trust in the Truth.
The Truth is best as it is. No one can alter it, neither can anyone improve it. Have faith in the Truth and live it.
The self is in a fever; the self is forever changing, like a dream. But the Truth is whole, sublime and everlasting. Nothing is immortal except the Truth, for Truth alone exists forever. Majjhima Nikaya
The development of integrity and of true being, therefore, is indispensable for the seeker in his spiritual quest.
If he gives a promise he must keep it—no matter how hard it may be for him. He must constantly be wary of any unconscious lying, dishonesty, or inaccuracy, either to himself or to others. He should watch over his thoughts, his speech, and his way of being with people.
He must try to be as honorable and as sincere as he can, both with himself and with all those with whom he has dealings. He has to learn to have compassion for everyone with whom he comes into contact, because he never knows what profound hidden pain and worry this person may be carrying in him. He must become aware of the fact that, in one way or another, all beings suffer.
If, right from the start, moral values do not develop along with his inner spiritual work, then the seeker can be absolutely sure that his struggles will not bring him the true spiritual comprehension and unfolding he is seeking. His misdirected efforts may even accentuate and crystallize his undesirable tendencies, making them yet more difficult to eradicate later.
Fidelity to oneself also means fidelity to others; what one would wish for oneself, one must wish for others too. If a person does not want to be robbed of his happiness, he must not rob others of theirs either. The seeker must begin this spiritual work with the clear understanding that there is nothing in the universe that is not part of the whole. And if each thing is part of the whole, then there is only the One. All beings and everything in the world, as well as all the planets and stars, are parts of the Divine Universal Being in the same way as one’s head, neck, arms, trunk, legs, internal organs, and blood cells are part of the whole of oneself. Whatever harm is done to the one, the whole will inevitably suffer, sooner or later.
That is why there is so much insistence throughout a greater part of the text that follows on moral values and sincerity of being.
The Law of attention (chp Introduction)
What is of primary importance for an aspirant on this path is to learn to get away from his habitual state of being, the ordinary state into which he constantly falls each time after he has made the vital effort to rise and be connected anew to his Inner Source.
This habitual condition of being—or rather of not being and of not sensing himself—in which the human being generally passes his entire life is the very dragon in him to be overcome and transformed.
If a seeker can really see and understand what takes place in him every time the mists of this strange inner death descend upon him and mysteriously swallow up the awareness he has of his existence, he will have gained a further precious insight into himself and found a weapon with which to combat the enigmatic problem of his self-forgetfulness .
This difficulty can thus be used by a wise aspirant as an additional means to rise spiritually. Each time he catches himself flattering or disliking someone, saying something unkind, being untruthful, or even playing a certain role with people, if he follows up the source whence all these have sprung, he will generally find it to be a form of wrong self-consideration.
This will, in turn, be an alarm signal for him to realize the immediate need there is to try to disengage himself from the grip of his inferior state of being and of feeling himself into which he has once more sunk. The aspirant will find that, each time he makes a genuine effort to redirect his gaze inwardly to dwell in the silence of his true abode, he will at that moment begin to experience a state of pure and uninvolved impersonal awareness.
In this state, there will be neither the time nor the place in him for personal consideration or anything else arising from his lower nature.
Edward Salim Michael The Law of Attention chap 5
For all its problems, uncertainties, and pains, life as it is affords the human being the indispensable and only means of learning right and noble conduct, and with the chance to sublimate himself through these very difficulties.
After death, the conditions necessary for his transformation will no longer be there. Without these harsh trials, it is ordinarily impossible for a human being to evolve to higher planes, just as it is impossible for a glittering pot of gold to come into being if it has not passed first through fire.
Can someone become a high officer by merely once seeing such an officer ? He may become one if he strives and equips himself for the position. Similarly, can the ego, which is in bondage as the mind, become the divine Self, simply because it has once glimpsed that it is the Self ?
Is this not impossible without the destruction of the mind ?
Can a beggar become a king by merely visiting a king and declaring himself one ?
Similarly, unless the bond of the mind is cut asunder by prolonged and unbroken meditation, ‘ I’ am the Self, the Absolute,’ it is impossible to attain the transcendental State of Bliss, which is identical with the annihilation of the mind.
Ramana Maharshi (Teachings of Ramana Maharshi
As in a game of chess, the dying person sees at that fateful moment how every one of his actions unleashed a chain of events that made his life what it was as well as the turn it took, whether fruitful or sterile; he also sees in what manner and to what extent he was responsible for it all.
The hidden motives that had been behind everything he said and did, the effect that his actions had on his surroundings, the damage done to others in satisfying his desires, and the lost opportunity to do something worthwhile with the gift of his life will all become clear to him at that momentous second. If his life and energies were not spent in the quest for enlightenment and spiritual unfolding, he will be seized with a profound feeling of remorse. He may well wish he had lived and acted differently—but it will then be, of course, too late.
Just as sleep can be a welcome friend and the necessary means to a sometimes much-needed rest and recuperation from all the turmoil, worries, and cares of the previous day, so it is with the last stages of death. The deceased person’s past life becomes little by little very distant and hazy—in the same way as the memory of the very early years of one’s existence on Earth becomes indistinct as one grows into an adult—until at last it is buried in the catacombs of his unconscious, with all the manifold experiences and different tendencies he has accumulated through the repetition of certain actions and what his main interest in life was, all of which await to sprout again in the future, in one manner or another, for good or for bad.
Cyclic recurrence is indispensable in the Universe for the human being to gather the necessary experience he needs to his understanding of things and especially of life itself. If there were only one day and one night in the whole Universe, after which this day and this night would disappear forever into total nothingness, one would suffer a sort of strange psychological death, making it impossible for one to comprehend what day and night are. It would—in a very particular way—not even be possible to realize that they had had any existence, let alone to try to conceive the least notion of their significance.
It is the perpetual renewal of the four seasons, or the continual return of the day and night, that gives them their sense, thus enabling the human being—albeit at the limit of his present understanding—to perceive the Cosmos and Creation in a certain light that would otherwise be impossible for him. Through these incessant repetitions, an opportunity is afforded him to discover important facts concerning the laws that govern the Cosmos—discoveries through which he may one day understand the hidden mysteries behind the Universe and his life on an altogether higher level.
Had there not been in the human being, concealed somewhere in the innermost depths of his consciousness, a secret memory of the repetitions of his life, with a vast wealth of varied experiences already stored in the recesses of his being, he would not have been able to turn his thoughts to the more lofty questions of the Universe, its enigmatic laws and hidden meaning. Equally, it would not have been possible for him to discover and accomplish the remarkable things that he did in so many different fields as, for example, in the arts, where the sublime and sometimes astonishingly complex yet wonderfully logical music that some unusual beings have been capable of creating in a seemingly miraculous way leaves the listener utterly speechless and plunged into profound wonderment, as much at the extraordinary mathematical truth it seems to impart as the exalted sentiment it so mysteriously arouses in him.
If there were only one life for the human being—without the hidden knowledge already in him of its possible recurrence, or at least continuity in some other form—and his existence really stopped forever after his physical death, he would spend his unique life in a state, so to speak, of curious mental obscurity as to the purpose and meaning of his sojourn on Earth, with little or no incentive in him for wanting to live and for wanting to learn anything. Moreover, when he died everything—including whatever knowledge he might have acquired during his single existence—would mysteriously die with him, vanishing forever in an invisible land of total oblivion. All the experiences he so painfully gathered in his one solitary life would have been for nothing. For there would no longer be the possibility of putting into practice the harsh lessons learned from them, both in the service of the Divine and for his own inner growth and spiritual unfolding.