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  CLASSICS
 

Self-Enquiry
By Ramana Maharshi

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QUESTION 33


Disciple:
What is that which is called the inner worship or worship of the attributeless?

Master: In texts such as the Ribhu-gita, the worship of the attributeless has been elaborately explained (as a separate discipline). Yet, all disciplines such as sacrifice, charity, austerity, observance of vows, japa, yoga, and puja, are, in effect, modes of meditation of the form 'I am Brahman.' So, in all the modes of disciplines, one should see to it that one does not stray away from the thought 'I am Brahman.' This is the purport of the worship of the attributeless.

 

QUESTION 34


Disciple:
What are the eight limbs of knowledge (jnana-ashtanga)?

Master: The eight limbs are those which have been already mentioned, viz., yama, niyama, etc. but differently defined.

Of these:

1. Yama: This is controlling the aggregate of sense-organs, realizing the defects that are present in the world consisting of the body, etc.

2. Niyama: This is maintaining a stream of mental modes that relate to the Self and rejecting the contrary modes. In other words, it means love that arises uninterruptedly for the supreme Self.

3. Asana: That with the help of which constant meditation on Brahman is made possible with ease is asana.

4. Pranayama: Rechaka (exhalation) is removing the two unreal aspects of name and form from the objects constituting the world, the body, etc.; puraka (inhalation) is grasping the three real aspects, existence, consciousness and bliss, which are constant in those objects; and kumbhaka is retaining those aspects thus grasped.

5. Pratyahara: This is preventing name and form which have been removed from re-entering the mind.

6. Dharana: This is making the mind stay in the heart, without straying outward, and realizing that one is the Self itself which is existence-consciousness-bliss.

7. Dhyana: This is meditation of the form 'I am only pure consciousness.' That is, after leaving aside the body which consists of five sheaths, one enquires 'Who am I?', and as a result of that, one stays as 'I' which shines as the Self.

8. Samadhi: When the 'I'-manifestation also ceases, there is (subtle) direct experience. This is samadhi.

For the pranayama, etc., detailed here, the disciplines such as asana, etc., mentioned in connection with yoga are not necessary. The limbs of knowledge may be practised at all places and at all times. Of yoga and knowledge, one may follow whichever is pleasing to one, or both, according to circumstances. The great teachers say that forgetfulness is the root of all evil, and is death for those who seek release;* so one should rest the mind in one's Self and should never forget the Self : this is the aim. If the mind is controlled, all else can be controlled. The distinction between yoga with eight limbs and knowledge with eight limbs has been set forth elaborately in the sacred texts; so only the substance of this teaching has been given here.

*Death or Kala is the giving up on this earth of the contemplation of the Self which should never be given up even the least bit. --Vivekachudamani.


Copyright Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, India.

 

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This page was published on Realization.org on June 9, 2000.


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