yandrelax3-a

Leave a Comment

Teachings of the Masters

Yoga and Relaxation – Tony Crisp

Teachings of the Masters – Chapter 10

Writing a book is a dangerous thing; especially when the book suggests that it has anything important or “authoritative” to say on the meaning of our existence. The danger lies in the human habit of accepting somebody else’s ideas and desires through deep fear of one’s own innermost self. Thus we may crucify our own “inner” life to follow an outer authority, slick speaker, bully, intellectual, or whatever. One’s own inner being often appears to us as madness, contradicting all the codes and carefully reasoned arguments built up by society and ourselves. In this sense, the words of some who have been called “masters” are helpful, in that they free us from our self imprisonment. But every man, woman or child who has experienced in a large degree of wholeness, speaks with the voice of a master.

The big question is, do we really understand what they are talking about? Or, to put it another way—Does the tiny part of ourselves we experience and call “I”, care to trust itself to the unknown and enormous parts of its own nature?

Because each person, in their conversation with their wholeness, converses with the master, or highest authority, I will quote from R. D. Laing’s book “The Politics of Experience.” The book mentions the experience of Jesse Watkins. In the chapter ‘A Ten Day Voyage,’ Dr Laing quotes Jesse Watkins’s own description of his inner experiences. The barriers between Jesse’s known self, and wider self had been broken down by overwork, fatigue, a dog bite, and a visit to hospital. Below is quoted some of his description of what he saw of himself.

“But I had a feeling at times of an enormous journey in front, quite, er, a fantastic journey, and it seemed that I had got an understanding of things which I’d been trying to understand for a long time, problems of good and evil and so on, and that I had solved it inasmuch that I had come to the conclusion, with all the feelings that I had at the time, that I was more—more than I had always imagined myself, not just existing now, but I had existed since the very beginning, from the lowest form of life to the present time, and that that was the sum of my real experiences, and that what I was doing was experiencing them again. And that then, occasionally I had this sort of vista ahead of me … ahead of me was lying the most horrific journey, the only way I can describe it is a journey to the final sort of business of being aware of all—everything. It was such a horrifying experience to suddenly feel, that I immediately shut myself off from it because I couldn’t contemplate it, because it sort of shivered me up—I was unable to take it…”

He goes on to say, “I had feelings of gods, not only God but gods as it were, of beings which are far above us capable of, er, dealing with the situation that I was incapable of dealing with, that were in charge and running things and, urn, at the end of it, everybody had to take on the job at the top. And it was this business that made it such a devastating thing to contemplate, that at some period in the existence of oneself, one had to take on this job, even for only a momentary period, because you had arrived then at an awareness of everything. What was beyond that I don’t know. At the time I felt that God himself was a madman… because he’s got this enormous load of having to be aware and governing and running things—and that all of us had to come up and finally get to the point where we had to experience that ourselves.., the journey is there and every single one of us has got to go through it, and everything— you can’t dodge it… the purpose of everything and the whole of existence is, er, to equip you to take another step, and another step, and another step, and so on.

It’s an experience that, um, we have at some stage to go through, but that was only one, and that many more—a fantastic number of things have got to impinge upon us until we gradually build ourselves up into an acceptance of reality, and a greater and greater acceptance of reality and what really exists.”

Jesse was “at sea” in this inner condition for ten whole days. Finally he felt that he couldn’t take it any more and closed down the barriers again. He says, “I was suddenly confronted with something so much greater than oneself, with so many more experiences, with so much awareness, so much that you couldn’t take it.”

“I didn’t have the capacity for experiencing it. I experienced it for a moment or two but it was like a sudden blast of light, wind, or whatever you like to put it as, against you so that you feel that you’re too naked and alone to be able to withstand it; you’re not strong enough. It’s like a child or an animal suddenly confronted—or being aware of—an adult’s experiences for him, for instance. The grown-up person has experienced a lot in their life time, they’ve built up gradually their capacity for experiencing life and looking at things… And I was facing things then that I just hadn’t got the equipment to deal with.

Jesse goes on to say that most of us are only equipped for just the very experiences we are going through in life. Any more, or any suddenly widened consciousness, might be too much. Just as the baby is not equipped to face the full sexual experience, or of being alone, nor are most of us equipped for any full cosmic experience, or for “taking it all by ourselves.” Those great souls who appear to have this ability, usually say that repeated earth lives have prepared them for it.

Edgar Cayce, on the same theme, (in “There is a River” by Thomas Sugrue) says that “The plan for the soul was a cycle of experience, unlimited in scope and duration, in which the new individual would come to know creation in all its aspects, at the discretion of will. The cycle would be completed when the desire of will was no longer different from the thought of God. The consciousness of the new individual would then merge with its spiritual consciousness of identity with God, and the soul would return to its source as the companion it was intended to be.”

Cayce has also, with the synthesis of Sugrue, explained this return to God. “The idea that a return to God means a loss of individuality is paradoxical, since God is aware of everything that happens and must therefore be aware of the consciousness of each individual (we might understand this if we realise that our memory is aware—or records—all we do, yet we are not consciously aware of all our memory. Author’s note). Thus the return of the soul is the return of the image to that which imagined it. . . When a soul returns to God it becomes aware of itself not only as part of God, but as part of every other soul, and everything. What is lost is the ego—the desire to do other than the will of God. When the soul returns to God the ego is voluntarily relinquished; this is the symbology of the crucifixion.”

Naturally, there are those who have returned to their Self (God, Source, Atman, etc.) in this way. Sometimes they incarnate, or take on a body again, to help those of us still trapped in our own ego. We may name these as Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, and the modern avatars such as Ramana, Ramakrishna and Sai Baba. Cayce says that during man’s early involvement in matter, there was still direct realisation of the Source, but, “gradually, life after life, they descended into earthiness, into less mentality, less consciousness of the mind force. They remembered their true selves only in dreams, in stories and fables handed down from one generation to another. Religion came into being: a ritual of longing for lost memories. The arts were born: music, numbers, and geometry. Finally man was left with a conscious mind definitely separated from his own individuality. (i.e. awareness of wholeness). He now calls this individuality the subconscious mind; his awareness of earth is the conscious mind. The subconscious mind influenced the conscious mind—gave it, in fact, its stature, breadth, and quality. It became the body under the suit of clothes. Only in sleep was it disrobed.”

In this state—”He built up theories for what he felt— but no longer knew—to be true. Philosophy and theology resulted. He began to look around him and discover, in the earth, secrets which he carried within himself but could no longer reach with his consciousness. The result was science.”

Taking the word ‘individuality’ to mean whole awareness, and complete remembrance of all earth lives, Cayce explains how man realises his lost paradise. “Man is at all times the total of what he has been and done, what he has fought and defended, what he has hated and loved… No soul takes on flesh without a general plan for the experience ahead. The personality expressed through the body is one of many the individuality might have assumed. Its job is to work on one or several phases of Karma of the individuality. No task is undertaken which is too much for the personality to which it is assigned. Choice of incarnation is usually made at conception, when the channel of expression is opened by the parents. A pattern is made by the mingling of the soul patterns of the parents. A soul whose karma approximates to these conditions will be attracted by the opportunity presented. The body is formed in the womb according to the pattern made by the mingling soul forces of the parents. This is the metaphysical symbolism of the 47th problem of Euclid: the square of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

“Thus a personality is only an aspect of an individuality.

A soul deciding to experience earth again, might assume any of several personalities . . . Because the incarnations only reflect their problems (their blessings as well as their handicaps), usually the Karma of more than one (previous life) can be undertaken in a single life; if the life is successful, considerable progress is made towards freedom from flesh. The personality is shaped by three or four incarnations, the portions of the earthly experience on which the individuality wants to work. The emotions and talents of the person reflect the incarnations. The dreams, visions, meditations—the deep, closely guarded self-consciousness of the personality is the pattern of experience.”

Concerning our times, Cayce says, “At present man is in a state of great spiritual darkness—the darkness which precedes dawn. He has carried his scepticism to the point where it is forcing him to conclusions he knows intuitively are wrong. At the same time he has carried his investigation of natural phenomena to the point where it is disproving all it seemed to prove in the beginning. Free will is finding that all roads lead to the same destination. Science, theology, and philosophy, having no desire to join forces, are approaching a point of merger. Scepticism faces destruction by its own hand.”

Compared with the detailed instructions of Cayce, in his 14 million recorded words, the teachings of Ramana are almost non-existent. They are all summed up, in fact, in the little book “Spiritual Instruction,” which has only 28 pages. This tremendously vital essence of the spiritual path can be a blessing or curse depending on our attitude. It is a blessing that all the necessary teaching can be summarised so compactly—a curse in that our intellect or ego, which has to surrender itself, often needs many more pages of instruction and assurance before it lays down. This restlessness might therefore deceive us as to the value of Ramana’s instruction. Below are quotes from the booklet mentioned.

They are given in the form of question and answer.

What are the marks of a real teacher?

Steady abidance in the Self, looking at all with an equal eye, unshakeable courage at all times, in all places and circumstances, etc.

What are the marks of an earnest disciple?

An intense longing for the removal of sorrow and attainment of joy and an intense aversion for all kinds of mundane pleasure.

What are the characteristics of instruction? (upadesa)

The word ‘upadesa’ means: ‘near the place or seat’ (upa— near, desa—place or seat). The Guru who is the embodiment of that which is indicated by the terms sat, chit, and ananda (existence, consciousness and bliss), prevents the disciple who, on account of his acceptance of the forms of the objects of the senses has swerved from his true state and is consequently distressed and buffeted by joys and sorrows, from continuing so and establishes him in his own real nature without differentiation.

Upadesa also means showing a distant object quite near. It is brought home to the disciple that the Brahman (absolute) which he believes to be distant and different from himself is near and not different from himself.

What is the end of devotion (bhakti) and the path of Siddhanta?

It is to learn the truth that all one’s actions performed with unselfish devotion, with the aid of the three purified instruments (body, speech and mind) in the capacity of the servant of the Lord, become the Lord’s actions, and to stand forth free from the sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. This is also the truth of what the Saiva Siddhantins call para-bhakti (supreme devotion) or living in the service of God.

What is the end of the path of knowledge (Inana) or Vedanta?

It is to know the truth that the ‘I’ is not different from the Lord (Isvara) and to be free from the feeling of being the doer.

So long as the ‘I’ exists it is necessary to accept the Lord also. If anyone wishes to regain easily the supreme state of identity now lost to him, it is only proper that he should accept this conclusion.

What is the method of practice?

As the Self of a person who tries to attain Self-realisation is not different from him and as there is nothing other than or superior to him to be attained by him, Self-realisation being only the realisation of one’s own nature, the seeker of liberation realises, without doubts or misconceptions, his real nature by distinguishing the eternal from the transient, and never swerves from his natural state. This is known as the practice of knowledge. This is the enquiry leading to self-realisation.

Can this path of enquiry be followed by all aspirants?

This is suitable for ripe souls. The rest should follow different methods according to the state of their minds.

As the Se If shines fully of its own accord why is it not generally recognised like the other objects of the world by all persons ? Wherever particular objects are known it is the Self which has known itself in the form of those objects. For what is known as knowledge or awareness is only the potency of Self. The Self is the only sentient object. There is nothing apart from the Self. If there are such objects they are all insentient and therefore cannot either know themselves or mutually know one another. It is because the Self does not know its true nature in this manner that it seems to be immersed and struggling in the ocean of birth (and death) in the form of individual soul.

Why do thoughts of many objects arise in the minds even when there is no contact with external objects?

All such thoughts are due to latent tendencies. They appear only to the individual consciousness which has forgotten its real nature and become externalised. Whenever particular things are perceived, the enquiry “Who is it that sees them ?“ should be made, they will then disappear at once.

Some of these replies are hard to understand for those who have just begun to consider their real nature. Yet his method of meditation is outwardly extremely simple. The disciple for one or two hours daily, asks himself the question: “Who am I?”—or what is my real nature. For those who could not immediately understand the import of this question, Ramana would ask the person whether they were their body. If they connect self with body, then he would ask what happens to self in sleep or death. If the person then admitted that they were not the body, but that which animated or perceived the body, then the question is better understood.

His replies to Paul Brunton are possibly easier to understand. BHAGAVAN (i.e. Ramana):

“The life of action need not be renounced. If you meditate for an hour or two every day you can then carry on with your duties. If you meditate in the right manner, then the current of mind induced will continue to flow even in the midst of your work. It is as though there were two ways of expressing the same idea; the same line you take in meditation will be expressed in your activities.”

P.B.: “What will be the result of that?”

BH: “As you go on you will find that your attitude towards people, events and objects will gradually change. Your actions will tend to follow your meditation of their own accord.”

P.R.: “Do you mean that one can continue all the old activities, in one’s profession, for instance, and at the same time get Enlightenment ?“

RH.: “Why not? But in that case one will not think that it is the old personality which is doing the work, because one’s consciousness will gradually be transformed until it enters in That which is beyond the little self.”

F. H. Humphreys, like many others who approached Ramana, was eager to help the world. He asked Ramana, “Master, can I help the world ?“

RH.: “Help yourself (i.e. find your Self) and you will help the world.”

H.: “I wish to help the world. Shall I not be helpful?”

RH.: “Yes, helping yourself you help the world. You are in the world, you are the world. You are not different from the world, nor is the world different from you.”

H.: (After a pause.) “Master, can I perform miracles as Sri Krishna and Jesus did before?”

RH.: “Did any of them, when he performed them, feel that it was he who was performing a miracle?”

H.: “No, Master.”

Another disciple, Sivaprakasam Pillai, received replies that are helpful in understanding his other statements. He had been talking about surrender of the ego, when Pillai asked. “Are there no other ways of destroying the mind ?“ RH.: “There is no other adequate method except Self-enquiry. If the mind is lulled by other means it stays quiet for a little and then springs up again and resumes its former activity.

S.P.: “But when will all the instincts, such as that of self preservation, be subdued in us

RH.: “The more you withdraw into The Self, the more these tendencies drop off.”

S.P.: “Is it possible to root out all these tendencies that have soaked into our minds through many births ?“

RH.: “Never yield room in your mind for such doubts, but dive into the Self with firm resolve. If the mind is constantly directed to the Self by this enquiry it is eventually dissolved and transformed into the Self. When you feel any doubts do not try to elucidate it but try to know who it is to whom the doubt occurs.”

Turning to Sai Baba, there is little in English of his teachings, but his conversation with a disciple named Nana is a magnificent example of his insight. Nana was massaging his master’s legs, chanting a Sanskrit verse from the Bhagavad Gita. Sai Baba asked him to repeat it aloud. It was “Know that by means of prostration, enquiry and service the Jnanis (Enlightened) who have realised the Truth will teach you Jnana (Knowledge).

“Do you understand this Nana?” Baba asked him.

“Yes.”

“Then tell me the meaning.”

Nana gave a free rendering in the vernacular but Sai Baba was not satisfied. “I don’t want a paraphrase; I want the strict grammatical meaning with case, mood and tense.”

Nana gave a literal translation, wondering the while whether Baba knew anything of Sanskrit grammar. He soon found out.

“In tatviddhi, what does tat stand for ?“ Baba asked him.

“Jnana (Knowledge).”

“What knowledge? Knowledge of what ?“

“The knowledge referred to in the previous stanzas.”

“What does pranipat mean ?“

“Prostration.”

“And pat?”

‘‘The same.”

“If they meant the same would Vyasa have added two unnecessary syllables ?“

“I don’t see any difference between them.” Nana admitted.

Baba left that for awhile and passed on to the next point. “What does prasna mean ?“

“Asking questions.”

“And pariprasna?”

“The same.”

“Then if they both mean the same was Vyasa off his head to use the longer ?“

“I don’t see any difference.”

“Next point. What does seva mean ?“

“Service, such as I am now doing massaging your feet.”

“Nothing more?”

“I don’t see what more it can mean.”

“We’ll leave that too! Next point. Krishna tells Arjuna to get Enlightenment from the Enlightened (Jnanis). Wasn’t Krishna himself a Jnani?“

“Yes.”

“Then why does he send Arjuna to others instead of giving him Jnana himself?”

“I don’t know.”

“Wasn’t Arjuna a jiva (being) and therefore an emanation of Chaitanya (universal consciousness—Self)”

“Yes.”

“Then how can knowledge be given to what is already an emanation of Self or knowledge ?“

Then Sai Baba explained: “The verse tells us how a disciple is to approach his Guru in order to attain Realisation. He must completely surrender body, mind, soul and possessions to the Guru. That is the prostration referred to. The enquiry must be a constant quest for Truth, not questions asked out of mere curiosity or for a wrong motive, such as to trap the Guru. The motive must be pure desire for spiritual progress and Realisation. Then the service is not mere physical service such as massaging. For it to be effective there must be no idea that you are free to give or withhold service; you must feel that your body no longer belongs to you since you have surrendered it to the Guru and it exists only to do him service.”

Then followed questions to which Nana replied ‘Yes’ in each case.

“Isn’t Brahma pure Knowledge or Being and everything else non-Being or ignorance (absence of knowledge) ?“

“Do not the scriptures declare that Brahma (God) is beyond the range of speech or mind? So the speech of the Guru is not Brahma or Knowledge. Then you admit that what the Guru says is not Knowledge but ignorance ?“

“It seems so.”

“Then the Guru’s instruction is simply a piece of ignorance used to remove the disciples ignorance, just as we use a thorn to remove another thorn from the foot, isn’t it?”

“I suppose so.”

“The disciple is a being whose essential nature is Knowledge, isn’t he?”

“Yes.”

“Then there is no need to give him knowledge but simply to remove the veil of ignorance that hides the existent Knowledge. This, of course, is not to be done at one stroke, since the disciple is immersed in age-old ignorance and needs repeated instruction, perhaps through life after life. And what is this instruction through speech about what is beyond speech? Isn’t it like removing the cover? Ignorance conceals the pre-existent Knowledge just as water plants cover the surface of a pond. Clear away the plants and you have the water. You don’t have to create it; it is already there. Or take another example—a cataract grows on the eye and prevents a man from seeing; remove the cataract and he sees. Ignorance is the cataract. The universe is the efflorescence of the indescribable Maya, which is ignorance; yet ignorance is needed to illuminate and dissolve ignorance … Jnana is not something to be attained, it is eternal and self-existent. On the other hand, ignorance has a cause and an end. The root of it is the idea that the devotee is a separate being from God. Remove this, and what remains is Jnana.”


Link to Chapter Eleven - Link to List of Chapters

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved