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Lesson 361 - Ramana Maharshi and AYP  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: September 23, 2009

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

Q: I think there is a major point being missed in meditation approaches. Ramana Maharshi always said that the most powerful practice is to seek out the thought/feeling of "I."

Meditation is more of an object/subject practice. Yes, it stills the mind, but then when meditation is finished, guess who comes back to the forefront? The ego/mind.

By constantly looking for the source of "I" even in the midst of work, play, and even sleep, the "I" will sink down into the heart, disappear, and leave Union only.

The constant seeking out of the "I" and ignoring everything else is the most powerful practice and is what has always been said by Ramana, Nisargadatta, Advaita Vedanta, Yoga Vasistha, and countless others.

As a result of this, you will come to automatic and permanent stillness of mind and constant meditation will become the only state.

A: Do you think the technique for refining the I-thought is not an object/subject practice?

Non-duality teachers so often dismiss meditation as an object/subject practice, while tying their students up in endless loops of mental gymnastics, and call it "self-inquiry." Often it is an object/object (mind/mind) practice, which is worse. That's not real self-inquiry.

There is an important point being missed all right. The process of self-inquiry (inquiring the "I") you are describing cannot be undertaken with any degree of success until the witness quality is already present. We cannot transcend the witness in self-inquiry until we have the abiding stillness to do it in.

True meditation is not about object and subject and never the twain shall meet. It is about refining object into subject in every sitting, until only subject remains (stillness). This is how the abiding witness is cultivated.

The process of refining the I-thought (object) in stillness is actually meditation from the beginning. It is what Ramana Maharshi taught, and it is an excellent practice for those who are ready for it.

The difference between Ramana's practice and AYP deep meditation is that it has a "meaning component," i.e., the concepts of "I" and "inquiring" into to who or what that is. The Ramana practice is attempting to do several things at the same time:

  1. Cultivating stillness through meditation on the I-thought.
  2. Inquiring into to who or what that "I" is, all the way to its source.Attempting to do that all day long in the midst of daily activity.
  3. Attempting to do that all day long in the midst of daily activity.

It is a bit much to take on for those who do not already have a significant spiritual background, for those who are not already "ripe" (See Lesson 328).

AYP breaks this same process up into digestible components, which can be incorporated into the daily routine one step at a time:

  1. Cultivation of abiding inner silence in deep meditation with a mantra having no meaning, in two short daily sessions. It is much more efficient than attempting to use an object with meaning all day long. Reminder: This is no more an object/subject practice than using the I-thought in the Ramana technique. Actually less so, because meaning is not included. (See Lesson 13)
  2. Developing skill in samyama, which is the ability to release intentions and inquiries (meaning) in stillness, both in structured practice and as one may be inclined during the day. This integrates all thinking and activity in stillness, enabling all of life to be experienced as "stillness in action." (See Lesson 150)
  3. Incorporating structured self-inquiry into samyama practice with a sutra such as: "I-Thought - Who am I?" Equivalents can be derived, but it is important to settle on one for twice-daily structured practice, so the inquiry can be "baked in." This has a profound effect on #4. (See Lesson 351)
  4. Inquiring during the day, as one may be inclined, based on a strong foundation of abiding inner silence (witness) and deep self-inquiry, cultivated in structured practice.

Also see Lesson 350, covering a range of self-inquiry methods for transcending the witness. The approach to self-inquiry will depend on the inclinations of the individual, and the degree of abiding witness (ripeness) present over time.

Both Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj were well aware of the importance of "ripeness," and were supportive of practitioners undertaking whatever means necessary to become ripe. Many of their followers have not been nearly as understanding, and that is why the field of non-dual self-inquiry has remained esoteric and problematic. There is no need for this. Only an understanding of the means for becoming ripe should be added. Then non-dual self-inquiry will become a rich field of realization for everyone.

None of this need alter anything you are doing now, assuming you are already ripe and happily dissolving the "I" in the heart of non-duality. This lesson is offered for everyone else. Ultimately, it is not about our own experience. It is about facilitating the process for others in the most effective manner.

AYP is mainly concerned with helping all people become ripe. Once that is being accomplished, the harvest is inevitable. Jnana/advaita is a good harvesting tool.

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed discussion on how to optimize our use of self-inquiry, see the Self-Inquiry book and the Liberation book, and AYP Plus.

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