The jnani seems to be more accurate in his expressions, he appreciates the differences better than the ordinary man. If sugar is sweet and wormwood is bitter to me, he too seems to realize it so. In fact, all forms, all sounds, all tastes, etc., are the same to him as they are to others. If so, how can it be said that these are mere appearances? Do they not form part of his life-experience?
I have said that equality is the true sign of jnana. The very term equality implies the existence of differences. It is a unity that the jnani perceives in all differences, which I call equality. Equality does not mean ignorance of distinctions. When you have the realization you can see that these differences are very superficial, that they are not at all substantial or permanent, and what is essential in all these appearances is the one truth, the real. That I call unity. You referred to sound, taste, form, smell, etc. True, the jnani appreciates the distinctions, but he always perceives and experiences the one reality in all of them. That is why he has no preferences. Whether he moves about, or talks, or acts, it is all the one reality in which he acts or moves or talks. He has nothing apart from the one supreme truth.
Is not the realization of one’s absolute being,
that is, Brahma-jnana,
something quite unattainable for a layman like me?
Brahma-jnana is not a knowledge to be acquired, so that acquiring it one may obtain happiness. It is one’s ignorant outlook that one should give up. The Self you seek to know is truly yourself. Your supposed ignorance causes you needless grief like that of the ten foolish men who grieved at the loss of the tenth man who was never lost.
The ten foolish men in the parable forded a stream and on reaching the other shore wanted to make sure that all of them had in fact safely crossed the stream. One of the ten began to count, but while counting the others, left himself out. “I see only nine; sure enough, we have lost one. Who can it be?” he said. “Did you count correctly?” asked another, and did the counting himself. But he too counted only nine. One after the other each of the ten counted only nine, missing himself. “We are only nine”, they all agreed, “but who is the missing one?” they asked themselves. Every effort they made to discover the “missing” individual, failed. “Whoever he is that is drowned”, said the most sentimental of the ten fools, “we have lost him.” So saying he burst into tears, and the others followed suit.
Seeing them weeping on the river bank, a sympathetic wayfarer enquired about the cause. They related what had happened and said that even after counting themselves several times they could find no more than nine. On hearing the story, but seeing all the ten before him, the wayfarer guessed what had happened. In order to make them know for themselves they were really ten, that all of them had survived the crossing, he told them, “Let each of you count for himself but one after the other serially, one, two, three and so on, while I shall give you each a blow so that all of you may be sure of having been included in the count, and included only once. The tenth missing man will then be found.” Hearing this they rejoiced at the prospect of finding their “lost” comrade and accepted the method suggested by the wayfarer.
While the kind wayfarer gave a blow to each of the ten in turn, he that got the blow counted himself aloud. “Ten,” said the last man as he got the last blow in his turn. Bewildered they looked at one another, “We are ten!” they said with one voice and thanked the wayfarer for having removed their grief.
That is the parable. From where was the tenth man brought in? Was he ever lost? By knowing that he had been there all the while, did they learn anything new? The cause of their grief was not the real loss of anyone, it was their own ignorance, or rather, their mere supposition that one of them was lost.
Such is the case with you. Truly there is no cause for you to be miserable and unhappy. You yourself impose limitations on your true nature of infinite being, and then weep that you are but a finite creature. Then you take up this or that spiritual practice to transcend the non-existent limitations. But if your spiritual practice itself assumes the existence of the limitations, how can it help you to transcend them?
Hence I say know that you are really the infinite pure being, the Self. You are always that Self and nothing but that Self. Therefore, you can never be really ignorant of the Self. Your ignorance is merely an imaginary ignorance, like the ignorance of the ten fools about the lost tenth man. It is this ignorance that caused them grief.
Know then that true knowledge does not create a new being for you, it only removes your ignorant ignorance. Bliss is not added to your nature, it is merely revealed as your true natural state, eternal and imperishable. The only way to be rid of your grief is to know and be the Self. How can this be unattainable?
Excerpt from FREE E-BOOK
Be As You Are – The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi – Edited by David Godman
The title of this gem of a book I first saw recommended
somewhere in a comment by our
dearest Krishna Priya.
(Uphill above our bay today, outside this church)
One breath of oneness; then one more; one at a time
Thus ever gratefully we breathe for one and all
announces, celebrates, indicates
God’s infinite being
Our only experience of the world is perception. That is; sights, sounds, tastes, textures and smells. All there is to perception in our experience, is perceiving, and the only substance present in perceiving, is knowing.
All there is to the mind, are thoughts and images. Our only knowledge of thoughts and images, are thinking and imagining. And the only substance present in thinking and imagining, is knowing.
See, that knowing, or consciousness, is the only substance that is ever actually known, or experienced.
Try now to find something in your experience –in your current experience; your remembered experience; your imagined experience– that is made of anything other than knowing.
Test your experience.
Go to the extremes.
A vision of God
A near-death experience
A deep depression
A moment of ecstasy
Or, simply the taste of tea
Is there anything to any of these experiences… Could there be anything to any of these experiences, or indeed to any experience, other than: knowing.
And ask yourself the question:
What is it that knows the experience of knowing?
Is it known by itself? Or is it known by something other than itself? Can you find anything other than knowing, with which knowing could be known?
Wherever we look in experience, there is only knowing. It is knowing that knows this knowing.
Now, ask yourself the question:
Is this knowing ever divided into parts?
If knowing were divided into parts, there would have to be something within knowing, other than knowing, with which it could be divided. In just the same way, that in order to divide the space of this room, we would have to build a wall through the middle of this room, made out of something other than the space.
Is there anything in empty space, with which empty space could be divided? Space cannot divide space.
Is there anything in knowing, other than knowing, with which knowing could be divided into parts?
See that this knowing is indivisible, there is nothing in itself with which it could be divided or limited, and therefore it is unlimited, or; infinite.
This knowing is not something foreign to our self; it is our very own self, the only self –if we can call it a “self”– there is.
This single, infinite, intimate, indivisible Whole, or Self, admits no other self or entity within itself.
No separate object or self ever comes into existence; existence, from the Latin ex-, meaning “out of”, and sistere, meaning “to stand”. No object or self ever exists, or “stands out from” this infinite, intimate, indivisible knowing, with its own independent existence.
There are no real objects or selves.
It is not blasphemous to say: “I am the infinite, perfect Whole.”
In other words, it is not blasphemous to say: “I am God’s infinite being.”
It is blasphemous to say: “I am a separate self.” That is the true blasphemy.
Because, to consider oneself “a self”, as separate individual, is to deny the only Presence of the infinite Whole. There is no room for the finite in the Infinite. There is no room in God’s infinite being for anything other than itself. To assert the existence of a separate self, or an object, is to deny the reality of God’s infinite being.
When Ramana Maharshi was asked by his devotees if he would like to take a tour round India, speaking to people in various parts of the country, he said: “What’s the point? I never see anything.” He didn’t mean that truly “I don’t see appearances”, but his vision was completely equal; he only ever experienced one thing, and travelling around India would give him no further experience of that one thing that he experienced at home in Arunachala. His vision was even, equal; knowing only knowing.
In the early stages of our investigation on the inward-facing path, objective experience seems to be a distraction from Reality. Objective experience –thinking, feeling, sensing, perceiving– seems to veil the reality of pure knowing, or God’s infinite being, and therefore we have to turn away from it.
But in the more advanced stages of our exploration in the outward-facing path, there is no question of being distracted from pure knowing. If there is nothing in experience, other than pure knowing, what could distract us from this knowing? What would be the need for the focusing of our attention; the resisting of any experience, or the accepting of any experience? In the more advanced stages of this investigation, objective experience is not a distraction, or an obscuration of Reality; it shines with Reality.
Every experience announces, celebrates, indicates God’s infinite being.
This is why Krishnamurti, when asked, towards the end of his life, “What is your secret?” he simply said, “I don’t mind what happens.” His students were expecting some marvellous new teaching; he just said, “I don’t mind what happens.” That was his secret. “I see the same thing in all experience. A vision of God; a deep depression; a moment of ecstasy; the taste of tea… It doesn’t matter. It’s all the same. Knowing; knowing only knowing.”
It’s why… – sorry, I can’t resist this…
[laughter in the audience, as they can tell he is about to repeat one of his favourite stories]
It’s why when William Blake was asked by one of his friends:
“When you see the Sun rise,
do you not see a round disc of fire,
somewhat like a guinea?”
“Oh, no, no, no…!
I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host, crying
‘Glory, Glory, Glory is the Lord God Almighty!’.”
Rupert Spira transcribed by Leon Hieros