Disciple: Is the aforesaid Self-experience possible,
even in the state of empirical existence, for the mind
which has to perform functions in accordance with its
prarabdha (the past karma which has begun
A Brahmin may play various parts in a drama; yet the
thought that he is a Brahmin does not leave his mind.
Similarly, when one is engaged in various empirical
acts there should be the firm conviction "I am the Self,"
without allowing the false idea "I am the body, etc."
to rise. If the mind should stray away from its state,
then immediately one should enquire, "Oh! Oh! We are
not the body etc.! Who are we?" and thus one should
reinstate the mind in that (pure) state. The enquiry
"Who am I?" is the principal means to the removal of
all misery and the attainment of the supreme bliss.
When in this manner the mind becomes quiescent in its
own state, Self-experience arises of its own accord,
without any hindrance. Thereafter sensory pleasures
and pains will not affect the mind. All (phenomena)
will appear then, without attachment, like a dream.
Never forgetting one's plenary Self-experience is real
bhakti (devotion), yoga (mind-control),
jnana (knowledge) and all other austerities.
Thus say the sages.
Disciple: When there is activity in regard to works,
we are neither the agents of those works nor their enjoyers.
The activity is of the three instruments (i.e., the
mind, speech, and body). Could we remain (unattached)
After the mind has been made to stay in the Self which
is its Deity, and has been rendered indifferent to empirical
matters because it does not stray away from the Self,
how can the mind think as mentioned above? Do not such
thoughts constitute bondage? When such thoughts arise
due to residual impressions (vasanas), one should
restrain the mind from flowing that way, endeavour to
retain it in the Self-state, and make it turn indifferent
to empirical matters. One should not give room in the
mind for such thoughts as: "Is this good? Or, is that
good? Can this be done? Or, can that be done?" One should
be vigilant even before such thoughts arise and make
the mind stay in its native state. If any little room
is given, such a (disturbed) mind will do harm to us
while posing as our friend; like the foe appearing to
be a friend, it will topple us down. Is it not because
one forgets one's Self that such thoughts arise and
cause more and more evil? While it is true that to think
through discrimination, "I do not do anything; all actions
are performed by the instruments," is a means to
prevent the mind from flowing along thought vasanas,
does it not also follow that only if the mind flows
along thought vasanas that it must be restrained
through discrimination as stated before? Can the mind
that remains in the Self-state think as 'I' and as 'I
behave empirically thus and thus'? In all manner of
ways possible one should endeavour gradually not to
forget one's (true) Self that is God. If that is accomplished,
all will be accomplished. The mind should not be directed
to any other matter. Even though one may perform, like
a mad person, the actions that are the result of prarabdha-karma,
one should retain the mind in the Self-state without
letting the thought 'I do' arise. Have not countless
bhaktas (devotees) performed their numerous empirical
functions with an attitude of indifference?
Disciple: What is the real purpose of sannyasa
Sannyasa is only the renunciation of the 'I'
thought, and not the rejection of the external objects.
He who has renounced (the "I" thought) thus remains
the same whether he is alone or in the midst of the
extensive samsara (empirical world). Just as
when the mind is concentrated on some object, it does
not observe other things even though they may be proximate,
so also, although the sage may perform any number of
empirical acts, in reality he performs nothing, because
he makes the mind rest in the Self without letting the
'I' thought arise. Even as in a dream one appears to
fall head downwards, while in reality one is unmoving,
so also the ignorant person, i.e., the person for whom
the 'I' thought has not ceased, although he remains
alone in constant meditation, is in fact one who performs
all empirical actions.* Thus the wise ones have said.
*Like those who listen to a story with
their attention fixed elsewhere, the mind whose residual
impressions have worn away does not really function
even if it appears to do so. The mind that is not free
from residual impressions really functions even if it
does not appear to do so; this is like those who while
remaining stationary imagine in their dreams that they
climb up a hill and fall therefrom.
Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, India.