Monday, July 13, 2020

Dealing with Change and Fear





"When we understand that there is something very real deep within us which, unlike everything else, while absolutely dynamic, is not subject to change, we begin to recognize the true nature of our Self. According to some commentators, the Sanskrit term for this Self, the Atman, derives from the verbal root ‘at’ — to eat. So Atman would mean, ‘eater of thoughts’ (+ ‘man’ from the verbal root, ‘to think’). There could be no better etymology, for that which ‘eats’ even mind itself can only be our true nature. Thus to realise this Self is indeed Self-realisation.

"Though we seek to modify the circumstances of our lives and be comfortable within ourselves, we are in general afraid of change. Although we are aware each moment is unique, we resist it because we continually repeat in our ignorant way our old familiar patterns and conditionings, our vasanas. When everything is unaltered we feel secure. Actually all we do is freeze our perception into a tight band of limited consciousness. We insulate ourselves from adjustment and dwell in the delusion that our unchanged existence replicates the nature of Brahman. We have seen that it does not. By reinforcing our conditioning it actually weakens and diminishes our ability to cope with the transformation that is at the heart of all life. Thus we retard our spiritual progress and remain bound by our own conditionings, we neither grow nor expand. Our spiritual knowledge and experience likewise remain limited by our not allowing ourselves to accept and be fully open to change."

-Ram Brown Crowell, "Self-Enquiry, Change, and the Nature of Brahman" (from April-June 2020 Mountain Path)

Monday, July 06, 2020

Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Mercedes de Acosta





From Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi

Mercedes de Acosta, a Spanish-American who came to Sri Ramana in 1938, was a Hollywood socialite and scriptwriter for films. Long after meeting Sri Ramana she wrote the book Here Lies the Heart, which was dedicated to: "Thou Spiritual Guide -Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, the only completely egoless, world detached and pure being, I have ever known."


'A Search in Secret India by Paul Brunton [No.1] had a profound influence on me. In it I learned for the first time about Ramana Maharshi, a great Indian saint and sage. It was as though some emanation of this saint was projected out of the book to me. For days and nights after reading about him I could not think of anything else. I became, as it were, possessed by him. I could not even talk of anything else. Nothing could distract me from the idea that I must go and meet this saint. The whole direction of my life turned towards India. I felt that I would surely go there.

'I had very little money, far too little to risk going to India, but something pushed me towards my goal. I went to the steamship company and booked myself one of the cheapest cabins on the S.S.Victoria.

'In Madras I hired a car, and so anxious was I to reach the Ashram that I did not go to bed and travelled by night, arriving about seven O’clock in the morning. I was very tired as I got out of the car in a small square in front of the Arunachaleswara Temple.1 The driver explained he could take me no further. I turned towards the Ashram in the hot sun along the two miles of dust-covered road to reach the abode of the Sage. As I walked that distance, deeply within myself I knew that I was moving towards the greatest experience of my life.

'When I first entered the hall, I perceived Bhagavan at once, sitting in the Buddha posture on his couch in the corner. At the same moment I felt overcome by some strong power in the hall, as if an invisible wind was pushing violently against me. For a moment I felt dizzy. Then I recovered myself. To my great surprise I suddenly heard an American voice calling out to me, ‘Hello, come in.’ It was the voice of an American named Guy Hague, who had already been with the Maharshi for a year. He came towards me, took my hand, leading me to a place beside him. I was able to look around the hall, but my gaze was drawn to Bhagavan, who was sitting absolutely straight looking directly in front of him.

'His eyes did not blink or move. Because they seemed so full of light I had the impression they were grey. I learned later that they were brown, although there have been various opinions as to the colour of his eyes. His body was naked except for a loincloth. As he sat there he seemed like a statue, and yet something extraordinary emanated from him. I had a feeling that on some invisible level I was receiving spiritual shocks from him, although his gaze was not directed towards me. He did not seem to be looking at anything, and yet I felt he could see and was conscious of the whole world. Hague whispered, “Bhagavan is in samadhi.”

'After I had been sitting for sometime, Hague suggested that I go and sit near the Maharshi. He said, “You can never tell when Bhagavan will come out of samadhi. When he does, I am sure he will be pleased to see you.“

'I moved near Bhagavan, sitting at his feet and facing him. Not long after this Bhagavan opened his eyes. He moved his head and looked directly down at me, his eyes looking into mine. It would be impossible to describe that moment and I am not going to attempt it. I can only say that at that time I felt my inner being raised to a new level – as if, suddenly, my state of consciousness was lifted to a much higher degree. Perhaps in that split second I was no longer my human self but the Self. Then Bhagavan smiled at me. It seemed to me that I had never before known what a smile was. I said, “I have come a long way to see you.“

'There was silence. I had stupidly brought a piece of paper on which I had written a number of questions I wanted to ask. I fumbled for it in my pocket, but the questions were already answered by merely being in his presence. There was no need for questions or answers. Nevertheless, I asked, “Tell me, whom shall I follow – what shall I follow? I have been trying to find this out for years.” Again there was silence. After a few minutes, which seemed to me a long time, he spoke, “You are not telling the truth. You are just using words – just talking. You know perfectly well whom to follow. Why do you need me to confirm it?” “You mean I should follow my inner self?” I asked. His response was, “I don’t know anything about your inner self. You should follow the Self. There is nothing or no one else to follow.“

'I asked again, “What about religions, teachers, gurus?” He said, “Yes, if they can help in the quest for the Self. Can a religion, which teaches you to look outside yourself, which promises a heaven and a reward outside yourself, be of help to you? It is only by diving deep into the spiritual Heart that one can find the Self.” He placed his right hand on his right breast and continued, “Here lies the Heart, the dynamic, spiritual Heart. It is called hridaya and is located on the right side of the chest and is clearly visible to the inner eye of an adept on the spiritual path. Through meditation you can learn to find the Self in the cave of this Heart.”

'I said, “Bhagavan, you say that I am to take up the search for the Self by atma vichara, asking myself the question ‘Who Am I?’ May I ask who are you?” Bhagavan answered, “When you know the Self, the ‘I’, ‘You’, ‘He’, and ‘She’ disappear. They merge together in pure Consciousness.”

'To write about my experience with Bhagavan, to recapture and record all that he said, or all that his silences implied is trying to put the infinite into an egg cup. On me he had, and still has, a profound influence. I feel it presumptuous to say he changed my life. My life was perhaps not so important as all that. But I definitely saw life differently after I had been in his presence, a presence that just by merely ‘being’ was sufficient spiritual nourishment for a lifetime.

'I sat in the hall with Bhagavan three days and three nights. Sometimes he spoke to me, other times he was silent and I did not interrupt his silence. Often he was in samadhi. I wanted to stay on there with him but finally he told me that I should go Backto America. He said, “There will be what will be called a war, but which, in reality, will be a great world revolution. Every country and every person will be touched by it. You must return to America. Your destiny is not in India at this time.”

'Before I bid a sorrowful farewell to Bhagavan, he gave me some verses he had selected from the Yoga Vasistha. These contained the essence for the path of a pure life: (i) Steady in the state of fullness, which shines when all desires are given up, and peaceful in the state of freedom in life, act playfully in the world, O Raghava! (ii) Inwardly free from all desires, dispassionate and detached, but outwardly active in all directions, act playfully in the world, O Raghava! (iii) Free from egotism, with mind detached as in sleep, pure like the sky, ever untainted, act playfully in the world, O Raghava!

'When I returned from India, undiscerning people saw very little change in me. But there was a transformation of my entire consciousness. And how could it have been otherwise? I had been in the atmosphere of an egoless, world-detached and completely pure being.'

Learn more here.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Happy Guru Purnima







Guru Purnima is an opportunity to perform tapas and go deep. Learn more here.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Meditative Perceptions That Can Be Useful to Explore and Transcend, and What to Disregard


by Roy Eugene Davis


When the waves of consciousness cease or are transcended by concentrated meditation, consciousness is one with the supreme Self.

— Lahiri Mahasaya (1828-1895)



Samadhi [oneness] is realized [experienced and known for what it is] when fluctuations in the meditator’s awareness are stilled. The seer [the perceiver] then abides in its essence of being. When not established in awareness of being, the seer is inclined to identify with changes and transformations that occur in the mind and awareness [and with objective events and circumstances].

— Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras 1:2,3,4



The way to be Self-realized is to remove attention from conditions which confine your awareness. You can do this by using your powers of discernment to know the difference between you as the observer and what is observed, and by meditating until your mind is completely calm and your awareness is clear. Until thoughts and subconscious inclinations are no longer forceful when you are meditating, their influences may cause you to have a variety of subjective perceptions: of light; mildly pleasant or ecstatic sensations; subtle sound frequencies heard; expansion of consciousness; identification with what you are contemplating; or a sense of relating to or communing with a Larger Reality.

1) Light may be inwardly seen because of activation of brain centers or stimulation of optic nerves. Let your attention be attracted to it; then go beyond it. If you see a tunnel of light, go through it to the field of pure awareness beyond it.

2) Mild or extremely pleasurable sensations may be felt when you are mentally peaceful and emotionally calm. Ecstatic sensations may be caused by flows of prana (life force) in the body. Joyousness unrelated to the senses or to movements of life force may be present when you are Self-aware. Experience pleasurable sensations without allowing them to preoccupy your attention or considering them to be the ultimate stage of meditation practice.

3) Subtle sound frequencies that may be heard may be environmental sounds that are amplified in your ear canals or emanations of sounds from the chakras in the spine and head. You can use sounds that are heard as mantras to focus your attention. Listen for very subtle sounds behind the first sounds that are heard. Continue until the sound is pure and constant. Somewhat merge with the sound, then go beyond it while contemplating pure consciousness as the aim.

4) If you are aware that your consciousness is expanding, let it occur while observing the experience.

5) If you become so absorbed in contemplating light, sound, or another object of perception that you feel that you are identified with it, explore the experience while aspiring to awaken to the stage where you are Self-knowing without being identified with an object of perception.

6) If you have a sense of communion with a Larger Reality, explore that experience while aspiring to comprehend the allness of that Reality and your relationship to it.

When meditating, disregard dream-like visual perceptions that are obviously produced by subconscious influences, moods, or random mental processes. Devoid of significance, they are distractions that interfere with contemplation of higher realities.

If, during or after meditation practice, you have what seem to be insights or a sense of inner guidance, after your practice session examine them in the light of reason and common sense to discern if they are of real value. Don’t presume them to be valid just because “they came to you while you meditated.”

If it seems that you hear voices that impart information, know that they originate in your own mind or are fantasies. Music that may seem to be heard is also mind-produced. Your meditative aim should be to transcend subjective phenomena and be Self- and God-realized.


-Roy Eugene Davis

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God – Swami Mukundananda






Includes beautiful audio of each verse, along with Sanskrit, transliteration, word for word translation, and verse translation - great source to learn/practice correct pronunciation.

Find it here.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Souris, daughter of Chalam


Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Souris, daughter of Chalam
from this website


Souris, daughter of Chalam (preceding entry), bore a Westernised name and her family’s way of living was also Westernised. Her father had rejected Indian systems and traditions.

When I saw Bhagavan’s [Ramana Maharshi's] photo for the first time in The Sunday Times, I wondered who that ugly person could be. I thought, ‘not only does he get himself photographed half-naked, he also gets the picture printed in newspapers’. At the same time I loathed him and what he stood for. I discovered that his name was Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, which sounded harsh and artificial to my ears. Bhagavan, Ramana and Maharshi: I did not see any relation between these names. I felt that he had added these titles merely for the sake of self–advertisement, to show himself off.

My aesthetic feelings were so hurt that if I ever saw the Maharshi’s photo in a newspaper I used to turn the page as quickly as possible. At that time, when I was fourteen years old, I couldn’t stand the sight of him. But now, today, I know no other beauty is comparable to the beauty of the Maharshi. It is not merely a feeling; it is a conviction, a sure knowledge. His enchanting smile, his melodious voice, the nod of his head, his wonderful look that splits through the maya of the world, these are found nowhere else in the world.

When my father returned from his first visit to the Ashram in 1936, I was lying down with a headache. Everyone except me crowded round father to listen to his account of the visit. I initially ignored him, but when I heard him say the name of Arunachala my heart got filled with joy. I got up from my bed and sat near father because his story had begun to fascinate me. As I joined him, father was describing Bhagavan’s philosophy of Self-knowledge. He was explaining that Bhagavan teaches that the mind, the intellect, the five sensory organs and the body are not real, and we should know the real ‘I’.

Everyone was listening, but except for me, none of us could grasp or understand the ideas that father was trying to explain. Since my childhood I had wondered: Is the world real or is it a dream? I had known since childhood that behind my mind there is an ‘I’ that has no connection with the mind. I had tried unsuccessfully to reach and know this ‘I’ many times. I knew that the mind was a barrier that prevented the goal from being reached, but I had no idea how to bypass it. When I heard Bhagavan’s teachings, I felt that they were pointing me in the direction of the truth I was seeking.

I went to bed and stretched myself out. Father came and sat near me. He applied some vibhuti he had brought from the Ashram to my forehead and uttered Bhagavan’s name twice. I felt a cool power flowing from my father’s fingers into my forehead. Immediately my headache disappeared. Later I read the booklet Who am I? and started to practise the technique.

At the beginning, each time I tried to banish thoughts one by one, ten thoughts would arise in place of each one I banished. This made me feel depressed. But about ten days after I started my practice, the figure of Bhagavan appeared before me. Till then I had never seen him, except in photos. Immediately all the thoughts in my mind subsided of their own accord, filling my heart with joy and love. I would have stopped such a difficult sadhana on account of my young age, but I soon discovered that the headache that had troubled me since childhood vanished if I meditated.

Ever since I read Brunton’s A Search in Secret India [No.1], the desire to see Bhagavan became intense. His name constantly filled my mind. I spent a whole year yearning to go to Bhagavan before I got a chance to see him. I went along with my parents. We entered Bhagavan’s hall at 8 a.m. As soon as he saw me, Bhagavan smiled as if I were an old acquaintance. It seemed to me that he had been expecting me for a long time. I sat before him and almost immediately fell into a trance. It was so natural; it was like a fish being put into water.

I went to see Bhagavan again with my father in the late 1930s. Though I was often in ecstasy in Bhagavan’s presence, I could not escape from some difficulties. The behaviour, traditions and methods of worship at the Ashram continually grated on me. One evening, while I was sitting in a trance, the person distributing prasad came up to me and said loudly, “Take it.” I stretched out my left-hand because by birth I am left-handed. He responded by rebuking me. I was unhappy since I did not like being shouted at by the attendants.

I did not see meaning in many of the rituals. Whenever the priest brought arati after puja, Bhagavan would stretch out his hand to the flame and then apply vibhuti and kumkum to the forehead. I never understood why Bhagavan behaved in this way like an orthodox Brahmin. I thought that since he was a jnani who always saw the whole world as a foolish game, he should not behave like this. There were many other occasions when I saw him behaving in a way that seemed opposite to his teachings, as I then understood them. I was confused. This confusion was so great that I felt my love for him would diminish. But then I began to correct my attitude.

I said to myself, “What are we before him? If Bhagavan takes arati very devoutly, why should I have any objection?” Because of all these thoughts about Bhagavan and arati, my meditation used to get disturbed. Then, one day, I saw Major Chadwick [No.42] take arati very devoutly and apply vibhuti and kumkum to his forehead. It moved me very much. If, for a Hindu by birth like me, there does not appear much meaning or rationale in the arati, it should appear even more meaningless to a foreigner such as him. From that day on I saw beauty in whatever Bhagavan did.

For me, being in Bhagavan’s presence was like being in heaven. If I am to write how Bhagavan has impressed me, all the vocabulary I can command in the three languages I know would not suffice. When a word issued forth from his lips – generally he did not speak much at all – it was just as astonishing as it would be if words had come forth from an inanimate idol. Above all else I noticed his sparkling eyes; even in the dark one could see them sparkle. And when he looked at us, his sight, like an arrow, pierced right into the deepest recesses of the heart.

At the Ashram I felt that apart from this place the entire world is non-existent. I didn’t like to go away, leaving Bhagavan. I only wanted to stay there.When I came Backfrom the Ashram in 1939, home seemed like a jail to me. But whenever I thought strongly of going Backto Arunachala, Bhagavan would appear in a dream and counsel me, “Why do you worry? I am always with you.“

In one of my dreams Bhagavan appeared and asked me, “Will you choose a writing career or Self-realisation?” I replied in the dream that I would choose Self-realisation. After this dream, people who had read my published stories used to ask, “What are you writing nowadays?” When I answered, “Bhagavan told me to stop,” they would look at me in disbelief.

I continued my sadhana at home. If Bhagavan had not guided me through my dreams during that long period (before I moved to Arunachala permanently in 1950), I would have gone astray many times and would have been deceived by many.

In January 1950, when Bhagavan was in the last stages of his life, I, along with my father, packed up all our belongings and moved to Arunachala, our only refuge, to take up permanent residence there. Within a few weeks of our arrival, Bhagavan gave up the body. We had come to die in his presence, but instead he passed away before our very eyes. We stayed on near his samadhi. For us, there was nowhere else to go.


read more at this website
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Monday, June 08, 2020

Q&A with Roy Eugene Davis







Q: What is the most beneficial way to integrate spiritual practices with everyday life?

Roy Eugene Davis: Consider everything you do as spiritual practice. Attend to your daily duties skillfully and efficiently. Wisely manage your material resources. Adhere to wholesome lifestyle regimens. Be cheerfully optimistic. Nurture wholesomeness, harmonious relationships. Improve your intellectual powers. Meditate on a regular schedule. Be mentally calm and emotionally stable at all times. Grow to emotional and spiritual maturity. Nurture your awareness of your relationship with the Infinite.


Q: In light of recent world events I find that I am often anxious and worried about the future.

Roy Eugene Davis: It is best to practice replacing thoughts of worry and fear about an unknown, imaginary future with an appreciation for life as it is now. If we learn to focus on what we have, even if it is meager, instead of what we think we lack, we open our mind and consciousness to the flow of supportive grace that is always with us. In this way we can become positive and optimistic which will result in better health and increased happiness.