Q: So one should not try to perpetuate blissful or ecstatic states?
Ramana: The final obstacle in meditation is ecstasy; you feel great bliss and happiness and want to stay in that ecstasy. Do not yield to it but pass on to the next stage which is great calm. The calm is higher than ecstasy and it merges into samadhi. Successful samadhi causes a waking sleep state to supervene. In that state you know that you are always consciousness, for consciousness is your nature. Actually, one is always in samadhi but one does not know it. To know it all one has to do is to remove the obstacles.
Q: Through poetry, music, japa, [chanting holy names], bhajans [devotional songs], the sight of beautiful landscapes, reading the lines of spiritual verses, etc., one experiences sometimes a true sense of the all- pervading unity. Is that feeling of deep blissful quiet in which the personal self has no place the same as the entering into the Heart of which Bhagavan speaks? Will undertaking these activities lead to a deeper samadhi and so ultimately to a full vision of the real?
A: There is happiness when agreeable things are presented to the mind. It is the happiness inherent in the Self, and there is no other happiness. And it is not alien and afar. You are diving into the Self on those occasions which you consider pleasurable and that diving results in self-existent bliss. But the association of ideas is responsible for foisting that bliss on other things or occurrences while, in fact, that bliss is within you. On these occasions you are plunging into the Self, though unconsciously. If you do so consciously, with the conviction that comes of the experience that you are identical with the happiness which is truly the Self, the one reality, you call it realization. I want you to dive consciously into the Self, that is the Heart.
Q: I have been making sadhana [spiritual practice] for nearly twenty years and I can see no progress. What should I do? From about five o’clock every morning I concentrate on the thought that the Self alone is real and all else unreal. Although I have been doing this for about twenty years I cannot concentrate for more than two or three minutes without my thoughts wandering.
A: There is no other way to succeed than to draw the mind back every time it turns outwards and fix it in the Self. There is no need for meditation or mantra or japa or anything of the sort, because these are our real nature. All that is needed is to give up thinking of objects other than the Self. Meditation is not so much thinking of the Self as giving up thinking of the not-Self. When you give up thinking of outward objects and prevent your mind from going outwards by turning it inwards and fixing it in the Self, the Self alone remains.
David Godman, “Be As You Are, The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi”, p. 167-8