surrender – Ramana

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Art by Mikko Tyllinen – “Storm of Colors”

“The constant awareness of God prevents the mind from identifying with other objects and enhances the conviction that God (or the Self) alone exists. It also produces a reciprocal flow of power or grace from the Self which weakens the hold of the ‘I’-thought and destroys the vasanas (latent tendencies) which perpetuate and reinforce its existence.”

My Comment: The ‘I’ thought is like a pinch in the fabric of existence. It stops our perception from seeing the flow of perpetual change of the dynamic manifest consciousness. Formless Reality is the timeless and spaceless Being that we all are. We are deluded into perceiving our worldly existence as one of form and we identify ourselves as one of these forms. We are addicted to these forms and spend our precious energy attempting to grasp these chimera. First of all the one we think ourselves to be – as an independent entity – doesn’t really exist except as an integral part of the one timeless, spaceless Being. Second, the objects we attempt to attach ourselves to, do not exist except as projections of our imagination become flesh. In this aberration of consciousness we almost completely lose contact with the natural world and the formless Reality that is the Source. Ramana gave us many pointers that can help us to realize our true Being as the Self. The chapter “Surrender” from David Godman’s wonderful book (source below) is rich in such pointers. Enjoy!

Chapter 7 – Surrender (excerpt)

“Many of the world’s religious traditions advocate surrender to God as a means of transcending the individual self. Sri Ramana accepted the validity of such an approach and often said that this method was as effective as self-inquiry.

“Traditionally the path of surrender is associated with dualistic devotional practices, but such activities were only of secondary importance to Sri Ramana. Instead he stressed that true surrender transcended worshiping God in a subject – object relationship since it could only be successfully accomplished when the one who imagined that he was separate from God had ceased to exist. To achieve this goal he recommended two distinct practices:

1. Holding on to the ‘I’-thought until the one who imagines that he is separate from God disappears.

2. Completely surrendering all responsibility for one’s life to God or the Self. For such self-surrender to be effective one must have no will or desire of one’ own and one must be completely free of the idea that there is an individual person who is capable of acting independently of God.

“The first method is clearly self-inquiry masquerading under a different name. Sri Ramana often equated the practices of surrender and inquiry either by saying that they were different names for the same process or that they were the only two effective means by which Self-realization could be achieved. This is quite consistent with his view that any practice which involved awareness of the ‘I’-thought was a valid and direct route to the Self, whereas all practices which didn’t were not.

“This insistence on the subjective awareness of ‘I’ as the only means of reaching the Self colored his attitude towards practices of devotion (bhakti) and worship which are usually associated with surrender to God. He never discouraged his devotees from following such practices, but he pointed out that any relationship with God (devotee, worshiper, servant, etc.) was an illusory one since God alone exists. True devotion, he said, is to remain as one really is, in the state of being in which all ideas about relationships with God have ceased to exist.

“The second method, of surrendering responsibility for one’s life to God, is also related to self-inquiry since it aims to eliminate the ‘I’-thought by separating it from the objects and actions that it constantly identifies with. In following this practice there should be a constant awareness that there is no individual ‘I’ who acts or desires, that only the Self exists and that there is nothing apart from the Self that is capable of acting independently of it. When following this practice, whenever one becomes aware that one is assuming responsibility for thoughts and actions – for example, ‘I want’ or ‘I am doing this’ — one should try to withdraw the mind from its external contacts and fix it in the Self. This is analogous to the transfer of attention which takes place in self-inquiry when one realizes that self-attention has been lost. In both cases the aim is to isolate the ‘I’-thought and make it disappear in its source.

“Sri Ramana himself admitted that spontaneous and complete surrender of the ‘I’ by this method was an impossible goal for many people and so he sometimes advised his followers to undertake preliminary exercises which would cultivate their devotion and control their minds. Most of these practices involved thinking of or meditating on God or the Guru either by constantly repeating his name (japa) or by visualizing his form. He told his devotees that if this was done regularly with love and devotion then the mind would become effortlessly absorbed in the object of meditation.

“Once this has been achieved complete surrender becomes much easier. The constant awareness of God prevents the mind from identifying with other objects and enhances the conviction that God alone exists. It also produces a reciprocal flow of power or grace from the Self which weakens the hold of the ‘I’-thought and destroys the vasanas which perpetuate and reinforce its existence.

“Eventually the ‘I’-thought is reduced to manageable proportions and with a little self-attention it can be made to sink temporarily into the Heart. As with self-inquiry, final realization is brought about automatically by the power of the Self.

“When all the outgoing tendencies of the mind have been dissolved in the repeated experiences of being, the Self destroys the vestigial ‘I’-thought so completely that it never rises again. This final destruction of the ‘I’ takes place only if the self-surrender has been completely motiveless. If it is done with a desire for grace or Self-realization it can never be more than partial surrender, a business transaction in which the ‘I’-thought makes an effort in the expectation of receiving a reward.

Q: What is unconditional surrender?

A: If one surrenders oneself there will be no one to ask questions or to be thought of. Either the thoughts are eliminated by holding on to the root-thought ‘I’, or one surrenders oneself unconditionally to the higher power. These are the only two ways for realization.

Q: Does not total or complete surrender require that one should not have left even the desire for liberation or God?

A: Complete surrender does require that you have no desire of your own. You must be satisfied with whatever God gives you and that means having no desires of your own.”

(source: David Godman, Be As You Are, The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, PDF p. 49)

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