13. Association with the Unreal (Ramana, Guru Vachaka Kovai PDF p. 59)
“Know Self, which is eternal Bliss. Cherishing the ephemeral body as well as trying to know Self is just like using a crocodile as a raft to cross a river.”
Sadhu Om’s Comment:
The phrase “Cherishing the ephemeral body” is liable to be misunderstood by aspirants; Sri Bhagavan (Ramana) merely intends to give a warning through this verse to those aspirants who believe that, in order to realise Self, they must live a long life in a healthy body. Such people sometimes go to extremes and, calling themselves yogis, waste most of their waking life doing certain yoga practices and preoccupying themselves to the point of hypochondria with a concern about Sattvic diet, physical cleanliness, handsome appearance, good health and so on. These foolish people, as a result, are merely a trouble
to their benefactors and useless parasites on society.
However, Bhagavan does not intend to deny the necessity or wisdom of taking a reasonable and moderate care of physical needs. A wise shopkeeper’s aim should not be merely to pay the rent on his shop, but should be to earn a large profit on top of the rent; similarly, an aspirant’s aim should not be merely to provide food, clothing and shelter [the rent] for his body [the shop], he must remember that his business in this body is Self-enquiry, and his aim is to make the worthy profit of Self-Knowledge. However, if the rent is not paid for this body, the business cannot thrive. On the other hand, however, paying the rent [i.e., providing these necessities] should not become the sole endeavour of our whole life; the major portion of our attention must be aimed directly at attaining Self-Knowledge, while attending to a bare minimum of the necessities. Excessive anxiety about the physical necessities of life is like clinging to a crocodile which, instead of acting as a raft to help us cross the river of samsara, will swallow us, making all our futile efforts come to nothing.
Knowledge of Self is on-going because it is Knowledge of that living stream of manifestation in which the Self-substance is the Space for manifestation to appear. To study the Self is to forget whatever appears and to allow Self to swallow you. Notice how forms become invisible and notice that Self remains without attributes of any kind. Notice where this noticing happens.