Let go the passing thoughts and hold on to the Unchanging Self
Another pilgrim asked: I am a man with a family. Is it possible for those in a family to get release (from bondage), and if so how?
M.: Now what is family? Whose family is it? If the answers to these questions are found the other questions solve themselves.
Tell me: Are you in the family, or is the family in you?
The visitor did not answer. Then Sri Bhagavan’s answer was continued: Who are you? You include three aspects of life, namely, the waking, the dream and the sleep states. You were not aware of the family and their ties in your sleep and so these questions did not arise then. But now you are aware of the family and their ties and therefore you seek release. But you are the same person throughout.
D.: Because I now feel that I am in the family it is right that I should seek release (from bondage).
M.: You are right. But consider and say: Are you in the family or is the family in you?
Another visitor interposed: What is family?
M.: That’s it. It must be known.
D.: There is my wife and there are also my children. They are dependent on me. That is the family.
M.: Do the members of the family bind your mind? Or do you bind yourself to them? Do they come and say to you “We form your family. Be with us”? Or do you consider them as your family and that you are bound to them?
D.: I consider them as my family and feel bound to them.
M.: Quite so. Because you think that so-and-so is your wife and so-and-so are your children you also think that you are bound to them. These thoughts are yours. They owe their very existence to you. You can entertain these thoughts or relinquish them. The former is bondage and the latter is release.
D.: It is not quite clear to me.
M.: You must exist in order that you may think. You may think these thoughts or other thoughts. The thoughts change but not you. Let go the passing thoughts and hold on to the unchanging Self. The thoughts form your bondage. If they are given up, there is release. The bondage is not external. So no external remedy need be sought for release. It is within your competence to think and thus to get bound or to cease thinking and thus be free.
D.: But it is not easy to remain without thinking.
M.: You need not cease thinking. Only think of the root of the thoughts; seek it and find it. The Self shines by itself. When that is found the thoughts cease of their own accord. That is freedom from bondage.
D.: Yes. I understand it now. I have learnt it now. Is a Guru necessary?
M.: So long as you consider yourself as an individual, a Guru is necessary to show to you that you are not bound by limitations and that your nature is to be free from limitations.
Talks With Ramana Maharshi
2nd October, 1938