Realizing the Real is the Goal
Devotee.: What is the interrelation between regulation of thought and regulation of breath?
Maharshi.: Thought (intellectual) and respiration, circulation, etc. (vegetative) activities are both different aspects of the same – the individual life. Both depend upon (or metaphorically ‘reside’ or ‘inhere’ in) life. Personality and other ideas spring from it like the vital activity. If respiration or other vital activity is forcibly repressed, thought also is repressed. If thought is forcibly slowed down and pinned to a point, the vital activity of respiration is slowed down, made even and confined to the lowest level compatible with life.
In both cases the distracting variety of thought is temporarily at an end. The interaction is noticeable in other ways also. Take the will to live. That is thought-power. That sustains and keeps up life when other vitality is almost exhausted and delays death. In the absence of such will-power death is accelerated. So thought is said to carry life with it in the flesh and from one fleshy body to another.
D.: Are there any aids to (1) concentration and (2) casting off distractions?
M.: Physically the digestive and other organs are kept free from irritation. Therefore food is regulated both in quantity and quality. Non-irritants are eaten, avoiding chillies, excess of salt, onions, wine, opium, etc. Avoid constipation, drowsiness and excitement, and all foods which induce them.
Mentally take interest in one thing and fix the mind on it. Let such interest be all-absorbing to the exclusion of everything else. This is dispassion (vairagya) and concentration. God or mantra may be chosen. The mind gains strength to grasp the subtle and merge into it.
D.: Distractions result from inherited tendencies. Can they be cast off too?
M.: Yes. Many have done so. Believe it! They did so because they believed they could. Vasanas (predispositions) can be obliterated. It is done by concentration on that which is free from vasanas and yet is their core.
D.: How long is the practice to continue?
M.: Till success is achieved and until yoga-liberation becomes permanent. Success begets success. If one distraction is conquered the next is conquered and so on, until all are finally conquered. The process is like reducing an enemy’s fort by slaying its man-power – one by one, as each issues out.
D.: What is the goal of this process?
M.: Realizing the Real.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
4th February, 1935