Talk 41. Are there Heaven and Hell
Talks with Ramana Maharshi
D: Are there heaven (swarga) and hell (naraka)?
M: There must be someone to go there. They are like dreams. We see time and space exist in dream also. Which is true, dream or wakefulness?
D: So we must rid ourselves of lust (kama), anger, (krodha) etc.
M: Give up thoughts. You need not give up anything else. You must be there to see anything. It is the Self. Self is ever-conscious.
D: Are pilgrimages etc. good?
D: What effort is necessary for reaching the Self?
M: ‘I’ should be destroyed. Self is not to be reached. Is there any moment when Self is not? It is not new. Be as you are. What is new cannot be permanent. What is real must always exist.
D: What is sacrifice through wisdom (jnana yajna) or other sacrifices?
M: Other disciplines exist for it. Practice is for gaining wisdom (jnana).
D: Are jivanmuktas (living liberated souls) of different kinds?
M: What does it matter if they differ externally? There is no difference in their wisdom (jnana).
D: When loyal to one Master can you respect others?
M: Guru is only one. He is not physical. So long as there is weakness the support of strength is needed.
D: J. Krishnamurti says, “No Guru is necessary?”
M: How did he know it? One can say so after realizing but not before.
D: You have gained this state by great effort. What shall we poor souls do?
M: We are in our Self. We are not in the world.
D: Heaven and hell – what are they?
M: You carry heaven and hell with you. Your lust, anger, etc., produce these regions. They are like dreams.
D: The Gita says that if a man fixes his attention between the eyebrows and holds his breath he reaches the Supreme state. How is that done?
M: You are always in the Self and there is no reaching it. The eyebrow is only a place where attention is to be fixed (seat of meditation – upasanasthana).
D: You have spoken of the Heart as the seat of meditation?
M: Yes, it is also that.
D: What is Heart?
M: It is the centre of the Self. The Self is the centre of centres. The Heart represents the psychic centre and not the physical centre.
D: The term ‘jnana’ is realized Wisdom. The same term is used for the method also. Why?
M: ‘Jnana’ includes the method also because it ultimately results in realization.
D: Is a man to engage in teaching his knowledge however imperfect?
M: If his prarabdha be that way.
In the seventh chapter, Arjuna asks if Karma, performing actions, is a method (sadhana). Krishna answers that it is so if done without the sense of doership.
So also are Karmas (actions) approved by scriptures, which usually deny Karma. The Karma disapproved by them is that which is done with the sense of doership. Do not leave Karma. You cannot do so. Give up the sense of doership. Karma will go on automatically. Or Karma will drop away from you. If Karma be your lot according to prarabdha, it will surely be done whether you will it or not; if Karma be not your lot, it will not be done even if you intently engage in it. Janaka, Suka, etc., were also in work without ahankara. Karma may be done for fame, or may be done unselfishly and for the public good. Yet even then they want applause. So it is really selfish.
D: What is that one thing, knowing which all doubts are solved?
M: Know the doubter. If the doubter be held, the doubts will not arise. Here the doubter is transcendent. Again when the doubter ceases to exist, there will be no doubts arising. From where will they arise? All are jnanis, jivanmuktas. Only they are not aware of the fact. Doubts must be uprooted. This means that the doubter must be uprooted. Here the doubter is the mind.
D: What is the method?
M: ‘Who am I?’ is the investigation.
D: May we perform japa?
M: Why should you think ‘I am this’? Investigate and the thoughts cease. What is, namely the Self, will be revealed as the inescapable residue.
D: Is hatha yoga necessary?
M: It is one of the aids – not that it is always necessary. It depends upon the person. Vichara surpasses pranayama. In Yoga Vasishta, Queen Chudala advises investigation (vichara) to King Sikhidvaja for killing the ego.
Reality can be reached by holding on to prana (breath) or intellect. Hatha yoga is the former; Vichara is the latter.
D: Is there any individuality for the Jnani after Realization?
M: How can he retain individuality?
Even ordinarily the elders advise achamana (purification ritual) and pranayama (breath control methods) before undertaking any work – be it worldly or other-worldly. That means, concentration of mind accomplishes the work.
D: I meditate neti-neti (not this – not this).
M: No – that is not meditation. Find the source. You must reach the source without fail. The false ‘I’ will disappear and the real ‘I’ will be realized. The former cannot exist apart from the latter.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
22nd September, 1936