Thoughts are unreal, get rid of them
Another visitor from Rawalpindi asked:
D.: The Atman is formless. How shall I concentrate on it?
M.: Leave alone the Atman which you say is formless or intangible. Mind is tangible to you. Hold the mind and it will do.
D.: Mind itself is very subtle and is also the same as the Atman. How shall we know the nature of the mind? You have said that all supports are useless. What should be our stand then?
M.: Where does your mind stand?
D.: Where does it stand?
M.: Ask the mind itself.
D.: I ask you now. Should we concentrate on mind then?
D.: But what is the nature of the mind? It is formless. The problem is perplexing.
M.: Why are you perplexed?
D.: The sastras want us to concentrate and I cannot do so.
M.: Through what sastras have we known our existence?
D.: It is a matter of experience. But I want to concentrate.
M.: Be free from thoughts. Do not hold on to anything. They do not hold you. Be yourself.
D.: I do not yet understand as to where I take my stand and concentrate. Can I meditate on my mind?
M.: Whose mind?
D.: My own mind?
M.: Who are you? The question now resolves itself all right.
(All retired for lunch. The visitor returned at 2-30 p.m. and pursued the same question.)
He said: Maharshi advises the seeker to get rid of thoughts. On what should I concentrate the mind after all the thoughts are expelled? I do not see where I stand then and on what I should concentrate.
M.: For whom is the concentration?
D.: For the mind.
M.: Then concentrate the mind.
D.: On what?
M.: Answer the question yourself. What is the mind? Why should you concentrate?
D.: I do not know what the mind is. I ask Maharshi.
M.: Maharshi does not seek to know the mind. The questioner must question the mind itself as to what it is.
D.: Maharshi advises that the mind should be divested of thoughts.
M.: This is itself a thought.
D.: When all thoughts disappear what remains over?
M.: Is the mind different from thoughts?
D.: No. The mind is made up of thoughts. My point is this: When all thoughts are got rid of, how shall I concentrate the mind?
M.: Is not this also a thought?
D.: Yes, but I am advised to concentrate.
M.: Why should you concentrate? Why should you not allow your thoughts free play?
D.: The sastras say that the thoughts, thus playing free, lead us astray, that is, to unreal and changeful things.
M.: So then, you want not to be led to unreal and changeful things. Your thoughts are unreal and changeful. You want to hold the Reality. That is exactly what I say. The thoughts are unreal. Get rid of them.
D.: I understand now. Yet there is a doubt. “Not a trice can you remain inactive.” How shall I be able to rid myself of thoughts?
M.: The same Gita says: “Although all actions take place, I am not the doer.” It is like the sun towards the world activities. The Self always remains actionless, whereas thoughts arise and subside. The Self is Perfection; it is immutable; the mind is limited and changeful. You need only to cast off your limitations. Your perfection thus stands revealed.
D.: Grace is necessary for it.
M.: Grace is ever present. All that is necessary is that you surrender to It.
D.: I surrender and pray that even if I go wrong I may be forcibly drawn to it.
M.: Is this surrender? Surrender to be complete must be unquestioning.
D.: Yes, I surrender. You say I must dive into the ocean of the Self like a pearl-diver into the sea.
M.: Because you are now thinking that you are out of the ocean of Consciousness.
D.: I practise pranayama. It generates heat in the body. What should I do?
M.: The heat will pass away when the mind gains calm.
D.: That is true but most difficult.
M.: This is again a thought which is an obstacle.
Talks with Ramana Maharshi
15th March, 1938