What are the steps of practical training (for Salvation)?
A visitor asked: What to do to get liberation (moksha)?
Maharishi: Learn what liberation is.
D.: Should I do worship (upasana) for it?
M.: Worship is for mind control (chitta nirodha) and concentration.
D.: Should I do idol worship? Is there any harm in it?
M.: So long as you think you are the body there is no harm.
D.: How to get over the cycle of births and deaths?
M.: Learn what it means.
D.: Should I not leave my wife and family?
M.: How do they harm you? First find out who you are.
D.: Should not one give up wife, wealth, home?
M.: Learn first what samsara is. Is all that samsara? Have there not been men living among them and getting realisation?
D.: What are the steps of practical training (sadhana) for it?
M.: It depends on the qualifications and the nature of the seeker.
D.: I am doing idol worship.
M.: Go on with it. It leads to concentration of mind. Get one-pointed. All will come out right. People think that freedom (moksha) is somewhere yonder and should be sought out. They are wrong. Freedom (moksha) is only knowing the Self within yourself. Concentrate and you will get it. Your mind is the cycle of births and deaths (samsara).
D.: My mind is very unsteady. What should I do?
M.: Fix your attention on any single thing and try to hold on to it. All will be right.
D.: I find concentration difficult.
M.: Go on practising. Your concentration will be as easy as breathing. That will be the crown of your achievements.
D.: Are not abstinence and pure food helpful?
M.: Yes, all that is good. (Then Maharshi concentrates and silently gazes at vacancy, and thus sets an example to the questioner).
D.: Do I not require Yoga?
M.: What is it but the means to concentration?
D.: To help concentration, is it not good to have some aids?
M.: Breath-regulation, etc., are such helps.
D.: Is it not possible to get a vision of God?
M.: Yes. You see this and that. Why not see God? Only you must know what God is. All are seeing God always. But they do not know it. You find out what God is. People see, yet see not, because they know not God.
D.: Should I not go on with repetition of sacred syllables, (mantra japa), e.g., Krishna or Rama’s name, when I worship images?
M.: Mental japa is very good. That helps meditation. Mind gets identified with the repetition and then you get to know what worship (puja) really is – the losing of one’s individuality in that which is worshipped.
D.: Is the Universal Soul (Paramatma) always different from us?
M.: That is the common belief, but it is wrong. Think of Him as not different from you, and then you achieve identity of Self with God.
D.: Is it not the Advaita doctrine to become one with God?
M.: Where is becoming? The thinker is all the while the Real. He ultimately realises the fact. Sometimes we forget our identities, as in sleep and dreams. But God is perpetual consciousness.
D.: Is not the Master’s guidance necessary, besides idol worship?
M.: How did you start it without advice?
D.: From sacred books (puranas).
M.: Yes. Someone tells you of God, or Bhagavan Himself tells you. In the latter case God Himself is your Master. What matters it who the Master is? We really are one with Master or Bhagavan. The Master is God; one discovers it in the end. There is no difference between human-guru and God-guru.
D.: If we have done virtuous action (punya) the achievement will not leave us. I hope.
M.: You will reap your destiny (prarabdha) that way.
D.: Will not a Wise Master be a great help in pointing out the way?
M.: Yes. If you go on working with the light available, you will meet your Master, as he himself will be seeking you.
D.: Is there a difference between prapatti (self-surrender) and the Path of Yoga of the Seers?
M.: Jnana Marga and Bhakti Marga (prapatti) are one and the same. Self-surrender leads to realisation just as enquiry does. Complete self-surrender means that you have no further thought of ‘I’. Then all your predispositions (samskaras) are washed off and you are free. You should not continue as a separate entity at the end of either course.
D.: Do not we go to Heaven (svarga), etc. as the result of our actions?
M.: That is as true as the present existence. But if we enquire who we are and discover the Self, what need is there to think of heaven, etc.?
D.: Should I not try to escape rebirth?
M.: Yes. Find out who is born and who has the trouble of existence now. When you are asleep do you think of rebirths or even the present existence, etc.? So find out whence the present problem arises and there is the solution also. You will discover that there is no birth, no present trouble or unhappiness, etc. All is That; All is Bliss; we are freed from rebirth in fact. Why fret over the misery of rebirth?
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
4th February, 1935