What is the Nature of Reality
D.: What is the nature of the Reality?
(a) Existence without beginning or end – eternal.
(b) Existence everywhere, endless, infinite.
(c) Existence underlying all forms, all changes, all forces, all matter and all spirit.
The many change and pass away (phenomena), whereas the One always endures (noumenon).
(d) The one displacing the triads, i.e., the knower, the knowledge and the known. The triads are only appearances in time and space, whereas the Reality lies beyond and behind them. They are like a mirage over the Reality. They are the result of delusion.
D.: If ‘I’ also be an illusion, who then casts off the illusion?
M.: The ‘I’ casts off the illusion of ‘I’ and yet remains as ‘I’. Such is the paradox of Self-Realization. The realized do not see any contradiction in it. Take the case of bhakti – I approach Iswara and pray to be absorbed in Him. I then surrender myself in faith and by concentration. What remains afterwards? In place of the original ‘I’, perfect self-surrender leaves a residuum of God in which the ‘I’ is lost. This is the highest form of devotion (para bhakti), prapatti, surrender or the height of vairagya.
You give up this and that of ‘my’ possessions. If you give up ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ instead, all are given up at a stroke. The very seed of possession is lost. Thus the evil is nipped in the bud or crushed in the germ itself. Dispassion (vairagya) must be very strong to do this. Eagerness to do it must be equal to that of a man kept under water trying to rise up to the surface for his life.
D.: Cannot this trouble and difficulty be lessened with the aid of a Master or an Ishta Devata (God chosen for worship)? Cannot they give the power to see our Self as it is – to change us into themselves – to take us into Self-Realization?
M.: Ishta Devata (one’s desired God) and Guru are aids – very powerful aids on this path. But an aid to be effective requires your effort also. Your effort is a sine qua non. It is you who should see the sun. Can spectacles (eyeglasses) and the sun see for you? You yourself have to see your true nature. Not much aid is required for doing it!
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
4th February, 1935