I acknowledge this portrait of Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi from the Net with deep respect.
Dissolve the mind in the heart
In awareness and practice
Shiva reveals everywhere in you
Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi, who to my knowledge , stayed through most of his life as a disengaged yogi, recommended two options for self-realization.
First, self inquiry. Ramana’s seminal process, constant inquiry into oneself, reveals the true ‘I’. Ramana keeps saying, ask yourself constantly who says this,who does this and who wants this. Keep asking, the body, the mind or what else? If the body, which to most of us represents ‘I’ , where do thoughts and wants arise from? If the mind or mind body, what happens when we dream and sleep?
Any honest inquiry reveals that there remains more to us than mind body. We may call this energy, spirit, soul or whatever. Whatever you wish to call this entity, which does not react to time and space as the mind body does, Ramana tells us to go into that space and stay. What we find there liberates. I speak from experience.
Several excellent books elucidating Ramana’s process as in conversation. notably by Arthur Osborne, will help in this process.
When pressed by those who find the self inquiry process somewhat complex, as would many, Ramana offered a compromise. Focus on the right side of your heart , he said, two fingers breadth away from the middle, to find the center of consciousness. Stay these and become real, he said.
Mandukya Upanishad says that when we become aware during deep sleep, we reach true awareness called prajna. To reach this awareness, we need to focus on the heart. Mandukya Upanishad explains that during the wakeful state consciousness resides at the ajna, between eyebrows, during dream state at the vishuddhi, at the throat and during deep sleep at the anahata, in the heart.
In Osborne’s Teachings of Ramana Maharishi in his own words, a scholar keeps quizzing Bhagawan about focusing on the ajna chakra, between the eyebrows, as the right method to realization. One ought to read Ramana’s explanation to allow this understanding that consciousness resides in the heart to sink deep within.
Shiva in this dharana refers to the dwadashanta, which in this case refers to the heart. Shiva also says to practise with awareness.
I teach yoga nidra to many as the surest method to self discovery and eventually realization. I believe yoga nidra to be the perfect meditation. Many believe that if they practise yoga nidra once, with me in class, that would suffice! They expect miracles to happen after that. Nothing happens!
One needs to practise in awareness. In Sanskrit, the word abhyasa as well as sadhana, both seemingly refer to practice. Abhyasa is the practice of a student memorizing his text or a hot or cold yoga enthusiast going through the pretzel poses. it is of the body, and sometimes of the mind. Sadhana lies beyond at the energy level. Sadhana refers to continuity, commitment, sincerity, authenticity, perseverance and truth in practice. Only Sadhana can lead to realization not abhyasa.
If one practices yoga nidra every day for the next ten years, immersed in the process, perhaps one may have a glimpse of Shiva!