Robert Adams

When I was 18 years old, I went to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. After spending around three days talking with him, I settled down with the devotees in the hall. I used to sit at the right side of the hall against the wall, watching all the people come in. There were devotees, disciples, and seekers. The devotees were always the same. They never said much. They were immersed in themselves. The disciples and the seekers often quarreled with each other.

I recall a particular Indian who was very quarrelsome with the disciples, and he used to find fault with everybody.

He would go to Ramana and say, ‘So and so is doing this, so and so is doing that.’

And Ramana would tell him, ‘Remember the reasons why you came here and keep silent.’

The reason, of course, was to find the Self, and not to interfere with anybody else. But there were all kinds of incidents going on. Sikhs came, Hindus, westerners, Buddhists, Zen Buddhists. Some people were practicing hatha yoga. All these things were happening in front of Ramana. But it didn't faze Ramana one bit.

I recall a westerner, I'm trying to think of his name… Henry Wells, from Scotland. He apparently had read a lot of books about Ramana, and this was his first visit. He came into the hall and I watched his first encounter. He ran over to Ramana, prostrated himself on his stomach, and started going crazy. His feet were shaking, and he was chanting. The devotees wanted to pick him up, and Ramana said, ‘Let him stay’.

When he came out of it he told Ramana, ‘At last I have found you. You are my father, my mother, my son, my daughter, my friend.’

And Ramana just smiled at him. I said to myself, ‘Someone this enthusiastic... let's see what happens, if it lasts.’

The days went by and he kept prostrating himself every day for about a month. Then he finally stopped, and he just sat down like everybody else. After about two months or so he started looking around the room at everybody, and he began to complain: that this wasn't right, that wasn't right. After about four months of being there he donated $40,000 to the ashram. I just sat and watched all these things going on. After about six months of being there, he started to find fault with the management. At that time Ramana's brother was managing the ashram. He started to whisper to the other disciples, but, of course, the devotees would have nothing to do with this. It was the disciples and the seekers. He started spreading rumors. He hardly ever talked to me. I guess I was too young. He was about forty-five years old.

Around the seventh month of his stay he came over to me one day and he asked me, outside the ashram, ‘Do you think Ramana is really enlightened?’

I just smiled at him. I didn't answer. I walked away. This man started getting devotees to fight against each other and to rebel against the rules of the ashram.

Around the eighth month he saw me again and told me, ‘Do you think it is right for Ramana to stand naked like this? Let's buy him some clothes and dress him up, so when some Westerners come they won't be frightened.’

I told him what Ramana said: ‘Remember the reason for which you came.’

A couple of days later I didn't see him in the hall. A second day passed and I didn't see him. Then a third.

On the fourth day I enquired, ‘What happened to him?’

The person he was living with said, ‘Oh, Henry packed his suitcase and went back to Scotland’. Nobody ever heard from him again.

The point of the story is this. If you realise the reason why you came, you'll be interested in one thing, awakening. That will dominate your life. Nothing else will. You will not be concerned with what somebody else is doing, and you will be at peace with yourself and everybody else. Everything is preordained anyway. Everything is karmic. So what's going to happen will happen, whether you like it or not. So why get insulted? Why get your feelings hurt? Be at peace.

It's interesting. This morning I was looking through a magazine and I found an article by a devotee who lived at the ashram for quite a while talking about the same subject. Mary would you like to read it?

Now listen carefully to this. It's called ‘Mind the business for which you have come’.

All events in life are shaped according to the divine plan. What is bound to happen will happen. What is not to happen cannot be brought about by any human effort. On this point Ramana was quite categoric. When Devaraja Mudaliar questioned him as to whether only important things in one's life, such as major occupation or profession, alone are predetermined, or even trifling acts, Ramana replied, ‘Everything is predetermined’.

One of the purposes of birth is to go through certain experiences which have been marked out in the karmic unfoldment of this life. The whole program is chalked out. This would apparently be a damper to all effort, for one would be puzzled as to what the responsibility of man is. Is he an automation of karmic forces? Where do his free will and effort come in?

Ramana points out that there is another deeper purpose to life. That is to search and find out the truth for oneself. He would say that the only useful purpose of life is to turn within and realise there's nothing else to do. Ramana would therefore constantly din into everyone the fact that the ultimate truth is sat-chit, immediately available here and now.

When Natanananda asked Ramana, ‘Is it possible for everyone to know directly without doubt what exactly is one's true nature?’ prompt came the reply, ‘Undoubtedly it is possible. The ultimate truth is so simple.’

Ramana would say, ‘It is nothing more than abiding in one's own state.’

This is the essential message of all religions and creeds. Leaving aside the automatic course of our lives regulated by the Creator, according to His law, one's duty is to channel effort to be Self-aware. Steadfastness of purpose is in treading the inner path through vigilant self-enquiry. On such enquiry as to the source of the individual, the enquirer merges in the conscious source.

The inner odyssey is seldom smooth sailing. Full many a delusion would wean one away. For instance, people who go to Sri Ramana Ashram to breathe its rarified atmosphere, while there, instead of surrendering to His flowing grace, would get involved in the business of the ashram management. Ramana used to jovially remark of some visitors on their first visit to Sri Ramana ashram, that they seemed to be alright. On the second visit they discovered that the ashram is not properly run. On the third visit they start giving advice. On the fourth they know best how to run the place. And on the fifth they discover that the management is not responsive. On the sixth they suggest that the present staff should walk out leaving the ashram to them. They would thus get bogged down in things which are irrelevant for the search. When such people complained, Ramana would say: ‘Mind the business for which you have come.’

This would apply, of course, not only to their visit to Sri Ramana ashram, but also to the purpose of human life itself. One has to constantly keep before the mind’s eye the liberating purpose, the only worthwhile one of freeing oneself from the karmic chain by discovering the hidden truth. Ramana would even seemingly chide if one failed to pursue one's own sadhana, but spent time thinking and talking of others.

A devotee once told Ramana: ‘I have been here for many years. People got into samadhi. I close my eyes for a minute and my mind travels around the world.’

Ramana replied: ‘Why do you think about others? Let them meditate, sleep or snore. Look to yourself. Whenever your mind goes astray bring it back to the quest.’

Once Bhagavan told a devotee [who wanted] to wake up, ‘Look at the mirror; it shows the growth to be got rid of. Instead of wasting time, start shaving.’

Similarly, heaven alone knows when one’s allotted time will end. Hence, not to seek the truth by vigilant self-enquiry is truly suicidal. Many would like to blame their circumstances for their indolence and laziness and failure to pursue self-enquiry.

Ramana would ask, ‘Why depend on that which is not in your hands. Go ahead with the business which is in your hands, under your control, leaving aside what you cannot do anything about.’

Proper utilisation of the God-given freedom of turning the mind [within] is what is needed all the time.

As for adverse circumstances in life, of which everyone has a belly full, while sympathising, Ramana would at the same time say, ‘You are always free not to be affected by the pleasure and pain consequent on action.’

The teeth have to be taken out of an event by an attitudinal change which neutralises it.

Sometimes Ramana would advise leaving things to the sure hand of the Sadguru, and to stick single mindedly to the effort which will make one Self-aware.

Ramana would say, ‘Why don't you do what the first class railway passenger does? He tells the guard his destination, locks the door and goes to sleep. The rest is done by the guard. If you can trust your Guru as much as you trust the railway guard, it will be good enough to enable you reach the destination.’

Again when someone pestered him for the darshan of Sri Krishna, he said, ‘Why don't you leave the direct experience of Krishna to Krishna.’

We also have the pointed advice given by him to Ganapati Muni: ‘Remain all the time steadfast in the heart. God will determine the future for you to accomplish the work. What is to be done will be done at the proper time. Don't worry. Abide in the heart.’

Life becomes meaningful if we joyously tread the inward path, remembering that our duty is to do the vichara; it is for the inner source to do the rest. Then, bliss is not the end product to be found on reaching the goal, but is felt all along the homeward, heartward journey.