Shoshi Shophrony

How Ramana Maharshi Came Into My Life

By Shoshi Shophrony

I was born in Hungary into a warm, loving family. At the age of sixteen I lost my parents and my only sister in the Holocaust. I got married very young, and in 1949 we emigrated to Israel. My husband and I built a new life and a new family.

I began yoga training in 1969 with Swami Venkatesananda. I learned hatha yoga and raja yoga, the spiritual and philosophical part, along with meditation. I loved my teacher very much and he inspired me to become a yoga teacher myself. In the course of time, I left behind the physical part of yoga and concentrated only on the spiritual yogic approach to life with meditation and Self-enquiry.

Dreams that changed my life

One beautiful summer afternoon in 1972 some remarkable things began to happen to me. It began with a dream that was unexpected and surprising. I was lying on the hot sand at the seashore, near Tel Aviv, with my husband and our two sons. I fell asleep and dreamt that I was an Indian boy walking down the street with my Indian mother. I asked her to send me to school, but she explained that we were poor and had no money for school. Suddenly my mother stopped and pointed at an old man walking in the opposite direction. She said to me, “Run my son, run to him, because he can teach you far more than you could ever learn in any school.” And so I did. I ran after the old man. Hearing my heavy breathing, the old man stopped, looked at me with a warm, loving glance and put his hand on my head. And that was it! I woke up finding myself with my family beside the sea, with a very strange feeling about the experience. But as life’s rhythm is so very fast, as we swam, went home, prepared and ate lunch, and talked, the unusual dream began to fade somewhat.

After lunch I went to bed for a siesta and immediately fell asleep. Strangely, the whole dream appeared before me again, exactly as the first time; it was as if I were seeing the same cinema film twice. Now I became tremendously impressed, but hardly understood the dream and what it all meant.

That was the beginning. From that day on I continued to dream about the loving old man without any idea who he might be, and so I referred to him as my old uncle. The man, my old uncle, appeared in my dreams teaching, advising, sometimes reassuring or protecting.

He appeared and reappeared more often around the days of the Yom - Kippur War (October War, 1973, Middle East), at which time our elder son, Reuven, served in the army. He had been in great danger together with others, and we worried very much about him and everyone. The news on the radio was exciting and at times terrifying, but in my dreams my old uncle came, comforting and consoling me lovingly. I felt that he intended to protect not only me, but also our son, who was in danger. Indeed, how grateful we felt later on when we heard the story of his escape "by chance" from death.

There was another prominent dream with my old uncle related to my younger son, Rafy, who was sixteen years old at that time. Rafy asked for our permission to buy a small motorcycle. He worked during the summer and had earned the money for it. We didn't give our permission, explaining how dangerous it would be because of all the crazy drivers on the roads. We asked him to wait two more years, by which time he would be old enough, by Israeli law, to drive our car. Rafy, however, has a very strong will. When his heart is set on something he will not give it up easily. We, the parents, had a serious conflict with him. On the one hand, we knew very well how risky a motorcycle could be for a young boy, while on the other hand, we felt that our veto might be too much interference -- that it was his life and not ours.

Once again my old uncle appeared in my dream. The three of us, my uncle, Rafy (holding a motorcycle) and I, stood in the middle of a very busy street in Tel Aviv. My uncle asked me to wait at the side while both of them rode the motorbike in the heavy traffic. They began driving awfully fast and dangerously. I looked at them breathless, quite frightened. After a while they returned wearing broad smiles and my loving uncle said to me: “I took your son into very difficult situations. He is clever, skilful and cautious. You should allow him to buy the motorcycle. Trust him and don’t worry.” When I woke up the next morning I was so happy and felt relieved of a difficult problem. I immediately turned to my husband, and said, “I approve, I approve of the motorcycle.” He was the only one whom I told about my dreams. My enthusiasm inspired and convinced him to also give his blessing concerning the motorcycle. I sincerely believe the dream helped me to remain calm and quiet each time Rafy came home late. Thank God, he never had any accidents.

Old Uncle Identified

Nearly two years had past since my first dream on the seashore. One day I visited a library in a yoga center. I stood in front of a bookshelf and randomly picked out one book. I opened it up and nearly fainted! My loving uncle's beautiful face with a brilliant warm glance was staring at me from a picture on the first page. The name printed at the bottom of it was Sri Ramana Maharshi. The book's name happened to be Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge, by Arthur Osborne.

I began to read the first lines and found out that the "uncle" from my dreams is one of the greatest spiritual masters of the century! I can't express in words my feelings at the moment of this new revelation. Suddenly a curtain was lifted from my eyes and a new kind of perception opened up in me.

I felt an enormous thirst to learn each word of Bhagavan, to live thoroughly his teachings and to let them be absorbed in me. As the Direct Path was being revealed through these teachings, I never had any doubt and knew inside my heart that I had found my way, the purpose of life. I became indescribably grateful to Ramana Maharshi and to my fate.

Since then, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has been holding me by the hand in day-to-day life and showing me the way to Self-realization. His teaching is complete and perfect. His answers to devotees' questions are the most direct and effective, clearing every doubt or misunderstanding. There is never an unnecessary word, nor is there ever a missing one.

I must confess, that since I found my master and his teachings in many wonderful books, he appears very rarely in my dreams. But from the very first dream I was irresistibly drawn to him; I felt a natural love for Bhagavan. That is something beyond logic: how dreams, books and the radiating visage of my master could so greatly enrich my soul. Previously I had never experienced anything so enlightening; my devotion to Bhagavan is the most important happening in my inner life. I love my family very deeply and I am grateful for the good fortune of their company. Even so, no one can compare this sort of love to the tie which binds me to Bhagavan. That love is happening as if on another sphere. Deep inside me, it plays on like constant background music, as if I were living a double life. So anchored deep inside is he that I feel that there is no distance, nor ever could there be any distance, between Bhagavan and me. He is in my soul.

Visit to the Ashram

It was a great surprise to me in the early 1970s to find out that Sri Ramanasramam had continued to grow, more than twenty years after Bhagavan’s Mahasamadhi. I wrote to the editor of the Mountain Path and was happy to become a life subscriber, and also asked for a list of available books. As I got to know that the Ashram receives visitors, a great longing arose in me to see the places where my master lived.

I wanted to meditate in the Old Hall where his radiation vibrates in the air, to walk on the footpaths of Arunachala where he walked and which he so loved. I longed to be near to His Samadhi.

Unfortunately, I was unable to travel to Bhagavan’s Ashram for many reasons, including family problems and others. The greatest hindrance was the anxiety of my husband. He feared for my safety. At that time there were no diplomatic relations between Israel and India. A fear for my life and security made the decision to undertake the travel more difficult. I didn’t want to travel under these conditions and have my husband worry. I decided to wait until circumstances would come together to make it possible. It happened only after sixteen years of waiting and longing. My husband gave his blessing and let me go.

I arrived at the Ashram in December 1987, in the middle of the night, with a million stars shining in the sky. Immediately a strong feeling that ‘I am home!’ gripped me. In the first days, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t stop shedding tears of happiness.

By that time I had no more questions; I only needed to learn to strike down the restless mind and to remember to Be, only to Be! Bhagavan’s love had brought me to Arunachala and his Grace continued to guide me to eternal Consciousness. The Ashram manager, Mani, received me very kindly, and I feel grateful to him.

My good fate brought me also to Lucy Ma (Lucy Cornelssen), an indweller devotee, with whom I had corresponded during the following two years until she left her body. Her letters were so wise, loving and instructive, that some parts of them were printed in the Mountain Path magazine in December 1991.

I visited the Ashram two more times, happily enjoying the warm radiant atmosphere of Bhagavan. These days, by Bhagavan’s grace, I don’t feel anymore the need to be there physically, as I feel Ramana Maharshi is with me always.

What have I received from him? Inner peace during the turmoils of life, and infinite love. What have I learned? A new angle of vision, understanding the truth of the underlying oneness and unity of existence and knowing the Self, the core Being of the whole universe. I owe you all this, dear Bhagavan. Thank you.

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter