Swami Prasanananda

Swami Prasanananda Guru

The following conversation took place on January 2, 1942 when some visitors from North India, well versed in Hindu Sastras, visited Sri Ramanasramam.

Visitor: If the ultimate Reality is one and absolute, why does the world appear as an object, seen as different from the subject who sees it? Who is it that sees the object as distinct from himself, the subject?

Maharshi: Who is it that is putting this question?

V.: One who seeks the Truth.

M.: Who is he?

V.: He who desires to know the Truth.

M.: Instead of having a mere desire to know the truth, if he has the anubhava (experience) such questions as these would not arise.

V.: True, after Realization they cannot arise. But until he has the experience, he has not only the desire for it, but also some doubts regarding the nature of the ultimate Reality. Hence arises the question, why the world should appear as an object different from the subject who sees it. I do admit that the question has significance only until the desire for Realization is fulfilled. But till then, the question remains, and it has to be answered.

M.: That there is no answer to your question is the only answer, because the question does not really arise. In order to know the truth, you who seek to know it should exist as such, i.e., as yourself, the primal being. It is therefore yourself that you should know in the first instance. It is of you that knowledge or ignorance is predicated. You said you do not know the Truth and desire to know it. Instead of engaging your mind with such thoughts as "I know," "I am ignorant," etc., you should direct it towards the enquiry as to what the 'I' itself is. Through such enquiry you will find, as a matter of experience and not merely as something to think and argue about, that what remains alone and absolute is the Self. So that your question, viz., why the world should appear as an object seen by a subject, cannot and does not at all arise. A question that does not arise cannot have an answer.

V.: How then should I know the 'I'?

M.: By investigation into this question itself, and thereby will you get the experience or Atmanubhuti. The ardent desire to know the Truth has a beneficial purpose to serve until one has such experience.

V.: Mental activity during meditation does not seem to converge at a point, as it should, on the object of meditation and it does not stay there but gets diverted into numerous thought channels. Why is it so? How can the mind be made to overcome this tendency towards diffused thinking and attain its Primal State of freedom from thought?

M.: It is the mind's attachment to objects, constituting the non-self that makes the mind wander about during meditation. Therefore, the mind should be withdrawn from the non-self, and an effort should be made to fix it in Self-enquiry. All extraneous thought is effectively eliminated when you attune the entire mind to the one question: "Who is it that is making the enquiry?"

V.: In spite of having come to the definite conclusion as a result of one's investigation that 'I' has no essential relation with the non-self, i.e., with the body, senses and the objects perceived by the senses, the mind persists in going after these very same things which constitute the non-self. What is it due to and how can it be remedied?

M.: It is due to lack of abhyasa and vairagya. When Self-enquiry has become steady through practice, and the spirit of renunciation firm through conviction, your mind will be free from the tendency of thinking about the non-self.

V.: How can I gain steadiness in practice?

M.: Only through more practice.

The cynosure of all eyes in the hall is Bhagavan, whose silence is much more potent. Those who sit in the hall within His presence have a splendid opportunity for the practice of dhyana. A genuine devotee cannot but experience what is called the peace that passeth all understanding, which is Bliss Divine. What is more valuable than the realization of such Bliss?

– The Call Divine

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter