Sri Ramana Maharshi said, ‘then you go elsewhere, because here we teach unlearning. Learning is not our way. You go elsewhere. If you are ready to unlearn, be here. If you have come to learn more, then this is not the right place. Then go somewhere else – universities exist for learning. When you come to me, come to unlearn. This is a university for unlearning, university to create no-mind, a university where whatsoever you know will be taken away.All your knowledge has to be dropped so that you become knowing, so you get a perfection, a clarity, so that your eyes are not filled with theses, or theories, with prejudices, concepts; so your eyes have a clarity, an absolute clarity and transparency, so that you can see. The truth is already there. It has always been there.“`
A new consciousness and a totally new morality are necessary to bring about a radical change in the present culture and social structure. This is obvious, yet the Left and the Right and the revolutionary seem to disregard it. Any dogma, any formula, any ideology is part of the old consciousness; they are the fabrications of thought whose activity is fragmentation – the Left, the Right, the centre. This activity will inevitably lead to bloodshed of the Right or of the Left or to totalitarianism. This is what is going on around us. One sees the necessity of social, economic, and moral change but the response is from the old consciousness, thought being the principal actor. The mess, the confusion, and the misery that human beings have got into are within the area of the old consciousness, and without changing that profoundly,every human activity – political, economic or religious – will only bring us to the destruction of each other and of the earth. This is so obvious to the sane.
Lao Tzu used to say that in a storm big trees stand rigidly and so they are uprooted. Small plants bend with the winds ; the storm blows over them . The roots of big trees are overturned , they laid flat on the ground; but small plants stand as straight as they did before. The storm gives new life to the plants, but it destroys the trees which are stubborn and proud. It is the same storm ! The weak are saved and the mighty are destroyed……..
……What we call strength in the language of this world is weakness in the language of spirituality. And that which we call weakness in the language of this world is strength in the language of spirituality. To bow down is weakness in this world : “Come what may , do not bow down to anything”. In the language of spirituality, bowing down is an invitation for the energy of strength to fill you.
And one who bows down is filled from all sides: energy from the whole universe starts flowing towards him. He becomes like a vessel . His invitation is heard everywhere.
There are two aspects to any action. The first is to perform the action efficiently, perfectly. However perfectly an action may be performed there is always room for improvement. Hence the saying, ‘The largest room in the world is the room for improvement!’ The second aspect is the attitude with which the action is performed. Perfection in action is rather difficult but perfection in attitude is possible. If we perform actions with the right attitude, then however small or big the action, it will become great. This is beautifully illustrated by the famous squirrel in the Ramayana, who out of love for Sri Rama tried to help the monkeys build the bridge across the ocean. The squirrel first wet itself in the water, then rolled in the sand and shook off the grains of sand on the bridge. This irritated the monkeys but Sri Rama understood the squirrel’s desire to assist in this great endeavour.
So only right actions (performing one’s obligatory duties) performed with the right attitude can be termed as karma yoga; otherwise it is merely karma, action.
Question: You seem to advise me to be self-centered to the point of egoism. Must I not yield even to my interest in other people?
Maharaj: Your interest in others is egoistic, self-concerned, self-oriented. You are not interested in others as persons, but only as far as they enrich, or enoble your own image of yourself.
And the ultimate in selfishness is to care only for the protection, preservation and multiplication of one’s own body. By body I mean all that is related to your name and shape— your family, tribe, country, race, etc. To be attached to one’s name and shape is selfishness.
A man who knows that he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for.
Or, you may say, he is equally ‘selfish’ on behalf of everybody he meets; everybody’s welfare is his own. The feeling ‘I am the world, the world is myself’ becomes quite natural; once it is established, there is just no way of being selfish.
To be selfish means to covet, to acquire, accumulate on behalf of the part against the whole.
……There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”………
……Here’s another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.’” And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.”…..
“Take this whole life as a myth, as a story. It is one, but once you take it this way you will not be unhappy. Unhappiness comes out of too much seriousness. Try for seven days; for seven days remember only one thing – that the whole world is just a drama – and you will not be the same again. Just for seven days! You are not going to lose much because you don’t have anything to lose.
“You can try it. For seven days take everything as a drama, just as a show.
“These seven days will give you many glimpses of your buddha nature, of your inner purity. And once you have the glimpse you cannot be the same again. You will be happy, and you cannot conceive of what type of happiness can happen to you because you have not known any happiness. You have known only degrees of unhappiness: sometimes you were more unhappy, sometimes less unhappy, and when you were less unhappy you called it happiness.
“You don’t know what happiness is because you cannot know. When you have a concept of the world in which you are taking it very seriously, you cannot know what happiness is. Happiness happens only when you are grounded in this attitude, that the world is just a play.