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Not relief of mind, but destruction of the mind's centre || Acharya Prashant, on Raman Maharishi(2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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In deep sleep mind is merged and not destroyed. That which merges reappears. It may happen in meditation also. But the mind which is destroyed cannot reappear. The yogi’s aim must be to destroy it and not to sink in ‘laya’ (merging). In the peace of dhyana (meditation), laya ensues but it is not enough. It must be supplemented by other practices for destroying the mind. Mind’s destruction is the non-recognition of it as being apart from the Self. Even now the mind is not. Recognize it. How can you do it if not in everyday activities. They go on automatically. Know that the mind promoting them is not real but a phantom proceeding from the Self. That is how the mind is destroyed.

~ Ramana Maharshi

Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, please help me understand the meaning of last paragraph here, and also please shed some light on what is meant by ‘destroying the mind’.

Acharya Prashant (AP): The last paragraph — I’ll re-read, because the emphasis is on that in the question.

Mind’s destruction is the non-recognition of it as being apart from the Self, true Self. Even now the mind is not. Recognize it. How can you do it if not in everyday activities.

They go on automatically. Know that the mind promoting them is not real but a phantom proceeding from the Self. That is how the mind is destroyed.

The difference between ‘merging’ and ‘destruction’ has to be understood, manolay and manonāsh . Something getting submerged only becomes invisible for a while. It becomes invisible, but retains its existence and its identity. Just as it has submerged, gone down, it will re-emerge, it will come up.

The example that the Maharishi is using here is of sleep. When you fall asleep, you do not know your identity or your condition, your name, your belongings, your memories, they all disappear, but as soon as you are woken-up, everything returns. The world comes back to you almost exactly as it was before you went to sleep.

Sleep offered you an interlude, but not an ending. Maharshi is saying, the same kind of a thing is possible in methods of meditation. They offer you brief episodes of peace, but that peace is not final. That peace is not even real, it’s a very dualistic peace which begins and ends. It has no finality or timelessness to it.

If anything, it recharges you to freshly and more energetically enter the same things that tired you down so much that you began needing peace. Isn’t that the cycle? You sleep and then you wake up and get tired, and because you are now so tired, you again fall asleep. You fall asleep, your tiredness recedes for a while, and you again wake up to get tired.

So, all relaxation is for the sake of gaining tiredness once again. Does it sound very wise? That is what the Maharshi is cautioning against. He’s saying "This kind of a cyclic relaxation is no good. You need to really destroy that which pushes you into repetitive cycles of delusion, disappointment and tiredness — manonāsh ."

‘Laya’ will not suffice, you need ‘nāsh’ (destruction) — a total and final destruction of that which has been keeping you in bondage since ever, and he’s saying — to do that, you need to put an extra effort. Merely engaging in some daily tricks will not take you too far. You need genuine sincerity; you need something more. You need a final goodbye, not the kind in which you leave just to return in the night.

What is meant by destroying the mind? When you say that you have to destroy the mind, then you actually have to go to the root of that which you call as the mind, that which makes it possible for the mind to keep branching and flowering in different ways, one after the other.

For the mind is not one thing, the mind keeps constantly changing. There must be something at the center of the mind that keeps the mind alive and afloat. Merely chopping down the twigs and the branches, obviously, is not sufficing. You have to go to the root of the mind; if you intend total destruction of the mind, then you have to go to the root — that root is called aham Vṛtti (ego tendency).

So, now you have to move from munn (mind) to aham (ego). Just keeping engaged with munn won’t be enough now, you have to go to aham Vṛtti itself — the central tendency itself. The mind is variety, the mind is differences. The aham Vṛtti has no varieties, no differences.

So, if you have to go to the aham Vṛtti , you have to look beyond differences. How? You have to ask, “I have been chasing in different ways in different directions at different times. The chase has been different, the object of the chase has been different, the environments have been different, the stories have been apparently different. What is it that has not been different in all my episodes of chase?” You will come to the aham Vṛtti , the name of that is ‘incompletion’.

Whatsoever I have sought, I have sought coming from my belief in my incompletion. Whatsoever has been chased, has been chased on the foundation of a belief. The belief is — I need that thing. The thing has varied, the ways to chase that thing have varied, the results of the chase have varied, but the tendency to chase something or the other has not varied. It has remained one unchanging pillar around which the game of life has been played. Childrens do that.

Haven’t you seen children doing that? They’ll find a pillar, and then they will play around it, using the pillar for a variety of things. Somebody has to hug the pillar. Three of them have to race till the pillar. A little lean one has to hide behind the pillar. One acrobatic one has to climb up the pillar. It doesn’t really matter what the game is, the game is proceeding with the pillar at the center. The games are all constantly changing, the pillar is not.

That pillar is called aham Vṛtti . Another name for that is — “I need, I need, I need, I am dependent. I need, I am dependent, I am incomplete, I am without a base, without a foundation, without a support”. ‘I am’ — and as the voice that speaks comes to the word — ‘am’, it gets muffled, strangulated, can’t say anything beyond the ‘am’. ‘I am’ — that’s the central belief, ‘I am’, and no more. Whereas, I want to be more, therefore I must add something to my ‘am-ness’. I must add something to my existence, my identity. That’s the pillar of our existence, that’s the aham Vṛtti .

What then is to destroy the mind? It is to probe that central belief. “Am I really incomplete, am I really dependent? Do I really ‘need’? Will I really become non-existent? Will I disappear? Was it me that was born, and therefore will it be me who will die?” Do not take ready-made answers to these questions.

There are two kinds of ready-made answers. If you will listen to your common sense, your common sense will say, “Of course — you. It’s you who was born , it’s you who will die. Of course, you are lonely and dependent and incomplete”, that’s the common sense variety of answers.

And then, there is the Spiritual variety of answers that says, “No son, you are not born and you will not die and you are totally complete and non-dual and absolute”. Don’t take either of these answers, none of them really are true. None of them really belong to you.

Beat against the pillar, it’s hollow, it will come down, that’s your answer. That’s the only answer that you need. The sound of the pillar coming crashing down. That’s your answer. That’s Omkār , that’s Pranav , that’s the sound of Truth, the sound of that pillar coming crashing down.

It has to come down through your own effort. Popular worldly answers will not help you nor will esoteric mystical Spiritual answers. Beat against it with your own fists. Let your skin be split open, bleed — only that will redeem you.

The answer has to be absolutely yours; it must come to you by the dint of your knocks. Get hurt and discover that there is something in you bigger than the hurt that doesn’t want to live around that pillar, tied to that pillar. That pillar is a bondage, you are not playing around it, you are nailed to it, you are tethered to it.

The rope might be a long one, but to be tethered is to be tethered. You can’t fly when you are tethered, or can you? Even if you fly while being tethered, you will be at most like a kite at the mercy of the hand holding the thread and at the mercy of the wind.

Be a real kite, an eagle, cut yourself loose from that pillar. You don’t really need it, and the pillar is not as compact as it looks. Struggle against it, you are not lonely. You are not dependent, you are not little. Don’t take my words, find out for yourself.

See what the Maharshi is saying, he’s saying, “You are the true Self even right now. You don’t have to become the true Self. You don’t have to gain strength, you are already strong”; but that strength will remain a mere potentiality, if you do not exercise it, that’s the trick.

In spite of being very, very capable, absolutely powerful, you can still lead a very lame life, if you do not exercise your potential. Potential not exercised is potential non-existent. No point talking of mere potentiality.

The potentiality has to be a living, breathing, throbbing thing. It cannot just lie latent within your core. If it’s lying latent within your core, then it is the center of your disappointment rather than the center of your aliveness.

Ruthlessly and repeatedly keep questioning. Are things really as they appear to me? Am I really as I appear to myself? And, if there is honesty in the intent, Liberation is near.

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