Ramana Maharshi on Householders and Western People
Question : How can cessation of activity [nivritti] and peace of mind be attained in the midst of household duties which are of the nature of constant activity?
Ramana Maharshi : As the activities of the wise man exist only in the eyes of others and not in his own, although he may be accomplishing immense tasks, he really does nothing. Therefore his activities do not stand in the way of inaction and peace of mind. For he knows the truth that all activities take place in his mere presence and that he does nothing. Hence he will remain as the silent witness of all the activities taking place.
Question : Is it harder for westerners to withdraw inwards?
Ramana Maharshi : Yes, they are rajasic [mentally overactive] and their energy goes outwards. We must be inwardly quiet, not forgetting the Self, and then externally we can go on with activity. Does a man who is acting on the stage in a female part forget that he is a man? Similarly, we too must play our parts on the stage of life, but we must not identify ourselves with those parts.
Question : How does one remove the spiritual sloth of others?
Ramana Maharshi : Have you removed your own? Turn your enquiries towards the Self. The force set up within you will operate on others also.
Question : But how can I help another with his problem, his troubles?
Ramana Maharshi : What is this talk of another - there is only the one. Try to realize that there is no I, no you, no he, only the one Self which is all. If you believe in the problem of another, you are believing in something outside the Self. You will best help him by realising the oneness of everything rather than by outward activity.