Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ramana Maharshi on observance of self-discipline [niyamas]

Q: Sankara says we are all free, not bound, and that we shall all go back to God from whom we have come as sparks from a fire. Then why should we not commit all sorts of sins?
Ramana Maharshi : It is true we are not bound and that the real Self has no bondage. It is true that you will eventually go back to your source. But meanwhile, if you commit sins, as you call them, you will have to face the consequences of such sins. You cannot escape them. If a man beats you, then, can you say, `I am free, I am not bound by these beatings and I don't feel any pain. Let him beat on'? If you can feel like that, you can go on doing what you like. What is the use of merely saying with your lips 'I am free'?

Q: It is said that the whole universe is God's play of consciousness and that everything is full of Brahman. Then why should we say that bad habits and bad practices should be discarded?
Ramana Maharshi : Suppose there is some wound inside the human body. If you neglect it, on the assumption that it is only a small part of the body, it causes pain to the whole body. If it is not cured by ordinary treatment, the doctor must come, cut off the affected portion with a knife and remove the impurities. If the diseased part is not cut off it will fester. If you do not bandage it after operating, pus will form. It is the same thing with regard to conduct. Bad habits and bad conduct are like a wound in the body. Every disease must be given appropriate treatment.

Q: So one should adhere to the conventional codes of behaviour?
Ramana Maharshi : Since the prescribed observances for self-discipline [niyamas] help one to a considerable extent, they are worthy to be accepted and followed. But if they are found to obstruct the superior practice of enquiry for true knowledge, give them up immediately as deficient.

Source: From David Godman book "Be as you are"

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