Plain Talk

Posted on September 21st, 2009

Page 15, Living Nonduality: Enlightenment Teachings of Self-Realization
By their fruits shall ye know them. By the lives they lived, we know the saints of enlightenment. Standing out among these, in full stature, is Ramana Maharshi. Because he lived in recent times, we have the spiritual teachings in an accurately recorded form (as compared, for example, to those of Buddha). Also, living in India, Ramana’s (Tamil) words have been translated directly into English (as compared, for example, with those of Jesus: from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English).

Ramana represents the fountainhead of nondual enlightenment teachings, in their directness and succinct clarity. “If you had asked,” as Jesus said, “I would have given you the water of life.” In any one of the few books recording Ramana’s commentary, the truth is there for the asking—authoritatively. “If it were not so,” again as Jesus said, “I would not have told you.”
However, as with spiritual texts in general, discernment is required if there is to be comprehension. Such texts are unavoidably paradoxical: what is said, at one time, from the relative standpoint, may be reiterated later from the standpoint of Absolute awareness. The irony is that this difference is best understood by the one who need not read any texts, the realized. Nevertheless, the subtle message can be comprehended by those who have the ears to hear.

The message of nondual actuality is not even dependent upon the word, as Ramana’s own awakening demonstrated (and as did Buddha’s). Albeit, this truth can be communicated with the aid of words, for those who are ready for it. The ones who are ready for it, have a single eye, and they prize what they see.
A recent book ( Padamalai ) is particularly useful (because of the way it is composed) for understanding the paradoxical teaching style of advaita: what you are taught at one point, you are later shown is an illusion (“There is no you to understand anything”).

A questioner said to Ramana, “I do not know how to read. How can I realize?” Ramana said,

“[A spiritual book] is like asking you to see yourself in a mirror. The mirror [book] reflects only what is on the face [in consciousness]. If you consult the mirror after washing your face [realizing Self-awareness], the face will be shown to be clean [free of confusion].

“Otherwise, the mirror will indicate, ‘There is dirt here [confusion]; come back after washing [clarity].’

“A book does the same thing. If you read the book after realizing the Self, everything will be easily understood. But if you read it before realizing the Self, it will say, ‘First, set yourself right; and then see me.’

“That is all. So: first, know the Self!”

The problem, which besets readers of spiritual texts which speak to the unrealized reader from the realized standpoint, is in comprehending when the response is given from the relative standpoint, in comparison to when it is given from the Absolute standpoint. This can be particularly perplexing when the response is intended to show that the limited (relative) can only appear within the unlimited (Absolute) and not otherwise.

[The remainder can be read in the eBook edition of Living Nonduality or in the print version.]

Posted in Books, Selections, Monograph, Nondual Teachers    Tagged with Ramana Maharshi, Absolute


Jim Dreaver - February 23rd, 2010 at 1:12 PM
Your reflections are beautiful and true, Robert. I am looking forward to meeting you again when I next come to Ojai.

Jim Dreaver
Venice, CA

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