Ramana Maharshi is famous for these quotes: "The Mind has to be destroyed."
"Stay without thoughts and just BE."
"Go to the root of the 'I' thought and find out 'Who Am I'?"
How would one function without thinking in this world? Isn't the Mind necessary for our normal day-to-day functioning in this world? What does Ramana mean by Destroying the Mind?
I find it difficult to believe that Ramana Maharshi would say that the mind has to be destroyed, but if he did make such a statement, then it is most unhelpful.
The true nature of awakened Being is utterly without judgment. It is neither for nor against anything and so to say that the mind has to be destroyed would be inconsistent with the true nature of Being.
The suggestion or implication that the ego will be annihilated or destroyed upon awakening is a common one and it is a major obstacle to awakening. The mind/ego will never allow itself to be destroyed and there is not a living human Being with the power to destroy the mind/ego, for the simple reason that the intention or attempt to destroy the ego is nothing more that ego seeking to destroy itself and this cannot happen. It is a house dividing against itself. All that happens is that the mind is strengthened. It creates an inner tension and fear and the ego becomes very resolved to make sure that this does not happen. It wants to become spiritualized, but it does not want you to truly awaken.
Ramana Maharshi had awakened to a level where there was very little mind/ego left in him. He experienced the bliss and freedom of a life without the interference and limitations of the mind. But he did not destroy his ego. It simply disappeared. It probably had more to do with his past life preparation than anything else.
Buddha did not destroy his ego. It simply surrendered.
The only way to bring the ego into its rightful place is through love and acceptance. Love is the most powerful energy in existence and ultimately it is only love and acceptance that will bring the ego to a place of surrender. When it is surrendered, it will no longer seek to keep you imprisoned within the world of the mind. It will allow you to deepen into Presence and there will come a time that you will be so deeply grounded in Presence that you will feel that your ego has disappeared. But it has not been destroyed. It has been loved and accepted into the sweetest state of surrender. In fact, the ego has no resistance to the power of love. Its nature is to fight force with force. It is designed to deal with judgment and rejection. It responds powerfully to threats against survival. Can you not see that talk of its destruction will simply call it into defensive and evasive action?
Most people do not know what it means to truly be loving and accepting of your self. It means that you allow and acknowledge as a part of you all those aspects that you have previously been denying, repressing or trying to get rid of. There can be no hint of judgment. This is not as difficult as you might imagine, because at the level of Being, you are love and acceptance. So if you awaken into Being and then allow all those aspects of yourself that you have been condemning to surface and be owned, acknowledged and expressed within the consciousness of Being, a tremendous relaxation will occur. It will allow you to deepen even further into Presence and Being.
You have quoted other statements made by Ramana Maharshi.
"Stay without thoughts and just be"
Of course, this is true. But how does one stay without thought? You cannot stop thoughts. It is impossible. But you CAN choose to be fully present in the moment of NOW. When you are fully present, thoughts stop all by themselves. You are not trying to stop the thoughts, which would be a form of judgment. You are simply choosing to be present with that which is present. You cannot think about the present moment. You can only think about the past or future and so if you are truly present, thoughts will simply stop. To just "be" is another way of saying "to just be present."
If you are fully present, there are no thoughts. If there are no thoughts, then quite literally, there is no time. There is no life outside of this moment. You can no longer function in the world, because there is no world outside of the moment. You would need a team of caretakers to take care of you, or an ashram would have to develop around you to take care of you and receive your enlightened utterances.
When Ramana awakened, he did not participate in the world. He remained in the Silence and an Ashram developed around him. That is the beauty of India, The Indian culture allows for one to enter into that fully awakened state and remain there. They know how to respond to one who is fully awakened
But that is a very limited approach to awakening. It is time for humanity to awaken at a collective level. Enlightenment can no longer be for just a select few, who no longer participate in the world. If there is to be an awakening at a collective level, we will have to learn to function within the world. This means that we will have to find a balance between the timelessness of the fully awakened state and the world of time.
It is a question of balance. When you awaken, the deepest level of the awakened state becomes the foundation of you and it becomes the foundation of your life. You know that the present moment is the truth of life and you never again become identified with life at the level of mind. You know that everything that occurs at the level of mind is illusory in nature and so you no longer believe in it as the truth of life. You are no longer identified with any of it. You recognize that life at the level of mind is simply play. (leela) It is sometimes happy and sometimes sad, because it is a world of duality. You relax and accept the dual nature of the world of the mind and the world of experience. You are no longer for or against anything. You have transcended judgment. Life is accepted fully and so too is death. Joy is accepted fully and so too is pain. But you are so deeply grounded in the moment of now, that you no longer get caught in the movements of the mind and its world of thought and emotion. You no longer believe in your ideas, beliefs, concepts and opinions. You are deeply grounded in Oneness. You are able to return to silence and Presence at will. In fact, silence and Presence is always there as the foundation of your existence, even when you move into the world of the mind.
Ramana awakened fully into the impersonal dimension of life. But the real challenge for us is not only to awaken into the impersonal dimension of life, but to allow the personal dimension to exist as a perfect expression of the impersonal. This can only begin to occur as the ego is brought into a state of surrender.
I sometimes say to those who attend my workshops,
"You had better hurry up and get enlightened because that is the easy part. The hard part is discovering how to live in the world once you have awakened. And that is a long journey of trial and error that will last the rest of your life."
The only thing you will need on this long journey through life is the following question:
"Are the choices I am making in my life supporting me in Presence and leading me deeper into peace, love and Oneness or are the choices I am making leading me away from Presence? Is my action in this moment in true alignment with the deepest levels of love and Oneness, which is my true nature, or am I acting outside of integrity.
Finally, if you adhere to self enquiry as suggested by Ramana, and really know how to ask the question "Who am I?" you will inevitably be delivered into that state of silence and pure consciousness that is your true Being. The question "Who am I? " will ultimately deliver you into the "I am Presence."