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Buddha And Ramana By Arthur Osborne It is reported that Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was once asked why

the Lord Buddha refused to answer questions about the after ife! and that he rep ied" #$erhaps he was more concerned with the rea work of guiding men to Se f%Rea i&ation than with satisfying use ess curiosity'( It has not been sufficient y remarked how c ose the teaching of this )edic Sage born in modern times is to that of the B essed One' And there cou d be no better proof that it was the pure essence of *indu spiritua ity that the Buddha reaffirmed! eaving aside on y the accidenta s' Sri Bhagavan a so refused to satisfy men+s curiosity and constant y insisted that it was not theoretica understanding that was needed but on y en ightenment' ,hen asked" #,hat sha I be when I die-(! he answered" #,hy do you want to know what you wi be when you die before you know what you are now- .irst find out what you are now'( By which he meant" #Seek the death ess! form ess /ruth of Nirvana! which a one is behind the appearance of this ife or any other ife'( ,hen asked about the nature of 0od he rep ied" #,hy do you want to know what 0od is before you know what you are- .irst find out what you are'( 1ay more! he has even been heard to say" #/here is no Ishwara'( By which he meant" #/here is no 0od apart from the Se f which a one is! 2ust as there is no you apart from the Se f'( /rue! he often spoke of 0od! but that was a concession to ignorance! for so ong as the conception of the individua se f as a rea and separate being continues! the conception of 0od as 3reator! Master and Lover of that individua se f must a so continue4 but for those who were wi ing to understand he a ways came back to the fina truth that there is on y the Se f' /herefore he said" #/here is no 0od apart from the Se f! for if there were he wou d be a Se f% ess 0od! which wou d be absurd'( *e a so insisted that you have no being apart from the se f' /he conc usion is obvious! however frightening' /here is! indeed! an apparent contradiction! for Sri Bhagavan proc aimed that there is on y Atma whereas Lord Buddha dec ared that there is no atma4 but such a contradiction between two Masters who both point the way to the Abso ute /ruth can never be more than verba ' In this case! Sri Bhagavan used the word Atma to mean the 5niversa Se f which is Nirvana! whereas Lord Buddha used it to mean the individua sou ' And Sri Bhagavan taught a so that there is no individua being! not on y in the sense that it wi not endure but that is not now4 #1ever mind what you wi be when you die4 find out what you are now'( /he Buddha was very itt e concerned with theory' *is purpose was not to erect either a theo ogy or a socia order but simp y to show men the way from suffering to peace' And yet theorists have descended upon his teaching 'and argued it out into patterns which he p neither themse ves nor others to escape from the whee of suffering' It is possib e that they wi fasten on the teaching of Sri Bhagavan a so! but it wi not be his rea teaching that they e6pound! for his rea teaching was to avoid the inessentia and fo ow the way to Se f%rea i&ation' #But peop e do not ike even to hear of this /ruth! whereas they are eager to know what ies beyond! about heaven and he and reincarnation' Because peop e ove mystery and not the /ruth re igions cater to them so as to eventua y bring them round to the Se f' ,hatever be the means adopted! you must at ast return to the Se f! so why not abide in the Se f here and now-( 7ven more e6p icit y he said" #8ust as it is futi e to e6amine the rubbish that has to be swept up on y to be thrown away! it is futi e for him who seeks to know the Se f if! instead of casting away the tattvas that enve op the Se f! he sets himse f to enumerate them or to e6amine their qua ities'( *e who says that this Master taught this and that taught the other has not understood their purpose' /hey are not here to argue but to show men the way from suffering to B essedness' 7ven though they may e6pound the one /ruth in different modes and point different paths! the /ruth and 0oa is the same' But in these two cases there was striking simi arity in the anguage spoken and the $ath indicated' /he story of Sri Bhagavan is of the most simp e' Born in a poor Brahmin fami y of South India! he went to a mission schoo and earnt a itt e 7ng ish4 and at the age of 9: he passed from darkness to 7n ightenment as simp y as any ado escent passes from boyhood to manhood' Lying upon his bed! he sudden y pondered" ,ho am I- I am not this changing body! nor am I these passing thoughts' ,hat then am I- If this body dies sha I sti be- And he tried to e6perience death! to imagine his body dead and carried to the burning ghat' *e ay stiff and he d his breath to intensify the e6perience' /here was a momentary intense fear of death! and then death was dead' *e was no more the ego! he had awakened into 7n ightenment of the ;eath ess Se f' /heory he earnt ater! and said" #<es! that is it(! 2ust as a woman to whom a chi d had been born might read afterwards about chi dbirth'

*e eft his fami y secret y and went to the sacred hi of Arunacha a and there he remained for => years unti ! on Apri 9>! 9?=@! he eft the body he had worn' Arrived at Arunacha a! he remained immersed in the effu gence of pure B iss! not conscious of his body! not needing it! not speaking or moving and scarce y eating! so that to on ookers it appeared to be the most intense tapas' It was neither mind nor body that dragged him back to an acceptance of wor d y conditions4 but pure compassion' ;evotees gathered round him! sought to bask in his 0race! craved his guidance' Once again! as in the time of the /athagata! he saw that men were bewi dered and needed guidance! and out of compassion he ived out his ong ife among us sub2ect to a the conditions of human pain and sickness' /he path he prescribed was striking y simi ar to that of the Buddha for he a so taught that it is attachment that binds men to their suffering and that by detachment and dispassion they can discard birth and death and suffering and rea ise their true state of unshadowed B iss' /he weapon that he gave for achieving this was the vichara! the question" ,ho am I- *as someone angered you- ,ho is angered or offended- ,ho am I- ;oes some success f atter you and tempt you to further ambition- ,ho is p eased or f attered- ,ho am I- By remembering that I am not the doer! it is possib e to ive and act in the wor d in perfect equanimity! without passion or an6iety and without suffering' /he image he gave was the bank cashier who hand es lakhs of rupees quite efficient y but without any agitation because he knows that it is not his money' So a so it is not you! not the rea Se f! that is affected by changes of state and fortune' And yet the vichara goes much farther than this for such dispassion wou d! in itse f! be a co d and negative state' As the ego goes out! the Spirit must come in to take its p ace' And the vichara is a positive and terrifica y potent weapon to awaken the awareness of Se f! the Spirit in man' Bhagavan+s instruction was to sit in meditation! concentrating the consciousness in the heart % not the physica heart on the eft but the spiritua heart on the right side of the chest! the centre of I%ness in man! the spot to which every man spontaneous y and unwitting y points when he says" #<ou mean me-( or #I did it'( And! thus concentrating! ask yourse f" #,ho am I-( If thoughts arise during the meditation do not fo ow them but observe them and ask of each thought" #,hat is it- ,hence did it come- And why- And to whom-( And so each thought wi ead back to the basic I%thought' And who am I/here is no menta or verba answer' /here cannot be since the purpose of the meditation is to awaken awareness of the Se f that is beyond thought and words' /he answer is a vibration of Se f%awareness that! after some practice! awakens in the heart' And by effort and practice this is to be made ever more constant and profound' /hen it wi sing itse f awake every time the vichara is used in the way first mentioned! and the rep y wi be b issfu awareness of the Se f that is untouched by anger or greed or desire! and the dispassion wi be radiant not co d' /his awareness of the Se f must be made constant! and then a that is needed is not to interfere! and the Se f wi devour the ego' Like the way and teaching of the Buddha! that of Bhagavan is simp e and direct! because it is centra ' And yet what has happened is that a new $ath has been opened for mankind! a $ath adapted to the pecu iar conditions of our modern age' /here are many today who find it difficu t or impossib e to withdraw from the wor d or even to observe the fu and detai ed ob igations of their re igion' And Bhagavan has abso ved those who turn to him from the need to do so' 1ot on y *indus but Buddhists! 3hristians! Mus ims! $arsis! 8ews! a came to him and he never advised any to change from one re igion to another' *e prescribed the vichara for a a ike' 1or did he advise any to withdraw from the ife of the wor d' Since the one ob2ect is to overcome the I%am%the%doer i usion! how does it he p to e6change the thought #I am a househo der( for the thought #I am a monk(- It is necessary to discard both and remember on y #I am(' /hrough his tremendous 0race and $ower Bhagavan has opened to mankind again in this age the direct path of Se f%enquiry' #/he attempt to destroy the ego through ways other than Se f%enquiry is ike the thief turning po iceman to catch the thief that is himse f' Se f%enquiry a one can revea the truth that neither the ego nor the mind rea y e6ists and enab e one to rea i&e the pure! undifferentiated Being of the Se f or the Abso ute' *aving rea i&ed the Se f! nothing remains to be known because it is perfect B iss! it is the A '( Appendi6 /his artic e was written over fifteen years ago as a chapter in a book ca ed Ramana Arunachala pub ished by Sri Ramanasramam' After writing it I found that there were Buddhists as unen ightened and into erant as the fo owers of any theistic re igion who ob2ected to a comparison between the Maharshi and the Buddha' Indeed! one a uded scathing y in a book he wrote to peop e who cou d compare a Amere jivan mukta+ with the Buddha' I wish to e ucidate this question! not in any spirit of emu ation but as a matter of understanding4 because understanding is so much of the essence of Buddhism that

ack of it seems more shocking than in a persona ised and devotiona re igion' And anyone who can use the ad2ective Amere+ to qua ify the term Jivan Mukta betrays thereby a tota ack of understanding' /here is a universe composed of physica and subt e wor ds fu of animate and inanimate beings of count ess variety' Apart from men and physica anima s! these comprise gods! spirits and demons' Among the men are Buddhas! $rophets! Avatars! Saints and Sages who bring guidance and teach wisdom' In the form they assume a of these! as the Buddha said! are compound beings and therefore sub2ect to disso ution' Mukti means the waking into rea i&ation that a these wor ds with a their gods! men and demons! $rophets! Avatars and Buddhas! are a manifestation having no more rea ity within Nirvana! Dharma Kaya! 7ssence of Mind! Se f or whatever term one may use than a dream in the mind of the dreamer' A Jivan Mukta is one who has awakened from the dream whi e sti a ive on earth' /herefore to say that the Buddha or anyone or anything e se! divine or human! is greater than he is to say that one part of his dream sti e6ists after he has awakened from it and is more rea than he is! which is nonsense' One cou d deny that anyone but a Buddhist or anyone but a Buddha can attain Mukti' /hat wou d be mere re igious bigotry such as one finds among the b inkered e6oterists of every re igion4 but to speak of a Jivan Mukta and coup e it with the ad2ective Amere+ or suggest that there can be anything beyond simp y shows that one does not know what one is ta king about'