Be as You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Edited by David Godman
I am writing this on a plane to Paris (Jan 25) on an impromptu trip we quickly booked over the weekend. We had our passports tied up and we didn’t know if we could go see John, Chris’ brother play a concert in Cologne, Germany. To our surprise we received them last Saturday and we are going to surprise him and our friends by just showing up. We also decided on the way there, to spend a day in Paris and attend the birthday of my friend from high school, Dani in Homburg and Saturday we take the train to Cologne. Anyway long story short I just finished a panic attack as we were going through a slight turbulence. Just as I conquered my short-term phobia of going downwards on escalators, now I am crying in planes. And this is how my serene Self can be shadowed by a persona full of the day-to-day realities. Sometimes it is easier to anchor Anca with the Myself, sometimes a bit harder.
Now that all is nice and back to normal, normal as a metal bird with 100 people in the air can be, I can write my post. My friend James lent me the book as he thought it would take me a bit deeper into the potential influences of Eckart Tolle’s teachings. He is an authority in the field since his PhD is in religious studies, more specifically “Soteriological Models in late Advaita Vedanta”. From that title I understand the words: “models”, “in” and “late”. He also spent two years learning Sanskrit in India so he is definitely the person to ask which ashram to go to when we decide to enter that side of the world.
The book is a compilation of teachings put together by David Godman and collected from people who have followed the Sri Ramana Maharshi and from his various notes. It is similarly organized to the Power of Now, categorized on topics and answering specific questions. It is an excellent template since I could easily place myself in the shoes of the person asking the questions, and it very much felt like a dialogue.
It is now a few months since I have finished the book and I sense the lecture left a few important marks behind. It is better to have these posts written after a short period rather than right after I finish the book. The immediate post reading exaltation is a lot higher and it doesn’t necessarily reflect the long-term effects of a lecture. The article should reflect what remains after a few months and what transpired from the book pages into my day-to-day life and practices. This is especially true if the book is related to a topic that can influence such an important aspect of my life as spirituality and inner peace.
So I do still ask myself: “ Who is asking?” .. since I felt this was the core of the Sri Ramana’s Teachings – Self Inquiry. Not a descriptive way of finding out the attributes of your personality as a representation of your material manifestation. But to ask the question loud enough inside yourself until you hear no more answer. Until your ego will be silenced by the power of your question and only peace comes back. A peace that tells me I am an Energy, I am an Energy of the infinite universe. This is a personal reaction, of course, and I would imagine everyone would experience it differently. This silence is possibly the only certainty there is, the only form of communication and connection. This is also the way the Sri Ramana Maharshi preferred to conduct and share his light. He did answer questions when asked and he did try to explain his teachings in a variety of forms from more structured to less detailed. Depending on the audience and their need for details.
There are many paths of searching and finding inner peace, varying from Christianity, Buddhist, Yoga, and Meditation all valuable steps to help me walk towards enlightenment. These are only a few of the ones I have tangentially been touched by and only in small drops. I will keep reading and expanding my horizon, but as this book showed me it is more the work inside that will keep me grounded into the light rather than anything else. His respect for other beliefs and teachings is a lovely lesson of acceptance that we can all find our way through different paths and there is no need to impose a new system as the guarantee of inner peace. He recognizes Westerners as having a more difficult time quieting the mind but at the same time trusting everyone’s ability to go on with work and day to day life and be enlightened, spread peace, love and joy.
To come back to the Eckart Tolle reference … I see the foundation of his teachings gravitating around the same core. The difference I picked up comes from the approach. Eckart Tolle brings up the Present moment as the hook into our Self. By bringing ourselves in the moment, the ego has no voice. The Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Self Inquiry would have me facing my Ego until it would be silenced my quest to go past it. Another book, another teaching to give more power and peace to Me, Myself and I.
So James what am I reading next?