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“Reality is simply the loss of the ego. Destroy the ego by seeking it’s identity. Because the ego is no entity, it will automatically vanish and reality will shine forth by itself.”
rare video, 9/1/46;
Abide as the Self, 6/17/8;
Abide in the Self;
Cardinal Teachings^; Collected Works^;
Face to Face^;
Forty Verses On Reality;
Padam - Formless Self;
Sage of Arunachala, 2/13/8;
Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi;
Surpassing Love & Grace^;
What is Liberation According to the Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi?;
Who Am I?^;
Who Am I?;
Words of Grace^;
Turning Inward, 2/6/9;
Paul Brunton: RM & His Message^;
Lucy Cornelssen: Hunting the 'I'^; Gabriele Ebert: Ramana Maharshi, His Life^;
David Godman, ed.: Be As You Are^;
Michael James: Happiness & the Art of Being^; Michael James: Path of Sri Ramana pt1^;
Damien Markakis: Ramana Maharshi;
Mudaliar: Day by Day With Bhagavan^; Talks with RM^; Arthur Osborne: My Life & Quest^;
Osborne: Path of Self-Knowledge^;
Arthur Osborne, ed.: Teachings of Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words^;
Forty Verses On Reality; D.M. Sastri: Sri Ramana Maharshi's Way^;
Meeting Ramana Maharshi, Conversations with John Sherman, 2004^;
S.S. Cohen: Reflections On Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi^;
Sri Viswanatha Swami: 108 Names of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi^;
Ramana Maharishi Ashram;
Sri Muruganar & Sri Sadhu Om
“The Garland of Guru’s (Sri Ramana Maharshi’s) Sayings” on the subject of Turning Inward;
How to Practice Self-Inquiry;
Ignoring and turning one’s attention away from the world and towards Awareness watching Awareness;
How I discovered the Awareness watching Awareness method;
Sri Ramana Experience
Sri Sadhu Om:
Technique of Self-inquiry
H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji):
I Am Eternal Self;
Meeting Ramana; No Practice;
Peace Is Always Everywhere;
Plunge into Eternity;
Wake Up & Roar Pt.1^, Pt.2^;
Who Are You?;
Who is Aware of Consciousness?;
video clips; Greenwald interview w Papaji; Our Destination
What makes This Dream more Real?;
Silence is Your Name; Nobody Wants You to be Free
A Personal Report
Submitted from Tiruvannamalai, March 8, 2012
My ex-step-daughter is 12 today.
“To see Chidambaram, to be born at Tiruvarur, to die at Banaras or even to think of Arunachala is to be assured of Liberation.”
- Old Tamil saying
There were no apparent 'whys', other than the romance of it; but, the universe gave me enough clues that I ought to be in Tiruvannamalai in time for the full Moon, so I was.
Arrived night before last (Tuesday) at about 7 o'clock. Found a hotel with vacancy on the 5th try - apparently lots of others wanted to be here for the full Moon as well - and my room is clean and air conditioned and costs me Rs1210 per night. Arunachala is directly behind my hotel, but I can't see it without walking some, because the hotel and other buildings are in the way.
My health has remained pretty good - my bug bites have much subsided since I left Mumbai, but I found I was moving pretty slow on my first day here. My room doesn't have windows; and, as a result, I didn't make it out on my first day until about 11 in the morning and it was already blazing hot. Wandered around for an hour with my laptop on my back looking for an internet cafe to no avail - the best prospect only had room for two customers and the two customers were both already there before me.
Like I'm sure every other city in this country, even in the heat of day, there were crowds, noises and smells everywhere; and, I noticed more than ever, just like the goats and the cows, a good percentage of the people, dodging obstacles effortlessly without even wearing any shoes. 'That'll be the day' when I get that comfortable here, I thought.
Everyone you ask tries to be helpful, but it's so amazing how often every other one tries to head you back in the same direction you've just come from. Direction is always indicated by an obtuse flip of the forearm or hand and there doesn't seem to be any way to indicate or decipher distance.
Anyway, not giving up, I finally got a rickshaw who drove me around for another 1/2 hour, but still did not find any internet.
Got back to my room soaked and exhausted (see 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen' at the bottom of my 2nd report from three days ago) and I still had not accomplished anything, other than a couple of bananas for breakfast while I was walking.
My priorities always are: Water, Internet, Food; in this order.
Finding drinking water in India is nowhere near as challenging to find as it used to be, as long as you don't mind toxic plastic bottles too much.
Theoretically, my internet should be pretty easy to handle as I had acquired in Bombay (for just a couple thousand rupees) a wireless USB modem that's supposed to give me internet access everywhere I go in India; but it doesn't work all the time, and, I notice, so far, it seems to have an especially hard time immediately adapting to a new locale. Despite trying everything I could think of in Windows 7 'Network & Sharing Center' late Tuesday night all the way to Wednesday, later afternoon, there was still no success regarding internet connecting.
Had lunch a couple of doors down from where I'm staying - couldn't read anything on the menu - just conveyed that I was hungry and whatever they served me, it hit the spot nicely and they were as satisfied as I was.
Miraculously, at around five in the afternoon, on my 20th try, the Tata Photon+ suddenly kicked in and finally I could check my email; very, very slowly; but, Thank God! - all three priorities handled.
At 7pm, my first 24 hours here already history, despite my mind nagging at me, I had not yet done any real sightseeing or anything else yet, but that just had to be OK. Technically, it was still double digit hours before the actual full Moon and I figured I'd probably make it over to the ashram the next morning.; and as it was cooling down outside - I'd go out and explore some more in a little bit.
Meantime, I continued to answer emails and diddle around on the internet.
Sometime close to 8pm - my mind just not leaving me alone that I wasn't missing something - finally, I shut down the computer and exited my room. To my utter astonishment, what I found was that there were literally thousands of pedestrians, covering both lanes of the main road in front of me, all walking in the same direction, left to right.
So, I walked out into the street and joined in. It soon became obvious that we were all heading to the HUGE lingam temple about 1km up the road, which I had barely taken note of, towering above the buildings between it and me, during my wanderings earlier in the day.
As us masses of people neared it in the night, it lit up with colored lights and a huge bonfire at its base, I can only say that IT and whatever was going on, all of us shoulder to shoulder, back to front, was tremendous. There was major congestion in front of the fire; many with their hands formed in reverent prayer to it and the Lingam behind.
After watching the goings on there, I turned 90 degrees and jostled my way up the link of the semi-internal structure in front of the monument. There were thousands of candles planted in patterns on the ground; vendors, beggars and sadhus along each side; mantras and music blaring at various places along the way.
Even had I seen any westerners, which I didn't, it did not seem at all like a venue where one might try to carry on a conversation with anyone, so I didn't try asking anyone for any elucidation about what all was going on. After a while, I made it out of the denser throng and walked, against the voluminous traffic, back to my hotel.
Within 50 yards of home, I heard a couple of loud yelps behind me; and, as I turned around, a blond, small medium sized dog jumped up and appeared to chomp down on my left hand. It was, of course, shocking, and I pulled away in stunned reflex, while realizing that, although the entire lengths of my middle, ring and little fingers had been in the dog's mouth, he or she hadn't bit me; and,in fact, almost all I felt was tongue.
A couple of people shouted angrily at the dog; one grabbing a rock and threatening to throw. I just continued on, after glancing at the dog still standing there looking at me along with a couple more yelps. I felt only love for and from the dog.
I knew what he was saying to me. I just didn't fully comprehend it at the time.
Safely back in my room, I went back on the internet to find out what was going on. What I found was: that this is what happens every full Moon in Tiruvannamalai. On the full Moon night, tens of thousands walk completely around the base of Arunachala, a distance of 14km!; beginning and ending at the main temple which I had gotten to.
It is called Pradakshina. [Jyothi, I hardly had any idea!] And, it is considered sacrilegious to be anything other than barefoot.
Nah, I thought. I was beat. I didn't train for this. I hadn't walked anywhere without shoes on my bony, duck feet since about 1963. Out of the question.
So, I kept researching various sites on the internet, every once in a while going out onto the overlook to the street on my floor, always finding 1000's of people marching towards the temple.
Wikipedia informs us that Arunachala is one of the five main shaivite holy places in India; the most important one for people practicing Atma Vichara (self inquiry). Asked about the special sanctity of Arunachala, Ramana Maharshi said that other holy places such as Kailas, Kasi and Chidambaram are sacred because they are the abodes of Lord Siva whereas Arunachala is Lord Siva himself.
The Ramana Maharshi Ashram website calls Arunachala the Spiritual Center of the world. An old Tamil saying is: “To see Chidambaram, to be born at Tiruvarur, to die at Banaras or even to think of Arunachala is to be assured of Liberation.”
The website goes on to say that "The Maharshi encouraged all of his devotees to make the nine-mile circuit, even those who were infirm, knowing for certain that the spiritual benefits of giripradakshina far outweighed any physical hardships. He said, “The greatness of this has been described at length in Arunachala Puranam. Lord Nandikesa asked Sadasiva about its greatness and Sadasiva narrated as follows: “To go round this hill is good. The word ‘pradakshina’ has a typical meaning. The letter ‘Pra’ stands for the removal of all kinds of sin; ‘da’ stands for the fulfillment of desires; ‘kshi’ stands for freedom from future births; ‘na’ stands for the granting of deliverance through jnana. One should go round either in mouna (silence) or dhyana (meditation) or japa (repetition of Lord’s name) or bhajan (singing praises) and thereby think of God all the time. One should walk slowly like a woman who is in the ninth month of pregnancy.""
Also, I learned that Arunchala also represents the entire universe and its zodiac; and, walking around it clears karma with all signs.
Nah, I continued to insist to myself. This is ridiculous. It's late. I'm tired. I can't walk completely around a mountain in the middle of the night barefoot.
At exactly 11:11pm, I looked at the clock; I took off my shoes and socks, grabbed my water bottle and exited my room once again.
As I entered the throng, I prayed to the full Moon directly over my head to please protect my feet.
I felt every step; every little pebble on the road. All was good as I made it to the temple; and, this time I just continued through, past the blazing fire along with nearly every body else.
It is going to be very difficult to fully and adequately describe. All the way, the path came to more, smaller temples; in varying densities, there were more holy men singing bhajans on the side, more one or no armed beggars, snake charmers, monkeys; more vendors selling pictures of Ganesh and Shiva, bottled water, various foods, trinkets, jewelry... Twice I bought slices of watermelon along the way.
I learned to deliberately step on discarded fruit peelings which tended to cool and caress the bottoms of my aching feet.
There came a point - was I a quarter of the way around? More? Less? I didn't know, but the pad of my left foot, just below the toes, suddenly seemed too inflamed to continue. I hobbled to the side, wondering what I was to do - as far as I knew, there were no helicopters around to take me back to comfort and safety... Blisters were forming on both soles, but the one on the left was considerably most painful.
A ring salesman had an empty chair next to him in his 'booth' and he said commandingly "Sit". So, I sat, and started examining the bottoms of my feet, trying to think of something I could protect them with. "Does anybody have any tape?", I asked.
He put a blue agate ring on the ring finger of my left hand, but it was too big. He replaced it with a green agate ring which fit. "This will help you", he said. "How much?", I asked. He replied "200 rupees'. I paid him, thanked him, got up and continued on my way, vowing simply to trust that I was not going to die, and if so, so be it.
Normally, even by Indian standards, I am a fast walker; but, I watched, as the kilometers ticked by, that there came a point where even older Indian woman were making their way past me as I hobbled down the road, still feeling and paying attention to every aching step.
Gratefully and proudly, I report to you that I made it around the mountain. I arrived back in my hotel room at four o'clock in the morning. I prayed that my Zoë will have a happy birthday and I went directly to deep, luscious sleep.
This morning, well, shortly before noon anyway, I awoke and waddled into this new day.
Personal Report #1;
Personal Report #2;
Personal Report #4;
Personal Report #5;
Personal Report #6;
Personal Report #7;
Personal Report #8;
Personal Report #9;
Personal Report #10;
Personal Report #11;
Personal Report #12
Another Personal Report
Submitted from Tiruvannamalai, March 15, 2012
My time in Tiruvannamalai has gotten more enjoyable by the day.
My most recent plans had been to be in Jabulpur before the 21st, for a couple of days; then, on to Varanasi for two or three weeks; then, Rishikesh and do some panchakarma there to probably round out my current India experience.
As it was becoming more difficult to consider leaving here, several days ago, I asked: How good of an idea is it for me to be in Jabulpur on the 21st? and got the Black&Red card (in my Thoth deck). Probably, I will die, I thought - I better go.
Now, it's even harder to conceive of leaving this amazing place so soon, especially since moving to the south side of Arunachala on the outskirts of Tiruvannamalai, where most of the many (40+?) ashrams are. It almost feels like I have found a home.
Interestingly, every place I have stayed on this trip has gotten remarkably better and less expensive, each of my, so far, five hotels on the way. For my three weeks in Mumbai, I felt affection for my room, though it cost me Rs2000 per day; was small, dirty and bug-ridden. Now, I find myself in a very clean and charming place with lots of light and space that I actually like hanging out in; an expansive deck just outside my door with a great view of Arunchala half way to my right; and, now, my rent is Rs300 per day or about $7.18.
The Ramana Maharshi ashram is 10 minutes walk away. It is a beautiful, peaceful place. One can sit or quietly walk in the big hall almost any time. There is (divine) chanting in the evening.
One can hike 3/4km up Arunachala, behind the ashram and see and sit in the caves that Ramana Maharshi lived for over 50 years before he died. There are many other caves too, including one in which Papaji lived and other illuminated souls as well, going back 100s of years. Actually, the "caves" are more like overhanging boulders, in most places; many of them further hewn out of the rock over centuries.
Slightly closer to me, to the right when you get to the main road, is the Seshadriashram, where I've eaten dinner a couple of times. Seshadri (is that his name?) was 10 years older than Ramana Maharshi whom Ramana called his 'older brother'. He was a crazy, enlightened man. He owned only the filthy lunghi he wore. There are numerous stories that he would walk into shops and just throw merchandise around. The shopkeepers that objected would have poor sales; the ones who smiled would have much prosperity. It is said that he could be at two places at one time.
The Sri Sivashakthi Ammaiyar Ashram is exactly 83 steps down my relatively quiet lane in the opposite direction. Sivashakthi was first described to me as an old enlightened woman, but I wonder if I'm not older than she is; and, she could be 80 - I don't know - it's very hard for me to tell. Her skin is smooth; the glint in her eye is colossal. Darshan is every morning from 10am to 10:15am. There are always about 50 people sitting in the hall. She walks downstairs and silently into the hall; sits for five minutes or so; then gets up and walks around to everyone, slowly and deliberately with very soft, small steps, pausing frequently, namaste'-ing with immense love in her eyes.
Have never heard her talk, let alone make a sound, but you know that you have been blessed.
People come from all over India to visit the temples in this town; many of them frequently. Many of them tower over the buildings; most are linghams; i.e. penis of God inspired, dating back to at least the 9th century.
This is one of the hotter places on Earth. The sweat drips off you all day, even through the night. I have a fan, but the electricity is off every day from 12pm to 3pm and several times, not necessarily expectedly, for a half hour or more, throughout every 24 hours. Sometimes, I have had to use my flashlight to remove my contact lenses at night.
All of the residents here are poor. For the most part, they are humble, happy, kind and sincere. Cows roams freely (throughout this country?). They are not owned by anybody.
This is the off-season - most people have the sense to come this far south during cooler months. Still, there are lots of 'pilgrims' from the West, many with fake, 'spiritual' smiles. Nonetheless, the natural, interior silence, here, is definitely palpable.
This is a barefoot town. Got a haircut a few days ago and even for that had to remove my shoes; but, my feet have healed. They itch still, though not nearly as bad as they did in Mumbai.
Generally, it has been my policy not to give to beggars. A lot of them are aggressive, and, of course, there is no end of them. There have been two or three exceptions lately. Two days ago there was a man who just sat there with the countenance of a king on his throne. He made me feel like a King. Yesterday, there was an old woman who gave me a beautiful smile. Also, I pushed a crippled guy on his cart, mostly uphill for 1/3rd of a km or so in the mid-afternoon Sun, so he could get to a better location.
Been living a solitary, contemplative existence , constantly remembering that there is no "I"; reading occasionally - a book by Mooji and one on the fundamentals of Jyotish. And, it is dawning on me that I love it here.
It is twilight time and I realize that I am typing in the dark. In a few minutes, I will go out and explore a new place to have dinner. My fan has just come back on.
Jabulpur is about as handy to me, as, say, Wheeling, West Virginia from where I came from. Perhaps, I will skip that leg of my journey and remain in Tiruvannamalai longer; probably, at the beginning yet of this Mercury Retrograde, I will pull some more cards.
I do love it here.
Personal Report #1;
Personal Report #2;
Personal Report #3
Personal Report #5;
Personal Report #6;
Personal Report #7;
Personal Report #8;
Personal Report #9;
Personal Report #10;
Personal Report #11;
Personal Report #12