Miracles & Visions





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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi

Miracles and Visions

By David Godman

Meditation sometimes brings about spectacular side effects; visions of gods may appear and occasionally supernatural powers such as clairvoyance and telepathy are developed. Both of these effects can be deliberately produced. Concentration on a mental image will sometimes result in visions, particularly if the concentration is done with devotion or if there is a strong desire for the visions to appear. Psychic powers (Siddhis) may also be attained by special yogic exercises. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the classic text on Yoga, lists several exercises which accelerate the development of eight Siddhis ranging from invisibility to walking on water.

Sri Ramana Maharshi discouraged his devotees from deliberately pursuing either visions or Siddhis by pointing out that they were products of the mind, which might impede rather than facilitate Self-realisation. If visions came spontaneously he would sometimes admit that they were a sign of progress but he would usually add that they were only temporary experiences in the mind and that they were ‘below the plane of Self-realisation’.

If Siddhis appeared spontaneously he would outline the dangers of becoming attached to them, and explain that such powers were more likely to inflate the ego than eliminate it, and emphasize that the desire for Siddhis and the desire for Self-realisation were mutually exclusive.

The Self is the most intimate and eternal being whereas the Siddhis are foreign. Siddhis are acquired by effort whereas the Self is not. The powers are sought by the mind, which must be kept alert whereas the Self is realised when the mind is destroyed. The powers only manifest when there is the ego. The Self is beyond the ego and is realised only after the ego is eliminated.

Question: I once before told Sri Bhagavan (Ramana Maharshi) how I had a vision of Siva about the time of my conversion to Hinduism. A similar experience recurred to me at Courtallam. These visions are momentary but they are blissful.
I want to know how they might be made permanent and continuous. Without Siva there is no life in what I see around me. I am so happy to think of Him. Please tell me how His vision may be everlasting to me.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You speak of a vision of Siva. Vision is always of an object. That implies the existence of a subject. The value of the vision is the same as that of the seer. That is to say, the nature of the vision is on the same plane as that of the seer. Appearance implies disappearance also. Whatever appears must also disappear. A vision can never be eternal. But Siva is eternal.

The vision implies the seer. The seer cannot deny the existence of the Self. There is no moment when the Self as consciousness does not exist, nor can the seer remain apart from consciousness. This consciousness is the eternal being. The seer cannot see himself. Does he deny his existence because he cannot see himself with the eyes as in a vision? No. So Pratyaksha (direct experience) does not mean seeing, but being.

To be is to realise. Hence, ‘I am that I am’. ‘I am’ is Siva. Nothing else can be without Him. Everything has its being in Siva and because of Siva.

Therefore enquire ‘Who am I?’ Sink deep within and abide as the Self. That is Siva as being. Do not expect to have visions of him repeated. What is the difference between the objects you see and Siva? He is both the subject and the object. You cannot be without Siva because Siva is always realised here and now. If you think you have not realised him it is wrong. This is the obstacle for realising Siva. Give up the thought also and realisation is there.

Question: Yes. But how shall I effect it as quickly as possible?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: This is the obstacle for realisation. Can there be the individual without Siva? Even now he is you. There is no question of time. If there is a moment of non-realisation, the question of realisation can arise. But as it is, you cannot be without Him. He is already realised, ever realised and never non-realised.

Question: I wish to get Sakshatkara (direct realisation) of Sri Krishna. What should I do to get it?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: What is your idea of Sri Krishna and what do you mean by Sakshatkara?

Questioner: I mean Sri Krishna who lived in Brindavan and I want to see him as the gopis (His female devotees) saw Him.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You see, you think he is a human being or one with a human form, the son of so and so, whereas He Himself has said, ‘I am in the Heart of all beings, I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all forms of life’. He must be within you, as He is within all. He is your Self or the Self of your Self. So if you see this entity (the Self) or have Sakshatkar (direct realisation) of it, you will have Sakshatkar of Krishna. Direct realisation of the Self and direct realisation of Krishna cannot be different. However, to go on your own way, surrender completely to Krishna and leave it to him to grant the Sakshatkar you want.

Question: Is it possible to speak to Iswara (God) as Sri Ramakrishna did?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: When we speak to each other why should we not speak to Iswara in the same way?

Question: Then why does it not happen with us?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: It requires purity and strength of mind and practice in meditation.

Question: Does God become evident if the above conditions exist?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Such manifestations are as real as your own reality. In other words, when your identify yourself with the body, as in the waking state, you see gross objects. When in the subtle body or in the mental plane as in dreams, you see objects equally subtle. In the absence of identification in deep sleep you see nothing. The objects seen bear a relation to the state of the seer. The same applies to visions of God.

By long practice the figure of God, as meditated upon, appears in dreams and may later appear in the waking state also.

Question: Many visitors here tell me that they get visions or thought-currents from you. I have been here for the last month and a half and still I have not the slightest experience of any kind. Is it because I am unworthy of your grace?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Visions and thought-currents are had according to the state of mind. It depends on the individual and not upon the universal presence. Moreover, they are immaterial. What matters is peace of mind.

What is realisation? Is it to see God with four hands, bearing a conch, a wheel (disc) and a club? Even if God should appear in that form, how is the disciple’s ignorance wiped out? The truth must be eternal realisation. The direct perception is ever-present experience. God Himself is known when He is directly perceived. It does not mean that he appears before the devotee in some particular form. Unless the realisation is eternal it cannot serve any useful purpose. Can the appearance of God with four hands be eternal realisation? It is phenomenal and illusory. There must be a seer. The seer alone is real and eternal.

Let God appear as the light of a million suns. Is it Pratyaksha (direct experience)? To see a vision of God the eyes and the mind are necessary. It is indirect knowledge, whereas the seer is direct experience. The seer alone is Pratyaksha.

Question: people talk of Vaikuntha, Kailasa, Indraloka, Chandraloka (the Hindu heavens). Do they really exist?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Certainly. You can rest assured that they all exist. There also a swami like me will be found seated on a couch and disciples will also be seated around him. They will ask something and he will say something in reply. Everything will be more or less like this. What of that? If one sees Chandraloka, one will ask for Indraloka, and after Indraloka, Vaikuntha and after Vaikuntha, Kailasa and so on, and the mind goes on wandering. Where is shanti (peace)? If shanti is required, the only correct method of securing it is by self-enquiry. Through self-enquiry Self-realisation is possible. If one realises the Self, one can see all these worlds within one’s Self. The source of everything is one’s own Self, and if one realises the Self, one will not find anything different from the Self. Then these questions will not arise. There may or may not be a Vaikuntha or a Kailasa but it is a fact that you are here, isn’t it? How are you here? Where are you? After you know about these things, you can think of all those worlds.

Question: Are the Siddhis (super-natural powers) mentioned in Patanjali’s Sutras true or only his dream?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: He who is Brahman or the Self will not value those Siddhis. Patanjali himself says that they are all exercised with the mind and that they impede Self-realisation.

Question: What about the powers of so-called supermen?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Whether powers are high or low, whether of the mind or of a supermind, they exist only with reference to the one who has the power. Find out who that is.

Question: Are Siddhis to be achieved on the spiritual path or are they opposed to Mukti (liberation)?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The highest Siddhi is realisation of the Self, for once you realise the truth you cease to be drawn to the path of ignorance.

Question: Then what use are the Siddhis?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: There are two kinds of Siddhis and one kind may well be a stumbling block to realisation. It is said that by Mantra, by some drug possessing occult virtues, by severe austerities or by samadhi of a certain kind, powers can be acquired. But these powers are not a means to Self-knowledge, for even when you acquire them, you may quite well be in ignorance.

Question: What is the other kind?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: They are manifestations of power and knowledge, which are quite natural to you when you realise the Self. They are Siddhis, which are the products of the normal and natural Tapas (spiritual practice) of the man who has reached the Self. They come of their own accord, they are God given. They come according to one’s destiny but whether they come or not, the Jnani, who is settled in the supreme peace, is not disturbed by them. For he knows the Self and that is the unshakable Siddhi. But these Siddhis do not come by trying for them. When you are in the state of realisation, you will know what these powers are.

Question: Does the sage use occult powers for making others realise the Self, or is the mere fact of his Self-realisation enough for it?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The force of his Self-realisation is far more powerful than the use of all other powers.

Though Siddhis are said to be many and different, Jnana (knowledge) alone is the highest of those many different Siddhis, because those who have attained other Siddhis will desire Jnana. Those who have attained Jnana will not desire other Siddhis. Therefore aspire only for Jnana.

Although the powers appear to be wonderful to those who do not possess them, yet they are only transient. All these wonders are contained in the one changeless Self.

Greedily begging for worthless occult powers (Siddhis) from God, who will readily give Himself, who is everything, is like begging for worthless stale gruel from a generous natured philanthropist who will readily give everything.

In the Heart, which catches fire with the blazing flame of supreme devotion, all the occult powers will gather together. However, with a heart that has become a complete prey to the feet of the Lord, the devotee will not have any desire for those Siddhis. Know that if aspirants who are making efforts on the path to liberation set their heart upon occult powers, their dense bondage will be strengthened more and more, and hence the lustre of their ego will wax more and more.

The attainment (Siddhi) of Self, which is the perfect whole, the radiance of liberation, alone is the attainment of true knowledge, whereas the other kinds of Siddhi, beginning with Anima (the ability to become as small as an atom) belong to the delusion of the power of imagination of the foolish mind.

People see many things which are far more miraculous than the so-called Siddhis, yet do not wonder at them simply because they occur every day. When a man is born he is no bigger than this electric bulb, but then he grows up and becomes a giant wrestler, or a world-famed artist, orator, politician or sage. People do not view this as a miracle but they are wonder struck if a corpse is made to speak.

Questioner: I have been interesting myself in metaphysics for over twenty years. But I have not gained any novel experience as so many others claim to do. I have no powers of clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc. I feel myself locked up in this body and nothing more.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: It is right. Reality is only one and that is the Self. All the rest are mere phenomena in it, of it, and by it. The seer, the objects and the sight all are the Self only. Can anyone see or hear, leaving the Self aside? What difference does it make to see or hear anyone in close proximity or over enormous distance? The organs of sight and hearing are needed in both cases and so the mind is also required. None of them can be dispensed with in either case. There is dependence one way or another. Why then should there be a glamour about clairvoyance and clairaudience?

Moreover, what is acquired will also be lost in due course. They can never be permanent.

Question: Is it not good to acquire powers such as telepathy?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Telepathy or radio enables one to see and hear from afar. They are all the same, hearing and seeing. Whether one hears from near or far does not make any difference to the one who hears. The fundamental factor is the hearer, the subject. Without the hearer or the seer, there can be no hearing or seeing. The latter are the functions of the mind. The occult powers (Siddhis) are therefore only in the mind. They are not natural to the Self. That which is not natural, but acquired, cannot be permanent, and is not worth striving for.

These Siddhis denote extended powers. A man is possessed of limited powers and is miserable. Because of this he wants to expand his powers so that he may be happy. But consider if it will be so. If with limited perceptions one is miserable, with extended perceptions the misery must increase proportionately. Occult powers will not bring happiness to anyone, but will make one all the more miserable.

Moreover what are these powers for? The would-be occultist (Siddha) desires to display the Siddhis so that others may appreciate him. He seeks appreciation, and if it is not forthcoming he will not be happy. There must be others to appreciate him. He may find another possessor of higher powers. That will cause jealousy and breed unhappiness.

Which is the real power? Is it to increase prosperity or bring about peace? That which results in peace is the highest perfection (Siddhi).

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