Death

I find this account of Ramana’s self-realisation tremendously moving and urgent. 

Ramana:

It was in 1896, about 6 weeks before I left Madurai for good that this
great change in my life took place. I was sitting alone in a room on
the first floor of my uncle’s house. I seldom had any sickness and on
that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden violent
fear of death overtook me. There was nothing in my state of health to
account for it nor was there any urge in me to find out whether there
was any account for the fear. I just felt I was going to die and began
thinking what to do about it. It did not occur to me to consult a
doctor or any elders or friends. I felt I had to solve the problem
myself then and there. The shock of the fear of death drove my mind
inwards and I said to myself mentally, without actually framing the
words: ‘Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is
dying? This body dies.’ And at once I dramatized the occurrence of
death. I lay with my limbs stretched out still as though rigor mortis
has set in, and imitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the
enquiry. I held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no
sound could escape, and that neither the word ‘I’ nor any word could
be uttered. ‘Well then,’ I said to myself, ‘this body is dead. It will
be carried stiff to the burning ground and there burn and reduced to
ashes. But with the death of the body, am I dead? Is the body I? It is
silent and inert, but I feel the full force of my personality and even
the voice of ‘I’ within me, apart from it. So I am the Spirit
transcending the body. The body dies but the spirit transcending it
cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit.’ All
this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living
truths which I perceived directly almost without thought process. ‘I’
was something real, the only real thing about my present state, and
all the conscious activity connected with the body was centered on
that ‘I’. From that moment onwards, the I or Self focused attention on
itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death vanished once and for
all. The ego was lost in the flood of Self-awareness. Absorption in
the Self continued unbroken from that time. Other thoughts might come
and go like the various notes of music, but the ‘I’ continued like the
fundamental sruti note which underlies and blends with all other
notes.

(In Indian classical music, “sruti” refers to a musical note, as Ramana explains).

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