The Annihilation of Latencies

Chapter VI

Advaita Bodha Deepika (Lamp of non-dual knowledge) On of the few books highly spoken of by Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharshi.


1. This chapter succeeds the five earlier ones on superimposition, its withdrawal, the requisites of the seeker, hearing, and reflection. To the disciple who after reflecting on the Self has gained direct knowledge, the master further says as follows.

2. Wise son, the shastras have nothing more to teach you; you have finished them. Henceforth you must meditate on the Self. The scriptures say: ‘Dear! the Self must be heard of, reflected and meditated upon’. Having finished reflection, you must proceed with meditation. Now give up the shastras.

3-6. D.: Is it proper to give them up?

M.: Yes, it is proper. Now that by enquiry you have known what need be known, you can unhesitatingly give them up.

D.: But the shastras say that to the last moment of death, one should not give them up.

M.: Their purpose is to teach the truth. After it is gained, of what further use can they be? A further study will be so much waste of time and labour. Therefore leave them aside. Take to unbroken meditation.

D.: Is this statement supported by scriptures? M.: Yes.

D.: How?

M.: They say: After repeatedly hearing from the master about the Self, reflecting on It and directly knowing It, the seeker should give up the shastras even as the pole used to stir up the corpse in the burning ground is finally consigned to the burning fire of the corpse. From a study of the shastras let the seeker of Liberation gather an indirect knowledge of the Self and put it into practice by reflecting on It until by experiencing It a direct knowledge is gained; later like a gatherer of grains who takes the grain and rejects the chaff, let him leave the shastras aside.The man desirous of liberation should make use of shastras only to gain knowledge of the Self and then proceed to reflect on It; he should not be simply talking vedanta, nor even be thinking of it. For talk results only in so much strain on speech, similarly thinking on the mind, no useful purpose can be served by either. Therefore only know just what need be known and give up tiresome study. Controlling his speech and mind a sensible seeker should always engage in meditation. This is the teaching of the shastras.

7. Wise son, now that you have known what need be known from them, you should efface the impressions left by your studies.

D.: What constitutes these impressions?

M.: It is the inclination of the mind always to study vedantic literature, to understand the meaning of the texts, to commit them to memory and constantly be thinking of them. Since this inclination obstructs meditation, a wise man must overcome it with every effort. Next the latencies connected with the world (lokavasana) must be eliminated.

8. D.: What are these latencies?

M.: To think, this is my country, this is my family pedigree and this is the tradition. Should any one praise or censure any of these, the reactions of the mind denote the latencies connected with the world. Give them up. Later on, give up the latencies connected with the body also (dehavasana).

9-13. D.: What are they?

M.: To think oneself to be of such and such age, young or old and desire the full span of life with health, strength and good looks. Generally thoughts pertaining to the body indicate these latencies. Ambition in the world and love for body distract the mind and prevent meditation on Brahman. Since all objects are ephemeral, they must be eschewed. Then the latencies connected with enjoyments (bhogavasana) must be given up.

D.: What are these?

M.: These are made up of thoughts like: this is good and I must have it; this is not so and let it leave me; now I have gained so much and let me gain more, and so on.

D.: How can this be overcome?

M.: By looking with disgust upon all enjoyments as on vomit or excreta and developing dispassion for them, this can be overcome. Dispassion is the only remedy for this mad craving. After this, the mind must be cleared of the six passions, namely, lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride and jealousy.

D.: How can this be done?

M.: By (maitri, karuna, mudita and upeksha) friendship with the holy, compassion for the afflicted, rejoicing in the joy of the virtuous and being indifferent to the shortcomings of the sinful. Next must be effaced the latencies connected with the objects of the senses (vishayavasana) such as sound etc. These latencies are the running of the senses such as hearing etc., after their objects.

D.: How can these latencies be effaced?

M.: By a practice of the six-fold discipline consisting of sama, dama, uparati, titiksha, samadhana and sraddha, withdrawing the mind from going outwards, controlling the senses, not thinking of the objects of the senses, forbearance, fixing the mind on the Reality and faith.

Next all latencies connected with mutual attachments must be overcome.

14-15. D.: What are they?

M.: Though the senses are restrained, yet the mind always thinks of objects: ‘there is that; there is this; it is such and such; it is this-wise or otherwise’ and so on. Because of brooding over objects, the mind gets attached to them, this constant brooding is called the latency connected with mental attachment.

D.: How can this be checked?

M.: By practising uparati which means desisting from all thoughts after concluding by proper reasoning that they are only fruitless daydreams.

16. When in the right manner, all this has been accom- plished, the greatest evil-doer, namely the latency connected with wrong identity must be put an end to, even with great effort.

17. D.: What is this latency connected with wrong identity? (viparita vasana)

M.: Owing to beginningless Ignorance the non-Self is mistaken for the Self as ‘I am the body’ from time immemorial, this Ignorance is hardy and can be ended only by the practice of Brahman.

18-20. D.: What is this practice?

M.: It consists in discarding the body, senses etc., as being non-Self and always remembering that ‘I am Brahman’, remaining as consciousness witnessing the insentient sheaths. Meditating on Brahman in solitude, speaking of or teaching only Brahman in the company of others, not to speak or think of anything but It, but always one-pointedly to think of Brahman, is the practice.

तच्चिन्तनं तत्कथनमन्योन्यं तत्प्रबोधनम् ।
एतदेकपरतेवं च तदभ्यासं विदुर्बधाई ।। – Yoga Vasishta: Utpathi Prakaranam, Leelopakhyanam.

So say the wise. By this transcend the ego and then proceed to eliminate the idea of ‘mine’.

21-22. D.: What is the nature of this idea?

M.: It consists in the single concept of ‘mine’ in relation to the body or whatever pertains to it, such as name, form, clothing, caste, conduct or professions of life.

D.: How does this go away?

M.: By a steadfast meditation on the Reality.

D.: How?

M.: Always to be aware that the body etc., its interests and effects, enjoyments, activities etc., are only figments of ignorance on pure knowledge i.e., the Self, that like the appearance of silver on nacre, ornaments in gold, water in mirage, blueness in the sky or waves in water, all but the Self are only false presentations or illusory modes of the Self. In reality there is nothing but our ‘Self ‘. Next the sense of differentiation (bheda vasana) must go.

23-25. D.: What is this sense of differentiation?

M.: It consists in ideas like: “I am the witness of this; all that is seen is only insentient and illusory; here is the world; these are the individuals; this one is the disciple and the other, the master; this is Isvara, and so on.” This must go by a practice of non-duality.

This practice is to remain non-dual, solid Being- Knowledge-Bliss, untainted and free from thoughts of reality or unreality, ignorance or its illusory effects, and internal or external differentiation. This is accomplished by a constant practice of modeless (nirvikalpa) samadhi. Here remains the experience of Brahman only.

After leaving the sense of differentiation far behind, the attachment to non-duality must later be given up.

26-27. D.: How is this to be done?

M.: Even this state must finally pass into untellable and unthinkable Reality absolutely free from modes and even non-duality. The Bliss of Liberation is only this and nothing more. When the mind is cleared of all latent impurities, it remains untainted, crystal-clear so that it cannot be said to exist or not to exist and it becomes one with Reality, transcending speech and thought. This unmoded, untainted fixity of the mind is known as Realisation or Liberation while alive.

28. Though direct knowledge of the Self has been gained, yet until this Realisation ensues, to be liberated while alive one should always meditate on Brahman with proper control of mind and senses.


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