Devotee: “Bhagavan’s Grace is needed in order that meditation should become effortless.”
Bhagavan replied: “Practice is necessary, there is Grace.”
Guru Ramana p. 76
"O Pure Virgin" in adoration of the Mother of God
by St. Nectarios, who received in a vision
from an angel of the Lord this hymn,
where the angel declared:
“This is how we praise the Most Holy Mother of God.”
Refrain: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
O Virgin pure, immaculate/ O Lady Theotokos
O Virgin Mother, Queen of all/ and fleece which is all dewy
More radiant than the rays of sun/ and higher than the heavens
Delight of virgin choruses/ superior to Angels.
Much brighter than the firmament/ and purer than the sun's light
More holy than the multitude/ of all the heav'nly armies.
Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
O Ever Virgin Mary/ of all the world, the Lady
O bride all pure, immaculate/ O Lady Panagia
O Mary bride and Queen of all/ our cause of jubilation
Majestic maiden, Queen of all/ O our most holy Mother
More hon'rable than Cherubim/ beyond compare more glorious
than immaterial Seraphim/ and greater than angelic thrones.
Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Rejoice, O song of Cherubim/ Rejoice, O hymn of angels
Rejoice, O ode of Seraphim/ the joy of the archangels
Rejoice, O peace and happiness/ the harbor of salvation
O sacred chamber of the Word/ flow'r of incorruption
Rejoice, delightful paradise/ of blessed life eternal
Rejoice, O wood and tree of life/ the fount of immortality.
Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
I supplicate you, Lady/ now do I call upon you
And I beseech you, Queen of all/ I beg of you your favor
Majestic maiden, spotless one/ O Lady Panagia
I call upon you fervently/ O sacred, hallowed temple
Assist me and deliver me/ protect me from the enemy
And make me an inheritor/ of blessed life eternal.
Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
“Rejoice, O peace and happiness/ the harbor of salvation,
O sacred chamber of the Word, flower of incorruption.
Assist me and deliver me, protect me from the enemy
And make me an inheritor of blessed life eternal.”
O Pure Virgin Mary
Master: “This second view is held in the Devi Purana. According to it, Kali Herself has become Krishna; but what difference does it make? God is infinite, and infinite are the ways to find Him.”
M. remained silent with wonder for a few moments and then said: “Oh, now I understand. As you say, the important thing is to climb to the roof. Our goal will be achieved if we can accomplish it by following any of the means - a rope or a pole.”
Master: “It is through the grace of God that you have understood that. Without His grace doubt is never cleared up. The important thing is somehow to cultivate devotion to God and love for Him. What is the use of knowing many things? It is enough to cultivate love for God by following any of the paths. When you have this love, you are sure to attain God. Afterwards, if it is necessary, God will explain everything to you and tell you about the other paths as well. It is enough for you to develop love for God. You have no need of many opinions and discussions. You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Enjoy them to your heart’s content. You don’t need to count the branches and leaves on the trees. It is wise to follow the attitude of Hanuman: ‘I do not know the day of the week, the phase of the moon, or the position of the stars; I only contemplate Rama.’”
"A devotee can know everything when God's grace descends on him. If you but realize Him, you will be able to know all about Him. You should somehow meet the master of the house and become acquainted with him; then he himself will tell you how many houses he owns and all about his gardens and government securities."
Devotee: "How does one receive the grace of God?"
Master: "Constantly you have to chant the name and glories of God and give up worldly thoughts as much as you can. With the greatest effort you may try to bring water into your field for your crops, but it may all leak out through holes in the ridges. Then all your efforts to bring water by digging a canal will be futile."
"You will feel restless for God when your heart becomes pure and your mind free from attachment to the things of the world. Then alone will your prayer reach God. A telegraph wire cannot carry messages if it has a break or some other defect."
"One must not cherish any desire whatever. The devotion of a man who has any desire is selfish. But desireless devotion is love for its own sake. You may love me or not, but I love You. This is love for its own sake.”
From the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
Grace of God Alone Clears up All Doubt
Love of God for its Own Sake
“Sri Bhagavan spoke and wrote most about the vichara or Self-enquiry,
and therefore the opinion arose that He prescribed only jnana-marga, the Path of Knowledge, which most people find too sheer in this age.
But in fact He was universal
and provided guidance for every temperament,
by the path of Devotion no less than of Knowledge.
Love and devotion to Him are a bridge across the abyss to salvation.
He had many devotees for whom he prescribed no other path.”
(Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge, Arthur Osborne, page 174.)
Though it is true that the path of bhakti (devotion) does not suit the temperament of all spiritual aspirants, it is undeniable that thinking of God, thinking of the “feet of the Lord”, does attract His grace. Whether devotion is achieved through bhakti or jnana, when the grace of God dawns upon us, our devotion deepens into love of Him. The love of God is the key that opens for us all knowledge, peace and purity.
This key is the keen and lively awareness and our patient endurance, while waiting on the Lord, which we have developed by persistently weathering out the storms of thought that mercilessly attempted to turn our attention outwards.*
* Practical Sadhana, from the Teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Page 83.
"Love and devotion to Him are a bridge
across the abyss to salvation."
A young man from Colombo, Ceylon, said to Bhagavan: J. Krishnamurthi teaches the method of effortless and choiceless awareness as distinct from that of deliberate concentration. Would Sri Bhagavan be pleased to explain how best to practise meditation and what form the object of meditation should take?
B.: Effortless and choiceless awareness is our real nature. If we can attain that state and abide in it, that is all right. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the age-old vasanas (inherent tendencies) turn the mind outwards to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inwards and that, for most people, requires effort. Of course, every teacher and every book tells the aspirant to keep quiet, but it is not easy to do so. That is why all this effort is necessary. Even if we find somebody who has achieved this supreme state of stillness, you may take it that the necessary effort had already been made in a previous life. So effortless and choiceless awareness is attained only after deliberate meditation. That meditation can take whatever form most appeals to you. See what helps you to keep out all other thoughts and adopt that for your meditation.
In this connection Bhagavan quoted some verses from the great Tamil poet and saint, Thayumanavar, the gist of which is as follows: Bliss will ensue if you keep still, but however much you tell your mind this truth, it will not keep still. It is the mind that tells the mind to be still in order for it to attain bliss, but it will not do it. Though all the scriptures have said it and though we hear it daily from the great ones and even from our Guru, we are never quiet but stray into the world of Maya (illusion) and sense objects. That is why conscious, deliberate effort is needed to attain that effortless state of stillness.
Indeed, until the supreme, effortless state is attained, it is impossible for a man not to make effort. His own nature compels him to, just as Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita told Arjuna that his own nature would compel him to fight.
D.: I want to be further enlightened. Should I try to make no effort at all?
B.: Now it is impossible for you to be without effort. When you go deeper, it is impossible for you to make effort.
D.: What is the difference between meditation and samadhi or absorption in the Self?
B.: Meditation is initiated and sustained by a conscious effort of the mind. When such effort entirely subsides, it is called samadhi.
B.: If you can keep still without engaging in any other pursuits, well and good. But if that cannot be done, what is the use of remaining inactive only with regard to realisation? So long as you are obliged to be active, do not give up the attempt to realize the Self."
"Meditation is a fight. As soon as you begin meditation, other thoughts will crowd together, gather force and try to overwhelm the single thought to which you try to hold. This thought must gradually gain strength by repeated practice. When it has grown strong, the other thoughts will be put to flight. This is the battle always going on in meditation.
"So long as the ego lasts, effort is necessary. When the ego ceases to exist, actions become spontaneous.
"No one succeeds without effort. Mind control is not your birthright. The few who succeed owe their success to their perseverance."
Bhagavan: "So effortless and choiceless awareness is attained only after deliberate meditation. That meditation can take whatever form most appeals to you. See what helps you to keep out all other thoughts and adopt that for your meditation."
Devotee: It is said that only those who are chosen for Self- realisation obtain it. That is rather discouraging.
Bhagavan: That only means that we cannot attain realisation of the Self by our own mind, unaided by God’s grace.
from Sri Ramana Maharshi in The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi in His own Words by Arthur Osborne pp. 64-66
Meditation is a Fight!
"No one succeeds without effort. Mind control is not your birthright. The few who succeed owe their success to their perseverance" Sri Ramana Maharshi
As St. Therese of Lisieux was embracing her final illness,
the infirmarian found her awake, gazing toward Heaven.
"What are you doing? You ought to be trying to sleep."
"I can't, Sister, I am suffering too much for that, so I pray."
"What do you say to Jesus?"
"Nothing, I just love Him."
At half past two on September 30, she told Mother Agnes,
“The chalice, Mother, is full to overflowing.
I could not have believed one could bear so much and can explain it only by my great desire to save souls.
Thy will be done, My God, but have mercy on me;
sweet Virgin Mary, aid me.”
from The Story of a Soul
”Prayer is an essential part of the practice of religion; its power is irresistible; prayer reveals the life of human beings.
All the thoughts that arise in your heart should be offered to God. Pray for His Grace with all earnestness and in a spirit of self-surrender.”
Just at that time I was reading in the news paper that before Lord Irwin came out to India as Viceroy and Governor-General, he asked his father’s opinion. The latter replied,—”Don’t worry about the outcome of events; we have no control over them. Pray to God and you may get some glimpse of the future.” Both father and son went to a church to pray. While returning from there, the father said, “You will have to go to India.” The son confirmed, “I also feel the same.”
When Mother heard it, She said,—”This is a good instance of the efficacy of prayer. But one must have deep faith like a child.
By constant practice the foundation of faith becomes strong; when pure faith takes root in the mind, sincere prayer issues forth from the soul. Through devotion the real spirit of prayer awakens in one’s soul, when the Divine Grace manifests itself in the desired results.”
On another occasion Mother said,—”When you talk of Divine Grace it implies that something descends on man without any intelligible cause. At its own time it comes of its own volition. Your find a child forgetting his mother when deeply absorbed in his play; but the mother, out of her own motherly love, bends down over him and takes him on her lap.
The Divine Grace blesses a man just like that.
A mother’s affection reveals itself before the child has time to think of her. You will certainly say that blessings in the shape of Divine Grace are the result of one’s good in previous births. From one standpoint this may be true, but from a different view-point one may say, that as God is absolutely free from all chains of cause and effect, one must not enquire about His motives; though such search for reasons often disturbs us, His mercy descends on all beings evenly. But when one develops a higher vision, one begins to feel the Divine Touch. Have something to rely on. Try to be in vital contact with it and you will find the free flow of His blessings upon your soul, just as a bucketful of water comes out of a well only when the rope to which the bucket is tied is being pulled.”
- Sri Anandamayi Ma
Bhaiji - Mother As Revealed to Me
Towards the middle of 1931, while walking in the Ramna fields, Mother Anandamayi said:
"You say: a person reaps results according to his actions.
Give that up! Karma is destroyed if one takes refuge in God. I prayed to the Divine Mother with flowers in my hand. "Mother! Here is your sin and here is your virtue. I do not want anything.
Please give me pure devotion." Sri Ramakrishna
A rare interview with the personal attendant of Saint Pio
Who was with him, day and night, for the last years of his earthy life. During the recording, Fr. Alessio recounts many miracles and wonderful stories about this glorious Saint of God never before heard.
Sri Anandamayi Ma's Words on the Glorious Bhagavad Gita
"You know before the Gita is read the book has to be worshipped. By “book”, His words and their import are meant. As you continue to practice day after day, you will gradually reach a stage when absolute reliance on God will be your final achievement. There is nothing higher than that.This body tells you again: read the Gita daily and do some spiritual exercise, you will find answers to your queries revealing themselves in your mind. If your desire to know Him is sincere and earnest and comes directly from the heart, the solution must come. It is inevitable." Sri Anandamayi Ma
The Lord bless thee and keep thee.
May He show His face to thee and have mercy on thee.
May He turn His countenance to thee and give thee peace.
The Final Words and Blessing of Saint Frances in this world
Papa Ramdas on Prayer and Remembrance of God
Papa Ramdas, in his own recorded words, reveals how Prayer and Remembrance of God's Holy Name (Japa) are the mainstay for the revelation of His Presence within and without, and the end of our seperation from Him.
Papa Ramdas says that what we need is Grace, through which we can:
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God,
and then all things will be added unto you."
Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram
Papa Ramdas on Prayer and Japa
A Timeless Moment with Sri Anandamayi Ma
from "Mother As Revealed to Me," from Bhaiji’s Matri Darshan
I have heard from Mother’s lips that when all the thoughts of the devotee flow in one stream towards God, all the sense objects come under its influence. At that stage even the fall of a leaf from a tree creates ripples in the field of his consciousness. During the earlier stages of Mother’s life whatever happened in the outside world found response in Her nature spontaneously.
After Her deep trance as soon as Mother recovered Her normal serenity, many yogic activities manifested themselves automatically; at that time one could hear some indistinct humming sound emanating from Her. A little later rumbling notes like the surging of sea-waves lashed by a storm followed; thereafter an uninterrupted, supremely melodious flow of divine truths emerged from Her lips in the shape of numerous Sanskrit hymns. It seemed that from the eternal sky Divine truths were taking shape in sound symbols through Mother’s speech. Such flawless pronunciation, such free flow of melody touching the inmost core of the listeners, received added charm from the Divine radiance of Her face. Even learned Vedic scholars could hardly have acquired Her free and easy mode of expression in spite of their best training and practice.
The idea is this; if you want to catch something that is vast and infinite, you should take a finite vessel, a limited vessel. If you take an unlimited thing, you simply will not catch it. So when you are trying to grasp the Lord who is vast and infinite, you require a vessel that is limited by the number of words and style of its pronunciation. It is for this reason that poetry is used. And not only poetry, the meter must be sung, for it is a 'Gita'.
And finally, one will be told what they will get out of it. One will become Srimaan; you will become full of Lakshmi. You will possess all eight qualities of Astha Lakshmi. Therefore, the Lord is saying that if one comprehends in full, and takes the directions into practice, finally Moksha Lakshmi will be theirs. You will be bestowed with that Grace and become Srimad.
GuruDev Swami Sivananda Saraswati
This Divine Prayerful Embrace and Earning of Our Lord is by GuruDev Swami Sivananda Saraswati.
It is the invocation from his foundational book:
"Pashupati (smiling): Everything will continue as long as the Divine Mother will keep it going.
Sri Ramakrishna: That is true. But it is good to keep one's mind on God. It is not good to forget Him.
Nanda Bose: How can our mind turn to Him?
Sri Ramakrishna: It happens if He is gracious.
Nanda Bose: But where is His grace? Has He the power to bestow it?
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): I see. You hold the view of the pundits. A person reaps results according to his actions. Give that up! Karma is destroyed if one takes refuge in God. I prayed to the Divine Mother with flowers in my hand. "Mother! Here is your sin and here is your virtue. I do not want anything. Please give me pure devotion.
Mother! Here is your good and here is your bad. I do not want either good or bad. Please give me pure devotion.
Mother! Here is your dharma (laws) and here is your adharma (transgression). I do not want any of them, laws or transgressions. Please give me pure devotion.
Mother! Here is your knowledge and here is your ignorance. I do not want either knowledge or ignorance. Please give me pure devotion.
Mother! Here is your purity and here is your impurity. Please give me pure devotion."
“Sri Ramana Maharshi spoke and wrote most about the vichara or Self-enquiry, and therefore the opinion arose that He prescribed only jnana-marga, the Path of Knowledge, which most people find too sheer in this age. But in fact He was universal and provided guidance for every temperament, by the path of Devotion no less than of Knowledge.
Love and devotion to Him are a bridge across the abyss to salvation.
He had many devotees for whom he prescribed no other path.”
(Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge,
Arthur Osborne, p. 174.)
"Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, sacrifice to Me, bow down to Me.
You shall come even to Me; truly do I promise unto you,
(for) you are dear to Me." (Bhagavad Gita 18:65)
"A Master of the Law asked Jesus: Lord, tell me what to do
that I may have eternal life?
And Jesus said, You know the law; what does it say?
The lawyer answered, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind,
you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
And Jesus said, Lo, you have answered well; this do and you shall live."
Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ
A disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda: "It all seems hopelessly complex, Master. Just think how many laws are passed in a single year by the government of one country. The laws of the universe, then, must number infinity!"
The Master chuckled: "Really, it isn't so complicated at it seems. In the Bhagavad Gita, the forces of evil are described as many, while those on the side of good number only a few. Jesus Christ, too, described the way to perdition as a broad highway - but, he said, 'strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.'
"The ways of error are endlessly winding, but the way out of error is direct. A few simple rules will suffice.
And the most important of these is simply this: Love God." *
"To those who loves much, Jesus said, much is forgiven." **
*The Essence of Self-Realization, The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda
From the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi and the Lords Krishna and Jesus on Love of God
"Realization of the Absolute is not a talk, is not a play. It is the most difficult and the hardest of all tasks. It demands the price of one's very self. Will you really and willingly pay it? It demands your ego. It demands your very being as the cost for Self-realization.
"Nothing that is worthwhile is to be achieved without undergoing a corresponding amount of pain and suffering. No enduring ideal can be attained without tire and sweat. The seed splits and perishes to put forth the plant. The flower lays its life to give place to the sweet fruit. It is in the furnace that gold emerges from the ore. Even so, the price of sainthood is to be paid in the interim period of utter loneliness, privation, and struggle which the really aspiring soul passes through. Every soul on the path of God-realization harbours no illusions about the true nature of the spiritual path. There is absolutely no royal road in spirituality.
"Adversity is a divine blessing in disguise. Adversity develops the power of endurance and will-force. Adversity develops fortitude and forbearance. All the Prophets, Saints, Fakirs, Bhaktas and the Yogins of yore had to struggle hard against adverse circumstances. The Almighty Lord puts His devotees under severe tests and rigorous trials. Every soul on earth is being tested by God for his sincerity and patience. He puts the aspirants into various kinds of troubles. He will make man utterly hopeless and helpless and watch and see whether one has the real devotion for Him or not in such straitened circumstances. We cannot say exactly what form these trials will take. But the sincere devotee is never afraid of such kind of tests....."
The Rugged Path
A personal letter from Swami Sivananda Saraswati
The Lord, Who is in all things, Is NOT in all thoughts!
"Of the strong, I am the strength devoid of desire and attachment,
and in (all) beings, I am the desire unopposed to Dharma, O Arjuna!" Bhagavad Gita 7:11
"I am that strength which is necessary for the bare sustenance of the body. I am NOT the strength which generates desire and attachment for sensual objects as in the case of worldly-minded persons."
Swami Sivananda Saraswati Commentary
This most important verse within the Gita, is also to many the most overlooked and disregarded. For those who fall into this category, the reason is obvious. And their anger when contradicted is also most telling.
In our "modern" times, the fast-food approach to spirituality and religion is a most sought for commodity. This mind-set, technically referred to as Neo-Advaita, is in traditional scripture referred to as pramada - spiritual death. Although the Gita's fundamental philosophy declares that the Atman does not ever die, the human capacity to reveal and awaken the consciousness of the Atman can be crippled unto death.
The ancient Saintly King Bartruhari, who became an enlightened Sage, used the word pramada in the correct spiritual sense indicated by the Sage Sunat Sujata. He proclaimed:
“Peetva mohamayeem pramada madiram unmatta bhootam jagat”
“This world (its inhabitants therein) has become mad after having drunk the wine of negligence (pramada: laxity towards the spiritual goal), which being of the form of moha (delusion),
has overwhelming power to delude you.”
Sri Ramana on Spiritual Effort
and the Need for a Guru
Devotee: “Can the ego, which is in bondage as the mind, become the Divine Self simply because it has once glimpsed that it is the Self? Is this not impossible without the destruction of the mind? Can a beggar become a king by simply visiting a king a declaring himself one?
Maharshi: “Realization takes time to steady itself. The Self is certainly within the experience of everyone but not in the way people imagine. One can only say that it is as it is... Owing to the fluctuation of the vasanas (inherent qualities). Realization takes time to steady itself. Spasmodic Realization is not enough to prevent rebirth, but it cannot become permanent as long as there are vasanas... But if this is to be established further effort is necessary.” The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, p. 177.
But even if effort is necessary, why a guru, some ask? Once one grants that the Sages knew what they were talking about when they said spiritual attainment is an arduous path beset with dangers, it should be obvious that it is safer to be guided on it by one who has gone before and knows the way.
That is one explanation; another is that the guru is a person of power. Grace flows through him to strengthen and support his followers. This can hold true for the simple guide or teacher to the highest jagat guru (world teacher). The prerequisite for both is that they know the way from traveling on it, never by just talking about it. Bhagavan Ramana was no exception. The Maharshi firmly declared to one who said that he never did sadhana or had a guru, “How do you know that I did not have a guru and did great effort, whether in this life or in one previous?”
Bhagavan said that in the final sense “God and Guru are one.” This is not said to glorify and enthrone a human guru as a God. But more to firmly reiterate that the work at hand is beyond human capacity. To demonstrate this Sri Sarada Devi said, “The power of the Guru enters into the disciple and the power of the disciple enters into the Guru. That is why when I initiate and accept the sins of the disciple I fall sick. It is extremely difficult to be a Guru. But, my child, I was born for this purpose. If I do not accept others’ sins and sorrows and do not digest them who else will?”
(Some of the above is paraphrased from a writing of Arthur Osborne).
Using the traditional method of watching the breath, also includes the practice of linking the movement of the breath with the sacred mantra OM (or chant Soham, Amen or as you wish, any Name of God)