Mystical communion with Ramana Maharishi: ashram and cave house experiences
excerpted from OM, baby! a pilgrimage to the eternal self, by Jack Haas
It was upon the slopes of this mythical mountain that Ramana Maharishi, the divine Hindu master of the twentieth century, spent his entire adulthood, and remained there, often in retreat for years on end, deep in contemplation in one of the unique cave houses that exist on the mountain for that very purpose.
After two days of rest my soror and I took a rickshaw across town to visit the ashram created by Ramana, and there we found an immense crowd gathered for the centenary celebration of his birth. We had no prior knowledge this gathering was to happen and we took the synchronicity as a serendipitous sign. And no doubt it was, for I had come to the area to experience Mt. Arunachala alone, and had never read anything by Ramana Maharishi, nor knew much about his life and teachings. Nor did I know what effect his living spirit would have upon me during the days which followed. But that effect would soon become apparent.
My soror and I mingled through the Indian crowd for a bit, strolled around the ashram grounds, and then made our way into the main meditation hall where we found an empty spot amongst the pilgrims and supplicants, and sat down in silence.
Almost instantly I fell into communion with Ramana Maharishi’s spirit. In that deep connection he and I began a subtle conversation on aspects of the spiritual life, during which I was given understandings on the nature of the role of the spiritual mentor in the world, and the ways in which the spirit can be exercised amidst humanity.
One thing we discussed was the peril of being too open to the chaos and karma of others in one’s vicinity. This was an important topic to cover, because out of their love for all agonizing humanity around them, both Ramana Maharishi and Ramakrishna had died at about the age of sixty from cancer; they had taken on the clogged spirits of those around them, and had thus been clogged by the overwhelming amount of dis-ease within humanity. Both of these great men could have lived on much longer by avoiding intimacy and contact with those who came to them for guidance and succor, but in the end neither of them could turn their love away from their fellow man; they died willingly, out of love.
I honor the decisions these two immortal souls made, and the compassion and courage which spurned them to give up their own lives for the benefit of others. If there is such a thing as sacrifice on earth, then these two have accomplished it. However, I have grown into a different temperament, for I was also born with a very open spirit, and have suffered over the years in my own way from such a defenseless disposition. But after becoming aware of the perils of such openness in my early thirties, I struggled to close that chasm within myself, and to prevent others from penetrating my defenses and sending their troubled energy into me.
Therefore, during my subtle discussion with Ramana Maharishi, I communicated my sense of the dangers of such openness, and admitted that I for one had no desire, even if out of compassion, to take on too much of mankind's pathos, and declared to Ramana that I would prefer to express blessings out into others, as I had done in Rishikesh, rather than receive unconscious unblessings from them.
I recognized that Ramana understood my position and seemed to consider my intent correct for my spirit and disposition. At least he did not consider me a coward or a knave, because after this communion I would encounter his spirit twice more, in still more profound and direct interactions than I had on this privileged day.
These two episodes came about a few days later, as my soror and I made our way up the winding, cobbled path which begins behind the ashram, and weaves its way up the mountain towards the cave houses in which Ramana Maharishi spent many years in solitude and silence. It is within these sacred enclaves that his immortal spirit is completely present and available. And it is here that I received his great and benevolent teachings.
Upon arriving on our first visit to the cave house, my soror and I took up meditative positions inside one of the inner chambers, and the communion began.
What I learned that day was something I had always known but which had never before crystallized within me with the certitude I now felt while in communion with Ramana’s consciousness.
What I realized was that the self in everyone is the same self, and that in loving others we love our own self, and in hating others we hate our own self also. It is the subtle nature of this undivided oneness which must be awoken in order to remove the separative consciousness which divides us from each other, and therefore from our greater selves.
I understood clearly that every I is the same I; that every I is one I. My I and your I are the same I. Many forms veil the formless I, but we are all the same I. And that is why we all call ourselves I.
All judgment ends, all hatred ends, all division ends when every I is known as one I.
And since every I is the same I, there is no individual I, only everything. One. For the self is everyone, but no single individual, and the self is everything, but no single thing.
Within such mystical oneness, there is no such duality as me and you. Only I. There is no such duality as us and them. Only I. I am I. You are I. We are I. One I. The same I. I to I. One I.
Without knowing and feeling this underlying unity, all suffering, war, and despair will continue.
But when each I is known as every I, then there is no separation, no judgment, no hatred, but only I, one I, which is love. For love is the absence of separation, the absence of division, and the absence of ‘other’. In love, I is every I. One I. I.
This was an incredible teaching on the nature of oneness. After my soror and I left the cave house that day I felt immense gratitude and well-being, knowing that I had just received perhaps the most important lesson there is to receive in this human realm.
But to be sure I was in for another lesson, one which would force me to abort any idea of separation or duality altogether. This time, though, it would not come from the blessed countenance of Ramana Maharishi, it would come from the Dark Goddess herself. Amen.
by Jack Haas