month’s Yoga Journal featured
a fascinating article entitled “Can
You Trust the
Teacher Within or Do you Need a Guru?” This
is a question I have often asked myself.
I had considered books, various
workshops or people along the path who
have guided me, and life in general as my“
teacher.” But I still envied friends who had a “living” Guru,
and cool spiritual names or had at one point in their
life lived in an ashram. Recently, I serendipitously found
myself attending a satsang in Encinitas with a beautiful
man named Ramana. It is now that I fully understand the maxim: “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” It is so true! Someone pinch me!
Ramana is a student of the late realized master H.W.L. Poonja-ji
(affectionately called “Papa-ji”)
and is considered one of nine “messengers” appointed
by him to share satsang. The beloved
teacher Gangagji is part of this lineage.
Ramana, who was named after Papaji’s
teacher Ramana Maharshi, has merged with the
consciousness of his teacher and now has the ability to “transmit” this
awareness and grace from his Guru. He
travels the world authentically sharing his love, warmth and wisdom.
my first satsang with Ramana,
I became aware of more than the words
he was sharing. There was
silent “transmission” of
energy that could very tangibly be felt.
I experienced a stillness within myself that
was beyond description. At certain moments during
his talk, he would pause and this “transmission” was
felt even deeper. I was amazed at how silent my
mind became. Experiencing myself beyond the identification
of who I think I am was incredible. At one
point, Ramana looked
at me and my entire body was
on fire. Wow! This guy was on to something. I could
not put my finger on it because there was nothing that
he did or even said but something was happening and
I was feeling it! This is what I believe is known as the “Grace
of the Guru.”
I heard Ramana was returning to San Diego,
I immediately signed up for his Radical Awakening Weekend.
His brochure stated: “This is not a selfhelp course
or a workshop to improve your personality. This
is for those who have had an experience of Self and want
to deepen it.” Ramana revealed that his workshop was
designed to refine our awareness until we noticed solely
what was present. He assured us that we would be able
to make distinctions that we may not have noticed before.
He used meditations, stories, sharing and transpersonal
processes to “set the space.” However, he
emphasized that true Realization is not in any of the
words or processes but in the Silent Transmission of who you are.
Are we trying to get somewhere that
we already are?
According to Ramana, yes! Focusing on going
somewhere, being in some other state, denies the very
essence of who we are. After meditation, prayer,
chanting, yoga, we are still left with the Self.
our first “guided” meditation we noticed
the space within us and let go more and more of
the density (within us) to notice the space and
then the space between the space, the space between
us and the room became the same space. We then
worked on maintaining this expansiveness with
our eyes open and took a “silent” break
outdoors in nature. I definitely experienced an
increased depth and richness of my senses.
several exercises Ramana asked
us to share our
experiences. I enjoyed seeing the faces of people change
and hearing about their personal revelations throughout
the weekend. One woman confessed how she
felt “stuck” in her spiritual path but during
the weekend she realized that she
was stuck because she thought she was supposed to be somewhere else other than
where she was. I related so much to her that I just burst
out with laughter and a huge sigh. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I was not alone!
we trying to get somewhere that we already are?
According to Ramana, yes! Focusing on going somewhere,
being in some other state denies the very
essence of who we are. After meditation, prayer, chanting,
yoga, we are still left with the Self. Are we trying
to nourish the soul that is the nourishment itself?
Ramana said, “You are the nourishment.
You are the Awareness. There
is nothing you are doing that is keeping you from the Self.”
think for most of us on the spiritual path the continual
question is how do we maintain a continuity of
consciousness? We have glimpses or moments of it
but how do we carry this into everyday life? I was particularly
challenged with opening my eyes after each meditation and maintaining that “space.”
Awakening is not an experience, it is a fundamental
Realization of the Self. It is a shift in who
are, not what you are experiencing. So even when you “forget” after
your awakening, there is a permanent, deeper
knowing that you have never left the Self.
Ramana explained that this process is ongoing. He
shared, Stay as heart and be vigilant every moment of “who” is
perceiving the thoughts? We then can live in the “Discovering
of What is Next,” and then in
the face of walls or blocks stay open,
tenderly inviting okay-ness, purely being okay with everything.
reassuring, isn’t it? From this place
we can then be okay with what
is, instead of thinking we are
supposed to be somewhere other than where we are:
the present. Again Ramana would emphasize,“ There
is nothing you are doing that is keeping you from the Self.”
Ramana said, “We are always at a crossroads and you
can either put your attention on the heart or the mind.
The way IN is the Heart.” We can develop our sensitivity
around this distinction between the heart at
rest or the restless heart, which is connected to the mind.
Our reflex is to close, to put a shell around our heart,
to be right and make others wrong. This reflex is
a simple choice, not always easy, but is a choice. You may
have no choice in terms of how your life works out,
but you have complete dominion about knowing who
you are in this moment. The Self wants to know itself,
and your love wants to express itself. There is an intangible which pulls us into this heart at rest.
Ramana confirmed everything I had ever felt or believed
deep inside of myself, but never really knew how
to articulate. What I most admire about Ramana is
his humility. He is approachable and real and is not afraid
to share his personal issues if he knows it will help
someone. He shared that a student of Papaji once asked
him, “How does one become as elevated as you are?” And
Papaji replied, “When you stop thinking
I’m more elevated than you.”