Radical Awakening and the Opening to Heart Consciousness

Vision Magazine Article

November 2001


Radical Awakening with Ramana

by Jill V. Mangino

Last 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.

During my first satsang with Ramana, I became aware of more than the words he was sharing. There was a

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.”

When 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.

In 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.

After 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!

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. 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.”

I 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.”

Radical Awakening is not an experience, it is a fundamental Realization of the Self. It is a shift in who

you 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.

That’s 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.”




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