Sri Ramana says:
To make the mind subside [permanently], there are no adequate means other than vichara [investigation, that is, the art of self attentive being]. If restrained by other means, the mind will remain as if subsided, [but] will emerge again. Even by pranayama [breath-restraint], the mind will subside; however, [though] the mind remains subsided so long as the breath remains subsided, when the breath emerges [or becomes manifest] it will also emerge and wander under the sway of [its] vasanas [inclinations, impulses or desires]. The birthplace both of the mind and of the prana [the breath or life-force] is one.
Thought alone is the svarupa [the ‘own form’] of the mind. The thought ‘I’ alone is the first [or basic] thought of the mind; it alone is the ego. From where the ego arises, from there alone the breath also arises. Therefore when the mind subsides the prana also [subsides], [and] when the prana subsides the mind also subsides. However in sleep, even though the mind has subsided, the breath does not subside. It is arranged thus by the ordinance of God for the purpose of protecting the body, and so that other people do not wonder whether that body has died. When the mind subsides in waking and in samadhi [any of the various types of mental absorption that result from yogic or other forms of spiritual practice], the prana subsides. The prana is said to be the gross form of the mind. Until the time of death the mind keeps the prana in the body, and at the moment the body dies it [the mind] grabs and takes it [the prana] away. Therefore pranayama is just an aid to restrain the mind, but will not bring about mano-nasa [the annihilation of the mind].
This same truth is also clearly stated by Sri Adi Sankara in verse 11 of Vivekachudamani:
Action [karma, which generally means action of any kind whatsoever, but which in this context means specifically any action that is performed for spiritual benefit] is [prescribed only] for [achieving] chitta-suddhi [purification of mind] and not for [attaining] vastu-upalabdhi [direct knowledge or
experience of the reality, the true substance or essence, which is absolute being]. The attainment of [this experience of] the reality [can be achieved only] by vichara and not at all by [even] ten million actions.
So whats the Truth
Just like pranayama, murti-dhyana [meditation upon a form of God], mantra-japa [repetition of sacred words such as a name of God] and ahara-niyama [restriction of diet, particularly the restriction of consuming only vegetarian food] are [just] aids that restrain the mind [but will not bring about its annihilation]. By both murti-dhyana and mantra-japa the mind gains one pointedness [or concentration]. Just as, if [someone] gives a chain in the trunk of an elephant, which is always moving [swinging about trying to catch hold of something or other], that elephant will proceed holding it fast without [grabbing and] holding fast anything else, so indeed the mind, which is always moving [wandering about thinking of something or other], will, if trained in [the practice of thinking of] any one [particular] name or form [of God], remain holding it fast [without thinking unnecessary thoughts about anything else]. Because the mind spreads out [scattering its energy] as innumerable thoughts, each thought becomes extremely weak.
For the mind which has gained one-pointedness when thoughts shrink and shrink [that is, which has gained one-pointedness due to the progressive reduction of its thoughts] and which has thereby gained strength, atma-vichara [self-investigation, which is the art of self-attentive being] will be easily accomplished. By mita sattvika ahara-niyama [the restraint of consuming only a moderate quantity of pure or sattvika food], which is the best among all restrictions, the sattva-guna [the quality of calmness, clarity or ‘being-ness’] of the mind will increase and [thereby] help will arise for self-investigation.
Both murti-dhyana and mantra-japa are practices in the path of dualistic devotion, and hence they are efficacious to the extent to which they are practised with genuine love for God. If we try to practise either of them without true love, our mind will constantly wander towards other thoughts because of the strength of its desire for whatever it happens to think about, and hence we will be unable to concentrate it entirely upon any single name or form of God.
Therefore when Sri Ramana says that by practising either murtidhyana or mantra-japa our mind will gain one-pointedness, the meaning he implies is that our love for God will become focused and one-pointed. By thus concentrating our love and attention upon any one particular name or form of God, our desire to think other thoughts will be weakened, and our love to think of God will thereby gain strength. Once our mind has gained this strength of one-pointed love for God, it will be able to practise the art of self-attentive being easily.
To untie the bonds beginning with karma [that is, the bonds of action, and of all that results from action], [and] to rise above [or revive from] the ruin beginning with birth [that is, to transcend and become free from the miseries of embodied existence, which begins with birth and ends with death, only to begin once again with birth in another mind-created body], [rather] than any [other] path, this path [of simple self-attentive being] is exceedingly easy. When [we] just are, having settled [calmly and peacefully in perfect repose as our simple selfconscious being] without even the least karma [action] of mind, speech or body, ah, in [our] heart [the innermost core of our being] the light of self [will shine forth clearly as our non-dual consciousness of being, ‘I am I’]. [Having thereby drowned and lost our individual self in this perfectly peaceful and infinitely clear state of true self-knowledge, we will discover it to be our] eternal experience. Fear will not exist. The ocean of [infinite] bliss alone [will remain].
To be Continued….