While these two models are stated implicitly earlier, I thought I would summarize them again to make sure that I have made this important point clear. There are models of awakening that involve getting rid of all of our “stuff”, that is, our issues, flaws, quirks, pains, negative emotions, traumas, personalities, cultural baggage, childhood scars, relationship difficulties, insecurities, fears, strange notions, illnesses, etc. Such models underlie most of the mainstream ideals of spiritual attainment. 
What is funny is that lots of people spend so much time working so hard to get rid of all their stuff but think that awakening, which is ditching the illusion of the separate self and the dualistic split, is largely unattainable. I have exactly the opposite view: that ditching the split is very attainable, but getting rid of all of our stuff while in this mammalian body is completely impossible. When I hear about those who wish to attain a type of Buddhahood that is defined by not having any stuff in any form, regardless of how it is perceived by them, I usually think to myself that the countless eons they usually claim are necessary to accomplish this are a gross underestimation. The real world is about stuff, and awakening is about the real world.

What is nice about ditching the split, aside from the fact that it can be done, is that now we can naturally, gently, be friends with our stuff, even if our stuff sucks. We can work with it as well as can be expected and from a place of great clarity and understanding. Stage by stage, ditching the split makes all the slow but necessary healing so much easier, or at least more tolerable and less miserable. Thus, take the time to work with your stuff, or try not to, as you like. Our stuff is here and being dealt with anyway. 

Try these two scenarios on for size and see which seems to fit with your life goals, with your vision of a life well-lived. In the first, imagine working with your stuff as best you can for most of your life, never really knowing what is just needless mind noise and mental duress caused by a lack of basic clarity. In your old age, you do the practices that lead to realization. The benefits of that level of understanding may then be used for yourself and others during the remaining years of your life.
In the second scenario, you take the time early in your spiritual practice to attain realization, following the precise instructions and recommendations of a well-developed insight tradition. You then use that level of increased clarity, acceptance, intimacy with life, and transcendence to work on your stuff and benefit others for the rest of your life. The second approach seems vastly superior to me, but my biases are a result of my own conditioning. Our conditioning, opportunity or lack thereof, and circumstance will have a strong impact on what happens. Still, from a relative point of view, take responsibility for the choice you make.
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9 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    His makin' superficial distinction between stuff and realization... the two are not separable...if one thinks can hv genuine awakening while rubbish conditionings still intact,dats not an authentic realization....

    The weakening of koshas( sheaths-conditioning karmic imprints) is itself a process of realization...and ultimately there will b an end to such process(or path), when de soul finally be totally free frm even de slightest taints , dats when karma and samsara transcended,and soul can be said to be ultimately free....

  2. Soh Says:

    You do not understand Daniel.

    Even Ramana Maharshi does not teach about 'dealing with stuff'. He only tells people to trace the 'I'-thought to its source by asking 'Who am I?' Anything else is a distraction and an inferior method.

    So just focus on your 'Who am I?'

  3. Soh Says:

    Another example is if you have cancer, realizing anatta will not solve your cancer. You still have to deal with it but with much greater clarity and freedom.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    No,Ramana already shown by his non-attach, renunciate lifestyle, that the highest way of dealing with 'stuff' , is by letting go(renunciation).

    So his realization and his nonattach lifestyle are inseparable....

  5. Soh Says:

    Ramana Maharshi – Be As You Are – by David Godman
    Chapter 12 - Life in the world
    There is a well-established Hindu tradition which prescribes four stages of life (asramas) for serious spiritual seekers:
    1 Brahmacharya (celibate study). A long period of scriptural study prior to marriage, usually in an institution which specialises in Vedic scholarship.
    2 Grihastha (marriage and family). At the conclusion of his studies the aspirant is expected to marry and to discharge his business and household duties conscientiously, but without attachment to them.
    3 Vanaprastha (forest hermit). When all family obligations have been fulfilled (which usually means when the children are married off), the aspirant may retire to a solitary place, usually a forest, and engage in full-time meditation.
    4 Sannyasa (wandering monk). In the final stage the seeker drops out of the world completely and becomes a wandering mendicant monk. Having no material, social or financial entanglements the sannyasi has theoretically removed all the attachments which previously impeded his progress towards Self-realization.
    This time-honoured structure sustained the common Indian belief that it was necessary to abandon one’s family and take to a meditative life of celibate asceticism if one was seriously interested in realising the Self. Sri Ramana was asked about this belief many times but he always refused to endorse it. He consistently refused to give his devotees permission to give up their worldly responsibilities in favour of a meditative life and he always insisted that realization was equally accessible to everyone, irrespective of their physical circumstances. Instead of advising physical renunciation he told all his devotees that it would be spiritually more productive for them to discharge their normal duties and obligations with an awareness that there was no individual ‘I’ performing or accepting responsibility for the acts which the body performed. He firmly believed that mental attitude had a greater bearing on spiritual progress than physical circumstances and he persistently discouraged all questioners who felt that a manipulation of their environment, however slight, would be spiritually beneficial.
    The only physical changes he ever sanctioned were dietary. He accepted the prevailing Hindu theory of diet which claimed that the type of food consumed affected the quantity and quality of one’s thoughts and he recommended a moderate intake of vegetarian food as the most useful aid to spiritual practice.
    The Hindu dietary theory which Sri Ramana endorsed classifies different foods according to the mental states that they induce:
    1 Sattva (purity or harmony) Dairy produce, fruit, vegetables and cereals are deemed to be sattvic foods. A diet which consists largely of these products helps spiritual aspirants to maintain a still, quiet mind.
    2 Rajas (activity) Rajasic foods include meat, fish and hot spicy foods such as chillies, onions and garlic. Ingestion of these foods results in an overactive mind.
    3 Tamas (sluggishness) Foods which are decayed, stale or the product of a fermentation process (e.g. Alcohol) are classified as tamasic. Consumption of these foods leads to apathetic, torpid states of mind which hamper clear decisive thinking.
    Q: I have a good mind to resign from service and remain constantly with Sri Bhagavan.
    A: Bhagavan is always with you, in you, and you are yourself Bhagavan. To realize this it is neither necessary to resign your job nor run away from home. Renunciation does not imply apparent divesting of costumes, family ties, home, etc., but renunciation of desires, affection and attachment.
    There is no need to resign your job, only resign yourself to God, the bearer of the burden of all. One who renounces desires actually merges in the world and expands his love to the whole universe.
    Expansion of love and affection would be a far better term for a true devotee of God than renunciation, for one who 79

  6. Soh Says:

    Ramana Maharshi – Be As You Are – by David Godman
    renounces the immediate ties actually extends the bonds of affection and love to a wider world beyond the borders of caste, creed and race. A sonnyasi who apparently casts away his clothes and leaves his home does not do so out of aversion to his immediate relations but because of the expansion of his love to others around him. When this expansion comes, one does not feel that one is running away from home, instead one drops from it like a ripe fruit from a tree.
    Till then it would be folly to leave one’s home or job.
    Q: How does a grihastha [householder] fare in the scheme of moksha [liberation]? Should he not necessarily become a mendicant in order to attain liberation?
    A: Why do you think you are a grihastha? Similar thoughts that you are a sannyasi [wandering monk] will haunt you, even if you go out as a sannyasi. Whether you continue in the household or renounce it and go to the forest, your mind haunts you. The ego is the source of thought. It creates the body and the world and it makes you think of being the grihastha. If you renounce, it will only substitute the thought of sannyasa for that of grihastha and the environment of the forest for that of the household. But the mental obstacles are always there for you. They even increase greatly in the new surroundings. It is no help to change the environment. The one obstacle is the mind and it must be overcome whether in the home or in the forest. If you can do it in the forest, why not in the home? Therefore, why change the environment? Your efforts can be made even now, whatever the environment.
    Q: Is it possible to enjoy samadhi [awareness of reality] while busy in worldly work?
    A: The feeling ‘I work’ is the hindrance. Ask yourself ‘Who works?’ Remember who you are.
    Then the work will not bind you, it will go on automatically. Make no effort either to work or to renounce; it is your effort which is the bondage. What is destined to happen will happen. If you are destined not to work, work cannot be had even if you hunt for it. If you are destined to work, you will not be able to avoid it and you will be forced to engage yourself in it. So, leave it to the higher power; you cannot renounce or retain as you choose.
    Q: Bhagavan said yesterday that while one is engaged in search of God ‘within’, ‘outer’ work would go on automatically. In the life of Sri Chaitanya it is said that during his lectures to students he was really seeking Krishna within and he forgot all about his body and went on talking of Krishna only. This raises a doubt as to whether work can safely be left to itself. Should one keep part of one’s attention on the physical work?
    A: The Self is all. Are you apart from the Self? Or can the work go on without the Self? The Self is universal so all actions will go on whether you strain yourself to be engaged in them or not.
    The work will go on of itself. Thus Krishna told Arjuna that he need not trouble to kill the Kauravas because they were already slain by God. It was not for him to resolve to work and worry himself about it, but to allow his own nature to carry out the will of the higher power.
    Q: But the work may suffer if I do not attend to it.
    A: Attending to the Self means attending to the work. Because you identify yourself with the body, you think that work is done by you. But the body and its activities, including that work, are not apart from the Self. What does it matter whether you attend to the work or not? When you walk from one place to another you do not attend to the steps you take and yet you find yourself after a time at your goal. You see how the business of walking goes on without your attending to it. So also with other kinds of work.

  7. Soh Says:

    Q: If one holds the Self in remembrance, will one’s actions always be right?
    A: They ought to be. However, such a person is not concerned with the right or wrong of actions. His actions are
    God’s and therefore right.
    Q: How can my mind be still if I have to use it more than other people? I want to go into solitude and renounce my headmaster’s work.
    A: No. You may remain where you are and go on with the work. What is the undercurrent which vivifies the mind, enables it to do all this work? It is the Self. So that is the real source of your activity. Simply be aware of it during
    80Ramana Maharshi – Be As You Are – by David Godman
    your work and do not forget it. Contemplate in the background of your mind even whilst working. To do that, do not hurry, take your own time. Keep the remembrance of your real nature alive, even while working, and avoid haste which causes you to forget. Be deliberate. Practise meditation to still the mind and cause it to become aware of its true relationship to the Self which supports it. Do not imagine it is you who are doing the work. Think that it is the underlying current which is doing it. Identify yourself with the current. If you work unhurriedly, recollectedly, your work or service need not be a hindrance.
    Q: In the early stages would it not be a help to a man to seek solitude and give up his outer duties in life?
    A: Renunciation is always in the mind, not in going to forests or solitary places or giving up one’s duties. The main thing is to see that the mind does not turn outward but inward. It does not really rest with a man whether he goes to this place or that or whether he gives up his duties or not.
    All these events happen according to destiny. All the activities that the body is to go through are determined when it first comes into existence. It does not rest with you to accept or reject them. The only freedom you have is to turn your mind inward and renounce activities there.
    Q: But is it not possible for something to be a help, especially to a beginner, like a fence round a young tree? For instance, don’t our books say that it is helpful to go on pilgrimages to sacred shrines or to get sat-sanga?
    A: Who said they are not helpful? Only such things do not rest with you, whereas turning your mind inward does. Many people desire the pilgrimage or sat-sanga that you mention, but do they all get it?
    Q: Why is it that turning inward alone is left to us and not any outer things?
    A: If you want to go to fundamentals, you must enquire who you are and find out who it is who has freedom or
    destiny. Who are you and why did you get this body that has these limitations? Q: Is solitude necessary for vichara?
    A: There is solitude everywhere. The individual is solitary always. His business is to find it out within, not to seek it outside himself.
    Solitude is in the mind of man. One might be in the thick of the world and maintain serenity of mind. Such a one is in solitude. Another may stay in a forest, but still be unable to control his mind.
    Such a man cannot be said to be in solitude. Solitude is a function of the mind. A man attached to desires cannot get solitude wherever he may be, whereas a detached man is always in solitude.
    Q: So then, one might be engaged in work and be free from desire and keep up solitude. Is it so?
    A: Yes. Work performed with attachment is a shackle, whereas work performed with detachment does not affect the
    doer. One who works like this is, even while working, in solitude. Q: Our everyday life is not compatible with such efforts.
    A: Why do you think you are active? Take the gross example of your arrival here. You left home in a cart, took a train, alighted at the railway station here, got into a cart there and found yourself in this ashram. When asked, you say that you travelled here all the way from your town. Is it true? Is it not a fact that you remained as you were and there were movements of conveyances all along the way? Just as those movements are confounded with your own, so also are the other activities. They are not your own, they are God’s activities.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Obviously there r many interprerations and sayings attributed to Maharshi....

    By living his life as renunciate and advising others on the contrary,are we 2 conclude hypocrisy on his part?

    If a guru ,for eg ... enjoys sex yet tell others to be celibate,arent dat hypocrisy?

    In de case of Ramana, one should make own judgement and conclusion frm his teachings and his lifestyle as well...and not simply believe everything abt him blindly...


  9. Soh Says:

    I don't think most of the well known Advaita sages recommend leaving home.

    Another famous Advaita sage Sri Atmananda taught:

    "Police department and spiritualityMany years later (in 1949), Sir S. Radhakrishnan interviewed ShriAtmananda, at thelatter’s residence, Parvati Vilasam, in Trivandrum. During this interview, Sir Radha-krishnan asked out of curiosity: ‘Well Sir, isit a fact that you had all your spiritualsadhana while serving in the Police Department?’ShriAtmananda replied firmly: ‘Yes, it is perfectly true. And I am quite seriouswhen I say that if anybody sought my advice regarding the vocation or profession most helpful towards spiritual advancement, I would always recommend either thepolice or the military. Because they offer the maximum obstacles and temptations.Success obtained under such conditions is final and irrevocable"

    Sri Atmananda was not celibate. He was a traditional householder, with a wife who bore him two sons and a daughter. And he spoke of himself explicitly as a householder teacher rather than a renunciate sannyasi. -