Selected Correspondence Vineeto
Venkataraman Aiyer (aka Ramana Maharshi)
VINEETO: During my process of actualism there was a time when I watched the biography of many people who made it to being famous enough to have a biography report made about them. I wanted to find out what exactly it is that made people successful in what they wanted to achieve in life, be it a gold medal in an Olympic sport or the winner of the Tour de France, be it a successful business entrepreneur or a famous dancer or painter, be it a well-known architect or a renowned author or inventor or, in the spiritual realm of achievements, become an enlightened master. What all these people had in common was a burning passion to be successful at their chosen field of interest and an unwavering determination to do whatever it takes to reach their goal.
RESPONDENT No 23: This shows that likely you have not (yet) understood what a spiritual master is.
VINEETO: I take it then that you have not read Mohan Rajneesh’s autobiography ‘The Golden Childhood’ or any other autobiography or biography from a genuine enlightened person? They all describe, without exception that they were pursuing enlightenment like all get-out for many years with a strict discipline of meditation, fasting, yoga and other spiritual disciplines and then, when after years of arduous practice they exhaustedly relaxed and gave up control enlightenment happened. Face it, No 23, there is no such thing as a free lunch – not even enlightenment happens on its own accord – you’ll have to work really, really hard for it.
RESPONDENT No 60: Without exception? I thought someone would have commented by now but it appears to have escaped everyone’s notice. Vineeto, surely there is the glaring exception of Richard? Is that an oversight on your part, or has Richard since had cause to doubt that what he knew in those 11 years was enlightenment?
RESPONDENT: I agree. There are many many examples of enlightened masters (including Ramana Maharishi) who did not pursue enlightenment, but it came to them, unasked. Now PCEs do happen of their own accord, but as far as I can see, actual freedom as a persistent state takes hard (but enjoyable) work.
VINEETO: Are you saying that you agree that enlightenment needs no effort? Arthur Osborne, an ardent devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi and particularly well known as the Founder Editor of the Mountain Path, the spiritual journal of Sri Ramanasramam, as well as the Editor of ‘The collected works of Ramana Maharshi’ and ‘Author of Teachings of Bhagwan Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words’ wrote in his biography of Ramana Maharshi –
Not only does he report of Ramana’s dedication for making the Divine manifest but also of his application of ‘continual effort’.
RESPONDENT: The second paragraph is not referring to Ramana Maharishi but is meant as a prescription for the seekers.
VINEETO: Do you have any reference of the author stating that he meant this sentence as a prescription for the seekers or is it something that is agreed upon in ‘anyone’s mind’?
Besides, that would still leave the description that the book of the Tamil saints ‘inspired him with awe and emulation’.
RESPONDENT: I have studied Ramana’s life and been to Tiruvannamallai also and there is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that his enlightenment was effortless and through the grace of the mountain god Arunachala. Whatever that means, it does imply that he did not work hard at it. And as No 60 says (and to which I agree), this in no way has any bearing on someone embarking on the actualist path.
VINEETO: Assuming for the moment that there is no god – a reasonable working hypothesis given that this is the Actual Freedom mailing list – the question that then remains is how did Ramana Maharshi become enlightened?
RESPONDENT: You just need to agree that enlightenment can happen without effort since many pathological conditions can effect a permanent ASC.
VINEETO: I do know enlightenment from the inside out, so to speak, from several extended spiritual altered states of consciousness I had at the beginning of the actualism practoce. At that time I made it a point to investigate the very nature of enlightenment, particularly because I wanted to be sure to be able to avoid it in future. From this investigation into the nature of enlightenment itself I know, experientially, that enlightenment does not happen by accident, on its own accord, neither does it happen overnight, nor is it automatically bestowed upon one permanently by some unknown magic or grace nor solely by some unknown pathology. It is the result of a choice made deep down in the centre of one’s being, followed by determination, dedication and persistent re-focussing practice.
In order to be able to live permanently in the spiritual world where ‘I am not the body’, ‘I am That’, ‘I am One with the Divine’ or ‘I am Divine Spirit and not human body’ one needs to deliberately train one’s mind to shift from the material to the spiritual, from the tangible to the ephemeral, from one’s basic survival instinct of the body to a transcendental survival instinct of the soul.
Even then it seems to need that extra ingredient that only very few people manage, as Ken Wilber in Andrew Cohen’s ‘What is Enlightenment’ magazine pointed out in this calculation that only 0.0001 people become enlightened of all those who seriously and sincerely pursue it. A particular social-religious conditioning can certainly be an additional favourable ingredient, so can drugs and/or a propensity for being high-strung or particularly removed from reality.
As for Richard, he is indeed an exception in that he did not aspire to become enlightened – he was aiming for what he had experienced in his four-hour PCE, what he later called ‘Actual Freedom’. Further, Richard was enlightened by virtue of an incomplete ‘self’-immolation, but he was never an enlightened master as he never took on disciples or published any teachings. Being born and raised in a Christian environment he had no knowledge of Eastern mysticism and did not know that what he was living after his transformation was called enlightenment until someone pointed it out to him.
This transformation, however, did not come easy or as if by magic for Richard, the identity – after his four-hour PCE ‘he’ devoted his life to cleansing and purifying himself and to developing Goodness of the highest order.
RESPONDENT: Like people judging the whole Christian civilization only from the Inquisition, the Opus Dei and the Borgia popes. I mention Ramana, Nisargadatta and Aurobindo and you reply with the ‘enlightened Ones Rajneesh, Da Free John and John deRuiter’. Please be honest enough to consider they don’t play in the same category. Please be honest to acknowledge you use caricatures.
VINEETO: Why do you think that Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Aurobindo Ghoose don’t play in the same category as Mohan Rajneesh, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Franklin Jones and John deRuiter’? Are they not all declaring themselves to be enlightened and are they not all offering their teaching as the solution to a suffering mankind? Do you think there is ‘good’ Enlightenment and ‘bad’ Enlightenment? Usually people have one or several pet gurus and a particular pet teaching, which is, of course, ‘better than everybody else’s belief’ in the typical competitive style common to all beliefs.
However, in order to investigate what those teachings have practically contributed to peace on earth, one needs to step back and look at the whole guru business per se. Upon honest inquiry you will find that no spiritual master has ever lived in peace, harmony, equity and parity with a woman and no Goddess has ever lived in peace, harmony, equity and parity with a man because of the holier-than-thou nature of Enlightenment itself. The companion of a master, if He or She chooses to have one, will always be a devoted disciple and willing servant, humbling and belittling themselves to earn shares in good karma by serving and pleasing God’s latest representative or God’s latest incarnation.
I am not using particular ‘caricatures’ but well-known teachers – or do you consider Jiddu Krishnamurti being a caricature as opposed to ‘Beedi Baba’ as Nisagadatta used to be called? It seems to me that you are stretching your case a bit thin here. However, if you investigate the Holy Men’s and Women’s lives you will become shockingly aware that living in peace and harmony with a partner is not even on their spiritual agenda – it is not part of God’s message, it is part of the ‘Maya’ that has to be transcended. The very principle of Eastern spiritual teaching is rotten to the core – every enlightened teacher is a caricature of a mythical non-existent God as in ‘an exaggerated or debased imitation or version (of), naturally or unintentionally ludicrous’ Oxford Dictionary. To say that some are better than others is to defend the indefensible.
Of course, at first, it is an enormous blow to one’s pride to have bet on the wrong horse, but then again, to be spiritual has been the only alternative so far to being normal. Now that there is a third alternative available, anyone who is willing can put God and his/her mind-numbing devotion for God’s Go-Betweens into the dustbin where they belong and get on with the business of becoming free from malice and sorrow.
It is so good to be free from spiritual belief. Not just Rajneeshism, but free from all spiritual belief – all belief in any God by whatever name, in life after death, in good and evil spirits or in the supposedly theomorphic nature of our planet. This freedom from all spiritual belief gives one dignity for the first time in one’s life.
RESPONDENT: If you start to think that everything is an illusion, you give away your control over your life. I got the feeling I have. In Richard’s journal he tells something similar, he had to fight to get his will back working. And then I found you guys. Well, to come short, I’ve ‘practised’ with the method of ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ for about a month now. It’s to short to say if there is ‘something happening.’ If you have something to recommend please do. I’m determined to go on, that’s for sure. Sorry I talk so much about myself but that’s the only way to give an image of my ‘reality’. You know what’s the worst one can do: to say that you can be happy all the time and then lead people on a road to nowhere by talking Chinese. As if happiness is only for the ‘wise and intelligent people.’ I’m not stupid but I don’t understand Ramana Maharshi at all.
VINEETO: Your last sentence I enjoyed the most. Yes, it needs people to be bold enough to stand up to the gods and gurus and expose them for the frauds they are. Richard says they have feet of clay because they did not dare to go all the way and eliminate all of their identity instead of only getting rid of the ego. Consequently their identity shifts from ego to soul and is blown up into insane proportions.
It took me at least 6 months to question and take apart all my dearly held beliefs, reverence, love, devotion and hope that I had towards the Master (Rajneesh), because admitting that the master was wrong then made me a fool to have followed him. But what a liberation and relief when I understood the whole intricate net of the master-disciple-relationship, when I saw through the half-truths and mysteries, the fairy-stories and Eastern gobble-de-gook. What a freedom now to think for myself, to use my intelligence freed of fear and hope, and to walk upright for the first time in my life – beholden to no one.
I am curious to hear more about ‘how you are experiencing this moment of being alive’. Of course, you have to talk about yourself, how else to have a sensible discussion about how it is for you to be a human being? I guess you have found the page on that How to Become Free from the Human Condition with all the related links of correspondences. Peter wrote to No 3 a very simple example of how to start examining your feelings that keep you from being happy and harmless ... and there is much much more ...
Richard had a long correspondence with someone who was convinced that everything is but an illusion. You might find it interesting, enlivening and amusing to see how Richard dismantled each of his illusionary arguments: Richard, List B, No. 22.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.