Advaita / non-duality

Mind the Business for Which you Have Come — The Purpose of Human Life


All events in life are shaped according to the divine plan. What is bound to happen will happen. What is not to happen cannot be brought about by any human effort. On this point Ramana was quite categoric. When Deva Raja Mudaliar questioned him as to whether only important things in ones life, such as major occupation or profession alone are predetermined, or even trifling acts, Ramana replied, “Everything is predetermined.”

One of the purposes of birth is to go through certain experiences which have been marked out in the karmic unfoldment of this life. The whole program is chalked out. This would apparently be a dampener to all effort, for one would be puzzled as to what the responsibility of man is. Is he an automation of karmic forces? Where do his free will and effort come in?

Ramana points out that there is another deeper purpose to life. That is to search and find out the truth for oneself. He would say that the only useful purpose of life is to turn within and realize there’s nothing else to do. Ramana would therefore constantly din into everyone the fact that the ultimate truth is sat-chit, immediately available here and now.

When Natananananda asked Ramana, “Is it possible for everyone to know directly without doubt what exactly is ones true nature?” prompt came the reply, “Undoubtedly it is possible. The ultimate truth is so simple,” Ramana would say. “It is nothing more than abiding in ones own state.” This is the essential message of all religions and creeds. Leaving aside the automatic course of our lives regulated by the creator, according to his law, ones duty is to channel effort to be self-aware. Steadfastness of purpose is in treading the inner path through vigilant self-inquiry. On such inquiry as to the source of the individual, the inquirer merges in the conscious source. The inner odyssey is seldom smooth sailing. Full many a delusion would wean one away.

For instance, people who go to Shri Ramana Ashram to breathe its rarified atmosphere, while there, instead of surrendering to his flowing grace, they would get involved in the happenings of the ashram management. Ramana used to jovially remark of some visitors, “On their first visit to Shri Ramana ashram, they seemed to be alight. On the second visit they discovered that the ashram is not properly run. On the third visit they start giving advice. On the fourth, they know best how to run the place. And on the fifth they discover that the management is not responsive. On the sixth, they suggest that the present staff should walk out leaving the ashram to them. They would thus get bogged down in things which are irrelevant for the search.” When such people complained, Ramana would say: “Mind the business for which you have come.”

This would apply, of course, not only to their visit to Shri Ramana ashram, but also to the purpose of human life itself. One has to constantly keep before the mind’s eye the liberating purpose, the only worth while one of freeing oneself from the karmic chain by discovering the hidden truth. Ramana would even seemingly chide if one failed to pursue ones own sadhana, but spent time thinking and talking of others.

A devotee once told Ramana, “I have been here for many years. People got into Samadhi. I close my eyes for a minute and my mind travels around the world.” Ramana replied, “Why do you think about others? Let them meditate, sleep or snore. Look to yourself. Whenever your mind goes astray bring it back to the quest.” Once Bhagwan told a devotee to wake up, look at the mirror, it shows the growth to be got rid of. Instead of wasting time, start shaving.

Similarly, heaven knows when the allotted time would end. Hence not to seek the truth by vigilant self-inquiry is truly suicidal. Many would like to blame their circumstances for their indolence and laziness and failure to pursue self-inquiry. Ramana would ask, “Why depend on that which is not in your hands. Go ahead with the business which is in your hands, under your control, leaving aside what you cannot do anything about.”

Proper utilization of God given freedom of turning the mind is what is needed all the time.

As for adverse circumstances in life of which everyone has a belly full, while sympathizing, Ramana would at the same time say, “You are always free not to be affected by the pleasure and pain consequent on action. The peace has to be taken out of the event by an attitudinal change which neutralizes it.”

Sometimes Ramana would advise leaving things to the sure hand of the sat guru, and to stick single-mindedly to the effort which would make one self-aware. Ramana would say, “Why don’t you do what the first class railway passenger does? He tells the guard his destination, locks the door and goes to sleep. The rest is done by the guard. If you can trust your guru as much as you trust the railway guard, it will be good enough to make you reach the destination.”

Again when someone pestered him for the darshan of Shri Krishna, he said, “Why don’t you leave the shas-trakara of Krishna to Krishna.” We also have the pointed advice given by him to Ganapada Muni: “Remain all the time steadfast in the heart. God will determine the future for you to accomplish the work. What is to be done will be done at the proper time. Don’t worry. Abide in the heart.”

Life becomes meaningful if we joyously tread the inward path, remembering that ours is to do the vichara and it is for the inner force to do the rest. Then bliss is not the end product to be found on reaching the goal, but is felt all along the home-ward, heart-ward journey.

The article appeared in a 1990 newspaper. Written by a Ramana Maharshi devotee.

© Excellence Reporter 2019

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