Ramana Maharshi on Obstacles for seekers
Question : When I try to be without all thoughts, I
pass into sleep. What should I do about it?
Ramana Maharshi : Once you go to sleep you can do nothing in that state.
But while you are awake, try to keep away all thoughts. Why think about
sleep? Even that is a thought, is it not? If you are able to be without
any thought while you are awake, that is enough. When you pass into
sleep the state which you were in before falling asleep will continue
when you wake up. You will continue from where you left off when you
fell into slumber. So long as there are thoughts of activity there will
also be sleep. Thought and sleep are counterparts of one and the same
We should not sleep too much or go without it altogether, but sleep only
moderately. To prevent too much sleep, we must try and have no thoughts
or chalana [movement of the mind], we must eat only sattvic food and
that only in moderate measure, and not indulge in too much physical
activity. The more we control thought, activity and food the more we
shall be able to control sleep.
But moderation ought to be the rule, as explained in the Gita, for the
seeker on the path. Sleep is the first obstacle, as explained in the
books, for all sadhaks. The second obstacle is said to be vikshepa or
the sense objects of the world which divert one's attention. The third
is said to be kashaya or thoughts in the mind about previous experiences
with sense objects. The fourth, ananda [bliss], is also called an
obstacle, because in that state a feeling of separation from the source
of ananda, enabling the enjoyer to say `I am enjoying ananda', is
Even this has to be surmounted. The final stage of samadhi has to be
reached in which one becomes ananda or one with reality. In this state
the duality of enjoyer and enjoyment ceases in the ocean of sat-chit-ananda
or the Self.
Question : So one should not try to perpetuate blissful or ecstatic
Ramana Maharshi : The final obstacle in meditation is ecstasy; you feel
great bliss and happiness and want to stay in that ecstasy. Do not yield
to it but pass on to the next stage which is great calm. The calm is
higher than ecstasy and it merges into samadhi.
Successful samadhi causes a waking sleep state to supervene. In that
state you know that you are always consciousness, for consciousness is
your nature. Actually, one is always in samadhi but one does not know
it. To know it all one has to do is to remove the obstacles.
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