The Direct Path
By Mouni Sadhu
The great Rishi, Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharshi - unlike most yogis and many saints of the present day - does not recommend yogic practices as a condition for the highest and perennial spiritual achievement, called by him 'Self-realization'.
He dismisses from that aim, all the cumbersome postures, breathing exercises, control of the pranic-currents (currents of the Prana in the human body and so of Nature itself), and so on. In fact, he seldom even mentioned them in his talks.
So the Direct Path to spiritual attainment, as shown by the Maharshi, does not require any unnatural body postures, often so difficult to perform for the majority of people; none of the efforts of Hatha-Yoga, which can be dangerous unless practiced under the direct supervision of a competent teacher, and no artificial mental practices of concentration.
All such things lead nowhere unless accompanied by the elements of spiritual enlightenment, a fact which is firmly underlined by Sri Shankaracharya in his 'Viveka Chudamani'.
Now I see clearly that these things belong to a closed and bewitched circle. For years and some of my closest occult friends practiced many kinds of 'outer-yogas' but without any results worthy of our efforts. Of course, some of these exercises were good for our physical health, especially for stilling the nerves, cultivating a beautiful voice, and so forth.
But these advantages only remained with us as long as we continued regularly to perform the exercises. A pause for even a few weeks deprived us of all the hard earned benefits we had gained at the cost of such effort and waste of time. No true and permanent peace of mind could be obtained, although for that purpose I made intense use of Japa (repetition) with the best mantras.
The Master Sri Ramana Maharshi states that the control of the mind , achieved by any way except the VICHARA (SELF-INQUIRY) will be only temporary, for the mind will invariably return to its spontaneous activities. "What is not natural," says the Maharshi "cannot be permanent, and what is not permanent is not worth striving after."
What reasonable person would disagree with the Great Rishi? Who cannot see that there is no possibility or hope of realization if undertaken with inadequate methods? For then one simply has no time for the proper work with the only instrument, THE VICHARA.
Life is too short to waste when we are working earnestly towards achievement. Moreover, for the majority of aspirants in both East and West, complicated occult practices invariably require quite a different and usually too difficult rearrangement of everyday life.
These hundreds of excercises, postures, prayers, invocations and meditations, are all incompatible with the resources and possibilities of an average person's normal life. Few aspirants possess sufficient wealth to allow them to retire completely from the outer activity of this visible world.
But this DIRECT PATH, the Maharshi's way, is possible and is well suited for everyone who is ripe enough to enter on it, no matter whether man or woman, young or old, rich or poor, learned or illiterate.
This path can be followed secretly, so that the outer world will never know that a man is engaged in a deep and intensive search. This means that there is a reduction to the minimum of external obstacles allowed by the prarabdha karma of man.
Also there is no question of reading innumerable books. The multiplicity of theories with their countless books, the many sects and religions with their almost invariable hostility to one another -no matter how cleverly this unpleasant quality is disguised all show a lack of unity.
But the Direct Path immediately gives us a clear view of our ultimate and only aim. The process of acquiring virtues is reversed. We do not need to seek them, for they come according to the measure of our advancement along the path.
It is only the Direct Path which tells us from the first step, where we are going and why. Our renunciation of this unreal world, while not usually known to those around us, acquires a natural and reasonable character, and not that of imagination or of a hazy dream.
Sri Ramana Maharshi supports the Advaita-Vedanta theory which recognizes only one real thing, the Atman, Self or spirit. The Master of the Direct Path, Sri Ramana Maharshi, now sitting on his couch before me, is the greatest destroyer of illusions.
When we realize that there exists an infallible path to the final goal, the joy of that knowledge is overwhelming. This is the water that quenches human thirst. Those who seek will find. But the search must be for the highest and not merely for more or less exalted illusions.
The cardinal virtue of discrimination plays an uppermost role in such seeking. For when the Direct Path becomes visible, all the others disappear as if they had never been sought. There is no need for any 'rejection' on the part of the disciple. He simply seems to forget what is best forgotten and remembers only what should be remembered.
Deep in your hearts there lies a source, so often spoken of by the Master, Sri Ramana Maharshi. It can be likened to the center of a circle, from which we can see in all directions, and then from which no other position can give us such a vantage point. Now I fully realize why the path of Maharshi is also called the Path of Inner Silence.
Go directly to the source of all truth in your spiritual centre of silence, your heart; for the shortest distance between two points is a direct line, and a mystical truth lies hidden behind this geometrical axiom.
Accept it, and the Direct Path is already beneath your feet. There is no need to seek it elsewhere. 'A single step begins the journey of a thousand miles', but if this first step is not taken, the traveler will remain at his starting point. Without the knowledge of 'who we are' we remain spiritually immovable.
The Direct Path can be likened to a mighty river, quietly and majestically flowing to the infinite ocean of Nirvana, Brahman, the ultimate and unique aim of every being. Yogas, religions, sects, philosophical systems, occult and spiritual societies, all can be thought of as minor streams flowing into and yielding up their waters to the same great river, and from then onwards having the same straight course to the ocean.
Whoever knows of the hidden Direct Path will not waste time following lesser ways. All efforts will be concentrated on the one idea 'How to enter the great current which flows directly to the ocean'.