Meeting Ramana Maharshi: A Journey of Awakening
By John Patrick Sullivan with Ayn Cates Sullivan, Ph.D.
Certain human beings are permeated by an intelligence of love that moves through them always. We are irresistibly drawn to these peaceful, life-affirming beings, for they touch us in ways our mind cannot begin to fathom. With them we enter fully into our own hearts and taste freedom. The first time I felt this love was in a central London bookshop across the street from my yoga studio. I was browsing through the spiritual section and a book fell out of a shelf into my hand with a photograph of Ramana Maharshi on the front cover. As I gazed at the picture, I noticed the luminosity in his eyes and a sense of peace swept through my body. The photo sits on my shrine to this day, for as soon as I see his face I sense his unconditional love, compassion and acceptance for all of humanity.
It is said that the eyes are the windows of the soul. When we meet the direct gaze of an awakened one, our feelings of separation begin to dissolve and we have the possibility of experiencing expanded dimensions of reality. Some people call this “non dual awareness” as a way of expressing on some level the idea that we are all connected. We’re used to thinking in terms of polarity: male and female, light and dark, night and day. From the seat of deep compassion, this duality disappears and we remember that we are all already whole, complete and awake.
Sitting in the bookshop in Chelsea and tasting this sweet spiritual bliss, I suddenly longed to go to India and dive more deeply into the oceans of cosmic mystery. I wanted to find out more about this man, and sit where he had awakened. It was clear to me that Ramana was one of the great ones who led us out of our pain and suffering; one of the visionaries who help us unlock the patterns of addiction and ignorance, and guide us into a new terrain of freedom. My sense was that Ramana was inviting me into a new field beyond the world of the modern-day gladiators who dominate the playing field in athletic and corporate arenas into the realm of true warrior kings who self-actualize. In that frame of mind I decided to set out for India.
A few months later I arrived at Ramana’s authentic working ashram. Although he was no longer embodied on earth, having passed in 1951, his spirit was very much alive. Before he left his body Ramana said, “They say that I am dying, but I am not going away. Where could I go? I am here.”
And clearly he still was, for his presence permeated the entire ashram. This was my first experience with the unified field and the understanding that we are all eternal beings. I began to understand that no one dies. It is one thing to hear these words, and another to metabolize them. It took me many years to integrate this realization and begin to live, as Ramana had done, with constant awareness of the mysteries of the cosmos.
“So why is Ramana important now?” we may ask. He helps us understand that we are much more and also much less than we realize. Generally we live tormented by our misinterpretations of reality and each other. We have to understand that Ramana is not a material being as we know other humans, but a person who has dissolved enough to live from his true nature. He opened the doors of self-inquiry for many and demonstrated the ongoing process of Self-Realization.
Ramana led a simple, modest life, modeling the importance of humility and compassion. He was able to demonstrate his own non-attachment when thieves broke into the ashram, and he counseled the disciples and visitors to let them have whatever they wanted. He remained calm during the incident even when struck by one of the thieves. Ramana knew that nothing of value could ever be taken.
Right now, we can also knock on the doors of consciousness and ask to taste the sweet nectar of presence. Just reading the words in this blog might be enough to offer a glimpse that we are– not what we take ourselves to be, but something much more vast. My time at the ashram is still among my fondest memories on this journey toward living my realization. I am grateful for the time spent with the spirit of the master and the great mountain of Arunachula.
For more about John Patrick Sullivan and the practice of self-inquiry visit: http://www.johnpatricksullivanblog.com. To learn more about Ayn Cates Sullivan and how inquiry can strengthen your relationships visit: http://ayncatessullivan.com/mutual-blossoming/