Was Ramana Maharshi a Jhana Junkie?

George S, modified 4 Years ago at 9/19/19 10:27 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 9/19/19 9:55 AM

Was Ramana Maharshi a Jhana Junkie?

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
First of all let me say I have the utmost respect for Ramana Maharshi as one of the most seemingly realized beings to have walked the planet and near enough in time that we have eye witness accounts etc. But it seems to me like he fits Daniel's description of a jhana-junkie (and first jhana at that). In his published sayings he is always talking about supreme bliss as being the final goal:

"Perfect bliss is Brahman. Perfect peace is of the Self. That alone exists and is consciousness. That which is called happiness is only the nature of Self; Self is not other than perfect happiness. That which is called happiness alone exists. Knowing that fact and abiding in the state of Self, enjoy bliss eternally." [Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi] 

As far as I can see he never suggests getting over the bliss, heading into equanimity and then somehow unbinding. In fact he basically says the opposite - aim to let the bliss become your permanent walking around state:

"The Self is like a powerful hidden magnet within us. It draws us gradually to itself, though we imagine we are going to it of our own accord. When we are near enough, it puts an end to our other activities, makes us still, and then swallows up our own personal current, thus killing our personality. It overwhelms the intellect and over floods the whole being. We think we are meditating upon it and developing towards it, whereas the truth is that we are as iron filings and it is the Atman-magnet that is pulling us towards itself. Thus the process of finding Self is a form of Divine Magnetism. It is necessary to practise meditation frequently and regularly until the condition induced becomes habitual and permanent throughout the day. Therefore meditate. You lost sight of the bliss because your meditative attitude had not become natural and because of the recurrence of vasanas. When you become habitually reflective, the enjoyment of spiritual beatitude becomes a matter of natural experience." [Conscious Immortality (Conversations With Sri Ramana Maharshi Recorded by Paul Brunton)]

I'm not trying to be deliberately controversial by asking this question, I am genuinely curious about the relationship between buddhism and advaita as it relates to practice, specifically how long I should spend letting first jhana develop "on its own accord" (which feels awfully like being absorbed into the bliss of self-awareness). I know advaita is always banging on about the self whereas the buddha mostly talked about non-self, but I think that circle can be squared (the theory being that Gautema was reacting against a corruption of vedanta and anatta was his way of preventing unhelpful fetishization of the self.) After all, if someone really did realize anatta as their base state then wouldn't they look an awful lot like Ramana Maharshi? I suppose I should really perform the experiment myself, which I am, but it's taking time and I'm impatient and am curious to hear from someone who has seen the end of this movie.
Eric G, modified 4 Years ago at 9/21/19 11:11 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 9/21/19 11:11 AM

RE: Was Ramana Maharshi a Jhana Junkie?

Posts: 133 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
There are a lot of outcomes on the path, depending on how disembodied/unattached one is, how imaginative, etc.
John, modified 4 Years ago at 9/21/19 9:48 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 9/21/19 9:48 PM

RE: Was Ramana Maharshi a Jhana Junkie?

Posts: 51 Join Date: 7/11/14 Recent Posts
In all honesty no matter how carefully we choose the words I don't think misunderstanding is going to be avoided. But no I don't think Jhana refers to bliss of self-awereness. There are a lot of teachers talking of awareness and being and have no idea how to lead their students into it. Jhana to my understanding is triggering the body's feedback loop by locking onto a pleasent object of awareness. As per whether RM was a Jhana junkie the answer is going to be a clear no. If you read what he says he talks of uninterrupted bliss and Jhana is temporary. (as far as I know)
Z , modified 4 Years ago at 9/22/19 8:36 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 9/22/19 8:24 PM

RE: Was Ramana Maharshi a Jhana Junkie?

Posts: 201 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
I've been doing a bit of reading on Maharshi the past few days and came across this post that Kenneth Folk put up a while back. It may shed some light on your question. Basically, he says that Maharshi's particular emphasis on the "cosmic bliss-out" aspect of enlightenment, and the way he presents himself as an "enlightened being" to the public is really just a manifestation of the particular cultural and spiritual trappings he was practicing in (Advaita). 

... In other words, the Advaita model would place Ramana Maharshi at the top of the enlightenment ladder even though he was clearly manifesting the stink of enlightenment by Zen standards. Does that mean Ramana was not enlightened? Not at all. It just means that Ramana's culture valued what the Zen people do not, namely the full-on expression of the cosmic bliss-out. If Ramana were a Zen practitioner, he would have been indoctrinated and acculturated to manifest his enlightenment very differently. Imagine Ramana shouting at people and hitting them with sticks, for example. It's a funny image. By Advaita standards, the archetypal feisty Zen master, with his unabashed expression of the full spectrum of human emotions might not be considered enlightened at all. The Advaita masters might tell him to go back to his cave until he can learn to behave in a properly chilled-out manner. In summary, if you took two practitioners who were at exactly the same level on the hypothetical Enlighto-meter, one from the Advaita tradition and one from Zen, each would consider the other unenlightened. The perception of others as enlightened has a large cultural component.

An Eternal Now, modified 4 Years ago at 9/23/19 5:31 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 9/23/19 5:31 AM

RE: Was Ramana Maharshi a Jhana Junkie?

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
No, Ramana's realization and experience is not the first jhana.

Do refer to http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ - click thusness seven stages of enlightenment