Knowing that all misery arises only as a result of the fundamental error – the original sin – of attending to second and third persons instead of attending to and knowing the true nature of the first person, Bhagavan Sri Ramana graciously appeared on earth to advise humanity, “Throughout the waking and dream states you attend only to second and third persons, and in consequence you experience endless misery. But in sleep, when you do not attend to any second or third person, you do not experience any misery. Overlooking the peaceful happiness that you experienced while asleep, you search for happiness in the waking state by attending to innumerable external objects. However, does not the fact that you experienced happiness during sleep in the absence of those objects, indicate that happiness lies not in the objects but in you, the first person or subject? Therefore why not you try, even in the waking state, to attend not to second and third persons but to the first person ‘I’ ?”
On hearing this, however, some devotees wonder whether it is necessary then to withdraw from all activities in order to be able to practise Self-attention. “If we are to follow this sadhana of Self--attention in all earnestness, will not work prove to be an obstacle? But if we give up all work, how are we to provide the food, clothing and shelter required by the body?” they ask. However, whenever devotees asked Sri Bhagavan such questions, He used to reply that work need not be a hindrance to spiritual practice (sadhana). This does not mean, of course, that an aspirant should work in the same spirit as a wordly man or that he should work with the same aim in view. The spirit in which and the aim with which an aspirant should work in this world, can be illustrated by the following example:
Suppose a businessman rents a shop in the heart of a big city for Rs. 1,000/- a month. If from his business he aims to make only sufficient money to pay the rent for the shop, will it not be a worthless business? Should not his aim in renting the shop be to earn a profit of Rs. 10,000/- a month? On the other hand, if he does not make sufficient money even to pay the rent, will he be able to remain in the shop to earn his profit?
Our body is like the shop rented by the businessman.The aim with which we rent this body is to realize Self, while the rent we have to pay for the body is food, clothing and shelter. In order to pay this rent, it is necessary for us to work, using the mind, speech and body as our instruments. If we do not pay the rent, we cannot live in the body and earn the great profit of Self-knowledge. However, we should not spend our whole life-all our time and effortin working to pay the rent. The mind, speech and body should work only for that amount of time and with that amount of effort which is required for paying the rent – for providing the food, clothing and shelter necessary for the body. If instead we devote all our time and effort towards accumulating comforts and conveniences for the body, as worldly people do, we would be just like the worthless businessman who works only to pay the rent and who never tries to make a profit. Therefore, a sincere aspirant should arrange his work in such a way that he will spend only a portion of his time and energy for maintaining the body, so that he can utilize the remaining time and energy in striving to earn the great profit of Self-knowledge.
For some aspirants prarabdha will be arranged by God or Guru in such a way that they need to do little or no work to maintain their body, whereas for other aspirants it may be arranged in such a way that they have to spend most of their time in working for the maintenance of the body. But in whatever way the prarabdha is arranged, it is arranged only for the aspirant’s own good, that is, for his ultimate attainment of Self-knowledge. Moreover, since prarabdha determines only the outward activities of the body and mind, it can in no way obstruct the inward desire and yearning for Self-knowledge. If one has an intense yearning for Self-knowledge, the Guru’s Grace will certainly help one in all ways, both from within and without, to enable one to attend to Self.
Source: The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 Book By Sri Sadhu Om
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