This Chapter taken from The book ‘Crumbs from His Table’ by Ramanananda Swarnagiri
Control of Mind मन एव मनुष्याणां कारणं बन्धमोक्षयोः
(Mind alone is the cause of man’s bondage and freedom) – Amritabindu Upanishad
D: I have not yet learnt to control my mind so I intend to seek ekantavasam (life in solitude) in North India and want Sri Bhagavan’s grace.
B: You have come all the way to Tiruvannamalai for ekantavasam, and that in the immediate presence and vicinity of Ramana Bhagavan, yet you do not appear to have obtained that mental quiet; you now want to go elsewhere and from there you will desire to go to some other place. At this rate there will be no end to your travels. You do not realize that it is your mind that drives you in this manner. Control that first and you will be happy wherever you are. I do not know if you have read Swami Vivekananda’s lectures. It is my impression that he has somewhere told the story of a man trying to bury his shadow and finding that over every sod of earth he put in the grave he had dug for it, it only appeared again, so that it could never be buried. Such is the case of a person who tries to bury his thoughts. One must therefore attempt to get at the very bottom from which thought springs and root out thought, mind and desire.
D: When I spent an hour or two on the hill yonder, I sometimes found even better peace than here, which suggests that a solitary place is after all more conducive to mind-control.
B: True, but if you had stayed there for an hour longer, you would have found that place too not giving you the calm of which you speak. Control the mind and even Hell will be Heaven to you. All other talk of solitude, living in a forest etc., is mere prattle. (Cf. Men are continually seeking retreats for themselves, in the country or by the sea, or among the hills. And thou thyself art wont to yearn after the like. Yet all this is the sheerest folly, for it is open to thee every hour to retire into thyself. -Marcus Aurellius.
Run hither or thither, thou wilt find no rest but in humble subjection under the government of a superior. A fancy for places and changing of residence hath deluded many-Imitation of Christ, By Thomas a Kempis )
D: If solitude and abandonment of home were not required, where then was the necessity for Sri Bhagavan to come here in his seventeenth year?
B: If the same force that took this (meaning himself ) here, should take you also out of your home by all means let it, but there is no use of your deserting your home by an effort of your own. Your duty lies in practice, continuous practice of Self-enquiry.
D: Is it not necessary to seek the company of the wise (the Saints and Sages)?
B: Yes; but the best sat-sangam is inhering in your “Self “. It is also the real guhavasam (living in the cave). Dwelling in the cave is retiring into your “Self “. Association with the wise will certainly help a great deal.
D: I appear to get the same stillness of thought by tracing the root of the mantra which I repeat, as I would, if I put the “Who am I?” enquiry. Is there any harm in my continuing the mantra in this manner or is it essential I should only use “Who am I?”
B: No; you can trace the root of any thought or mantra and continue to do so till you have an answer to your query.
D: What is the effect of japas or mantras?
B: Diversion; the mind is a channel, a swift current of thoughts and a mantra is a bund or dam put up in the way of this current to divert the water to where it is needed.
D: Some time, after the stillness of thought intervened, I used to hear first some sound resembling that which one would hear if he were in the midst of or near a rolling mill, and then, a little later, a sound like that of a steam-engine whistle. This was only during meditation when I was at home, but here the sound is heard at all times, irrespective of whether I am before you or am walking round the ashram. (Note: The present experience is that the sound is like that of a humming bee).
B: Ask who hears the sound. Repeat the question now and then.