This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine -Part I – On Arunachala
Of the outer symbol of Sri Arunachala on earth, Lord Siva says, “Meditate on the fact that in the heart of the Hill surges the spiritual glory, within which the whole world is contained.”
It is in fact this holy Hill — the Mount Kailas of the south and the very embodiment of Siva — that is the manifest and visible guru of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
It behoves us therefore to remember, that now the beloved master is not with us any more in the fleshy garments of frail humanity, this holy guru is nonetheless visible and accessible to all those whose eyes are opened to the spiritual glories which Siva describes as surging within its mysterious heart.
Here is the tangible focus of that tremendous spiritual energy, which burned with unabated strength in the form of Ramana; thus is this symbol supremely sanctified for us today by the certainty of liberation, which Bhagavan himself taught was the reward of the unflinching surrender of the ego in the flames of its all consuming embrace.
Those who feel disturbed within themselves at the great loss of the body of Bhagavan, should instantly direct their minds to the contemplation of the ‘Hill of the Holy Beacon’, which — Bhagavan has told us — only waits to respond eagerly and tenderly to even our weakest yearnings towards It.
In his article called ‘Physical Supports of Grace’, Arthur Osborne says that the Hill called Arunachala is verily the greatest of physical supports, for did it not bear upon its sacred surface the earthly tabernacle which was the physical form of Bhagavan?
Yet for those who are unable to live within sight of the earthly Arunachala, there need be no regrets, for the Hill itself is but a thought-construction same as any other. If we would grasp the inner significance veiled by the ‘dull’, outer form of its simple contours, we must search within the heart, and establish contact with that regionless bliss, void of all conceptions which the mind is capable of formulating. For Arunachala is the symbol of the void nature of the Self manifesting in so simple a shape as the ‘Hill of the Holy Beacon’.
This is the form of Ramana, which lasts longer than the human garment that he wore for our sake. But as long as the world appearance lasts for each aspirant, so will endure the Hill, to symbolise to us the perfect void, the all full Self that lies as the heart in the spaceless and timeless eternity.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said,
“Is Kali, my divine mother, of a black complexion? She appears black because she is viewed from a distance, but when intimately known she is no longer so. The sky appears blue at a distance but look at it close by and you will find that it has no colour. The water of the ocean looks blue at a distance, but when you go near and take it in your hand, you find that it is colourless.”
And so it is with the ‘Hill of the Holy Beacon’; go near to it in spirit and it is without shape, without colour, without attributes of any kind. It is only distance which lends it the illusory qualities it seems to possess. Really, we impress the void — It essentially is with the attributes we seem ourselves to possess and then we imagine seeing what is not truly there. Thus it is our attributes we have to slough if we would come close to the sacred symbol and know its real significance, and our everyday life can help us insofar as we regard all things that occur to us in a new light. For instance, instead of viewing circumstances and conditions as isolated phenomena occurring to us for no reason at all, we should strive to regard each event as a stone upon the slopes of Arunachala; each trivial repetition of which event constitutes at last that sacred ‘mount of the spirit’ which is our true nature. Thus we can worship Sri Bhagavan in and through our ordinary mundane life. It is merely a matter of re-orientation and determination to accept as deeply significant in a spiritual way all the seemingly trite and disconnected incidents which constantly occur to us. Yet is this but a preliminary to the final process of knowing Truth as it really is? For when Arunachala has been thus truly built into the fabric of our hearts, we shall need to view each separate part no longer as a separate stone of the divine edifice, but as the structure entire in its sublimely simple shape of the ‘holy Hill’. And then, entering into the heart thereof with understanding, we shall know the whole as the embodiment of that spirit of grace and compassion which eternally enlightens our hearts.
In this way it is possible for the less advanced of us to perform a spiritual discipline while living in the world even though far removed from the outer symbol of divine grace in Tiruvannamalai.
It is only when we realise that it is we who clothe the formless Arunachala with form, because we view it with the eyes of the body, that we shall begin to search within our hearts for the formless Reality which that form veils. Until then, we shall not penetrate and comprehend this miracle, nor shall we understand why Bhagavan Sri Ramana made no difference
between his human form and his Hill form. It is the guru in hill form who is an everlasting beacon of hope for those who inhabit the earth (or body). As soon as the body is dissolved into a shining mist, so also does the guru’s Hill form dissolve, and we are no longer deluded by other concepts such as our own form or the Hill form — for these twain are no more. The underlying Reality shines forth as the pure and perfect void, conceptless and ever blissful.
As an aid to the realisation of this, it may help the devotee — if he be remote from the physical sight of the Hill — to create a mental picture thereof and endeavour through such a mandala to pervade the Hill and become one with it. Certain physical supports, such as a mound of actual stones taken from the Hill itself, may further the project and intensify the concentration, and also link the devotee in some subtle manner with the focus of spiritual peace abiding in Tiruvannamalai.
Yet all this is of no avail if it be not always borne in mind that these accessories are but props for exalting the consciousness to the pitch necessary for contacting the subtle emanations of grace, which spring from the spaceless Arunachala Siva, whose eternal abode is the Heart. For, all takes place in, and is supported by, the void, of which the Hill itself is the perfect and singular symbol.