The debate raged among ashram monks:
"Is enlightenment attained through
work, prayer, or knowledge?"

Karma yogis emphasized work:
self-effort is required to amass
good deeds in achieving illumination.

Bhakti yogis believed in prayer:
our finite self can never realize
the infinite but through the grace of God.

Jnana yogis quested for knowledge:
that ignorance is dispelled by insight
whereby enlightenment is experienced.

They asked Ramana Maharshi:
"Are important events like birth, death,
marriage and enlightenment pre-determined,
but not the trivial, like walking from
room to room, drinking a glass of water?"

The sage of South India replied:
"Everything is pre-determined."
The monks and yogis protested:
"Then where is free will?"

Ramana smiled: "In this sense only—
you have the free will to identify
or not to identify with the body."

And years would pass till I realized
that for Ramana, his body was the world—
the world of waking, dreaming, sleeping.
He was free of the three states of mind
as an actor on stage though following
a playwright's pre-determined script,
plays the king, minister, or beggar,
takes his bows, removes his garment
when the drama's over and walks off
the stage of glaring lights into
the dark streets of everyday life.

— Peter Y. Chou
    Squaw Valley, 7-12-1989
    (Robert Hass's workshop)

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© Peter Y. Chou, WisdomPortal.com
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: peter@wisdomportal.com (9-22-2003)