Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Prof. Pryns Hopkins

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Prof. Pryns Hopkins (1885-1970), an American social psychologist, has authored many books on his subject. He visited Sri Ramana after reading Brunton’s A Search in Secret India (no.1).

I was requested to take my seat in the front row and an interpreter sat next to me. The Maharshi was saying that we only know the object through sensation derived from it remotely. Physicists have shown that in place of what we thought to be a solid object there are only dancing electrons and protons.

I asked, “If the outer phenomena which I perceive have no reality apart from my ego, how is it that someone else also perceived them? For example, not only do I lift my foot higher to avoid tripping over that stool yonder, but you also raise your foot higher to avoid tripping over it. Is it a mere coincidence that each of us independently has come to the conclusion that a stool is there?

The Maharshi replied that the stool and our two egos were created by one another mutually. While one is asleep, one may dream of a stool and of persons who avoided tripping over it just as persons in waking life did, yet did that prove that the dream stool is any more real? And so we had it Backand forth for an hour, the gathering feeling amused.

The Maharshi went on to say that the essential thing is to divorce our sense of Self from what our ego and body are feeling or doing. We should think, “Feelings are going on, this body is acting in such and such a manner,” but never, “I feel, I act.

I objected, “You have told us that all the animal propensities are attributes of the ego. If when a man attains jivanmukti he ceases to feel responsibility for the behaviour of his ego and body, won’t they run amok completely?” The Maharshi replied, “When you have attained jivanmukti you will know the answer to this question. Your task now is not to worry about it, but to know the Self.”

I said, “Here before us is the Maharshi who has attained jivanmukti, and so has withdrawn from all responsibility for the conduct of his ego and the body. But though he declares them to be the seat of all evil propensities, his ego and body continue to behave quite decorously instead of running wild.” He retorted, “Let the Maharshi deal with that problem if it arises and let Mr. Hopkins deal with who is Mr. Hopkins.

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