Question: How is silence possible when we are engaged in worldly transactions?
Ramana: When women walk with waterpots on their heads, they are able to talk with their companions while all the time remaining intent on the water above. Similarly, when a sage engages in activities, they do not disturb him because his mind abides in Reality.
The difficulty is that people think they are the doer; it is a mistake. It is the higher power which does everything and people are only a tool. If they accept that position, they will be free from troubles, otherwise they court them. Do your work without anticipating its fruits. That is all that you should do.
Question: Why is the world in ignorance?
Ramana: Let the world take care of itself. If you are the body, then there the gross world appears. If you are the spirit, everything is just spirit. Look for the ego, and it vanishes. If you enquire, ignorance will be found to be non-existent. It is the mind which feels misery and darkness. See the Self.
Question: If one always remembers the Self, will one’s actions always be right?
Ramana: They ought to be, but such a person is not concerned with the right or wrong of actions. His actions are God’s and therefore right.
Question: In this pure atmosphere [with Bhagavan at Arunachala] it is easy to practice, but in towns it is difficult.
Ramana: When you see the true Self, is it not a pure atmosphere? Let the body think what it wishes, but why should you think so? It is very good if you can just keep quiet without engaging in any other activities. If that can’t be done, what is the use of being quiet? Even if you are obliged to be active, do not give up your attempt to realise the Self.
Question: Is solitude necessary for vichara [enquiry]?
Ramana: Solitude is everywhere. The individual is always solitary. Our business is to find it within, not to seek it outside ourselves. Nearly all human beings are more or less unhappy because they do not know the true Self. Real happiness abides in Self-knowledge alone. All else is fleeting. To know one’s Self is to be always blissful.
Solitude is in the mind. A person might be in the midst of the world and yet maintain serenity; such a one is in solitude. Another may stay in a remote forest and still be unable to control the mind; he cannot be said to be in solitude. Those attached to desire are unable to attain solitude wherever they are, whereas those who are detached are always in solitude, even if they are engaged in work. When work is performed with attachment it is a shackle. Solitude is not only to be found in forests, it can also be had in the midst of worldly occupations.
Question: But how can I help another with his problems?
Ramana: What is this talk of another? There is only the One. Try to realise there is no “I”, no “you”, no “he”, only the one Self which is all. If you believe in the problem of another, you are believing in something outside the Self. You will help him best by realising the oneness of everything, rather than by outward activity.
Question: Is it necessary to give up worldly desires?
Ramana: Why do we desire? Enquire. If you find no real happiness in your desires, then your mind will not be attracted to them. However, subconscious tendencies may tempt you there, but you will return.
Why do you want the life of freedom? The fact that you crave it implies that you are bound. But really you are ever-free. Know that Self, and desires will fall away of their own accord. Bring all desires and thoughts to one point within: that is realisation. Mind should be still. The bee buzzes noisily around the flower seeking honey. When it finds it, it is silent and still. So it is with a person’s soul, which is seeking by desires the one true honey.
Question: The difficulty is to be in the thoughtless state and attend to duties.
Ramana: Let the thoughtless state be of itself. Do not think of it as pertaining to yourself. When you walk, you take steps involuntarily. Let your other actions happen in the same way. Gradually concentration will become pleasant and easy and you will be in that state whether attending to business or whether you sit expressly for meditation. Business will be all the easier for you when your mind is steadied and strengthened by concentration.
Question: How can my mind be still if I have to use it more than other people? I want to go into solitude and renounce my work as a headmaster.
Ramana: No. You can stay where you are and go on with work. What is the undercurrent which gives life to the mind and enables it to do all this work? Why, the Self! So, that is the real source of your activity. Simply become aware of it during your work and do not forget it. Contemplate it in the background of your mind even while you are working. To do that, do not hurry! Take your time, keep the remembrance of your real nature alive, even while working, and avoid haste which causes you to forget. Be deliberate. Practice meditation to still the mind and cause it to become aware of its true relationship to the Self, which supports it. Do not imagine it is you who are doing the work. Think that it is the underlying current which is doing it. Identify yourself with this current. If you work unhurriedly, recollectedly, your work or service need not be a hindrance.
Question: What is the purpose of all the suffering and evil in the world?
Ramana: Your question is itself an outcome of the suffering. Sorrow makes one think of God. If it were not for the suffering, would you have asked the question? Except for jnanis [realised beings], everybody, from a king to a peasant, has a certain amount of sorrow. Even in cases where it seems to be absent it is only a matter of time – sooner or later it comes. Also, one may not question sorrow or God at the first blow, but one is likely to at the fifth. We have taken this vehicle [the body] in order to know our real state.
Excerpted from http://www.inner-quest.org/Ramana_Abide.htm