Q: The yogis say that one must renounce this world and go off into secluded jungles if one wishes to find the truth.
Ramana Maharshi: The life of action need not be renounced. If you meditate for an hour or two every day you can then carry on with your duties. If you meditate in the right manner then the current of mind induced will continue to flow even in the midst of your work. It is as though there were two ways of expressing the same idea; the same line which you take in meditation will be expressed in your activities.
Q: What will be the result of doing that?
Ramana Maharshi: As you go on you will find that your attitude towards people, events and objects gradually changes. Your actions will tend to follow your meditations of their own accord.
Q: Then you do not agree with the yogis?
Ramana Maharshi: A man should surrender the personal selfishness which binds him to this world. Giving up the false self is the true renunciation.
Q: How is it possible to become selfless while leading a life of worldly activity?
Ramana Maharshi: There is no conflict between work and wisdom.
Q: Do you mean that one can continue all the old activities in one’s profession, for instance, and at the same time get enlightenment?
Ramana Maharshi: Why not? But in that case, one will not think that it is the old personality that is doing the work, because one’s consciousness will gradually become transferred until it is centered in that which is beyond the little self.
Q: If a person is engaged in work, there will be little time left for him to meditate.
Ramana Maharshi: Setting apart time for meditation is only for the merest spiritual novices. A man who is advancing will begin to enjoy the deeper beatitude whether he is at work or not. While his hands are in society, he keeps his head cool in solitude.