Question : When I meditate I feel a certain bliss at times. On such occasions, should I ask myself `Who is it that experiences this bliss?' Ramana Maharshi : If it is the real bliss of the Self that is experienced, that is, if the mind has really merged in the Self, such a doubt will not arise at all. The question itself shows real bliss was not reached. All doubts willl cease only when the doubter and his source have been found. There is no use removing doubts one by one. If we clear one doubt, another doubt will arise and there will be no end of doubts. But if, by seeking the source of the doubter, the doubter is found to be really non-existent, then all doubts will cease. Question : Sometimes I hear internal sounds. What should I do when such things happen? Ramana Maharshi : Whatever may happen, keep up the enquiry into the self, asking `Who hears these sounds?' till the reality is reached. Question : Sometimes, while in meditation, I feel blissful and tears come to my eyes. At other times I do not have them. Why is that? Ramana Maharshi : Bliss is a thing which is always there and is not something which comes and goes. That which comes and goes is a creation of the mind and you should not worry about it. Question :The bliss causes a physical thrill in the body, but when it disappears I feel dejected and desire to have the experience over again. Why? Ramana Maharshi : You admit that you were there both when the blissful feeling was experienced and when it was not. If you realize that `you' properly, those experiences will be of no account. Question : When I reach the thoughtless stage in my sadhana I enjoy a certain pleasure, but sometimes I also experience a vague fear which I cannot properly describe. Ramana Maharshi : You may experience anything, but you should never rest content with that. Whether you feel pleasure or fear, ask yourself who feels the pleasure or the fear and so carry on the sadhana until pleasure and fear are both transcended, till all duality ceases and till the reality alone remains. There is nothing wrong in such things happening or being experienced, but you must never stop at that. For instance, you must never rest content with the pleasure of laya (temporary abeyance of the mind) experienced when thought is quelled, you must press on until all duality ceases. Question : How does one get rid of fear ? Ramana Maharshi :What is fear ? It is only a thought. If there is anything besides the Self there is reason to fear. Who sees things separate from the Self ? First the ego arises and sees objects as external. If the ego does not rise, the Self alone exists and there is nothing external. For anything external to oneself implies the existence of the seer within. Seeking it there will eliminate doubt and fear. Not only fear, all other thoughts centred round the ego will disappear along with it. Question : When I try to be without all thoughts, I pass into sleep. What should I do about it? Ramana Maharshi : Once you go to sleep you can do nothing in that state. But while you are awake, try to keep away all thoughts. Why think about sleep? Even that is a thought, is it not? If you are able to be without any thought while you are awake, that is enough. When you pass into sleep the state which you were in before falling asleep will continue when you wake up. You will continue from where you left off when you fell into slumber. So long as there are thoughts of activity there will also be sleep. Thought and sleep are counterparts of one and the same thing. We should not sleep too much or go without it altogether, but sleep only moderately. To prevent too much sleep, we must try and have no thoughts or chalana [movement of the mind], we must eat only sattvic food and that only in moderate measure, and not indulge in too much physical activity. The more we control thought, activity and food the more we shall be able to control sleep. But moderation ought to be the rule, as explained in the Gita, for the seeker on the path. Sleep is the first obstacle, as explained in the books, for all sadhaks. The second obstacle is said to be vikshepa or the sense objects of the world which divert one's attention. The third is said to be kashaya or thoughts in the mind about previous experiences with sense objects. The fourth, ananda [bliss], is also called an obstacle, because in that state a feeling of separation from the source of ananda, enabling the enjoyer to say `I am enjoying ananda', is present. Even this has to be surmounted. The final stage of samadhi has to be reached in which one becomes ananda or one with reality. In this state the duality of enjoyer and enjoyment ceases in the ocean of sat-chit-ananda or the Self. Question : So one should not try to perpetuate blissful or ecstatic states? Ramana Maharshi :The final obstacle in meditation is ecstasy; you feel great bliss and happiness and want to stay in that ecstasy. Do not yield to it but pass on to the next stage which is great calm. The calm is higher than ecstasy and it merges into samadhi. Successful samadhi causes a waking sleep state to supervene. In that state you know that you are always consciousness, for consciousness is your nature.