Q: What is the dif f erence between meditation [dhyana] and
investigation [vichara]?
A: Both amount to the same. Those unfit for investigation
must practise meditation. In meditation the aspirant forgetting
himself meditates 'I am Brahman' or 'I am Siva' and by this
method holds on to Brahman or Siva. This will ultimately end
with the residual awareness of Brahman or Siva as being. He will
then realise that this is pure being, that is, the Self.
He who engages in investigation starts by holding on to
himself, and by asking himself 'Who am I?' the Self becomes clear
to him.4
Mentally imagining oneself to be the supreme reality, which
shines as existence-conscious ness-bliss, is meditation. Fixing the
mind in the Self so that the unreal seed of delusion will die is
Whoever meditates upon the Self in whatever bhava [mental
image] attains it only in that image. Those
peaceful ones who
remain quiet without any such bhava attam the noble and
unqualified state of kaivalya, the formless state of the Self.
Q: Meditation is more direct than mvesttgatton because the
former holds on to the truth whereas the latter sifts the truth from
the untruth.
A: For the beginner meditation on a form is more easy and
agreeable. Practice of it leads to self-enquiry which consists in
sifting the reality from unreality. .
What is the use of holding on to truth when you are filled with
antagonistic factors? . . .
Self-enquiry directly leads to realIsation by removmg the
obstacles which make you think that the Self is not already
Meditation differs according to the degree of advancement of
the seeker. If one is fit for it one might directly hold on to the
thinker, and the thinker will then automatically sink into his
source, pure consciousness. . .
If one cannot directly hold on to the thmker one must meditate
on God and in due course the same individual will have become
sufficiently pure to hold on to the thinker and to sink into
absolute being? . .
Meditation is possible only if the ego IS kept up. There IS the
ego and the object meditated upon. The method IS therefore
ndirect because the Self is only one. Seekmg the ego, that IS Its
source, the ego disappears. What is left over is the Self. This
method is the direct one.

From the Book "Be as You Are" The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
page 116.