At a quarter to ten this morning, just as Bhagavan was getting up to go for his usual short mid-morning walk, an Andhra young man approached the couch and said, “Swami, I have come here because I want to perform austerities (tapas) and don’t know which would be the proper place for it. I will go wherever you direct me.”

Bhagavan did not answer. He was bending down, rubbing his legs and knees, as he often does before beginning to walk, on account of his rheumatic trouble, and was smiling
quietly to himself. We, of course, eagerly waited to hear what he would say. A moment later he took the staff that he uses to steady himself while walking, and looking at the young man, said, “How can I tell you where to go for performing tapas? It is best to stay where you are.” And with a smile he went out.

The young man was confused. “What is the meaning of this?” he exclaimed. “Being an elderly person, I thought he would tell me of some holy place where I could stay, but instead of that he tells me to stay where I am. I am now near this couch. Does that mean that I should stay here near the couch? Was it to receive such a reply that I approached him? Is this a matter for jokes?”

One of the devotees took him out of the hall and explained, “Even when Bhagavan says something in a lighter vein there is always some deep meaning in it. Where the feeling ‘I’ arises is one’s Self. Tapas means knowing where the Self is and abiding in it. For knowing that, one has to know who one is; and when one realises one’s Self what does it matter where one stays? This is what he meant.” He thus pacified the young man and sent him away.

Similarly, someone asked yesterday, “Swami, how can we find the Self (Atma)?”

“You are in the Self; so how can there be any difficulty in finding it?” Bhagavan replied.

“You say that I am in the Self, but where exactly is that Self?” the questioner persisted.

“If you abide in the heart and search patiently you will find it,” was the reply.

The questioner still seemed unsatisfied, and made the rather curious observation that there was no room in his heart for him to stay in it.

Bhagavan turned to one of the devotees sitting there and said smiling, “Look how he worries about where the Self
is! What can I tell him?

What Is, is the Self. It is all-pervading.

When I tell him that it is called ‘Heart’ he says there is no room in it for him to stay. What can I do?

To say that there is no room in the heart after filling it with unnecessary vasanas* is like grumbling that there is no room to sit down in a house as big as Sri Lanka.
If all the junk is thrown out, won’t there be room? The body itself is junk. These people are like a man who fills all the rooms of his house chokeful with unnecessary junk and then complains that there is no room for keeping his body in it.

In the same way they fill the mind with all sorts of impressions and then say there is no room for the Self in it.

If all the false ideas and impressions are swept away and thrown out what remains is a feeling of plenty and that is the Self itself. Then there will be no such thing as a separate ‘I’; it will be a state of egolessness.

Where then is the question of a room or an occupant of the room? Instead of seeking the Self people say, ‘no room! no room!’, just like shutting your eyes and saying there is ‘no sun! no sun!’. What can one do under such circumstances?”

10th September, 1947, 'Letters from Sri Ramanasramam'