Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi     663 posts


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WE WOULD OFTEN FAIL

To serve Bhagavan at mealtimes was a dangerous adventure. Our womanly desire was to fill him to the brim. His rule was to clear his plate no matter what or how much was served. Not a speck of food would be left uneaten. So we had to be watchful and serve much less than we would like to. It was not easy, and we would often fail. He would scold us bitterly or, what was infinitely worse, would fall ill and suffer. I cannot understand how he managed to produce an illness when a lesson was needed, but our life with him was crisis after crisis.

— Subbalakshmi Ammal, The Power of the Presence

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ANNAMALAI SWAMI REMEMBERED

CHEETAS AND A NEW NAME

When I first came to the ashram there were still some leopards in the area. They rarely came into the ashram but at night they often frequented the place where Bhagavan used to urinate. I remember him meeting one on one of his nocturnal trips. He was not the least bit afraid. He just looked at the leopard and said, 'Poda! [Go away!]'. And the leopard just walked away.
Soon after I came I was given a new name by Bhagavan. My original name had been Sellaperumal. One day Bhagavan casually mentioned that I reminded him of a man called Annamalai Swami who had been his attendant at Skandashram. He started to use this name as a nickname for me. When the devotees heard this they all followed suit and within a few days, my new identity was firmly established.
Bhagavan lived at Skandashram, on the eastern slopes of Arunachala, from 1916-22. Annamalai Swami died there during a plague outbreak in 1922.

— Living by the words of Bhagavan

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MOTHER PARVATI INTERFERES

Coffee is a must in South India. Everybody used to bring coffee to the ashram and try to make Bhagavan drink it. If he refused to drink, others would feel too guilty to take it themselves. For their sake, Bhagavan would sometimes taste their coffee.
Very few people found out that he didn't like coffee at all. Using one pretext or another, Bhagavan would manage to avoid coffee for weeks until, once again, he was compelled to take it by some misguided devotee. One day Appu Sastri's wife came with a big pot of excellent coffee, but Bhagavan refused to have any.
'Don't you know that I don't like coffee?' he asked.
She fought back by asking, 'What am I to do? I had a dream last night in which I saw a very stately lady at the gate of the temple. I knew at once that she was Parvati herself. She told me, "My son is not taking coffee. Please prepare some good coffee and make him drink." There you are, Swami. It's your mother's orders!'
Bhagavan got indignant. 'She [Parvati] is always like this, interfering with my ways of living and frustrating my tapas. She did the same when I was living on the hill.'

— Subbalakshmi Ammal

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True Brahmins

Only he who, through firm jnana, is freed from the ‘I am the body’ ego is a true Brahmin and a true sannyasin. However, the ego borne on their heads by Brahmins who are proud of their caste and by sannyasins who are proud of their asrama is extremely difficult indeed to get rid of completely.
Guru Vachaka Kovai v. 162

The asramas are the four stages of life: brahmacharya (celibate student), grihastha (householder) vanaprastha (one who has retired with his wife to the forest to lead a meditative life) and sannyasa (renunciate monk). Bhagavan often pointed out that those who choose to be sannyasins carry in their mind the idea ‘I am a sannyasin’. True sannyasa, he said, can be compared to a ripe fruit dropping from a tree. It is something that happens when one is ready for it, not when one makes a conscious choice to follow that particular lifestyle.

Bhagavan: Only those who, as enquirers, have realized their true nature shining within their hearts, are Brahmins, possessors of jnana.
A Brahmin is one who has a heart that possesses the true jnana experience and cool compassion in his mind.

[Padamalai p 136, vv. 55, 56.]

One does not become a Brahmin merely by the comprehensive mastery of chanting the four Vedas so long as one continues to perceive objects as separate from oneself. Only he who has known the destruction of the ego that has learned the Vedas is, in truth, a Brahmin who has known the purport of the Vedas. He who has not seen this destruction will fall from his Self-state, as a hair falls from the head; he will be censured by others and swelter mentally.

Guru Vachaka Kovai v. 163

Question: Are not the Brahmins considered to be the priests or intermediaries between God and others?
Bhagavan: Yes. But who is a Brahmin? A Brahmin is one who has realized Brahman. Such a one has no sense of individuality in him. He cannot think that he acts as an intermediary.

[Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 594.]

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The 'lazy' state of just being and shining is the state of the Self, and that is the highest state that one can attain. Revere as the most virtuous those who have attained that 'lazy' state which cannot be attained except by very great and rare tapas.

— Guru Vachaka Kovai, v. 774

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Then I read saying #418:
"The only true and full awareness is awareness of awareness. Till awareness is awareness of itself, it knows no peace at all."
There it was! The awareness of awareness method! There was my first confirmation that this indeed was the way and not some detour.
Then I read saying #432:
"Is it not because you are yourself Awareness, that you now perceive This universe? If you observe awareness steadily, this awareness itself as Guru will reveal the Truth."

— Guru Vachaka Kovai, (Prof Swaminathan)
— Michael Langford

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BHAGAVAN IS DEVI

The following year I wanted to return briefly to Ramanathapuram for the Devi Puja. Before I went, while I was sitting in the hall in meditation, I saw, instead of Bhagavan, a little girl, about two years old. She was full of charm and splendor, intensely alert and powerful, and she radiated a golden brilliance. The vision soon vanished and I saw the normal face of Bhagavan again. I understood at once that he was the goddess I had wanted to worship in Ramanathapuram. Where, now, was the need for a pilgrimage to a goddess when I was daily serving him in whom all gods eternally are born?

— Shantammal, The Power of the Presence III

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While discussing Karma, Sri Bhagavan said: “Karma has its fruit (phala). They are like cause and effect. The interrelation of a cause and its effect is due to a Sakti whom we call God. God is phala data (dispenser of fruit).

A visitor had been speaking of the Self having forgotten its true nature. Sri Bhagavan after some time said: “People speak of memory and oblivion of the Fullness of the Self. Oblivion and memory are only thought-forms. They will alternate so long as there are thoughts. But Reality lies beyond these. Memory or oblivion must be dependent on something. That something must be foreign too; otherwise there cannot be oblivion. It is called ‘I’ by everyone. When one looks for it, it is not found because it is not real. Hence ‘I’ is synonymous with illusion or ignorance (maya, avidya or ajnana). To know that there never was ignorance is the goal of all the spiritual teachings. Ignorance must be of one who is aware. Awareness is jnana. Jnana is eternal and natural. Ajnana is unnatural and unreal.

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
30th November, 1936
Talk 289

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DIVINE GUIDANCE

When I first worked in the kitchen, there were no proper jars for foodstuffs. Everything was kept in tins and pots, which would leak and spill and make the floor in the kitchen messy and slippery. Once, when I scrubbed the kitchen very carefully, Bhagavan congratulated me on the neatness in the kitchen.
I sighed: 'What is the use, Swami. People will come and spill the oil and scatter the flour and it will be all the same again. We must have proper jars and containers.'
Ten days later I was called to the hall. Attendants were opening wooden boxes that contained six beautiful jars.
'You wanted jars, now you have jars. Take them to the kitchen,' said Bhagavan. On inquiry it was found that some stationmaster had mistakenly booked them to the ashram.
Such mysterious coincidences happened almost daily, both at the ashram and in the homes of the devotees. Unless one has witnessed this for oneself, it is hard to believe that such strange coincidences could happen so often.
I often found it difficult to convince others that all the things that happened in front of me were true. Such things happen even now.
A few days ago [this was written in the 1950s] I was taking a lady visitor to the ashram. I did not feel well and wanted to go home and have some change from the ashram rice. I stayed in the dining room for the lady's sake but did not eat. Subbalakshmi, who did not stay for food, went home, made some wheat cakes, packed them in a leaf, brought them to the ashram, and gave them to me to eat. She told me that she did not know why she was baking the cakes or who was going to eat them until she heard later that I wanted to eat something other than rice. To me it was clearly Bhagavan's care, but how can I convince others?
I can give another example. Once I had no money and badly needed some.
I prayed silently to Bhagavan: 'Ramana, how can I get hold of a little money?'
Three days later a money order came for me from Dr. Srinivasa Rao, whom I did not even know. It seems he was reading an account of Bhagavan's life, and on reading the name of Shantammal decided that it would be nice to send her some money. How can such spontaneous actions be explained?

Shantammal in 'The Power of the Presence', part III

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PREACHING FROM SILENCE

D.: Why doesn’t Sri Bhagavan go about preaching the truth to the people at large?
B.: How do you know that I don’t? Does preaching consist in mounting a platform and haranguing the people around?
Preaching is simple communication of knowledge and can be done in silence too. What do you think of a man listening to a harangue for an hour and going away without being impressed by it so as to change his life? Compare him with another who sits in a holy presence and leaves after some time with his outlook on life totally changed. Which is better: to preach loudly without effect or to sit silently sending forth intuitive force to act on others?
Again, how does speech arise? First, there is abstract knowledge (unmanifest). From this, there arises the ego which gives rise to thoughts and words successively. So then:
Abstract Knowledge

Ego

Thoughts

Words
Words, therefore, are the great-grandsons of the original source. If words can produce an effect, consider how much more powerful preaching through silence must be.
Bhagavan answered those who doubted its utility that Realisation was the greatest help they could possibly render to others. Indeed, Bhagavan himself was the standing proof of this, as one saw from the numbers of people helped to the very depth of their being, lifted out of confusion and sorrow on to a firm path of peace and understanding, by the silent influence of his grace. And yet, at the same time, he reminded them that, from the point of view of knowledge, there are no others to help.

TEACHINGS OF RAMANA MAHARSHI IN HIS OWN WORDS

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MELTING METAL

When the building work was nearing completion an expert sculptor was commissioned to make a Yogambika statue out of five different metals for the temple. It was to be made by the 'lost wax' method. In this technique, a statue is first made out of wax and then completely covered with clay except for one small hole. Once the clay has dried it is baked to make it hard. The heat causes all the wax to drain out through the small hole, leaving a baked-clay mold for the molten metal to be poured into.

The pouring of the molten metals had to be done at an auspicious time. The astrologers who were consulted selected a particular day and said that the casting should be completed between 8 p.m. and 11.30 p.m. that day. The mold was made in advance since it was not necessary to fabricate it at an auspicious time. The sculptor started his fire at 8 p.m. on the appointed day on a site between the ashram dispensary and the banyan trees. He worked very hard for several hours but he was unable to get the advance since it was not necessary to fabricate it at an auspicious time.

The sculptor started his fire at 8 p.m. on the appointed day on a site between the ashram dispensary and the banyan trees. He worked very hard for several hours but he was unable to get the metals to melt in the crucible. I am not an expert in these matters but even I could see that the fire was very, very hot. The sculptor frequently had to douse his clothes with cold water to counteract the heat, and he always dealt with the fire from a distance via a pair of very long tongs.
Bhagavan had gone to sleep at his usual time but when 11.30 came and went with no sign of the metals melting I felt justified in waking him up. I went to the hall, explained the situation to him and asked what we should do.

Bhagavan made no reply. Instead, he got up and came to see for himself how the work was progressing. He sat on a stool about ten feet from the crucible and looked intently at the fire. Within one or two minutes, and without any further efforts from the sculptor, the metals all began to melt. Bhagavan watched as the liquid was poured into the mold the hole in its foot. When he was satisfied that the work had been properly executed he returned to the hall and went back to sleep The next day, when the sculptor broke the mold and examined the statue, he very proudly announced that the statue was flawless.

- LWB

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Reality is simply the loss of ego. Destroy the ego by seeking its identity. Because the ego is no entity it will automatically vanish and reality will shine forth by itself.
This is the direct method, whereas all other methods are done only by retaining the ego. In those paths, there arise so many doubts and the eternal question `Who am I?' remains to be tackled finally. But in this method, the final question is the only one and it is raised from the beginning. No sadhanas are necessary for engaging in this quest.
There is no greater mystery than this - that being the reality we seek to gain reality. We think that there is something hiding our reality and that it must be destroyed before the reality is gained. It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will laugh at your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.

— Be as you Are

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Bhagavan was the very embodiment of wisdom and kindness.
Though he did not mind our faults and mistakes, he made us
follow his instructions to the letter. We had to do the same task again and again until it was done to his complete satisfaction.

Did he do it for himself? Of what use was it to him? He wanted to prove to us that we could do things right, that our bad habits were only caused by a lack of patience and attention. He sometimes seemed to be severe, even harsh, in order to make us do something correctly.

Bhagavan knew something that we at that time were not aware of: that we can act correctly at all times if we only try. When this is experienced, confidence comes, and with confidence the great peace of righteousness.

- Subbalakshmi Ammal, The Power of the Presence, part III

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Because of his meagre income as a school teacher, TKS could afford to take only a small quantity of sugar candy or puffed rice as an offering to Bhagavan.
One day, he did not have even that much. Sad, he went empty handed and fell at the feet of Bhagavan, “Bhagavan, I am so unhappy. I do not have any money, so I
could not bring you any offering.”
Bhagavan smiled and said, “Why, you brought the most important thing.
Everything else is unimportant.”
TKS was puzzled.
“You brought yourself!” declared Bhagavan.
The case in point here is that you should never exclude yourself from the spiritual journey. It is very easy to extol the guru and his teachings. In the process, you should never exclude yourself - you are equally important.
As the days passed, he was often filled with doubts. Once, he asked Bhagavan, “What is that one thing Bhagavan, knowing which all doubts are resolved?”
Bhagavan replied, “Know the doubter; if the doubter be held, the doubts will not arise. Recognize for certain that all are jnanis, all are realized beings. Only a few are aware of this fact. Therefore, doubts arise. Doubts must be uprooted. This means, that the doubter must be uprooted. When the doubter ceases to exist, no doubts will rise. Here, the doubter means the mind.”
TKS asked, “What is the method, Bhagavan?”
Bhagavan answered sharply, “Enquire „Who am I?‟ This investigation alone will remove and uproot the doubter mind and thus establish one in the Self, the
transcendental state.”
On another occasion, TKS had another doubt. He was a pundit, a traditional man, who had read many scriptures. Thus, the six chakras, the psychic centres, kundalini and so on, fascinated him.
He asked Bhagavan about them and Bhagavan replied,
“The Self alone is to be realized. Kundalini shakti, visions of God, occult powers and their spell binding displays are all in the Self. Those who speak of these and indulge in these have not realized the Self. Self is in the Heart and is the Heart itself. All other forms of manifestations are in the brain. The brain itself gets its power from the Heart. Remaining in the Heart is realizing the Self. Instead of doing that, to be attracted by brain oriented forms of disciplines and methods is a sheer waste of time. Is it not foolish to hold on to so many efforts and so many disciplines that are said to be necessary for eradicating the non-existent ignorance?”

— RAMANA PERIYA PURANAM
(Inner Journey of 75 Old Devotees)
Journey: T. K. Sundaresa Iyer
compiled by Sri V. Ganesan.

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Jnana once revealed takes time to steady itself. The Self is certainly within the direct experience of everyone, but not as one imagines it to be. It is only as it is. This experience is samadhi. Just as fire remains without scorching against incantations or other devices but scorches otherwise, so also the Self remains veiled by vasanas and reveals itself when there are no vasanas. Owing to the fluctuation of the vasanas, jnana takes time to steady itself. Unsteady jnana is not enough to check rebirths. Jnana cannot remain unshaken side by side with vasanas. True that in the proximity of a great master, the vasanas will cease to be active and the mind becomes still and samadhi results, similar to fire not scorching because of other devices. Thus the disciple gains true knowledge and right experience in the presence of the master. To remain unshaken in it further efforts are necessary. He will know it to be his real Being and thus be liberated while even alive. Samadhi with closed eyes is certainly good, but one must go further until it is realized that actionlessness and action are not hostile to each other. Fear of loss of samadhi while one is active is the sign of ignorance. Samadhi must be the natural life of everyone.

- Talks 141

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Playing One’s Role in the World
Realising the truth of Self
within your heart and
ever abiding as the Supreme,
play according to the human role
[that you have assumed]
as if experiencing pleasures and pains along with the [people of this] world.
It is not right for the Wise One
to behave improperly,
even though He has known
all that is to be known and
attained all that is to be attained.
Therefore,
observe the code of conduct
which is befitting to
your outward mode of life.
The last line refers to religions, caste, and so on.
- The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Guru Vachaka Kovai. Verses 81 & 82.
An Analysis of the Truth. Chapter 5.
Playing One’s Role in the World.

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If we progress the world progresses. As you are, so is the world. Without understanding the Self what is the use of understanding the world? Without Self-knowledge, knowledge of the world is of no use. Dive inward and find the treasure hidden there. Open your heart and see the world through the eyes of the true Self. Tear aside the veils and see the divine majesty of your own Self.

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Ella Maillart, a Swiss travel writer and photographer, met the Maharshi in the 1940s. Two captivating photographs of Sri Ramana shot by her are in the photo-album Radiance of the Self, published by the Ramana Maharshi Centre, Bangalore.
I don’t think it is within my power to depict the subtle atmosphere which renders the place [the Ashram] unique in its setting of dry and hard beauty.
Westerners who come to know the Maharshi feel constrained to say how puzzled they are by the inactivity of the Sage. We have identified ourselves with our bodies are convinced that one has to be visibly active. We forget that inactivity is the basis of its corollary activity; that the useful wheel could not exist or move without a motionless center.

I felt strongly at Tiruvannamalai that such great ones as the Maharshi are the salt of the earth. Something intangible emanates from these realized men; they sanctify the land through their presence. The Sage has attained a certitude which makes him free from restlessness, free from fear, desire, and doubt – he can do things none of us can do because he is egoless.

Those who live near him have the conviction that he knew what he was talking about, who knew the ‘why and how’ of what had been harassing them. They stopped worrying continually about problems they were never meant to solve.
He is a link between what we call the concrete world and the Unmanifest. He is a living symbol of that knowledge without which the humanity of today is but a pitiful joke. He implants a lasting peace in the center of every man’s heart.
What do we see in the West of today? Every moment adding to the despair of men lost in fruitless researches. Hopelessness gaining ground, each one is obliged to seek a solution along alleys most of which become blind.
The Sage of the Vedanta symbolizes a link between the unknowable ultimate and man. The Sage relies on actionless activity and carries on wordless teaching.

— Face to Face

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THE SUREST WAY

Q: How can I control the mind?
M: The mind is intangible. In fact, it does not exist. The surest way of control is to seek it, then its activities will cease.
Seek the mind. On being sought, it will disappear. The mind is only a bundle of thoughts. The thoughts arise because there is a thinker. The thinker is the ego. The ego, if sought, will vanish automatically. The ego and the mind are the same.
The ego is the root-thought from which all other thoughts arise. Dive within. You are now aware that the mind rises from within. So sink within and seek. You need not eliminate the wrong 'I'. How can 'I' eliminate itself? All that you need do is to find its origin and abide there. That is as far as your efforts can extend.
Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there; no effort can reveal it."'
Our analyses are ended, that is, so far as the intellect goes, but they are not enough. Eliminating the 'not I' is not enough. The process is only intellectual. The truth cannot be directly pointed out, hence the process. Now begins the real inner quest.
The 'I'-thought is the root to be sought now at its source. Find out who it is and abide there.

— Conscious Immortality

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The Allurement of the World

Just as the goat’s beard
wanders and wags for nothing,
people roam about merrily but in vain,
doing Karmas for the fulfilment
of their worldly desires,
while despising the disciplines
[followed by aspirants]
which lead to eternal Moksha in Self.
Ah, what a pitiable spectacle
is the condition of these worldly people!
Longing for a tiny grain of pleasure,
people toil so hard using the mind
to plough the field of the five senses,
but they never wish for the flood of Bliss
which is the fruit that comes
by ploughing the Heart,
the Source of the mind,
with [simple] Self-attention.
Ah, what a wonder!
The moon-like jiva [the mind],
ever wedded to the sun-like Self,
should always remain in her home,
the Heart;
to forsake the Bliss of Self
and go astray for worldly pleasures,
is like the madness of a wife
who spoils her precious chastity.
Only when the world’s allurement is lost
will true Liberation be possible
[and its allurement cannot be lost
unless it is found to be unreal].
Hence, to try to foist reality upon this world is to be just like an infatuated lover who tries to foist chastity upon a prostitute.
Sadhu Om: A lover foists chastity upon a prostitute only because of his infatuation with her, and similarly some schools of thought argue and try to insist upon the world’s reality, only because of their immense desire for the enjoyment of this world. Therefore Liberation, which is the
fruit of desirelessness, is absolutely impossible for them.

— The teachings of Sri Ramana.
Guru Vachaka Kovai. Verses 71 - 74.
An Analysis of the Truth. Chapter 3.
The Allurement of the World.

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Is God personal?

M: Yes, He is always the first person, the I, ever standing before you. Because you give precedence to worldly things, God appears to have receded to the background. If you give up all else and seek Him alone, He alone will remain as the I, the Self.

— Maharshi's Gospel

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First one sees the Self as objects, then one sees the Self as void, then one sees the Self as Self, only in this last there is no seeing because seeing is being.

— 'Day by Day with Bhagavan', 21-7-1946

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DEATH AND REBIRTH ARE FOR THE EGO
There is really no such thing as a dead or a living body. That which does not move we call dead, and that which has movement we call alive.
In dreams, you see any number of bodies, living and dead, and they have no existence when you wake up. In the same way this whole world, animate and inanimate, is non-existent.
Death means the dissolution of the ego, and birth means the rebirth of the ego. There are births and deaths, but they are of the ego;
not of you.
You exist whether the sense of ego is there or not. You are its source, but not the ego-sense.
Deliverance (mukti) means finding the origin of these births and deaths and demolishing the ego-sense to its very roots. That is deliverance. It means death with full awareness.
If one dies thus, one is born again simultaneously and in the same place with Aham sphurana known as ‘Aham, Aham (I, I)’. One who is born thus has no doubts whatsoever.”

— Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 11th September 1947

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Self-Knowledge
(Atma-Vidya)

A devotee once wrote on a slip of paper that Self-knowledge is the easiest thing, since one already is the Self, and handed it to Bhagavan, asking him to write a poem on the subject. Bhagavan responded with the following poem:

Lo, very easy is Self-Knowledge,
Lo, very easy indeed.
Even for the most infirm
So real is the Self
That compared with it the amlak
In one’s hand appears a mere illusion.
True, strong, fresh for ever stands
The Self. From this in truth spring forth
The phantom body and phantom world.
When this delusion is destroyed
And not a speck remains,
The Sun of Self shines bright and real
In the vast Heart-expanse.
Darkness dies, afflictions end,
And bliss wells up.
The thought ‘I am the body’ is the thread
On which are strung together various thoughts.
Questing within, enquiring ‘Who am I?
And whence this thought?’ all other thoughts
Vanish. And as I, as I within the Heart-cave The Self shines of its own accord.
Such Self-awareness is the only Heaven,
This stillness, this abode of bliss.
Of what avail is knowing things
Other than the Self?
And the Self being known,
What other thing is there to know?
That one light that shines as many selves,
Seeing this Self within
As Awareness’ lightning flash;
The play of Grace; the ego’s death;
The blossoming of bliss.
For loosening karma’s bonds and ending births,
This path is easier than all other paths.
Abide in stillness, without any stir
Of tongue, mind, body. And behold
The effulgence of the Self within;
The experience of Eternity; absence
Of all fear; the ocean vast of Bliss.
Annamalai the Self, the Eye
Behind the eye of mind which sees
The eye and all the other senses
Which know the sky and other elements,
The Being which contains, reveals, perceives
The inner sky that shines within the Heart.
When the mind free of thought turns inward,
Annamalai appears as my own Self.
True, Grace is needed; Love is added.
Bliss wells up.

(Translated by Prof. K. Swaminathan)
— The Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi

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Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

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Whenever I went up the hill to see Bhagavan, I used to buy something to eat and take it with me as an offering.
One day I had no money.
I stood before Bhagavan Sri Ramana in a dejected mood and said:
“This poor man has brought nothing.”
Bhagavan looked at me enquiringly and
remarked:
“Why you brought the main thing.
All else is unimportant.”
I wondered, not knowing what I brought.
“Don’t you understand?
You brought yourself,”
Laughed Bhagavan!

— "At the Feet of Bhagavan" book

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