Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi     721 posts


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Sages say that the state in which the thought 'I' (the ego) does not rise in the least is Self which is silence. That silence, Self, alone is God; Self alone is the individual soul, Self alone is this ancient world. The experience of silence alone is the real and perfect knowledge.

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Take the instance of moving pictures on the screen in the cinema-show. What is there in front of you before the play begins? Merely the screen. On that screen you see the entire show, and for all appearances the pictures are real. But go and try to take hold of them. What do you take hold of? Merely the screen on which the pictures appeared so real. After the play, when the pictures disappear, what remains? The screen again!
So with the Self. That alone exists; the pictures come and go. If you hold on to the Self, you will not be deceived by the appearance of the pictures. Nor does it matter at all if the pictures appear or disappear.

Ignoring the Self the ajnani thinks the world is real, just as ignoring the screen he sees merely the pictures, as if they existed apart from it. If one knows that without the seer there is nothing to be seen, just as there are no pictures without the screen, one is not deluded. The jnani knows that the screen, the pictures and the sight thereof are but the Self. With the pictures the Self is in its manifest form; without the pictures It remains in the unmanifest form. To the jnani it is quite immaterial if the Self is in the one form or the other. He is always the Self. But the ajnani seeing the jnani active gets confounded.

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Question: I begin by asking myself "Who am I?" and eliminate the body as not 'I', the breath as not 'I', the mind as not 'I', but then I am unable to proceed further.

Bhagavan: Well, that is all right so far as the mind goes. Your process is only mental. Actually all the scriptures mention this process only in order to guide the seeker to the Truth. The Truth cannot be directly indicated; that is why this mental process is used. You see, he who eliminates all the 'not-I' cannot eliminate the 'I'. In order to be able to say 'I am not this' or 'I am That', there must be the 'I' to say it. This 'I' is only the ego, or the 'I-thought'. After the rising up of this 'I-thought', all other thoughts arise. The 'I-thought' is therefore the root thought. If the root is pulled out, all the rest is uprooted at the same time. Therefore seek the root 'I'; question yourself: "Who am I?"; find out the source of the 'I'.

Then all these problems will vanish and the pure Self alone will remain.

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The Self is Pure Consciousness. Yet a man identifies himself with the body which is insentient and does not itself say: ‘I am the body’. Someone else says so. The unlimited Self does not. Who does? A spurious ‘I’ arises between Pure Consciousness and the insentient body and imagines itself to be limited to the body. Seek this and it will vanish like a phantom. The phantom is the ego or mind or individuality. All the scriptures are based on the rise of this phantom, whose elimination is their purpose. The present state is mere illusion. Its dissolution is the goal and nothing else.

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Is the Self the Witness?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The idea of the Self being the Witness is in the mind. It may be useful for helping to still the mind's restlessness. But it is not the absolute Truth of the Self. Witnessing is relative to objects witnessed. Both the witness and his object are mental creations.

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On another occasion, on 4th October 1946, when a devotee named Professor D.S. Sarma asked Him whether there was ever any period of purgation or sadhana in His life,

Sri Bhagavan replied :-
“I know no such period. I never performed any pranayama or japa. I knew no mantras. I had no idea of meditation or contemplation. Even when I came to hear of such things later, I was never attracted by them. Even now my mind refuses to pay any attention to them. Sadhana implies an object to be gained and the means of gaining it. What is there to be gained which we do not already possess? In meditation, concentration and contemplation, what we have to do is only not to think of anything, but to be still! Then we shall be in our natural state. This natural state is given many names – moksha, jnana, atma, etc. There was a time when I used to remain with my eyes closed. That does not mean that I was practising any sadhana then. Even now I sometimes remain with my eyes closed. If people choose to say that I am doing some sadhana at the moment, let them say so. It makes no difference to me. People seem to think that by practising some elaborate sadhana the Self would some day descend upon them as something very big and with tremendous glory and they would then have what is called sakshatkaram (realization). The Self is sakshat (direct), all right, but there is no karam (doing) or kritam (done) about it. The word karam implies one’s doing something. But the Self is realized not by one’s doing something, but by one’s refraining from doing anything – by remaining still and being simply what one really is!”

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The Guru is the Self. At some time a man grows dissatisfied with his life and, not content with what he has, seeks the satisfaction of his desires through prayer to God. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain His Grace than to satisfy worldly desires. Then God’s grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a Guru and appears to the devotee, teaches him the Truth and, moreover, purifies his mind by association with him. The devotee’s mind thus gains strength and is then able to turn inward. By meditation it is further purified until it remains calm without the least ripple. That calm Expanse is the Self.

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The Truth cannot be directly indicated; that is why this mental process is used. You see, he who eliminates all the ‘not-I’ cannot eliminate the ‘I’. In order to be able to say ‘I am not this’ or ‘I am That’, there must be the ‘I’ to say it. This ‘I’ is only the ego, or the ‘I’-thought. After the rising up of this ‘I’-thought, all other thoughts arise. The ‘I’-thought is therefore the root thought. If the root is pulled out, all the rest is uprooted at the same time. Therefore seek the root ‘I’; question yourself: ‘Who am I?’; find out the source of the ‘I’. Then all these problems will vanish and the pure Self alone will remain.

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Whenever I was collecting courage to tell Bhagavan about my desire to leave, he would seem to read my thoughts and forestall me by giving me something special to do. I felt I had too much to do and that my life was being wasted.
One day Bhagavan was looking at me intently and said:

"It looks as if you are still hankering after meditation." I replied: "What have I got except endless work in the kitchen?"

Bhagavan said with deep feeling: "Your hands may do the work but your mind can remain still. You are that which never moves. Realize that and you will find that work is not a strain. But as long as you think that you are the body and that the work is done by you, you will feel your life to be an endless toil. In fact, it is the mind that toils, not the body. Even if your body keeps quiet, will your mind keep quiet too? Even in sleep the mind is busy with its dreams."

I replied: "Yes, Swami, it is as natural for you to know that you are not your body as it is for us to think that we are the body. I had a dream recently in which you were explaining this very point. I was dreaming that I was working in the kitchen and you were having your bath in your usual place behind the bamboo mat partition.

You asked: 'Who is it?' I replied:

'Who shall I say I am?'

You said: 'Exactly so, you are nothing of which something can be said.'

Now, just remember that was my dream and it was quite clear. Why can't I remember always that I am not the body?"

"Because you haven't had enough of it," he smiled.

- Varanasi Subbalakshmi, 'Face to Face with Bhagavan'

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If we unceasingly investigate the form of the mind, we find there is no such thing as the mind. This is the direct path open to all.

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I told Bhagavan, “I don’t want moksha, I just want that the desire for women should not enter my mind.”
Bhagavan laughed and said, “All the mahatmas are striving only for this.”

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SERVICE TO THE GURU REMOVES IGNORANCE BY AND BY

While speaking to Mr. G. Shanmugham, a very sincere lawyer devotee, Bhagavan observed:

The sastras say that one must serve a Guru for 12 years for getting Self-Realisation. What does Guru do? Does he hand it over to the disciple? Is not the Self always realised? What does the common belief mean then? The man is always the Self and yet he does not know it. He confounds it with the non-self, viz., the body etc.

Such confusion is due to ignorance. If ignorance be wiped out the confusion will cease to exist and the true knowledge will be unfolded. By remaining in contact with realised sages the man gradually loses the ignorance until its removal is complete. The eternal Self is thus revealed.ra

This is the meaning conveyed by the story of Ashtavakra and Janaka. The anecdotes differ in different books. We are not concerned with the names and the embellishments. The tatva, i.e., the moral, must not be lost sight of.

The disciple surrenders himself to the master. That means there is no vestige of individuality retained by the disciple. If the surrender is complete all sense of individuality is lost and there is thus no cause for misery. The eternal being is only happiness. That is revealed.

Without understanding it aright, people think that the Guru teaches the disciple something like “TATVAMASI” and that the disciple realises “I am Brahman”. In their ignorance they conceive of Brahman as something more huge and powerful than anything else. With a limited ‘I’ the man is so stuck up and wild. What will be the case if the same ‘I’ grows up enormous? He will be enormously ignorant and foolish! This false ‘I’ must perish. Its annihilation is the fruit of Guru seva. Realisation is eternal and it is not newly brought about by the Guru. He helps in the removal of ignorance. That is all.

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, No 350

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Once a devotee asked Bhagawan:
‘How many Upanishads does one have to read to understand the Self?’ Bhagawan, in his usual style answered, ‘How many mirrors do you need to see your face?’

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REMAIN WHERE YOU ARE


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'

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SAMADHI

This morning, a European who was sitting in front of Bhagavan said through an interpreter:

“It is stated in the Mandukyopanishad that, unless samadhi, i.e., the 8th and last stage of yoga, is also experienced, there can be no liberation (moksha) however much meditation (dhyana) or austerities (tapas) are performed. Is that so?”

Bhagavan: “Rightly understood, they are the same. It makes no difference whether you call it meditation or austerities or absorption, or anything else. That which is steady, continuous like the flow of oil, is austerity, meditation and absorption. To be one’s own Self is samadhi.”

Questioner: “But it is said in the Mandukyopanishad that samadhi must necessarily be experienced before attaining liberation.”

Bhagavan: “And who says that it is not so? It is stated not only in the Mandukyopanishad but in all the ancient books. But it is true samadhi only if you know your Self. What is the use of sitting still for some time like a lifeless object?

Suppose you get a boil on your hand and have it operated under chloroform; you don’t feel any pain at the time, but does that mean that you were in samadhi? It is the same with this too. One has to know what samadhi is. And how can you know it without knowing your Self? If the Self is known, samadhi will be known automatically.”

Meanwhile, a Tamil devotee opened the Tiruvachakam and began singing the “Songs on Pursuit”. Towards the end comes the passage,

“Oh, Ishwara (personal God), You are trying to flee, but I am holding You fast. So where can You go and how can You escape from me?”

Bhagavan commented with a smile: “So it seems that He is trying to flee and they are holding Him fast! Where could He flee to? Where is He not present? Who is He? All this is nothing but a pageant. There is another sequence of ten songs in the same book, one which goes,

‘O my Lord! You have made my mind Your abode. You have given Yourself upto me and in return have taken me into You. Lord, which of us is the cleverer? If You have given Yourself up to me, I enjoy endless bliss, but of what use am I to You, even though You have made of my body Your Temple out of Your boundless mercy to me? What is it I could do for you in return? I have nothing now that I could call my own.’

This means that there is no such thing as ‘I’. See the beauty of it! Where there is no such thing as ‘I’, who is the doer and what is it that is done, whether it be devotion or Self-enquiry or samadhi?”

8th September, 1947
Letters from Sri Ramanasramam

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‎'Heart' is merely another name for the 'Supreme Spirit,' because 'He' is in all hearts. The entire Universe is condensed in the body, and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the 'Heart' is the nucleus of the whole Universe.

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There is no goal to be reached. There is nothing to be attained. You are the Self. You exist always. Nothing more can be predicated of the Self than that it exists. Seeing God or the Self is only being the Self, that is yourself. Seeing is Being. You, being the Self, want to know how to attain the Self. It is like a man being at Ramanasramam and asking how many ways there are of going to Ramanasramam and which is the best way for him. All that is required of you is to give up the thought that you are this body and give up all thoughts of external things or the non-Self. As often as the mind goes out towards objects, stop it and fix it in the Self or 'I'. That is all the effort required on your part. Ceaseless practice is essential until one attains without the least effort that natural and primal state of mind which is free from thought, in other words, until the 'I', 'my' and 'mine' are completely eradicated and destroyed.

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If the mind is happy, not only the body but the whole world will be happy. So one must find out the way of becoming happy oneself. One cannot do this except by finding out about oneself by Self-enquiry. To think of reforming the world without doing that is like thinking of covering the whole world with leather to avoid the pain caused by walking on stones and thorns when the much simpler method of wearing leather shoes is available. When by holding an umbrella over your head you can avoid the sun, will it be possible to cover the face of the whole earth by tying a cloth over it to avoid the sun? If a person realises his position and stays in his own self, things that are to happen will happen. Things that are not to happen will not happen. The shakti that is in the world, is only one. All these troubles arise if we think that we are separate from that shakti.

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ILLUSION IS ILLUSORY

BHAGAVAN: All admit creation by the Divine Energy, but what is the nature of this energy? It must be in conformity with the nature of its creation.

D.: Are there degrees of illusion?

B.: Illusion itself is illusory. It must be seen by somebody outside it, but how can such a seer be subject to it? So, how can he speak of degrees of it?

You see various scenes passing on a cinema screen: fire seems to burn buildings to ashes; water seems to wreck ships; but the screen on which the pictures are projected remains unburnt and dry. Why? Because the pictures are unreal and the screen real.

Similarly, reflections pass through a mirror but it is not affected at all by their number or quality.
In the same way, the world is a phenomenon upon the substratum of the single Reality which is not affected by it in any way.

Reality is only One.

Talk of illusion is due only to the point of view. Change your viewpoint to that of Knowledge and you will perceive the Universe to be only Brahman. Being now immersed in the world, you see it as a real world; get beyond it and it will disappear and Reality alone will remain.
-Talks No. 446

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LEOPARDS AND SNAKES

The other day I learnt of one more incident in Bhagavan’s life on the hill and so I am writing to you about it. When Bhagavan was living in Virupaksha Cave, the roar of a leopard was heard from the place where drinking water was available nearby. By the time the scared devotees had gathered some plates and drums in order to make a noise and drive the leopard away, it had drunk the water it required and gone away with one more roar. Bhagavan looked at those frightened devotees and said to them in an
admonishing tone, “Why do you worry so much? The leopard intimated to me by the first roar that she was coming here. After drinking water she told me by another roar that she was going. She went her own way. She never meddled with your affairs. Why are you so scared? This mountain is the home of these wild animals, and we are their guests. That being so, is it right on your part to drive them away?” Perhaps with the intention of relieving them of their fears, Bhagavan added, “A number of siddha purushas (holy beings) live on this mountain. It is perhaps with a desire to see me that they come and go, assuming various shapes. Hence, you see it is not right for you to disturb them.”
From that time onwards, the leopard used to come frequently to that place to drink. Whenever the roar was heard, Bhagavan used to say, “There you are! The leopard is announcing her arrival.” Then again he used to say, “The leopard announces her departure.” In this manner he used to be quite at ease with all the wild animals.
One devotee asked Bhagavan whether it is true that, when living on the mountain, he was friendly with snakes, and one snake crawled over his body, one climbed up his leg and so on. In reply, Sri Bhagavan said:
“Yes, it is true. A snake used to come to me in all friendliness. It used to try to crawl on my leg. At its touch my body used to feel as though it was tickled, so I withdrew my leg; that is all. That snake used to come of its own accord and go away.”

- Letters 1st January, 1946

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NO ONE SUCCEEDS WITHOUT RIGHT EFFORT

D.: What is to be our sadhana?

M.: Sadhana for the sadhaka is the sahaja of the siddha. Sahaja is the original state, so that sadhana amounts to the removal of the obstacles to the realization of this abiding truth.

D.: Is concentration of mind one of the sadhanas?
M.: Concentration is not thinking one thing. It is, on the other hand, putting off all other thoughts which obstruct the vision of our true nature. All our efforts are only directed to lifting the veil of ignorance. Now it appears difficult to quell the thoughts. In the regenerate state it will be found more difficult to call in thoughts. For are there things to think of? There is only the Self. Thoughts can function only if there are objects. But there are no objects. How can thoughts arise at all?
The habit makes us believe that it is difficult to cease thinking. If the error is found out, one would not be fool enough to exert oneself unnecessarily by way of thinking.


D.: How can the rebellious mind be brought under control?

M.: Either seek its source so that it may disappear or surrender that
it may be struck down.

D.: But the mind slips away from our control.

M.: Be it so. Do not think of it. When you recollect yourself bring it back and turn it inward. That is enough.

No one succeeds without effort. Mind control is not one’s birthright. The successful few owe their success to their perseverance.

A passenger in a train keeps his load on the head by his own folly. Let him put it down: he will find the load reaches the destination all the same. Similarly, let us not pose as the doers, but resign ourselves to the guiding Power.

Talks 398

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WHO IS THE RIGHT GURU?


Two visitors came to Bhagavan and one of them said: 'My friend has taken as his guru a man who is not even a sadhu. I brought him here so that he would give up his guru and follow you, Bhagavan. Please make him do so'.

Bhagavan replied sternly: 'Who are you to say who is the right guru for him? By what power can you make out what a man really is? And are you sure that the guru counts so much? All depends on the disciple! Even if you worship a stone with great devotion, it will be seen as God.'

Kanakammal in 'Cherished memories'

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There is nothing to attain and no time within which to attain. You are always That. You have not got to attain anything. You have only to give up thinking you are limited, to give up thinking you are this body.

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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.

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