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ramana maharshi | who am I? | guru | self-enquiry | spiritual instruction | wisdom | words | silence | daily talks | reality | padam - formless self | arunachala
abide in the self | upadesa tiruvahaval | annamalai swami | self alone is real | swami rama tirtha | real self | i am that | practical freedom | sun of self
h.w.l. poonja | freedom now | remembering | meeting ramana | who is aware of consciousness? | who are you? | words | no practice | final abode | lion's roar
eternal rest | peace is always everywhere | plunge into eternity | i am eternal self | summa iru | wisdom | here and now in lucknow | reject everything
ma anandamayi | words | old tcheng | sayings | siddharameshwar maharaj | beyond nothing | perfection of material science | master key | non-action | self
nisargadatta maharaj | words | a great maharashtrian jnani | self-knowledge and self-realisation | meet the sage | detachment | awareness | who am I?
life | "i am" | all is a dream | guru and disciple | ranjit maharaj | meeting siddharameshwar | everything is nothing | forget everything | death is not true
real and unreal | u.g. krishnamurti | natural state | words | remembering | no separation | nothing to understand | chief joseph | way of the warrior
advaita | vedanta | devikalottara | supreme wisdom | atma sakshatkar | direct awareness of the self | vichara mani mala | jewel garland of enquiry
avadhuta gita | ever-free | ashtavakra gita | purest expression of truth | ribhu gita | heart | wisdom | bhagavad gita | essence | the song celestial
adi shankaracharya | atma bodha | aparokshanubhuti | dakshinamurti strotram | dasasloki | nirvana shatkam | drik drisya viveka | vivekachudamani
seng tsan | faith mind | gaudapada | mandukya karika | katha upanishad | death as teacher | yoga vasistha | dispassion | seeker's behaviour | essence
ramakant maharaj | reality has nothing to do with words | lama guendune rinpoché | free and easy | ellam ondre | all is one | william samuel | now



Let there be peace and love among all beings of the universe. OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

presence | jnani and jnana | japa and tapas | practice of meditation | control of mind | samadhi | self-realisation | power | truth and liberation
daily life | ego | the meaning of religion | the guru and sagehood | the nature of the self | self-awareness and self-ignorance


UESTION :  While sitting near you, what sort of mental state should I have so as to receive the transmission from the Self?

Ramana: Keep your mind still. That is enough. You will get spiritual help sitting in this hall if you keep yourself still. The aim of all practices is to give up all practices. When the mind becomes still, the power of the Self will be experienced. The waves of the Self are pervading everywhere. If the mind is in peace, one begins to experience them.

Question: Which is better for me, to gaze at your eyes or your face? Or should I sit with closed eyes and concentrate my mind on a particular thing?

Ramana: Gaze at your own real nature. It is immaterial whether the eyes are open or closed. Everywhere there is only the one, so it is all the same whether you keep your eyes open or closed. If you wish to meditate, do so on the "I" that is within you. It is the Self. Because it has no eyes, there is no need either to open or close the eyes. When you attain Self-knowledge, there will no longer be any ideas about the world. When you are sitting in a room, whether the windows are open or closed, you are the same person, in the same state. In the same way, if you abide in the Reality, it is all the same whether the eyes are open or closed. It matters little whether external activities go on or not.

Question: In my present state, is there sufficient faith, humility and surrender in me? If not, how to make them complete?

Ramana: You are perfect and complete, so abandon the idea of incompleteness. There is nothing to be destroyed. Ahankara, the individual "I", is not a real thing. It is the mind that makes the effort and the mind is not real. Just as it is not necessary to kill a rope that one imagines to be a snake, so also there is no need to kill the mind. Knowing the form of the mind makes the mind disappear. That which is forever non-existent is already removed.

Question: What books should I read for personal study?

Ramana: The Self is the real book. You can glance anywhere in that book; nobody can take it away from you. Whenever you are free, turn towards the Self. Thereafter you may read whatever you like.

Question: How to uproot the weariness, fear and anxiety that arise during meditation?

Ramana: Find out to whom these questions occur. By conducting this enquiry these things will disappear. These things are impermanent. Do not pay attention to them. When there is knowledge of duality, fear arises. Fear only comes when you think that there are others apart from you. If you direct your mind towards the Self, fear and anxiety will go away. In your present state, when your mind is agitated, if you remove one kind of fear, another will rise up and there will be no end of them. It is a laborious task to pluck the leaves off a tree one by one. The "I" feeling is the root of all thoughts. If you destroy the root, the leaves and branches will wither away. Instead of forming bad habits and taking medicine for them, it is better to see that such bad habits are not formed.

Question: During and after meditation, I get many thoughts about the unhappy people of the world. What will happen to the world?

Ramana: First find out whether there is an "I" in you or not. It is this ego "I" that gets these thoughts and, as a result, you feel weakness. Therefore find out how identification with the body takes place. Body consciousness is the cause of all misery. When you conduct the enquiry into the ego "I", you will find out its Source and you will be able to remove it. After that there will be no more questions of the type you are asking.

The body itself is a disease. To wish for a long stay of that disease is not the aim of the jnani [one who has realised the Self]. Anyhow, one has to give up identification with the body. Just as the "I am the body" consciousness prevents one from attaining Self-knowledge, in the same way, one who has got the conviction that he is not the body will become liberated even if he doesn't desire it.


Question: Does a jnani in the body remain visible?

Ramana: Why not?

Question: Body is the reflection of the mind. There ought to be modifications because of it.

Ramana: In whose view should a jnani's body have a change?

Question: To the outside view.

Ramana: Then a jnani ought to be invisible? All who wrote books, lived and moved are ajnanis [those who are ignorant of their true nature]. Is that so? [laughing] Does the jnani himself feel oppressed by the body? Does he need a certificate from others by their not seeing his body?

Question: No

Ramana: Who is the seer? Solve that problem first. What does it matter whether a body is visible or not?

Question: Why is it that a devotee so often turns away from a man of knowledge? This happens even after they have arrived, doesn't it?

Ramana: Your premise is all wrong. For as soon as a devotee arrives he finds that he is one with the jnani. For the devotee becomes the essence of devotion and the jnani becomes the essence of knowledge. The two are one, identical. The quarrel is really championed by pseudo devotees and pseudo jnanis.

Question: How much sleep does a jnani require?

Ramana: Sleep is necessary when one thinks "I have risen from sleep." But to those who are ever in changeless sleep, what need is there for some other sleep. When the eyelids feel strained it would do to close the eyes for a while. The three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep are for the mind and not for the body.

Question: The Narada Bhakti Sutras say that the path of devotion is the best. Cannot we say the same thing about jnana [knowledge of the Self]?

Ramana: What is the differentiation? Jnana is devotion.

Question: The Ashtavakra Gita says: "Things come by themselves." Does anything come by itself without operation of cause behind it?

Ramana: That which comes to a man without present effort or desire is the result of past efforts or desires [prarabdha karma]. Even a jnani who has no desires has to meet such events.

Question: The Ashtavakra Gita says: "The jnani does not remember what he has done or not done". How to understand this?

Ramana: He does not feel that he is the agent who acted or the one who refrained from action.

Question: How can a jnani's prarabdha [the part of one's past karma that is to be worked out in this life] remain unburnt?

Ramana: In the jnani's view all karma is gone. But in the world's view the jnani's body is seen subject to some karma. This is attributed to prarabdha.

Question: The Puranas say that jnanis warred against jnanis. That must be due to prarabdha.

Ramana: Yes, Krishna fought against Bhishma.

Question: But should not a jnani have an absence of worldly desires? It is desires which lead to conflict.

Ramana: Perfect dispassion is jnana.

Question: How can we judge from outside whether a man's dispassion or surrender is perfect or complete?

Ramana: Of perfect dispassion and jnana who is there outside to judge?

Question: Can we attain jnana through your Grace and teach it to the people of the world?

Ramana: First know your Self; leave alone the idea of teaching others. If the world and its people remain after your realisation, you may teach them. Trying to help the world without knowing your Self will be just like a blind man trying to treat the diseases in the eyes of others. First clear your own eyes. If you do this you will see the eyes of all others as your own. Then, if you see the eyes of all others as your own, how can you exist without helping them?


Question: What is the effect of japas or mantras [repeating sacred syllable[s] or formula as a means to realise the Self]?

Ramana: Diversion. The mind is a channel, a swift current of thoughts. A mantra is a bund or dam put up in the way of this current to divert the water where it is needed.

Question: Some years ago I had been initiated into two mantras and was enjoined to repeat them a minimum number of times each day. I have been doing it punctiliously. But now after entering the ashram, I have no mind to do it. I fear the consequences of the non-observance of the instructions of my initiation. I am making a clear breast of my default to Bhagavan.

Ramana: [smiling] Just because you have done so much japa its merit brought you here. Why should you now fear when you are enjoying the fruits of your japa?

Question: What is the relationship between Self-enquiry and repetition of sacred syllables, mantra japa?

Ramana: Self-enquiry itself is mantra, japa, tapas, sacrifice and Yoga.

Question: Does it mean that for those practising Self-enquiry it is unnecessary to repeat mantras?

Ramana: Self-enquiry is the source, the essence of all mantras. All that it means is that one should not be attached to the mantra as such. It does not preclude it.

Question: Sometimes involuntarily enquiry and japa overlap. What is one to do then?

Ramana: As a result of previous practice even without effort it happens. But can enquiry or japa take place without the "I" or the mantra?

Question: While doing Self-enquiry sometimes one reaches a blank.

Ramana: Whether blankness is seen or fullness is seen there is the one to see it. Find out who it is that sees the blankness. The reply is "me". Find out who that "I" is. If one enquires, blankness which appears due to habit would disappear. When there is any kind of perception one must enquire. Then what remains is the "I".

Question: I have heard the vichara marga [enquiry path] of yours, but I have no clear conception of it. Is it to sit in a quiet place and ask oneself the question "Who am I?" repeatedly or meditate on that question as on a mantra?

Ramana: No, it is not repeating the question or meditating on "Who am I?". It is to dive deep into yourself and seek the place from which the "I"-thought arises in you and to hold on to it firmly to the exclusion of any other thought. Continuous and persistent effort would lead to the Self.

Question: What should one do in order to remain free from thoughts as advised by you? Is it only the enquiry "Who am I?"

Ramana: Only to remain still. Do it and see.

Question: It is impossible.

Ramana: Exactly. For the same reason the enquiry "Who am I?" is advised.

Question: Vedantic texts, particularly the Vichara Sangraham, recommends fasting strongly, please clarify.

Ramana: They do not mean that you should abstain from eating food, or drinking water. All that is meant is that without causing hardships to the body one should eat limited quantities of food conducive to meditation.

Question: How am I to rise above my present animal existence? My own efforts in that direction have proved futile. I am convinced that it is only a superior might that can transform me. And that is what has brought me here.

Ramana: You are right. It is only on the awakening of a power mightier than the senses and the mind that these can be subdued. If you awaken and nurture the growth of that power within you, everything else will be conquered.

Question: What is the use of mind yearning for meditation? Here it is only kitchen work.

Ramana: Let the hands and legs do the job. You are not the hands or legs. You are the unmoving one. Problems will be endless so long as one is not aware of it. If you identify yourself with the body you are bound to dualities. Work would appear difficult. Even if we free ourselves from work will the mind cease to wander? It does not let you even sleep in peace. It keeps wandering as in dreams.


Question: When I meditate, sleep overpowers me. I cannot avoid it. What should I do?

Ramana: If I say "I awoke", it follows that "I slept." When waking comes we must be in the state that we were in when we were asleep. When sleep comes we must awake. That is the state of awakened sleep.

Question: What to do when this thought catches hold of us and shakes us?

Ramana: The thought does not catch hold of us and shake us. The thought catching hold of us shakes itself.

Question: If this is so, how can I control the mind?

Ramana: Controlling the mind implies the need of a second mind to control the first. Trying to control the mind is like someone attempting the impossible task of measuring the length of his own shadow by himself.

How were we in sleep? We are now the same bodiless and mindless "I" that we were when we were asleep. Our first mistake is to leave that state and take the body to be "I".

Question: Ignorance must be destroyed. Am I right?

Ramana: It will be sufficient if you investigate the one whose ignorance must be destroyed.

Question: What must I do to avoid sleep during my meditation?

Ramana: Meditators must not work too much, nor should they fill the stomach with excessive food. The more one fills the stomach, the lower one's mental state becomes. If the stomach is mostly empty, one will go higher spiritually. One should not tighten the strings of the veena [plucked string instrument] either too much or too little. The body must be kept like that. Likewise with sleep. One third of the night has been allotted for sleep. That is, one must go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 2 a.m. One should not sleep during day time. There is another system also. One should get up whenever one wakes up and one should sleep whenever sleep comes. But one should not think, "I slept" or "I woke up". [quoting verse 33 of Devikalottara] "The mind often strays into reveries or falls asleep. Be vigilant and turn it into its pristine state again and again."

Question: While practising meditation I feel some pain in the back and in front of the chest. This is stated to be the test by God. Will Bhagavan explain this and say if it is true?

Ramana: What you believe to be a test is really the strain that is now brought to play on the nerves and the five senses. The mind which was hitherto operating through the nadis [channels in the subtle body through which subtle psychic energy flows] to sense the external objects is now required to withdraw. This withdrawal naturally causes strain. It would go, if you would continue with your meditation bestowing your attention solely on your Self. There is no greater remedy than this continuous Yoga.

Never mind what happens to the body. Maintain the same train of thought and effort, and the bodily discomfort will pass away. Do not think of the discomfort but keep the mind firm on your meditation. If you are not strong enough to endure the mosquitoes, how can you hope to gain realisation? It is like waiting for the waves of the ocean to subside before you enter to bathe! Be strong and keep up constant effort.

Question: What about practicing meditation in a group or alone?

Ramana: The latter is advisable for beginners, but we must learn to advance to the point where we create our own mental solitude, then it will not matter where we are. We must learn to find mental solitude in the midst of society; we should not give up our meditation because we are among people, but carry it on even then. Just do not be ostentatious about it – do it secretly. Do not make an exhibition of the fact that you are meditating.

Question: Should I meditate with the eyes open or closed?

Ramana: You can meditate with the eyes open or shut, whichever suits you best. It differs with different people. Seeing is when the mind looks through the eyes, but if it is not looking because it is focused within, it does not see even if the eyes are open. It is the same with sounds. If you pay attention to them, you will hear them, but if you persistently focus only on the Self within, you won't hear them.

The point is that the mind must be introverted and kept active in its pursuit. Sometimes when the eyes are closed, latent thoughts rush forth with great vigor. It may also be difficult to introvert the mind with the eyes open, as that requires strength of mind. When the mind takes in objects it is contaminated. The main factor is to resist all other thoughts and keep the mind on its own pursuit, without taking in external impressions or thinking of other matters.

Question: Which posture is best?

Ramana: Any posture, possibly the half-lotus position. But posture is immaterial for the jnana path. Posture really means steadfast location in the Self. It is internal.

There are different postures according to the different grades. The best posture is to be in the Self. All these questions of posture and Hatha Yoga arise only to those who have body-consciousness and think, "I am the body." However, the yogis say, "Adopt the posture in which meditation is easiest for you." But you may not necessarily have to adopt a Yoga posture at all. If you find sitting in a chair or walking easier for you to practice meditation, then these are the right postures for you. Hatha Yoga is for beginners. Find the Self and remain in It, and you will not be concerned about postures. The best posture is to plant the Guru firmly in your Heart.

Question: When we fall from the path what should we do?

Ramana: All will be well in the end. There is a steady determination that gets you on your feet again after a fall or break. Gradually the obstacles get weaker and your current gets stronger. Everything comes right in the end. Steady determination is what is required. Peace will be deeper and more prolonged with continued practice. It will also lead to the goal.

The control of desire and meditation are interdependent. They must go hand in hand. Practice and dispassion bring about the result. Dispassion is to restrain the mind from projecting outwards and practice is to keep it turned inward. There is a constant struggle within between control and meditation. Meditation will eventually be successful. If you seek God with your whole heart, then you may be assured that the Grace of God is also seeking you.

Question: Is concentration one of the spiritual practices?

Ramana: Concentration is not thinking of one thing only. Rather, it is the putting off of all other thoughts which obstruct the vision of our true nature. All our efforts are only directed towards lifting the veil of ignorance. Now it appears difficult to quell the thoughts, but in the regenerated state, it will be found more difficult to activate them! Why should we think of these things? There is the Self alone. Thoughts can function only if there are objects – but there are no objects, so how can thoughts arise at all? Habit makes us believe that it is difficult to cease thinking. If this error were discovered, one would not be so foolish as to exert oneself unnecessarily.

When attention is directed towards objects and intellect, the mind is aware only of these things. That is our present state. But when we attend to the Self within, we become conscious of It alone. It is therefore all a matter of attention. Our mind has been attending to external things for so long, that the latter have enslaved it and drag it hither and thither. If the mind wanders, we must at once realise we are not the body and enquire, "Who am I?" and the mind must be brought back to realise the Self. Thus all evils are destroyed and happiness is realised.

The Self is like a powerful magnet hidden within us. It draws us gradually to Itself, though we imagine we are going to It of our own accord. When we are near enough, It puts an end to our other activities, makes us still, and then swallows up our own personal current, thus killing our personality. It overwhelms the intellect and floods the whole being. We think we are meditating upon It and developing towards It, whereas the truth is that we are like iron-filings and It is the Self-magnet that is pulling us towards Itself. Thus the process of finding Self is a form of divine magnetism.

Question: I cannot bring my mind to meditate.

Ramana: When an elephant is free, it moves its trunk around and looks restless, but if it is given a chain to hold, its trunk stays still. Similarly, without an aim, the mind is restless. If an aim is fixed, it is restful. Concentration is impossible as long as there are tendencies [samskaras]. Devotion] is also obstructed. Practice and dispassion are necessary. Dispassion is the absence of diffused thoughts, and practice is concentration on one thought only. Firm perseverance is also necessary. The one is positive and the other is a negative aspect of meditation.

Question: Why is it that sometimes I find concentration on the Self so easy, and at other times hopelessly difficult?

Ramana: Because of latent tendencies of the mind. But really, it is easy, since we are the Self. All we have to do is to remember that. We keep on forgetting it, and thus think we are this body, or this ego. If the will and desire to remember the Self are strong enough, they will eventually overcome tendencies. There must be a great battle going on inwardly all the time until the Self is realised. This battle is symbolically spoken of in scriptural writings as the fight between God and Satan. In our texts, it is the Mahabharata, in which the demons represent our bad thoughts and the gods our elevated ones.

We all have to return to our Source. Every human being is seeking their Source and must one day come to it. We came from the Within; we have gone outward and now we must turn inward. What is meditation? It is our natural Self. We have covered ourselves over with thoughts and passions. To throw them off we must concentrate on one thought: the Self.


Question: Whichever way one turns, one finds that the mind has to be subdued. We are told it has to be controlled. Can this really be done when on the one hand the mind is an entity not easily grasped and on the other, one continues to have worldly worries?

Ramana: Hmm. A person who has never seen an ocean must make a trip to know about it. Standing there before the huge expanse of water, this person may wish to bathe in the ocean. Of what use is it if seeing the roaring and rolling of the waves, he were to just stand there thinking, "I shall wait for all this to subside." When it does, "I shall enter it for a quiet bath just as in the pond back home." He has to realise either by himself or by being told, that the ocean is restlessness and that it has been so from the moment of creation and will continue likewise until its dissolution. He will then resolve to learn to bathe in it, as it is. He may wade into it by and by, and perhaps, through prior instruction, learn to duck under a wave and let it pass over him. He would naturally hold his breath. While doing so, soon he would be skilled enough to duck, at a
stretch, wave after wave, and thus achieve the purpose of bathing without coming to grief. The ocean may go on and though in it, he is free from its grip.

Question: When I am engaged in enquiry as to the Source from which "I" springs I arrive at a stage of stillness of mind. The experience is pleasing. I have no thought of any kind and there is emptiness or blankness. Should I continue this practice?

Ramana: Such a condition is called manolaya or temporary stillness of thought. As soon as it ceases, thoughts, old and new, rush in as usual. It will never end. The practitioner must therefore be ever on the alert and enquire within as to who has this experience, who is aware of its pleasantness? Failing this enquiry he would fall into a long trance.

Question: Sometimes, after stillness of thoughts intervenes, I used to hear some sounds like what is heard near a rolling mill or a whistle.

Ramana: Ask who hears the sound? Repeat the question now and then.

Question: I have not learnt to control my mind. So I intend to seek life in solitude in North India and want Sri Bhagavan's Grace.

Ramana: You have come all the way to Tiruvannamalai for solitude and that too in the immediate presence and vicinity of Ramana Bhagavan, yet you do not appear to have obtained mental quiet: now you want to go elsewhere and from there you will desire to go to some other place. At this rate there will be no end to your travels. You do not realise that it is your mind which drives you in this manner. Control your mind first and you will be happy wherever you are. One must attempt to get to the very bottom from which thought springs and root out thought, desire and mind.

Question: When I spent an hour or two on the hill yonder, I sometimes found even better peace than here, which suggests that a solitary place is after all more conducive to mind control.

Ramana: True, but if you had stayed there an hour longer, you would have found that place is not giving you the calm you speak of. Control the mind and even hell will be heaven to you.

Question: If solitude and abandonment is not required, where was the necessity for Bhagavan to come here in the seventeenth year?

Ramana: If the same force that took this [meaning himself] here, should take you also out of your home by all means let it, but there is no use deserting your home by an effort of your own. Your duty lies in practice, continuous practice of Self-enquiry.

Question: Why did Bhagavan leave Skandasramam?

Ramana: The same power which brought me from Madurai to Tiruvannamalai got me down here from the hill. I had no volition whatsoever.


Question: What is samadhi?

Ramana: When the mind is in communion with the Self in ignorance, it is called nidra [sleep]. Involution in a conscious or wakeful state is samadhi. Samadhi is continuous inherence in the Self in a waking state. Nidra, or sleep, is also inherence in the Self but in an unconscious state. In sahaja samadhi the communion is continuous.

Question: What are kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi?

Ramana: The involution of the mind in the Self, but without its destruction, is kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. There are four obstacles in this, namely: [i] vacillation of mind. [ii] life breath or prana, [iii] body, and [iv] that which is perceived [drishti].

In kevala nirvikalpa samadhi one is not free from inherent tendencies [vasanas] and does not, therefore, attain liberation. Only after the mental impressions [samskaras] have been destroyed can one attain salvation.

Question: If this is sahaja samadhi and the most desirable condition, is there no need for nirvikalpa samadhi?

Ramana: The nirvikalpa samadhi of Raja Yoga may have its use. But in jnana, this natural state or this state of steady abidance in the Self itself is the nirvikalpa state. For in this state the mind is free from doubts. It is sure of the Truth. It feels the presence of the Real. Even when it is active, it knows it is active in the Reality, the Self, the Supreme Being.

Question: How can action which is subdued in samadhi emerge and continue to function?

Ramana: The all-pervading Infinite Self brings about the actions. They are performed through the senses and limbs. The man's ego is doing nothing. It is also incapable of doing anything. When an author is writing he is so absorbed in his ideas, that he forgets he is writing with a pen with his own hand. He is unaware of his body. Once the consciousness dawns that he is the person that is writing it, that it is his hand and his pen that writes it, the flow of his ideas is arrested. He comes down from the Self-absorption and becomes aware of his pen, and hand, and so is not able to write. The pen, the hand, etc., are inanimate objects and the power of the Self alone is capable of giving life to them and making them work.

The results of one's actions do not affect the Self. The lightning and the thunder produced on account of the clash of clouds in the sky do not affect the sky. If we realise that we are part and parcel of the force of the Self, there would be no reason why we should falter or get confused.

Question: How does a person of steady knowledge [jnani] know that he is one such? Is it because of the awareness of fullness of his knowledge? Or is it because of cessation of objective awareness?

Ramana: In the firm natural state, through the silence of the mind free of all tendencies, the knower knows himself as such, without any doubt.


Question: For seekers of Truth is the critical study of the scriptures alone enough for knowledge?

Ramana: There is no doubt that mere critical study of scriptures cannot liberate the one seeking Truth. Without upasana, spiritual practice, there cannot be attainment. This is certain. Experience of the natural state during spiritual practice is called upasana. When that itself is unwaveringly attained it is called true knowledge.

Question: For twenty five years I have been doing spiritual disciplines, mostly repeating the name of Krishna. Until now I was managing fifty thousand repetitions a day. Now my mind refuses to engage itself in thought of God. What has happened to me and what should I do?

Ramana: How did you come here from Madras?

Question: By train.

Ramana: And then what happened when you got to the station at Tiruvannamalai?

Question: Well, I got off the train, handed my tickets and engaged a bullock cart to take me to the ashram.

Ramana: And when you reached the ashram and paid off the driver of the cart what happened to the cart?

Question: It went away, presumably back to the town.

Ramana: The train brought you to your destination. You got off and didn't need it any more. It had brought you to the place you wanted to reach. Likewise the bullock cart. You got off when it had brought you to Sri Ramanasramam. You don't need the train or the cart anymore. They were the means for bringing you here. Now you are here, they are of no use to you.

This is what happened to your spiritual practice – your japa, your reading and your meditation have brought you to your spiritual destination. You don't need them anymore. You yourself did not give up your practices; they left you of their own accord because they have served their purpose. You have arrived.

Question: How is one to study oneself?

Ramana: You can study it only if there are two selves, one which studies and other which is studied. To remain as the Self is to study the Self. If you study the Vedas and the Shastras you may get due respect in the world. Society will then decorate your neck with garlands, read you complimentary letters, give you good food, a great name and much money. But all these things will be great obstacles for jnana and spiritual discipline.

Question: Swami, I do not want anything. Just give me liberation.

Ramana: [laughing heartily] Is liberation a commodity for sale? Have I secreted it somewhere? Renouncing everything is liberation. Is there anything separate for me to give?

Question: Can we at least have a glimpse of the real Self everyday?

Ramana: Between sleep and waking there is a momentary twilight. The waking consciousness begins with the "I"-thought. Just before the upsurge of the "I"-thought there is a split second of undifferentiated pure consciousness. First unconsciousness, then the light of pure consciousness, then the "I"-thought with which world-consciousness floods in. This is the order. The middle state is Self-awareness. We can sense it if we are sufficiently alert and watchful.

Question: Bhagavan, I have been coming here for the past several years, but still there is no progress. I am just as bad a sinner as before.

Ramana: There are no milestones in this path. How can you be sure how far you have travelled? Why don't you follow the first class passenger? He informs the guard about his destination, closes the door and sleeps soundly. That is all he needs to do. The guard will wake him at the correct station.

Question: Bhagavan, all my efforts to abide in the Source have proved futile.

Ramana: Keep at your practice. There is no need to remind God about his business which is to keep an eye always on your welfare. One is prone to abandon effort under the mistaken impression that God's Grace is absent. But one should not slacken, for God's Grace is bound to operate at the ripe time.

Question: Bhagavan, will you graciously bestow Self-realisation on me?

Ramana: As one enquires for whom is this realisation, one's individuality goes, and with that the delusion that the Self has not been realised drops off. This alone is the Grace of the Guru. The Guru can only dispel the delusion that Self is yet to be realised but to grant Self-realisation is impossible. To pray for the grant of Self-realisation is like asking, "Give myself to me". Because of the identification with the body, there arises the delusion that "I am an individual". That creates the further delusion that the Guru is an individual other than myself. Really the Guru is not other than the Self.

Question: Please give me some practical guidance for Self-realisation.

Ramana: [quoting from the Bible] "Be still and know that I am God."

Question: It is stated in the scriptures that the Self will reveal itself only to one whom it chooses. Then what is the use of our efforts?

Ramana: The Self will draw to itself an aspirant only when he becomes introverted. So long as he is extroverted Self-realisation is impossible. Many people try to define the Self instead of attempting to know the Self.

Question: What is Self-realisation?

Ramana: People expect something to happen, something to drop from heaven in a flash. It is nothing of the sort. Only the notion that you are the body, that you are this or that will go. You will remain as you are.

Question: I feel I have the experience of the Self, but my mind does not agree with that.

Ramana: What are these two selves, one objecting to the other? Experience for all is that the Self is only one.

Question: What is the nature of the Self?

Ramana: Abide in the Self, free from thoughts, instead of enquiring about the nature of the Self.

Question: I feel that Self-realisation is no easy thing to reach.

Ramana: Why stultify yourself by anticipating failure in your course? Push on. There you are.

Question: After I surrender, will it be possible for me to carry on with my work?

Ramana: Of course! But the thought "I am doing it" will not arise.

Question: If the "I"-thought is not there, how will my duties get done?

Ramana: Whatever you get paid for, you do with indifference. Discharge your family duties with the same indifference that you discharge your office work. The things that come and go in your office don't cause you to worry. Do all your jobs and duties with this same detachment.

Question: Difficulties keep coming to me. When will they stop?

Ramana: If you give up the "I am the body" idea all your difficulties will fly away.

Question: If waking and dream states are not different, can a man realise the Self in the dream state?

Ramana: First realise the Self in the waking state and then raise the question.


Question: You say that the trinity of knower, known and knowledge is an appearance and that there is a unity behind it, supporting it. What is this unity, is it a powerful one?

Ramana: It is an all-powerful existence.

Question: You have often said, and the books also say, that Reality [Brahman] is immobile. Now you say it is all powerful. Does it not then move?

Ramana: Power implies movement. Though Reality [Ishwara] moves by His power, which is movement, He transcends the movement; He is unmoving, beyond movement.

Question: Is there no difference between the power [shakti] and the powerful [shakta]?

Ramana: No. That depends upon your attitude. There is only one Truth. Looking at the movement, one calls it "power". Another, settling himself in the support of the movement, calls it "unmoving". If the former is activity, the latter is the ground, support or substance. Force and substance are inseparable, are indeed two aspects of one and the same Truth. Only, without the movement of the power the real substance is not apprehended.

Question: What is the true character of power?

Ramana: It is coeval with the Eternal Reality; it has no existence apart from Him. It is the Eternal activity of Reality, creating the myriad of worlds.

Question: Worlds are created and they perish. How can you say that this activity is Eternal?

Ramana: Supposing all the worlds in course of time are dissolved, still they persist in activity through lying latent. That is to say, power does not perish. What then is this movement? Every moment there is creation, every moment destruction. There is no absolute creation, no absolute destruction. Both are movement, and that is Eternal.

Question: Then shall I take it that power and substance are both aspects of the same Truth?

Ramana: Yes, but this whole movement, the entire creation, called a play of shakti, is a formulation of the Lord [Reality]. If this form is transcended, what remains is the real form or the real nature.

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Question: What is the Truth that I have to attain? Please explain it and show it to me.

Ramana: What we have to attain and what is desired by everyone is endless happiness. Although we seek to attain it in various ways, it is not something to be sought or attained as a new experience. Our real nature is the "I" feeling which is always experienced by everyone. It is within us and nowhere else. Although we are always experiencing it, our minds are wandering, always seeking it, thinking in ignorance that it is something apart from us. This is like a person saying with his own tongue that he has no tongue.

Question: I am now sitting peacefully without the thought "I am this body." Is this the state of Reality?

Ramana: This state must remain as it is without any change. If it changes after a while you will know that other thoughts have not gone.

Question: What is the way to get rid of other thoughts?

Ramana: They can only be removed through the powerful effect of the enquiry, "To whom have these thoughts come?"

Question: What is the way to see God?

Ramana: Where to see God? First, can you see yourself? If you can see yourself you can see God. Can anyone see his own eyes? Because they cannot be seen, can one say, "I have no eyes?" Just like this, though seeing is always there, we cannot see God. To give up the thought that we are alien to God is to see God. The first and foremost wonder in this world is the thought, "I am different from God." There is no greater wonder than this.

Question: I have read much of the Vedas and the scriptures, but no Self-knowledge has come to me. Why is this?

Ramana: Self-knowledge will come to you only if it is there in the scriptures. If you see the scriptures, knowledge of the scriptures will come. If you see the Self, Self-knowledge will shine.

Question: How to see the Self?

Ramana: Everyone says "I am." How do we know that this is true? Do we know this by looking in the mirror or do we know it only after looking in the scriptures? Tell me.

If the Self is something to be seen, there should be two selves, the self which looks and the Self which is seen. Would you agree that you have two "I"s?

Question: No.

Ramana: The Reality that exists is only One. Then how can there be another self which is to be seen? All are seeing the Self everywhere but they don't understand. What a pity! What to do? If the thought "I am this body" is given up, what is seen is only the Self.

Question: You have stated that knowledge of the Self is very easy. How is this very easy?

Ramana: As an example of direct perception everyone will quote the simile of the nellikai [similar to a gooseberry] placed in the palm of the hand. The Self is even more directly perceivable than the fruit on the palm. To perceive the fruit there must be the fruit, the palm to place it on and the eyes to see it. The mind should also be in the proper condition to process the information. Without any of these four things, even those with very little knowledge can say out of direct experience, "I am."Because the Self exists just as the feeling "I am," Self-knowledge is very easy indeed. The easiest path is to see the one who is going to attain the Self.

Question: Why cannot the Self be perceived directly?

Ramana: Only the Self is said to be directly perceived [pratyaksha]. Nothing else is said to be pratyaksha. Although we are having this pratyaksha, the thought "I am this body" is veiling it. If we give up this thought, the Self, which is always within the direct experience of everyone, will shine forth.

Question: Sri Bhagavan has stated this so simply. But the thought "I am the body" does not leave us.

Ramana: It is not leaving you because it is very strong.

Question: Why and how did that thought come into being?

Ramana: It came into being only through a lack of enquiry on your part. A verse in Kaivalya Navanitam gives the same explanation: "Because its nature is not determinable, the illusion [maya] is said to be inexpressible. They are in its grip who think: "This is mine", "I am the body", "The world is real." O son, no one can ascertain how this mysterious illusion came into being. As to why it arose, it is because of the person's lack of discerning enquiry."

If we see the Self, the objects which are seen will not appear as separate from us. Having seen all the letters on a paper, we fail to see that paper which is the base. Likewise, suffering only arises because we see what is superimposed on the base without seeing the base itself. What is superimposed should not be seen without also seeing the substratum.

How were we in sleep? When we were asleep the various thoughts such as "this body", "this world" were not there. It should be difficult to identify with these waking and dreaming states that appear and disappear, but everyone does it.

Everyone has the experience, "I always am." In order to say "I slept well", "I awoke", "I dreamt", "When unconscious I knew nothing", it is necessary that one exists, and knows that one exists, in all these three states. If one seeks the Self, saying, "I don't see myself", where can one find it? To know that everything we see is the Self, it is enough that the" I am the body" thought ceases to exist.

Question: What is satsang?

Ramana: Satsang means only "Self-sang", association with the Self. Only those who cannot practice that are to practice being in the company of realised beings or sadhus.

Question: When does one get the company of sadhus?

Ramana: The opportunity to be in the company of a Satguru comes effortlessly to those who have performed worship of God, japa, tapas, pilgrimages, etc. for long periods in their previous births. There is a verse by Tayumanuvar which points out the same thing: "O Lord of the first and last, those who properly start the worship of idols, holy places and sacred waters will meet the Satguru who will tell them the words of Truth."

Only he who has done plenty of actions performed without any thought of a reward or consequence [nishkamya karmas] in previous births will get abundant faith in the Guru. Having faith in the Guru's words, such a man will follow the path and reach the goal of liberation.

Question: We are living in a place where there is no sadhu. What can we do? We cannot have the darshan of sadhus every day.

Ramana: What to do? Pictures, names of God and pujas have been formed for this purpose. Only those who have attained the Grace of God will get the Grace of the Guru. Only through the Grace of the Guru can one attain the Grace of the Self which is within. That alone is liberation.

Question: The state of samadhi [experience of the Self] has not yet come to me.

Ramana: That state does not come or go. It is our own ever-existing natural state.

Question: Can I take up the mental attitude "I am Brahman [Reality] ?"

Ramana: If you assume "I am Brahman" you will receive many blows. Why? Because everything is already Brahman. Why should it be assumed? Is it necessary to assume "I am a man?" If the thought "I am the body" is there, then it is necessary to assume, "No, I am not that."

Question: Is the appearance of the differentiated universe true or untrue?

Ramana: It depends on how we regard the terms true and untrue. If we look at Brahman, there is no universe.

Question: Then why does the universe appear?

Ramana: Appear to whom? The universe does not say "I am." Is there any evidence to say that the universe appears? To whom does the universe appear?

Question: To me.

Ramana: Who are you? Find out who you are. Then afterwards tell me if there is a universe.

Question: Because I have a wife and children I have many problems. I cannot escape from them.

Ramana: The outer mundane activities cannot do anything to you. Only the inner mundane activities must be given up.

Question: This only lasts for five minutes. Then it gets changed.

Ramana: [after keeping quiet for some time] This kind of thought must go. One can attain the bliss of Reality only when the mind becomes pure and humble, like a child's.

Question: Bhagavan, I want to attain liberation. For that you alone are my Guru. I do not seek anyone else. Kindly bestow your Grace on me.

Ramana: The attainment of liberation is not some new achievement. We are all in the form of liberation. Because we forget this and instead wrongly think, "I am this body", many thousands of thoughts arise in wave after wave and conceal what we really are. Liberation will only shine when this thought "I am the body" is destroyed.


Question: How is silence possible when we are engaged in worldly transactions?

Ramana: When women walk with waterpots on their heads, they are able to talk with their companions while all the time remaining intent on the water above. Similarly, when a sage engages in activities, they do not disturb him because his mind abides in Reality.

The difficulty is that people think they are the doer; it is a mistake. It is the higher power which does everything and people are only a tool. If they accept that position, they will be free from troubles, otherwise they court them. Do your work without anticipating its fruits. That is all that you should do.

Question: Why is the world in ignorance?

Ramana: Let the world take care of itself. If you are the body, then there the gross world appears. If you are the spirit, everything is just spirit. Look for the ego, and it vanishes. If you enquire, ignorance will be found to be non-existent. It is the mind which feels misery and darkness. See the Self.

Question: If one always remembers the Self, will one's actions always be right?

Ramana: They ought to be, but such a person is not concerned with the right or wrong of actions. His actions are God's and therefore right.

Question: In this pure atmosphere [with Bhagavan at Arunachala] it is easy to practice, but in towns it is difficult.

Ramana: When you see the true Self, is it not a pure atmosphere? Let the body think what it wishes, but why should you think so? It is very good if you can just keep quiet without engaging in any other activities. If that can't be done, what is the use of being quiet? Even if you are obliged to be active, do not give up your attempt to realise the Self.

Question: Is solitude necessary for vichara [enquiry]?

Ramana: Solitude is everywhere. The individual is always solitary. Our business is to find it within, not to seek it outside ourselves. Nearly all human beings are more or less unhappy because they do not know the true Self. Real happiness abides in Self-knowledge alone. All else is fleeting. To know one's Self is to be always blissful.

Solitude is in the mind. A person might be in the midst of the world and yet maintain serenity; such a one is in solitude. Another may stay in a remote forest and still be unable to control the mind; he cannot be said to be in solitude. Those attached to desire are unable to attain solitude wherever they are, whereas those who are detached are always in solitude, even if they are engaged in work. When work is performed with attachment it is a shackle. Solitude is not only to be found in forests, it can also be had in the midst of worldly occupations.

Question: But how can I help another with his problems?

Ramana: What is this talk of another? There is only the One. Try to realise there is no "I", no "you", no "he", only the one Self which is all. If you believe in the problem of another, you are believing in something outside the Self. You will help him best by realising the oneness of everything, rather than by outward activity.

Question: Is it necessary to give up worldly desires?

Ramana: Why do we desire? Enquire. If you find no real happiness in your desires, then your mind will not be attracted to them. However, subconscious tendencies may tempt you there, but you will return.

Why do you want the life of freedom? The fact that you crave it implies that you are bound. But really you are ever-free. Know that Self, and desires will fall away of their own accord. Bring all desires and thoughts to one point within: that is realisation. Mind should be still. The bee buzzes noisily around the flower seeking honey. When it finds it, it is silent and still. So it is with a person's soul, which is seeking by desires the one true honey.

Question: The difficulty is to be in the thoughtless state and attend to duties.

Ramana: Let the thoughtless state be of itself. Do not think of it as pertaining to yourself. When you walk, you take steps involuntarily. Let your other actions happen in the same way. Gradually concentration will become pleasant and easy and you will be in that state whether attending to business or whether you sit expressly for meditation. Business will be all the easier for you when your mind is steadied and strengthened by concentration.

Question: How can my mind be still if I have to use it more than other people? I want to go into solitude and renounce my work as a headmaster.

Ramana: No. You can stay where you are and go on with work. What is the undercurrent which gives life to the mind and enables it to do all this work? Why, the Self! So, that is the real source of your activity. Simply become aware of it during your work and do not forget it. Contemplate it in the background of your mind even while you are working. To do that, do not hurry! Take your time, keep the remembrance of your real nature alive, even while working, and avoid haste which causes you to forget. Be deliberate. Practice meditation to still the mind and cause it to become aware of its true relationship to the Self, which supports it. Do not imagine it is you who are doing the work. Think that it is the underlying current which is doing it. Identify yourself with this current. If you work unhurriedly, recollectedly, your work or service need not be a hindrance.

Question: What is the purpose of all the suffering and evil in the world?

Ramana: Your question is itself an outcome of the suffering. Sorrow makes one think of God. If it were not for the suffering, would you have asked the question? Except for jnanis [realised beings], everybody, from a king to a peasant, has a certain amount of sorrow. Even in cases where it seems to be absent it is only a matter of time – sooner or later it comes. Also, one may not question sorrow or God at the first blow, but one is likely to at the fifth. We have taken this vehicle [the body] in order to know our real state.


Question: How to get rid of egoism?

Ramana: Just see it for what it really is, that will be enough. It is the ego itself which makes an effort to get rid of itself, so how can it die? If the ego is to go, then something else must kill it. Will it ever consent to commit suicide? So first realise what the true nature of the ego is and it will go of its own accord. Examine the nature of the ego: that is the process of realisation. If one sees what one's real nature is, that itself will get rid of the ego. Until then is it just like chasing one's own shadow; the more one advances the more distant is the shadow. If we leave our own Self, then the ego will manifest itself. If we seek our true nature, then ego dies. If we are in our own Reality, then we need not trouble about the ego.

Seek your Source. Find out where the thought "I" springs from. What object can we be surer of and know more certainly than our Self? This is direct experience and cannot be described further. If the present "I" goes, the mind is known for what it is – a myth. What remains is the pure Self. In deep sleep the Self exists without the perception of the body or the world, and happiness reigns.

Question: Once I was very self-reliant, but in old age I am afraid. People laugh at me.

Ramana: Even when you said you were self-reliant, it was not so – you were ego-reliant. If you let the ego go, you will achieve real Self-reliance. Your pride was merely the pride of the ego. So long as you identify yourself with the ego, you will perceive others as individuals too, and then there will be room for pride. Let that drop, and you will drop others' egos too, leaving no more room for pride.

So long as there is a sense of separation, one will be afflicted by thoughts. If the original Source is regained and the sense of separation is ended, there will be peace. Consider what happens when a stone is thrown up: it leaves its source, is projected up, tries to come down and is always in motion until it regains its source where it is at rest. Or look at the waters of the ocean: they evaporate, form clouds which are blown about by winds, condense into water, and fall as rain. The waters roll down the hilltops in streams and rivers until they reach their original source, the ocean, at which point they are at peace. Thus you see that where there is a sense of separation from the Source, there is agitation and movement until the sense of separation is lost. So it is with yourself. Now you identify yourself with your body, and think that you are separate. You must regain your Source before this false identification can cease and you can be happy.

Question: What happens to the created ego after the body dies?

Ramana: Ego is the "I"-thought. In its subtle form it remains a thought, whereas in its gross aspect it embraces mind, senses and the body. They disappear in deep sleep along with the ego, but still the Self remains. It will be the same in death. Ego is not an entity independent of the Self in order that it might be created or destroyed by itself. It functions as an instrument of the Self and periodically ceases to function, i.e. it appears and disappears as birth and death.

Question: How can I control the mind?

Ramana: 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 the "I" eliminate itself? All that you need do is to find its origin and abide there. That is as far as your efforts canextend. Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there; no effort can reveal it.

Question: How can I develop?

Ramana: Why go on pruning the ego? That is just what it wants – to be the centre of attraction. The false ego is associated with objects; the subject alone is the Reality. The world is seen in the light reflected by the mind. The moon shines by the reflected light of the sun. When the sun has set, the moon is useful for seeing things, but when the sun rises no one needs the moon, even though it is visible in the sky. So it is with the mind and Heart. The mind is used for seeing objects.

The Self is there whether you search for it or not. The cessation of false identification reveals the Self which is eternally existing. This is called realisation. The blankness is the evil result of searching the mind. The mind must be erased out of existence. See who the thinker is, who the seeker is. Then abide as the thinker, the seeker, and all thoughts will then disappear. That ego is pure ego purged of thoughts. It is the same as the Self.

Question: How can I get rid of fear?

Ramana: What is fear? It is only a thought. When there is nothing besides the Self, there is no reason to fear. Who sees anything else? The ego arises first and sees an object; if the ego does not exist, then the Self alone does, and there cannot be a second. On finding the Source within, there will be no doubt, no fear, and all other thoughts centering around the ego will disappear along with the ego. Weakness or strength are in the mind. The Self is beyond mind.


Question: Is there such a thing as free will?

Ramana: Questions of fate and free will arise only to those who fail to look into the root of both. To know the cause is never to entertain thoughts of either fate or free will.

Everything in this universe is run by one Supreme Power, but if people will not keep to the destined path appointed for them, but stray beyond its limits, then God punishes them and through that they turn towards the Self. But when the punishment finishes, they stop worshipping and sin again, thereby inviting an increased punishment. Agitation or anxiety is a sign of having strayed from destiny, whereas on the appointed path they will remain peaceful and content. They should abide in the Self and not seek to stray into desires and ambitions beyond what God gives, but be egoless.

Surrender and all will be well. Throw all responsibility onto God. Do not bear the burden. What can destiny do then? If one surrenders to God, there will be no cause for anxiety. If you are protected by God, nothing will affect you. The sense of relief is in direct proportion to the reliance on God or the Self.

When a person surrenders as a slave to the Divine, eventually there is the realisation that all one's actions are the actions of God. The sense of "I" and "mine" are lost. This is what is meant by "doing the will of God." Those who realise that they have lost their "I"-ness [ahamkara], and that they are not different from Ishwara [the Supreme personal God], are jnanis.

Question: Surrender is impossible.

Ramana: Yes, complete surrender is impossible in the beginning, but partial surrender is certainly possible for everyone and will eventually lead to it. Well, if surrender is impossible what can be done? There will be no peace of mind as you are helpless to bring it about otherwise. It can be done only by surrender.

Question: Can partial surrender undo destiny?

Ramana: Oh, yes! It can.

Question: What is self-surrender?

Ramana: It is the same as self-control. Control is effected by the removal of innate tendencies of the mind [samskaras]. The ego submits only when it recognises the higher power. Such recognition is surrender; and is the same as self-control. Otherwise the ego remains like the carved image stuck up on a tower making it appear as though it is supporting the tower on its shoulders. The ego cannot exist without the higher power but thinks that it acts of its own accord. A passenger on a train continues to hold his load on his head out of foolishness. Let him put it down; the load will reach his destination just the same. Similarly, let us not pose as the doers, but resign ourselves to the guiding power.

Question: Being always sat-chit-ananda [existence-consciousness-bliss], why does God place us in difficulties? Why did He create?

Ramana: Does God come and tell you that He has placed you in difficulties? It is you who say so. It is again wrong. If that disappears, there will be no one to say that God created. That which is, does not even say "I am", for does any thought arise that "I am not"? Only in such a case should one be reminding oneself "I am", otherwise not. For instance, does a man say always "I am a man"? He does not. On the other hand, if a thought arises that he is a cow or a buffalo, he has to remind himself that he is not a cow, but "I am a man". This would never happen. It is the same with one's own existence and realisation.


Ramana: The realised man sees himself in others – they are not different from himself. With wise people he is wise, but with the ignorant he becomes ignorant, with children he will play and with the learned he will be scholarly.

The Self-realised one is not to be regarded as an idler or a lazy drone. His powers develop incessantly and, in the course of time, he may develop and manifest occult powers, if that is his karma. This will be merely a sort of sport for the jnani [realised one] in the objective world, as he has no interest or particular purpose to serve. But if his prarabdha [past karma to be worked out] is otherwise, siddhis [supernatural powers] will not manifest, and the wise one, who habitually and by nature rests in the Atman [Self], does not seek any other path.

When a person has realised, a Universal life-current takes possession of him and he becomes an instrument in Its hands. His own separate will is gone. This is the real self-surrender. This is the highest kundalini [yogic power], this is real bhakti [devotion], this is jnana [knowledge of the Self].

The universe does not exist apart from the Self. All "evolution", all external objects are spun from the Self and disappear into it. Where does the world disappear to when we enter deep sleep? We exist but the world no longer exists. Self is hence the substratum which gives reality to the universe. If our Self did not exist, there would be no universe for us. The Reality is in the Self, therefore, not in the universe. Realisation of this comes to the realised person.

The sage experiences that he is the body, just as the ignorant person does. The difference is that the ignorant one believes that the Self is confined to the body, whereas the sage knows that the body cannot remain apart from the Self. The Self is Infinite for him and also includes the body.

Question: Does the realised sage see the world?

Ramana: Yes, but his outlook differs. You are the screen, the Self creates the ego, the ego has its thoughts which are displayed to the world like cinema pictures and those thoughts are the world. But in reality there is nothing but the Self. All are projections of the ego.

Cinema pictures move, but try going to hold onto them! What do you hold? Only the screen! Let the pictures disappear, and what remains? The screen again. And so it is here. Even when the world appears the jnani sees it only as a manifestation of the Self.

There is only one mind functioning through the five senses. There is a power working through them, and their work begins and ends. There must be a substratum on which their activities depend, a single substratum.

Question: The jnani says, "I am the body", and the ajnani [one who has not realised the Self] says, "I am the body". What is the difference?

Ramana: "I am" is the Truth. The body is the limitation. The ajnani limits the "I" with the body. The "I" in sleep is apart from the body. The same "I" is now in the waking state. Though thought to be in the body, "I" is really outside it. The wrong notion is not "I am the body" – for it is the "I" that says it [the body being insentient cannot]. The mistake lies in thinking that "I" is what "I" is not. "I" cannot be the inert body. The movements of the body are confused with the movements of the "I" and the result is misery. Whether the body works or not, "I" remains free and happy. The ajnani's "I" is the body. There is the whole error. The jnani's "I" includes the body and that is all. Some intermediate entity arises and causes confusion.

If you accept one philosophical system then you are forced to condemn the others. A child and jnani are similar. Incidents interest the child only so long as they last. It ceases to think of them after they have finished, which shows that they do not leave any imprint or impressions on the child, and it is not affected by them mentally. It is the same with the sage.

There is a verse [sloka] in the Bhagavad Gita which says that one who acts without attachment to the senses and without egoism, even if he kills the enemy, does not make any karma. Similarly, an illumined one is free from all past karma and from all past vasanas [inherent tendencies of the mind]. How can there be karma or vasanas when the "I", the ego, which caused or causes them has been destroyed? Even if a realised person were to destroy many lives in war, no sin would touch his pure soul, so the Gita says.

The realised one knows neither past, present nor future. He is above time for he lives in the timeless Self. He does not plan for the future. Why should he? There is no sense of "I" in him any longer, he is directed by the infinite power. He will just watch and wait and see what happens. He lets things take their course and resigns all to that absolute power, which you can call God, karma or whatever you like. There is no egoism in him, so he is quiet.

Question: It is claimed that the Grace of Ishwara [God] is necessary.

Ramana: We are Iswara. By seeing ourselves as Him we are having his Grace. His nature is Grace. Leave it to Him. Surrender unreservedly, either because you admit your inability and require a higher power to help you, or investigate, go into the Source and merge in the Self. God never forsakes one who has surrendered. A higher power is leading you; let it. It knows what to do and how to do it. Trust it.

Question: I pray for your Grace as human effort is futile without it.

Ramana: Both are necessary. The sun is shining, but you must turn and look at it in order to catch a glimpse. Similarly, individual effort is necessary as well as Grace.

Grace is within you; if it were external it would be useless. Grace is the Self; you are never out of its reach. If you remember the Guru, it is because you have been prompted by the Self. Isn't Grace already there? Is there a moment when Grace is not operating in you? Your remembrance of the Guru is the forerunner of Grace. Grace is both the response and the stimulus. That is the Self and that is Grace. There is no cause for anxiety.

Question: How does the Guru's Grace lead to Self-realisation?

Ramana: An aspirant begins with dissatisfaction. Not content with the world, he seeks satisfaction of desires, prays to God, and his mind is purified. His longing to know God is greater than his wish to satisfy his carnal desires. It is then that God's Grace begins to manifest. He takes the form of a Guru and appears to the devotee, teaches the truth and purifies the mind by his teachings and contact. The mind gains strength and is able to turn inward. With meditation, it is purified further and remains still without the slightest ripple. That expanse is the Self. The Guru is both external and internal. From the outside he pushes the mind inwards, and from the inside he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps it keep quiet. That is the Grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and Self.

Question: Why do you not preach to set people on the right path?

Ramana: You have already decided that I do not preach. Do you know who I am and what preaching is? How do you know that I'm not doing it? Does preaching consist of mounting a platform and haranguing people? Preaching is simply the communication of knowledge. It may also be done in silence. What do you think of someone listening to a speech for an hour and going away unimpressed? Compare that with another who sits in the holy presence and goes away after some time with their outlook on life totally changed. Which is better – preaching loudly without effect, or sitting silently emanating intuitive forces that influence others?


Question: When a man realises the Self, what will he see?

Ramana: There is no seeing. Seeing is only being. The state of Self-realisation, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been. All that is needed is that you give up your realisation of the not-true as true. All of us are regarding as real that which is not real. We have only to give up this practice on our part. Then we shall realise the Self as the Self; in other words, "Be the Self." At one stage you will laugh at yourself for trying to discover the Self which is so self-evident. So, what can we say to this question?

Question: What is the difference between the mind and the Self?

Ramana: There is no difference. The mind turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards, it becomes the ego and all the world. The mind does not exist apart from the Self, that is, is has no independent existence. The Self exists without the mind, never the mind without the Self. Cotton made into various clothes we call by various names. Gold made into various ornaments, we call by various names. But all the clothes are cotton and all the ornaments are gold. The one is real, the many are mere names and forms.

Question: In what sense is happiness or bliss our real nature?

Ramana: Perfect bliss is Reality. Perfect peace is of the Self. That alone exists and is consciousness. That which is called happiness is only the nature of Self; Self is not other than perfect happiness. That which is called happiness alone exists. Knowing that fact and abiding in the state of Self, enjoy bliss eternally.

If a man thinks that his happiness is due to external causes and his possessions, it is reasonable to conclude that his happiness must increase with the increase of possessions and diminish in proportion to their diminution. Therefore if he is devoid of possessions, his happiness should be nil. What is the real experience of man? Does it conform to this view?

In deep sleep man is devoid of possessions, including his own body. Instead of being unhappy he is quite happy. Everyone desires to sleep soundly. The conclusion is that happiness is inherent in man and is not due to external causes. One must realise the Self in order to open the store of unalloyed happiness.


Question: How shall I reach the Self?

Ramana: There is no reaching the Self. If Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not here and now and that it is yet to be obtained. What is got afresh will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So I say the Self is not reached. You are the Self, you are already that.

The fact is, you are ignorant of your blissful state. Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over the pure Self which is bliss. Attempts are directed only to remove this veil of ignorance which is merely wrong knowledge. The wrong knowledge is the false identification of the Self with the body and the mind. This false identification must go, and then the Self alone remains.

Therefore realisation is for everyone; realisation makes no difference between the aspirants. This very doubt, whether you can realise, and the notion "I have not realised" are themselves the obstacles. Be free from these obstacles also.

Question: Of what nature is the realisation of westerners who relate that they have had flashes of cosmic consciousness?

Ramana: It came as a flash and disappeared as such. That which has a beginning must also end. Only when the ever-present consciousness is realised will it be permanent. Consciousness is indeed always with us. Everyone knows "I am." No one can deny his own being. The man in deep sleep is not aware; while awake he seems to be aware. But it is the same person. There is no change in the one who slept and the one who is now awake. In deep sleep he was not aware of his body and so there was no body-consciousness. In the wakeful state he is aware of his body and so there is body-consciousness. Therefore the difference lies in the emergence of body-consciousness and not in any change in the real consciousness.

There is no one who does not say "I am". The wrong knowledge of "I am the body" is the cause of all the mischief. This wrong knowledge must go. That is realisation. Realisation is not acquisition of anything new nor is it a new faculty. It is only removal of all camouflage.

The ultimate Truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. This is all that need be said.

Question: Does my realisation help others?

Ramana: Yes, certainly. It is the best help possible. But there are no others to be helped. For a realised being sees only the Self, just like a goldsmith estimating the gold in various items of jewelry sees only gold. When you identify yourself with the body then only the forms and shapes are there. But when you transcend your body, the others disappear along with your body-consciousness.

Question: Having heard the Truth, why does not one remain content?

Ramana: Because innate mental tendencies [samskaras] have not been destroyed. Unless the samskaras cease to exist, there will always be doubt and confusion. All efforts are directed to destroying doubt and confusion. To do so their roots must be cut. Their roots are the samskaras. These are rendered ineffective by practice as prescribed by the Guru. The Guru leaves it to the seeker to do this much so that he might himself find out that there is no ignorance. Hearing the Truth is the first stage. If the understanding is not firm, one has to practice reflection [manana] and uninterrupted contemplation [nididhyasana] on it. These two processes scorch the seeds of samskaras so that they are rendered ineffective.

Some extraordinary people get unshakable jnana [knowledge of the Self] after hearing the Truth only once. These are the advanced seekers. Beginners take longer to gain it.

Question: Why do I feel unhappy when I am in Vellore and feel peace in your presence?

Ramana: Can the feeling in this place be bliss? When you leave this place you say you are unhappy. Therefore this peace is not permanent, it is mixed with unhappiness which is felt in another place. Therefore you cannot find bliss in places and in periods of time. It must be permanent in order that it may be useful. It is your own being which is permanent. Be the Self and that is bliss. You are always That.

The Self is always realised. It is not necessary to seek to realise what is already and always realised. For you cannot deny your own existence. That existence is consciousness, the Self.

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