MAHARSHI | SPIRITUAL
the marks of a real Master [Guru]?
in the Self, looking at all with an equal eye,
unshakable courage at all times, in all places and
2. What are the marks of an earnest
An intense longing for the removal of sorrow
and attainment of joy and an intense aversion for
all kinds of mundane pleasure.
3. What are the characteristics of instruction
The word upadesa means near the
place or seat. The Guru who is the embodiment of
that which is indicated by the terms sat, chit, and
ananda [being, consciousness and bliss],
prevents the disciple who, on account of his
acceptance of the forms of the objects of the
senses, has swerved from his true state and is
consequently distressed and buffeted by joys and
sorrows, from continuing so and establishes him in
his own real nature without differentiation.
Upadesa also means showing a distant object quite
near. It is brought home to the disciple that
Reality, which he believes to be distant and
different from himself, is near and not different
4. If it be true that the Guru is ones own
Self, what is the principle underlying the doctrine
which says that, however learned a disciple may be
or whatever occult powers he may possess, he cannot
attain Self-realisation without the grace of the
absolute truth the state of the Guru is that of
oneself it is very hard for the Self which has
become the individual self [jiva] through
ignorance to realise its true state or nature
without the grace of the Guru. All mental concepts
are controlled by the mere presence of the real
Guru. If he were to say to one who arrogantly
claims that he has seen the farther shore of the
ocean of learning or one who claims arrogantly that
he can perform deeds which are well-nigh
impossible, "Yes, you learnt all that is to be
learnt, but have you learnt to know your Self? And
you who are capable of performing deeds which are
almost impossible, have you seen your own Self?",
they will bow their heads and remain silent. Thus
it is evident that only by the grace of the Guru
and by no other accomplishment is it possible to
know one's own Self.
5. What are the marks of the Gurus
It is beyond words or thoughts.
6. If that is so, how is it that it is said that
the disciple realises his true state by the
It is like the elephant which wakes up on
seeing a lion in its dream. Even as the elephant
wakes up at the mere sight of the lion, so too is
it certain that the disciple wakes up from the
sleep of ignorance into the wakefulness of true
knowledge through the Gurus benevolent look
7. What is the significance of the saying that
the nature of the real Guru is that of the supreme
In the case of the individual soul which
desires to attain the state of true knowledge or
the state of Godhood and with that object always
practises devotion, the Lord who is the witness of
that individual soul and identical with it, comes
forth, when the individuals devotion has
reached a mature stage, in human form with the help
of being-consciousness-bliss. His three natural
features, and name and form which he also
graciously assumes, and in the guise of blessing
the disciple, absorbs him in Himself. According to
this doctrine the Guru can truly be called the
8. How then did some great persons attain
knowledge without a Guru?
To a few mature persons the Lord shines as the
light of knowledge and imparts awareness of the
9. What is the end of devotion and the path of
It is to learn the truth that all ones
actions performed with unselfish devotion, with the
aid of the three purified instruments [body,
speech and mind], in the capacity of the
servant of the Lord, become the Lords
actions, and to stand forth free from the sense of
I and mine. This is also
the truth of what the Saiva siddhantins
[worshipper of Shiva] call supreme devotion
or living in the service of God.
10. What is the end of the path of knowledge or
It is to know the Truth that the I
is not different from the absolute Reality
[Ishwara] and to be free from the feeling
of being the doer.
11. How can it be said that the end of both
these paths is the same?
Whatever the means, the destruction of the
sense of I and mine is the
goal, and as these are interdependent, the
destruction of either of them causes the
destruction of the other; therefore in order to
achieve that state of silence which is beyond
thought and word, either the path of knowledge
which removes the sense of I or the
path of devotion which removes the sense of
mine, will suffice. So there is no
doubt that the end of the paths of devotion and
knowledge is one and the same.
12. What is the mark of the ego?
The individual soul of the form of
I is the ego. The Self which is of the
nature of intelligence has no sense of
I. Nor does the insentient body possess
a sense of I. The mysterious appearance
of a delusive ego between the intelligent and the
insentient being the root cause of all these
troubles, upon its destruction by whatever means,
that which really exists will be seen as it is.
This is called liberation.
1. What is the
method of practice?
As the Self of a person who tries to attain
Self-realisation is not different from him and as
there is nothing other than or superior to him to
be attained by him, Self-realisation being only the
realisation of ones own nature, the seeker of
liberation realises, without doubts or
misconceptions, his real nature by distinguishing
the eternal from the transient, and never swerves
from his natural state. This is known as the
practice of knowledge. This is the enquiry leading
2. Can this path of enquiry be followed by all
This is suitable only for ripe souls. The rest
should follow different methods according to the
state of their minds.
3. What are the other methods?
They are stuti, japa, dhyana, yoga and
Stuti is singing the praises of the Lord with a
great feeling of devotion.
Japa is uttering the names of the gods or sacred
mantras like OM either mentally or verbally.
Dhyana [meditation] denotes the repetition
of the names, etc., mentally with feelings of
devotion. In this method the state of the mind will
be understood easily. For the mind does not become
concentrated and diffused simultaneously. When one
is in dhyana it does not contact the objects of the
senses, and when it is in contact with the objects
it is not in dhyana. Therefore those who are in
this state can observe the vagaries of the mind
then and there and by stopping the mind from
thinking other thoughts, fix it in dhyana.
Perfection in dhyana is the state of abiding in the
Self. As meditation functions in an exceedingly
subtle manner at the source of the mind it is not
difficult to perceive its rise and subsidence.
The source of the breath is the same as that of the
mind; therefore the subsidence of either leads
effortlessly to that of the other. The practice of
stilling the mind through breath control
[pranayama] is called yoga.
Fixing their minds on psychic centres such as the
sahasrara [the thousand-petalled lotus]
yogis remain any length of time without awareness
of their bodies. As long as this state continues
they appear to be immersed in some kind of joy. But
when the mind which has become tranquil becomes
active again it resumes its worldly thoughts. It is
therefore necessary to train it with the help of
practices like dhyana, whenever it becomes
externalised. It will then attain a state in which
there is neither subsidence nor emergence.
Jnana is the annihilation of the mind in which it
is made to assume the form of the Self through the
constant practice of dhyana or enquiry. The
extinction of the mind is the state in which there
is a cessation of all efforts. Those who are
established in this state never swerve from their
true state. The terms silence and
'inaction' refer to this state alone.
4. Is the state of 'being still' a state
involving effort or effortless?
It is not an effortless state of indolence. All
mundane activities which are ordinarily called
effort are performed with the aid of a portion of
the mind and with frequent breaks. But the act of
communion with the Self or remaining still inwardly
is intense activity which is performed with the
entire mind and without break.
Delusion or ignorance which cannot be destroyed by
any other act is completely destroyed by this
intense activity which is called
5. What is the nature of maya [illusory
Maya is that which makes us regard as
non-existent the Self, the Reality, which is always
and everywhere present, all-pervasive and
self-luminous, and as existent the individual soul,
the world and God which have been conclusively
proved to be non-existent at all times and
6. As the Self shines fully of its own accord
why is it not generally recognised like the other
objects of the world by all persons?
Wherever particular objects are known it is the
Self which has known itself in the form of those
objects. For what is known as knowledge or
awareness is only the potency of the Self. The Self
is the only sentient object. There is nothing apart
from the Self. If there are such objects they are
all insentient and therefore cannot either know
themselves or mutually know one another. It is
because the Self does not know its true nature in
this manner that it seems to be immersed and
struggling in the ocean of birth and death in the
form of the individual soul.
7. Although the Lord is all-pervasive it
appears, from passages like "adorning Him through
His grace", that He can be known only through His
grace. How then can the individual soul by its own
efforts attain Self-realisation in he absence of
the Lords grace?
As the Lord denotes the Self and as grace means
the Lords presence or revelation, there is no
time when the Lord remains unknown. If the light of
the sun is invisible to the owl it is only the
fault of that bird and not of the sun. Similarly
can the unawareness by ignorant persons of the Self
which is always of the nature of awareness be other
than their own fault? How can it be the fault of
the Self? It is because grace is of the very nature
of the Lord that He is well-known as "the blessed
grace". Therefore the Lord, whose nature itself is
grace, does not have to bestow His grace. Nor is
there any particular time for bestowing His
8. What part of the body is the abode of the
The Heart on the right side of the chest is
generally indicated. This is because we usually
point to the right side of the chest when we refer
to ourselves. Some say that the sahasrara [the
thousand petalled lotus] is the abode of the
Self. But if that were true the head should not
fall forward when we go to sleep or faint.
9. What is the nature of the Heart?
The sacred texts describing it say: "Between
the two nipples, below the chest and above the
abdomen, there are six organs of different colours.
One of them resembling the bud of a water lily and
situated two digits to the right is the Heart. It
is inverted and within it is a tiny orifice which
is the seat of dense darkness [ignorance]
full of desires. All the psychic nerves
[nadis] depend upon it. It is the abode of
the vital forces, the mind and the light of
10. Why do thoughts of many objects arise in the
mind even when there is no contact with external
All such thoughts are due to latent tendencies.
They appear only to the individual consciousness
which has forgotten its real nature and become
externalised. Whenever particular things are
perceived, the enquiry "Who is it that sees them"?
should be made; they will then disappear at
11. How do the triple factors [knower, known
and knowledge], which are absent in deep sleep
and samadhi, manifest themselves in the Self
[in the states of waking and dreaming]?
From the Self there arise in succession
[i] reflected consciousness
[chidabhasa] which is a kind of
[ii] the individual consciousness or the
seer or the first concept,
[iii] phenomena, that is the
12. Since the Self is free from the notions of
knowledge and ignorance how can it be said to
pervade the entire body in the shape of sentience
or to impart sentience to the senses?
Wise men say that there is a connection between
the source of the various psychic nerves and the
Self, that this is the knot of the Heart, that the
connection between the sentient and the insentient
will exist until this is cut asunder with the aid
of true knowledge, that just as the subtle and
invisible force of electricity travels through
wires and does many wonderful things, so the force
of the Self also travels through the psychic nerves
and, pervading the entire body, imparts sentience
to the senses, and that if this knot is cut the
Self will remain as it always is, without any
13. How can there be a connection between the
Self which is pure knowledge and the triple factors
which are relative knowledge?
This is, in a way, like the working of a cinema
as shown below:
The lamp inside [the
2. The lens in front of the lamp
3. The film which is a long series of
4. The lens, the light passing through
it and the lamp, which together form the
5. The light passing through the lens
on the screen
6. The various kinds of pictures
appearing in the
light of the screen
7. The mechanism which sets the film
2. The pure [sattvic] mind
close to the Self
3. The stream of latent tendencies
consisting of subtle thoughts
4. The mind, the illumination of it
and the Self, which together form the seer
or the individual self
5. The light of the Self emerging
from the mind through the senses, and
falling on the world
6. The various forms and names
appearing as the objects perceived in the
light of the world
7. The divine law manifesting the
latent tendencies of the mind
Just as the pictures appear on the screen as long
as the film throws the shadows through the lens, so
the phenomenal world will continue to appear to the
individual in the waking and dream states as long
as there are latent mental impressions. Just as the
lens magnifies the tiny specks on the film to a
huge size and as a number of pictures are shown in
a second, so the mind enlarges the sprout-like
tendencies into tree-like thoughts and shows in a
second innumerable worlds. Again, just as there is
only the light of the lamp visible when there is no
film, so the Self alone shines without the triple
factors when the mental concepts in the form of
tendencies are absent in the states of deep sleep,
swoon and samadhi. Just as the lamp illumines the
lens, while remaining unaffected, the Self
illumines the ego, while remaining unaffected.
14. What is dhyana [meditation]?
It is abiding as ones Self without
swerving in any way from ones real nature and
without feeling that one is meditating. As one is
not in the least conscious of the different states
[waking, dreaming, etc.] in this condition,
the sleep noticeable here is also regarded as
15. What is the difference between dhyana and
Dhyana is achieved through deliberate mental
effort; in samadhi there is no such effort.
16. What are the factors to be kept in view in
It is important for one who is established in
his Self to see that he does not swerve in the
least from this absorption. By swerving from his
true nature he may see before him bright
effulgences, or hear [unusual] sounds or
regard as real the visions of gods appearing within
or outside himself. He should not be deceived by
these and forget himself.
17. What are the rules of conduct which an
aspirant should follow?
Moderation in food, moderation in sleep and
moderation in speech.
18. How long should one practice?
Until the mind attains effortlessly its natural
state of freedom from concepts, that is till the
sense of I and mine exists
19. What is the meaning of "dwelling in
As the Self is all-pervasive it has no
particular place for solitude. The state of being
free from mental concepts is called "dwelling in
20. What is the sign of wisdom?
Its beauty lies in remaining free from delusion
after realising the Truth once. There is fear only
for one who sees at least a slight difference in
the supreme Reality. So long as there is the idea
that the body is the Self one cannot be a realiser
of Truth whoever he might be.
21. If everything happens according to karma how
is one to overcome the obstacles to meditation?
Prarabdha is that portion of the past karma
which is responsible for the present body and
concerns only the out-turned, not the in-turned
mind. One who seeks his real Self will not be
afraid of any obstacle.
22. Is asceticism [sannyasa] one of the
essential requisites for a person to become
established in the Self?
The effort that is made to get rid of
attachment to ones body is really towards
abiding in the Self. Maturity of thought and
enquiry alone removes attachment to the body, not
the stations of life [asramas], such as
student [brahmachari], etc. For the
attachment is in the mind while the stations
pertain to the body. How can bodily stations remove
the attachment in the mind? As maturity of thought
and enquiry pertain to the mind these alone can, by
enquiry on the part of the same mind, remove the
attachments which have crept into it through
thoughtlessness. But, as the discipline of
asceticism is the means for attaining dispassion,
and as dispassion is the means for enquiry, joining
an order of ascetics may be regarded, in a way, as
a means of enquiry through dispassion. Instead of
wasting ones life by entering the order of
ascetics before one is fit for it, it is better to
live the householders life. In order to fix
the mind in the Self which is its true nature it is
necessary to separate it from the family of fancies
and doubts, that is to renounce the family
[samsara] in the mind. This is the real
23. It is an established rule that so long as
there is the least idea of I-am-the-doer,
Self-knowledge cannot be attained, but is it
possible for an aspirant who is a householder to
discharge his duties properly without this
As there is no rule that action should depend
upon a sense of being the doer it is unnecessary to
doubt whether any action will take place without a
doer or an act of doing. Although the officer of a
government treasury may appear, in the eyes of
others, to be doing his duty attentively and
responsibly all day long, he will be discharging
his duties without attachment, thinking "I have no
real connection with all this money" and without a
sense of involvement in his mind. In the same
manner a wise householder may also discharge
without attachment the various household duties
which fall to his lot according to his past karma,
like a tool in the hands of another. Action and
knowledge are not obstacles to each other.
24. Of what use to his family is a wise
householder who is unmindful of his bodily comforts
and of what use is his family to him?
Although he is entirely unmindful of his bodily
comforts, if, owing to his past karma, his family
have to subsist by his efforts, he may be regarded
as doing service to others. If it is asked whether
the wise man derives any benefit from the discharge
of domestic duties, it may be answered that, as he
has already attained the state of complete
satisfaction which is the sum total of all benefits
and the highest good of all, he does not stand to
gain anything more by discharging family
25. How can cessation of activity and peace of mind
be attained in the midst of household duties which
are of the nature of constant activity?
As the activities of the wise man exist only in
the eyes of others and not in his own, although he
may be accomplishing immense tasks, he really does
nothing. Therefore his activities do not stand in
the way of inaction and peace of mind. For he knows
the truth that all activities take place in his
mere presence and that he does nothing. Hence he
will remain as the silent witness of all the
activities taking place.
26. Just as the sages past karma is the cause
of his present activities will not the impressions
[vasanas] caused by his present activities
adhere to him in future?
Only one who is free from all the latent
tendencies is a sage. That being so how can the
tendencies of karma affect him who is entirely
unattached to activity?
27. What is the meaning of brahmacharya?
Only enquiry into Reality [Brahman]
should be called brahmacharya.
28. Will the practice of brahmacharya which is
followed in conformity with the four orders of life
[student life, household life, retired life and
renounced life] be a means of knowledge?
As the various means of knowledge, such as
control of senses, etc., are included in
brahmacharya the virtuous practices duly followed
by those who belong to the order of students
[brahmacharins] are very helpful for their
29. Can one enter the order of ascetics
[sannyasa] directly from the order of
Those who are competent need not formally enter
the orders of brahmacharya, etc., in the order laid
down. One who has realised his Self does not
distinguish between the various orders of life.
Therefore no order of life either helps or hinders
30. Does an aspirant lose anything by not observing
the rules of caste and orders of life?
As the attainment and practice of knowledge is
the supreme end of all other practices, there is no
rule that one who remains in any one order of life
and constantly acquires knowledge is bound to
follow the rules laid down for that order of life.
If he follows the rules of caste and orders of life
he does so for the good of the world. He does not
derive any benefit by observing the rules. Nor does
he lose anything by not observing them.
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1. What is the
light of consciousness?
It is the self-luminous existence-consciousness
which reveals to the seer the world of names and
forms both inside and outside. The existence of
this existence-consciousness can be inferred by the
objects illuminated by it. It does not become the
object of consciousness.
2. What is knowledge [vijnana]?
It is that tranquil state of
existence-consciousness which is experienced by the
aspirant and which is like the waveless ocean or
the motionless ether.
3. What is bliss?
It is the experience of joy or peace in the
state of vijnana free of all activities and similar
to deep sleep. This is also called the state of
kevala nirvikalpa [remaining without
4. What is the state beyond bliss?
It is the state of unceasing peace of mind
which is found in the state of absolute quiescence,
jagrat-sushupti [sleep with awareness]
which resembles inactive deep sleep. In this state,
in spite of the activity of the body and the
senses, there is no external awareness, like a
child immersed in sleep who is not conscious of the
food given to him by his mother. A yogi who is in
this state is inactive even while engaged in
activity. This is also called sahaja nirvikalpa
samadhi [natural state of absorption in one's
Self without concepts].
5. What is the authority for saying that the
entire moving and unmoving worlds depend upon one's
The Self means the embodied being. It is only
after the energy, which was latent in the state of
deep sleep, emerges with the idea of I
that all objects are experienced. The Self is
present in all perceptions as the Perceiver. There
are no objects to be seen when the I is
absent. For all these reasons it may undoubtedly be
said that everything comes out of the Self and goes
back to the Self.
6. As the bodies and the selves animating them
are everywhere actually observed to be innumerable
how can it be said that the Self is only one?
If the idea "I am the body" is accepted, the
selves are multiple. The state in which this idea
vanishes is the Self since in that state there are
no other objects. It is for this reason that the
Self is regarded as one only.
7. What is the authority for saying that Reality
can be apprehended by the mind and at the same time
that it cannot be apprehended by the mind?
It cannot be apprehended by the impure mind but
can be apprehended by the pure mind.
8. What is pure mind and what is impure
When the indefinable power of Reality separates
itself from Reality and, in union with the
reflection of consciousness assumes various forms,
it is called the impure mind. When it becomes free
from the reflection of consciousness, through
discrimination, it is called the pure mind. Its
state of union with the Reality is its apprehension
of Reality. The energy which is accompanied by the
reflection of consciousness is called the impure
mind and its state of separation from Reality is
its non-apprehension of Reality.
9. Is it possible to overcome, even while the
body exists, the karma [prarabdha] which is
said to last till the end of the body?
Yes. If the agent [doer] upon whom the
karma depends, namely the ego, which has come into
existence between the body and the Self, merges in
its source and loses its form, will the karma which
depends upon it alone survive? Therefore when there
is no I there is no karma.
10. As the Self is existence and consciousness,
what is the reason for describing it as different
from the existent and the non-existent, the
sentient and the insentient?
Although the Self is real, as it comprises
everything, it does not give room for questions
involving duality about its reality or unreality.
Therefore it is said to be different from the real
and the unreal. Similarly, even though it is
consciousness, since there is nothing for it to
know or to make itself known to, it is said to be
different from the sentient and the insentient.
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1. What is the
state of attainment of knowledge?
It is firm and effortless abidance in the Self
in which the mind which has become one with the
Self does not subsequently emerge again at any
time. That is, just as everyone usually and
naturally has the idea, "I am not a goat nor a cow
nor any other animal but a man", when he thinks of
his body, so also when he has the idea "I am not
the principles beginning with the body and ending
with sound, but the Self which is existence,
consciousness and bliss", the innate
self-consciousness, he is said to have attained
2. To which of the seven stages of knowledge
[saptha bhoomikas] does the sage
He belongs to the fourth stage.
seven jnana bhoomikas are:
1. subheccha [the desire for
2. vicharana [enquiry]
3. tanumanasa [tenuous mind]
4. satwapatti [Self-realisation]
5. asamsakti [non-attachment]
6. padarthabhavana [non-perception of
7. turyaga [transcendence]
3. If that is so why have three more stages
superior to it been distinguished?
The marks of the stages four to seven are based
upon the experiences of the realised person. They
are not states of knowledge and release. So far as
knowledge and release are concerned no distinction
whatever is made in these four stages.
Those who have attained the last four bhoomikas are
called brahmavit, brahmavidvara, brahmavidvariya
and brahmavid varistha respectively.
4. As liberation is common to all, why is the
varistha [the most excellent] alone praised
So far as the varisthas common experience
of bliss is concerned he is extolled only because
of the special merit acquired by him in his
previous births which is the cause of it.
5. As there is no one who does not desire to
experience constant bliss what is the reason why
all sages do not attain the state of varistha?
It is not to be attained by mere desire or
effort. Karma [prarabdha] is its cause. As
the ego dies along with its cause even in the
fourth stage [bhoomika], what agent is
there beyond that stage to desire anything or to
make efforts? So long as they make efforts they
will not be sages. Do the sacred texts which
specially mention the varistha say that the other
three are unenlightened persons?
6. As some sacred texts say that the supreme
state is that in which the sense organs and the
mind are completely destroyed, how can that state
be compatible with the experience of the body and
If that were so there would not be any
difference between that state and the state of deep
sleep. Further how can it be said to be the natural
state when it exists at one time and not at
another? This happens, as stated before, to some
persons according to their karma for some time or
till death. It cannot properly be regarded as the
final state. If it could it would mean that all
great souls and the Lord, who were the authors of
the Vedantic works and the Vedas, were
unenlightened persons. If the supreme state is that
in which neither the senses nor the mind exist and
not the state in which they exist, how can it be
the perfect state [paripurnam]? As karma
alone is responsible for the activity or inactivity
of the sages, great souls have declared the natural
state without concepts [sahaja nirvikalpa]
alone to be the ultimate state.
7. What is the difference between ordinary sleep
and waking sleep [jagrat sushupti]?
In ordinary sleep there are not only no
thoughts but also no awareness. In waking sleep
there is awareness alone. That is why it is called
awake while sleeping, that is the sleep in which
there is awareness.
8. Why is the Self described both as the fourth
state [turiya] and beyond the fourth state
Turiya means that which is the fourth. The
experiencers of the three states of waking,
dreaming and deep sleep, known as visva, taijasa
and prajna, who wander successively in these three
states, are not the Self. It is with the object of
making this clear, namely that the Self is that
which is different from them and which is the
witness of these states, that it is called the
fourth. When this is known the three experiencers
disappear and the idea that the Self is a witness,
that it is the fourth, also disappears. That is why
the Self is described as beyond the fourth.
9. What is the benefit derived by the sage from
the sacred books?
The sage who is the embodiment of the truths
mentioned in the scriptures has no use for
10. Is there any connection between the attainment
of supernatural powers and liberation?
Enlightened enquiry alone leads to liberation.
Supernatural powers are all illusory appearances
created by the power of maya. Self-realisation
which is permanent is the only true accomplishment.
Accomplishments which appear and disappear, being
the effect of maya, cannot be real. They are
accomplished with the object of enjoying fame,
pleasures, etc. They come unsought to some persons
through their karma. Know that union with Reality
is the real aim of all accomplishments. This is
also the state of liberation known as union.
11. If this is the nature of liberation why do
some scriptures connect it with the body and say
that the individual soul can attain liberation only
when it does not leave the body?
It is only if bondage is real that liberation
and the nature of its experiences have to be
considered. So far as the Self is concerned it has
really no bondage in any of the four states. As
bondage is merely a verbal assumption according to
the emphatic proclamation of the Vedanta system,
how can the question of liberation, which depends
upon the question of bondage, arise when there is
no bondage? Without knowing this truth, to enquire
into the nature of bondage and liberation, is like
enquiring into the non-existent height, colour,
etc., of a barren womans son or the horns of
12. If that is so, do not the descriptions of
bondage and release found in the scriptures become
irrelevant and untrue?
No, they do not. On the contrary, the delusion
of bondage fabricated by ignorance from time
immemorial can be removed only by knowledge, and
for this purpose the term liberation
has been usually accepted. That is all. The fact
that the characteristics of liberation are
described in different ways proves that they are
13. If that is so, are not all efforts such as
study, listening and reflection useless?
No, they are not. The firm conviction that
there is neither bondage nor liberation is the
supreme purpose of all efforts. As this purpose of
seeing boldly, through direct experience, that
bondage and liberation do not exist, cannot be
achieved except with the aid of the aforesaid
practices, these efforts are useful.
14. Is there any authority for saying that there
is neither bondage nor liberation?
This is decided on the strength of experience
and not merely on the strength of the
15. If it is experienced how is it experienced?
Bondage and liberation
are mere linguistic terms. They have no reality of
their own. Therefore they cannot function of their
own accord. It is necessary to accept the existence
of some basic thing of which they are the
modifications. If one enquires, "For whom is there
bondage and liberation?" it will be seen, "They are
for me". If one enquires, "Who am I?", one will see
that there is no such thing as the I.
It will then be as clear as an amalaka fruit in
ones hand that what remains is ones
real being. As this truth will be naturally and
clearly experienced by those who leave aside mere
verbal discussions and enquire into themselves
inwardly, there is no doubt that all realised
persons uniformly see neither bondage nor
liberation so far as the true Self is
16. If truly there is neither bondage nor
liberation what is the reason for the actual
experience of joys and sorrows?
They appear to be real only when one turns
aside from ones real nature. They do not
17. Is it possible for everyone to know directly
without doubt what exactly is ones true
Undoubtedly it is possible.
It is the experience of everyone that even in
the states of deep sleep, fainting, etc., when the
entire universe, moving and stationary, beginning
with earth and ending with the unmanifested
[prakriti], disappear, he does not
disappear. Therefore the state of pure being which
is common to all and which is always experienced
directly by everybody is ones true nature.
The conclusion is that all experiences in the
enlightened as well as the ignorant state, which
may be described by newer and newer words, are
opposed to ones real nature.
May this book consisting of the words of
experience, which have come out of the lotus Heart
of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, shine as a lamp of
true knowledge to illuminate the true minds of
those who have renounced the world.
May the world be blessed for long with the feet of
Guru Ramana who abides as that silent principle
which absorbs all of us and remains by itself as
the root of the three principles: soul, world and
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