Sri Ramana Maharshi on Self-Enquiry



Contents

Self-Enquiry - What is it?
Self-Enquiry – What is its goal?
Self-Enquiry – This sadhana is enough
Self-Enquiry – Suitable only for ripe souls
Self-Enquiry – How does it work?
Self-Enquiry – What exists in truth – the One or the many?
Self-Enquiry – The nature of ignorance or nescience
Self-Enquiry – The nature of the mind
Self-Enquiry – The impure mind cannot know God
Self-Enquiry – The nature of the Heart (Hridayam, Sphurana )
Self-Enquiry – The mind’s origin is in the Heart
Self-Enquiry – The nature of the ego-self, ahamkara, or jiva
Self-Enquiry – The nature of the I-thought or Aham-vritti
Self-Enquiry - Vasanas (Latent Tendencies)
Self-Enquiry – “I am the body” is the primary delusion
Self-Enquiry – Turn the mind inward
Self-Enquiry – The “I-thought” is the primary clue
Self-Enquiry – Be still; be silent
Self-Enquiry – Knowledge dawns in the Heart
Self-Enquiry - Watch and witness
Self-Enquiry – Destroy the ego
Self-Enquiry – Eradicate the sense of doership
Self-Enquiry – Remove the obstacles and the Self remains
Self-Enquiry – Abide as the Self
Self-Enquiry – Three senses of self must be understood: Jiva, Atman, and Paramatman
Self-Enquiry – At some point, God steps in
Self-Enquiry – Liberation occurs at a stage of nirvikalpa samadhi called sahaja, beyond Brahmajnana or kevalya nirvikalpa samadhi
Self-Enquiry – Kevalya Nirvikalpa Samadhi compared w Self-Enquiry – Self-Enquiry vs. other means of quieting the mind ith Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi
Self-Enquiry – Self-Enquiry vs. other means of quieting the mind
Self-Enquiry – Self-Enquiry vs. other means of quieting the mind - Meditation
Self-Enquiry – Supplementary practices
Self-Enquiry – The contribution of Sri Ramana Maharshi
Bibliography



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Self-Enquiry - What is it?

To all deep-thinking minds, the enquiry about the “I” and its nature has an irresistible fascination. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 72.)

Self-enquiry is the one, infallible means, the only direct one, to realize the unconditioned, absolute Being that you really are. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 50-1.)

Disciple: Is it not funny that the “I” should be searching for the I”? Does not the enquiry, “Who am I?” turn out in the end [to be] an empty formula? Or, am I to put the question to myself endlessly, repeating it like [a] mantra? Master: Self-enquiry is certainly not an empty formula; it is more than repetition of any mantra. If the enquiry, "Who am I?”' were a mere mental questioning, it would not be of much value. The very purpose of Self-enquiry is to focus the entire mind at its Source. It is not, therefore, a case of one “I” searching for another “I.” …

Where the “I” merges, another entity emerges as “I” - “I” of its own accord. That is the perfect Self. (Ramana Mahrashi, GFB.)

Inquiring into the nature of one's self that is in bondage and realising one's true nature is release. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 21.)

Though the “I” is always experienced, yet one's attention has to be drawn to it. Then only knowledge dawns. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 92.)

If the ego is, everything else also is. If the ego is not, nothing else is. Indeed, the ego is all. Therefore the enquiry as to what this ego is is the only way of giving up everything. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 25.)

Experiences such as "I went; I came; I was; I did" come naturally to everyone. From these experiences, does it not appear that the consciousness "I" is the subject of those various acts? Enquiry into the true nature of that consciousness, and remaining as oneself is the way to understand … one's true nature. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 2.)

Self-Enquiry – What is its goal?

The aim is to reach the root of the “I”-sense. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 77.)

To attain … natural happiness one must know oneself. For that Self-Enquiry - “Who am I?” - is the chief means. (Ramana Maharshi, GFB, chapter 1.)

There can be satisfaction only when you reach the source; otherwise there will be restlessness. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

On diving deep upon the quest
“Who am I and from whence?” thoughts disappear
And consciousness of Self … flashes forth
As the “I-I” within the cavity
Of every seeker’s Heart. And this is Heaven,
This is that Stillness, the abode of Bliss. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 27.)

That State is agreeable to all wherein, having given up the objective outlook, one knows one's Self and loses all notions either of unity or duality, of oneself and the ego. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 3.)

The duality of subject and object and trinity of seer, sight, and seen can exist only if supported by the One. If one turns inward in search of that One Reality they fall away. Those who see this are those who see Wisdom. They are never in doubt. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 9.)

[The end of the path of jnana] is to know the truth that the “I” is not different from the Lord (Isvara) and to be free from the feeling of being the doer (kartrtva, ahamkara). (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 1, Chapter 1, Question 10.)

When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 12.)

Self-Enquiry – This sadhana is enough

It is no doubt said in some books that one should go on cultivating one good quality after another and thus prepare for moksha; but for those who follow the jnana or vichara marga, their sadhana is itself quite enough for acquiring all daivic (i.e., divine) qualities; they need not do anything else. (Ramana Mahrashi, GFB.)

If one resorts to contemplation of the Self unintermittently, until the Self is gained, that alone would do. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 17.)

The enquiry "Who am I?" is the principal means to the removal of all misery and the attainment of the supreme bliss. … Never forgetting one's plenary Self-experience is real bhakti (devotion), yoga (mind-control), jnana (knowledge) and all other austerities. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 12.)

This method which easily destroys egoity deserves to be called devotion (bhakti), meditation (dhyana), concentration (yoga), and knowledge (jnana). (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 4.)

Absorption in the heart of being,
Whence we sprang,
Is the path of action, of devotion,
Of union and of knowledge. (Ramana Maharshi, CW, Chapter 5.)

Self-Enquiry – Suitable only for ripe souls

Although [Advaita is] the ultimate doctrine and [Self-Enquiry is] the supreme and most direct path, this, throughout the ages, has not been the most popular, because for most people it seemed too austere and difficult. (Anon., “Intro” to Ramana Maharshi, FHSA.)

This is suitable only for ripe souls. The rest should follow different methods according to the state of their minds. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 2.)

Self-Enquiry – How does it work?

Vichara begins when you cling to your Self and are already off the mental movement, the thought-waves. (Ramana Maharshi, SDB, ix.)

Once the “I” emerges, all else emerges. With a keen mind enquire whence this “I” emerges. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 23.)

”Whence does this “I” arise?” Seek for it within; it then vanishes. This is the pursuit of Wisdom. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 24.)

Thoughts alone constitute the mind; and for all thoughts the base or source is the “I” thought. “I” is the mind. If we go inward questing for the source of the “I,” the “I” topples down. This is the jnana enquiry.

If one enquires “Who am I?” within the mind, the individual “I” falls down abashed as soon as one reaches the Heart and immediately Reality manifests itself spontaneously as “I-I.” Although it reveals itself as “I,” it is not the ego but the Perfect Being, the Absolute Self. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 30.)

What you call your self now is not the real Self which is neither born nor dies. (Ramana Maharshi, SDB, xvi.)

When one persistently inquires into the nature of the mind, the mind will end leaving the Self (as the residue). What is referred to as the Self is the Atman. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 13.)

When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire: “To whom do they arise?” It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, "To whom has this thought arisen?" The answer that would emerge would be "To me." Thereupon if one inquires "Who am I?,” the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will become quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 14.)

You must distinguish between the “I,” pure in itself, and the “I”-thought. The latter, being merely a thought, sees subject and object, sleeps, wakes up, eats and thinks, dies and is reborn. But the pure “I” is the pure Being, eternal existence, free from ignorance and thought-illusion. If you stay as the “I,” your being alone, without thought, the I-thought will disappear and the delusion will vanish for ever. In a cinema-show you can see pictures only in a very dim light or in darkness. But when all lights are switched on, all pictures disappear. So also in the flood-light of the Supreme Atman all objects disappear. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 46.)

The Real is ever-present, like the screen on which all the [movie] pictures move. While the pictures appear on it, it remains invisible. Stop the pictures, and the screen, which has all along been present, in fact the only object that has existed throughout, will become clear. All these universes, humans, objects, thoughts and events are merely pictures moving on the screen of Pure Consciousness, which alone is real. Shapes and phenomena pass away, but Consciousness remains ever. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 46.)

[Turning the mind inward] is done by practice and dispassion and that succeeds only gradually. The mind, having been so long a cow accustomed to graze stealthily on others' estates, is not easily confined to her stall. However much her keeper tempts her with luscious grass and fine fodder, she refuses the first time; then she takes a bit; but her innate tendency to stray away asserts itself; and she slips away; on being repeatedly tempted by the owner, she accustoms herself to the stall; finally even if let loose she would not stray away. Similarly with the mind. If once it finds its inner happiness it will not wander outward. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 213.)

By repeated practice one can become accustomed to turning inwards and finding the Self. One must always and constantly make an effort, until one has permanently realized. Once the effort ceases, the state becomes natural and the Supreme takes possession of the person with an unbroken current. Until it has become permanently natural and your habitual state, know that you have not realized the Self, only glimpsed it. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

As thoughts arise they should be destroyed then and there in the very place of their origin, through inquiry. … As long as there are enemies within the fortress, they will continue to sally forth; if they are destroyed as they emerge, the fortress will fall into our hands. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 17.)

Master: How do you meditate?

Disciple: I begin to ask myself "Who am I?”', eliminate body as not “I,” the breath as not “I,” the mind as not “I” and I am not able to proceed further.

M: Well, that is so far as the intellect goes. Your process is only intellectual. Indeed, all the scriptures mention the process only to guide the seeker to know the Truth. The Truth cannot be directly pointed out. Hence this intellectual process. You see, the one who eliminates all the “not I” cannot eliminate the “I.” To say “I am not this” or “I am that” there must be the “I.” This “I” is only the ego or the “I”-thought. After the rising up of this “I”-thought all other thoughts arise. The “I”-thought is therefore the root-thought. If the root is pulled out all others are at the same time uprooted. Therefore seek the root “I,” question yourself "Who am I?”'; find out its source. Then all these will vanish and the pure Self will remain ever.

D: How to do it?

M: The “I” is always there - in deep sleep, in dream and in wakefulness. The one in sleep is the same as that who now speaks. There is always the feeling of “I.” Otherwise do you deny your existence? You do not. You say “I am.” Find out who is.

D: Even so, I do not understand. “I,” you say, is the wrong “I” now. How to eliminate this wrong “I”?

M: You need not eliminate the wrong “I.” How can “I” eliminate itself? All that you need do is to find out its origin and abide there. Your efforts can extend only thus far. Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach it.

D: If “I” am always-here and now, why do I not feel so?

M: That is it. Who says it is not felt? Does the real “I” say it or the false “I”? Examine it. You will find it is the wrong “I.” The wrong “I” is the obstruction. It has to be removed in order that the true “I” may not be hidden. The feeling that I have not realised is the obstruction to realisation.

In fact it is already realised; there is nothing more to be realised. Otherwise, the realisation will be new; it has not existed so far; it must take place hereafter. What is born will also die. If realisation be not eternal it is not worth having. Therefore what we seek is not that which must happen afresh. It is only that which is eternal but not now known due to obstructions; it is that we seek. All that we need do is to remove the obstruction. That which is eternal is not known to be so because of ignorance. Ignorance is the obstruction. Get over this ignorance and all will be well.

The ignorance is identical with the “I”-thought. Find its source and it will vanish.

The “I”-thought is like a spirit which, although not palpable, rises up automatically with the body, flourishes and disappears with it. The body-consciousness is the wrong “I.” Give up this body-consciousness. It is done by seeking the source of “I.” The body does not say “I am.” It is you who say, “I am the body!” Find out who this “I” is. Seeking its source it will vanish.

D: Then, will there be bliss?

M: Bliss is coeval with Being-Consciousness. All the arguments relating to the eternal Being of that Bliss apply to Bliss also. Your nature is Bliss. Ignorance is now hiding that Bliss. Remove the ignorance for Bliss to be freed.

D: Should we not find out the ultimate reality of the world, individual and God?

M: These are all conceptions of the “I.” They arise only after the advent of the “I”-thought. Did you think of them in your deep sleep? You existed in deep sleep and the same you are now speaking. If they be real should they not be in your sleep also? They are only dependent upon the “I”-thought. Again does the world tell you “I am the world”? Does the body say “I am [the] body”? You say, "This is the world,” "this is [the] body” and so on. So these are only your conceptions. Find out who you are and there will be an end of all your doubts. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 197.)

Self-Enquiry – What exists in truth – the One or the many?

All religions postulate the three fundamentals, the world, the soul, and God, but it is only the one Reality that manifests Itself as these three. One can say, “The three are really three only so long as the ego lasts.” Therefore, to inhere in one's own Being, where the “I,” or ego, is dead, is the perfect State. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 2.)

From our perception of the world there follows acceptance of a unique First Principle possessing various powers. Pictures of name and form, the person who sees, the screen on which he sees, and the light by which he sees: he himself is all of these. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 1.)

What exists in truth is the Self alone. The world, the individual soul, and God are appearances in it, like silver in mother-of-pearl; these three appear at the same time, and disappear at the same time.

The Self is that where there is absolutely no “I”-thought. That is called “Silence.” The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is “I”; the Self itself is God; all is Siva, the Self. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 17.)

Undifferentiated consciousness is the only true reality. Whatever is different from it is personal and has nescience as its material cause and consciousness as its basis. (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 12.)

Self-Enquiry – The nature of ignorance or nescience

The nescience imagined in [Brahman] and its effects, namely the individual, the Lord and the world, are unreal in all the three periods of time. Whatever is seen is the play of the intellect, which is the effect of that nescience. Brahman, while unmoved, illumines the intellect. This intellect projects its false imagination in the states of waking and dreaming and merges in the nescience in the state of deep sleep. (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 14.)

Brahman is without attributes (and cannot therefore be cognized). Its general existence is known even in the state of nescience in the form of “I am,” while its particular aspects like consciousness, bliss, etc., are not then known, but are known only in the state of knowledge. … The attributeless Brahman … is known as existence and unknown as consciousness and bliss. (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 13-4.)

Although Brahman is consciousness, the general (indistinct) aspect of that all-pervasive consciousness which is of the nature of effulgence, is not inimical to nescience, but helpful to it. … The general (possibility of) fire within the wood is not inimical to darkness, but helpful to it. But as the actualized (manifest) fire produced by rubbing the wood is inimical to darkness, so also the distinct consciousness produced in the mind as Brahman is [inimical to nescience]. (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 13.)

Just as the elemental ether within the flame of a lamp is known to fill without any difference and without any limit both the inside and the outside of the flame, so also the knowledge-ether that is within the Self-light in the heart, fills without any difference and without any limit both the inside and the outside of that Self-light. This is what is referred to as Brahman. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 17.)

Just as [movie] pictures can be made visible by a reflected light, and only in darkness, so also the world pictures are perceptible only by the light of the Self reflected in the darkness of avidya (ignorance). The world can be seen neither in the utter darkness of ignorance, as in deep sleep, nor in the utter light of the Self, as in Self-realization or samadhi. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 57.)

Disciple: If the jiva is by nature identical with the Self, what is it that prevents the jiva from realizing its true nature?

Master: It is forgetfulness of the jiva's true nature; this is known as the power of veiling. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 38.)

D: If it is true that the jiva has forgotten itself, how does the “I”-experience arise for all?

M: The veil does not completely hide the jiva;* it only hides the Self-nature of “I” and projects the “I am the body” notion; but it does not hide the Self's existence which is “I,” and which is real and eternal. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 39.)

*Ignorance cannot hide the basic “I,” but it hides the specific truth that the jiva is the Supreme (Self).

The ignorance, arising from the Self, which is Brahman, is mere imagination (kalpita ) and has no beginning. (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 13.)

It is due to illusion born of ignorance that men fail to recognise That which is always and for everybody the inherent Reality dwelling in its natural Heart-centre and to abide in it, and that instead they argue that it exists or does not exist, that it has form or has not form, or is non-dual or dual. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 34.)

Self-Enquiry – The nature of the mind

That which rises in this body as “I” is the mind. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 13.)

[The] mind is but an aggregate of thoughts. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

Thoughts alone constitute the mind; and for all thoughts the base or source is the “I” thought. “I” is the mind. (Ramana Maharshi, GFB, chapter 4.)

Thoughts alone make up the mind;
And of all thoughts the “I” thought is the root.
What is called mind is but the notion “I.”
(Ramana Maharshi, CW, Chapter 5.)

The mind is a bundle of thoughts. The thoughts arise because there is the thinker. The thinker is the ego. The ego, if sought, will automatically vanish. The ego and the mind are the same. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 347.)

God illumines the mind and shines within it. One cannot know God by means of the mind. One can but turn the mind inwards and merge it in God. (Ramana Maharshi, GFB, chapter 3.)

No attempt should be made to destroy [the mind]. To think or wish is in itself a thought. If the thinker is sought, the thoughts will disappear. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

[Thoughts] will disappear because they are unreal. The idea of difficulty is itself an obstacle to realization. It must be overcome. To remain as the Self is not difficult. This thought of difficulty is the chief obstacle. A little practice in discovering the source of “I” will make you think differently. Absolute freedom from thoughts is the state conducive to such recognition of the Self. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

What is called “mind” is a wondrous power residing in the Self. It causes all thoughts to arise. Apart from thoughts, there is no such thing as mind. Therefore, thought is the nature of mind. Apart from thoughts, there is no independent entity called the world. In deep sleep there are no thoughts, and there is no world. In the states of waking and dream, there are thoughts, and there is a world also. Just as the spider emits the thread (of the web) out of itself and again withdraws it into itself, likewise the mind projects the world out of itself and again resolves it into itself. When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears. Therefore, when the world appears (to be real), the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears (shines) the world does not appear. When one persistently inquires into the nature of the mind, the mind will end leaving the Self (as the residue). What is referred to as the Self is the Atman. The mind always exists only in dependence on something gross; it cannot stay alone. It is the mind that is called the subtle body or the soul (jiva). (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 13.)

In the books explaining the nature of the mind, it is thus stated: "The mind is formed by the concretion of the subtle portion of the food we eat; it grows with the passions such as attachment and aversion, desire and anger; being the aggregate of mind, intellect, memory and egoity, it receives the collective singular name ‘mind,’ the characteristics that it bears are thinking, determining, etc.; since it is an object of consciousness (the self), it is what is seen, inert; even though inert, it appears as if conscious because of association with consciousness (like a red-hot iron ball); it is limited, non-eternal, partite, and changing like wax, gold, candle, etc.; it is of the nature of all elements (of phenomenal existence); its locus is the heart-lotus even as the loci of the sense of sight, etc., are the eyes, etc.; it is the adjunct of the individual soul thinking of an object; it transforms itself into a mode, and along with the knowledge that is in the brain, it flows through the five sense-channels, gets joined to objects by the brain (that is associated with knowledge), and thus knows and experiences objects and gains satisfaction. That substance is the mind."

Even as one and the same person is called by different names according to the different functions he performs, so also one and the same mind is called by the different names: mind, intellect, memory, and egoity, on account of the difference in the modes -- and not because of any real difference. The mind itself is of the form of all, i.e. of soul, God and world; when it becomes of the form of the Self through knowledge there is release, which is of the nature of Brahman: this is the teaching. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 6.)

Since sattva-guna (the constituent of prakriti which makes for purity, intelligence, etc.)

is the nature of mind, and since the mind is pure and undefiled like ether, what is called mind is, in truth, of the nature of knowledge. When it stays in that natural (i.e. pure) state, it has not even the name “mind.” It is only the erroneous knowledge which mistakes one for another that is called mind. What was (originally) the pure sattva mind, of the nature of pure knowledge, forgets its knowledge-nature on account of nescience, gets transformed into the world under the influence of tamo-guna (i.e. the constituent of prakriti which makes for dullness, inertness, etc.)

, being under the influence of rajo-guna (i.e. the constituent of prakriti which makes for activity, passions, etc.)

, imagines "I am the body, etc.; the world is real," it acquires the consequent merit and demerit through attachment, aversion, etc., and, through the residual impressions (vasanas) thereof, attains birth and death. But the mind, which has got rid of its defilement (sin) through action without attachment performed in many past lives, listens to the teaching of scripture from a true guru, reflects on its meaning, and meditates in order to gain the natural state of the mental mode of the form of the Self, i.e. of the form “I am Brahman” which is the result of the continued contemplation of Brahman. Thus will be removed the mind's transformation into the world in the aspect of tamo-guna, and its roving therein in the aspect of rajo-guna. When this removal takes place the mind becomes subtle and unmoving. It is only by the mind that is impure and is under the influence of rajas and tamas that Reality (i.e. the Self) which is very subtle and unchanging cannot be experienced; just as a piece of fine silk cloth cannot be stitched with a heavy crowbar, or as the details of subtle objects cannot be distinguished by the light of a lamp flame that flickers in the wind. But in the pure mind that has been rendered subtle and unmoving by the meditation described above, the Self-bliss (i.e. Brahman) will become manifest. As without mind there cannot be experience, it is possible for the purified mind endowed with the extremely subtle mode (vritti) to experience the Self-bliss, by remaining in that form (i.e., in the form of Brahman). Then, that one's self is of the nature of Brahman will be clearly experienced. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 11.)

Self-Enquiry – The impure mind cannot know God

They say that the mind is two fold: there is the higher pure mind as well as the lower impure mind. The impure mind cannot know [Brahman] but the pure mind knows. It does not mean that the pure mind measures the immeasurable Self, the Brahman. It means that the Self makes itself felt in the pure mind so that even when you are in the midst of thoughts you feel the Presence, you realise the truth that you are one with the deeper Self and that the thought- waves are there only on the surface. (Ramana Maharshi, SDB, xii.)

[Brahman] cannot be apprehended by the impure mind but can be apprehended by the pure mind. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 3, Question 7.)

[Through Atma Vichara] the mind gets clear of impurities and become[s] pure enough to reflect the truth, the real Self. This is impossible when the ego is active and assertive. (Ramana Maharshi, SDB, xii.)

Pure consciousness, free from all thought … is pure, unbroken awareness of your Self, rather of Being – there is no mistaking it when pure. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 82.)

When the indefinable power of Brahman (1) separates itself from Brahman and, in union with the reflection of consciousness (chidabhasa), assumes various forms, it is called the impure mind. … The energy which is accompanied by the reflection of consciousness is called the impure mind and its state of separation from Brahman is its non-apprehension of Brahman. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 3, Question 9.)

(1) The indefinable power of Brahman, the energy, is Shakti.

When it becomes free from the reflection of consciousness (abhasa), through discrimination, it is called the pure mind. Its state of union with the Brahman is its apprehension of Brahman. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 3, Question 9.)

Self-Enquiry – The nature of the Heart (Hridayam, Sphurana )

Evidently, self-consciousness is in relation to the individual himself and therefore has to be experienced in his being, with a centre in the body as the centre of experience. It resembles the dynamo of a machine, which gives rise to all sorts of electrical works. Not only [does] it [maintain] the life of the body and the activities of all its parts and organs, conscious and unconscious, but also the relation between the physical and the subtler planes, on which the individual functions. Also, like the dynamo, it vibrates and can be felt by the calm mind that pays attention to it. It is known to the yogis and sadhakas by the name of sphurana, which in samadhi scintillates with consciousness. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 82.)

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 attributes. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 12.)

What is called the heart is no other than Brahman. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 8.)

Call it by any name, God, Self, the Heart or the Seat of Consciousness, it is all the same. The point to be grasped is this, that HEART means the very Core of one's being, the Centre, without which there is nothing whatever. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 72.)

[The Heart] is the Centre of spiritual experience according to the testimony of Sages. The spiritual Heart-centre is quite different from the blood- propelling, muscular organ known by the same name. The spiritual Heart-centre is not an organ of the body. All that you can say of the Heart is that it is the very Core of your being, that [with] which you are really identical (as the word in Sanskrit literally means), whether you are awake, asleep or dreaming, whether you are engaged in work or immersed in Samadhi. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 73.)

The Heart … is different from the blood vessel, so called, and is not the Anahata Chakra in the middle of the chest, one of the six centres spoken of in books on Yoga. (Ramana Maharshi, KOL, 150.)

This heart is different from the physical heart; beating is the function of the latter. The former is the seat of spiritual experience. That is all that can be said of it.

Truly speaking pure Consciousness is indivisible, it is without parts. It has no form and shape, no “within” and “without.” There is no “right” or “left” for it. Pure Consciousness, which is the Heart, includes all; and nothing is outside or apart from it. That is the ultimate Truth.

From this absolute standpoint, the Heart, Self or Consciousness can have no particular place assigned to it in the physical body. What is the reason? The body is itself a mere projection of the mind, and the mind is but a poor reflection of the radiant Heart. How can That in which everything is contained, be itself confined as a tiny part within the physical body which is but an infinitesimal, phenomenal manifestation of the one Reality?

But people do not understand this. They cannot help thinking in terms of physical body and the world. For instance, you say "I have come to this Asramam all the way from my country beyond the Himalayas''. But that is not the truth. Where [is there] a “coming” or “going” or any movement whatever, for the one, all-pervading Spirit which you really are? You are where you have always been. It is your body that moved or was conveyed from place to place till it reached this Asramam.

This is the simple truth, but to a person who considers himself a subject living in an objective world, it appears as something altogether visionary!

It is by coming down to the level of the ordinary understanding that a place is assigned to the Heart in the physical body. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 73-4.)

Heart is the seat of Jnanam as well as of the granthi (knot of ignorance). It is represented in the physical body by a hole smaller than the smallest pin-point, which is always shut. When the mind drops down in Kevalya Nirvikalpa [Samadhi], it opens but shuts again after it. When sahaja [Nirvikalpa Samadhi] is attained it opens for good. The granthi is the knot which ties the insentient body to the consciousness which functions in it; that is why when it is loosened temporarily in Kevalya Nirvikalpa there is no body consciousness. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 96.)

God is said to reside in the Heart in the same way as you are said to reside in your body. Yet Heart is not a place. Some place must be named as the dwelling of God for those who take their bodies for themselves and who comprehend only relative knowledge. The fact is neither God nor we occupy any space. We are bodiless and spaceless in deep sleep, yet in the waking state we appear to be the opposite. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 97.)

Do we not reside in one place? Do you not say you are in your body? Similarly, God is said to reside in the Heart. The Heart is not one place. Some name is mentioned for the place of God because we think we are in the body. This kind of instruction is meant for those who can appreciate only relative knowledge. Being immanent everywhere, there is no place for God. Because we think we are in the body, we also believe that we are born. However, we do not think of the body, of God, or of a method of realization in our deep sleep. Yet in our waking state, we hold onto the body and think we are in it. Paramatmanis that from which the body is born, in which it lives and unto which it revolves. We, however, think that we reside within the body, hence such instruction is given. The instruction means, “Look within.” The Heart is not physical. Meditation should not be on the right or the left. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

Although the self enjoys its experiences in the states of waking, dream, and deep sleep, residing respectively in the eyes, throat and heart, in reality, however, it never leaves its principal seat, the heart. In the heart-lotus which is of the nature of all, in other words in the mind-ether, the light of that self in the form “I” shines. As it shines thus in everybody, this very self is referred to as the witness (sakshi ) and the transcendent (turiya, literally "the fourth"). The “I”-less supreme Brahman which shines in all bodies as interior to the light in the form “I” is the Self-ether (or knowledge-ether): that alone is the absolute Reality. This is the super-transcendent (turiyatita ). Therefore, it is stated that what is called the heart is no other than Brahman. Moreover, for the reason that Brahman shines in the hearts of all souls as the Self, the name “Heart” is given to Brahman. (1) The meaning of the word hridayam, when split thus hrit-ayam, is in fact Brahman. The adequate evidence for the fact that Brahman, which shines as the Self, resides in the hearts of all, is that all people indicate themselves by pointing to the chest when saying “I.” (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 9.)

(1) Note in the original text: "In the hearts of all individual souls that which shines is Brahman and hence is called the Heart" -- Brahma-gita.

You cannot know it with your mind. You cannot realize it by imagination, when I tell you here is the centre (pointing to the right side of the chest). (Ramana Maharshi, KOL, 150.)

You seek true Consciousness. Where can you find it? Can you attain it outside yourself? You have to find it internally. Therefore you are directed inward. The Heart is the seat of Consciousness or Consciousness itself.

2. That from which all thoughts of embodied beings issue forth is called the Heart. All description[s] of it are only mental concepts.

3. The “I”-thought is said to be the root of all thoughts. In brief that from which the “I”-thought springs forth is the Heart.

4. If the Heart be located in anahata chakra, how does the practice of yoga begin in muladhara?

5. This heart is different from the blood-circulating organ. “Hridayam” stands for hrit, “the centre which sucks in everything,” and ayam,”this,” and it thus stands for the Self.

6. The location of this Heart is on the right side of the chest, not at all on the left. The light (of awareness) flows from the Heart through sushumna to sahasrara.

7. From there, it flows to the entire body, and then all experiences of the world arise. Viewing them as different from the Light, one gets caught up in samsara. (Ramana Maharshi, SRG, 25 and 27.)

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 consciousness). (See Appendix to Reality in Forty Verses 18 -19).

But, although it is described thus, the meaning of the word heart (hridayam) is the Self (atman). As it is denoted by the terms existence, consciousness, bliss, eternal and plenum (sat, chit, anandam, nityam, purnam) it has no differences such as exterior and interior or up and down. That tranquil state in which all thoughts come to an end is called the state of the Self. When it is realized as it is, there is no scope for discussions about its location inside the body or outside. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 9.)

Note in original text: * These are not the same as the Chakras.

Self-Enquiry – The mind’s origin is in the Heart

That which rises as “I” in this body is the mind. If one inquires as to where in the body the thought “I” rises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. That is the place of the mind's origin. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 13.)

If one inquires as to where in the body the thought “I” rises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. That is the place of the mind's origin. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 13.)

It is true that the throat is stated to be the location of the mind, the face or the heart of the intellect, the navel of the memory, and the heart or sarvanga of the egoity; though differently stated thus yet, for the aggregate of these, that is the mind or internal organ, the location is the heart alone. This is conclusively declared in the Scriptures. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 7.)

I ask you to observe where the “I” arises in your body, but it is not really quite correct to say that the “I” arises from and merges in the chest at the right side. The Heart is another name for Reality and this is neither inside nor outside the body. There can be no in or out for it, since it alone is. I do not mean by “heart” any physiological organ or any plexus or nerves or anything like that; but so long as a man identifies himself with the body or thinks he is in the body, he is advised to see where in the body the “I” - thought arises and merges again. It must be the heart at the right side of the chest since every man of whatever race and religion and in whatever language he may be speaking, points to the right side of the chest to indicate himself when he says “I.” This is so all over the world, so that must be the place. And by keenly watching the emergence of the “I” - thought on waking and its subsidence on going to sleep, one can see that it is in the heart on the right side. (Ramana Maharshi, TBSRM, Chapter 1.)

As instruments for knowing the objects the sense organs are outside, and so they are called outer senses; and the mind is called the inner sense because it is inside. But the distinction between inner and outer is only with reference to the body; in truth, there is neither inner or outer. The mind's nature is to remain pure like ether. What is referred to as the heart or the mind is the collocation of the elements (of phenomenal existence) that appear as inner and outer. So there is no doubt that all phenomena consisting of names and forms are of the nature of mind alone. All that appear outside are in reality inside and not outside; it is in order to teach this that in the Vedas also all have been described as of the nature of the heart. What is called the heart is no other than Brahman. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 8.)

Self-Enquiry – The nature of the ego-self, ahamkara, or jiva

Ego is non-existent, otherwise you would be two instead of one – you the ego and you the Self. You are a single, indivisible whole. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 54.)

The ego or separate soul is a concept. God, the world, the mind, desires, action, sorrow and all other things are all concepts. (Ramana Maharshi, HRG, 15.)

The ego-self does not exist at all. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 54.)

The ego and the mind are the same. The ego is the root-thought from which all other thoughts arise. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 347.)

Between spirit and matter, the self and the body, there is born something which is called the Ahamkara , the ego-self, Jiva , the living being. Now what you call your self is this ego-self which is different from the ever-conscious Self and from unconscious matter, but which at the same time partakes of the character of both spirit and matter, Chetana and Jada . (Ramana Maharshi, SDB, xvi-xvii.)

It comes into being equipped with a form, and as long as it retains a form it endures. Having a form, it feeds and grows big. But if you investigate it, this evil spirit, which has no form of its own, relinquishes its grip on form and takes to flight. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 25.)

The ego is described as having three bodies, the gross, the subtle and the casual, but that is only for the purposes of analytical exposition. If the method of enquiry were to depend on the ego’s form, you may take it that any enquiry would become altogether impossible, because the forms the ego may assume are legion. Therefore, for purposes of Jnana-vichara, you have to proceed on the basis that the ego has but one form, namely that of Aham-vritti. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 83.)

This inert body does not say “I.” Reality-Consciousness does not emerge. Between the two, and limited to the measure of the body, something emerges as “I.” It is this that is known as Chit-Jada-granthi (the knot between the Conscious and the inert), and also as bondage, soul, subtle-body, ego, samsara , mind, and so forth. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 24.)

From the functional point of view the form, activity or whatever else you may call it (it is immaterial, since it is evanescent), the ego has one and only one characteristic. The ego functions as the knot between the Self which is the pure Consciousness and the physical body which is inert and insentient. The ego is therefore called the Chit-jada granthi. In your investigation into the Source of Aham-vritti, you take the essential Chit aspect of the ego; and for this reason the enquiry must lead to the realization of the pure Consciousness of the Self. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 85.)

For Him who is immersed in the bliss of the Self, arising from the extinction of the ego, what remains to be accomplished? He is not aware of anything (as) other than the Self. Who can apprehend his State? (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 31.)

Self-Enquiry – The nature of the I-thought or Aham-vritti

The mind is merely thoughts. Of all thoughts, the thought “I” is the root. (Therefore) the mind is only the thought “I.” (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 24.)

Of all the thoughts that arise in the mind, the “I” thought is the first. It is only after the rise of this, that the other thoughts arise. It is after the appearance of the first personal pronoun that the second and third personal pronouns appear; without the first personal pronoun there will not be the second and third. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 13.)

The ego is described as having three bodies, the gross, the subtle and the casual, but that is only for the purposes of analytical exposition. If the method of enquiry were to depend on the ego's form, you may take it that any enquiry would become altogether impossible, because the forms the ego may assume are legion. Therefore, for purposes of Jnana-vichara, you have to proceed on the basis that the ego has but one form, namely that of Aham-vritti. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 83.)

To say “I am not this” or “I am that” there must be the “I.” This “I” is only the ego or the “I”-thought. After the rising up of this “I”-thought all other thoughts arise. The “I”-thought is therefore the root-thought. If the root is pulled out all others are at the same time uprooted. Therefore seek the root “I,” question yourself "Who am I?”; find out its source. Then all these will vanish and the pure Self will remain ever. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 197.)

Thoughts alone constitute the mind; and for all thoughts the base or source is the “I” thought. “I” is the mind. If we go inward questing for the source of the “I,” the “I” topples down. This is the jnana enquiry. (Ramana Maharshi, GFB, chapter 4.)

The ego’s phenomenal existence is transcended when you dive into the Source wherefrom arises the Aham vritti. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 83.)

That which rises as “I” in this body is the mind. If one inquires as to where in the body the thought “I” rises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. That is the place of the mind's origin. Even if one thinks constantly “I” “I,” one will be led to that place. Of all the thoughts that arise in the mind, the “I” thought is the first. It is only after the rise of this that the other thoughts arise. It is after the appearance of the first personal pronoun that the second and third personal pronouns appear; without the first personal pronoun there will not be the second and third. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 13-4.)

The word “Aham “ is itself very suggestive. The two letters of the word, namely (A) and (HA), are the first and the last letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. The suggestion intended to be conveyed by the word is that it comprises all. How? Because Aham signifies existence itself.

Although the concept of “I”-ness or “I-am”-ness is by usage known as Aham-vritti , it is not really a vritti like the other vrittis of the mind. Because unlike the other vrittis which have no essential inter-relation, the Aham-vritti is equally and essentially related to each and every vritti of the mind. Without the Aham-vritti there can be no other vritti, but the Aham-vritti can subsist by itself without depending on any other vritti of the mind. The Aham-vritti is therefore fundamentally different from other vrittis.

So then, the search for the Source of the Aham-vritti is not merely the search for the basis of one of the forms of the ego but for the very Source itself from which arises the “I-am”-ness. In other words, the quest for and the realization of the Source of the ego in the form of Aham-vritti necessarily implies the transcendence of the ego in every one of its possible forms. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 84.)

Self-Enquiry - Vasanas (Latent Tendencies)

All the age long vasanas (impressions) carry the mind outwards and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For that effort is necessary, for most people. (Ramana Maharshi, GFB, chapter 8.)

Vasanas which do not obstruct Self-Realization remain [after Self-Realization]. In Yoga Vasistha two classes of vasanas are distinguished: those of enjoyment and those of bondage. The former remain even after Mukti is attained, but the latter are destroyed by it. Attachment is the cause of binding vasanas, but enjoyment without attachment does not bind and continues even in Sahaja. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 89.)

There are not two minds - one good and the other evil; the mind is only one. It is the residual impressions that are of two kinds - auspicious and inauspicious. When the mind is under the influence of auspicious impressions it is called good; and when it is under the influence of inauspicious impressions it is regarded as evil. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO,16.)

Only one who is free from all the latent tendencies (vasanas) is a Sage. That being so how can the tendencies of karma affect him who is entirely unattached to activity? (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 26.)

Such an experience of Identity [as the young Ramana Maharshi had] does not always, or even normally, result in Liberation. It comes to a seeker but the inherent tendencies of the ego cloud it over again. ... The miracle was that in the Maharshi's case there was no clouding over, no relapse into ignorance: he remained thenceforward in constant awareness of identity with the One Self. (Osborne in CWRM, iii.)

Good and bad are found eventually to be only relative terms. Self-enquiry is found to be no more than the discarding of Vasanas . So long as one single Vasana remains, good or bad, so long must we remain unrealized. (Sadhu Arunachala [A.W. Chadwick], SRRM, 22.)

Before I came to India I had read of such people as Edward Carpenter, Tennyson and many more who had had flashes of what they called “Cosmic Consciousness.” I asked Bhagavan [Sri Ramana Maharshi] about this. Was it possible that once having gained Self-Realization [for the individual] to lose it again? Certainly it was. To support this view Bhagavan took up a copy of Kaivalya Navanita and told the interpreter to read a page of it to me. In the early stages of Sadhana this was quite possible and even probable. So long as the least desire or tie was left, a person would be pulled back again into the phenomenal world, he explained. After all it is our Vasanas that prevent us from always being in our natural state, and Vasanas were not got rid of all of a sudden by a flash of Cosmic Consciousness. One may have worked them out in a previous existence leaving a little to be done in the present life, but in any case they must first be destroyed. (Sadhu Arunachala [A.W. Chadwick], SRRM, 45.)

Self-Enquiry – “I am the body” is the primary delusion

The concept "I-am-the-body" is the primal ignorance. It is known as the firm knot of the heart. It gives rise to the concepts of existence and non-existence. If there is no trace of it at all everything will be found to be the Reality of the Supreme Absolute Being. (Ramana Maharshi, HRG, 15.)

The body-consciousness is the wrong “I.” Give up this body-consciousness. It is done by seeking the source “I.” … Find out who this “I” is. Seeking its source it will vanish. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 197.)

The body does not say “I am.” It is you who says, “I am the body.” Find out who this “I” is. Seeking its source, it will vanish. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

So long as there is the idea that the body is the Self one cannot be a realizer of truth whoever he might be. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 20.)

The thought “I am the body” is the string
On which are threaded divers thoughts like beads. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 27.)

Apart from the statement in the Veda that wherever there is body there is misery, this is also the direct experience of all people; therefore, one should enquire into one's true nature which is ever bodiless, and one should remain as such. [Enquiry] is the means to gaining that state [of eternal bliss]. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 1.)

The gross body which is composed of the seven humours (dhatus ), I am not; the five cognitive sense-organs, viz., , the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, viz., , sound, touch, color, taste, and odor, I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz., , the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functioning, I am not. …

After negating all of the above-mentioned as “not this, not this,” that Awareness which alone remains – that I am. … The nature of Awareness [the Self] is existence-consciousness-bliss. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 11-2.)

Every man admits his own existence and does not need a mirror to prove it to him. Existence is awareness, which is the negation of ignorance. Then why does man suffer? Because he imagines himself other than what he in reality is, e.g., the body, this, that, and the other – “I am Gopal, son of Parashuram, father of Natesan,” etc. In reality he is the intelligent “I-am” alone, stripped of qualities and superimpositions, of names and forms. … He must hold onto that existence [that he sees in dreamless sleep], that lone being – Kaivalya – even when he is in the waking state. The man of wisdom simply is. “I-Am-That-I-Am” sums up the whole Truth. The method is summed up by “Be still and know that I am God.” What does stillness mean? Cessation of thinking, which is the universe of forms, colours, qualities, time, space, all concepts and percepts whatever. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 55.)

It is on the gross body that the other bodies subsist. In the false belief of the form "I am the body" are included all the three bodies consisting of the five sheaths. And destruction of the false belief of selfhood in the gross body is itself the destruction of the false belief of selfhood in the other bodies. So inquiry is the means to removal of the false belief of selfhood in all the three bodies. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 5.)

To those who have not realized the Self, as well as to those who have, the word “I” refers to the body, but with this difference, that for those who have not realized, the “I” is confined to the body whereas for those who have realized the Self within the body the “I” shines as the limitless Self. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 17.)

The reality of yourself cannot be questioned. The Self is the primal reality. The ordinary person unconsciously takes reality to be their true inner reality plus everything which has come into their consciousness as pertaining to themselves – [the] body, etc. This they have to unlearn. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

Actions such as “going” and “coming” belong only to the body. And so, when one says "I went, I came,” it amounts to saying that the body is "I.” But, can the body be said to be the consciousness "I," since the body was not before it was born, is made up of the five elements, is non-existent in the state of deep sleep, and becomes a corpse when dead? Can this body which is inert like a log of wood be said to shine as "I" "I"? Therefore, the "I" consciousness which at first arises in respect of the body is referred to variously as self-conceit (tarbodham), egoity (ahankara), nescience (avidya), maya, impurity (mala), and individual soul (jiva). Can we remain without enquiring into this? Is it not for our redemption through enquiry that all the scriptures declare that the destruction of "self-conceit" is release (mukti)? Therefore, making the corpse-body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word "I," one should enquire keenly thus: "Now, what is it that rises as “I”?" Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form “I” “I.” That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared. If one remains quiescent without abandoning that (experience), the egoity, the individual sense, of the form “I am the body” will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, viz., . the “I”-form, also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor. The great sages and scriptures declare that this alone is release. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 3.)

The nexus of the body and the Self is called the granthi. (1) It is only by this connection with the Self that one is aware of the body.

This body is insentient. The Self is pure awareness. The connection between the two is deduced through the intellect.

Oh child, enveloped by the diffused light of pure awareness the body functions. Owing to non-apprehension (of the world) in sleep, (swoon) and so on, the location of the Self has to be inferred.

Even as subtle forces like the electric current pass through visible wires, the light of awareness flows through a nadi (2) in the body.

When the effulgent light of awareness shines in atma nadi (3) alone, nothing else shines except the Self.

Anything that appears before (such a jnani) has no separate existence. He knows the Self clearly as the ignorant one his body.

He for whom the atman (4) alone shines, within, without and everywhere, as (clearly as) objects to the ignorant, is called one who has cut the nexus.

The nexus is twofold; one the bond of the nadis, dwells in one nadi alone, the bond (between awareness and the body) is sundered and the light abides in the Self.

As a heated iron-ball appears as a ball of fire, this (body) heated in the fire of Self-enquiry shines as the Self.

The old vasanas (5) pertaining to the body, (mind and so on) are destroyed. Being free from body-consciousness one never has the sense of doership.

Since such a one has no sense of doership, his karma (6), it is said, is completely destroyed. As nothing but the Self exists, no doubts arise for him.

Once the knot is cut, one is never bound again. This is considered the state of power supreme and peace supreme. (Sri Ramana Maharshi in SRG, 49-55.)

(1) Knot.
(2) Nerve.
(3) According to Da Free John, "the “Amrita Nadi” is the “’Form of Reality,’ founded in the heart and terminated in the aperture of the head. It is the cycle or form of unqualified enjoyment that contains and is the source of all things, all bodies, realms, experiences, states, and levels of being. Its basic nature is unqualified enjoyment or bliss. It is all-powerful Existence or unqualified Presence. It is your very nature at this moment, and it is experienced as such when true understanding arises and becomes the radical premise of conscious life." (Da Free John, KOL, Original Edition, 157.)

(4) The Child of God, soul, or Self.
(5) Tendencies.
(6) The residue of acts in which he or she is implicated as a result of the law of cause and effect.

Self-Enquiry – Turn the mind inward

”Whence does this “I” arise?” Seek for it within; it then vanishes. This is the pursuit of Wisdom. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 24.)

God illumines the mind and shines within it. One cannot know God by means of the mind. One can but turn the mind inwards and merge it in God. (Ramana Maharshi, GFB, chapter 3.)

The Divine gives light to the mind and shines within it. Except by turning the mind inward and fixing it in the Divine, there is no other way to know Him through the mind. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 22.)

[Turning the mind inward] is done by practice and dispassion and that succeeds only gradually. The mind, having been so long a cow accustomed to graze stealthily on others' estates, is not easily confined to her stall. However much her keeper tempts her with luscious grass and fine fodder, she refuses the first time; then she takes a bit; but her innate tendency to stray away asserts itself; and she slips away; on being repeatedly tempted by the owner, she accustoms herself to the stall; finally even if let loose she would not stray away. Similarly with the mind. If once it finds its inner happiness it will not wander outward. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 213.)

By repeated practice one can become accustomed to turning inwards and finding the Self. One must always and constantly make an effort, until one has permanently realized. Once the effort ceases, the state becomes natural and the Supreme takes possession of the person with an unbroken current. Until it has become permanently natural and your habitual state, know that you have not realized the Self, only glimpsed it. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

The mind should not be allowed to wander towards worldly objects and what concerns other people. However bad other people may be, one should bear no hatred for them. Both desire and hatred should be eschewed. All that one gives to others one gives to one's self. If this truth is understood who will not give to others? When one's self arises, all arises; when one's self becomes quiescent, all becomes quiescent. To the extent we behave with humility, to that extent there will result good. If the mind is rendered quiescent, one may live anywhere. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 16-7.)

[The quest] has to begin with the mind turned inward to oppose the rushing thoughts and to understand the location of the “I.” When the mind eventually sinks in the Heart, undisturbed bliss is overwhelmingly felt. There is then feeling which is not divorced from pure awareness, i.e., head and heart become one and the same. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 80.)

Self-Enquiry – The “I-thought” is the primary clue

[The Aham-vritti ] is the one irreducible datum of your experience; … seeking its Source is the only practicable course you can adopt to realize the Self. The ego is said to have a casual body, but how can you make it the subject of your investigation? When the ego adopts that form, you are immersed in the darkness of sleep. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 85.)

In your quest for the Self, the one infallible clue is the Aham-vritti , the “I-am”-ness which is the primary datum of your experience. No other clue can lead you direct to Self-realization. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, n.p.)

Self-enquiry by following the clue of Aham-vritti is just like the dog tracing its master by his scent. The master may be at some distant, unknown place, but that does not at all stand in the way of the dog tracing him. The master's scent is an infallible clue for the animal, and nothing else, such as the dress he wears, or his build and stature etc., counts. To that scent the dog holds on undistractedly while searching for him, and finally it succeeds in tracing him. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 83-4.)

The enquiry into the Source of Aham-vritti touches the very existence of the ego. Therefore the subtlety of the ego's form is not a material consideration. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 85.)

Whether the nominative case, which is the first case, appears or not, the sentences in which the other cases appear have as their basis the first case; similarly, all the thoughts that appear in the heart have as their basis the egoity which is the first mental mode “I,” the cognition of the form “I am the body”; thus, it is the rise of egoity that is the cause and source of the rise of all other thoughts; therefore, if the self-conceit of the form of egoity which is the root of the illusory tree of samsara (bondage consisting of transmigration) is destroyed, all other thoughts will perish completely like an uprooted tree. Whatever thoughts arise as obstacles to one’s sadhana (spiritual discipline), the mind should not be allowed to go in their direction, but should be made to rest in one’s self which is the Atman; one should remain as witness to whatever happens, adopting the attitude “Let whatever strange things happen, happen; let us see!” This should be one's practice. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 4.)

Self-Enquiry – Be still; be silent

The whole of Vedanta is contained in the two Biblical statements “I am that I am” and “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ramana Maharshi, GFB, chapter 8.)

“I-Am-That-I-Am” sums up the whole Truth. The method is summed up by “Be still and know that I am God.” What does stillness mean? Cessation of thinking, which is the universe of forms, colours, qualities, time, space, all concepts and percepts whatever. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 55.)

Stop the thoughts, which are your enemy…, and the mind will remain as your pure being, the immortal “I.” (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 75.)

The thought “who am I?” will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 14.)

Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight. To remain quiet is to resolve the mind in the Self. Telepathy, knowing past, present and future happenings and clairvoyance do not constitute wisdom-insight. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 21.)

When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition and all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear. (Ramana Maharshi in WHO, 12.)

The Self is that where there is absolutely no “I”-thought. That is called “Silence.” (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 17.)

Everybody, every book says “Be quiet or still.” But it is not easy. That is why all this effort is necessary. Even if you find one who has at once achieved the mouna (silence) or supreme state indicated, you may take it that the effort necessary has already been completed in a previous life. Such effortless and choiceless awareness is reached only after deliberate meditation. (Ramana Maharshi, GFB, chapter 8.)

Self-Enquiry – Knowledge dawns in the Heart

Even if one thinks constantly “I-I,” one will be led to that place [i.e., the mind’s origin in the Heart]. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 13.)

Enquire into the nature of that consciousness which knows itself as “I” and it will inevitably lead you to its source, the Heart, where you will unmistakably perceive the distinction between the insentient body and the mind. The latter will then appear in its utter purity as the ever-present, self-supporting intelligence, which creates, pervades its creation, as well as remains beyond it, unaffected and uncontaminated. Also finding the Heart will be experienced as being the Heart. When this experience becomes permanent through constant practice, the much-desired Self-Realisation or Mukti is said at long last to have been achieved – the “I-am-the-body” illusion has broken for ever. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 95-6.)

Just as a man would dive in order to get something that had fallen into the water, so one should dive into oneself, with a keen one-pointed mind, controlling speech and breath, and find the place whence the “I” originates. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 28.)

[The quest] has to begin with the mind turned inward to oppose the rushing thoughts and to understand the location of the “I.” When the mind eventually sinks in the Heart, undisturbed bliss is overwhelmingly felt. There is then feeling which is not divorced from pure awareness, i.e., head and heart become one and the same. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 80.)

In the centre of the Heart-Cave there shines alone the one Brahman as the “I-I,” the Atman. Reach the Heart by diving deep in quest of the Self, or by controlling the mind with the breath, and stay established in the Atman. …

Therefore by the practice of merging the Ego in the pure Heart which is all Awareness, the tendencies of the mind as well as the breath will be subdued. (Ramana Maharshi, “Supplement” to FVR.)

Therefore on diving deep upon the quest
“Who am I and from whence?” thoughts disappear
And consciousness of Self … flashes forth
As the “I-I” within the cavity
Of every seeker’s Heart. And this is Heaven,
This is that Stillness, the abode of Bliss. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 27.)

If one enquires “Who am I?” within the mind, the individual “I” falls down abashed as soon as one reaches the Heart and immediately Reality manifests itself spontaneously as “I-I.” Although it reveals itself as “I,” it is not the ego but the Perfect Being, the Absolute Self. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 30.)

Since, void of thought, Reality exists within as Heart, how to know the Reality we term the Heart? To know That is merely to be That in the Heart. (Ramana Maharshi in CWRM.)

When the mind that is subtle goes out through the brain and the sense-organs, the gross names and forms appear; when it stays in the heart, the names and forms disappear. Not letting the mind go out, but retaining it in the Heart is what is called "inwardness" (antar-mukha). Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known as "externalisation" (bahir-mukha). Thus, when the mind stays in the Heart, the “I” which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 14.)

When a room is dark you need a lamp to light it, but when the sun rises there is no need for a lamp; objects are seen without one. And to see the sun itself no lamp is needed because it is self-luminous. Similarly with the mind. The reflected light of the mind is necessary to perceive objects, but to see the Heart it is enough for the mind to be turned towards it. Then the mind loses itself and the Heart shines forth. (Ramana Maharshi, TBSRM, Chapter 1.)

Sphurana [the Heart] can be felt in a subtle way even when meditation has sufficiently stabilized and deepened, and the Ultimate Consciousness is very near, or during a sudden great fright or shock, when the mind comes to a standstill. It draws attention to itself, so that the meditator’s mind, rendered sensitive by calmness, may become aware of it, gravitate towards it, and finally plunge into it, the Self. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 83.)

Self-Enquiry - Watch and witness

The Self is ever the witness…. But it is best to remain as one's Self. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 137.)

Whatever thoughts arise as obstacles to one's sadhana (spiritual discipline), the mind should not be allowed to go in their direction, but should be made to rest in one's self which is the Atman; one should remain as witness to whatever happens, adopting the attitude “Let whatever strange things happen, happen; let us see!” This should be one's practice. In other words, one should not identify oneself with appearances; one should never relinquish one's self. This is the proper means for destruction of the mind (manonasa) which is of the nature of seeing the body as self, and which is the cause of all the aforesaid obstacles. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 4.)

Self-Enquiry – Destroy the ego

Identification with the Supreme is the only the other name for the destruction of the ego. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 130.)

Can the ego ever agree to kill itself? This question is a sure way to cherish the ego and not to kill it. If you seek the ego you will find it does not exist. That is the way to destroy it. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 657.)

Enquire into yourself, and the apparent ego and ignorance will disappear. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 54.)

”Whence does this “I” arise?” Seek for it within; it then vanishes. This is the pursuit of Wisdom. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 24.)

If the first person, I, exists, then the second and third persons, you and he, will also exist. By enquiring into the nature of the “I,” the “I” perishes. With it “you” and “he” also perish. The resultant state, which shines as Absolute Being, is one's own natural state, the Self. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 14.)

Aham vritti (“I”-thought) is broken,Aham sphurana (the light of “I-I”) is unbroken, continuous. After the thoughts subside, the light shines forth. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 307.)

The individual soul of the form of “I” is the ego The Self which is of the nature of intelligence (chit) 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 (moksha). (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 1, Question 12.)

Just as one who wants to throw away garbage has no need to analyse it and see what it is, so one who wants to know the Self has no need to count the number of categories or inquire into their characteristics; what he has to do is to reject altogether the categories that hide the Self. The world should be considered like a dream. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 19.)

Whether the nominative case, which is the first case, appears or not, the sentences in which the other cases appear have as their basis the first case; similarly, all the thoughts that appear in the heart have as their basis the egoity which is the first mental mode “I,” the cognition of the form “I am the body”; thus, it is the rise of egoity that is the cause and source of the rise of all other thoughts; therefore, if the self-conceit of the form of egoity, which is the root of the illusory tree of samsara (bondage consisting of transmigration), is destroyed, all other thoughts will perish completely like an uprooted tree. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 4.)

We are ever in sushupti. Becoming aware of it in jagrat is samadhi. The ajnani cannot remain long in sushupti because his ego pushes him out of it. The Jnani, although he has scotched the ego, it continues to rise again and again due to prarabdha. So, for both the Jnani and the ajnani the ego springs up, but with this difference: whereas the Jnani enjoys the transcendental experience, keeping its lakshya (aim, attention) always fixed on its source, … the ajnani is completely ignorant of it. The former is not harmful, being a mere skeleton of its normal self, like a burnt-up rope. By constantly fixing its attention on the Source, the Heart, the ego gets dissolved into it like a salt doll which has fallen into the ocean. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 56.)

Q: If “I” am always here and now, why don't I feel it?

M: That's is the point! Who says that it is not felt? Does the real “I” say it or the false “I”? Examine it. You will find it is the wrong “I.” The wrong “I” is the obstruction. It has to be removed in order that the true “I” might not be hidden.

The feeling, “I have not realized,” is the obstruction to realization. In fact, you are already realized; there is nothing to realize. If there were, it would have to be something new, not existing so far, that would occur sometime in the future.

What has birth will also die. If realization were not eternal it would not be worth having. Therefore, what we seek is not that which must happen afresh. It is only that which is eternal and which is not known, due to obstructions, that is what we seek. Ignorance is the obstruction. Remove it, and all will be well.

The ignorance is identical with the “I”-thought. Find its source and it will vanish. The “I”-thought is like a spirit which is not palpable, and it rises up simultaneously with the body, flourishes on it and disappears with it. The body-consciousness is the wrong “I.” Give it up! This is done by seeking the source of the “I.” The body does not say “I am.” It is you who says, “I am the body.” Find out who this “I” is. Seeking its source, it will vanish. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

You must distinguish between the “I,” pure in itself, and the “I”-thought. The latter, being merely a thought, sees subject and object, sleeps, wakes up, eats and thinks, dies and is reborn. But the pure “I” is the pure Being, eternal existence, free from ignorance and thought-illusion. If you stay as the “I,” your being alone, without thought, the I-thought will disappear and the delusion will vanish for ever. In a cinema-show you can see pictures only in a very dim light or in darkness. But when all lights are switched on, all pictures disappear. So also in the flood-light of the Supreme Atman all objects disappear. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 46.)

The moment the ego-self [tries] to know itself, it changes its character; it begins to partake less and less of the Jada , in which it is absorbed, and more and more of the Consciousness of the Self, the Atman . (Ramana Maharshi, SDB, xvii.)

Self-Enquiry – Eradicate the sense of doership

If one has form oneself, the world and God also will appear to have form, but if one is formless, who is it that sees those forms, and how? Without the eye can any object be seen? The seeing Self is the Eye, and that Eye is the Eye of Infinity. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 4.)

As long as a man is the doer, he also reaps the fruit of his deeds, but, as soon as he realizes the Self through enquiry as to who is the doer his sense of being the doer falls away and the triple karma is ended. This is the state of eternal Liberation. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 38.)

[The end of the path of jnana] is to know the truth that the “I” is not different from the Lord (Isvara) and to be free from the feeling of being the doer (kartrtva, ahamkara). (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 1, Chapter 1, Question 10.)

Whatever one does, one should do without the egoity "I.” If one acts in that way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva (God). (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 14.)

[The end of the path of jnana] is to know the truth that the “I” is not different from the Lord (Isvara) and to be free from the feeling of being the doer (kartrtva, ahamkara). (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 1, Chapter 1, Question 10.)

As long as a man is the doer, he also reaps the fruit of his deeds, but, as soon as he realizes the Self through enquiry as to who is the doer his sense of being the doer falls away and the triple karma is ended. This is the state of eternal Liberation. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 38.)

The old vasanas pertaining to the body, (mind and so on) are destroyed. Being free from body-consciousness one never has the sense of doership.

Since such a one has no sense of doership, his karma, it is said, is completely destroyed. As nothing but the Self exists, no doubts arise for him. (Ramana Maharshi, SRG, 53 and 55.)

Self-Enquiry – Remove the obstacles and the Self remains

Concentration, meditation and all spiritual practices are not performed with the object of realizing the Self, because the Self is ever-present, but of realizing the non-existence of ignorance. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 55.)

Pain and pleasure are to the ego, which is itself imagined. When the ego disappears through constant enquiry into its nature, the illusion of pleasure and pain also disappears, and the Self, their source, alone remains. There is neither ego nor ignorance in Reality. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 54.)

After negating all of the [bodies and organs] as “not this,” “not this,” that Awareness which alone remains - that I am. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 13.)

Investigate and the thoughts cease. What is, namely the Self, will be revealed as the inescapable residue. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, No. 41.)

When one discards the Jiva (individual being) of the form ahamkara (ego-sense), which is the apparent meaning of the word “I,” what remains merely as the effulgent and conscious Atman (Self), which is the implied meaning of the “I,” is Brahman. (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 7.)

The wrong “I” is the obstruction. It has to be removed in order that the true “I” may not be hidden. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 197.)

Therefore what we seek … is eternal but not now known due to obstructions…. All that we need do is to remove the obstruction. … Ignorance is the obstruction. Get over this ignorance and all will be well. Zz The ignorance is identical with the “I”-thought. Find its source and it will vanish. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 197.)

When the source of the “I”-thought is reached it vanishes and what remains over is the Self. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 130.)

When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer. … The seer and the object seen are like the rope and the snake. Just as knowledge of the rope which is the substrate will not arise unless the false knowledge of the illusory serpent goes, so the realization of the Self which is the substrate will not be gained unless the belief that the world is real is removed. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 12.)

Your nature is Bliss. Ignorance is now hiding that Bliss. Remove the ignorance for Bliss to be freed. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 197.)

Atman or Paramatman is that from which the body is born, in which it lives, and into which it finally resolves. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 97.)

As for the jiva implied in the term “I,” one realizes its identity with Brahman by removal of obstruction (badha samanadhi karanam) through negating the idea of jiva, just as the man one imagines in a post (in a dim light) merges in the post on the negation of the idea of [its] being a man. (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 17-8.)

The “I” casts off the illusion of “I” and yet remains as “I.” This appears to be a paradox to you; it is not so to the Jnani. Take the case of the Bhakta. His “I” prays to the Lord to unite it with Him, which is to surrender. What remains as residuum after this surrender, is the eternal “I,” which is God the Absolute, Paramatman Himself. What has happened to the “I,” which originally prayed? Being unreal, it simply vanished. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 55.)

Concentration, meditation and all spiritual practices are not performed with the object of realizing the Self, because the Self is ever-present, but of realising the non-existence of ignorance. Every man admits his own existence and does not need a mirror to prove it to him. Existence is awareness, which is the negation of ignorance. Then why does man suffer? Because he imagines himself other than what he in reality is, e.g., the body, this, that, and the other – “I am Gopal, son of Parashuram, father of Natesan,” etc. In reality he is the intelligent “I-am” alone, stripped of qualities and superimpositions, of names and forms. … He must hold onto that existence [that he sees in dreamless sleep], that lone being – Kaivalya – even when he is in the waking state. The man of wisdom simply is. “I-Am-That-I-Am” sums up the whole Truth. The method is summed up by “Be still and know that I am God.” What does stillness mean? Cessation of thinking, which is the universe of forms, colours, qualities, time, space, all concepts and percepts whatever. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 55.)

It is false to speak of realization. What is there to realize it? The real is as it is, ever. How to realize it? All that is required is this. We have realized the unreal i.e., regarded as real what is unreal. We have to give up this attitude. That is all that is required for us to attain jnana. We are not creating anything new or achieving something which we did not have before. The illustration given in the books is this. We dig a well and create a huge pit. The akasa (space) in the pit or well has not been created by us. We have just removed the earth which was filling the akasa there. The akasa was there, then, and is also there now. Similarly, we have simply to throw out all the age long samskaras (innate tendencies) which are inside us. When all of them have been given up the Self will shine alone. (Ramana Maharshi, GFB, chapter 8.)

Stop the thoughts, which are your enemy…, and the mind will remain as your pure being, the immortal “I.” (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 75.)

The Real is ever-present, like the screen on which all the [movie] pictures move. While the pictures appear on it, it remains invisible. Stop the pictures, and the screen, which has all along been present, in fact the only object that has existed throughout, will become clear. All these universes, humans, objects, thoughts and events are merely pictures moving on the screen of Pure Consciousness, which alone is real. Shapes and phenomena pass away, but Consciounsess remains ever. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 46.)

You must distinguish between the “I,” pure in itself, and the “I”-thought. The latter, being merely a thought, sees subject and object, sleeps, wakes up, eats and thinks, dies and is reborn. But the pure “I” is the pure Being, eternal existence, free from ignorance and thought-illusion. If you stay as the “I,” your being alone, without thought, the I-thought will disappear and the delusion will vanish for ever. In a cinema-show you can see pictures only in a very dim light or in darkness. But when all lights are switched on, all pictures disappear. So also in the flood-light of the Supreme Atman all objects disappear. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 46.)

As the Self of a person who tries to attain Self-realization is not different from him and as there is nothing other than or superior to him to be attained by him, Self-realization being only the realization of one's own nature, the seeker of Liberation realizes, 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 to Self-realization. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 1.)

The State of non-emergence of “I” is the state of being THAT. Without questing for that State of the non-emergence of “I” and attaining It, how can one accomplish one's own extinction, from which the “I” does not revive? Without that attainment how is it possible to abide in one's true State, where one is THAT? (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 26.)

The mental states are of two kinds. One is the natural state and the other is the transformation into forms or objects. The first is the truth, and the other is according to the doer (kartrutantra). When the latter perishes,jale kataka renuvat (like the clearing nut paste in water) the former will remain over. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 624.)

Self-Enquiry – Abide as the Self

You need not eliminate the wrong “I.” … All that you need do is to find out its origin and abide there. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 197.)

All you have to do is to find its source and abide in it as your real Self. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 75.)

To inhere in one's own Being, where the “I,” or ego, is dead, is the perfect State. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 2.)

Liberation is only to remain aware of the Self. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 92.)

To know the Self is to be the Self – as there are not two separate selves. This (state) is thanmaya nishta (abiding as That). (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 24.)

Why worry about his bodies, his ahankar, his buddhi, creation, God, Mahatmas, world – the not-Self – at all? Why not remain yourself and be in peace? (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 58.)

If one resorts to contemplation of the Self unintermittently, until the Self is gained, that alone would do. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 17.)

What is essential in any sadhana [practice] is to try to bring back the running mind and fix it on one thing only. Why then should it not be brought back and fixed in Self-attention? That alone is Self-enquiry (atma-vichara). zz That is all that is to be done! (Ramana Maharshi cited in PSR, 77.)

[The I-I Consciousness] is a prelude to [Self-Realization]: when it becomes permanent (Sahaja), it is Self-Realization, Liberation. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 83.)

Knowing the Self is being the Self. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 63.)

To know the Self is to be the Self – as there are not two separate selves. This (state) is thanmaya nishta (abiding as That). (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 24.)

When one’s true nature is known, then there is Being without beginning and end; It is unbroken Awareness-Bliss. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 24-5.)

To BE the Self that you really are is the only means to realize the Bliss that is ever yours. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 52.)

To remain as the Self is not difficult. This thought of difficulty is the chief obstacle. A little practice in discovering the source of “I” will make you think differently. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

The common man is aware of himself only when modifications arise in the intellect (vijnanamaya kosa); these modifications are transient; they arise and set. Hence the vijnanamaya (intellect) is called a kosa or sheath. When pure awareness is left over it is itself the Chit (Self) or the Supreme. To be in one's natural state on the subsidence of thoughts is bliss; if that bliss be transient - arising and setting - then it is only the sheath of bliss (Anandamaya kosa), not the pure Self. What is needed is to fix the attention on the pure “I” after the subsidence of all thoughts and not to lose hold of it. This has to be described as an extremely subtle thought; else it cannot be spoken of at all, since it is no other than the Real Self. Who is to speak of it, to whom and how?

This is well explained in the Kaivalyam and the Viveka Chudamani. Thus though in sleep the awareness of the Self is not lost the ignorance of the jiva is not affected by it. For this ignorance to be destroyed this subtle state of mind (vrittijnanam) is necessary; in the sunshine cotton does not burn; but if the cotton be placed under a lens it catches fire and is consumed by the rays of the Sun passing through the lens. So too, though the awareness of the Self is present at all times, it is not inimical to ignorance. If by meditation the subtle state of thought is won, then ignorance is destroyed. Also in Viveka Chudamani: ativa sukshmam paramatma tattvam na sthoola drishtya (the exceedingly subtle Supreme Self cannot be seen by the gross eye) and esha svayam jyotirasesha sakshi (this is Self-shining and witnesses all). (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 624.)

It is important for one who is established in his Self (atma nista) 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, etc., 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. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 16.)

One should not identify oneself with appearances; one should never relinquish one's self. This is the proper means for destruction of the mind (manonasa) which is of the nature of seeing the body as self, and which is the cause of all the aforesaid obstacles. … Because God remains of the nature of the Self, shining as “I” in the heart, because the scriptures declare that thought itself is bondage, the best discipline is to stay quiescent without ever forgetting Him (God, the Self), after resolving in Him the mind which is of the form of the “I”-thought, no matter by what means. This is the conclusive teaching of the Scriptures. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 4.)

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 one's true nature. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 4, Question 18.)

Who is this witness? You speak of “witness.” There must be an object and a subject to witness. These are creations of the mind. The idea of witness is in the mind. If there was the witness of oblivion did he say, “I witness oblivion”? You, with your mind, said just now that there must be a witness. Who was the witness? You must reply “I.” Who is that “I” again? You are identifying yourself with the ego and say “I.” Is this ego “I,” the witness? It is the mind that speaks. It cannot be witness of itself. …

The whole position becomes thus untenable. Consciousness is unlimited. On becoming limited it simply arrogates to itself the position. There is really nothing to witness. IT is simple BEING. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 180.)

Without yielding to the doubt "Is it possible, or not?" one should persistently hold on to the meditation on the Self. Even if one be a great sinner, one should not worry and weep "O! I am a sinner, how can I be saved?"; one should completely renounce the thought "I am a sinner"; and concentrate keenly on meditation on the Self; then, one would surely succeed. There are not two minds - one good and the other evil; the mind is only one. It is the residual impressions that are of two kinds - auspicious and inauspicious. When the mind is under the influence of auspicious impressions it is called good; and when it is under the influence of inauspicious impressions it is regarded as evil. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 16.)

One should not give room in the mind for such thoughts as: "Is this good? Or is that good? Can this be done? Or can that be done?" One should be vigilant even before such thoughts arise and make the mind stay in its native state. If any little room is given, such a (disturbed) mind will do harm to us while posing as our friend; like the foe appearing to be a friend, it will topple us down. Is it not because one forgets one's Self that such thoughts arise and cause more and more evil? (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 13.)

Self-Enquiry – Three senses of self must be understood: Jiva, Atman, and Paramatman

As the ego, which is the direct and immediate sense of “I,” is centred and figured in each of the distinct and separate individuals in a subtle movement of life-force and mind-stuff, it is termed Jiva here. This sense of “I” is separate in each individual being and preserving the distinctness of the individual, behaves in a manner that would strengthen the individual's distinct character. But, such a movement of the ego or the apparent self has its root and support in something that is the real basis of individuality and that does not move with or lose itself in the movement of the apparent self, a something that is a continuous conscious principle related to the past, present and future; that is the Real Self signified, the Lakshyartha, in the individual, of which the ego is the apparent self. This latter is different in different individuals and is loosely called the Jivatman . But Atman, the Self, is really one; the Self of all individuals as of all existence is one. But Jivas or living beings are many, as many as the individuals are formed. These are soul-formations that are dissoluble in time, unlike their supporting Self which is eternal, being identical with the Infinite Eternal which maintains its many-centred existence in an endless movement of formation and dissolution.

Thus, we see that there are three distinct senses in which “I” is used. The supreme meaning of “I,” its Paramartha , is the Purusha who becomes the Lakshyartha (the signified sense) in the individual, as it is the same self that presides over individual existence and the immediate or apparent sense of “I” (Vachyarta ) is the ego or the apparent self formed temporarily for purposes of individuation. Threefold then is the sense of the Self, the “I,” and in its threefold sense it is to be understood. (Ramana Maharshi, SDB, 20-1.)

Self-Enquiry – At some point, God steps in

You need not eliminate the wrong “I.” … All that you need do is to find out its origin and abide there. Your efforts can extend only thus far. Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach it. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 197.)

By repeated practice one can become accustomed to turning inwards and finding the Self. One must always and constantly make an effort, until one has permanently realized. Once the effort ceases, the state becomes natural and the Supreme takes possession of the person with an unbroken current. Until it has become permanently natural and your habitual state, know that you have not realized the Self, only glimpsed it. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

Self-Enquiry – Liberation occurs at a stage of nirvikalpa samadhi called sahaja, beyond Brahmajnana or kevalya nirvikalpa samadhi

[The] Heart is the seat of Jnanam as well as of the granthi (knot of ignorance). It is represented in the physical body by a hole smaller than the smallest pin-point, which is always shut. When the mind drops down in Kevalya Nirvikalpa [samadhi], it opens but shuts again after it. When sahaja [nirvikalpa samadhi] is attained it opens for good. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 96.)

He alone is ‘liberated while alive’ (jivan mukta) whose wisdom is firm. (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 20.)

[The hole called the Heart as a small as a pinpoint] is always shut, being the knot of ignorance which ties the body to consciousness. When the mind drops in the temporary Kevala Nirvikalpa it opens but shuts again. In Sahaja it remains always open. (Ramana Maharshi, GR 81.)

Sahaja is also Nirvikalpa. You are probably meaning Kevala [sic] Nirvikalpa, which is temporary, while the Samadhi lasts. The Sahaja Nirvikalpa is permanent and in it lies liberation from rebirths. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 88.)

As karma alone is responsible for the activity or inactivity of the sages, great souls have declared the state of sahaja nirvikalpa (the natural state without concepts) alone to be the ultimate state. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 4, Question 6.)

Sahaja is the original state so that sadhana amounts to the removal of obstacles for the realization of this abiding truth. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

[The I-I Consciousness] (1) is a prelude to [Self-Realization]: when it becomes permanent (Sahaja), (2) it is Self-Realization, Liberation. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 83.)

(1) I.e., kevalya nirvikalpa samadhi.
(2) I.e., sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi.

By repeated practice one can become accustomed to turning inwards and finding the Self. One must always and constantly make an effort, until one has permanently realized. Once the effort ceases, the state becomes natural and the Supreme takes possession of the person with an unbroken current. Until it has become permanently natural and your habitual state, know that you have not realized the Self, only glimpsed it. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

Enquire into the nature of that consciousness which knows itself as ‘I’ and it will inevitably lead you to its source, the Heart, where you will unmistakably perceive the distinction between the insentient body and the mind. The latter will then appear in its utter purity as the ever-present, self-supporting intelligence, which creates, pervades its creation, as well as remains beyond it, unaffected and uncontaminated. Also finding the Heart will be experienced as being the Heart. When this experience becomes permanent through constant practice, the much-desired Self-Realisation or Mukti is said at long last to have been achieved – the ‘I-am-the-body’ illusion has broken for ever. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 95-6.)

Vasanas which do not obstruct Self-Realization remain [after Self-Realization]. In Yoga Vasistha two classes of vasanas are distinguished: those of enjoyment and those of bondage. The former remain even after Mukti is attained, but the latter are destroyed by it. Attachment is the cause of binding vasanas, but enjoyment without attachment does not bind and continues even in Sahaja. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 89.)

[The state beyond bliss] is the state of unceasing peace of mind which is found in the state of absolute quiescence, jagrat-sushupti (lit. 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 oneself without concepts). (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 3, Question 4.)

And this is the Nishta, the settled state in the Supreme Reality, in the one Substance, support and basis of the worshiper and the worshipped, in which is realised the identity of self with Brahman. In this verse, Truth-perception is described to be the highest poise of the Self. In a subsequent verse (the 23rd), Self-perception or God-realisation is said to consist in the Jiva or soul becoming food, i.e., object of enjoyment or experience to the Lord. So we have two descriptions of the one exalted state, Sat-darshan and Atma-darshan, Truth-perception and Self-Realisation. Similarly in the two invocatory verses commencing the work, this Supreme Brahman was described to be both Impersonal and Personal, Impersonal for purposes of Kaivalya Nishta (the sole supreme poise), and Personal for Sayujya, (conscious union of the soul with Brahman). Thus we are reminded that the two aspects are presented for the two distinct paths of knowledge and devotion, that ultimately culminate in a Supreme Realisation, which, in view of the Oneness of the being in the Jiva as well as in the Ishwara is mentioned as Sat-darshan (Nishta) and in view of the Jiva's relation in world-existence to Ishwara is named Atma Darshan (Sayujya). (Ramana Maharshi, SDB, 65.)

On [the] question of attaining Self-realization Bhagavan told me that in the early stages a person who was regularly meditating would usually at first go into a trance which would probably last for some thirty minutes, and if he continued with his Tapas properly such Samadhi would become more frequent. So carried away by it would he be that he would be able to think of nothing but slipping away to some quiet corner to meditate undisturbed. He would lose all interest in everything else until that time when he became established in the Self and no more meditation was necessary. He had then attained Sahaja Samadhi or his natural state. But there were no fixed rules. Some might attain this state quietly and unrecognised, without even the necessity of the process of meditation. (Sadhu Arunachala [A.W. Chadwick], SRRM, 46.)

In Nirvikalpa Samadhi one has attained to a state where the identity has been lost and sunk entirely in the highest Self. However long it may last it is only temporary, one must return eventually to one’s normal state of consciousness. One is unable to function in this state and so long as it lasts one is in a state of trance. It is usually preliminary to the final state. But Bhagavan attained Sahaja Samadhi directly without any intermediate state. Many people consider that Nirvikalpa Samadhi is final, and once having attained it seek to progress no further.

Sahaja Samadhi is the final and most blessed state, the goal of all Yogis. In this state the individual has become completely merged in the Supreme Self. His identity which became lost in Nirvikalpa Samadhi has become enlarged and is now the Supreme Self and knows itself as such. Trances longer necessary, a person can still carry on with the ordinary day to day business but he no identifies himself with the activities, but watches them like a dreamer watching a dream. There more to do, and no more to be attained. This is the Supreme State of Absolute Bliss. But in the words of Bhagavan, it is the SELF and it can be realized by one and all by Self-enquiry. (Sadhu Arunachala [A.W. Chadwick], SRRM, 47-8.)

If there are breaks in your Self-awareness, it means that you are not a jnani [enlightened sage] yet. Before one becomes established in the Self without any breaks, without any changes, one has to contact and enjoy the Self many times. By steady meditation and the continued practice of self-inquiry, one will finally become permanently established in the Self, without any breaks. (Annamalei Swami in OE, 110.)

Self-Enquiry – Kevalya Nirvikalpa Samadhi compared with Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi

In Kevala Nirvikalpa there is the mental bucket still in existence under the water, which can be pulled out at any moment. Sahaja is like the river that has linked up with the ocean from which there is no return. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 90.)

Nirvikalpa is Chit – effortless, formless Consciousness. Where does the terror come [that some people feel towards it], and where is the mystery in being oneself? To some people whose minds have become ripe from a long practice in the past, Nirvikalpa comes suddenly as a flood, but to others it comes in the course of their sadhana, which slowly wears down the obstructing thoughts and reveals the screen of Pure Awareness ‘I’-‘I’. Further practice renders the screen permanently exposed. This is Self-realization, Mukti, or Sahaja Samadhi, the natural, effortless state. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 82-3.)

There are two Nirvikalpas: the internal and the external. In the former the mind completely merges in the inmost Being and is aware of nothing else. This is compared to a lamp protected from wind. But in the latter, although the mind is absorbed in the Self, the sense of the world still prevails without a reaction from within, and has the calm vastness of a waveless ocean. In both the Self is realized in its nakedness and the essence of bliss experienced. When the waveless ocean of the external and the steady flame of the internal Nirvikalpa are realized as identical, the ultimate goal, the Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi is said to have been reached. Nirvikalpa is effortless, whereas Savikalpa is attended with effort. ….

Abiding permanently in any of these samadhis, either Savikalpa or Nirvikalpa, is Sahaja. What is body-consciousness? It is the insentient body plus consciousness. Both these must lie in another consciousness which is absolute and unaffected, and ever-abiding, with or without the body-consciousness. What does it the matter whether the body-consciousness is lost or retained, provided one is holding on to that Pure Consciousness? Total absence of body-consciousness has the advantage of making the Samadhi more intense, although it makes no difference in the knowledge of the Supreme. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 88.)

Holding onto the Supreme State is Samadhi. When it is with effort due to mental disturbances, it is Savikalpa. When these disturbances are absent, it is Nirvikalpa. Remaining permanently in the primal state without effort is Sahaja. Like Nivikalpa, there is an internal as well as an external Savikalpa, depending on whether the disturbing thoughts are from outside or from inside. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 89.)

In [Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi], the mind lies immersed in the Light of the Self (whereas the same … mind lies in the darkness of ignorance in deep sleep); and the subject makes a distinction between Samadhi and activity after waking up from Samadhi. Moreover, activity of the body, of the sight, of the vital forces and of the mind and the cognizance of objects, all these are obstructions for one who seeks to realize Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

In Sahaja Samadhi, however, the mind has resolved into the Self and has been lost. The differences and obstructions mentioned above do not, therefore, exist here. The activities of such a Being are like the feeding of a somnolent boy, perceptible to the on-looker but not to the subject. The traveler sleeping in the moving cart is not aware of the motion of the cart, because his mind is sunk in darkness. Whereas the Sahaja Jnani remains unaware of his bodily activities because his mind is dead, having been resolved into the ecstacy of Chidananda (Bliss of the Self). (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 12-3.)

The distinction between sleep, Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi can be clearly put in a tabular form as given by Sri Bhagavan:-
Sleep Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi
(1) mind alive (1) mind alive (1) mind dead
(2) sunk in oblivion (2) sunk in Light (2) resolved into the Self
(3) like a bucket tied to a rope and left lying in the water of the well (3) like a river discharged into the ocean and its identity lost
(4) to be drawn out by the other end of the rope (4) a river cannot be redirected from the ocean
The mind of the Sage who has realized the Self is wholly destroyed. It is dead. But to the onlooker, he may seem to possess a mind just like the layman. Hence the 'I' in the Sage has merely an apparent 'objective' 'reality'; in fact, however, it has neither a subjective existence nor an objective reality. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 13-4.)

(1) Holding on to Reality is Samadhi. (2) Holding on to Reality with effort is savikalpa samadhi. (3) Merging in Reality and remaining unaware of the world is nirvikalpa samadhi. (4) Merging in Ignorance and remaining unaware of the world is sleep (Head bends, but not in samadhi). (5) Remaining in the primal, pure natural state without effort is sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi. They can be further subdivided thus:

Savikalpa Samadhi Nirvikalpa Samadhi
(Bahya) External (Antar) Internal (Bahya) External (Antar) Internal
(Drisyanuvidha) The mind jumps from one object to another. Keep it steady, fixed on the Reality behind them. The mind is afflicted by kama, krodha, etc. See wherefrom they arise and how they have their being. Hold on to their source. Merging in the one Reality underlying all the phenomena and remaining unaware of the transitory manifestations. Merging in the Inmost Being which is the One Reality giving rise to all thoughts, etc., and remaining unware of anything else.
(Sabdanuvidha) There are the external phenomena which are said to have their origin from the Single Reality. Search for it and hold on to it. There are all manner of thoughts which rise up from the Reality within and manifest themselves. Hold on to that Reality.
This state is compared to the waveless ocean whose waters are still and placid. This state is compared to a flame unagitated by currents of air, but burning quite steady.
All these four kinds of savikalpa samadhi are attended with effort. When these kinds of nirvikalpa samadhi are not attended with effort and it is realised that the waveless ocean of external samadhi and the steady flames of internal samadhi are identical, the state is said to be sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi.

(Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 391.)

Self-Enquiry – Self-Enquiry vs. other means of quieting the mind

In the afternoon Khanna’s wife appealed to Bhagavan in writing : “I am not learned in the Scriptures and I find the method of Self-enquiry too hard for me. I am a woman with seven children and a lot of household cares, and it leaves me little time for meditation. I request Bhagavan to give me some simpler and easier method.”

Bhagavan: No learning or knowledge of Scriptures is necessary to know the Self, as no man requires a mirror to see himself. All knowledge is required only to be given up eventually as not Self. Nor is household work or cares with children necessarily an obstacle. If you can do nothing more, at least continue saying “I, I” to yourself mentally all the time, as advised in Who am I?, whatever work you may be doing and whether you are sitting, standing or walking. (Ramana Maharshi in DBDWB.)

Bhagavan: There are only two ways to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to enquire for whom is this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by destiny and not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, by realizing one’s helplessness and saying all the time : “Not I but Thou, oh Lord!,” and giving up all sense of “I” and “mine” and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you. Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, complete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this effacement through Self-enquiry or through bhakti-marga. (Ramana Maharshi in DBDWB.)

Meditation is possible only if the ego is retained; there is the ego and the object meditated upon. This method is indirect. However, if we seek the ego-source, the ego disappears and what remains is the Self. This method is the direct one. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

Other than inquiry, there are no adequate means. If through other means it is sought to control the mind, the mind will appear to be controlled, but will again go forth. Through the control of breath also, the mind will become quiescent; but it will be quiescent only so long as the breath remains controlled, and when the breath resumes the mind also will again start moving and will wander as impelled by residual impressions. The source is the same for both mind and breath. Thought, indeed, is the nature of the mind. The thought "I" is the first thought of the mind; and that is egoity. It is from that whence egoity originates that breath also originates. Therefore, when the mind becomes quiescent, the breath is controlled, and when the breath is controlled the mind becomes quiescent. … Breath is the gross form of mind. Till the time of death, the mind keeps breath in the body; and when the body dies the mind takes the breath along with it. Therefore, the exercise of breath-control is only an aid for rendering the mind quiescent (manonigraha); it will not destroy the mind (manonasa).

All disciplines such as sacrifice, charity, austerity, observance of vows, japa, yoga, and puja, are, in effect, modes of meditation of the form “I am Brahman.” So, in all the modes of disciplines, one should see to it that one does not stray away from the thought “I am Brahman.” This is the purport of the worship of the attributeless. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 33.)

Like the practice of breath-control, meditation on the forms of God, repetition of mantras, restriction on food, etc., are but aids for rendering the mind quiescent.

Through meditation on the forms of God and through repetition of mantras, the mind becomes one-pointed. The mind will always be wandering. Just as when a chain is given to an elephant to hold in its trunk it will go along grasping the chain and nothing else, so also when the mind is occupied with a name or form it will grasp that alone. When the mind expands in the form of countless thoughts, each thought becomes weak; but as thoughts get resolved the mind becomes one-pointed and strong; for such a mind Self-inquiry will become easy. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 14-5.)

[To make the rebellious mind calm and tranquil] either see its source so that it may disappear, or surrender yourself so that it may be struck down. Self-surrender is the same as Self-knowledge, and either of them necessarily implies self-control. The ego submits only when it recognizes the Higher Power. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 22.)

There is no mind to control if the Self is realized. The Self shines forth when the mind vanishes. In the realized man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone exists. For the mind, body and world are not separate from the Self. Can they be other than the Self? When aware of the Self, why should one worry about these shadows? How do they affect the Self? (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 18.)

If the enquiry is made whether mind exists, it will be found that mind does not exist. That is control of mind. Otherwise, if the mind is taken to exist and one seeks to control it, it amounts to mind controlling the mind, just like a thief turning out to be a policeman to catch the thief. i.e., himself. Mind persists in that way alone, but eludes itself. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, No. 43.)

Breath-control is the means for mind-control. … Breath can be controlled either by absolute retention of breath (kevala-kumbhaka) or by regulation of breath (pranayama). (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to questions 21 and 22.)

[Hatha yoga] is one of the aids [to Liberation] --- not that it is always necessary. It depends upon the person. Vichara surpasses pranayama. In "Yoga Vasistha'' Chudala advises investigation (vichara) to Sikhidvaja for killing the ego. Reality can be reached by holding on to prana or intellect. Hatha Yoga is the former; Vichara is the latter. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, No. 41.)

There is no doubt that breath-control is the means for mind-control, because the mind, like breath, is a part of air, because the nature of mobility is common to both, because the place of origin is the same for both, and because when one of them is controlled the other gets controlled. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 25.)

[Absolute retention of breath (kevala-kumbhaka)] is making the vital air stay firmly in the heart even without exhalation and inhalation. This is achieved through meditation on the vital principle, etc. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 23.)

[Regulation of breath] is making the vital air stay firmly in the heart through exhalation, inhalation, and retention, according to the instructions given in the yoga texts. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 24.)

Disciple: Since breath-control leads only to quiescence of the mind (manolaya) and not to its destruction (manonasa), how can it be said that breath-control is the means for enquiry which aims at the destruction of mind?

Master: The scriptures teach the means for gaining Self-realization in two modes - as the yoga with eight limbs (ashtanga-yoga) and as knowledge with eight limbs (ashtanga-jnana). By regulation of breath (pranayama) or by absolute retention thereof (kevala-kumbhaka), which is one of the limbs of yoga, the mind gets controlled. Without leaving the mind at that, if one practises the further discipline such as withdrawal of the mind from external objects (pratyahara), then at the end, Self-realization which is the fruit of enquiry will surely be gained. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 26.)

So long as the mind has not been made to rest in the heart, either through absolute retention (kevala-kumbhaka) or through enquiry, rechaka, puraka, etc., are needed. Hence, the pranayama of yoga is to be practised during training, and the other pranayama may be practised always. Thus, both may be practised. It is enough if the yogic pranayama is practised till skill is gained in absolute retention. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 35.)

Self-Enquiry – Self-Enquiry vs. other means of quieting the mind - Meditation

Disciple: What is the difference between meditation and Self-enquiry?

Master: Meditation is possible only if the ego is retained; there is the ego and the object meditated upon.

This method is indirect. However, if we seek the ego-source, the ego disappears and what remains is the Self. This method is the direct one.

Q: (On another occasion) What is the difference between meditation and vichara?

M: Meditation can be upon an object, external or otherwise. Thus subject and object differ. In vichara, both subject and object are the same - the Self.

Inquiry consists in retaining the mind in the Self. Meditation consists in thinking that one's self is Brahman, existence-consciousness-bliss. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 21.)

Who is the meditator? Ask the question first. Remain as the meditator. There is no need to meditate. (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 205.)

Meditation is one approach that will drive away other thoughts. The one thought of God will dominate others. That is concentration. The object of meditation is thus the same as that of vichara. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

The only enquiry leading to Self-realization is seeking the Source of the “I” with in-turned mind and without uttering the word “I.” Meditation on “I am not this; I am That” may be an aid to the enquiry but it cannot be the enquiry. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 29.)

Meditation should be on the Self. Everyone knows “I am.” Who is the “I”? It will be neither within nor without, neither on the right nor the left. “I am,” that is all. The Heart is the centre from which everything springs. Because you now see the world, the body etc, it is said that there is a centre for them called the Heart. But when actually in it, the Heart is neither in the centre nor at the circumference as then there is nothing else. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

The experience of Self is possible only for the mind that has become subtle and unmoving as a result of prolonged meditation. He who is thus endowed with a mind that has become subtle, and who has the experience of the Self is called a jivan-mukta. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 40.)

All kinds of thoughts arise in meditation. That is only right; for what lies hidden in you is brought out. Unless it rises up, how can it be destroyed? Thoughts rise up spontaneously, as it were, but only to be extinguished in due course, thus strengthening the mind. (Ramana Maharshi, MG, 20.)

The bliss of Brahman will not become manifest owing to the mere immobility of the inner organ. It will become manifest only through the concept of the form of Brahman (Brahmakara vritti). Since this will arise only through reflection (chintana) on the meaning of the Vedanta (texts), and since unsteadiness will disappear even through this, one who desires to have the bliss of Liberation while alive has to reflect on the meaning of Vedanta texts only and need not meditate (do upasana). (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 22.)

The purport of prescribing meditation on the pranava is this. The pranava is Omkara consisting of three and a half matras, viz., a, u, m, and ardha-matra. of these, a stands for the waking state, Visva-jiva, and the gross body; u stands for the dream-state Taijasa-jiva, and the subtle body; m stands for the sleep-state, Prajnajiva and the causal body; the ardha-matra represents the Turiya which is the self or “I”-nature; and what is beyond that is the state of Turiyatita, or pure Bliss. The fourth state which is the state of “I”-nature was referred to in the section on meditation (dhyana): this has been variously described -- as of the nature of amatra which includes the three matras, a, u, and m; as maunakshara (silence syllable); as ajapa (as muttering without muttering) and as the Advaita-mantra which is the essence of all mantras such as panchakshara. In order to get at this true significance, one should meditate on the pranava. This is meditation which is of the nature of devotion consisting in reflection on the truth of the Self. The fruition of this process is samadhi which yields release which is the state of unsurpassed bliss. The revered Gurus also have said that release is to be gained only by devotion which is of the nature of reflection on the truth of the Self. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 28.)

(a) The purport of teaching that one should cultivate the idea that one is not different from the self-luminous Reality is this: Scripture defines meditation in these words, "In the middle of the eight-petalled heart-lotus which is of the nature of all, and which is referred to as Kailasa, Vaikundha, and Parama-pada, there is the Reality which is of the size of the thumb, which is dazzling like lightning and which shines like a flame. By meditating on it, a person gains immortality." From this we should know that by such meditation one avoids the defects of (1) the thought of difference, of the form “I am different, and that is different,” (2) the meditation on what is limited, (3) the idea that the real is limited, and (4) that it is confined to one place.

(b) The purport of teaching that one should meditate with the “I am He” thought is this: sahaham: soham; sah the supreme Self, aham the Self that is manifest as “I.” The jiva which is the Shiva-linga resides in the heart-lotus which is its seat situated in the body which is the city of Brahman; the mind which is of the nature of egoity, goes outward identifying itself with the body, etc. Now the mind should be resolved in the heart, i.e. the I-sense that is placed in the body, etc., should be got rid of; when thus one enquires “Who am I?,” remaining undisturbed, in that state the Self-nature becomes manifest in a subtle manner as “I-I”; that self-nature is all and yet none, and is manifest as the supreme Self everywhere without the distinction of inner and outer; that shines like a flame, as was stated above, signifying the truth “I am Brahman.” If, without meditating on that as being identical with oneself, one imagines it to be different, ignorance will not leave. Hence, the identity-meditation is prescribed.

If one meditates for a long time, without disturbance, on the Self ceaselessly, with the “I am He” thought which is the technique of reflection on the Self, the darkness of ignorance which is in the heart and all the impediments which are but the effects of ignorance will he removed, and the plenary wisdom will be gained.

Thus, realizing the Reality in the heart-cave which is in the city (of Brahman), viz.,the body, is the same as realizing the all-perfect God.

In the city with nine gates, which is the body, the wise one resides at ease. The body is the temple; the jiva is God (Shiva). If one worships him with the “I am He” thought, one will gain release.

The body which consists of the five sheaths is the cave, the supreme that resides there is the lord of the cave. Thus the scriptures declare.

Since the Self is the reality of all the gods, the meditation on the Self which is oneself is the greatest of all meditations. All other meditations are included in this. It is for gaining this that the other meditations are prescribed. So, if this is gained, the others are not necessary. Knowing one's Self is knowing God. Without knowing one's Self that meditates, imagining that there is a deity which is different and meditating on it, is compared by the great ones to the act of measuring with one's foot one's own shadow, and to the search for a trivial conch after throwing away a priceless gem that is already in one's possession. (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 29.)

The Self is self-luminous without darkness and light, and is the reality which is self-manifest. Therefore, one should not think of it as this or as that. The very thought of thinking will end in bondage. The purport of meditation on the Self is to make the mind take the form of the Self. In the middle of the heart-cave the pure Brahman is directly manifest as the Self in the form “I-I.” Can there be greater ignorance than to think of it in manifold ways, without knowing it as aforementioned? (Ramana Maharshi, SE, answer to question 31.)

[Meditation] is abiding as one's Self without swerving in any way from one's 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 dhyana. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 14.)

[The difference between dhyana and samadhi is that] dhyana is achieved through deliberate mental effort; in samadhi there is no such effort. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 15.)

Only if the thought “I am the body” occurs will the meditation “I am not this, I am That,” help one to abide as That. Why should we for ever be thinking, “I am That”? Is it necessary for man to go on thinking “I am a man”? Are we not always That? (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 36.)

Although the scriptures proclaim “Thou art That,” it is only a sign of weakness of mind to meditate “I am That, not this,” because you are eternally That. What has to be done is to investigate what one really is and remain That. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 32.)

The only enquiry leading to Self-realization is seeking the Source of the “I” with in-turned mind and without uttering the word “I.” Meditation on “I am not this; I am That” may be an aid to the enquiry but it cannot be the enquiry. (Ramana Maharshi, FVR, verse 29.)

Meditation needs effort; jnanam is effortless. Meditation can be done, or not done, or wrongly done, jnanam is not so. Meditation is described as kartru-tantra (as doer's own), jnanam as vastu-tantra (the Supreme's own). (Ramana Maharshi, TWSRM, Question 624.)

Self-Enquiry – Supplementary practices

Of all the restrictive rules, that relating to the taking of sattvic food in moderate quantities is the best; by observing this rule, the sattvic quality of mind will increase, and that will be helpful to Self-inquiry. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 15-6.)

Food affects the mind. The right food makes it more sattvic. For the practice of any yoga, vegetarianism is absolutely necessary. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

Habit is only adjustment to the environment. It is the mind that matters. The fact is that the mind has been trained to think certain foods tasty. Nourishment may be obtained from vegetarian food no less than from flesh. But the realized person's mind is not influenced by the food eaten. However, get accustomed to vegetarianism gradually. (Ramana Maharshi, CI, n.p.)

You must do it with a calm mind – mental calmness is essential. (Ramana Maharshi, GR, 82.)

[The rules of conduct for a student are] moderation in food, moderation in sleep and moderation in speech. (Ramana Maharshi, SI, Chapter 2, Question 17.)

Self-Enquiry – The contribution of Sri Ramana Maharshi

I am that Brahman which is bliss, which is eternal, effulgent, all-pervasive, the substratum of names and forms, which is not cognized by the impure intellect, but is cognized by the pure intellect, stainless and boundless. (Ramana Maharshi, JGE, 7.)

Through the potent Grace of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, the path of Self-enquiry was brought within the competence of men and women of this age, was indeed fashioned into a new path that can be followed anonymously in the conditions of the modern world, with no forms of ritual, nothing to distinguish a person outwardly from the world wherein he moves. (Anon., “Intro” to Ramana Maharshi, FHSA.)

The task performed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana was to reopen the direct path of Self-enquiry which had become too arduous for our spiritually dark age. This path, with its theoretical basis of Advaita, stands, so to speak, at the source from which the various religions diverge and can therefore be approached from any side. Whether there are many or few who take it is not the question, only that it has been made open.

In itself, but for the Grace of Bhagavan, it would be the most inaccessible to modern man on account of its very simplicity and directness; and yet it is the most accessible, and in many cases the only accessible path, from the contingent point of view, since, because of its very directness, it requires no ritual or forms of worship, no priesthood or congregation, no outer signs or special observances, but can be practised in the workshop or kitchen or city office as well as in the monastery or hermitage.

In the same impersonal way a man can attend to all the affairs of life, knowing that he, the real Self, is unaffected by them; and every attack of greed, anger or desire can be dispelled by vichara. It must be dispelled, because it is no use repeating that one is the Self and acting as though one were the ego. Real, even partial, awareness of the Self weakens egotism: egotism, whether expressed as vanity, greed or desire, is a proof that recognition of the Self is merely mental.

This means that in adapting an ancient path to modern conditions Bhagavan has in effect created a new path. The ancient path of Self-enquiry was pure Jnana-marga to be followed by the recluse in silence and solitude, withdrawn from the outer world. Bhagavan has made it a path to be followed invisible in the world in the conditions of modern life.

Whosoever submits to him will be borne up and never forsaken. “God and Guru are not really different; they are identical. He who has earned the Grace of the Guru will undoubtedly be saved and never forsaken, just as the prey that has fallen into the tiger’s jaws will never be allowed to escape. The disciple, for his part should unswervingly follow the path shown by the Master.” (Arthur Osborne, RA.)

Bibliography

CI: Brunton, Paul, and Munagala Venkataramaiah. Conscious Immortality. Conversations with Sri Ramana Maharshi. Rev. ed. 1996.

CWRM: Osborne, Arthur, ed., The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi. Tiruvannamali, 1979.

DBDWB: Devarajamudalliar, A. Day by Day with Bhagavan. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasraman, n.d. http://www.ramana-maharshi.org. Downloaded 10 Sept. 2005.

FHSA: Anon., “Introduction” to Ramana Maharshi, Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala. Sixth edition.

FVR: Ramana, Sri, Maharshi. Forty Verses on Reality. Trans. Arthur Osborne. Mountain Path, October 1964. Donwloaded from http://www.realization.org/page/namedoc0/40_verses/40_verses_0.htm, 25 August 2005.

GFB: Ramana, Sri, Maharshi, Gems from Bhagavan. Comp. A. Devaraja Mudaliar. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1985.

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MG: Ramana, Sri, Maharshi. Maharshi’s Gospel. Books I and II. Being Answers of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi to Questions Put to Him by Devotees. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam,1979; c1939.

OE: Thompson, Berthold Madhukar, The Odyssey of Enlightenment. San Rafael: Wisdom Editions, 2003.

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RA: Arthur Osbourne, Ramana Arunachala.

SDB: “K.” Sat-Darshana Bhashya and Talks with Maharshi. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1993; c1931. xx SE: Ramana Maharshi, Self-Enquiry. Trans. T.M.P. Mahadevan. http://www.realization.org/page/namedoc0/self/self_0.htm Downloaded 1 August 2005.

SI: Sri Ramana Maharshi, Spiritual Instruction of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Eighth Edition. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1974.)

SRG: Ganapathi, Vasistha, ed., Sri Ramana Gita. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanashramam, 1977.

SRRM: Arunachala, Sadhu (A.W. Chadwick), A Sadhu’s Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1961.

TRM: Osborne, Arthur, comp., The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi. York Beach, ME: Weiser, 1996.

TWSRM: Venkatramiah, Munagala. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. Downloaded from http://www.ramana-maharshi.org/books.htm, 31 August 2005.

WHO: Anon., Who Am I? The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Sarasota, FL: Ramana Publications, 1990.

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