Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dealing With Desires

Question : What is the best way of dealing with desires, with a view to getting rid of them — satisfying them or suppressing them? 

Bhagavan: If a desire can be got rid of by satisfying it, there will be no harm in satisfying such a desire. But desires generally are not eradicated by satisfaction. Trying to root them out that way is like pouring spirits to quench fire. At the same time, the proper remedy is not forcible suppression, since such repression is bound to react sooner or later into forceful surging up with undesirable consequences. The proper way to get rid of a desire is to find out “Who gets the desire? What is its source?” When this is found, the desire is rooted out and it will never again emerge or grow. Small desires such as the desire to eat, drink and sleep and attend to calls of nature, though these may also be classed among desires, you can safely satisfy. They will not implant vasanas in your mind, necessitating further birth. Those activities are just necessary to carry on life and are not likely to develop or leave behind vasanas or tendencies. As a general rule, therefore, there is no harm in satisfying a desire where the satisfaction will not lead to further desires by creating vasanas in the mind.

Monday, August 19, 2013

If you can hold on to this knowledge 'I am Self' at all times, no further practice is necessary.
Meditation must be continuous. The current of meditation must be present in all your activities. With practice, meditation and work can go on simultaneously
Continuous attentiveness will only come with long practice. If you are truly watchful, each thought will dissolve at the moment that it appears. But to reach this level of disassociation you must have no attachments at all. If you have the slightest interest in any particular thought, it will evade your attentiveness, connect with other thoughts, and take over your mind for a few seconds; and this will happen even more if you are accustomed to reacting emotionally to a particular thought
In every moment you only have one real choice: to be aware of the Self or to identify with the body and the mind
You have to keep up the enquiry, 'To whom is this happening?' all the time. If you are having trouble remind yourself, 'This is just happening on the surface of my mind. I am not this mind or the wandering thoughts.' Then go back into enquiry 'Who am I?'. By doing this you will penetrate deeper and deeper and become detached from the mind. This will only come about after you have made an intense effort
There are so many thoughts in the mind. Thought after thought after thought. But there is one thought that is continuous, though it is mostly sub-conscious: 'I am the body'. This is the string on which all other thoughts are threaded. Once we identify ourselves with the body by thinking this thought, maya follows. It also follows that if we cease to identify with the body, maya will not affect us anymore
The obstructing vasanas [mental habits and tendencies] may look like a large mountain which obstructs your progress. Don't be intimidated by the size. It is not a mountain of rock, it is a mountain of camphor. If you light one corner of it with the flame of discriminative attention, it will all burn to nothing. Stand back from the mountain of problems, refuse to acknowledge that they are yours, and they will dissolve and disappear before your eyes
Give up your life-long habit of inventing an 'I' which claims all thoughts as 'mine'. Be conscious of yourself as consciousness alone, watch all the thoughts come and go
Watch the thoughts come and go without identifying with them in any way. If you can resist the impulse to claim each and every thought as your own, you will come to a startling conclusion: you will discover that you are the consciousness in which the thoughts appear and disappear. You will discover that this thing called mind only exists when thoughts are allowed to run free
The Self is always attained, it is always realised, it is not something that you have to seek, reach or discover. Your vasanas, the mental habits and tendencies, and all the wrong ideas you have about yourself, are blocking and hiding the experience of the real Self. If you don't identify with the wrong ideas, your Self-nature will not be hidden from you
Stop identifying with the 'ego'. If you can convince yourself: "This 'little self' is not really me", it will just disappear. The 'ego' is something which only appears to be real. If you can understand that it has no real existence, it will disappear, leaving behind it the experience of the real and only Self. If you can understand that this 'ego' never at any time had any existence outside your imagination, you will not be concerned about ways and means of getting rid of it
When the rejection of mental activities becomes continuous and automatic, you will begin to have the experience of the Self.
Bhagavan's famous instruction 'summa iru' [be still] is often misunderstood. It does not mean that you should be physically still, it means that you should always abide in the Self. In sattva guna [a state of mental quietness and clarity] there is stillness and harmony. If mental activity is necessary while one is in sattva guna it takes place. But for the rest of the time there is stillness. If sattva guna predominates one experiences peace, bliss, clarity and an absence of wandering thoughts. That is the stillness that Bhagavan was prescribing
Surrender to Him and abide by His will whether he appears or vanishes; await His pleasure. If you ask Him to do as you please, it is not surrender but command to Him. You cannot have Him obey you and yet think that you have surrendered. He knows what is best and when and how to do it. Leave everything entirely to Him. His is the burden: you have no longer any cares. All your cares are His. Such is surrender. This is bhakti.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ulladhu Narpadhu - Verse 40

If it is said, so as to suit (the maturity of) the mind, that the liberation which one will attain is (of) three (kinds), with form, without form, or with or without form, I will say that liberation is (in truth only) the destruction of the form of the ego which distinguishes (liberation as being of three kinds), with form, without form, or with or without form. Know thus.

Ulladhu Narpadhu - Verse 28

Just as one would dive (restraining one’s speech and breath) in order to find a thing which has fallen into the water, one should dive within (oneself) restraining speech and breath with a keen mind (that is, with a keen and
penetrating attention fixed on the feeling ‘I’), and know (the real Self, which is) the rising-place (or source) of the ego, which rises first. Know thus.

Ulladhu Narpadhu - Verse 19

The dispute as to which prevails, fate or freewill, is only for those who do not have correct knowledge of the root of fate and freewill, which are different (from each other). (That is, this dispute arises only for those who do not know that the ego, who is the experiencer of fate and the wielder of freewill, is truly non-existent). Those who have known the (non-existence of the individual) self (the ego), who is the one (and only) base of fate and freewill, have discarded them. (that is, they have discarded fate and free will along with their root and base, the ego). Say, will they again become entangled in them (in fate and free will, or in the dispute about them)?

Ulladhu Narpadhu - Verse 11

Knowing other things without knowing oneself (the mind or ego), who knows the objects known, is (only) ignorance; can it instead be (true) knowledge? When (through the enquiry ‘Who am I’, the individual who knows the objects known) one knows (the non-existence of) oneself (the knowing ego) the base for knowledge and the other (that is, the base of knowledge and ignorance about objects) will cease to exist.

Ulladhu Narpadhu - Verse 8

Whoever worships (the nameless and formless Reality) in whatever form giving (it) whatever name, that is the way to see that (nameless and formless) Reality in (that) name and form, (because) it is possible (to see it thus). However, becoming one (with the Reality), having known one’s own
truth (that is, having known the truth that one is not the ego, the individual who worships and sees names and forms, but only the real Self, who never sees names and forms) and having (thereby) subsided in the (nameless and
formless) truth of that Reality, alone is seeing in truth (in other words, being the Reality is alone truly seeing the Reality). Know thus.

Ulladhu Narpadhu - Verse 37

Even the argument which says, “Duality (dvaita) during practice (sadhana) – which one undertakes (due to) not knowing (the truth that one is always Brahman) – and nonduality (advaita) after attainment (that is, duality is true during the time of practice and non-duality becomes true only after the attainment of Self-realization)”, is not true. Who else is one except the tenth man, both when one is anxiously searching (for the tenth man) and when one finds oneself (to be the tenth man).

Ulladhu Narpadhu - Verse 37

Even the argument which says, “Duality (dvaita) during practice (sadhana) – which one undertakes (due to) not knowing (the truth that one is always Brahman) – and nonduality (advaita) after attainment (that is, duality is true during the time of practice and non-duality becomes true only after the attainment of Self-realization)”, is not true. Who else is one except the tenth man, both when one is anxiously searching (for the tenth man) and when one finds oneself (to be the tenth man).

Ulladhu Narpadhu - Verse 36

If we think, having delusion, that we are the body, thinking, ‘No (we are not this body), we are That (the Reality)’, will be a good aid for (reminding and encouraging) us to abide as That. (However) since we (in truth ever) abide
as That, why to think always, ‘We are That’? Does one (always) think, ‘I am a man’? (That is, in order to be a man, does a man always need to meditate, I am a man, I am a man?)

Ulladhu Narpadhu - Verse 32

When the holy scriptures proclaim, “You are That, which is declared to be the Supreme”, instead of oneself knowing and being oneself (by scrutinizing) ‘What (am I)?’, thinking, “I am That (the supreme) and not this (the body composed of five sheaths)”, is due to the absence of strength (that is, due to the absence of maturity of mind), because That indeed always exists as oneself (one’s own Reality).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Prarabdha And Effort

Annamalai Swami: Before we came into this life all the incidents of our life were predestined: where we have to live, what acts we have to perform, etc. If we desire anything other than our prarabdha, that which was already destined for us, we cannot attain it.

Questioner: So there is no point in planning future projects. It is better to live with what comes, day by day.

AS: According to one's prarabdha, the efforts which are necessary and which have to happen will arise in one's mind.

Q: So we only think that we have choices. The sense of choice is not real.

AS: Correct! All the difficulties that we experience in life have been given to us by Bhagavan in order to turn our minds towards the Self.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Go deeply into this feeling of'I'. Be aware of it so strongly, so intensely that no other thoughts have the energy to arise and distract you. If you hold this feelmg of 'I' long enough and strongly enough, the false 'I' will vanish leaving only the awareness of the real, immanent 'I', consciousness itself.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Your Self is intimate to you. You are aware of the Self. Seek it and be it. That will expand as the Infinite.


The Self is more intimate than the objects. Find the subject, and the objects will take care of themselves. 

Find your Self. Then there is an end of these vagaries of the mind - Talk 211

Monday, June 17, 2013

We cannot go anywhere other than where we are. We are always here. We are this present moment. This moment is eternal and infinite. This must be understood. This is Bhagavan’s teaching. Bhagavan’s dying words were, “Where can I go? I am Here.” Even in his last moments Bhagavan was teaching and pointing to the Self. All movement is in our imagination. If we do not move our mind, the outside movement becomes moot. When imagination comes to full stop, Self becomes Self-evident.
To see this, we need Grace. And the wise say that Grace is Always Here. And Self is Grace. And there is nothing but That. It is not possible to see this beauty with our eyes. One must recognize it is as one’s own being.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bhagavan gave these verses he had selected from the Yoga Vasishta to a departing visitor, saying they contained the essence for the path of a pure life:

Steady in the state of fullness,
which shines when all desires are given up,
and peaceful in the state of freedom in life,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!

Inwardly free from all desires,
dispassionate and detached, but outwardly active in all directions,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!

Free from egoism, with mind detached as in sleep,
pure like the sky, ever untainted,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!

Conducting yourself nobly with kindly tenderness,
outwardly conforming to conventions, but inwardly renouncing all,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!

Quite unattached at heart but for all appearance acting as with attachment,
inwardly cool but outwardly full of fervour,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

D: How is the Guru found?

M: God, who is immanent, in His grace takes pity on the loving devotee and manifests Himself according to the devotee’s development. The devotee thinks that He is a man and expects a relationship as between two physical bodies. But the Guru, who is God or the Self incarnate, works from within, helps the man to see the error of his ways and guides him in the right path until he realises the Self within.

D: What should the devotee do then?

M: He has only to act up to the words of the Master and work within. The Master is both ‘within’ and ‘without’, so He creates conditions to drive you inward and at the same time prepares the ‘interior’ to drag you to the Centre. Thus He gives a push from ‘without’ and exerts a pull from ‘within’, so that you may be fixed at the Centre.

You think that the world can be conquered by your own efforts. When you are frustrated externally and are driven inwards, you feel ‘Oh! there is a Power higher than man!’

The ego is like a very powerful elephant which cannot be brought under control by any less powerful than a lion, which, in this instance, is no other than the Guru, whose very look makes the elephant-like ego tremble and die.

You will know in due course that your glory lies where you cease to exist. In order to gain that state, you should surrender yourself. Then the Master sees that you are in a fit state to receive guidance, and He guides you.

D: How can the silence of the Guru, who gives no initiation nor does any other tangible act, be more powerful than His word etc.? How is such silence better than the study of scriptures?

M: Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the scriptures may be, they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and Grace prevails in all. This silence is more vast and more emphatic than all the scriptures put together.

D: But can the devotee obtain happiness?

M: The devotee surrenders himself to the Master and it means that there is no vestige of individuality retained by him. If the surrender is complete, all sense of self is lost, and then there can be no misery or sorrow. The eternal Being is nothing but happiness. That comes
as a revelation.

From Maharshi’s Gospel

Saturday, February 23, 2013

In the old days, when we had the benefit of regularly receiving personal instructions from Sri Bhagavan, one of them was that we should get into a meditative state before going to sleep. If this was done, Sri Bhagavan said, sleep overtook one as a natural sequel to fatigue and was not induced or preceded by lying down. Also, we were advised to go into meditation first thing in the morning, immediately after getting out of bed. This ensured a serenity of mind and also a feeling of tirelessness throughout the day. If this was done, he said, the state of mind experienced immediately before sleep is resumed on waking.

-- Kunju Swami

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

There is a verse from Kaivalya Navaneeta that Bhagavan often quoted. It speaks of the need for vigilance even after the Self has been experienced for the first time. In the verse the disciple is speaking to his Guru:

D: 'Lord, you are the reality remaining as my inmost Self, ruling me during all my countless incarnations! Glory to you who have put on an external form in order to instruct me. I do not see how iI can repay your grace for having liberated me. Glory! Glory to your holy feet!'

The Guru replies:
'To stay fixed in the Self without the three kinds of obstacles [ignorance, uncertainty and wrong knowledge] obstructing your experience, is the highest return you can render me'

The Guru knows that without vigilance, an initial experience of the Self may slip away.
Drop the body-mind idea and you will discover that you don't have any likes or dislikes


Keep your body in good condition if you want to, but don't ever believe that it is you. You can keep your car in good working order without ever believing that you are the car. 


When you identify with transient things that pass away or perish, you too will pass away and perish, but when you identify with the Self, you will not pass away or change in any way. The Self has no birth, no death, no bondage, no misery, no youth, no old age, and no sickness. These are attributes of changing bodies and minds, not the Self. Be the Self and none of these things will ever happen to you


As long as vasanas continue to exist they will rise and cover the reality, obscuring the awareness of it. As often as you become aware of them, question, 'To whom do they come?' This continuous enquiry will establish you in your own Self and you will have no further problems. When you know that the snake of the mind never existed, when you know that the rope of reality is all that exists, doubts and fears will not trouble you again.


Grace is always present, always available, but for it to be effective, one must be in a state to receive it and make full use of it. If you want to take a full cup of water from a lake, you have fully to immerse the cup first. If you want to fill your mind with grace, submerge it fully in the Self. In that place the grace will manifest in you as peace and happiness.


Whatever kind of thought arises, have the same reaction: 'Not me; not my business.; It can be good thought or a bad thought. Treat them all the same way. To whom are these thoughts arising? To you. That means that you are not the thought.

You are the Self. Remain as the Self, and don't latch onto anything that is not the Self.


Your thoughts arise on a moment-to-moment basis because of your vasanas, but it is a mistake to think that you can do nothing about them. You can be interested in them, or you can ignore them. If you show interest in them, they will persist and you will get caught up in them. If you ignore them and keep your attention on the source, they will not develop. And when they don't develop, they disappear.


Your vasanas are all the sideshows in your head that can drag your attention away from your main business, which is being aware of the Self. If you have no interest in them, you will walk straight to your goal. If something temporarily distracts your attention, bring yourself back by asking yourself, 'who is interested in all this? Who is getting interested in this distraction?' This will deflate the distracting desire and it will bring you back to an awareness of your true purpose. 

Remember, nothing that happens in the mind is 'you', and none of it is your business. 


If you can withdraw energy from your worldly attachments and instead focus full-time on the Self, you will soon get results

If you are having trouble with enthusiasm for Sadhana, just tell yourself, 'I may be dead in seven days'. Let go of all the things that you pretend are important in your daily life and instead focus on the Self for twenty-four hours a day.


If you spend your life with worldly thoughts, these will be the thoughts that fill your mind at the moment of your death. But if your life is devoted to sadhana, to attaining an inner peace, then, at the moment of your death, this will be the state that you die in. 


I ask you to put all your attention, all your interest on realising the final teaching: 'I am ot the body or the mind. I'm Self. All is the Self.'. This is Bhagavan's final teaching. Nothing more needs to be added to it. Keep good company while you pursue this knowledge and all will be well


The Ribhu Gita advises us to remember at all times, 'I am the Self; all is the Self'. The entire universe is 'I'. If you can keep this permanently in your mind, millions and millions of punyas will come to you.

I advise doing japa to the Self, either by repeatedly thinking about it or by repeating the affirmations such as 'I am the Self'. This affirmation is the greatest mantra of all. If you can do it continuously, without interruption, you will get results very quickly. There is no greater japa, no greater sadhana than this. 

The one who is seeking is also that which is sought. The seeker and the sought are both Self. If you are not able to find this Self within yourself, you will not find it anywhere else. Searching on the outside and visiting holy places will not help you.


Your most important objective must be realising the Self. If you have not done this, you will spend your time in ignorance and illusion. You, your mind, this world - they are all maya. Don't become a slave to this maya. Instead, realise the Self and let maya become your servant.


If you completely avoid attachment to your body and mind, then all other attachments will vanish. Identify with That which is neither body nor mind, and all your attachments will go. You can put your attention on one thing at a time. While it is on the mind or the body, it cannot be on the Self. Conversely, if you put attention on the Self and become absorbed in it, there will be no awareness of mind and body.


If you want to discriminate at all, avoid bad company and bad thought.


The Self is always present. Nothing obstructs your awareness of it except your self-inflicted ignorance. Our efforts, our sadhana, are directed towards removing this ignorance. If this ignorance is removed, the real Self is revealed. This revelation is not part of destiny. Only the outer bodily activities are destined.


You have to go on making an effort until the point where you become totally effortless. Up till that moment your effort is needed. The mind only gets dissolved in Self by constant practice. At that moment the 'I am the body' idea disappears, just as darkness disappears when the sun rises.

-- Final Talks

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Non-duality is jnana; duality is samsara. If you can give up duality, Brahman alone remains, and you know yourself to be that Brahman, but to make this discovery continuous meditation is required. Don't allocate periods of time for this. Don't regard it as something that you don when you sit with your eyes closed. This meditation has to be continuous. Do it while you are eating, walking, and even talking. It has to be continued all the time. 

-- Final Talks.

PS: meditating = meditation on the Self (Atma Dhyana)

Bhagavan on Guru's feet

Only the Supreme Self, which is ever shining in your Heart as the reality, is the Sadguru. The pure awareness, which is shining as the inward illumination "I", is His gracious feet. The contact with these (inner holy feet) alone can give you true redemption. Joining the eye of the reflected consciousness (chidabhasa), which is your sense of individuality, to these holy feet, wich are the real consciousness  is the union of the feet and the head which is the real significance of the word asi (verb in tat tvam asi, "That thou art"). As these inner holy feet can be held naturally and unceasingly, hereafter, with an inward-turned mind, cling to that inner awareness which is your real nature. This alone is the proper way for the removal of bondage and the attainment of the supreme truth.

The benefit of performing namaskaram (prostrating) to the Guru is only the removal of the ego. That is not attained except by total surrender. Within the Heart of each devotee the gracious Guru is giving darshan in the form of consciousness. Since to surrender is to offer fully, in silence, the subsided ego, which is a name-and-form thought, to the aham sphurana (the effulgence of "I"), the real holy feet of the gracious Guru. Since this is so, Self-realisation cannot be attained by a bowing of the body, but only by a bowing of the ego

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Self-inquiry must be done continuously. It doesn't work if you regard it as a part-time activity. You must have a lifelong commitment to establish yourself in the Self. Your determination to succeed must be strong and firm, and it should manifest as continuous, not part-time, effort.

Ignorance is ignorance of the Self, and to remove it Self awareness is required. When you come to an awareness of the Self, ignorance vanishes. If you don't lose contact with the Self, ignorance can never arise.

— Final Talks

Thursday, February 7, 2013

1. Mr. C. wanted to know the exact meaning of samadhi.
B. Samadhi is one’s true nature.
C. Is it the same as Turiya?
B. Samadhi, Turiya, Nirvikalpa, all have the same implication namely awareness of the Self.Turiya literally means the Fourth State – the Supreme Consciousness – to be distinguished from the other three – the waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep. The Fourth State is eternal, over, or in which the other three, come and go. In Turiya there is the awareness that the mind has merged in its source, the Heart, and is quiescent there, although some thoughts still impinge on it and the senses are somewhat active. In Nirvikalpa the senses are inactive and thoughts are totally absent; hence the experience of Pure Consciousness is intense in it; so is the bliss. Turiya is obtainable in Savikalpa Samadhi.
C. What is the difference between Sahaja and Nirvikalpa samadhi
B. Sahaja is also Nirvikalpa. You are probably meaning Kevala Nirvikalpa, which is temporary, while the samadhilasts. The Sahaja Nirvikalpa is permanent and in it lies liberation from rebirths.
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 world still prevails without a reaction from within, and has the calm vastness of a waveless ocean. In both, the Self is realised 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 realised as identical, the ultimate goal, the Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi is said to have been reached.Nirvikalpa is effortless, whereas Savikalpa is attended with effort.
C. Is the internal Nirvikalpa absolutely necessary before the attainment of Sahaja?
B. 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 then 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.
July, 1936
2. C. May I have a clear idea, Bhagavan, of the difference between Savikalpa andNirvikalpa?
B. Holding on to 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 Nirvikalpa, there is an internal as well as an external Savikalpa, depending on whether the disturbing thoughts are from outside or from inside.
C. Should all vasanas (mental habits) be completely overcome before Self-Realisation takes place, or may some remain for Self-Realisation to destroy?
B. Vasanas which do not obstruct Self-Realisation remain.
In Yoga Vasishtha 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.

13th March, 1936
3. Mr. C. and Major C. differed among themselves about whether or not the meditator can be affected by physical disturbance during Nirvikalpa Samadhi. They referred the matter to the Master.
B. Both of you are right. The one refers to Kevala and the other to Sahaja Samadhi. In both cases the mind is immersed in the bliss of the Self. In the former physical movements may cause disturbance to the meditator, because the mind has not completely died out, but is still alive and can, as after deep sleep, at any moment be active again. It is compared to a bucket, which, although completely submerged under water, can be pulled out by the other end of the rope which is tied to the pulley. Whereas in Sahaja, the mind, having sunk completely into the Self, like the bucket which has got drowned with its rope in the depth of the well, there remains nothing in it to be disturbed or pulled back to the world. One’s activities then resemble that of the child who sucks its mother’s milk in sleep, and is hardly aware of the feeding.

25th February, 1949
4. Two young men, Sri Chakravarty and Sri Jivrajani, who have been performing sadhana in this Ashram since about a year, today had an animated discussion among themselves aboutKevala and Sahaja Nirvikalpa, which attracted partisans on both sides. Finally they submitted their cases to the Maharshi. The younger, Jivrajani, led:
Jiv. Is the experience of Kevala Nirvikalpa the same as that of Sahaja, although one comes down from it to the relative world?
B. There is neither coming down nor going up – he who goes up and down is not real. InKevala 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. Why do you ask all these questions?
Go on practising till you have the experience yourself. Next day Sri Chakravarty, hearing Sri Bhagavan talking to a sadhaka about the above question, came forward and said:
Ch. I wish to make our point clear, Bhagavan. Is it possible for a person, who, once had the experience of satchidananda in meditation, to identify himself again with the body when out of meditation?
B. Where is the body? Is the body apart from the Self? If it is, then the world also will be apart from it, which is absurd, for you would not be aware of it – awareness being the Self. A sadhakabegins by taking himself as the body, but when he gets at the Self, he will realise himself to be Pure Intelligence – even the body will then appear as that intelligence, as the variously shaped jewellery are nought but gold. . . 
(pensively) Yes, it is possible for a sadhaka who has experienced the Self to continue identifying himself with the body when out of meditation, but he gradually loses the identification in the course of his practice. In the floodlight of the Self the darkness of illusion dissipates for ever



(A) devotee said, “Samadhi is said to be of several kinds such as Savikalpa (absorbed in the thought) and Nirvikalpa (thought- free). Can you tell us about them?” Thereupon, Bhagavan explained thus:
“Yes. Sankara described the six kinds of Samadhi in his Vivekachudamani and his Drigdrisyaviveka. The six are divided into two main categories namely, Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa. The former is divided into two, namely ‘Drisyanuviddha’ and ‘Sabdanuviddha’ and these two are again subdivided as under:

(1) Antar Drisyanuviddha Savikalpa Samadhi: Meditating upon one’s own Self as a witness of desires and other visible attributes of the mind.

(2) Antar Sabdanuviddha Savikalpa Samadhi: To know that the Self is Asanga (contact-free), Swaprakasa (self-luminous), Sat-chit-ananda (existence, consciousness, bliss) and Advaita (non-dual).

(3) Antar Nirvikalpa Samadhi: With the exalted feeling of the Self gained as a result of enjoying the ecstasy of the above two states and discarding both of them and remaining motionless like an unflickering light in a windless place.

(4) Bahya Drisyanuviddha Savikalpa Samadhi: As in the case of the Self that is in the heart, to be able to discard with indifference the outer things in the world which have their names and forms and which are visible, and to meditate on the underlying Reality.

(5) Bahya Sabdanuviddha Savikalpa Samadhi: To know and be aware at all times that the Thing which manifests itself as Sat-chit-ananda (existence, consciousness and bliss) is the universal Brahman.

(6) Bahya Nirvikalpa Samadhi: With the experience of the above two, to overcome all desires and to remain calm and motionless like the waveless ocean.

“By constantly practising these six kinds of Samadhi, at all times and without a break, one can attain a state of thought-free awareness. Unless one attains that state, the ego will not be completely destroyed. Persons whose ego is destroyed are so detached that even if they appear to see they do not really see; though they appear to eat they do not really eat; though they appear to hear they do not really hear; and though they appear to sleep they do not really sleep. Whatever they do is not really ‘doing’.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


D.: Is Bhagavan’s teaching the same as Shankara’s?
B.: Bhagavan’s teaching is an expression of his own experience and realisation. Others find that it tallies with Sri Shankara’s.

D.: When the Upanishads say that all is Brahman, how can we agree with Shankara that this world is illusory?

B.: Shankara also said that this world is Brahman or the Self. What he objected to is one’s imagining that the Self is limited by the names and forms that constitute the world. He only said that the world has no reality apart from Brahman. Brahman or the Self is like a cinema screen and the world like
the pictures on it. You can see the picture only so long as there is a screen. But when the observer himself becomes the screen only the Self remains.

Shankara has been criticized for his philosophy of Maya (illusion) without understanding his meaning. He made three statements: 

that Brahman is real, 
that the universe is unreal, and that 
Brahman is the Universe. 

He did not stop with the second. The third statement explains the first two; it signifies that when the Universe is perceived apart from Brahman, that perception is false and illusory. What it amounts to is that phenomena are real when experienced as the Self and illusory when seen apart from the Self.

The Self alone exists and is real. The world, the individual and God are, like the illusory appearance of silver in the mother of- pearl, imaginary creations in the Self. They appear and disappear simultaneously. Actually, the Self alone is the world, the ‘I’ and God. All that exists is only a manifestation of the

The Vedantins do not say that the world is unreal. That is a misunderstanding. If they did, what would be the meaning of the Vedantic text: ‘All this is Brahman’? They only mean that the world is unreal as world but real as Self. If you regard the world as non-self, it is not real. Everything, whether you call it illusion (Maya) or Divine Play (Lila) or Energy (Shakti) must
be within the Self and not apart from it

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ulladhu Narpadhu 14

If that first person (the ego or subject, ‘I’) named ‘I am the body’ exists, the second and third persons (the objects , ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘this’, ‘that’ and so on) will exist. If the first person ceases to exist by one’s scrutinizing the truth of the first person, the second and third persons will cease to exist, and the state (which will then remain) shining as one (that is, as the one real Self and not as the unreal three persons), is indeed one’s own nature (the real nature or state of self).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Annamalai Swami: Bhagavan's basic message never changed. 

It was always: 

-  Do self-enquiry
-  Stop identifying with the body and 
-  Try to be aware of the Self, which is your real nature.

Annamalai Swami:

When I say, ‘Meditate on the Self’ I am asking you to be the Self, not think about it. Be aware of what remains when thoughts stop. Be aware of the consciousness that is the origin of all your thoughts. Be that consciousness. Feel that this is what you really are. If you do this you are meditating on the Self. But if you cannot stabilize in that consciousness because your vasanas are too strong and too active, it is beneficial to hold onto the thought, ‘I am the Self; I am everything.’ If you meditate in this way you will not be cooperating with the vasanas that are blocking your Self-awareness. If you don’t cooperate with them, sooner or later they are bound to leave you.

If this method doesn’t appeal to you, then just watch the mind with full attention. Whenever the mind wanders, become aware of it. See how thoughts connect with each other and watch how this ghost called mind catches hold of all your thoughts, saying,’ This is my thought. ‘ Watch the ways of the mind without identifying with them in any way. If you give your mind your full, detached attention, you begin to understand the futility of all mental activities. Watch the mind wandering here and there, seeking out useless and unnecessary things or ideas, which will ultimately only create misery for itself. Watching the mind gives us a knowledge of its inner processes. It gives us an incentive to stay detached from all our thoughts. Ultimately, if we try hard enough, it gives us the ability to remain as consciousness, unaffected by transient thoughts. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Though Arunachala is by his grace ever shining in the heart of all beings as the consciousness ‘I’, why do not all jivas realise him to be the fullness of grace? 

Because they never turn their attention towards the shining of ‘I’. If a jiva withdraws his attention from all second and third person objects and focuses it upon the first person, which shines as the mere consciousness ‘I’, then the light of self-consciousness will shine forth with a fresh clarity in whose spreading effulgence the entire appearance of this seemingly solid world-picture will be swallowed. 

That is why in the second sentence of Verse 1 of Arunachal Stuthi Panchakam,  Sri Bhagavan addresses Arunachala as “Arunagiri, the supreme self, who swallowed everything by spreading rays”.


For the purposes of self-enquiry, the Tamil equivalents of the grammatical terms 'first person', 'second person' and 'third person' are more meaningful than their English counterparts. In Tamil grammar these 'three persons' are called the 'three places', because we experience each of them as occupying a different 'place' or point either in physical space or in our conceptual space. The first person, which is the person who speaks as 'I', is always experienced as being here, in the present place. The second person, which is any person or thing that is spoken to as 'you', is experienced as being physically or conceptually nearby, in a place that is close to the first person. And the third person, which is any person or thing that is spoken about, is experienced as being physically or conceptually elsewhere, in a place that is other than that occupied by the first and second persons.

However, because Sri Bhagavan used these grammatical terms for philosophical purposes, in his teachings each of them has a special philosophical meaning, which does not correspond exactly to their usual grammatical meaning. The actual Tamil word for the first person, 'tanmai', etymologically means 'selfness', and therefore denotes our sense of 'self', the subject or first thought 'I', which we always experience as being the
central 'place' or point from which we conceive and perceive all the objects known by us. The Tamil term for the second person, 'munnilai', etymologically means 'what stands in front', and therefore in its philosophical sense it
denotes those mental objects or images that figuratively speaking stand immediately in front of our mind's eye, and that we therefore recognise as being thoughts that exist only within our own mind. And the Tamil term for
the third person, 'padarkkai', etymologically means 'what spreads out, ramifies, becomes diffused, expands or pervades', and therefore in its philosophical sense it denotes those thoughts that have spread out or expanded through the channel of our five senses, and that have thereby been projected as the objects of this world, which we seem to perceive through those five senses, and which we therefore imagine to be objects existing outside ourself. Thus the 'second person' objects are those objects that we recognise as existing only within the field of our mental conception, while the 'third person' objects are those objects that we imagine to exist outside the field of our mental conception, in the seemingly separate field of our sense perception. Therefore, when Sri Bhagavan advises us to withdraw our attention from all the 'second persons' and 'third persons' and to focus it
on the 'first person', what he wants us to understand is that we should withdraw our attention from all objects – both those that we recognise as being merely our own thoughts or feelings, and those that we mistake to be
objects existing outside ourself – and to fix it only on our sense of self, 'I', which we always experience as being here and now, in the precise present point in space and time.


How is the world-appearance thus swallowed by the effulgent light of self-knowledge? 

If a cinema show is going on in a tent in daytime, the pictures can be seen on the screen only because of the limited light of the projector and because of the background of artificial darkness caused by the tent. If a powerful wind were to blow away the tent, the bright sunlight would flood in, the darkness would vanish and thus all the pictures on the screen would be swallowed up. Similarly, the entire picture of the world, soul and God can be seen only because of the limited light of the mind (which is a reflection of the original light of Arunachala, the real self) and because of the background of the darkness of ignorance caused by forgetfulness of self. If our attention is focused keenly on self, the light of selfknowledge (the bright light of Arunachala) will dawn, the background darkness of ignorance or maya will vanish, and thus the whole picture of the world, soul and God will be swallowed up and disappear. 

This same idea is expressed by Sri Bhagavan in verse 114 of Guru
Vachaka Kovai:

“If the small light [of a cinema projector] is merged and dissolved in the great light [of the sun], the picture show will vanish. Likewise, if the mind-light is merged and dissolved in the true light of consciousness, the false show of the appearance of the three entities [the soul, world and God] will be dissolved…”
Such was the experience of Sri Bhagavan. When the fear of the death arose in him, his attention was focused keenly on self, and thus the light of self consciousness shone forth so clearly that in its bright effulgence the entire world-appearance was swallowed, and that selfconsciousness alone remained shining as Arunachala, the supreme self. This experience is the true shining forth of grace described in verse 3 of Atma Vidya Kirtanam as 

“… minnum tanul anma prakasame; arul vilasame” (the light of self will shine within oneself; this is the shining forth of grace).

Since this experience is possible only when by his light of grace Arunachala makes the heart lotus blossom, Sri Bhagavan concludes this verse as a prayer, 

“Shine as the sun [of self knowledge] that will cause my mind-lotus, which is swelling [with love], to blossom fully”.

What is meant here by the blossoming of the ‘swelling heart-lotus’ (kilar ulap-pu)? 

The mind, which functions as a knot (granthi) binding together as one the real self, which is consciousness (chit), and the body, which is insentient (jada), is here compared to a lotus. The state in which this knot is tightly closed, being firmly bound by the entanglement of strong worldly desires and attachments (asa-pasa), is compared to the state of a tightly closed immature lotus-bud. When by ripening bhakti this lotus-bud of the mind gradually becomes mature, the tight binding of worldly desires and attachments gradually becomes loose. This state of maturity in which the force of attachment (abhimana-vega) is thus weakened, is compared to the state of a lotus-bud which has swollen and is ready to blossom. The state of self-knowledge, in which the chit-jada-granthi is cut asunder, all its desires and attachments having been destroyed, is compared to the blossoming of the lotus.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Self Enquiry - Misconceptions

Sri Ramana Maharshi’s philosophical pronouncements were very similar to those upheld by the followers of Advaita (non-dualistic) Vedanta, an Indian philosophical school which has flourished for well over a thousand years. Sri Ramana Maharshi and the Advaitins agree on most theoretical matters but their attitudes to practice are radically different. While Sri Ramana Maharshi advocated self-enquiry, most advaitic teachers recommended a system of meditation which mentally affirmed that the Self was the only reality. These affirmations such as ‘I am Brahman’ or ‘I am He’, are usually used as mantras, or, more rarely, one meditates on their meaning and tries to experience the implications of the statement

Because self-enquiry often starts with the question ‘Who am I?’, many of the traditional followers of Advaita assumed that the answer to the question was ‘I am Brahman’ and they occupied their minds with repetitions of this mental solution. Sri Ramana Maharshi criticised this approach by saying that while the mind was constantly engaged in finding or repeating solutions to the question it would never sink into its source and disappear.

He was equally critical, for the same reason, of those who tried to use ‘Who am I?’ as a mantra, saying that both approaches missed the point of self-enquiry. The question ‘Who am I?’, he said, is not an invitation to analyse the mind and to come to conclusions about its nature, nor is it a mantric formula, it is simply a tool which facilitates redirecting attention from the objects of thought and perception to the thinker and perceiver of them. In Sri Ramana Maharshi’s opinion, the solution to the question ‘Who am I?’ is not to be found in or by the mind since the only real answer is the experience of the absence of mind.

Another widespread misunderstanding arose from the belief that the Self could be discovered by mentally rejecting all the objects of thought and perception as not-self. Traditionally this is called the Neti-Neti approach (not this, not this). The practitioner of this system verbally rejects all the objects that the ‘I’ identifies with –‘I am not the mind’, ‘ I am not the body’, etc.-in the expectation that the real ‘I’ will eventually be experienced in the pure uncontaminated form. Hinduism calls this practice ‘self-enquiry’ and, because of the identity of names, it was often confused with Sri Ramana Maharshi’s method. Sri Ramana Maharshi’s attitude to this traditional system of self-analysis was wholly negative and he discouraged his own followers from practising it by telling them that it was an intellectual activity which could not take them beyond the mind. In his standard reply to questions about the effectiveness of this practice he would say that the ‘I’-thought is sustained by such acts of discrimination and that the ‘I’ which eliminates the body and the mind as ‘not I’ can never eliminate itself.

The followers of the ‘I am Brahman’ and ‘Neti-Neti’ schools share a common belief that the Self can be discovered by the mind, either through affirmation or negation. This belief that the mind can, by its own activities, reach the Self is the root of most of the misconceptions about the practice of self-enquiry. A classic example of this is the belief that self-enquiry involves concentrating on a particular centre in the body called the Heart-centre. This widely held view results from a misinterpretation of some of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s statements on the Heart, and to understand how this belief has come about it will be necessary to take a closer look at some of his ideas on the subject.

In describing the origin of the ‘I’-thought he sometimes said that it arose to the brain through a channel which started from a centre in the right hand side of the chest. He called this centre the Heart centre and said that when the ‘I’-thought subsided into the Self it went back into the centre and disappeared. He also said that when the Self is consciously experienced, there is a tangible awareness that this centre is the source of both the mind and the world. However, these statements are not strictly true and Sri Ramana Maharshi sometimes qualified them by saying that they were only schematic representations which were given to those people who persisted in identifying with their bodies. He said that the Heart is not really located in the body and that from the highest standpoint it is equally untrue to say that the ‘I’-thought arises and subsides into this centre on the right of the chest.

Because Sri Ramana Maharshi often said ‘Find the place where the "I" arises’ or ‘Find the source of the mind’, many people interpreted these statements to mean that they should concentrate in this particular centre while doing self-enquiry. Sri Ramana Maharshi rejected this interpretation many times by saying that the source of the mind or the ‘I’ could only be discovered through attention to the ‘I’-thought and not through concentration on a particular part of the body. He did sometimes say that putting attention on this centre is a good concentration practice, but he never associated it with self-enquiry. He also occasionally said that meditation on the Heart was an effective way of reaching the Self, but again, he never said that this should be done by concentrating on the Heart-centre. Instead he said that one should meditate on the Heart ‘as it is’. The Heart ‘as it is’ is not a location, it is the immanent Self and one can only be aware of its real nature by being it. It cannot be reached by concentration.

Although there are several potentially ambiguous comments of this kind about the Heart and the Heart-centre, in all his writings and recorded conversations there is not a single statement to support the contention that self-enquiry is to be practised by concentrating on this centre. In fact, by closely examining his statements on the subject one can only conclude that while the experience of the Self contains an awareness of this centre, concentration on this centre will not result in the experience of the Self.

Question: I begin to ask myself ’Who am I?’, eliminate the body as not ‘I’, the breath as not ‘I’, and I am not able to proceed further.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Well, that is as far as the intellect can go. 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, and then all these other ideas will vanish and the pure Self will remain.

Question: How to do it?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: 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.

Questioner: I meditate Neti-Neti (not this-not this).

Sri Ramana Maharshi: No- that is not meditation. Find the source. You must reach the source without fail. The false ‘I’ will disappear and the real ‘I’ will be realised. The former cannot exist apart from the latter.

There is now wrong identification of the Self with the body, senses, etc. You proceed to discard these, and this is Neti. This can be done only by holding to the one which cannot be discarded. That is ‘iti’ (that which is).

Question: When I think ‘Who am I?’, the answer comes ‘I am not this mortal body but I am Chaitanya, Atma (consciousness, the Self).’ And suddenly another question arises, ‘Why has Atma (Self) come into Maya (illusion)?’ or in other words, ‘Why has God created this world?’

Sri Ramana Maharshi: To enquire ‘Who am I?’ really means trying to find out the source of the ego or the ‘I’-thought. You are not to think of other thoughts, such as ‘I am not this body’. Seeking the source of ‘I’ serves as a means of getting rid of all other thoughts. We should not give scope to other thoughts, such as you mention, but must keep the attention fixed on finding out the source of the ‘I’-thought by asking, as each thought arises, to whom the thought arises. If the answer is ‘I get the thought’ continue the enquiry by asking ‘Who is this "I" and what is its source?’

Question: Am I to keep on repeating ‘Who am I?’ so as to makes a mantra of it?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: No. ‘Who am I?’ is not a mantra. It means that you must find out where in you arises the ‘I’-thought, which is the source of all other thoughts.

Question: Shall I meditate on ‘I am Brahman’ (Aham Brahmasmi)?’

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The text is not meant for thinking ‘I am Brahman’. Aham (‘I’) is known to every one. Find out the ‘I’. The ‘I’ is already Brahman. You need not think so. Simply find out the ‘I’.

Question: Is not discarding the sheaths (Neti-Neti) mentioned in the sastras?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: After the rise of the ‘I’-thought there is the false identification of the ‘I’ with the body, the senses, the mind, etc. ‘I’ is wrongly associated with them and the true ‘I’ is lost sight of. In order to sift the pure ‘I’ from the contaminated ‘I’, this discarding is mentioned. But it does not mean exactly discarding of the non-self, it means the finding of the real Self. The real Self is the infinite ‘I’. That ‘I’ is perfection. It is eternal. It has no origin and no end. The other ‘I’ is born and also dies. It is impermanent. See to whom the changing thoughts belong. They will be found to arise after the ‘I’-thought. Hold the ‘I’-thought and they subside. Trace back the source of the ‘I’-thought. The Self alone will remain.

Question: It is difficult to follow. I understand the theory. But what is the practice?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The other methods are meant for those who cannot take to the investigation of the Self. Even to repeat Aham Brahmasmi or think of it, a doer is necessary. Who is it? It is ‘I’. Be that ‘I’. It is the direct method. The other methods also will ultimately lead everyone to this method of the investigation of the Self.

Questioner: I am aware of the ‘I’. Yet my troubles are not ended.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: This ‘I’-thought is not pure. It is contaminated with the association of the body and senses. See to whom the trouble is. It is to the ‘I’-thought. Hold it. Then the other thoughts vanish.

Question: Yes. How to do it? That is the whole trouble.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Think ‘I, I’, and hold to that one thought to the exclusion of all others.

Question: Is not affirmation of God more effective than the quest, ‘Who am I?’ Affirmation is positive, whereas the other is negation. Moreover, it indicates separateness.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: So long as you seek to know how to realise, this advice is given to find your Self. Your seeking the method denotes your separateness.

Question: Is it not better to say ‘I am the Supreme Being’ than ask ‘Who am I?’

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Who affirms? There must be one to do it. Find that one.

Question: Is not meditation better than investigation?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Meditation implies mental imagery, whereas investigation is for the reality. The former is objective, whereas the latter is subjective.

Questioner: There must be a scientific approach to this subject.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: To eschew unreality and seek the reality is scientific.

Questioner: I mean there must a gradual elimination, first of the mind, then of the intellect, then of the ego.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The Self alone is real. All others are unreal. The mind and intellect do not remain apart from you.

The Bible says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Stillness is the sole requisite for the realisation of the Self as God.

Question: Is Soham (the affirmation ‘I am He’) the same as ‘Who am I?’

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Aham (‘I’) alone is common to them. One is Soham. The other is Koham (Who am I?). They are different. Why should we go on saying soham? One must find out the real ‘I’. In the question ‘Who am I?’, ‘I’ refers to the ego. Trying to trace it and find its source, we see it has no separate existence but merges in the real ‘I’.

You see the difficulty. Vichara (enquiry) is different in method from the meditation Sivoham or Soham (‘I am Siva’ or ‘I am He’). I rather lay stress upon Self-knowledge, for you are first concerned with yourself before you proceed to know the world and its Lord. The soham meditation or ‘I am Brahman’ meditation is more or less a mental thought. But the quest for the Self I speak of is a direct method, indeed superior to the other meditation. The moment you start looking for the self and go deeper and deeper, the real Self is waiting there to take you in. Then whatever is done is done by something else and you have no hand in it. In this process, all doubts and discussions are automatically given up just as one who sleeps forgets, for the time being, all his cares.

Question: What certainty is there that something else waits there to welcome me?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: When one is a sufficiently developed soul (pakvi) one becomes naturally convinced.

Question: How is this development possible?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Various answers are given. But whatever the previous development, Vichara quickens the development.

Questioner: That is arguing in a circle. I am developed and so I am suitable for the quest but the quest itself causes me to develop.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The mind has always this sort of difficulty. It wants a certain theory to satisfy itself. Really, no theory is necessary for the man who seriously desires to approach God or to realise his own true being.

Question: No doubt the method taught by Bhagavan is direct. But it is so difficult. We do not know how to begin it. If we go on asking, ‘Who am I?, who am I?’ like a japa (repetition of the name of God) or a mantra, it becomes dull. In other methods there is something preliminary and positive with which one can begin and then go step by step. But in Bhagavan’s method, there is no such thing, and to seek the Self at once, though direct, is difficult.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You yourself concede it is the direct method. It is the direct and easy method. When going after other things that are alien to us is so easy, how can it be difficult for one to go to one’s own Self? You talk of where to begin? There is no beginning and no end. You are yourself in the beginning and the end. If you are here and the Self somewhere else, and you have to reach that Self, you may be told how to start, how to travel and then how to reach.

Suppose you who are now in Ramanasramam ask, ‘I want to go to Ramanasramam. How shall I start and how to reach it?’, what is one to say? A man’s search for the Self is like that. He is always the Self and nothing else.

You say ‘Who am I?’ becomes a japa. It is not meant that you should go on asking ‘Who am I?’ In that case, thought will not so easily die. In the direct method, as you call it, in asking yourself ‘Who am I?’, you are told to concentrate within yourself where the ‘I’-thought, the root of all other thoughts, arise. As the Self is not outside but inside you, you are asked to dive within, instead of going without. What can be more easy than going to yourself?

But the fact remains that to some this method will seem difficult and will not appeal. That is why so many different methods have been taught. Each of them will appeal to some as the best and easiest. That is according to their Pakva or fitness. But to some, nothing except the Vichara Marga (the path of enquiry) will appeal. They will ask, ‘You want me to know or to see this or that. But who is the knower, the seer?’ Whatever other method may be chosen, there will be always a doer. That cannot be escaped. One must find out who the doer is. Till then, the Sadhana (spiritual practice) cannot be ended. So eventually all must come to find out ‘Who am I?’

You complain that there is nothing preliminary or positive to start with. You have the ‘I’ to start with. You know you exist always, whereas the body does not exist always, for example in sleep. Sleep reveals that you exist even without a body. We identify the ‘I’ with the body, we regard the Self as having a body, and as having limits, and hence all our trouble.

All that we have to do is to give up identifying the Self with the body, with forms and limits, and then we shall know ourselves as the Self that we always are.

Question: Am I to think ‘Who am I?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You have known that the ‘I’-thought springs forth. Hold the ‘I’-thought and find its source.

Question: May I know the way?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Do as you have now been told and see.

Questioner: I do not understand what I should do.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: If it is anything objective the way can be shown objectively. This is subjective.

Questioner: But I do not understand.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: What! Do you not understand that you are?

Questioner: Please tell me the way.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Is it necessary to show the way in the interior of your own home? This is within you.

Questioner: You have said that the Heart is the centre of the Self.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes, it is the one supreme centre of the Self. You need have no doubt about it. The real Self is there in the Heart behind the jiva or ego self.

Questioner: Now be please to tell me where it is in the body.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You cannot know it with your mind. You cannot realise it by imagination, when I tell you here is the centre (pointing to the right side of the chest). The only direct way to realise it is to cease to fantasize and try to be yourself. When you realise, you automatically feel that the centre is there.

This is the centre, the Heart, spoken of in the scriptures as Hrit-Guha (cavity of the heart), Arul (grace), Ullam (the Heart).

Questioner: In no book have I found it stated that it is there.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Long after I came here I chanced upon a verse in the Malayalam version of Ashtangahridayam, the standard work on Ayurveda (science of life, health and medicine), wherein the Ojas Sthana (source of bodily vitality or place of light) is mentioned as being located in the right side of the chest and called the seat of consciousness (samvit). But I know of no other work which refers to it as being located there.

Question: Can I be sure that the ancients meant this centre by the term ‘Heart’?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes that is so. But you should try to have rather than to locate the experience. A man need not find out where his eyes are situated when he wants to see. The Heart is there ever open to you if you care to enter it, ever supporting all your movements even when you are unaware. It is perhaps more proper to say that the Self is the Heart itself than to say that it is in the Heart. Really, the Self is the centre itself. It is everywhere, aware of itself as ‘Heart’, the Self-awareness.

Question: In that case, how can it be localised in any part of the body? Fixing a place for the Heart would imply setting physiological limitations to that which is beyond space and time.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: That is right. But the person who puts the question about the position of the Heart considers himself as existing with or in the body. While putting the question now, would you say that your body alone is here but you are speaking from somewhere else? No, you accept your bodily existence. It is from this point of view that any reference to a physical body comes to be made.

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 the physical body and the world. For instance, you say, ‘I have come to this ashram all the way from my country beyond the Himalayas’. But that is not the truth. Where is ‘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 ashram. 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 ordinary understanding that a place is assigned to the Heart in the physical body.

Question: How then shall I understand Sri Bhagavan’s statement that the experience of the heart-centre is at the particular place in the chest?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Once you accept that from the true and absolute standpoint, the Heart as pure consciousness is beyond space and time, it will be easy for you to understand the rest in its correct perspective.

Question: The Heart is said to be on the right, on the left, or in the centre. With such differences of opinion how are we to meditate on it?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You are and it is a fact. Dhyana (meditation) is by you, of you, and in you. It must go on where you are. It cannot be outside you. So you are the centre of Dyana and that is the Heart.

Doubts arise only when you identify it with something tangible and physical. Heart is no conception, no object for meditation. The Self remains all alone. You see the body in the Heart, the world is also in it. There is nothing separate from it. So, all kinds of efforts are located there only.

Question: You say the ‘I’-thought rises from the Heart-centre. Should we seek its source there?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: I ask you to see where the ‘I’ arises in your body, but it is really not quite correct to say that the ‘I’ rises from and merges in the Heart in the right side of the chest. The Heart is another name for the reality and it is neither inside nor outside the body. There can be no in or out for it, since it alone is.

Question: Should I meditate on the right chest in order to meditate on the Heart?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The Heart is not physical. Meditation should not be on the right or the left. 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 on the left. ‘I am’- that is all. Leave alone the idea of right and left. They pertain to the body. The Heart is the Self. Realise it and then you will see for yourself. There is no need to know where and what the Heart is. It will do its work if you engage in the quest for the Self.

Question: What is the Heart referred to in the verse of Upadesa Saram where it is said, ‘Abiding in the Heart is the best Karma, Yoga, Bhakti (devotion) and Jnana (knowledge)?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: That which is the source of all, that in which all live, and that into which all finally merge, is the Heart referred to.

Question: How can we conceive of such a Heart?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Why should you conceive of anything? You have only to see from where the ‘I’ springs. That from which all thoughts of embodied beings issue forth is called the Heart. All descriptions of it are only mental concepts.

Question: There are said to be six organs of different colours in the chest, of which the Heart is said to be two finger-breaths to the right of the middle line. But the Heart is also formless. Should we then imagine it to have a shape and meditate on it?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: No. Only the quest ‘Who am I?’ is necessary. What remains all through deep sleep and waking is the same. But in waking there is unhappiness and the effort to remove it. Asked who wakes up from sleep you say ‘I’. Now you are told to hold fast to this ‘I’. If it is done the eternal being will reveal itself. Investigation of ‘I’ is the point and not meditation on the Heart-centre. There is nothing like within or without. Both mean either the same thing or nothing.

Of course there is also the practice of meditation on the Heart-centre. It is only a practice and not investigation. Only the one who meditates on the Heart can remain aware when the mind ceases to be active and remains still, whereas those who meditate on other centres cannot be so aware but infer that the mind was still only after it becomes again active.

In whatever place in the body one thinks Self to be residing, due to the power of that thinking it will appear to the one who thinks thus as if Self is residing in that place. However, the beloved Heart alone is the refuge for the rising and subsiding of that ‘I’. Know that though it is said that the Heart exists both inside and outside, in absolute truth it does not exist both inside and outside, because the body, which appears as the base of the differences ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, is an imagination of the thinking mind. Heart, the source, is the beginning, the middle and the end of all. Heart, the supreme space, is never a form. It is the light of truth.