The Essential Teachings of Ramana Maharshi
“Ramana Maharshi’s wisdom is guiding
millions of people.” ~The Dalai Lama
Ramana Maharshi was a great Indian sage who lived from 1879 to 1950. He had a powerful transformation when he was 16 years old where he surrendered to the experience of death, and found “That” which never dies. A few months later he left his home and village to live in one of the most holiest places in India called Mt. Arunachala.
For 17 years Ramana lived in several different caves inside this sacred mountain where he deepened his experience of Self-Realization. During this time, many visitors seeking the Truth about enlightenment were guided to sit with him. They came just to experience his calming loving presence which was very natural, simple, and yet so powerful it would transform their lives forever.
Every full moon, tens of thousands of pilgrims walk 14km around the mountain Arunachala hill barefoot, and arrive at the massive 1200 year old Annamalaiyar Temple (below) to complete their prayer. It is one of the five main shaivite holy places in South India and it is truly a life changing experience.
Ramana had a very deep connection with animals and nature. He was often visited by a cow he called Lakshmi who would lick his feet and other wild animals would walk right up to him. Yet, he spent his life guiding devotees and seekers in their path of spiritual Knowledge and Self-Realization. He answered questions for hours every day, and taught Self-inquiry – to ask oneself, “Who am I?” – as the path to Enlightenment, or Self-Realization.
Ramana taught seekers that the God-Source, Spirit, Divine Consciousness, Spiritual Essence (whatever you call it) is what you really are. He found that surrendering to the truth of our spiritual existence is the only path that is truly satisfying. Nothing is more fulfilling than to unveil and discover ones real “Self”. This continuous re-discovering of the true you is the experience of spiritual enlightenment.
Ramana spoke about following a non-dualistic path in life. When you realize there is only one God, you drop the mind’s interpretations of duality. He shared about at the highest level, “there is no doer”. The body will do what it needs to do in this lifetime to complete its karma here, yet you are not the one doing anything. The mind will believe it is the one in charge, yet there is something beyond the mind running the show.
“The sense of doership is bondage….Be still and know that I am God.” ~Ramana
Ramana spoke greatly about self-inquiry as a method of discovering stillness of mind. He taught that all suffering comes from ignorance of our true divine nature and an over-identification with thoughts, mind and the ego. When we become over-identified, we become confused, believing who we are comes from our name, thoughts, personality, feelings, body, or anything associated with the material world.
“Agitation of the mind is the cause of desire, the sense of doership, and of personality, or the personal sense of “I.” If that is stopped, there is quiet.” ~ Ramana
We constantly forget that we are this divine infinite soul that will never die. We are temporarily a part of the physical world, yet in actuality, we always exist in a realm that is beyond the physical.
When we can deeply relax inside, we can see that this spiritually enlightened aspect of our soul is the natural state of our very being itself. We are no longer distracted by our mind and it’s illusions.
We can let go of trying to become spiritual or enlightened, and simply relax into this pure spiritually enlightened soul we already are! It is in this relaxation we re-discover the Infinite Source naturally contained within our innermost being.
When we can surrender and stop the worried chattering mind, we can truly relax into our Being. A space of deep inner peace is not far away at all! It just takes trust, being the witnesser and being open to it all. When you can finally relax, there is a GREAT knowing that everything is totally O.K. exactly the way it is.
This enlightened knowing goes beyond understanding that all is well and that you are good enough as you are. It acknowledges that all is God, divine perfection unfolding in every direction and every moment. And this is the way the Universe actually is…
Deep Enlightening Wisdoms from Ramana
Know the Self, and God is known. Of all the definitions of God, none is so well put as the Biblical “I AM THAT I AM” in the book of Exodus. But none is so direct as the name Jehovah “I AM.” The Absolute Being is what is. It is the Self. It is God.
All thoughts such as, “Attainment is hard,” or “Self-realization is far from me,” or “I have to overcome many difficulties to know Reality,” should be given up, as they are obstacles and are created by this false self, ego. They are untrue.
The normal self is the mind. The mind is with limitations. But pure Consciousness is beyond limitations and is reached by the investigation into the “I”
There is no moment when the Self as consciousness does not exist, nor can the seer remain apart from consciousness.
There is only one state, that of consciousness or awareness or existence. The three states of waking, dream, and sleep cannot be real. They simply come and go. The real will always exist.
Actually, the idea of the Self being the witness is only in the mind; it is not the absolute truth of the Self. Witnessing is relative to objects witnessed. Both the witness and his object are mental creations.
The mind is intangible, in fact it does not exist. The surest way to control it is to seek it. Then its activities cease.
Do not doubt that you are the Reality; live in that understanding. Never question it by deferring your realization of it to some future time. It is because people are victimized and hypnotized by such false thoughts that the Gita says that few out of millions realize the Self.
The Self is here and now and alone. It is not new and something to be acquired. It is natural and permanent. The term “Self” refers to the unlimited, the infinite Self; do not limit its meaning.
The Self is beyond duality. If there is one there will also be two. Without one there are no other numbers. The truth is neither one nor two. It is as it is.
Be always feeling and reflecting on the real Being. Be That. Cling close to It. Let your quest be constant and sustained until you catch the Self and thereby find eternal happiness.
The mind does not exist apart from the Self, that is, it has no independent existence. The Self exists without the mind, never the mind without the Self.
The final obstacle in meditation is ecstasy; you feel great bliss and happiness and want to stay in that ecstasy. Do not yield to it but pass on to the next stage which is great calm.
There are no others to be helped, for a realized being sees only the Self; just like a goldsmith estimating the gold in various items of jewelry sees only the gold.
All metaphysical discussion is profitless unless it causes us to seek within the Self for the true reality. All controversies about creation, the nature of the universe, evolution, the purpose of God, etc., are useless. They are not conducive to our true happiness. People try to find out about things which are outside of them before they try to find out “Who am I?” Only by the latter means can happiness be gained.
The sense of doership is bondage, and not the actions themselves. “Be still and know that I am God.” Stillness will prevail and there will be no agitation of the mind. Agitation of the mind is the cause of desire, the sense of doership, and of personality, or the personal sense of “I.” If that is stopped, there is quiet.
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.
Meditation is not so much thinking of the Self as giving up thinking of the not-Self. When you give up thinking of outward objects and prevent your mind from going outwards by turning it inwards and fixing it in the Self, the Self alone remains.
Renunciation is always in the mind, not in going to forests or solitary places, or giving up one’s duties. The main thing is to see that the mind does not turn outward but inward.
Attending to the Self means attending to the work. Because you identify yourself with the body, you think that work is done by you. But the body and its activities, including that work, are not apart from the Self.
The feeling “I work” is the hindrance. Ask yourself, “Who works?” Remember who you are. Then the work will not bind you, it will go on automatically.
Self-Inquiry directly leads to realization by removing the obstacles which make you think that the Self is not already realized. Ramana
Abide in your true nature. What does that mean? Cease identifying with the objectified movement of consciousness; i.e., with consciousness moving outward or objectively, and remain in non-objective Awareness, or pure Being.
Silence is never-ending speech. Vocal speech obstructs the other speech of silence. In silence one is in intimate contact with the surroundings.
When one remains without thinking one understands another by means of the universal language of silence.
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.
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.
The moment you start looking for the Self and go deeper and deeper, the real Self is waiting there to take you in
Consciousness of the Self is the normal state; our present entanglement is the abnormal state. We imagine that we have to develop towards a perfect state, when we are already in it now, but have covered it with external things and thoughts.
People talk of attaining the super-consciousness, but this is wrong. This Self is our normal consciousness; we imagine we have to develop and attain it, but we are in it all the time, it is just that our attention is diverted away from it to the intellect and to objects.
All the ancient scriptures are intended simply to make us retrace our steps to the original source. There is no need to gain anything. We must simply give up false ideas and useless accretions. Instead of doing this, we try to catch hold of something strange and mysterious, believing that happiness lies elsewhere. That is the mistake.
The Heart is the center from which everything springs. Because you now see the world, the body etc, it is said that there is a center for them called the Heart. But when actually in it, the Heart is neither in the center nor at the circumference as then there is nothing else.
The life-current originates in the Heart. This Heart is not the physiological organ of that name, but a spiritual center near to it. Thus everyone, even a child, of every creed or race, when referring to the “heart” as a metaphor for their deepest feelings will nevertheless point to the breast with their hand. But such discussions as inside or outside the body cannot arise in Self-realization.
When you have found the center, you will find that it encompasses the whole world; if you want, the radius can be extended to your body or to the world. We start with the wrong presumption that the circle is confined to the human form. Locate the center first. To that you always return, and you always remain in it; it is the common center for all humanity when they realize.
The Self is simple Being. Be! and there will be an end to ignorance. The “I” is always there. There is no knowing it. It is not new knowledge to be acquired. There is an obstruction to its knowledge called ignorance. Remove it. Ignorance and knowledge are not for the Self: they should be cleared away.
Can one go on thinking “I am God?” Is that right practice? Why think that? In fact you are God. But who goes around saying, “I am a man,” “I am a male?” Of course, if there were any contrary thought that had to be refuted, such as, “I am an animal,” then you might say, “I am a man.” To the extent of crushing the wrong notion that one is this or that, according to one’s erroneous fancies, you may indulge in the thought, but when the practice is over, the result will be no thought at all but merely Self-realization. There is no need of or meaning in thought at that stage; it is beyond conceptual thought.
There can be no real investigation into the Atman. The investigation can only be made into the non-self. It is only possible to eliminate the non-self. As the Self is always self-evident, it will shine of itself. “Knowing” means “Being.” It is not relative knowledge.
Progress can be spoken of in reference to things to be attained, whereas here it is the removal of ignorance, and not the acquisition of knowledge.
The idea of diversity comes with body-consciousness, which arose at some moment; it has an origin and an end. What originates must be something. What is that something? It is “I”-consciousness. On finding its source you realize Absolute Consciousness.
Can the world exist without one to cognize it? Which comes first the being-consciousness or the rising-consciousness? The former is always there and eternal; the latter rises and disappears. It is transient.
The fact is that you are ignorant of your blissful state. Ignorance draws a veil over the pure Bliss. Direct your attempts only towards removing the ignorance. This ignorance is just wrong knowledge. The wrong lies in the false identification of the Self with the body and mind. This false identity must go by inquiry into the Self.
There is no reaching the Self. If it were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not here and now, but would have to be gained. What is got afresh will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So I say the Self is not reached. You are the Self. You are already That.
See what the Self is. What you consider to be the Self is really either the mind, the intellect, or the “I”-thought. So hold onto the “I”-thought and the other thoughts will vanish, leaving the Self.
The changefulness is mere thought. All thoughts arise after the “I”-thought. See to whom these thoughts arise. Then you will transcend them and they will subside. That is to say, by tracing the source of the “I”-thought, you will realize that the perfect “I-I-I” is the name of the Self.
There are neither good nor bad qualities in the Self. The Self is free from all qualities. Qualities pertain to the mind only. The inquiry should be where the “I” is. After the rise of the “I”-thought, there is false identification of the “I” with the body, the senses, and the mind. Self is wrongly associated with them; one has lost sight of the true Self. It does not mean exactly the discarding of the non-self, but more the finding of the real Self. The real Self is the infinite “I-I” in perfection. It is eternal. It has no origin and no end. The other “I” is born and dies. It is impermanent. See to whom the changing thoughts occur. They will be found to arise after the “I”-thought. Hold onto the “I”-thought and they will subside. The Self alone will remain.
This photo below illustrates the caliber of Ramana’s level of consciousness, as you see Ramana is casually “hanging out” with Paramahansa Yogananda.
Are there two “I’s?” How do you know your existence? Do you see yourself with these eyes? Question yourself. How does this question arise? Do I remain to ask it or not? Can I find myself as I do in a mirror? Because your outlook has been turned outwards, it has lost sight of the Self and your vision is external. The Self is not found in external objects. Turn your gaze around and plunge within. You will be the Self.
The peace that you discovered in your temporary spiritual experiences was found in your Self. It was not imposed upon you. A time will come when we shall have to laugh at our own efforts to realize, for we shall find that what we were before and after is the same.
One who knows the Self has nothing more to do, nor has he any more thoughts. From then on, the infinite power will carry out all further actions that may be necessary for him.
Peace is the inner nature of humankind. If you find it within yourself, you will then find it everywhere.
“Ramana’s wisdom has totally changed my life. His profound spiritual depth, gentleness and understanding of the Self has blown away my mind again and again. If you can apply his message to your life, you’ll find it is the most direct path to a profound spiritual life. One that makes me dive perpetually deeper into my soul.” ~ Jafree Ozwald
Below is one of Ramana’s Greatest Spiritual Books You’ll Ever Find. It is a must read on the spiritual path.
In history, more people have become enlightened on the full moon than any other time of the month. If you are a serious meditator and wish more than anything to find freedom from suffering, do this meditation every evening before the full moon. Sit for as long as you possibly comfortably can. It will prepare your body for the intensely high and low emotional energies that will arrive with each full moon.
MEDITATION FOR SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT ON THE FULL MOON
Sit in an upright position and relax every muscle inside your body, especially the jaw, hands and mouth.
To quiet the mind chatter, breathe deeply into your heart and make a sighing sound of relief with each exhalation. Then breathe into your belly and make a sound, and then your sex center, and then all 3 centers together. Make a sighing sound of relief with each center on your exhalation.
Repeat this cycle 3 times, and allow the body to become perfectly still and silent, like a slow breathing statue.
Be unfocused. When the mind focuses on something relax into your Presence. Explore what it feels like to let everything be as it is.
Rest deeply inside your core, and be at peace with everyone as they are and everything that is.
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