Ramana Maharshi on Searching the Source of 'I'
Question : This `I'-thought rises from me. But I do not
know the Self.
Ramana Maharshi : All these are only mental
concepts. You are now identifying yourself with a wrong `I', which is
the `I'-thought. This `I'-thought rises and sinks, whereas the true
significance of `I' is beyond both. There cannot be a break in your
being. You who slept are also now awake. There is no unhappiness in your
deep sleep whereas it exists now. What is it that has happened now so
that this difference is experienced ? There was no `I'-thought in your
sleep, whereas it is present now. The true `I' is not apparent and the
false `I' is parading itself. This false `I' is the obstacle to your
right knowledge. Find out from where this false `I' arises. Then it will
disappear. You will then be only what you are, that is, absolute being.
Question : How to do it? I have not succeeded so far.
Ramana Maharshi : Search for the source of
the `I'-thought. That is all that one has to do. The universe exists on
account of the `I'-thought. If that ends there is an end to misery also.
The false `I' will end only when its source is sought.
Again people often ask how the mind is controlled. I say to them, `Show
me the mind and then you will know what to do.' The fact is that the
mind is only a bundle of thoughts. How can you extinguish it by the
thought of doing so or by a desire? Your thoughts and desires are part
and parcel of the mind. The mind is simply fattened by new thoughts
rising up. Therefore it is foolish to attempt to kill the mind by means
of the mind.
The only way of doing it is to find its source and hold on to it. The
mind will then fade away of its own accord. Yoga teaches chitta vritti
nirodha [control of the activities of the mind]. But I say atma vichara
[self-inquiry]. This is the practical way. Chitta vritti nirodha is
brought about in sleep, swoon, or by starvation. As soon as the cause is
withdrawn there is a recrudescence of thoughts. Of what use is it then?
In the state of stupor there is peace and no misery. But misery recurs
when the stupor is removed. So nirodha [control] is useless and cannot
be of lasting benefit.
How then can the benefit be made lasting? It is by finding the cause of
misery. Misery is due to the perception of objects. If they are not
there, there will be no contingent thoughts and so misery is wiped off.
`How will objects cease to be?' is the next question. The srutis
[scriptures] and the sages say that the objects are only mental
creations. They have no substantive being.
Investigate the matter and ascertain the truth of the statement. The
result will be the conclusion that the objective world is in the
subjective consciousness. The Self is thus the only reality which
permeates and also envelops the world. Since there is no duality, no
thoughts will arise to disturb your peace. This is realization of the
Self. The Self is eternal and so also is realization.
Abhyasa [spiritual practice] consists in withdrawal within the Self
every time you are disturbed by thought. It is not concentration or
destruction of the mind but withdrawal into the Self.
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