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Ramana Maharshi on Searching the Source of 'I' Thought

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 As soon as the cause is withdrawn there is a recrudescence of thoughts.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.

Related Ramana Maharshi Talks:
Ramana Maharshi Biography
Ramana Maharshi on Meditation Experiences
Why do I never remember that I am the Self
Ramana Maharshi Self Inquiry Meditation method
Ramana Maharshi  "Who am I" Meditation Method
Ramana Maharshi taught through Silence - Mauna
Ramana Maharshi on Realization while doing Worldly Duties
Is Self-experience possible for mind, whose nature is constant change?

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