Self Inquiry Meditation Method
Question : You say one can realize the Self by a search for it. What is
the character of this search?
Ramana Maharshi : You are the mind or think
that you are the mind. The mind is nothing but thoughts. Now behind
every particular thought there is a general thought, which is the `I',
that is yourself. Let us call this `I' the first thought. Stick to this
`I'-thought and Question it to find out what it is. When this Question
takes strong hold on you, you cannot think of other thoughts.
Question : When I do this and cling to my self, that is, the
`I'-thought, other thoughts come and go, but I say to myself `Who am I
?' and there is no answer forthcoming. To be in this condition is the
practice. Is it so?
Ramana Maharshi : This is a mistake
that people often make. What happens when you make a serious quest for
the Self is that the `I'-thought disappears and something else from the
depths takes hold of you and that is not the `I' which commenced the
Question : What is this something else?
Ramana Maharshi : That is the real
Self, the import of `I'. It is not the ego. It is the Supreme Being
Question : But you have often said that one must reject other thoughts
when one begins the quest but the thoughts are endless. If one thought
is rejected, another comes and there seems to be no end at all.
Ramana Maharshi : I do not say that
you must go on rejecting thoughts. Cling to yourself, that is, to the
`I'-thought. When your interest keeps you to that single idea, other
thoughts will automatically get rejected and they will vanish.
Question : And so rejection of thoughts is not necessary?
Ramana Maharshi : No. It may be
necessary for a time or for some. You fancy that there is no end if one
goes on rejecting every thought when it rises. It is not true, there is
an end. If you are vigilant and make a stern effort to reject every
thought when it rises you will soon find that you are going deeper and
deeper into your own inner self. At that level it is not necessary to
make an effort to reject thoughts.
Question : Then it is possible to be without effort, without strain.
Ramana Maharshi : Not only that, it
is impossible for you to make an effort beyond a certain extent.
Question : I want to be further enlightened. Should I try to make no
effort at all?
Ramana Maharshi : Here it is
impossible for you to be without effort. When you go deeper, it is
impossible for you to make any effort. If the mind becomes
introverted through enquiry into the source of aham-vritti, the
vasanas become extinct. The light of the Self falls on the
vasanas and produces the phenomenon of reflection we call the mind.
Thus, when the vasanas become extinct the mind also disappears,
being absorbed into the light of the one reality, the Heart. This is the
sum and substance of all that an aspirant needs to know. What is
imperatively required of him is an earnest and onepointed enquiry into
the source of the aham-vritti.
Question : How should a beginner start this practice?
Ramana Maharshi : The mind will
subside only by means of the enquiry `Who am I?' The thought 'Who am
I?', destroying all other thoughts, will itself finally be destroyed
like the stick used for stirring the funeral pyre. If other thoughts
rise one should, without attempting to complete them, enquire `To
whom did they rise?' What does it matter however many thoughts rise?
At the very moment that each thought rises, if one vigilantly enquires
`To whom did this rise?', it will be known `To me'. If one then enquires
`Who am I?', the mind will turn back to its source [the Self] and
the thought which had risen will also subside. By repeatedly practising
thus, the power of the mind to abide in its source increases.
Although tendencies towards sense-objects [vishaya vasanas],
which have been recurring down the ages, rise in countless numbers like
the waves of the ocean, they will all perish as meditation on one's
nature becomes more and more intense. Without giving room even to the
doubting thought, `Is it possible to destroy all these tendencies [vasanas]
and to remain as Self alone?', one should persistently cling fast to
long as there are tendencies towards sense-objects in the mind, the
enquiry `Who am I ?' is necessary. As and when thoughts rise, one should
annihilate all of them through enquiry then and there in their very
place of origin. Not attending to what-is-other [anya] is
non-attachment [vairagya] or desirelessness [nirasa]. Not
leaving Self is knowledge [jnana]. In truth, these two [desirelessness
and knowledge] are one and the same. Just as a pearl-diver, tying a
stone to his waist, dives into the sea and takes the pearl lying at the
bottom, so everyone, diving deep within himself with non-attachment, can
attain the pearl of Self. If one resorts uninterruptedly to remembrance
of one's real nature [swarupasmarana] until one attains Self,
that alone will be sufficient.
Enquiring `Who am I that is in bondage?' and knowing one's real nature
[swarupa] alone is liberation. Always keeping the mind fixed in
Self alone is called 'self-enquiry', whereas meditation [dhyana] is thinking oneself to be the absolute [Brahman], which is
Question : The yogis say that one must renounce this world and go off
into secluded jungles if one wishes to find the truth.
Ramana Maharshi : The life of action
need not be renounced. If you meditate for an hour or two every day you
can then carry on with your duties. If you meditate in the right manner
then the current of mind induced will continue to flow even in the midst
of your work. It is as though there were two ways of expressing the same
idea; the same line which you take in meditation will be expressed in
Question : What
will be the result of doing that?
Ramana Maharshi : As you go on you
will find that your attitude towards people, events and objects
gradually changes. Your actions will tend to follow your meditations of
their own accord.
Question : Then you do not agree with the yogis?
Ramana Maharshi : A man should
surrender the personal selfishness which binds him to this world. Giving
up the false self is the true renunciation.
Question : How is it possible to become selfless while leading a life of
Ramana Maharshi : There is no
conflict between work and wisdom.
Question : Do you
mean that one can continue all the old activities in one's profession,
for instance, and at the same time get enlightenment ?
Ramana Maharshi : Why not ? But in
that case one will not think that it is the old personality which is
doing the work, because one's consciousness will gradually become
transferred until it is centered in that which is beyond the little
Question : If a person is engaged in work, there will be little time
left for him to meditate.
Ramana Maharshi : Setting apart
time for meditation is only for the merest spiritual novices. A man who
is advancing will begin to enjoy the deeper beatitude whether he is at
work or not. While his hands are in society, he keeps his head cool in
Question : Then
you do not teach the way of yoga?
Ramana Maharshi : The yogi tries to
drive his mind to the goal, as a cowherd drives a bull with a stick, but
on this path the seeker coaxes the bull by holding out a handful of
Question : How is that done?
Ramana Maharshi : You have to ask
yourself the Question `Who am I ?' This investigation will lead in the
end to the discovery of something within you which is behind the mind.
Solve that great problem and you will solve all other problems.
Question : Why is concentration ineffective?
Ramana Maharshi : To ask the mind to
kill the mind is like making the thief the policeman. He will go with
you and pretend to catch the thief, but nothing will be gained. So you
must turn inward and see from where the mind rises and then it will
cease to exist.
Question : In
turning the mind inwards, are we not still employing the mind?
Ramana Maharshi : Of course we are
employing the mind. It is well known and admitted that only with the
help of the mind can the mind be killed. But instead of setting about
saying there is a mind, and I want to kill it, you begin to seek the
source of the mind, and you find the mind does not exist at all. The
mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards,
it becomes itself the Self.
Question : How can I tell if I am making progress with my enquiry?
Ramana Maharshi : The degree
of the absence of thoughts is the measure of your progress towards
Self-realization. But Self-realization itself does not admit of
progress, it is ever the same. The Self remains always in realization.
The obstacles are thoughts. Progress is measured by the degree of
removal of the obstacles to understanding that the Self is always
realized. So thoughts must be checked by seeking to whom they arise. So
you go to their source, where they do not arise.
Question : Doubts are always arising. Hence my Question.
Ramana Maharshi : A doubt arises and
is cleared. Another arises and that is cleared, making way for yet
another; and so it goes on. So there is no possibility of clearing away
all doubts. See to whom the doubts arise. Go to their source and abide
in it. Then they cease to arise. That is how doubts are to be cleared.
Source: from book
“Be As You Are” by David Godman
Related Ramana Maharshi Talks:
Ramana Maharshi Biography
Ramana Maharshi on
Why do I never
remember that I am the Self
"Who am I" Meditation Method
Ramana Maharshi taught through
Silence - Mauna
Ramana Maharshi on Searching the Source
of 'I' Thought
Ramana Maharshi on
Realization while doing Worldly Duties
possible for mind, whose nature is constant change?
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