Ramana Maharshi on "Who am I" Meditation
Question : Should I go on asking `Who am I?' without answering? Who asks
whom? Which bhavana
[attitude] should be in the mind at the time of enquiry? What is `I',
the Self or the ego?
Question : But is it not funny that the `I' should be searching for the
`I'? Does not the enquiry `Who am I?' turn out in the end to be an empty
formula? Or, am I to put the Question to myself endlessly, repeating it
like some mantra?
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 come into maya [illusion]?'
or in other words, `Why has God created this world?'
Question : Am I to keep on repeating `Who am I?' so as to make a mantra of
Question : Shall I meditate on `I am Brahman' (aham Brahmasmi]?
Question : I am aware of the `I'. Yet my troubles are not ended.
Question : Is soham (the
affirmation `I am he') the same as `Who am I?'
You see the difficulty. Vichara 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.
Note: this excerpt is taken from the chapter “Self-enquiry – practice”. David Godman has given introduction in beginning of every chapter.
Part of introduction for this chapter is: “Self-enquiry should not be regarded as a meditation practice that takes place at certain hours and in certain positions; it should continue throughout one's waking hours, irrespective of what one is doing. Sri Ramana saw no conflict between working and self-enquiry and he maintained that with a little practice it could be done under any circumstances. He did sometimes say that regular periods of formal practice were good for beginners, but he never advocated long periods of sitting meditation and he always showed his disapproval when any of his devotees expressed a desire to give up their mundane activities in favour of a meditative life”.
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 taught through Silence - Mauna
Ramana Maharshi on Searching the Source of 'I' Thought
Ramana Maharshi on Realization while doing Worldly Duties
Is Self-experience possible for mind, whose nature is constant change?