there be peace and love among all beings of the universe. OM
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
UESTION : While
sitting near you, what sort of mental state should
I have so as to receive the transmission from the
Keep your mind still. That is enough. You will get
spiritual help sitting in this hall if you keep
yourself still. The aim of all practices is to give
up all practices. When the mind becomes still, the
power of the Self will be experienced. The waves of
the Self are pervading everywhere. If the mind is
in peace, one begins to experience them.
Question: Which is better for me, to gaze at
your eyes or your face? Or should I sit with closed
eyes and concentrate my mind on a particular
Ramana: Gaze at your own real nature. It is
immaterial whether the eyes are open or closed.
Everywhere there is only the one, so it is all the
same whether you keep your eyes open or closed. If
you wish to meditate, do so on the "I" that is
within you. It is the Self. Because it has no eyes,
there is no need either to open or close the eyes.
When you attain Self-knowledge, there will no
longer be any ideas about the world. When you are
sitting in a room, whether the windows are open or
closed, you are the same person, in the same state.
In the same way, if you abide in the Reality, it is
all the same whether the eyes are open or closed.
It matters little whether external activities go on
Question: In my present state, is there
sufficient faith, humility and surrender in me? If
not, how to make them complete?
Ramana: You are perfect and complete, so
abandon the idea of incompleteness. There is
nothing to be destroyed. Ahankara, the individual
"I", is not a real thing. It is the mind that makes
the effort and the mind is not real. Just as it is
not necessary to kill a rope that one imagines to
be a snake, so also there is no need to kill the
mind. Knowing the form of the mind makes the mind
disappear. That which is forever non-existent is
What books should I read for personal study?
Ramana: The Self is the real book. You can
glance anywhere in that book; nobody can take it
away from you. Whenever you are free, turn towards
the Self. Thereafter you may read whatever you
Question: How to uproot the weariness, fear
and anxiety that arise during meditation?
Ramana: Find out to whom these questions
occur. By conducting this enquiry these things will
disappear. These things are impermanent. Do not pay
attention to them. When there is knowledge of
duality, fear arises. Fear only comes when you
think that there are others apart from you. If you
direct your mind towards the Self, fear and anxiety
will go away. In your present state, when your mind
is agitated, if you remove one kind of fear,
another will rise up and there will be no end of
them. It is a laborious task to pluck the leaves
off a tree one by one. The "I" feeling is the root
of all thoughts. If you destroy the root, the
leaves and branches will wither away. Instead of
forming bad habits and taking medicine for them, it
is better to see that such bad habits are not
Question: During and after meditation, I get
many thoughts about the unhappy people of the
world. What will happen to the world?
Ramana: First find out whether there is an
"I" in you or not. It is this ego "I" that gets
these thoughts and, as a result, you feel weakness.
Therefore find out how identification with the body
takes place. Body consciousness is the cause of all
misery. When you conduct the enquiry into the ego
"I", you will find out its Source and you will be
able to remove it. After that there will be no more
questions of the type you are asking.
The body itself is a disease. To wish for a long
stay of that disease is not the aim of the jnani
[one who has realised the Self]. Anyhow,
one has to give up identification with the body.
Just as the "I am the body" consciousness prevents
one from attaining Self-knowledge, in the same way,
one who has got the conviction that he is not the
body will become liberated even if he doesn't
Does a jnani in the body remain visible?
Ramana: Why not?
Question: Body is the reflection of the
mind. There ought to be modifications because of
Ramana: In whose view should a jnani's body
have a change?
Question: To the outside view.
Ramana: Then a jnani ought to be invisible?
All who wrote books, lived and moved are ajnanis
[those who are ignorant of their true
nature]. Is that so? [laughing] Does
the jnani himself feel oppressed by the body? Does
he need a certificate from others by their not
seeing his body?
Ramana: Who is the seer? Solve that problem
first. What does it matter whether a body is
visible or not?
is it that a devotee so often turns away from a man
of knowledge? This happens even after they have
arrived, doesn't it?
Ramana: Your premise is all wrong. For as
soon as a devotee arrives he finds that he is one
with the jnani. For the devotee becomes the essence
of devotion and the jnani becomes the essence of
knowledge. The two are one, identical. The quarrel
is really championed by pseudo devotees and pseudo
Question: How much sleep does a jnani
Ramana: Sleep is necessary when one thinks
"I have risen from sleep." But to those who are
ever in changeless sleep, what need is there for
some other sleep. When the eyelids feel strained it
would do to close the eyes for a while. The three
states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep are for
the mind and not for the body.
Question: The Narada Bhakti Sutras
say that the path of devotion is the best. Cannot
we say the same thing about jnana [knowledge of
Ramana: What is the differentiation? Jnana
Question: The Ashtavakra Gita says:
"Things come by themselves." Does anything come by
itself without operation of cause behind it?
Ramana: That which comes to a man without
present effort or desire is the result of past
efforts or desires [prarabdha karma]. Even
a jnani who has no desires has to meet such
Question: The Ashtavakra Gita says:
"The jnani does not remember what he has done or
not done". How to understand this?
Ramana: He does not feel that he is the
agent who acted or the one who refrained from
Question: How can a jnani's prarabdha
[the part of one's past karma that is to be
worked out in this life] remain unburnt?
Ramana: In the jnani's view all karma is
gone. But in the world's view the jnani's body is
seen subject to some karma. This is attributed to
Question: The Puranas say that jnanis
warred against jnanis. That must be due to
Ramana: Yes, Krishna fought against
Question: But should not a jnani have an
absence of worldly desires? It is desires which
lead to conflict.
Ramana: Perfect dispassion is jnana.
Question: How can we judge from outside
whether a man's dispassion or surrender is perfect
perfect dispassion and jnana who is there outside
Question: Can we attain jnana through your
Grace and teach it to the people of the world?
Ramana: First know your Self; leave alone
the idea of teaching others. If the world and its
people remain after your realisation, you may teach
them. Trying to help the world without knowing your
Self will be just like a blind man trying to treat
the diseases in the eyes of others. First clear
your own eyes. If you do this you will see the eyes
of all others as your own. Then, if you see the
eyes of all others as your own, how can you exist
without helping them?
What is the effect of japas or mantras
[repeating sacred syllable[s] or
formula as a means to realise the
Ramana: Diversion. The mind is a channel, a
swift current of thoughts. A mantra is a bund or
dam put up in the way of this current to divert the
water where it is needed.
Question: Some years ago I had been
initiated into two mantras and was enjoined to
repeat them a minimum number of times each day. I
have been doing it punctiliously. But now after
entering the ashram, I have no mind to do it. I
fear the consequences of the non-observance of the
instructions of my initiation. I am making a clear
breast of my default to Bhagavan.
Ramana: [smiling] Just because you
have done so much japa its merit brought you here.
Why should you now fear when you are enjoying the
fruits of your japa?
Question: What is the relationship between
Self-enquiry and repetition of sacred syllables,
Ramana: Self-enquiry itself is mantra, japa,
tapas, sacrifice and Yoga.
Question: Does it mean that for those
practising Self-enquiry it is unnecessary to repeat
Ramana: Self-enquiry is the source, the
essence of all mantras. All that it means is that
one should not be attached to the mantra as such.
It does not preclude it.
Question: Sometimes involuntarily enquiry
and japa overlap. What is one to do then?
Ramana: As a result of previous practice
even without effort it happens. But can enquiry or
japa take place without the "I" or the mantra?
Question: While doing Self-enquiry sometimes
one reaches a blank.
Ramana: Whether blankness is seen or
fullness is seen there is the one to see it. Find
out who it is that sees the blankness. The reply is
"me". Find out who that "I" is. If one enquires,
blankness which appears due to habit would
disappear. When there is any kind of perception one
must enquire. Then what remains is the "I".
Question: I have heard the vichara marga
[enquiry path] of yours, but I have no
clear conception of it. Is it to sit in a quiet
place and ask oneself the question "Who am I?"
repeatedly or meditate on that question as on a
Ramana: No, it is not repeating the question
or meditating on "Who am I?". It is to dive deep
into yourself and seek the place from which the
"I"-thought arises in you and to hold on to it
firmly to the exclusion of any other thought.
Continuous and persistent effort would lead to the
Question: What should one do in order to
remain free from thoughts as advised by you? Is it
only the enquiry "Who am I?"
Ramana: Only to remain still. Do it and
Question: It is impossible.
Ramana: Exactly. For the same reason the
enquiry "Who am I?" is advised.
Question: Vedantic texts, particularly the
Vichara Sangraham, recommends fasting
strongly, please clarify.
Ramana: They do not mean that you should
abstain from eating food, or drinking water. All
that is meant is that without causing hardships to
the body one should eat limited quantities of food
conducive to meditation.
Question: How am I to rise above my present
animal existence? My own efforts in that direction
have proved futile. I am convinced that it is only
a superior might that can transform me. And that is
what has brought me here.
Ramana: You are right. It is only on the
awakening of a power mightier than the senses and
the mind that these can be subdued. If you awaken
and nurture the growth of that power within you,
everything else will be conquered.
Question: What is the use of mind yearning
for meditation? Here it is only kitchen work.
Ramana: Let the hands and legs do the job.
You are not the hands or legs. You are the unmoving
one. Problems will be endless so long as one is not
aware of it. If you identify yourself with the body
you are bound to dualities. Work would appear
difficult. Even if we free ourselves from work will
the mind cease to wander? It does not let you even
sleep in peace. It keeps wandering as in
When I meditate, sleep overpowers me. I cannot
avoid it. What should I do?
Ramana: If I say "I awoke", it follows that
"I slept." When waking comes we must be in the
state that we were in when we were asleep. When
sleep comes we must awake. That is the state of
Question: What to do when this thought
catches hold of us and shakes us?
Ramana: The thought does not catch hold of
us and shake us. The thought catching hold of us
Question: If this is so, how can I control
Ramana: Controlling the mind implies the
need of a second mind to control the first. Trying
to control the mind is like someone attempting the
impossible task of measuring the length of his own
shadow by himself.
How were we in sleep? We are now the same bodiless
and mindless "I" that we were when we were asleep.
Our first mistake is to leave that state and take
the body to be "I".
Question: Ignorance must be destroyed. Am I
Ramana: It will be sufficient if you
investigate the one whose ignorance must be
Question: What must I do to avoid sleep
during my meditation?
Ramana: Meditators must not work too much,
nor should they fill the stomach with excessive
food. The more one fills the stomach, the lower
one's mental state becomes. If the stomach is
mostly empty, one will go higher spiritually. One
should not tighten the strings of the veena
[plucked string instrument] either too much
or too little. The body must be kept like that.
Likewise with sleep. One third of the night has
been allotted for sleep. That is, one must go to
bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 2 a.m. One should not
sleep during day time. There is another system
also. One should get up whenever one wakes up and
one should sleep whenever sleep comes. But one
should not think, "I slept" or "I woke up".
[quoting verse 33 of Devikalottara]
"The mind often strays into reveries or falls
asleep. Be vigilant and turn it into its pristine
state again and again."
Question: While practising meditation I feel
some pain in the back and in front of the chest.
This is stated to be the test by God. Will Bhagavan
explain this and say if it is true?
Ramana: What you believe to be a test is
really the strain that is now brought to play on
the nerves and the five senses. The mind which was
hitherto operating through the nadis [channels
in the subtle body through which subtle psychic
energy flows] to sense the external objects is
now required to withdraw. This withdrawal naturally
causes strain. It would go, if you would continue
with your meditation bestowing your attention
solely on your Self. There is no greater remedy
than this continuous Yoga.
Never mind what happens to the body. Maintain the
same train of thought and effort, and the bodily
discomfort will pass away. Do not think of the
discomfort but keep the mind firm on your
meditation. If you are not strong enough to endure
the mosquitoes, how can you hope to gain
realisation? It is like waiting for the waves of
the ocean to subside before you enter to bathe! Be
strong and keep up constant effort.
Question: What about practicing meditation
in a group or alone?
Ramana: The latter is advisable for
beginners, but we must learn to advance to the
point where we create our own mental solitude, then
it will not matter where we are. We must learn to
find mental solitude in the midst of society; we
should not give up our meditation because we are
among people, but carry it on even then. Just do
not be ostentatious about it do it secretly.
Do not make an exhibition of the fact that you are
Question: Should I meditate with the eyes
open or closed?
Ramana: You can meditate with the eyes open
or shut, whichever suits you best. It differs with
different people. Seeing is when the mind looks
through the eyes, but if it is not looking because
it is focused within, it does not see even if the
eyes are open. It is the same with sounds. If you
pay attention to them, you will hear them, but if
you persistently focus only on the Self within, you
won't hear them.
The point is that the mind must be introverted and
kept active in its pursuit. Sometimes when the eyes
are closed, latent thoughts rush forth with great
vigor. It may also be difficult to introvert the
mind with the eyes open, as that requires strength
of mind. When the mind takes in objects it is
contaminated. The main factor is to resist all
other thoughts and keep the mind on its own
pursuit, without taking in external impressions or
thinking of other matters.
Question: Which posture is best?
Ramana: Any posture, possibly the half-lotus
position. But posture is immaterial for the jnana
path. Posture really means steadfast location in
the Self. It is internal.
There are different postures according to the
different grades. The best posture is to be in the
Self. All these questions of posture and Hatha Yoga
arise only to those who have body-consciousness and
think, "I am the body." However, the yogis say,
"Adopt the posture in which meditation is easiest
for you." But you may not necessarily have to adopt
a Yoga posture at all. If you find sitting in a
chair or walking easier for you to practice
meditation, then these are the right postures for
you. Hatha Yoga is for beginners. Find the Self and
remain in It, and you will not be concerned about
postures. The best posture is to plant the Guru
firmly in your Heart.
Question: When we fall from the path what
should we do?
Ramana: All will be well in the end. There
is a steady determination that gets you on your
feet again after a fall or break. Gradually the
obstacles get weaker and your current gets
stronger. Everything comes right in the end. Steady
determination is what is required. Peace will be
deeper and more prolonged with continued practice.
It will also lead to the goal.
The control of desire and meditation are
interdependent. They must go hand in hand. Practice
and dispassion bring about the result. Dispassion
is to restrain the mind from projecting outwards
and practice is to keep it turned inward. There is
a constant struggle within between control and
meditation. Meditation will eventually be
successful. If you seek God with your whole heart,
then you may be assured that the Grace of God is
also seeking you.
Question: Is concentration one of the
Ramana: Concentration is not thinking of one
thing only. Rather, it is the putting off of all
other thoughts which obstruct the vision of our
true nature. All our efforts are only directed
towards lifting the veil of ignorance. Now it
appears difficult to quell the thoughts, but in the
regenerated state, it will be found more difficult
to activate them! Why should we think of these
things? There is the Self alone. Thoughts can
function only if there are objects but there
are no objects, so how can thoughts arise at all?
Habit makes us believe that it is difficult to
cease thinking. If this error were discovered, one
would not be so foolish as to exert oneself
When attention is directed towards objects and
intellect, the mind is aware only of these things.
That is our present state. But when we attend to
the Self within, we become conscious of It alone.
It is therefore all a matter of attention. Our mind
has been attending to external things for so long,
that the latter have enslaved it and drag it hither
and thither. If the mind wanders, we must at once
realise we are not the body and enquire, "Who am
I?" and the mind must be brought back to realise
the Self. Thus all evils are destroyed and
happiness is realised.
The Self is like a powerful magnet hidden within
us. It draws us gradually to Itself, though we
imagine we are going to It of our own accord. When
we are near enough, It puts an end to our other
activities, makes us still, and then swallows up
our own personal current, thus killing our
personality. It overwhelms the intellect and floods
the whole being. We think we are meditating upon It
and developing towards It, whereas the truth is
that we are like iron-filings and It is the
Self-magnet that is pulling us towards Itself. Thus
the process of finding Self is a form of divine
Question: I cannot bring my mind to
Ramana: When an elephant is free, it moves
its trunk around and looks restless, but if it is
given a chain to hold, its trunk stays still.
Similarly, without an aim, the mind is restless. If
an aim is fixed, it is restful. Concentration is
impossible as long as there are tendencies
[samskaras]. Devotion] is also
obstructed. Practice and dispassion are necessary.
Dispassion is the absence of diffused thoughts, and
practice is concentration on one thought only. Firm
perseverance is also necessary. The one is positive
and the other is a negative aspect of
Question: Why is it that sometimes I find
concentration on the Self so easy, and at other
times hopelessly difficult?
Ramana: Because of latent tendencies of the
mind. But really, it is easy, since we are the
Self. All we have to do is to remember that. We
keep on forgetting it, and thus think we are this
body, or this ego. If the will and desire to
remember the Self are strong enough, they will
eventually overcome tendencies. There must be a
great battle going on inwardly all the time until
the Self is realised. This battle is symbolically
spoken of in scriptural writings as the fight
between God and Satan. In our texts, it is the
Mahabharata, in which the demons represent
our bad thoughts and the gods our elevated
We all have to return to our Source. Every human
being is seeking their Source and must one day come
to it. We came from the Within; we have gone
outward and now we must turn inward. What is
meditation? It is our natural Self. We have covered
ourselves over with thoughts and passions. To throw
them off we must concentrate on one thought: the
Whichever way one turns, one finds that the mind
has to be subdued. We are told it has to be
controlled. Can this really be done when on the one
hand the mind is an entity not easily grasped and
on the other, one continues to have worldly
Ramana: Hmm. A person who has never seen an
ocean must make a trip to know about it. Standing
there before the huge expanse of water, this person
may wish to bathe in the ocean. Of what use is it
if seeing the roaring and rolling of the waves, he
were to just stand there thinking, "I shall wait
for all this to subside." When it does, "I shall
enter it for a quiet bath just as in the pond back
home." He has to realise either by himself or by
being told, that the ocean is restlessness and that
it has been so from the moment of creation and will
continue likewise until its dissolution. He will
then resolve to learn to bathe in it, as it is. He
may wade into it by and by, and perhaps, through
prior instruction, learn to duck under a wave and
let it pass over him. He would naturally hold his
breath. While doing so, soon he would be skilled
enough to duck, at a stretch,
wave after wave, and thus achieve the purpose of
bathing without coming to grief. The ocean may go
on and though in it, he is free from its grip.
Question: When I am engaged in enquiry as to
the Source from which "I" springs I arrive at a
stage of stillness of mind. The experience is
pleasing. I have no thought of any kind and there
is emptiness or blankness. Should I continue this
Ramana: Such a condition is called manolaya
or temporary stillness of thought. As soon as it
ceases, thoughts, old and new, rush in as usual. It
will never end. The practitioner must therefore be
ever on the alert and enquire within as to who has
this experience, who is aware of its pleasantness?
Failing this enquiry he would fall into a long
Question: Sometimes, after stillness of
thoughts intervenes, I used to hear some sounds
like what is heard near a rolling mill or a
Ramana: Ask who hears the sound? Repeat the
question now and then.
Question: I have not learnt to control my
mind. So I intend to seek life in solitude in North
India and want Sri Bhagavan's Grace.
Ramana: You have come all the way to
Tiruvannamalai for solitude and that too in the
immediate presence and vicinity of Ramana Bhagavan,
yet you do not appear to have obtained mental
quiet: now you want to go elsewhere and from there
you will desire to go to some other place. At this
rate there will be no end to your travels. You do
not realise that it is your mind which drives you
in this manner. Control your mind first and you
will be happy wherever you are. One must attempt to
get to the very bottom from which thought springs
and root out thought, desire and mind.
Question: When I spent an hour or two on the
hill yonder, I sometimes found even better peace
than here, which suggests that a solitary place is
after all more conducive to mind control.
Ramana: True, but if you had stayed there an
hour longer, you would have found that place is not
giving you the calm you speak of. Control the mind
and even hell will be heaven to you.
Question: If solitude and abandonment is not
required, where was the necessity for Bhagavan to
come here in the seventeenth year?
Ramana: If the same force that took this
[meaning himself] here, should take you
also out of your home by all means let it, but
there is no use deserting your home by an effort of
your own. Your duty lies in practice, continuous
practice of Self-enquiry.
Question: Why did Bhagavan leave
Ramana: The same power which brought me from
Madurai to Tiruvannamalai got me down here from the
hill. I had no volition whatsoever.
What is samadhi?
Ramana: When the mind is in communion with
the Self in ignorance, it is called nidra
[sleep]. Involution in a conscious or
wakeful state is samadhi. Samadhi is continuous
inherence in the Self in a waking state. Nidra, or
sleep, is also inherence in the Self but in an
unconscious state. In sahaja samadhi the communion
Question: What are kevala nirvikalpa samadhi
and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi?
Ramana: The involution of the mind in the
Self, but without its destruction, is kevala
nirvikalpa samadhi. There are four obstacles in
this, namely: [i] vacillation of mind.
[ii] life breath or prana, [iii]
body, and [iv] that which is perceived
In kevala nirvikalpa samadhi one is not free from
inherent tendencies [vasanas] and does not,
therefore, attain liberation. Only after the mental
impressions [samskaras] have been destroyed
can one attain salvation.
Question: If this is sahaja samadhi and the
most desirable condition, is there no need for
Ramana: The nirvikalpa samadhi of Raja Yoga
may have its use. But in jnana, this natural state
or this state of steady abidance in the Self itself
is the nirvikalpa state. For in this state the mind
is free from doubts. It is sure of the Truth. It
feels the presence of the Real. Even when it is
active, it knows it is active in the Reality, the
Self, the Supreme Being.
Question: How can action which is subdued in
samadhi emerge and continue to function?
Ramana: The all-pervading Infinite Self
brings about the actions. They are performed
through the senses and limbs. The man's ego is
doing nothing. It is also incapable of doing
anything. When an author is writing he is so
absorbed in his ideas, that he forgets he is
writing with a pen with his own hand. He is unaware
of his body. Once the consciousness dawns that he
is the person that is writing it, that it is his
hand and his pen that writes it, the flow of his
ideas is arrested. He comes down from the
Self-absorption and becomes aware of his pen, and
hand, and so is not able to write. The pen, the
hand, etc., are inanimate objects and the power of
the Self alone is capable of giving life to them
and making them work.
The results of one's actions do not affect the
Self. The lightning and the thunder produced on
account of the clash of clouds in the sky do not
affect the sky. If we realise that we are part and
parcel of the force of the Self, there would be no
reason why we should falter or get confused.
Question: How does a person of steady
knowledge [jnani] know that he is one such?
Is it because of the awareness of fullness of his
knowledge? Or is it because of cessation of
Ramana: In the firm natural state, through
the silence of the mind free of all tendencies, the
knower knows himself as such, without any
For seekers of Truth is the critical study of the
scriptures alone enough for knowledge?
Ramana: There is no doubt that mere critical
study of scriptures cannot liberate the one seeking
Truth. Without upasana, spiritual practice, there
cannot be attainment. This is certain. Experience
of the natural state during spiritual practice is
called upasana. When that itself is unwaveringly
attained it is called true knowledge.
Question: For twenty five years I have been
doing spiritual disciplines, mostly repeating the
name of Krishna. Until now I was managing fifty
thousand repetitions a day. Now my mind refuses to
engage itself in thought of God. What has happened
to me and what should I do?
Ramana: How did you come here from
Question: By train.
Ramana: And then what happened when you got
to the station at Tiruvannamalai?
Question: Well, I got off the train, handed
my tickets and engaged a bullock cart to take me to
Ramana: And when you reached the ashram and
paid off the driver of the cart what happened to
Question: It went away, presumably back to
Ramana: The train brought you to your
destination. You got off and didn't need it any
more. It had brought you to the place you wanted to
reach. Likewise the bullock cart. You got off when
it had brought you to Sri Ramanasramam. You don't
need the train or the cart anymore. They were the
means for bringing you here. Now you are here, they
are of no use to you.
This is what happened to your spiritual practice
your japa, your reading and your meditation
have brought you to your spiritual destination. You
don't need them anymore. You yourself did not give
up your practices; they left you of their own
accord because they have served their purpose. You
Question: How is one to study oneself?
Ramana: You can study it only if there are
two selves, one which studies and other which is
studied. To remain as the Self is to study the
Self. If you study the Vedas and the
Shastras you may get due respect in the
world. Society will then decorate your neck with
garlands, read you complimentary letters, give you
good food, a great name and much money. But all
these things will be great obstacles for jnana and
Question: Swami, I do not want anything.
Just give me liberation.
Ramana: [laughing heartily] Is
liberation a commodity for sale? Have I secreted it
somewhere? Renouncing everything is liberation. Is
there anything separate for me to give?
Question: Can we at least have a glimpse of
the real Self everyday?
Ramana: Between sleep and waking there is a
momentary twilight. The waking consciousness begins
with the "I"-thought. Just before the upsurge of
the "I"-thought there is a split second of
undifferentiated pure consciousness. First
unconsciousness, then the light of pure
consciousness, then the "I"-thought with which
world-consciousness floods in. This is the order.
The middle state is Self-awareness. We can sense it
if we are sufficiently alert and watchful.
Question: Bhagavan, I have been coming here
for the past several years, but still there is no
progress. I am just as bad a sinner as before.
Ramana: There are no milestones in this
path. How can you be sure how far you have
travelled? Why don't you follow the first class
passenger? He informs the guard about his
destination, closes the door and sleeps soundly.
That is all he needs to do. The guard will wake him
at the correct station.
Question: Bhagavan, all my efforts to abide
in the Source have proved futile.
Ramana: Keep at your practice. There is no
need to remind God about his business which is to
keep an eye always on your welfare. One is prone to
abandon effort under the mistaken impression that
God's Grace is absent. But one should not slacken,
for God's Grace is bound to operate at the ripe
Question: Bhagavan, will you graciously
bestow Self-realisation on me?
Ramana: As one enquires for whom is this
realisation, one's individuality goes, and with
that the delusion that the Self has not been
realised drops off. This alone is the Grace of the
Guru. The Guru can only dispel the delusion that
Self is yet to be realised but to grant
Self-realisation is impossible. To pray for the
grant of Self-realisation is like asking, "Give
myself to me". Because of the identification with
the body, there arises the delusion that "I am an
individual". That creates the further delusion that
the Guru is an individual other than myself. Really
the Guru is not other than the Self.
Question: Please give me some practical
guidance for Self-realisation.
Ramana: [quoting from the
Bible] "Be still and know that I am
Question: It is stated in the scriptures
that the Self will reveal itself only to one whom
it chooses. Then what is the use of our
Ramana: The Self will draw to itself an
aspirant only when he becomes introverted. So long
as he is extroverted Self-realisation is
impossible. Many people try to define the Self
instead of attempting to know the Self.
Question: What is Self-realisation?
Ramana: People expect something to happen,
something to drop from heaven in a flash. It is
nothing of the sort. Only the notion that you are
the body, that you are this or that will go. You
will remain as you are.
Question: I feel I have the experience of
the Self, but my mind does not agree with that.
Ramana: What are these two selves, one
objecting to the other? Experience for all is that
the Self is only one.
Question: What is the nature of the
Ramana: Abide in the Self, free from
thoughts, instead of enquiring about the nature of
Question: I feel that Self-realisation is no
easy thing to reach.
Ramana: Why stultify yourself by
anticipating failure in your course? Push on. There
Question: After I surrender, will it be
possible for me to carry on with my work?
Ramana: Of course! But the thought "I am
doing it" will not arise.
Question: If the "I"-thought is not there,
how will my duties get done?
Ramana: Whatever you get paid for, you do
with indifference. Discharge your family duties
with the same indifference that you discharge your
office work. The things that come and go in your
office don't cause you to worry. Do all your jobs
and duties with this same detachment.
Question: Difficulties keep coming to me.
When will they stop?
Ramana: If you give up the "I am the body"
idea all your difficulties will fly away.
Question: If waking and dream states are not
different, can a man realise the Self in the dream
Ramana: First realise the Self in the waking
state and then raise the question.
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You say that the trinity of knower, known and
knowledge is an appearance and that there is a
unity behind it, supporting it. What is this unity,
is it a powerful one?
Ramana: It is an all-powerful existence.
Question: You have often said, and the books
also say, that Reality [Brahman] is
immobile. Now you say it is all powerful. Does it
not then move?
Ramana: Power implies movement. Though
Reality [Ishwara] moves by His power, which
is movement, He transcends the movement; He is
unmoving, beyond movement.
Question: Is there no difference between the
power [shakti] and the powerful
Ramana: No. That depends upon your attitude.
There is only one Truth. Looking at the movement,
one calls it "power". Another, settling himself in
the support of the movement, calls it "unmoving".
If the former is activity, the latter is the
ground, support or substance. Force and substance
are inseparable, are indeed two aspects of one and
the same Truth. Only, without the movement of the
power the real substance is not apprehended.
Question: What is the true character of
Ramana: It is coeval with the Eternal
Reality; it has no existence apart from Him. It is
the Eternal activity of Reality, creating the
myriad of worlds.
Question: Worlds are created and they
perish. How can you say that this activity is
Ramana: Supposing all the worlds in course
of time are dissolved, still they persist in
activity through lying latent. That is to say,
power does not perish. What then is this movement?
Every moment there is creation, every moment
destruction. There is no absolute creation, no
absolute destruction. Both are movement, and that
Question: Then shall I take it that power
and substance are both aspects of the same
Ramana: Yes, but this whole movement, the
entire creation, called a play of shakti, is a
formulation of the Lord [Reality]. If this
form is transcended, what remains is the real form
or the real nature.
What is the Truth that I have to attain? Please
explain it and show it to me.
Ramana: What we have to attain and what is
desired by everyone is endless happiness. Although
we seek to attain it in various ways, it is not
something to be sought or attained as a new
experience. Our real nature is the "I" feeling
which is always experienced by everyone. It is
within us and nowhere else. Although we are always
experiencing it, our minds are wandering, always
seeking it, thinking in ignorance that it is
something apart from us. This is like a person
saying with his own tongue that he has no
Question: I am now sitting peacefully
without the thought "I am this body." Is this the
state of Reality?
Ramana: This state must remain as it is
without any change. If it changes after a while you
will know that other thoughts have not gone.
Question: What is the way to get rid of
Ramana: They can only be removed through the
powerful effect of the enquiry, "To whom have these
Question: What is the way to see God?
Ramana: Where to see God? First, can you see
yourself? If you can see yourself you can see God.
Can anyone see his own eyes? Because they cannot be
seen, can one say, "I have no eyes?" Just like
this, though seeing is always there, we cannot see
God. To give up the thought that we are alien to
God is to see God. The first and foremost wonder in
this world is the thought, "I am different from
God." There is no greater wonder than this.
Question: I have read much of the
Vedas and the scriptures, but no
Self-knowledge has come to me. Why is this?
Ramana: Self-knowledge will come to you only
if it is there in the scriptures. If you see the
scriptures, knowledge of the scriptures will come.
If you see the Self, Self-knowledge will shine.
Question: How to see the Self?
Ramana: Everyone says "I am." How do we know
that this is true? Do we know this by looking in
the mirror or do we know it only after looking in
the scriptures? Tell me.
If the Self is something to be seen, there should
be two selves, the self which looks and the Self
which is seen. Would you agree that you have two
Ramana: The Reality that exists is only One.
Then how can there be another self which is to be
seen? All are seeing the Self everywhere but they
don't understand. What a pity! What to do? If the
thought "I am this body" is given up, what is seen
is only the Self.
Question: You have stated that knowledge of
the Self is very easy. How is this very easy?
Ramana: As an example of direct perception
everyone will quote the simile of the nellikai
[similar to a gooseberry] placed in the
palm of the hand. The Self is even more directly
perceivable than the fruit on the palm. To perceive
the fruit there must be the fruit, the palm to
place it on and the eyes to see it. The mind should
also be in the proper condition to process the
information. Without any of these four things, even
those with very little knowledge can say out of
direct experience, "I am."Because the Self exists
just as the feeling "I am," Self-knowledge is very
easy indeed. The easiest path is to see the one who
is going to attain the Self.
Question: Why cannot the Self be perceived
Ramana: Only the Self is said to be directly
perceived [pratyaksha]. Nothing else is
said to be pratyaksha. Although we are having this
pratyaksha, the thought "I am this body" is veiling
it. If we give up this thought, the Self, which is
always within the direct experience of everyone,
will shine forth.
Question: Sri Bhagavan has stated this so
simply. But the thought "I am the body" does not
Ramana: It is not leaving you because it is
Question: Why and how did that thought come
Ramana: It came into being only through a
lack of enquiry on your part. A verse in
Kaivalya Navanitam gives the same
explanation: "Because its nature is not
determinable, the illusion [maya] is said
to be inexpressible. They are in its grip who
think: "This is mine", "I am the body", "The world
is real." O son, no one can ascertain how this
mysterious illusion came into being. As to why it
arose, it is because of the person's lack of
If we see the Self, the objects which are seen will
not appear as separate from us. Having seen all the
letters on a paper, we fail to see that paper which
is the base. Likewise, suffering only arises
because we see what is superimposed on the base
without seeing the base itself. What is
superimposed should not be seen without also seeing
How were we in sleep? When we were asleep the
various thoughts such as "this body", "this world"
were not there. It should be difficult to identify
with these waking and dreaming states that appear
and disappear, but everyone does it.
Everyone has the experience, "I always am." In
order to say "I slept well", "I awoke", "I dreamt",
"When unconscious I knew nothing", it is necessary
that one exists, and knows that one exists, in all
these three states. If one seeks the Self, saying,
"I don't see myself", where can one find it? To
know that everything we see is the Self, it is
enough that the" I am the body" thought ceases to
Question: What is satsang?
Ramana: Satsang means only "Self-sang",
association with the Self. Only those who cannot
practice that are to practice being in the company
of realised beings or sadhus.
Question: When does one get the company of
Ramana: The opportunity to be in the company
of a Satguru comes effortlessly to those who have
performed worship of God, japa, tapas, pilgrimages,
etc. for long periods in their previous births.
There is a verse by Tayumanuvar which points out
the same thing: "O Lord of the first and last,
those who properly start the worship of idols, holy
places and sacred waters will meet the Satguru who
will tell them the words of Truth."
Only he who has done plenty of actions performed
without any thought of a reward or consequence
[nishkamya karmas] in previous births will
get abundant faith in the Guru. Having faith in the
Guru's words, such a man will follow the path and
reach the goal of liberation.
Question: We are living in a place where
there is no sadhu. What can we do? We cannot have
the darshan of sadhus every day.
Ramana: What to do? Pictures, names of God
and pujas have been formed for this purpose. Only
those who have attained the Grace of God will get
the Grace of the Guru. Only through the Grace of
the Guru can one attain the Grace of the Self which
is within. That alone is liberation.
Question: The state of samadhi
[experience of the Self] has not yet come
Ramana: That state does not come or go. It
is our own ever-existing natural state.
Question: Can I take up the mental attitude
"I am Brahman [Reality] ?"
Ramana: If you assume "I am Brahman" you
will receive many blows. Why? Because everything is
already Brahman. Why should it be assumed? Is it
necessary to assume "I am a man?" If the thought "I
am the body" is there, then it is necessary to
assume, "No, I am not that."
Question: Is the appearance of the
differentiated universe true or untrue?
Ramana: It depends on how we regard the
terms true and untrue. If we look at Brahman, there
is no universe.
Question: Then why does the universe
Ramana: Appear to whom? The universe does
not say "I am." Is there any evidence to say that
the universe appears? To whom does the universe
Question: To me.
Ramana: Who are you? Find out who you are.
Then afterwards tell me if there is a universe.
Question: Because I have a wife and children
I have many problems. I cannot escape from
Ramana: The outer mundane activities cannot
do anything to you. Only the inner mundane
activities must be given up.
Question: This only lasts for five minutes.
Then it gets changed.
Ramana: [after keeping quiet for some
time] This kind of thought must go. One can
attain the bliss of Reality only when the mind
becomes pure and humble, like a child's.
Question: Bhagavan, I want to attain
liberation. For that you alone are my Guru. I do
not seek anyone else. Kindly bestow your Grace on
Ramana: The attainment of liberation is not
some new achievement. We are all in the form of
liberation. Because we forget this and instead
wrongly think, "I am this body", many thousands of
thoughts arise in wave after wave and conceal what
we really are. Liberation will only shine when this
thought "I am the body" is destroyed.
How is silence possible when we are engaged in
Ramana: When women walk with waterpots on
their heads, they are able to talk with their
companions while all the time remaining intent on
the water above. Similarly, when a sage engages in
activities, they do not disturb him because his
mind abides in Reality.
The difficulty is that people think they are the
doer; it is a mistake. It is the higher power which
does everything and people are only a tool. If they
accept that position, they will be free from
troubles, otherwise they court them. Do your work
without anticipating its fruits. That is all that
you should do.
Question: Why is the world in ignorance?
Ramana: Let the world take care of itself.
If you are the body, then there the gross world
appears. If you are the spirit, everything is just
spirit. Look for the ego, and it vanishes. If you
enquire, ignorance will be found to be
non-existent. It is the mind which feels misery and
darkness. See the Self.
Question: If one always remembers the Self,
will one's actions always be right?
Ramana: They ought to be, but such a person
is not concerned with the right or wrong of
actions. His actions are God's and therefore
Question: In this pure atmosphere [with
Bhagavan at Arunachala] it is easy to practice,
but in towns it is difficult.
Ramana: When you see the true Self, is it
not a pure atmosphere? Let the body think what it
wishes, but why should you think so? It is very
good if you can just keep quiet without engaging in
any other activities. If that can't be done, what
is the use of being quiet? Even if you are obliged
to be active, do not give up your attempt to
realise the Self.
Question: Is solitude necessary for vichara
Ramana: Solitude is everywhere. The
individual is always solitary. Our business is to
find it within, not to seek it outside ourselves.
Nearly all human beings are more or less unhappy
because they do not know the true Self. Real
happiness abides in Self-knowledge alone. All else
is fleeting. To know one's Self is to be always
Solitude is in the mind. A person might be in the
midst of the world and yet maintain serenity; such
a one is in solitude. Another may stay in a remote
forest and still be unable to control the mind; he
cannot be said to be in solitude. Those attached to
desire are unable to attain solitude wherever they
are, whereas those who are detached are always in
solitude, even if they are engaged in work. When
work is performed with attachment it is a shackle.
Solitude is not only to be found in forests, it can
also be had in the midst of worldly
Question: But how can I help another with
Ramana: What is this talk of another? There
is only the One. Try to realise there is no "I", no
"you", no "he", only the one Self which is all. If
you believe in the problem of another, you are
believing in something outside the Self. You will
help him best by realising the oneness of
everything, rather than by outward activity.
Question: Is it necessary to give up worldly
Ramana: Why do we desire? Enquire. If you
find no real happiness in your desires, then your
mind will not be attracted to them. However,
subconscious tendencies may tempt you there, but
you will return.
Why do you want the life of freedom? The fact that
you crave it implies that you are bound. But really
you are ever-free. Know that Self, and desires will
fall away of their own accord. Bring all desires
and thoughts to one point within: that is
realisation. Mind should be still. The bee buzzes
noisily around the flower seeking honey. When it
finds it, it is silent and still. So it is with a
person's soul, which is seeking by desires the one
Question: The difficulty is to be in the
thoughtless state and attend to duties.
Ramana: Let the thoughtless state be of
itself. Do not think of it as pertaining to
yourself. When you walk, you take steps
involuntarily. Let your other actions happen in the
same way. Gradually concentration will become
pleasant and easy and you will be in that state
whether attending to business or whether you sit
expressly for meditation. Business will be all the
easier for you when your mind is steadied and
strengthened by concentration.
Question: How can my mind be still if I have
to use it more than other people? I want to go into
solitude and renounce my work as a headmaster.
Ramana: No. You can stay where you are and
go on with work. What is the undercurrent which
gives life to the mind and enables it to do all
this work? Why, the Self! So, that is the real
source of your activity. Simply become aware of it
during your work and do not forget it. Contemplate
it in the background of your mind even while you
are working. To do that, do not hurry! Take your
time, keep the remembrance of your real nature
alive, even while working, and avoid haste which
causes you to forget. Be deliberate. Practice
meditation to still the mind and cause it to become
aware of its true relationship to the Self, which
supports it. Do not imagine it is you who are doing
the work. Think that it is the underlying current
which is doing it. Identify yourself with this
current. If you work unhurriedly, recollectedly,
your work or service need not be a hindrance.
Question: What is the purpose of all the
suffering and evil in the world?
Ramana: Your question is itself an outcome
of the suffering. Sorrow makes one think of God. If
it were not for the suffering, would you have asked
the question? Except for jnanis [realised
beings], everybody, from a king to a peasant,
has a certain amount of sorrow. Even in cases where
it seems to be absent it is only a matter of time
sooner or later it comes. Also, one may not
question sorrow or God at the first blow, but one
is likely to at the fifth. We have taken this
vehicle [the body] in order to know our
How to get rid of egoism?
Ramana: Just see it for what it really is,
that will be enough. It is the ego itself which
makes an effort to get rid of itself, so how can it
die? If the ego is to go, then something else must
kill it. Will it ever consent to commit suicide? So
first realise what the true nature of the ego is
and it will go of its own accord. Examine the
nature of the ego: that is the process of
realisation. If one sees what one's real nature is,
that itself will get rid of the ego. Until then is
it just like chasing one's own shadow; the more one
advances the more distant is the shadow. If we
leave our own Self, then the ego will manifest
itself. If we seek our true nature, then ego dies.
If we are in our own Reality, then we need not
trouble about the ego.
Seek your Source. Find out where the thought "I"
springs from. What object can we be surer of and
know more certainly than our Self? This is direct
experience and cannot be described further. If the
present "I" goes, the mind is known for what it is
a myth. What remains is the pure Self. In
deep sleep the Self exists without the perception
of the body or the world, and happiness reigns.
Question: Once I was very self-reliant, but
in old age I am afraid. People laugh at me.
Ramana: Even when you said you were
self-reliant, it was not so you were
ego-reliant. If you let the ego go, you will
achieve real Self-reliance. Your pride was merely
the pride of the ego. So long as you identify
yourself with the ego, you will perceive others as
individuals too, and then there will be room for
pride. Let that drop, and you will drop others'
egos too, leaving no more room for pride.
So long as there is a sense of separation, one will
be afflicted by thoughts. If the original Source is
regained and the sense of separation is ended,
there will be peace. Consider what happens when a
stone is thrown up: it leaves its source, is
projected up, tries to come down and is always in
motion until it regains its source where it is at
rest. Or look at the waters of the ocean: they
evaporate, form clouds which are blown about by
winds, condense into water, and fall as rain. The
waters roll down the hilltops in streams and rivers
until they reach their original source, the ocean,
at which point they are at peace. Thus you see that
where there is a sense of separation from the
Source, there is agitation and movement until the
sense of separation is lost. So it is with
yourself. Now you identify yourself with your body,
and think that you are separate. You must regain
your Source before this false identification can
cease and you can be happy.
Question: What happens to the created ego
after the body dies?
Ramana: Ego is the "I"-thought. In its
subtle form it remains a thought, whereas in its
gross aspect it embraces mind, senses and the body.
They disappear in deep sleep along with the ego,
but still the Self remains. It will be the same in
death. Ego is not an entity independent of the Self
in order that it might be created or destroyed by
itself. It functions as an instrument of the Self
and periodically ceases to function, i.e. it
appears and disappears as birth and death.
Question: How can I control the mind?
Ramana: Seek the mind. On being sought, it
will disappear. The mind is only a bundle of
thoughts. The thoughts arise because there is a
thinker. The thinker is the ego. The ego, if
sought, will vanish automatically. The ego and the
mind are the same. The ego is the root-thought from
which all other thoughts arise. Dive within. You
are now aware that the mind rises from within. So
sink within and seek. You need not eliminate the
wrong "I." How can the "I" eliminate itself? All
that you need do is to find its origin and abide
there. That is as far as your efforts canextend.
Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are
helpless there; no effort can reveal it.
Question: How can I develop?
Ramana: Why go on pruning the ego? That is
just what it wants to be the centre of
attraction. The false ego is associated with
objects; the subject alone is the Reality. The
world is seen in the light reflected by the mind.
The moon shines by the reflected light of the sun.
When the sun has set, the moon is useful for seeing
things, but when the sun rises no one needs the
moon, even though it is visible in the sky. So it
is with the mind and Heart. The mind is used for
The Self is there whether you search for it or not.
The cessation of false identification reveals the
Self which is eternally existing. This is called
realisation. The blankness is the evil result of
searching the mind. The mind must be erased out of
existence. See who the thinker is, who the seeker
is. Then abide as the thinker, the seeker, and all
thoughts will then disappear. That ego is pure ego
purged of thoughts. It is the same as the Self.
Question: How can I get rid of fear?
Ramana: What is fear? It is only a thought.
When there is nothing besides the Self, there is no
reason to fear. Who sees anything else? The ego
arises first and sees an object; if the ego does
not exist, then the Self alone does, and there
cannot be a second. On finding the Source within,
there will be no doubt, no fear, and all other
thoughts centering around the ego will disappear
along with the ego. Weakness or strength are in the
mind. The Self is beyond mind.
Is there such a thing as free will?
Ramana: Questions of fate and free will
arise only to those who fail to look into the root
of both. To know the cause is never to entertain
thoughts of either fate or free will.
Everything in this universe is run by one Supreme
Power, but if people will not keep to the destined
path appointed for them, but stray beyond its
limits, then God punishes them and through that
they turn towards the Self. But when the punishment
finishes, they stop worshipping and sin again,
thereby inviting an increased punishment. Agitation
or anxiety is a sign of having strayed from
destiny, whereas on the appointed path they will
remain peaceful and content. They should abide in
the Self and not seek to stray into desires and
ambitions beyond what God gives, but be
Surrender and all will be well. Throw all
responsibility onto God. Do not bear the burden.
What can destiny do then? If one surrenders to God,
there will be no cause for anxiety. If you are
protected by God, nothing will affect you. The
sense of relief is in direct proportion to the
reliance on God or the Self.
When a person surrenders as a slave to the Divine,
eventually there is the realisation that all one's
actions are the actions of God. The sense of "I"
and "mine" are lost. This is what is meant by
"doing the will of God." Those who realise that
they have lost their "I"-ness [ahamkara],
and that they are not different from Ishwara
[the Supreme personal God], are jnanis.
Question: Surrender is impossible.
Ramana: Yes, complete surrender is
impossible in the beginning, but partial surrender
is certainly possible for everyone and will
eventually lead to it. Well, if surrender is
impossible what can be done? There will be no peace
of mind as you are helpless to bring it about
otherwise. It can be done only by surrender.
Question: Can partial surrender undo
Ramana: Oh, yes! It can.
Question: What is self-surrender?
Ramana: It is the same as self-control.
Control is effected by the removal of innate
tendencies of the mind [samskaras]. The ego
submits only when it recognises the higher power.
Such recognition is surrender; and is the same as
self-control. Otherwise the ego remains like the
carved image stuck up on a tower making it appear
as though it is supporting the tower on its
shoulders. The ego cannot exist without the higher
power but thinks that it acts of its own accord. A
passenger on a train continues to hold his load on
his head out of foolishness. Let him put it down;
the load will reach his destination just the same.
Similarly, let us not pose as the doers, but resign
ourselves to the guiding power.
Question: Being always sat-chit-ananda
[existence-consciousness-bliss], why does
God place us in difficulties? Why did He
Ramana: Does God come and tell you that He
has placed you in difficulties? It is you who say
so. It is again wrong. If that disappears, there
will be no one to say that God created. That which
is, does not even say "I am", for does any thought
arise that "I am not"? Only in such a case should
one be reminding oneself "I am", otherwise not. For
instance, does a man say always "I am a man"? He
does not. On the other hand, if a thought arises
that he is a cow or a buffalo, he has to remind
himself that he is not a cow, but "I am a man".
This would never happen. It is the same with one's
own existence and realisation.
The realised man sees himself in others they
are not different from himself. With wise people he
is wise, but with the ignorant he becomes ignorant,
with children he will play and with the learned he
will be scholarly.
The Self-realised one is not to be regarded as an
idler or a lazy drone. His powers develop
incessantly and, in the course of time, he may
develop and manifest occult powers, if that is his
karma. This will be merely a sort of sport for the
jnani [realised one] in the objective
world, as he has no interest or particular purpose
to serve. But if his prarabdha [past karma to
be worked out] is otherwise, siddhis
[supernatural powers] will not manifest,
and the wise one, who habitually and by nature
rests in the Atman [Self], does not seek
any other path.
When a person has realised, a Universal
life-current takes possession of him and he becomes
an instrument in Its hands. His own separate will
is gone. This is the real self-surrender. This is
the highest kundalini [yogic power], this
is real bhakti [devotion], this is jnana
[knowledge of the Self].
The universe does not exist apart from the Self.
All "evolution", all external objects are spun from
the Self and disappear into it. Where does the
world disappear to when we enter deep sleep? We
exist but the world no longer exists. Self is hence
the substratum which gives reality to the universe.
If our Self did not exist, there would be no
universe for us. The Reality is in the Self,
therefore, not in the universe. Realisation of this
comes to the realised person.
The sage experiences that he is the body, just as
the ignorant person does. The difference is that
the ignorant one believes that the Self is confined
to the body, whereas the sage knows that the body
cannot remain apart from the Self. The Self is
Infinite for him and also includes the body.
Question: Does the realised sage see the
Ramana: Yes, but his outlook differs. You
are the screen, the Self creates the ego, the ego
has its thoughts which are displayed to the world
like cinema pictures and those thoughts are the
world. But in reality there is nothing but the
Self. All are projections of the ego.
Cinema pictures move, but try going to hold onto
them! What do you hold? Only the screen! Let the
pictures disappear, and what remains? The screen
again. And so it is here. Even when the world
appears the jnani sees it only as a manifestation
of the Self.
There is only one mind functioning through the five
senses. There is a power working through them, and
their work begins and ends. There must be a
substratum on which their activities depend, a
Question: The jnani says, "I am the body",
and the ajnani [one who has not realised the
Self] says, "I am the body". What is the
Ramana: "I am" is the Truth. The body is the
limitation. The ajnani limits the "I" with the
body. The "I" in sleep is apart from the body. The
same "I" is now in the waking state. Though thought
to be in the body, "I" is really outside it. The
wrong notion is not "I am the body" for it
is the "I" that says it [the body being
insentient cannot]. The mistake lies in
thinking that "I" is what "I" is not. "I" cannot be
the inert body. The movements of the body are
confused with the movements of the "I" and the
result is misery. Whether the body works or not,
"I" remains free and happy. The ajnani's "I" is the
body. There is the whole error. The jnani's "I"
includes the body and that is all. Some
intermediate entity arises and causes
If you accept one philosophical system then you are
forced to condemn the others. A child and jnani are
similar. Incidents interest the child only so long
as they last. It ceases to think of them after they
have finished, which shows that they do not leave
any imprint or impressions on the child, and it is
not affected by them mentally. It is the same with
There is a verse [sloka] in the Bhagavad
Gita which says that one who acts without
attachment to the senses and without egoism, even
if he kills the enemy, does not make any karma.
Similarly, an illumined one is free from all past
karma and from all past vasanas [inherent
tendencies of the mind]. How can there be karma
or vasanas when the "I", the ego, which caused or
causes them has been destroyed? Even if a realised
person were to destroy many lives in war, no sin
would touch his pure soul, so the Gita
The realised one knows neither past, present nor
future. He is above time for he lives in the
timeless Self. He does not plan for the future. Why
should he? There is no sense of "I" in him any
longer, he is directed by the infinite power. He
will just watch and wait and see what happens. He
lets things take their course and resigns all to
that absolute power, which you can call God, karma
or whatever you like. There is no egoism in him, so
he is quiet.
Question: It is claimed that the Grace of
Ishwara [God] is necessary.
Ramana: We are Iswara. By seeing ourselves
as Him we are having his Grace. His nature is
Grace. Leave it to Him. Surrender unreservedly,
either because you admit your inability and require
a higher power to help you, or investigate, go into
the Source and merge in the Self. God never
forsakes one who has surrendered. A higher power is
leading you; let it. It knows what to do and how to
do it. Trust it.
Question: I pray for your Grace as human
effort is futile without it.
Ramana: Both are necessary. The sun is
shining, but you must turn and look at it in order
to catch a glimpse. Similarly, individual effort is
necessary as well as Grace.
Grace is within you; if it were external it would
be useless. Grace is the Self; you are never out of
its reach. If you remember the Guru, it is because
you have been prompted by the Self. Isn't Grace
already there? Is there a moment when Grace is not
operating in you? Your remembrance of the Guru is
the forerunner of Grace. Grace is both the response
and the stimulus. That is the Self and that is
Grace. There is no cause for anxiety.
Question: How does the Guru's Grace lead to
Ramana: An aspirant begins with
dissatisfaction. Not content with the world, he
seeks satisfaction of desires, prays to God, and
his mind is purified. His longing to know God is
greater than his wish to satisfy his carnal
desires. It is then that God's Grace begins to
manifest. He takes the form of a Guru and appears
to the devotee, teaches the truth and purifies the
mind by his teachings and contact. The mind gains
strength and is able to turn inward. With
meditation, it is purified further and remains
still without the slightest ripple. That expanse is
the Self. The Guru is both external and internal.
From the outside he pushes the mind inwards, and
from the inside he pulls the mind towards the Self
and helps it keep quiet. That is the Grace. There
is no difference between God, Guru and Self.
Question: Why do you not preach to set
people on the right path?
Ramana: You have already decided that I do
not preach. Do you know who I am and what preaching
is? How do you know that I'm not doing it? Does
preaching consist of mounting a platform and
haranguing people? Preaching is simply the
communication of knowledge. It may also be done in
silence. What do you think of someone listening to
a speech for an hour and going away unimpressed?
Compare that with another who sits in the holy
presence and goes away after some time with their
outlook on life totally changed. Which is better
preaching loudly without effect, or sitting
silently emanating intuitive forces that influence
When a man realises the Self, what will he see?
Ramana: There is no seeing. Seeing is only
being. The state of Self-realisation, as we call
it, is not attaining something new or reaching some
goal which is far away, but simply being that which
you always are and which you always have been. All
that is needed is that you give up your realisation
of the not-true as true. All of us are regarding as
real that which is not real. We have only to give
up this practice on our part. Then we shall realise
the Self as the Self; in other words, "Be the
Self." At one stage you will laugh at yourself for
trying to discover the Self which is so
self-evident. So, what can we say to this
Question: What is the difference between the
mind and the Self?
Ramana: There is no difference. The mind
turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards, it
becomes the ego and all the world. The mind does
not exist apart from the Self, that is, is has no
independent existence. The Self exists without the
mind, never the mind without the Self. Cotton made
into various clothes we call by various names. Gold
made into various ornaments, we call by various
names. But all the clothes are cotton and all the
ornaments are gold. The one is real, the many are
mere names and forms.
Question: In what sense is happiness or
bliss our real nature?
Ramana: Perfect bliss is Reality. Perfect
peace is of the Self. That alone exists and is
consciousness. That which is called happiness is
only the nature of Self; Self is not other than
perfect happiness. That which is called happiness
alone exists. Knowing that fact and abiding in the
state of Self, enjoy bliss eternally.
If a man thinks that his happiness is due to
external causes and his possessions, it is
reasonable to conclude that his happiness must
increase with the increase of possessions and
diminish in proportion to their diminution.
Therefore if he is devoid of possessions, his
happiness should be nil. What is the real
experience of man? Does it conform to this
In deep sleep man is devoid of possessions,
including his own body. Instead of being unhappy he
is quite happy. Everyone desires to sleep soundly.
The conclusion is that happiness is inherent in man
and is not due to external causes. One must realise
the Self in order to open the store of unalloyed
of the page
How shall I reach the Self?
Ramana: There is no reaching the Self. If
Self were to be reached, it would mean that the
Self is not here and now and that it is yet to be
obtained. 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
The fact is, you are ignorant of your blissful
state. Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over
the pure Self which is bliss. Attempts are directed
only to remove this veil of ignorance which is
merely wrong knowledge. The wrong knowledge is the
false identification of the Self with the body and
the mind. This false identification must go, and
then the Self alone remains.
Therefore realisation is for everyone; realisation
makes no difference between the aspirants. This
very doubt, whether you can realise, and the notion
"I have not realised" are themselves the obstacles.
Be free from these obstacles also.
Question: Of what nature is the realisation
of westerners who relate that they have had flashes
of cosmic consciousness?
Ramana: It came as a flash and disappeared
as such. That which has a beginning must also end.
Only when the ever-present consciousness is
realised will it be permanent. Consciousness is
indeed always with us. Everyone knows "I am." No
one can deny his own being. The man in deep sleep
is not aware; while awake he seems to be aware. But
it is the same person. There is no change in the
one who slept and the one who is now awake. In deep
sleep he was not aware of his body and so there was
no body-consciousness. In the wakeful state he is
aware of his body and so there is
body-consciousness. Therefore the difference lies
in the emergence of body-consciousness and not in
any change in the real consciousness.
There is no one who does not say "I am". The wrong
knowledge of "I am the body" is the cause of all
the mischief. This wrong knowledge must go. That is
realisation. Realisation is not acquisition of
anything new nor is it a new faculty. It is only
removal of all camouflage.
The ultimate Truth is so simple. It is nothing more
than being in the pristine state. This is all that
need be said.
Question: Does my realisation help
Ramana: Yes, certainly. It is the best help
possible. But there are no others to be helped. For
a realised being sees only the Self, just like a
goldsmith estimating the gold in various items of
jewelry sees only gold. When you identify yourself
with the body then only the forms and shapes are
there. But when you transcend your body, the others
disappear along with your body-consciousness.
Question: Having heard the Truth, why does
not one remain content?
Ramana: Because innate mental tendencies
[samskaras] have not been destroyed. Unless
the samskaras cease to exist, there will always be
doubt and confusion. All efforts are directed to
destroying doubt and confusion. To do so their
roots must be cut. Their roots are the samskaras.
These are rendered ineffective by practice as
prescribed by the Guru. The Guru leaves it to the
seeker to do this much so that he might himself
find out that there is no ignorance. Hearing the
Truth is the first stage. If the understanding is
not firm, one has to practice reflection
[manana] and uninterrupted contemplation
[nididhyasana] on it. These two processes
scorch the seeds of samskaras so that they are
Some extraordinary people get unshakable jnana
[knowledge of the Self] after hearing the
Truth only once. These are the advanced seekers.
Beginners take longer to gain it.
Question: Why do I feel unhappy when I am in
Vellore and feel peace in your presence?
Ramana: Can the feeling in this place be
bliss? When you leave this place you say you are
unhappy. Therefore this peace is not permanent, it
is mixed with unhappiness which is felt in another
place. Therefore you cannot find bliss in places
and in periods of time. It must be permanent in
order that it may be useful. It is your own being
which is permanent. Be the Self and that is bliss.
You are always That.
The Self is always realised. It is not necessary to
seek to realise what is already and always
realised. For you cannot deny your own existence.
That existence is consciousness, the Self.
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