Question: Is it enough if I spend some time in the mornings and some time in the evenings for this atma-vichara? Or should I do it always, even when I am writing or walking?
Bhagavan: What is your real nature? Is it writing, walking or being? The one unalterable reality is being. Until you realise that state of pure being you should pursue the enquiry. If once you are established in it there will be no further worry. No one will enquire into the source of thoughts unless thoughts arise. So long as you think ‘I am walking’ or ‘I am writing’, enquire who does it.
Question: If I go on rejecting thoughts can I call it vichara?
Bhagavan: It may be a stepping stone. But really vichara begins when you cling to your Self and are already off the mental movement, the thought waves.
Question: Then vichara is not intellectual?
Bhagavan: No, it is antara vichara, inner quest. Holding the mind and investigating it is advised for a beginner. But what is mind after all? It is a projection of the Self. See for whom it appears and from where it rises. The ‘I’-thought will be found to be the root-cause. Go deeper. The ‘I’-thought disappears and there is an infinitely expanded ‘I’-consciousness.
Question: I asked Mother in Sri Aurobindo Ashram the following question: ‘I keep my mind blank without thoughts arising so that God might show himself in his true being. But I do not perceive anything.’ The reply was to this effect: ‘The attitude is right. The power will come down from above. It is a direct experience.’ Should I do anything further?
Bhagavan: Be what you are. There is nothing to come down or become manifest. All that is necessary is to lose the ego. That which is is always there. Even now you are that. You are not apart from it. The blank is seen by you. You are there to see the blank. What do you wait for? The thought, ‘I have not seen’, the expectation to see and the desire of getting something, are all the workings of the ego. You have fallen into snares of the ego. The ego says all these and not you. Be yourself and nothing more!
Once born you reach something. If you reach it you return also. Therefore leave off all this verbiage. Be as you are. See who you are and remain as the Self, free from birth, going, coming and returning.
Question: How is one to know the Self?
Bhagavan: Knowing the Self means being the Self. Can you say that you do not know the Self? Though you cannot see your own eyes and though not provided with a mirror to look in, do you deny the existence of your eyes? Similarly, you are aware of the Self even though the Self is not objectified. Or, do you deny your Self because it is not objectified? When you say ‘I cannot know the Self’, it means absence in terms of relative knowledge, because you have been so accustomed to relative knowledge that you identify yourself with it. Such wrong identity has forged the difficulty of not knowing the obvious Self because it cannot be objectified. And then you ask ‘How is one to know the Self?’
Question: You talk of being. Being what?
Bhagavan: Your duty is to be and not to be this or that. ‘I am that I am’ sums up the whole truth. The method is summed up in the words ‘Be still’. What does stillness mean? It means destroy yourself. Because any form or shape is the cause of trouble. Give up the notion that ‘I am so and so’. All that is required to realise the Self is to be still. What can be easier than that? Hence atmavidya [Self-knowledge] is the easiest to attain.
The truth of oneself alone is worthy to be scrutinised and known. Taking it as the target of one’s attention, one should keenly know it in the Heart. This knowledge of oneself will be revealed only to the consciousness which is silent, clear and free from the activity of the agitated and suffering mind. Know that the consciousness which always shines in the Heart as the formless Self, ‘I’, and which is known by one’s being still without thinking about anything as existent or non-existent, alone is the perfect reality.
Left: Ramana Maharshi returning to Ramanasramama after walking on Arunachala.
Right: Walking with a dog in Palakottu.
David Godman Books
Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings