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Wrong Identification


. . . Actions such as 'going' and 'coming' belong only to the body. And so, when one says 'I went, I came', it amounts to saying that the body is 'I'. But, can the body be said to be the consciousness 'I', since the body was not before it was born, is made up of the five elements, is non-existent in the state of deep sleep, and becomes a corpse when dead? Can this body, which is inert like a log of wood be said to shine as 'I' 'I'?
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . It is on the gross body that the other bodies subsist. In the false belief of the form 'I am the body' are included all the three bodies consisting of the five sheaths. And destruction of the false belief of selfhood in the gross body is itself the destruction of the false belief of selfhood in the other bodies. So inquiry is the means to removal of the false belief of selfhood in all the three bodies
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


When we feel 'I am a man', I am Rama, I am sitting, I am lying', is it not clear that we have mistaken the body for 'we', and that we have thus assumed its name and postures as 'I am this and I am thus'? The feeling 'this and thus' which has now risen mixed with the pure consciousness 'I am' (sat-chit) is what is called thought. This is the first thought. The feeling 'I am a man, I am so-and-so' is only a thought. But the consciousness, 'I am' is not a thought; it is the very nature of our 'being'.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


In every moment you only have one real choice: to be aware of the Self or to identify with the body and the mind.
Annamalai Swami: Final Talks





Ego and the Self

. . . all the thoughts that appear in the heart have as their basis the egoity which is the first mental mode 'I', the cognition of the form 'I am the body'; thus, it is the rise of egoity that is the cause and source of the rise of all other thoughts; therefore, if the self-conceit of the form of egoity which is the root of the illusory tree of samsara (bondage consisting of transmigration) is destroyed, all other thoughts will perish completely like an uprooted tree.
Self-Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . The ego-self, when it feels the necessity to know its own origin or impelled to rise above itself, takes the suggestion and goes deeper and there discovers the true source and reality of itself. So the ego-self beginning to know itself ends in perceiving its Self.
The Quest by A.R. Natarajan


. . . we should not give room to an imaginary dual feeling - one 'I' seeking for another 'I' - by differentiating ego and Self as 'lower self' and 'higher self'.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . This ego is a false appearance, having no existence of its own. It is a petty infinitesimal feeling of 'I' which subsides and loses its form in sleep.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . the ego cannot know Self!
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Since the Self is the ever-attained, ever-pure, ever-free and ever-blissful Whole, It will not do any inquiry, nor does it need to! All right, then it is only the ego that needs to do the inquiry.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Hold the ego first and then ask how it is to be destroyed. Who asks the question? It is the ego. This question is a sure way to cherish the ego and not to kill it. If you seek the ego you will find that it does not exist. That is the way to destroy it.
M. Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p.574.


. . . There is an absolute Self from which a spark proceeds as from a fire. The spark is called the ego. In the case of an ignorant man it identifies itself with an object simultaneously with its rise. It cannot remain independent of such association with objects. The association is Ajnana or ignorance and its destruction is the object of our efforts. If its objectifying tendency is killed it remains pure, and also merges into the source. The wrong identification with the body is Dehatma Buddhi ('I am the body' idea). This must go before good results follow.


The 'I' in its purity is experienced in intervals between the two states or two thoughts. Ego is like that caterpillar, which leaves its hold only after catching another. Its true nature can be found when it is out of contact with objects or thoughts.
M. Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp.244-5


This ghostly ego which is devoid of form comes into existence by grasping a form; grasping a form it endures; feeding upon forms which it grasps it waxes more, leaving one form it grasps another form, but when sought for it takes to flight.


Only if that first person, the ego, in the form 'I am the body', exists will the second and third persons (you, he, they etc.) exist. If by one's scrutinizing the truth of the first person the first person is destroyed, the second and third persons will cease to exist and one's own nature, which will then shine as one, will truly be the state of Self.
S. Om (tr.), Ulladu Narpadu - Kalivenba, The Mountain Path, 1981, vol.18, pp.220, 219.


. . .There is another story, which illustrates this. In Hindu marriage functions the feasts often continue for five or six days. On one of these occasions a stranger was mistaken for the best man by the bride's party and they therefore treated him with special regard. Seeing him treated with special regard by the bride's party, the bridegroom's party considered him to be some man of importance related to the bride's party and therefore they too showed him special respect. The stranger had altogether a happy time of it. He was also all along aware of the real situation. On one occasion the groom's party wanted to refer to him on some point and so they asked the bride's party about him. Immediately he scented trouble and made himself scarce. So it is with the ego. If you look for it, it disappears. If not, it continues to give trouble.
M. Venkataramiah (comp), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp. 571





'I'-thought

. . . Where was this 'I' in sleep? Was it there or was it not? It must have been there also, but not in the way that you feel now. The present is only the 'I-thought', whereas the sleeping 'I' is the real 'I'. It subsists all through. It is consciousness. If it is known you will see that it is beyond thoughts.
#43 Talks with 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' thought, that is your self. 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.
The Quest by A.R. Natarajan


That which rises as 'I' in this body is the mind. If one inquires as to where in the body the thought 'I' rises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. That is the place of the mind's origin. Even if one thinks constantly 'I-I', one will be led to that place.
Who Am I? by Bhagavan


The pure existence-consciousness, 'I am' is not a thought; this consciousness is our nature (swarupam). 'I am a man' is not our pure consciousness; it is only our thought!
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Sannyasa is only the renunciation of the 'I' thought, and not the rejection of the external objects. He who has renounced (the 'I' thought) thus remains the same whether he is alone or in the midst of the extensive samsara (empirical world). Just as when the mind is concentrated on some object, it does not observe other things even though they may be proximate, so also, although the sage may perform any number of empirical acts, in reality he performs nothing, because he makes the mind rest in the Self without letting the 'I' thought arise. Even as in a dream one appears to fall head downwards, while in reality one is unmoving, so also the ignorant person, i.e., the person for whom the 'I' thought has not ceased, although he remains alone in constant meditation, is in fact one who performs all empirical actions.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . Arranging thoughts in the order of value, the 'I'-thought is the all-important thought. Personality-idea or thought is also the root or the stem of all other thoughts, since each idea or thought arises only as someone's thought and is not known to exist independently of the ego. The ego therefore exhibits thought-activity. The second and the third persons (he, you, that, etc.) do not appear except to the first person. Therefore they arise only after the first person appears, so all the three persons seem to rise and sink together. Trace, then, the ultimate cause of 'I' or personality.
M.Venkataramiah (comp.), #26 Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi


From where does this 'I' arise? Seek for it within; it then vanishes. This is the pursuit of wisdom. When the mind unceasingly investigates its own nature, it transpires that there is no such thing as mind. This is the direct path for all. The mind is merely thoughts. Of all thoughts the thought 'I' is the root. Therefore the mind is only the thought 'I'.
A. Osborne (ed.), The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi, Upadesa Saram, vv. 19, 17, 18, p.85


. . . See whose thoughts they are. They will vanish. They have their root in the single 'I'-thought. Hold it and they will disappear.
M. Venkataramiah (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp. 232-3


Your ultimate need is to get established in the changeless peace of the Self. For this you have to give up all thoughts.
Annamalai Swami: Final Talks





Mind

. . . as thoughts get resolved the mind becomes one-pointed and strong; for such a mind Self-inquiry will become easy.
Who Am I? by Bhagavan


. . .The source is the same for both mind and breath . . . when the mind becomes quiescent, the breath is controlled, and when the breath is controlled the mind becomes quiescent.
Who Am I? by Bhagavan


The nature of the mind is to attend always to things other than itself, that is, to know only second and third persons. If the mind in this way attends to a thing, it means that it is attending (attaching itself) to that thing. Attention itself is attachment! Since the mind is to think about the body and prana - though with the intention of deciding 'this is not I, this is not I' - such attention is only a means of becoming attached to them and it cannot be a means of negating them!
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . the more we attend to the mind, the thoughts which are the forms (the second and third person objects) of the world, the more they will multiply and be nourished.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


Whatever thoughts arise as obstacles to one's sadhana (spiritual discipline) - the mind should not be allowed to go in their direction, but should be made to rest in one's self which is the Atman; one should remain as witness to whatever happens . . .
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . Because God remains of the nature of the Self, shining as 'I' in the heart, because the scriptures declare that thought itself is bondage, the best discipline is to stay quiescent without ever forgetting Him (God, the Self), after resolving in Him the mind which is of the form of the 'I'-thought, no matter by what means. This is the conclusive teaching of the Scriptures.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . The mind should be made to rest in the heart till the destruction of the 'I'-thought, which is of the form of ignorance, residing in the heart. This itself is jnana; this alone is dhyana also. The rest are a mere digression of words, digression of the texts. Thus the scriptures proclaim. Therefore, if one gains the skill of retaining the mind in one's Self through some means or other, one need not worry about other matters.

The Scriptures teach in different modes. After analysing all those modes the great ones declare this to be the shortest and the best means.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . .The reflection on the Self which is thus practised constantly will destroy the mind, and thereafter will destroy itself like the stick that is used to kindle the cinders burning a corpse. It is this state that is called release.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


There are not two minds - one good and the other evil; the mind is only one. It is the residual impressions that of two kinds - auspicious and inauspicious. When the mind is under the influence of auspicious impressions it is called good; and when it is under the influence of inauspicious impressions it is regarded as evil.
Who Am I? By Bhagavan


. . . Just as the spider emits the thread (of the web) out of itself and again withdraws it into itself, likewise the mind projects the world out of itself and again resolves it into itself. When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears. Therefore, when the world appears (to be real), the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears (shines) the world does not appear.
Who Am I? By Bhagavan


. . . Of all the thoughts that arise in the mind, the 'I'-thought is the first. It is only after the rise of this that the other thoughts arise.
Who Am I? by Bhagavan


. . . with continued practice it (the mind) reverts at shorter intervals until finally it does not wander at all. It is then that the dormant sakti manifests.
#91, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . Is it the mind that wants to kill itself? The mind cannot kill itself. So your business is to find the real nature of the mind. Then you will know that there is no mind. When the Self is sought, the mind is nowhere. Abiding in the Self, one need not worry about the mind.
#146, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi



[Reason the mind does not achieve peace through sadhana]:-

The reason is the absence of strength or one-pointedness of the mind.
Self-Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . Since sattva-guna (the constituent of prakriti which makes for purity, intelligence, etc.) is the nature of mind, and since the mind is pure and undefiled like ether, what is called mind is, in truth, of the nature of knowledge. When it stays in that natural (i.e. pure) state, it has not even the name 'mind'. It is only the erroneous knowledge, which mistakes one for another that is called mind.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . What was (originally) the pure sattva mind, of the nature of pure knowledge, forgets its knowledge-nature on account of nescience, gets transformed into the world under the influence of tamo-guna (i.e. the constituent of prakriti which makes for dullness, inertness, etc.), being under the influence of rajo-guna (i.e. the constituent of prakriti which makes for activity, passions, etc.), imagines 'I am the body, etc.; the world is real', it acquires the consequent merit and demerit through attachment, aversion, etc., and, through the residual impressions (vasanas) thereof, attains birth and death.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . It is only by the mind that is impure and is under the influence of rajas and tamas that Reality (i.e. the Self) which is very subtle and unchanging cannot be experienced. . . but in the pure mind that has been rendered subtle and unmoving by the meditation described above, the Self-bliss (i.e. Brahman) will become manifest.
As without mind there cannot be experience, it is possible for the purified mind endowed with the extremely subtle mode (vritti) to experience the Self-bliss, by remaining in that form (i.e. in the form of Brahman). Then, that one's self is of the nature of Brahman will be clearly experienced.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . The mind is nothing other than the 'I'-thought. The mind and the ego are one and the same. The other mental faculties such as the intellect and the memory are only this. Mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), the storehouse of mental tendencies (chittam), and ego (ahamkara); all these are only the one mind itself. This is like different names being given to a man according to his different functions. The individual soul (jiva) is nothing but this soul or ego.
M. Spenser, Sri Bhagavan's Letter to Ganapati Muni, The Mountain Path, 1982, vol. 19, p.96.


. . . Atman (Self) is realised with Mruta Manas (dead mind), that is, mind devoid of thoughts and turned inward. Then the mind sees its own source and becomes that (the Self). It is not as the subject perceiving an object.


When the room is dark a lamp is necessary to illumine the eyes to cognize objects. But when the sun has risen there is no need of a lamp to see objects. To see the sun no lamp is necessary, it is enough that you turn your eyes towards the self-luminous sun.


Similarly with the mind. To see objects the reflected light of the mind is necessary. To see the Heart it is enough that the mind is turned towards it. Then mind loses itself and Heart shine forth.
M.Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi pp. 94-5


. . . The essence of mind is only awareness or consciousness. When the ego, however, dominates it, it functions as the reasoning, thinking or sensing faculty. The cosmic mind, being not limited by the ego, has nothing separate from itself and is therefore only aware. This is what the Bible means by 'I am that I am'.
M. Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp.154-5


. . . When the mind perishes in the supreme consciousness of one's own Self, know that all the various powers beginning with the power of liking (and including the power of doing and the power of knowing) will entirely disappear, being found to be an unreal imagination appearing in one's own form of consciousness. The impure mind, which functions as thinking and forgetting, alone is Samsara, which is the cycle of birth and death. The real 'I' in which the activity of thinking and forgetting has perished, alone is the pure liberation. It is devoid of Pramada (forgetfulness of Self) which is the cause of birth and death.
Muruganar, Guru Vachaka Kovai, vv.42, 613.


. . . Peace is your natural state. It is the mind that obstructs the natural state. If you do not experience peace it means that your Vichara (enquiry) has been made only in the mind. Investigate what the mind is, and it will disappear. There is no such thing as mind apart from thought. Nevertheless, because of the emergence of thought, you surmise something from which it starts and term that the mind. When you probe to see what it is, you find there is really no such thing as mind. When the mind has thus vanished, you realise eternal peace.
T.N. Venkataraman, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p.43


. . . 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, 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.
D. Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan, p. 31.


. . . The mind returns to the present normal state. Unity in the Heart is replaced by a variety of perceived phenomena. This is called the outgoing mind. The Heart-going mind is called the resting mind.
M. Venkataraman, (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p.27


In the same way, mind is just a Self-inflicted area of darkness in which the light of the Self has been deliberately shut out.
Living by the Words of Bhagavan





True Nature

. . . Apart from the statement in the Veda that wherever there is body there is misery, this is also the direct experience of all people; therefore, one should enquire into one's true nature, which is ever bodiless, and one should remain as such. This is the means to gaining that state.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . Experiences such as 'I went; I came; I was; I did' come naturally to everyone. From these experiences, does it not appear that the consciousness 'I' is the subject of those various acts? Enquiry into the true nature of that consciousness, and remaining, as oneself is the way to understand, through enquiry, one's true nature.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi





Misconceptions

The seer and the object seen are like the rope and the snake. Just as the knowledge of the rope which is the substratum will not arise unless the false knowledge of the illusory serpent goes, so the realization of the Self which is the substratum will not be gained unless the belief that the world is real is removed.
Who Am I? By Bhagavan


. . . Because Sri Ramana Maharshi often said 'Find the place where the 'I' arises' or 'Find the source of the mind', many people interpreted these statements to mean that they should concentrate in this particular centre while doing self-enquiry. Sri Ramana Maharshi rejected this interpretation many times by saying that the source of the mind or the 'I' could only be discovered through attention to the 'I'-thought and not through concentration on a particular part of the body. He did sometimes say that putting attention on this centre is a good concentration practice, but he never associated it with self-enquiry. He also occasionally said that meditation on the Heart was an effective way of reaching the Self, but again, he never said that this should be done by concentrating on the Heart-centre. Instead he said that one should meditate on the Heart 'as it is'.
S. Om (tr.), 'Ulladu Narpadu - Kalivenba', The Mountain Path, 1981, vol 18, p. 217


The 'I' is always there - in deep sleep, in dream and in wakefulness. The one in sleep is the same as that who now speaks. There is always the feeling of 'I'. Otherwise do you deny your existence? You do not. You say 'I am'. Find out who is.
M. Venkataramiah (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 162


. . . No - that is not meditation. Find the source. You must reach the source without fail. The false 'I' will disappear and the real 'I' will be realised. The former cannot exist apart from the latter.
M. Venkataramiah (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp. 47-8


. . . There is now wrong identification of the Self with the body, senses, etc. You proceed to discard these, and this is Neti. This can be done only by holding to the one which cannot be discarded.
M. Venkataramiah (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p.235


. . . To enquire 'Who am I?' really means trying to find out the source of the ego or the 'I'-thought. You are not to think of other thoughts, such as 'I am not this body'. Seeking the source of 'I' serves as a means of getting rid of all other thoughts. We should not give scope to other thoughts, such as you mention, but must keep the attention fixed on finding out the source of the 'I'-thought by asking, as each thought arises, to whom the thought arises. If the answer is 'I get the thought' continue the enquiry by asking 'Who is this 'I' and what is its source?'
D. Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan, p. 68


. . . No. 'Who am I?' is not a mantra. It means that you must find out where in you arises the 'I'-thought, which is the source of all other thoughts.
D. Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan, pp. 192-3


. . . Think 'I, I', and hold to that one thought to the exclusion of all others.
M. Venkataramiah, (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 202


. . . One must find out the real 'I'. In the question 'Who am I?', 'I' refers to the ego. Trying to trace it and find its source, we see it has no separate existence but merges in the real 'I'.
D. Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan, p. 72


. . . The mind has always this sort of difficulty. It wants a certain theory to satisfy itself. Really, no theory is necessary for the man who seriously desires to approach God or to realise his own true being.
K. Sastri, Sat-Darshana Bhashya, pp. viii-ix.


. . . You yourself concede it is the direct method. It is the direct and easy method. When going after other things that are alien to us is so easy, how can it be difficult for one to go to one's own Self? You talk of where to begin? There is no beginning and no end. You are yourself in the beginning and the end. If you are here and the Self somewhere else, and you have to reach that Self, you may be told how to start, how to travel and then how to reach.

Suppose you who are now in Ramanasramam ask, 'I want to go to Ramanasramam. How shall I start and how to reach it?', what is one to say? A man's search for the Self is like that. He is always the Self and nothing else.

You say 'Who am I?' becomes a japa. It is not meant that you should go on asking 'Who am I?' In that case, thought will not so easily die. In the direct method, as you call it, in asking yourself 'Who am I?', you are told to concentrate within yourself where the 'I'-thought, the root of all other thoughts, arise. As the Self is not outside but inside you, you are asked to dive within, instead of going without. What can be more easy than going to yourself?

But the fact remains that to some this method will seem difficult and will not appeal. That is why so many different methods have been taught. Each of them will appeal to some as the best and easiest. That is according to their Pakva or fitness. But to some, nothing except the Vichara Marga (the path of enquiry) will appeal. They will ask, 'You want me to know or to see this or that. But who is the knower, the seer?' Whatever other method may be chosen, there will be always a doer. That cannot be escaped. One must find out who the doer is. Till then, the Sadhana (spiritual practice) cannot be ended. So eventually all must come to find out 'Who am I?'

You complain that there is nothing preliminary or positive to start with. You have the 'I' to start with. You know you exist always, whereas the body does not exist always, for example in sleep. Sleep reveals that you exist even without a body. We identify the 'I' with the body, we regard the Self as having a body, and as having limits, and hence all our trouble.

All that we have to do is to give up identifying the Self with the body, with forms and limits, and then we shall know ourselves as the Self that we always are.
D. Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan, p. 11


. . . The Heart is there ever open to you if you care to enter it, ever supporting all your movements even when you are unaware. It is perhaps more proper to say that the Self is the Heart itself than to say that it is in the Heart. Really, the Self is the centre itself. It is everywhere, aware of itself as 'Heart', the Self-awareness.
K. Sastri, Sat-Darshana Bhashya, pp. xvii-xix


. . . Once you accept that from the true and absolute standpoint, the Heart as pure consciousness is beyond space and time, it will be easy for you to understand the rest in its correct perspective.
T.N. Venkataraman (pub.), Maharshi's Gospel, pp. 73-4


. . . You are and it is a fact. Dhyana (meditation) is by you, of you, and in you. It must go on where you are. It cannot be outside you. So you are the centre of Dhyana and that is the Heart.
Doubts arise only when you identify it with something tangible and physical. Heart is no conception, no object for meditation. The Self remains all alone. You see the body in the Heart; the world is also in it. There is nothing separate from it. So, all kinds of efforts are located there only.
M. Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 378


. . . I ask you to see where the 'I' arises in your body, but it is really not quite correct to say that the 'I' rises from and merges in the Heart in the right side of the chest. The Heart is another name for the reality and it is neither inside nor outside the body. There can be no in or out for it, since it alone is.
D. Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan p. 202


. . . The Heart is not physical. Meditation should not be on the right or the left. Meditation should be on the Self. Everyone knows 'I am'. Who is the 'I'? It will be neither within nor without, neither on the right nor on the left. 'I am'- that is all.
M. Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p.17


Leave alone the idea of right and left. They pertain to the body. The Heart is the Self. Realise it and then you will see for yourself.
M. Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 488


There is no need to know where and what the Heart is. It will do its work if you engage in the quest for the Self.
'Who', Maha Yoga, p. 197


. . . Why should you conceive of anything? You have only to see from where the 'I' springs.
D. Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan, p.185


. . . That from which all thoughts of embodied beings issue forth is called the Heart. All descriptions of it are only mental concepts.
G. Muni, Sri Ramana Gita, ch.5, v.2


. . . There are said to be six organs of different colours in the chest, of which the Heart is said to be two finger-breaths to the right of the middle line.
(This description is given in) Ashtangahridayam - a Hindu medical work.



. . . No. Only the quest 'Who am I?' is necessary. What remains all through deep sleep and waking is the same. But in waking there is unhappiness and the effort to remove it. Asked who wakes up from sleep you say 'I'. Now you are told to hold fast to this 'I'. If it is done the eternal being will reveal itself. Investigation of 'I' is the point and not meditation on the Heart-centre. There is nothing like within or without. Both mean either the same thing or nothing.
Of course there is also the practice of meditation on the Heart-centre. It is only a practice and not investigation. Only the one who meditates on the Heart can remain aware when the mind ceases to be active and remains still, whereas those who meditate on other centres cannot be so aware but infer that the mind was still only after it becomes again active.
M. Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 116


. . . In whatever place in the body one thinks Self to be residing, due to the power of that thinking it will appear to the one who thinks thus as if Self is residing in that place. However, the beloved Heart alone is the refuge for the rising and subsiding of that 'I'. Know that though it is said that the Heart exists both inside and outside, in absolute truth it does not exist both inside and outside, because the body, which appears as the base of the differences 'inside' and 'outside', is an imagination of the thinking mind. Heart, the source, is the beginning, the middle and the end of all. Heart, the supreme space, is never a form. It is the light of truth.
Muruganar, Guru Vachaka Kovai, vv. 251, 261, 257


The mixed consciousness 'I am this or that' is a thought that rises from our 'being'. It is only after the rising of this thought, the mixed consciousness (the first person) that all other thoughts, which are the knowledge of second and third persons, rise into existence.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


There is no greater mystery than this - that being the reality we seek to gain reality. We think that there is something hiding our reality and that it must be destroyed before the reality is gained. It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.
M. Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p.130


. . . That is it. Who says it is not felt? Does the real 'I' say it or the false 'I'? Examine it. You will find it is the wrong 'I'. The wrong 'I' is the obstruction. It has to be removed in order that the true 'I' may not be hidden. The feeling that I have not realised is the obstruction to realisation. In fact it is already realised and there is nothing more to be realised. Otherwise, the realisation will be new.

If it has not existed so far, it must take place hereafter. What is born will also die. If realisation is not eternal it is not worth having. Therefore what we seek is not that which must happen afresh. It is only that which is eternal but not now known due to obstructions. It is that which we seek. All that we need to do is remove the obstruction. That which is eternal is not known to be so because of ignorance. Ignorance is the obstruction. Get over the ignorance and all will be well.

The ignorance is identical with the 'I'-thought. Find its source and it will vanish. The 'I'-thought is like a spirit which, although not palpable, rises up simultaneously with the body, flourishes and disappears with it. The body-consciousness is the wrong 'I'. Give up this body-consciousness. It is done by seeking the source of the 'I'. The body does not say 'I am'. It is you who say, 'I am the body'. Find out who this 'I' is. Seeking its source it will vanish.
M. Venkataraman, (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p.163





Rejection of Thoughts

. . . You fancy that there is no end if one goes on rejecting every thought when it arises. No. There is an end. If you are vigilant, and make a sustained effort to reject every thought when it rises, you will soon find that you are going deeper and deeper into your own inner self, where there is no need for your effort to reject the thoughts.
The Quest - by A.R. Natarajan


. . . No one will enquire into the source of thoughts unless thoughts arise. So long as you think 'I am walking,' 'I am writing,' enquire who does it.
The Quest - by A.R. Natarajan


When the rejection of mental activities becomes continuous and automatic, you will begin to have the experience of the Self.
Annamalai Swami: Final Talks





Meditation

. . . Meditation is possible only if the ego is retained; there is the ego and the object meditated upon. This method is indirect. However, if we seek the ego-source, the ego disappears and what remains is the Self. This method is the direct one.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi


. . . Meditation can be upon an object, external or otherwise. Thus subject and object differ. In vichara, both subject and object are the same - the Self.
Conscious Immortality


Q: What is the difference between meditation and Self-enquiry?

M: Meditation is possible only if the ego is retained; there is the ego and the object meditated upon. This method is indirect. However, if we seek the ego-source, the ego disappears and what remains is the Self. This method is the direct one.

Q: (On another occasion) What is the difference between meditation and vichara?

M: Meditation can be upon an object, external or otherwise. Thus subject and object differ. In vichara, both subject and object are the same - the Self.
Ramana Maharshi - Conscious Immortality





The Self

What exists is the Self alone. The world, the individual soul and God are appearances in it, like silver in mother-of-pearl; these three appear at the same time and disappear at the same time.
Who Am I? - Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi


The Self is that where there is absolutely no 'I'-thought. That is called 'Silence'. The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is 'I'; the Self itself is God; all is Siva, the Self.
Who Am I? - Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi


"...Are there two selves, one to be an object known by the other?
For, the true experience of all is 'I am one"
'Ulladhu Narpadu' verse 33 Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . whether we know it or not, Self, which is now wrongly considered by us to be unknown, is verily our reality, the very nature of our (the Supreme Self's) attention itself is Grace (anugraha). This means that whatever thing we attend to, witness, observe or look at, that thing is nourished and will flourish, being blessed by Grace.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Self alone is the real first person consciousness. The ego-feeling, which is merely a shadow of it, is a false first person consciousness. When one inquires into this ego, what it is or who it is, it disappears because it is really non-existent, and the inquirer, having nothing more to do, is established in Self as Self. A place of rising can only be for the ego. But for the Self, since It has no rising or setting, there can be no particular place or time.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . The Self is self-luminous without darkness and light, and is the reality, which is self-manifest. Therefore, one should not think of it as this or as that. The very thought of thinking will end in bondage. The purport of meditation on the Self is to make the mind take the form of the Self. In the middle of the heart-cave the pure Brahman is directly manifest as the Self in the form 'I-I'. Can there be greater ignorance than to think of it in manifold ways, without knowing it as aforementioned?
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


Questioner: Up to what point should I carry out the inquiry?

Bhagavan Ramana: You must continue this demolition of wrong ideas by inquiry until your last wrong notion is demolished. That is, until the Self is realized. The most valuable thing in the ocean lies on its floor. The pearl is tiny and yet so valuable and difficult to procure. The Self is like the pearl; to find it you must dive deep, into the silence, deeper and ever deeper, until reached.





Divine Grace

. . . the very fact that you are possessed of the quest of the Self is a manifestation of the Divine Grace, Arul. It is effulgent in the Heart, the inner being, the Real Self. It draws you from within. You have to attempt to get in from without. Your attempt is Vichara.
The Quest by A.R. Natarajan


. . . . When you go deeper, it is impossible for you to make any effort.
The Quest by A.R. Natarajan


. . . a direct method, indeed superior to the other meditation; for, the moment you get into the quest for the Self and go deeper and deeper, the real Self is waiting there to take you in and 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.
The Quest by A.R. Natarajan





Ease of Self Enquiry

In the afternoon Khanna's wife appealed to Bhagavan in writing: "I am not learned in the scriptures and I find the method of Self-enquiry too hard for me. I am a woman with seven children and a lot of household cares, and it leaves me little time for meditation. I request Bhagavan to give me some simpler and easier method."

Bhagavan: "No learning or knowledge of scriptures is necessary to know the Self, as no man requires a mirror to see himself. All knowledge is required only to be given up eventually as not-Self. Nor is household work or cares with children necessarily an obstacle. If you can do nothing more, at least continue saying 'I, I' to yourself mentally all the time, as advised in 'Who am I?'. Whatever work you may be doing and whether you are sitting, standing or walking. 'I' is the name of God. It is the first and greatest of all mantras. Even OM is second to it."
Day by Day with Bhagavan: 28-6-46


"For practicing Atma vichara every day is auspicious and every moment is good - no discipline is prescribed at all. Any time, anywhere it can be done, even without others noticing that you are doing it. All other sadhanas require external objects and a congenial environment, but for Atma vichara nothing external to oneself is required.

Turning the mind within is all that is necessary. While one is engaged in Atma vichara one can with ease attend to other activities also. Besides, Atma vichara being a purely internal movement, one does not also distract others who are around; whereas, in sadhanas like puja, others do notice you. One-pointed perseverance alone is essential in Self-enquiry and that is done purely inwardly, all the time. Your attention on the Self within alone is essential."
Words of Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . If you can do nothing more, at least continue saying 'I, I' to yourself mentally all the time, as advised in Who am I? Whatever work you may be doing and whether you are sitting, standing or walking. 'I' is the name of God. It is the first and greatest of all mantras. Even OM is second to it.
Day by Day with Bhagavan: 28-6-46





Self-Attention

. . . It is clear that 'inquiry' is not a process of one thing inquiring about another thing. That is why the inquiry 'Who am I?' taught by Sri Bhagavan should be taken to mean Self-attention! (that is, attention merely to the first person, the feeling 'I').
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . if our attention is directed only towards ourself, our knowledge of existence alone is nourished, and since the mind is not attended to, it is deprived of its strength, the support of our Grace.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . while practicing Self-inquiry, we should fix our attention only on the 'I'-consciousness, which exists and shines as oneself. The mind, which attends to Self, is no more the mind; it is the consciousness aspect of Self! Likewise, so long as it attends to the second and third persons (the world), it is not the consciousness aspect of Self; it is the mind, the reflected form of consciousness.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Only so long as it was attending to second and third persons did it have the name 'mind'. But as soon as Self-attention is begun, its name and form (the name as mind and its form as thoughts) are lost. So we can no longer say that Self-attention or Self-inquiry is performed by the mind.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . It is exactly this Self-attention of the mind which is thus fully mature through such devotion and desirelessness that is to be called the inquiry 'Who am I?' taught by Bhagavan Sri Ramana!
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . attention to the feeling 'I', the common daily experience of everyone, is what is meant by Self-attention . . . For those who, attend thus, 'What is this feeling which shines as I am?' it is suitable to be fixed in Self-attention in the form 'Who am I?'.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . What is important to be sure of during practice (sadhana) is that our attention is turned only towards 'I', the first person singular feeling.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Sri Bhagavan has shown us the practical way of drinking the medicine without thinking of a monkey, by giving us the clue, 'Drink the medicine without thinking of an elephant', that is, he has replaced the ancient negative method by giving us the positive method 'Who am I?'.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . He who seeks 'Who am I?' drowns effortlessly in his real natural 'being' (Self), which ever shines as 'I am that I am.' . . . What is absolutely essential is that Self-attention should be pursued to the very end.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Self-attention is not a doing, it is not an action. That is, Self alone realizes Self; the ego does not! The mind, which has obtained a burning desire for Self-attention, which is self-inquiry, is said to be the fully mature one.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om


Continuous attentiveness will only come with long practice. If you are truly watchful, each thought will dissolve at the moment that it appears. But to reach this level of disassociation you must have no attachments at all. If you have the slightest interest in any particular thought, it will evade your attentiveness, connect with other thoughts, and take over your mind for a few seconds. This will happen more easily if you are accustomed to reacting emotionally to a particular thought.
Living by the Words of Bhagavan


. . . Attention to one's own Self, which is ever shining as 'I', the one undivided and pure reality, is the only raft with which the individual, who is deluded by thinking 'I am the body', can cross the ocean of unending births.
Muruganar, Guru Vachaka Kovai, v. 294



[Chit-Sakti]:-

Though one now thinks that one is an individual soul, since one's power of attention is in fact nothing but a reflection of the 'knowing-power' (chit-sakti) of Self, that on which it falls or is fixed is nourished by Grace and flourishes more and more! Hence, when the power of attention of the mind is directed more and more towards second and third person objects, both the strength (kriya-bala) to attend to those objects and the ignorance the five sense-knowledge in the form of thoughts about them - will grow more and more, and will never subside!
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om





What is Self Enquiry?

. . . The correct meaning of the term 'Self-inquiry' (atma-vichara) is rightly explained to be 'turning Selfwards' (or attending to Self.)
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . people generally take it to mean either inquiring into the Self or inquiring about the Self . . . many of us naturally consider that there is some sort of effulgence or a formless power within our body and that we are going to find out what it is, where it is, and how it is.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Self (atman) does not exist as an object to be known by us who seek to know it! Since Self shines as the very nature of him who tries to know It, Self-inquiry does not mean inquiring into a second or third person object. It is in order to make us understand this from the very beginning that Bhagavan Ramana named Self-inquiry as 'Who am I?', thus drawing our attention directly to the first person.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . In this question, 'Who am I?', 'I am' denotes the Self and 'who' stands for the inquiry.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Inquiry consists in retaining the mind in the Self.
Who Am I? - Bhagavan


. . . The enquiry "Who am I?" is the principal means to the removal of all misery and the attainment of the supreme bliss. When in this manner the mind becomes quiescent in its own state, Self-experience arises of its own accord, without any hindrance. Thereafter sensory pleasures and pains will not affect the mind. All (phenomena) will appear then, without attachment, like a dream. Never forgetting one's plenary Self-experience is real bhakti (devotion), yoga (mind-control), jnana (knowledge) and all other austerities. Thus say the sages.
Self Enquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi


Wherefrom does this 'I'-thought arise? If one enquires thus, it vanishes. This is self-enquiry.
Upadesa Saram - Verse 19 - Bhagavan


When the 'I'-thought perishes, then another 'I'-'I' springs forth as the Heart, spontaneously. It is Existence in all its fullness.
Upadesa Saram - Verse 20 - Bhagavan


. . . All doubts will cease only when the doubter and his source have been found. There is no use removing doubts. If we clear one doubt, another doubt will arise and there will be no end of doubts. But if the doubter is found to be really non-existent, by seeking for the source of the doubter, then all doubts will cease.
Day by Day with Bhagavan p.22


. . . In the Quest of its own reality the ego perishes of itself; hence this is the direct method; in all else the ego is retained and hence so many doubts arise and the eternal question remains to be faced; until that question is faced there will be no end to the ego. Then why not face that question at once, without going through those other methods?
Maha Yoga by Laksmana Sarma p.16


. . . Enquiring further the questions arise, "'Who is this 'I'? Wherefrom does it come?'" 'I' was not aware in sleep. Simultaneously with its rise sleep changes to dream or wakefulness. But I am not concerned with dream just now. Who am I now, in the wakeful state? If I originated from sleep, then the 'I' was covered up with ignorance. Such an ignorant 'I' cannot be what the scriptures say or the wise ones affirm. 'I' am beyond even 'Sleep'; 'I' must be now and here and what I was all along in sleep and dreams also, without the qualities of such states. 'I' must therefore be the unqualified substratum underlying these three states.
#25 Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi





Method of Self Enquiry

. . . When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but should inquire: 'To whom do they arise?' It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should inquire with diligence, 'To whom has this thought arisen?'. The answer that would emerge would be 'to me'. Thereupon if one inquires 'Who am I?', the mind will go back to its source'; and the thought that arose will become quiescent.
Who Am I? - Bhagavan


. . . when the mind stays in the Heart, the 'I' which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine. Whatever one does, one should do without the egoity 'I'. If one acts in that way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva (God).
Who Am I? - Bhagavan


As long as there are impressions of objects in the mind, so long the inquiry 'Who am I?' is required. As thoughts arise they should be destroyed then and there in the very place of their origin, through inquiry.
Who Am I? - Bhagavan


. . . Therefore, making the corpse-body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word "I", one should enquire keenly thus: "Now, what is it that rises as 'I'". Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form 'I' 'I'. That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared.
Self Enquiry by Dr T. M. P. Mahadevan


. . . A Brahmin may play various parts in a drama; yet the thought that he is a Brahmin does not leave his mind. Similarly, when one is engaged in various empirical acts there should be the firm conviction "I am the Self", without allowing the false idea "I am the body, etc." to rise. If the mind should stray away from its state, then immediately one should enquire, "Oh! Oh! We are not the body etc.! Who are we?" and thus one should reinstate the mind in that (pure) state.
Self Enquiry by Dr T. M. P. Mahadevan


What is important to be sure of during practice (sadhana) is that our attention is turned only towards 'I', the first person singular feeling.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . Bhagavan Sri Ramana has advised that Self-inquiry can be done either in the form 'Who am I?' or in the form 'Whence am I?'.
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . simply begin either vocally or mentally the parrot-like repetition 'Who am I?, Who am I, as if it were chanting (mantra-japa). This is utterly wrong! . . . Sri Bhagavan Himself has repeatedly said, "'Who am I?' is not meant for repetition"!
Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 by Sri Sadhu Om:


. . . From the functional point of view the ego has one and only one characteristic. The ego functions as the knot between the Self which is pure consciousness and the physical body which is inert and insentient. The ego is therefore called the Chit-jada-granthi (the knot between consciousness and the inert body). In your investigation into the source of Aham-vritti, you take the essential Chit (consciousness) aspect of the ego. For this reason the enquiry must lead to the realisation of pure consciousness of the Self.
T.N. Venkataramiah, (pub), Maharshi's Gospel, pp. 83-5


. . . The thought 'I am this body of flesh and blood' is the one thread on which are strung the various other thoughts. Therefore, if we turn inwards enquiring 'Where is this 'I?' all thoughts (including the 'I'-thought) will come to an end and Self-knowledge will then spontaneously shine forth.
S. Om (tr.), The Path of Sri Ramana, Atmavidya Kirtanam, v.2, p.45.


Tayumanuvar, a Tamil saint whom Bhagavan often quoted, wrote in one of his poems: 'My Guru merely told me that I am consciousness. Having heard this, I held onto consciousness. What he told me was just one sentence, but I cannot describe the bliss I attained from holding onto that one simple sentence. Through that one sentence I attained a peace and a happiness that can never be explained in words.'
Annamalai Swami: Final Talks


Bhagavan's famous instruction summa iru [be still] is often misunderstood. It does not mean that you should be physically still; it means that you should always abide in the Self... In sattva guna [a state of mental quietness and clarity] there is stillness and harmony. If mental activity is necessary while one is in sattva guna it takes place. But for the rest of the time there is stillness... If sattva guna predominates one experiences peace, bliss, clarity and an absence of wandering thoughts. That is the stillness that Bhagavan was prescribing.
Living by the Words of Bhagavan





Practice of Self Enquiry

. . .You must continue this demolition of wrong ideas by inquiry until your last wrong notion is demolished. That is, until the Self is realized. The most valuable thing in the ocean lies on its floor. The pearl is tiny and yet so valuable and difficult to procure. The Self is like the pearl; to find it you must dive deep, into the silence, deeper and ever deeper, until reached.
Sri Ramana Maharshi


. . . You should not give answers to the mind in the course of your enquiry. The reply should be allowed to come from within. The reply of the individual 'I' is not real. Continue to enquire until you get the answer by the method of jnana marga (the path of knowledge). This enquiry is called meditation. The inactive, peaceful, full-of-knowledge experience that arises from this state is jnana.
The Quest - by A.R. Natarajan


. . . One should not do japa: 'Who am I? Who am I?' Having put the question once before the mind, one should search for the root of the 'I' and stop other thoughts . . . the repetition of the phrases such as 'I am Brahman, I am Brahman' is not necessary. In all sadhanas the mind has to be kept quiet, but while doing japa the mind will not be quiet. Instead of practising like this, the seer of the mind, meaning the witness, should be experienced, as the form of Brahman and Brahman should be experienced as the witness.
The Quest - by A.R. Natarajan


. . .When Self-enquiry has become steady through practice, and the spirit of renunciation firm through conviction, your mind will be free from the tendency of thinking about the non-self.
The Quest - by A.R. Natarajan


. . . Here it is impossible for you to be without effort. When you go deeper, it is impossible for you to make any effort.
K. Sastri, Sat-Darshana Bhashya, pp. iii-iv.


. . . This is the sum and substance of all that an aspirant needs to know. What is imperatively required of him is an earnest and one-pointed enquiry into the source of the Aham-Vritti.
T.N. Venkataramam (pub), Maharshi's Gospel, p.87.


. . . 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 existence-consciousness-bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda).
S. Om, The Path of Sri Ramana, pp 157, 159, 160, 163


. . . 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.
P. Brunton, A Search in Secret India, pp 156-7


. . . Just on waking from sleep and before becoming aware of the world there is that pure 'I, I'. Hold on to it without sleeping or without allowing thoughts to possess you. If that is held firm it does not matter even if the world is seen. The seer remains unaffected by the phenomena.
M. Venkataramiah (comp), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp. 161-2


. . . Persist in the enquiry throughout your waking hours. That would be quite enough. If you keep on making the enquiry till you fall asleep, the enquiry will go on during sleep also. Take up the enquiry again as soon as you wake up.
D. Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan, p. 73


. . . Sadhakas (seekers) rarely understand the difference between this temporary stilling of the mind (Manolaya) and permanent destruction of thoughts (manonasa). In Manolaya there is temporary subsidence of thought-waves, and though this temporary period may even last for years, thoughts, which are thus temporarily stilled, rise up as soon as the Manolaya ceases.

One must therefore watch one's spiritual progress carefully. One must not allow oneself to be overtaken by such spells of stillness of thought. The moment one experiences this; one must revive consciousness and enquire within as to who it is who experiences this stillness. While not allowing any thoughts to intrude, one must not, at the same time, be overtaken by this deep sleep (Yoga Nidra) or self-hypnotism.

Though this is a sign of progress towards the goal, yet it is also the point where the divergence between the road to liberation and Yoga Nidra take place. The easy way, the direct way, the shortcut to salvation is the enquiry method. By such enquiry, you will drive the thought-force deeper till it reaches its source and merges therein. It is then that you will have the response from within and find that you rest there, destroying all thoughts once and for all.
R. Swarnagiri, Crumbs from his Table, pp. 25-7


. . . 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 (the false 'I'). If that ends there is an end to misery also. The false 'I' will end only when its source is sought.
M. Venkataramiah (comp.) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp 184-5


. . . 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.
M. Venkataramiah (comp), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi pp. 463-4


. . . When one daily practises more and more in this manner, the mind will become extremely pure due to the removal of its defects and the practice will become so easy that the purified mind will plunge into the Heart as soon as the enquiry is commenced.
Muruganar, Guru Vachaka Kovai, v. 399


. . . In the floodlight of the Self the darkness of illusion dissipates forever.
S. Cohen, Guru Ramana, p. 91


. . . Experience gained without rooting out all the Vasanas (latent impressions or mental tendencies) cannot remain steady. Effort must be made to eradicate the Vasanas; knowledge can only remain unshaken after all the Vasanas are rooted out.
M. Venkataramiah, (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi p.145


. . . 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.
M. Venkataramiah, (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi pp. 582-3


. . . In the enquiry 'Who am I?', 'I' is the ego. The question really means, what is the source or origin of this ego? You need not have any Bhavana (attitude) in the mind. All that is required is that you must give up the Bhavana (attitude) that you are the body, of such and such a description, with such and such a name, etc. There is no need to have a Bhavana about your real nature. It exists as it always does. It is real and no Bhavana.
D. Mudaliar, Day by Day with Bhagavan, p.76


. . . Self-enquiry is certainly not an empty formula and it is more than the repetition of any mantra. If the enquiry 'Who am I?' were a mere mental questioning, it would not be of much value. The very purpose of self-enquiry is to focus the entire mind at its source. It is not, therefore, a case of one 'I' searching for another 'I'. Much less is self-enquiry an empty formula, for it involves an intense activity of the entire mind to keep it steadily poised in pure Self-awareness.
T. N. Venkataramam, Maharshi's Gospel, p.50


. . . 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.
M. Venkataramiah, (comp.) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 550


. . . 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.
M. Venkataramiah, (comp.) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 470


. . . 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 always there. Even now you are that. You are not apart from it. 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.
M. Venkataramiah, (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp. 151-2


. . . 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'.
M. Venkataramiah, (comp.), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, pp. 332-3


. . . All that is required to realise the Self is to be still. What can be easier than that? Hence Atma Vidya (Self-knowledge) is the easiest to attain.
T. N. Venkataraman, Maharshi's Gospel, p. 35


. . . 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.
Muruganar, Guru Vachaka Kovai, vv. 433, 1232.


. . . The questioner must admit the existence of his self. 'I AM' is the Realisation. To pursue the clue till Realisation is Vichara. Vichara and Realisation are the same. Meditation requires an object to meditate upon, where, as there is only the subject without the object in Vichara. Meditation differs from Vichara in this way.
The Quest - by A.R. Natarajan


. . . whatever the previous development, Vichara (earnest quest) quickens the development.
The Quest - by A.R. Natarajan


. . . Vichara is the process and the goal also. 'I am' is the goal and the final reality. To hold to it with effort is Vichara. When spontaneous and natural, it is realisation.
M. Venkataramiah, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 357


If one leaves aside Vichara, the most efficacious Sadhana (spiritual practice), there are no other adequate means whatever to make the mind subside. If made to subside by other means, it will remain as if subsided but will rise again.
Muruganar, Guru Vachaka Kovai, v.756


The attempts to destroy the ego or the mind through Sadhanas (spiritual practices) other than Atma-Vichara (self-enquiry) is just like the thief pretending to be a policeman to catch the thief, that is, himself. Atma-Vichara alone can reveal the truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists, and enable one to realise the pure, undifferentiated being of the Self or the absolute.

Having realised the Self, nothing remains to be known, because it is perfect bliss, it is the all.
T.N. Venkataraman, Maharshi's Gospel p.51


Meditation must be continuous. The current of meditation must be present in all your activities. With practice, meditation and work can go on simultaneously.
Living by the Words of Bhagavan


When I say, 'Meditate on the Self' I am asking you to be the Self, not think about it. Be aware of what remains when thoughts stop. Be aware of the consciousness that is the origin of all your thoughts. Be that consciousness.
Living by the Words of Bhagavan

Go deeply into this feeling of 'I'. Be aware of it so strongly and so intensely that no other thoughts have the energy to arise and distract you. If you hold this feeling of 'I' long enough and strongly enough, the false 'I' will vanish leaving only the unbroken awareness of the real, immanent 'I', consciousness itself.
Living by the Words of Bhagavan, page 282.


If you can hold on to this knowledge 'I am Self' at all times, no further practice is necessary.
Annamalai Swami: Final Talks





Results of Self Enquiry

. . . See for whom these doubts exist. Who is the doubter? Who is the thinker? That is the ego. Hold it. The other thoughts will die away. The ego is left pure; see where from the ego arises. That is pure consciousness.
#251, Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi


If one remains quiescent without abandoning that (experience), the egoity, the individual sense, of the form 'I am the body' will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, viz. the 'I'-form also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor* (i.e. without leaving any sediment). . .
Self Enquiry by Dr T. M. P. Mahadevan


. . . the I-thought as a thought disappears; something else from the depths takes hold of you and that is not the 'I' which commenced the quest.
The Quest - by A.R. Natarajan


When one persistently inquires into the nature of the mind, the mind will end leaving the Self (as the residue). What is referred to as the Self is the Atman.
Who Am I? - Bhagavan


. . . By the inquiry 'Who am I?'. The thought 'Who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.
Who Am I? - Bhagavan





Power of Self Enquiry

About ten days after my arrival I asked Bhagavan how I could attain Self-realisation? He replied, "If you give up identifying with the body and meditate on the Self, you can attain Self-realisation."


A few days later asked, "Scientists have invented and produced the aircraft which can travel at great speed in the sky. Why do you not give us a spiritual aircraft in which we can quickly and easily cross over the sea of samsara?" Bhagavan replied, "The path of self-enquiry is the aircraft you need. It is direct, fast, and easy to use. You are already travelling very quickly towards realisation. It is only because of your mind that it seems that there is no movement." In the years that followed, I had many spiritual talks with Bhagavan but his basic message never changed. It was always: "Do self-enquiry, stop identifying with the body and try to be aware of the Self, which is your real nature."'
Sri Annamalai Swami


"All agitations will cease the moment one enters , "Who Am I?". This was the sadhana that Ramana Maharshi achieved and taught to his disciples. This is also the easiest of all disciplines."
Sri Sathya Sai Baba