Today I came across a bookmark in an old journal, which I had saved intentionally, like a time-capsule for myself, a wonderful synopsis of his thought, called “Man’s real nature is Happiness”…. brilliant Sage, here’s 3 quotes and Wikipedia info.
Your own Self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.
No one succeeds without effort…
Those who succeed owe their success to perseverance.The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts and the degree of concentration on a single thought are the measures to gauge spiritual progress.Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi (30 December 1879 – 14 April 1950) was an Indian sage and jivanmukta. He was born as Venkataraman Iyer, but is most commonly known by the name Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
He was born in what is now Tiruchuli, Tamil Nadu, India. In 1895, an attraction to the sacred hill Arunachala and the 63 Nayanars was aroused in him, and in 1896, at the age of 16, he had a “death-experience” where he became aware of a “current” or “force” (avesam) which he recognised as his true “I” or “self”, and which he later identified with “the personal God, or Iswara“, that is, Shiva. This resulted in a state that he later described as “the state of mind of Iswara or the jnani”, Six weeks later he left his uncle’s home in Madurai, and journeyed to the holy mountain Arunachala, in Tiruvannamalai, where he took on the role of a sannyasin (though not formally initiated), and remained for the rest of his life.
He soon attracted devotees who regarded him as an avatar and came to him for darshan (“the sight of God”), and in later years an ashram grew up around him, where visitors received upadesa (“spiritual instruction”) by sitting silently in his company asking questions. Since the 1930s his teachings have been popularized in the West, resulting in his worldwide recognition as an enlightened being.
Ramana Maharshi approved a number of paths and practices, but recommended self-enquiry as the principal means to remove ignorance and abide in Self-awareness, together with bhakti (devotion) or surrender to the Self.
Ramana Maharshi provided upadeśa (“spiritual instruction”), by providing darshan and sitting silently together with devotees and visitors, but also by answering the questions and concerns raised by those who sought him out. Many of these question-and-answer sessions have been transcribed and published by devotees, some of which have been edited by Ramana Maharshi himself. A few texts have been published which were written by Ramana Maharshi himself, or written down on his behalf and edited by him.
Ramana Maharshi also provided an example by his own devotion to Shiva, which has been extensively described by his devotees, such as walks around the holy hill Arunachala, in which devotees participated, and his hymns to Arunachala.
Ramana Maharshi described his Self as a “force” or “current”, which descended on him in his death-experience, and continued throughout his life:
… a force or current, a centre of energy playing on the body, continuing regardless of the rigidity or activity of the body, though existing in connection with it. It was that current, force or centre that constituted my Self, that kept me acting and moving, but this was the first time I came to know it […] I had no idea at that time of the identity of that current with the personal God, or Iswara as I used to call him […] I was only feeling that everything was being done by the current and not by me […] This current, or avesam, now felt as if it was my Self, not a superimposition […] That avesam continues right up to now.
Ramana used various terms to denote this Self. The most frequently used terms were sat-chit-ananda, which translates into English as “being-consciousness-bliss”, God, Brahman and Siva, and the Heart, which is not to be confused with the physical heart, or a particular point in space, but was rather to indicate that “the Self was the source from which all appearances manifested”.
According to David Godman, the essence of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings is that the “Self” or real “I” is a “non-personal, all-inclusive awareness”:
The real Self or real ‘I’ is, contrary to perceptible experience, not an experience of individuality but a non-personal, all-inclusive awareness. It is not to be confused with the individual self which (Ramana) said was essentially non-existent, being a fabrication of the mind, which obscures the true experience of the real Self. He maintained that the real Self is always present and always experienced but he emphasized that one is only consciously aware of it as it really is when the self-limiting tendencies of the mind have ceased. Permanent and continuous Self-awareness is known as Self-realization.
Ramana considered the Self to be permanent and enduring, surviving physical death. “The sleep, dream and waking states are mere phenomena appearing on the Self,” as is the “I”-thought. Our “true nature” is “simple Being, free from thoughts”.
Ramana would field many questions about jnanis (“liberated beings”) from devotees, but even the terms jnani and ajnani (non-liberated being) are incorrect, since it leads one to the idea of there being a knower and a known, a subject and an object. The truth of it according to Ramana Maharshi is that there are neither jnanis nor ajnanis, there is simply jnana, which is Self.
The jnani sees no one as an ajnani. All are only jnanis in his sight. In the ignorant state one superimposes one’s ignorance on a jnani and mistakes him for a doer. In the state of jnana, the jnani sees nothing separate from the Self. The Self is all shining and only pure jnana.
Ramana’s main means of instruction to his devotees in order to remove ignorance and abide in Self-awareness was through silently sitting together with his visitors, using words only sparingly. His method of instruction has been compared to Dakshinamurti – Shiva in the ascetic appearance of the Guru, who teaches through silence:
One evening, devotees asked Sri Ramana to explain the meaning of Shankara’s hymn in praise of Dakshinamurti. They waited for his answer, but in vain. The Maharishi sat motionless on his seat, in total silence.
Commenting upon this silence Ramana said:
Silence is the true upadesa. It is the perfect upadesa. It is suited only for the most advanced seeker. The others are unable to draw full inspiration from it. Therefore, they require words to explain the truth. But truth is beyond words; it does not warrant explanation. All that is possible is to indicate It. How is that to be done?
Vichara, “Self-enquiry“, also called ātma–vichār or jnana-vichara, is the constant attention to the inner awareness of “I” or “I am”. Ramana Maharshi frequently recommended it as the most efficient and direct way of realizing Self-awareness, in response to questions on self-liberation and the classic texts on Yoga and Vedanta.
According to Ramana Maharshi, the I-thought[ is the sense of individuality: “(Aham, aham) ‘I-I’ is the Self; (Aham idam) “I am this” or “I am that” is the ego.” By paying attention to the ‘I’-thought, inquiring where it comes from, the ‘I’-thought will disappear and the “shining forth” (sphurana) of “I-I” or Self-awareness will appear. This results in an “effortless awareness of being”, and by staying with it this “I-I” gradually destroys the vasanas “which cause the ‘I’-thought to rise”. When the vasanas disappear, the mind, vritti, also comes to rest, since it centers around the ‘I’-thought, and finally the ‘I’-thought never rises again, which is Self-realization or liberation:
If one remains still without leaving it, even the sphurana – having completely annihilated the sense of the individuality, the form of the ego, ‘I am the body’ – will itself in the end subside, just like the flame that catches the camphor. This alone is said to be liberation by great ones and scriptures. (The Mountain Path, 1982, p. 98).
Robert Forman notes that Ramana Maharshi made a distinction between samadhi and sahaja samadhi. Samadhi is a contemplative state, which is temporary, while in sahaja samadhi a “silent state” is maintained while engaged in daily activities. Ramana Maharshi himself stated repeatedly that samadhi only suppresses the vāsanās, the karmic impressions, but does not destroy them. Only by abiding in Self-awareness will the vāsanās, which create the sense of a separate self, be destroyed, and sahaja samadhi be attained.
Although he advocated self-enquiry as the fastest means to realisation, he also recommended the path of bhakti and self-surrender (to one’s deity or guru) either concurrently or as an adequate alternative, which would ultimately converge with the path of self-enquiry.
Surrender has to be complete and desireless, without any expectations of solutions or rewards, or even liberation. It is a willingness to accept whatever happens. Surrender is not the willful act of an individual self, but the growing awareness that there is no individual self to surrender. Practice is aimed at the removal of ignorance, not at the attainment of realisation.
Bhagavan: There are only two ways to conquer destiny or to be independent of it. One is to inquire whose this destiny is and discover that only the ego is bound by it and not the Self and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, realizing one’s helplessness and saying all the time: “Not I, but Thou, oh Lord,” giving up all sense of “I” and “mine” and leaving it to the Lord to do what He likes with you. Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is the love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, complete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this effacement through Self-inquiry or through bhakti-marga.
According to David Godman, Ramana Maharshi taught that the idea of reincarnation is based on wrong ideas about the individual self as being real. Ramana Maharshi would sometimes say that rebirth does exist, to step forward to those who were not able to fully grasp the non-reality of the individual self. But when this illusoriness is realised, there is no room any more for ideas about reincarnation. When the identification with the body stops, any notions about death and rebirth become inapplicable, since there is no birth or death within Self. Ramana Maharshi:
Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth
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