Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
on the topic of
THINKING ABOUT, READING AND DISCUSSING
|Part One - Verses from “The Garland OF Guru's Sayings" By Sri Muruganar|
Why do people call me learned?
What is the mark of real learning?
Learning that all collected knowledge of things is empty ignorance,
and that true knowledge is the search for the Knower.
He, who by questing inward for the Knower,
has destroyed the ego and transcended so-called knowledge, abides as the Self.
He alone is a true Knower, not one who has not seen the Self
and therefore is an ego still.
Unless by one means or another mind dies out
and certitude from true Self-recognition comes,
the knowledge which mere learning brings, is like the horse’s horn, unreal.
Sensible people shun the company of empty talkers
who are not content to humbly tread the path of righteousness,
and uphold in practice life’s ideals,
who instead proudly mouth vain words.
Many are the ills that flow from mixing with mad folks
afflicted with confused minds and rattling tongues.
The best friendship is with those good men whose minds are dead
and who abide in the pure silence of Awareness.
Give up without delay, O mind,
the friendship of worthless folks with speech perverse and wicked ways.
From now on, live in the company of sages steadfast in their state of motionless stillness.
Hence, gain new life by dwelling in the company of those
who live in the purity of true Awareness, free from all falsehood.
Those who do not dive into the Heart and there confront the Self,
in the five sheaths hid,
are only students answering out of books, clever questions raised by books,
and not true seekers of the Self.
The knowledge that ignores the Self, the Knower,
and holds as true the field perceived, is but illusive foolishness.
No matter how much one has learned,
true knowledge is the merging of all indicative knowledge in Awareness of the Self.
The one true light there is, is pure Awareness.
Other kinds of knowledge, clinging to it and claiming to be real,
are ego born conceptual clouds.
To trust them is sheer foolishness.
All other kinds of knowledge are base, trivial.
The only true and perfect knowledge is the stillness of pure Awareness.
The many differences perceived in the Self, whose nature is Awareness,
are wrong attributions, and not real at all.
What sort of knowledge is this wretched Bodily-mental knowledge of objects?
Would those who long for pure Awareness hanker after this?
To know pure Awareness is true wisdom.
All other knowledge is mere folly.
What if one knows the subtle secret of manifold inscrutable mysteries?
Until one knows the Awareness which reveals all other knowledge,
does one know the Truth?
How can any treatise thrust some wisdom into that human-seeming heap of clay,
which keenly watches things perceived and not the Self, Awareness?
Is it not because you are yourself Awareness, that you now perceive this universe?
If you observe Awareness steadily,
this Awareness Itself as Guru, will reveal the Truth.
“Of fate and effort, which is stronger? Which will yield? Which will prevail?”
Those who wage this war of words are wholly ignorant
of That from which the world and the ego both appear
and into which they disappear.
Some there are who endlessly jump and, sweating,
shout full throated refuting or elaborating doctrines,
instead of biding in clear silence, inquiring into That which is,
and in the Heart enjoying it.
None can perceive the Sun, the Self, by arguments.
Irritating mental disputes are but conceits that cloud the light of truth
and make the eyes swim in dizziness.
Far from revealing Truth, words only darken and conceal It.
To let the Truth shine of itself, instead of burying It in words,
merge in the Heart both word and thought.
Let not your intellect become a slave to the mere sound and fury of controversy.
Enter the Heart with mind clear, concept free, and realize your natural Being as the Truth.
The individual’s thirst will vanish,
only when the habits-predispositions-tendencies of the frenzied mind die,
and the direct experience of pure Awareness comes.
True, non-dual experience of the Self supreme as pure Being
is called direct Knowledge.
False dualistic knowledge too is called knowledge though qualified as indirect,
even as a demon might be called “virtuous”!
From questing inward in the Heart comes knowledge which destroys all false illusions.
Searching books for pure, clear wisdom is like trying to cook and eat the picture of a gourd.
Can hunger be appeased by eating food cooked over a painted flame?
The end of pain, the bliss of peace results from egoless Awareness,
not from “verbal wisdom”.
Never through argument,
but only by abiding in the heart as pure Awareness,
which lights up and shines within the mind,
can one enjoy the thrill, the throb, the bliss supreme of being the Self.
Knowing aright the nature of the Self,
and abandoning the non-self as void, unreal, is wisdom true.
All other knowledge is ignorance, and not wisdom.
The innocent bride thinking that betrothal is full conjugal union is filled with
Even so the learned who have yet to turn within and taste true bliss,
claim that the “verbal wisdom” which they prattle is non-dual Knowledge.
Those whom from books have learnt about the Truth supreme,
esteem themselves supreme in Wisdom,
and fail to seek the Knower and taste the bliss of Self,
but they test and measure the silent sage. What foolishness is this!
Do not wander endlessly searching in vain for certitude
through strenuous study, listening, learning.
In love surrender to the Love supreme, the Lord,
and reach and hold the supreme state of Real Being.
Till in the seer’s Awareness objects disappear,
till firm and clear one knows the truth of Self aright,
what use is it to mouth in vain the words “I am God, I am God”?
Instead of wandering about proclaiming “I am God”, abide as the Supreme.
For such abidance in the Self, not loud repeated noise, puts an end to sorrow.
For curing a dire malady, one must consume, not merely name, the medicine.
Even so, the bonds of birth won’t snap by merely muttering “I am That” and so on.
Only he who has attained immortal life, can save the world.
For the ignorant one to help another, is but the blind leading the blind.
(Only a liberated sage can save the world. The blind cannot guide the blind. – Sri Ramana)
The primal ground whose being is silence, That I am.
Why take the trouble of thinking “That am I”?
Meditation is stillness; it is the extinction of the “I”.
When “I” is gone, where is the room for thought?
As in the sky covered with thick clouds, no eye can see the glorious sun,
one fails to see one’s own Self
when the mind-firmament is darkened by a dense cloud of thoughts.
He who has vanquished thought, he only,
sits like an emperor on the neck of the majestic elephant Knowledge.
Know for certain that the mind’s movements alone
give rise to birth and every cruel pain and sorrow.
For those whose mind has not completely subsided,
the false knowledge already theirs has only served to pile up sorrows.
Gaining more such so-called knowledge, only deepens illusion’s darkeness,
and does not help life at all.
While the mind exists, creeds too exist.
When the mind turns inward in Self-quest and gets caught up in the heart,
no creed can survive in that peace.
What scope is there for speech or breath
in silent union where the two, the “I” and “He”, have merged in one?
When “I” is gone, and when two pairs of lover’s eyes have met and mingled,
of what use are spoken words?
Only those who have experienced this union with the Self can know Its bliss.
How else is one to know it?
Those who have the experience, know nothing but That,
lost in stillness, like honey bees drunk with honey.
To search amid bewilderment some other truth than the Truth supreme,
the Truth of Self,
is the foolish barber’s vexed exploring
instead of swiftly sweeping out, the rubbish on the floor.
The learned man who, letting go the Self, the real Being,
sees and cherishes this dream, this false, illusive world,
may be a scholar.
Something different is he who has gained the clarity of Knowing the Self;
he is a Knower.
Holding in their hands the mirror,
the scripture which declares “The Self alone is to be known”,
many study with care the text and commentaries;
only a few seek the Self and gain true life.
Far different from the scholar learned in books of wisdom, is the Seer.
Those who seek freedom from the bondage of ignorance had better leave scholars alone,
and enter the presence of Seers established in the Self supreme.
What is true religion?
It is not speculating with the inconstant mind and endless speaking:
“That is Being. No, that has no being. That has form. No, that is formless.
That is non-dual. No, it is dual.”
True religion is the silence, the experience of deathless Being-Awareness-Bliss.
If we look deep, these troublesome questions and answers
both belong to the language of duality.
In silence, the transcendent speech of non-duality, they have no place at all.
(In the language of duality alone are questions and answers. In non-duality they are not. – Sri Ramana)
What is the bliss supreme attained by keen inquiry,
and what is the Self in the Heart?
It is pure silence, free from false dualistic knowledge.
Shining as the bright void,
devoid of concepts raised by the villainous ego,
this is the experience true of infinite Being-Awareness,
the one non-dual bliss of pure silence.
When the ego, shaking off all tricky concepts, finally merges in the Heart,
the silence, the plentitude of Self-Awareness, blissful, bright, this,
this is what the sages call transcendent speech.
The Self, who is pure Awareness transcending thought,
is only known to heroic Seers,
who with minds extinct abide thought free within the Heart,
and is not known to those whose minds are still engaged in thought.
|Part Two - Paragraphs from the book “Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi”|
18th January, 1937:
“To resume polemics – the author of Vritti Prabhakara claims to
have studied 350,000 books before writing this book.
What is the use?
Can they bring in Realization of the Self?
Vichara Sagara is full of logic and technical terms.
Can these ponderous volumes serve any real purpose?
However, some people read them and then seek sages
only to see if they can meet their questions.
To read them, to discover new doubts and to solve them,
is a source of pleasure to them.
Knowing it to be sheer waste,
the sages do not encourage such people.
Encourage them once and there will be no end.
Only the inquiry into the Self can be of use. (Self-inquiry)
Those familiar with logic, Vritti Prabhakara, Vichara Sagara or Sutra Bhashya, or similar large works,
cannot relish small works like Truth Revealed (Forty verses on Reality)
dealing only with the Self and that pointedly too,
because they have accumulated latent tendencies of mind (vasanas).
Only those whose minds are less muddy, or are pure,
can relish small and purposeful works.”
6th April, 1937: Later Sri Bhagavan continued:
“The intricate maze of philosophy of different schools is said to clarify matters and reveal the Truth. But in fact they create confusion where no confusion need exist.
To understand anything there must be the Self.
The Self is obvious.
Why not remain as the Self?
What need to explain the non-self?
Take the Vedanta for instance:
They say there are fifteen kinds of prana. The student is made to commit the names to memory and also their functions. The air goes up and is called prana; goes down and is called apana; operates the indriyas and is called something.
Why all this?
Why do you classify, give names and enumerate the functions, and so on?
Is it not enough to know that one prana does the whole work?
The antahkarana thinks, desires, wills reasons, etc., and each function is attributed to one name such as mind, intellect, etc.. Has anyone seen the pranas or the antahkaranas?
Have they any real existence?
They are mere conceptions.
When and where will such conceptions end?
Consider the following:
A man sleeps. He says on waking that he slept. The question is asked: ‘Why does he not say in his sleep that he is sleeping?’ The answer is given that he is sunk in the Self and cannot speak, like a man who has dived into water to bring out something from the bottom. The diver cannot speak under water; when he has actually recovered the articles he comes out and speaks.
Well what is the explanation?
Being in water, water will flow into his mouth if he were to open the mouth for speaking. Is it not simple?
But the philosopher is not content with this simple fact.
He explains, saying that fire is the deity presiding over speech; that it is inimical to water and therefore cannot function!
This is called philosophy and the learners are struggling to learn all this!
Is it not sheer waste of time? Again Gods are said to preside over the senses of Virat (samashti). So they go on explaining Hiranayagarbha, etc.
Why should confusion be created and then explained away?
Ah! Fortunate is the man who does not involve himself in this maze!
I was indeed fortunate that I never took to it.
Had I taken to it, I would probably be nowhere - always in confusion.
My former tendencies (purva vasanas) directly took me to the inquiry ‘Who am I?’ It was indeed fortunate.”
15th December, 1937:
“How can logic or other polemics be of real use?
Can the favorite examples of the logicians, such as the pot and the cloth (ghatapatas) save you in a crisis?
Why waste your time thinking of them and on discussion?”
15th November, 1938:
“Coming here, some people do not ask about themselves.
They ask: ‘Does the sage, liberated while alive (Jivanmukta), see the world?
Is he affected by Karma? What is liberation after being disembodied?
Is one liberated only after being disembodied or even while alive in the body?
Should the body of the sage resolve itself in light or disappear from view in any other manner?
Can he be liberated though the body is left behind as a corpse?’
Their questions are endless.
Why worry oneself in so many ways?
Does liberation consist in knowing these?
Therefore I say to them: ‘Leave liberation alone.
Is there bondage? Know this.
See yourself first and foremost.’”
30th September, 1936:
Questioner: “What is the Sun marga? What is the moon marga? Which of them is easier?”
Sri Bhagavan: “Ravi Marga (Sun Marga) is jnana. Moon marga is Yoga. They think that after purifying the 72,000 nadis in the body, sushumna is entered and the mind passes up to the sahasrara and there is nectar trickling.
These are all mental concepts.
The man is already overwhelmed by world concepts.
Other concepts are now added in the shape of this Yoga.
The object of all these is to rid the man of concepts and to make him inhere as the pure Self – i.e. absolute consciousness, bereft of thoughts!
Why not go straight to it?
Why add new encumbrances to the already existing ones?”
23rd January, 1939:
“Therefore the seekers aim must be to drain away the latent tendencies of mind (vasananas) from the heart and not allow the reflecting medium obstruct the Light of Eternal Consciousness. This is acheived by the search for the origin of the ego and by diving into the heart.
This is the direct method for Self-Realization.
One who adopts it need not worry about nadis, the brain, the Sushumna, the Paranadi, the Kundalini, pranayama or the six centers.”
18th December, 1936:
Mr Cohen asked: “Meditation is with mind in the waking (jagrat) state. There is mind in dream also.
Why is there no meditation in dream? Nor is it possible?”
Sri Bhagavan: “Ask it in the dream.”
After a short silence Sri Bhagavan continued:
“You are told to meditate now and find who you are.
Instead of doing it you ask
‘Why is there no meditation in dream or in sleep?’
If you find out for whom there is waking (jagrat), it will be clear that dream and sleep are also for the same one.
You are the witness of waking (jagrat), dream (svapna) and sleep (sushupti) – rather, they pass before you.
Because you are out of meditation now, these questions arise. Stick to meditation and see if these questions arise.”
13th December, 1935:
Two gentlemen from Ambala (the Punjab) had been here for a few weeks.
Just before taking leave of Sri Bhagavan one of them asked how he should remove the spiritual drowsiness of his friends or of other people in general.
Sri Bhagavan: “Have you removed your own ‘spiritual drowsniness?’
The force which is set up to remove your own ‘drowsiness’ will also operate in other centers.
There is the will-power with which you can act on others.
But it is on a lower plane and not desirable.
Take care of yourself first.”
3rd July, 1936:
A visitor from Tirukoilur asked if the study of the sacred books will reveal the truth.
Sri Bhagavan: “That will not suffice.”
Questioner: “Why not?”
Sri Bhagavan: “Samadhi alone can reveal it.
Thoughts cast a veil over Reality and so it cannot be clear in states other than Samadhi.”
Questioner: “Is there thought in Samadhi? Or is there not?”
Sri Bhagavan: “There will only be the feeling ‘I am’ and no other thoughts.”
Questioner: “Is ‘I am’ a thought?”
Sri Bhagavan: “The egoless ‘I am’ is not thought. It is realization.
The meaning and significance of ‘I’ is God.
The experience of ‘I am’ is to Be Still.”
4th February, 1935:
Questioner: “Is the study of science, psychology, physiology, philosophy, etc. helpful for: 1.) this art of yoga-liberation 2.) the intuitive grasp of the unity of the Real?
Sri Bhagavan: “Very little.
Some knowledge is needed for yoga and it may be found in books.
But practical application is the thing needed, and personal example, personal touch and personal instructions are the most helpful aids.
As for the other, a person may laboriously convince himself of the truth to be intuited, i.e. its function and nature, but the actual intuition is akin to feeling and requires practice and personal contact.
Mere book learning is not of any great use.
After realization all intellectual loads are useless burdens and are thrown overboard as jetsam.”
23rd October, 1938:
Questioner: “I have read many books. My mind does not turn to the Self.”
Sri Bhagavan: “Because the Self is not in the books; it is in you.
Reading books makes one learned.
That is its purpose and it is fulfilled. “
Part Three - Quotes from "The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi"
From “WHO AM I”:
Questioner: “Is it any use reading books for those who long for release?”
Sri Bhagavan: “All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there is no need for endless reading.
In order to quiet the mind one has only to inquire within oneself what one’s Self is; how could this search be done in books?
One should know one’s Self with one’s own eye of wisdom.
The Self is within the five sheaths; but books are outside them.
Since the Self has to be inquired into by discarding the five sheaths, it is futile to search for it in books.
There will come a time when one will have to forget all that one has learned.”
From the book "Self-Inquiry":
Questioner: “How is one to think of the Self?”
Sri Bhagavan: “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 Absolute (Brahman) is directly manifest as the Self in the form of ‘I-I’.
Can there be greater ignorance than to think of it in manifold ways, without knowing it as aforementioned?”
|From "Reality in Forty Verses," also known as "Truth Revealed"|
“’The World is true’; ‘No, it is a false appearance’; ‘The World is Mind’; ‘No,
it is not’; ‘The World is pleasant’; ‘No, it is not’;
What avails such talk?
To leave the world alone and know the Self, to go beyond all thought of One and Two, this Ego-less condition is the common goal of all.”
“’Twos’ and ‘Threes’ depend upon one thing, the ego.
If one asks in one’s Heart ‘What is this ego?’ and finds it, they slip away.
Only who have found this know the Truth, and they will never be perplexed.”
“Without knowing the Self that knows, to know all objects is not knowledge; it is
Self, the ground of knowledge and the non-self, being known, both knowledge and ignorance fall away.”
“True knowledge is being devoid of knowledge as well as ignorance of objects.
Knowledge of objects is not true knowledge. Since the Self shines self-luminous, with nothing else for it to know It, the Self is Knowledge. Nescience It is not.”
|19.||“The debate ‘Does Free-will prevail or Fate?’ is only for those who do not know the root of both. Those who have known the Self, the common source of Free-will and of Fate, have passed beyond both and will not return to them.”|
|22.||“Without turning inwards and merging in the Lord His light that shines within the mind and lends it all its light, how can we know the Light of Lights with the borrowed light of the mind?”|
“Cease all talk of ‘I’ and search with inward-diving mind whence the thought of
‘I’ springs up.
This is the way of wisdom.
To think, instead, ‘I am not this, but That I am’, is helpful in the search,
but it is not the search itself.”
|32.||“When the Vedas have declared, ‘Thou art That’ , not to seek and find the nature of thy Self and abide in It, but to think ‘I am That, not This’ is want of strength; because That abides for ever as the Self.”|
|34.||“The natural and true Reality for ever residing in the Heart of all; - not to realize It there and stay in It but to quarrel: - ‘It is’, ‘It is not’, ‘It has form’, ‘It has no form’; ‘It is one’, ‘It is two’, ‘It is neither’; - This is the mischief of illusion (maya).|
|40.||“If asked; ‘Which of these three is final liberation; - with form, without form, or with-and-without-form?’ I say, ‘Liberation is the extinction of the ego which inquires – ‘with form, without form, or with-and-without-form?’”|
|From "Supplement to Reality in Forty Verses"|
|2.||“Not by listening to preachers, nor by study of books, not by meritorious deeds nor by any other means can one attain that Supreme State, which is attainable only through association with the sages and the clear quest of the Self.”|
|34.||“For unlearned folk there is only one family consisting of wife, children and dependents. But in the mind of those with much learning there are many families of books, theories and opinions as obstacles to yoga.”|
“What is the use of letters to those lettered folk who do not seek to wipe out the
letters of fate by inquiring ‘Whence are we born?’
What else are they but gramphones, O Lord of Arunachala?
They learn and repeat words without realizing their meaning.”
“The unlettered are easier saved than those who are learned but unsubdued.
The unlettered are free from the clutches of the demon Pride,
they are free from the malady of many whirling thoughts and words;
they are free from the mad pursuit of wealth;
they are free from many, many ills.”
|The following is a stray verse written by Sri Bhagavan|
“By him alone who’s saved himself can other folk be freed;
The help of others is as if the blind the blind would lead”
|From "Maharshi's Gospel"|
Questioner: “Why does not Bhagavan go about and preach the Truth to the people at
Sri Bhagavan: “How do you know that I am not doing it?
Does preaching consist in mounting a platform and haranguing the people around?
Preaching is simple communication of Knowledge;
it can really be done in silence only.
What do you think of a man who listens to a sermon for an hour
and goes away without having been impressed by it so as to change his life?
Compare him with another who sits in a holy presence
and goes away after some time with his outlook on life totally changed.
Which is the better, to preach loudly without effect
or to sit silently sending out inner force?
Again, how does speech arise?
There is abstract Knowledge, whence arises the ego, which in turn gives rise to thought, and thought to the spoken word.
So the word is the great-grandson of the original Source.
If the word can produce effect, judge for yourself,
how much more powerful the preaching through Silence!
But people do not understand this simple, bare truth,
the truth of their everyday, ever-present, eternal experience.
This Truth is that of the Self. Is there anyone unaware of the Self?
But they do not like even to hear of this Truth,
whereas they are eager to know what lies beyond, about heaven, hell and reincarnation.
Because they love mystery and not the Truth, religions cater to them so as eventually to bring them round to the Self.
Whatever the means adopted, you must at last return to the Self; so why not abide in the Self here and now?”