Words of Nectar

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi was an enlightened being who advocated the path of self-inquiry to spiritual seekers. In the famous book 'Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi' many of his conversations with spiritual seekers, during the period of 1935 to 1939, are recorded. It is a must read for a sincere spiritual seeker. Sri Ramana Maharshi insists on self-enquiry; instead of wanting to know this or that, seek to know your real Self; thus 'Who Am I' becomes the most important question for an aspirant. Some of the sites related to the sage are: Sri Ramana Maharshi, Arunachala Ramana, Arunachala, AHAM, Ramana E-books, Blog on Ramana.

Following are few quotations from Sri Ramana Maharshi. These quotations are from his various books; relevant book name/page number is mentioned below each quotation.

The discrimination between right and wrong is the origin of sin. The best course for one is to reach a state in which such discrimination does not arise. Be asleep while awake, abide in Self, remain silent.
-Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, P429

D: What is the relation between my free-will and the overwhelming might of the Omnipotent?
      a) Is Omniscience of God consistent with egos free-will?
      b) Is Omnipotence of God consistent with egos free-will?
      c) Are the natural laws consistent with Gods free-will?
M: Yes. Free-will is the present appearing to a limited faculty of sight and will. The same ego sees its past as falling into a course of law or rules its own free-will being one of the links in that course of law.Omnipotence and Omniscience of God are then seen by the ego to have acted through the appearance of his own free-will. So he comes to the conclusion that the ego must go by appearances. Natural laws are manifestations of Gods will and they have been laid down.
-ibid P31

Some people think that one must begin practice with dualistic idea. they say that there is God, the man must worship and meditate; ultimately the jiva merges into God. Others say that the Supreme Being and the jiva are always apart and never merge into each other. However it may be at the end, let us not trouble ourselves about it now. All are agreed that the jiva IS. Let the man find out the jiva i.e. his Self. Then there will be time to find out if the Self should merge in the Supreme, is apart thereof, or remains different from it. Let us not forestall the conclusion. Keep an open mind, dive within and find out the Self. The truth will itself dawn upon you. Why should you determine beforehand if the finality is Unity Absolute or qualified or duality? There is no meaning in it. The ascertainment is now made by logic and by intellect. The intellect derives light from the Self (the Higher Power), how can the reflected and partial light of the intellect envisage the whole and the original light? The intellect can not reach the Self and how can ascertain its nature?
-ibid P71

M: The sense of body is a thought; the thought is of the mind, the mind rises after the I thought, the I thought is the root thought. If that is held, the other thoughts will disappear. There will be then no body, no mind, not even the ego.
D: What will remain then?
M: The Self in its purity.

M: So long as the body is considered, birth is real. But the body is not I. The Self is not born nor does it die. There is nothing new. The sages see everything in and of the Self. There is no diversity in it. Therefore there is neither birth nor death.
-ibid P198-99

D: Is no particular time necessary for meditation?
M: Meditation depends on strength of mind. It must be unceasing, even when one is engaged in work. Particular time is meant for novices.
-ibid P404

D: What is turiya?
M: There are three states only, the waking, dream, and sleep. Turiya is not a fourth one: it is what underlies these three. But people do not readily understand it. Therefore it is said that this is the fourth state and the only Reality. In fact it is not apart from anything; for it forms the substratum of all happenings; it is the only Truth; it is your very Being. The three states appear as fleeting phenomenon on it and then sink into it alone. Therefore they are unreal.
Turiya is only another name for the Self. Aware of the waking, dream, and deep sleep states we remain unaware of our own Self. Nevertheless the Self is here and now. It is the only Reality. There is nothing else. So long as identification with body lasts the world seems to lie outside us. Only realize the Self and they are not.
-ibid P320

D: What is the best way of living?
M: It differs according as one is a Jnani or ajnani. A Jnani does not find anything different or separate from the Self. All are in the Self. It is wrong to imagine that there is the world, that there is a body in it and that you dwell in the body. If the Truth is known, the universe and what is beyond it will be found to be only in the Self. The outlook differs according to the sight of the person. The sight is from the eye. The eye must be located somewhere. If you are seeing with the gross eyes you find others gross. If with subtle eyes (i.e., the mind) others appear subtle. If the eye becomes the Self, the Self being infinite, the eye is infinite. There is nothing else to see different from the Self.
-ibid P102-03

D.: What is the Sun marga? What is the Moon marga? Which of them is easier?
M.: 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?
-ibid P211

M.: Lectures may entertain individuals for a few hours without improving them. Silence on the other hand is permanent and benefits the whole of humanity.
D.: But silence is not understood.
M.: It does not matter. By silence, eloquence is meant. Oral lectures are not so eloquent as silence. Silence is unceasing eloquence. The Primal Master, Dakshinamurti, is the ideal. He taught his rishi disciples by silence.
-ibid P18

D.: Does my realization help others?
M: Yes, certainly. It is the best help possible. But there are no others to be helped. For a realized being sees the Self, just like a goldsmith estimating the gold in various jewels. When you identify yourself with the body then only the forms and shapes are there. But when you transcend your body the others disappear along with your body-consciousness.
D: Is it so with plants, trees, etc.?
M: Do they exist at all apart from the Self? Find it out. You think that you see them. The thought is projected out from your Self. Find out wherefrom it rises. Thoughts will cease to rise and the Self alone will remain.
D: I understand theoretically. But they are still there.
M: Yes. It is like a cinema-show. There is the light on the screen and the shadows flitting across impress the audience as the enactment of some piece. Similarly also will it be, if in the same play an audience also is shown. The seer, the seen, will then only be the screen. Apply it to yourself. You are the screen, the Self has created the ego, the ego has its accretions of thoughts which are displayed as the world, the trees, plants, etc., of which you are asking. In reality, all these are nothing but the Self. If you see the Self, the same will be found to be all, everywhere and always. Nothing but the Self exists.
D: Yes, I still understand only theoretically. Yet the answers are simple and beautiful and convincing.
M: Even the thought, "I do not realise" is a hindrance. In fact, the Self alone is.
-ibid P6

D: Is it not necessary that the saints should mix with people and be helpful to them?
M: The Self alone is the Reality; the world and the rest of it are not. The realised being does not see the world as different from himself.
D: Thus then, the saint's realisation leads to the uplift of humanity without the latter being aware of it. Is it so?
M: Yes. The help is imperceptible but is still there. A saint helps the whole of humanity, unknown to the latter.
D: Would it not be better if he mixed with others?
M: There are no others to mix with. The Self is the one and only Reality.
-ibid P16

'There are so many theories, scriptural and scientific. Have they reached any finality? They cannot. Brahman is said to be subtler than the subtlest, wider than the widest. Anu is an atom, infinitesimal. It ends in subtle perception. The subtlety is of the sukshma body, i.e., the mind. Beyond the mind there is the Self. The greatest of things are also conceptions, the conceptions are of the mind; beyond the mind there is the Self. So the Self is subtler than the subtlest. There may be any number of theories of creation. All of them extend outwardly. There will be no limit to them because time and space are unlimited. They are however only in the mind. See the mind; time and space are transcended and the Self is realised. Creation is explained scientifically or logically to one's own satisfaction. But is there any finality about it? Such explanations are called krama srishti (gradual creation). On the other hand, drishti srishti (simultaneous or sudden creation) is yugapad srishti. Without the seer there are no objects seen. Find the seer and the creation is comprised in him. Why look outward and go on explaining the phenomena which are endless?
-ibid P354

A visitor: I don't know what kundalini is.
Bhagavan: Kundalini is one name given by the yogic people for what may be called the atma sakti inside the body. The vichara school calls the same power jnana. The bhakta calls it love or bhakti. The yogic school says that this power is dormant in muladhara at the base of the spinal cord and that it must be roused and taken through the various chakras on to sahasrara at the top, in the brain, to attain moksha. The jnanis think this power is centered in the heart, and so on.
-Day by Day with Bhagavan (Devraja Mudaliar), P38

" I do not teach only the ajata doctrine. I approve of all schools. The same truth has to be expressed in different ways to suit the capacity of the hearer. The ajata doctrine says, 'Nothing exists except the one reality. There is no birth or death, no projection or drawing in, no sadhaka, no mumukshu, no mukta, no bondage, no liberation. The one unity alone exists ever.' To such as find it difficult to grasp this truth and who ask, 'How can we ignore this solid world we see all around us?', the dream experience is pointed out and they are told, 'All that you see depends on the seer. Apart from the seer, there is no seen.' This is called the drishti-srishti vada or the argument that one first creates out of his mind and then sees what his mind itself has created. To such as cannot grasp even this and who further argue, 'The dream experience is so short, while the world always exists. The dream experience was limited to me. But the world is felt and seen not only by me, but by so many, and we cannot call such a world non-existent', the argument called srishti-drishti vada is addressed and they are told, 'God first created such and such a thing, out of such and such an element, and then something else, and so forth.' That alone will satisfy this class. Their mind is otherwise not satisfied and they ask themselves, 'How can all geography, all maps, all sciences, stars, planets and the rules governing or relating to them and all knowledge be totally untrue?' To such it is best to say, 'Yes. God created all this and so you see it.'"
Dr. M. said, "But all these cannot be true; only one doctrine can be true."
Bhagavan said, "All these are only to suit the capacity of the learner. The absolute can only be one."
-ibid P174

Bhagavan said, "Even though we usually describe the reality as Sat, Chit, Ananda, even that is not quite a correct description. It cannot really be described. By this description all that we endeavor to make plain is that it is not asat, that it is not jada and that it is free from all pain."
Again Bhagavan said, "We are all in reality Sat-Chit-Ananda. But we imagine we are bound and are having all these pains."
I asked, "Why do we imagine so? Why does this ignorance or ajnana come to us?"
Bhagavan said, "Enquire to whom has this ignorance come and you will find it never came to you and that you have always been that Sat-Chit-Ananda ..."
-ibid P48

Bhagavan said, "The spark of jnana will easily consume all creation as if it were a mountain-heap of cotton. All the crores of worlds being built upon the weak (or no) foundation of the ego, they all topple down when the atomic bomb of jnana comes down upon them."
"All talk of surrender is like pinching jaggery from the jaggery image of Lord Ganesa and offering it as naivedya to the same Lord Ganesa. You say you offer your body, soul and all possessions to God. Were they yours that you could offer them? At best, you can only say, 'I falsely imagined till now that all these which are yours (God's) were mine. Now I realize they are yours. I shall no more act as if they are mine.' And this knowledge that there is nothing but God or Self, that I and mine don't exist and that only the Self exists, is jnana." He added, "Thus there is no difference between bhakti and jnana. Bhakti is jnana mata or mother of jnana."
-ibid P49

Breath and mind arise from the same place and when one of them is controlled, the other is also controlled. As a matter of fact, in the quest method - which is more correctly 'Whence am I?' and not merely 'Who am I?' - we are not simply trying to eliminate saying 'we are not the body, not the senses and so on,' to reach what remains as the ultimate reality, but we are trying to find whence the 'I' thought for the ego arises within us. The method contains within it, though implicitly and not expressly, the watching of the breath. When we watch wherefrom the 'I'-thought, the root of all thoughts, springs, we are necessarily watching the source of breath also, as the 'I'-thought and the breath arise from the same source.
-ibid P55

Mr. Nanavati of Bombay asked Bhagavan, "In the fifth stanza of Arunachala Pancharatna reference is made to seeing 'Your form in everything'. What is the form referred to?"
Bhagavan said, "The stanza says that one should completely surrender one's mind, turn it inwards and see 'you' the Self within and then see the Self in 'you' in everything. It is only after seeing the Self within that one will be able to see the Self in everything. One must first realize there is nothing but the Self and that he is that Self, and then only he can see everything as the form of the Self. That is the meaning of saying, 'See the Self in everything and everything in the Self', as is stated in the Gita and other books. It is the same truth that is taught in stanza 4 of the Reality in Forty Verses. If you have the idea that you are something with form, that you are limited by this body, and that being within this body you have to see through these eyes, God and the world also will appear to you as form. If you realise you are without form, that you are unlimited, that you alone exist, that you are the eye, the infinite eye, what is there to be seen apart from the infinite eye? Apart from the eye, there is nothing to be seen. There must be a seer for an object to be seen, and there must be space, time, etc. But if the Self alone exists, it is both seer and seen, and above seeing or being seen."
-ibid P205

In answer to a visitor, Bhagavan said, "Find out to whom is Viyoga. That is yoga. Yoga is common to all paths. Yoga is really nothing but ceasing to think that you are different from the Self or Reality. All the yogas - karma, jnana, bhakti and raja - are just different paths to suit different natures with different modes of evolution and to get them out of the long cherished notion that they are different from the Self. There is no question of union or yoga in the sense of going and joining something that is somewhere away from us or different from us, because you never were or could be separate from the Self."
-ibid P219

Bhagavan continued to speak of the Dvaitism of the Vaishnavites and quoted the Nammalvar song beginning [Tamil] the gist of which is: "not knowing myself, I went about saying 'I' and 'mine'. Then I discovered that 'I' was 'You' and 'mine' was 'Yours', oh God." He said: "This is clear Advaita, but these Vaishnavites would give it some interpretation to make it accord with their feeling of duality. They hold that they must exist and God must exist, but how is that possible? It seems that they must all remain for ever doing service in Vaikunta, but how many of them are to do service and where would there be room for all these Vaishnavites?"
Bhagavan said this laughing, and then, after a pause, he added, "On the other hand, Advaita does not mean that a man must always sit in samadhi and never engage in action. Many things are necessary to keep up the life of the body, and action can never be avoided. Nor is bhakti ruled out in Advaita. Shankara is rightly regarded as the foremost exponent of Advaita, and yet look at the number of shrines he visited (action), and the devotional songs he wrote."
Bhagavan then gave further quotations from the eighth decad of Tiruvoimozhi to show that some of Vaishnavite Alwars had clearly endorsed Advaita. He particularly emphasized the third stanza where it says: "I was lost in Him or in That" and the fifth, which is very like the Thiruvachagam stanza that says the ego got attenuated more and more and was extinguished in the Self.
-ibid P264

Surrender is not an easy thing. Killing the ego is not an easy thing. It is only when God Himself by His grace draws the mind inwards that complete surrender can be achieved. But such grace comes only to those who have already, in this or previous lives, gone through all the struggles and sadhanas preparatory to the extinction of the mind and killing of the ego.
-ibid P263

he [a questioner] kept on asking whether doing nitya karmas and sat karmas will not lead to salvation, as mentioned in books.
Thereupon Bhagavan said, "It is said so in books. Who denies that good conduct is good or that it will eventually lead you to the goal? Good conduct or sat karma purifies the chitta or mind and gives you chitta suddhi. The pure mind attains jnana, which is what is meant by salvation. So, eventually jnana must be reached, i.e., the ego must be traced to its source. But to those to whom this does not appeal, we have to say sat karmas lead to chitta suddhi, and chitta suddhi will lead to right knowledge or jnana, and that in its turn gives salvation."
-ibid P352

Since this view (i.e. Bhagavan's view) of the world is so contrary to what we regard as common sense, Bhagavan was frequently questioned about it. Even his long-term devotees sometimes tried to get him to modify his view a little, e.g., 'If the world exists only when my mind exists,' Major Chadwick asked, 'when my mind subsides in meditation or sleep, does the outside world disappear also? I think not. If one considers the experiences of others who were aware of the world while I slept, one must conclude that the world existed then. Is it not more correct to say that the world got created and is ever existing in some huge collective mind? If this is true how can one say that there is no world and that it is only a dream?' Bhagavan refused to modify his position. 'The world does not say that it was created in the collective mind or that it was created in the individual mind. It only appears in your small mind. If your mind gets destroyed, there will be no world.' Similarly, if we go beyond this waking dream and see only our real Self, we will discover that there is no world and that there are no 'other people'. On the other hand, if we move away from the Self and see the world, we find that we are in bondage.
Bhagavan summarized these views a little later by saying, 'Every jiva is seeing a separate world but a Jnani does not see anything different than himself. This is the state of truth.'
-ibid P236

Q: ... are only important events in a man's life, such as his main occupation or profession predetermined, or are trifling acts in his life, such as taking a cup of water or moving from one place in the room to another, also predetermined?
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi: Yes everything is predetermined.
Q: Then what responsibility, what free will has man?
Bhagavan: What for then does the body come into existence? It is designed for doing the various things marked out for execution in this life. The whole program is chalked out. 'Not an atom moves except by His Will' expresses the same truth, whether you say 'Does not move except His Will' or 'Does not move except by Karma'. As for freedom for man, he is always free not to identify himself with the body and not to be affected by the pleasures or pains consequent on the body's activities.
-Day by Day with Bhagavan (David Godman), P92

This world is a huge theatre. Each person has to act whatever role is assigned to him. It is the nature of the universe to be differentiated but within each person there should be no sense of differentiation.
-ibid P99

Become envious of anyone lower than you. You must become very small. In fact you must become nothing. Only a person who is nobody can abide in the Self.
-ibid P126

In Kaivalya Navanitam it is said:
The Jivanmukta who is established in this 'I am' is not bothered about the past which is already gone, and is also not bothered about the future which is uncertain, whatever comes to him in the present, he just enjoys that. Even if the Sun is transformed into a moon or a dead body which had gone to the cremation ground comes back to life, still he will not see these things as miraculous.
-ibid P315

One day when someone was talking of doing this and that, Bhagavan asked, "Why do you think that you are the doers? There lies all the trouble. It is quite absurd, as it is obvious to all that 'I' does nothing, it is only the body that acts, 'I' is always the witness. We so associate ourselves with our thoughts and actions that we continuously say, 'I did this or that,' when we did nothing at all. Concentrate on being the witness and let things take their course, they will go on anyhow, you cannot prevent them.'
-A Sadhu's Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi (Sadhu Arunachala), P71

'You who wish to celebrate the birthday, seek first whence was your birth. One's true birthday is when he enters That which transcends birth and death - the Eternal Being.
At least on one's birthday one should mourn one's entry into this world (samsara). To glory in it and celebrate it is like delighting in and decorating a corpse. To seek one's Self and merge in the Self: that is wisdom.
-Ramana Maharshi and Path of Self-Realization (Arthur Osborne), P153

'The Ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their prarabdhakarma. Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent.
-ibid, P39

Meditation is your true nature. You call it meditation now, because there are other thoughts distracting you. When these thoughts are dispelled, you remain alone - that is, in the state of meditation free from thoughts; and that is your real nature, which you are now trying to gain by keeping away other thoughts. Such keeping away of other thoughts is now called meditation. But when the practice becomes firm, the real nature shows itself as true meditation.
-'Ramana Complete App', Gospel Section, Mind Control Topic

The entire universe is condensed in the body and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the whole universe. This world is not other than the mind, the mind is not other than the Heart; that is the whole truth. The source is a point without any dimensions. It expands as the cosmos on the one hand and as Infinite bliss on the other. That point is the pivot. From it a single vasana starts and expands as the experiencer ('I'), the experience and the experienced (the world).
-ibid 'Gems of Bhagawan'