Self-enquiry – Vichara Sangraham (4)
When one enquires into the root of ‘self-conceit’ which is of the form ‘I’, all sorts of different thoughts without number seem to rise; not any separate ‘I’ thought.
Whether the nominative case, which is the first case, appears or not, the sentences in which the other cases appear have as their basis the first case. Similarly, 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.
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, adopting the attitude ‘Whatever strange things happen, let them happen; let us see!’. This should be one’s practice.
In other words, one should not identify oneself with appearances; one should never relinquish one’s self. This is the proper means for destruction of the mind (manonasa) which is of the nature of seeing the body as self, and which is the cause of all the aforesaid obstacles. This method which easily destroys egoity deserves to be called devotion (bhakti), meditation (dhyana), concentration (yoga), and knowledge (jnana).
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 quiet 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 (Vichara Sangraham) is the first set of teachings that Ramana Maharshi ever offered. It was offered at about 1901, when he was a young man of about twenty-two. He was already a Jnani (Sage) in perfect Realization of the Self, in the resplendent bliss of Divine Knowledge. At that time he was living in Virupaksha Cave on the hill of Arunachala.
A number of disciples had already gathered round him. Although he had not actually taken a vow of silence, he seldom spoke, and so wrote his replies to certain questions put to him by Sri Gambhiram Seshayya, one of the earliest devotees. Sri Seshayya copied them in his diary. After his passing away, this diary was obtained from his brother. The questions and answers were edited by Sri Natanananda and published with Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s approval under the name of Vichara Sangraham, or Self-Enquiry.