What is Self Enquiry? How to do it? (1)
Excerpts from Ramana Maharshi’s Teachings.
Words of Grace
Who am I ?
All scriptures without any exception proclaim that for attaining Salvation, the mind should be subdued; and once one knows that control of the mind is their final aim, it is futile to make an interminable study of them.
What is required for such control is actual enquiry into oneself by self-interrogation, ‘Who am I?’ How can this enquiry in quest of the Self be made merely by means of a study of the scriptures?
One should realize the Self by the Eye of Wisdom. Does Rama need a mirror to recognize himself as Rama? That to which the ‘I’ refers is within the five sheaths, whereas the scriptures are outside them. Therefore, it is futile to seek by means of the study of scriptures the Self that has to be realized by summarily rejecting even the five sheaths.
To enquire ‘Who am I who is in bondage?’ and to know one’s real nature is alone Liberation. To keep the mind constantly turned within and to abide thus in the Self, is alone Atma- vichara (Self-enquiry), whereas dhyana (meditation) consists in fervent contemplation of the Self as Sat-Chit-Ananda (Being- Consciousness-Bliss).
Sri Ramana Gita
M: Self-Enquiry is not intellectual. It is inward and subtle.
D: If I go on rejecting thoughts can I call it Vichara (Self-Enquiry)?
M: It may be a stepping-stone. But really Vichara begins when you cling to your self and are already off the mental movement, the thought-waves.
D: Then Vichara is not intellectual ?
M: No, it is Anthara vichara, inner quest.
D: That is Dhyana?
M: To stick to a position unassailed by thoughts is Abhyasa or Sadhana (Practice), you are watchful. But the condition grows more intense and deeper when your effort and all responsibilities are taken away from you; that is Aroodha, Siddhi (Attainment) state.
Words of Grace
Is not the sense of ‘I’ natural to all beings, expressed in all their feelings as ‘I came’, ‘I went’, ‘I did’, or ‘I was’? On questioning what this is, we find that the body is identified with ‘I’ because movements and similar functions pertain to the body. Can the body then be this ‘I-consciousness’? It was not there before birth, it is composed of the five elements, it is absent in sleep, and it (eventually) becomes a corpse. No, it cannot be.
This sense of ‘I’, which arises in the body for the time being, is otherwise called the ego, ignorance, illusion, impurity, or individual self. The purpose of all the scriptures is this enquiry (into the Self). It is declared in them that the annihilation of the ego-sense is Liberation. How then can one remain indifferent to this teaching?
Can the body, which is insentient as a piece of wood, shine and function as ‘I’? No. Therefore, lay aside this insentient body as though it were truly a corpse. Do not even murmur ‘I’, but enquire keenly within what it is that now shines within the heart as ‘I’. Underlying the unceasing flow of varied thoughts, there arises the continuous, unbroken awareness, silent and spontaneous, as ‘I-I’ in the Heart. If one catches hold of it and remains still, it will completely annihilate the sense of ‘I’ in the body, and will itself disappear as a fire of burning camphor. Sages and scriptures proclaim this to be Liberation.
Forty Verses on Reality
Verse 14, 23, 29, 30, 32
14. If the first person, I, exists, then the second and third persons, you and he, will also exist. By enquiring into the nature of the I, the I perishes. With it ‘you’ and ‘he’ also perish. The resultant state, which shines as Absolute Being, is one’s own natural state, the Self.
23. The body does not say ‘I’. No one will argue that even in deep sleep the ‘I’ ceases to exist. Once the ‘I’ emerges, all else emerges. With a keen mind enquire whence this ‘I’ emerges.
29. The only enquiry leading to Self-realization is seeking the Source of the ‘I’ with in-turned mind and without uttering the word ‘I’. Meditation on ‘I am not this; I am That’ may be an aid to the enquiry but it cannot be the enquiry.
30. If one enquires ‘Who am I?’ within the mind, the individual ‘I’ falls down abashed as soon as one reaches the Heart and immediately Reality manifests itself spontaneously as ‘I-I’. Although it reveals itself as ‘I’, it is not the ego but the Perfect Being, the Absolute Self.
32. Although the scriptures proclaim ‘Thou art That’, it is only a sign of weakness of mind to meditate ‘I am That, not this’, because you are eternally That. What has to be done is to investigate what one really is and remain That.