What is Self-Enquiry? How to do it? (2)
Excerpts from “Talks with Ramana Maharshi”
Devotee: Who am I? How is it to be found?
Maharshi: Ask yourself the question. The body and its functions are not ‘I’. Going deeper, the mind and its functions are not ‘I’.
The next step takes on to the question. “Wherefrom do these thoughts arise?” The thoughts are spontaneous, superficial or analytical. They operate in intellect. Then, who is aware of them? The existence of thoughts, their clear conceptions and their operations become evident to the individual. The analysis leads to the conclusion that the individuality of the person is operative as the perceiver of the existence of thoughts and of their sequence. This individuality is the ego, or as people say ‘I’. Intellect is only the sheath of ‘I’ and not the ‘I’ itself.
Enquiring further the questions arise, “Who is this ‘I’? Wherefrom does it come?” ‘I’ was not aware in sleep. Simultaneously with its rise sleep changes to dream or wakefulness. But I am not concerned with dream just now. Who am I now, in the wakeful state? If I originated from sleep, then the ‘I’ was covered up with ignorance. Such an ignorant ‘I’ cannot be what the scriptures say or the wise ones affirm. ‘I’ am beyond even ‘Sleep’; ‘I’ must be now and here and what I was all along in sleep and dreams also, without the qualities of such states. ‘I’ must therefore be the unqualified substratum underlying these three states. ‘I’ is, in brief, beyond the five sheaths. Next, the residuum left over after discarding all that is the “non-self”, is the Self, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Being-Consciousness-Bliss.
Seeking the Seer, until all the Seen disappears, the Seer will become subtler and subtler until the Absolute Seer alone survives.
Devotee: How to know the ‘Real I’ as distinct from the ‘false I’.
Maharshi: Is there anyone who is not aware of himself? Each one knows, but yet does not know, the Self. A strange paradox.
If the enquiry is made whether mind exists, it will be found that mind does not exist. That is control of mind. Otherwise, if the mind is taken to exist and one seeks to control it, it amounts to mind controlling the mind, just like a thief turning out to be a policeman to catch the thief, i.e., himself. Mind persists in that way alone, but eludes itself.
An officer in a high position asked: If juniors are promoted over oneself the mind is perturbed. Will the enquiry, ‘Who am I?’ help the man to soothe the mind under such circumstances?
Maharshi: Yes. Quite so. The enquiry ‘Who am I?’ turns the mind inward and makes it calm.
Devotee: How to get Bliss?
Maharshi: Bliss is not something to be got. On the other hand you are always Bliss. This desire is born of the sense of incompleteness. To whom is this sense of incompleteness? Enquire. In deep sleep you were blissful: Now you are not so. What has interposed between that Bliss and this non-bliss? It is the ego. Seek its source and find you are Bliss.
There is nothing new to get. You have, on the other hand, to get rid of your ignorance which makes you think that you are other than Bliss. For whom is this ignorance? It is to the ego. Trace the source of the ego. Then the ego is lost and Bliss remains over. It is eternal. You are That, here and now…. That is the master key for solving all doubts. The doubts arise in the mind. The mind is born of the ego. The ego rises from the Self. Search the source of the ego and the Self is revealed. That alone remains. The universe is only expanded Self. It is not different from the Self.
Maharshi: The salt in the lump is visible; it is invisible in solution. Still its existence is known by taste. Similarly Reality, though not recognised by the intellect, can still be realized in a different way, i.e., transcendentally.
Maharshi: Just as a man blindfolded and left by robbers in a jungle enquires his way home and returns there, so also the ignorant one (blinded by ignorance) enquires those not so blinded, and seeks his own source and returns to it.
Devotee: Are there two methods for finding the source of the ego?
Maharshi: There are no two sources and no two methods. There is only one source and only one method.
Devotee: What is the difference between meditation and enquiry into the Self?
Maharshi: Meditation is possible only if the ego be kept up. There is the ego and the object meditated upon. The method is indirect. Whereas the Self is only one. Seeking the ego, i.e., the source of the ego, the ego itself disappears. What is left over is the Self. This method is the direct one.
Devotee: Then what am I to do?
Maharshi: To hold on to the Self.
Maharshi: Even now you are the Self. But you are confounding this consciousness (or ego) with the absolute consciousness. This false identification is due to ignorance. Ignorance disappears along with the ego. Killing the ego is the only thing to accomplish. Realization is already there. No attempt is needed to attain realization; because, it is nothing external, nothing new. It is always and everywhere here and now too.