How shall I realize the Self?
An aristocratic lady looking very intelligent, though pensive, asked:
D.: How shall I reach the Self?
M.: There is no reaching the Self. If the Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not now and here, but that it should be got anew. What is got afresh, will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So I say, the Self is not reached.
You are the Self. You are already That. The fact is that you are ignorant of your blissful state. Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over the pure Bliss. Attempts are directed only to remove this ignorance. This ignorance consists in wrong knowledge. The wrong knowledge consists in the false identification of the Self with the body, the mind, etc. This false identity must go and there remains the Self.
D.: How is that to happen?
M.: By enquiry into the Self.
D.: It is difficult. Can I realise the Self, Maharaj? Kindly tell me. It looks so difficult.
M.: You are already the Self. Therefore realization is common to everyone. Realization knows no difference in the aspirants. This very doubt, “Can I realise?” or the feeling, “I have not realized” are the obstacles. Be free from these also.
D.: But there should be the experience. Unless I have the experience how can I be free from these afflicting thoughts?
M.: These are also in the mind. They are there because you have identified yourself with the body. If this false identity drops away, ignorance vanishes and Truth is revealed.
D.: Yes, I feel it difficult. There are disciples of Bhagavan who have had His Grace and realized (the Self) without any considerable difficulty. I too wish to have that Grace. Being a woman and living at a long distance I cannot avail myself of Maharshi’s holy company as much as I would wish and as often as I would. Possibly I may not be able to return. I request Bhagavan’s Grace. When I am back in my place, I want to remember Bhagavan. May Bhagavan be pleased to grant my prayer!
M.: Where are you going? You are not going anywhere. Even supposing you are the body, has your body come from Lucknow to Tiruvannamalai? You had simply sat in the car and one conveyance or another had moved; and finally you say that you have come here. The fact is that you are not the body. The Self does not move. The world moves in it. You are only what you are. There is no change in you. So then even after what looks like departure from here, you are here and there and everywhere. These scenes shift.
As for Grace – Grace is within you. If it is external it is useless. Grace is the Self. You are never out of its operation. Grace is always there.
D.: I mean that when I remember your form, my mind should be strengthened and that response should come from your side too. I should not be left to my individual efforts which are after all only weak.
M.: Grace is the Self. I have already said, “If you remember Bhagavan, you are prompted to do so by the Self.” Is not Grace already there? Is there a moment when Grace is not operating in you? Your remembrance is the forerunner of Grace. That is the response, that is the stimulus, that is the Self and that is Grace.
There is no cause for anxiety.
D.: Can I engage in spiritual practice, even remaining in samsara?
M.: Yes, certainly. One ought to do so.
D.: Is not samsara a hindrance? Do not all the holy books advocate renunciation?
M.: Samsara is only in your mind. The world does not speak out, saying ‘I am the world’. Otherwise, it must be ever there – not excluding your sleep. Since it is not in sleep it is impermanent. Being impermanent it has no stamina. Having no stamina it is easily subdued by the Self. The Self alone is permanent. Renunciation is non-identification of the Self with the non-self. On the disappearance of ignorance the non-self ceases to exist. That is true renunciation.
D.: Why did you then leave your home in your youth?
M.: That is my prarabdha (destiny). One’s course of conduct in this life is determined by one’s prarabdha. My prarabdha is this way. Your prarabdha is that way.
D.: Should I not also renounce?
M.: If that had been your prarabdha, the question would not have arisen.
D.: I should therefore remain in the world and engage in spiritual practice. Well, can I get realization in this life?
M.: This has been already answered. You are always the Self. Earnest efforts never fail. Success is bound to result.
D.: Will Maharshi be pleased to extend Grace to me also!
Maharshi smiled and said “Um! Um!” With blessings and salutation, the interview came to a close and the party departed directly.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
29th September, 1936