Talk 53. Who is this ‘I’? To whom is the doubt?
Talks with Ramana Maharshi
June 15, 1935
A young man, Mr. Knowles, came for ‘darshan’, seeing Maharshi. He had read Paul Brunton’s two books. He asked: “The Buddhists say that ‘I’ is unreal, whereas Paul Brunton in the Secret Path tells us to get over the ‘I-thought’ and reach the state of ‘I’. Which is true?”
M.: There are supposed to be two ‘I’s; the one is lower and unreal, of which all are aware; and the other, the higher and the real, which is to be realized.
You are not aware of yourself while asleep, you are aware in wakefulness; waking, you say that you were asleep; you did not know it in the deep sleep state. So then, the idea of diversity has arisen along with the body-consciousness; this body-consciousness arose at some particular moment; it has origin and end. What originates must be something. What is that something? It is the ‘I’-consciousness. Who am I? From where am I? On finding the source, you realize the state of Absolute Consciousness.
D.: Who is this ‘I’? It seems to be only a continuum of sense-impression. The Buddhist idea seems to be so too.
M.: The world is not external. The impressions cannot have an outer origin. Because the world can be cognized only by consciousness. The world does not say that it exists. It is your impression. Even so this impression is not consistent and not unbroken. In deep sleep the world is not cognized; and so it exists not for a sleeping man. Therefore the world is the sequence of the ego. Find out the ego. The finding of its source is the final goal.
D.: I believe that we should not inflict suffering on other lives. Should we then endure the mosquito bite and submit to it also?
M.: You do not like to suffer yourself. How can you inflict suffering on others? Just keep off mosquitoes since you suffer by their stings.
D.: Is it right that we kill other lives, e.g., mosquitoes, bugs?
M.: Everyone is a suicide. The eternal, blissful, and natural state has been smothered by this life of ignorance. In this way the present life is due to the killing of the eternal, pristine Being. Is it not a case of suicide? So then, everyone is a suicide. Why worry about murders and killing?
In the course of a later talk the visitor said: “The world sends impressions and I awake!”
M.: Can the world exist without someone to perceive it? Which is prior? The Being-consciousness or the rising-consciousness? The Being-consciousness is always there, eternal and pure. The rising-consciousness rises forth and disappears. It is transient.
D.: Does not the world exist for others even when I am asleep?
M.: Such a world mocks at you also for knowing it without knowing yourself. The world is the result of your mind. Know your mind. Then see the world. You will realize that it is not different from the Self.
D.: Is not Maharshi aware of himself and his surroundings, as clearly as I am?
M.: To whom is the doubt? The doubts are not for the realized. They are only for the ignorant.