submit to the enigma – Ramana


After leaving home at age 16, he lived continuously for fifty-four years on or near the Arunachala hill in Tamil Nadu, Southern India.


“I learn to submit to the enigma of his personality, and to accept him as I find him.”

I read this line this morning in my quiet time and something shifted in my perception. In the last few days I had been letting go of control and of trying to “figure it out”. I was just allowing all to happen. This line, as I read it, translated into “submit to the enigma of His personality”, meaning existence, or creation.

In the past I was often intrigued by the expression “the universe in person”, referring to each one of us being the universe that was now in the form of a person. Now, together with the words “submit to the enigma of His personality”, I felt the mystery, the enigma (a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation) of our human life at this present time, and the encouragement to “submit” to this enigma.

The second part: “and to accept him as I find him” – translated as “and to accept Him as I find Him” was pointing to letting go of any judgment or resistance to the way existence shows up in my life, in other words, complete acceptance of “what is”.

It catches my fancy to see this One Being as having a personality, just as you or I do. I look at the person living with me, my wife, Alia, and “submit to the enigma” of her personality and accept her just as I find her. I submit to the enigma of the “things” around me, the fan, the refrigerator, the washcloth, etc. and I am filled with spaciousness that accepts these everyday things just as I find them. (My personal, sometimes rather quirky, sense of humor loves the feeling of a washcloth having its own personality… 😉  ) I submit to the enigma of this day with the current very hot temperatures in North Africa where I am physically located. Everything has become very “personal”, with its own enigmatic personality that I need not even try to fathom, but just “be” with. Osho once said “My business is Is-ness” – I think this is something like that. Right now I am engaged with the enigma of the keyboard that, together with my fingers, is putting together unusual combinations of letters for words that I commonly use. Now they seem quite an enigma…

The bottom line for me is that any snippet of text, or a picture, or a dove landing on the roof, or the sound of the hammer on the building across the way, can be an energetic key to a new and clearer understanding. Each one is, in its own enigmatic way, saying: “Here I am! Wake up to Me!”

I am paying attention more closely to such “messages” these days, and I find through them an increased infusion of spirit from intelligent infinity. I feel myself coming once again in contact with my own original inner awareness and understanding that doesn’t depend on any “outside” information whatsoever in order to align myself with my original nature as the Inner Effulgence projecting at present this/these forms.

What follows (2,852 words) is the statement on the enigma of “his” personality (referring to the modern sage Ramana Maharshi) in the context of an excerpt from the book “Face to Face with Ramana” – the chapter written by Paul Brunton.  It is very well written and a joy to read, even though a bit long for a blog post. Paul Brunton stayed for a few weeks in 1930 in an improvised shelter very close to Ramana’s Ashram. The number of full-time devotees being limited at that time, Brunton had ample opportunity of observing Ramana at close quarters and interacting with him.


There is something in this man which holds my attention as steel

filings are held by a magnet. I cannot turn my gaze away from him. I

become aware of a silent, resistless change, which is taking place within

my mind. One by one, the questions which I prepared with such meticulous

accuracy drop away. I know only that a steady river of quietness seems

to be flowing near me; that a great peace is penetrating the inner reaches

of my being, and that my thought-tortured brain is beginning to arrive at

some rest. I perceive with sudden clarity that intellect creates its own

problems and then makes itself miserable trying to solve them. This is

indeed a novel concept to enter the mind of one who has hitherto placed

such high value upon intellect.


I surrender myself to the steadily deepening sense of restfulness.

The passage of time now provokes no irritation, because the chains of

mind-made problems are being broken and thrown away. And then, little

by little, a question takes the field of consciousness. Does this man, the

Maharshi, emanate the perfume of spiritual peace as the flower emanates

fragrance from its petals? I begin to wonder whether by some radioactivity

of the soul, some unknown telepathic process, the stillness which invades

the troubled water of my soul really comes from him. The peace

overwhelms me.


The Maharshi turns and looks down into my face; I, in turn, gaze

expectantly up at him. I become aware of a mysterious change taking

place with great rapidity in my heart and mind. The old motives which

have lured me on begin to desert me. The urgent desires which have sent

my feet hither and thither vanish with incredible swiftness. The dislikes,

misunderstandings, coldness and selfishness which have marked my dealings

with many of my fellows collapse into the abyss of nothingness. An

untellable peace falls upon me and I know that there is nothing

further that I shall ask from life.


The Sage seems to carry something of great moment to me, yet I

cannot easily determine its precise nature. It is intangible, imponderable,

perhaps spiritual. Each time I think of him a peculiar sensation pierces me

and causes my heart to throb with vague but lofty expectations.

I look at the Sage. He sits there on Olympian heights and watches

the panorama of life as one apart. There is a mysterious property in this

man which differentiates him from all others I have met.

He remains mysteriously aloof even when surrounded by his own

devotees, men who have loved him and lived near him for years. Sometimes

I catch myself wishing that he would be a little more human, a little more

susceptible to what seems so normal to us.


Why is it that under his strange glance I invariably experience a

peculiar expectancy, as though some stupendous revelation will soon be

made to me? This man has freed himself from all problems, and no

woe can touch him.


The Sage seems to speak not as a philosopher, not as a pandit

trying to explain his own doctrine, but rather out of the depth of his

own heart.


I am not religious but I can no more resist the feeling of increasing

awe which begins to grip my mind than a bee can resist a flower in all its

luscious bloom. The [Maharshi’s] hall is becoming pervaded with a subtle,

intangible and indefinable power which affects me deeply. I feel, without

doubt and without hesitation, that the centre of this mysterious power is no

other than the Maharshi himself.


His eyes shine with astonishing brilliance. Strange sensation begins

to arise in me. Those lustrous orbs seem to be peering into the inmost

recesses of my soul. In a peculiar way, I feel aware of everything he can

see in my heart. His mysterious glance penetrates my thoughts, my emotions

and my desires; I am helpless before it.


At first, his disconcerting gaze troubles me; I become vaguely

uneasy. I feel he has perceived pages that belong to a past, which I have

forgotten. He knows it all, I am certain. I am powerless to escape; somehow,

I do not want to, either.


I become aware that he is definitely linking my own mind with

his, that he is provoking my heart into that state of starry calm, which he

seems perpetually to enjoy. In this extraordinary peace, I find a sense

of exaltation and lightness. Time seems to stand still. My heart is

released from its burden of care. Never again, I feel, shall the bitterness

of anger and the melancholy of unsatisfied desire afflict me. My mind is

submerged in that of the Maharshi and wisdom is now at its perihelion.

What is this man’s gaze but a thaumaturgic wand, which evokes a hidden

world of unexpected splendour before my profane eyes?


I have sometimes asked myself why these disciples have been

staying around the Sage for years with few conversations, fewer comforts

and no external activities to attract them. Now I begin to understand –

not by thought but by lightning like illuminations – that through all those

years they have been receiving a deep and silent reward.

Hitherto, everyone in the hall has been hushed to a death-like

stillness. At length, someone quietly rises and passes out. He is followed

by another, and then another, until all have gone. I am alone with the

Maharshi! Never before has this happened. His eyes begin to change;

they narrow down to pinpoints. The effect is curiously like the ‘stopping

down’ in the focus of a camera lens. There comes a tremendous increase

in the intense gleam which shines between the lids, now almost closed.

Suddenly, my body seems to disappear, and we are both out in space! It is

a crucial moment. I hesitate and decide to break the enchanter’s spell.

Decision brings power and once again I am back in the flesh, back in the

hall. No word passes from him to me. I collect my faculties, look at the

clock, and rise quietly. The hour of departure has arrived. I bow my head

in farewell and depart.


The following relates to Brunton’s second visit and stay near Sri Ramana, a few months later:


Whatever I am doing I never fail to become gradually aware of

the mysterious atmosphere of the place, of the benign radiation which

steadily percolates into my brain. I enjoy an ineffable tranquility merely

by sitting for a while in the neighbourhood of the Maharshi. By

careful observation and frequent analysis, I arrive in time at the complete

certitude that reciprocal inter-influence arises whenever our presences

neighbour each other. The thing is most suitable. But it is quite unmistakable.

A force greater than my rationalistic mind awes me until it ends by

overwhelming me.


The realisation forces itself through my wonderment that all

my questions are moves in an endless game, the play of thoughts which

possess no limit to their extent; that somewhere within me there is a

well of certitude which can provide me all waters of truth I require;

and that it will be better to cease my questioning and attempt to realise

the tremendous potencies of my own spiritual nature. So I remain silent

and wait.


I am perfectly aware that the sublime realisation which has

suddenly fallen upon me is nothing else than a spreading ripple of telepathic

radiation from this mysterious and imperturbable man.


The Maharshi once told me, “The greatest error of a man is to

think that he is weak by nature, evil by nature. Every man is divine and

strong in his real nature. What are weak and evil are his habits, his desires

and thoughts, but not himself.” His words came as an invigorating tonic.

They refresh and inspire me. From another man’s lips, from some lesser

and feeble soul, I would refuse to accept them at such worth and would

persist in refuting them. But an inward monitor assures me that the Sage

speaks out of the depth of a great and authentic spiritual experience and

not as some theorizing philosopher on the thin stilts of speculation.


Not a few Western minds will inevitably consider that the life of

the Maharshi is a wasted one. But perhaps it may be good for us to have

a few men who are apart from our world of unending activity, and survey

it for us from afar. It may also be that a jungle Sage, with self lying

conquered at his feet, is not inferior to a worldly fool who is blown hither

and thither by every circumstance.


Day after day brings fresh indications of the greatness of

this man. His silence and reserve are habitual. One can easily count

up the number of words he uses in a single day.


I am learning to see that the Maharshi’s way of helping others is

through unobstrusive, silent and steady outpouring of healing vibrations

into troubled souls. Science will one day be required to account for this

mysterious telepathic process.


It is clear that his mere presence provides many with

spiritual assurance, emotional felicity and, most paradoxical of all,

renewed faith in their creed. For the Sage treats all creeds alike, and honours

Jesus no less than Krishna.


During daily meditation in the potent neighbourhood of the Sage, I

have learnt how to carry my thoughts inwards to an ever-deepening point.

Again and again, I become conscious that he is drawing my mind into his

own atmosphere during these periods of quiet repose. And it is at such

times that one begins to understand why the silences of this man are more

significant than his utterances.


There are moments when I feel this power of his so greatly

that I know that he has only to issue the most disturbing command

and I will readily obey it. But the Maharshi is the last person in the

world to place his followers in the chain of servile obedience, and

allows everyone the utmost freedom of action. In this respect he is

quite refreshingly different from most of the teachers and yogis I

have met in India.


The gist of his message is: “Pursue the enquiry, ‘Who am I?’

relentlessly. Analyse your entire personality. Try to find out where the ‘I’

thought begins. Go on with your meditations. Keep turning your attention

within. One day the wheel of thought will slow down and an intuition will

mysteriously arise. Follow that intuition, let your thinking stop and it will

eventually lead you to the goal.”


I struggle daily with my thoughts and cut away slowly into the

inner recesses of the mind. In the helpful proximity of the Maharshi, my

meditations and self-soliloquies become increasingly less tiring and more

effective. A strong expectancy and a sense of being guided inspire my

constantly repeated efforts.There are strange hours when I am clearly

conscious of the unseen power of the Sage being powerfully impacted on

my mentality, with the result that I penetrate a little deeper still into the

shrouded border land of being, which surrounds the human mind.


I study him intently and gradually come to see in him the child of a

remote past when the discovery of spiritual truth was reckoned of no less

value than is the discovery of a gold mine today. It dawns upon me with

increasing force that, in this quiet and obscure corner of South India, I

have been led to one of the last of India’s spiritual supermen.


The serene figure of this living Sage brings the legendary figure of

this country’s ancient rishis nearer to me. One senses that the most

wonderful part of this man is withheld. His deepest soul, which one

instinctively recognises as being loaded with rich wisdom, eludes one. At

times he still remains curiously aloof, and at other times the kindly benediction

of his interior grace binds me to him with hoops of steel.



I learn to submit to the enigma of his personality, and to accept him as I find him.


I like him greatly because he is so simple and modest, when

an atmosphere of authentic greatness lies so palpably around him;

because he makes no claim to occult powers and hierophantic knowledge

to impress the mystery-loving nature of his countrymen, and also because

he is so totally without any traces of pretension and he strongly resists

every effort to canonize him during his lifetime.


It seems to me that the presence of men like the Maharshi ensures

the continuity down history of a divine message from regions not easily

accessible to us all. It seems to me, further, that one must accept the fact

that such a sage comes to reveal something to us, not to argue anything

with us. At any rate, his teachings make a strong appeal to me.


He brings no supernatural power and demands no blind faith. He

avoids the dark and debatable waters of wizardry, in which so many

promising voyages have ended in shipwreck. He simply puts forward a

way of self-analysis which can be practised irrespective of any ancient or

modern theories and beliefs which one may hold, a way that will finally

lead man to true self-understanding.


Again and again, I am aware that the Maharshi’s mind is imparting

something to my own, though no words may be passing between us.

Spiritually my life is nearing its peak.


I enter the hall and straight away assume my regular meditation

posture. An intense interiorization of consciousness comes with the closing

of eyes. The Maharshi’s seated form floats in a vivid manner before my

mind’s eye. Then the picture disappears leaving me with nothing more than

a strongly felt sense of his intimate presence.


Tonight I flash swiftly to a pin-point of concentration. Some new

and powerful force comes into dynamic action within my inner world and

bears me inwards with resistless speed. In the next stage, I stand apart

from the intellect, conscious that it is thinking, and watch thoughts with a

weird detachment. The power to think, which has hitherto been a matter

for merely ordinary pride, now becomes a thing from which to escape, for

I perceive with startling clarity that I have been its unconscious captive.


It is strange enough to be able to stand aside and watch the very

action of the brain as though it were someone else’s and to see how thoughts

take their rise and then die, but it is stranger still to realise intuitively that

one is about to penetrate into the mysteries which hide in the innermost

recesses of man’s soul. I feel like some Columbus about to land on an

uncharted continent.


Finally it happens. Thought is extinguished like a snuffed candle.

The mind takes its rise in a transcendental source. I remain perfectly calm

and fully aware of who I am and what is occurring. Yet my sense of

awareness has been drawn out of the narrow confines of the separate

personality; it has turned into something sublimely all embracing. Self still

exists, but it is a changed, radiant self. With it arrives an amazing new

sense of absolute freedom, for thought is like a loom-shuttle which always

is going to and fro, and to be freed from its tyrannical motion is to step out

of prison into the open air.


I find myself outside the rim of world consciousness. The planet,

which has so far harboured me, disappears. I am in the midst of an ocean

of blazing light. The latter, I feel rather than think, is the primeval stuff out

of which worlds are created, the first state of matter. It stretches away into

untellable infinite space, incredibly alive.


I, the new I, rest in the lap of holy bliss. I have drunk the Platonic

Cup of Lethe, so that yesterday’s bitter memories and tomorrow’s anxious

cares have disappeared completely. I have attained a divine liberty and an

almost indescribable felicity. My arms embrace all creation with profound

sympathy, for I understand in the deepest possible way that to know all is

not merely to pardon all, but to love all. My heart is remoulded in rapture.


With the fall of dusk I take my farewells of everyone except

the Maharshi. I feel quietly content because my battle for spiritual

certitude has been won, and because I have won it without sacrificing

my dearly held rationalism for a blind credulity. Yet when the Maharshi

comes to the courtyard with me a little later, my contentment suddenly

deserts me.


This man has strangely conquered me and it deeply affects my

feelings to leave him. He has grappled me to his own soul with unseen

hooks that are harder than steel, although he has sought only to restore a

man to himself, to set him free and not to enslave him. He has taken me

into the benign presence of my spiritual self and helped me, dull Westerner

that I am, to translate a meaningless term into a living and blissful

experience. My adventure in self-metamorphosis is now over.





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